Monday, February 21, 2011

Jamie Oliver's Fifteen

By Leluu
As you may well know, I am a die hard Jamie Oliver fan! After meeting him in person, I fell in love, (sorry Jules) not with his looks, I mean, that as well ; ) but just the man that he is and what a great inspiration he is to so many of us. From being really crap at school (his words not mine) to blossom in a career to having his own empire and most of the world adoring everything he does.

I watched The Naked Chef 10 years ago to Jamie's Food Revolution with much admiration. He isn't a poncy chef, he is a leader, a forward thinker, a generator as well as an observer and learner. He is the everyday person in us and uses whatever power he has to influence things for the good.

Therefore, we are really honoured to be doing a dinner for Yell in aid of The Jamie Oliver Foundation. I watched Fifteen on TV years ago, thinking, the man has gone nuts, but he hadn't, he just believes in things, in people and sees how he can make a change.

Loved it when Jamie went to Italy and got his balls kicked by the old ladies because he didn't do things the way they did it, the way you are meant to do it. He tastes everything that is offered with him with the utmost respect in people, communities, cultures and doesn't patronise. I think that is why we all love him so much.
A few weeks ago, One Million Gold Stars and I went for lunch at Fifteen. She had the antipasti which was amazing, I knicked some of her food. It was really good. I had the seafood risotto which was OK - I thought there needed some tweaking with the balance of flavours. Perhaps just add loads of Parmesan to it - thats always the trick! But was too embarrassed to ask for it in a restaurant!

The coffees were lovely as were the desserts. We had a fantastic afternoon and I will sure be plotting my meetings there again and again.
For this event on 1st March with Yell for The Jamie Oliver Foundation, not only will you be having some of Simon's amazing food but there is going to be a great goodie bag to die for including Green & Blacks Chocolate and vouchers to use at Fifteen.

Not only that but we are getting Apprentices from Fifteen to help in the Fernandez & Leluu kitchen! How amazing is that? I'm twisting with excitement!

To enter, click here. We will be picking the winners. You can also comment here, makes picking guests much easier! : )

Sunday, February 20, 2011

J'adore Jean Christophe Novelli

By Leluu
Meeting Jean Christophe Novelli was much like meeting a handsome French Prince on his shiny white horse with a full French love armour in coat. He’s the guy Princess Fiona was meant to marry, he is definitely not Shrek!

I had been asked by Clarion Communications to attend an event at his cookery school or “Academy” all the way out in Luton because Jean is the new face for potatoes. Yes, you did read right: potatoes. Who would have thought these guys needed some amour from Le Michelin deux star, Jean Christophe? What do potatoes need but mashing, roasting and chipping? Some je ne ce quoi?

Oui, there is a Potato Council, who promotes potatoes. And what is the likelihood of the Potato Council ever going to make you do anything other than mash, boil, roast and chip potatoes? Are they really going to change the way we eat potatoes? Make them trendy? Can you make a potato trendy? Is that like asking someone to make eggs trendy or flour or anything common like that, that we all have in our kitchen

When I think of potatoes, I don’t really think about potatoes, not at all really – just what I like them with, mash with pan fried seabass coated in thyme and rosemary breadcrumbs, Ferdie’s chips with tuna sashimi, roasted with my honey, mustard and soy chicken with all the trimmings. That’s really as far as it goes.
However, the Potato Council informed us that there are over 400 varieties of potatoes and we got to taste some, it was fab, I got to say that I didn’t go to a wine tasting or a cheese tasting, I actually managed to go to a potato tasting. Tasting about 6 different varieties of cold potato dishes (they were cold because Hungry In London & I, especially I, was terribly late and they (the Potato Council, Jean Christophe Novelli, Big Spud & Domestic Sluttery were sitting there waiting for us to arrive in Jean’s cosy Academy – we did manage to get the slowest train possible).
Why is there a potato council, I asked, not to sound too controversial but it felt like it. The room silenced as if I had made a complaint about the salad being cold! Its cos, like there is a council for beef or pork or chickens, there's one for potatoes was the answer.

