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Well this blog has been neglected somewhat hasn’t it!

The reason for my silence is I’ve been very busy setting up my new catering business Eliza Welsford food & events

It’s been an exciting few months building up the business, lurching from euphoria to despair with the joys of website development (I am a wordpress genius – ahem, honest!), branding designs, new menus, sourcing suppliers, building networks etc etc.

Come over and join us at our new home elizawelsfordfood.com. We would love to know what you think!

We’ve catered for intimate dinners, canape parties, business meetings, and birthday celebrations, and will be catering from our first wedding in May.

Stay up to date and receive offers and recipes by signing up to our newsletter 
And you can like us on facebook and follow us on twitter

See you there!

 

A sneak peak at some of our food:

wontongrcbbtofu

P&Papc_smalltunac

Has it really been 5 months since I wrote a post? Needless to say, like everyone else I’ve been busy!

Since my last communication I have

  • Taken and passed my Wine exam with a distinction
  • Sat through the Leiths diploma theory exam and stood through a 5 hour practical and passed!
  • Enjoyed a lovely long weekend with my family on the outskirts of Rome
  • Spent a month taking in the sights, hospitality and divine food of Hong Kong, Cambodia and Vietnam
  • Fed nine hungry golfers for a week at a gorgeous villa in the hills of Catalunya
  • Worked freelance for various catering companies
  • Baked an enormous and rather delicious chocolate cake for a 50th birthday party
  • Run my first independent canape and bowl food events to great success

So whats’ next?

You might remember my post: Lessons from work experience as I considered my options post Leiths. One of the greatest things about a life in food is that it is constantly evolving, you can never stop learning new styles, techniques and recipes, from yourself and from others. I wanted to do something I loved and to be my own boss so I have taken the first steps to setting up my own catering and events business. Details of what I will be doing will follow, and cookery classes are comings soon. But in the meantime here is a recipe (especially for Hayley) that makes use of a fabulous ingredient currently in season: Fennel

Fennel and lemon risotto with prawns
Serves 2

1 fennel bulb
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp butter, plus 1 tbsp to finish
1 onion, finely chopped
180g risotto rice
1 large glass of white wine or vermouth
600ml vegetable stock
zest of 1 lemon, and juice to taste
25g parmesan, grated
6 peeled, raw large prawns

Finely chop the onion. Trim any green fronds from the fennel bulb and reserve for a garnish. Cut the fennel bulb in half and thinly slice three slices from each side using a mandolin or sharp knife. Finely chop the remaining fennel.

Very gently simmer the stock. In a separate pan gently sweat the chopped onion and fennel in olive oil until soft and translucent. Add the rice and stir until coated in oil. Turn the heat up and add the wine or vermouth. Stir until evaporated. Turn the heat down and add a ladleful of stock, stir from time to time until it has reduced. Repeat until the rice is al dente (has a slight bite). You may not need to use all of the stock.

Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan and add the fennel slices. Cook until golden and then gently flip over. Add a ladleful of stock and allow to simmer until the stock has evaporated and the fennel is soft and golden.

Devein the prawns, make a shallow cut along the length of the black line and lift the intestinal tract out using the tip of a knife.

When the risotto is al dente, add the zest, butter and parmesan. Season to taste. If you would like a more lemony flavour, add some lemon juice. Cover  the pan and leave for 5 minutes while you cook the prawns.

Push the fennel slices over to one side of the pan. Turn the heat up and fry the prawns on each side until pink.

Spoon the risotto into bowls, top with  three fennel slices, three prawns and the fennel fronds.

p.s apologies to any followers that received an earlier email notifying them of a new but only half written post. The new changes (probably not so new anymore) to wordpress temporarily confused me!

Well I promised photos and here they are!

This week Mark Best, owner of Marque in Australia, was in London for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants (he came in at number 61). He was also promoting his new book ‘Marque’. While he was here, he dropped in to Leith’s to demonstrate 3 of his dishes. He said these dishes represented the Marque style and showed the evolution of cooking since opening. I have to admit, when they said Mark Best, I had no idea who he was, though I was told he was ‘big’ in Australia. By the end of the demo, I was asking for work experience in his restaurant. Slightly out of my way being in Sydney!!!!

