Four Alternative Christmas Recipes (with Russian Standard Vodka)

Here's some recipes I've done with Russian Standard Vodka ... great vodka, and hopefully some alternative ideas for your Christmas dinner.

Russian Standard Vodka has teamed up with MasterChef 2009 winner Mat Follas to bring you something different for your dining table this Christmas and has come up with four alternative recipes to serve your hungry guests. Instead of the traditional turkey and Brussle sprouts this year why not indulge in alternative high dining with some tantalising Russian Standard cocktails to celebrate in style! Portion sizes are for four people:

Non traditional, Partridge and pear

 “My Partridge & Pear recipe gives a nod to an old Christmas song but is served in a modern and non-traditional way. I guess my feeling is that, like any home-made present, putting a lot of thought and care into recipes, makes them a better Christmas gift to customers, friends and family.”
4 partridges
4 sprigs of Thyme
100g wild mushrooms
150g butter
Marsala wine
  • Buy prepared partridges. Roughly chop the mushrooms and mix with 100g of soft butter. Stuff the partridges with the mushrooms and butter mix. Season the birds and place inside some cooking foil with a sprig of thyme on top, making a loose fitting parcel with the foil taking care not to touch the sides of the bird
  • Place the birds in an oven at 220C for 30 minutes
  • Take the birds out, rest for 10 minutes them pan fry quickly in hot butter to brown, finishing with a little flambe Marsala wine
200g Puy Lentils
400ml veal stock
150ml good red wine
50g finely chopped cabbage
  • Add all ingredients to a pot with a little seasoning and simmer gently for 45minutes till cooked
Mixed salad leaves, get a good mix of lettuce, rocket, watercress, red endive or similar
50g Hazelnuts
1 pear
  • Cook off the hazelnuts in a dry pan till lightly browned, remove and gently crush in a pestle and mortar
  • Peel the pear and cut into rough squares, lightly caramelise in a hot pan
  • Mix the salad ingredients in a bowl with a little French dressing
  • Serve the partridges on a bed of lentils surrounded by the salad

Russian inspired Sevruga Caviar dish with a Standardtini cocktail

For those who’d like a Russian twist on Christmas Mat has created a traditional, hearty Russian dish; Sevruga Caviar, smoked roe, squid and chilli which would go very well with a ‘Standardtini’ – Russian Standard vodka and Dry Vermouth served glacially cold and dry, a great contrast to the rich, salty seafood
20 g Sevruga Caviar
200g smoked herring roe
4 baby squid
1 lime
sesame oil
2 medium red chillies
1 red endive
100g white miso paste
100ml beef stock
  • The Sevruga Caviar is a lighter, more delicate caviar and a little more reasonably priced than Beluga. Salmon roe is a good alternative but for Christmas why not splash out and try some real caviar? Buy from a source that uses farmed and traceable caviar
  • Slice the chilli diagonally and finely to create attractive pieces of red chilli
  • Cook the miso and beef stock together till combined
  • Prepare the squid, slice the body to create a single flat piece of squid meat and keep the tentacles together. Lightly cross cut the body meat
  • Cook the squid and a few chilli slices in a hot pan in a little sesame oil for 20 seconds, then squeeze the lime over to take the heat off
  • Serve the squid on the plate then on top place slices of herring roe and then squid tentacles and dress with a little caviar. Around the plate drizzle the miso sauce
35ml Russian Standard Vodka 
10ml Vermouth
Shake ingredients gently over ice. Strain and serve in a chilled martini glass. Alternatively combine ingredients with crushed ice in a mixer glass and stir well. Strain and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a small cornichon cucumber. Serve immediately

Vegetarian: Chestnut and caramelised sweet red onions

For the vegetarians amongst you, Mat’s created a wonderful chestnut and caramelised sweet red onions on French bread with melted gorgonzola cheese and sprinkled walnuts to whet your appetite
6 medium red onions
200g chestnut puree
100g chestnuts
400ml good quality vegetable stock
150g Gorgonzola cheese
1 French style 'Bateau' loaf
100ml double cream
75g walnut halves
unsalted butter
  • Prepare the onions by chopping into slivers from top to bottom. Add a generous pinch of salt then cook in a little butter on low for approx 30 minutes till caramelised. Add the stock and simmer till reduced to a thick sticky consistency
  • Crumble the Gorgonzola into the cream and cook gently to create a thick paste
  • Cook the walnut halves in a dry pan till lightly browned, remove and roughly crush in a pestle and mortar
  • Slice the French bread in half lengthwise then across to create four pieces. Gently toast under a grill
  • Spread the puree on to the toast then add some whole chestnuts and grill to warm before adding the hot onions. Pour over with the Gorgonzola cream then sprinkle with the walnut pieces and serve

