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Cooking Heston’s Barbecue for a BBQ Off

We are enjoying a nice summer this year. Walking around the residential streets of London, you will smell the wafts of meat grilling and the sounds of clinking glasses and drifts of conversation.

Last weekend, I had a little BBQ party with a few friend and to make it a bit more fun, we did a BBQ off. Everyone had to bring a dish and we would all judge their efforts and someone would be crowned an overall winner. Using Heston’s Ultimate Barbecue for recipe ideas, I decided to make Heston’s pulled pork recipe using pork shoulders and serving it in a wrap instead of a bun. I also made an Asian tangy slaw with red cabbage to go with it.

Waitrose BBQ Off Heston's Pulled Pork

Heston’s Pulled Pork with Asian Slaw

You can see the recipe here. It was much easier and faster to cook than I expected, took just 1 1/2 hours on the stove in stead of hours in a low oven. The use of smoked paprika in the braising liquid gives the bbq sauce a nice smokey flavour too. This recipe also gives you a lot of very tasty barbecue sauce from the braising liquid. I used this sauce to make some barbecued spare ribs after too.

Waitrose BBQ Off

The competition was meant to be based on everyone making the same recipe but of course no one ever follows the rules so we had some great spicy chicken, awesome beer steamed BBQ ribs and some courgette and haloumi skewers.

Waitrose BBQ Off

It’s not quite Guy Fawkes yet but we decided to make a big bonfire in the field too. This took half a day to build and we smeared ghee all over the bigger pieces of logs to make it burn faster and longer. It was quite awesome and I think we’ll be doing that again in the Autumn.

Waitrose BBQ Off (2)

You can get more ideas and recipes for Summer Parties here:  http://www.waitrose.com/content/waitrose/en/home/inspiration/waitrose-summer-partyideas/heston-s-ultimatebarbecuerecipes.html?cq_ck=1403770224098

This BBQ off was sponsored by Waitrose Groceries.

Become your own Barista at home

latte art

Coffee Culture in London is exploding, with many new independent coffee roasters and coffee startups opening up in town. Sitting in cafes and making the most of al fresco coffee culture is always fun, but sometimes staying in is all we really want to do. When the week has been busy and the weekend beckons with promises of lazy mornings reading the newspaper and relaxing on the sofa, the idea of going out can seem too much. But you don’t have to force yourself out of your pyjamas to enjoy a decent coffee. You could actually impress everyone by becoming your own home barista.

No courses are required, you don’t have to go get a fancy apron or even get baking cupcakes. You just need to love coffee and be a bit creative.

Start with the fundamentals
There are so many great coffee machines on the market right now, you could easily turn your kitchen into a café. Forget Starbucks…call it Cafe Chez Moi and invite your friends round for some posh coffee!

You could always serve some freeze-dried instant coffee or cappuccino sachets to serve but there’s no fun in that and there certainly is no compromise on taste. It’s easy to make your own premium cofffee with freshly ground coffee beans, as there are so many great brands to choose from.

If you’re running a business from home or freelancing your way to the top, you could even impress clients with a little home networking over coffee. Talk about giving them the personal touch!

There are lots of different coffee machines out there of course and choosing can be tricky, so think about factors like the space you have in your kitchen, the style you want, cleaning-ease & budget as outlined in this handy video by Which?.

A touch of art with your coffee
Once you’ve selected the right machine, you may want to think about getting creative. Tassimo offer a really cool selection of coffee art stencils, so you can really impress your visitors with your coffee crafting skills. You could make coffee inspired art to hang around to give your place that extra authentic feel and if you wanted, to you could get baking a few cupcakes too, why not?
But if you truly want to take your coffee making to the next level you could invest in thermometers, coffee grinders and even get some training from London’s prestigious Department of Coffee and Social Affairs. You can learn to make fancy coffee art on Youtube too.

But at the same time you can still keep your barista status and keep it cheap too. Heating up milk in the pan, instead of using a milk steamer will still give you a nice latte-style drink. But if you want some frothy foam on top, all you need is a jar and a microwave.


And if you want to really impress your friends, you can explain to them how you know it’s a good espresso because of the ‘crema’ at the top. Crema is the foam on your espresso and barista’s use that as a sign they have created the perfect cup (or The God Shot as it’s also called). And if you want to get the fancy apron too, go for it! It’s your house, your rules, your own personal coffee shop!

This is a sponsored post.

Tom Aikens helps launch Market Deli by Walkers

It’s always fun to attend events where great chefs are doing a demo or masterclass. Tom Aikens was at the launch of Walker’s new premium snacks range, Market Deli. His introduction emphasised his reliance on really good produce and the provenance of his ingredients.

