Congratulations to our Viewers Choice Winners for 2012

>> Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The online votes are in and from early days it was a two horse race between A Flickr of Hope and The Gujerati Girls.

In our closest voting ever Urvashi & Meena (Gujerati Girls) just squeaked ahead!. With 1,707 votes they won 1st prize in the Viewers Choice, with Jon & Kai (A Flickr of Hope) in worthy second place with 1,680 votes.


DSC_4561Meena
A flickr o' hope
Flickr of Hope, Jon and Kai
The Gujerati Girls each win a Cuisine Système 5200XL Premium food processor from Magimix

 

A Flickr of Hope  each win a Le Mini Plus Colour Food Processor from Magimix.
Le Mini Plus Colour
 
Once again congratulations to Urvashi and Meena & Jon & Kai - we'll be in touch to arrange getting your prizes to you!


Don't forget that everyone can still win some lovely foodie prizes in the charity raffle for Action Against Hunger, which is still open until the end of August.  Good luck in the raffle!

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Viewer Choice Vote 2012

>> Thursday, 26 July 2012

So the Expert Judges's Choice Winners were announced, but now it's time for YOU to have your say.

All the finalists pairs have written blog posts about their experience and those who come 1st and 2nd are in with the chance of winning some fantastic prizes, from Magimix.

All you need to do is vote for your favourite team below. Their blog posts are in the links below.


Voting closes on Monday 13th August 2012 at 23.59pm and you can vote once a day if you like.

If you'd like to win some fantastic food & drink prizes yourself, bag yourself a ticket in our charity raffle which closes at the end of August.

Good luck to all the finalists!

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Gujerati Girls go For Gold!!

It all started with a cuppa tea....

Copyright Urvashi Roe_Nom Nom Nom 2012
Cuppa Tea
A cuppa tea one rainy morning browsing Twitter seeing a note from @NomNomNom2012 calling for entries into this ultimate year's competition for food bloggers.

A cuppa tea one inspired evening on the phone dreaming up menus that were authentic to our Gujerati roots and seasonal here in the UK.  Meena from @ChaiLounge is a South African born Gujerati and I, Urvashi,  am a Tanzanian born @GujeratiGirl.  Same continent.  Same language but would our tastes work together? We were both keen to try. 

The theme this year was 'The 2012 Olympics'.  For me this represents Challenge, Competition and Camaraderie.

Challenge

The biggest challenge we faced was living hours away from each other.  How would we agree flavours and and combine our tastes?  It wasn't ideal but we agreed our menus and set about practising each other's recipes.  Meena lives in Edinburgh and I live in London so it was impossible to meet up. We found similarities. We found differences. We had a few more cuppas and all was well again. 

Competition

Competition day came around too quickly.  We arrived at Cookery School's cosy HQ to the warmest of welcomes and a breakfast of champions.
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Gorgeous Oatie Breakfast Biscuits
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Gooey Flapjacks
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Yummy cheese scones
I was excited to meet the other competition entrants. There was a wonderful mix of world cuisines - a truly Olympic variety but already the rivalry had begun!  

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Competition toughing up!
First off, we walked to Marylebone Farmer's Market in search of our ingredients. We had £40 to spend but as we had brought some of our unusual spices with us, we cut this down to £35.  

Stocking up on fresh produce #nomnnomnom2012
Marylebone Farmer's Market
Thankfully we found all our key ingredients but it was touch and go with the coriander who we got from this crazy man.

And the chickpea flour, that this wonderful chap in Waitrose helped us discover hidden in the ethnic foods aisle. 
Phew! Last one. Thank you lively Waitrose man #nomnnomnom2012
Smiles and excellent service at Waitrose

Back at base, we kicked off with a health and safety briefing from the fabulous Rosalind Rathouse of Cookery School. Something as important to us aspiring chefs as to all the Olympic athletes who'll be competing this week.
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The lovely Rosalind Rathouse from Cookery school

On your marks.....get set.....go! The cooking countdown began! 

Not even five minutes in and we encountered our first hiccup. Meena's pressure cooker could not be used on the induction hobs. Eeeeeeeeeek! This was essential for our dhal as our lentils were unsoaked!


