It’s a Double Dose of Guest Post Friday

Today your going to get a double shot of Guest Post Friday!!  Right now I am getting ready to go to the Food Buzz Blogger Festival in San Francisco, but before I leave I want to introduce you to another wonderful blogger friend of mine.  His name is Michael Toa, and his blog is  Me, My Food and I.  I first met Michael while he was cooking his way through Jamie Olivers cookbook, I thought that was such a monumental task, and I loved his interpretations of Jamie’s Recipes!  I have been a fan ever since!  Michael has a no nonsense approach to cooking, his short but sweet posts still manage to entertain you while getting right to the point!  I know your going to love his blog, so make sure you head on over and check out his current posts ( I’ll let you in on a little secret too, he loves Nigella as much as I do!!)
The other part of double shot Friday is my guest post over at A Thought For Food, My good friend Brian asked me to do a guest post for him as he got ready for his trip to the  Food Buzz Festival, and even though I can barely get my posts out on time (sorry I missed one this week) I had to say yes.  So please go on over to A Thought For Food, check out my guest post and read a little bit more about Mama Jeanette.   I hope everyone has a great weekend, those of you going to the Food Buzz Festival I will see you soon, and everyone else I’m promise to take lots of pictures and report back about the Food Buzz Festival ASAP.

Thanks for stopping by and now please welcome Michael!

Sumptuous Simplicity

Hi everyone! My name is Michael Toa, I just recently turned 23 and I live in Sunderland, UK. I love cooking and I love eating and I find food to be the best way to gather people around and to have a good time. I can express how I feel and what I want other people to feel through food.  It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’, or ‘I’m sorry’, or ‘let’s celebrate!!’
Not a long time ago, I went to a small dinner party at a friend’s house.  I had some delicious melt-in-your-mouth beef stew that was made the night before to let the flavour more intense; couscous salad with dried cranberries and coriander; and simple tomato and basil salad dressed with red wine vinegar and olive oil.  For pudding we had homemade New York style cheesecake served with fresh raspberries. 
It all seemed so effortless…
Every now and then, I enjoy ‘dinner-party’ which includes silverware, black-tie, and cook to impress.  But what I don’t want is to spend all evening in the kitchen. When I invite people over for dinner, I want to be a part of it, because at the end of the day, for me, eating is about the pleasure of food and its taste, and sharing it with the people you love.  
I live on my own and like going out with friends whenever I can.  However, I have found that some of the best times my friends and I usually have happen when I cook up some good food and have bunch of people over to my place.  I like easy and welcoming family style food; nothing so overly complicated that people are afraid to eat it.
And my ideal dinner party food must be sumptuous but simple, especially when entertaining during weekdays. I want feel-good food that looks and tastes delicious. Some may laugh at this notion of sumptuous simplicity, but it’s just a question of strategy.  Pick selections of food that can be made ahead of time; and food that is simple to assemble just before and after the guests have arrived.
This is my strategy: something that can be made ahead of time – dessert, everyone’s favourite which can be made the night before. And here’s the thing, no matter how delicious the food I make, people always remember dessert. All of my friends have mastered the trick to leave some room for the sweet stuff.
And my thought on the sweet subject is, dessert isn’t about necessity, as no one would really go hungry without it, especially after a big and satisfying meal. Dessert is all about indulgence and that’s why it has to be something really special, like espresso zabaglione
This zabaglione is my own version of a very similar dessert I had when I was in London a few months ago.  One evening I was craving something sweet so I went to this small Italian cafe and ordered the cornetto albicocca (apricot croissant) and caffé al Tiramisù, which was espresso blended with tiramisu cream and topped with crumbled Savoiardo biscuit. It was heavenly…
If you never had zabaglione before, it’s not easy to describe its texture as it feels neither solid nor liquid. It’s like eating clouds. Although saying that I never ate clouds, obviously, but I imagine this what cloud would taste like with espresso infused in it.
Espresso Zabaglione
·         4 egg yolks
·         8 tablespoon caster sugar
·         60 ml espresso
·         1 cup double cream, lightly whipped with a teaspoon of vanilla and a healthy dose of coffee liquor
·         1 Bourbon biscuit, crumbled
Continue whisking as you slowly pour in the espresso. Remove the bowl from its pan of simmering water, and place on a cold surface or stand it in a pan of cold water, and whisk until cool. Then fold the lightly whipped cream into the egg mixture. Pour into 4 glasses and leave to chill in the fridge overnight (If you prefer, this zabaglione is also delicious when still warm). When ready to serve, top the zabaglione with the crumbled bourbon biscuits.
On paper the recipe above would serve six, but in reality, four greedy people, and I must ‘keep it real’, right?

