Thursday, 28 April 2011

Who's still trembling slightly?

I know I am.  What a final!  I am in awe of what they achieved and those final dishes were the best I've ever seen in the MasterChef final (obviously somewhat biased opinion).  Maybe it's knowing them as people too, and experiencing the tension first hand...  when we used to line up to go in for the judging decision, it's probably one of the few times we were truly quietened.  The fear and apprehension was palpable.  At that point in last night's show, my stomach was turning somersaults for them.  Nail biting stuff!

And what a truly worthy winner, in every sense.  Tim Anderson is one of the most interesting, funny and warm people I have ever met and everyone can see that man has the brightest future ahead of him now.  I learnt so much from him.  And the others too - Tom taught me how to roast meat, James tried to teach me about baking and Sara showed me the joy of beautiful puddings (and Alice and I taught her the joys of watching Family Guy). 

Polly has said the most wonderful unexpected thing we got out of MasterChef has been making incredible new friends.  I couldn't agree more.  I think the bonds that were formed this year are stronger because the format of the show meant we spent a huge amount of time together.  We've been through incredible highs and lows together.  I raise my glass to all of this years contestants and friends (well it's a cup of tea actually but the sentiment's the same).  I feel very lucky to have met you all.  And may all our foodie dreams now become a reality.....

Sunday, 24 April 2011

And then there were 3....

When I got knocked out the MasterChef competition, I think my heart broke a little.  At that point, I wanted to be in the final so badly.  Of course I'm still disappointed.  I always will be a little and I'll forever think there were things I could have done differently, better even.

A month or two of soul searching and focussing on future plans helped me realise I had achieved far more than I thought I would at the outset.  The hardest thing was not being able to talk to people about how I felt, particularly the close friends I made during the competition. Not to mention coming home to slightly feral children and a job I'd almost forgotten how to do.  

Then when the programme aired, and I relived so many of those amazing experiences, and have had so much support from people, it has made me feel very proud of myself.  A feeling I have not always found easy to cultivate.  The self confidence that MasterChef has given me is a unique and amazing thing, and I will forever be grateful for that.  I want to thank all the people who have been so supportive and said such great things about my food.  The public support this week has been overwhelming, inspiring and healing.  Your encouragement has helped me overcome my disappointment at not making the final 3 and drive forward my future dreams and schemes. 

The final 3 are so very talented and really lovely people who I am proud to call my friends.  I really do wish Sara, Tim and Tom every bit of luck this week....  it's going to be a tough call! 

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Check out my digital spy interview....

Nice bloke that Alex. Would do an interview with him again.

BBC Radio Manchester interview with Heather Stott

About 2hrs 8 mins in...   think I come across must better when I'm not edited.

Funny moment where Heather really wants me to say something mean about Gregg, and when I try to explain molecular gastronomy!  A very northern conversation...  enjoyed it alot

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Recipe for posh Manchester tarts!

Not a very Asian dish, but in honour of the amazing spitfire pilots and RAF heroes from this weeks show, I made these cute little Northern inspired tarts, with a few tips from Michel Roux Snr...

400ml organic double cream
1pt whole organic milk
1 vanilla pod
125g caster sugar
6 free range eggs - yolks only
40ml chambord raspberry liqueur
2 punnets of fresh rasperries
50g dessicated coconut, rehydrated in hot water
50g dessicated coconut, lightly toasted
icing sugar for dusting
1 block of puff pastry

Makes 24 miniature tarts

Traditionally, Manchester tarts are made with shortcrust pastry, but the light flakiness of the puff pastry is like a little cloud of raspberry custardyness which I think works really well.  It's just a matter of taste I guess. 

Grease 24 small miniature cupcake cases with melted butter.  Roll out puff pastry to 2mm thickness.  Cut out 12 rounds using 2" cookie cutter and press gently into cases. Prick the bottoms of pastry cases with a fork, & line with circles of baking parchment, then fill each case with ceramic baking beans.  Bake 170o for 15mins or until light golden colour.  Remove parchment and beans, brush with egg wash and bake for another 4-5 mins until golden in colour. 

For shortcrust pastry, use these quantities for a light crumbly texture: 300g plain flour, 125g of unsalted butter, 30g sugar, 1 free range egg & milk as needed.  Unless you have cool hands (which I don't) place the flour, butter and sugar into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add one of the eggs and pulse until the mixture comes together to form a rough dough. If the dough is too dry, add a bit of milk. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes, then follow instructions above.

Raspberry coulis:
Add 2 cups of fresh raspberries and 1 tbsp of caster sugar to small pan, and heat gently until fruit breaks and you reach jammy consistency.  Add 2-4 tbsp of raspberry liqueur & blend with hand blender.  You can add more sugar to taste, but keep the coulis quite sharp, to cut through the sweetness of the custard.

Creme anglaise with chambord:
Split the vanilla pod and scrape the seeds into 1 pint of whole milk in a small pan.  Add in pod, and heat gently to infuse.  Leave to stand for 10 mins then strain through sieve.  Whisk 6 eggs yolks with 125g caster sugar until light and creamy.  Then add very slowly to warm milk, whisking vigorously.  Heat gently until custard thickens, add 2-4 tbsp of raspeberry liqueur (to taste, but don't add too much or it'll be too runny).  Set aside to cool.  Whisk double cream until forms firm peaks, then fold gently into cooled custard.

Once pastry cases have fully cooled, spoon a small amount of jam into bottom, and sprinkle generously with rehydrated coconut.  Then using piping bag or small spoon, fill each case (about two thirds) with the custard filling.  Top with three fresh raspberries, then sprinkle generously with toasted coconut.  Lightly dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Foodie travel photos & our Asian adventure

I've linked some foodie travel photos.  In September 2005, I took a gap year with my family and travelled across India and South East Asia.  Then in March 2009, we took four months off before the children were due to start high school, and went to Nepal and returned to beloved Indonesia.  Travelling as a family was a unique and challenging experience, with so many highs and lows.  Not unlike competing in MasterChef.  I kept a blog of our journey in case you want to check it out...

Starter for 10... MasterChef, foodie dreams & why this isn't a facebook page

Welcome to my blog!  I plan to write about my experiences of taking part in MasterChef 2011, foodie dreams and what happens next....

As most MasterChef followers will know, my foodie dream is to open a streetfood cafe bistro in my home town of Manchester. I entered the competition to prove myself as a chef and to see if I really have what it takes to pursue my restaurant ambitions.

The competition has given me the most amazing opportunities and experiences, with many still to come.  This is the opportunity of a lifetime to realise something I have been dreaming about for nearly 20 years.

I haven't started a Facebook page for a number of reasons.  My personal page is exactly that, where I can communicate with my friends and family, near and often far.  When Facebook pages are in the public domain, they can attract negative and sometimes malicious comment. 

I want my blog to focus on what really matters.  Sourcing and creating imaginative and sustainable street food and regional Asian dishes.  Exploring new areas of cooking I have never thought about.  Learning new skills and techniques.  And to tell the story of what it's like trying to pursue a restaurant dream.  There's some serious hard work ahead of me....