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Sunday, 22 January 2012

Come Dine With Me !?!

What's the best thing about living on your own with your partner?

Eating when you want?
Sleeping when you want?
Drinking when you want?

No, to me it's hosting dinner parties.

Saturday was no different. 

For the last year we have kept trying to organize dinner with our close friends. Ever since their marriage last year we keep saying we have to do it. You know what it's like though, busy lives and both parties never being free at the same time.

But eventually we have arranged it. So i had to decide on a menu suitable. My friend is very fussy about what he eats. Nothing to pretentious or he would not eat it. So originally i was going to make the soup i mentioned in an earlier blog with a nice fish dish. To which his reply was,

"Unless its battered I wont eat it"


"I Don't care what we eat, but can we please have Jenga chips"

So that narrowed down what i could do for him and came up with this menu

Lightly Spiced Parsnip and Apple Soup


Thai Green Chicken Curry


Rich Chocolate Tart with Raspberries and Cream

So where are the Jenga Chips i hear you ask? Well let me explain. My Friend is from Birmingham and has been living down in Cambridge for a few years now. And i for one know that when back in Birmingham he does love chips with curry sauce and that was what i would do for him for dinner. I'd make a bowl of chips for him to dip in his curry. 

If you want to try these dishes below are the recipes, once again if you give them ago get in touch and let me know what you thought. Feel free to send pictures too and ill post the best ones on the blog

Lightly Spiced Apple and Parsnip Soup
(Serves 4)

500g Parsnips
4 Braeburn Apples (grated)
2 Carrots
1 Red Onion
2 Celery Sticks
2 Vegetable Stock Cubes
Tspn Curry Powder
Tspn of Cumin
1 Star Anise
Dash of White Wine
1 Clove of Garlic

  1. Peel your parsnips and carrots
  2. Chop onion and celery
  3. Put a large pan on the stove and heat a little oil. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic and parsnips
  4. Sweat off the vegetables, then add the dash of white wine
  5. Add 2 pints of water
  6. Bring to the boil
  7. Add star anise, cumin and curry powder,vegetable stock and the grated apple
  8. Simmer for about half hour
  9. Blitz
  10. Season to taste. Be extra generous on the salt as it will extract the extra flavour from the soup 

Thai Green Chicken Curry
(Serves 4)

250 ml Vegetable stock
3 Chicken Breasts cut into 2cm cubes
1 Bunch of Spring Onion chopped 
15g Coriander2 Red Chillis chopped  
250 ml Coconut milk2 Lemon Grass
1/2 Tspn Cumin
1/2 Tspn  Ground Coriander
2 Shallots 
1 tspn Palm Sugar  
2  Limes zested and juiced
1 Lemongrass
400g Rice
2 Cloves of Garlic
Knob of Grated Ginger

  1. Firstly to make the paste
  2. Put the Coriander, Ginger, Chillis, Garlic, Cumin, Ground Coriander, Shallots and Lime juice and Zest in a processer and blitz
  3. Now for the curry, Pan fry the chicken, Add the curry paste and spring onion
  4. Then add the Vegetable stock, coconut and the lemon grass
  5. Boil some salted water and once boiling add the rice 
  6. Serve with mango chutney

Rich Chocolate Tart
300g Digestive Biscuits
50g butter
25g caster sugar
500g Chocolate (High cocoa content)
300ml Milk
500ml Double Cream

