- NEWS & ACHIEVEMENTS -

2011
Delicious Magazine Recipe Feature Recipes published in Princes Trust Charity 'Trusty' Cookbook Guest panellist on UKTV Food's 'Market Kitchen' Recipes published in 'Come Dine With Me Special Occasions' book Blog named as a "Media Must-Have" in Jan & Feb issue of Olive Magazine

2010
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'

2009
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 November 2010

RECIPE: Persian Sumac-Crusted Shoulder of Lamb

I love lamb. I could harp on endlessly about all the fantastic ways I love to eat the stuff. Grilled, roasted, fried, barbequed... everything from neck fillets to lovely leg; it is all delicious and versatile. But economising (as we all should be doing) I look to the cheaper cuts of meat, which is treated properly and cooked correctly can deliver an abundence of flavour as well as feed the masses in a beyond enjoyable fashion.

Shoulder of lamb is often over-looked by many because it looks awkward, is quite fatty and requires a long cooking time... all of which is true... but the fat is almost completely rendered throughout the cooking process and the slow cooking just ensures that the meat falls of the bone. Every bite is tender, juicy and mouthwateringly succulent and you can use robust flavours and spices to flavour the meat.

Sumac is a popular Persian spice, scarlet in colour and famed for it's sharp, almost citrusy finish. We sprinkle it on grilled meat as well as rice and salads and you can find it at most supermarkets, although the best and most fresh Sumac will always be found at Persian or Middle Eastern supermarkets. The sharp flavour of the Sumac cuts beautifully through the rich lamb meat, making the perfect pairing. Here's how to do it:

Persian Sumac-Crusted Shoulder of Lamb

2.5-3kg shoulder of lamb
2 heaped tablespoons of Sumac
Maldon Sea Salt
A little oil

Preheat your oven to 200 degrees (190 if fan assisted) and place the lamb shoulder in to your chosen oven dish/tray. Drizzle a little oil onto the lamb (just enough to make the Sumac stick) and sprinkle your Sumac over the lamb, rubbing the Sumac into every nook and cranny before seasoning generous with Maldon sea salt and placing in the oven. After 15 minutes, turn the heat right down to 160 (or 150 fan assisted) and cook the lamb for about 4 hours straight. Remove the lamb from the oven, cover with foil and allow to rest for 8 minutes before serving. You can literally take a fork and gently pull the lamb apart or be all fancy (and rather unecessary) and use a knife to slice it. Serve with a nice salad or even better a side of rice or cous-cous... And even better, my classic Persian side dish of caramelised onions, sauteed aubergines and whey. (CLICK HERE)

Monday, 22 November 2010

RECIPE: Fig and Vanilla Martini

Let it be know that I am no 'One trick pony'... eating is not my only pleasure. Sometimes you have to broaden your horizons and as much as I love my food, I am rather partial to the odd cocktail and love nothing more than making my own concoctions. I really get stuck into making fruit purees from scratch; everything from fruits of the forest and orchard to lavender and camomile syrups and even tea-based syrups. In my circle of friends, I have a bit of a reputation for being quite the mixologist at times! Granted they can often be quite lethal and as a result, some prove less memorable than others but there is no disputing that they were a hit!

As we enjoy the last of the autumn fruits, I encourage you to guzzle down as many figs as you can before they disappear from our shelves. Wrap them in parma ham and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and serve with buffalo mozzarella. If sweets are your thing, score a cross in the top of the fig and pinch the bottom to open them out a bit, drizzle with maple syrup, toss some walnuts on to them and bake in the oven at 220 degrees for 10 minutes, serve with vanilla ice cream. It's all about the figs, so blink and you may miss them.

Back to the booze! (Yes, I thought that would get your attention!) I dreamed up a very moreish base for a great Martini using a vanilla pod, some sugar, lemon juice and fig pulp... and here is the quick recipe:

Fig and Vanilla Martini

6 ripe figs
2 tablespoons of golden caster sugar
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Seeds of 1/2 a vanilla pod
3 tablespoons of water
Ice

Tea strainer
Hand blender
Cocktail shaker (or makeshift one!(

Method
Peel the figs and place them in a pan with the sugar, lemon juice, vanilla pod seeds and 3 tablespoons of water. Boil gently over a low-medium heat (or low if using gas) for 15 minutes. Puree the mixture and strain through a sieve. Fill a cocktail shaker ¾ of the way with ice cubes, add a generous tablespoon of the puree and 50ml of vodka. Shake well and serve and pour into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a slice of fig or a vanilla pod for the ultimate glamourous cocktail. Delicious.

