Sunday, 23 May 2010

Gazpacho in the park

Gazpacho in the park

By Charlotte

Cold soup on a hot day is very pleasurable. With raw food at the height of culinary fashion this traditional Spanish dish is worth trying. It is also super versatile so you can just throw in your favourite vegetable and salad ingredients. I love Spain and Spanish food, more often than not though, I go for tapas or fresh fish when by the sea and until last week I had forgotten how good gazpacho can be.

My earliest memory of gazpacho is when a good friend came round and made it for me one summer (it may have passed my lips on an unforgettable school trip to Lloret de Mar but as food was not high on the agenda back then I can't quite remember). Tenille is a lover of Spain, she speaks the lingo and lived in Madrid for a while so knows her stuff and the soup that she dished up was delicious, so full of flavour and incredibly fresh - it basically tasted like salad ingredients blended together with a dressing and then chilled. I assure you this is good.

Anyway, this experience occured couple of summers ago.

2 years on (last weekend), Tenille called to say she was ill with a temperature so I thought I'd go round and return the favour by making gazpacho for her to chill her out - literally. I hope it worked T? Again I realised how much I loved the stuff and decided to make a batch this morning, the perfect accompaniment to the HOT weather.

Charlotte's gazpacho (serves 4)
2 garlic cloves
1/3 of an onion chopped (I used white onion)
1 small cucumber diced (I didn't peel it but perhaps should have done)
1 red pepper chopped into squares
5 medium tomatoes blanched and peeled, then roughly chopped
old bread, about 3-4 slices, no crusts and cut into cubes
olive oil
wine vinegar (I used cider but white/red wine would work)
salt and pepper

Soak the bread in a little bit of water then place it in a mixing bowl with all the other prepared ingredients. Add some water, about 200ml, 3-4 big glugs of oil, 2 glugs on the vinegar and blend with a hand blender. Taste and season. A lot of Spanish recipes tell you to pass it through a sieve a couple of time so that it's super smooth so you can do this or eat it with a few bits. It tastes real good with toasted ciabatta with oil and salt on.

If you want to add or swap ingredients you could try avocado, asparagus, beans, spring onion - the gazpacho world is your oyster.

Serving suggestion: naked in the park.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Sunshine bars, by Miss Katie Green

Drum roll please.......
It gives me IMMENSE pleasure to introduce the Keston Kitchen's first Guest Chef, Miss Katie Green!

Chef Biog: I have been fortunate enough to know Katie since primary school and have watched her develop over the years into a fine and competent chef. As well as creativity in the Kitchen, Katie is an a fantastic knitter, and has produced many beautiful wool products.
Katie specialises in vegan coking, in particular, no-one could forget her amazing butternut squash and filo pastry tart. She is also renowned for her baking, and regularly delights friends by turning up to social occasions armed with a tupperware full of sweet treats.

I am delighted to welcome Katie as our first Guest Chef. We would like this to become a regular spot on The Keston Kitchen, so if you are a budding chef and want to share your favourite recipes, please get in touch.
Jules x

Sunshine bars, by Miss Katie Green

Sunshine Bars:

100g dried ready-to-eat tropical medley or other mixed dried
100g porridge oats
50g puffed rice cereal , such as Rice Krispies
85g desiccated coconut
50g blanched hazelnuts or shelled peanuts or other
50g sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds
100g light muscovado sugar
125ml golden syrup
100g butter , chopped up

Chop the tropical medley into pieces using kitchen scissors. Tip
the oats, cereal, coconut and fruit into a large bowl and mix well.
Put the hazelnuts and sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds in a
frying pan with no oil and, over a moderate heat, stir until they
are lightly toasted. Leave to cool a little then tip into the bowl and
Put the sugar, syrup and butter in a small pan and heat gently,
stirring until melted, then simmer for 2 minutes until slightly
thicker and syrupy.
Quickly stir the syrup into the dry mix, stirring until it all starts
to bind and there are no dry patches.
Quickly tip into a 20cm square tin and press down with the
back of a spoon to even out the surface. Leave to cool and
set - about 2 hours.

Yummmy yummy yummy


Wednesday, 12 May 2010

When puddings meet politics: 2010 Election Special

A coalition of delicious desserts - no wonder people have trouble deciding on one.

Election '10: historic events witnessed in the Keston Kitchen. Never before has there been such a coming together of different flavours; with such unpredictable results.

This was an election of ground-breaking moments. The first: the arrival of Newnham's famous Chocolate Yoghurt at Downing Street.

The occasion was the second of the live televised Leaders' debates. As the focus was foreign policy, it seemed only fitting for the team at work to watch it en masse in the boss's office. The Leaders performed pretty well, but let's face it, all eyes were on the cake.

The yoghurt lends this cake a light, moist texture. The mums of the shire will be pleased to know that this timeless classic went down a treat. We owe the recipe to Jacqui Vivian, who was an amazing cook. Also thanks to Val and Bev for ensuring it appeared at every birthday party I've ever been to in their homes.

