Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Buttery Biscuit Base

how to make a gif
My homage. It's like the Yellow Wallpaper all over again.

The incredible video below entitled MasterChef Synesthesia (Buttery Biscuit Bass) has been doing the rounds on the internet.

I felt like I had to share it here too, since it combines two of my most favourite things - making fun of MasterChef, and a thumping BASS BASS BASS line.

The maker Swede Mason have some other gems in their back catalogue - notably a strangely haunting Richard Madeley mashup and a surprisingly appealing Jeremy Clarkson beatbox track

(((Wobble, wobble, wobble)))

EDITED TO ADD: You can now buy MasterChef Synesthesia on iTunes - let's get it to Number 1 in the charts!

(official release - 7p from each download goes to Comic Relief)

Buy the amazing OFFICIAL Buttery Biscuit Base T-shirt from Dental Records.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Summer Rolls Recipe aka Goi Cuon - Vietnam (Channel 4 Food)

MiMi's Vietnamese Summer Rolls

I've never been a fan of spring rolls. I'm fairly sure this is as a result of early exposure at school dinners to a comestible dubbed a pancake roll - a huge, solid, brown rectangle dripping with grease and flabby beansprouts.

But summer rolls are an entirely different matter. Fresh, light, stuffed with herbs and lettuce and other stuff so deliciously good for you that it's practically a salad, without the hair-shirt.

Herbs and rice paper

A traditional Vietnamese snack, summer rolls aka gỏi cuốn need at least one specialist ingredient (the rice paper wrappers), but it's worth schlepping out and stocking up.

Classic fillings are thin rice noodles, lettuce, pork and prawns. You can leave out the pork to make it meat-free or substitute fried tofu. I like to use diced roast pork belly (ok, so the claim to health food becomes wobbly here) or sometimes chunks of roast duck. You could use leftovers from a roast.

Lettuce-wise, you want to use butter, Boston or Bibb - the round, velvety type - as the fat leaves holds everything together nicely.

Butterhead lettuce

As for herbs, you can play with the mix to some extent. The best combo uses chives and coriander but also slightly esoteric herbs like perilla, cockscomb mint, and Thai basil, which give unexpected, citrussy, almost spicy notes.

You can get away with just chives, coriander, and mint however, and that will give the rolls just enough leafy pep.

Summer roll filling

Sometimes I add crispy dried shallots. That's veering into bánh cuốn territory, but as Vietnamese food expert Uyen Luu of Leluu Supperclub says, "You can add whatever you like to these rolls and make them your own".

They're a little tricky to make first time around but no cooking required, and with a bit of practice, you'll be making these as quickly as a sandwich - and as far as I'm concerned, they're much nicer than a sarnie in a packed lunch, or even a picnic ...

Summer rolls ready to rock

My Vietnamese Summer Rolls recipe on Channel 4 Food

(originally written to accompany Gordon's Great Escape to Vietnam)

Monday, 13 June 2011

Morphy Richards Intellisteam Review


When I was growing up, I loved shopping almost as much as I do now. My dad (affectionately, I hope) called me the "ultimate consumer", and I had various brand prejudices which were probably based on very little evidence.

For instance, I thought Sony was the best for tellies, Tefal was the kettle maker, Breville made the perfect sandwich toaster, and Hoover made the best, erm, hoover.

Home of the House Proud logo

Morphy Richards was familiar to me as a good all-rounder - far from super-exciting, but reliable and somehow comforting, the fluffy slippers of the appliance world. So I wasn't that surprised to hear that this year is the 75th Anniversary of Morphy Richards.

As part of their celebrations which will include events and giveaways, Morphy Richards picked a group of bloggers (including me) to become Home of the House Proud Innovators, which basically means they would send us their products and ask us to put them through their paces and then share our thoughts.

I warned them I'd be brutally honest, and they still seemed strangely willing.

So this is a review of the first item they've sent me (yes, I get to keep it) - the Intellisteam, their "intelligent" steamer.

