Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Chilli and Garlic Mussels with Ramen Noodles

I was given a gift of Sake over Christmas and wanted to put it to good use. I wanted to make a seafood dish that was packed with flavour while not costing the earth. This dish is ready in a matter of minutes, just the way I like it!

Chilli and Garlic Mussels with Ramen Noodles

Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking: 10 mins

Portion Control:
Serves 2

175g of pre-cooked and shelled mussels
3 garlic cloves crushed or chopped finely
1 large red chilli (seeds included)
A few splashes of Sake
2 tablespoons of mirin
100g of ramen noodles
2 tablespoons of sesame oil
Small bunch of fresh chopped coriander leaves
10-15 grilled cashew nuts

  • Add the ramen noodles to a bowl containing hot boiled water. Cover with plate and leave to one side.The noodles should be drained after 3-4 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, pour the sesame oil into a medium sized frying pan.
  • Add the chilli and crushed garlic to the frying pan and cook until fragrant.
  • Add the mussels to the pan and stir around for approximately 30 seconds.
  • Add a few splashes of Sake, ensuring the mussels are soaking up the liquid.
  • Increase the temperature so the liquid starts to bubble for about 2 minutes.  
  • Add the mirin to the mixture in the frying pan.
  • Stir the mixture, seasoning with salt as required.
  • After draining the noodles, add them to the frying pan and toss them around ensuring they are coated in the liquid for about 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • Serve evenly onto two warm plates.
  • Finish off with fresh coriander and grilled cashew nuts.
If you try this dish, I'd love to know what you thought or how you altered it!

Bon Appétit!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Young's Seafood Event, L'atelier des Chefs

A few weeks ago,Young's Seafood invited me along to their Blogging Seafood Event hosted at L'atelier des Chefs, in the very plush area of Marylebone.
Young's Seafood on Display pre-filleting 

My reason for attending? I enjoy eating fish as part of a healthy, balanced diet, but was looking for further inspiration for fish-based dishes. Well, I was in the right place along with some lovely lady bloggers; Amanda, SianMaria and Sharon.

The afternoon started off with some fishy facts delivered by the very informative Nutrition Director, Clare Leonard.
Here, are just a few of them:
  • Oily fish is the best dietary source of omega 3
  • Our bodies cannot easily make omega 3, so we rely on foods naturally rich in omega 3 i.e. Mackerel, Trout, Salmon and Tuna to provide this fat 
  • White fish such as Sea Bass, Cod, Plaice, Sole and Pollock are low in fat and saturated fat
  • Children who eat more fish oils have improved concentration, spelling and reading
  • Fish is a great source of protein
  • Fish is packed with vitamins and minerals;Vitamin D needed to strengthen teeth and bones while vitamin A is required for healthy skin and eyes. Zinc is necessary to boost the immune system and is often found in shellfish. 
  • We need 1-2 grams of omega-3 each week. This normally translates as 2 portions of fish per week.
  • Frozen food significantly reduces food waste, with 75% of us claiming to rarely or never throw frozen food away.
It was now time to do some tasting and Chef Serge Nollent (Young's resident chef) presented us with some samples of Young's current product range:
 Left to Right: "Chip Shop Mackrel" on crouton, Whole Scampi, King Prawn Salad
with Pomegranate,Mango and Spinach leaves, Breaded Cod and tartare sauce

The Mackerel was added to their product range following the "Big Fish Fight" campaign, championed by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This was a nice little taster to introduce the range. I particularly liked the quality and the juiciness of the King Prawns against the luscious notes of mango. It wasn't too long before Seafood Specialist, Duncan Lucas, set to work on his knife skills. It is quite remarkable how he made the job of filleting, pin boning and cutting supremes of salmon look relatively easy. His portions were incredibly precise while he recounted anecdotes of his experience in the fishing industry. This salmon was then passed on to Serge, to use his gastronomic flare to come up with:

Salmon Fillet with lightly spiced Garlic and Herb Butter and Wilted
 Spinach served on a bed of Saffron flavoured Couscous.
The salmon was beautifully moist with just a taste of the Mediterranean coming through with the lemon flavouring. Delicieux!

