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Sunday, 23 March 2014

Recipe - Deconstructed Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake

We usually have my Father-in-law over for Sunday dinner and although he's not a massive eater, he does love his puddings. I had been busy tidying the garden most of the day so hadn't gotten round to making anything for dessert and not wanting to send Greg to bed with no pudding, I managed to throw this tasty pud together from the contents of my fridge.

Ingredients

  • 200g soft cheese, (I used Philidelpia)
  • 60g caster sugar
  • 100g rhubarb, chopped
  • 1" piece of ginger, grated
  • 5 ginger nut biscuits, crushed
  • 25g butter, melted
Method

  1. Beat the soft cheese with 40g of the caster sugar until smooth and creamy. Put the sweetened cheese into the fridge until needed.
  2. Put the rhubarb in a pan with the remaining sugar and grated ginger. Add a splash of water and heat until the sugar has melted and the rhubarb starts to break down. Take off the heat before putting in the fridge until needed.
  3. Mix the crushed ginger nuts with the melted butter until the chipmunks are properly coated. Again, put in the fridge until needed.
To serve, spoon some of the rhubarb into a bowl then top with some of the soft cheese mix, before crumbling some of the buttery biscuit crumbs over the top. So there you have it, a quick and easy deconstructed rhubarb & ginger cheesecake. Delicious!
Greg scoffed his down in no time so I think it's safe to say that I still have the Father-in-law in the pocket!


Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Recipe - Smoky Chipotle Meatballs

I've recently been very busy with Gerry's Kitchen as I caught up on all of the '5 Questions' posts that I had to write on the back of my visit to The Scottish Speciality Food Show. Now that my desk is clear again, I was able to read through the three most recent copies of Olive Magazine that had been gathering dust on the coffee table.

Whilst reading through the March edition, I spotted a recipe that I knew that I had to try out. I love quick and easy recipes, especially on weekday night after work, so the chipotle meatball dish fitted the bill perfectly.

Chipotle comes from the Nahuatl word chilpoctli, which means Smoked Chili. At the end of the Jalepeño season, the over ripened red chillies are smoked for several days over wood until most of the fruits moisture is removed. The underlying heat in the prune like jalepeños blends wonderfully with the smoke from the wood, allowing a huge burst of heat and flavour to be added to a whole host of recipes.

With the growing popularity of Mexican food, I'm sure that we will we see more chipotle infused recipes popping up in the coming months.

Ingredients

  • 250g beef mince
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1tbsp chipotle paste (I used Discovery)
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Small bunch coriander, chopped
  • 1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 100ml chicken stock
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 150g orzo
  • Soured cream

Method

  1. Mix the beef mince, half of the onion, half of coriander, and 1/2tbsp of the chipotle paste together until mixed thoroughly. Shape the mix into about 10 small meatballs.
  2. Heat a little olive oil in a pea and fry the meatballs until browned all over then remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Add the rest of the chopped onion and the garlic to the pan, cooking until softened then add the remaining 1/2tbsp of the chipotle paste and cook for a further minute.
  4. Tip in the tinned tomatoes and chicken stock, simmering for 10-15 minutes until the sauce has thickened before adding the meatballs back into the pan. Cook for a further 10 until the meatballs are cooked all the way through.

To serve, spoon the meatballs and sauce over the cooked orzo before scattering the sliced avocado, soured cream and remaining coriander. I also served some garlic ciabatta alongside but toasted pitta bread would have worked well too.

I cheated slightly and prepared the meatballs and sauce last night in order to save some time tonight but I could have easily served this up from scratch in about 30 minutes. Both Nicola and myself thoroughly enjoyed the smoky meatballs, the chipotle paste added a huge burst of smoky flavour with a satisfying slow chilli burn. The addition of the sliced avocado and soured cream helped cool everything down to a sensible level.
This dish ticked all of the boxes for a midweek dinner - quick, easy, and fantastically tasty. I will definitely be making this dish again as well as thinking of other uses for the remainder of my chipotle paste.