The Intellisteam is ridiculously big. Like, bigger than the Tefal Actifry, and that's really saying something.

It comes in several parts - the base, the section which sits on top of that which you fill with water, and the steam compartments themselves.

There's one long steam compartment at the back and one in the front which you can divide into two. Inside the steam compartments are two optional trays - one for liquid or small portions and one for rice - and a steam rack.


I'm tired just writing all of that.

So why is it intelligent? Because you can set the separate steam compartments to cook for different amounts of time, but they all finish cooking at once. Obviously, this is impossible with a traditional steamer, since with those, the sections stack on top of one another.

That's why the thing is so massive - it has to be, so each compartment can be directly over the steam. Anyway, I decided to make something that would need to use every compartment and came up with a lazy version of kedgeree.

If you see the picture above, I stuck all the ingredients in at the same time and then set the timer for the different compartments. The timer lets you choose the type of ingredient you're steaming and then automatically gives a suggested steaming time which you can then tweak up or down according to the quantities - the booklet also gives guidelines.


Rice went in the back compartment (30 mins), frozen peas in the front right (10 mins), and salmon and eggs in the front left (16 mins).

I then set it going and watched, fascinated, as the back compartment immediately started to mist up as its time began to count down. When that hit 16 minutes, the front left compartment then kicked off, and then when all three were at 10 minutes, the front right joined in.

Obviously, if you're not a massive nerd, the point of the Intellisteam isn't that you'll be watching the steamer compartments kick in one by one, but that you'll set it going and then wander off and do whatever it is you need to do, safe in the knowledge that every part of your dinner will cook for exactly the right amount of time.


And it does. And it's quiet, and the bits, despite being a bugger to clean in the sink, are all dishwasher-able.

An alarm even goes off if the water level gets too low, so you know when to top it up (via a little funnel section).

So the Intellisteam gets a thumbs-up from me as being pretty darn clever, useful if you're busy and obviously good for healthy dishes.

Still bloody massive though.

The Intellisteam is currently on special offer for £64.99
(RRP £99.99)


Easy Kedgeree with the Intellisteam

Serves 4
  • 2 cups of rice
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp hot curry powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1 piece of salmon (I used collar)
  • 3 eggs
  • 100g peas
  • Handful of flatleaf parsley, chopped
Fill the water section with water to the mark and fit onto the base. Place the rice, onion, curry powder, turmeric and butter with 3 cups of water in the rice tray. Put the rice tray in the back steamer compartment and fit onto the water section.

Wash the eggs and place them with the fish in the front left compartment. Put the peas in the small foods tray and place in the front right compartment.

Fit all the lids and then set the timers - press rice then 30 minutes for the back, eggs then 16 minutes for the front left, vegetables then 10 minutes for the front right. Then press the Steam symbol and let it do its stuff.

When the timer goes off, peel and halve the eggs and flake the fish. Fluff the rice in a serving dish and add the peas and fish and stir through. Top with egg slices and parsley.

Ooh look - the Observer Food Monthly Awards are looking for nominations for Best Food Blog ... :)

Monday, 6 June 2011

The MasterChef Interview - Tim Anderson (2011 Winner)

Tim Anderson at Bob Bob Ricard by Paul Winch-Furness

"I am here (It's Tim)". This text bleeps onto my phone as I emerge from the bowels of St Pancras Station. I text back, "Cool, almost there!"

This is a lie - I've come out the wrong entrance and I'm desperately trying to find Eversholt Street to meet Tim Anderson, winner of this year's MasterChef at Asakusa.

Finally I arrive, only to see Tim standing in front of the restaurant chatting on his mobile. Except it's not his mobile phone, but one belonging to a gentleman who is perched on his bike and looking at him half excitedly, half in abashment.

It dawns on me that said gentleman has asked Tim to talk to his significant other/mother Tom Cruise-style, and I try very, very hard not to wet myself laughing.

