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Thursday, 30 May 2013

Asparagus with Breadcrumbs, Parmesan & Chilli

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British asparagus season is here, and last week I was gifted with some beautiful British asparagus from the Waitrose Summer Party, an event celebrating British food and farming, which I was thrilled to be invited to. It was also attended by the glitterati of the food world - including Heston Blumenthal, Raymond Blanc, Marcus Wareing, Pippa Middleton (well she does write for Waitrose Kitchen magazine you know!)

It was held at the fantastical setting in the central hall of the Natural History Museum, complete with a replica Diplodocus skeleton! The canapes were quite amazing too - including - little puffs of beetroot meringues, asparagus in edible soil, rhubarb & custard macarons, and chocolate shells with fruity mousse.
And Paloma Faith entertained us! All in all, it was a fabulous evening, Waitrose certainly know how to throw a party that's for sure!

Anyway, back to the asparagus - it's not around for long so try and make the most of it. Look for firm green spears with tight crisp tips, and wash the asparagus thoroughly to remove any grit from them. Snap off the woody ends if your asparagus has them and very lightly steam, boil or roast them.

Here's a recipe that I really like, because you can roast or cook the asparagus how you prefer, and then just heat it through under the grill while the topping is crisping up.

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Asparagus with Breadcrumbs, Parmesan & Chilli
Adapted from Food Blogga 
The amounts for the topping are just a guide, you can add more chilli, Parmesan etc. Cook the asparagus using your preferred method, I blanched mine for about 3-4 minutes as I like it fairly firm.

1 bundle of asparagus
3 tablespoons fresh bread crumbs
Zest of 1 lemon
1 red chilli pepper, finely chopped or a pinch of chilli flakes
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
A knob of unsalted butter

In a small bowl, mix the fresh breadcrumbs, lemon zest, finely chopped chilli pepper (or chilli flakes), parsley and Parmesan cheese. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and set aside until you need it.

Cook the asparagus (roast, grill, steam or boil it) until done to your liking. Place it into an oven proof dish and sprinkle the topping over. Dot with a little unsalted butter and pop under a hot grill for a few minutes until the topping is turning golden brown.
Serve.

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Another fab asparagus recipe you might like is baked asparagus with Parmesan.
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Here's a few pics from the Waitrose Summer Party:

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.


Sunday, 19 May 2013

Fresh Raspberry Shortcake

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Apparently it's World Baking Day today, who knew? 
I haven't got quite as much time as I'd like to bake at the moment, so I was happy to come across this quick and easy recipe for a fruity summer shortcake.

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Fresh Raspberry Shortcake
Adapted from the BBC Food website.

115g butter, softened
225g self raising flour
115g caster sugar
400g raspberries
Whipped cream or clotted cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 200ºC and line a 20cm tin with baking parchment.
Put the softened butter and flour into a food processor and pulse the mixture together. If you haven't got a food processor, you can rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips.
Add the sugar and pulse again until the mixture is just coming together.
Place half of the mixture into the bottom of the tin and press down firmly using the back of a tablespoon, smoothing and flattening the top.
Pour the fresh raspberries evenly over the top of the mixture.
Pour the remaining mixture over the fruit and press down firmly with the spoon to flatten.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the shortcake from the oven and place a plate or pan on top to compress the dessert. Leave to cool.
When cool, remove from the tin and cut into slices, dust with caster sugar or icing sugar and serve with cream.

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This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Food Festivals + Dinner at Dehesa

Bank Holiday weekends can sometimes be a washout, but this weekend the weather was glorious and so were the food events.
We went to London and our first stop was the Southbank Centre, where the Campo Viejo Spanish gastronomy event 'Streets of Spain' was being held - a four day celebration of Spanish wine, food, culture and art. Market stall owners from the famous La Boqueria brought over their delicious produce direct from Barcelona's Las Ramblas.

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As luck would have it, The Real Food Festival was right next door to the Spanish event, just behind the Royal Festival Hall, where there was a large food market to enjoy. The market is actually there every weekend, Friday-Sunday, displaying a great range of fresh produce from carefully selected Real Food producers.

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We had a lovely stroll through the touristy parts of London...

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...And made our way to Dehesa, a charcuterie and tapas bar inspired by the cuisine of Spain and Italy. A couple of months ago, I had the good fortune to win a meal for two at one of the Salt Yard restaurants via their Twitter competition, so a big 'thank you' to the Salt Yard Group for dinner! Here are a few photos of the dishes that we chose, my favourites being the courgette flowers which were crisp and sweet, with a lovely salty kick from the cheese, and the chocolate cake which just melted in your mouth. I adored the spiced squashes that accompanied the lamb dish, but unfortunately the lamb was just too rare for me. My husband loved the pan roasted cod with white asparagus, courgette & piquillo peppers and pickled mussels & clams.

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Courgette flowers with Monte Enebro and honey

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Cornish crab & prawn croquetas with crustacean aioli

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Patatas fritas with romesco sauce & alioli

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Potato gnocchi with butternut squash purée & picos blue sauce

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Pan roasted cod with white asparagus, courgette & piquillo peppers and pickled mussels & clams

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Grilled & marinated lamb leg with spiced squashes, chard, caper & anchovy brown butter

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Soft chocolate cake with Frangelico ice cream

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Warm almond & clementine cake with pistachio ice cream

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Leaving Dehesa feeling comfortably full, we walked to Chinatown, and had a mooch around the supermarkets before leaving. Look how cute the cakes were!

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♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

This content belongs to Nic at Cherrapeno. All writing and photography copyright N Fowers © 2007-2013 unless otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.