Clutching a stack of A5 cards in my sweaty palms, and wishing that I had managed to get more than a few hours sleep the night before, I carefully check and then recheck my list of ingredients against the collection of bowls, jars and bottles of foodie goodies laid out in front of me on the kitchen counter. Twenty six ingredients, three dishes, countless spoons and utensils, a microphone headset, a TV feed and one nervous food blogger about to cook in front of an audience on the shop floor of one of their favourite food shops and restaurants, and all because I said YES !
If you follow anyone from Fooderati Arabia you might have noticed your timeline being filled up by invites to come Meet the Blogger over the past five days. Lafayette Gourmet in partnership with Lootah Premium Foods and Al Fumo hosted a Meet the Blogger Event. Each day 2 or 3 food bloggers were given the opportunity use products from within the store and in particular from Lootah and Al Fumo and to cook their own recipe(s) live on the shop floor in front of an audience.
It’s not often you get this sort of opportunity, and to be honest I pressed YES and SEND before I thought about what I committed to, but hey, what foodie doesn’t like a challenge? Though normally my challenges are more tame, tracking down a missing ingredient, experimenting with spices, cooking or baking something new, cooking for one or many more, all usually in the privacy of my familiar kitchen, bare footed, music blaring and more often than not a glass of something chilled in my hand. So putting me on a shop floor, in heels and with only a bottle of water to quench my thirst was a new experience for me to say the least.
Assisted by the ever present and helpful Chef Adrian from Lafayette Gourmet (I so want one of him at home!) my cooking began in earnest. Within a few minutes the all too familiar inner barefoot relaxed cook revealed herself as my nerves disappeared and I felt like I was cooking at home. The shop floor became my lounge, the audience perched on high stools, became my friends who are often perched on a bar stool keeping me company as I cook and so my time flew by and all too soon it was time to hand out samples, taste my food and reluctantly make way for the next blogger.
Thanks to Lootah Foods, Al Fumo, and the team at Lafayette Gourmet for allowing me to realise that I’m a frustrated Barefoot Contessa, Nigella Lawson, Rick Stein (the wine) or even Delia Smith ! – loving every moment of cooking whilst chatting and bringing some great fresh ingredients to life in the kitchen. I loved every minute of it.
And in case you are wondering, here’s what I cooked with some step by step instructions as well as a few shots of the finished product on the day.
Salmon Fish Cakes with Cheats Tartar Sauce and Rocket Salad
Salmon Fish Cakes
450 g potatoes
Zest 1/2 lemon plus wedges to serve 1 heaped tbsp chopped parsley
1 heaped tbsp chopped dill
Bunch spring onions
350 g fresh salmon
2 tsp tomato ketchup
1 tsp English Mustard
3 tbsp plain flour
1 egg beaten
100g dried breadcrumbs
30g panko breadcrumbs
4 tbsp olive oil
1. Place peeled and diced potatoes in a pan of water and bring to the boil. Cover and cook for 10- 12 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Drain and leave to steam-dry for a few minutes and then mash gently with a fork.
2. Gently poach the salmon in a pan of simmering water for 6-8 minutes until cooked, cool for a few minutes, remove the skin and break into large flakes.
3. Mix the potato, ketchup, mustard, zest, herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper until combined. Lightly mix in the salmon, trying not to break it up to much. Shape as required – either 4 large fish cakes or approx 15 smaller fish cakes using approx 1 heaped tablespoon of mixture.
3. Put the flour, egg and breadcrumbs into 3 separate shallow dishes. Dip the cakes into the flour, dust off the excess, then the egg and then coat in breadcrumbs.
4. To cook – either – heat some oil in a shallow frying pan and fry over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes each side until they are a golden brown colour and heated through or lightly spray with olive oil and cook under a heated grill for 3-4 minutes each side until lightly browned.
Serve with wedges of lemon, tartar sauce and a rocket salad.
1 cup good mayonnaise
2 Tbsp roughly chopped cornichons
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp roughly chopped Capers
1 tsp coarse-grain mustard
Pinch sea salt
Pinch freshly ground pepper
Finely chop the cornichons and capers then mix together with all of the other ingredients.
Cherry Tomatoes, cut into quarters
Baby Cucumber, sliced
Red Onion, thinly sliced
Salt & Pepper to season
Into a salad bowl add a thick layer of fresh rocket, add the cherry tomatoes and cucumber, and top with red onion.
Add a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar, some freshly ground pepper, a dash of sea salt. Toss the salad so the dressing covers the salad and the ingredients are evenly mixed throughout the salad.