I smile at Tim and he smiles back, finishes speaking and hands the phone to the guy on the bike, who apologises for the intrusion. I contemplate offering to take a photo of him with Tim, and then decide it would just get too weird ...

Anyway. Such is the power of MasterChef these days that its winner can apparently be elevated to Hollywood superstar status.

To business then ...

The Meal that Won MasterChef 2011

meemalee's kitchen - The MasterChef Interview


26 year old American Tim Anderson has come a long way, literally. Brought up in Racine, Wisconsin, he moved to LA as a student and then to Japan for further studies and to teach English. It wasn't till he was immersed in Japanese food and culture that he realised he wanted to cook and actually had a talent for it. Meanwhile, he fell in love with Laura, a Brit born to Japanese and Italian parents, and a fellow teacher. As is often the way, he followed his love back to her home where they ended up getting married. So far, so good.

And then he went and won MasterChef. Up till recently, he was working as the bar manager at the Euston Tap pub, London. As I catch up with him, I'm assuming this is no longer the case.

On the upcoming BBC Good Food Shows:

I will be there the whole time, Tom and Sara [his fellow finalists] a few days. They want us to do things that people can cook at home, so for me that means no dry ice, no monkfish liver, no ingredients you can’t get outside of London easily, like yuzukosho and katsuobushi. Japan Centre’s mail order is very good, they deliver all over the country, but most people wouldn’t know where to start. It’s got to be simple, but I’m trying to incorporate good skills like filleting a fish.

I’ll also be doing the MasterChef Winner cook-offs, with Mat [Follas, 2009 winner] and Dhruv [Baker, 2010 winner]. If I have to lose to Dhruv, there’s no shame in that.

vikingtweats "Cookoff"

On fame:

I’ve had a few people come up to me in the bar just to meet me and that’s nice. We had a really nice Japanese couple come in and I felt really vindicated to have them back me up. I don’t think I could cope with a mob though.

Tom says he has a big gay following. Everyone says he looks like Tom Hardy. Everyone says I look like Dana Carvey, specifically Garth [erm, sorry about that]. I just don't see it, but it's given us a great idea for a Halloween costume though - Laura wants to be Wayne.

[a fellow diner comes up to tell Tim that he thought he was fantastic on the show, so I ask if he’s signed any autographs yet]

I’ve signed all kinds of things that aren't really related. Some guy had just come from a football match and he gave me his programme to sign. I’ve signed a Delicious magazine that I wasn’t in.
It’s funny how my Twitter following has exploded, it’s nuts [he has over 10,000 followers].

[I say to him, like some kind of crap Yoda, “Don’t let fame change you”. He replies, “Too late for that, ha”. He’s kidding. I think].

On immediate plans:

I’m going to go up to Scotland to do some lobster-catching, deer hunting and brewing with Brewdog and Black Isle Brewery (and maybe Harviestoun), and also a special beer-matching dinner at Brewdog’s Musa in Aberdeen.

I’m talking to someone about doing a Fourth of July dinner in London, focusing on ingredients and flavours from America that you wouldn’t normally think of. We’re talking about getting some great American cheese over, from Wisconsin, California, Pennsylvania, Vermont, a mind-blowing cheeseboard.

Tim Anderson's Starter for the MasterChef Final

On opening a restaurant:

I’m gonna be doing some very exciting stages over the summer that I can’t talk about. There are skills I’d like to perfect like the French classics – sauces, souffles, pastry. Even though I want to open a Japanese style restaurant, I want experience in French/British restaurants to fill in the gaps. I think London is the only place for me to be - for me, there’s not quite the same energy in other cities that you have here, even though there are great restaurants.

I’m gonna have wafu spaghetti on my menu. If you go to an izakaya in Japan, the menus are wacky, just all over the place, and that’s what’s fun about them. You get traditional Japanese food, and you get pizza and fondue and pasta. They don’t care. If it’s good and it soaks up the alcohol, it’s fair game basically.

