Recipe | Tips and tricks to perfect lamb chops and Quinoa salads

whisk

School of wok…

Travelling East from the blossoming West Country towards the big smoke for my latest job my mind was speeding along faster than the train (although admittedly that’s not always difficult). The days ahead were really going to challenge me in different ways and my skills and knowledge were to be put to the test…I was excited.

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Was I about to cook for a tyrannical tycoon using only ingredients beginning with the letter Q?…no.  Perhaps create an entirely aquamarine coloured menu for a stroppy model?…nope.  It wasn’t even to whip up lunch for 50 with only ingredients bought at Waterloo station. No, I had been commissioned to teach my client how to cook.

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I have done various classes before including cookery parties for kids where their main objective seems to be how much chocolate they can eat before I object and Christmas cookery demonstrations that inevitably end in festive cocktail making.

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In professional kitchens you are of course continuously learning and teaching and in my experience although knowledge and enthusiasm is essential, clarity is also important. I remember once a very busy lunchtime shift at the café I set up for the Mudchute city park and farm.  I yelled out at my new trainee to grab the box of broad beans from outside and shuck them.

He looked at me startled then seeing my stare scuttled off.  He came back 10 minutes later empty handed.

“Where are my broad beans?!’

“I chucked them… on the compost.”

He didn’t make the grade as a chef but you will be glad to know he did go on to be a rather successful actor.

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Teaching someone at home to cook is a lot more tranquil. My client was starting from scratch confessing never having cooked before.  I felt we had a head start as they were certainly knowledgeable about various foods and I had noticed the house was always stocked with top notch produce.

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The first session was how to cook various types of fish, including fried sea bass, seared scallops, cod En papillote and salmon. (I have lots of tips on cooking fish published in this months issue of The Field Magazine). We then moved onto cuts of meat including some spectacular lamb chops, slow cooked lamb shoulder, butterflied chicken and juicy rump steaks. We did a session on stir fries, soups and sauces and for our ‘grand finale’ we rustled up an entire lunch for a group of her friends.  The menu read as follows :

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 Baked side of salmon, with lemon and fennel

Served with a Salsa verde and a hot black olive and anchovy sauce.

 Tomato and hazelnut pesto with mozzarella and nectarines

 Quinoa salad with roasted courgette, lemon, avocado and herbs.

 Flourless chocolate cake and salted caramel ice cream

 

The lunch was a great success and I was delighted my client, who swears they have never cooked before, knocked out plate after plate of delicious food.

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Job done, mortarboards tossed and (school)bags packed I am now heading on for the next job….

For this postcard recipe I will give you some tips on cooking lamb chops (as we agreed we totally nailed it) and a recipe on how to properly cook quinoa.

 

This week;

Gold stars given :5

Detentions : 0

I raised an eyebrow at: The price of meat from the local butcher.

Range rover to Porsche ratio spotted in W11:   5:1

I have had: My postcard recipe from Provence published in the American journal ‘The Cooks Cook’  and an article on a day in the life of a private chef (this can be found in the Cooks World Section).

The word is : Aquamarine IS the colour to be seen in.

 

For more snippets and photos of my week you can follow me on

Instagram @phollowphilippa

and

Twitter @phollowphilippa

 

Tips and tricks for cooking chops

My first job in London was at the amazing Lidgate butchers.  Amazing for many reasons  – the meat is renowned for quality and I know that any meat aspiring to be sold from their blocks has to endure vigorous scrutiny and have impressive credentials before being allowed even in the front door.  Its also amazing that it’s the kind of shop that passers by stop and peer in just to have a look at the old fashioned splendor from the meat displays to the quaint staff uniforms.    The price unfortunately is also quite amazing.

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 To cook a great lamb chop:

 When to buy lamb?

You can obviously buy it all year round but for those in the UK Spring lamb is great for its tenderness but as the animal hasn’t had much time on lush grass it can lack flavour.  I prefer to wait till summer when they have had time to graze and build up a more interesting taste.

 How to store your lamb.

If vac packed remove from the plastic as this draws out moisture and flavour and wrap instead in parchment.

Before cooking generally with meat you want to bring it to room temperature however if you like your lamb chop pink keep it in the fridge, this way you can cook it long enough to render the fat but the meat will still stay pink.

 Marinades

Marinades really only add a layer of flavour to the outside, start with a good piece of lamb and don’t always feel tempted to swamp it with too many spices and herbs.

 How to cook

Start cooking the chops by placing them on their edge fat side down in a cold frying pan  Turn the heat to low  / medium and slowly let the fat render (cook down) . If you start in a hot pan it is too easy to nicely colour the outside of the fat but still leave it pretty inedible.

Once you have rendered the fat, which can take about 7 minutes turn the heat up drain away the excess then sear both flat sides for about 1 ½ mins each.

