Friday, 16 December 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Oh god. Oh god. Oh god. It's my first Christmas where I'm cooking the dinner.


I've opted for the traditional Turkey covered in bacon on a bed of shallots with pecan, sausage and chestnut stuffing, mashed potatoes and goose fat roasties of course, but I will be doing cabbage with cubes of pancetta (Louis is not a massive fan of cabbage but I'm sure the allure of bacon will keep him content)

I have planned a starter of baked Camembert with onion marmalade or leek and potato soup for the cheese haters.

Christmas pud and trifle for dessert after a few baileys and party games.

Feeling festive if it goes to pot atleast I'll be surrounded by my loved ones

SO what are you cooking for Christmas? Turkey? Duck? Goose? Nutloaf? Do tell.......

And remember


Saturday, 29 October 2011

Cow Lane Studios Grand Re-Opening

Woke up early, out of the house by 9, bought decorations, trays and extra storage boxes, get back and start to bake......

I managed to finish the wild garlic pinwheels in expert time, produced a secondary layer of chocolate cake and started making the Chinese five spice mushroom and noodle filo parcels- these took a while as they were quite fiddly! We packed everything and then quickly got ready before setting off to the studios with my crew. My crew consisted of Louis, Oscar (louis best friend) and Faye (my best friend)

We decorated the tables when we arrived and started the preparations for drinks, then everyone started to arrive....

I think we did pretty well! All the food got eaten I had plenty of compliments and quite alot of people asked for my card!! (I don't have a card- bloody wish I did in hind sight!) I just pointed everyone in the direction of this; my humble little blog.

The first thing we ran out of were the Chinese five spice mushroom and noodle filo parcels which my crew seemed pretty upset about as they were hoping for leftovers!

By 9 o'clock all the food had gone except for the cake which we didn't want to cut without someone from the studio cutting the first piece, however Jared insisted we cut it so Louis did the honour. I think the cake went faster than the filo parcels!

All in all I think we did very well, my crew worked hard and made me look professional.

My favourite moment of the night was when Faye whispered in my ear "I'm SO proud of you"

I'm happy.

No drama. Not even a little. Xxx

Friday, 28 October 2011

10 hours of baking....

Is a long time!!! My feet are killing me!

My first day of baking went rather well. I finished the button biscuits, red pepper pesto & fiery jack cheese pinwheels, sweet onion marmalade & grada padano twists, half of the wild garlic pesto & mozzarella pinwheels and one layer of the chocolate cake.


Luckily I have Louis to give me a helping hand, poor guy had to put the holes in the button biscuits (160 biscuits, that's 640 holes!!!)

Here's a few pictures of what's gone on so far, hope you like them

No drama x

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Busy busy busy

Hello, so I have been busy preparing for the re-opening of Cow Lane Studios I cannot wait to show everyone the treats I have created!

I'm starting my prep tomorrow so tonight I made some table cards for the different trays of food. I fashioned them myself with some card, embellished wooden cut-outs and a calligraphy pen.

It's not amazing but I'm proud.

No drama x

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Chicken, leek and bacon pie

Ok so I wanted to do something really wholesome and warming as it's getting colder, so instantly pie came to my mind. I wanted to do something with leeks as I had some left over so chicken and leek pie seemed the best option. Now there will be some traditionalists amongst you that will curse me the second I mention ready-to-roll pastry but to be honest it works just as well and when you're a busy household you don't have time. I do love homemade pastry but ready-to-roll is a stitch in time.

This recipe has been tried and tested on my family. My family, that the instant I mentioned Chicken and Leek Pie flinched and stated "ooo we don't really do that kind of pie", but, after some coaxing they finally agreed to try it;

1½ kg whole chicken
½ tsp peppercorns
2 bay leaves
3-4 thyme sprigs
1 onion , halved
1 celery stick
½ tsp salt
25g butter
2 tbsp olive oil
6 bacon rashers, cut into large pieces
Packet of baby button mushrooms
2 leeks , thinly sliced
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp grainy mustard
4 tbsp crème fraîche
4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
squeeze of lemon juice
250g bought puff pastry or home-made rough puff
beaten egg , for glazing

