Monday, September 22, 2008

Cooks Academy

I had a lovely surprise today as the 'Cooks Academy' cook book came in the post. It's always nice to see the fruits of your labour, even if I had totally forgotten about it. I prop and food styled the book last summer so it was a distant memory! It all come flooding back when flicking through though. I can remember eating (as well as styling of course!) most things; the smells, tastes and textures. I'm looking forward to trying out some of the recipes again.

Congrats to Vanessa and Tim the owners (Vanessa is the author also), Sarah at Gill & McMillan, Karen who cooked her way through each recipe for the shoot and Hugh McEleveen the photographer.

Here are a couple of yummy recipes to tempt you:

Serves 4
100g chorizo sausage, peeled and diced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tbsp semi-sun dried (sunblush) tomatoes
300ml white wine
300g pasta, eg linguine
50g fresh rocket leaves
75g parmesan shavings
salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 Dry fry the chorizo in a heavy-based frying pan for 5 minutes, until just becoming crisp (do not allow to burn). Remove to a sheet of absorbant kitchen paper with a slotted spoon and keep warm.
2. Gently fry the onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes, adding in the garlic towards the end.
3 Drain and roughly chop the semi-sun dried tomatoes before adding them to the onion along with the wine and season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Remove from the heat.
4 Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and simmer for 10-12 minutes, until al dente and while still hot, return it to the saucepan over a medium heat. Drizzle with a slick of olive oil.
5 Stir in the sauce mixture, the crispy chorizo and lastly the rocket (if rocket leaves are very large, roughly chop them).
6 Serve in pasta bowls, season with cracked black pepper and garnish with parmesan shavings.


Serves 6

225g pre-rolled all butter short crust pastry
100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 egg yolk
100g ground almonds
400g can pear halves, drained
3 tbsp apricot jam
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F / Gas Mark 4.

1 Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed flan tin. Place the shortcrust pastry in the bottom to cover it.
2 Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the egg and yolk slowly to prevent the mixture from curdling, then mix in the ground almonds until you have a thick paste. Spoon into the flan case and spread out evenly. Refrigerate for 10 minutes to harden up slightly.
3 Without cutting through the top, slice each pear half lengthways and splay out to give a fan effect. Carefully arrange the fans over the top of the filing. Place the tart on a hot baking sheet and bake in the oven for 30 minutes (check after 15 minutes and if the top is browning, turn the oven down to 170C / 325F /Gas Mark 3). Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
4 Heat the apricot jam in a small pan with the lemon juice. Pass through a sieve (and loosen with a little warm water if necessary). Brush the warm glaze over the top of the tart and serve either warm or cold.

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