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.





Food Photography with Nokia Lumia #FoodiesOnTour

This is guest post by Jo Yee who covered this fab event for the blog when I was away travelling. 

These days with the popularity of mobile photography it’s no surprise that more and more people mistakenly refer to their mobile as their camera. I, myself, am an iPhone user but was intrigued by the opportunity to shoot with the Nokia Lumia
1020 at the #FoodiesOnTour event sponsored by Microsoft Devices Group. With 40 megapixel capability and fitted with Zeiss lens I think its safe to say the device is more camera than phone!

Winning presentation!

The food styling & photography masterclass was held at Leiths School of Food and Wine and taught by cookery teacher and food stylist, Jessica Mills. Each blogger was equipped with either a Nokia Lumia 1020 or its bigger brother, the Nokia Lumia 630 to capture the evening.

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

After an introduction and overview of the evening we were given a quick tutorial on how to use the camera phone with its manual settings then Jessica’s colleague, Jenny, demonstrated how to prepare a rack of lamb. My fellow bloggers and I were then put to work in cooking, styling and photographing our dinner assisted by Jessica.

On the menu was:

Starter: spinach and bacon salad with red chilli and mango

Main: rack of lamb coated with mustard & breadcrumbs and tomato mint salsa

Dessert: pavlovas with mint, papaya, pomegranate and passion fruit.

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class


Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Broken into teams of 3, we divided and conquered our individual courses. From my team, Andrew ( took on the unenviable task of preparing the rack of lamb (read: fat trimming and scraping away the membranes connected to each rib) while Tash ( seduced us with the aroma of bacon for the salad and I went on unchartered territory in trying my hand with pavlovas.

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Nokia Lumia Food Styling Class

Food Styling and Photography with Nokia Lumia

Food Styling and Photography with Nokia Lumia

Food Styling and Photography with Nokia Lumia


Food Styling

Another team’s presentation


The recipes Jessica provided proved to be pretty reliable as we were all happy with the results. The lamb was a tad overcooked but tender and complemented by the texture of the mustard and breadcrumb crust. The bacon salad sung beautifully as I expected it to, after all it was dressed with bacon fat! The pavlovas, I’ll admit, were a little over worked but held their own, a sweet tang danced from bite to bite.
We eagerly tucked in after a round of styling & photographing, breaking bread with the rest of the bloggers. At the end of the evening, Jessica presented the Leiths Cookery Bible to the winner of the casual food styling competition… me!

Here are the final results from my team’s food styling attempts. And I’ll leave you with some handy food styling tips from Jessica:

Food Styling tips

Food Styling and Photography Tips

- Use less food than you normally would. Think about framing the dish with
the plate.

Food Styling tips

- Look for a complementary background and props.

- Think about textures.

- Food doesn’t have to be too placed; it can look slightly messy and random
within reason

- Choose crockery that will enhance rather than detract

- Think about work in progress shots i.e. ingredients or just before something
goes in the oven

- You may wish to photograph a dish whole or a bit or scoop taken out of it

- Think about how you’re going to shoot the dish i.e. overhead, at a slight angle,
or on the side

- Think about colours, textures, patterns of food and props.

Food Styling tips

- Think about the lighting of the dish. Consider how you want the finished dish
to look when you are prepping and assembling the ingredients.

- Think about height and make it interesting, although some dishes work quite
well being flat

- Think about garnishes and how you can make the dish look fresher by
reserving some ingredients to scatter just before taking the photo.


EatCookExplore was a guest of  Microsoft Devices

Port and Chocolate Matching at Churchill’s Port House

Port and Chocolate Port House

Churchill’s Port House in Soho is undoubtedly London’s most unusual and unique pop up. It’s the brainchild of Max Graham whose family owns Churchill Port (first British Port wine company in 50 years) with the intention of bringing Port to a new audience and to demystify Port.

Most people associate Port as a fuddy duddy drink that only appears at the end of indulgent formal dinners and the tradition of passing the Port decanter to the left is still observed. A friend of mine has a massive collection of Vintage Port which has turned out to be a great investment and it was when I developed a taste for a fine Vintage Port.  

