Thursday, October 29, 2009

A classic red wine

If you are anything like em then you love to sit down and enjoy a nice glass of red wine.

Well this is one of my favourites. Canti - Merlot

It is great with beef and venison, if fact any red meats at all. It is made from Merlot grapes from Sically and has a soft delicate flavour like red cherries, and black berries. it is really nice drunk on it's own too, but with a good strong red meat I find it really brings out the flavours and compliments them perfectly.

It is avalable from Tesco, Adsa and Morrisions for about £5.50 a bottle. but it's always on offer somehwere for £4.50. Try it and love it. I buy four bottles a month and they are usually gone by the first two weeks.

The Office Buffet

I was away with business the other day and was at a vendors factory doing an inspection of some large mechanical equipment. It was a real boring day, and just then the receptionist came in with a few platters of food.

The food looked great, not the usual sandwiches and cold chicken drumsticks, or rubberised chicken saty from a large frozen food store.

This stuff came in like a real chef had prepared it. it my complete surprise the receptionist told me that is was from Waitrose.

Honestly i was really surprised as i didn't know waitrose did this sort of thing. I got talking to her and she then told me that she found out about them when they did the food for her nieces christening, and then she got waitrose to do food for the buffet at her wedding.

Well i was impressed and have added a link at the side and bottom of the blog so you can have a look for yourself.

Take care and will blog back soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brocolli and Blue Cheese soup.

This is a soup i was served at a works dinner and thought that i would try and make my own version. I looked it up in books and the internet and found so many variations. I tried a few and plumped for a mix of a few. So this is my take on this classic soup.

Ingredients: -

1 litre chicken stock (you can use ham stock, but i think Ham makes it a little salty).
500g broccoli
250g blue cheese (a nice creamy cheese works best), if it’s really strong use maybe 200g
1 onion chopped
Knob of butter

Method: -
1 - Melt butter and soften onions.

2 - Add stock and broccoli. Simmer till the broccoli is cooked.

3 - Blitz the mix with a hand blender or liquidiser.

4 - Break the cheese into small pieces and add to the liquidised soup. Stir till the cheese has melted.

It’s easy and delicious. people taste it and remark how good it was, then can't believe how simple it is when I give them the recipe.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

One of my favourite kitchen gadgets next to my knives is a Hand Blender. If you do not have one then it really is a must. It is so versatile for making sauces and blending soups that I couldn’t be without mine.

I use a Braun, and I have got loads of attachments for it from ice breakers to whisks. But to be honest I use it mostly for blending soup and sauce in the pot, and don’t need to take it out, into a liquidiser and then back to a pot.

If you have not got one then get one, you will wonder how you were able to live without it before.

I have put a few on the Amazon shop for you to look at, they don’t cost much, and are a god send. I know many chef use them too so they can’t be that bad if Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey have one.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Easy Chocolate Tart

This is a recipe I got from an old recipe book, and it is just divine. I have also made it by adding some chopped roasted hazelnuts to the mix. Yum yum.

I have served this at many a dinner party and each time it has been raved about and I have passed this recipe out to more people than any other.

Ingredients: -
For the pastry
250g/9oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
pinch salt
100g/3½oz cold butter
1  egg
1  yolk
50g/2oz caster sugar

For the filling
400ml/14fl oz double cream
few drops vanilla extract
100g/3½oz caster sugar
400g/14oz dark chocolate, must be 80% or more cocoa solids
50g/2oz butter
50g of chopped roasted hazelnuts or flaked almonds


1. For the pastry, place the flour, salt and butter into a food processor and blitz until the mixture is like breadcrumbs.

2. Add the egg, egg yolk and sugar and pulse until the mixture forms a dough. Place into cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

4. Place dough out on a lightly floured surface and rollinto a sausage about 3" wide. then slice off 5m sections and line a 25cm/10in fluted tart tin. I find slicing the pasty when chilled then pressing it down like Playdoh really easy and is much better than all the fuss of rolling and dropping it. trip the top of the pastry on the tin

5. Place a piece of greaseproof paper on top and weigh it down with baking beans or coins.

6. Blind bake the pastry for 15-18 minutes dependent on the oven, or until lightly browned. remove from the oven and leave to cool.

6. Meanwhile, for the filling, bring the cream, vanilla extract and sugar slowly to the boil in a pan.

7. Break the chocolate and butter into pieces and place into a large bowl. Pour over the cream mixture and whisk slowly until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth.

8. Pour the chocolate mixture into the tart case (add the chopped hazelnuts or almond flakes after the mix, this lets them stay at the top of the tart and makes it look really proffesional) and leave to cool. Place in the fridge to set for two hours.

9. Add the white chocolate and stir until melted. Stir in the remaining cream.

10. To serve, cut the tart into wedges . Serve with some whipped cream and a few chopped hazelnuts sprinkled on the cream.

This is soooooo rich, but amazing.

What you need in the kitchen - A good set of knives

I have always said it and will keep saying it to everyone i know. the best thing to have in the kitchen is a good set of knives.

