The food photo challenge is complete, with love

@happyhooe tweets: @foodiesarah here’s the beetroot and goats cheese starter I made for our Valentine’s Dinner #FarmersChoice http://t.co/0ibPzruv
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Doesn’t that look just perfect!
This beetroot starter is the winning entry to the recent Valentine’s food photo challenge with Farmers Choice and came from Rose in Cornwall.

She tells me she’s always experimenting with different food and flavours.

The starter couldn’t be simpler, just whizz together ready cooked beetroot (I use the vac pack ones), goats cheese, and I add in a couple of tablespoons of cream cheese too to improve the texture.  Lots of freshly ground white pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, then into the mould and chill for about an hour.  What could be simpler?

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Gallery: Your Valentine’s food photo pictures

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Cooking with love! This gallery shows some of the first pictures in on the Farmers Choice Valentine’s food photo challenge. Hearts are the order of the day it would seem – and who knew chocolate pizza was the food of romance.

What did you cook up for your loved one – or perhaps you went out for that special meal?

Whatever you did to mark the day, there’s still time to share. If you’d like to join in, here’s how.

You can add a picture by using Twitter, Instagram or Flickr – all you need to do is add the #farmerschoice hashtag, leave your location enabled in the app you use and your picture will arrive at this dedicated area here: http://www.valentine.n0tice.com

If you’d rather upload direct from your phone or camera you can still join in. You’ll need to be registered at http://www.n0tice.com and the simply navigate to http://www.valentine.n0tice.com, click to add a new post and upload your image after filling in the brief details about its location.

The pictures will all appear on the noticeboard and a selection will be featured in this picture gallery too – all clearly attributed to yourself.

We’ll leave it running until midday Sunday to give you time to pick the best slot and then the winner of the essential family pack of free range meat (or a same value alternative from the veg or fish range if meat’s not your thing) from free range specialists Farmer’s Choice will be announced on Monday.

The reward from Farmer’s Choice is worth more then £75 and includes cuts such as rump steak, silverside parcel and pork loin parcel; diced meats of lamb, beef, turkey breast, and pork; and not forgetting chicken, mince and sausages. If you haven’t come across Farmer’s Choice before, it is a small, friendly butcher business, dedicated to delivering top quality free-range meat direct to customers in the UK. Check them out at the website, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Instagram.

Join the Valentine’s Photo Challenge for a chance of free range goodies

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Filet, stuffed swordfish, roasted potatoes, green beans and a tomato salsa by Kristie Wells on Flickr.
What will you be cooking up for your loved one? Steak maybe? Cooked just as your loved one has it, or will it be fish or a veggie delight? Maybe you’ll be venturing out to a favourite restaurant instead?

Whatever you’re doing this Valentine, you’re invited to share a picture and be part of the Valentine’s Photo Challenge – it could even win you a selection of free range meat from Farmer’s Choice.

The idea of the challenge is simple – everyone loves snapping and sharing their food pictures – just tag it with #FarmersChoice and you’re a part of it!

The mission is simple but how to choose to interpret it is down to you – a simple snap of that lovingly prepared food, the restaurant’s table settings or something more artistic? That’s up to you.

You can add a picture by using Twitter, Instagram or Flickr – all you need to do is add the #farmerschoice hashtag, leave your location enabled in the app you use and your picture will arrive at this dedicated area here: http://www.valentine.n0tice.com

If you’d rather upload direct from your phone or camera you can still join in. You’ll need to be registered at http://www.n0tice.com and the simply navigate to http://www.valentine.n0tice.com, click to add a new post and upload your image after filling in the brief details about its location.

The pictures will all appear on the noticeboard and a selection will be featured in a picture gallery on this blog too – all clearly attributed to yourself.

We’ll leave it running until midday Sunday to give you time to pick the best slot and then the winner of the essential family pack of free range meat (or a same value alternative from the veg or fish range if meat’s not your thing) from free range specialists Farmer’s Choice will be announced on Monday.

The reward from Farmer’s Choice is worth more then £75 and includes cuts such as rump steak, silverside parcel and pork loin parcel; diced meats of lamb, beef, turkey breast, and pork; and not forgetting chicken, mince and sausages. If you haven’t come across Farmer’s Choice before, it is a small, friendly butcher business, dedicated to delivering top quality free-range meat direct to customers in the UK. Check them out at the website, on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ or Instagram.

What’s cooking in Malaysia Kitchen?

Guest blogger Stanley Harper went along to a recent showcase of Malaysian food in Manchester and found that simplicity is the key to the cuisine. Here’s his report……

It took a lot of persuading to get out of the house on one of Manchester’s particularly freezing mornings but on Saturday 26th January I managed to pay a visit to Oldham Road’s ‘Wing Yip’ Oriental Supermarket, the Chinese cash and carry on the outskirts of the Northern Quarter. Malaysia Kitchen, a campaign raising awareness of Malaysian cuisine and culture in the UK, had arrived in Manchester to showcase the simplicity and great taste of Malaysian cooking, and I wanted to be there!