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Pressure cooker kaputt!
Thankfully the incredibly friendly Cookery School team were on hand and we borrowed one - albeit enormous for our cupful of red 'toor dhal' lentils!  

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Lovely Cookery School Team
Once that was sorted, we prepped our peanut stuffing for the aubergine main course using the beautiful Magimix.
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Aubergine stuffing
Next up, the chickpea flour and yoghurt stuffing for our green bullet chillies.
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Green chillies stuffed with chickpea flour, yoghurt and spices
And after that it was all a blur.....


Potatoes were chopped. Spices were added. Oil was heated. Tomatoes were sizzled. Chappatti dough was made. Oil was spilled. Rose kulfi was stirred. Rose kheer was stirred. Rose flaooda was tasted. And then drunk. And then made again. 


BREATHE! 


Chickpea tins were opened. Tomatoes were cubed. Coriander leaves were torn. Onions were chopped. Onions were rechopped more finely. Coriander chutney was whizzed. Stop seasoning was misssed!

BREATHE! 


And so before we knew it! It was time to plate up. 


Our starter was a chickpea, potato and tomato 'chaat' with mangoes, onions, fresh coconut and coriander chutney. 


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Gujerati Girls Starter 
Our main course was a 'thali' of dhal, simple potato curry, aubergines stuffed with peanuts and long green chillies and chappattis or rotli as we Gujerati's call them.
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Gujerati Girls main courseAdd caption
Our dessert was a Trio or Rose which is a really special flavour in our food. Rose kheer - a slow cooked rice pudding; Rose Falooda - a milkshake with vermicelli and basil seeds; and Rose Kulfi - a rich ice cream.
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Gujerati Girls Trio of Rose
And that was that! All over. 


A tiring day. A fun day. A loooong day! 


Camaraderie 

What would the judges decide? At this point I wasn't really bothered. I was enjoying the glass of white wine from Natural Wines and the sense camaraderie as we all chatted about the day's events and challenges.



There are lots of ways to get involved. As a first step, why not buy some virtual raffle tickets for some amazing cookery and food related goodies. As the judges deliberated, we all sat down to the fruits of our labour.

The wonderful Cookery School chefs had taken our dishes and created an enormous buffet with them all so we could taste everything from each team.
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Cheese!
For me this was the best part and if I had been the judge, my vote would have gone to the American team's gazpacho. It was awesome!

 Meena and I took the Bronze medal so to speak with Silver going to the Singaporean delights of Singply Sensational and the Gold to the fabulous Chorizo Chica.
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Scooping third proze
We received the most amazing prizes, goody bags and support from the Nom Nom Nom 2012 team and judges. I had had an amazing day in aid of Action Against Hunger, made new friends and tasted new dishes.  

Nom Nom Nom 2012 Goody Bag
Fabulous Goody Bag
But what was now needed more than anything, was a little cuppa tea :-)

VOTE FOR GUJERATI GIRLS

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Team Melange...Colourful & Creative!

Team Melange, Nom Nom Nom 2012 Challenge


Photo by Monica Shaw

On 8th July 2012, on an early Sunday morning after a supper club the night before, travelling to Manchester and Liverpool between both team members, we took part in the Nom Nom Nom challenge at Little Portland street Cookery School.  I was the first person to arrive (eager beaver) once everyone started to turn up we were greeted and fed with delicious breakfast treats. My lovely team member Sumayya of Pukka Paki strolled in soon after, looking reasonably calm ( I was totally the opposite, I have you know I hide behind nervous smiles).. but reassuringly we were both confident once found our feet! And this is where the Pukka Paki and Yummy Choo collaboration began!

I started off with the organic porridge, with a rhubarb compote from Regents Park I was assured! It was what I needed to keep going for the long day ahead..

We were ushered to leave with our cookery school bags and fill with all sorts of ingredients needed from the food markets locally in Marylebone. We ducked and dived under umbrellas to avoid the rain (but gave up after a while) and scurried around the markets, getting a little carried away for our liking..

