The Chorizo Chicas

>> Thursday, 26 July 2012

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!



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