Low Cal (less than350kcal/portion) Spelt risotto with pomegranate and edamame beans with turkey

Finally, Mat’s low calorie Risotto recipe will leave you feeling less guilty about those Christmas calories; allowing you to splash out on the festive cocktails! His Spelt Risotto with pomegranates and edamame beans with turkey is a light and refreshing alternative to the traditional Christmas menu and ‘The Fountain of Youth’ is the perfect cocktail to compliment its flavours. Feel the pomegranate and Russian Standard Vodka explode with fresh energising flavour with every sip you take
200g pearled Spelt
600ml good quality vegetable stock
1 pomegranate
100g frozen edamame beans
2 turkey breasts (75g per portion)
100ml good quality white wine
bunch watercress
  • Clean the turkey breasts, removing all the skin and poach in a pan with the vegetable stock and wine for 20min at a low simmer. Remove the breasts and set aside. Skim the stock of any fat or scum then leave on a low heat
  • Remove the pomegranate seeds from the fruit and clean the watercress
  • In another pan place the spelt, add approx 1/3 of the cooking liquor from the poaching and bring up to a low simmer. Simmer for 35min stirring regularly. Add another 1/3 of the liquor when the risotto starts to dry out. When the final 1/3 of liquor is needed add it to the pan then add the edamame beans, check the seasoning to taste. While the final liquor is reducing roughly chop the breasts and add to the risotto. Check the spelt is cooked, it should be soft with a slight al dente firmness in the middle
  • When completed stir through some of the pomegranate seeds and watercress then serve, use the remaining seeds and cress to dress the plate.
35ml Russian Standard Vodka
45ml Pomegranate Juice, freshly squeezed where available 20g/0.7 oz thinly sliced ginger
Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice, double strain and pour into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a piece of ginger, pass a mint leaf around the glass rim

Restaurant review: The Wild Garlic, Beaminster, Dorset

Our Score was 9.5/10 (including 0.25 taken off for a wobbly table) ... not bad ! Here's the online version of the review:

Restaurant review: The Wild Garlic, Beaminster, Dorset

Mat Follas, 2009 MasterChef winner, has opened a restaurant. Has he bitten off more than he can chew? Far from it
Wild Garlic
The Wild Garlic, Beaminster: What a difference a year makes – Mat Follas has gone from winning a TV cooking competition to setting up this little beauty of a restaurant. Photograph: David Partner