If you only decide to take one piece of advice from this list let it be this one…

Once cooked, LET IT REST.  When you cook meat the fibres firm up and the water is pushed out, if you cut it immediately you are likely to lose a lot of this and end up with dry meat. Resting lets the juices redistribute and so keeps it moist and flavourful.

We served our with a cardamom and cumin roasted aubergine and a chilli mint yogurt.

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 Quinoa salad

Many would have you believe it has a delightful nutty taste (which it kind of does especially the darker coloured types) but I definitely think it is one of those ingredients that needs as much help as it can get or it is very boring.

 Despite the way we cook Quinia it is actually a seed and not a grain so great for those of you with wheat allergies wanting to bulk out your dishes.

Unusual for a vegetable it has all 9 amino acids and so is a balanced source of protein (great if you don’t eat meat). It also has a good dose of fibre and iron.

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To cook Quinoa

Rinse before cooking as it is naturally has a bitter coating to protect to from predators (many varieties available have been pre rinsed but it cant hurt to do it twice).

Simmer 1 part Quinoa with 2 parts cold liquid (either water, a light vegetable or chicken stock).

Cook for about 10  – 15 minutes or until just soft then drain.

Leave to stand for 5 minutes then fluff up with a fork.

Once cooked there is a huge choice of what you can add making it a great solution to using up odd bits of herbs, vegetables and fruit you may have lurking in your fridge.

We added

Roasted courgettes, avocado, mint, parsley, coriander, chilli, olive oil, fennel, radish, celery and a good squeeze of lemon juice.

Other favourite additions include; pomegranates, cinnamon, cardamom, apple slices, dried cranberries, toasted nuts and seeds.

 

 Next stop…I’m off to the river Findhorn to cook for a salmon fishing party

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Receipe | Power balls

whisk

Goodness, gracious, great balls of…. Power.

 You can follow me on twitter and Instagram for more photos and snippets of my week

Twitter : phollowphilippa

Instagram : phollowphilippa

I have had a very exciting (manic) week cooking for a fashion shoot involving  one of the worlds superest supermodels and one of the UK’s most fabulous designers. I had been called into action rather last minute so at double speed I whipped up some menus, started the ordering, booked my flights and began to pack.  With a couple of hours to go before leaving I get a call.

“Hi Philippa , is it possible to make a few changes to the menu….”?

“Sure,” says I “ What would you like “?

(flexibility and being uneasily flustered  is a must in my line of work).

“You know all the food has to be vegetarian..”?

“Yes, sure that’s no problem”

“…And can you make some vegan”?

“Sure”

“…and some sugar free”?

“….? Ok.”

“…and can you make some gluten/wheat free,  sugar free , chocolate vegan quinoa cookies”?

“Erm…..”

 

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This job was clearly going to be a fun challenge and very much involve up to date food trends and interests. Alarm bells began to ring as the location was rather remote and I imagined the local shop would not stock ingredients such as quinoa and goji berries. Time to call in some expert help to do a last minute emergency shop.

My mother, who is knowledgeable in these matters,  was happily eating her Sunday lunch until I bounced into the kitchen and kidnapped her to drag her to Waitrose.  Giving her a job brief on the way I instructed her to grab anything I may find useful for the week and humbly apologized for not listening closer when she had told me about all this stuff before.

I had never used half the things she was popping into the trolley; coconut oil, soy yogurts, these things called chai seeds (apparently they are all the rage) agave syrup (vegan sugar alternative), almond milk (who knew they had breasts?)…. I tell you I have never had such a trendy looking trolley. It was bizarrely exciting to think of the new possibilities ahead.

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Having done a fast pick in the local woods of tender wild garlic and knowing I had ordered enough other fruit and veg to start a market stall I felt in a good position to combat any requests that could arise during the week.

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With any job I like to have an arsenal of tricks up my sleeves, and particularly with fashion and film shoots there is an array of people to feed.  Members of the cast and crew are likely to sneak into the kitchen at any time hoping you have this or that. There is the more health conscious model, actors, designers, make up artists who crave healthy treats (like afore mentioned quinoa chocolate wheat free vegan cookies) and then there is the hard grafting runners, technicians and location managers who really need a big bowls of pasta and lumps of caramel chocolate to keep them going from dusk till dawn.  With many of the crew used to city life where you can get anything pretty much at any time it is always best for the catering department to be well prepared.

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So upon arrival first on the to do list was to make this stash of treats and snacks.  My mother had shouted at me before I dashed through airport security not to forget ‘it’s all about power balls!’ (yes, odd looks from fellow passengers did ensue).  For anyone who doesn’t know, they are healthy balls that can replace sweet treats made of nuts and dried fruit. They are sugar free, vegan friendly, paelo positive, and yet supposedly delicious…Ill be the judge of that I thought!