  1. Normally in a tart you would have pastry but for this we are going to make a biscuit base (a la cheesecake) Get your digestive biscuit and wrap in cling film
  2. Get a rolling pin and gently bash the biscuit to breadcrumb state, alternatively you can fur in a processor and blend down and put in a mixing bowl
  3. Melt some butter and add to the biscuit mix along with the sugar
  4. Gently press down into the bottom of a cake tin with removable side
  5. Make sure the mix is firm and compact
  6. Now for the ganache
  7. Heat the milk and half the cream on the stove bringing to the boil
  8. Whilst waiting for it to come to the boil break up the chocolate and put in a mixing bowl
  9. Once milk and cream mix boils take off the heat and pour over the chocolate gently stirring in the same direction as to not affect the air flow in the mix to help it set.
  10. With the remaining cream, whip to soft peaks (Best way to tell when its ready is being able to put bowl upside down over your own head) Do not over whip though as you will lose valuable air from within
  11. Once the chocolate cream has cooled down to tepid temperature very gently fold in the whipped cream as to not lose the whipped state, This will help volume and airiness to the gateau
  12. Pour the mix over the biscuit base and leave to set in the fridge
  13. After a couple of hours sprinkle cocoa powder over the top
  14. Serve once firm

Monday, 16 January 2012

Cooking away the January Blues

How horrid is the month of January.
Dark mornings.
Cold Afternoons.
Extra Cold nights.
Overweight from all the bingeing
Broke, From the christmas spending

All the broken promises you make about going to gym falling by the wayside by middle of them month.

And finally opening those presents you received from your friends and loved ones.

That is where i am going with this blog entry

For Christmas this year i got many items for the new flat. Crockery, recipe books, coffee machines and todays topic of subject, a slow cooker.

Have you ever used one? Nifty little items they are. I had the parents over recently and decided to use the slow cooker and use them as my guinea pigs.

What should i make, Well that morning i woke up and looked out the window. The winter weather was well and truly here, Only one thing i could make then, A nice Beef Stew.

Ill tell you something though. Slow cookers really emphasize on the slow word don't they. 8 hours of slow cooking and it was finally ready to serve and well worth the slow long stewing time. the meat melted in my mouth and the vegetables and the potatoes were so juicy yet not overcooked and were still al dente.

A highly recommended dish in this cold spell we are having. So simple to make you can out it on before you go to work and will be ready in time for dinner. Does it get simpler than that, As i for one after work can not always be bothered to make dinner.
Below is the recipe, if you decide to make it let me know how you get on and what you thought of it.


  • 2 pints water boiled from a kettle
  • 1/2 a swede, cut into small chunks
  • 3 medium sized carrots, cut in chunks
  • 250g mushrooms 
  • 1 kg stewing meat
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 75g flour
  • Bunch Of Parsley
  • Bunch of Coriander
  • 3 Beef Stock Cubes
  • Splash Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Bottle of ale
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 1 leek
  • 1 celery
  1. Chop up the beef into 2 -3 cm cubes and cover in flour
  2. Pan fry the beef to brown it off whilst boiling the water
  3. Chop all the vegetables and put in the bottom of the slow cooker. All vegetable except the mushrooms that is.
  4. Add the potatoes which have been peeled and quartered.
  5. Now layer the Beef on top of that.
  6. Pour over the water and ale on hot heat temp and once it starts to simmer add the beef stock and worcester sauce. 
  7. Lower the heat and leave on low heat for about 7 hours.
  8. One hour before the end add mushrooms and rest of the flour to thicken the stew
  9. Serve with fresh, warm crusty bread

Thursday, 5 January 2012

New Years Resolutions!!! honestly who keeps them??

Hey all,

Been a little while yes i know. But the blog is at last back. I hope everyone had a good festive period and that you're all doing well with your new resolutions.
I have achieved mine so far. I thought id set achievable ones for once this year,

Firstly was a boring one. I thought it was time to stop being done by daylight robbery from who used to hold my previous website. I was paying far to much and a change had to be made, After seeing that 1 and 1 website that is everywhere on tv recently i decided to transfer the website there but the only problem was that the old provider would not free my domain url. So had to launch a whole new website.

The feedback so far has been very positive about the professionalism of the new page which is always great to hear.

Secondly is a more challenging resoloution.