 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

5 Questions - Henri Le Worm, featuring Olivier Blanc

If someone had said to me just three years ago that I would be writing a blog and spreading the word on foodie based businesses, I would never have believed them. More so, who would have thought that my mobile phone would have become such an important tool in helping spread the word of what is now Gerry's Kitchen? Certainly not me - but I suppose that's just technology doing as technology does.
This next post comes on the back of me stumbling upon a story on Twitter that I felt needed to be shared. One night on my commute home from work, I noticed that world famous chef Raymond Blanc had shared a Tweet about something called 'Henri Le Worm'. Intrigued, I followed the thread and found myself reading about an animated, chefs hat wearing, French invertebrate, with a passion for cooking!
Henri Le Worm is a French cooking worm extraordinaire initially inspired by Raymond Blanc, mirroring his passion for healthy and seasonal produce. 
Henri Le Worm is the brainchild of Raymond Blanc's son, Olivier Blanc and with the help of actress Charlotte Salt, they have developed the app for the children of today and the foodies of tomorrow, it features specially created recipes by Raymond Blanc, interactive games, fun facts and music.
Henri Le Worm and his fantastic friends, a gang of bugs and insects, are brought to life by Simon Pegg and take children on a journey through the Forest of Plenty in the search of "The Missing Cookbook".
With over 61million Google searches for children and food, Henri Le Worm is in a perfect position to encourage children to explore the connection between food and nature, as well as highlighting the importance of good produce and sustainability.

Here's Olivier's story;
How did you get started?
I saw a satirical newspaper cartoon of a politician's head on the body of a worm and I liked the image. The character essentially came from my dad, Raymond Blanc, well his best bits, so passion for good food and nature, cheekiness, French flair and a hint of Inspector Clueso! My girlfriend at the time who is now the co-creator and my business partner, Charlotte Salt, drew sketches of the character concepts I had and Henri was born. We then very rapidly began to create a host of friends for Henri and to create the magical world they live in. I have a passion for food and children so the idea of creating a fantastic story that entertains whilst educating kids really excited me. It was Charlotte's idea to use tablets and apps as a way to showcase Henri and with the interactive aspect of the tablet and the fact that children are growing up in a digital age, made it the ideal platform. We then worked on characters and creating the first story app, with Charlotte doing the initial artwork and myself focusing on the script. We found some great developers in Milo, and we created a fantastic team from our illustrator Nick Stoney, through to Simon Pegg, who voices the characters and Raymond Blanc who supplies kid friendly recipes which are accessible from within the app.

What's the best bit of business advice?
There are a lot of people out there ready to take your money and not necessarily give value in return. I wish we had taken more time in certain areas to really shop around and compare services on offer. My one tip is that big name companies whether it be developers, PR or marketing doesn't necessarily mean best, find someone who really understands your project and can offer a service that works for you.

Where would you like to see your business in 5 years?
Ideally we would like to become a recognised and trusted brand like Peppa the Pig. The potential of Henri is enormous, but whatever happens we will always stay true to our core values and not sell out, famous last words I know!

If you could cook one of your own recipes, what would it be and why?
So much to choose from but I love simplicity, so perhaps grilled peaches with vanilla, it's a three step recipe, and like with most warmed fruit, the flavour and texture of the warm peach is heavenly! What is lovely is that you really get a flavour of the peach with just some subtle tones of vanilla, serve it with some crème fraiche. It's also great to show kids that deserts doesn't have to be cake or ice cream, that you can have some natural delicious food.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

