Monday 28 September 2015

Bake Off

The Great British Bake Off
Every year The Great British Bake Off* has me glued to my seat. Tuning in weekly to watch the bakers turn their hands to the signature bake, technical challenges and to see if they have the stamina to whip up a storm for their showstopper bake.   

I love watching to see which of the twelve home bakers can survive the intensity of the marquee or if there will be any major meltdowns.

Contestant Tamal sums up the pressure beautifully: 

"I feel like we’re a herd of gazelles that’s being picked off one-by-one by lions. Mary and Paul are the lions and they’re hungry for bakers.”
The Great British Bake Off
I'm regularly left laughing at Mary BerryPaul Hollywood and Sue Perkins use of wonderful one liners, innuendos and damn right wonderful put downs.  

Sue: "You want something quite rigid, but something that will taste good too"
Paul:"Keep your biscuits erect... you've got four hours to do so!"

Paul: “I think it’s over-baked.”
Mary: “It is over-baked but it isn’t bitter and it isn’t burnt.”
Paul: “It is burnt and it is bitter, thank you very much indeed.”

The show is definitely to thank for reinvigorating the UK's love for cooking. Last year's final attracted over twelve million viewers. 

So at work when someone suggested that we do our very own Bake Off, I had already thrown my spoon in the mixing bowl. Well any excuse to bake and eat!

You all know that if I had a choice to cook it would have to be savoury over sweet, but I thought given that the idea is to challenge yourself I would go for sweet. Probably rather stupidly I also decided to bake two things that I haven't previously made before. 

The recipes are both from BBC GoodFood, where you will find loads of recipes and great cooking tips.  

Below are my efforts in making the recipes in pictures. I have purposefully not listed the cooking steps below as you will find these on the website. 

Custard and White Chocolate Biscuits

140g of butter
175g of caster sugar
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
225g self-raising flour
85g custard powder (My favourite is Bird's)
85g white chocolate chunks

Biscuit Recipe
Biscuit recipe

Chocolate and Banana Cake 

100ml sunflower oil,
175g of caster sugar
175g of self-raising flour
half tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tbsp of cocoa powder
100g chocolate chunks
175g very ripe bananas
3 medium eggs
50ml of milk

For the topping
100g of milk chocolate
100ml of soured cream
Handful of dried banana chips
Chocolate Cake

Chocolate Cake
The highlight of the two definitely had to be the chocolate and banana cake, which with the sour cream icing made for the perfect sweet and savoury balance. 

Do you watch the Bake Off? Who do you want to win? If you had to cook your signature dish what would it be? 

*For those of you not based in the UK, The British Bake Off is a TV programme where amateur bakers compete to be crowned best baker.

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Monday 21 September 2015

A very British Day out

During the Summer months, parks in London come to life with festivals and concerts. One of my favourite pastimes to mark the end of Summer is to attend the world-famous last nights of the Proms in Hyde Park
British Days out
The proms in the park is a very British tradition and is a permanent fixture in my calendar each year with music, singing, pomp and ceremony making for a great day out. However, it would not be a FoodieForce outing without a wonderful picnic to take along as well. 

As you know I have never been a great fan of the humble sandwich, mainly because there is often too much bread and the fillings are really uninspiring. That was until I found Café Mish who specialise in decadent gourmet sandwiches.
Cafe Mish
Café Mish has been on the wish list since they opened a couple of months ago in Mayfair and as they are situated near to Hyde Park, it was the perfect place and excuse to grab some picnic essentials. 
Cafe Mish
Now how good does that sandwich look? Banished are the boring fillings replaced instead with slow braised salted beef, sweet pickle gherkins, dijonnaise on Caraway bread (£6.75). 

They use the finest roasted meats, locally sourced and seasonal British ingredients. The bread comes from the Bread factory, and meat from Hensons in Kings Cross. 
Cafe Mish
The menu offers loads and loads of sandwiches that I would happily eat. After lots of umming and ahhing, I settled on the Roast Angus – peppered roast rib of beef, homemade horseradish and wild rocket (£6.75).
Cafe Mish
Smoked Salmon – H Forman’s smoked salmon with homemade horseradish & watercress on wholemeal sourdough (£6.75). 
H Forman's
The combination of the smoked salmon and saltiness of the sourdough works perfectly. For those of you with a healthy appetite sandwiches come in small, medium and large. The reference to size is all about quantity of filling. 