Put the chicken into a deep pan that is just large enough to hold it quite snugly. Pour in enough water to half cover the bird, then tip in the peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme, onion and celery. Add the salt and bring to the boil on the hob, then reduce the heat, cover tightly and simmer for 1-11⁄4 hours until tender.
Transfer the chicken to a plate. Strain 425ml/3⁄4 pint of the stock into a measuring jug (top up with water if you need to). Strip the meat off the chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces and put in a 1.7 litre/3 pint pie dish.
Nestle the button mushrooms in the pie dish among the chicken pieces.
Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan and fry the bacon until crisp. Add the leeks and cook for 2 minutes until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 1 minute. Pour in the chicken stock a third at a time, stirring continuously and making sure the sauce is thick and smooth before adding the next batch. Stir in the mustard, crème fraîche and parsley, then add a squeeze of lemon juice and black pepper to taste. Add salt if needed. Spoon over the chicken and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7/fan 200C. Reserve a quarter of the pastry for decoration and roll out the remainder to a shape about 5cm/2in larger than the top of the pie dish, then cut a 2.5cm/1in strip from all round the edge. Brush the edge of the dish with water and stick the pastry strip to it. Brush the strip with water. Flip the pastry lid over the rolling pin, lift it up and unroll over the pie. Press the edge on to the pastry strip to seal, and trim any excess with a sharp knife.
Tap the blade of a small sharp knife all along the outside edge of the pastry (this helps the edge to rise during cooking), then flute it using the back of the knife. Make a hole in the lid centre with the tip of the knife, to allow steam to escape as the pie bakes.
Roll out the pastry you put aside earlier and decorate how you wish (I simply put a heart on mine) Brush the pastry lid with beaten egg.
Chill the pie for 15 mins, if you have time, to set the pastry. (Can be made a day ahead up to this point. Keep chilled and add 4-5 extra minutes at baking time.) Bake for 30 - 35 miutes until the pastry is crisp, puffed up and deep golden brown.)

My family adored it!! My dad even asked for the recipe and made it the day after!

Let me know how yours turned out and if you used your own homemade pastry or ready-to-roll.

No drama xx

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Carrot & coriander soup

My favourite soup is Carrot & Coriander. There's something beautifully satisfying about the gentle heat and the silky smooth texture that gets me all excited for autumn/winter. I like to make this on a Monday that's usually when I have left over carrots, potatoes and the occasional parsnip.

I like a little extra spice in my soup so I add a bit of cumin and dried chilli feel free to omit.

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion , chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp dried chilli
1 tsp of cumin (ground or seeds)
1 potato , chopped
450g carrots , peeled and chopped
1.2l vegetable or chicken stock
handful coriander (about ½ a supermarket packet)

Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion, then fry for 5 mins until softened. Stir in the ground coriander, cumin, chilli and potato, then cook for 1 min. Add the carrots and stock, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 20 mins until the carrots are tender.
Add the fresh coriander and using a stick blender, blend until at a consistency you desire.
Taste, add salt if necessary, then reheat to serve.

Let me know how it goes!

No drama.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Pastry & button biscuits

Ok, so the Cow Lane Studios catering is less than a week away. I have decided on making;

Garlic pesto and mozzarella pinwheels.
Red pepper pesto & fiery jack cheese pinwheels.
Chinese vegetable filo parcels with sweet chilli dip.
Sweet onion marmalade and parmeggiano twists.
Button biscuits.

And finally

A cake with the Cow Lane Studios logo on top!

It's gonna be hard work!! But enjoyable!

No drama (hopefully!!!)

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Mexican night

In our house Wednesday night is Mexican night. This usually means burritos as I can proudly say I'm practically an expert at making burritos. Now you can use one of those yellow burrito kits (which are really handy if you don't have all the ingredients) but I prefer to make my own (and it usually turns out cheaper!)

What you'll need;
Packet of lean steak mince
Tin of Mexican/taco beans
1 tbsp of Tomato purée
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 tsp of garlic powder/garlic purée
Tsp of dried chilli flakes
2/3 tsp of ground cumin
Pinch of paprika/smoked paprika
1 cup of rice
2 limes
Handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped
Tortilla wraps
Salsa (optional)
Sour cream (optional)

1. Put your rice in a pan with 2 cups of boiling water and the juice of one lime.
2. While that's boiling, add the oil and mince to a frying pan, when that starts to brown add the cumin, dried chilli, paprika, garlic and tomato purée.
3. Add 4 tbsp of water to the mince to make it more saucy. Put on a low heat then add the Mexican/taco beans (found in your tinned goods aisle in the supermarket, they'll usually state that they are in a sauce- these are the ones you want!)
4. When the rice is done, tip out the excess water, add the juice of the second lime and two thirds of your fresh coriander, stir in. Add the rest of the coriander to the mince.
5. Both the rice and mince are done. I like to arrange everything on a table so people can help themselves. So on your table you will have; a frying pan of burrito mince and beans, a pan of lime & coriander rice, a bowl with salsa, a bowl with sour cream and tortilla wraps.

And the great thing is whatever is leftover you can take for lunch the next day!!

No drama!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Excellent news!!!!

I have been asked to cater for a re-opening of Cow Lane Studios in Manchester!!! I'm very excited!!!

I'm going to start planning canapés to make- I'm thinking puff pastry redpepper pesto and manchego cheese pinwheels and filo pastry chinese five spice mushroom parcels with sweet chilli dip.

