Fun Food Festival Times with Ainsley Harriott – My exclusive interview with the charismatic and very funny chef, Ainsley Harriott at Bolton Food Festival 2018 in collaboration with Stoves UK.
Bolton Food and Drink Festival 2018
A week ago saw me in a very wet and windy Bolton, where I was attending the Bolton Food and Drink Festival. This wonderful opportunity was all part of my ongoing partnership with StovesUK. I’m working with this great British brand to celebrate the joy of not just staying in, but “staying in in” which is all about going the extra mile and cooking delicious food in the comfort of your own home. I’m loving cooking all of my “Staying In In” recipes with my Stoves Deluxe Range. But, apart from visiting the food festival, I was also there to meet and interview Ainsley Harriott, he of “Ready Steady Cook” and “Can’t Cook, Won’t Cook” fame. The weather may have been bad, but that didn’t stop me (and several thousands of other people) enjoying this large food festival, which was well laid out with hundreds of food and drink related stalls centred around the Town Hall. I had already hosted a Giveaway for tickets on Instagram to see Ainsley Harriott in action on Sunday, as well as James Martin on Monday, and I was very much looking forward to meeting Ainsley and watching his demo too. Ainsley was a fabulously easy person to interview – warm and friendly, and very, very funny! Directly after my interview with him, I watched his demo where he cooked and demonstrated a delectable Portuguese chicken dish with spicy chorizo potatoes, Romanseco sauce and a veggie version with Halloumi and an immense fruity salad. He cooked all of his dishes on a Stoves Induction Hob, and all within one hour, and whilst dancing, singing and wandering through the crowd! My questions and his answers are shared below, along with a few pics from Bolton Food and Drink Festival and from his demo, and I hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I enjoyed interviewing him. Karen
*Disclaimer – This is part of an ongoing paid partnership with STOVES. I received a STOVES Richmond Deluxe range cooker and a fee as part of my collaborative work with them*
* Who was your childhood inspiration for cooking?
Definitely my mother, Peppy, she was a great cook and we always had fabulous home-cooked food on the table when I was growing up. She cooked, as lots of mothers do, as a way of showing love for her family. It was a way of making people happy, and I thought that’s it! That’s what I want to do!
* Do you have a “Signature Dish”for “Staying In In” and why is so important to you?
It would have to be my mum Peppy’s Red Pea Stew and Dumplings. She always used to make this at Christmas, and it;s my favourite Staying In In dish to cook and share with friends and family. Mum used to make it with a ham bone, but I use ham hocks in my recipe. It was one of the favourite dishes at the Church Suppers we used to go to as well, and was the first dish to be devoured! (You can find Ainsley’s recipe here: Ainsley Harriott’s Peppy’s Red Pea Stew & Dumplings)
* What three ingredients would you never be without in your kitchen?
That’s a tough question, but I suppose the essentials for me are obviously S & P (salt and pepper) and good oil, such as extra virgin olive oil. I also love cooking with Sumac, so I’m going to add that too!
* You are well known for your amazing Caribbean cooking, but what other countries style of cooking do you like?
The church suppers I mentioned earlier on were a great introduction into other cultures and other styles of cooking. And I love Greek, Italian and Indian cooking too. I was classically trained at Westminster College in London, so my heart is very close to French cooking too.
* Every chef I have ever spoken to usually has a “guilty secret” dish they like to eat. Mine is a fish finger sandwich, what is yours?
Well, I do like a fish finger sarnie too, but it’s not my late-night guilty secret dish! My favourite recipe to make after a night out, or when I am wanting some easy comfort food is sweetcorn fritters. Quicker to make than a bacon butty and a firm favourite of mine….I use creamed corn in my recipe along with spring onions and parsley. You bind these ingredients together with cornflour and plenty of S & P, and fry them until they are crispy and golden brown. That’s my not so guilty secret and one that I make regularly for “straight from the pan” grazing.
Ainsley’s recipe that he cooked on a STOVES induction hob at his demo is shared below….
PORTUGUESE CHICKEN WITH CHARGRILLED RED PEPPER & ALMOND SAUCE
For the marinade:
Zest of 2 lemons
1 tbsp peppercorns, crushed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp thyme leaves chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
4 skinless chicken breasts
For the sauce:
100g blanched whole almonds
290g Jar of chargrilled red peppers
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
6 tbsp olive oil
Salt and black pepper
For the potatoes:
500g cooked new potatoes, cooled and halved
150g chorizo, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tbsp thyme leave, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Make the marinade by mixing together the lemon zest, peppercorns, paprika, thyme and olive oil.
Take the chicken breasts and lightly score one side with a criss-cross pattern.
Add the chicken to the marinade, cover and leave for 10 minutes – or better still overnight.
To make the sauce place the almonds, peppers, garlic and red wine vinegar in a blender and blend until smooth. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil then season with a little salt and pepper.
Fry the chorizo in a pan until its oil starts to release, then add the potatoes. Fry for 5 minutes until crispy then add in the thyme. Season with black pepper and finish with a scattering of parsley.
Heat a griddle pan on a high heat. Add the chicken to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. This will depend on how thick the chicken breasts are. Once cooked, remove from the griddle and leave to rest for a couple of minutes before serving with the pepper sauce and new potatoes.
Karen’s new book will be published in Autumn/Winter 2018