Great British Chefs Masterclass with Michelin-starred Chef Adam Gray

Last week,I was invited to the #GBCCookSchool by Great British Chefs to cook up a 3 course meal with Michelin-starred Skylon Chef Adam Gray at the Cookery School.

I have always been a great fan of the Great British Chefs website and their many cool recipes and some life saving How to videos. So it was really excited to be invited to a masterclass with them and watch a  Michelin-starred Chef show us some cool tips and tricks.

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After nibbling on some cheese and yummy starters washed down with a glass of bubbly (oh alright I confess – several glasses of bubbly!) we gathered for the demo by Adam gray. Assisted by his sous chef Damon Stokes, he showed us how to expertly fillet fresh Cornish mackerel.

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He then used a wafer thin slice of bread and wrapped it around the fish dabbed with a little mustard and then lightly pan fried in Rape seed oil.

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I have used Rape seed oil before it has a strong nutty flavour probably only less overpowering that it’s bright yellow colour but as the Chef rightly informed us it has half the saturated fat content of olive oil making it lower in cholesterol and also it has 10 times more Omega 3 than olive oil. Besides hailing from Northampton too, the locally produced rapeseed oil (Farrington’s Mellow Yellow) has the Chef’s seal of approval, as expected he is as proud a supporter of British produce, as he is of seasonal ingredients.

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Served with a delicious Rhubarb Relish and a Pea Shoot & Sea Kale salad, these really elevate a simple dish to Michelin-star quality by combining otherwise unusual ingredients to create an imaginative dish.

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Image Courtesy : Great British Chefs

The sea kale is something I had never tasted before and like me was quite a discovery in a new taste sensation for me and a few other bloggers. Chef Adam Gray showed us how to serve the Crispy Cornish Mackerel chopped at a slant and plated with the relish at the side adding a final flourish to a posh looking yet easy to prepare crispy fish finger starter – easy if you can master filleting the mackerel that is!

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It looked ever so easy but that wasn’t the case as we were all about to fin out when later a few enthusiastic bloggers got to try their hand at it with the Chef showing them how to wield their knives and expertly handle the fish even if it was a delicate small mackerel or a large meaty specimen. ( why not learn how to fillet a flat fish with tips from this short how to video by Great British Chefs?)

After that we formed 3 groups and set out to make Ticklemore & Goat’s Cheese Fritters under the watchful eye of Chef Adam and Chef Damon. Coated in panko breadcrumbs with a generous sprinkling of fennel seeds, I busied myself with adding 2 coats of the egg wash and breadcrumb mixture to the fritter while the others chopped up the delicious heritage tomatoes seasoned with lovage – an intriguing herb and in taste aptly described by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall  as ‘ The flavour is like parsley and celery combined with a hint of aniseed and curry’ . We used Sharpham farms goats cheese and combined it with some soft cheese resulting in a delicious and rich fritter that tasted fabulous served on a bed of fresh salad.

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Moving on to the dessert we made individual portions of Flourless Citrus Cake served with English Strawberries and Vanilla Yoghurt. This is by far one of Chef Adam Gray’s most popular recipe on Great British Chefs, a completely gluten free cake it is one of those recipes which is perfect for cooking along with kids and helping them master some basic skills.

While our cakes were baking in the oven, we once again huddled around the demo kitchen and watched while some brave bloggers volunteered to learn how exactly to wield a knife and fillet a Cornish Mackerel.

The flourless cakes were delightfully light and soft and the fresh strawberries mixed with Tiptree strawberry jam relish was a perfect accompaniment to the dessert. The vanilla infused yoghurt added an interesting dimension to the dish.

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This was the second in a new series of Masterclasseses by Great British Chefs. Held at the Cookery School, where Rosalind Rathouse and her team hosted all of us and made sure that we were well looked after, it was a great experience. The Cookery School itself is very well maintained, as is evident from the spotlessly clean kitchen and work surfaces and eco-friendly practices.

