Christmas Canapés with John Lewis

Festive ambience at the Waitrose Cookery School

Its December (how?!), therefore it is fully acceptable to eat, talk and drink ‘Christmas’. I managed to catch the switching on of the festive lights with my little one and I am rather enjoying all the Christmas adverts! Do you have one that you love? Buster The Boxer is a huge hit with my 2 year old that I have even had a sneaky peek at their merchandise.

Christmas Lights Switch On

I am one who does not need any help to get into the spirit of the festive season but I went into Christmas ‘overdrive’ if that’s such a word when I had the chance to attend a Christmas Cookery Event hosted by John Lewis at the Waitrose Cookery School on Finchley Road. I was so excited and rather nervous to experience my first ‘Masterchef’ moment. I was rather intrigued as I have never been to a cookery class before and in the brief, I had the understanding that we will be making 5 different festive canapés in a few hours. Ps. nervous was an understatement when I walked up to their GORGEOUS kitchen. The kitchen here is wonderful, it has everything that I have ever wanted in a kitchen including a magic washing up trolley where there’s no need to actually do the washing up. Guess what, I had every right to be nervous as their expert chef Gerard kindly suggested that yours truly should go on a knife skills course. A basic one at that 🙂 Ps. my Kitchen Wishlist has grown by leaps and bounds ever since I had a feel of this shiny impressive kitchen. I could do with some new knives (hint hint husband)!

Look! (I spy with my little eye, the magic washing up trolley on the top left)

Waitrose Cookery School

Dressed crab, shaved fennel all on top of a homemade crab cracker! This was lush and it was prepared beforehand all ready for us when we arrived.

Dressed Crab with Fennel on Cracker

Armed with quite a few of these delicious crab canapés tucked in my belly, it was time to get cooking! Chefs Gerard and Shauna showed us the ropes by demonstrating step by step how to cook each recipe where we all try to listen intently whilst trying to get lots of pictures. I was most definitely in a room full of bloggers, a variety of technology whipped out trying to capture the best angles. This was a great way to learn especially since I had very adept cooking buddies.

John Lewis Christmas COOK Event

I thought I would share my favourites from the evening and you can recreate them at home for your family and guests.

Confit Duck Samosa, served with a Spiced Pear Puree

(makes 12 samosa)

Confit Duck Samosa

For the Confit Duck Filling

75g Confit Duck Leg

80ml Pedro Ximinez Sherry

30g Cape Raisins

1.5tb Hoisin Sauce

For the Samosas

2 sheets of Filo Pastry, cut in half and then again lengthwise into 3, leaving you with 6 pieces of Filo

50ml unsalted butter, melted

For the Spiced Pear Puree

2 ripe Pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped

1/4 tsp Bart All Spice

1/2 Lemon, juiced

1tsp Reserved Sherry Liquor

1. For the confit duck filling – In a small pan combine the raisins and the sherry.

Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave to soak for 1 hour. Once

soaked strain the raisins, reserving the sherry.

In a small bowl mix together the soaked raisins, shredded confit duck leg,

hoisin sauce and ½ of the reserved sherry. Mix well, cover and chill.

2. For the samosa – Preheat an oven to 160C. Lay a strip of the filo lengthways

on your work surface and brush all over the the melted butter.

Place a tsp of the filling at the top of the sheet of filo. Fold the top right hand

corner over to make a triangular shape. Follow the triangular pattern all the

way down the filo strip. Brush again with the melted butter and place on a

baking tray with the seam underneath. Repeat with the remaining filo and

filling.

Place in the oven and bake for 6-7 minutes until golden, turn the samosa

and bake for a further 6-7 minutes until golden brown all over. Remove,

place on a cooling rack and let cool.

3. For the spiced pear puree – Place the chopped pear pieces into a mini

blender. Add the allspice, lemon juice and sherry liquor. Blitz to a smooth

puree, remove and pour into a small container.

4. To serve – Spoon a tsp of the spiced pear puree onto each samosa and

serve.

Prepping The Confit Duck Filling

Confit Duck Samosa

Confit Duck Samosa

Confit Duck Samosa

We also whizzed up a lovely spiced pear puree to go with the crispy samosa and the pairing of this was delicious. How cute is the little Kenwood mixer too, I had a good browse on HERE when I got home!

Spiced Pear Puree

Confit Duck Samosa

I took my time writing this post as I actually tried recreating them at home! Made an inspired version of these more-ish samosas but instead of duck confit, I used minced beef fried with onions, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, tomatoes. Mixed in some orange rind for good measure. Replaced butter with melted dairy free spread in order for our little one to join in the eating fun.

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It was a hit even with the toddler! She couldn’t wait to sink her teeth in my samosas, haha.

