A Charity Cook-Off on the Emerald Isle...

Last week saw me venturing across to the Emerald Isle to battle it out in a charity cook-off at Redcastle Hotel in County Donegal. Joined by Donegal’s own celebrity chef, Brian McDermott, we created four innovative dishes, using locally sourced seafood, lamb and seasonal vegetables. The evening concluded in a Saturday Kitchen style ‘Omelette Challenge’ between myself and Brian. I can reveal that Brian won the contest but only by a millisecond...

What a fantastic evening and for such a worthwhile cause – all proceeds raised will go to local Donegal charity, The Victoria Thompson Scholarship that helps nurses (and others) to train and become advocates for children’s palliative care in Ireland. Set up by Brian and Sharon Thompson, the scholarship is in memory of their daughter, Victoria Thompson who lived for exactly nine months and needed palliative care as result of a rare disease.

Statement on Tasty at the Alea Glasgow

Tony Singh MBE has decided not to renew his contract at the Tasty Restaurant at the Alea Glasgow Casino due to increasing demands on his time from his TV, publishing and charity work.

Tony, who receives his MBE at Buckingham Palace next month for services to the food and drink industry and charity, can no longer devote the time he deems required to lead the 120 cover restaurant. ‘I have enjoyed my year with the team at the Alea,’ Tony says, ‘But to take Tasty to the next level it would require a time commitment from me which is impossible as this stage.’

The TV favourite is a regular face on BBC’s The One Show, Saturday Kitchen and is currently working on a new book. ‘Charity work is hugely important to me,’ comments the father-of-four Chef who has dedicated over 15 days to good causes so far this year, ‘and I hope to now be able to focus even more on that.’

Rob Wear, Food and Beverage Director of Caesars Entertainment the parent company of the Alea Glasgow said, ‘’We would like to take the opportunity to thank Tony for his contribution to the casino. He has been a pleasure to work with and we wish him success with all current and future projects.’

Tasty at the Alea Glasgow will close at the end of April.

Attending Vaisakhi at 10 Downing Street

Vaisakhi is one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar! It’s a time when families and friends come together to commemorate the birth of the Sikh order, Khalsa and celebrate the Sikh New Year. To mark the festival, Sikh Gudawaras around the UK are elaborately decorated and the day of festivities is marked by parades, dancing and holy songs.

To celebrate the religious festival, I was asked to do the catering at 10 Downing Street yesterday. I was honoured to meet the Prime Minister, Theresa May and Home Secretary, Amber Rudd before enjoying a lunch of vegetarian cuisine.

The Prime Minister said, ‘As Sikhs across the globe take part in spectacular processions, and neighbourhoods and gurdwaras burst forth with colour, I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate the immense contribution British Sikhs make to our country. Whether it’s in the fields of business, the armed forces or the charitable sector, you consistently follow the pillars of your faith and in so doing set an example to us all’.

It was a fantastic day and I very much thank 10 Downing Street for having me. Happy Vaisakhi!

Foraging in Scotland, plus a recipe for delicious wild garlic pesto

Springtime in Scotland is a great time to get out and about. It’s school holidays, so I took the kids out to Pencaitland looking for wild garlic. It grows in abundance throughout spring and is pretty easy to find in woodlands or alongside riverbanks.

It’s quite safe to pick – you don’t have to be any kind of foodie expert - just look in semi-shaded areas for the plant’s broad, pointed leaves and little white flowers - one whiff and you’ll know if you’ve found the right thing.

Earlier in the season you are likely to find little buds on the plants, before the white flowers appear. You can eat both parts of the plant, but once the flowers start to appear the taste becomes a little more bitter.

The buds can be used to add flavour, as you might add little onions or chives to a dish, and can be used in pasta sauces and risottos. They have a milder flavour than shop-bought garlic.

Wild garlic leaves can be eaten raw, adding flavour to spring salads, or lightly cooked to add extra flavour to dishes.

We found plenty of this white-flowered little herb and a great time was had foraging in the fresh air before we headed home to whip up some wild garlic pesto. Try out the recipe below yourself and see just how easy it is.

Ingredients

  • 150ml olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 200g wild garlic leaves, well washed
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 100g parmesan, grated
  • Salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper to taste 

Method

Put everything apart from the Parmesan and seasoning into a food processor, then blend it all to a paste. Empty out into a bowl then stir in the Parmesan, sugar, and a little salt and pepper to taste, and you’re good to go. Enjoy!

Celebrate Pancake Day: Tony's Nutella Pancake Gateau

This is a dish that came about thanks to a drink-fuelled party and a challenge: ‘You’re a chef, rustle us up something sweet to eat’. Thus the Nutella gateau was born. You generally always have flour, eggs and milk in the house to make pancakes. Fill them with Nutella and bake in the oven. Simple as that.

Serves 12

  • 1 x 750g jar Nutella hazelnut spread
  • 50g hazelnuts, toasted and crushed Pancakes 250g plain fl our
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 500ml milk
  • 75g melted butter
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the marmalade sauce

  • 1 x 450g jar of quality marmalade (any type – with peel or without) 100g butter
  • 250ml orange juice
  • 100ml Cointreau

1. To make the pancake batter, sift the flour and sugar into a bowl. Whisk in the eggs, then slowly add the milk to this mixture, whisking it in. Finally, whisk in the melted butter and strain through a sieve to remove any small lumps.

2. Heat a thin film of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and fry the pancakes one by one, cooking to a light golden on each side before removing to a cooling rack.

3. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/gas 3½.

4. Once the pancakes are completely cool, warm the Nutella. You can either place the jar in a pan of just-boiled water (off the heat) for 10 minutes or transfer it to a bowl and microwave for 30 seconds on high, until soft. Spread each pancake with a thin layer of warm Nutella (you need to spread them before you start to layer as it’s difficult to spread them once they’re stacked). Place one pancake, Nutella-side up, in a large ovenproof dish with sides or in the frying pan in which you cooked the pancakes (provided it’s ovenproof). Place another pancake on top, then keep building your gateau until you run out of pancakes.

5. To make the marmalade sauce, heat the marmalade with the butter, orange juice and Cointreau. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes or until syrupy.

6. Pour half the sauce over the gateau and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Check it’s ready by inserting a metal skewer into the centre, count to five, then take it out – it should be piping hot. Towards the end of the cooking time, warm through some of the reserved sauce and serve with the gateau.