Ferret’s findings Tuesday, Aug 27 2013 

Five ferrety posts you may not have seen yet! Apart from a few relatively new posts that you may not have seen yet, take time to check out these vintage wonders that have been read only by a lucky few:

  1. Spice up your life! In which Ferret extols the virtues of ginger.
  2. Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares! In which Ferret wonders how far the outbursts on this popular show are staged.
  3. Food Book Review: Food and Philosophy. In which Ferret muses over many deep foodie questions, including the criminality of pickiness and whether food critics’ views are really ‘truer’ than ours, or if they’re just more eloquent.
  4. Restaurant Review: Georgia Brown’s. In which Ferret visits this heartland of Southern American cuisine.
  5. Wake up and smell the coffee. In which Ferret sings the praises of its chosen coffee machine.

Time-travel back through the annals of FFW and enjoy 🙂

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Celebrity chefs gather in Liverpool Friday, Aug 23 2013 

If you’re as much of a telly addict as me, then you’ll remember celebrity chefs Shelina Permalloo and Levi Roots from such shows as Masterchef and Dragon’s Den. Now, if you’re in the Liverpool area in a couple of weeks’ time, you’ll be able to meet them for yourself at the Liverpool Food Festival, which launches on the 7th and 8th of September. The launch weekend will include masterclasses and demonstrations not just from the famous foodies but also from several local chefs, and there should be something for everyone thanks to the diversity of events: an edible garden, street food corner and beer festival all feature.

What’s more, sign up to Guardian Extra and get 50% off the cost of a pass to the opening weekend, allowing you to pay a cool ÂŁ4.50 instead of ÂŁ9. That, to me, seems like blinding value for money. Markets and champagne marquees are also highlights, along with appearances from Gizzi Erskine and John Whaite on the Sunday. Failing that, if you can’t quite make the opening weekend, you have until September 15th to take advantage of the festival’s events and offers. I, meanwhile, will be paying homage to Levi and Shelina that weekend by cooking coconut and mango chicken, as well as sticky rice with mango, lime and papaya. I think they’d approve!

The Little Paris Kitchen…in St-Germain-en-Laye Friday, Mar 30 2012 

We’ve been glued these past two weeks to new series The Little Paris Kitchen, starring Rachel Khoo, who opened Paris’ tiny restaurant in her very own studio flat in the 19th arrondissement. Even though the restaurant is now sadly closed so Rachel can work on other projects (like this TV show!), she clearly still loves Paris (after coming to France to study at the Cordon Bleu cookery school, she is still here 6 years later) and delights in taking advantage of the freshest ingredients and in getting to know local dishes (before putting her own twist on them, of course).

One of those “traditional-with-a-twist” recipes featured on her show so far is the recipe for croque-madame muffins. Croque madame is basically a ham and cheese toastie with an egg on top, and in Rachel’s version, the entire crunchy cheesy melty goodness is packed into muffin tins and served as a dinky snack (although in Paris it’s typically more of a lunchtime thing to eat croque-madame, we made these to expand on our English breakfast one morning!).

Even though I plan to buy Rachel’s book in due course, I have to admit that I did copy this recipe down using her commentary in the programme, as we just couldn’t wait to try it straight away. Here’s Rachel’s attempt on the left, and here’s ours on the right.

Not bad eh? Proves the recipes are really quite idiot proof, and you can try them yourself at home as a taster of her cooking by following my directions below (shamelessly copied off iPlayer):

To begin, take as many slices of white bread as you are making muffins (so 6 slices for 6 muffins). Cut off the crusts then flatten them with a rolling pin (you can flatten multiple slices simultaneously by stacking them or by laying them side by side. Brush them with melted butter (you’ll need about 2tbsp butter for 6 slices) and then squash into a muffin tin any way they’ll fit (a silicone tin is best).

Preheat the oven to 180°C while you make the filling. Cut ham into generously-sized pieces and cover the bottom layer of your “bread muffin case” with ham (not too many layers now! You need all the space you can get).

Croque madame muffins, St-Germain-en-Laye style.

Make a béchamel sauce using 2tbsp butter, 1tbsp flour, and 200ml milk, whisking constantly and adding the milk gradually to avoid lumps. Add salt, pepper, and a small amount of nutmeg and mustard to flavour the sauce. Set aside.

Next, take one egg per muffin. Crack each egg carefully over a cup or small bowl to allow some of the white to drain out. This is because if you leave all the white in the egg then the muffin will be overfull. Put the yolk and remaining white of the egg into the bread muffin case, then cover with béchamel sauce.

Finally, grate over some Cheddar or ComtĂ©, and put into the oven for 15 minutes if you like your egg soft/runny. Add an extra 5 minutes for a firmer egg. To this end, don’t leave your muffins in the tin once cooked, as they will continue cooking! Remove all the muffins from the muffin tins the moment they are cooked and put onto plates (the best method of removing them is to take two tablespoons and make a sort of “claw” with them with which you can lift the muffins to safety and deliciousness).

Et voilĂ !! A tasty, (semi-)healthy and definitely filling snack for any time of day 🙂  Now to go and buy the book…