Archive | April, 2011

Masterchef revisited

27 Apr

We love you John and Gregg!

Despite my previous comments, I successfully became hooked with this year’s Masterchef and am pretty disappointed that in just a few hours it’s all going to be over. 11-weeks in and I’ve developed a bit of a soft spot for our final three and held my breath along with them during this Easter weekend Masterchef-athon as an array of judges have dug into their lovingly dished-up delicacies.

A couple of my particular highlights from this series; the sneak peak into John’s homelife in Sydney on Easter Monday and Gregg’s chilli hiccups thanks to Jackie’s heavy-handed spice!

The series, despite its cringeworthy beginnings, has been thoroughly enjoyable and my fingers and toes are crossed for the first woman Masterchef winner since Thomasina Miers in 2005. Sara has been consistantly strong throughout the competition, hasn’t crumbled under pressure and produced food which has inspired me to hit the kitchen (I myself have not had quite the same success just yet!) Congratulations to Tom on his new found kitchen cleanliness! And good luck to Tim and his brave, experimental flavours – but my money’s on Sara. Roll on 9pm.

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The best Easter eggs

22 Apr

Flower Power from Biscuiteers

Hotel Chocolat’s Nibblatron

 

If, like me, you’re still to purchase your Easter goodies, don’t panic. There’s still one shopping day left to purchase choccie treats. Here’s a few of my favourites:

1. Hotel Chocolat Nibbaltron

Kids and big kids alike with love these chocolate robots

2. Hotel Chocolat eggs and soldiers

The perfect excuse to have chocolate for breakfast on Easter Sunday

3. Green and Black’s bespoke hampers

These build-your-own hampers are a great idea for a special Easter treat. Ingredients include chocolate (of course) organic wines and other Green and Black’s goodies.

4. Booja Booja hazelnut chocolate egg

A delicious chocolate egg with a hand painted shell

5. Flower Power Biscuit Tin

Not technically an Easter egg, but a great sweet treat and alternative to chocolate. A lovely spring gift from Biscuiteers.

Dinner Date

13 Apr

I know I’ve had a moan about a cooking-related TV show once before, but I really do love them, even the rubbish ones. My latest addiction is ITV’s Dinner Date which is on Sunday lunchtimes – perfect hangover TV. It’s an obvious rip-off of the fabulous Come Dine with Me, with one lucky singleton visiting three dates in one week who cook a three-course meal for them in their own home. The bachelor/bachelorette then rates the dates and chooses their favourite to go out with again at the end of the week.

The legendary Come Dine with Me narrator is portrayed by a female version who isn’t at all funny and quite rude about the diners but this made up for by the fact that Dinner Date gives the one thing that Come Dine with Me doesn’t….you get to find out what happens after they’ve all gone home!

I cast my mind back to a rather old episode of Come Dine with Me (and by far my favourite) which featured the wonderful ‘Singleton Jan’ (that was her name for the week.) She had her own business and a hot tub and at the end of the week she almost hooked up with the “butler” that one of the other contestants had hired for the evening. That’s where the show ended and I was left hanging! However, with Dinner Date, as the credits role you get an update as to how the couple got on and if they hit it off!

Yes, it says an awful lot about the cooking on this show when it’s the gossip that is most memorable!

One Big Cook-a-Thon

5 Apr

 

I love my dishwasher

Two Mother’s Days + a good catch up with old friends = a three-day cook-a-thon Chez Jules.

I didn’t quite realise how much work I’d taken on when my other half  and I between us agreed to host three separate meals at our place this weekend, but myself and my good friends Jamie, Delia and Ernst and Julio Gallo (just to keep a spring in my step) managed to pull off the cooking bonanza. I’ll not bore you with each individual menu, but I want to outline a couple of successes for you to try should you find yourself in the same situation.

Success number one: Jamie’s chocolate ganache

You may recall from a previous post that I love Jamie’s book 30 minute meals, but never has one been completed in under and hour and a half in my house….until now. The secret…don’t attempt the full meal, just one course! Ditch the spaghetti and silky salad which Jamie suggests to accompany the ganache and instead, couple the dessert with a simple pasta dish and voila! A 30 minute meal!

Success number two: delicious dauphinoise potatoes

Not a dish I had been able to master until now. But a bit of dabbling with the recipe…and I’ve done it! Slice your potatoes to the width of a £1 coin and layer up into a baking tray or roasting dish. Generously season. Then, boil some double cream, milk, loads of garlic and nutmeg (forgive the lack of measurements – I didn’t use any!) Pour over the potatoes and add a final layer of cheese on top. I used parmesan but today my boss suggested that gruyere is the way forward, so I’ll be trying this out next time! Simply bake for an hour and a half and that’s it. I also found that they can be prepared in advance and just warmed up as required which is very useful indeed when a trip to the pub is on the cards before the guests arrive.

Said potatoes served with stuffed chicken and green beans...on rather large plates