- 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, 19 September 2011

RECIPE: Linguine with Calabrian Salami N'Duja & Prawns

Hands up who has heard of salami N'Duja? Well, fret ye not as you aren't alone. Until a few years ago, I hadn't heard of it either and if you know ANYTHING about me, you know I make it business to learn about Italian ingredients/produce of any kind, but none more so than salami.

So what makes this particular salami so special? Well (wait for it) this salami is spreadable! You read that right, SPREADABLE and it is absolutely divine. Packed with masses of fiery chillies from the southern most region of Italy, Calabria, this wonderful salami is so versatile and can be used in so many ways (stay tuned for more N'Duja recipes, because I won't be giving away ALL my secrets just yet!) but it is traditionally just spread on a simple crostino (or toasted bread) and enjoyed.

But where oh where can this fiery fabulous salami be found? Well, the picture above was taken from the 'De Calabria' stall at Borough Market but Melograno Deli in Notting Hill also sell in it a jar and to be honest most Italian delis and food markets are beginning to stock it either whole or in a jar so its well worth hunting down and it keeps perfectly well in an airtight container.

I've long been a fan of combining foods from land with foods of the sea. Think 'Surf n Turf' minus the hideously tacky label and instead revert to the almost musical-sounding Italian version 'Monte e Mare' - meaning 'Mountain and Sea' instead. This wonderful pasta dish was born out of pure laziness and simply utilising ingredients I had in the house and to amazing effect too, I might add and it takes virtually no time at all... so here is the recipe;

Spaghetti with Calabrian Salami N'Duja & Prawns (Serves 2-3)

250g Linguine (or Spaghetti)
200g shelled uncooked tiger prawns
150g salami N'Duja
400g tin of chopped tomatoes (the better the quality, the better the result!)
A handful of sunblush/slow roasted tomatoes **optional**
Maldon sea salt
Olive oil

Cook the pasta (per the packet instructions) until al dente. For the recipe, its best to undercook the pasta just a little because we want it to cook in the final sauce for a little so it really absorbs all that wonderful flavour. Once cooked, drain the pasta, rinse well with cold water and set aside. In the same cooking pot over a medium-high heat (or medium if using gas) drizzle just a little olive oil and then add the N'Duja salami and quickly stir it to prevent it burning. Once the salami is heating up, add the prawns and stir well til they are coated in the salami and beginning to turn pink almost completely then add the chopped tomatoes and sunblush/slow roasted tomatoes and mix all the ingredients together well and season with some Maldon sea salt. Not too much salt as with all the chilli, you won't really need to over salt the sauce.

Now add the pasta to the prawn, N'Duja and tomato mixture and give it a good mix with an extra slug of olive oil if needed. Cover with a lid for a few minutes to keep moisture in and finish cooking the pasta in the wonderful juices. Then remove the lid and give it a good stir for another minute or so and you are ready to serve! The sauce is not VERY fiery, but it certainly does pack a punch, thats for sure!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Comfort & Spice

The latest release from Quadrille Publishing House's 'New Voices in Food' series is from Niamh Shields titled 'Comfort & Spice - Recipes for modern living'. Niamh is the author of 'Eat Like a Girl' blog which is one of the UK's most followed food blogs.

Seperated into sections titled Brunch, Speedy Suppers, Long Weekend, Sugar & Spice and Drinks, there is a lot of comfort to be found in this book with everything from lemon and ricotta pancakes with raspberries to Beijing dumplings with chilli and soy dipping sauce. There is also a really helpful section on what to do with leftovers; packed with useful tips for transforming your leftovers into delicious new meals.

Niamh has also featured recipes for more elegant dishes like scallops with samphire and pancetta and Ras el Hanout lamb shanks with cous cous. There are a broad spectrum of dishes from around the globe that really make this a fab book for every day use. There is no pretense, no faffy skilled technique required; this is good, home-cooking with flavours from around the world and nothing is overly complicated or scary to try and attempt. Definitely the kind of book that provide no intimidation for any level of cook but creates really lovely meals perfect for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

There are some nice pictures in the book, but I only wish there were more as some of the recipes sounds amazing and a picture alongside every one would be fantastic! Looking forward to Niamh's next cook book already, but not before I have literally cooked my way through a good chunk of her first cook book, Comfort & Spice. Great job Niamh, we love it!

