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Category Archives: BBC

and finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint

“Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

Thank you, sir, and now the check.

So, me and my friends would regularly chatter on about last night’s Masterchef or the merits of Slater over Stein.  Eventually, those who did not care for food-based telly programmes (I know, they do exist!) cried ‘shut up and blog it!’.  So, here we are.  It has taken me some time but, once outside of my Masterchef bubble, I have realised just how many cookery shows there are!  Bloody loads.

It was requested that I compile a list of current shows so my fellow bloggers won’t miss a morsel.  Happy to oblige.  It took me a while and I’m considering posting a permanent weekly/monthly list so our readers can also keep up.   Read the rest of this entry »

 

making plans for nigel

I admit to not being the biggest Nigel Slater fan.  I will certainly look at his tasty recipes in the Guardian or Observer but have avoided his writing and previous television programmes.  It’s the Nigel/Nigella problem; flowery, over-the-top language that I try to steer clear of.  Just tell me what ingredients to buy and how to make it taste bloody nice.  That’s all I need.  I am a simple creature.  Do I really need to know that the bananas displayed in your huge kitchen/diner are ambrosial or the folding in of the lavender scented sugar takes you back to a time you fell asleep in your nanna’s airing cupboard?  I am certainly not a fan of Gordon’s method: “ADD CHEESE.  MIX.  WHACK IT IN THE OVEN. DONE!” … just somewhere in between would be perfect.  In my head, this means Jamie Oliver (without the ‘bruv’s or ‘pucker’s, innit?) but I know many who disagree.

I have warmed to Nigel with his recent programmes that focus on different themes (citrus or classic comfort food for example) or give advice on what main meal to cook on day one and magically use the leftovers for days two to five.  A homely Sunday roast chicken can go a long way!  This particular episode dealt with the topic of abundance.  A glut, if you will.  Mmmmmm, glut. Read the rest of this entry »

 

GREAT

BOOOOOOOM. What a final. Everything. Tears. Drama. Brendan. Cake. Brendan! Fondant. Intrusion into personal living arrangements! (leaving at least *one* question unanswered…) ‘Soggy bottom’ disasters. BRENDAN! John finally nailing it! Contestants coming back! Exclamation marks! Tabloid bullshit!

I’m gonna miss GBBO. This time round they seem to have got the balance perfect, and assembled a finals team of people you could feel warm about and interested in. If Brendan was precise and practiced, James was innovative and seat-of-the-pants, John was quietly… just very good, and he delivered exactly when it mattered. But over the weeks, it was all about Brendan, and the triumph of practice, planning precision and drive over TV-friendly cheer. British values, indeed.

The Guardian summed the final up really well here.

 

HOLLYWOOD NIGHTS

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WE’RE down to the semis in TGBBO, and we all know who the winner is already. That’s right: Paul ‘Inside’ Hollywood. Mel & Sue are fun and sparky and dry. Mary Berry is dotty and posh and particular. John is flustered, Danny is pragmatic, James is coquettish, and Brendan is… well, Laurence Olivier playing Christian Szell in Marathon Man. But it’s The Big Bear that takes it, every week. Alright, I didn’t know he was apparently a gay icon until the Guardian mentioned it today.  He’s the only judge they all fear – you know Mary Berry isn’t going to tear your head off with a look, and she’s going to find something good to say, however pisspoor your St. Honoré. But PH never gives the impression he’s going to say anything other than the absolute, unvarnished truth.

Confident MC contestants can face down the Torode / Wallace blockade, because they know that it’s hokum and that they might well be right or lucky. But no-one dares to gets as much as a langue du chat past Hollywood. In interviews, he appears completely normal, and unaffected or just plain embarrassed by the fame and Twitter nonsense or whatever. In fact, he appears to be that rarest of TV creatures: a completely bullshit-free zone. This is a victory. A victory for rounded personality and unfiltered expertise that’s not been pushed through the dumbed-deeper-and-down TV drool-sieve. And people like that. Five million viewers (apparently) can’t be wrong. Apparently he’s just wrapped a new series for the BBC called – with presumed Liverpudlian irony – ‘Bread’. Which is good, because one thing that is missing from TGBBO is him masterclassing his own hot oven skills.

Anyway, Brendan. (Yeah, I was a bit harsh above. Anything to get a laugh). OK, he’s self-obsessed, aloof, eerie, curiously kitsch, and machine-like – or at least, that is the role the producers and editors have created for him. Yes, he insists on dominating and stamping his individuality on everything, rather than sitting back and letting his talent speak for itself. And yes he takes criticism appallingly, usually accompanied with an ‘I could have you killed’  dagger stare. But strangely, I’m starting to get the impression that he’s actually an extremely warm and genuine man who has just been waiting years to show the world that his pernickity, precise approach to cookery is best. Unselfconscious, nerdy talent FTW. I’m hoping he takes it all the way.

