Sunday, 18 March 2012

Come Dine With Me - The Recipes

I have just completed round one of our very own home version of Come Dine With Me (a popular cooking/lifestyle show here in the UK). My Thai themed recipes for Fish Cakes and Thai Red Curry are below. I also made an authentic (OK not at all Thai) Chocolate Cheesecake.

Starter: Thai all fish and no carb, super easy and delicious Fish Cakes
  • 450g boneless fish fillets, cubed (I used cod)
  • 75g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Thai sweet chili sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 egg
To make:
1) Combine fish, flour, oyster sauce, chili sauce, fish sauce, brown sugar, coriander, spring onions and egg. Process until well combined. You could use a food processor if you are a fancy pants and have such a contraption - I do not and combined with a wooden spoon then finished off with a hand blender 

2) Chill this mixture in the fridge for 30 minutes (you could prepare your dessert in this time, or grab a glass of wine and hit the sofa, after all you are working so deserve it)
3) Once your mixture is nicely chilled and should have firmed up a bit, shape the mixture into fish cakes, and dust with flour. I found this amount made 4 nice palm sized cakes.
I did steps 1-3 the night before and then covered in foil in the fridge to be cooked just before serving. When you are ready to cook yours:

4) Pour oil into a frying pan. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Fry fish cakes for 8 -10 minutes, turning occasionally (do not get distracted and leave for too long, you will burn their little bums. If this does happen serve the other way around, no one will know...shhh)

Voila, I served on a bed of rocket and drizzled over the whole thing with sweet chili sauce. I also bought a lime to garnish with a wedge for your guests to squeeze as they so desire. Do not forget to take said lime out of shopping bag...

Main:Thai Red Curry
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp root ginger
  • 1-2 tsp Thai red curry paste (I used Tesco's)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 50g sachet coconut cream
  • 400g your meat of choice (I used chicken - this would be amazing with prawns)
  • coriander , chopped, to serve
  • Rice
To make:
1) Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add your onion and ginger, then cook for a few mins until softened. Stir in the curry paste, then cook for 1 min more. Pour over the chopped tomatoes and coconut cream. Bring to the boil, then leave to simmer for 5 mins, adding a little boiling water if the mixture gets too thick.

2) Tip in the meat, then cook for 5-10 mins more. Serve alongside your rice and sprinkle with a little chopped coriander, if you remember (I didn't remember)

Easy Peasy! The beauty of this dish is you can recreate easy enough as most of the ingredients can stay in your cupboard (coconut cream curry paste, tomatoes - all you need to do is buy some fresh meat).

Dessert: Chocolate Cheesecake
  • 20 Oreos (or another biscuit of your choice)
  • 100gr melted unsalted butter (use proper full fat stuff, it'll be worth it)
  • 100gr cream cheese (I went for Philadelphia full fat)
  • 150gr whipping cream
  • 200gr Nutella
  • Chocolate sprinkles
To make:
1) Crush your biscuits - I did it the good old fashioned way by beating them in a bowl with a wooden spoon and pour in your meted butter 

2) Mix this all together and pat down into serving dish(s). Put this into the fridge to cool while you make the topping

3) To make your topping, whisk your cream until it forms light peaks. If you do this by hand well done you. I started by hand then got too tired/bored so employed the help of a hand whisk. A family member or friend may be just as effective
4) In a separate bowl mix your nutella and cream cheese until smooth and even (a bit further on than this, but doesn't it look good?)
5) When this is smooth beat in whipped cream. I did this staggered (so added half the cream, combined then added the rest) You should have something resembling this:
6) Take base out of fridge (it should be cool now) and pour on the topping. Smooth out as flat as you can

7) Top with chocolate sprinkles, or any other decoration you fancy and leave in fridge over night. When you are ready to serve garnish with strawberries and cream
This recipe was inspired from this blog - worth a look.
If you do make any of these, let me know how it goes!
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Come Dine With Me - Round 1

After my extensive prep, I was feeling quite happy with myself. I had even managed to prepare my curry, so all that was left to do on the evening was fry off my fish cakes, heat through the curry and cook the rice. Easy peasy. I was left with plenty of time to set the room and create the perfect ambiance

Drinks wise we were starting with Champagne (Louis Roderer). I had taken some of the strawberries from the dessert and added these to the glasses for a bit of extra oomph. We had the first bottle before I started to fry the fish cakes.
Enormous Siamese Strawberry
I did the fish cakes slightly too much on one side so they were on the dark side - luckily I just served this the other way up so no one was any the wiser! Served on a bed of wild rocket with sweet chili dressing drizzled over both. They were really tasty. One was a perfect amount as a starter, but you could easily have two as part of a main. Very healthy too and carb free.

I only realised when I went to bed there was a stray lime in a shopping bag I picked up earlier to serve in wedges for an extra bit of garnish to the fish cakes. Oh how mad I was with Tesco for running out of carrier bags and making me pack my shopping in a H&M bag I'd picked up earlier in the day.