If you have any thoughts let me know.

No drama xxx

Having dinner cooked for you

So.... Louis had the day off yesterday and decide to surprise me by cooking dinner for me! (believe me it came as a surprise as Lou has NEVER cooked an actual meal for me - unless your counting cheese toasties in the breville!)

So I waltz in home from a hard days work to a gorgeous aroma in the house which instantly makes my stomach rumble ( I was ravenous!!!) i found my partner hovering around the oven nervously. He had spent 3 hours cooking a beef casserole/goulash and was getting ready to dish it up with some mashed potato. The reason I call it a casserole/goulash is because he had followed a casserole recipe but started adding a dash of paprika and a pinch of chilli flakes and some tomato purée making it a hybrid - my inventive cooking style must be rubbing of on him!!!

Well I have to say he did a brilliant job the beef was so tender and beautiful and the sauce was hearty without being too heavy. Delicious!

A nice treat having dinner cooked for you- Louis might have to do it more often

No drama.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


Recently Louis and I went to Ireland to visit some of his family they live in a place called Muff in Co. Donegal. Now if you ever go (or if you live nearby) I recommend going to a restaurant called "Mary Deeney's Bar and Restaurant", it's a cute little place situated on the main road between Derry and Moville and is an absolute delight to go to. It's a tradition styled thatched public house with an old threshing machine separating the bar and restaurant and the walls have local historical trinkets on them which are enchanting and adds to the cosy atmosphere along with a beautiful fire place.

Now on to the food. Oh. My. Word.

Louis ordered a fillet of Irish beef with smokey bacon mash, tobacco onions and a red wine and shallot jus. The beef was huge!! We were expecting a tiny tiny portion like we would usually get in England and Louis was delighted with the beast that adorned his plate. Obviously I had to have a taste and oh my the meat was tender, juicy and so so delicious (I should mention Louis likes his meat well done, so getting it to taste that good is no mean feat!!)

I had been craving garlic like mad so I ordered chicken and chorizo pasta which had in garlic, chilli, red onions, peppers and a dusting of parmesan, the pasta came with a garlic bread which had a warm salsa, slices of chorizo and cheese melted ontop. I'm telling you now I was in heaven there and then. I have never never had a dish so wonderfully balanced that I wanted to marry it. I have been trying to recreate this dish to it's glory in which I received it and I'm always slightly off... Maybe it was the atmosphere, maybe it was the produce or maybe I'm missing a secret ingredient. Either way if your planning a trip to Ireland drop in at Mary Deeney's and have the pasta for me.

No Drama.

Monday, 12 September 2011


Eugh where to begin with my addiction to pesto? I've tried them all! And I find them essential to any Italian dish. My current favourite at the moment is wild garlic by Sacla. It's great just to put a teaspoon in a lasagne to lift it or on it's own stirred into pasta with a dusting of parmesan. I use pesto with pizza, pasta, rice, paella, risotto, on baked chicken breast. I've been known to put a light brush of pesto on my roast potatoes when making an Italian meal.

Pesto is essential in any Italian cooking and I find it's especially nice to make your own once in a while.

- 50g/2oz basil
- 30g/1oz pine nuts, toasted
- 30g/1oz parmesan cheese, freshly grated
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
- 85ml/3fl oz olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Put the basil, parmesan, garlic and pine nuts into a food processor and season well.
2. Whiz together and with the motor still running, pour the oil in until the pesto thickens.
3. Store in a clean jar in the fridge covered with a drizzle of oil to prevent it drying out.

Let me know how it goes!

No drama. Xxx


Ok so last night I cooked paneer tikka masala for my partner. Paneer is an Indian curd cheese that you cube and fry in a little oil until it's golden brown on all sides and then you can add it to anything.

So here you can see my efforts. Paneer is a strange texture, it's crispy on the outside and you hear a squeak inside your mouth when you chew but it's not unpleasant it's rather enjoyable! It also has a slight creamyness which works well with spicy food. I'm in no way a vegetarian but I would pick Paneer over tofu if given the choice.

So how about trying it next time you wanna make an indian dish?

Happy experimenting!

No drama. Xxxx


Ok The best thing to do is start with me I guess. I'm Sammie, I live with my partner Louis and a crazy cat called Hobbes in a two bedroomed house in Manchester. I'm a personnel officer and Lou is a case progressor. My love and passion is in cooking. My favourite spice is cumin and my favourite herb is coriander. I love Mexican, Indian and Italian food but give me a good steak and I'll be happy. So I guess if you don't like food we ain't gonna get on! This blog is going to be all about my trials, tribulations and tastes.

Just a 22 year old with a whisk, wooden spoon and frying pan.

No drama.

Just a few fine things.