Potatoes are actually really good for you, says Jean Christophe in all seriousness. He’s been loving potatoes since his ma-ma had been cooking them in 7 different ways for her 7 different kids every night after school. “They are full of nutrients, vitamins and folic acid, especially with the skins on. So cook them with the skin.” Well, didn’t we all know that already and still don’t do it? “Its only bad for you once you load them with butter and cream,” says the Frenchman, who cooks French food…

Jean told us about his poor upbringing and how potatoes form so many dishes of his life, as we sat with lovely glasses of wine in his academy which costs £998 per lesson -by the way, you get a certificate and photo opportunity and everything including an over night stay in Luton town!

Here is my video clip

Jean Christophe Novelli & The Potato Council By Leluu from Fernandez And Leluu on Vimeo.

Then he made potatoes boulangere with a few bits of lamb– see The Roast Potato blog for Jean’s recipe. We got to have a spoonful of the cold version he/ someone made before we arrived. We even met his daughter, Christina Novelli who happens to be a pop star as well as his kitchen assistant. It was very exciting! He has assistants to turn on or off his Novelli ovens. It was bling!

Jean’s kitchen is covered in pictures of himself and all his achievements, not very English but ostentatiously French! And why not! We are in a French house! He has accomplished great successes in his lifetime.

This time, Jean Christophe is the face of Master Spud. You can win a chance to appear in a TV ad with him if you submit a winning recipe here at The Many Faces Of Potatoes site.
All the six potatoes all taste really different as you would hope at a potato tasting.. I love potatoes anyway, and we all really enjoyed the Marabel kind - no need for butter there as it actually tastes of butter already!

I tend to use Maris Pipers for everything but that is because my local supermarket only sells them, King Edwards, White, Baking or Charlottes. So isn’t it cool that the Potato Council are informing us that there are many other potatoes around? Great, but I can't buy them! Perhaps they should speak to the buyers at all the supermarkets because I am sure we would buy them if they are around to buy.

The issue with potatoes is the supermarkets in my opinion (they do tend to rule the world these days). They even grow them in the sand in Egypt so that they don’t get soiley – preventing third world’s countries from their own crop grow for their own consumption as well as using all their water! Potatoes need a lot of water! Also how they only sell the right sized potato, the right looking shaped potato. The others get discarded.

I just hope Jean and the Potato Council can recommend that there is nothing wrong with dirt, odd shaped ones, small ones, big ones as well as all other different types of potatoes. Jean is unfortunately not going to change my mind about putting butter in my mash and I am going to roast my potatoes with fat (ok I use olive oil – see Ferdie’s potatoes recipes here for the perfect roastie and here for a beautiful Russian Salad)

As Jean was telling us some stories, I asked him about his dogs, he has 25 dogs roaming around in his farm! Most of them are Doberman Pinschers. I wondered if he has a dog walker, “no” but he says “I don’t trust them. I walk 6 on each hand and I do 2 rounds, it’s a dangerous business.”

Hungry In London and I giggled all the way home and wondered if Jean had the lamb boulangere for dinner that night as we were ushered with no immediate rush onto our cab back to the train station, being very hungry in Luton.
Click on Vimeo clip abaove to see Jean Christophe execute this dish

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Singles' Valentine

 By Leluu
It was about time, I had been promising to do a singles event for ages seeing that the supper club seems to be the perfect place to meet new friends. Perhaps it was time to meet new friends and new lovers?

I had been so put off by speed dating and heard many horror stories of singles events that I was very worried. Sometimes, I had to stop myself from stressing over it in a dream, panicking about what to do. Should it be a standing formality, half standing, half sitting, all sitting...

I decided that the best way to do it was have it laid out like it normally is, because this has always worked well and so why shouldn't work again, just because everyone is single, it doesn't mean 'single' people are differently mannered. Standing up and eating means you hardly eat and you'd get tired more easily. Sitting down means you can take your time and enjoy food and yourself much more.