Needless to say the event was even more fun because I caught up with blogger friends Vaishali and Heidi, also finally go to meet Deena Kakaya and Felicity Spector in person. It was lovely to see some more familiar faces like the lovely Miriam and Alexandra too.

*With  thanks to Great British Chefs  for inviting me. No monetary compensation was offered for a positive review. All opinions expressed here are entirely my own. 

Vintage Frittata recipe inspired by ”Angel”

Well as my previous blog post mentioned I am quite besotted with my latest cookbook – The Vintage Tea Party by Angel. She is such a talented lady and anyone with orange hair,a vivid imagination, a vast collection of Vintage odds and ends and a great cook to top is all is my kind of hero!

So I first ate a Frittata at my workplace where it was served during tea time,anything remotely associated with eggs and I simply must try it, I could live on fried eggs ,omelettes ,scrambled eggs and yes Frittatas!

I surfed up info about the origin of Frittata because that’s the beauty of food and recipes, they start from someplace and then suddenly are popular world cuisine and everyone’s making their own versions. Some food blogs have really well researched posts about the Frittata and I do recommend reading them:

http://www.delallo.com/articles/la-frittata-egg-dish-endless-possibilities

http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2008/12/i-have-change-and-treat-for-you-today.html

http://www.thefoodadvicecentre.co.uk/reference/recipes/frittata/

Wikipedia defines a Frittata as : The Italian word frittata derives from fritto, the past participle of “to fry” (friggere),[1] and was originally a general term for cooking eggs in a skillet, anywhere on the spectrum from fried egg, through conventional omelette, to an Italian version of the Spanish tortilla de patatas, made with fried potato. Outside Italy, frittata was seen as equivalent to “omelette” until at least the mid-1950s.

Well,Angel’s recipe is an antithesis to this logic,why? well because it’s OVEN BAKED not fried and secondly is rather basic yet tasty,her recipe recommends using flower petals to decorate and also cutting it into shapes to make it more visually delightful and intriguing. Ofcourse what I’ve cooked isn’t a patch on the beautiful Angel’s creation but it’s a sort of a tribute to her, in a demi god,fan like behaviour sort of a way…!!

By all means if any one of you does create one anything close to Angel’s original, please do share your feedback and pictures !

I have scaled down the ingredients for 2 people and added a few twists here and there for experimental touches of my own!

Ingredient list to whip up a mean frittata- Vintage and all that 🙂 remember to roll up ur hair in a bun while making it and think Vintage :),Angel style !

  1. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  2. Half a white onion sliced
  3. 1 Courgette  finely sliced into half-moon slice
  4. 5 large free range eggs
  5. Salt
  6. cracked black pepper
  7. Goats cheese crumbled

Method

  1. Pre Heat the oven to 220° C /Fan 200° C/ Gas mark 7. Line a baking tin with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Heat oil in a small frying pan and fry the onions until soft for about 2 minutes, stir in the chopped courgette bits,fry on a higher flame for about 4 minutes till it’s goldenish. Angel advises not stirring or tossing this too much in her book and I do agree.
  3. Beat eggs in a bowl,season with salt and add the onion and courgette mixture.

4. Crumble some goats cheese and  then transfer above mixture to a baking tin of your choice, I simply used my small cake tin. Bake for about 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack and serve hot.Season with cracked black pepper sprinkled on top.

I think this makes for a really delicious and filling tea time snack and is really easy to make when time is a constraint,which is almost always in our busy lives.

Of course,Angel’s recipe differs and requires some more cooking as there is cheese and is seasoned with edible gerbera petals, I will try it once am able to lay my hands on those delicate beauties.

To check out Angel’s website visit the following link http://www.angeladoree.co.uk/

Trust if me if you already haven’t , her books are a MUST HAVE in everyone’s personal collection of recipe books, I for one am totally smitten!

Prawn Khichadi (Pulav/Pilaf/Poolav)

This is NOT just a  recipe,it’s a Family Heirloom passed down from generations and cooked with great relish by my mother-in-law and her mum who is now 82 years old and still can stir up a some to-die-for finger licking dishes !