This is how Serge delighted us with this dish:

Portion Control:
Serves 4

4 portions of 100-120g of salmon (with skin off)
400g of spinach leaves
200g couscous
250ml of boiling water
1 sachet of saffron
1 diced red onion
1 diced tomato
½ lemon juice
 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
 1 tbsp of chopped coriander

Spiced garlic & herb butter:
Mix 100g of butter, 2 garlic cloves chopped finely, 1 tsp of chopped red chilli, 1 tsp of chopped parsley, chives, coriander.
Extra virgin olive oil.

  • Preheat oven gas mark 6/ 200c
  • Place couscous into a heatproof bowl with saffron, olive oil, seasoning, add boiling water stir and cover with a plate. Leave to stand for 10 minutes. Separate grain with a fork.
  • In a medium size frying or roasting pan wilt spinach with olive oil, place salmon on top and add knobs of butter around fish. Add salt to season.
  • Cook in middle of oven for 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile finish couscous by sautéing onion and tomato in olive oil for a couple of minutes and then add coriander, lemon juice. Heat and stir until hot. Serve. 
Next, on the menu was cod and I was really surprised at the size of this specimen! Enormous! We sampled the Icelandic delicacy of cod's cheeks, sauted in butter and seasoned with salt and pepper. I must say, as nice as they were, I much preferred the fresh langoustine prepared by Chef Serge. Perhaps it was because we did not follow Icelandic tradition to the letter and bury the cheeks in the ground for 7 years before trying them? Mmmm... I think I'll be leaving that option to the Icelanders. 
Serge worked his magic to prepare the following Cod based dish:

Roast Cod with Cider Braised Leeks, Peas and Pancetta

Here is how:

Portion Control
Serves 4

4 fillets/ portions 100-120 g each with skin off
50g of diced pancetta
1 leek cut into rings
100g of frozen peas
Olive oil
25g of butter
150ml of medium dry cider
3 tbsp of crème fraiche
1tbsp of chopped parsley
Sea salt & ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven gas mark 6/200c
  • In a medium size frying or roasting pan fry the pancetta, add leek, peas and stir
  • Add the cider when you are happy that the pancetta is looking cooked and the leeks are beginning to soften .
  • Place the cod on top and season with salt in moderation (the pancetta is already salty).
  • Cook in the middle of the oven for 10 minutes
  • Remove, add crème fraiche stir carefully
  • Replace in oven and cook for a further 10 minutes
  • Remove from oven add parsley stir carefully and serve. 

The bloggers were assigned dishes to make during the event and low and behold, I was pleased to have been allocated this one.I think the ingredients of leek, pancetta,cod and cider really complement each other. I have made this dish a couple of times since the event, replacing crème fraiche with 0% fat greek yoghurt. I also either serve with crusty bread or rice to soak up the delicious juices.

The other team made the dish below:

Smoked Haddock, Cheese and Tomato Bake
I am planning to make this dish tonight and I'm already loosening my belt!

Ingredients and directions can be found here.

The added bonus of these dishes is that they only take minutes to prepare and cook. Approximately 30 minutes in total.

I was always under the impression that if you cannot source fish directly from a fishmonger,then it is best to purchase them from the chilled cabinet at the supermarket. I was even more dismayed when HFW's  "Big Fish Fight" programme revealed that the fish counters at supermarkets display fish that have previously been frozen. This makes buying frozen fish a viable alternative.
All Young's fish comes from sustainable sources and carry the "Fish for Life" logo denoting their support and contribution towards long term sustainability.

To end a really enjoyable afternoon, my name was chosen as the winner of a Le Creuset 3 Piece Saucepan Set. Hurrah! I can assure you, I did not waste any time putting them to good use!

I would like to extend my thanks to Elisa for introducing me to the team at Young's Seafood and for some truly wonderful, tasty and inspiring dishes.

If you are looking for some ideas and fancy a change from the bog standard Tuna Nicoise Salad, head over to Young's Recipe Finder and select a more flavour packed dish.

Bon Appétit!