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Back to the John Lewis Cook Event, we made Parmesan Risotto Balls (Arancini)! Risotto has always been one of my favourites in a restaurant but I have never made it at home. What more, deep fry it. Its not too difficult but definitely labour intensive as there’s lots of stirring involved. It was mouth watering and I must make a mental note to make this for my husband soon.

Parmesan Risotto Balls

(makes 40 balls)

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For the Risotto

1 Shallot, peeled and finely diced

1 clove Garlic, peeled and finely crushed

1 sprig Thyme

20g unsalted Butter

1/2 tbsp Sunflower Oil

1 tbsp White Wine

100g Arborio Rice

450ml Vegetable Stock, warmed

80g Parmesan, finely grated

For the Panne

2 – 3 tbsp Plain White Flour

1 Egg, cracked and beaten

100g Dried Breadcrumbs

1. To cook the risotto – Place a medium sized pan onto a low heat. Add the oil and butter. Add the shallot, garlic and thyme and cook for 1-2 minutes until the shallot is soft. Pour in the white wine, bring to the boil and let bubble until it is almost fully reduced.

2. Tip in the arborio rice and coat in the shallot and wine mix. Begin to add the warmed stock, a ladle at a time and stir until absorbed by the rice. Continue to do so with all of the stock ensuring that the stock is fully absorbed otherwise your risotto balls will be too wet.

3. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated parmesan. Season with  pinch of salt and cracked black pepper. Spread out onto  flat tray and place in the fridge to cool.

4. To shape and panne – Once cool, remove from the fridge and scoop using a measuring spoon into 10-15g balls.

5. Dust each one with the flour, then coat with the beaten egg and finally roll each one in the breadcrumbs. Roll each ball gently in the palm of your hand to form a nice round shape, place on a clean tray and return to the fridge for 5-10 minutes to firm up.

6. To cook the balls – Meanwhile heat a fryer to 180C. Remove the balls from the fridge. Place in the fryer and cook until golden in colour. Remove and place on kitchen paper to drain any excess oil.

7. To serve – Season with sea salt, and place a cocktail stick into each. Serve with some lemon mayonnaise.

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Hope you enjoyed my two favourite recipes from the cooking class. Leaving you on a ‘sweet note’. Chocolate mousse domes with raspberry! If you would like the recipe, do give me a shout and I will be happy to share 🙂

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Thank you very much for inviting me John Lewis, I enjoyed myself and would recommend the Waitrose Cookery School classes to all. Time to have another good browse on John Lewis but I think I found a winner –> This Digital Crock Pot Slow Cooker!

 

 

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Lamb chops in ‘cheat’ pepper sauce

Cooking. Sometimes enjoyable and most of the time, a rushed affair to feed the family ‘homecooked’ goodness.

This is slightly inspired, so I thought I would share the making of lamb chops with one of those ready made pepper sauces from a pack.

Pan fry lamb chops. Just salt and pepper on them. Nowadays, I tend to omit salt from our foods as bubba enjoys adult food too.

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Nearly there..

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All done! Set aside.

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4 cloves of garlic and lots of mushrooms.

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Found Colman’s pepper sauce in the cupboard, I am far from loyal to any brand. It is usually those on offer that goes in the shopping cart. Haha.

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Sautéed garlic, then mushrooms.

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I mixed the sachet with water instead of milk beforehand and chucked it in to the pan. Cook till it slightly thickens.

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Voila! I have made quite a few sides with lots of help from the oven.

Easy peasy meal and one happy husband.

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Have fun cooking 😉

Baby’s Deconstructed Chicken Noodle Soup and the Double Spoon Technique

What on earth is the Double Spoon Technique? I think I just made that up.

Phew, little one is back to enjoying food after a little food strike when she was not feeling fabulous after her first year vaccinations.

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Deconstructed Chicken Noodle Soup

This is one of her favourite meals and it is so easy to make. Win win! Let’s call it deconstructed Chicken Noodle Soup. Boil a piece of chicken for an hour, add spaghetti and brocolli before serving. Voila! Served on the very handy OXO Tot Plate.

Compartment plates are the best. A plate is a plate but I love the curved rims of this one. Less mess, I promise.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Here you go, bubba. Wow, there is soup! “Come on baby, don’t tip it over”

I must have a feel.

Baby Led Weaning Ideas

Here we go, the ‘double spoon’ technique. While she feeds herself, I feed her too with another spoon. Haha! Lots of supervised baby led weaning for now.

Discovering cutlery

 

 

Open Wide

She feeds herself relatively well, thankfully. Her attempts with cutlery is adorable but not always successful.

Loves her green vegetables for now (long may it last).

Broccoli

Check me out mum 🙂

Self feeding

Finishing her little meal with half a nectarine. Mmmm!

