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Posts Tagged ‘Gordon Ramsay’

I can’t believe we are now less than 2 weeks from Christmas. I can’t wait – I just love this time of year!! Although with it also being one of the busiest periods at work, James’ birthday on the 17th and our wedding anniversary on the 16th (9 years – have no idea where that time went!!) it is just madness. Hence there has not been a huge amount of cooking – lots of soups and easy dishes that are already on the blog (I just love Pasta e fagioli – it makes me feel so virtuous in body and pocket! Full of goodness and made with leftovers – plus it is just so tasty!).

We have had lots of fun over the last couple of weeks including taking Izzy to see the stage show of The Gruffalo and also to our local Pantomine of Mother Goose.  I love Panto season – they are a British specialty! It was a great although a bit scary for Izzy at times……….oh yes it was……

Of course there has also been all the ‘house stuff’ as we try and get ready for Christmas at home – as Mum pointed out this is the first year Christmas has been at my house….hadn’t even realised that! Have been planning a Christmas feast along with Mer, as the Mackies will also be joining us Christmas Day. I have started getting in some of the Christmas essentials and have ordered the turkey – so far so good! Last week we visited South London Christmas Tree farm and chose our tree which we then decorated with a mixture of wooden and home made decorations. It was a alot of fun and we love how it turned out. Izzy now enters the house each night with an ‘Abracadabra….turn the lights on..’ and what do you know the Christmas lights come on (nothing to do with Mummy being at the plug of course!!).

Our tree of choice!

At home and decorated.....love it!!

Yesterday we visited the Winter Wonderland at Bluewater for what has become our annual outing with the Rhule’s and the Mackies. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it! and I also had a night out to see Pink in concert (she was awesome!) – so there has been lots on!

Mer & the Izzy's

Young love!! Izzy & Easton

This week James and I are actually going out together….yes, a date!…….it doesn’t happen often! and I can’t wait as we are off to The Boxwood Cafe which is part of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants. I am soooo excited!! Even bought a new dress!! Let’s hope it lives up to expectations!

In a midst of all the chaos I have been in search for a recipe for Christmas cookies so I could break out the Christmas cutters. I have tried a couple of cookie cutter recipes in the past and they have turned out OK but I have always had trouble with the ‘cutting’ as it ends up sticking to the bench or breaking apart. This recipe worked quite well and I didn’t have these problems but I noticed a few things:-

1. I used the butter straight from the cold fridge and in the past I haven’t so when it comes to rolling out the dough is perhaps warmer than ideal?

2. It says 1/2 tsp salt but I think this leaves a slight after taste so would knock back to a 1/4 next time.

3. You need to space them out on the baking tray as they do spread a fair amount.

Snowflake Cookies (courtesy of Women & home – Feel Good Food – Christmas 2009)

Ingredients:-

400g plain flour

150g icing sugar

1/2 tsp salt

4 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

Put flour, icing sugar, butter & salt into a food processor and pulse until combined. Beat egg yolks and vanilla extract and slowly pour into the processor with the motor running. Roll the dough into a ball and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Heat the oven to 180C.

Roll out the dough to about 6mm thickness. Using snowflake cutters (or whatever cutters you want) and cut out as many shapes as you can, re-rolling in between. Transfer each one to a greased baking tray and chill again for 15 minutes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until a light golden brown colour. Allow to cool before carefully transferring them to a wire rack.

The recipe then says to decorate brush with 2-3 Tbsp warm apricot jam, then decorate with sugar sprinkles and silver balls.  However I just let Izzy loose with tubes of icing!

YUM!

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Back to Gordon….

You know I can’t make up my mind if I like Gordon Ramsay, granted he is entertaining and a very talented chef but on the flip side he is so arrogant and rude. I used to see past all that just to the entertainment but these days all I see is the arrogance, especially after the whole debacle in Australia. So I guess I don’t like him more than I like him – if that makes sense. I would like to say that I am not a fan of Michelin star food but as I have never been to a Michelin star restaurant I can’t really say that but I am not a big fan of Michelin star chef cookbooks – I like cooks rather than chefs. Those who make food exciting and accessible for the masses rather than the elite. That said I have been to some very nice, although not Michelin star, restaurants and having a delicious meal which is unlike anything I would cook at home is a real joy. That’s what eating out is about – enjoying food you don’t make it home. I really don’t see the point otherwise.

So although we have established that I am not a great fan of G.R. I still have plenty of his cookbooks, although not sure I will be buying another one.

Last week I made a trip to the butchers and came away with pork fillet, chicken supremes and vension steaks. Mmmmm……….