Now, I did offend some of team because of the EU focus of my baking (we also cover 'Global Issues'). So, not to be outdone, the G8 / G 20 team baked these amazing cookies (with some outside help from enthusiastic family members, I believe).

Clare also made this amazing Election Cake-u-lator

Then Decision Day arrived (or so we thought). I was honoured to host the election party. Luckily for me, the coverage didn't start until 10pm - which gave me plenty of time to be characteristically late with the preparations and rope all my guests into helping.

The girls set to work on the red velvet Milibands.

Wishing to reflect the true impartiality of the civil service, I had a strict rule of one pudding per party (the big three). I also allowed a little homage to the greens (a big night for them too).

So the menu was:

Red Velvet Milibands (aka the cupcakes that have previously featured on Later with Jules)

Libdemon bars a delicious recipe, also from the hummingbird bakery

Eton Mess (with blueberries)

And Green Party Jelly

It was a night to remember, thanks to many contributions. Frances fashioned an incredible PM-0-meter (which had more mileage than anyone could have expected). Aurelia's election cocktails were an inspired, if dangerous, contribution to the party. The BBC's election party pack provided much entertainment (including election bingo). I have to congratulate Tess and Jess for still being there on the sofa (if snoring) when I got up in the morning. And finally, my housemates were remarkably unperturbed by the sudden influx of civil servants into the living room, and thoroughly embraced in the election excitement.

2010 will be a year to remember, If not for the politics, then for the puddings.

Jules xx

Chocolate Yoghurt Cake

250ml sunflower oil

250ml plain natural yogurt

4 tablespoons syrup

3 eggs

6 oz sugar

8oz SR flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

1 oz cocoa

Mix 1st 5 ingredients together then add rest and mix well

Cook for 45 mins – 1hour at 150 degrees


2oz butter

3 tablespoons milk

8oz sifted icing sugar

2 tablespoons sifted cocoa

Melt butter, add milk

Take off heat and add rest and mix well

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Multi Vegetable Paella

Multi Vegetable Paella by Charlotte

Yotam Ottolenghi's second cookbook Plenty is now out, on sale, up for grabs, available in many book stores. Following my personal success and obsession with the last Ottolenghi cookbook I will be purchasing this one. So far I have had a brief encounter with one recipe - the Multi Vegetable Paella; not any old paella but a multi vegetable dish of delicious meat free ingredients, almost certainly one of the most colourful things I have ever made.

It all came about 2 weekends ago when summer briefly arrived in London. Maxi dresses, guitars in the park, BBQs, sunhats and small dogs destroying picnics were out in force.  An exciting arrival came on the Saturday with the Guardian – an exerpt from Plenty. This was music to my ears; I have so far failed to mention that this is a vegetarian cookbook, however, it is most certainly going to be a pleaser with everyone, including meat loving folk.

On the Sunday night, following a day of maximum relaxation and Ceri shouting to the world that she was going to start reading the gardening section of the weekend papers I decided to try out the vegetarian paella. This was the right thing to do, as was my error in over catering (over catering is an incredibly popular pastime in the Keston Kitchen).  The paella was so colourful it was like carnival and it was super tasty, so much so that even the male diners were satisfied. 

If you do attempt this dish then I can assure you that comments such as ‘What’s this? It must be some kind of fish or meaty product?’ will be heard.

‘No Jake it’s an olive. No again, that’s an artichoke’ will be the response.


3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 Spanish onion, finely chopped

1 small red and 1 small yellow pepper, cut into strips

1/2 fennel bulb, cut into strips

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

150g Calasparra (or other paella) rice

100ml good-quality medium sherry

1 tsp saffron threads

450ml boiling vegetable stock


200g shelled broad beans (fresh or frozen)

12 mini plum tomatoes, halved

5 small grilled artichokes in oil (from a jar), drained and quartered

15 pitted Kalamata olives, crushed

2 tbsp roughly chopped parsley

4 lemon wedges

Heat the oil in a paella pan or a large shallow frying pan, then gently fry the onion for five minutes. Add the peppers and fennel, and fry on a medium heat for six minutes, until soft and golden. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the bay, paprika, turmeric and cayenne, stir, then add the rice and stir thoroughly for two minutes before adding the sherry and saffron. Boil down for a minute, then add the stock and a third of a teaspoon of salt. Turn the heat as low as it will go and simmer very gently for about 20 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Do not cover the pan or stir the rice during this time.

Meanwhile, put the broad beans in a bowl, cover with plenty of boiling water, leave for a minute, drain and set aside to cool. Once cool enough to handle, squeeze each bean gently to remove its papery skin.

Remove the paella pan from the heat. Taste, add more salt if needed, but without stirring the rice much. Scatter the tomatoes, artichokes and broad beans over the rice, cover the pan tightly with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Take off the foil. Scatter the olives and parsley over the top of the paella and serve with lemon wedges.  

Serving suggestion: for satisfying results this dish is best served to skeptical meat eaters.