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Sharing recipes, memories with Relish chef
I just spent an hour in the kitchen with fellow Chef Jon Ashton as he finished up his whirlwind day in Yuma visiting all the TV and radio stations, telling everyone about the Relish Cooking Show Jan. 28 in Yuma.
It was great to be included in his busy day, and I felt very lucky to be the last stop in Yuma before Jon headed back to Florida.
I was asked by the Yuma Sun if I would write about meeting Jon and cook with him for the Yuma Foodie article. What a wonderful opportunity to meet a fellow chef and cook some of his food.
We talked a little on the phone a couple of weeks ago, plus to get to know him a little better, I spent a few evenings reading his blog. I was so looking forward to meeting this man who made me laugh out loud and also cry a little while reading his blog. I opened the door to a hug and “Hello, luv” from Jon in his wonderful English accent.
Just like me, Chef Jon began cooking at the young age of 8. His Granny Ashton would have large parties in her backyard and include him in preparing the food. He found a true love in the preparation of food and at 16 started culinary school.
He starred on a cooking show in Britain and was a hit, so he packed his bags and came to America to fulfill a dream of being on American TV. He started recording cooking shows and was eventually invited on the “Today” show, where he cooked with Al Roker. Since then he has been on TV with Jay Leno, Vince Vaughn, Andy Garcia, Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, Emeril Lagasse, Martha Stewart and Giada De Laurentiis, to name just a few.
Jon feels that cooking is much more than cooking. It is a way to live well. By making cooking easy and tasty, he hopes more people take the time to cook at home and eat together as a family.
Chef Jon has worked in school systems creating programs and conducting cooking classed involving 50,000 children across the nation. Jon loves kids and is committed to improving their eating habits.
Chef Jon is also the executive chef of Relish magazine.
He will be returning to Yuma Jan. 27 for a VIP dinner at the Pivot Point Hilton and then on the 28th for his Relish Cooking Show & Expo at First Christian Church, 3261 S. Avenue 6E.
Tickets for both events are on sale now at the Yuma Sun, 2055 S. Arizona Ave. You can also find great recipes, cooking ideas and hints at www.relishmag.com.
Jon is a pleasure to share the kitchen with. He came into the kitchen and was excited to see the recipes of his that I had chosen from his blog to prepare for our meeting and photo shoot. My choices added excitement to his eyes, even after a very long day in Yuma, very little sleep the night before, and I could tell he was anxious to get the pictures taken so he could dig in.
I had chosen his Macaroni Shepherd's Pie, Granny Ashton's English Summer Pudding and his wonderful mint whipped cream.
Jon explained that true shepherd's pie is made with ground lamb because of the shepherds caring for lambs. I used beef in the one I made, so it is really a cottage pie.
John loves this recipe, as it is what he says the ultimate in comfort food: shepherd's pie and macaroni and cheese. He likes to fill a large bowl, use a small spoon, sit on a comfy couch and eat slowly as all his stress melts away. I know he liked what I had made, as he came back a few times to fill his plate.
Macaroni Shepherd's Pie
1 pound ground lamb or beef
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium onions, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small turnip, peeled and diced
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1-1/4 cups chicken or beef bouillon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Salt and pepper
1 batch macaroni cheese (make your favorite recipe)
Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat, then add the olive oil. Now add the onions and fry until they start to turn golden brown and caramelize. About five minutes. Now add the diced carrot and turnip and cook for another five minutes, then remove the vegetables from the pan and put them to one side.
Place the pan back on the heat and brown the meat in batches, mixing it around. Get it all nice and brown. While the meat is cooking, give it a jolly generous seasoning of salt and pepper, add cinnamon, thyme and pre-cooked vegetables.
Stir in the flour, it will soak up all the juice, gradually add the bouillon to the meat. Stir in the tomato puree. Lower heat, place a lid on the pan and let it simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
While the meat is simmering, you can make the mac and cheese.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Once the meat is ready, spoon it into the baking dish. Spread the mac and cheese evenly all over. Shower a little grated cheese (from the recipe below) and bake the whole thing in your pre-heated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the top is crusty and golden.
Below is Jon's quick and easy recipe for Macaroni and Cheese. This worked well on the pie.
Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2½ cups milk
12 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a separate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 3 minutes to form a rue. Make sure it's free of lumps. Slowly stir in the milk. Simmer for eight minutes or until thickened like a gravy. Stir in 3/4 cheddar and parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix.
After reading Jon's blog and feeling the love he has for his Granny Ashton, I just had to make the English Summer Pudding. This is easy, tastes great, and it would be a wonderful dish to let the kids help. Jon paid me a great compliment by saying the pudding took him back to England and the summer parties his granny would host. He told me he was sure she was looking down on us now here in Yuma.
English Berry (or Summer) Pudding
8 cups assorted berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries), divided
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
1 round brioche loaf (18-ounce), crusts removed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream
Mix 6 cups of berries with water and sugar in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until berries start to soften and sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in 1-3/4 cups of remaining berries. Strain fruit mixture, reserving all the juices, and leave until lukewarm.
Line a glass serving bowl with plastic wrap. Cut a slice of brioche to fit the bottom of the bowl. Cut the remaining loaf into triangles and dip in reserved fruit juice. Place three-fourths of the bread pieces against the sides of bowl.
Spoon berries into center of bowl. Add ¼ cup of the juices; reserve remaining juices. Top with remaining bread slices. Cover pudding with plastic wrap. Press down with your hands until the juices rise to the top. Place a plate on top, and set weights on the plate (2 or 3 cans of soup or vegetables works well). Refrigerate at least 8 hours.
To serve, remove weights, plate and top plastic wrap. Place a serving plate on top of bowl and quickly turn both over together, shaking gently, so that the pudding releases from the bowl. Removed plastic wrap. Spoon reserved juices on top and on any areas of bread that have not been stained by the berry juices. Arrange remaining 1/4 cup berries on top. Cut into wedges and serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
Mint Whipped Cream
3-1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
Beat cream and all ingredients in large bowl until stiff peaks form.
I know you will enjoy Jon's recipes and I hope to see you Jan. 28 at the Relish Cooking Show.
Karla Billdt works as a personal chef in Yuma and owns Karla's Kreations.