London Art Book Fair

20130914-001109.jpg
After many hours trundling the shops for something suitable to wear to the London Art Book Fair opening night yesterday, I finally settled on some very loud trousers, quirky sweatshirt, copper trainers and gold hoop earrings. I think I looked a bit like a rapper, which I decided was the obvious look to go for when promoting one’s first cookery book!

It started at 6pm so I gave myself plenty of time to get ready but I’d ordered the trainers online and spent most of the morning worrying that they wouldn’t arrive. Luckily they turned up in the middle of the afternoon leaving me just enough time to jump in the shower, half-heartedly pluck my eyebrows (tedious task) and have a bash at using a face mask. All was going swimmingly…until it wasn’t.

20130914-001308.jpg
First I washed off the face mask and whilst drying and straightening my hair I started finding clumps of clay still in my fringe and behind my ears from the mask – I managed to wash some of it out but by then didn’t have time to get rid of it all. Next, I knelt down to pick up my suitcase (needed to bring it to collect all my copies of the book) and my new trousers split at the seams. While Richard texted my chums to let them know I was running late I frantically hand stitched up my trousers. Now slightly fraught I noticed my hair had got itself in a right muddle; still half damp and sticking up at the sides where some of that stubborn face mask had lingered. I reached for my hairbrush and as I did so caught my thumbnail on a splinter of wood on the dining table which caused my thumb to bleed profusely for a few minutes. This was all going on whilst Richard was deep in conversation with a woman on the phone who was very keen to discuss the finer details of being miss-sold PPI. I wonder what she must have thought what with my yelps of “ouch” and “f@&k” in the background.

Right, deep breath, trousers fixed, bleeding stopped, and phone call ended we left the house for the launch party. We got half way down the road and I realised I’d forgotten the fabric pen I needed for signing the books. I walked briskly back to the house (couldn’t run in fear of splitting my trousers again) to pick up the pen. Pen located (and purse, which it seemed, I had also forgotten) I locked up and tried again. Half way down the street for the second time and thought I better check my phone to see if everyone was alright and hadn’t gotten lost…my phone…I’d forgotten my phone, back to the house…and so it went on. EVENTUALLY we got to Whitechapel Gallery and waited outside for a while…until we realised that everyone we knew was already inside looking at the book. You really couldn’t make this up. Thankfully we were greeted with free cold beers on arrival and the rest of the night was much much better. Helen arrived and gave me a fantastic key ring she had made to look like my book and my favourite stylist Rhodora approved of my clobber.

20130914-001508.jpg
Maria and Nina Vlotides from Pedestrian Publishing have done an amazing job on the design of the book and even helped make all of the covers by hand.

20130914-001655.jpg
Each book is ever so slightly different because the covers are made from tea towels hand screen printed by the lovely people in Otto’s team at Marshfield Print Studio and then they have all been lovingly stitched together and ironed.

20130914-001849.jpg

20130914-002056.jpg

20130914-002243.jpg
Because they’re handmade this is a limited edition run of 300 so if you can’t get to the book fair this weekend keep your eyes peeled for the Facebook announcements for when they’re listed on the online shop so you don’t miss out. Ooh and if you’re any where near Hampshire on the 22nd of September head over to the Whitchurch Country Fair, I’ll be there selling/signing books and am honoured to have been asked to judge the entries in the baking competition! Cannot wait! All the details for the event are here, do say hello!

Even though I split my trousers, cut my thumb, had terrible hair with clay in it and arrived so late that most people I know had read my book before I’d even seen it for the first time, I had a brilliant evening. It has taken three years of recipe experiments and copious notes and scribbles to get to this point and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks so much to all of you who read this blog and I hope you enjoy “Cooking Without a Kitchen” too.
Xxx

20130914-002416.jpg

20130914-002544.jpg
My book can be found on the Pedestrian Publishing stand at the London Art Book Fair all this weekend. As well as my book they’ll be selling “Pavement Poetry” by Maria Vlotides and “Pharmapoetica” by Chris McCabe and Maria Vlotides, both amazing books. Also don’t forget to say hello to Otto Dettmer from Marshfield print studio as he’s selling his own work at the book fair and it’s lovely stuff.