Tom demonstrated a couple of dishes using some of the ingredients that inspired the new flavours of snacks, a spicy. chunky gazapacho wiht a multitude of ingredients and a very decadent Mac and Cheese.  I picked up a couple of useful tips from his demo:

1) always use warm milk when making roux, helps the sauce come together, no lumps.

2) add some chopped up sun dried tomatoes into your mac and cheese. This adds an extra dimension to the flavours.

Walkers’ new Market Deli range comes in 8 flavours inspired by “deli” foods like chorizo, sun dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. The range come in potato chips, tortilla chips and the trendy pita chips which I quite like. My favourite flavour was the Flame Grilled Roasted Spanish Chorizo with Roasted Onion.

Walkers Market Deli

Market Deli Tom Aikens making mac and cheese

Tom Aikens making mac and cheese

Tom Aikens makes mac and cheese

Market Deli Tom Aikens adding sun dried tomatoes to mac and cheese

Adding sun dried tomatoes to mac and cheese

Adding sun dried tomatoes to mac and cheese

Adding sun dried tomatoes and fresh herbs to mac and cheese

Market Deli (23) Market Deli (29) Market Deli (28) Market Deli (26) Market Deli (27) Market Deli (48) Market Deli (47) Market Deli (50)

Market Deli (55)

Market Deli (54)

 

EatCookExplore was a guest of Walkers at this event.

 

 

 

 

Waitrose Cellar Debuts – Wine Buying Guide Online

Waitrose Cellar

When I was younger, I tended to just buy wine from the local wine shop where I got some help with the wine selection.  In the last few years, after attending a lot of wine tastings and with the help and tips from my Wine Judge friend, I have learnt a lot more about wines. I am not an expert by any means but I can certainly make a more informed decision now.

Today, you can buy wine from websites online with each giving advice of varying quality. Waitrose has just launched Waitrose Cellar just for selling wine online. The site includes at a lot of  information on the types of wine and helps you with your selection including food matching tips. This is a really great resource for anyone who is not an expert.

I’ve been at a couple of wine tastings recently (Wines of Rioja and Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux) where I was very ably led by one of the senior wine buyers from Waitrose. He is a walking wine encyclopedia and knew which wines and vintages to avoid and which ones were really amazing. When you are at a wine event where there are several hundred wines to taste in a day, this was a great help.

At the recent Waitrose Cellar launch event at the London Canal Museum, we met a couple of other Wine Buyers for Waitrose, Xenia and Stephane. Loaded onto a barge, our group drifted along the Regent Canal while sampling the Spring Foodie Collection of 12 wines. This collection was selected by the team and consists of some sparkling, some white and some red wines.

Waitrose Cellar (18)

Stephane Waitrose Wine Expert

Stephane Waitrose Wine Expert

 Of all the ones we tasted, I really liked

  • the award winning Waitrose Blanc de Noirs Brut made with only Pinot Noir, which will be great paired with Chinese food and fish and chips
  • the crisp and citrusy Waitrose Chablis (made by the Caves des Vignerons de Chablis) which will be good with seafood and
  • if you like dessert wines,  this sweet wine with a hint of peach was delicious, Waitrose Pacherence du Civ Bilh or Seriously Peachy.

Waitrose Cellar (66)

Waitrose Cellar (112)

The new Waitrose Cellar website lets you buy the wines by the type of grape, which I have not seen anywhere else. You can choose any of the pre mixed cases or choose your own. If you need help, you can either tweet them a question @waitrosecellar or call them. An expert will get back to you with some answers.

Waitrose Cellar Discount Code

Order any 6 wines at waitrosecellar.com with free delivery. Save £10 when you spend £100 with our code WTCELLAR514

Regents Canal London

Regents Canal London

Waitrose Cellar Canal Museum

 Waitrose Cellar (32)

Waitrose Cellar

Salut!

 

 

 

 

 

Wishing You All A Very Happy Christmas!

Wishing you all a very delicious and Happy Christmas and an abundant New Year!

christmas wreath

Festive Food and Wine Matching Guide

If you are like me and have no clue about matching wines to your festive food, here is a really handy Food and Wine Matching guide that can help you.

You can’t go wrong with some bubbly to serve as an aperitif or with the Christmas canapes. If your budget doesn’t stretch to a bottle of Crystal Champagne, then consider one of the many superb alternatives like a good Italian Prosecco or a sparkling English Wine.

For the main event, whether you are having a Roast Turkey or a Roast Goose, both red and white wine can be a good accompaniment but do have a read of the chart to help you pick the right one.