First up, pork fillet and so a quick look through the fridge for potential accompanying ingredients and  a flick through a few books and I come up with Pork Fillet Stroganoff. Gordon’s description is ‘a lovely unfussy dish…’ – that it certainly is but also a little bland. However we failed to do 1 thing – we didn’t have sweet smoked paprika and so used plain smoked paprika – not sure what sort of difference this would make. Perhaps alot, perhaps not much? We may have overcooked the pork a little as well so will keep an eye on that if we make again.

Pork Fillet Stroganoff (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay – Cooking for Friends)

Ingredients:-

500g pork fillet

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika, plus an extra pinch

4 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, finely sliced

200g brown chestnut mushrooms, sliced

splash of brandy

150ml sour cream or double cream

squeeze of lemon juice

handful of flat-leaf parsley, leaves chopped

Trim off any fat or sinew from the pork fillet and slice thinly. Season with salt, pepper and a teaspoon of paprika.

Heat half the olive oil in a wide frying pan until hot. Add the onion and fry over medium heat for 6-8 minutes until soft and tranluscent, stirring frequently. Add the garlic and mushrooms and increase the heat slightly . Fry for another 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms. Tip the contents of the pan on to a plate and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the pork fillet over high heat. Fry the meat for 1 1/2 – 2 minutes until golden brown. Return the onions, garlic & mushrooms to the pan. Add a splash of brandy and let it boil or flambe until almost all reduced. Stir in the cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Adjust the seasoning with a little more salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice. Throw in the chopped parsley and remove the pan from the heat. Serve immediately sprinkled with a pinch of paprika.

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On Saturday I asked James to pop down to the butcher and pick up some meat for Sunday dinner. We are trying to use the butcher more than the supermarket for fresh meat – the difference is incredible! It is more expensive but totally worth it.

So he returned with lamb shanks – good choice buddy! Sundays are a perfect time to cook lamb shanks as they do take a few hours but as this recipe proved for us – it is definitely worth the planning ahead!

My friend Justine recently summed up her perfect Sunday – Easton was napping, Jon was on the sofa watching the footie, the house was clean and the Sunday roast was in the oven – I can’t help but agree. The simple pleasures in life are the best! Pure joy and contentment right there in that moment.

So, enough of my musings and back to Gordon. Now the accompanying photo does not look particularly delicious but trust me this was divine. The meat just fell off the bone (as it should) and I loved the garlic sausage and beans alongside the meat. A great combination of flavours!

Now I will type out the whole recipe but I skipped the buttered bread crumbs at the end.

Lamb Shank Cassoulet (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay – Cooking for Friends)

Ingredients:-

4 lamb shanks, each about 350g

3 Tbsp olive oil

50g smoked back bacon, fat trimmed, chopped

2 large Spanish onions, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

2 Tbsp tomato puree

few sprigs of thyme

2 bay leaves (thank goodness for our neighbour Sam’s bay leaf bush!)

250ml dry white wine

1 litre lamb or chicken stock

2 x 400g tins haricot beans, rinsed and drained

4-6 Toulouse sausages

To serve:

30g butter

75g fresh breadcrumbs

stripped leaves from a sprig of thyme

Season the lamb shanks with salt & pepper. Heat a cast iron or heavy based pan with a thin layer of oil. Fry the lamb over medium heat for about 2 minutes on each side until evenly browned all over. Transfer to a large plate and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan and stir in the bacon. Fry for a few minutes until the bacon is golden brown. Add the onions and garlic and stir well. Cover the pan and sweat the onions for 4-6 minutes until they are translucent.

Remove the lid and add the tomato puree and herbs. Stir for a couple of minutes, then pour in the white wine. Let the wine boil until it has reduced by two-thirds. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Return the lamb to the pan and put a crumpled piece of baking parchment on top. This will prevent any meat that pokes out of the liquid from drying out. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and gently simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning the lamb shanks over halfway, until they are tender and will come away from the bone easily.

Remove the shanks to a warm platter, cover with a piece of foil and leave to rest. Skim off the excess fat from the surface of the braising liquid, then boil until reduced by more than half. Lower the heat, add the beans and sausages to the pan and simmer for about 10 minutes until the sausages are cooked through. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If necessary, return the lamb shanks to the panto reheat for a few minutes.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and tip in the breadcrumbs, thyme leaves and a little salt and pepper. Stir over medium heat until the breadcrumbs are golden and crisp. Remove the pan from the heat.

Divide the lamb shanks among warm plates and spoon the beans, sausages and sauce around them. Sprinkle over the crispy breadcrumbs and serve immediately.