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It turns out that power balls are delicious (actually vegan chocolate quinoa cookies aren’t half bad either).  So I made a stash of each and waited in anticipation for someone to pop into the kitchen looking for something special…

 

Within 1 ½ hours of arrival the charming tailor came in

“Hi darling, don’t suppose you have any energy bars, we are starving!!”

“Well as a matter of fact,” I beamed “How about some power balls?”

‘Oh super!” he cried, grabbed a handful and dashed off back to the shoot.

The power balls were clearly a success as a runner was sent in for another handful only ½ hour later and I realised my mother was right, it is all about power balls.

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This week:

Fashion envy levels : High

(Surprisingly) delicious gluten/vegan treats made: 9

Bacon sandwiches requested and denied: 11

Bunches of herbs used :54

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Power balls

These are really are a tasty healthy treat and with no sugar, gluten or dairy they are basically guilt free…

 

The measurements are a rough guide as you will see when making them if they need more dry or wet ingredients.

 

Date, brazil nut and goji berries

250g dates ( with stone removed)

75g brazil nuts

75g whole blanched almonds

1 tbs  goji berries

50g desiccated coconut

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Soak the dates in boiling water for a couple of minutes till just soft. Drain well.

Blitz the nuts in a food processor till finely ground then place in a bowl

Blitz the drained dates till roughly a paste.

With your hands mix the dates with the almond and add the goji berries till you have a manageable “dough”.  Add more nuts or dates if necessary.

Shape into balls (slightly smaller than a golf ball) and roll in the coconut.

Then they are ready to eat!

Store in a cool dry place in a sealed container.

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This recipe has huge possibilities so once you get the hang of them try different ingredients like;

 

Mango, ginger, lime and almond

Or

Apple, fig and hazelnut

 Next postcard from London and on giving my first cookery class…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe | Rice crispy Cakes with salted chocolate

whisk

The sweet life…

Having spent the last few days helping a family prepare for the excitement of Easter I don’t mind saying I have learnt a thing or two.

 – Children + unrestricted access to  chocolate = A big mess

 – You can take the Chocolate out of the kitchen…but the kids will still find it

 – Rice crispies and longhaired dogs don’t mix.

These helpful lessons came about as, having finished my original assignment to do the essential weekend shop e.g. milk , fruit, tonic(lots) and prepare some meals that were suitable for reheating over the Easter weekend, I had some time spare. My client suggested I may like to do some baking with the kids, something chocolaty for Easter perhaps?

“Can we make our own Easter eggs?!” says child 1 (aged 4)

Tempering chocolate with a 4 year old was certainly not in my training manual but not wanting to crush their young ambition and generally enjoying cooking with kids I persuaded them that chocolate covered rice crispy cakes would be just as good, plus we had the ingredients to hand.

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Now, I am no Mary Poppins, I have no formal training in the art of junior crowd control but how hard can making some rice crispy cakes be with 5 under 6 year olds be?

Sadly I think the family dog may have been more successful in keeping things under control, though on the plus side they all seemed to have a great time (apart from the house keeper who had to be drafted in and help clean up the mess).

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Rice crispies flew ALL over the kitchen, toffees disappeared every time I turned my back and tiny chocolate handprints appeared on most surfaces. Slightly mortified at the chaos we had caused I was greatly relieved when the mother swooped in, delighted they were having such fun and then took them out to the garden to hose them down (I made that last bit up but I imagine it would have been the quickest method of cleaning them up).

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The idea of including rice crispy cakes in my blog didn’t impress me at first, extremely simple to whip up and seen as often rain in the weather report. They are not haute cuisine.

BUT (and it’s a big one) on reflexion how many really good ones do you eat? Cafes, including the classy ones, often make them too hard and not to sound too harsh but school fetés and kids parties often dish up a crumbly mess.

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So this postcard recipe gives you the perfect rice crispy cake with a salted chocolate topping , excellent if you want to be the envy of the school bake or take some treats to work (yes I saw you raid the cupboard Mr X).

 Rice Crispy Cakes with salted chocolate

 Makes about 20

150g chewy toffee

150g marshmallows

150g butter

175g fresh rice crispies

200g milk chocolate

50g white chocolate

a sprinkle of good sea salt

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You will need a tray approx. 16 by 20 cm by 2.3 cm deep lined with baking paper.

 

Place the toffee, marshmallow and butter in a large saucepan (trying not to eat any)

Slowly bring to the boil, giving it the occasional whisk.

Once fully melted take off the heat and add the rice crispies. Stir well

Pour into the tin leave to set a little (5 mins) then flatten, you can use a potato masher or another tin.

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Leave to cool for about 15 mins.

Meanwhile melt the chocolates in separate bain maries (bowls set over simmering water).

Pour the melted milk chocolate over the rice crispy mix and spread evenly.