On beer:

I am a beer geek and I think it’s a damn shame that, especially in this country, wine has dominated the food scene. A lot of beer in restaurants isn’t up to scratch with the food because they don’t care about it, but especially with British food and Asian food, beer is generally more compatible.

On Burma [Tim visited in 2008]:

I liked Mandalay Beer. You know I had some crazy shit when I was in Burma. We had a palm sugar drink – they call it sky beer [Burmese name is htan-yay – aka palm wine or toddy] – it went very well with the food. I had the best fried chicken of my life there, slathered in raw garlic and chillies and green onions. For some reason our tour guide brought us to this guy who was making rice whisky, moonshine. I bought half a litre; it cost me the equivalent of 50p. It was horrible. It tasted like something that would make you go blind. Not to say that there’s no good rice whisky in Burma, but not that guy’s.

On living in Japan:

If you want to travel anywhere on your own, you need to be able to communicate [Tim is able to order for us off the wall menus written in kanji - this is dead impressive].

Otherwise you just go to the same places everyone does, which is fine, there’s fun to be had, but there’s so much interesting stuff off the beaten path. I’m dying to return, but I don’t have the money.

On his menu in the MasterChef final:

It took me a while to get my dashi just right, but in the end it was down to the water. I use bottled water for my dashi now, because London water is just too damn hard. It really affects the flavour badly.

People should make their own dashi - powdered dashi just isn’t the same, but those packets are good for sprinkling on rice like furikake.

Tim Anderson's Main for the MasterChef Final

On cooking generally:

I’ve just quit at the Euston Tap. I’m taking a week off for recipe testing. I haven’t had a chance to really cook lately. When I do, it’s not necessarily something creative – I just like to be cooking. I make beans on toast and pasta and stir-fries. Laura is a good cook too.

On writing a cookbook:

I’m not sure what form yet – too many ideas. I’d really like to do a book about regional foods in Japan, part cookbook, part travel guide, part cultural study and part photo book. But that’s a tough sell maybe [I'd love a book like that].

And those other questions:

What was the final push that made you enter MasterChef?

I did it very idly. I thought, “I should do this” and the wife said, “You should do this”. I liked cooking and I’d been pretty good at it. I knew I wasn’t satisfied, but I didn’t think anything would come of it. So when I got the phonecall a month after I applied, I was surprised … it’s really been a year of my life from when I applied to when it finally aired.

vikingtweats "Fosters Rage"

Has there ever been a kitchen mishap that's driven you to tears?

When I was practising for the MasterChef final, I did the starter one day, the main the next, the pudding the third and on the fourth day I was planning to do every single dish all at once in my kitchen in three hours.

I had everything set up, all my mise en place, my pots and pans ready to go, I had my playlist ready. I was in my pyjamas as I'd just got up and I was going straight into cooking. I realised I didn’t have any butter, so I popped some change in my pocket, and hopped out the door. As soon as the door shut I realised I didn’t have my keys. Dead of winter, no keys, no phone, three pounds, wife’s out of town for the weekend, so I had to be very strategic.

I used my first pound to go to an internet café to look up the number for my estate agent. I used the second pound to make a phone call to him, and I used the third pound to get a bus to go to him to get the key.

I finally get home and the key the estate agent has given me doesn’t work. So I go to the dental surgery below my flat to use their phone and they let me call the estate agent. So half an hour later he shows up with a key that does work.

So I’d spent about two hours overall in the freezing cold in my pyjamas. There was snow on the ground and the whole ordeal made me not want to cook, but I knew I had to, so when I got in, I went crazy and I did it. Made everything from scratch in three hours. But I almost cried that day.

Tim Anderson's Dessert for the MasterChef Final

You're hosting your dream dinner party and you can invite 1 living person, 1 dead, and 1 fictional (no friends or family) - who would they be?

It’ll have to be people who really enjoy their food and drink, who are fairly extrovert and good conversationalists, and who’d want to have dinner and then go out for karaoke. So I would say Simon Amstell – he’s funny and he’d be good for a night out, Oscar Wilde, because I’d like to see the spark between him and Simon Amstell and I think he’d be good for banter, and Homer Simpson.

Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

That really depends on which chicken and which egg, doesn’t it? I would say the egg as a concept came before the chicken.

Describe yourself in three words

Nostalgic American neophile. I’m pretty nostalgic and sentimental when it comes down to it. I miss things like burgers in Wisconsin, and tacos in LA, and ramen in Japan. I’m a neophile because I’m always looking for something new and I get bored quite easily. And I’m culturally very American – that’s what they tell me anyway!

vikingtweats "Not Canadian"

What’s the worst thing you have ever cooked?

I made some kale once that was so salty that my wife couldn’t even eat it. Too much soy sauce. I also served chicken at a barbecue when I was very young that was basically raw inside. I always like to think of my failures as learning experiences!

What's your guilty food pleasure?

If it’s really a true pleasure, you shouldn’t feel guilty … there are things that I eat because I’m hungry and there’s nothing open at night. So I’ll have a Pot Noodle, and I’m not proud of that, and I don’t even think they taste very good, but it’s to fill a hole.

Who would win in a fight between a baboon and a badger?

[Without hesitation] A baboon – they’re smarter. No contest. Bigger and smarter – a baboon would just grab the badger and throw it off a cliff.

Do you think cooking *does* get tougher than MasterChef?

I think the biggest challenge for me will be running a restaurant. Difficult endeavour all round and a lot of hard work. I’ve had experience managing the bar and though it’s less complicated, it’s good practice eg ordering, staffing.

What would be your last meal on Earth?

Two that come to mind. Something like a Ploughman’s – a few good pieces of cheese and a good pint of ale and some fruit and some nuts. That’d be it – I don’t need chutney or bread. Or tonkatsu ramen – Japanese Kyushu-style pork broth and extra noodles. And a big bottle of beer, a big Kirin. There’s so much flavour and they make me feel so at home, those dishes.

Tim Anderson at home in Wisconsin

If you were a superhero, what would you be called and what special powers would you have?

Can I be a genie instead? What I really want to do is have a wallet that fills up all the time. It’s not really a super-power though – it’s just greed. That’d be my name - Magical Wallet.

Who do you most admire?

Friends and family who’ve made a good life for themselves by working hard and being kind. It’s the American dream [laughs].

Actually, one of my best friends had a website reviewing video games about six years ago and now he runs and co-owns a web app company worth about £800k. He works hard and is smart and nice, and I think that’s really cool and admire that.

What keeps you awake at night?

Snoring? No, I sleep pretty soundly!

What's your favourite cuisine when eating out and what cuisine would you like to try that you haven't before?

I do like eating Japanese, but my favourite restaurants in London are curry houses, especially Mirch Masala. They’re a little chain, about six of them, the one on Commercial Road is ten minutes from my flat.

There’s so many I haven’t tried. Next on the list is Eastern European food – Russian, Czech, Polish.

What's the stupidest/naughtiest thing you did as a child?

I ate a block of butter once, but I was a good kid. I didn’t start getting in trouble till I was an adult.

Do you have a nickname (childhood or current)?

In Japan, they called me Timo. A couple of my friends call me Tim Tam after the Australian biscuit. I don’t let people call me Timbo though!

What's your favourite TV programme (other than MasterChef) and favourite band?

QI, old Simpsons, Japanese Iron Chef, Futurama [I mention I got obsessed with Bistro SMAP when I was in Japan and Tim suggests that Take That should start their own version. I am All. For. This.].

My favourite music is ska, and my favourite band is Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra. They’re the best ska band in the world, maybe all of history.

vikingtweats "Kung Fu Panda"

What's been your proudest moment so far, not including winning MasterChef?

Don’t know about proudest, but my happiest was getting married to my wife Laura.

Who would you least like to be trapped in a lift with?

