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."
Porcini mushrooms are one of my favourite treats; I
eat them and their delicious stock in sauces and sautés,
in soup, on toast, in omelettes and onwards. One of
their greatest combinations is with caramelised onions
and I've got it here in a pastry case. This tart is
off the scale yummy, it is ideal for any meal (I
polished mine off at midnight), on its own or with
a crisp green salad on the side.
600g or slightly over (about 6) small firm onions
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
25g packet Dried Porcini Mushrooms
375g 425g (this depends on brand and supermarket)
packet of ready rolled puff pastry
180 - 200g bag of spinach
250g tub of cream cheese or mascarpone
Salt and sugar
You will need a 30 x 20 cm (12 x 8 inch) baking tray
your oven to 200°C / Fan 180°C / Gas 7 Top
the onions, cut them in half then slice them thinly.
the sliced onions into a shallow pan that you have
a tight fitting lid for, add the oil, a teaspoon of
salt and half a teaspoon of sugar.
the pan, place over a medium heat and sweat the onions
for about 10 minutes until soft and creamy.
the onions sweat, put the dried Porcini into a small
bowl, pour hot water over the top and leave to soak
for 10 minutes.
Drain the Porcini and save the stock for another recipe
such as a risotto, pasta sauce or soup.
the Porcini thinly and set aside.
the lid off the onions, turn up the heat and stand
over them, stirring frequently, for 8 - 10 minutes
until they are a light caramel colour.
in the sliced Porcini and then add the spinach, stir
for 30 seconds, just enough for the spinach to begin
from the heat then stir in half of the cream cheese.
with salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
your baking tray with lightly oiled greaseproof paper.
Lay the pastry over the top and then turn the excess
pastry around the outside inward to make a small lip.
the Porcini mixture over the top of the pastry inside
the lip at the edge.
the remaining cream cheese over the top and then for
bake for 25 - 30 minutes in the pre-heated oven until
crisp and golden.
The tart can be cooked in advance, left to cool and
then reheated in 200°C / Gas 6 for 3 - 4 minutes.
I often double the onion mixture, up to the point
of adding the spinach and cream cheese and then freeze
half for another tart or to serve with beef or even
as a base for gravy with sausages.
This was a hit; the only thing I would say for the
younger ones is to chop the onions, Porcini and spinach
into smaller pieces. The Porcini, onion, cheese and
spinach mixture makes a great puree to freeze for
the tiny and toothless too. Just mix with a little
mashed potato or Polenta