A Masterclass in Whisky with Old Forester

Today I opened the 5th day on my chocolate advent calendar, which means we are well on our way to Christmas Day and bang in the middle of Christmas party season. The days and nights are cold and my local pubs are stoking the log fires and therefore this has to be the most perfect time of year for a warming whisky masterclass. Not only will I be able to try the incredible Old Forester whisky in it’s neat form but also try an Old Forester Whisky Smash cocktail, which is my Christmas party cocktail choice.

The masterclass was arranged by Old Forester with their knowledgeable brand ambassadors and took place at the Brasserie Bar, Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings in Clerkenwell, London. The venue has history, character and so does the whisky…they are a perfect blend.

It is great to be learning about a brand that has its beginnings in 1870 and has survived the prohibition and two world wars, which is an incredible feat. Today is also Repeal Day, if you are reading this on the 5th December and is the perfect time to get together with friends and family to pay tribute to our constitutional rights. 


TASTING NOTES

NOSE

Sharp and sweet, with a strong floral character that swirls with hints of mint, rich tobacco leaf and vanilla. A touch of oak and pine provides a strong underpinning.

TASTE

Sharp at first, but softens quickly, with hints of oak, sweet corn and rye grain character. Spicy, with soft vanilla and light orange notes.

FINISH

Long, warm and slightly drying. Nice level of sweetness.


As a massive fan of the 1920's it was a joy to learn that Old Forester, America’s first bottled bourbon, cleverly held one of only six federal licenses to continue producing whisky for medicinal purposes. So not only did exceptional fashion come out of the 1920's but Old Forester survived and because of that, today we are able to sample one of the true whisky greats. 

HOW TO MAKE AN OLD FORESTER WHISKY SMASH COCKTAIL

Ingredients
Ice
50ml Old Forester Whisky
20ml Sugar Syrup
20ml Lemon Juice
Dash of Bitters
Lemon Wedges
Fresh Mint

Directions
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and pour in 50ml of Old Forester whisky, 20ml of simple sugar syrup, 20ml of lemon juice, freshly torn mint and a dash of bitters. Shake vigorously.
ill a glass with crushed ice. Pour the shaken cocktail over the crushed ice. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and bunch of mint.

After the masterclass and with my newly learnt knowledge about whisky and in particular whisky cocktail making, I have decided to create my own take on the classic Old Forester Whisky Smash. I call it the Risky Whisky Smash, mainly because let's be honest, I’m no qualified mixologist!

HOW TO MAKE AN OLD FORESTER ‘RISKY WHISKY SMASH’ COCKTAIL

Ingredients
Ice
50ml Old Forester Whisky
15ml Monin Lavender Syrup
20ml Lemon Juice
Lemon Wedges
Lavender Sprigs

Directions
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes and pour in 50ml of Old Forester whisky, 15ml of lavender syrup and 20ml of lemon juice. Shake vigorously.
Fill a glass with crushed ice. Pour the shaken cocktail over the crushed ice. Garnish with a wedge of lemon and sprig of lavender.

Give them both a try at home and let me know which one you prefer!

BUY OLD FORESTER WHISKEY

From Stockist TESCO for £25.00

Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon received 95 points “Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation” in the 2015 Ultimate Spirits Challenge®. 

For more information, visit http://www.oldforester.com/ and follow on Instagram here https://www.instagram.com/oldforester/

 

This post was a sponsored collaboration with Old Forester Whiskey.

My Appearance on Channel 4 First Dates | Fashion Blogger Carl Thompson | Carl & Marissa

Carl & Marissa First Dates

With the Sky+ information on the Channel4 First Dates Series 5, Episode 19 saying "Carl and Marissa's date gets intense, spiritual and really quite steamy" - I'm sitting here with 3 hours before it airs absolutely shitting my pants and thinking, why do I always seem to put myself into these situations! The situation isn't being helped by my lovely 'friends' who have all signed up to twitter just to give me 'bants' during the airing...thanks guys! Now, it's the morning after the episode aired and I'm feeling incredibly positive and excited for 2017.

This isn't the first time that I have graced the UK TV's with my awkwardness, shit chat and for a blind date...(my first was on Dinner Date with Amy Childs), I should be a pro at it by now (you would have thought!).  Although I'm far from being the dating god that I thought I would be at 36 and single in London and my appearance on First Dates shows that my dating style still needs a little refining!

