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My Masterchef predictions

7 Mar

I’m getting too excited about this programme. It’s a bit embarrassing. During a conversation with a colleague earlier on this evening I think I decided the fate of the remaining four. I hope Gregg and John are listening:

Jay: A deserving winner but it’s not going to happen. The hard man turned chef isn’t bothered about stick about his soufflés down the pub and I love him for that. He’s thrown himself at the competition which is clearly a million miles from his real life. I have a soft spot for Jay but I think he’s the first gonner tonight. I think he blew it last week in Thailand during the best Masterchef challenge ever.

Tom: He’s the next to go for me. Dubbed the favourite for some time he ticks all the boxes: shy northern plasterer with a penchant for fine dining. But he’s just made too many mistakes for me. Sorry Tom. However, if the cooking doesn’t work out there’s some plastering work for him at my place. I didn’t know tradespeople could be so tidy until last week’s vt on ‘a day in the life of Tom.’ Plasterer Tony, take note.

Andrew: I think he’s the runner-up. Most of his food has looked incredible and he’s been delivering since day one. His tapas during the European round was amazing and I’ve been wanting to go to the restaurant he worked in ever since. I’m excited to see what he does next.

Shelina: The beautiful Shelina is my winner. Her Mauritian street food is unique, elegant and has that unusual twist, reminiscent of the cuisine of Masterchef winners gone by. Some of her desserts have been amazing and on a couple of occasions I actually thought Gregg the pudding king Wallace was actually going to faint. She’s done a fantastic job of refining her food as the series has gone on and made a visible improvement. Here’s to a long and successful career!


Shelina is my winner (image courtesy of


Lorraine Pascale stirs up record viewers

27 Sep

You may remember my recent post about Lorriane Pascale being the top contender to fill Jamie Oliver’s shoes as the face of Sainsbury’s?

Well, her new series started on BBC 2 last night, Home Cooking Made Easy, and I’ve definitely decided she’s the woman for the job. Who cares about promoting a healthy lifestyle to a family supermarket? That woman’s dishes look delicious! If I was Ms Sainsbury’s I’d be snapping her talented hand off!

According to The Guardian, the cake queen drew in 2.5 million viewers last night on BBc2, beating BBC1’s Panorama by nearly one million viewers.  I only saw the second half of it and to be honest I’m glad. I’ve already promised the boy we’ll sample the swiss roll bowl cake and the five spiced baked ribs are a close second. I don’t know when I’ll have time to try out anything else!

Looking forward to next week’s show already!

Sainsbury’s waves goodbye to Jamie

18 Jul

The nation’s sweetheart? Cheryl Cole? Kate Middleton? My vote goes to Jamie Oliver. Already a fan of his cookbooks, TV shows and cheeky chappie personality, his latest work in America for me has sealed his position as a fantastic ambassador for food, healthy lifestyles and (without sounding too cheesy and weird) the country.

That’s why I found it strange that after 11 years, Sainsbury’s is swapping Oliver for the lesser known Lorraine Pascale, from the BBC series Baking Made Easy. She’s gorgeous, fabulous and fills my saturday mornings with delicious looking cakes that make me want to cancel my plans and spend the day in the kitchen, but I just don’t think she has Jamie’s clout. With all the work he’s done with kids and promoting healthy cooking from scratch he seems a better fit for the brand than someone who’s main area of expertise is cakes.

Jamie’s campaign with Sainsbury’s finishes at Christmas, so let’s see how the lovely Lorraine fills those cockney boots.

Lovely Lorraine is the Queen of Cakes

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.

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

Jamie’s not quite 30 minute meals

7 Feb

Don’t get me wrong, I love Jamie Oliver and his latest book 30 Minute Meals is my new favourite. The tapas recipe is particularly spectacular. However, we’ve had a number of debates in the office about these culinary delights being possible to create in half an hour so this weekend I decided to set the stop watch (well, keep an eye on the microwave timer) and put this to the test.

Being a Friday night I set to work on his recipe for Cheats Pizza which I was pretty nervous about having never made a pizza from scratch before. I’ll not repeat the recipe here, but do check it out and give it a go, the results are fab. The whole process from start to finish took me 64 minutes, worth the wait – but certainly not the half hour breeze I was promised. For your benefit I will outline here some of the challenges which Jamie did not foresee:

1. Making a very sticky dough in the blender and needing to clean out this stickiness in full in order to be able to use the blender again to make the tomato topping

2. Your kind-hearted but heavy-handed other half actually breaking your beloved blender trying to clean it because the dough is so sticky

3. Digging out receipt and warranty for said blender to be able to make pleading phone call to blender company in the morning

4. Flipping the pizza base in the frying pan is a two-man job and takes a while after a few Friday wines – I’d say this added at least 8 minutes

With these hurdles out of the way I then set to work on the ‘super simple’ salads and accompaniments which are delicious, but I guarantee Mr Oliver has an army of choppers and slicers to help with his prep which a normal girl from Leeds just doesn’t have.

That aside, the pizza was yummy and I’ll be trying it out again just as soon as I get my blender fixed.

My delicious pizza

A fishy business

16 Jan

The fish industry is a hot topic on TV at the moment and has continued to receive a battering (see what I did there?!) thanks to last night’s Dispatches on Channel 4. It investigated sustainability and tracebility of the fish we buy and some worrying facts about seafood labelling were revealed, with many products sold on “fresh” fish counters having actually been frozen already, sometimes for a number of months. Advice: read the small print before you buy.

But on a more light-hearted note, Friday night saw Heston B create one of his fabulously extravagant and extraordinary meals, this time a fishy feast for hungry celebs including Jonathan Ross and (hilariously) Zoe Salmon! He used sea cucumber tea, wolffish and chips and trout candy floss to raise awareness of dwindling fish stocks and dabble with reinventing our national dish. He’s so clever.

Positive or negative, fish are enjoying the media limelight at the moment and I hope people aren’t put off from purchasing fish despite the negative coverage. Let’s see how Hugh gets on with his fish fight and yes, I have spent all weekend watching TV!