Friday, 20 May 2011

Win tickets for the Foodies Festival at Hampton Court Palace

Thanks to the Foodies Festival, MelikeyUK has 9 pairs of tickets to give away for the Foodies Festival taking place at Hampton Court Palace on 28,29,30 May. What a great way to spend the Bank Holiday weekend!
As you probably know, the Foodies Festival is packed with opportunities to view, sample and buy some wonderful local produce. You can watch Michelin starred chefs work their magic in the Chefs Theatre, and get actively involved in the Food and Drinks Masterclasses. For more information on the the Foodies Festival click here.

The value of the ticket is £25.00 and provides access to the festival over the 3 days.
The winners will be chosen at random from the comments list and will be announced following the close of the giveaway on Wednesday 25 May at 8pm .

This giveaway is only for participants who are over 18 and residing in the UK.

There are 3 ways to participate, each comment will count as one entry.There is one main way to enter and a couple of other ways to get bonus entries. You must leave a separate comment for each bonus entry otherwise they will not be counted.

To enter:

1. Leave a comment saying why you would like the tickets.
2. For a second chance to win please tweet this post using the green tweet button on the right hand side of this blog and leave a comment telling me you have done so and your twitter username
3.For a third chance please follow me @melikeyuk on twitter again commenting to tell me you have done so and your twitter username

Best of Luck to you ;-)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Tea and Macaroon at Ladurée, Rue Bonaparte, Paris

Outside Ladurée
I love Paris. I have always loved Paris. I will never stop loving Paris. Why? It's where I met my husband, it is home to some of my best gastronomic experiences, the atmosphere is brimmed with romance and creativity and you can walk for miles and miles, taking in wonderful architecture and scenery and never fail to be amazed.
We travelled to Paris last month to take in the joys of the city in early Spring.
We had focussed mainly on the La Rive Gauche, passing Jardin du Luxembourg and La Sorbonne.We had planned on sitting down for a drink in Saint Germain des Près. Two places had been recommended; Les Deux Magots or Cafe de Flore but I believe that this is more about appreciating their appeal to their literary clientele of days gone by than actually having a nice refreshment. I suppose it's a good location for participating in the national activity of people watching or if you like going places "to be seen", but I am afraid that just does not do it for me.
I wanted something better and was set on walking a few metres further to seek out the Salon de thé, Ladurée.
Opened in 1947, this tea salon is a thing of beauty.The gold embossed signage and shop frontage denotes superior quality and its period of origin is enhanced further by the very classic French lantern hanging outside.
Inside, the shop is buzzing with activity as ladies queue up to purchase a Ladurée gift box containing innovative macaroon flavours or to indulge in one of the many gateaux masterpieces on display. Firmly agreed that we are here longer than just a few passing moments, we head upstairs to the parlour on the first floor.
Inside the Salon de Thé
It doesn't appear too busy and we are very kindly escorted to our table.We take in the pleasant surroundings on very comfortable red leather chairs. We overlook a room sprinkled with oriental charm; great detail is depicted on the walls and furniture.
There is no question over what I am here to order; Macaroons, the challenge will be; which flavour?
The choice is endless; "Macaroons of the Season":
Madagascar Chocolate Ganache, Granny Smith Apple, Chestnut, or, those from "La Collection"; Liquorice, Orange Blossom, Salty Caramel.
Compared to some of the flavours on offer, I opt for the more traditional, Hazelnut and Almond macaroon.Instead of having one mega macaroon, (they have sold out), we are offered 4 mini ones! The selection of tea is also an extensive list and I am spoilt for choice. I take time to consider the various options; Orange Blossom and Magnolia or Cardamom,Cinnamon,Pepper and Ginger. I play safe and choose Cocoa, Caramel and Vanilla!
Hazelnut Praline Macaroons:
Check out those babies!
Cocoa, Caramel and Vanilla Tea
The macaroons are adorable; crisp and deliciously light on the outside with melt-in-the-mouth qualities on devouring.The ganache filling is mousse-like in texture, not too rich and lightly perfumed with hazelnut sweetness to provide your taste buds with a gentle awakening.
Double Espresso
My tea is a perfect accompaniment to the macaroons; refreshing with subtle notes of cocoa, caramel and vanilla served in a charming silver teapot.
Catching up on his need for caffeine, my hubby ordered a double espresso. He wasn't to be disappointed. Packing a punch, rich in flavour and generous in measure, this coffee was one to remember!
All in all, it cost us around 19€ which I thought was quite reasonable considering the quality produce, the pleasant surroundings and the alternative options aforementioned.
Call me an old romantic fool, but as night fell, we headed towards Le Pont Des Arts, a bridge famed for couples declaring their undying love for one another by attaching their padlocks to the metal railings. Ah Paris! Je t'aime! Anyway, I digress......
Le Pont Des Arts
The exciting news is that as well as having a presence in Harrods, a new stand alone Ladurée Salon has just opened up in Covent Garden in London so you can sample the delights of the Ladurée macaroons and tearoom for yourself. I'll probably wait for the crowds to die down before paying a visit, but if you go, I'd love to know what you ordered and what you thought!