Then in Jackson Pollock style flick over the melted white chocolate (you can drag a wooden kebab stick in lines across the chocolate to create more swirls).

Sprinkle over a pinch of sea salt and leave to set before cutting into pieces – we used this time to pick the rice crispies out of the dog.

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Note

This keeps for about a week if you haven’t eaten it all by then

This is definitely a treat and due to its revolting high sugar and fat content (plus the added salt) I wouldn’t recommend it making a regular appearance in their diet.

 

Next I am heading to Lanarkshire for Easter.

 

 

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Recipe | Tartiflette

whisk

She’ll be comin’ down the mountain…

‘Whether she likes it or not’, My ski buddy for the day cheerfully chanted.

It had a been a while since I had donned some ‘Iron Man’ like boots, strapped two planks to them and willingly thrown myself down a mountain  in – 10 ° C conditions (we all have to get our kicks some how). Ascending up the craggy mountain face on a chair lift I began to wonder if I remembered how to do this.  Spat out at the top and surrounded by buzzing mix of cool dude snow boarders, stylish fur trimmed skiers and more kamikaze children than I wanted to count I had a split second thought of “why?”.  Then I looked up and it all came flooding back: incredibly stunning views, literally breath-taking clean air, powerful adrenalin rushes and above all the prospect of a fantastic mountain side lunch.

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The first run of the day, an easy blue, I skied well ( i.e. I didn’t fly off the edge of the mountain),  and my confidence began to build.  Next lift up and we arrived in front of two signposts, a black run to the left ( the most challenging) and a red run to the right ( the second most challenging of on piste skiing).

“Really ?” I said,

My ski buddy grinned.

“ May I remind you that if anything happens to me you will be cooking 6 x breakfasts, afternoon teas and five course dinners  for 10 people next week!? As well as having to polish 500 glasses!

The grinning stopped.

Not wanting to fail the challenge (or having much choice on ways to get down) I headed off down the red run.  I felt amazing, didn’t bump into anyone and remained upright! Wow I thought I must have improved…then I saw the video where it turns out I look as stiff as a Lego man figure when I ski, ah well.

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Skiing is definitely one of those activities (a bit like shooting and stalking) where it is just as much about the social interaction between fellow participants and the food and wine as it is the sport.   Though I possibly have my priorities askew as on my days skiing the routes had to be based around where I wanted to go for lunch and après ski

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With the arrival of Sunday, playtime was over and our chalet was filled again with new guests.  Cooking on this type of job definitely has its challenges. The kitchens are often tight for space with only 1 small oven so there’s always a queue of goodies waiting to go in and it’s a challenge juggling everything to be hot for service.  Menu planning very much has to be done at the shops so you can see what is actually available, which is actually a great way to shop unless there are specific requests and due to the extreme location, prices of goods are often crazily high.   That said, I love a challenge and it makes other jobs that are below 2000 meters seem easy.

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For this weeks postcard I give you a recipe for Tartiflette, a typical mountain dish that was re-invented in the 1980s as a marketing ploy to promote Reblochon.  Reblochon is an Alpine cheese made from the second milking of the cattle making it very rich and therefore very tasty.

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Legend has it this was a 14th century tax dodge as the mountain farmers were taxed on the amount of milk their cows produced so they held some back for a secret second milking after the Landowner’s man had departed. Literally milking the system, but the cheese is good so let’s forgive them.

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This week

Glasses polished: 473 (though not by me thank goodness).

It’s all about: saffron butter

I’ve discovered: “Ouvert non stop “ to the French means we don’t take a 3 hour lunch break.

Job perks : we all have great hair thanks to the Chalets’ Aqua di Parma bath product left overs.

Job lows: walking to work in a blizzard.

I’ve learnt: to add less baking powder when cooking in high altitudes (unless you want an imploded cake).

 

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Tartiflette

Tartiflette can be found at practically every mountain side restaurant, consisting of baked potatoes, onions, cheese and lardons. Its filling, high in calories and potentially super tasty so is the perfect ski food.

 I admit however I haven’t ever had a good one out as they often lacked in flavour and are usually too dry (perhaps an outcome of being prepared en mass and made in advance so ready to serve quickly once the lunch crowds pour/ski in).

 However make one at home and for any family who enjoys dishes like a pasta bake the Tarttiflette will soon become a favourite in the repertoire.

 

Serves  4

You will need a baking dish large enough to hold the potato mix ( taller is better than wider as it allows the cheese to drip through the entire dish).

 

750g clean small waxy potatoes – skin on

1 tbs olive oil

2 large white onions

1 garlic clove

160g smoked lardons

20g chives finely chopped

2 tbs crème friache

150ml dry white wine or dry rosé

250g Reblochon cheese

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Pre heat the oven to 200 °C.

1)Peel and chop the garlic clove in half and rub around the inside of your tartiflette baking dish then finely chop the garlic.