 

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NIGELI$$IMA

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After reading John Crace’s glorious kickabout this morning, I was keen to watch another episode of this hugely successful, slightly bizarre ‘Italianate’ show. But not much had changed. This isn’t cooking. This is advertorial.

‘Her’ kitchen (at least they aren’t pretending) is grand beyond the imaginings of emperors, but even that’s nothing special these days, so the producers have decided to shoot almost the entire show at the magic hour; with sunlight (actually mega-lights, probs) streaming in and making a series shot in Bristol look a bit more Tuscan-porny.

After that, things get a bit confusing. The music shunts between daytime TV jazz, Meters funk, 40s Dixie and folky tinkling. The banter shifts between the phone-sex innuendo satirised years ago by Ronni Ancona and slightly forced gags and filler-guff about markets. “Sooooo easy, it makes itself…” well yeah, apart from the bit where you have to individually shell each broad bean by hand. The pitch of the cooking veers between oh-really-you-must-it’s-so-authentic and sod-it-do-whatever-you-like…like-me! She breezes things like: “Polenta, which we’re all familiar with…” – but many other bog-standard Italian ingredients are gushingly explained to the proles. Even the cameraman can’t choose between the lens smeared with Vaseline and the one that isn’t, so he just mixes and matches as he sees fit. At least she’s not claiming it’s ‘real’ Italian. The food? Oh, whatever. It’s all good easy fun.

So many things they can’t seem to decide on, but one thing that stays rock-like is Nigella-as-brand. She’s flogging herself and her heaving bits and her effortlessness and her bussed-in, gruesomely smug ‘lifestyle’ friends as well as ever, and Christmas is coming, and there’s a bit of the gleam for sale. It’s just entertainment, I know, but she doesn’t seem quite as joyful or silly or self-aware as previous series. There’s a slightly workaday feel to the golden glow. Back to business.

 

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le masterchef est mort, vive le masterchef!


OK.  Australian Masterchef.  If you have Watch TV.

A brief mourning followed the Olympics and a deeper mourning after the Paralympics so I was thrilled with the return of Celebrity Masterchef.  Any further sadness at CMC’s demise has been quelled by the start of OZ MC two weeks ago.  RESULT.  Does this mean my culinary comedown will be twice as bad in 10 weeks time?

For the uninitiated OZ MC is like the UK version on crack, as I explain here.

A tattoo loving, roller derby loving cook? Yes please!

Having missed the first week I was thrown into the deep end.  The final six contestants were chosen and off we went to the lovely house on the hill.

Read the rest of this entry »

 

and the winner was …

pretty obvious really.

Well done TV’s Emma Kennedy on winning Celebrity Masterchef 2012!  My favourite from the moment she graced my telly box.  That huge grin, just-got-out-of-bed hair and infectious enthusiasm had me from the get go.

“My mother is going to scream for about three months without stopping – we’re probably going to have to sedate her.”

The winning three-course menu was as follows:

*pea, mint and ricotta ravioli with pancetta butter and pea shoots

*pan fried turbot topped with samphire with vegetable filled leek cannelloni, crushed roast potatoes and a beurre blanc sauce

*Ile Flottante with almond praline topping and short bread biscuits

I knew she was on to a winner with the starter (I had scribbled a similar combination in my little recipe book only days before) and that pudding!  One of the best I’ve had at Koffmanns (la-de-dah, sorry!).

Someone had commented on the Digital Spy page ‘OK that Emma won. But wanted Danny Mills to win. Greg & John loved his fondant pud, so why he didn’t win I’ll never know’.  Because his main wasn’t 100%!  The second that John criticised his trout I knew Emma had won.

I’ll leave the last word to the Champion:

“It’s very weird putting on the MasterChef apron. It’s like getting an England cap and putting on an England shirt. It’s the culinary version of that. Not so much when you’re in the studio, but when you go on the outside challenges, you have the MasterChef badge on and you want to do them proud … It really is amazing. I can make tuile biscuits. I’m just happy with that. I can have that on my headstone. Emma Kennedy RIP, she could make good tuile biscuits. I’d take that”.

 

 

i’m not a celebrity, get me in there!

So, we’re at the end of week two in the Celebrity Masterchef kitchen and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  I decided against the previous series – for some reason the fact that it was relegated to BBC1 lunchtime really put me off.  Having said that, 18:30 isn’t much better and I ‘series record’ it but, y’know, I couldn’t be arsed.  Seeing snippets of it on Saturday Kitchen each week has convinced me that I made the right choice.

Anyway, back to the here and now.  Week one, I’d say my stand out was Javine and week two definitely Emma.  I love Emma Kennedy, I want to be her friend.  I feel she is the CMC version of me.  As we are introduced to her, she conveys the giddy excitement that would take hold of any MC fan should they get that telephone call.  I imagine it would go a little bit like this:

Agent: Hi Emma.  So, the BBC got in touch and we discussed the possibility of you taking part in this years Celebrity Masterchef.  You’re a big fan, right?  Are you free for the next few weeks?

