Monday, 10 August 2015

Those "Complicated" Dishes


Have you ever had a dish in a restaurant that’s blown your taste buds away and wondered how they did it, most probably you can actually do it too. The secret is to get the best of ingredients available and viola, you’re half way there.

I love Tuna tartare but it had never occurred to me that I could actually do it myself. I’m currently trying for a surfboard tummy (don’t ask) which means I’m trying to eat as healthily as possible. I had a dinner party last Saturday which involved a dish of seared Tuna for one of the courses with outstanding results (more on that later). So for this Monday night, I decided I would attempt a Tuna tartare with avocado and mango.

You’ll be surprised at what you can find at supermarkets these days, especially places like Waitrose, my local one actually sells yellowfin Tuna, which is meant to be the best variety!

This dish is simple and fast (about 15 minutes excluding shopping) and needless to say very healthy. Amounts will of course vary depending on how many people you are preparing the dish for. Mine was for one.


·         Piece of yellowfin tuna
·         Half an avocado
·         Half the flesh of a ripe mango
·         Freshly ground black pepper
·         Pinch of salt
·         Juice of half a lime
·         Balsamic reduction
·         Drop of olive oil
·         Sprouting salad to garnish
Mousse Ring


1.       Garnish a plate with sprouting salad
2.       Finely slice and chop the Tuna into a bowl and mix with the olive oil, black pepper, pinch of salt and the juice of the lime
3.       Place a metal mousse ring on a plate and spoon the tuna mixture into it
4.       Slice the avocado into tiny pieces (no need to season) and add to the tuna in the tian
5.       Slice the mango flesh into tiny pieces and again add to the tian
6.       Remove the metal tian and drizzle with the balsamic reduction

I had mine with Melba toast which is so simple to make. Simply toast some slices of bread and cut each slice into two pieces, toast them again and you have your Melba toast.

You can also garnish with a bit of coriander, mango and coriander make amazing bed fellows!

Happy eating.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

The Queen of Desserts

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love puddings. In fact, I actually start reading a menu from the desserts working my way up. Of course the queen of puddings for me is sticky toffee pudding. I have therefore gone out of my way to perfect it. To me, it has to be light and fluffy, accompanied with a rich toffee sauce and of course vanilla ice cream, bliss. There are so many recipes around so I tried to pick the best from those I found. Below is what I think works best after having been tried and tested so many times, my waistline can attest to that!

I have found over the years that reading a recipe through at least once or twice makes it easier to follow. The ingredients are also listed by how they come into the recipe, something I’ve also found very useful.


Ingredients for the Sticky Toffee
200g pitted dates
250ml water (or enough to just cover the dates)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
55g butter (at room temperature)
170g Demerara sugar
200g self-raising flour
2 medium free range eggs (at room temperature)

Toffee Sauce
175g light Muscovado sugar
55g butter, cut into pieces
225ml double cream
1 tbsp golden syrup

Method for the pudding
Grease 8 medium sized ramekins (can also use a big one) with butter and Demerara sugar and place in the fridge ready for the pudding mixture (ideally for at least an hour).  

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

Put the dates in a medium pan, pour in enough water to cover and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and mash the mixture with a wooden spoon to the consistency of a thick soup. Add the vanilla extract then mix in the bicarbonate of soda. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar until pale and fluffy. Add they golden syrup and then the eggs, one at a time and beat until smooth. Add the flour and beat at a low speed until well combined.

Pour the date mixture into the pudding batter and beat until well combined.

Pour the mixture into the pre-pared ramekins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Ovens vary so keep an eye on them.

To make sure they are ready, insert a metal skewer (or knife) in the middle of one of the ramekins, it should come out dry.

Let stand for a minute and use a knife around the edges to loosen the pudding from the ramekin and invert onto a plate.

Caution, use oven gloves or a tea cloth as the ramekins will be hot.

Pour the Toffee sauce on top and serve with Vanilla Ice Cream.

Method for the Sauce

Put the sugar and the butter in a medium heavy based saucepan with half the cream and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time. Once the sugar has dissolved, add in the golden syrup, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 2-3 minutes until it is a rich toffee colour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom.

The sauce can be served at this point but to create that meltingly thick sauce, add the rest of the cream when you’re just about to serve the puddings and whisk it to thicken it all up.

Chef’s Tip:-

Placing the buttered ramekins into the fridge beforehand helps release the puddings after baking. The same rule applies to a successful soufflé.

When adding eggs, milk, flour etc. to a cake mixture, always start beating at a low speed gradually increasing speed as it combines. This makes for a light and fluffy cake/pudding.

If using the creaming a method for a cake, always have the butter and eggs at room temperature, this helps make the cake light and fluffy.

To bring eggs to room temperature quickly, soak them in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes.

Happy eating.