The next day, I can just get on with my daily routine, happily knowing I’m going to eat well tonight.  When I get home from work, I put on some music to get myself in the mood; and pour myself something refreshing and cold to drink, like my dirty limontini, my lemony version of dirty martini.  In a cocktail shaker, combine limoncello – Italian lemon liquor, chilled lemon vodka and a splash of olive brine which gives the cloudy/dirty look to the drink with a handful of ice. Strain before serving in chilled glass and to serve, add a lemon stuffed green olive. So refreshing…
Next in my sumptuous simplicity strategy: something that is simple to assemble before the guests arrived – main. Just like everything else in life, there are definitely times for elaborate kitchen extravaganza but for a weekday dinner, it’s got to be something quick with no fuss.  My version of chicken with 40 cloves of garlic may not be authentically French, but I know one thing for sure, it’s delicious.
If you never had this classic dish before, you may think using 40 cloves of garlic to make what in essence, a chicken casserole may seem excessive, but who says there’s something wrong with excess?! And please don’t panic. The garlic here is cooked in their skins and you’ll end up with oh-so-delicious – soft, sweet, sticky, caramelised garlic.
I also much prefer using chicken thighs as I find dark meat is more flavourful and they don’t go string-y like chicken breasts; plus, thighs are much cheaper, an even better reason to use them. 
Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic
·         Olive oil
·         8 chicken thighs (skin on, bone in for more flavours), preferably organic
·         1 large onion
·         12 baby carrots
·         A small bunch of fresh thyme, reserving some sprigs for garnish
·         40 cloves of garlic (about 3 – 4 garlic bulbs)
·         250 ml of white wine
·         Salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F. Start by searing the chicken thighs in olive oil in a wide oven proof casserole pan with a lid. You may need to do this in a couple batches and then put them aside on a plate. Quickly fry the onions and thyme in the same pan until just soft. Add half of the garlic into the pan, the carrots and top with the chicken pieces and the juices on the plate. Add the white wine and scrape all the chicken-y bits on the pan and then add the rest of the garlic, and season with salt and black pepper.
Put on the lid and let it cook for an hour and a half in the oven which gives me plenty of time to set the table, welcome my guests and have my second limontini with them. 
When ready to serve, sprinkle with more fresh thyme leaves. You may serve this with potatoes, but I prefer slices of crusty bread; and what I really like to do is squeeze some the garlic from its skin and smear it on the bread… yum.

And last but not least, something that is simple to assemble after the guests arrived – starter. I like to prepare as much as I can in advance, but it’s also nice to get away from the crowd for a little bit and do some last minute cooking; and scallops with coriander and pea puree is just perfect. The scallops only need a couple of minutes a side to cook and the coriander and pea puree also takes no time to make.
Scallops with coriander and pea purée
·         Olive oil
·         12 big juicy scallops
·         300 grams / 2 cups of frozen petite pois
·         A good dollop of Crème Fraiche
·         Juice of half a lemon
·         A big bunch of coriander (cilantro)
·         Salt and black pepper
·         1 fresh red chili, finely chopped
·         Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle
Start by making the pea purée. Cook the petite pois in boiling water for approximately 5 minutes. Reserve a ladleful of the cooking water before draining them and then put in a blender. Add the crème fraiche, lemon juice, coriander leaves, the reserved cooking water, salt and freshly ground black pepper to the blender and blitz until smooth. Taste if you need more lemon or seasoning.
Season your scallops with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a skillet, heat the olive oil and cook the scallops for a couple of minutes on each side. Well, depending on the size of your scallops really.
Put the pea puree on the plates and serve the scallops on top with a scattering of finely chopped red chillies and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
I love the sweetness of scallops and peas together and then cut with the sharpness of lemon and crème fraiche, and aromatic coriander.

And at the end of the dinner, contrary to what some may think, always, always accept help with the washing-up if it is genuinely offered… J
Thank you Chef Dennis for this opportunity to allowing me to share some of the foods I love cooking and eating with everyone else. It truly is an honour. Again, thank you and I hope you all enjoy it.
Have a delicious day!
Now don’t forget go see Michael at Me, My Food and I!!


  1. Spicie Foodie says:

    Hello Chef Dennis and Michael,
    Chef thanks for introducing us to a very talented blogger. Michael your recipes look mouthwatering. I'm particularly drooling over the scallops, yum!

  2. Cake Duchess says:

    Hi Dennis! Michael, this all looks delicious! Happy to find you here and I will visit your blog. Have a great weekend:)

  3. Glad to see you on here as well, Michael. Authentic or not, the chicken with 40 cloves looks fantastic. My husband would love to try the scallops. Beautiful!

  4. What a great guest post! I love the simplicity of Michael's approach to food. I will be heading over to check out his blog.

    Enjoy your time at the Food Buzz Festival. Looking forward to the posts.