**TOP TIP** - Any leftover puree makes for a fabulous breakfast preserve, especially with fresh croissants! (Trust me because that's exactly what I did!)

Sunday, 21 November 2010

RECIPE: Chicken Tikka Masala - A British Classic!

If I'm being honest, chicken tikka masala was not entirely what I set out to make when I started making this dish. The truth is that I actually didn't know what I was going to make, I just knew that I had enough spices and a good tomato sauce as a base which would turn some chicken thighs into something tasty. I guess that says a lot about the kind of cook I am; confident, relaxed and not fearful of the outcome so long as I have good basic ingredients.

I particularly love the flavours of this curry as the sauce is intensely rich and tomatoey with a gentle spice and a more round, authentic flavour than shop/takeaway bought chicken tikka masalas. Granted the tikka masala is not actually Indian, but in fact a British creation... whatever it's origin, we love it and for good reason too. My simple recipe means you can make this classic at home, which certainly beats any other version of chicken tikka masala.

Chicken Tikka Masala (Serves 4)

- 500g skinless and boneless chicken thighs
- 2 medium white onions, diced (You don't need to be too exact/meticulous here)
- 6 inches of fresh ginger, finely grated
- 100g tomato puree
- 350g of FRESH tomato sauce (you can follow my RECIPE for basic tomato sauce or buy ready made fresh pasta sauces in supermarkets)
- 1 heaped teaspoon of yellow mustard seeds
- 4 heaped teaspoons of turmeric powder
- 2 heaped teaspoons of garam masala
- 6 heaped teaspoons of mild curry powder
- 1 heaped teaspoon of cumin powder
- 2 heaped teaspoons of cayenne powder (or 1 if you prefer no heat)
- 2 heaped teaspoons of garlic granules
- 1 Knorr chicken stock pot portions (you know, the ones that Marco Pierre-White pimps on TV) or just a good chicken stock cube
- 1 heaped teaspoon of caster sugar
- 2 tablespoons of double cream
- 120g of 'Total' full fat Greek yoghurt
- Cooking oil
- Water

METHOD

In a large non stick cooking pot over a medium-high heat (or medium heat if using gas) drizzle a generous amount of oil and add you onions and cook them through. If you see them starting to brown, then turn the heat down as you don't want to caramelise them, you just want to cook them properly until they are soft and translucent. Add your mustard seeds and stir well at which point they will begin to pop. Then add your spices, one at a time, stirring the powders well into the onions. You will find that you will need to add a little more oil at this stage as the spices tend to soak up the moisture of the pan, but once you have added all the spices, I would add half a mug of hot water instead of extra oil. Stir the mix well before adding your tomato puree. Tomato puree needs to be 'cooked out' so really stir the contents of the pan well and again, if the pan is dry, add just a little more hot water before ensuring that the puree is thoroughly incorporated.

Once the tomato puree has been cooking for 5 minutes or so, add your skinless and boneless chicken thighs (whole) into the pan and coat them in the onion and spice mix, giving it a good stir. Add your fresh tomato sauce, sugar and chicken stock and again stir well, before pouring enough hot water into the pan to cover the chicken generously. Stir well, reduce the heat to low and cover with a lid and allow to cook for 45 minutes-1 hour. Check every 15 minutes to give the mix a quick stir to prevent the bottom from burning.

Once the cooking time is up, stir in the double cream (gently so you dont break up the chicken too much) and then stir in your Greek yoghurt. Finish by allowing to simmer for another 10 minutes, before serving with basmati rice. Heaven! You can also freeze this curry in an air tight container and it will be just as good to enjoy at a later time.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

RECIPE: Pancetta, Cornish Crackler and Gruyere Quiche

And so the saying goes "Real men don't eat quiche..." - Well I defy any man to refuse the delights of a proper homemade quiche, baked with love.

Quiche isn't really baking in my mind; or at least that is how I rationalise it in my head so as not to 'scare' me from making it. I now dont even bother following recipes, because the basic principles are eggs, cream, cheese and milk combined with your chosen ingredients (whether meat, fish or vegetarian) on top of a shortcrust pastry base. The shape differs depending on my mood (I have even made tacky star and heart shaped quiches for Christmas and Valentines Day) and I love how versatile the fillings can be.