Nectarine time

On a side note, I feel like purchasing the OXO Tot 4-Piece Feeding Set as its on offer currently. Oh, temptations 😛

 

Chicken & Chinese Mushroom for Baby and Me

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1 onion
An inch of ginger
4 cloves of garlic

5 pieces of skinless chicken, diced (any meat really)
6 Chinese mushrooms soaked in warm water for 30 minutes and then sliced ( available in Asian supermarkets )
1 potato
Half a broccoli

Salt & black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons soya sauce

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Sautéed onion, ginger and garlic till  your kitchen smells heavenly. Add in chicken and potatoes as they take longer to cook.

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Throw in everything else! I added freshly ground black pepper at this point and lots of water because little one was trying to climb somewhere. These one pot recipes are the best as I can tend to her when this is on the cooker.

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Voila! Look at her eyeing my meal instead of hers, at least she didn’t chuck my plate onto the floor. 😂

Baby led weaning : success. She has never had Chinese mushrooms ever so she was rather intrigued and gave that a few nibbles to start. She ate most of the chicken.

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Hope you enjoyed reading our first post of the new year.

Ps. do try the recipe out! xxx

Homecooked meal that deserves a blog post on its own.

I have just moved to a little market town for a few months and initially I was really dreading it as yes … I like busy bustling cities which are filled to the brim with lots of clothes shops and Mothercare. Maybe I am just that sort of person who is just generally happy but I have to say it is really rather enjoyable or I am just ‘nesting’ haha. There are not many nice eateries here therefore I am extra diligent in cooking homecooked meals for the husband and I. The markets and fresh produce here are just amazing and oh so cheap (competitively priced).

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There is lots on offer and every bowl is a quid. Brilliant! We have stopped going to the supermarkets for fruit and veg.

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Its not only the food. Amazing flowers and pet accessories too. I would love to learn how to do floral arrangements but I need a vase to start. Haha!

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Yesterday was market day. I came back with a fillet of haddock, some scallops from the trusty market fishmonger. He is my ‘friend’ now. I specifically bought a huge piece of steak for the husband and a variety of fruits and veg.

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I bought 6 passionfruits too and I was totally clueless on how you ‘pick’ them. They will hopefully be made into cookies or a cheesecake *fingers crossed*

Anyways, the point of the post is to share what I whipped up yesterday! Its true..the secret to great food is just fresh ingredients.

Presenting ….

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The husbands mighty rump steak served with new potatoes, grilled tomatoes on vine and topped with scallops seared in a garlic butter sauce.

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I wanted fish.

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Fillet of haddock in a slightly vinaigrette sauce served with the same potatoes, tomatoes and a scallop. I included fresh coriander for good measure too.

Hope you enjoyed the post. I need to get back to packing your orders. Since we shared this gorgeous penguin and reindeer chocs made by our lovely customer Carlie Smallbone with our moulds, lots of them were ordered yesterday 🙂

Till the next post .. have a wonderful bank holiday weekend.
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Sacré Cœur & A La Pomponnette

Sacré Cœur

I did loads and loads of walking in Paris. This is the little cobbled street leading to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. Sacré Cœur. Second time at this touristy point but ever so amazing sitting and admiring the view. Its at the highest point in Paris on the hill of Montmarte.

Leading up to Sacré Cœur

After a spot of sightseeing, we had the best meal ever at A La Pomponnette! Rustic feel and look AND the food was just AMAZING. Exquisite even. Not pretentious and very authentic French food. Very patient service too as they had to translate their menu one by one just for me 😀 It was pretty challenging to decide as everyone around me are little fuss pots since I am preggers. Therefore, cannot eat loads of cheeses, raw or undercooked meats etc etc. I settled for scallops since the waiter gave me a disapproving look and a huge no no when I pondered about a well done steak. My husband enjoyed the steak and he thought it was the best ever steak he had in his lifetime and he really does LOVE his steak.

A La Pomponnette, Paris

A La Pomponnette, Paris

A La Pomponnette, Paris

A La Pomponnette

Very very happy customers! If you find yourself in Paris, I highly recommend

À LA POMPONNETTE

Montmartre 42 rue Lepic 75018 Paris
Enjoy 🙂 🙂

Home cooked meals.

 

Just a mish mash of meals I have made this week 🙂 Enjoy!

Stir fried vegetables and Beef Kurma.image

Here’s the Beef Kurma simmering in the pan.

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Noodles and condiments for a little Prawn Mee tea for the husband and myself.

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Mmmm! Very enjoyable meal. Ps. the soup paste is not made from scratch. If you go to the Asian supermarket, you will be able to find this brand called Tean’s Gourmet. Buy the Prawn Noodles one. Saves you so much time and they taste really good. All ready in 30 minutes. (Whoops, the secret is out. I don’t spend lots of time cooking)

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Pasta. Fridge was pretty bare. Found some Passata, chopped tomatoes and a can of tinned tuna and crab meat..

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Rosemary Potatoes to go with steak.

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Hope you have a lovely Friday ahead and happy weekend xxx

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