2)Peel and small dice the onions, fry on a medium heat with the lardons and chopped garlic until soft and sweet (about 15  minutes).

3)Meanwhile place the potatoes in a large pan of salted cold water and bring to a simmer.  Cook until just tender then drain

4)Mix the potatoes and onion mix,  add the chives, crème fraiche and wine, season with pepper and mix well.

5)Slice the Reblochon in half horizontally.

6)Layer half the potato mix in the baking dish and lay ½ the cheese on top (skin side down).

7)Add the rest of the potatoes then top with the other half of Reblochon skin side up like a crown.

8)Bake for 15   – 20 mins. until bubbling hot, slightly browned and very melted.

 

Enjoy with a crisp green salad with mustardy dressing and a glass or two of Rose or dry white wine from the Savoie like Chignin Bergeron or chignon.

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Job done and fun had, I am now safely coming down the mountain and heading for my next stop in the West Country…

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Recipe | Thai flavoured chicken and sesame balls

whisk

The Thigh who came in from the cold..

Having recently been on quite a few flights I realise you don’t have to be in Sherlock’s league to decipher the purpose of everyone’s trip.  For instance:

-Dublin to London early morning flights to City airport are full of suits, ties and busy Blackberries off to seal their deals (though afternoon City flights are full of suits, no ties and a few empty miniature bottles).

-London to Inverness flights are full of well spoken tweeds, Barbours’and swathes of cashmere off to inspect their Highland acreages.

-February half term flights are packed with stressed out parents, grunting teenagers and excited children, with at least 5 layers on who tend to waddle round like sweet little star fish, all off to clog the Alpine slopes.

In my experience this makes security very slow as everyone has to peel off their various coats and jackets to go through the scanners then put them all back on again. I think the game is to wear as much as possible in order to keep the weight of the  checked-in bag under 15Kg.  To be fair to parents probably to get a child dressed once a day is stressful enough, let alone having to do it twice and in a busy airport .

However it all seems worthwhile when you get to the end of the journey and you see the first glimpse of those beautiful snowy mountains.  Which for me this week were the ones surrounding Tignes in the French Alps.

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I was working on behalf of the delightful company Bramble Ski, who although mainly based in Switzerland and Austria, are now venturing into France and have snapped up the lushest chalets in the Tignes resort.

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Tignes is not perhaps the most beautiful of  ski resorts, there are a fair few 60s/70s/80s monster builds, but the new chalets and hotels are all very attractive and more importantly to the keen skier, there is a fantastic expanse of skiing area, pretty much guaranteed snow and high chance of one of the longest seasons in the Alps.

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The job began with a mammoth shop in Bourg St Maurice, a town  just below Tignes, where my chalet host had to patiently wait for 3 hours as my bus from Lyon got caught in every traffic jam going that day.  Having spoken to the clients about their food preferences before leaving Blighty I had a rough idea what to cook for the week but bearing in mind that you are heading up to 2000metres and despite knowing there will be a few small shops for emergencies, you are never quite sure what you will find.  You have to be super organised and prepared… and depending on your idea of fun it can be a bit of a struggle lugging shopping around in blizzards and on ice rink like pavements once there.

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The food as you can imagine for such an action packed holiday needs to be nourishing and energy boosting.  There is a definite trend however by day three having had a few croissant breakfasts, hearty mountain lunches (often involving cream, butter and excellent fries) and some 5 course evening meals, clients are crying out for something lighter and I note don’t make it through to the cheese board.  Then by the end of the week, maybe through exhaustion, hunger levels are back up and there is a final push to make it thorough the canapés, starter, main, dessert and the cheese board after their final days skiing.

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This postcard recipe is based on a canapé idea given to me form the chef from the adjoining chalet, who came out for the busy half term week.  The thai flavours really do pack a punch and they have a fantastically light texture.  You can replace the chicken with raw fish.

 

This week;

Job high: 2000 metres

Job low: not being able to get out and ski on some cracking sunny days

Milk drunk: 14 litres (there were quite a few ‘petits enfant’)!

Pain au chocolat to croissant ratio : 2:1.

Altitude baking disasters that had to be discarded: 1

New canapés added to repertoire :3

Abominable snowmen avoided : 3

 

Thai flavoured Chicken sesame balls

 

Two raw free range/ organic chicken thighs

10 g green chilli with seeds and membrane

15g ginger

15 spring onion

1 garlic glove

1 egg white

20g coriander (stalks and leaves)

2 tsp soy sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

50 g of toasted sesame seeds

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1)Place everything (apart from the sesame seeds) into a food processor and blitz till a paste (about 2 minutes).

2)Spoon out into a bowl and form into 16 small balls.

3)Roll the balls in the sesame seeds and pop them onto a baking tray.

4)Place in the fridge for 30 mins or until ready to use ( you can make a day in advance).