Port and Chocolate Port House (7)

At a recent Port and Chocolate pairing evening, we started with the Premium Tasting flight which consists of 3 ports paired with 3 chocolate truffles selected by Paul A Young.

Port and Chocolate Port House

First up is a Roasted Almond and Honey Caramel truffle paired with a White Port, served chilled. White Port needs to be reintroduced as a great alternative aperitif drink. This White Port is aged 10 years in barrels from mainly white grapes.

It has quite a savoury flavour and is normally served with  roasted almonds, hence this pairing. This truffle is made with local non grainy Richmond honey which makes the caramel really smooth.  

Churchills White Port Served cold as an aperitif

The second pair is a Peanut Butter and Raspberry Trifle paired with a rich Late Bottled Vintage Port. It might seem a bit strange to pair Port with chocolate and this Vintage Port would go well with peanuts so this truffle works really well.

Churchills Late Bottled Vintage Port
Peanut Butter and Raspberry Trifl

Port and Chocolate Port House (13)

The third pairing is a Cigar Leaf Caramel truffle which is something very unusual and special. There is a hit like hot chilli from the cigar leaf which is balanced by the oozing caramel, which is available at Paul’s shop. This truffle was paired with a 20 year old Tawny Port.

 Cigar Leaf Caramel truffle

John Graham founder of Churchill's Port

John Graham founder of Churchill’s Port

Churchill’s Port House really does a good job at changing the general public’s perception of Port. It is not longer that drink that you you pass around at the end of a meal. There are so many other ways to enjoy a good port. On their menu are a various  flights of Port to taste and you can choose to the chocolate pairing or some savoury food from their Portugese menu.

Churchill’s Port House would make a really unique night out and learn something new about different types of port. Catch it while you can.

Get more information at  and

EatCookExplore was a guest at Churchill’s Port House.

Eating Korean at Taste of London 2014

Korean Food has to be the latest food trend in London this year. This year at Taste of London Korea and Korea Foods has a massive stand showcasing Korean foods and ingredients like Kimchi, Gojujang (spicy bean paste), Ssamjang (fermented bean paste) and Bulgogi (Korean BBQ beef) sauce.  Don’t miss this if you are visiting Taste this year.

Gizzi Erskine and Joe McPherson

Gizzi Erskine and Joe McPherson

Gizzi Erskine and Joe McPherson of Seoul’s ZenKimchi hosted a Korean Food tasting at their stand. This turned out to be a tour of some famous Korean dishes, ranging from those that are normally served at formal banquets to what is really popular now in their street food trends.

Korean Fusion Street Food

In the UK we are a little behind the burgeoning US trend with Korean flavours infusing our favourite street food dishes. We have seen small hints of this when Hawksmoor introduced the Kim Chi burger a while back. In California where I just spent a very busy month, Korean fusion food trucks were the most prominent among all the street food markets. This all kicked off in a big way when Kogi BBQ used Twitter to announce their locations and in turn became the darling of twitter and oft quoted case study about the efficacy of social media on promoting small food businesses.

Back to Gizzi’s Korean Feast.

Hot Splash Sashimi with Ponzu and Korean Pepper

Hot Splash Sashimi with Ponzu and Korean Pepper


Slices of Wild Sea Bass in a Ponzu sauce flavoured with Yuzu and drizzled with hot sesame oil. Beautifully fresh fish with a citrusy zing of the sauce.

La Style Korea Town Crispy Tuna Rice

La Style Korea Town Crispy Tuna Rice

This might look like a a regular piece of sushi topped with spicy tuna but the bottom of this has been crisped up on a pan to make that crunchy rice.


Yukhoe Korean raw beef salad

This is a dish of Royal Korean Cuisine origin and is now usually served in very formal occasions as beef is a real luxury in Korea. In Korea they would only have beef once a month or so as it is very expensive. They would probably use local Korean beef called Hanwoo, which has a very marbled meat not unlike Wagyu. The production is so small that this meat is never exported.