Tough one again but I think that great conversation and lots of laughter are always welcome at my table so maybe Charlie Chaplin he was a fantastic performer and wrote one of my favourite songs "Smile" which he would perform after desert. So onto the food , to start with Essence of tomato, a really stunning yet clean starter with amazing flavour, followed by breasts of chicken poached in a creamy sherry and morel mushroom sauce and because it's fantasy to finish I would have a giant grand marnier soufflé.
Olivier kindly sent me a couple of codes so that me and my 8 year old niece Abby, could download the app and have a play about. The animation on the app is fantastic and the brightly coloured character are very engaging. Abby loved Henri Le Worm and enjoyed working her way through the puzzles and games, but perhaps more importantly, Abby keeps returning to the app when she gets a spare few minutes in the hope of helping reunite Henri Le Worm with his long lost Missing Cookbook. Abby is now looking forward to getting a little help in the kitchen from her Mum and trying out some of the way recipes.
The app is being rolled out across schools and actively being used as a teaching aid. With cooking being taught of the curriculum from September 2014 for Key Stages 1-3, (in England and Wales), now is the ideal time for parents to introduce Henri to their kids and give them a jump start in the kitchen! You can download Henri Le Worm from the Google Play Store for Android devices and from the Apple App Store for iPhone and iPads.
So with a world famous chef writing the recipes and a Hollywood actor providing the voices for Henri & his friends, it seems that Olivier and Charlotte have some of the finest ingredients available to help produce the next generation of budding chefs.
I would like to take this time to thank Olivier Blanc for taking the time out to answer '5 Questions', and for sending me the launch pack to help me get a bit of background on Henri Le Worm.
Keep up to date with Henri Le Worm on Twitter. Henri also has his own blog where he keeps his fans up to date. You can also keep up to date with Raymond Blanc on Twitter.









Sunday, 2 March 2014

An Introduction to Las Iguanas

Yesterday afternoon myself and Nicola were invited along to a cocktail making masterclass at Glasgow's newest Latin American restaurant, Las Iguanas. With a motto of 'Eat Latin / Drink Latin', Las Iguanas will bring a South American flavour to the streets of Glasgow, just in time for the Summer World Cup in Brazil.
I fully intend on doing a full review on Las Iguanas Glasgow in the coming weeks so this post is just a quick flavour bite of what we got up to yesterday.
On arrival, resident bartenders Darren and Greg served up some refreshing Caipirinhas before letting us loose behind the bar.
The caipirinha is the most well known drink from Brazil, made using lime, sugar and Cachaça. Las Iguanas have a number of long standing business partners in Brazil including their cachaça partners Magnifica, who grow their own organic sugar cane before mixing with fresh local spring water to create a very smooth Brazilian national drink.
Nicola is joined behind the bar by Paula from The Sweet Chilli Sisters, another Glasgow food blogger.
Darren points out the cutest bartender
I took my turn behind the bar as I made an attempt at recreating the Las Iguanas Cosmo, a twist on the classic Cosmopolitan. I would have got on a lot better of it weren't for the giant pointy finger that was lurking about, I've been assured that it will be removed before the official opening.

The Las Iguanas Cosmo is a blend of Absolut Acai berry vodka, Triple Sec, Grenadine & Pomegranate juice. I predict that this colourful cocktail will become a firm favourite of the Glasgow girls.
The next drink that we sampled was my favourite cocktail on the day. The photo may be slightly blurred but the sharp flavours from the Tequila Raspberry Smash were bang on the button. Muddled mint leaves are mixed with silver tequila, lime and framboise before being topped up with finely crushed ice. If I can count framboise as one of my 5-a-day, I can see this drink being my downfall.
As our day came to an end, the kitchen served up a few of the dishes from the hugely varied menu. We had quesadillas, filled with chicken & peppers, plus a delicious filling of garlicky mushrooms.
The deep fried baby squid were cooked to perfection, served with a creamy alioli. Definitely one of the best servings of calamares that I've had in a long time.
Next up was smoke turkey and cheese empanadas served with a cranberry salsa. Unfortunately I didn't get to taste this dish as I was busy with the squid and everyone else had scoffed the lot before I noticed.
We also had a huge bowl of nachos topped with guacamole, soured cream, salsa, and cheese, plus a wonderful plate of huge whole prawns cooked in a garlic, lemon and chili sauce. The sauce from the prawns had a wicked fiery kick - I'll be ordering these at the first chance what I get.
Before we made our way out into the great outdoors, I asked if Darren could put a Brazilian twist to my favourite after dinner cocktail - the Espresso Martini.
I had been thinking all week about how the martini would work with cachaça replacing the normal vodka. Darren shook a shot of espresso with brown sugar, Kahlua, and cachaça with ice before serving up my Cafe Maracana in a chilled martini glass. I loved this Brazilian version and with a bit of luck my create will end up on the cocktail list in the coming weeks.
So at first glance, myself and Nicola loved our first experience of Las Iguanas and cannot wait to return for a proper visit. In fact, Nicola has already booked up for her next girls day out in a few weeks time! Gerry's Kitchen gives Las Iguanas 'two thumbs up'.
We would like to take this time to thank Kyle Steel, the general manager, as well as Darren and Greg who were happy for us to step into their Latin Kingdom. Thanks also to the kitchen staff who prepared the wonderful tapas for us to sample.
Keep an eye on Gerry's Kitchen for a full review in the coming weeks.
Keep up to date with Las Iguanas Glasgow on Facebook and Twitter.