Picking up edible flowers, fresh herbs, organic vegetables and after buying pretty much most of the market we rushed over to gather the rest from the ever reliable Waitrose.  Which is where we bumped into the rest of our competitors supermarket sweeping with trolleys, gathering ingredients to promptly get back to the cookery school to start cooking! Half of our shopping was in a cab with other competitors who took back the heavier items, but finally we re-grouped into our kitchen spaces, unloading ingredients and getting ready to cook our masterpieces!

Sumayya & myself took out our clean (later to be stained) sheets of instructions, as helpful reminders during the day. Having to ask for every piece of equipment as and when we needed it took a bit of getting used to, but the Cookery School staff made the exchange of dirty dishes with clean as quick as possible. They produced pots, pans, plates ass efficiently and with ease, even when panic set in with Sumayya’s gulab jamun’s not being able to be made, the staff were very helpful in going out of their way.

Two and a half hours flew by very quickly and all the elements of our dish were coming together. Our three courses were a summery fusion of the flavours of Pakistan and Mauritian dishes themed and inspired by the motto of Pakistan,  ‘Faith, Unity, Discipline’ – a motto that can be applied to the spirit of the Olympics.
Our starters was a ‘ceviche’ style, with king prawns marinated in citrus, assorted chilli’s and a blend of Pakistani and Mauritian spices, regional fruit and vegetables, including pineapple, mango, coconut, pomegranate infused with flavours of the Indian sub-continent and enhanced with coloured salts presented with the Olympic rings as inspiration.

Photo by Monica Shaw

This included a fish ceviche with lime juice, coriander, mooli, orange juice , red chilli, cumin.  Prawns with lime juice, rose syrup, mint, radishes, green chilli and finally a fruit ceviche with mango, pomegranate, lemon juice, guava and chaat masala.

Photo by Mecca Ibrahim

Our main dish was a selection of Pakistani and Mauritian street food inspired curries and snacks, served Thahli-style – including a Mauritian chicken daube (in rich spicy tomato sauce), gateaux bringele (aubergine cakes, in gram flour batter) with a coriander chilli satini. A Pakistani style green masala mint, coconut, coriander fish wrapped in banana leaves, okra chips with chaat masala, saffron,cinnamon, cashew nut rice.  I used the Magimix mixer to make my coriander satini, with blended coriander, garlic, chilli and tomatoes, pulsed to a paste. I also used it to make the mango puree for the cheesecakes!

The main dish was decorated with the world flags and presented in a fun, colourful style that represents our countries!

Photo by Monica Shaw

Dessert was a trio inspired selection of 3 regional sweets, presentation based on the ultimate of the Olympics, the 3 medals, one bronze, gold and silver adorned with shimmer dusts. A last-minute semolina halwa, pudine mais (Mauritian corn pudding, with sultanas and coconut) and a ginger crusted,mango and lime cheesecake.

The brief was to create a 3 course olympic themed menu which I feel we accomplished quite well, each dish was creatively presented, colourful (it did stand out) and represented a dip into our native backgrounds and truly representing the collaboration of countries, uniting as one.

We plated our dishes us successfully within the allocated time, mopped each other’s brows after the 2 hours and well were pretty much dying for a well deserved glass of vino. So the fun began once everyone’s dishes had been brought up to be marked by the judges and we could all descend downstairs dig into over 30 dishes of leftovers that everyone had made and sit down finally!

A food quiz and raffle commenced after we had all chowed down and had a drink, which was fun, we almost forgot why we were there in the first place. I also won the most crappy dvd ‘Love’s Kitchen’, trust me to get that question right!

The judges appeared after a while and the winners were announced or in this case Victoria Glass was flying solo but with the generous help of Rosanna Mcphee she brought home the trophy of first prize and it couldn’t have gone to a nicer lass with a damn fine-looking menu . With the quirky twosome of Sinply Sensational winning a well deserved 2nd prize   ( their goreng pisang was the nuts!)

Home-bound after a weary day with full bellies and wine breath, we left Cookery School with several tonnes of goodies in hand and a group photo at the end. As well as walking away with Unearthed chorizo and mojito olives, Shipton Mill flour, Salter weighing scale in shocking pink, Black Garlic, Burt’s Crisps and The Big Book of Bread, plus a wok!