I do not know about you, but how many times have you been away to a self catering apartment only to find the knives in the drawer are blunt. Cutting onions is like trying to use a brick to dig the garden.

So a good set of stainless steel knives are king in the kitchen.

I would recommend three, a pairing knife, a boning knife and a large chef’s knife as a minimum. I also have a number of others I use but these are the minimum I would recommend.

I have tried to put them on the shop, and looked for the best value possible. Do not buy cheep knives as it is not worth the money. I spent nearly £100 on three knives and a sharpener over 18years ago and they are still as good as they were new.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My New shop

Hello everyone,

I have added a shopfront to my site that is based on Amazon and contains the books and kitchen gadgets that I would recommend you have.

Have a look and tell me if there is anything that you would recommend?


Baked Cod (Can be made with any white fish)

This is an easy and quick dish that can be made with nearly any white fish. I prefer to use cod as it is meatier, but anything can be used. I have made this dish using a number of variations such as missing out the pesto and even replacing the pesto for a ricota and spinich mix.

What you need: -
2 fillets of Cod, or any white fish
6 slices of parma ham, pancetta or any thinly sliced continental ham
green or red pesto - dependent on your tastes.

Method: -

1 - Place two slices of the ham side by side and spread pesto on the ham.

2 - Place the Cod fillet onto the ham and spread pesto on top of the fish.

3 - Roll up the ham to encase the fish.

4 - Use one more slice of ham to cover the top of the fish.

5 - Place the fish on a baking tray and bake in the oven at Gas Mark 5, 375°F, 191° deg C for about twenty mins or until the ham starts to crispen up

6 - Remove and serve with some roast veg.

The idea is to wrap the fish up into little parcels using the ham as the wrapping paper if you like. The pesto then cooks into the fish and gives it a fantastic flavour, and also keeps the fish moist and seals in the flavours.

Creamy Squash Soup

I had this soup when I was in Canada snowboarding back in 2001. It is the best warming soup I have ever had, or maybe it's because it was - 10degC outside and i had spent a whole day boarding. whatever the reason its spledifurous stuff.

It's also great for a dinner party served with Croutons.

2 tbsp butter
1 sliced leeks
3 large cups cubed squash (you can use pumpkin for this too)
2 medium size potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 pint of chicken stock
250ml. double Cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Melt butter and saute leeks for a few mins until they are softened. Add the squash and potatoes and cook for around 2 minutes.

2. Pour the chicken stock and bring to boil. Simmer for 20 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Then remove from heat then let it cool.

3. When cool enough to handle use a hand blender to blitz until smooth, alternatively transfer it over to the blender and puree until smooth then add back to the pan.

4. When the mixture is smooth add the double cream and simmer for a further 5-10 minutes, and then serve.

Tip - The soup is delicious when served with croutons or crusty bread, and a little grated Parmesan is a nice touch when serving at a dinner party.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Moist Chocolate Cake

I got this recipe from an old food processor recipe book, the cake is amazing and very moreish. it's one of my wifes favourites, and i am not allowed to make this when she is on one of her diets.
Ingredients: -
4 eggs
225g Caster Sugar
2 Drops of Vanilla Essence
150g Dark Chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids any less and the cake does not work due to the fat content of the chocolate)
125g unsalted butter
50ml water
25g plain flour
50g Ground Almonds
Whipped Cream or  good quality Ice-Cream to serve and Icing Sugar to dust.
Use a 7 inch (18cm), lose bottom cake tin.

Method: -
1 - Preheat oven to gas mark 3 / 170°C / 320°F

2 - Whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.

3 - Put chocolate, butter and water in a bowl and heat over a saucepan of simmering water. Do not stir until it is completely melted. When they are all melted stir gently together. This is key, not to stir until it is melted as the water changes the composition of the chocolate if stirred too soon. I hav made a mess of this so many times.

4 - Using a metal spoon or spatula gently fold in the creamed mixture into the chocolate mix, and then fold in almonds and flour.

5 - Pour into cake tin and cook for 20-25 mins. To check if cooked see if the top is crispy.

Note – The cake will rise in the oven, but when cooled it will sink. The outside will be crispy and the centre will be slightly gooey a bit like a chocolate brownie.

Now dust with icing sugar and serve this with the whipped cream or ice-cream, and Indulge in chocolate heaven.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Balmoral Chicken

This is one of my favourite dishes. It's easy and tastes great.

Ingedients: -

4 chicken Breasts
1 haggis
8-12 rashers of smoked Bacon

Method -

1 - Preheat oven to Gas mark 5 / 190 deg C

2 - Take a chicken breast and butterfly it (start to cut it through the middle, halving it through the widest point. Do not completely cut it all the way through, and then open it up like a butterfly)

3 - Take some of the haggis and place it in the centre opened part of the chicken. The haggis is used as a sort of stuffing.

4 - Fold the chicken back, with the haggis in the centre, then wrap the bacon rashers round the chicken to enclose the haggis inside. tie with a little string if necessary.