The whole experience was amazing. My date Marissa was fantastic and I got to meet the legendary dapper maître d' Fred, bartender Merlin and my waitress Laura, no pressure on the date then! 

Of course I had a few mates over to watch the episode with me, so thanks guys for all the support and for Charlie for bringing over loads of Oppo Ice-Cream to keep my mind off of my average TV chat!!

Being a Menswear Fashion Blogger, I was a little worried if I got my First Dates outfit right as it is always a difficult decision, especially when going on TV. So if you liked what I wore, you can shop the look below:

Carl First Dates

SHOP MY FIRST DATES LOOK

For most of the episode I was watching it through a pillow, like I was watching a horror story unfold, although there was no real need. I was totally myself and yes there were a couple 'why did I just say that' moments, but thats be honest who can go 4 hours without saying something a little bit silly...exactly, well I certainly can't! 

The date itself was amazing, I really had a great time. For me the most awkward and emotional watching was during the interview stage when I was talking about previous relationships and why they didn't work out because no one wants to open up and admit their flaws and talk about failures. Then came Hug-Gate...yep okay so that made watching even harder, I mean who hugs on a first date? Me...apparently so. But in my defence, Marissa was opening up about her former relationship and how it ended and it was getting a little tense - I think we should all just hug-it-out more often! 

via GIPHY

OH NO HE JUST DIDN'T #HUGGATE

Of course I would have loved to say there is a happy ever after story to tell you, although instead I'll have to leave you with a it's 'back to square one' chapter in my life story of incredible ups and downs. 

Protein waffles with Oppo ice cream

Now these are the sort of posts I like writing about because I get the scoff everything that I have made afterwards! This morning was spent doing British Military Fitness on Clapham Common building up a decent appetite then when home I started mixing up some protein batter for my home-made waffles topped with Oppo guilt-free ice cream...yes for brunch and don't feel guilty about it AT all, and here's why.

Firstly I'm a bit of a kid at heart and the thought of having ice cream at any time of the day gets me excited. Although on the flip side of that comment, I'm also a bit of a fitness freak and right now I'm massively cutting down on my refined sugar intake - I even take tea and coffee without sugar now (a big step for me). Just google 'What does sugar do to my body' and you'll be inundated with facts about the adverse short-term and long-term effects refined sugar has on us.

Hello Oppo ice cream. Created because Oppo believe that indulgent food doesn’t need loads of sugar or calories to taste good and of course they are right. A simple taste test this morning proved that. I could actually bang on about how good this ice cream tastes yet how healthy and clean it is, although I think Charlie & Harry, do it better:

"Oppo ice cream is made with natural ingredients and just 40 calories a scoop"

For those of you who are interested in trying these protein waffles topped with Oppo ice cream, firstly purchase some Oppo by clicking on your favourite flavour below or visit one of the 1000+ stores they are stocked in. Then follow this simple protein waffle recipe:

Ingredients

2 Eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
1 1/2 cups of almond milk
1 cup of gluten free flour
1 cup of oat blend flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
2 scoops of vanilla protein powder

Method

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl
Place the dry mixture and all of the other ingredients together and blend
Spoon into a waffle maker
Serve the waffles hot with a scoop of Oppo ice cream
Garnish with fruit (optional)
 

 

TRY IT FOR YOURSELF - CLICK BELOW

Get Summer Ready With This Simple 10 Minute Meal - Kale Pesto & Spiralized Courgette

How many of you are still working hard on getting beach body ready for your summer holiday? Unfortunately I've pretty much done all my holidays for this year...thats except a stag do in Budapest and for those of you who have been on stag a do will know that you can't exactly class them as a relaxing holiday! So therefore I'm going to pass over to you my favourite Summer ready recipes, starting with this homemade kale pesto with chicken and spiralized courgettes. It really is so quick and simple to prepare/cook especially with my new Morphy Richards Electric Spiralizer.