But before I start off rattling the ingredient list , a ”slice” of some history about the origin of this rice and prawn union.Coastal cuisine in the western Indian state of Maharashtra relished by the Maharahstrian community relies heavily on the use of all versions of the coconut , the most potent form being as part of the goda masala. This and of course the abundant availability fresh sea food has given birth to many delicacies many of which most are age-old like this dish.

It’s also my prized comfort food and guarantees a great Sunday afternoon nap 🙂 and will ensure your crowned kitchen queen and master chef of all things nice hehehehe

Ok here goes, the ingredient list – This dish serves 2 adults for 2 meals with 2 generous helpings each and leftovers for the next day.

  1. Prawns or Koolambi as they are called in Marathi – 500gm
  2. Plain rice – I use basmati , I use 2.5 cup measures of my rice cooker measure
  3. Bay leaves -3-4
  4. ”Goda” Masala
  5. Tumeric Powder
  6. Red Chilli powder
  7. Half a slice
  8. Cooking Oil
  9. Salt to taste
  10. Ginger and Garlic Paste
  11. Wet coconut grated and make a fine puree with it – the wet coconut is available as a frozen product at any Indian Grocery store – use about a handful.
  12. Two Large red onions finely sliced
  13. Cinnamon (Dalchini)- 3-4 large bits
  14. Few cloves
  15. Green Masala – Use a bunch or coriander and 2 green chillies and give them a spin in the mixer , store this fine paste in the freezer and use as and when needed, it’s one of the most basic marination masala’s in most Maharashtrian non veg dishes especially sea food.

Method:

  1. On a pan on low heat saute one finely chopped onion and the fresh wet grated coconut till the onions starts to caramelise, after this cools give it a spin in the mixer and make a fine paste.
  2. Marinate the washed rice in some the above wet grated coconut and onion paste,some goda masala, a squeeze of half of a lime,salt ,ginger & garlic paste and some Cinnamon. Keep Aside.
  3. De-vein Prawns , wash under tap water and marinate with red chilli powder,turmeric and green masala.
  4. Take oil in a vessel and saute the marinated prawns for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Heat Oil in a vessel big enough to cook the rice and prawns together that will hold the water as well , add the cloves , remaining cinnamon and one very finely chopped red onion, add the marinated rice and stir it , do this on a low flame .
  6. Then add the marinated prawns and water , for rice dishes water is always double the measure of the rice used so for 2.5 cup measures of rice use 5 cups of water.
  7. Cover and cook on a low flame.
  8. Serve piping hot with curd or pickle .
  9. I generally serve this with a spicy Curry.

Spicy Curry

In a pan heat some oil and add asafoetida one pinch , add puree of 2-3 large red onions and one tomato and puree of 1 handful of wet grated coconut , season with red chilli powder , turmeric,salt, green masala, goda masala and cook on a low flame with enough water to ensure a thick curry , Amp up the red chilli powder and green masala to your level of tolerance of spicy food !

Do let me know via comments if any of you made this dish and what you though of the recipe !

P.S: Forgive the poor image quality , I have a Simple Canon Camera which I am unable to use too well  and add to that the total lack of any photography skills but well the food   tasted awesome :), that’s what counts right , hehhe!

Update in 2013

A few days after I published this recipe ,A gifted me my first DSLR Camera – a shiny new Canon 600DS and I’ve been clicking away like a happy bunny ever since 🙂

To my absolute delight he helped me add a new lens to my kit and gifted me a 50mm f 1.8 lens this year on my birthday.It’s great for close up food shots and true to it’s reviews it works well in low light conditions.

Here’s an example:

The image below is from my kit lens where am struggling to fit everything in frame and focus on the prawns, I have sharpened the image,adjusted light and cropped it using Picasa 3.