Adducing a corpse as a witness for anything is a cheap and distasteful gambit, so let me begin by suggesting that Keith Floyd, who died after lunching elsewhere in Dorset a few days after our visit, would have adored Mat Follas's first restaurant and might even have identified him as the fruit of his culinary loins. Although familiar to many of you as this year's MasterChef winner, Follas was a new face to me due to the Grossmanophobia that makes watching that show impossible even now, years after that stoic sufferer from irritable vowel syndrome departed. Follas's career is the mirror image of Floyd's, the latter becoming a telly character off the back of being a chef-proprietor and the former achieving the trick in reverse, but otherwise they are as one. The vibrant passion for food – the sourcing and foraging for it, as well as the cooking of it – with which Floyd laid the populist ground for programmes such as MasterChef shines through at the Wild Garlic in the pretty town of Beaminster.
  • Open lunch, Tues-Sun, noon-2pm (11am-2pm Sun brunch); dinner, Thurs-Sat, 7-11pm. Price per head for three courses, wine, coffee and service, £40-45.
There is so much else to admire that the traditional Hazgush warning must be issued. The twin traps of fierce lighting and lousy acoustics that often ruin otherwise impressive restaurants are nimbly avoided. The light green walls are unencumbered by hideous paintings, the furniture is farmhousy solid, and the room resounds with the appetite- stimulating buzz of relaxed people relishing their grub.
The short printed menu, meanwhile, bolstered by a wide range of blackboarded daily specials, is perfectly judged and resists the temptation to impress with technical wizardry that afflicts many gifted amateurs when they turn pro. Follas understands that encouraging first-rate ingredients to taste of themselves has the edge over poncery and ostentation. He also has unusual mastery of presentation, adorning the starters with an exquisite little salad dotted with edible flowers. Pan-fried garlic scallops (three plump beauties for £7; the pricing of both food and wine is without chutzpah) came alluringly browned, and with absurdly delicious miso-infused seaweed. My wife was lukewarm about her caramelised goat's cheese ("Nice enough, but a bit pointless"), but my smooth, subtle chicken liver pâté was great, while ceviche of brill was spectacularly fresh and zingy, and had a limey kick to keep a fleet of Tudor galleons scurvy-free for a year.
There then followed a moment that had me cooing at Follas's business sense. The inter-course hiatus was plugged by an amuse-bouche of a dozen clams garnished with capers and garlic mayonnaise, one of those cute touches that costs a restaurant thruppence but leaves punters purring at what seems a lavish freebie. Two of us then went for the lemon sole, a vast and blameless fish served whole and on the bone, and laden with more capers and garlic butter. My wife thought her ribeye steak of water buffalo well seasoned and cooked to the ideal medium rarity, but lacking the depth of flavour of beef, and for what the marital ledger reveals to be the ninth time in 18 years of holy wedlock, we were in full agreement there. However, she was wild about the "smoked mash" – a mound of fluffy, creamy potato suffused with a hickory, mesquitish twang – that also came with my five ruby-red slices of sensationally tender and flavoursome sika venison.
Fresh berry mess was magnificent, and chocolate brownies with cream, chocolate twizzle and berries was "absolutely the best I've had outside the Popeseye," said my wife of a beloved west London steak house.
All in all, this was one of the most pleasing meals I've eaten in years, served with warmth and expertise by a dramatically mustachioed manager and a droll waitress in pole position to do something about it, since her day job is running the old-fashioned barber's bang opposite. Follas is an exceedingly rare talent. Nothing the programme could ever accomplish could compensate for unleashing Loyd Grossman on this island, but MasterChef should be very proud of itself indeed.

Rowan berry Jelly

Rowan berry jelly is not something I'd tried before and the feedback on making it was mixed ... bitter, too tart, unpleasant was just some of the feedback I received from my twitter foodie crowd. I also had a number of people advise me that with game it adds something special so it was worth trying and our forager had brought two containers full into the restaurant.

About 600g picked rowans
3 Apples
Reduce over moderate heat
Add approx 2 cups of sugar

What I was left with was a very strongly flavoured, bitter and extremely dry jam ... way too strong to serve and not very pleasant. It did, however, have an unusual flavour that, just before binning the jelly, I tried to keep by adding to some blackberry reduction we use to sauce our venison ...

At a ratio of about one spoon of rowan jam to 1/2 cup of blackberry reduction we suddenly have a very good sauce with a back taste of rowan and a dryness that adds really well to venison ... and is now on the menu.

Venison two ways

Here's a dish I made for the restaurant as a starter last night, a ramiken of the chilli with the wild salad and smoked venison ... its really good ! The chilli was made from a leg of venison I'd left to slow roast in the oven for the afternoon in an oven tray wrapped in clingfilm (to keep it moist).
Smoked Venison with wild salad
  • Venison loin
  • Salad
  • Fresh berries
  • Beetroot
  • Oak chips for smoker
  • sugar

Smoke Venison for 10-15 minutes in hot smoker till it is partially cooked and the colour of oak ... chill in fridge
Clean berries, heat with a little water and sugar to taste, then sieve to make a sauce
Peel and slice beetroot before frying slices till cooked through
Cut beetroot into matchstick sized pieces

Assemble on bed of wild salad, slices of venison with beetroot, then drizzle a little berry sauce over to taste, serve.

Venison Chilli
  • 400g Slow roasted venison
  • 10 Vine tomatoes
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Olive oil
  • 100g 70% Chocolate
  • 1 espresso coffee
  • 2 Chillies finely sliced

Drizzle balsamic and oil over tomatoes, roast in hot oven for 20min till just starting to blacken, blend and sieve to make a roast tomato passata. Make more of this as a base for pasta dishes or soups
Flake roast venison meat into small pieces with two forks (or use blender but don't over blitz ! )
Mix chillies, meat, passata, chocolate and coffee together and heat together slowly, it will make a glossy, hot chilli which is delicious on its own with a few crackers or tortilla chips. It doesn't need to cook overly so keep at a gentle heat. Add more or less chillies, espresso and chocolate to taste.

