Monday, 30 November 2009

Masterchef Live 2009

This should have been posted a while back but have been stuggling to find the time to sit down and collate everything! I am about to change jobs, again, as well as working far too many hours recently so its been a little busy round here!

Anyhow, back to business! I was very kindly invited me to attend the Masterchef Live event at Olympia a couple of weeks back, formerly known as the BBC Good Food Show. I was very lucky to be joined again by the lovely Sunita from Sunita Bhuyan who I’d previously met at the BBC summer show and also met with the lovely Davina from Sugarbar, it was really great seeing you both. I am looking forward to the day I have my own house and can have lots of shiny Miele appliances, the ovens in particular are fascinating and have many programs which even someone with my limited technological skills can master!

One of the main new features of Masterchef Live is a chance for members of the public to cook using Miele hobs and present their dish to former Masterchef winners Mat Follas and Steve Groves, using ingredients from a mystery bag and selected store cupboard ingredients.

Around 30 people particpated and were able to keep their cool despite also having both John & Greg wandering amongst them! Everything was hosted by Andi Peters, also a previous MC runner up. (I was watching and thinking hey – I grew up watching you on TV!!) A last minute contestant took the form of the lovely James Martin, who managed to make two complete dishes during the 30 minutes before dashing to his own show on another stand.

Miele had given us the opportunity to take part I but politely declined as I was far too terrified of looking like an idiot; I love cooking, as you may have guessed by now but I like to cook at my own pace and had previously agreed with close friends that it would be potentially a disaster and I would probably either burn myself of set something alight!! Well done to all the other brave souls who went up!

The Food:

For lunch, we ate within the Restaurant Experience, where a number of top restaurants had stands:

Roast To Go
Blue Elephant
Café Spice Namaste
Launceston Place
Boxwood Cafe
Urban Caprice: Including Daphne's, The Ivy and Le Caprice
Theo Randall at The Intercontinental
Min Jiang
MasterChef Restaurant

Each stand featured a couple of their top dishes you could purchase via dining tokens:

For our mains we all chose to eat from Theo Randall’s stand, a lovely little dish called Cape Sante, consisting of perfectly cooked scallops, with pancetta, chilli and Italian lentils, served in the shell. (I did spot Theo later on talking to a stall holder but the picture didn’t come out very well unfortunately!).

For pudding we moved onto the Masterchef restaurant, I chose the Chocolate and Orange sponge pudding from James Nathan, lovely as it was I would of preferred a slightly bigger portion, 2 bites and it was all over!

Both Sunita and Davina chose the lavender mousse with hokey pokey and berry sauce, from Mat Follas, it was attractive looking but I cant say it tempted me but they both seemed to enjoy it! I guess me and lavender are not meant to be, as I also tried some lavender fudge which was eurghhh had to eat at least 10 other pieces of fudge to remove the taste from my mouth!

A little while later we returned back to the restaurant with the last of our dining tokens and shared 2 gorgeous Death by Chocolate’s from Launceston Place between the three of us, it was like smooth, chocolately rich fudge but eaten with a spoon, heavenly!! I didn’t get a picture but it was served in a small martini glass and looked so pretty.

The Stalls:

A must visit for me was to the Laverstoke Park farm stand, I had previously tried their buffalo mozzarella at the last show but forgot to bring any home – this time I rectified this and bought two tubs! The buffalo mozzarella is far different to the standard, slightly chewy rounds, this stuff is salty, milky, soft and just melts in your mouth. I used both of my tubs to make this lush tomato & buffalo mozzarella tart recently, which was a winner, even the boyfriend ate same and said how much he liked it, almost more than pizza…very strange behaviour!

Also available was their Ale and lager, which reminds me of a cross between lager and bitter, a win for me but I couldn’t face lugging any more bottles home on the tube! I realise now upon checking the website I have no idea if it was the lager or ale we tried…hmm think was the lager…either way it was very nice indeed!