Gordon suggests serving with sauteed savoy cabbage and chunks of country bread. We opted for mash – worked for us!

More delicous than it looks!

More delicous than it looks!

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Well it has been a few weeks now since I have been in the kitchen, slack I know!!  James, Izzy & I have been in Scotland for the last 10 days where we have enjoyed some R & R and hospitality courtesy of Robert & Laura. It was a very relaxed break and we just tiki-toured around the gorgeous countryside and spent the time between Aberdeen and the seaside town of Nairn. It was great to spend time with R & L and  also James’ cousin Gillian and her family and for Izzy to have the opportunity to spend time with her Scottish rellies.

The Wright's at Loch Ness

The Wright's at Loch Ness

On our final night in Aberdeen I took over Auntie Laura’s kitchen (and boy, did I make a mess – luckily I had a couple of sous chef’s on hand to clear up!). Laura took on the starter and what could be more Scottish than Haggis, Neeps & Tatties with a whisky sauce. Since my first taste of Haggis, quite a few years ago now, I have been a fan. I think the secret is not to think about what it actually is – yum!

Auntie Laura's starter - delicious!!

Auntie Laura's starter - delicious!!

The main course was Roast Beef with various accompaniements. It was sort of successful. James and I decided a while back that this winter is going to bring with it the challenge of mastering the Roast Dinner. There is some work to do. On this occasion I referred to Gordon Ramsay’s Sunday Lunch. My first mistake was not taking into account the fan oven and therefore cooking it too quick on the outside and a bit rare on the inside. Gordon’s recipe also calls for a Red Wine gravy and to be honest it was a bit of a palaver and not worth the effort. There was so much liquid it would have been the next night before it reduced to anything particularly gravy like – so we renamed it a red wine jous…..

My big success was the Yorkshire pudding – a first attempt too. Instead of individual ones I made one large one and it turned out fab. Gordon’s recipe below.

Yorkshire Puddings (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay – ‘Sunday Lunch’)

Ingredients:-

225g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs, beaten

300ml milk

about 4 tbsp vegetable oil

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the eggs and half the milk and beat until smooth. Mix in the remaining milk and leave the batter to rest.

Once beef is cooked and resting increase the oven to 230C. Put 1 tsp oil into each section of a 12 hole tray and put into the oven on the top shelf until very hot (almost smoking).

Whisk batter again. As soon as you take tray from the oven, ladle in the batter to 3/4 fill the tins (it should sizzle) and immediately put back in the oven. Bake for 15-20 mins until the Yorkshire puddings are well risen, golden brown and crisp. Don’t open the oven door until the end or they might collapse.

Success!

Success!

Finally the main was served. Really need to work on my timings – thank goodness for Laura’s hostess trolley!

Slàinte mhath (for non-Gaelic speakers 'Cheers')

Slàinte mhath (for non-Gaelic speakers 'Cheers')

It was getting late and we still had dessert to eat. Luckily I had it all prepared earlier and it was easy peasy! Gordon provides a good crumble recipe and it can easily be adapted with whatever fruits are in season. I don’t use the word ‘adapt’ often as I am strict recipe follower!

Strawberry, Peach & Ginger Crumble (courtesy of Gordon Ramsay – ‘Sunday Food’)

Ingredients:-

3 ripe peaches

300g strawberries, hulled and quartered

2 pieces of stem ginger in syrup, drained and finely chopped

2 Tbsp sugar

Crumble:

50g toasted hazelnuts

70g plain flour

pinch of ground cinnamon

25g cold butter, cut into small pieces

50g demerara sugar

(Strangely the recipe also calls for 2 tbsp caster sugar in the crumble – but no instruction when to add this??)

Heat the oven to 200C. Halve, stone and roughly dice the peaches, then put them into a dry non-stick pan with the strawberries, ginger, sugar and 2 tbsp water. Cook over a high heat for 2 mins until the fruit is slightly softened but not mushy. Tip into a bowl and allow to cool.

For the crumble, lightly crush the hazelnuts in a bowl with the end of a rolling pin. In a large mixing bowl, stir together with the flour and cinnamon. Using the tips of your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Stir through the crushed hazelnuts and demerara sugar.

Spoon the softened fruit into four wide ramekins or individual baking dishes (I used one large bowl but as it was quite deep the fruit spilled over some of the crumble so best wide and not too deep). Top with the crumble mixture, scattering it evenly, and stand the dishes on a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 mins until the topping is golden brown and crisp.

Leave the crumble to stand for a few minutes before serving, with cream or creme anglaise (although I prefer vanilla ice cream!).

This could definitely become a family favourite – easy – tick, tasty – tick, easy to experiment with – tick….

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