Even though we didn’t win that day, we were winners in our mind from what we accomplished! Online voting starts soon, so please vote for TEAM MELANGE for the Viewer’s choice.

The online raffle is already up and if you’re more than welcome to enter –  the top prize is £630 worth of Wusthof knives, but there are loads of other great prizes that you might be interested in ! http://www.justgiving.com/Nom-Nom-Nom-2012  Please take part and raise money for Action Against Hunger!

Selina & Sumayya
xx

VOTE FOR TEAM MELANGE

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Team America


American Menu:
Cajun Gazpacho
Summer Sausage Gumbo, with Collard Greens, Cornbread and Rice
“Twinkies” with Cherry Dipping Sauce

It was a great honour to be invited to participate in this year’s Nom Nom Nom, kindly hosted by The Cookery School in Little Portland Street; the proceeds of which went towards Action Against Hunger. This was our first foodie competition, and well, with one half of us being American and both naturally highly competitive, we sought to create a menu that would surprise the judges. 

We had only met three weeks prior to D-day, and had never cooked together. In normal circumstances that could be met with some obvious trepidation but we became fast friends over a mutual love of white wine and several glasses of it later, we formalised our American menu.  This turned out to be quite a difficult exercise. To create a menu that avoided clichéd American foods like burgers, oversized pizzas and hot-dogs meant we had to look further into what true American cuisine was and to do that, we had to think regionally.

At the risk of vastly oversimplifying the huge varieties of cuisine available on the other side of the pond, the West Coast, where Linds is from, has a tendency to incorporate Asian flavours and fuse them with fresh, seasonal and local produce. They also love seafood and are known for some of the freshest in the continental United States. The East Coast is much more into classical cooking, has less of an inclination for fusion cooking and a great deal of their native cuisine is very much centred on shellfish. It also has an emphasis on ‘one-pot’ cooking (clam chowder anyone?).  Scandinavian immigrants hugely influenced Midwestern cuisine and a lot of the food revolves around heavy stews and comfort food, which is fair enough because it is bloody cold there.  And then there’s the Deep South.  A place shrouded in mystery and romanticism, we chose to focus there because much of their cuisine is all their own and as it turns out, has a lot more to it than just fried chicken.

We whittled our ideas down to Cajun food in the end; a cuisine which came to America via the French-speaking Acadian people, descendants of 17th century colonists. The Acadians came to Louisiana after being deported from Canada by the British.  A great portion of Southern cooking has roots in many different cultures - Spanish, Italian, French, Native American and Portuguese - and in that typically American way, the melting pot of cuisines from the region amalgamated to create new and exciting flavours.

Avoiding the rain outside Waitrose (not)
We got to the Cookery School and were greeted with yummy porridge with rhubarb compote, some amazing cheese scones and tea and coffee, which was a wonderful way to start the day. After a warm and welcoming introduction from Rosalind, we headed on to Marylebone for quite a pleasant but rainy shop at the farmers market and quick stops at the Ginger Pig and Waitrose; we returned to The Cookery School with our spoils and got started.  Linds was responsible for the gazpacho and the Twinkies; Bex took on cooking gumbo, collard greens and cornbread.




Gazpacho is a blend of tomatoes, cucumber, garlic and peppers and if you’re not a purist, this basic grouping can be used as a tableau for additional flavours. It was a great opportunity to use the donated Magimix, which was a dream to work with. It blended the ingredients beautifully and with little noise (a huge bonus!).  Linds adapted a recipe for a traditional Cajun rubbing spice mix, which was then added to the vegetables. It gave the gazpacho a little heat and a slightly smoky taste. Served with drizzled with olive oil and garnished chopped chives, it was intended as a fresh and bright start to our menu. 

