So first of all, I have to be honest, I’ve said no to coming on this show A LOT. Luckily for me, I think Nick could see through my thin veneer of nonchalance to the terrified wobbling jelly within and just kept on asking until I said yes.
Originally I was going to do the Christmas show, but then it was all change and suddenly it was this Saturday. I was overcome with a mixture of excitement, nerves and a bustling, Womble-like determination to get everything perfect. It didn’t help when Nick mentioned that I was going to be the main guest on the show (oh, no pressure then…) and needed to devise a three course menu to bring into the studio for us all to eat. We chatted around different themes… three courses for under a tenner? Versatile family dishes? But then got lost in a conversation about how the sauce for one of the dishes I’d planned to do (a spicy lamb meatball dish) could be used for lamb shanks, bolognese, soup… and the theme was there before us: frugal food. Luckily, I would be joined by fellow food enthusiast Christian Carden-Maund, who would be bringing a main course and a dessert, and the amazingly clever Charles Bennett from Hanslope wines in Buckinghamshire who would be matching wines to our dishes.
I cooked everything on the Friday (dishes are warmed up in the kitchen at the studio so it was fine to bring everything cold) and arrived, stupidly early at the BBC Three Counties studio in Luton on Saturday morning.
Nick was, as ever, cool as a cucumber (I’ve known him for ages through his food blog/vlog, My Daddy Cooks) and very reassuring, as was the lovely producer, Emma. When Christian and Charles arrived I felt even better as they were lovely – really friendly and chatty, and before I knew it, we were live!
Although I think my first couple of sentences were a bit nervous-sounding, actually I soon forgot I was in the studio as the wine flowed and we tasted and chatted about the various dishes. Weirdly, all that kept popping up in my head was that my Mum was listening and that I mustn’t let her down by burping or swearing or anything. It’s fascinating to see behind the scenes, and actually was quite hilarious during the news or a song to have to sprint up the stairs to the kitchen Benny Hill stylee to warm up the dishes, plate them up and bring them back to the studio, then settle into your chair and joining in the chat again as though you’d never left!.
Christian was a brilliant choice to talk about leftovers as he’s something of a leftover guru. The dish he bought was a fabulous chicken in a sherry cream sauce with mushrooms, which was accompanied by a gorgeous caramelised onion mash – made with potato skins!:
Christian’s dessert was just fabulous – and his own creation – I’m going to ask him to guest blog about the dessert for us because it really is a perfect centrepiece for Christmas: a zesty, light creamy citrus take on a classic tiramisu. Check out the fabulous caramel basket:
Charles’ wine matches were clever and perfect. He chose a beautiful organic Argentinian Torrontés wine called Cuma (Michel Torino) to go with my spiced butternut squash soup (inspired by my homie Laura’s gorgeous butternut squash soup). The generous amount of chilli that I’d added had initially worried me, but matched with the sweetness of the squash and this amazingly rounded white wine, the whole thing was perfect.
For the spicy lamb meatballs, Charles chose this lovely Carmenere (I love Carmenere anyway – Tesco Finest do a great one):
and to match my fudgy chocolate brownie, he went with an amazing dessert wine, which, incidentally he would recommend as a perfect accompaniment to Christmas pudding:
We were also joined by my fellow foodie blogger and online friend, Ren Behan, who does a segment on the show every week. It was lovely to finally meet her in person (plus her apple cake was to die for – I snaffled a couple of slices).
For all the recipes from the show, you can download the factsheet here
Nick Coffer’s Weekend Kitchen is live every Saturday on BBC Three Counties Radio. Thanks so much to Nick for inviting me and to Emma for being so lovely xx
If you want to listen to the show on BBC iPlayer, here’s the link