The quiche I have chosen to make uses my favourite ingredients including Italian Pancetta and two different cheeses; one has to be a nice sharp cheddar cheese that can hold it's own through all that double cream, milk and eggs and a nice gooey, cheese that melts really well... So I chose gruyere (which really is a quiche classic) and one of my favourite cheeses for snacking on 'Davidstow Cornish Crackler' Cheddar and here is the recipe:

Pancetta and Cornish Crackler and Gruyere Quiche

400g diced pancetta
250g double cream
5 medium sized eggs (I used Clarence Court 'Mabel Pearman's Burford Brown')
100ml of milk
150g finely grated Davidstow Cornish Crackler Cheddar
150g finely grated Gruyere cheese
1 Jus-Rol shortcrust pastry sheet (from all supermarkets)
Maldon sea salt
Ground black pepper
10 strands of chives, snipped **optional**

Baking beans (or any dried pulses you have lying around)
Oven paper

Method
Find an oven dish that fits your pastry sheet nicely and don't be afraid to roll out the pastry a little to get some extra slack, I did the same thing. Once the pastry is in the oven dish, cover it with oven paper and add your baking beans before baking for 10 minutes in a preheated oven on 200 degrees. Once done, remove from oven and set aside but DO NOT turn the oven off, just reduce the heat down to 180 (or 170 if fan assisted)

In a deep pan over a medium-high heat, fry your pancetta until well cooked and nicely browned. Once done, drain the fat by removing them using a slotted spoon and transfer onto a plate lined with kitchen towels to further help drain excess oil.

In a mixing bowl, add your cream, egg and mix well before adding your grated cheeses, milk, chives, a couple of pinches of salt, some black pepper and mix the ingredients all very well until the bowl resembles an even mixture. Finally add your pancetta and incorporate well and then using a ladel, pour all the contents of the bowl onto your pastry base and bake for 25 minutes until golden brown. Serve with a nice salad or just by itself.

RECIPE: Sabrina's Winning Come Dine With Me Lamb Recipe

I have been asked time again and to print this recipe on my blog and with the cold weather coming, the warming spice mix makes my spice-crusted rack of lamb the perfect warming treat. Believe it or not, I chose this recipe because it something quick and easy that would make for an impressive meal. The spice rub 'Ras-el-Hanout' contains 14 different spices including rose petals, lavender, mace and ginger which make it incredibly aromatic and flavoursome. I paired the lamb with a nice homemade tabbouleh salad and made a quick sauce using pomegranate molasses/syrup. So here's what to do:

Moroccan Spice-Crusted Rack of Lamb
Rack of lamb (Approx 500-600g & 'French trimmed' 6 bone is ideal)
1 heaped tablespoon of ‘Ras-el-Hanout’(Preferably 'Seasoned Pioneers' brand available in supermarkets, or use Tesco's Finest)
Olive oil
Maldon sea salt

In a small bowl, add the Ras-el-Hanout and a few generous pinches of sea salt
and mix together with a well. Rub your lamb all over with a little oil, then liberally sprinkle both sides of each rack with some of the spice mix and rub the mixture in well. You can allow this to marinade for a few hours or the night before, but it is so aromatic that you can make it straight away without worrying that flavours have not yet penetrated.

In a pre-heated pan on a medium-high (or medium if gas)temperature, lay each lamb rack fat-side down into the pan and seal the flavour into each side of the meat both fat and meat sides. Nicely brown the fat side but don't allow it to cook for too long; 6 mins fat side and a couple of minutes on the ends and reverse side will be perfect. This is the stage, that you can allow them to cool and use them later, or put them straight into a preheated oven (200C) and cook for another 15-20 minutes depending on whether you like your meat rare or medium-well done. Remove from oven and cover with foil, allowing meat to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Pomegranate Jus
Pour the lamb juices from your oven pan into a sauce pan along with 4 tablespoons of pomegranate molasses, 100ml of pomegranate juice (like POM) and 2 heaped teaspoons of sugar and stir well over a high heat so the sugar melts and the sauce thickens and emulsifies. Then drizzle over your lamb.

Tabbouleh 'Cups'
1 large bunch of flat leaf parsley (finely chopped)
2 plump tomatoes (finely diced)
5 whole spring onions (finely slice, both green & white part)
Handful of Bulgar wheat (boiled per packet instructions, rinsed & put aside)
Juice of a whole lemon
Olive oil
Maldon sea salt & pepper
Baby gem lettuce leaves (which make the ‘cup’)

Mix all your chopped ingredients in bowl, drizzle with lemon juice to ensure the mixture is well coated, but not greasy and then add lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste. Take a generous tablespoon on the Tabbouleh and place in a baby gem lettuce leaf and serve.

REVIEW: The Three Sisters Indian Cookbook

I love nothing more than the gift of a new cookbook. It makes me happy to open the cover and peer curiously through the pages looking for new ideas and recipes whilst staring at vibrant images. Visuals are so important for a girl like me; I need to see colour, texture and how things look if I'm ever going to attempt cooking anything from a book.