Following my post a few months ago here and here about online dating. I got 15 women and 15 men to come. All professionals with very interesting careers. I had become a mini dating agency. I had learned everyone's names and faces by asking them all to send in pictures so that I can introduce one person to another - as if I knew them all and this was just a dinner party!
I also asked everyone to bring cheese, I thought this interactive way of telling who a person is by what they eat may be good icebreakers.

The night turned out to be brilliant. The atmosphere was great. I asked the men to move around every course, but not all of them, I picked up on who needed to move and stay depending on how heavy their conversations were and made sure everyone got to meet one another. Eventually, people felt so at home, they just moved around themselves.
What was really nice was that it felt that everyone was open and willing to make friends, that it wasn't just about finding someone. There wasn't a sleezy element to it (I hope) where there was a slimey man trying to touch someone up and she was hitting him around the head with her handbag.

After dinner was served, I talked to many people and laughed with them about things and life in general and may have made some fantastic new friends. The women were great, the men were great - why-are-we-all-single! Hooray! Cheers!!
Then we danced and we drank too much and that is the perfect way to spend a Valentine when you are single, in London, in style, with a full belly and in happiness to be independent and among friends, old and new.

The next Singles Event is on 24th Feb. We need more handsome wonderful men. If you are a woman, you can go on the waiting list. Get in contact,

Men and women needed for 17th March 2011 x

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recipe: Scallops and Oyster Mushroom in Cava w/ Crunchy Potatoes - Celebrating the Potato

This isn't a roastie it's a fondant (melts in the mouth) potato : )
by Simon Fernandez (@ferdiesfoodlab)

WIth all these fad diets sweeping the nation many of which remove the lovely carb element from the menu it would seem that everyone  has turned their back on the humble potato!!! In retaliation Jean Christophe Novelli has set up a competition to celebrate the potato. So I spent a little time today looking into this and blimey it's a versatile beasty indeed!

The potato is a fantastic vehicle for flavour and a great conveyor of slow release energy, and it's prepared in soooo many ways I couldn't cover them all in detail here, but I'm going to try at least skim over them.

There are a few things that have a bearing on the outcome of a culinary potato adventure. These might seem obvious but how the potato is cut has a huge effect: it alters the crunchiness, how quickly it cooks and has an impact on texture. Of course, another element that's very important to take in to account is the type of potato, and whether it has a waxy or floury flesh. This also affects the texture and in turn what the potato should be used for. Incidentally, there's a great list of potato qualities here, but in general use floury types for baked, mash and roasties, and waxier varieties for boiled, fried, and salads.

Quick comment on roasties….
What would life be without these nuggets of beauty? I can't remember the number of Sundays that I've sat down with family or friends for a fab roast dinner and a couple of pints or a glass of wine. What a brilliant combo. The problem is you get a rubbish roastie - waiting for hours in a baking tray hoping it might retain it's glory - as often as you get a good one! Sad times!

There's no excuse. Make sure your potato is cooked (boiled), then roughly mix with fat, (I use olive oil but goose fat is popular) salt and  pepper. Put them into a hot oiled baking tray so they sizzle when they hit the tray. Put 'em in at 180C and turn only when the bottoms are crunchy!! Wait till the new bottom is crunchy! Job done.

Scallops and Oyster Mushroom in Cava w/ Crunchy Potatoes
6 scallops
200g mixed mushrooms including oyster (chopped)
150ml cava
25g butter
6 cloves of garlic
6 olives (quartered)
5 medium potatoes floury (peeled and chopped)
little oregano or thyme
15g parsley.

Cook the garlic on a low heat in olive oil until completely soft.

Boil potatoes and then cut them up, or vice versa!

. . . and smash them . . .

. . . then sit them in a heavy based pan on a medium heat and leave to brown . . .

In another pan add the butter, heat until brown then add the mushrooms sweat them off.
Once they've lost most of their water add the cava.
Make sure you turn the potatoes so they brown on both sides.
At this point the scallops can be added to the potatoes.
And if you're feeling a bit naughty add a little cream! Tut tut!!

Once the scallops are done, add the mushrooms, olives and herbs. Mix and serve.
I was feeling virtuous so I added leaks cooked in chicken stock.

You can also celebrate the potato with this lovely recipe.


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