We all have busy lifestyles and convenience is staring us in the face whenever we visit the supermarkets. Two things I noticed when buying these courgettes. 1. You can actually buy pre-spiralized courgettes, although they are over double the price of the non-sprialized version and you only get 250g which is just over 1 normal sized courgette. For those of you (like me) who eat a truck-load of this awesome vegetable will know that when you cook them, they reduce due to the water content - so 1 is just not enough. 2. Some supermarkets have a 'wonky veg' or  'Imperfect' ranges sourced from British farms. I would suggest buying these because from the normal packaged courgettes you can get 3 for £1 or buy the imperfect ones and you'll get 4 (and they were massive compared to the 'perfect' ones) for only 85p and you are also helping British farmers and reducing food waste.

Flipping back to convenience, I've used a couple of old crappy plastic spiralizers in the past before I purchased this electric one and not only is the electric one a hell of a lot quicker but also easier to clean. With the hand powered plastic rubbish, you have to push the courgette into the blade quite hard, therefore you'll get a build up of courgette residue that is hard to remove just by running under a tap. With the electric one it is totally effortless to spiralize as is the cleaning.

 

INGREDIENTS
 

2 Large handfuls of Kale.
10 Fresh basil leaves.
Olive Oil
Salt
4 Garlic cloves
1 Handful of Pine Nuts
Parmesan Cheese
2 Courgettes
Cherry Tomatoes
Mixed Peppers (Optional)
Chicken (Optional)

First things first, spiralize two courgettes using the Morphy Richards Electric Spiralizer if you are lucky enough to have one and place to the side.

Blend the kale, basil leaves and olive oil in a blender, adding the garlic cloves, pine nuts, pinch of salt and about 50g (or handful) of parmesan cheese whilst continuing to blend. Add more olive oil if the mixture is struggling to combine properly.

If you are making the chicken version, cut up some chicken pieces and fry in olive oil until cooked. Into the cooked chicken add a generous helping of the kale pesto, mix well.

Add halved cherry tomatoes, a pinch of salt and the sliced mixed peppers. Stir.

Add in your spiralized courgettes, continue to stir, coating all of the courgettes with the mixture.

Add about 25g of parmesan cheese shavings or a small handful and mix everything together thoroughly.

Toast some pine nuts and serve by towering the spiralized courgettes with the cherry tomatoes and mixed peppers. Add a teaspoon of the uncooked pesto on top with a single thin slice of parmesan cheese and sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts.

YUM!

 

SHOP THIS MORPHY RICHARDS ELECTRIC SPIRALIZER

SHOP MY FOOD & DRINK PREPARATION PICKS

Home Cooking Made Easy

P6180142 copy.jpg

I know everyone works hard and think they work harder than the next person and I'm no different. I've spent my whole working life being a grafter, I would prioritise working hard, putting in the hours and building relationships ahead of academic qualifications, rightly or wrongly thats just playing to my strengths. Mix in a hectic work life with dating, spending time with friends, family, fitness classes and of course watching Love Island and you are left with frankly no time at all. On a mission to gain back as much free time as possible, I signed up to Hello Fresh.

Hello Fresh is a weekly subscription service that delivers fresh produce including meat, fish, vegetables, herbs etc to your door. Not only that but you'll receive healthy recipe cards to assist you in cooking the meals with all of the ingredients that you have been given. The convenience is what appealed to me, shopping done on my behalf, recipes laid out with easy to follow instructions and all of the recipes that I have tried so far have taken no longer that 30 minutes to prepare and cook. It does help if you have some good equipment to speed things up. I got my hands on Japan's finest knife the Yaxell Chefs Knife and if it is good enough to finely slice some tuna sashimi it's certainly good enough to be in my kitchen!

A couple of years ago my kitchen was full of equipment and utensils that were about 10 years old, pans that have lost all of their non-stick about 7 years ago but still going strong. Knives that you had to pierce tomatoes with the tip of the knife before you could attempt to slice it...don't even get me started on how difficult it was to cut through butternut squash! Slowly I have been upgrading, new knives & forks, new pans and this month was the time to invest in this glorious new set of knives that I brought from Steamer Trading Cookshop, who are exclusive retailer in the UK for Yaxell knives.