For further information click the links below:
Covent Garden Stand alone tearoom
Paris, Left Bank (I strongly recommend):
Ladurée, Rue Bonaparte, Paris


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Highlights of the Real Food Festival at Earls Court, London

Real Food Festivals Logo
Earl's Court
It virtually never happens, but for the first time last week, I actually won a competition! Can you believe it? Little 'ole me got lucky and was awarded a pair of tickets to the Real Food Festival, by the lovely Annie Ko.
Ah, him upstairs must have been smiling down on me!
We decided to go on the last day, Sunday 8 May. After the festival running for 4 years I was delighted to be free that weekend to take in some sumptuous smells and tastes of the terrific produce on display.
We didn't really know where to start so we just let ourselves be transported to where the biggest crowds were gathering. This happened to be at The Sheep Show where a member of the flock was having her coat removed.
Sheep shearing in progress
Interestingly enough, Richard Savory, the shearer, was explaining that the value of this particular size of coat was only £3 and that it had doubled in value in the last 6 months! Eek! only £3! We were guessing at least £10. It seems there is not much money to be made in this wool especially when labour costs have to be deducted. Nonetheless, it was an entertaining display and the children present were mesmerised.

Post Shearing
As our stomachs groaned louder, it was all too clear, we were in desperate need of feeding. We settled on aiming for the delights of Doukan. Recently featured in Gordon Ramsay's F-word as a nominee for best local restaurant, Doukan pride themselves in providing top quality Moroccan fare.
Doukan at the Real Food Festival
They were offering: Harissa Chicken Open Wrap, (Chicken marinated in harissa served on an open flatbread with crunchy iceberg lettuce and minted yogurt dressing),Chicken Bastilla (Aromatic Moroccan chicken parcels served with figs and an orange blossom compote) Lamb Kofta and Potato Wrap with caramelized onions and a Spinach and Feta cheese for the veggie option.
We were in Marrakech in September and had overloaded on Pigeon pastilla. Nice as it is, it takes time to acquire the unusual sweet, almond flavour of the meat enveloped in brik pastry, so we opted for the Harissa Chicken Open Wrap.
Harissa Chicken Open Wrap

This was a winner! Needless to say, being an open wrap required multiple co-ordination to stop the juices escaping and yes, I did manage to collect some on my skirt, bag and shoes, but all worth the mess to enjoy this Moroccan delicacy. Spicy explosion in the mouth, cooled down with the mint yoghurt dressing.Very filling and a tip top recommendation.
We then took a trip to Wales the True Taste area where they were cooking Leg of Lamb Steaks with a Rosemary and Lime butter and a Lamb Risotto. They were distributing tasting pots, the lamb was all very succulent. As you can imagine, the main product on show was lamb but they did promote some of the fine dining restos and gastropubs in Wales which was worthy of our attention.
While we were digesting this monstrous feast, we walked around the many Cheesemonger stalls. Some of them very mighty impressive, including Mons whose cheese wheels were huge and I was intrigued to see that  La Cave à Fromage were specialising in Cheesy Macarons and were running a Cheese workshop later in the afternoon.
Huge Cheese Wheels on Display at Mons

