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Wednesday 13 February 2013

Cooking With A Professional

 This dish will change your life.
You'll have to forgive me for not updating this in ages. Honestly, it was on my mind all weekend, but I got sucked in watching The Birds, and, well, also had to get over the stresses of being a designated driver. Eek. Mr. Erratic behind the wheel on a Saturday night. Thankfully nobody died.

By the way, The Birds just ended. No real conclusion. How rubbish is that? I bloody hate Hitchcock sometimes. You know, honestly, I think the only real reason that that film has been so successful over the years is that we're all secretly hankering after Tippi Hedren's beautiful green twin set.

Think about it.
Florence, and also Danny Food Urchin and Claire Things We Make.

Anyway, last Wednesday, yours truly was invited to a day spent cooking with Florence Knight, she of Polpetto, a restaurant that I have so far not been able to eat in. It all took place at an undisclosed location on the District Line (spoiler: it was at East Putney), and I was late. Which was awful. I apologise again.

Not wishing to dwell on such things, I can now move on and tell you that this event was for a selection of UK Food Bloggers (a hat I wear with trepidation, but nonetheless, I do blog about food), and was organised by the terribly generous people at Finish. We'd been road testing their new and improved Finish Quantum dish washer tablets over the last month or so, and they were interested in our opinions. More on that later.

(BTW - without my dishwasher there would be no Delicious Delicious Delicious. For real.)

I was quite taken by the lovely Florence. I've had brief interactions with chefs before (although not at all in the way that that makes it sound) and Florence was different. Articulate, focussed and obviously very passionate about food. We had a chat, as I was chopping onions, about how when she became a Head Chef she felt a real sense of satisfaction at being able to think hard about what it was that she liked about flavours and textures and create dishes that reflect that, and not just take for granted what she'd been told by some other more senior chef. I think I definitely came away from the day realising that to experiment can be a good thing.

But you knew that from my lamingtons.

We made a tiramisu - whipping 6 egg whites by hand (I'll stick to my stand mixer, thanks Flo) - and cooked octopus, simmering it slowly with carrots, parsley and bay, before slicing it into juicy chunks and serving it with chillied potatoes and herbs. We also put together burrata with blood oranges and oregano, which nearly made me pass out with pleasure, and meat balls.

Meat ball rolling was pretty much as it sounds, but the burrata was just... sensational. I'm going to post the recipe below, so get ready to, in the words of Dr. Frank N. Furter, 'give yourself over to absolute pleasure.'

A quick word about the actual Finish product:

I was asked to try out two products which were both new to me. I always buy bulk boxes of Finish Powerball (84 tablets in each box, two at a time: I even give them as housewarming presents. Not joking.), and so had never tried the Finish Quantum Powerball, though had seen it in the shops. The idea was to try this existing product and then trial the new and improved Quantum with Power Gel.

How to say this? I presumed that they would both be exactly the same product, with slightly different packaging.

I gave the Quantum Powerball a thorough trial on cake tins (both my tube pan, which after being used for chiffon cake is a nightmare to clean, and springforms - I know you all hate those bits of cake batter that crust around the joins) and also roasting trays after Sunday lunch.

'Look, Dom, I don't care what Florence says or how many lamingtons you re-invented for my competition, I'm just not beating egg white by hand ever again...'
(Was so nice to meet Dom finally!)

Everything came out sparkling clean. No complaints. I even loved the way it made my kitchen smell while the machine was running - like apples. Green apples, the colour of  Tippi's twin set.

But then I tried the new Quantum with Power Gel and I realised that it was a whole new monster.

Admittedly, I didn't try it out on the same cakes and roast dinners. This time I went for scrambled egg pans and left-overnight dishes of tarka dal. Spotless. Glasses were taken out shining from the top rack (I sometimes get a little residue in there which has to be rinsed out, especially when I've made something with lentils). But best of all, everything came out dry and has continued to do so with each load of dishes. I was interested to read Claire of Things We Make's comments and see that she noticed the same thing. I love it - having to dry dishes from the dishwasher is an activity that I loathe and despise in equal measure, so it's fantastic that with Quantum Power Gel I don't need to.

So there you have it. There's definitely something in it. I'll be switching for sure, I just hope they also start making 84 tablet boxes of Quantum!

Thanks to Finish for the samples, for the day with Florence, for having Charlotte take such nice photos for us to use and for bringing burrata to my life.

Burrata with Blood Oranges and Oregano

You will need:

250g burrata
small bunch oregano
extra virgin olive oil
one lemon
one blood orange

  1. Finely chop the oregano leaves. Place them in a small bowl and add the zest and juice of the lemon. Add oil, salt and pepper to taste: you want a thick, green emulsion.
  2. Peel the orange and slice finely.
  3. Tear the burrata into quarters and place onto 4 plates. Garnish with slices of blood orange and the oregano dressing.
  4. Apply to face.


  1. so lovely to meet you too Mr!... was a great day! xxx

  2. It's true, he does give dishwasher tablets as house-warming presents.

    Looking forward to trying the burrata, Pete.

  3. On that 2nd photo we all look non-plussed by a bowl of egg yolks!

    Have you ordered some burrata yet? Just about to go online and get some. Although I suspect it is the most fattening thing ever.

    It was lovely to meet you. Look forward to seeing your re-pimped blog.


That's what he said.

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