With picnic in hand, seats and rugs on our backs, we wandered to Hyde Park to set up camp and eat our lovely picnic. Champagne was missing from our menu this year due to my tummy bump, but an essential ingredient which you shouldn't normally been seen without. This year the Proms out did themselves with an appearance from The Jackson Five (Michael was there in spirit), Russell Watson, Beverley Knight and the BBC Concert Orchestra to name a few.
Proms in the Park
I was so impressed with Café Mish, the ingenuity of fillings that I will definitely be back to try the many other lovely sandwiches they had on offer. 

Overall a wonderful British day out culminating with a fun sing along to Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britiannia followed by some spectacular fireworks. 

You're all invited to come along for some traditional British fun next year.

What is your favourite sandwich filling? If you could eat your picnic anywhere in the world where would you go?
Cafe Mish Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

*I was kindly a guest of Café Mish but this is an honest reflection of my experience. I will happily be returning to try more of their lovely menu and whiling away a few hours in the park. 

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Monday 14 September 2015

Dan Doherty cooking up a storm

Dan Doherty
For a foodie the chance to watch a top chef whipping up a storm in the kitchen and having them cook for you is like gold dust. It doesn't really happen very often and when it does it is something to get really excited about.

So when an invitation popped in my inbox inviting me to see Leisure range cookers in action and executive chef Dan Doherty from Duck and Waffle cooking a three course meal I was already there. Well I was dreaming and salivating about the food.

Duck and Waffle
The event was set in a beautiful Victorian loft kitchen with exposed roof trusses and pine floors in Shoreditch. Can we all just marvel at how beautiful this kitchen is. 
First Option Studio
The new Cookmaster range cooker took centre stage in the beautiful kitchen.
Cookmaster range cooker
Can you imagine cooking Christmas lunch on this beauty, with so much space there would be no need to sacrifice the roast potatoes over the roast. 

I'm adding it to the Santa wish list, I have been a good girl this year (does that count!).

On the menu Dan shared recipes for:  
  • Breakfast - Cheddar Brioche Rolls with Chipotle Baked Beans. 
Breakfast recipes
  • Brunch -  Salt beef & sweet potato hash, corn, avocado, hot sauce & fried eggs.
Brunch recipes
  • Dinner - Pomegranate molasses & Harissa glazed chicken, spiced roasted root vegetables, chick pea 'bread' sauce.
Chicken Recipe
Preheat the main fan oven cooker to 160 degrees.

For the chicken, mix the harissa & molasses together with the thyme. Rub all over the chicken, getting into all the nooks and crannies.
Chicken recipe
Place into a roasting dish, season with salt and pepper and roast for an hour and a half, or until cooked. It will get a little dark but that’s ok, if its getting too dark just lower the temperature a bit. 
chicken recipe
In the meantime, bring a pot of water to the boil, season with salt then blanch the carrots, swede and parsnips for a minute.

Strain and put straight into another roasting dish. Add the red onions, garlic and rosemary, drizzle with olive oil, then add the spices and seasonings.
Chicken Recipe
Mix all together with your hands and put in the fan oven with the chicken for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked and golden brown.

To make the bread sauce, blend all the ingredients together in a food blender (100g cooked chickpeas,1 Lemon, zest only, pinch of chopped parsley, 1 clove garlic, crushed, sea salt and black Pepper) and transfer to a small saucepan.

When the chicken is rested and carved, heat the sauce and serve alongside the meat and vegetables.
Chicken Recipe
Watching Dan Doherty in action was a brilliant experience, first of all his love of food, cooking and using the best ingredients shines through. There is no pretension, it is all about the food and people enjoying the food he has made, there's no arrogance.

Dan's attitude is no one can't cook, there is no molecular science and no miraculous cheats. His view to cooking is nothing is ever ruined there is always a way back.

Duck and Waffle has been on the FoodieForce bucket list for a while. Despite being open 24-hours a day trying to get a table is quite the challenge but having seen Dan in action I am making it my mission to visit. 

If you could have a chef cook for you who would it be and what would they cook?

*I was a guest of Leisure cookers at the above event but as always my opinion and views are very much my own. 

