The Telegraph has been running a series of articles about women in male dominated industries, and a couple of days ago they interviewed me about being a female chef. The article is now published on their website and you can find it through the link below:)
Last weekend Electrolux has invited us, Chef Academy winners, to take part in The Big Feastival – a music and food festival organised by Jamie Oliver and Alex James, taking place at Cotswolds farm in Oxfordshire.
The whole weekend was promising a true heaven for foodies and music lovers. Numerous stalls of amazing local and artisan producers were bursting with tempting treats and street food tents alongside pop up restaurants were inviting with mouthwatering smells. And after indulging yourself and treating your taste buds, you could head over to the main stage to watch some great artists perform – Basement Jaxx, the Rizzle Kicks, Lianne La Havas… to name a few from many!
As well as enjoying this great event, we were given an amazing opportunity to work alongside Jonray and Peter Sanchez-Iglesians at the Eectrolux Chef’s Table, where guests were invited to sample some of the dishes from Casamia’s menu in an open kitchen while watching the dishes being made in front of them and hear about chefs’ inspirations behind them.
As all three of us will get a change to work at Casamia for 4 months, it was great to have this experience, meet Jonray and Peter (as well as other Casamia team members), see how they work, help produce their amazing dishes (and taste them of course!), learn about their inspirations and concept of the restaurant.
We served a 4 course menu, which showcased some of the dishes from Casamia’s summer menu: quiche lorraine, tomatoes and mozzarella, duck with carrots and fennel and peaches and cream. The menu wasn’t giving much away about the dishes, but as soon as they were placed in front of you, you could see that these traditional dishes and flavour combinations were taken to a completely different level. I think the beauty of these dishes lay not only in the great skills of the chefs, but also in the quality of wonderful seasonal ingredients and innovative approach.
Here’s a few shots from the Electrolux Chef’s Table.
Being part of the Big Feastival has been an absolutely amazing experience, and I would highly recommend it anyone who enjoys camping, good music and food of course!
Visit their website for info about the next years event:
Here’s a little picture post from my trips to the lovely Borough Market in London. A truly magical place I would recommend any food lover to visit! My parents absolutely enjoyed their trip there on their last visit to UK. Have a look on the market’s website for all the news and to plan your trip:
And just outside the market there is a lovely old fashioned pub, The Market Porter, for a quick pint before heading home to cook all the nice things in your shopping bag – that is if you can get to the bar!
And thanks to Mum for contributing a couple of pictures for this post!
A great video about the whole day of the final!
22nd of July was the big day – Electrolux Chef Academy final. I think it took me so long to actually sit down and finally write about it, because my thoughts were all over the place and just now the whole experience is starting to sink. So, I will try to put everything in order the best I can!
After the semi finals, all 7 of us finalists were invited to attend The Taste of London exhibition and assist our main judges with some cooking demonstrations. I had a brilliant day working in the Electrolux Training kitchen (where 20 audience members were able to cook alongside the celebrity chef!) and helping Simon Hulstone teach a lovely recipe of ham and cheese tortellini with tomato sauce. As much as this day was fun, it was really important too, as we received the briefing for our final task, which I think wasn’t exactly what everybody expected: we got split into 2 teams, a team of 3 and a team of 4, and we had to produce a 3 (or 4) course meal for 10 people. To add to the challenge we also had to make sure that when planning the menu we are not spending more than £12 per person on ingredients, and that our starter includes a cold salmon element, the main dish is lamb and chocolate is used in the dessert. By setting this challenge, the judges wanted to see our personalities more than anything: how do we work in a team, how we handle pressure, are we organised, can we delegate as well as follow instructions… the list is endless!
We were told that there won’t be a winning team – they will choose 3 winners at random, so even though we were in teams we were still against each other. However, me and my team mates, Giuseppe and Jonah, set those thoughts aside, put our heads together and came up with a plan. The next few weeks were filled with a lot of internet discussions, research and calculations. In the weeks leading up to the final we were lucky to get an opportunity to meet up for a practice, which we did one really hot day of July, in my college (poor Jonah had to travel all the way from Plymouth!). I think the decision to meet up was absolutely great – we got to know each other better, see how we work, cook all the dishes and learn from each other, as well as received loads of help and great advice from my amazing tutor Phil Martin. So after a long day in the kitchen we finalised our menu:
Celebration of Salmon; Ceviche, Confit and Scotch Egg with Pickled Beetroot
Herb and Ewe’s Cheese Crusted Cannon of Lamb, Lamb Sweetbreads, Celeriac and Smoked Garlic Gratin, served with a Broad Bean Fricassee and Carrot Puree
Hot Chocolate Soufflé, Thyme Ice Cream with a Raspberry and Honeycomb Soil
The day of the final crept up really quick and before we knew it we were cooking our dishes to the judges panel consisting of some of the countries’ greatest chefs:
Simon Hulstone, The Elephant Restaurant, Torquay
Peter and Jonray Sanchez Iglesias, Casamia, Bristol
Tom Kitchin, The Kitchin, Edinburgh
Nigel Haworth, Northcote, Lancashire
Martin Bates, CEO of the Craft Guild of Chefs
Andy Blakemore, Electrolux Development Chef
I can’t tell you how great it was to hear my name as one of the winners, and what made it even better, was that both of my team mates won as well! We started the day as a team, and we finished as one too.