  5. Sarah-Jane - says:

    Hello Michael (& Chef)

    Lovely post and photos – look forward to checking out your own space

  6. intuitive eggplant says:

    Gorgeous guest post, Michael. And Dennis, hope you have a terrific time in San Francisco. Can't wait to hear your take on the blog festival!

  7. What a beautiful meal. I am so happy to meet another friend of Chef Dennis.

    Have a great time in CA, Chef!

  8. sara @ CaffeIna says:

    I'm already in love with the espresso zabaglione! Thanks for sharing it Micheal! And see you tomorrow Chef!

  9. Green Girl @ A little bit of everything says:

    Another great guest you had Chef

    those scallops and the pea puree looks so yummy, i'll try them soon.

    Chef Denis, have fun at festival, take lots of pictures. can't wait to read about it

  10. Chow and Chatter says:

    oh wow amazing food on my way to follow a new blogger and a fellow Brit love it

  11. A Thought For Food says:

    You certainly are a busy guy! Between this amazing post and your guest post (which will be up on my site very shortly), I can only imagine how hectic things aver been! I can't wait to meet you this weekend, should be a blast!

  12. The Mom Chef says:

    Hiya Michael. Thanks for sharing your gorgeous meal with us. Chef, enjoy yourself. Give Sara (CaffeIna) a big hug from me.

  13. Georgia (The Comfort of Cooking) says:

    Thank you for sharing Michael with us, Dennis. This dish looks incredibly delicious!

  14. Jennifer-Adventuresome Kitchen says:

    Chef, I hope you have a fabulous time at the Food Blogger extravaganza! maybe I'll get to go some year! Michael, I really enjoyed reading your posts. The chicken looks very simple and delicious- i love lots of garlic. And the scallops look beautiful. Thanks for a nice post!

  15. Magic of Spice says:

    Michael, a most perfect guest post…
    That dessert is scrumptious!
    And the scallop dish is amazingly flavorful and simply beautiful.
    Plus you know I am all over the 40 cloves 🙂
    Exceptional choice Dennis…wishing you a fantastic time at the festival, sorry to miss it…

  16. Michael, what a fabulous meal. The scallops and pea puree is mouthwatering and I'm loving the espresso zabaglione. Thanks for sharing.

    Chef, I hope I get a chance to meet you this weekend!

  17. Hi Dennis your guest post is great.
    Hi Michael your recipes look mouthwatering and just visited your blog superb!!!!!!

  18. jose manuel says:

    Que platos más fabulosos, me encanta lo que presentas aquí.


  19. ¡Que rico todo!. Me encantan estas recetas y la presentación.

  20. penny aka jeroxie says:

    Thanks for introducing another fellow blogger! Everything looks so yum

  21. Michael, I'm so happy to see you write this lovely guest post on one of my favorite blogs, Chef Dennis'! Your dishes look so tempting, both Jamie and Nigella would be so proud.

  22. Oh Dennis, can't wait to hear your stories about your Foodbuzz Fest experience this weekend!

  23. Gourmet Gadget Gal says:

    Beef stew IS better served the next day, I agree and I love Michael's recipe for his lemon drink. I am also really looking forward to your post(s) about the Festival as it is something I would consider doing down the road. It will be helpful to hear your thoughts.

  24. thanks for sharing two of your friends, always like a good chicken recipe and the garlic clove one is a good standby anytime….

  25. denise @ quickies on the dinner table says:

    Hello Michael – thanks for sharing your beautiful dinner with us. I especially love the scallops. Beautiful!!

    Dennis – thanks for spotlighting another talented blogger 🙂

  26. Evan @swEEts says:

    Your food looks fabulous! I can't wait to go check out your site! Well picked Chef 🙂 And have fun at the festival!!

  27. Great guest post, Michael! I wish I could try your beautiful zabaglione 🙂 I'll head over and read you guest post now, Chef Dennis. Have a safe trip to SF!!

  28. Great post Michael! Everything looks wonderful! I too am more for cooking at home and having friends over…it's more comfortable and laid back that way!

  29. Kimberly Peterson says:

    Good work Michael and Chef Dennis great choice of guest blogger 😉

  30. Michael Toa says:

    I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone for the lovely comments.

    I'm glad yous all enjoyed it as much as I enjoy cooking, eating and writing about it.

    Have a delicious weekend.

    Michael 🙂

  31. Pretend Chef says:

    These recipes look fantastic! The scallops have me all giddy. I'm a huge fan! My stomach is growling at the thought of sitting around your table. Make sure to check out my blog to enter the giveaway!

  32. Hey Michael! I agree that the best meals are often made at home, and I can see this is probably definitely the case with your cooking. Everything looks so rustic and delicious. Oh, and actually really healthful too;-)
    Have fun at the festival, Dennis! That's so cool that you're going…

  33. mangiabella says:

    Chef D, FABULOUS guest post as ALWAYS! Have a sensational time at the FoodBuzz Fest! I know you will and we all will be on tip toe waiting to hear about this adventure!