A wide variety of cheese on display at La Cave à Fromage
However in my opinion, as far as cheese discovery goes, the prize goes to Jumi Export. A Swiss cheesemaker who provides a fantastic range of cow's milk cheese; We bought the following:
Left to Right: Belp Knoller ,Cironé and Abe Rot  
  • Cironé - A 24 month old hard cheese. A cross between Emmental and Parmesan with salt crystals and an after taste of alcohol, almost like a cognac.
  • Abe rot or "Evening Red" - A strong smelling, soft, washed rind cheese. Similar to Epoisses or  Munster
  • Belper Knolle - Made from milk from Belp cows, locally grown garlic and Himalyan salt. Rolled into balls and dipped in pepper. It has truffle-like qualities insofar as just a light sprinkle of it grated over pasta or risotto is sufficient to benefit from the powerful taste.
Just to add to the cheese purchases, we also bought a garlic infused dry cured beef sausage called Track from the stand. Yummy!
It was time for sweeter things and we had a look at the options, what stood out for me was The Pudding Stop who were offering the very seasonal Rhubarb and Orange Sponge topped with toasted flaked almonds, the classic Bakewell Tart and individual Rum Baba's.
The Pudding Stop at Real Food Festival

I turned to look in the other direction and there it was, simple but beautiful, I had been trapped by it before at the Taste of Christmas Festival and thought "Oh, what the hell, it would be rude not to pay another visit!" When Madonna famously wore the T-shirt with the motto "Italians do it better" she must have been talking about ice cream. Especially when it comes from Il Gelato di Ariela. Rich, creamy and velvety with a fabulous choice in flavours;I chose hazelnut and coconut chocolate, my OH chose cookies and rum and raisin.
Hazelnut and Coconut and Chocolate Ice Cream.
The photo does not do it justice, but have a pity on a girl who is faced with delicious melting ice cream and photo taking :-)
Another little gem we passed along the way with a wonderful display of cupcakes was the SweetToothFactory. We bought a couple of green tea and oreo cookie cupcakes to take home ( I was beaten to the original oreo cookie cupcake by a 5 year old whose eyes and fingers were glued to it! Ah bless).
Green Tea and Oreo Cookie Cupcakes
They had a very subtle green tea flavour which was nice. All too often green tea can be quite bitter and strong but this had just the right amount. The sponge itself was delicious; light and fluffy!
I love to nibble on savoury snacks and I passed a stand selling crisps with some very catchy flavour names:
"Devastater"- Hot Chilli,
 "Agitater"- Salt and Vinegar and
 "Gratertater"- Cheddar and Onion.
On further probing The Cornish Crisp Company each flavour promotes and supports worthy causes, whether it be ShelterBox or local community projects in Cornwall.
To take home, we bought two big bags of Agitater and Gratertater Cornish crisps. Made from 100% sunflower oil, they are truly delicious.

Packed with Flavour: Cornish Crisps
To round off the day, we attended a cooking demo given by the very talented Tristan Welch from Launceston Place.It promised to be worthwhile as we had been very impressed on our last visit to Launceston Place.
Tristan cooked Roasted Scottish Scallops with wild coastline herbs.The coastal herbs included a herb grown in the sea which has the same flavouring qualities as Coriander and an Oyster tasting plant.For the vegetarians present, he cooked a very seasonal Asparagus in the Hole.
Tristan Welch works his magic at the Real Food Festival
Bordeaux Wines came on to provide matching wines for the food.They recommended Sauvignon Blanc,
Calvet Prestige Bordeaux Blanc to go with the Scallops and a Chateau Doisy Daene Sec to match the Asparagus dish. Sadly, due to "Health and Saftey" they were not able to provide samples of Tristan's food. Blast! But I was able to take the recipes away. So as long as I can find the coastal herbs, I'm all set to recreate Tristan's masterpiece!
All in all, a good day with plenty of top quality food and drink on display to discover,taste and buy.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Street Food comes to London's Southbank Centre