One thing that has come as a recent surprise, I finally enjoy eating Olives, an item that used to be considered the devils food, my brother managed to ‘convert’ to them and have finally converted myself too! I didn’t get the stall’s name but the nice chap behind the counter let us sample a delicious green one with a hint of chilli, am kicking myself as forgot to go back and get a tub.

Now I love fudge and can’t resist going home without a bag, my favourite was from the Yum Yum Tree (which also is the name of a Chinese restaurant near us…thankfully though not linked!) All of their fudge was lovely (apart from the Lavender!) and I eventually selected the cappuchino flavoured, which has a gorgeous coffee hit, though it was a very tough decision! The lemon was also very good, as well as the chilli…ooh and the liquorice…Both Sunita and Davina stocked up on their favourites too, definitely very good fudge!

An interesting stand was the Black Garlic, I didn’t manage to bring myself to try any in the end, fear of garlic breath haunting the day (though it does claim not too…) but it is an amazing colour:

A particular favourite was from the Mr Vikki’s chutneys stand, whilst there was an enticing range both me and Davina bought jars of the Tomato and Nigella Jam – its sweet, yet savoury, a little hint of spice and makes a perfect bedfellow in a toasted cheese sandwich  I wish I had bought more jars as mine is rapidly disappearing and everyone loves it!

I didn’t get a picture of it but Rachel’s rice pudding is seriously creamy, reminds me of when mum makes her with evaporated milk, divine! The yoghurts are also beautifully creamy and taste so much nicer than the low-far equivalents! Not surprising really!

Some other foodie pix:


My idea of heaven:

Liquid Lunch:

The alcohol sampling was far too tempting to resist this time around, I had previously driven to the other Good Food shows so I didn’t have chance to try before but luckily with this show being in London, it was easier to go by tube and be collected by the boyfriend after. A good job too as felt mildly sozzled by the end!

Both myself and Davina tried a variety of drinks and I discovered I actually enjoyed port! The particular one I liked was £25 a pop so probably why! Davina also introduced me to Sake, as they were doing various tastings next to the Japan Centre’s stand, I can’t say I overly loved any of them or can remotely remember any names but the citrusy one was quite pleasant!

I also introduced Davina to Frangelico, which has to be one of my favourite liqueurs, I just love the hazlenutty taste with a little kick - if Santa sees this then honestly I’ve been a very good girl this year! On the same stand was a new liqueur to me called Opal Nera, a black Sambuca - it was liqoricy, spicy and smooth! Not for everyone but I am a liquorice addict so was good to find it in liquid form!

If I could have carried any more, I would have certainly picked up a bottle of Heering coffee liqueur, one of the nicest coffee flavoured liqueurs I’ve tried! They also offer a Cherry liqueur which was also delicious and tasted very like real cherries, not artificial like many others I’ve sampled. Am definitely making room next time around for these!

Another favourite was Black Bottle whisky, sadly no room or arm strength to carry this but was a well rounded, smooth whisky and wish I had purchased some.

Whilst most of the wines we sampled were very nice, barring one or two, I settled upon 2 bottles of Valdivieso Single Vineyard ‘Cabernet Franc’ from Chile in the end, it’s a smooth, dark red, on the dry side, slightly fruity and just how I like my wine! According to the notes its available to buy from Bibendum Wine so when these two have gone might have to make a little trip….

On to something more unusual, I picked up some gorgeous real ginger beer from Crabbies, I must admit before trying I was a tad hesitant about what it would be like but I am so glad I did! It was served over ice and a slice and was really refreshing. It has a lovely spike of fresh ginger and despite being in the middle of winter made me think of summertime, enjoying a nice cold drink in a pub garden with the sun on my face! I managed to squeeze 3 bottles into my rucksack but pleased to note its going to be available at Waitrose, amongst other supermarkets in the coming months.

Whilst I didn’t manage any of them, the show also had to offer Taste Workshops, Hot Tips sessions, Sushi masterclasses, plus events in the Masterchef Theatre and masterclasses on cupcakes and canapés, seriously needed to go for 2 days!