For this dish, a grass finished beef from Turner and George was used. Slices of raw beef was paired with Korean pears for crunch and dressed with a spicy sauce.

Korean Fried Chicken

Korean Fried Chicken

This is Gizzi’s signature dish which she picked up from her travels in the US. It is twice fried brined chicken coated in a sweet, tangy and spicy sauce made with vinegar, gojujang and sriracha. Really messy but oh so moreish. Usually found at Korean bars as a bar snack to go with beer.

Hotdog Fried Rice

Hotdog Fried Rice

This might be a surprising fact : hotdogs are used in a lot of Korean dishes. Here it is used as the meat part of the fried rice. The rice is fried in a garlicky spicy sauce and served in a hot stone bibimbap bowl. Very flavourful and the hotdogs worked really well in the fried rice.

At this stage, we were totally stuffed but out comes a surprise course.

Surprise course: Bossam (Pork Wraps)

Bossam (Korean Pork Wraps)

Bossam is an iconic Korean Dish which is made up of slices of highly flavoured pork boiled in spices and served wrapped in lettuce, fresh kimchi, ssamjang sauce and spring onions. (Note: David Chang of Momofuku roasts his pork shoulder with a caramelised topping instead of boiling it, which Korean food purists hate but New Yorkers love.)  They would usually add an oyster to the wrap too. It’s fun as everyone has to participate, add their own condiments to put together their ultimate wrap and indulge. In Korea, bossam is usually served at banquets and everyone has their own version of this dish.

The ssamjang sauce is made with a mix of bean paste, gojujang, sugar and vinegar. This one is worth experimenting with.

Hotteok with Miso Ice Cream from Ice Cream Union

Hotteok with Miso Ice Cream from Ice Cream Union

How would you like a variation of an ice cream sandwich. Here Gizzi recreates this with a Korean street food favourite, Hotteok, which is a cinnamon pancake, sliced open and served with some miso ice cream and drenched in a decadent miso caramel. A great explosion of salty and sweet with a background hint of cinnamon from the cake. Wow!

Gizzi used to serve variation of this menu at her KTown pop ups. If you see it being advertised again, sign up immediately. It’s really good.

See my highlights of this year’s Taste of London here.

EatCookExplore was a guest of Visit Korea at the Taste of London



Highlights of Taste of London 2014

Taste of London 2014

Taste this year is bigger than previous years with so many more food producer tents, corporate entertaining marquees and lots more food and cooking activities. Taste of London is the biggest restaurant festival where a whole selection of Michelin star chefs congregate to do meet and greets and do cooking demonstrations. There are few places where you will get to meet these world renowned chefs in one place. As entry is by time slots, there is hardly enough time to walk through the show, eat from lots of stands and participate in any of the cooking lessons.

A couple of quick slide shows of the day:


Dan Doherty of Duck and Waffle

Dan Doherty of Duck and Waffle doing a cooking class at the Electrolux tent

Among those tops names that were featured, I saw Massimo Bottura and Rene Redzepi  doing sessions at the Electrolux tents. Michel was being accosted by a bunch of groupies and a Dan Doherty of Duck and Waffle being cornered by his fans.

Taste Jourdan

The Taste Jourdan stand

Winster Alley Ales

Winster Alley Ales Micro Brewery

Fruit carving at the Thai stand

Fruit carving at the Thai stand

The most popular demonstrator at the show

The most popular demonstrator at the show – ginger and garlic graters

The Lickalix girls

The Lickalix girls

Visit Mexico and their hot sauce

Visit Mexico and their hot sauce

Taste of London 2014
Taste of London 456 Taste of London 529 Taste of London 530 Taste of London 532

Eating wise, I had a fab Korean meal by Gizzi Erskine at the Visit Korea/ Korea Foods stand. After this, I couldn’t sample any of the dishes being served up at the restaurant stands.

However, I did have time to walk around to meet some food producers and found some interesting products.