Don’t forget a good dessert wine. This year, I found a few great new sweet wines from France and Italy, both white and reds. This would be a nice option to go with your Christmas Pudding. Alternatively, you could even opt for a Chocolate Beer from the Meantime Brewing Company.

Have a fun with your festive feasting!

 

Food and Wine Matching guide

The Mince Pie Project For Kids Company and FoodCycle #MincePieProject

The Mince Pie Project is a unique charity initiative where top chefs create some unique mince pies and sell and auction them for good causes. The 2 causes chosen this year are The Kids Company and FoodCycle. (More about them below)

3-Mince Pie Project (4)

4-Mince Pie Project

The Mince Pie Projects kicks off at noon on Friday 6th December. 100 top chefs will each create two boxes of signature mince pies of their own design.  One box will be auctioned to the highest bidder; the second box will be put up for raffle, in which anyone can get involved with a £2 donation per ticket. You can bid or buy a raffle ticket here:  www.themincepieproject.com 

Each box of signature mince pies will be submitted for the online auction, beginning at noon tomorrow and ending at noon on 13thDecember.

Some of this years most original and most anticipatedmince pie marvels include; mince pie ‘santamosas’ from Great British Bake Off Winner and design guru, Frances Quinn; bacon, bourbon and butterscotch mince pies from Neil Rankin at Smokehouse, lemon meringue mince pies from Duck & Waffle head chef, Dan Doherty and a volcano inspired, molten mince pie from Nobu head pastry chef, Regis Cursan.

I had the chance to taste a selection of these mince pies at their launch event and I have to say that Neil Rankin’s bacon, bourbon and butterscotch mince pies were really unique and would be worth recreating yourself if you don’t win the auction or the raffle.

2-Mince Pie Project (3) The other more notable and adventurous flavours were Alyn Williams’ Mincey Pienuts, a hybrid of a mince pie and a doughnut filled with brandy custard. Then there was Mickael Weiss’ modern twist with a marzipan base and a sweet macaron topping. Everything worked in this one except I don’t like marzipan. Mince Pie Project

About FoodCycle FoodCycle builds communities by combining volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen space to create nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation. Over 400,000 tonnes of edible food is wasted each year yet over 4 million people are affected by food poverty across the UK. Since FoodCycle started cooking in May 2009, their network of 1200 volunteers have served over 80,000 meals for people in need.

About Kids Company Kids Company provides practical, emotional and educational support to 36,000 vulnerable inner-city children. This includes 18,000 of the most at-risk children and young people in London, who face enormous challenges in their family homes and neighbourhoods. They provide support through four centres, outreach work and services in 46 schools. More information on the Mince Pie Project website: www.themincepieproject.com 

Mince Pie Project

Event Preview: James Martin at Ascot Festival of Food and Wine Raceday 7 Sept

Fine Food and Horse Racing

Ascot’s Festival of Food and Wine Raceday

Ascot’s Festival of Food and Wine Raceday

Horse racing used to be just about the horses, betting and drinking. Nowadays, it’s so much more. This week, Ascot is hosting a Festival of Food and Wine Raceday this Saturday where they will be hosting cooking demonstrations by James Martin.

He will be cooking dishes using seasonal British produce and they will be simple recipes that you can recreate at home. He has also designed a menu to be served at the Windsor Forest Restaurant with dishes like home-cured salmon with charred cucumber, pickled ginger and tapioca crisp, followed by a slow roast fillet of beef with sautéed wild mushrooms, fondant potato and Madeira jus and for dessert a vodka and vanilla pannacotta with fresh raspberries and sugared doughnuts.

Ascot’s Festival of Food and Wine Raceday combines great racing with fantastic food.  Wine connoisseurs will be on hand to give expert advice on how to choose a wine to suit your palate, while the Festival of Food celebrates the best produce the local area has to offer.  Racegoers can shop between races, purchasing locally-produced items from county suppliers, and leaving them with the “Shop & Drop” facility to collect later.
James Martins’ menu is available for lunch in the Windsor Forest Restaurant and includes premier admission, exclusive table of 10 or shared table for smaller groups, a private balcony with trackside viewing, a glass of champagne on arrival, four course luncheon, Cellar Master’s selected wines, port or brandy with coffee, afternoon tea, complimentary bar throughout the day (excluding champagne) until 30 minutes after last race, one car park label per couple, a racecard and racing paper.

You can book by calling 0844 346 0346. Raceday tickets start from £16per person and children under 18 go free.  For more information and to book tickets, please visit ascot.co.uk