Fortunately the enjoyment of the day doesn’t end at the show, I picked up a copy of the show guide, which also features a good selection of recipes which I am hoping to make and blog soon, including a heavenly sounding Chocolate and Amaretto fondant with cream, plus Toblerone tiramisu and finally Chocolate Vienesse fingers with orange curd – you will notice the chocolate theme….there is however lots more recipes, other than chocolate!

I was really pleased with this shows offerings, there were a good mixture of old and new products and the new layout seemed to work well. The only downside was that time flew by so quickly and I didn’t get around as many food stalls as I would have liked but I couldn’t carry anything further anyway, despite coming prepared with a back-pack and spare shoulder bag! I also didn’t manage to get many pictures this time, my camera is getting quite old now and in desperate need of a new toy, I just can’t decide what to go for..

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Flapjacks in a flash!

I am hoping to finally post my notes from the Masterchef Live ths week, in the meantime I just had to post this recent discovery! Its taken from an old microwave cookery book, however I forgot to write the name down when I took a picture of the recipe (long story!), if anyone knows will happily amend!

So far, I've made pretty awful flapjacks, the last batch became muesli....however despite slightly overcooking these as we have a very slow microwave, the next day they were perfect, I am converted to microwaving them, goodbye oven! Before this its main use was heating up hot milk at bedtime! These flapjacks are soft and taste great, hope you love them too!


Makes about 12 small squares

75g butter
50g light soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
175g porridge oats
(optional: handful of craisins)

Place in a bowl the butter, sugar and syrup and cook on high for 2 mins in a microwave, stir in the oats, press into a dish appx 5"x9" (I used a pyrex dish), cook raised up for 3 mins+, (I used an upturned bowl!) Allow to cool and cut into desired sized chunks :)

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Tomato and buffalo mozzarella tart

Sorry for delay since last post, the month has flown by! I am undergoing, again, a job change and shortly starting at my new company so things have been a little manic! A further post will follow but I wanted to add this recipe which used some lush Buffalo Mozzarella I picked up at the recent Masterchef Live event in London, from Laverstoke Park. The mozzarella is a different beast from the cheap balls I normally get, its milky, salty and soft and melts beautifully.

Not an exact recipe as such as nothing measured but easy enough to follow! Its a lovely tart made using a sheet of puff pastry, then topped with sliced ripe organic tomatoes (best can get out of season!), 2 tubs buffalo mozzarella roughly sliced, freshly grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves shredded, added both before and after cooking, also glazed with a mix of balsamic vinegar and evoo, about 30 mins in hot oven. Best served hot with a herby type salad.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Mini custard battered xmas pudding bites

Yes, you did read the title correctly!! Its a little different, however all the good for it!

Over on the UKFBA boards recently, a competition was posted to get creative in the kitchen with 'Matthew Walker' Christmas Puddings.

Now I am a real lover of Christmas pudding and so when my package of pud's arrived, also along with some horrible weather today, I decided to experiment! After drawing up a list of possible ideas, I put my apron on and got creative, and here is the results. I should say 'was' though as I've eaten them all!

Best served warm. I believe cream would be fabulous accompaniment but alas I have nothing remotely suitable, I suppose I will just have to make more, sigh ;-)

In a bowl, mix 4 tbsp plain flour, 2 tbsp birds custard powder, 1/2 tsp sugar, 6 tbsp milk, until mixed and creamy. Chop into 6 triangles a 100g 'The Pudding', lightly dust in a little flour. Now heat a deep fryer/ suitable pan with sunflower/ vegetable oil, until a cube of bread browns in about 30 seconds, dip the pudding chunks in the batter, coat thoroughly and carefully put into the hot fat, fry until lightly golden and drain on kitchen paper.

These make lovely, warm, fruity, slightly boozy little bites and I can see them becoming a regular treat this Christmas!
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