Right now on Amazon, you can order the book and its a total steal at almost half price... Just click here to purchase. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

There is only one thing I like more than cheesecake and that is cheesecake ice cream. Creamy, velvety indulgent raspberry goodness, in this instance. As you know, cheesecake anything is never a low-fat option, but everything in moderation as they say. You can very happily use low fat substitutes when making the ice cream mix and it will turn out virtually exactly the same. I don't normally EVER endorse low fat products (apart from 0% Total yoghurt!) because low fat just isn't the same in most instances, such as mayonnaise and cheese for for this recipe, low fat cream cheese, Creme Fraiche and double cream if you can find them.

Raspberries are one of my favourite berries and I think they work so much better in ice cream than strawberries do and they truly remind me of late summer. You can easily use any other fruit to make this recipe but the sweet, tartness of the plump raspberries are just the perfect accompaniment to the rich nature of this ice cream and provide a balanced acidity that works brilliantly with the cheesecake flavours.

The most essential tool when making ice cream is a decent ice cream maker and so when the good people at Cuisineart very kindly sent me a swanky new 'Ice Cream Deluxe' machine, I was beyond ecstatic to try my favourite ice cream recipe in it to see how it turned out and I must say, the result was deliciously creamy and smooth in texture. Absolutely perfect. All you need to do 24 hours before you want to make your ice cream is to freeze the ice cream bowl and the next day, you can have delicious ice cream ready within 30 minutes (I still find that amazing!)

Raspberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

150g cream cheese
250g of double cream
200g of full fat Creme Fraiche
200g caster sugar
200g of fresh raspberries
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod OR 2 teaspoons of best quality vanilla essence
A pinch of salt

Using a handwhisk, mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl until the mixture is nice and smooth and evenly incorporated. Don't worry about getting it perfect as the ice cream mixer will really do most of the mixing for you.

Wash and drain the raspberries and add them to the mixture, folding them in gently until the mixture begins to turn pink. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, switch it on and allow to churn for 30-35 minutes and you are done. You can eat it right there and then or freeze the mixture for a couple of hours to firm it up a nicely.

My only advice to you when making fresh ice cream is to make sure you eat it within a week maximum as it just isn't the same after that. Although, this recipe is so delicious, I defy you not to eat the whole lot within 24 hours! It's gooey, thick and very decadent and perfect for this lovely burst of spring sunshine we are having. If you want to add strawberries or any other berries/fruit at all, just add 200g of your desired fruit instead. But soft fruits (like berries) tend to work best!

Sunday, 4 September 2011

RECIPE: Courgette & Aubergine 'Chips' (Zucchini e Melanzane Fritti)

Having just come back from Rome, it is safe to say I am missing the great food very much and so I decided to create a little Italian magic in the kitchen in the form of one of my all time favourite recipes.

Zucchini Fritti are the Italian equivalent of chips and to be perfectly honest, I would ALWAYS pick them over the humble potato. They are utterly addictive and being much lighter than the humble spud, you can end up eating A LOT more of them than normal chips... and why not? They are damn tasty and actually really easy to make. For a bit of diversity, I like to throw in some aubergines into the mix because the two vegetables work really well together and as long as you cut them into same size strips, they cook at the same time and the result is totally mouthwatering.... My perfect kind of food!

Courgette and Aubergine 'Chips' (Zucchini e Melanzane Fritti) - serves 2

2 courgettes
1 medium sized aubergine
1 litre of cooking oil (I use sunflower and think its best)
2 pints of milk (full fat or semi skimmed only)
300g plain flour for dusting

Without peeling them, slice your courgettes and aubergines into thin chips (about 7mm width) and then place all the chips in a bowl and cover completely with milk and leave to soak for an hour. This process breaks their fibres down and absorbs a bit of moisture making them cook better. Leave them to rest in the milk for an hour.

After about 45 minutes, take a large cooking pot and add your oil and turn the hob on to a medium - high heat (or medium flame is using gas). Add your flour into another bowl and once the oil is bubbling nicely (but not aggressively) take handfuls of the chips out of the milk, place them in the bowl with the flower and make sure they get a good coating. The milk soaking plus the flour will actually make the perfect batter coating for the chips.