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Monday 7 September 2015

The Foodie Blogger get to know me

Food Bloggers
If you've been reading FoodieForce for a while you will know that I am ever so slightly obsessed with food. My travels are also often centred around food and if I'm not eating it, I'm making, cooking or taking pictures of it. 

The lovely Frankie of The Mayfairy has nominated me to do the foodbloggers: Get to Know me Tag. The hope is that you will get to know a little more about FoodieForce and the person behind the blog.

So lets get on with it... 

Name: Lucy 

What was your reason for starting a blog?
You could say that having a healthy appetite is in my DNA and I was always destined to be involved in food somehow. 

When at the age of seven months, I could polish off four Weetabix in one sitting, my mother knew it was time to reign my eating habits in. I'm not really sure that in the long run this method of training was successful, as I still have no self restraint when it comes to food. 

Am I the only person who can be sitting eating a meal and whilst eating it be happily planning and thinking about my next meal (please tell me that someone else does this too)?  

I started FoodieForce because I wanted to share my passion for food, cooking and finding the very best places to eat. 

What’s the dish you’re most proud of?
I am very much an experimental cook, give me a host of random ingredients and I am very much at home. I like to make dishes that I haven't done before, that said there are a few firm favourites of course (Pad Thai Noodles, Scallops Chorizo and Pancetta, Chicken and Prawn Rosso Pesto Pasta) but if I had the choice I like to cook something new.
What one kitchen utensil could you not live without?
Ooh this is a difficult one as I love my kitchen gadgets and utensils. 

I would probably say my KitchenAid mixer it is the perfect cooking companion, it looks great, I can indulge in my cooking creativity as it does everything and best of all it doesn't give you any lip.

You’re stranded on a desert island. What three ingredients do you take with you?
I would go for ingredients that can be used in loads of different ways to make lots of dishes. Boring possibly but I am practical. 

I would take rice, peppers and potatoes. 
Ingredients for a dessert island
Depending on my mood peppers are interchangeable with spices, chocolate and Tom Hardy if you can class him as an ingredient.       

Who do you take your inspiration from?
If we are talking about foodies I like Nigel Slater as a chef, mainly because he loves local produce that you know where it has come from and is very much an
intuitive cook. 

What’s your favourite social platform?
It has to be Twitter, I like to share foodie finds through tweets, pictures and locations in real time so others can enjoy. If your not following me then check out FoodieForce and share the foodie love. 

Biggest disaster in the kitchen?
I'm not sure I should even admit this one but as we are all friends, here goes.

Picture the scene, I was cooking Christmas lunch for my other half's parents. It was a first as I hadn't cooked for them previously. Half way through peeling a swede, I decided it would be a good idea to slice the top of my finger off. 

When I say slice the top off I really mean badly, no paper cut here. So with blood going everywhere I wrapped a Tea Towel round said finger and without wanting to make a fuss, carried on whilst they relaxed in the front room.
When the other half pops his head round the door to check everything is on track and sees instantly the mass of bloody destruction he insists that it needs an A&E visit to be stitched. Despite the pleas that it will be fine, he is having none of it. 

So like a small child I am marched out of the kitchen to hospital on Christmas day and yes you guessed it our guests ended up cooking us Christmas lunch. Mortified would be an understatement but luckily they have never reminded me of the incident. 
Foodie accidents

Favourite spot for coffee?
Before being pregnant I used lots of coffee hot spots; but coffee is not the best friend of a pregnant lady. Highlights have to be Shoreditch Grind, Ozone Coffee, Look Mum no Hands and Monmouth Coffee
best coffee london
Favourite photo you’ve taken?
I love taking pictures and take far too many. 
Favourite pictures have to be those that bring back memories of a great place, evening out or where something funny happened. But I also love taking pictures of beautiful food. 
PennyHill Park
Top food bloggers
Top food Bloggers
What would you say is your most successful blog post and why?
Posts that have been most successful are Jamie Oliver's Fifteen and Pret A Dinner at Cafe Royal.
Jamie Oliver's Fifteen
 Pret A Dinner
Nominate three food bloggers you’d like to get to know more:
Food bloggers that I would like to get to know more about would be:

Comment below if you have had any foodie disasters and what would you take as your top ingredient, if stranded on a dessert island? 

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