Take a look at the next post, it’s a brilliant video from the day!
Taking part in Electrolux Chef Academy was one of the greatest experiences of my life, and I know that an even greater experience awaits me in a few weeks, when my one year ork experience starts. I think this proved me that all the hard work and hardship always pays off, and if you really want something, you can achieve it.
Thank you everyone for all the support and belief in me!
Today I am cooking with fresh mackerel – a lovely, but often overlooked fish. This beautiful oily fish with a blue-black-green tiger-striped back and a shiny silver belly is highly nutritious and full of omega-3 oils.
With the last couple of weeks being so unbelievably hot and sunny I wanted to create a light and refreshing dish, so I decided to make pan fried mackerel with a crunchy fennel, cucumber and chilli salad. And here’s the recipe for it:
To serve 2 for a light summer dinner:
2 mackerel fillets
1 bulb of fennel
3 spring onions
1/2 red chilli
handful of rocket
1 tbsp capers
100ml olive oil
ground black pepper
Firstly make your salad: slice fennel as thinly as possible (use a mandolin if you have one), peel the cucumber and using a peeler cut it into long thin ribbons, remove seeds from the chilli, and slice it very thinly, trim spring onions and also slice very thinly on a slight angle. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, add some chopped fresh tarragon. When making my salad I also use the green wisps from the top of fennel bulbs as garnish, they have a lovely flavour!
For the dressing, simply combine rocket leaves, capers, a good squeeze of lemon juice, some ground black pepper and olive oil in a blender and give it a blitz. The oil will emulsify and give your dressing a nice shine. This dressing will keep in a fridge for a few days.
Now for your mackerel, heat up a frying pan with some olive oil on a medium heat, season your mackerel fillets with salt and ground black pepper and place them in the pan, skin side down first. Keep the fillets lightly pressed down with a fish slice to make sure they stay flat. After 2-3 minutes (depending on the size of the fillets), turn them over and leave them to cook for another 1-2 minutes. When you take the fish out of the pan squeeze some fresh lemon juice over it and serve!
Hope you will enjoy this lovely, fresh summery dish and if you don’t have time to cook it at home, come down and try it at the Wig & Pen, where it will be making a permanent appearance on the menu!
In this post I want to share a recipe for one of my favourite soups – a Moroccan chicken soup. I came across the recipe a few years ago and after some alterations its one of my favourite soups to cook for my friends and family. I usually serve this soup with lemon wedges, rustic bread and charmoula butter – a mix of butter, breadcrumbs and a bunch of other bits which when mixed into the soup packs it with North African flavours and pungent smells.
So here’s the recipe!
Ingredients (to serve 6):
450g chicken breast, cut into strips
1 white onion, shopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 tsp plain flour
1 tbsp harissa (or if you don’t have any, just mix some tomato paste with a splash of Tabasco and 1 tsp cayenne pepper)
1 litre chicken stock
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10 new potatoes, sliced
For the charmoula butter:
50g salted butter, at room temperature
bunch of fresh corriander, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 red chilli, seeded and chopped
pinch of saffron
zest from 1 lemon
1 tsp smoked paprika
First of all, melt the butter in a large pot, add the chicken and cook turning occasionally until beginning to brown. Take it out of the pan and put aside.
Add the garlic and onion to the same pan and cook until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for a couple of minutes, then add harissa (or tomato paste mix) and cook for another minute. Gradually pour in the stock mixing well between every addition. Add the tomatoes,chickpeas, new potatoes and return the chicken to the pot.
Cover and cook on a low heat for about 25 minutes. Season.
While the soup is cooking, make the spiced charmoula butter. In a bowl beat together the butter and all the ingredients except the breadcrumbs. When everything is well combined mix in the breadcrumbs.
Serve the spiced butter and lemon wedges on the side so your guests can help themselves to as much butter as they want, to make the soup as spicy as they like.