Once the chips are nicely coated in flour, place them in a sieve and shake off the excess flour over the sink or into a bin and then carefully add them into the hot oil. The oil should bubble nicely once the chips are added and the chips should cook in approximately 8 minutes or until nice and golden. Once done, place them on a plate lined with a double layer of kitchen paper and salt immediately with Maldon sea salt. Repeat until all the chips are done and enjoy!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Joe's - Draycott Avenue, London

Long time neighbourhood favourite, Joe's on Draycott Avenue, has long housed the chicest locals and 'ladies that lunch' who break up an otherwise strenuous day of shopping with a spot of lunch in this monied part of town. Packed to the rafters on weekends with glamorous types and yummy-mummies, it has recently seen Greek Cypriot TV Chef Maria Elia take the helm and I popped along to see what interesting new things Maria has done with the menu.I didn't really know what to expect to be honest; a lot of the food in the area is overpriced, over-hyped and generally somewhat lacklustre for serious food devotees like myself. I was actually incredibly surprised to discover how innovative, well balanced and beautifully conceived the dishes were. I couldn't wait to try them! Chef Maria Elia was a gracious hostess and popped up to say a brief hello before sending out little 'tasters' - dish after beautiful dish of seductive plates just waiting to be savaged by a ravenous Persian girl like myself.The first course, served on an elegant slate platter, was a beetroot and Beluga lentil salad with a sharp Greek yoghurt adorned with both golden beetroot as well as the classic deep purple beetroot also. This is just the kind of food I love to eat. Not heavy, not greasy, light and healthy but without sacrificing flavour or enjoyment. I could have eaten this 10 times over and been eternally happy.The next course is possibly one of my favourite delights of the sea; the humble octopus. Scary looking for some but absolutely delicious and a staple of Greek culinary culture. If you haven't tried Octopus before, you are absolutely missing out! A delicate curled tentacle gently resting on a mix of braised barley and onions with a scattering of fennel seeds and elegant strands of fresh dill. What a treat; a fantastic combination and a great dish that I simply wouldn't have expected on a menu in this part of town.Now admittedly pigeon is not one of my favourite things but every once in a while, I enjoy it, provided it is cooked properly and paired with the right accompaniments. Delicate but meaty chunks of pigeon breast with a vibrant green sauce (the name of which escapes me) akin to pesto but not pungent with excess basil of coarse in texture. The pigeon itself rests on a green gage tatin that provide the perfect sweet yet sharp fruit flavour that so often works well with pigeon. I must say, I was surprised at how much I liked this dish. I still day dream about it everytime I see pigeon on a menu anywhere.More food? Absolutely. Maria Elia is Greek after all... And you know from my Greek adventures that they love to feed people... A LOT. This is not a problem whatsoever for me. In fact, I absolutely welcome it as long as it comes at a slow and sensible pace. Asian fish stew proved an almost virtuous 4th course, with a clear ocre-tinged seafood consomme infused with eastern aromatics like ginger and lemongrass with generous chunks of seabass, mussels and a scattering of puy lentils, coriander and bean sprouts to finish. It's the kind of food that feels healthy as its going down... do you know what I mean? Cleansing... rather zen, if you will. Enough said really as lets be honest, this is my 4th course with no end in sight so it's pretty safe to say I was now WAY past Zen/Virtous eating!The 5th course (yes, there was yet ANOTHER course) was beyond intriguing for me... a savoury baklava! "Madness!" I hear you say... Layers of filo pastry with green beans, feta cheese, tomatoes and honey. Two word; ABSOLUTELY DIVINE. Even I wasn't initially sure of this little creation but it was the perfect balance of sweet versus savoury combined with the wonderful sharpness of brilliant white feta cheese. Totally moreish and yet another nod to Maria Elia's heritage. If I could have, I would have ordered another portion as takeaway. I'm pretty sure I cold try and attempt it at home although less confident about it turning out even half as decent as Maria's dish.Last but not least came dessert, which at this point was a lost cause simply wasted on me. I ordered it but to be perfectly honest, I was so stuffed that they could have put George Clooney on a plate and I'd have little interest in tackling him. A simple slice of treacle tart with vanilla ice cream and an apricot puree was nice but I'd have to say Maria's talent shines in the savoury portion of the menu. Maybe I'm just not a dessert person as much as I am a savoury lover or maybe I'd just eaten my BODY WEIGHT in food! Either way, Joe's exceeded my expectations on every scale. The menu was beyond reasonably priced which led me to wonder why on earth I never come here? Perhaps the illusion that the crowd of diners would be annoying Yummy-Mummies? UNFOUNDED. Perhaps the food wouldn't be anything of interest to me? UNFOUNDED and more importantly, perhaps the prices are ludicrously high because of the plush South Kensington location and the fact that it's owned by Joseph boutique across the road... UNFOUNDED.

Very glad to have discovered this great little spot not so far from home and I can safely say, I will genuinely be coming back and look forward to sampling more from the regularly changing, seasonal menus created by Maria Elia.

Joe's
126 Draycott Avenue, London, SW3 3AH
Tel: 020 7225 2217
http://www.joseph.co.uk/joes-cafe/locations/