20130914-002913.jpg

Cooking Without a Kitchen Launches!

The countdown has begun, it’s official, my book will be in physical, published and purchasable form ready for the London Art Book Fair next week!

20130907-121738.jpg
It is my first cookery book and it is called “Cooking Without A Kitchen”. Comprised of 20 recipes for dishes you can create without setting foot in a kitchen. The original idea was born out of too many business trips resulting in awkward dinners in hotel restaurants. I wanted to cook for myself, to unwind at end of the day. So, I set about creating meals in my room which were tasty, easy and didn’t make a mess or set off the hotel sprinkler system!

The idea grew to many more scenarios where you need to cook but can’t access basic kitchen equipment like an oven, hob or even microwave.

If you would like to find out more please visit the website of Pedestrian Publishing who are not only responsible for the publishing but all of the design as well; like the fantastic cover designed by Nina Vlotides and made from a hand screen printed tea towel!

20130907-122155.jpg
I would also be honoured if you would like to pop along to the London Art Book Fair where it first goes on sale. I shall be there at the opening event on Thursday 12th of September, 6pm at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London. It would be fantastic to meet fellow bloggers and readers.

If you can’t make it then don’t fret, the book will be on sale via Pedestrian Publishing and I will post information here and on my Facebook page when it goes live.

But for a little taster of what’s to come I have created exclusive recipes for a cocktail and a canapé which you could whip up away from your kitchen. The following recipes do not appear in the book or anywhere else, they’re just for my smashing blog readers without whom none of this would have been possible. Cheers! Xxx

20130907-123006.jpg
Canapé: Cinnamon Bagel with Goats cheese and Berries.
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon of blackcurrant jam
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
1 raisin and cinnamon bagel
Small piece of soft goats cheese (approx 50g)
Handful of fresh blueberries
Few fresh mint leaves

Kit:
2 Teaspoons
Scissors
Grease proof baking paper
Iron & ironing board*
Small bowl
Plate or board for serving

Method:
1. Mix the blackcurrant jam and balsamic vinegar together in a bowl and set aside.
2. Split the bagel in half using the scissors (you can use a knife or fancy bagel slicer but I prefer to carry scissors instead of knives if I’m out and about)
3. Lay the 2 bagel halves out side by side on a large piece of grease proof baking paper. Fold the paper over and seal with folds to make a parcel.
4. Heat the iron to its hottest setting and when it is up to temperature gently iron the parcel for around 5 minutes each side. This will warm the bagel halves and very lightly toast them.
5. Turn off the iron and open the parcel carefully. Use a tea towel to protect your hands as it will be hot. When the bagel is cool enough to handle cut each half into 8 pieces using the scissors.
6. Break the goats cheese into small chunks and use to top each of the bagel pieces.
7. Drizzle each canapé with a little of the jam and balsamic mixture and top with a blueberry.
8. Snip the mint leaves up into fine shreds and sprinkle over all of the canapés to serve. Enjoy immediately.

20130907-123238.jpg

Cocktail: Ice-lolly Fizz!
This is a sweet and silly cocktail which allows you to make something chilled and fizzy without a fridge or freezer (just need an ice cream van or a newsagents!)
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons of elderflower liqueur
1 fruit ice lolly (pineapple or lemon works best, not ice cream based ones)
Small bottle of sparkling wine such as cava, prosecco or champagne
2 sprigs of fresh mint

Kit:
2 champagne flutes, or plastic/paper cups if you’re outdoors
Tablespoon

Method:
1. Put one tablespoon of elderflower liqueur in each glass
2. Break up the ice lollies and put the pieces into each glass then top up with sparkling wine.
3. Garnish with the mint sprigs and the lolly sticks for stirrers and serve.

20130907-123406.jpg

20130907-123524.jpg

* in this recipe I used an iron to toast the bagel but you can of course use a conventional toaster instead. If you do decide to use the iron you do so at your own risk and please note that using electrical equipment in a way other than which it was intended may invalidate and guarantee or warrantee you have on the product. Please also check with the owner of the iron and ironing board before you get cooking. Xxx

Riverfood

It’s summertime, so the blogosphere is humming with delicious holiday snaps – pictures of ripe fruits straight from the tree, local village cheeses or fragrant sweets from exotic markets…

20130822-000323.jpg
…for the most part I’ll be at home in London, not really known for its fresh produce…although I did rob a bit of elderflower from someone’s garden the other week, ooh and there’s a fig tree near the bus stop (might, also be in someone else’s garden).

