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."
A great bubbling pot of Polenta changes in stages and
I am going to show you how. Polenta has to be the most
convenient of all accompaniments, it can be anything
you fancy; a soft soak for gravy, instant dumplings
with tomato sauce, yummy chips with fish, or cut in
roast potato sized cubes to catch the juices around
a roast chicken or a pan of roast vegetables.
This is all before it is flavoured with anything; you
can make herb Polenta, cheese Polenta and porcini Polenta;
at the moment I particularly like garlic Polenta and
roast garlic Polenta and Im sure Ill discover
400ml, milk, stock or water
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
50g grated cheese
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring the stock to the boil. Turn off the heat; add
the Polenta in a slow, steady stream while stirring
on the heat, bring the Polenta to the boil and stir
for 1 minute for soft Polenta or 3 minutes for hard.
Be careful as it will boil volcanically
from the heat, stir in the cheese and butter
serving soft, serve now with sausages and onion gravy
can also spoon some into ice cube trays to freeze
so you have small quantities of an instant and tasty
carbohydrate to serve with any baby or childs
meal, or as little roasties next time youve
got a chicken in the oven
making dumplings, spoon into a frying pan, fry for
2 minutes each side or until golden and then serve
with tomato sauce
youd like chips, spread the Polenta 2-3 cm thick
in an oiled tray or container. (I use old take away
containers for this) Set in the fridge for half an
hour, cut into chips, shallow fry in a hot pan then
serve with salmon, mushy peas and sunblush tomato
The Polenta can freeze or will happily keep in the
fridge for 2 days. I always make two or three times
the recipe and keep some in ice cube trays and ready
cut into chips in the freezer.
Polenta has become a friend I reach for when I need
an accompaniment quickly. Both my boys, aged 2 and
4 at the time of writing, like it soft or as chips.
James last shoved it into his mouth with his hand
to get it more quickly, and he likes it best with
cheese. When they were both babies, the Polenta in
the ice cube trays was invaluable for us, wed
mix two cubes of this with one or two cube-sized spoonfuls
of vegetable and one of meat or fish. One of the great
advantages of plain Polenta is that it makes a fine
accompaniment for everything, so what ever we were
serving or had left over, we could add a cube or two
of Polenta and have a lovely meal for them