When ready to eat

5)Pre heat the oven to 180°C then bake for 15 mins or until cooked through and piping hot in the middle.

6)To serve squeeze  a little lime juice over each one, and place on a skewer topped with a coriander leaf.

 

(You could also make this into a main course and serve with fried garlic and soy rice and greens).

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I’m here for another week so will be whisking up more Alpine postcard recipes for you to try…

 

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Recipe|Roast beetroot, Umbrian lentil, blood orange and honey ricotta salad

whisk

The Ladies lunch…

I have been cooking for the week in various impressive kitchens in West London for ladies lunches. With not a Cosmopolitan in sight – in reading or drinking format it was not quite what you would expect.

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All the clients had chosen to have a relaxed buffet style with lots of dishes to choose from.   Cold cuts of meat, baked fish and lots of interesting winter salads and yes desserts and bread baskets too.

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Feeling delighted to be back in the big smoke with an enormous choice of amazing food shops, buying the best ingredients was easy, navigating the Circle and District line around Kensington less so. Zooming around to various markets, fishmongers and trusty Waitrose I managed to get exactly what I was looking for (and more as is usually the way).  I am also beginning to discover the glory and usefulness of our Thames river bus service, which I would highly recommend as a mode of serious transport or for a fun jaunt.

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With more FT’ s than G&T’s at the party I was most impressed by the…well I was actually most impressed by the beautiful shoes…but food wise, that for dessert an entire lemon tart got demolished pastry and all.  Sometimes it is sadly left while the filling gets scooped off.

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There was however a noticeable shift in my cooking style veering away from the shoot style hearty lunches and rich dinners and turning towards the fresh new produce now in season, like blood oranges, purple sprouting broccoli, and forced rhubarb. Olive oil was very much replacing butter, yogurt replacing cream and an even greater use of fresh herbs and citrus to keep bold but fresh flavours.

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Platters cleared away and the ladies having scooted off (though I hope not too fast in those heels!) to do various school runs and to get back to work, the parties finished up and then it was time to get on with prep for the next feast…a dinner party for 10 in the city of Westminster.

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 This Week

Shoe envy levels: seriously high

It’s all about Greek Olive oil from Olive Tree London

Every home should have: an Alexander the Great

Mode of transports included boats, trains, planes and busses.

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Next I’m heading off across the channel to the Alps and the ski resort of Tignes.

 

Roast beetroot, Umbrian lentils and honey with ricotta winter salad.

 

Serves 8 as a side salad

4 raw beetroots (I used golden and red ones)

1 tbs olive oil for cooking

 

200g Umbrian lentils

1 garlic clove

a few parsley stalks

½ a chilli cut lengthways

 

200g ricotta

2 tsp honey

 

3 sticks celery

20g parsley

20g dill

20g mint

2 blood oranges

2 avocados

 

To dress the salad

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbs olive oil

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Pre heat the oven to 180°C.

Scrub the beetroots and boil in water till cooked (depending on size this can take 30  mins- 1 hour

Drain then scrape away the skin. Cut into wedges and drizzle with the cooking oil. Roast on a tray till slightly caramlised (about 30 mins).

 

Meanwhile place the lentils in a pan and cover with water to 1 inch above.

Add the garlic clove, chilli, parsley stalks and bring the boil.

Simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes or until just cooked.

If there is still lots of water left once cooked drian away most of the excess then season with salt and pepper.

 

Mix the ricotta with the honey and season with salt and pepper.

 

When ready to serve remove the skin and pith off the oranges and slice into thin rounds

Chop the celery into 1 cm pieces and the avocado into small chunks.

Finely chop the herbs and add them to the lentils along with the lemon juice, chopped celery and avocado.

Layer the lentils, beetroots, oranges in a bowl and top with scoops of honeyed ricotta.

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Recipe |Baked eggs with spiced tomato, chickpeas, yogurt and coriander

whisk

 

The Brunch club…

Anxious texting, emails, and phone calls preceded the start of the weekend.  The hosts and I were keen to make this season’s final pheasant shoot end with a bang (literally for the pheasants) and the Met Office red weather warnings littered with negative temperatures and snowstorms were not helping. I dressed in 5 layers from head to toe (I’m turning into such a softie southerner) and donned my boots to head north….

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Travel plan A was vetoed as my car (stationed in the Borders) was snowed in, so I thought I would try my luck with the train in order to travel from Edinburgh to Perth.  Whilst scooting across town from airport to train station I noticed a charming element to Edinburgh, well actually there are many. Even if it is howling a gale and the chilled rain is lashing down everyone always queues very politely at bus stops, preferring to brave the elements rather than form a disorderly queue huddled under the shelter.  I don’t know what the‘Edinburghers’ would make of the T.F.L. shenanigans.