Suggesting a gumbo to cook for the main was easy, but finding the perfect recipe was another thing and after a lot of research Bex found the perfect one-pot solution from two different sources. She tried the Summer Sausage Gumbo at home eight times, and by pot number seven she had friends, neighbours and her boyfriend running for the hills - they were fed up being the Nom Nom Nom guinea pigs!  The collared greens recipe called for smoked turkey wings and Bex could probably have smoked chicken wings but with just two and a half hours in which to cook the whole meal she decided against it. The gumbo on the day turned out pretty delish though, so we were pleased in the end! Bex opted for a sweet and sour greens recipe, which used organic spring greens, demerara sugar, chicken stock and fresh red chilli.  The cornbread, Bex has to admit, she just couldn't get right.  She adjusted the recipe, swapped creamed corn for sweetcorn, added sugar, removed sugar, used varying grades of cornmeal - fine to coarse and increased and reduced cooking time but she still couldn't get it perfect. It would be too soggy, too dry or a combination of both - the crust was always excellent though!  On the day Bex got Lindsay to make the cornbread and she did a better job than all the attempts than she ever imagined.  Maybe, Bex was just trying far too hard.  How could cornbread beat her when it's really not that scientific? If she ever go to New Orleans or the Deep South she is going to befriend a local, get their generations-old cornbread recipe and nail that Son!




Finally, for pudding, we chose to have a little fun and instead of going for more traditional pie (“American as Apple Pie”), we opted to do our own version of that Great American Delicacy, the Twinkie.  The real Hostess Twinkie is kind of tubular sponge cake filled with a marshmallow & egg white cream. Linds decided to do her own interpretation so as to avoid the Twinkie’s normal characteristics: overly sweet cake and rather sickly marshmallow cream. It took her eight tries in the lead up to the cook-off, and countless attempts at making the Twinkie moulds out of a spice jar and aluminium foil, but in the end, the Twinkies turned out rather delish; a light sponge, filled with mascarpone whipped cream and served with slightly sweet/sour cherry dipping sauce on the side.

Peace!
The entire experience was fantastic, we loved Nom Nom Nom 2012 and it was great being in a team with each other. We wouldn’t have been able to do what we needed to do without the incredible back of house staff supplied by the Cookery School and overseen by the amazing Marcella.  We also particularly enjoyed stealing cheeky glances at what others were making. The team from Singapore were in our line of sight most of the day and their food looked and tasted wonderful (and not surprisingly they took 2nd place!).  There was pleasant competition (at least on our parts) and a real sense of camaraderie with the other teams.  The judges were gracious and seemed be genuinely happy to give up some of their precious time to taste our amateur cooking. 

After lunch, a few refreshing Aspall ciders and a great quiz, Ros announced the winners and what do you know Team America took 4th Place! Though not Magimixes or Cloches, we happily walked away with Masterchef cookbooks for our prize. In addition, Charlotte from The Cookery School compiled some amazing goodie bags, all filled with items supplied by the incredibly generous sponsors: electric scales from Salter, beautiful Shipton Mill three-malt sunflour and brown flour, organic flour from Allinson, saffron from Brindisa, black garlic, chocolates from Amedei, yummy bacon flavoured crisps from Burts, Unearthed bratwurst sausages and a rather sturdy non-stick wok, which is constantly on our draining boards at home! All in all, we returned home laden with fantastic foodie treats and thoroughly exhausted, but contented with our performance.

And… Nom Nom Nom 2012 isn’t over yet! There is still time to vote for the People’s Choice for menus and there are still great prizes to be won too, so go be sure to vote (for us obviously!) and get yourselves some raffle tickets too, which go to a great cause.  

Linds Harrison (Blonde vs Bland) and Bex Williams (Hold the Anchovies Please)

Thanks to Annie Mole and Monica Shaw for providing some additional photos

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The Chorizo Chicas

Dolly Alderton, at the Noms in spirit on the day

Dolly and I were set on Spain from the get-go. Who could resist the allure of paprika, sherry and ... what's that delicious food stuff that gave its name to our team again? Oh yeah, chorizo. Mmm, chorizo. We both really love chorizo. We were all fired up and raring to go, excited about entering the Nom Nom Noms together, but disaster struck on the morning of the competition. A panicked Dolly rang me to say she was stuck filming in a field in Wales and couldn't make it back to London in time to don her pinny. Although Dolly sadly had to miss the competition itself, she is still very much an integral team member of The Chorizo Chicas, having thrashed out the menu with me over several espresso martinis and taken part in the practice run on the Thursday before the big day. Going solo was going to require some seriously speedy prepping, but luckily for me, help arrived in the inimitable style of Rosana McPhee, who took pity on me and generously rolled up her sleeves to chop several heads of garlic and generally give me a very welcome helping hand. The day wouldn't have been nearly as much fun without her.

