Friday, 20 December 2013

Marks and Sparks' not so festive foodie treats

Pan fried duck breast served on saute potatoes, buttered spinach and a caramelised plum jus
Christmas food is boring. We end up eating so much rich and stodgy food that by the end of the festive season I'm wiped out, craving salads and a big glass of water.

A short while back, I popped up to Marks and Spencer in Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff, for a food and beauty event. Bit of a strange combination, I thought, but how could I possibly turn down an evening dedicated to two of my favourite things?!

I'm a little bit fussy with my food (non-meat eater, carb fussy, hate spicy stuff...the list goes on and on) so to be completely honest with you I wasn't that excited by the menu - that is, until it landed on the table in front of me. The *amazing* chefs prepared a beautiful six course meal - in taster portions thank goodness - with some expertly picked wines to accompany them.

Profiteroles with white chocolate and creme anglaise
The M&S hospitality staff explained each course so well that even a kitchen novice like me could prepare them, and sent us away with recipes and words of encouragement. Every dish was easy to prepare, simply delicious and, most importantly, perfect for some lighter Christmas season meals.

Below are two of my favourite recipes from the evening - let me know if you try them out! 

Recipe 1: Prawn, scallop and chorizo spaghetti
A filling and tasty meal that won't leave you feeling stodgy!

Ingredients 350g fresh spaghetti
12 prawns
12 scallops
100g chorizo, cut into cubes
Half a white onion, diced
1 green chilli, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely diced
1 lime
10ml olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste

  • Cook the pasta in boiling salted water for 4-5 mins; heat a large frying pan until very hot.
  • Add oil, onions, prawns and chorizo for 2-3 mins.
  • Add scallops and chilli, and cook for 2-3 mins then add the pasta straight from the water.
  • Add a wedge of lime, coriander and extra virgin olive oil to taste.
Vanilla panna-cotta with winter berry compote
Recipe 2: Vanilla panna-cotta with winter berry compote
A sweet treat that's light as a feather

For the panna-cotta: 150ml double cream, 130ml whole milk, 40g caster sugar, 1.5 leaves of gelatine, half a vanilla pod
For the compote: 50g strawberries, 50g blackberries, 50g raspberries, 60g caster sugar, splash of water or fruit juice

  • Soak the gelatine in a bowl of cold water
  • Heat the cream, milk, sugar and vanilla pod (seeded) in a saucepan and bring to the boil
  • Remove immediately and add the gelatine (having removed it from the water and squeeze the excess liquid out); stir until gelatine has melted and pass through a sieve into a jug
  • Pour into containers and place into the fridge; allow to chill for 8 hours before serving
  • or the compote: simply add the berries, sugar and water/juice into a saucepan. Bring the mixture to the boil and reduce to a low heat; allow to simmer gently for about 25-30 minutes

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