Eric Chavot swears on Saturday Kitchen – I get traffic!

The Capital Hotel’s Eric Chavot played a blinder on last weekend’s Saturday Kitchen. He was amusing, watchable and enigmatic, and the dish he created looked fab. Shame he let slip the f-word towards the end of the show and thus gave the Daily Mail free rein to vilify him …

My terribly clever WordPress dashboard registered a healthy dollop of traffic around Eric’s name after the programme, which spurred me to explore the chefs and cookery writers delivering the best footfall for me on this blog. So, pop pickers, here is my top ten of Lewis blog foodies. Dah Dah, da-da Dah, der der der, der der der, Dah Dah, da-da Dah … etc.

But what does this tell me about the relative pulling power of food stars, and the nature of chefdom, apart from the fact that I should clearly cook a dish from Marcella’s classical Italian repertoire every night if I want to grow my audience?

First, isn’t it interesting that two of the darlings of the food scene, Fergus and Alain, are way off the pace? Both are great chefs, and Alain occupies a place in the stratosphere of chef legends; but clearly their entrails and extravagance haven’t struck a chord with my visitors. Could it be that few domestic fridges harbour foie gras or trotters?

Second, how revealing that the top three should be booktastic, all, Madhur and Marcella having forged long and glittering literary careers from producing standard texts, Jun having only weeks ago brought out a popular new tome, Simple to Sensattional?

The message is that producing books of recipes that are attainable, tasty and rooted in a specific regional cuisine ensures a loyal following. In years to come, Jun (a really nice fellow) might have built up such a canon or work. Meanwhile, I would expect his name to be searched on less and less in the coming weeks, as more of his peers bring out new books. Ah, but “Fame is a fickle food upon a shifting plate”.

[The post was brought to you by Emily Dickinson and WordPress]

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Allegra McEvedy’s clickalong (V)

my-mealWhat fantastic fun, and what a wonderfully tasty meal: heady, spiced chicken; zingy cucumber, coriander and chilli salad; rich, sweet potato and coconut milk; and lashings of refreshing lime.

The recipe is now captured for posterity at the Guardian website, so I won’t repeat it here. I’ve learnt a lot in the process, though:

First, I now know to flash fry sweet potatoes to give them colour, before chucking on half a tin of coconut milk, some garlic and red chilli and bunging it in the oven to soften. (I mistakenly put some of the peanuts into the potato mash, but I’d do so again as it gave a nice crunchy undertexture to the soft mash).

Second, I have discovered an easy, nutritious and highly flavoured salad that doesn’t have any tomato or lettuce in it.

Third, the dry-marinading was a revelation.

Below are some shots I took during the clickalong.

sweet-potatoes

bashed-chicken

sauteeing-the-sweet-potato

dry-marinade

cooking-the-chicken

salad

white-wine

Allegra McEvedy’s clickalong (III)

All this cooking is making me hungry – I can’t stop eating the peanuts! I’ve checked the sweet potato in the oven and even though I’ve been told to take it out and mash it, it still needs another ten or fifteen minutes. That’ll teach me for cooking more than told to …

All is coming together – hardly time to blog. Cucumber, chilli, peanut and coriander salad smells wonderful – though I reckon Susie will find it too hot. The potatoes are ready and mashed.

Salad is ready, chicken is resting, potatoes are keeping warm. I think we are on the verge of plating up. The moment of truth!

Allegra McEvedy’s cookery clickalong (I)

allegra-ingredientsI’ve escaped work at a reasonable hour, dashed around Sainsbury’s on the Purley Way and logged in, and I’ve got Man United vs Porto on the radio. All I need to do is beat out a couple of chicken breasts in clingfilm and pound some cumin and coriander seeds. Rocking!

The clickalong site promises a dish that’s “spring-like in its quickness and lightness – perfect for a summer evening, which weirdly this feels like.”

Preparing for chef Allegra McEvedy’s kitchen clickalong

allegraEx-Leon chef, Allegra McEvedy has been running a series of live virtual cookery sessions on the Guardian’s website. The next one is tomorrow night and I’m planning to take part if I get home in time. the idea is that you arm yourself with all the required ingredients (listed below) and then set up a laptop in the kitchen and await real-time instructions from Allegra. They’ve run several of these events – they call them ‘clickalongs’ – already; punters who’ve got involved have posted their culinary efforts onto the Guardian site.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pork escalopes, each weighing in at 150-200g, about 1.5cm thick (NB: you can also do this with chicken – get a breast, peel off the fillet at the back, put it between 2 layers of clingfilm and beat it thin with the flat of a large knife).
  • 320g sweet potato
  • Half a tin coconut milk
  • A few fennel seeds
  • A handful of peanuts, salted is fine but plain roasted better
  • Ground cumin & coriander
  • Bunch of coriander
  • 2 red chillies
  • Couple of spring onions
  • Couple of cloves of garlic
  • A cucumber
  • Couple of limes
  • A few tbsp groundnut or plain oil (ie oil with not much flavour)