Ingredients for Prawn Khichadi with old lends

 

Now see the difference in the image below, I love how the prawns are in sharp focus and how am able to easily adjust and fit everything in the viewfinder.I have adjusted light and sharpened the image very slightly, I am truly pleased with the results 🙂

prawn khichadi with new lens

bay leaves n cinnamon in pan

prawns sautee with khichadi spices

 

prawn khichadi plated n styled

 

To learn Food Photography and hone your skills ,why not join in the Bloggers Buzz Photography Club? I have been to two sessions and there’s a celebrity blogger to give expert advice after each session for the assignment. It’s a fun learning experience! Click here for details!

Experiments with Food Photography

Inspiration for posting some Splendid recipes from the  secret closet of my mind or some hand me downs from my mother , mother in law ,grand mother or a close friend have been waiting to come onto this blog , but I have been lazy , though now it is time , so I have decided to bombard my readers with these rocking recipes that can add some serious fun to your kitchen adventures !

I know that at times it takes a lot to inspire one to get out of a rut and get there , so I take these food pictures from time to time to keep looking at whenever I need a little nudge !

Hope they work their magic on those hidden culinary desires inside you as do so work their magic on me !

P.S: I shall keep adding pics as and when I get to click some yummy images,slurrpp !

Shahi Khichadi

I have decided to finally upload some of the recipes which received a lot of comments on my Facebook food album and I ended up sending out the recipe by email to many of contacts . Here is one of the easier and more popular ones . When I was a kid when my mother said ”khaichadi” in response to what’s for dinner ? it usually meant that one of us feverish and needed something gentle on the tummy or one of us was trying to recover from an upset tummy .Of course the taste of the boiled rice and green gram halved and with skin on or the yellow version without skin , is ultimately satisfying a great comfort food when served piping hot with a dollop of ghee and some warm milk ,a good night’s sleep guaranteed !

But my version is spicy ,with a tasty twist and a lot of fun to cook and even more fun to eat .

I adopted this recipe from the way my mother makes khichadi and also from how my pal S of http://www.jainfoodie.com makes Jain Dal Khichadi . I choose to call it Shahi meaning Regal or Royal here because it is rather a posh version of the humble boiled version. Khichadi meaning an Indian for a slurpalicious RICE and lentil dish cooked like a pulav /pulao/pilau /pilaf.

Ingredients (enough to serve 2 with second and maybe a third helping !)

  • Rice 1 cup
  • A Mix of the following in equalish parts in the same cup used to measure the rice – Massor Dal also called Red Lentils-split and skinless, Moong Dal also called Green Gram yellow we will use the  spilt skinless variety and the split green moong dal with green skin on , Urid Dal also called Black Gram halved with skin ,some Toor Dal also called pigeon peas – yellow spilt and skinless .
  • 1 large red Onion
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2-3 Bay leaves
  •  Bits of Cinnamon bark
  • 2 cloves of garlic smashed with skin on
  •  2 green chillies
  •  Jeera / Cumin
  •  Hing / Asafoetida
  • Salt to taste
  • Red Chilli Powder
  • Turmeric Powder
  •  2 small potatoes
  •  Few Curry leaves
  •  Few Cloves
  •  Few black whole peppercorns
  • 18. Oil for sauteing
  • Some Ghee – maybe 2 spoons – Clarified Butter

Method :

  • Wash the rice and lentils and place them in a pressure cooker ,add 4 cups (use same cup as the one used to measure the rice and the dals) of water and another to make it a little softer than regular rice ,pressure cook till 4 whistles are done.
  • Once the steam slowly releases from the cooker , you can open the lid and it will look like the picture below but a bit different in colour because when I made this I was short on red lentils so didn’t add them . Actually even you make this dish with rice and only yellow moong dal it will taste just as good 🙂

  • While the cooker is cooling down ,chop the potatoes into longish strips and stir fry them in hot oil till they turn brown, add some salt, sprinkled over them just as they get done, these potato fries are our garnishing to add that REAL REGAL or SHAHI touch to the dish . Once done keep them aside and STOP yourself from munching on them before your dish is ready , my husband managed to gobble quite a few ,pretending he was helping me ”stir” the onions while I clicked pictures ..grrrrr