In celebration of the Royal Wedding, the Real Food Festival approached Eat St. with a view to bringing Street Food to the people of London at the Southbank Centre between Friday 29th April and May 2nd.
Gathered below the Royal Festival Hall and in the shadow of the London Eye, foodies gathered to gorge themselves in a feast of Street Food.
Tranquil Scene: 11 am at Street Food Festival before the masses arrive
I decided to take myself down there just as the street vendors were preparing for the onslaught at 11am on Bank Holiday Monday. Being the last day of the holiday weekend, I wanted to make sure I would be one of the first to peruse and sample some of the delicious mouth-watering goodies on offer.
Stalls at the Festival included:
Bangra Burger
Whose offerings included: Bhangra Balti Beef Burger,Crazy Lamb Jalfreezi Burger,Veggie Chana Masala and Mighty Samosas.
Roast Hog
Were specialising in spit roast free range pork and lamb marinated in rosemary and garlic served in wraps or rolls.
Roast Hog

Crêperie Nicolas
Serving out of their classic Citröen H van, were making crêpes in the authentic Breton way with fine wheat, flour, eggs, milk, butter and vanilla. I noted the special of the day; a crêpe with freshly made Belgian chocolate sauce and toasted coconut. Scrumptious!
Creperie Nicolas
Choc Star
Whose offerings included Hot Chocolate Float, Super Dark Hi-Energy Truffle and Brownie Fudge Sundae.
Choc Star
Street Foodie
Were specialising in hot and sweet Korean mini-burgers/sandwiches referred to as Sliders.Fillings contained pork, ginger, chilli and coleslaw.
Korean Sliders by Street Foodie
Churros Garcia
Straight from Portobello Road Market were there to provide the very traditional Spanish breakfast of Churros with chocolate.
Churros with Chocolate
In a very traditional English style were serving vintage afternoon tea out of their 52 year old pink VW campervan!

Afternoon Tea Lulabelle Style

The Arabica Food and Spice Company
Had brought a Levatine twist to the festival by serving pickled cucumbers, Baklawa pastries and an assortment of Turkish Delight.
Arabica Food and Spice Company

My Selection:

The Balti Beef Bangra Burger at £6.50. The beef patty was cooked medium rare and placed on a nan bread style flat-bread. Served with mango chutney, chilli sauce, a dollop of minted yoghurt, enveloped in iceberg lettuce, red onion, coriander and tomato. Very tasty! I really like the idea of the burger being served in a flat-bread, makes a nice alternative to the bun which can sometimes leave you feeling blotted.
Bhangra Balti Beef Burger before it was devoured!
Washed down with lashings of Fentimans Ginger Beer at £2. Served in a 275 ml bottle, it was sweet and fiery. I would have liked more of it and served at a colder temperature (especially after the eating the spicy burger!)
Fentimans Ginger Beer
One hour later and after taking a stroll along the South Bank, I returned to feed my sugar craving! I was met with a hive of activity bathed in sunlight! The air was filled with garlic and char-grilled meat and a String Quartet was playing to the gathering crowds.
String Quartet adds to the atmosphere
After recently visiting the Greenwich Brewery and being disappointed that their Meantime Chocolate Beer had sold out, I was delighted to see they had a stand abundantly stocked with the aforementioned chilled refreshment. Yipeee! So at £3 a bottle, I indulged!
Meantime Chocolate Beer
The beer is served in a 330ml bottle containing 6.5% alcohol and on pouring produces a very light froth. I would say it has a very similar taste to Guinness, which is all tickety-boo as I quite like Guinness but I had expected it to be more of a bold chocolatey flavour, rather than a subtle after-taste. I'll look forward to tasting their Raspberry Wheat Beer the next time.
I concluded my tastings by choosing some of Choc Star's Pride and Joy; Honeycomb ice cream and Raspberry Sorbet at £3.50 for two scoops.
Honeycomb ice cream with Raspberry Sorbet
On first glance, I thought I had been given a chocolate chip ice cream but oh no, memories of my childhood soon came flooding back as I tucked into the "Crunchie-like" flavoured velvety texture with cold pieces of rich crisp milk chocolate coupled with the sharp raspberry notes tingling on my taste buds. Divine!

I had a super time at the Real Street Food Festival, it was a great opportunity to showcase and taste some of Britain's finest Street Food and more importantly, I now know where to find them on a more regular basis! I've even heard that some of them, may be appearing at the Real Food Festival at Earl's Court from 5th-8th May. So you can guess how I will be spending next weekend!