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The train was quiet and much to my surprise out of the window was….. a perfect bright sunny Winters day which turned almost tropical when I arrived at my destination (well a barmy 1 °C and plenty more sunshine).  Ha! So much for red weather warnings.

My first task was to do the mammoth shop that every shooting weekend requires, although I had lugged up half a cow and some fish with me on the train. Zooming around the shops, I admit I can never quite believe my calculations…10 packs of butter, 90 eggs, 5 pots of double cream, the ½ a cow… but come the last meal of the weekend and seeing the nearly empty larders and fridges I am always relieved I stocked up.

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A shoot weekend will often consist food wise of Friday night dinner, Saturday breakfast, elevenses, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner and Sunday breakfast and then Sunday lunch.  The host this time however opted for a Sunday brunch, which I have to say, was a wild success.  After a few impressive days of feasting, partying and the occasional glass or two of wine, having then to scoff  a Sunday lunch can seem a bit of a hurdle as far as eating stamina goes.  Brunch however is great; it allows the guests time for a lie in, the food is naturally designed as a great cure for any possible hangovers (I know a cooked breakfast can do this too but Brunch somehow seems more digestible) and there is still time for a Sunday morning walk before everyone has to toddle back to their homes.   I tell you it’s all about Sunday brunch!

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Brunch is said to have kicked off in the late 18th century and was delightfully described as the Sunday meal for “Saturday night carousers,”.  This postcard recipe is the spiced baked eggs I cooked as part of theirs.

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Job done, bags packed, the remaining pheasants are enjoying their end of season survival party and I’m heading to London to cook for some ‘ladies what lunch’…..

 

This week:

Is a better one to be a pheasant.

I’m travelling with my hot water bottle.

Every home should have: an Aynsley Gravy Boat

4.5 kilo of potatoes were scoffed.

Its ALL about brunch

 

 

Baked eggs with spiced tomato, chickpeas, coriander and yogurt

Serves 4

1 tbs olive oil

1 red onion finely chopped

1 clove garlic finely chopped

10g washed coriander, stalks finely chopped and leaves roughly chopped

½ tsp ground cumin

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. finely chopped red chilli (more or less depending on your heat preferences).

800g tinned tomatoes

1 tin canned chickpeas drained and lightly rinsed.

4 free range/ organic eggs

2 tbs yogurt

2 spring onions roughly chopped

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In a wide deep pan (I used a wok) that you can put a lid on gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil.

Once softened (about 4 minutes) add the spices and chopped coriander stalk, fry for a further minute.

Add the tinned tomatoes and chickpeas, season with salt and pepper and simmer for 10  – 15 minutes stirring occasionally. You want a tasty sauce that s not too dry or wet.

Check the seasoning and when perfect crack the eggs into the tomato mixture, place a lid on top and cook the eggs till for about 4 minutes (ideally you want a cooked white and runny yolk).

Slip out onto your serving plate and garnish with dollops of yogurt, a sprinkling of spring onions and the coriander leaves.

 

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Recipe |Scallops, fino and butter with blood orange and chicory salad

whisk

You put your left foot in…..

Left foot, swiftly followed by right foot went onto the plane with moments to spare until they shut the doors and we were zipping along the runway to head to Dublin.

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I was off to cook for a dinner party. The hosts, having only recently moved in, were practically unpacking the china and glasswear as fast as we could use it. The menu for the evening read as follows

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Nibbles

Smoked Irish salmon on crisp bread with sourcream

Chorizo cooked in cider, garlic and parsley

 Starter

Pan fried scallop with fino sherry and butter, chicory, blood orange and parsley salad

 Main

Rare roast fillet of beef with saffron bay potatoes and braised chard

 Dessert

Dark chocolate mouse, hokey pokey, nutmeg crisps and poaches pear in brandy.

 

Knowing it would be a big night (the Irish really do know how to party)! I had booked myself on a late flight the following day to the west country where I was to prepare another dinner party, this one in celebration of Robert Burns night.

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The guests were all donning garments of tartan, except one who had mis interpreted my Scottish and thought I said Rabbi Burns (I clearly need to work on my accents).

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There was whisky sours , poetry, song, wild wielding of knives by the host to cut the “great chieftan o’ the puddin’ race ”  (much to the alarm of the guest to his left), explanations of how they make haggis (much to the alarm of the vegetarian guest), and an impressively energetic ceilidh (much to the alarm of the carpet).

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Photo left to right  – caviar and egg, haggis neeps and tatties, vanilla ice cream, turnip sorbet I mean orange and chestnut chocolate cream.

With a playful approach to the 3 courses, the meal was well received although I cant help but feel the best bit is always the next day with haggis potato cakes, fried eggs with a splurge of Tommie K.