  • Now Lets prepare the tadka /tarka or the tempering. First slice the onion and the tomato vertically into thinish slices .
  • Add oil about 2 large tablespoons into a pan and one teaspoon of ghee just for flavour and aroma , when this mix is hot add some hing , then add the jeera and the crushed garlic and the 2 green chillies spilt along the middle lengthwise as it opens them up and allows the pungent seeds to spread through the tempering , one kick ass way to add that hotttt KICK to the dish ,trust me this one is explosive spicy HOTT as it has all the ingredients to help the taste explode in your mouth, saute till the garlic is brown and the garlic’s skin starts to crackle , then add the cloves, the whole black peppercorns , bits of the barks of Cinnamon ,curry leaves, bay leaves and keep stiring this mixture to prevent charring or over heating ,it will look like in the picture below :

  • Then add the chopped onion, It should look like the picture below:

  • Then after a while when the onion has begun to turn a lovely pinkish ,brownish colour and looks the picture below it’s time to add the tomato .

  • Now add the vertically sliced tomato slices , I can assure you that now the potent aroma of all those lovely spices and the onion are stirring up quite an appetite inside you and making you hungrier every passing minute .

  • I dislike chunky bits of tomato floating in my mouth while I gobble up the khichadi so I jus a flat wooden spatula and gently ensure that the tomatoes are totally mashed  in a way that allows the mixture to become one entity, it should look like in the picture below :

  • Add just a bit of red chilli powder and some turmeric powder to the mixture above and add salt to taste ,Now add the cooked rice and lentil mixture to the above tempered mix of spices ,onions and tomatoes ,mix well stirring well, add salt again enough to flavour the rice and lentil mix .

  • It’s almost done , just keep this on a low flame for about a minute or two to allow the flavours of the spices to penetrate deep inside the rice and lentils .

  • The SHAHI KHICHADI is now ready to be garnished! Yay 🙂

  • WOW now doesn’t that look awesome ? I am quite proud about this creative production from my kitchen , hope you relish it as much as I did errr we did , hubby had to agree 🙂
  • If you fear that all the spices may be a bit too much for your sensitive palate prepare a quick cooling cucumber and curd accompaniment . Beat 2 spoons of set yogurt or thick flowing yogurt and add tiny square bits of fresh cucumber , season with a bit of salt ,some sugar and some jeera powder to taste .

Enjoy !

A fine autummn day, my parents for company and a tour around a Vineyard – ALL the makings of a lovely memory!

It’s was my parents first weekend at our flat in London and we wanted them to see some place really nice. Having visited London many times earlier they had done the usual touristy places and were not too upbeat on going into the crowded central line all the way to Central London. So hubby came up with an awesome idea, to explore Surrey.

So after an early breakfast we made our way by over ground rail to Dorking and walked across lovely tree lined roads to get to Denbies Vineyard.

The air was cool and crips, it was bright, sunny and the sky looked heavenly. Even my mother’s heavily arthritic and painfull knees didn’t see, to mind the trudge upto the main entrance as most other visitors whizzed past in their cars.

My dad was smiling and racing ahead with hubby while mother and me trailed somewhere behind admiring the mountains in the background.

The grapes seemed to tempt us as we walked alng the way ,testing our self control, ummmm,ofcourse we DID not take anyyy! Though I wish we had 😉

The neatly lined,seemingly never ending rows of grape vines balanced on their equally fragile looking support structures seemed to create a horizon of sorts, there are only a handfull of employees who work in the vineyard which is the largest in England and they manage this enterprise beautifully I must say.

I saw this beautiful couple, much in love perched on a ledge cooing away secret nothings into each others ears so to speak, they looked so cute I just had to take a picture, thankfully they obliged.

After a long lovely walk we saw the roadsign telling us that we had reached our destination, an exciting day out was about to begin , I couldn’t help but wonder if we would get any free wine for sampling ,after all , a long walk through a vineyard on a weekend and a very parched throat for company I am sure it wouldn’t hurt to gulp down some free wine .