So what do you think of my first Hello Fresh stir fry? These are my next weeks recipes:

MY NEW YAXELL KNIFE SET

Fathers Day Wrapped Up - A Gift Guide for Fathers Day 2016

FATHER'S DAY 2016, SUNDAY 19TH JUNE

Fathers Day is a day to celebrate everything our Dads do for us. Other than being a great Dad, Granddad and husband, my Father is also a great DIY handyman, taxi, cook (BBQ only), gardener and dog sitter! For all of his hard work, I got my Dad a Bee Home for the garden last year...a present that is still in it's box! So this year I'm starting early to come up with something a little bit better than that. Here are my top picks.

 

SHIRTY DAD

SAVILE ROW DAD

LOVES SHOES?

AND TIES...

OR SOCKS!

CASUAL DAD

FOREVER YOUNG DAD

SPORTY DAD

HE LOVES GARDENING...

AND THE OUTDOORS

FOODY DAD

A LITTLE TIPPLE

BEARDY DAD

The Best Father's Day Subscription Boxes Delivered to Your Door

Why should we JUST make an effort for our Father's on one day of the year only, when we should be making an effort all year around. My Dad means the world to me and like him, I'm a bit of a closed book, keeping my feelings locked inside and Father's Day gives us that opportunity to show how much we care for our Dads. So this year, why not ditch the one-time one-day gifts like aftershave, DIY handbook, gardening tools etc and opt for something more meaningful and lasting. Subscription boxes. Here are my top subscription services for Father's Day.

 

THE PERFUME SOCIETY (FRAGRANCE)

Discover, explore and enjoy this fragrance box for men. This box is packed with 13 men's aftershave samples plus some luxury grooming essentials from Elemis and Penthaligon's worth around £40 alone. For only £19, you can get this box delivered to your Father's door and is the perfect gift for scent lovers. Not only that but your father will have the rest of the year to trial all these amazing fragrances ready for you to buy the larger bottle for his Christmas present! To top it off...everyone who purchases The Scent of a Man Discovery Box between 20th May and 1st July will be entered into a prize draw to win one of the 16 featured fragrances.

 

HAWKINS & SHEPHERD (SHIRTS)

Hawkins & Shepherd have just launched their Shirt Subscription Service for their growing UK customer base, offering three packages EnthusiastExecutive and Essential. Their enthusiast package is designed for the business traveller who churns through their shirts. Their executive package designed for the London city worker who wants to keep up to date with new designs and love the feeling of a brand new crisp shirt. Finally the essential package is for those who want premium shirts but at a more manageable payment plan. 

Sign up their Sock Club as a gift this Father's Day from only £30 choosing from 1-3 pairs per month and over a 3, 6 or 12 month period. You can also choose the sock styles yourself or if you would prefer, let their in-house stylists choose for you. Their membership is fully flexible and can be cancelled or paused at anytime, a risk free gift. Their Sock Club subscription was created to offer the ultimate convenience to their members, delivering new socks through every member’s letterbox each month.

 

LE PETIT BALLON (WINE)

Le Petit Ballon, the number one wine subscription box in France is now available in the UK. Treat your family and friends to a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription and they'll receive 2 amazing bottles of wine that's been hand-selected by one of the best sommeliers in the world: Jean-Michel Deluc, making this the ultimate wine lover’s gift. 

 

FLAVIAR (SPIRITS)

Flaviar is a fine spirit tasting subscription service inspired by culture, rich history and the art of distillation. They only supply the finest spirits of the world in this Members Club. You are what you drink, diversity and quality matter and all that should most certainly be enjoyed with style and in good company.

 

FLAVOURLY (BEER)

Forget dogs, beer is a mans best friend, so sign your father up this Father's Day to Flavourly - The Craft Beer Club. Send a craft beer box, which includes 10 craft bottled beers, tasting profile and personalised gift message. The single box is only £24 including FREE Delivery, however there are longer term options available.

 

THE PERSONAL BARBER (GROOMING)

This is the ultimate shaving subscription for men and in particular your father. Their aim is to turn our shaving routine into an experience to look forward to, rather than a daily chore. Better products, a closer shave, and more enjoyable. Every month you'll receive their hand-picked choices of the best shaving products available, right to your door.

 

BACHELOR'S BOX (MENSWEAR)

For only £22.95 per month you'll receive 4-5 high quality branded accessories delivered as all of these gifts - to your door. Ties, pocket squares, flower lapels and socks are popular choices.