New Plates for the restaurant ...

We had asked Marnie (who made our lovely tables) to try her hand at plates and after a couple of samples we now have the most amazing wooden plates for the restaurant. They'll be used for crab and starters ... how cool are they !?

Simple fruit puff pastry tart

This is a very simple tart to make and tastes great.

Stage one is get some good quality puff pastry, preferably butter pastry which also means the dish can be vegetarian. Roll it out onto a tray which is floured, or covered in silicon sheet.

Bake for 5 minutes at 180 till starting to rise and very slightly browned to allow the fruit to sit on the pastry without soaking it or making the pastry mushy

Cover partially cooked pastry in fruit and other toppings, I used nectarines with ginger and golden syrup

Bake for another 10-15 minutes till fruit is cooked and pastry is browned, slice and serve with cream or ice cream.

Easy and delicious ... try as a savoury tart too, make a great brunch dish with eggs and bacon.

Festivals, recipes and update

The restaurant continues to absorb most of my time, we are having a great time and rapidly improving in most areas, front of house, food and decor. Sorry for lack of posts but will write some soon, hopefully this weekend when I'm away at a lovely food festival in county Durham ... do come if you live anywhere nearby and say hi.

I also plan to be at Hatfield House in a couple of weeks, just north of London, on the Saturday

The other festival that is coming (and slightly scary !) are the Good Food Birmingham and London where Masterchef will be featured hugely with a new re branding by the beeb, very few details of what is expected of me at this stage but will be great to meet up with some of the other winners and have some fun, both festivals details are here

Thanks everyone for comments on the restaurant, most have been positive and constructive and these do get a lot of attention and thought. I think we are addressing most of the areas where we agree with your concerns and, yes,  there are some things which we won't change, the type of food, the style of the restaurant and our commitment to creating a customer experience. Apologies to those who haven't been able to get in yet for dinner but we have space lunchtimes with a few days notice and will have more space in the winter months and look forward to seeing you then, there are many other great places to eat if you are down our way for holidays, hopefully you can stop in for lunch at least while you are down in lovely West Dorset.

So a longer more detailed post on opening and several recipes to come ... soon I hope !

Savoury bread and butter pudding using tomato and chilli

This dish surprised me it worked so well ... was perusing veggie books for inspiration (no great secret that veg cookery is not my strongest suit) and saw a dish which used bread and eggs .... which got me thinking ...

Will try and take a pic next time I make it ... I actually think meat would detract from this yum dish ... its easy to make and delicious. I served some at lunch this week and got rave reviews.

Savoury Bread and butter pudding:
  • 1 loaf of slightly stale bread, sliced and trimmed into triangles
Egg mix (proportions from Leith's cooking techniques book ... the best cookbook bar none ! )
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 75ml double cream
  • 75ml milk
I used 4x this mix to make about 8 portions
  • I used a couple of roughly chopped oven roasted tomatoes from our soup prep so they had a bit of balsamic and olive oil too plus one finely chopped chilli, some Tabasco, softened onions and seasoning ... but try your own combinations
  • Gruyere and Parmesan cheese
  • Butter bread slices roughly
  • Whisk egg mix with tomatoes and other savoury flavourings
  • Add a small handful of parmesan style cheese and mix in (use vege one if making vege dish, I use Old Winchester)
  • Dip each slice of bread in the mix and arrange in baking dish so they are all standing up, I use each side of the triangle in turn to make a nice pattern
  • When dish is full but not too packed pour over the rest of the mix till nearly covering the bread
  • Sprinkle with cheeses
  • Bake dish in an oven tray 1/2 full of water (bain marie) at 160C for about 40min, check if set and keep checking every 5 min till it has.
  • Remove from oven carefully (hot water in tray !) and leave to set for 20 min
  • Place under grill to brown off top for a couple of minutes

Slice and serve ... enjoy !


We have a new member of the team ... Jo (who is a Phd in woodland ecology) looked us up and showed up today with a big tray of whortleberries ... what yummy fruit. They are like blueberries but with flavour and more colour !

Looking forward to what else she shows up with ... lots of wild mushrooms for the autumn and should have some interesting plants over the next couple of months for the restaurant !

Made Berry mess using them and used as a coulis with Beth's brownies today in the restaurant ... will try with a burnt cream or mousse tomorrow ...