The Three Sisters Cookbook is a lovely collection of recipes from three sisters, each with different strengths that help fill this evocative book with wonderfully vibrant, simple and delicious looking recipes. Many of the recipes are modern Indian, which is nice... bringing something new and interesting to the table and making the cookery appeal to an even wider audience.

The book itself is colourful and brimming with striking photography, showcasing the simple dishes as well as the more elaborate creations. Desserts aren't abundant in Asian cookery, which is why the 'Desserts and Drinks' section is a nice touch, featuring lots of cooling Indian combinations to serve alongside meals.

I love this kind of book. It's unpretentious and very warming to read the stories of the sisters and how they grew up. Personaly family pictures are also shared with readers, which is a nice touch and overall I would hand-on-heart recommend this as a wonderful gift for anyone this Christmas. You don't have to be a seasoned cook to tackle these recipes, they are simple, well explained and produce great results so head to Amazon and buy yours now... it's half price at just £8.50, so CLICK HERE

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

RECIPE: Toad-in-the-hole... Bonfire night with a BANG!

Guy Fawkes night is nothing without bangers... The meaty, juicy variety of course! After a chilly night of watching fireworks in a park, coming home to a simple but hearty meal is the perfect way to wind down for an evening.

The rule of thumb for making a basic Yorkshire pudding batter is that you need equal measures of plain flour to eggs and milk. It is just that simple really and in fact to ensure my measurements are equal, I measure them using a measuring jug! It may sound a bit odd but its foolproof and works every time so it has to be a winner for me. You can also use any sausages your heart desires, I used lovely pork and leek sausages from my local supermarket, but you can use anything you like, although the better quality sausages you use, the meatier they are which make a better Toad in the hole. I have also used Chorizo sausages (the raw, cooking variety) and Merguez which are both absolutely delicious and add a really different, but utterly delicious twist to a British classic. As usual, the best dishes should be easily adaptable to suit your tastes and so the choice is yours!

Serves 2-4 (depending on how greedy you are)!

Ingredients

Pack of 6 best quality sausages of your choice
4 medium sized eggs (should equate to 200ml)
Plain Flour (measure 200ml quantity in a measuring jug)
200ml of full fat milk
2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil
Oven paper for baking

Method

Preheat your oven to 220 degrees and line a baking tray and place your sausages on the tray and partially cook them in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they brown nicely (don’t worry about them being undercooked, as they will get a further 20-25 minutes of cooking later) Once the sausages are done, remove and set aside. In an oven proof dish approximately 30cm x 20cm (it really doesn’t have to be exact) add your oil and place the dish into the oven to heat your oil.

Whilst the oil is heating in the oven, start your batter. Taking your measured plain flour, milk and eggs, whisk the ingredients together in a bowl until smooth and pour it back into your measuring jug, which will make it easier to pour. Once this is done, remove the dish with the oil from the oven, pour an inch thick layer of batter into the oven dish (this should make it sizzle, then carefully take your sausage and lay them out however you like and then pour the rest of the batter into the dish (pouring around the edges is best) and place the dish back into the oven for 20-25 minutes but reducing your heat to 200 degrees only.

Once done, your batter should have risen beautifully and you will have combination of crispy Yorkshire pudding batter on the top and a slightly softer texture encasing the sausages. Serve with gravy and try not to eat the whole thing yourself. It hits the spot, every single time.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

RECIPE: Perfect Tomato Sauce

Perfect tomato sauce "for what?" you may ask; the simple answer is, for EVERYTHING. In a bid to stick two preverbial fingers up at the crappy pasta sauce market, I am going back to basics and sharing some basic recipes with you that use just a few ingredients.

Although there are some incredibly acceptable and good quality sauces on the market, nothing but nothing beats home-cooking! So here is my simple recipe for a fantastic tomato sauce that is perfect for pastas, bases for stews and fantastic on it's own with a hunk of bread and a drizzle of olive oil. Even better, if you are like me and never get round to using those old tomatoes in the fridge... no matter how squishy they are, whether cherry tomatoes or your garden variety tomato, then this is a perfect way of making use of them no matter how old they are!