By this point we had finished our second bottle of Champagne (Nicolas Feuillatte) so moved onto a Pouilly Fume. As I said, all that I had to do was heat through my pre-prepared Thai red curry and cook the rice (courtesy of Uncle Ben). Mistake number two I only realised this morning: I forgot the coriander to finish off, so it looks quite boring. Take my word for it though, it was delicious.

After the main event it was time for a 'traditional' (ahem) chocolate cheesecake. When I took the cheesecake out of the fridge it looked great, better than I remember. One problem however, the Oreo cookie base had set quite hard. I was trying to deliver in a neat and professional way, but it really was a challenge to get the thing out of the preparation dish. Once I finally managed this feat it was served with fresh strawberries and whipped cream.

The consistency was a bit more mousse than cheesecake. Potentially I may have got my conversion of grams to ml's wrong and added too much whipping cream to the dish. If there was less the topping would have been much firmer, however I don't think it hurt the dish as it was nice and light. A great finish to what I think was a lovely meal. We retired to the couch where we opened a bottle of pink fizz (the one I am now blaming for the slight haziness behind my eyes).

My guests voted in secret and placed the scores out of 10 in an envelope which is now sealed. I am very much looking forward to the next instalment, which is unfortunately not until 26 May! (diary coordination for weekends is not easy)

The recipes are all posted here should you wish to create your own. My cooking level is probably medium, but I enjoyed making all of these. Nice and straight forward. Minimum effort, maximum taste.
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Saturday, 17 March 2012

Happy St Patrick's Day!

To celebrate (when I get out of bed) I will mainly be drinking 1/2 pints of Guinness with a shot of Tia-Maria in it; trust me, if you don't like Guinness this makes it oh so much better. Watching England V Ireland in the rugby (with no preference on who wins - so shoot me) and generally enjoying the craic.

I have had my nails painted especially for the occasion!
What are you doing on this fine excuse for a celebration?
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The Benefit of Bobbi Brown

I have forever been a fan of Benefit, ever since I started taking make up seriously. I tend to not bother looking anywhere else for products, although my hunt for the perfect mascara continues (currently on L'oreal telescopic which isn't too bad). Benefit however stopped selling their 'Non-fiction' foundation and I had to stray.

I need to feel like I have a decent covering on while not looking caked, so prefer a liquid coverage rather than a stick or powder. For about a year I have listlessly be trying high stewed brand after brand, watching broken promises happen before my eyes as they fail to live up to their airbrushed expectation. The worst was L'oreal Infallible 16 hour, which barely lasted the tube ride to work.

A couple of weeks ago, continuing the quest I was in Westfield for the day. At the end of quite a long (hungover) day I found myself in the Bobbi Brown counter of House of Fraser. I'm not sure if it was the foundation, the lovely sales assistant (Saffy, what a fab name) or the feel of the cool cleanser on my poor tired skin. I tried the liquid foundation in Porcelain and had a much better glow which seemed to last the rest of the evening. I wasn't sold however as I wanted to try some different brands - especially as I was moving into the £30+ range.

So when I found myself in Selfridges at the weekend I was looking around the different counters with little inspiration. The Clarins made my pores look like moon craters, Mac was far too busy to get any face to face time with a sales assistant - yet Bobbi Brown was in the distance gleaming at me like a beacon. I wasn't in the best of moods but the sales girl was friendly and complementary about my skin without being too false (although I still didn't believe her when she said I had nice skin).
I didn't tell her I'd previously been seen my another assistant to see if she came up with the same product. Luckily she did. I am truly one of porcelain skin. She also used under eye concealer and setting powder which impressed me, plus I felt guilty about taking so much time getting made up that I thought two products was the right spend.

Under eye concealer and setting power in Ivory
I haven't given up on Benefit altogether though! For my birthday my friends know me too well, I received not one but two of their brand new blusher, which may be the nicest yet. Hervana is just heavenly. With a tapered brush it goes on really nicely too. If there is a knack to spreading the colour I am yet to learn it, so if you have any tips for me?

Am I missing any great foundations that would work wonders?
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Friday, 16 March 2012

The Mulberry Bayswater

There is no substitute for your eye site. But if you can't have that, I would say Mulberry is a good consolation prize.

Even though it is still currently in it's bag the smell of leather is deliciously oozing in the air. I wish you had smell-o-vision. Selfridges was almost closing at 5.45pm on Sunday, but we were deliberating between this and my new baby...but first the unwrapping:

The main event. It is even better now than I remember it in the shop. And it's not that I like to play favourites with my handbags but they are all currently quivering in their dust bags.

Coveting my new baby
Are you in love yet? Me too. In case not, let's see if Instagram can make you swoon...

I can't wait to use her, instant spring-in-steppiness...For your very own, this is the link to the small Bayswater in Oak Natural Leather
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