For those unfamiliar to Malaysian cuisine, in a nutshell, it takes the best flavours from Indian, Chinese and traditional Malay food and merges them into something unique. The result is an amazingly vibrant, delicious and varied cuisine.

The demos were presented by none other than MasterChef 2010 Winner Dhruv Baker. Dhruv was showcasing four traditional Malaysian dishes throughout the day; Chicken Rendang, Curry Laksa, Nasi Goreng and Kway Teow Goreng. To highlight the simplicity of the food and to clear the mystery surrounding Malaysian food, Dhruv used pre made cooking pastes from Malaysia.You wouldn’t expect a top chef like Dhruv to champion pre-made cooking pastes, however you could tell that these pastes were a cut above the rest as he admitted he was amazed by the authenticity and quality of them.
The first dish showcased was a Chicken Rendang.

This chicken curry consists of lots of coconut flesh and milk, slow cooked with chilli and cinnamon, creating a dry but extremely fragrant curry.
The Curry Laksa is a curried noodle soup with tofu, prawn and chicken pieces, very similar to a Japanese Ramen but with a thicker soup. The Laksa had more of a kick than the Rendang but still the lovely light taste which runs through all of the Malaysian dishes we tried.
The other two dishes were very similar. The Nasi Goreng was a chicken and prawn dish with fried pre-cooked rice, the Kway Teow Goreng had fried noodles that were also pre-cooked. These dishes were spicy and flavoursome and are a great way to utilise any leftover ingredients that you may have in the fridge.

Seeing the simplicity of the pastes used by Dhruv, there was no way we couldn’t return home without trying the food for ourselves at home! We left with full bellies and shopping bags, purchasing all of the pastes used by Dhruv and a few extras. Dhruv used a special type of soy sauce called ‘Kicap Manis’, which is much sweeter and thicker than normal soy sauce. The Malaysia Kitchen Ambassadors and Wing Yip staff were both really helpful with their recommendations on Malaysian products, backing up Dhruv’s expert knowledge.
If you want to try them for yourself you can either pop along to Wing Yip for the ingredients (incredibly reasonably priced), or go on to www.malaysiakitchen.co.uk to find your closest Malaysian restaurant along with loads of fantastic recipes from Tim Anderson, Atul Kochhar and many more!

* Stanley Harper is a guest blogger from whynot!If you fancy writing for this blog, here’s how to get in touch.

An evening with the cook in a curry

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Maunika seasoning a dish

I  love learning new things so when I saw Maunika Gowardhan‘s classes advertised I jumped at the chance. Like most people in the UK, I’m no stranger to Indian food,  but I wanted to better understand the difference between home cooking and restaurant or take-away food and Maunika spends her weeks cooking up treats for people in their homes as a private chef across the UK. (I follow her travels @cookinacurry on twitter)

The class was held in the lovely courtyard of the Blackfriars buildings in Newcastle – tucked away off the bright lights of China Town I had no idea it existed until this Friday. The workshop has a large kitchen table to sit round and a working kitchen with chefs popping in to produce restaurant food at regular intervals too!

Maunika demonstrates each dish, describing it in detail as it’s made. We learned about the mellow  pistachio spiced chicken, the aromatic Keralan potatoes with coconut and green peppercorn and oozing garlic pickle.

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Cosy: Blackfriars Workshop

I’d never have thought to create a homemade pickle for a meal before this class and it’s surprisingly easy although the week long waiting time means preparation is all – here’s her recipes for an intense touch of real Indian flavour.

The dishes we learned about were all from the northern region of India where rice isn’t much in evidence as an accompaniment and ghee is rarely used. It made for a lighter experience than a Friday night tikka masalla and, even when chili and garlic are used in some quantity, there’s little heat and fire.

The class heard about the difference between frying the spices at the beginning of the cooking and dry roasting and then grinding them to add to dishes.

We didn’t make the dishes ourselves – I’ve previously done a Chinese class where each student had their own wok station to work at – but the workshop is small enough that everyone could clearly follow each step.

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Mango dessert

The advantage of an evening like this, apart from being a sociable mealtime around a table with interesting people, is that you see and taste what the end dish should resemble – sometimes a difficult thing with unfamiliar products mentioned in a recipe.

It was an enjoyable but informative evening and I’m not surprised her classes sell out so quickly – just a shame I don’t have the means to have her round to cook for us every weekend!

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Clean plates!

Any cookery classes in the north of England that you can recommend? I’d be interested to hear more.