Ingredients
2kg of ripe tomatoes
1 heaped teaspoon of caster sugar
1 heaped teaspoon of dried oregano
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and bashed **optional**
Olive oil
Maldon sea salt
1 pint of water

Method
In a pan over a medium-high heat (or medium heat if using gas) drizzle generously with some olive oil, add your bashed cloves of garlic. Then cut your tomatoes in half and place flat side down in the pan. Sprinkle over your sugar and oregano, season generously with Maldon sea salt and black pepper and allow to cook for 8 minutes, before taking a potato masher or wooden spoon and bashing the tomatoes to break up the pulp. Stir the tomatoes well, add your water and turn the heat down to low-medium (or low if gas) and allow to cook for a couple of hours. After 2 hours, add a little more water if desired and using a hand blender, whizz the contents of the pan until a nice smooth sauce consistency. You can use/eat this immediately or freeze it to save it until needed. You will never reach for dodgy pasta sauces again!

Monday, 1 November 2010

Christmas Traditions and Family Favourites

It's the 1st of November and the Christmas decorations have gone up in my local high street. Unbelievable, but true! So seeing as Christmas will probably be here before we know it, I thought we could share some of our favourite traditional and not so traditional recipes and tips for Christmas Eve/Day and Boxing Day... Hell, even New Years!

My family and I sit down to a non-traditional giant rib of beef with all the trimmings including Yorkshire puds, roast potatoes, stuffing balls, sausages and bacon-wrapped sausages. It works for us; we ditch the Christmas pudding (because nobody likes it) and I serve sticky toffee pudding with vanilla bean custard instead. I also like to bake either cookies or brownies with my nephews on Christmas Day too because it gives the kids a real sense of involvement in the preparations.

Boxing day usually features either duck, roast lamb or roast chicken with things like Gratin Dauphinoise or crispy thinly sliced potatoes and rosemary. New Years Eve is mainly about decadence; so lashings of indulgent Champagne with seafood, rack of lamb, lots of side dishes and cheeses etc... and very little dessert because everyone is usually drunk and dancing!

My best tips for Christmas are don't be afraid to cut corners! I usually buy Duchy beef gravy from Waitrose/Ocado to beef up my gravy and at Christmas they also do a fantastic poultry gravy too. I par-cook all my stuffing balls, sausages and roast potatoes and then finish them off in the oven the next day. I always put out a good selection of crudites, chips and dips on the table before the meal; which always buys me some extra time in the kitchen just in case I am running behind schedule.

This year I would love to add a few new additions to the table, so what are your festive traditions and what do you like to eat? What are your family favourites and which are your favourite tips / recipes?

REVIEW: 28°-50° (Fetter Lane, EC4)

Brainchild of Michelin starred Chef Agnar Sverrisson and his partner, Master Sommelier Xavier Rousset of Icelandic restaurant 'Texture', 28°-50° is a welcome addition to the City. Why 28°-50°? Because virtually all of the world’s vineyards are located between the latitudes of 28° and 50°, both northern and southern hemispheres. Combining in-house wine workshops, tasting events and a reputation for accomplished yet unpretentious cookery, 28° and 50° is making waves for many reasons, but for someone like myself who doesn't drink wine, is there anything other than wine to capture my imagination?

I cycled the bumpy path from my office (on one of Boris' Barclays bikes) to 28°-50° for an express lunch with a friend and was immediately surprised at how small and intimate the space was. I had hald expected it to be some kind of sprawling warehouse where throngs of wine enthusiasts would flock to sniff, quaff and spit their way through an entire wine list. A list so unique, that you can try any wine in several different measures; 75ml, 125ml, 250ml or by the bottle; enabling you to try several different wines with your meal and identifying your favourites as you go.

My friend opted for the special lunch set menu of 2 courses at £15.50 which produced fantastic value starting with a salad of vibrant yellow and red beetroot, generously topped with creamy white goat's cheese and crushed pistachios; followed by a main course of pan-fried mackerel accompanied by artichokes and a caper dressing. I was genuinely impressed with the quality and value of the food on the set menu.

I myself opted for the A La Carte menu, which surprisingly did not cost that much more. I began with a superb duck rillette, almost buttery and rich in flavour with succulent shreds of confit'd duck and an accompanying selection of pickles with huge hunks of bread. Heavenly. My main course was even better with pigs cheek and belly pork, crackling, quince, cale and swede 'spaghetti' topped with a wonderful, sweet jus which rounded off the dish nicely.

Not time for dessert as I was on my lunch break, but I was incredibly surprised at how swift and efficient service at 28°-50° was. The food was fantastic, a few slurps of my friends wine choices were also enjoyable and enough to warrant a second visit whenever I next get the chance. Overall 28°-50° is a fantastic destination whether you are city-based or not. Lunch is great, but at dinner you can enjoy the wine list to its full potential, which really isn't such a bad idea now is it?