The first week

Thanks all of you who followed and commented on my guardian blogs

Just finished watching the semi of the celeb version of Masterchef ... I have the cameras coming down next Saturday for next years show ... not sure I feel ready yet for their scrutiny !

This week was such a challenge, five lunch and dinner services, staff unavailable, high expectations ....

We came through well I think, I wasn't happy with all the food lthe first couple of nights and had a few comments re temperature and a couple of undercooked fish coming back ... not ideal ... I think we have it fixed now and the food going through the door this week was of good quality. I want that to be great quality and am starting to think about how we take it to the next level now we have a really good team working in the restaurant.

Foraged sea kale made for a great Skate dish, I will get some pics next week as it looks great ! Fresh squid flashed through the pan with chilli, sweet and lime undertones is proving a favourite, scallops with seaweed and sea kale seed pods and fresh makeral crispy fried with a bit of samphire are both going well too. The Water Buffalo went too well as we sold out very quickly ... hardly a big problem I know ! We dressed up the local rib eye steak stand-in with a courgette flower on the plate which went really well as a combination.

All in all a great week, fantastic staff, good food, great customers who it is a privilege to meet and discuss food with ... next steps will be fun taking the food to the next level and still managing to get it out in time ... and to make some money along the way !

I will get back to posting some of the new dishes as we develop them ... and please do post comments, I do read all of them and take what you say on board.

Blogging our restaurant opening

I'm currently taking a recipe break and posting about opening the restaurant opening over on the Guardian/Observer Word of Mouth Blog ... some great feedback so far, please feel free to add to comments or comment here ... Mat

ps Bagged loads of Elderflowers today and will post a recipe once I've tried it !

We've got the phone on at last !

We've got the phone on at last, (it will also have a BT Openzone). I've plugged an answer machine in so please do feel free to start calling. I'm confident we'll be open on time, lots of work still to do but we'll get there.

All nights have some space at the moment. Opening night for dinner will be 25th June and for lunch from 23rd June. For more details see our website The Wild Garlic, there's an email link and phone number.

(Yes we will also be open for coffee and a glass or two during the daytime, Lunch Tues-Sat and Dinner Thurs-Sat ... more details on website ... Mat)

Phone number: 01308 861446

Please see our draft menu :

Beans and Sausages

I've got to be honest I feel like a bit of a fraud cooking such a simple dish tonight for the Taste Festival but made to taste it really is good ... I start with the base I use for a quick spaghetti dinner then add a few herbs and Haricot beans ... try it its really good ... ps get good sausages !

I'm on the Tropicana stall at 8pm tonight and tomorrow, 7pm Sunday if you want to try some and say hi.

Sausages with Haricot beans and hand made tomato sauce for one
2 quality breakfast sausages

1 brown onion
1/4 227g can concentrated tomato paste
200ml water
fresh thyme
fresh rosemary
1 bay leaves
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp brown sugar
salt and pepper

1/2 can Haricot beans

Brown sausages
Chop onion, sweat onion till translucent, add anchovy paste and tomato paste, cook through. 
Add water, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and simmer. 
Add approx 1sp sugar to taste and season.
Add drained beans
Chop sausages and add to sauce till heated through.

Serve with toast

Caption anyone ?

Courtesy of Farmers Weekly

Still laughing at this one sent to us ... thanks Colin Tapley ! too much time spare in the office perhaps ?

The Restaurant - day one

Yes we have signed at last ... here's a preview of how it looks after I whited the windows to start work ... more to come.

Have just spent the day ripping out all the plants and tidying up the front ...

Phone is not on yet and working to opening date of 20 June ! Will post as soon as we are taking bookings.

Foodies Ticket offer (buy one get one free)

Here's a ticket offer for the Foodies festival in a couple of weeks if you haven't already bought ...

Pea and Asparagus soup

Inspired by the wealth of Asparagus suggestions floating around the web sites I follow I made a quick dish for dinner that was yum.

Firstly the easiest and one of my favourite soups - Pea

Add Peas to minimal water, boil for 3 minutes, puree and season ... that's it ... delicious and simple. Add bacon bits for extra salty zing if you want but a a sweet, filling yummy soup you really can't go wrong.

Today I added some asparagus stalks (not the woody end but the first inch or so after that) then followed the same procedure ... delicious !

The rest of the asparagus I griddled then warmed some Brie over it ...

Put it together and it was a delight ! I might go with parmesan shaving next time to try a stronger cheese as i think it could take it. Not the most elegant presentation but its just a quick dinner for me ... I was in a hurry to eat !