20130822-000635.jpg
So, when I received an invitation to the launch event for Coopers Restaurant Consultants, on a boat, where all the food was going to be predominantly sourced from the Thames I was excited and dubious in equal proportions.

20130822-000512.jpg

20130822-000806.jpg
We arrived at Festival pier on the Southbank to board the MV Royalty for the #riverfood event. It was a boiling hot but choppy day and the boat rocked enthusiastically from side to side. Once aboard, making our way towards the complementary cocktails I began to recall a sense of wobbly unease, like walking across one of those rope bridges at the adventure playground with your big brother jumping up and down on it at the opposite end.
As Richard and I carefully sipped grapefruit margaritas and watermelon Mojitos we were both unsure how we were going to cope with the seafood based menu should sea sickness fully take hold.

20130822-001112.jpg

20130822-001238.jpg
To our surprise we set sail along the river and even more surprisingly this helped settle us and with wafts of London’s approximation of fresh air drifting in through the windows, we even started to feel hungry.

20130822-001402.jpg
Coopers had arranged for some really lovely waiting staff who shuffled along in precarious zigzags carrying huge platters of canapés. The first were Hollowshore Oysters with shallot vinegar and Tabasco jelly followed by a seemingly endless supply of freshly shucked ones. Both were delicious.

20130822-001949.jpg

20130822-002107.jpg

20130822-003351.jpg

20130822-003514.jpg
Next we were presented with some zingy Green Tomato Soup with Pickled Whelks served in small painted sake cups.

20130822-002409.jpg
Here’s the Estuary Smoked Kipper with Egg & Cress that came next…

20130822-002601.jpg
…and I had seconds of the Old father Thames Smoked Pike.

20130822-002727.jpg
We snuck out onto the deck to watch the chef in action, barbecuing some zander which was served with smoked bacon, white onions and bay.

20130822-002947.jpg

20130822-003102.jpg
So as well as a pile of fantastic fresh riverfood, I ate my words. London has some wonderful fresh produce, so, fellow staycationers, if the MV Royalty #riverfood ship sets sail again soon get yourselves down to the Thames x

20130822-003648.jpg

20130822-003945.jpg

20130822-004929.jpg

Going Live!

Pan Roast Strawbs! Great British Chefs asked me to join in their live Google+ hangout on Thursday night. Chef Josh Eggleton was stationed in Stratford’s Westfield Centre demonstrating his dish of Pan Roasted Sweet Eve Strawberries, Spiced Eggy Bread and Warm Elderflower Cream. All I had to do was set up my webcam in the kitchen, log in to the hangout and cook along with Josh, sounds simple…

Ingredients were all good to go, particularly excited about using the elderflower liqueur and after scouring the neighbourhood managed to “acquire” a sprig of fresh elderflower! Ssshhh!
DSC05059

Pots and pans all lined up ready…
DSC05064_gs
…now to precariously perch my laptop on a step ladder!
DSC05065
At about 2 minutes before the cook-a-long was due to start my laptop decided not to recognise the ethernet cable so I had to rely on the wireless connection. My laptop is quite old (I won’t insult it too much in case it crashes whilst I type this) and the router is upstairs so let’s just say it struggled, so I wasn’t able to ask Josh my question live on air (they had to cut to someone else) the joys of live filming!

But, I did manage to finish my dish on time, whoop! If you want a giggle you can watch the whole thing here – Great British Chefs Google Hangout.

I’m the second one in on the bottom row (mostly in shadow, oops!)

I particularly loved making the Elderflower Cream, which was a Sabayon flavoured with Elderflower Liqueur. I had tried sabayon once in Paris (ooh err!) and just assumed it must be ridiculously complicated, but it’s not! Hurrah! There is now a danger that I might become a little bit obsessed with it and start serving it with everything!

