Saturday, September 20, 2008

I Heart Belfast

I had a fantastic time in Belfast at the weekend. I was there with work but definitely managed to fit in a bit of play! I was working with a really lovely team at Belfast City Council who were hosting a great food festival there. I organised demonstrations in Georges Market on Saturday afternoon for celebrity chefs Paul Rankin and Nick Nairn. I hadn't seen the guys for ages (having not worked on 'Ready, Steady, Cook' for over a year now) so we had a great catch up.

I was put up in a very swanky hotel, The Merchant, which I totally loved every minute of (mood lit baths, chocolate truffles brought with the turn down service and gorgeous cocktails in the bar before hitting the town). Then, I met the team for a delicious dinner in Paul's restaurant, Cayenne, before heading out clubbing.

Slightly sore heads the next day, but the dems went really well. Emma-louise Johnson presented with enthusiasm and the chefs managed to draw a huge crowd, which is great for the market no doubt. They first of all cooked their own recipes, two of which are below. The second part of the dem was an 'against the clock, cook-off' using ingredients a punter had bought in the market, which was a lot of fun. As usual they blew everyone away with the dishes they came up with on the spur of the moment.

The boys working the crowd & Emma Louise doing her thang

So all in all, a fantastic gig to work on....just the small issue of all those boxes of equipment that still need to be unpacked, yawn!

here are a couple of the recipes from the event:



450 g (1 lb) squid, about 10-12.5 cm (4-5 in) long

250 g (9 oz) black tagliatelle (or other black pasta)

2 tbsp light olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

175 g (6 oz) yellow and red cherry tomatoes, halved


2 large red chillies, finely chopped

4 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 clove of garlic, finely chopped

Grated zest of ½ lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

120 ml (4 fl oz) extra virgin olive oil

To prepare the squid, separate the head and tentacles from the body and discard the stiff cartilage quill. Cut the head free from the tentacles and discard. Remove the purplish skin. Clean and rinse the squid, then cut the large tentacles in half and the body into 1 cm (½ in) ringlets.

To make the gremolata oil, simply stir all the ingredients together. Heat very gently, set aside and keep warm.

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Meanwhile, heat the light olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add the squid and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1½-2 minutes, until the squid turns from opaque to white. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

To serve, toss the drained pasta in 2-3 tbsp of the gremolata oil. Divide the pasta between the warmed plates, then spoon over the squid and tomatoes. Drizzle with more gremolata oil and serve.

595 cals per portion
34 g fat per portion

Nick's Hot Blairgowrie Raspberry Souffle

400g raspberries

1 tbsp lemon juice

100g caster sugar

2 tsp crème de framboise

1 tsp cornflour

180g egg whites (about 6)

pinch of cream of tartar

Icing sugar, to serve

Press the raspberries through a fine sieve to produce 180g of purée. Put this into a thick-bottomed pan, add the lemon juice and reduce down to a thick jam, stirring from time to time and being careful not let it catch and burn.

Put 70g of the sugar in a separate pan. Melt it, then boil until it becomes a thick syrup (121°C on a sugar thermometer). To test without a thermometer, dip a teaspoon into the syrup and then quickly into cold water. You should be able to roll the cooling syrup into a ball between your fingers. But be careful as the syrup is exceedingly hot! When it has reached the right point, stir the hot syrup into the raspberry jam.

Mix the framboise and cornflour together and stir into the jam over the heat. This will help the jam to thicken. Turn the jam into a small bowl, sprinkle the surface with icing sugar and cover closely with cling film. This can all be done the day before and kept in the fridge. Return the jam to room temperature before using.

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Slowly whisk the egg whites with the cream of tarter until you can form soft peaks, then fold in the remaining caster sugar, taking care not to overwhisk. Lightly fold the whites into the jam, leaving thin traces of white visible in the mixture. Spoon into four buttered and sugared large ramekins, place these on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes.

Transfer the ramekins to plates. Dust the hot soufflés lightly with icing sugar. Serve immediately.

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