German Salt Sprays

Really Unique German Salt Sprays

Taste of London 2014

Taste of London 525

Mussetti Italian Coffee

Mussetti Italian Coffee

Chocolate Spread in a polyfilla container

Chocolate Spread in a polyfilla container

German Flavoured oils

German Flavoured oils

Mexican Beer

Mexican Beer

Korean Aloe Vera drinks

Korean Aloe Vera drinks

 There was not nearly enough time to eat and see everything. Might have to go twice next year. You can get more information or buy tickets from the official website.

Taste of London 515




Malaysian Sambal Prawns and British asparagus

In Malaysia we love strong flavours and the Malay Sambal Tumis is one of the most versatile sauces as it can be used in so many dishes. The most common and popular use of Sambal Tumis is in Nasi Lemak, a Malaysian streetfood breakfast sold by ladies who set up stalls on pavements and street corners most mornings. Sambal ikan bilis is served with a scoopful of fragrant coconut rice, a couple of slices of cucumber, half a hard boiled egg and some peanuts, all delivered wrapped in banana leaf for mere pennies.

Using Best of British Asparagus

British Asparagus

This is variation of the sambal recipe which we usually cook at home as part of a home cooked meal with various other dishes. Here we are using seasonal British Asparagus with some shelled and deveined prawns.

The rich umami flavour in the Sambal sauce is from the use of Belacan, the Malaysian fermented prawn paste. This can be substituted with Fish Sauce as it is not readily available in supermarkets yet.

Malaysian Sambal with prawns and British asparagus

Malaysian Sambal with prawns and British asparagus


  • One bundle British Asparagus
  • 400g King Prawns or similar (preferably raw)
  • Sambal Sauce
  • 15g Dried Chillies }
  • 100g Fresh Red Chillies }
  • 250g Shallots } Blended or pounded
  • 25g Candlenuts }
  • 1 tbsp belacan powder }
  • Tamarind Juice - either from a jar or from the pulp
  • 2tbsp cooking oil
  • Sugar to taste
  • Salt to taste


  1. Prepare the sambal sauce by blending the ingredients identified
  2. Heat a wok or large frying pan and add some cooking oil
  3. Fry the blended ingredients on a medium heat and keep stirring for about 10 minutes or until the oil surfaces. The sauce should not be too runny.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the asparagus by snapping off the woody ends and slicing them diagonally across the stalk like in the picture
  5. Wash the prawns and sprinkle some sugar over them, this gives the prawns a bite instead of being soft and soggy
  6. Add the prawns to the sauce and cook until the prawns turn pink
  7. Add the asparagus and stir in and season to taste.
  8. Serve with steamed white rice and a selection of other dishes as part of a family meal

Sainsburys provided the main ingredients for this dish for their Best of British series.

Win a month’s supply of Innocent Veg Pots

Innocent veg pots have had a makeover, and taste better than ever. There are six delicious, healthy recipes, perfect for a quick lunch. Try Indian Madras, Thai Coconut Curry, Mexican Chipotle Chilli, Indian Lentil Sambar, Caribbean Jerk or our hearty guest recipe: the limited edition, British-inspired Pearl Barley & Veg.

Win a month's supply of Innocent Veg Pots

I recently tasted all the new flavours at a lunch at Fruit Towers and I can say that they all tasted really fresh and the flavours were suitably zingy. The Thai curry one is well balanced and spicy, the Madras one gives a really good curry hit and the British hot pot is both delicious and comforting.

I like that each pot is packed full of veg and it helps me up my vegetable intake without thinking of new recipes too. Despite being under 280 calories, the new innocent Thai veg pot is generously packed and bound to fill you up – great for those on the 5-2 diet. If you want a more substantial meal, add a piece of grilled fish or chicken. 

Each pot is packed with veg (at least 2 of your 5-a-day), is low in fat and comes in under 350 calories. And it takes less than 5 minutes to heat one up in the microwave or in a pot. We think you’ll agree that’s pretty tasty. 

innocent veg pots


To win, just follow the instructions in the rafflecopter widget below. I will check if you have left comments, followed on Social Media etc, so don’t cheat!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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 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