Since i moved in with my partner back in October i have always said that i would like to teach her all i know. And 2012. I will achieve this goal

It has started well. So far have taught her how to make basic dishes such as Beef Chilli, Last night i taught her a dish which she loved, here is the recipe for Teriyaki Salmon with Lime, Ginger and Coriander noodles

Ingredients(Serves 2)
2 Salmon Fillets
Squeeze of Honey
50ml Soy Sauce
1 limes(juice and zest)
1 Red Chilli(finely chopped)
1 Garlic Clove (finely chopped)
1 Ginger(Finely Grated)
2 Sheets of Egg Noodles
1 Bunch of Coriander(finely chopped)
50g Butter
1/2  a Red onion

1. Lay your salmon in a dish and mix together the soy sauce, half the butter, the garlic and half the ginger and honey and cover the salmon for at least half hour in the fridge
2. Get some Salted water on the boil for the noodles.
3. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until soft then put under running cold water to cool down
4. Add the rest of the butter to a pan and sweat off the red onion, chilli and ginger together
5. Heat a frying pan and add a little oil. Pan fry the salmon. Skin side down first to crisp the skin
6. Cook for a 2-3 minutes on each side and then finish off in the oven for 5 minutes
7. For the noodles. Put your chilled noodles in the pan with the onion mix and add the lime juice and coriander warm through and then serve with the Salmon placed on top with a squeeze of lime drizzled over the top

Trust me try this dish you will love it. As you can see from previous recipes i have put on here i do love the thai influence. This dish is perfect though for a light dinner. Especially if you are one of the millions who have their new years resolution to watch what they eat. This meal proves you can eat healthy whilst having a lovely dinner

To all you who have made resolutions of your own Good luck with them

Monday, 3 October 2011

Trying to share the knowledge

In a couple of weeks my niece is celebrating her first birthday, And my sister wants to make it special by making a cake from scratch for her. Me being a great brother offered to make her one for nothing, But no, my stubborn sibling is determined to to do it herself. Now i ask what is the point in me having the knowledge if i can not share it with my nearest and dearest. 

Same as my girlfriend who i am in the process of moving in with. I have designed her a recipe book of all my favourite recipes i have cooked throughtout my years as a chef. I wrote the recipes as simply as possible and last week she produced the soup that i blogged about a few weeks ago, the roasted butternut, coconut and chilli soup. With great success i must say too. So it will be nice when we move that i can put my feet up after a hot day in the kitchen and be catered for ;) 

But back to the cake debacle. So i walk into the kitchen yesterday to offer my assistance to my sister as she is there getting in a right battle against the icing sugar. Icing sugar everywhere. Trying to give tips, every time i open my mouth i am told to be quiet. But do manage to get a few hints on the sly. 

I leave her to it and half hour later a cake is brought upto me and i must admit for her first ever cake, not a bad effort and i am sure Roxi will love it :) 

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Time for a freshen up

Been very busy the last couple of weeks, Work is going well and its all non stop along with moving house my life seems to be one big rush at the moment and i cannot wait till November when i get to get away for a bit.
This week i have found a little time though. And in that time i have spent it creating a new website. But boy is it fun when trying to transfer it.
I currently run my website through one particular web provider but am looking at changing it over as the web designer offers a lot more of a professional look to their finished product. However it seems that the original web provider who i am currently with do not want to let me go easily. Constantly ignoring my emails. Transferring me on a wild goose chase when i try ring their customer services on the phone. What  to do???

Well like i say the website is all created and waiting to go live however if you want you can view it here 

Have a look at be honest with me and tell me what you think of it? Do you prefer the new modern look or do you believe i should have stuck with the original style?

Out with the old
In with the new

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Warming healthy salad

Well i was roped into cooking once more last after i finished work. Was given strict orders.

"Please can you pick up my dry cleaning whilst in town"

"I really fancy something healthy how about a salad."

So there was my mission. a healthy salad. But knowin me i couldnt just do a plain salad so decided to come up with somethin that would be just right for the time of year.

In the end i decided to go for a lemon, thyme and garlic chicken salad. And i must say its a definate one for the masses. So easy. Yet so tasty.