Unfortunately no free wine or wine tasting was to come our way as we had reached after all the wine tours had been booked for the day, yes ,it is a really popular destination ,it was late summer ,autummn almost actually ,September 2011 it was,so feeling terribly dejected we were about to resign to our fate when we were informed by the smiling receptionist that there was a tour of the vineyard in the jeep that we could do , so I heaved a sigh of relief as I saw the smile back on my mothers face . Ater all I didn’t want to ruin their very first weekend with us.

We still had about an hour on hand before the tour was to begin so we decided to explore our surroundings.On the topmost floor is a rather beautiful restaurant to be explored when you want to loosen your purse strings and splurge .There was a small area where a potrait club was exhibiting some stunning paintings , I managed to get some postcard size prints of the originals and so did my mum.

Some of the artists were really good with themes ramging from countryside scenary to pets and wildlife.

Then we walked back down to an amazing gift shop which was crammed ceiling to floor with the most amazing gift items from post cards and the expected wine bottles to tea sets, cake stands ,home made jellies and preserves and many, many more extreemly tempting products ,I got myself a scented soap…sighhhh !

By then my husband managed to tear me and my mum away from the shop, my dad had started to grow this extreemly serious expression bordering on a mixture of impatience ,slight anger and a sarcastic smirk which seemed to say”baah women and shopping” , I took the hint and scampered out to check on our mode of transport for the tour and this is what I saw 🙂

Whilst we waited for the tour guide cum driver to arrive, I amused myself by taking some more pics , there were some brillant potted flowering plants and some lvelky banter of a large group of women apparently a “HEN PARTY” part of a day long Bachelorette party ,what fun !

Just when  the small cowd beginning to get impatient that the lively ,energetic and extreemly well informed guide arrived and ensured we were all seated properly,rattled off some basic safety instructions and we took off on what was to be a tour with breathtakingly spectaluar views and laods of snippets of local history and ofcourse tons of information of how the grapes are grown, the types of grape varities grown, how popular the wine is and history about the owners of the land and the vineyard both past and present . I shall leave these details out as it would be a kill joy for those that want to go do the tour and mostly because since I had been there months ago most of it had been wiped off from the slate in my mind, strange though because even now if I close my eyes and imagine the tour guides voice I can sort of do most of the tours and see the same things as I have photographed in my mind’s ,it’s quite refreshing doing that especially on a dull winter evening . It’s early March and cant really call this Winter but heck it isn’t getting warmer yet is it now ?

This is the first picture I took while in the jeep train as I like to call it .What clear skies I say, beautiful !

And thus here we were a group of strangers on a fine Autummn day about to have a shared experience of delightfull visual impact and create a pleasant memory that will last for a long time to come!

We stopped at a spot high up on the hill we were on and I got the perfect photo opportunity I’d been waiting for …

Further ahead we came to a plateau like area where part of the massive old house inhabited by the original owners used to stand , some tiny portion has been resurected and is still in use , and by tiny I mean massive for us urabn folks living in matchbox houses , this is like 4 bog country houses put together but tiny in contrast to what used to be a grand residence of the yesteryears.

That’s our cheerfull guide holding some images of original plans of the structures back then , there was small quiz and I got a chocolate for getting some answers correct Yipeeeee !!!

Then I just took few snaps before the tour came to an end. Here they are :

After that tour we walked over to a rather quaint Kitchen Garden Centre in the premises.It has the most wonderfull things to add to ones garden and ofcourse a large amount of saplings,wind chimes,garden ornaments,pots and plants and an area selling cold sandwiches for famished souls as well,which can be consumed sitting at one of the wodden tree stump table and stools. It is a delight to stroll around the place and see the colourfull display of flora mixed with artistic and stylish garden ornaments.

By the time we were done with our stroll , it was time to adress the serious hunger pangs we all were having.

Surrey is beautiful there is so much to explore in the county, some off beat places, great places to trek or simply walk and ofcourse a vineyard to visit.

Aren’t the hedgehogs adorable 🙂 ?