DSC05118

I must admit I did get Richard to do the blowtorch bit, simply because I was far too chicken! We don’t have a kitchen blowtorch so we were using his brother’s DIY one (don’t try this at home kids) it was probably more suited to doing something dangerous with roofing felt but it did the job of caramelising the sabayon beautifully, thanks Rich!DSC05087

Great British Chefs have uploaded a whole load of Strawberry recipes on their site worth checking out and I’ll let you know as soon as Josh’s recipe is available, blowtorches at the ready peeps!

Have a lovely, sunny weekend xx

The Trouble with Trousers

Taylor & NiceThis week Bradley Taylor & I have re-launched our catering business Taylor & Nice with a new Private Chef Hire offering. We’ve been booked to do some quite exciting events over the next few weeks, so we’ve been busy buying new chef jackets, plates and cutlery in preparation. I think I could lose whole days in cookware shops. I am completely obsessed with seeing pans in every possibly size – ranging right from dolls house scale to a saucepan I could probably install a kitchen and a couple of bedrooms in.

The only thing we’re struggling with is trousers. Here’s a venn diagram I’ve put together to explain what I mean:

trouble with trousers

Rant over, it’s back to the kitchen to get perfecting some of our recipes ready for our upcoming events. This week I have been putting the finishing touches on a recipe for a melon & ginger biscuit dessert.

Melon Curd

We’re serving this homemade melon curd with lemon posset, ginger biscuits, and fresh melon pieces but I’m sure it would be lovely on toast, stirred through yoghurt or in a tart.

Taylor and Nice biscuitsIngredients:

1/2 a Galia Melon, deseeded and chopped
juice of 1 lemon
200g of caster sugar
100g of unsalted butter
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk whisked together with a fork

Method

1) Put everything except the egg mixture in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water

2) Stir together until the butter has melted

3) Whisk in the eggs and keep stirring or gently whisking for around 15-20mins until the mixture thickens.

4) Take the mixture off the heat and allow to cool, don’t forget to remove any remaining melon pieces and discard them (or eat them, they taste a bit like stewed apple and custard) then put the curd in the fridge to chill and thicken up a bit more ready for spreading, or drizzling.

Melon Curd Breakfast

If you’d like to find out more about Taylor & Nice or you know where we can get catering clothes that don’t look like we’ve had little accidents and had to change, please get in touch via our website: taylorandnice.com

x

Blog Birthday!

This blog is now a whole year old, so I decided to have a dinner party to celebrate and say thank you to some of the people who encouraged me to keep it going.

The menu is comprised only from recipes which have featured in my blog through the year.

First Course

Orange, banana and passionfruit smoothie from Sundays & Smoothies 25th March 2012

fruit

***

Second Course

Flatbreads and Guacamole from Faster Flatbread! 28th June 2012

Red Pepper Pesto from Pre-Payday Pepper Pesto 19th July 2012

20120628-172615.jpg

20120719-141442.jpg

***

Third Course

Seared Beef Salad from Capers on a Train 17th of August 2012

20120817-163832.jpg

***

Fourth Course

Bulghur Wheat Risotto from Sugar-Free 24th of March 2012

Mojitos & Grilled Pineapple from Adventures in Canapés 28th September 2012

bulghur_risotto

Grilled Pineapple

***

Fifth Course

Walnut Shortbread with Greek Yoghurt & Poached Apricots from Total London 13th July 2012

Ta dah!

***

Sixth Course

Coffee and slices of Twelfth Night bars from Twelfth Night 8th February 2013

twelfth night bars

Twelfth Night

twelfth-night-poster

In case you don’t know my fella is actor Richard Kiess…although this month he’s been out so much I’m finding it difficult to remember what he looks like. By day he’s rehearsing for a show that’s going to Edinburgh this summer and by night he’s performing in Twelfth Night at the Lion & Unicorn. When we do see each other I get to help him with his lines (which is tremendous fun, especially when I get to do silly voices) and he has become an intrepid and knowledgable tester of my recipes…even if it means sitting outside in the freezing cold to eat a plastic plateful of artichokes (sneak peek to next week’s post!).