Anyway ... another idea for anyone looking for inspiration ... but have your first few bunches of Asparagus with Hollandaise first ... takes some beating.

Foodies festival

My next festival appearance is at foodies at Hampton Court ... really honored to headlining and looking forward to the day ... come and say hi if you are there ...


Anyone who's been to New Zealand will understand that we are pretty obsessive about coffee ! Coffee culture is a big thing, I miss going out at night and stopping for coffee instead of a beer. As far as kiwis are concerned I always considered myself pretty average in my regard and taste for a good coffee ... till I got to the UK and the complete drought of good coffee shops !

To my great delight I've found an excellent bunch of british guys who are far more obsessive about coffee than me, the team at Origon coffee make good coffee and roast their own, they are totally obsessive about it and I had a great couple of hours talking to one of their owners. I've found my coffee supplier for the restaurant.

It was also great to find somewhere outside of London to get a flat white ! Relish coffee and Deli in Wadebridge have the 2008 UK barrista champion Hugo and his protege 'Barrista boy' who placed 8th in the 2009 competition. I had the pleasure of comparing flat whites made by them both and I think the boy won it by a nose ! Needless to say they use Origon coffees ...

More news on the restaurant plans any day now !

le Manoir

Had a fantastic day at le Manoir yesterday for a brief stage. I was in the kitchen for about 14 hours and was really flattered that the chefs let me work the pass for lunch and dinner.

I was expecting more fussy french food but the dishes I was working on were really my sort of food, we had some great discussions over sourcing and growing wild plants and the selection of sorrel used in the plate I was helping with were amazing. Take a look at the menu. Its really inspiring to see this sort of food at Michelin level and I look forward to borrowing elements for some of my dishes.

Lots of great ideas, good plating experience ... and I can almost move my back again now ... fitness will come once we open I'm sure !

Some of the dishes and recipes were quite inspiring and the chefs were very open about the recipes and how they made the dishes. It was great to be able to prep six lobsters in a row, not something I could afford to do as a practice and now I have the confidence to do it in our own restaurant when we open.

Am off now to think about making a chocolate mousse mouse, based on an egg mouse they make at le Manoir for children ... I like the play on words and hopefully it'll be nice treat for my daughter's birthday party next weekend.

Chef ?

Did a chowder night at my local pub last night ... great fun.

Stage at Le Manoir tomorrow ... am quite nervous ... update to follow !

ANZAC Day and ANZAC Biscuits

Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. The acronym ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, whose soldiers were known as Anzacs. Anzac Day remains one of the most important national occasions of both Australia and New Zealand.

When war broke out in 1914, Australia had been a Federal Commonwealth for only thirteen years. In 1915, Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of an Allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli Peninsula, under a plan by Winston Churchill to open the way to the Black Sea for the Allied navies. The objective was to capture Istanbul, capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. The ANZAC force landed at Gallipoli on 25 April, meeting fierce resistance from the Turkish Army commanded by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. What had been planned as a bold strike to knock Turkey out of the war quickly became a stale-mate, and the campaign dragged on for eight months. At the end of 1915, the Allied forces were evacuated after both sides had suffered heavy casualties and endured great hardships. Over 8,000 Australian and 2,700 New Zealand soldiers died. News of the landing at Gallipoli made a profound impact on Australians and New Zealanders at home and 25 April quickly became the day on which they remembered the sacrifice of those who had died in war.

Though the Gallipoli campaign failed in its military objectives of capturing Istanbul and knocking Turkey out of the war, the Australian and New Zealand troops' actions during the campaign bequeathed an intangible but powerful legacy. The creation of what became known as an "Anzac legend" became an important part of the national identity in both countries. This shaped the ways their citizens viewed both their past and their future.

The above is quoted from Wikipedia to read more please follow the link.

I'm not going to try and reinvent this recipe so the one posted is straight from NZ Women's Weekly as the ANZAC biscuit is protected in law from being used for profit I believe and must remain close to the original recipe. They are a great alternative to a flapjack and perfect dunking in a cup of tea !