Emma: OHMYGODYESPLEASEMASTERCHEFISMYFAVOURITETHINGONTELLYEVERIWILLCANCELANYPLANS

Agent:  … I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ then.

“to celebrate I might go home and try to make a quiche”

If I were to receive a similar call and end up in the famous MC kitchen, it would not be taken lightly had I replicated Emma’s joy at being there.  “Fanny, I get the distinct impression you’re not taking this seriously enough” would be John’s comment as I grin “But I am!  I’m just so excited to be here, I love you guys!”

Having been billed as a MC aficionado Emma made, as Gregg would say, a school boy error.  The final task of the week was the critics round – two courses for previous CMC contestants to sample.  It seems that Lisa Faulkner might get to attend all of these, lucky girl.  Or maybe not. Read the rest of this entry »

 

DOUGH!

The Great British Bake-Off is brave in parts. It veers consciously away from at least some competition-genre staples – the candidates, for some bizarre reason, appear to have been chosen for personability, reliability and a general lack of character flaws and abrasiveness. No tears. The commentary is breezy but informative, the reaction shots and back stories brief, and the Mel & Sue hosting fun and a bit silly. The usual middle-class tropes abound; pastel shades, Union Jack bunting, Smeg fridges, dense Instagram colours. Well cosy.

This week: bread. People cook bready stuff, stuff gets judged, someone gets thrown out. The food appearing looks thoughtful and yummy. OK, it’s not the trickiest stuff: poor Cathryn thinks that trying to juggle one flatbread in the oven and one flatbread on the griddle is tricky. MC material she ain’t. The Terence Stamp-like Brendan, with his river-washed hot-rock oven techniques and his 106 grams of flour per portion fills the ‘bonkers’ quota on his own. The rest are a mix of amateur and ambition. You know the drill. Mostly pretty intense. Some haircuts. Pushovers, though. A well-known pair of other judges, shall we say, would have them for breakfast. Mmm, breakfast.

Luckily the judges here are dotty old Mary Berry and the ludicrously-named Paul Hollywood; a roly-poly Scouse fusion of Simon Callow and that well-trimmed bloke who started Paul Mitchell. I’ll give it to him, he looks like a professional baker, and he has a cheery but precise manner. It’s not nasty. The tough-test bagels bit at the end comes with a cheery, informative insert where they go to a proper old Jewish bakery. No one gets their bagels made even remotely right, apart from the Rick Moranis-alike James who supplies an I’m-over-the-moon reaction straight out of the reality book. These people clearly watch too much telly. Then the kicked out Peter gets a hug from the judges and the hosts. That wouldn’t happen on you-know-what.

Yes, I like a bit of pan-banging and cock-in-the-piping-nozzle macho bullshit as much as the next foodie-reality-genre fan, but there’s something great about the Cath Kidston alternative too.

 

masterchef de mission

… And we’re BACK!  Ah, back to the grindstone after a two week Olympic odyssey and what do I have waiting for me upon my return home?  CELEBRITY MASTERCHEF!

Andy Hunt, Team GB’s chef de mission, told a story of a recent interview on American television.  “So, Andy, what exactly do you cook for these hungry athletes?”   “…”

Fittingly, our celebrity contestants include Olympians Rebecca Romero and swimmer Steve Parry.  Romero won medals in rowing and track cycling becoming only the second woman in history to win medals in two different summer Olympic sports.  There’s also Danny Mills for all you football lovers out there.  There’s also a bit of Madge Bishop for all you Neighbours lovers, too.

The rooky chefs stormed out of their blocks with the surprise box featuring a gurnard!  Now, many of our contestants are familiar to me in a culinary capacity.  There has almost certainly been a Come Dine With Me appearance here or there.  I’m sure ‘husband snatcher’ Javine has competed – she seems a pretty good cook but I think the dark horse early on is Jamie Theakstone.  You always need a useless cook early on and I think this year it’s the aforementioned Parry, bless him.  Upon being given a pasta machine to play with, he exlaimed “I’ve cooked pasta before but only out of a packet.  I don’t see any packet!”  This was after shocking Torode with his presentation of sliced rice and fish … mmmm.

Episode two gives us the ‘drama’ of cooking on an epic scale for students at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (sexy).  Once again the head chef kicks some ass “I wouldn’t give that to my cat!” but they pulled it out of the bag and Javine and Steve’s chilli proved a hit giving one lady a ‘chilli con carne sniffle’.  That’s good apparently.

Tomorrow’s third episode will provide the first elimination – will it be Steve or will our favourite Australian barmaid be in for a quick exit?