I know I’m biased but this Made in Chelsea inspired performance of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is well worth a look (plug plug!) plus it’s great because each time he’s in something I get to meet the cast and go to the after show parties! It’s a very cool job but it’s full-on…this leads me seamlessly into a recipe for cereal bars! Richard assures me cereal is great at any time of day and I was interested to discover that actors consume lots of energy bars and sports drinks – not surprising having seen how physically demanding some roles can be.

Packed full of oats, very dark chocolate, pine nuts and dried cherries I hoped this homemade snack would at least make a change from boost bars & mountain dew.

Twelfth Night Bars

twelfth night bars

Ingredients

100g of oats

75g dried cherries

50g of pine nuts (toasted in a dry pan)

50g walnuts

1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

100g fair trade dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa), roughly chopped

100g golden syrup

10og butter

100g light brown sugar

Method

1) Line a loaf tin with grease-proof paper.

2) Put the oats, cherries, toasted pine nuts, walnuts and cinnamon in a large heat-proof bowl and mix together.

3) In a saucepan heat the golden syrup, butter and sugar over a medium heat until the butter has melted, the sugar has dissolved and it’s starting to simmer.

4) Quickly pour the melted syrup mixture over the oats and nuts etc. and stir well. Throw in the chopped chocolate last and briefly mix it in (don’t stir too long otherwise the chocolate will totally melt and you want a few chunks in the finished bars).

4) Tip everything into the prepared tin and press the mixture down using the back of a metal spoon so that it gets into all the corners and is level on the top.

5) Leave to set for 2 hours or overnight and then slice into bars (makes about 12).

6) Wrap them up in foil and tissue paper and hand them out to hungry actors 🙂

foil & tissue paper

All wrapped up

Rich very kindly took a few snaps on his phone of the cast and crew backstage munching on the cereal bars…or posing with them…perhaps a bit of both!
the cast

Twelfth Night is on at the Lion & Unicorn until the 23rd of February but tickets are selling out so if you can’t get a seat there then they’re doing some extra nights at Canada Water Culture Space from the 26th of February – 1st of March 2013

x

Totally Tasteful

Paul Merrett at Totally TastefulOn Tuesday I attended the latest cookery masterclass (courtesy of Total Greek Yoghurt) at the very shiny cookery school L’atelier des Chefs, hosted by Chef Paul Merrett.
Earlier that same day I was at a conference so, (laden with laptop, overnight bag etc.) my plan was to split from the conference early, jump on a train home, dump work stuff, pick up my camera and put a brush through my hair to be back in town for the cookery class at half six! All went swimmingly with my plan, until our lift to Stratford-Upon-Avon station had to make what felt like an action movie style u-turn because the hotel receptionist hadn’t given us the best directions.

My colleague (and fellow conference escapees) made it to our train with moments to spare and swiftly our conversation turned from corporate to cookery. Then I think somewhere between Leamington Spa and Marylebone Raymond Blanc gets on the train and sits behind us. RAYMOND BLANC!!!! The guy next to him boldly blagged a handshake but I remained silently in my seat. I love Raymond Blanc’s cookery shows, they’re always full of wonderful recipes and tonnes of boyish enthusiasm…however, I didn’t think he’d have appreciated me introducing myself in the confined space of the train carriage. Maybe I’m just a wuss but what could I have said? – “hello Raymond Blanc, that’s right I know your full name because I have seen you on TV. I’m Miriam Nice, I hope you have a lovely time cooking things. I cook things too.” – Just awful. I’d die.

Train journey (and major over-thinking) done, bags deposited and camera obtained I arrived at L’atelier des Chefs and was handed a well needed glass of champagne.

Paul kicked off the cookery lesson by showing us how to prep a squid (which I am ashamed to say I had never done before).

