Last Sunday Lizzie and I took part in the Nom Nom Nom cooking competition hosted by Cookery School and Qype. Pairs of contestants were challenged to come up with a three course menu (including one cold course), which was ‘simple, sexy, sustainable and seasonal’. To be perfectly honest, we entered on a bit of a whim and then as the competition day loomed near, quickly realised we would actually have to cook stuff, and that it would be judged by the likes of Dan Lepard, Tom Aikens and Allegra McEvedy. Eeek!
With this in mind we decided it might be a wise move to test it out first rather than going in cold. Despite the practice session being worryingly peppered with mini crises – notably a transport fail, a broken oven, a bee sting and a box of eggs that jumped straight from the fridge to the floor, we were pleased with the results. Our menu was to follow a fruity theme, with a crab and mango salad to start, followed by duck with gooseberry sauce, chard and fondant potato and a dessert of cherry samosas with apple marscapone.
We’d managed to push on through our practice session with the help of some generous gin and tonics and so in honour of the beverage decided to call ourselves the Go Go Gin Girls and back it up by sinking three rounds each throughout the course of the competition proper. Pretty good going I think you’ll agree.
The refreshment was most welcome after a frantic dash around sunny Marylebone Farmers Market followed by a last minute panic spree round Waitrose, which we found shut when we first arrived. Despite this irritating setback which saw us enduring half an hour in the devil’s coffee shop – Starbucks, we managed to find all necessary ingredients and hot footed it back to the cookery school with literally minutes to spare.
I’m pleased to say that we managed to turn out the whole meal exactly as planned – on time, well cooked and we thought, delicious. The only problem really was that, erm, we lost. We held our breath as the winners were announced – ‘here’s a clue…the first course was something fishy’ (yes!), ‘followed by duck..’ (yes! our hearts were really pounding now) ‘…and the winning team is…The French Connection!’ Oh. WE WERE ROBBED! And thoroughly serving winners they were too, closely followed by runners up More Ginger’s Vicar?
All is not lost though readers, oh no, for there is such as thing as the ‘viewers choice awards’ – and so this is where you fascinating, intelligent, good looking, witty readers come in. Please, please vote for the Go Go Gin Girls! Here’s the link or you can click on the Nom Nom Nom badge in the right hand column. We’ll be posting the main course and dessert over the next couple of weeks but in the meantime, did I mention, VOTE FOR US!*
Crab and Mango Salad (serves 1)
100g crab meat – a mixture of white and brown
1/4 mango, diced into 1cm cubes
Small handful mixed leaves
The green parts from 1 spring onion, finely sliced
Sesame seeds to garnish
For the dressing
1 small red chillli, de-seeded and chopped
1 small handful mint leaves and coriander leaves, chopped
1 small clove garlic
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 small piece ginger (about 2cm square), chopped
A good pinch of sugar
1 tbsp flavourless oil
Salt and pepper
– Begin by making the dressing. Crush the garlic, ginger and chilli in a pestle and mortar with the salt until it is broken down and combined. Add the mint, coriander, lime juice, pepper and sugar and work in well. Add the oil and mix again. Adjust the quantities as necessary.
– Combine the crab meat with the mango cubes.
– Place a chef’s ring in the middle of a plate and add the mixed leaves, pressing down gently. On top of this add the crab and mango mixture, again pressing down gently before gently lifting off the ring.
– Swirl the dressing around the sides and sparingly scatter with spring onion slices. Garnish the crab with sesame seeds and serve.
*I’ve never used so many exclamation marks in a blog post. Can you tell we would like to win?
For Lizzie’s post about the starter and a drunken hug picture, click here.
Thanks to Chris Osburn for the top and bottom photos.