    Michael, what a glorious post, everything is so inviting and I am all about simple indulgences! I will most definitely try the zabaglione! Off to visit your blog 🙂

  34. foodies at home says:

    Beautiful! I love all three dishes!

  35. From the Kitchen says:

    Thanks for leaving us with two delicious guest posters. Have a great time in San Francisco!


  36. A multi-dimensional life says:

    WOW! Michael,what more can I say, other than I wish I had a place at your dinner table…and, of course I'm very hungry now! There is not a thing I don't love about these recipes…garlicaholic that I am!
    And every picture is mouth-watering! As for the Zabaglione…I am not sure four greedy guests would have a chance to indulge if I get there first! 🙂

    Thanks again, chef Dennis for sharing your beautiful blog with others. I hope you have a wonderful time at the festival! Looking forward to reading about it soon!

  37. Jennifurla says:

    You have outdone yourself, the chicken dish is freaking awesome!

  38. Angie's Recipes says:

    We are big fans for the garlic! The chicken looks heavenly!
    Thanks, Chef D, and Michael.

  39. What a wonderful post Michael! I love to have dinner parties as well. Maybe I'll try the black tie dinner party sometime soon. One of my favorite dishes is the chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. That zabaglione looks and sounds absolutely amazing!!! Thanks for sharing these mouthwatering recipes!

  40. Elisabeth says:

    Zabaglione with espresso is the ultimate dreamy dessert I can think of. The rest of your dishes are amazing as well.
    You are very talented and so nice of you to be sharing your superb dishes and recipes with us!

  41. Thank you for introducing me to Michael! What a wonderful blogger and what wonderful recipes. I adore scallops, so I'm ready to make that recipe tomorrow! I so hope you have a safe and lovely trip to San Fran. Give my love to all our foodie friends (Brian especially!) I can't wait to hear how your weekend goes!

  42. Nice guest posts, Dennis! Going over to check out Michael's blog now…..

  43. Michael Toa says:

    Many thanks again everyone for the wonderful comments. Much appreciated.

    Have a great weekend!


  44. Hello DEnnis and Hello Michael, all look absolutely delicious, oh men you cook delicious! x gloria

  45. what a beautiful recipe for scallops! i have been trying to wrap my head around them for a while. thanks!

  46. Ciao Dennis da te trovo sempre delle ricette fantastiche, è un piacere farti visista. Buona domenica Daniela.

  47. Look at all that delicious food! I just made zabaglione a couple weeks back; love the stuff! Your version looks absolutely delicious.

    Dennis, have a great time at Foodbuzz! I wish I was there!

  48. Kim - Liv Life says:

    Michael, thank you so much for a wonderful guest post. Your recipes look wonderful, in particular that chicken with garlic! Nicely done.

  49. Ana Powell says:

    Hi Chef Dennis
    I hope you are well.
    Michael, well done, great post. The scallops are definitely my favourite dish.
    Thanking you both, for such fabulous work ♥

  50. naturalicious says:

    Wow, great post and great food. I love garlic that has been roast in it's skin and the slathered over a bit of fresh bread. Great guest post.

  51. The Scallops look divine!

  52. Chef Dennis, thanks so much for introducing us to another talented cook! Everything looks wonderful, especially the scallops.

    Hope you had a great time at the FB festival!

  53. Anna Johnston says:

    You've done it again Chef. Thanks for introducing us to Michael. Love the recipes thanks Michael.

  54. Have a great time at the Food Buzz Fesival Chef Dennis!

    Great recipes Michael. They sound wonderful:)

  55. What a great guest post! Everything looks delicious 🙂 I am dreaming of the scallops dish right now…

  56. Thank you for introducing grat recipes to add to my must make soon. Hope you have a ball in San Fransisco; I know you wiil.

  57. FrouFrouBritches says:

    Hello Mr. Chef Dennis. It's Monday now so I trust we'll be hearing about your weekend at the Food Festival soon. Hope you had a great time.

    Michael, this looks fabulous! YUM! I would love to try a little bit of all of it, but I'm especially intrigued with the espresso infused cloud thingee! Sounds delish!

  58. This meal looks incredible, especially the espresso zabaglione! Thanks for introducing me to another fabulous food blog, Dennis. It was great to meet you at Foodbuzz fest!

  59. Wow, all the dishes look fabulous…and so nicely presented…thanks for introducing Michael 🙂

  60. Chef Dennis!!! I read your post on Brian's site and it was just heavenly in every way. I don't think I have ever seen such tiny apples. I have it on my list of recipes to try.

    Thanks for introducing us to Michael. I loved his creations and style of writing. I loved his version of Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic.

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