To Illustrate: to clarify, explain or describe, through the use of pictures, diagrams or words, a concept or problem.

The concept is food: an amateur's illustration.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

A Chicken Pie

Serves 2-3

2 x 180 gram chicken breasts
A knob of butter
5 spring onions
100 grams mushrooms
1 heaped tbsp flour
2 tsp English mustard
1 heaped tbsp creme fraiche
150 ml chicken stock
fresh thyme
1/3 nutmeg
1 sheet of pre rolled short crust pastry
1 egg


Preheat the oven to 200 C. Cut the chicken breasts up into 1 cm strips and cook them for three minutes in a large pan with the butter and a glug of olive oil.

Slice the mushrooms and spring onions.

Add them to the chicken along with 1 heaped tablespoon of flour. Stir. Add 2 teaspoons of English Mustard, 1 heaped tablespoon of creme fraiche. Stir.

Pour in 150 ml of chicken stock and pick of the thyme leaves. Stir really well and grate in the nutmeg. Season and leave to simmer.

Pastry: Roll out your pastry sheet on a clean, lightly floured surface, to a size slightly bigger than you dish. Score and criss-cross the pastry.

Take the chicken off the heat and tip the filling into an oven proof dish.

Cover with the pastry sheet and tuck the edges in. Decorate as desired. Quickly beat up an egg and brush it over the top of the pie.

Put it in the oven on the top shelf for around 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

This recipe is taken from Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals, which was a Christmas present from my mum. I used Shortcrust pastry instead of Puff pastry, not for any particular reason (in fact it was because I forgot which one it said in the recipe when I was in the supermarket so I guessed...wrongly, but it was fine). I think I prefer short crust pastry anyway, and I halved the quantities of the original recipe as I made it for two. The pie was delicious.

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Stein's Fish and Chip's

A Review: After waiting in a queue, outside of Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip Shop, in the rain for 15 minutes to get a seat, things unfortunately didn't improve when we were finally let inside. We were hurried towards the back of the restaurant, and plonked down on to the end of an already half full table by a pushy waitress who slammed down in front of our faces, three laminated menus. However, once seated and coats were casually shoved under the table we finally looked at the laminated menus, and we couldn't complain anymore. The menu was like nothing I had seen before in a fish and chip shop (apart from the ones in Edinburgh which offer you an infinite amount of anything deep fried) as there was so much on offer; Cod, Hake, Haddock, Plaice, Sea Bream, Lemon Sole, Skate, Monkfish, Salmon and Mackerel, all caught locally and cooked in a variety of ways battered, fried and grilled. Chips were served with all portions and there ware a choice of sides; mushy peas, tartar sauce, curry sauce, bread and butter, salad an actual chip butty, tiger prawns and oysters shucked or battered if you so wished.

I had the battered Lemon Sole. The fish was good. The batter may not have been to everyone's taste as it was made from beef dripping rather than traditional beer or vegetable oil batter, but it was surprisingly light and flavoursome, and it did not over power the light fillets of fish. I was served three pieces of fish, which was generous, so the portions were not meagre. But there were too many chips, which to be honest were not great; they were soggy, not crisp and fluffy like they should be. The homemade tartar sauce was delicious but the mushy peas were I hate to say it, too mushy and salty which was disappointing. And to top if off, the prices were not great either. The Lemon sole was £9.95 without the additional tartar sauce and mushy peas and that was not the most expensive thing on the menu, battered squid i.e. calamari was £12.95. 

I wouldn't go there again, unfortunately. It was an experience; the fish was good but everything else was rather standard and for the price that we paid, I, along with everyone else crammed into the tiny room, I think, expected a little more. 

Festive Bubble and Squeak

Serves 3-4

For this recipe it really doesn’t matter how much of one thing you have. The joy of the dish is you just use up everything you have left. If you have a large number of people in mind then quantities may be slightly more important but because I am only making this for three people, when the ingredients are out in front of me, looking at it now I know that it is defiantly enough.

100 grams of stuffing
200 grams left over turkey
200g alternative meat either cooked chipolatas or sausage (I am using some German sausage)
200 grams Roast potatoes
300 grams of roast vegetables (Brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips)
Olive oil
Eggs (optional)

Put the potatoes and mixed vegetables and stuffing into a bowl and mash them up using a potato masher leaving a few chunky bits for texture. 

Using a large spoon or spatula, stir in the turkey, and additional meat and season really well.

Heat a large non-stick pan on a high heat and add a generous amount of olive oil or goose fat if you have it. Fry the entire mixture on a high heat and keep turning bits of it over so it goes crispy.

Pat the mixture down and shape it neatly in the pan. Leave it to crisp, then turn the mixture over – crisping the other side.

Slide onto a board and cut into wedges. Serve with a fried egg and a rocket salad.

Monday, 27 December 2010


An alternative to the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwich which is a favourite pre and post Christmas Day. A Croque Monsieur with turkey.

serves 4

40 g butter
40 g flour
400 ml milk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
100 g Stilton
8 slices of bread
Cranberry sauce
100 g Gruyere, grated
Left over Turkey (400 g)


Preheat the oven to 200 C. Melt the butter in a saucepan on a low heat, until foamy but not coloured. Stir in the flour. Cook for three minutes. Pour in the cold milk and whisk to avoid lumps.