The dishes he showed us encouraged us to think about ingredients in alternative ways. Squid for example became rice in one dish and noodles in another. Every ingredient be it an onion or caviar is as important as the other. In this dish ‘Risotto’ of squid flavoured with cauliflower puree and leeks, is covered with a prawn that has been flattened and arranged into a circle, and served with a prawn broth foam, topped with crispy curry leaves. It was absolutely delicious but no longer on the menu, as apparently it is a bit dated.

A much more contemporary dish was Ike jime squid (as noodles) with smoked goats curd, young coconut and black radish.

This dish is about contrasting texture and colour. It was amazing.

But we’ve been learning to cook less contemporary dishes! We’ve roasted and jointed a duck which was served with orange and almonds (alla Prue Leith) and Pommes Anna. Apparently this was her signature dish (in the 1970s)! Remember this is about classic techniques.

I’ve also temporarily (I hope) been put off lemon sole having whizzed it in a magimix and pushed it through a drum sieve to make fish quenelles. These were served with savoury tuilles which I decorated with sesame and poppy seeds.

Do not serve with 4 squares of concasse tomato as I did – odd numbers only!

Finally a dish with a number of component parts; roasted pollock with sweetcorn puree, sweetcorn and tarragon salad and mushroom mousseline

All in all a busy week. Coming up a demonstration by Yotam Ottolenghi, gnocchi and tortellini. I’m a happy girl!

Oh and Mark’s response to work experience at Marque was positive :) once I’ve saved my pennies for the flight.

 

 

From the lack of recent posts it may appear I have fallen into food induced coma.

I’m still here and two weeks into the advanced term of the diploma. Since my last post I survived and passed the intermediate practical and theory exams and spent the Easter break doing various work experience placements with a catering company, a restaurant, at Olive Magazine and assisting at cookery workshops.

So what did I learn?

Three days in a restaurant helped me understand its lure despite long hours, for little pay. I worked in an establishment that is a bakery and lunchtime cafe during the day and a restaurant at night, so I gained an insight into all three. The best of British seasonal produce was served and I was trusted enough to be thrust a load of ingredients and told to get on with making soup for the evening service. Not something I expected, so it was a thrill to see if go out to paying customers. The buzz during service is certainly alluring and were I doing this 10 years ago it may be a direction I’d pursue. Some further restaurant stints may be on the cards.

Professional catering is definitely an area I am interested in and has been a consideration for a while. It appeals to my events management background and need for variety and projects. In the longer term, is something I could set up from home.

Recipe testing, going on photoshoot or assisting in the office were three things I could have found myself doing as I walked into the BBC Media Centre for a day working at Olive Magazine. As it turned out I was working on the later, and interesting and informative as it was, the experience reminded me of where I have come from and why I chose to do the diploma: I no longer wanted to work in an office environment. While I really appreciated my day there I do not think it is something I wish to return to … yet.

My last work experience stint was assisting David Bailey, formerly Head Chef at Saf, and now owner of the very successful Wholefood Heaven with his raw food workshops. David is an amazing chef who went from committed carnivore to vegetarian following health issues. He now runs Wholefood Heaven with his wife and won Best Main Dish at The British Street Food Awards with their Buddha Bowls. I found the day really inspiring, it was so interesting to learn about raw food techniques, though it is not a diet I would follow. Helping others to learn new techniques, improve their cooking and diet or just have fun with food is really rewarding so teaching is another area I’m interested in exploring further.

All in all, the experiences were great, though I’m still not sure what happens at the end of June, a scary 8 weeks away!!!

So back at Leiths, things have stepped up a notch. Foundation term could be described as home cooking, intermediate as gastropub and advanced as fine dining. Marking is getting tougher and precision is the word of the moment, if you’re serving concasse of tomato make sure all pieces are identical in size and shape and they are all the same way up!

We’ve been introduced to jus, gastriques, fancy vegetable garnishes and making our own puff pastry, (though I think it is easier than making flaky), and the highlight for me; consommés and clearing. I’ve done a rubbish job of taking photos and wish I had one of a strawberry suspended in clear lemon jelly. It was pretty cool.

Dishes have a greater number of components requiring consolidation of, or learning new skills and next week I’ll try to take photos of some of the dishes which include Roasted Pollock with sweetcorn puree and mushroom mousseline, roasting and jointing a duck and serving it with a gastrique, Pommes Anna and orange and watercress, and learning to make yeasted pastries. For now though I leave you with a picture of a suckling pig which struck quite a few students because it was so young and looked like “a sleeping baby”

In my opinion, whilst it may impress some at a dinner party, it’s worth letting the pig run around in the mud for a few more months for a better flavour!