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Next …

Fun had, carpet straightened and sporrans back in their boxes I am now heading north into the blizzards of Perthshire for the final pheasant shoot of this season

 

This week

London square meal has named me blogger of the week (thank you thank you!)

https://www.facebook.com/squaremeal.uk

Ive made enough marmalade to feed all of dorset for breakfast every day…till 2017.

Every home should have a copy of ‘the swinging sporran’

Pan fried scallops with fino sherry, blood orange, butter and bitter leaves.

Serves 4 as a starter

4 large scallops

100ml fino sherry

100g butter

 

1 head of chicory

1 blood orange peeled and sliced into small segments..

1 tbs roughly chopped parsley

 

1 tsp. sherry vinegar

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Chicory and orange salad

Mix the sherry vinegar and 2 tsp. olive oil in a bowl.

Separate the leaves if the chicory then toss them through the dressing.

Mix the orange and parsley together.

Arrange the dressed chicory and orange on a serving plate while you cook the scallops.

 

Cooking the scallops

Season the scallops with a pinch of salt

Place a frying pan on a high heat and add the 1 tbs olive oil.

Sear the scallops both sides for about 30 seconds   – they should get a great caramelised brown colour.

Add the fino sherry and butter and shimmy the pan to amalgamate the sauce.

Season with pepper.

Serve straight away with the chicory salad, ladling the fino sauce over the oranges and scallops.

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Recipe|Re-boot juice

whisk

Out of the woods….

 

Confused by which way to head in 2015 ? No one more so than this pheasant…

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I found myself whirling from 2014 into 2015.  I was cooking up in Scotland for a Hogmanay celebration for about 25 guests.  With the help of a sensational sidekick we conjured up feast after feast.  Curry nights, Middle Eastern table spreads, hearty lunches, big breakfasts, game pies and decadent afternoon teas.  The group threw themselves into their weeks celebrations with shooting days, mammoth walks, ceilidhs nights and by even having a piper lead them into supper.

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I am delighted to say the job also gave me some record breaking statistics for my ‘this weeks’ section (see below) as well as a stunning setting to see the old year out and welcome the new one in.

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Having cooked a lot of game over the last couple of months I have to say I feel a tinge of sadness as the season comes to a close.  Grouse are well ‘out of the woods’, as their season closes early December with some of the more Northern Scottish estates ending it even earlier as frankly no matter how much of an enthusiast  its just too darn cold to stand out on a moor and wait for a bird to fly your way in November or December. Partridge and pheasant still have to be wary but by the 31st they too can sleep sound at night.

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You may be thinking that I will wistfully be giving you a game recipe for this postcard…

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but I have a far more important list of ingredients to share with you.

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I have noticed a trend that seems to have caught on in every house I visited lately and unfortunately it’s not a good one.  Colds, lurgies, coughs and fevers seem to be rife with some places sounding more like infirmaries than households!

So to battle this I decided my first recipe for 2015 should be a juice to help set you all back on track.  Packed full of fruits, vegetables and herbs that will help reboot the system, perhaps not the drink that you were hoping to celebrate the start of the year with but remember it will do you the power of good.

 You can now follow me on instagram by searching for phollowphilippa as well as twitter @phollowphilippa

 

New Year Job:

306 eggs (yes really)

41 packs of butter (ditto)

Percentage of ‘Auldlang syne’ choruses sang in tune: 50%

Pints of cream used:14

Pipers left to pay : 0

Fire alarms set off: 2

 

Last year;

Different beds slept in: 32

Food Markets visited: 23

Culinary Triumph :Verveine  cream

Culinary Disaster : gluten free scone attempt

Total numberof fire alarms set off : 4

Toothbrushes left behind : 0

 

Reboot juice

Serves 2

 Small bunch of Parsley stalks (loads of vitamins and may act as an antiseptic for teeth and gum disease)

50 g Watercress (helps with a healthy complexion)

2 Apples (boosts your immune system)

2 sticks of Celery (soothes the nerves)

2 large peeled Carrots (helps to regulate blood sugar and boost the immune system)

1 finger of Ginger (anti-inflammatory )

40g white cabbage (lowers cholesterol)

 

Put everything through the juicer and drink straight away and I admit it may not be the tastiest thing you drink this January or the most attractive but it will do you good so get juicing and ‘bottoms up’!

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Next stop…. Dublin

 

 

 

 

 

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Recipe | Sloe Gin Fizz

whisk

Merry Christmas…

 

Well I hope you are in the full swing of Christmas.

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Down in Dorset the cocktails have started (the sun goes past the yard arm rather early on the 25th) and I thought as a Christmas present to you all and to help it be even more merry I would share this festive cocktail.

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Thank you all so much for following my adventures and recipes throughout the year and I wish you a very Merry Christmas

Lots of love

Philippa x

Sloe Gin Fizz

sloe gin

chilled fizz

Add one part sloe gin to 4 parts fizz.

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