Makes 30, depending on size

1 cup flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup desiccated coconut
2 cups rolled oats
125g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp boiling water

Heat oven to 180C (160C fan bake). Line two baking trays with nonstick baking paper. Place flour, caster sugar, coconut and oats in a bowl and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre.
Place butter and golden syrup in a saucepan to melt, or microwave in a bowl to melt. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water. Add melted ingredients and dissolved baking soda to dry ingredients and mix to combine.
Roll spoonfuls into balls and press onto prepared baking trays, allowing space for biscuits to spread while cooking.
Bake for 15 minutes or until firm and golden brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool, and enjoy!
Stored in an airtight container, Anzac biscuits will last well for up to a week.

Crowdie Raspberry Cheesecake

I was privileged to spend an hour or so at Connage Dairy this week having a tour of their cheese factory, a really impressive operation and some superb cheese. I left with a small bag of samples which I'm enjoying. Their Clava cheese is a brie style cheese second to none I have tried in the UK and their lovely creamy Crowdie is a great full fat cheese, perfect for a cheese cake, and needs no cream to be added.

Here's my Crowdie cheesecake (shamelessly made from fridge leftovers) ... I'd probably use a little less base and more cheese next time but I only had half a pot of cheese left after eating the rest with some smoked salmon last night !

10 raspberries
Raspberry liquor
1/2 sheet gelatine
1/2 small Crowdie
72% Chocolate
Clarified butter

Blitz cornflakes till crumbly. Heat equal quantities of chocolate and clarified butter together and blend, mix with cornflakes to a just dry mix. Press mix into base of a cooking ring.
Mix Crowdie with raspberry liquor till smooth and a nice cheesy sweet mix, add on top of crumble base.
Place half raspberries on top of cheese, heat the other half with a little liquor then add gelatine. Sieve then pour clear jelly on top of cake.
Remove ring carefully and fridge for 30min before serving
Delicious !


Noma ... what an amazing restaurant and chef ! ... an inspiration for me and now ranked 3rd in the world and the chef's choice number one in the world - congratulations Rene and team !

Noma Restaurant website
The 50 best restaurants in the world


{edit posting pics recipe to follow}

Made some yummy Biscotti this morning ... nice simple recipe and about 20 min to make plus 30 min baking time.

Exeter Food and Drink festival

I'm there all day Friday. There's a 'cook off' with James Nathan on Friday night which will be great fun.
I'll mostly be wandering around talking to suppliers ... and hopefully be able to make an announcement regarding restaurant plans too !

Simple sweet chilli dipping sauce

Classic dipping sauce for Thai fish cakes, I often use this with a squeeze of lime to cook squid ... one of my favourite quick dishes. Once you've made this you won't ever go back to bottled sauce ... only takes a few minutes and lasts well in the fridge.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar (can be white wine)
  • 1 red birds eye chilli
  • 1 finely chopped garlic clove

Simmer vinegar and sugar gently to reduce to a syrup
Add chilli, finely sliced on an angle to look pretty ... leave the seeds in. One is plenty hot enough.
Add the garlic
Leave on low heat for a few minutes to infuse

That's it ... very simple. You can try adding fish sauce or using some palm sugar but I find it better to leave it simple and add the other ingredients to the dish rather than the sauce.

Great for cooking with, squid, vegetables ... but to save you an experiment ... don't try it with crab meat ... it doesn't work ! The two different sweet flavours clash horribly ... mine went in the bin.

Easy Mayonnaise recipe

Forget dripping oil and whisking endlessly ... you don't have to ... this takes 30 seconds !

This has taken all the pain out of making mayonnaise for me ... use a blending stick. A version of this recipe was with my new Bamix blender but I only just tried it after three months of Bamix ownership. I have also tried using my trusty old philips stick blender and it works a treat too.

  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • seasoning (i use tabasco and fine salt)
  • rapeseed/sunflower/olive oil
  • white wine vinegar
  • lemon juice

As usual I'm not giving exact quantities ! ... it requires about 300ml of oil. Be aware that olive oil gives a lot of flavour so I use mostly sunflower with a little olive oil for a nice balance. Rapeseed oil makes a wonderful bright yellow mayonnaise.
Put the eggs into a container just wider than your stick blender (I often use a large mug) then add 150-200ml oil ... blitz.
Add more oil once it starts to bind to a mayonnaise and stop when you reach the texture you like (it gets thicker the more oil you add).
The mayonnaise will now taste of egg and oil so season first then add some acidity, I like a dash of vinegar and add lemon to suit.
Taste - but use a new spoon each time as this is a cold dish and you risk contamination.