FLAVIAR - THE SPIRIT TASTING SERVICE

Are you also a bit of a spirit snob like myself? I tend to buy spirits for my home 'bar' (which is just a shelf in my kitchen!) that I have tried out in pubs and absolutely loved, normally through recommendations from friends. However now I have discovered Flaviar this has opened up the possibility of tasting the finest brands out their before purchasing a bigger bottle. Sounds good right! I just received my first tasting trio of whiskeys and looking forward to trying the Rum and Gin tasting selection in coming months.

These little tasting beauties were perfect last week when I had the boys over for our monthly poker night. They even ended up in the betting stakes, I'll see your Glenlivet and raise you a sip of my Dalmore 18years! 

So what is Flaviar and how do you join this club?

Flaviar is a Members Club that allows its members to enjoy and learn about an ever-
changing collection of craft and premium spirits by constantly searching for the finest, rarest and most unique expressions available.

Though it might not appear to be the case, there are still many great spirits out there that the average customer has trouble getting their hands on. Flaviar strives to offer its members access to an ever changing offer of interesting and exclusive items, including craft, big brand and private bottlings. As a cherry on top, shipping is FREE for Flaviar members. 

Flaviar members get access to exclusive and private bottlings. The first Flaviar private bottling, Deer, Bear & Moose, was released in December 2015. It was a 20­year old single malt Scotch, a 1995 private vintage from Tobermory distillery that sold out immediately. There are more private bottlings on the way, but these will continue to be available to members only.

Members receive a themed Tasting Box of spirits that comes accompanied with tasting notes and interesting quips, striking just the right balance between professional, educational and fun. By enabling members to sample the spirits side­to­side before buying them, Flaviar helps them to develop their own personal taste and make the right purchases. Members can rate and comment on spirits, gaining valuable insights in the process and sharing their thoughts with the community. 

Flaviar - Tasting Pack

Flaviar - Tasting Pack

CLICK BELOW TO JOIN THE CLUB

A WHISKEY CONVERT

I'm not much of a whiskey drinker, so what am I doing reviewing a new Highland Single Malt Scotch Whiskey, when terms like 'single malt' and 'scotch' are lost on me? Similar to when I was younger and tried my first olive, within a few minutes I wanted another, and another until the tub was full of sucked dry pips. I'm hoping I'll look back on this moment and say it was the AnCnoc limited edition whiskey that turned me into a sophisticated whiskey drinking gent. 

I took the above photos at about 8pm on a weekday night when I had nothing planned and could sit down on the sofa to enjoy the whiskey at my leisure. All I needed was a rustic log fire and things would have been prefect. I tried the anCnoc whiskey with a splash of water and two ice cubes and during my first anticipated sip I was met with a serious number of flavours I have never come across when drinking whiskey. For my palette it was hard to pick what the flavours were, but it was sweet yet bitter and fruity - bloody nice I might add.

When buying alcohol, yes it is about taste of the product, personal taste but also some customers (myself included) look at the design of the bottle. Does it stand out from the others? What can I do with that bottle after I have drunk it all? So it doesn't surprise me that anCnoc have collaborated with fashion designer Patrick Grant who is the creative director of Savile Row tailors Norton & Sons and a judge on BBC2 show The Great Sewing Bee. Blas, translated as 'taste' in Gaelic, is presented in a specifically designed bottle by Edinburgh-born Patrick Grant. Patrick spent over a year designing the bespoke print, which is inspired by the brand, flavour notes of the limited edition liquid, and the time-honoured production methods used at the Knockdhu distillery.

ABOUT THIS WHISKEY (BY THE EXPERTS)

In appearance, Blas is golden and honeyed. On the nose it is densely sweet and fruity with notes of lemon and candied orange peel. Tone of bitter chocolate and vanilla add complexity and weight. To taste, Blas is full bodied and oily, leaving a lasting impression. This limited edition has been matured in American oak barrels and Spanish oak butts. Chosen at its optimum level of maturation by their blender, Mark Williamson, it has been bottled at 54% and in its most natural state, neither chill filtered nor coloured.