I dunno if I should answer that! Um, Tom and Sara from MasterChef – I hate those guys [he's joking].

Where would you like to live?

Probably Hawaii. I love Hawaii; I love the Pacific in general. Though it’s a bit isolated – I might say Los Angeles.

Tell us three more interesting things about yourself: two true, one a lie
  • I’m Jewish.
  • I have a scar from when a friend burnt me with a cigarette on my arm.
  • I once swallowed a quarter on a dare.
What Western dish would most benefit from the addition of miso?

Crab or lobster bisque comes to mind. Miso works well in creamy soups, like a creamy potato soup or a chowder. I quite like it in a steak au poivre, which is really where I got my idea for the mocha steak.

Would you rather wear huge clown shoes for a month or introduce yourself as Timbo the Superstar at 5 meetings?

The second one – at least I could laugh it off!

When am I going to get to eat your food?

That Fourth of July dinner for a start, but there will be pop-ups and parties and a catering business to come ...

Tim Anderson at Bob Bob Ricard by Paul Winch-Furness

Tim Anderson
MasterChef Winner 2011

Read my recap of this year's MasterChef Final here

First and Last Photos: Paul Winch-Furness /

Special thanks to @foodurchin, @suzler, @lukemackaycooks, @electroweb, @rankamateur, @disklabs and Popb*tch for additional questions.

Ooh look - the Observer Food Monthly Awards are looking for nominations for Best Food Blog ... :)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Magners Pasture at the Udderbelly, Southbank


Before my husband and I spent our days arsing around at food and music festivals, our favourite place to go for larks was a dingy room off the Royal Mile.

Specifically the Edinburgh Festival (or rather the Fringe part of it), where we'd deliberately sit in the front row to heckle and be heckled by people like Stewart Lee and Richard Herring, Paul Foot and Dan Antopolski, Daniel Kitson and Simon Munnery, Chris Addison and Greg Davis (aka Fat Rik Mayall aka the teacher from the Inbetweeners).

As slightly arrogant comedy purists, we only went for stand-up gigs, the dark stage lit by a microphone and a sardonic grin. Unfortunately, this stupid policy saw us pass up the opportunity to see the first UK shows of both Flight of the Conchords and The Mighty Boosh, reluctant to spend a tenner on something as shonky-sounding as "musical comedy". Such hubris meant we ended up spending a great deal more on their recent tours.


Though all the venues looked much the same inside, the outsides were a different matter. The exalted Assembly Rooms, the courtyard of the Pleasance, the edgy Gilded Balloon (RIP) and of course the inflatable upside-down purple cow known as the Udderbelly.

Some of you may have noticed that said purple cow has landed on its back at the Southbank Centre, next to the London Eye. The E4 Udderbelly Festival is where many of this year's comedy acts are previewing their Edinburgh shows.

Magners Golden Draught

Just outside the cow is the Magners Pasture, a 1000+ capacity beer garden with table service, food, and pub games like giant Connect 4.

Entry to the Pasture is free, and the signature drink is Magners Golden Draught – a new cider from Magners crafted using Dabinett apples which give it a crisper taste and lighter colour than Magners original. They've also got pear cider (cough, perry) which personally I prefer, as well as your standard pub drinks.


If you do like the Golden Draught, every pint you buy comes with a token to let you have a go on the Magners UFO catcher and win stuff like iPads (or at least another pint).

There's a bookable VIP bar called the Golden Barrel which has table football, self-service Golden Draught tables, and fancy chairs which cradle your bum in a slightly disturbing manner, but the main section of the Pasture has nice trestle tables and parasols, and even TV screens showing summer events such as Wimbledon.

Magners Golden Draught launch Udderbelly 1



The Magners Pasture is at South Bank until the end of the E4 Udderbelly Festival on 17th July.

Although you don’t need a ticket to an Udderbelly show to enjoy the Magners Pasture, you can get tickets at the box office there, or in advance at

You can also win tickets to shows at

Book the Golden Barrel VIP bar by contacting