Photo by Monica Shaw

The regulation raw dish came in the shape of a starter of boquerones-style scallops - a last minute change to the traditional boquerones on our original menu because Dolly and I had to do our practice session at my gaff and I live with a man with a serious fish allergy. Nothing fishy is allowed in our kitchen, not even when practising for the Nom Nom Noms. The scallops were served with a pimento pepper purée and a flat leaf parsley oil, speedily blitzed up in seconds in the brilliant piece of Magimix kit all us contestants got to play with. 

Photo by Monica Shaw


Next up, the main. Pork loin marinated in paprika, sherry, garlic, chilli, parsley and lemon before being seared and finished off in the oven until a pretty blush pink in the middle. I couldn't be more pleased that pink pork has been given the green light and the sorry days of dry and desiccated loin fillets can be relegated to the nightmares of lunches past. The pork, bought from the ever spectacular Ginger Pig round the corner from Cookery School, was served on a bed of chorizo and broad bean stew. After the agony of double podding the beans was finally over, this dish was a cinch to prepare, but full of the rich, deep flavours that Dolly and I so love in Spanish food. To balance out the pork overload, Rosana helped me knock up some garlicky spuds to serve with it.

Photo by Monica Shaw

Pudding came in the form of a cheat's version of crema catalana. There was nothing cheaty about the flavours - cinnamon and citrus-infused custard - but time was too short to leave them to set in their own sweet time, so I rushed them along with a little help from leaf (perhaps one leaf too many, in actual fact) gelatine. I don't need much of an excuse to get the blow torch out, fun as they are to wield about in the kitchen, so it was nice to pick a pud' that required a little fire. 

Photo by Monica Shaw

I topped each ramekin with a little gold leaf, in an attempt to woo the judges into giving The Chorizo Chicas the gold medal. Which they did! And I must say, I couldn't have been happier or more surprised, as you can probably tell from the frankly demented expression on my face at hearing the news.

Victoria Glass looking insane. Photo by Tiki Chris
I won a massive Magimix and ate all the delicious and varied foods cooked by the other contestants. The Nom Nom Noms really is a highlight in the calendar - an amazing day of cooking and eating with wonderful people for a wonderful cause, all eased along with the effortless efficiency and charm of the staff of Cookery School. And a belly full of good grub and wine wasn't all. We were sent on our merry way with not one, but TWO goody bags, filled to the brim with flours and sugars from Shipton Mill, Billingtons and Allinson, the Big Book of Bread, a pouch of black garlic, Burts crisps, saffron from Brindisa, chocolate from Amedei (all greedily scoffed within an hour of getting home from the Noms I'm ashamed to admit), delicious treats from Unearthed, including their astoundingly good mini cooking chorizos. We also each went away with Salter digital scales in pretty pink or luscious lime green and a fabulous Masterclass wok. All in all, that was some extremely high quality swag and you can get your hands on some too! Please take the time to enter the raffle for your chance to win some fantastic prizes. All proceeds go to Action Against Hunger

The Chorizo Chicas won the judges' vote on the day, and I'd dearly love to win yours too. Please vote en masse for Spain!

VOTE FOR CHORIZO CHICAS

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China-Pak Co.

china-pak co. as photographed by chris osburn
I was quite nervous about Nom Nom Nom 2012 mostly because it felt like being on a blind date. Not only had I never met my cooking partner Xin, I had never cooked any of the recipes that we had agreed on. To top it all I had been out of the country until the week before the competition so Xin and I did all our planning virtually. But that’s the thing about cooking together; it brings about a sense of camaraderie. Clearly we were not the only team in this situation as a lunchtime chat revealed that Fiona Maclean from the Gaelic Girls was cooking an unfamiliar menu sans her original teammate.