SquidI’ve drawn out the key points from memory so do say if you have any top tips:

Squid prep
Phil, Laura, Yuri

We then had to get into teams to cook our meal. I was paired with a marvellous trio of bloggers; Phil, Laura and Yuri (pictured above) to make a starter of Squid & Chorizo with Chickpea Puree and Coriander Yoghurt

Squid and Chorizo on Chickpea Puree with Coriander Yoghurt

…followed by Herb Crusted Lamb with Baba Ganouche & Sweet Potato Salad

Herb Crusted Lamb with Baba Ganouche & Sweet Potato Salad

and a Rhubarb & Greek Yoghurt Syllabub for dessert:

Rhubarb and Greek Yoghurt Sylabub

The meal was Totally delicious (sorry, couldn’t resist) and as one of our team members was vegetarian we not only had enormous portions of lamb but a big slab of frittata too (thanks Phil!). Then, if we weren’t quite full enough, out came the greek yoghurt goodie bags of plain yoghurt and fruity split pots – that sorts breakfast for the rest of the week 🙂

These recipes and hundreds more can be found on Total Greek Yoghurt’s “Total Eating” pages at https://www.totalgreekyoghurt.com/total-eating

x

p.s The photographer (www.satureyes.com) asked me to pose for this one…

Photo by 'Satureyes'

Photo by ‘Satureyes’

Loads more photos from the event can be seen here on Total’s facebook page.

Boxing Day Sandwich Designer of the Year 2012!

Boxing Day Sandwich Design Competition 2012Firstly; THANK YOU!!! to everyone who entered this competition, we had some amazing designs and it was very difficult to choose the winner.

Another big thank you also goes to all of you who watched and shared the YouTube video, liked and shared Facebook reminders and for all your wonderful RTs on Twitter – without you social media dudes we wouldn’t have been able to do it. xxx

So, without further ado….I am pleased to announce that the miriamnice.com Boxing Day Sandwich Designer of the Year Award 2012 goes to:

Zara

Zara Gardner

who won with her “Merry Mushroom Melty” Sandwich

Congratulations!

Zara

What the judges said: “Sounds really tasty”, “would like to be at Zara’s house where there’s leftover ale and homemade bread!”

Well done Zara! I’m totally gonna make one of these this week!

We had some smashing runners up too:

Sarah

Sarah

Runner Up: Sarah’s “Euro Teaser”

Raj

Raj

Runner Up: Raj’s “Turkey Tikka”

Hayley

Hayley

Runner Up: Hayley’s “The Fabulous Vegetarian Tree Topped Roll”

Congratulations to the winners and runners up and thank you again to everyone who sent in designs, here are a few more delicious ideas:

Bradley

Bradley’s “Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich”

Helen

Helen’s “Big Boxing Basco Bagel”

Jon

Jon’s “Raiders of the Lost Fridge Bagel”

Richard

Richard’s “Nice to Meat you”

I ran this competition in association with Total Greek Yoghurt (who very kindly donated the prizes and tweeted like mad on our behalf!) to raise awareness of my chosen charity Action Against Hunger. The competition was centered around using up leftovers from all of our wonderful yuletide feasting so it felt right to set up a page on Just Giving to ask people to donate to those for whom leftovers aren’t really a thing. Please do give what you can by clicking on the “sponsor me” button below. And here is some more information on how Action Against Hunger use your donations.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Christmas in Wales

28000_10152346016920291_410788205_n

Seasons Greetings!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful time!

Richard and I were in Wales this year with his family and despite the floods we had a warm and cosy Christmas. Richard’s Mum did an excellent job of the Christmas Cake, Decorations and the Turkey Dinner and Richard’s Dad expertly dug up a Christmas Tree and smoked a salmon!

581341_10152346030460291_1652885850_n321214_10152346023425291_1874378419_n

399996_10152346048565291_782079758_n

321116_10152346033370291_765619141_n

On the night we arrived there was a big party with all their friends from the area. We had an enormous buffet, sing along and a performance from a skiffle band!

By Boxing Day the leftovers were piling up from all the revelling so we all made sandwiches…

Massive hint alert!

There’s still time to enter the Boxing Day Sandwich Competition which I’m running with Total Greek Yoghurt, you’ve got until the 6th of January to draw or photograph your sandwich design.

The first prize is my ultimate sandwich making kit worth £50 – perfect if one of your resolutions for 2013 is to take a packed lunch during the week. All the details for the competition are here along with the downloadable template. It’s free to enter but please do give generously to the charity Action Against Hunger.

406684_10152348354270291_1954637649_n

Happy Sandwich Making and a Happy New Year!

xxx