5 - Repeat steps 1 to 4 with all breasts, then place on a backing tray and place in the oven for half an hour to 45 mins, or until the chicken is nearly cooked. the legth of time really depends on how big the chicken breasts are.

6 - Turn the oven up to Gas mark 7 / 200 deg C for 5-10 Min's to crisp up the bacon.

7 - Remove from the oven, cut in half showing the haggis in the middle, and serve with veg and boiled new potatos.

This dish goes really well with a whiskey cream sauce.

To make the sauce you need
200 ml double cream
100ml of whiskey
A knob of butter
Salt and pepper to season
1 tea spoon of chicken gravy granules

Method: -

1 - Take the whiskey and put into a small pan. A small frying pan is best.
2 – Warm the whiskey then light it to burn off the alcohol.
3 – Add the cream and butter
4 – Season with salt and a good but of black pepper.
5 – Add a the gravy granules and stir in

Pour the sauce over the Chicken Balmoral, it complements it perfectly.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This is on old recipe my Gran used to make. it so so easy and is so tasty. try it you will be amazed at how easy it all is.

Ingredients: -

100g dark muscovado sugar

175 g self-raising flour

125 ml full-fat milk

1 x egg

1 tsp vanilla, extract

50 g unsalted butter, melted

200g chopped rolled dates - I like to use 100g dates and 100g raisens/sultanas

For the toffee sauce: -

200 g dark muscovado sugar

25 g unsalted butter, approximately, in little blobs

500 ml boiling water


  • Preheat the oven to 190 C/gas mark 5 (note: about 375F) and butter a 1 1/2 litre capacity pudding dish. (if you use a 1 ltire dish multiply the quantities by 0.8 and use a small egg.

  • Take the 100g of dark muscovado sugar and mix with the flour in a large bowl. Pour the milk into a measuring jug or smaller bowl and beat in the egg, vanilla and melted butter, then pour this mixture over the sugar and flour, stirring  with a wooden spoon or spatula to combine. Fold in the dates then scrape into the buttered pudding dish. Don't worry if it doesn't look full: the mix rises as it cooks.

  • For the sauce: Sprinkle over the 200g dark muscovado sugar and break the 25g of butter into small pieces and place all over the top of the bowl.

  • Pour over the boiling water over the mix in the bowl. yes pour boiling water over the mix (this works, honest) and transfer to the oven. Set the timer for 45 minutes, though you might find the pudding needs 5 or 10 minutes more. The top of the pudding should be springy and spongy when it's cooked.

  •  Underneath, the butter, dark muscovado sugar and boiling water will have turned into a rich, sticky toffee sauce. Serve with vanilla ice cream, creme fraiche, double or single cream as you wish.
Now enjoy, sit back and be in food heaven


This is my Grampa's Recipe and it is so easy. When I was a young boy he used to make this with me, now I make it with my young son. this is what started me cooking, so hopefully it will do the same for my son too.

Thats us making the shortbread

Ingredients: -

50g caster Sugar

100g Unsalted Butter

150g Plain Flour

Preheat Oven to 170 deg C / 320 deg F / Gas Mark 3

Sieve flour into a mixing bowl, then add sugar and the butter.

Mix with your hands until the mixture becomes one lump of dough.

Place onto a floured worktop and roll to 10mm / 1 cm thick.

Cut out biscuits using scone cutter or a glass, and place onto a backing tray. My son loves to use his own cutters from his own playsets

Place in the over for 20 Min's. Check after 15-17 Min's and remove if they are light golden brown.

If the biscuits start to go golden brown they will be over cooked and taste slightly burnt. They should still be soft when you remove them from the oven.

Place on a rack to cool.

The Best Pasta Sauce in the world

I learned how to make this when I was in Italy on holiday in the alps and it has never let me down yet. I had a bad fall and could not snowboard so spent time with the chef in the hotel, who taught me how to make a few things and this was one of them. it is easy and tastes fantastic.

You need.
about 50g of panchetta, smoked bacon or ham

1 Tin of chopped tomatoes.

3 cloves of Garlic, chopped

Olive Oil

125 ml Double Cream

A handful of sliced mushrooms

A handful of basil and parsley, chopped

Some Parmesan Cheese.


1 - Take the panchetta and fry off in a little Olive oil until brown and crispy.

2 - Remove panchetta from the pan and put in a bowl. leave the oil and juices from the panchetta in the pan and empty in the chopped garlic and the tomatoes into the pan and reduce down on a medium heat for about 30 mins. Until the sauce has reduced by 1 quarter.

3 - Add the mushrooms and the cream, then as the mushrooms soften add the basil and the parsley and stir together.

4 - Finally add the Panchetta / Ham and add the Parmesan to your own taste.

The sauce is now ready to be tossed with whatever pasta you like. there is enough sauce for 4 people with pasta.

Enjoy as this is one of the best pasta dishes I have ever made.

Hello Blogging World

Hi my name is Sinclair McLaren and this is my blog where i will share some of my favourite recipes, reviews of some of the best cook books around and also some of the must have gadgets for the kitchen.

Have a read and comment on anything. read and enjoy.