- 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, 22 August 2011

Bees - What's all the buzz about?

I was recently invited to the 'Magners Bee Aid' launch where we were given the chance to learn a little bit more about the plight of the British bee and how their extinction could affect us as a nation. You may have seen the ads on TV with Magners 'Beard of bees'?On arrival I was given a nifty little beekeepers outfits (modelled above!) which I donned along with my snazzy yellow marigolds and after a talk from the British Beekeepers Association we were invited to take part in a spot of beekeeping for ourselves over-looking London town.

Now admittedly the prospect of being stung by bees had virtually paralysed with fear for a while, but I knew this was something I wanted to get involved with somehow and learn a little more about. I was also reassured (many a time) that the bees wouldn't really have that much interest in me in all honesty, which was good enough for me. As the beekeeper withdrew the bees from their hive, I had a massive lump in my throat and was rather nervous. I must admit I did find the experience rather daunting and I sheepishly retreated to the safety of the indoors, 15 minutes before anyone else did. But at least I did it! I stood there whilst the little bees were buzzing around, doing there thing and I learned a lot about the structure of the hive and the importance of drones, worker and Queen bees. They have such a sophisticated and well-structured work ethic, it puts us humans to shame.So why on earth did I get involved in this? Well here is what you need to know;

- One third of all the food we eat would not be available if it wasn't for bees
- In the UK alone, 70 crops are dependent/benefit from visits from bees
- The UK value of the bee industry has been estimated at over £200 million per year
- 10% of all crops & 25% of all plant species are pollinated by bees
- Our violent farming practices continue to disturb the natural habitats and forage of solitary and bumblebees at a rate which gives little chance for survival or re-establishment of hives

You might think that none of this is relevant to you, but you'd be wrong. Without bees you can effectively kiss goodbye crops such as apples, pears and orchard fruits and the buck doesn't stop there because without pollination, crops that animals feed on that make things like cheese and dairy products, would no longer be possible. The effect would be devastating on a scale which we, in our daily hustle and bustle, are failing to comprehend nor fully appreciate.

Magners have created a 'Bee Aid' campaign with a very generous initiative that I'm hoping you will all participate in... For every time that anyone 'likes' the Magners page on Facebook, enters the Magners competition or downloads the Magners phone app, Magners will make a donation of 50 bees to the British Bee Keeping Association and Federation of Irish BeeKeepers, to help save 1.5 million urban bees over the next year. So please visit the Magners Facebook page and 'like' it as with enough 'likes' it could make such an amazing difference to the survival of bees and the survival of the crops we enjoy and very often, take forgranted. Thanks everyone.

Website: http://www.magners.com/
Twitter: @MagnersUK
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/magners/
For more information on the plight of the bees, visit: http://www.bbka.org.uk/about/corporate_members__sponsors/magners_cider

Monday, 8 August 2011

RECIPE: Focaccia Bread

I am no master when it comes to baking but I generally find that I can pull off bread better than pastry or say meringue making. So when I was looking for the perfect bread recipes, I had to turn to none other than Guardian & Sainsburys Magazine bread expert Dan Lepard.Through a few very kind exchanges on Twitter, Dan encouraged me to try this recipe and I'm so glad I did because (as you can see above) the results were splendid and I just had to share the recipe with you.

Focaccia Bread

125g cold sour cream
2 tsp salt
2 tsp caster sugar
1 sachet fast-action yeast
550g strong white flour, plus extra for shaping
4-5 stems of fresh rosemary
200mls of extra virgin olive oil
A generous handful of Maldon sea salt
Extra olive oil, for kneading
Oven paper / baking paper

In a large bowl, mix the cream with 150ml cold water and 100ml boiling water. Add the salt, sugar and yeast, then mix in the flour until it forms a rough ball. Cover the bowl with some clingfilm and leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Lightly oil your kitchen surface or a large (non-wooden) chopping board and gently knead the dough for 10 seconds before returning the dough back into the bowl and leaving it to rest for another 10 minutes. Repeat the quick knead process two more times at 10 minute intervals, then roll the dough out into a rectangle shape approximately the size of a large oven tray and line the tray with some baking/oven paper and place the dough onto the paper lined tray. Stretch it out as much as possible and using your fingers, literally poke deep holes all over the dough (trying not to piece the dough but still being pretty tough with it) and cover with clingfilm and leave to rest somewhere warm for 2 hours (or a little more if you like).

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan-assisted). Once the two hours is up, remove clingfilm from the top and drizzle 200ml of extra virgin olive oil over the dough, ensuring it covers every nook and cranny of the dough. A silicone brush will help aid this process. Sprinkle the entire surface of the bread liberally with the uncrushed Maldon sea salt flakes and pick the rosemary leaves from the woody stems and sprinkle them evenly on the bread dough. Place on the top shelf in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. The results, as you can see above, are absolutely splendid... I hope you will give it a go.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

RECIPE: Churros and Chocolate (HEAVEN!)