Ingredients (for four people):

4 chicken breasts
1 lemon
Few sprigs of thyme
1 clove of garlic
Black olives
1 red onion
Cracked black pepper
3 baby gem lettuce

1. Get your chicken and slice into 2cm chunks
2. Zest and juice the lemon
3. Add few sprigs of thyme to a bowl along with the lemon zest. Add the chicken and pepper and coat the chicken in the thyme and lemon
4. Fry the chicken in a little oil for about 8 minutes
5. Whilst the chicken is frying chop your garlic and cut your olives in half
6. Slice your onion and seperate the washed leaves of the baby gem.
7. In a nice salad bowl lay out the leaves and sprinkle the onion over the top
8. After 8 minutes of the chicken cooking add the onion and garlic and cook for a further minute.
9. Remove pan from heat and the ingredients from the pan and then add oil and lemon to make a warm dressing
10. Evenly spread the chicken mix over the salad
11. Pour the dressing over the salad and serve with fresh bread

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Nice relaxing night off ??!!!?

So last night i had a well earned night off work. Yes, no cooking I thought, Maybe go out for a meal or get a takeaway with a nice glass of wine and enjoy the Indian summer evening we were having.

But no. The girlfriend had other ideas and really wanted me to cook us a nice dinner. So eventually I was persuaded and made the trip to town to get the ingredients. I had decided to go fish as it was such a nice evening.

Unfortunately I had arrived a little to late and the Fish monger in the market had just cleared up. So had to make the walk to the supermarket. I was undecided at this point what I was going to cook. But when I got to the fish counter there was all your normal supermarket mass produced fish. You know the type. The unsustainable types. Your Cods, Seabass and Salmon. But i noticed out of the corner of my eye some reduced fish, now being a chef im always on the lookout for a bargain.

They were selling Red Tilapia for just £2 a fillet, Bargain!! This fish is quite often on offer as a lot of people do not know what to do with it when it comes to cooking however it is a very simple fish to cook as ill explain later. I honestly feel more people should use these uncommon types of fish a lot more rather than always plumping for the Seabass and Cod type of fish

I rang the girlfriend and asked her if that was ok, Unfortunately she had never heard of Red Tilapia. So i ran the risk and got them anyway, Now for anyone that doesn't know Tilapia is a white meaty fish somewhere between the taste of Cod and Seabass and goes well with a variety of flavours. So I went down to the salad section i had Decided to serve it with Wilted spinach and a fresh, vibrant, rustic tomato and white wine sauce and a lemon and paprika dressing.

I got all the ingredients home along with a lovely bottle of Sauvignon and put everything in the fridge until she returned home from work

Below is the recipe i used and it is guaranteed to be a success, I give you my word.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 Fillet of Tilapia per portion
200g tin chopped tomatoes
12 Cherry tomatoes
1 Clove of Garlic
1/2 red onion
glass white wine
500g  spinach
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of Paprika
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

  1. Make sure your fish is at room temperature
  2. To make the dressing. Get your juice of one lemon and put into a bowl add the paprika and oil and oil and mix to form the dressing
  3. To make the Sauce Thinly dice your red onion and garlic and add to a hot pan with a little oil. Slice your tomatoes in half and add to the mix. 
  4. After a 5 minutes add your Tin of Chopped tomatoes and bring to a boil stirring every so often
  5. Now add the glass of white wine and reduce down for ten minutes.
  6. Get a roasting tray and add your spinach (It will look like a lot but will wilt down) Add a little butter and Salt and Pepper and Roast on a low heat of about 180 for upto ten minutes or until the spinach has wilted.
  7. Get a frying pan on the stove and add another butter to coat the base of the pan add a little oil to stop the butter burning Season the fish and prepare to add to the pan
  8. Once the pan is upto temperature add the fillets press gently down to stop curling at the edges and cook for 5 minutes  until the fish is 3/4 cooked. 
  9. Now turn the fish and do the same on the other side for a couple of minutes after it has been turned over drizzle a little of the dressing over the fish so it can soak through whilst cooking
  10. Once the fish is cooked Get your Spinach and tomato sauce and put on a plate and place the fish on top with a drizzle of the lemon and paprika dressing over the top.