the wonderful and warm rosalind rathouse
by come con ella
Our day at Cookery School began with breakfast. I have very fond memories of Rosalind’s Kitchen breakfast and happily tucked into a bowl of warm creamy porridge sweetened with rhubarb compote. After this early morning fortification all of the teams dispatched themselves to Marylebone Village to pick up the ingredients for their culinary creations. Xin and I had small concise list, which was quite helpful primarily because of the uncooperative British summer. It has been all temper and tantrums with a scarce sunny disposition, a state of mind not quite convenient for shopping at a farmer’s market. I provided much needed umbrella services whilst Xin negotiated her way around the fresh produce to pick up a medley of vegetables. We then walked over to Ginger Pig to pick up some minced pork for our wontons. A quick trip to Waitrose gave us our seasonings – Sichuan peppercorns with a subdued pungency and rice wine vinegar. Xin had already brought along five spice smoked tofu and the wonton wrappers.

some of our ingredients
photocredit come con ella
magimix at work - sesame and peanut paste
photocredit come con ella
With our shopping tucked into our sustainable and reusable Cookery School bags Xin and I headed back to get cooking. Our preparations included much julienning and chopping so we set to work on our cucumbers, carrots and smoked tofu. Our starter was a simple smoked tofu salad with a play on textures – firm carrots, soft and summery cucumbers and the soft bite of spring onions. Otherwise bland tofu was dressed up with Chinese five-spice. The dressing was nutty with the addition of sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds. Once this was prepared Qin set about to make the wontons. I was not much help on this front having never made them before but I had my hands full with toasting sesame seeds in batches, as these were to add a finishing touch to our salad and form the base of our dessert. The Magimix gave us the stuffing for the wontons and the glutinous rice balls happily whizzing away the pork, lettuce, ginger and spring onions for the former and the peanut butter and toasted sesame seeds for the latter to a smooth consistency.    

preparing the smoked tofu salad
photocredit to chris osburn
The quiet steadiness that had lasted us through most of the preparation dissipated at the end. I think this was mostly because Xin and I were first time participants in a competition but also because we have very different planning and management styles. We made it to the finishing line by a very thin line!

peanut sesame glutinous rice balls
photocredit to chris osburn
The Cookery School staff that had spent the day whizzing around the kitchen disappearing dirty dishes and catering to the many needs of the participants now suddenly shifted gear. Tables were whisked out, table linen was draped, folding chairs appeared from thin air and flawless crockery and cutlery was set down. We all pitched in to get lunch on the table as quickly as possible. Liquid fortification in the form of cider and wine began the lunch. When it came to lunch the array of dishes was a true representation of the diversity of London with food from Singapore, India, Pakistan, America and so forth.

time for lunch
photocredit come con ella
The tail end of lunch was met with the food quiz that won me two books – a much-loved Fast Puddings by Nigel Slater and one on Dim Sum. Then the judges came along and delivered their verdict. You can read about the winning teams here. The afternoon had quickened pace once again as all of us were whisked onto the street where a brief respite from the rain allowed Chris to take a group photograph of all of us. And then we were on our way laden with treats from the day… I spent my tube journey back rifling through the contents and instantly fell in love with the bright pink electronic scales. They have been put to good use since they came home. The same can be said about the Masterclass Wok. Allison’s flour became the base of a lovely English Apple Cake by Britain’s beloved Nigel Slater.

the foodie goodie bags
photocredit chris osburn
Salutations and thanks to the Cookery School and the Judges who donated their day of rest to Nom Nom Nom 2012, to Chris Osburn, Annie Mole and Monica Shaw for a wealth of pictures and to the sponsors for our goodies. But more importantly in true Cookery School ethos is the support for Action Against Hunger. Hunger is a concern at home and abroad. The Guardian’s series on Breadline Britain is an eye opener on the impact that the recession has had on families and individuals in the United Kingdom. Action Against Hunger works globally to alleviate child hunger. So go on and show your support by donating to Action for Hunger’s Foodie Fundraising Raffle.   


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About Nom Nom Nom

Now in its fifth year, Nom Nom Nom is a MasterChef style competition giving the internet's finest bloggers, food photographers and food writers the chance to compete against each other in a professional kitchen. To find out more click here

See what happened in last year's Nom Nom Nom

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