I spent a lot of time at Knockdhu not only taking in the landscape and surrounding areas, but getting to know the people that work there and the methods that they use. Everything in the print is from the hill, the village of Knock or within the distillery itself and tells the story of the making of Blas. I’ve tried to interpret anCnoc’s history and tradition in a modern way, and hope this is translated through the aestetic of the bottle.
— Patrick Grant

The Patrick Grant Limited Edition, Blas, retails at £50 for 70cl and is available from independents and specialist retailers throughout the UK.

 

HOW TO STAY FIT OVER CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR

We all know that December is an extremely tough month to stay fit and motivated to keep healthy. There is just too much temptation, Christmas party invites galore, work lunches and all of your mates suddenly want to catch up before the end of the year. I'm pretty sure that many of us out there have spent more days in December nursing a hangover than not. 

I for one, don't really get many Christmas party invitations (mini violins please) mainly because I work on my own, for myself...so whats the point, turkey for one! Then there is my New Years holiday to Thailand. So for the first time, this December I'm staying fit and healthy and here are my tips to do so.

1. JOIN A FITNESS BOOTCAMP

Seems obvious, right? Well yes kind of but notice I said bootcamp and not gym. I do both and feel I get more out of being involved in bootcamp outdoor fitness training. Gyms can be quite expensive and a little dull once you are in there, thats unless you have a gym buddy or get some PT sessions. My point is, gyms are great if you are highly self motivated, bootcamps are great because it is group based fitness where you are getting motivated by the instructors and also by like minded people. I belong to British Military Fitness who run bootcamps across the UK, were fitness meets social.

2. REFUEL

After a heavy exercise session it is important to refuel your body - it should be screaming out for food, so give it what it needs! I'm a morning fitness person, so my favourite post exercise food is Protein Pancakes (shown above). Simple to make and packed with goodness. I layer my pancakes with Steens Raw 20+ UMF Manuka Honey as it is packed with plant phenols and antioxidants which support a healthy diet.  Here are the ingredients:

Put all ingredients into a blender, nutri-bullet or similar:

  1. Splash of almond milk.
  2. 2 eggs.
  3. Handful of oats.
  4. One heaped scoop of protein powder (I use PhD banana flavour).
  5. Half a banana (keep the rest for garnish).
  6. Tea spoon of coconut oil.
  7. Table spoon of greek 0% fat yogurt.

Cook in coconut oil, serve layered with honey and top with more Greek 0% fat yogurt, banana and mixed berries.

3. DRINK MORE NATURAL TEA

Sorry guys, I know how tempting it is to head to your nearest Costa or Starbucks and pay way too much for a white hot chocolate, gingerbread latte or hazelnut cappuccino. Spend the same price as one of those coffees and get yourself 15 Teapigs! TeaPigs provide naturally caffeine free tea in soooooo many different flavours, so if the Christmas 'spiced winter red tea' isn't quite your thing, then go for a more palatable peppermint tea.

4. ENJOY SNACK TIME

Little and often, little and often...I keep telling myself. Its now 3-4pm and its been a couple of hours since lunch and dinner seems a million miles away. Try not to head over to the naughty snack machine in the corner of the office. Buy healthy snacks so you can enjoy some guilt-free indulgence. Check out Willies Cacao which is about as healthy and indulgent as chocolate gets. I also love these little squares of goodness from Bioglan Raw Bites - I'm going to try the Cacao & Quinoa ones next. 

5. REMEMBER YOUR 5-A-DAY

I've had those vegetable and fruit boxes that you get delivered to your door in the attempt to eat more veg. It just didn't work, I ended up throwing most of it in the bin or blending it to make juices, but I was never that good at combining flavours. Thanks to Bioglan SuperFoods, they have done all the hard work for us with their superfood pouches. Just blend with water, I tend to have one of these per day either was my dinner, as a snack or after an evening fitness workout.

6. AND RELAX

It is important to remember down time, to relax the muscles as well as your brain. Think about what is important in your life, what makes you happy and try to let all the stresses go. These essential oils from Nudo are the perfect relaxant and each of their oils are suitable for bathing, massage or vaporisation. 

 

HAVE A HEALTHY, STRESS FREE CHRISTMAS...LOVE CARL X

HOW TO COOK THE PERFECT STEAK?

To celebrate National BBQ Week, I have put together this Men's Everyday Essentials video on how to cook the perfect steak at home.