Meringue Cuite, beloved by chefs due to it’s ability to keep it’s shape. It’s extremely stable and can be left out for hours without disintegrating, does not swell in the oven but is chalkier and more powdery than swiss meringue. Meringue Cuite is cooked meringue and requires a lot of whisking over a pan of hot water to get it to the desired stage – absolutely stable with no movement at all. It’s therefore ideal for making piped baskets and shapes, even if it isn’t as nice to eat.

When was the last time you saw the classic meringue cuite recipe; meringue basket? So long ago that I’ve failed to find an image of one through Google. I wasn’t that keen to make one in our creative meringue cuite session, but what to do with it instead? A search for “meringue cuite” came back with very few responses save a few seals and an albino hedgehog – I assume ‘cute’ was meant. But I had decided on an exotic fruit soup, and realising this might look like a lake I resurrected an old classic:

From swans to ducks. This was one of the most delicious things we cooked last week –  caramelised duck breast with honey and ginger, served with rice noodles, chili, coriander, spring onions, sesame seeds and lime.

 

Quite a few weeks seem to have passed since my last post. I’m not entirely sure where the time has gone except to say it has been rammed packed. Week 7 started with our first full day in the kitchen. Seven hours baking delicious Chelsea buns, making pate sucree and creme patisserie for individual fruit tarts, steak with Bearnaise sauce, rosti potato and tenderstem broccoli and espagnole sauce ready for a madeira sauce to go with rose veal the following day. It was tiring and my feet ached by the end of it but it was great to be in the kitchen for the whole day and get more of a taste for what it will really be like.

We have had the opportunity to flex our creative muscles where a little like Masterchef we are presented with a load of ingredients to turn into a culinary masterpiece but, unlike Masterchef we have days rather than 20 minutes to think about what we are going to do. In creative lamb I cooked lamb steaks marinated in Chermoula, a butterbean and caramelised onion puree, roasted red peppers and wilted spinach which was described as a very flavoursome plate (whoop!). I didn’t have the chance to take a photo but next time I cook it I shall post my recipe.

What I have photographed is my genoise commune cake smothered in coffee buttercream.

But this is no ordinary butter cream. For this very smooth, rich and exceptionally buttery butter cream, a creme anglais is made which is then mixed with butter and flavoured with coffee, chocolate or whatever takes your fancy. It’s a lot more faff that an ordinary butter cream but the smooth result justifies the extra effort for a special cake.

The birthday boy certainly enjoyed it!

Leiths Coffee buttercream

170g sugar
225ml milk
3 egg yolks
170g salted butter
170g unsalted butter
coffee essence to taste

Gently bring the milk and half the sugar to the boil.

Beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar.

When the milk has come to the boil, pour it on to the egg mixture and mix well. Return the mixture to the saucepan and stir over a low heat without boiling until slightly thickened. To test it has reached the correct consistency, coat the back of a wooden spoon with the mixture and run your finger up the back. If you rock the spoon from side to side the line should remain. Once thickened strain into a bowl and leave to cool.

Beat the butter until creamy and gradually whisk the custard mixture in to it. Flavour with coffee essence

The lovely Rachel of Blissfully Scrumptious has bestowed me with a Liebster Blog Award which is given to talented and loved bloggers who have less than 200 followers. I understand it started in Germany to give small bloggers recognition for their efforts.

Rachel certainly deserves recognition for her lovely cakes and bakes, as well as healthy eating recipes. Do also look at her website  www.blissfullyvintage.com  and blog http://blissfullyvintage.wordpress.com for gorgeous vintage china.

The rules:

  • Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
  • Link  back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
  • Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
  • Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed.
  • Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

I suspect some of my chosen blogs have more than 200 followers but all deserve to be noticed:

Roswensian - beautiful baking and more

Limited Literature – very talented poet, influenced by all sorts, often found baking with a 2 year old

Pepper & Sherry – fantastic collection of recipes and anecdotes. I love Juls’ writing and honesty

Appledrane – a gorgeous food and photography blog

Footprints in the butter – scrumptious recipes

 

 

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