Gourmet recently launched a brand new web site www.merchant-gourmet.com.
As well as an online store to enable you to easily order
Merchant Gourmet products a recipes section has been
created, into which video guides have being incorporated
from top chef Alex Mackay.
Merchant Gourmet was started by Mark Leatham in 1985.
He spent his time looking for the cream of the crop,
and talking about it to la crème de la crème.
Today, Merchant Gourmet now has over forty products
that you will find on the shelves of major supermarkets.
Mark is still looking for more, newer good stuff, and
working with their suppliers. The rest of the team spend
a lot of time cooking and tasting.
The range includes everything from Chestnuts to Porcini
Mushrooms, Sun Dried Tomatoes, and Balsamic Syrup. Merchant
Gourmet wants people to use them all the time, rather
than lose them in the back of the cupboard. The big
idea is that a bit of something special can elevate
your lunch or dinner. One ingredient makes all the difference,
if you will.
For written version of recipe please
scroll down page
Mackay . . . the Cook, the Teacher, the Writer and the
is everlasting, ever changing, magical fun. I cook all
the time, very often three times a day. I cook for work,
I cook to relax, I grow things that I want to cook and
I read about how best to cook them. And I really love
to talk and write about it.
fifteen years ago Raymond Blanc called me in Bermuda
to ask me to come back to Le Manoir aux Quat Saisons
and run his Cookery School. That was the day I started
to become less of a chef and more of a cook.
days I'm learning to be a father as I write, appear
on television, run Delia Smith's Cookery Workshops at
Norwich City Football Club and spend as much time as
I can with the wonderful Kids Cookery School. And as
you can see I have also become the Merchant Gourmet
write a monthly recipe feature for Sainsbury's Magazine.
I won The Guild of Food Writers Cookery Journalist of
the Year 2006 and was runner up in 2007 and 2008. My
book "Cooking in Provence" won the Gourmand
World Cookbook award for "Best Book on French Cuisine
in English" and was in a short list of three for
"Best First Book" at the Guild of Food Writers
am a regular on Ready Steady Cook on BBC 2 and I have
featured on This Morning and Too Many Cooks on ITV.
I was a regular for five years on UKTV's Great Food
Live and made three thirteen part series for Carlton
cookery workshops at Norwich City Football Club with
Delia Smith are now going into their seventh year.
started working in restaurants completely by chance
after being asked to leave school in New Zealand at
fifteen. I washed dishes for a year before starting
an apprenticeship and then as soon as I finished I bought
a one-way ticket to France. I spent nearly three years
working in the kitchens of two starred Michelin restaurants
in Burgundy, Tours and Courchevel. After this I went
to work for my great friend and mentor Raymond Blanc.
I was promoted to Sous Chef after six months. I left
a year later to get a little rest in Bermuda where at
the age of twenty-three, I was runner up in Bermuda's
Chef of the Year Awards. It was then that RB called
to ask me to the come back to Le Manoir as Director
of L'École de Cuisine and Head of development
for Blanc Restaurants Ltd in charge of all its publishing
and consultancy activities.
time I spent three years at Le Manoir working on Projects
as varied as Raymond Blanc's books and food for Virgin
airlines. I then opened my own school, Le Baou d'Infer,
in Provence. It was soon placed in the world top ten
by the Sunday Times and Conde Nast Traveler as well
as being voted one of the Worlds Finest by House and
Garden Travel. The cookery school is now finished after
fulfilling its five-year plan and, apart from the first
year, always being fully booked.
projects these days are ever more varied, but food,
and people that want to learn about it are always at
live in Oxford with my wife Jess and sons Jake and James.
Smith from her foreword to Alex Mackay's book Cooking
Mackay is, first and foremost, a brilliant chef. Yet
at the same time he is much more than that. He has
a rare and special gift, which goes beyond simply
creating beautiful dishes. That gift is the ability
to teach, inspire and enthuse others who want to learn
how to cook."
Raymond Blanc from the booklet for Alex Mackay's
former Cookery School Le Baou d'Infer:
"I have watched Alex grow with great pride from
a fine chef into a fine teacher and listened with
pleasure to the many guests who have enjoyed his free
style of teaching and learnt so much in their time
with us. The sadness I feel as he leaves is overwhelmed
by the joy of seeing a pupil become a master."
The Sun Dried Tomatoes light up and also season the
sauce and gnocchi, giving you intense little nuggets
of flavour throughout. The mozzarella should just begin
to melt and the basil freshens things up beautifully.
Half a pack Sun Dried Tomatoes (50g)
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
500g packet of fresh gnocchi
20 large leaves of basil
Salt, sugar and cayenne pepper
your kettle. Put the Sun Dried Tomatoes into a small
bowl; pour the water over the top then leave to soak
for 15 minutes.
the onion and garlic into a shallow pan. Add the oil,
cover and then soften over a medium heat for 5 minutes.
Add the tin of tomatoes and 100ml of water, bring
to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes.
the sauce simmers, chop the Sun Dried Tomatoes into
bits the size of big raisins. Add them to the sauce
then simmer for the last 5 minutes or so.
a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil.
the basil and chop the mozzarella into small (1.5cm)
the gnocchi for 3 minutes, strain and shake well and
then add to the sauce.
in the mozzarella followed by the basil. Remove from
the heat, season to taste with salt (don't need much),
sugar (to bring out the tomato's flavour) and cayenne
you are only cooking for two, separate half of the
gnocchi and sauce before you add the mozzarella and
basil. You can then keep it in the fridge for a couple
of days or freeze for another time.
At my house we only really need three portions, but
because the gnocchi comes in bags of 500g, I always
make a whole recipe and freeze one portion for an
emergency supper. It is an excellent meal for kids
that you can adapt to almost endlessly; I often add
carrots, peppers or sweet potatoes to the sauce at
the start or sliced baby spinach or rocket near the
end. The chopped Sun Dried Tomatoes are a great hit
with my kids, in the same way that dried fruit is.
dish can be pureed for the tiny and toothless, but
as with all gnocchi or pasta, either chop it by hand
or puree it into tiny chunks with the pulse button,
if you leave the motor running the puree will become