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Launch of Sabrina's one-to-one private cookery tuition Guest critic on Gordon Ramsay's 'F-Word' series finale Organised Top Chef Charity Banquet for Haiti raising £70,000 for 'Action Against Hunger' Seasonal Food & Recipe Writer for 'Blue Tomato'

Winner of Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' (West London) 'Bronze' winner in professionally judged 'AA Home Cooking Competition 2009' Appointed resident cookery columnist for Foodepedia

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Monday, 29 June 2009


When the weather is this hot, i day dream endlessly about being by the beach in a nice hot country with the cooling waters of the azure sea lapping at my feet, whilst i lay back on my sun lounger, cool cocktail in my hand. Then the face-slapping reality of the oxygen-less, steam-filled, muggy London heat hits home and i'm once again brought firmly back down to earth. Today was one such day. Temporary lunch time frolicking in the stunning roof gardens on 'Coq D'Argent' in the City, walking barefoot in the perfectly manicured lawns, Pimms in hand, laughing with my colleagues on our brief lunch time escape. Back to work and i'm desperate to hold on to that holiday feeling... I've been thinking of planning a trip to Mexico so i can combine beach time with discovering more about the culinary traditions too, when suddenly it hit me! Mexican feast for dinner tonight! So off i skip to my local Waitrose, almost Salsa dancing down the aisles as i liberally toss a few ingredients into my basket, before racing home.

Blackened Chipotle chicken, chargrilled spring onion, home made tomato salsa and green rice. A perfectly healthy and authentic meal with fresh and zingy flavours to cool the fires of my burning cravings for something 'Caliente' (That means 'hot' in Spanish!) I'll be honest, i guess what i deem to be simple, isnt necessarily what everyone else feels is actually simple. But the point is to become less afraid of trying new things and to take risks. Out of your creavity, grows the roots of confidence and competence, so as the old adage goes "Try and try again and you shall succeed at last". So take the following ingredients, 100g Basmati rice, 2 skinless chicken breasts, a pack of fresh coriander, 6 fat garlic cloves, 1 small onion, 1 small jar of 'Chipotle' pepper paste (I picked this up from the Mexican foods section of Waitrose) Salsa recipe to come later.

First things first, cut the chicken into thick strips (thumb width and about an inch longer) and pour over the Chipotle paste. Then using a hand blender, roughly chop your small onion, the 6 garlic cloves, the bunch of coriander and sprinkle about a tablespoon of water onto it and blend it down to a fine puree (which should happen really easily) Take two spoonfuls of the green mixture and add it to the chicken and Chipotle pepper bowl and mix thoroughly, allowing to marinade for as long as you have time (even if just 1o mins!) and leave aside. Take your 100g Basmati rice and add 400ml of cold water to the mix, pour in your green mixture of onions, garlic and coriander and season very generously with salt and place rice on the hob on electric mark 4 or a low flame on gas heat, stir once, but then DO NOT TOUCH the pot until the rice is fully cooked. In a very hot frying pan, add a little oil and top and tail your spring onions, ensuring they are washed, and place them whole in the pan. I like to sprinkle a little Schwartz Chicken Seasoning on them, but this is optional. The idea with the spring onion is to try and blacken them a little, whilst cooking them through also. Once done remove the spring onions and set aside. In the same pan, place your chicken strips and fry on a high heat for a few minutes on both sides until done. They will look burned, but this is because the Chipotle paste is a very dark and smoky paste, which give the chicken the 'blackened' effect.

So after about 15-18 mins, your rice should be done, using a fork, to almost comb through the rice to fluff and seperate the grains. Your chicken should be nicely moist, but cooked through and your spring onions are also ready. All thats left is your tomato salsa, which just adds the perfect freshness and moisture to the other components in your meal. Take 2 large and ripe tomatoes (i like the ones that are still on the vine) and chop them finely, as best you can, keeping in mind to use a sharp knife, as tomato skin tends to blunt knives a lot and without a sharp knife the task at hand is twice as hard... and then chop a handful of fresh coriander and finely dice half a small onion and mix the ingredients together with a generous sprinkling of Maldon sea salt. By the time you dish up, the salt will have drawn all that wonderfully sweet and refreshing juice out of the tomatoes and the salsa will be transformed making the perfect accompaniment to your spicy chicken, green rice and spring onions.

So, come on... be honest... How hard was that? Not that strenuous really now, was it? I did the whole thing in about 30 minutes from start to finish and let me tell you, it was so worth it, because dinner was really good! Just ask the gorgeous 20 year old Swedish model that is staying with me! Who says models don't eat? That child can eat and she said it was the best meal she'd had in a long time, in fact it was the best meal she'd had since she saw me last! I told her to expect a weight gain over the next 10 days and she seems to actually be looking forward to it!

The kind of food i make not only nourishes an empty stomach, but for me it nourishes my soul a little too and gives me what i need to continue doing what i'm doing... especially when stress is a factor. Don't neglect your diet when you are stressed out, good food is brain food. We all need to look after ourselves from time to time and for me, cooking a nice meal for myself and a friend is just the ticket. Summer or no summer, i need meat, carbs and vegetables. Summer isn't all about salads for me, especially with all the usual diet connotations, it sometimes feels more like 'punishment' than 'nourishment'.

I hope you will try this dish, as it really hit the spot tonight and perhaps on a Friday or Saturday night with a big fat sugar-rimmed Margarita, if i close my eyes for just long enough... maybe, just maybe... i could transport myself to Mexico... If only for the night. "Aribaaaa people...!"

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