Friday, 3 July 2015

ASPARAGUS, COURGETTE & HALLOUMI SALAD

Finally summer is properly here although being a typical Brit I am now complaining it is too hot!! Arabella and I did escape the heat on Tuesday afternoon and went to see the Minion movie at the cinema which I highly recommend….fantastic air conditioning and a great film!!

Anyway now it is barbecue weather I am experimenting with some different sides - here is one which took a while to make (1 hour 20 minutes ish) but was super easy and absolutely delicious.

Ingredients for 4-6 people (I did half of this as was cooking for just 2 people):

350g cherry tomatoes, halved
140ml olive oil
24 asparagus spears, trimmed
2 courgettes
200g halloumi, cut into 2cm thick slices - or thereabouts
25g rocket

For the basil oil:
75ml / 5 tbsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
25g fresh basil leaves
1/4 tsp black pepper


Preheat the oven to 160 C / 140 C fan / gas mark 3.

In a bowl mix the chopped tomatoes with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season generously.


Lay them out on a baking tray lined with baking paper.


Roast in the oven for 50 minutes or until semi dried. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.


Blanch the asparagus for 4 minutes in a pan of boiling water.


Drain and refresh under cold water until the spears are cold. Then dry with kitchen roll, put in a bowl and toss with 2 tbsp of olive oil and season.


Slice the courgettes very thinly length ways using a mandolin or vegetable peeler. Mine weren't very neatly done!


In a separate bowl, mix the courgettes with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season.


Put a frying pan or griddle pan on a high heat for a few minutes until very hot. Cook the asparagus and courgettes in batches, turning after about a minute, until browned. Set aside to cool.



Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the halloumi for 3 minutes or until golden on each side.



Place on kitchen roll to soak up the oil while you make the basil oil.


In a blender blitz the olive oil, a chopped garlic clove, the basil leaves and black pepper until smooth.




Finally mix the vegetables, halloumi and rocket in a bowl and drizzle with the basil oil.




Tuck in and enjoy! We had it with a burger….yum!


This was a really good side - in fact it was so delicious I could have it as a main - the ingredients mix so well together and it tasted so fresh. I love halloumi and this is a great way to enjoy it. A perfect recipe for a summer's day.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

TASTE OF LONDON, REGENT'S PARK

Taste of London is my idea of Heaven - a food festival in Regent's Park with 40 of London's best restaurants offering some of their most popular dishes. There are cookery demonstrations by some of London's top chefs and also an abundance of stalls from artisan producers and premium brands.

It is also Pascal's idea of hell - lots of people, eating standing up and queueing!!

However he very kindly offered to go with me this weekend and boy I had a feast. I started at Barbecoa with slow roasted pit beef with new york slaw, ketchup and beef dripping crumble. This was great - the meat was so tender and went perfectly with the slaw. I can imagine it would taste even better with the fantastic views the restaurant has of St Paul's cathedral.


We then had a kebab by Sabrina Ghayour for Action Against Hunger - it was an eastern spiced chicken and pomegranate shawarma with yogurt sauce, mint, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses - this was good but a bit dry - not my favourite. It was a shame as Sabrina Ghayour is an absolutely phenomenal chef.


Next was asparagus, pea and goat's cheese croquettes with wild garlic pesto from Ember Yard. These were so good I forgot to take a photo!! I definitely need to go to this restaurant.

I obviously needed to have a burger and my top choice was meat liquor and it didn't disappoint. I had the deep hippie burger which was a mustard fried beef patty, dead hippie sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and minced white onions. This was delicious - cooked pink with the right amount of cheese and sweet crisp pickles….very messy though!



After the burger, it was only right we had a hot dog from Bubbledogs - I had the BLT (bacon, lettuce and truffle mayonnaise) - I wasn't expecting anything amazing but I was very pleasantly surprised - it was really good. The sausage had a bit of a kick to it and I adored the truffle mayonnaise…even Pascal raved about it!


It was now time to move onto the sweet stuff. I started with a mini salted caramel cupcake and a mini mars bar crisp from the Primrose Bakery - 5 stars to both - I will definitely be trying to recreate these at home.


My favourite dish of the whole festival was the salted caramel soft whip with honeycomb from Tredwells. It was so good I have now added Tredwells to the top of my restaurant list. I could have eaten about 10 of these puddings!!


I finished off with the malted marshmallow peanut butter frozen custard with chocolate covered pretzels from Shake Shack. This was good but not a patch on the salted caramel soft serve!


I could have actually eaten more (oink oink) as there were so many good things to choose from however I didn't want to explode. Plus we had already spent a small fortune on entry tickets and all the food and Pascal was ready to sit down!

All in all a lovely day, I will definitely be making this a yearly occurrence!

Taste of London

Saturday, 20 June 2015

SALTED CARAMEL BROWNIES

My best friend Amanda certainly knows the way to my heart, a few months ago she posted me a recipe for salted caramel brownies….I adore brownies and I LOVE salted caramel! I only just got round to making them though as every week I have been making Pascal's favourite millionaire shortbread however this week I fancied a change!

Ingredients for 16 brownies:

Brownies:
225g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
250g dark chocolate, chopped
225g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
150g plain flour, sifted

Salted caramel:
40ml double cream
1/4 vanilla pod, split length ways, seeds scraped
15g salted butter
2 pinches of sea salt
60g caster sugar
40g golden syrup



Start by making the caramel. In a saucepan, combine the cream, half the butter, a good pinch of salt, the vanilla seeds and pod. I have never cooked with a vanilla pod before (I couldn't even find it in the supermarket), it was a bit fiddly to scrape the seeds out as they stuck to my nails, but I did my best!



Cook over a low heat so the butter melts and whisk until it is just bubbling (2-3 minutes), then take off the heat and set aside.



Place the caster sugar and golden syrup in a medium heavy based pan over a low heat.



Don't stir, just swirl gently to help dissolve the sugar. I thought this sounded weird but it actually works very easily. Turn up the heat and keep swirling until the sugar turns into golden caramel.





Stir the caramel into the cream mixture with a wooden spoon, discarding the vanilla pod.



Return the pan to a low heat while you stir in the remaining butter, then set aside once more.



Scrunch up a large piece of greaseproof paper, wet it and then line a 20x30cm (or thereabouts) baking tin with the damp paper.




Pour in the caramel and sprinkle with the rest of the salt. Then place in the fridge for 30 minutes.



You now have 15 minutes to relax (I used this time to wash up)!

Then start to make the brownies. Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20x30cm (or thereabouts) baking tin (I actually used the same one as before).

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat.



Stir in the chocolate until it is melted (I added some leftover Easter eggs).





Then remove from the heat and stir in the sugar.




Once cooled a little, whisk in the eggs.



Then add the flour (through a sieve) and fold in until incorporated.





Pour the mixture into the tin. Then dot teaspoons of the salted caramel into the brownie mixture, pressing to submerge. It doesn't have to be neat (as you can see)!






When you have a third of the caramel left, drizzle it over top, using a spoon to ripple it through. 



Bake the brownies in the oven for 25 minutes until cooked but still a bit gooey. Then leave to cool for at least an hour.



If you like the brownies a little less gooey (I do) put them in the fridge to cool for another couple of hours however it is up to you. When ready, cut into squares, tuck in and enjoy!



These were utterly delicious! I have to say they are actually slightly dangerous as I cannot stop eating them. The salted caramel is unbelievable….I could even add more. A fabulous recipe….make it….you won't regret it!