5 Questions - The DIY Scotch Pie Company

Last month myself and Nicola attended the Scottish Speciality Food Show at the SECC where we met lots of enthusiastic producers promoting their wares. We had a great day tasting and sampling lots of sweet and savoury items, as well as seeing some new and innovative products being brought to market. On of the producers who caught the eye of Gerry's Kitchen was Martin Burns, the man behind The DIY Scotch Pie Company. Martin has put together a fantastic product that allows anyone to create their own scotch pie with their own chosen filling, and more recently added a homemade haggis kit to his list of products.
Here's Martin's story;
How did you get started?
My Sister-in Law, Hilary made a point of telling me that she enjoyed Scotch Pies, but was a bit reluctant to eat them as in years gone by, our other national dish had a bit of a reputation for questionable filling. I supplied her with some empty shells and suggested that she make her own. She then asked for advice on which seasoning to use, then a method, then a finally a recipe for the filling and the lid. It turned out she wasn’t the only one who wanted versatility and control over her own fillings. It snowballed from there and I eventually put together a postal kit with all the products and information together in one presentation case and launched our website – www.diyscotchpie.co.uk - I’ve sent them to every continent on the globe now.
What’s the best piece of business advice you could give?
When you think an idea is going to work, run with it and trust yourself. If you are going to ask other people for advice, talk to someone impartial who you know will tell you what you need to hear, not someone who’s going to tell you what you want to hear.
Where would you like to see your business in 5 years time?
As an innovative company that has grown into one that people can trust implicitly. We provide a great product at a great price and would like to expand our range of fillings for the pie kits and also launch some new products too, but this all takes time to build and to do properly. We never launch a product half-cocked. The “Homemade Haggis" kits took 6 months to develop into something we are very proud of and was ready for launch.
If you could only cook one of your own products/recipes, what would it be & why?
I would cook our “Homemade Haggis” Kit filled with venison. It’s tremendous. The venison is slightly “gamey” and just goes so well with the kit. I’d then fill the haggis into our pie shells, top with a wee bit of chicken in a white sauce and lid with a puff pastry lid – absolutely delicious and a real treat!
You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?
Rabbie Burns, my namesake. He’s such an enduring figure for Scotland and our heritage. I’d love to find out what his life was really like back then (and whether the rumours are true about his private life!).
Obviously, “Homemade Haggis” on the menu, to see if it compares with the authentic way they made it back in the 18th century. I think he would be quite a dinner companion – I bet he’d have a few stories to tell over a couple of ales.
On the back of the show, Martin kindly sent me a kit so that I could have a go at making my own haggis, which I eventually got round to putting to use on Wednesday evening.




Everything that I needed to make my own haggis was in the box, except for my chosen meat filling. I opted to use lambs mince because I had a feeling that the flavour of the lamb would work incredibly well with the haggis spices.
Following the enclosed instructions, it wasn't long before I had three 1lb haggii ready to be boiled in the pot.
An hour later I had one cooked haggis that looked very much like the real thing.
I served my haggis with buttered cabbage, new potatoes and gravy and both myself and Nicola thoroughly enjoyed our hearty dinner. The combination of spices, that Martin has put together really give the finished haggis a very authentic look, feel and flavour. I still have two haggii stored in the freezer for another time but I'm already thinking about what other fillings I could use when I order my next box, as well as thinking about the wonderful pie filling that can go into my own DIY Scotch Pies.
Keep up to date with The DIY Scotch Pie Company on Facebook.