In the video, I explain:

  • Choosing the pan. You need a pan with a thick base, which will allow the pan to take on more heat and therefore better for cooking steak. Use a thick griddle pan as the best option.
  • Choosing an oil. It is important NOT to use butter because butter will burn when using high heats to cook the steak. Instead use an oil that can withstand the high heats such as groundnut or olive oil. Place a tiny bit of oil on both sides of the steak...not in the pan.
  • Seasoning the steak. Use only salt and pepper because you still want to taste the actual meat! When seasoning the steaks, do not season them too early as the salt will draw moisture from the steak. So crack the salt and pepper onto a plate, then dip the steaks in and cover both sides just before cooking.
  • How do you like you steak? In the video I'm cooking a 200g fillet steak, rare. However there are many ways to cook a steak which are Blue, Rare, Medium-Rare, Medium, Medium-Well and Well-done. Refer to the video at 1:00 which explains an easy way to tell via touch how much your steak is cooking.
  • Cooking times. When cooking a steak the cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the steak, your personal choice on how you want it cooked and also how high you have your pan. You may also want to cook different cuts of beef differently. For example, with a fillet steak, I should always have it rare because there is little fat and it will melt in your mouth. However for a sirloin or rib-eye I would have it medium-rare or maybe even medium because you want the fat in the steak or around the steak to marble - giving extra taste to the meat. In the video, I cooked the steak for just over 2 minutes each side.
  • Leave it to rest. Yes I know its hard. You just want to get the steak in your belly! But this is the most important part. You should allow your steak to rest in room temperature for approx 5-10 minutes. This is to allow the juices to get reabsorbed back into the meat. Giving you a juicier, melt in the mouth steak.
  • Red wine. While your steak is resting. Choose a red wine. For me I have gone for this amazing Italian red given to me by a friend of mine Vince, check him out at www.vcfit.co.uk - the wine came for a region of Italy near where his parents live and it is perfect to drink with red meats.
  • Plate up. With the steak rested and the wine flowing...its now time to plate up. With any sauce you wish to have with your steak, always have it in a pot on the side rather than over your steak. This is because the sauce will continue to cook your steak if it is smothered in sauce and we don't want to ruin the hard work we have put into cooking the perfect steak! Serve with chips or fries, sauce and salad.
  • Tuck in. Yep and finally eat up and enjoy!

MY 3 FAVOURITE COCKTAILS THIS SUMMER

Okay, so I'm no Tom Cruise serving up cocktails and dreams in some remote caribbean island, instead I'm at my poky flat in Clapham South, London throwing together my three favourite cocktails this Summer. However all is not lost because I can assure you that 'if' the sun comes out in London - we'll make the most of it and appreciate these cocktails a hell of a lot more!

Where I lack in cocktail making skills, I'm pretty good at googling how to make them and following instructions, plus I have a serious amount of experience in drinking them. My mates would say I have had an uphill paper round, referring to my ever growing wrinkles and aged appearance and drinking has certainly played its part.

With that in mind...here are my SUMMER COCKTAIL FAVOURITES and ingredients.

1. JUG OF PIMMS.

  • 50ml PIMM’S No.1 per glass.
  • 150ml of Lemonade per glass.
  • Mint, orange, strawberries.
  • Cucumber to garnish and ice.

Note. To mix things up, why not try replacing the PIMMS with Harry Brompton's alcoholic Iced Tea (stocked in Waitrose & Sainsburys).

2. ESPRESSO MARTINI.

  • 25ml Kahlúa liqueur.
  • 25ml chilled espresso coffee.
  • 50ml Vodka.
  • Ice (for the shaking process).
  • Sugar or honey to taste.
  • Garnish with 3 coffee beans.

Note. Try replacing the Kahlúa with Baileys and using Smirnoff Espresso Vodka or Patron XO Café.

3. DISARONNO SOUR.

  • Glass with Ice.
  • Pour 45 ml of Disaronno.
  • Pour 30 ml of fresh lemon juice.
  • Add a teaspoon of brown sugar.
  • Stir and garnish with lime slices.

Note. This a very clean and crisp cocktail. An alternative is the Amaretto Sour, which you add egg whites and shake in a cocktail shaker.

ENJOY AND HAVE AN EPIC SUMMER!!!