Increase the heat and leave to simmer for a few minutes. The sauce should thicken quite considerably. Then remove it from the heat and stir in the mustard and Stilton. The Stilton I used had cranberries in it, hence the cranberries in the picture. Season.

Line the bread out on a surface and spread four slices with cranberry sauce, then the Stilton sauce and scatter over half the Gruyere.

Top with the turkey and sandwich the remaining bread.

Press the sandwich together lightly, and spread the tops with the rest of the sauce and Gruyere.

Bake until the cheese melts and the sandwiches turn golden brown. This should take about 15-20 minutes.

Serve with a green salad.

Recipe by Bruno Loubet from Jamie Oliver's Christmas Magazine.

There are always left-overs

Everyone seems to stuff themselves silly on Christmas day, however, despite our gluttony, and our ''oh, I'll just have one more'' attitude, there is always a mountain of food left in the fridge to keep us going for days. But there is so much to do with it all and a chance to be really creative.

Friday, 24 December 2010

To Padstow for Lunch

Yesterday we drove to Padstow, another harbour town. We went to one of Rick Stein’s restaurants for lunch. He has 5 in total (in Padstow alone): a Seafood Restaurant, a Bistro, a Café, a Fish and Chip shop, and a Patisserie, oh and a Deli, a Cookery School and Gift Shop. I can see why the town has been nicknamed ‘Padstein’ - the man is everywhere. We have wanted to go to his Café for a while, having been to his Bistro and Seafood Restaurant before, we’ve always wanted to check it out – however, you can’t book and as you can imagine in the summer, when we usually visit, the place is heaving. But the fact it is Christmas and 20 degrees colder it was empty and only a handful of tables were taken.

I ordered a feta, red onion, roasted tomato and basil tart which was delicious. The tart base, instead of being a short crust pastry tart was a Filo pastry disc. It was an interesting alternative as it was really light and less stodgy. The pastry didn’t take over the dish.

My sister, ordered Chicken with a Satay sauce and noodle salad.

Whilst my mum ordered a lamb and spinach curry. Seasonal hey??

Despite none of us eating seasonally or locally (i.e. fish) the food was lovely and it was a treat to go there.

A Cornish Christmas

This year, my mum, sister and I decided to spend Christmas in Port Isaac, a small fishing village on the northwest coast of Cornwall. Thankfully there is no snow, as the village is set in the heart of a steep valley and we’d probably be stranded at the bottom, for the entire festive period and then New Year if there were. And without signal, broadband and nearby shops things would probably get a little desperate. There are only so many times one can enjoy the view along a coastal path whilst eating mackerel, even if it is freshly caught everyday. Anyway, we need not worry there is no snow. So, we are staying in a lovely house, in the middle of the village, only 10 metres away from the harbour.

Cornwall is the place I immediately associate with the British Summer - not only because of the beaches, surfing and usually sunny weather but because of the food. Cornwall is famous for it’s ice – cream, fudge, scones with clotted cream, strawberries, Cider and pasties, all of which to me are quintessentially summer foods. Yet it being winter, I cannot bring myself to eat even one of those things, I love scones, but it just seems wrong. However during the season of excess and utter indulgence I somehow think that’s not a bad thing.

We are staying for a week. Short enough to not exhaust what Cornwall has to offer but long enough to realise a week spent with just the family, in a secluded fishing village, should be done infrequently. No. I joke. It’s lovely to spend time with one another.

Red Cabbage


Olive oil
A knob of butter
2 red onion, sliced.
2 sprigs of Thyme
One red cabbage
250 ml chicken/vegetable stock
30 ml balsamic vinegar


Put a large pan on a medium heat and add a the olive oil, butter and sliced onions. Stir occasionally until the onions are soft and beginning to caramelise. This should take about 15 minutes.

Whilst the onions are caramelising, cut the cabbage in half. Then cut the halves into six wedges.

Add to the onions. Pour in the stock and bring it all up to the boil.

Once boiling bring the heat down to medium to low and place the lid on to the pan. Cook for thirty minutes until the cabbage is tender and almost soft.

Turn the heat up again to a medium to high heat and add the vinegar. Cook for about 10 minuets, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost reduced and the cabbage is soft. Sprinkle with Thyme and serve.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Cranberry Sauce

We always have cranberry sauce at Christmas, it is as traditional as the turkey and sprouts. However I have never thought to make it. Admittedly last Christmas I wasn't cooking as much as I am now so I probably would not have thought to attempt it, thinking it was much harder than it actually is, but this year things have changed. It adheres to my 'blog project' perfectly, as mentioned in previous posts, as it is something my mum and I would usually buy for our Christmas lunch in a jar. And it is so simple and delicious. I had a look at some recipes and the majority of them only contain three ingredients: cranberries, sugar and water (orange juice in this case). Others contain Port and cloves, almonds and lemon zest, basically, you can add as little or as many ingredients to it as you like it's up to you. Christmas lunch would not be complete without it. 


340 g fresh cranberries
100 g light brown muscavado sugar 
100 ml orange juice.
zest of one clementine
30 ml port (optional) 

Tip the sugar and orange juice into a pan, then bring to the boil. Stir in the cranberries, then simmer until tender but still holding their shape.

This will take about 8-10 minutes. Keep stirring. Take off the heat and let it cool. The sauce will thicken as it cools down. It will keep in the fridge for about a week. When you want serve it, bring the sauce up to room temperature.