You can then add other flavours, chopped wild garlic, dill for fish, capers for shellfish ... feel free to add suggestions ! Worth noting that flavours intesify over a while so be cautious with garlic especially as it will get much stronger in flavour after an hour or so.

This uses fresh eggs so treat with some caution ... keeps fine for a few days but I make it fresh as its so easy.

Crab Thermidor

OK ... its a simple dish to make but its all in the tasting like so many of my dishes. I don't put amounts in many recipes as I cook by taste the best way is to start with the basics and try for yourself. Different cheeses, stocks, crabs etc will have different tastes so the only way to make a dish you love is to taste as you cook.

A brown crab is not expensive, should be about £4. Ingredients for the stock should also be free from a decent fishmonger when you buy your crab.

First make a really good seafood stock with flatfish bones, scallop frill and a few prawn shells. Read about making stocks in a previous post here .

One good crab, spider tastes best but brown can be used for everyday
Seafood stock (about 300ml per crab)
Gruyere cheese
Parmesan cheese
English Mustard powder

Clean the crab, extract the meat and clean the shell ready for use as a bowl.
Make a veloute with the stock, by making a roux with some butter and plain flour then adding heated stock slowly mixing till the consistency of double cream.
Season then add some gruyere and parmesan to taste ... should be a nice balance of cheese and sea flavour.
Add tabasco and some english mustard to bring in a nice heat to the dish.
Add the meat to the shell then pour the sauce over.
Add a little extra cheese on top then bake for 20min or so.
It should be cooked through and slightly browned on top.

Serve in the shell, use some green veg to balance the shell or some foil.

enjoy !

Newspapers and events

I know I promised Thermidor recipe but thought I'd post a few links today ... I will get the thermidor written up and posted soon !

The Independent ran a great article today ... including a whole page picture of me ... very flattering ! Independant Article

May 3rd (not 2nd as I previously said ! sorry) I'm helping at the Dorset knob throwing event in my local village Dorset Knob lots of fun, not to be taken seriously ! and loads of local foodie stalls (I'm doing a BBQ with a mate ... spare ribs, Spatchcock chickens and other yummy things)

May Bank Holiday 23-25th May ... big festival at Hampton Court Foodies so and very excited and should be able to announce restaurant details there !

More to come soon ... watch this space ... Mat

Crab lunch

Made a delicious crab thermidor today with brown crabs ... more to come but wanted to post some photos while I have them:

Mango and Red Onion Chutney

Have been playing with chutneys today and thought I'd post a couple. Mangoes are great in a chutney as are red onions, add one of each and go from there !
Basic Ingredients:
  • Mango
  • Red onion
  • Sugar
  • Wine vinegar
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Tabasco
Add roughly equal quantities of Mango flesh and rough chopped red onion
Add red or white wine vinegar, 1/2 cup per Mango, 4-6 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp salt. 
Simmer for 20-40 minutes till onions and mango are soft and taste. 
Add heat with the pepper and Tabasco till quite hot to taste then leave overnight to cool, the heat of the chilled chutney will reduce overnight.

Try variations by using different fruits, apples and cider vinegar are good ... chuck some cider in too. Raisins or sultanas add a nice sweet hit to chutneys. A web search gives lots of ideas but I suggest you start with a simple one like my Mango and red onion and then play with different flavours.

When we went down to the woods !

On Sunday we took the kids and went down to a friends woodland to see what is growing ... great fun but probably a little too early still for most foraged food due to the late spring.

We also had John Wright with us ... better known locally as 'Mushroom John' for his River Cottage mushroom book here and his TV work with HFW. John is just finishing a seashore foraging book due out May (I think) which will be a great reference. We had long discussions over seaweeds and umame flavours in the pub afterwards !

He has given us some great pointers on alternate local sourced seaweeds that I'll be trying as an alternate to the Japanese dried seaweeds I love to cook with ... watch this space !

John was tapping some birch trees for sap to try and make a reduction syrup ... to be honest the sap tasted like water but it was fun trying and hopefully, once reduced, the end product will be good.

We did find some wood sorrel which we were all very excited about, it will be a key ingredient when the restaurant gets started and watchers of Masterchef will have seen me use it at Noma making chef's signature dish. It has a great woody citrus flavour that goes well with meat dishes, its still early for the wood sorrel so we only picked a few samples but looking forward to going back and gathering in decent quantities.

Will post recipes over the next few days, filmed a spot on Market Kitchen last night ... more details to follow.