I do love a good donut. Donuts of all descriptions but Churros really do it for me. Perfect balance of dough to cinnamony-sugary, crispy goodness. Add a pot of dipping chocolate into the mixing and I'm good to go.

Last year I bought myself a Churros maker which, to be perfectly honest, looks like a gentlemen's genital enlargement tool. Ok, I'm trying to be polite... quite frankly it looks like a penis pump, but if it gets the job done and makes good Churros, then I am happy. Basically you only really need a piping bag with a star-ridged nozzle to do the job really, so don't go frantically looking for a special Spanish Churros maker like I did!

This recipe is not my own; it is a recipe from Thomasina Mier's 'Mexican Food Made Simple'which I bought last year with the intention of making Churros. So forgive me, as clearly I am a little behind but MAN was it worth the wait! So here is the recipe;

Churros and Chocolate

125g plain flour
125 self raising flour
450ml of boiling water
2 tablespoons of olive oil
A good pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
200g of caster sugar
1.5-2 litres of sunflower oil

For the chocolate sauce
200g dark chocolate (preferably 70% cocoa)
50g milk chocolate
2 tabelspoons of golden syrup
300ml of double cream

In a heavy based saucepan over a very gentle heat, pour in the double cream, golden syrup and break in all of the chocolate and stir well until the chocolate melts and the sauce because a rich, glossy chocolate mixture. Then turn the heat off. Then preheat a large pan over a medium to high heat (or medium if using gas) and pour the sunflower oil in it in preparation for frying your churros.

In a heatproof or metal bowl sift the flours and salt together into the bowl and make a well in the centre. Measure out 450ml of boiling water in a measuring jug then add your olive oil into the hot water and stir well before pouring into the centre of your well in the bowl with the flour in it and using a fork, stir well.
The mixture is going to look bizarre, like a thick, raw bread dough but this is correct and you will need to let it rest for 10 minutes.Once done, fill a piping bag with some of the mixture and testing the oil is hot enough first (usually a small bit of bread should turn golden within 30 seconds) and pipe in your churros dough (about 5 inches long) and snip the ends off with a pair of scissors. Don't overcrowd the pan because they have a tendency to stick together in the oil otherwise, so 3 at a time works best. Fry them all and once done place on a plate lined with a couple of sheets of kitchen towel to drain off excess oil.

Mix the caster sugar and ground cinnamon together and either roll the churros in the sugar mixtures of liberally sprinkle the sugar mixture over the Churros... And don't forget to pour yourself a nice cup of the chocolate sauce to dip the Churros in. HEAVEN!

Saturday, 6 August 2011

STREET FOOD: Big Apple Hot Dogs

Do you like hot dogs? I sure as hell do... and finding good ones in London or in fact anywhere in the UK is truly a very hard job. As you may know, I have recently been exploring the street food stands of London trying to seperate the wheat from the chaff and wrapping my lips around this bad-boy-of-a-hot-dog was nothing short of a pure, unadulterated pleasure.

Owner of Big Apple Hot Dogs is the colourful Abiye, who on this occasion was joined by his teenage son Isaac on a gorgeous sunny day, serving up hot dogs from their little corner just a stones throw away from Old Street tube station. There is a lovely table just adjacent to the hot dog stand where you can sit and if you're lucky, as we were, you are bathed in sunshine whilst sipping a cold drink as you contemplate what to order.

Waiting for my chosen hot dog, 'The Big Dog' - a double smoked pork hot dog seasoned with marjoram, garlic and black pepper, felt like the longest wait of my life. I was absolutely dying to get my chops around one of those bad boys and the wait was killing me. Finally I am presented with an absolutely enormous hot dog and the first bite delivers the crucial 'sausage snap' that any self respecting hot dog should have, followed by a mouthful of meaty, juicy sausage, bathed in your chosen sauce (which in my case HAS to be mustard and ketchup and loads fof it). For £3.50, there aren't many better meals to be had in the City, let alone the country.

I have waited in line for over an hour to eat hot dogs at the world famous 'Pinks' in Los Angeles as well as explored the hot dog scene in New York at places such as Gray's Papaya, Shake Shack and Crip's Dogs and to be perfectly honest, they've got nothing on Abiye's Big Apple Hot Dogs. My one wish would be that the Chilli Cheese Dog would become more popular over here, as it is my favourite and nobody seems to be doing it. Having said that, Big Apple Hot Dogs are more than enough to satisfy my inner greedy girl and I cannot wait to go back for some mo', fo' sho'!

You can follow Big Apple Hot Dogs on Twitter: @BigAppleHotDogs

Big Apple Hot Dogs
239 Old Street
London
EC1
Tel: 07989 387 441