Laura Cooks for Raymond Blanc - Squid & Barley

Tuesday 9 July 2013
I've got a very special guest post on the blog today from eight year old Laura Townsend who like me lives in Aberdeenshire. I've known Laura since she was a toddler and was so excited for her when she won this experience of a lifetime. Laura can be found blogging at Laura Cooks (with a little help from her Mum). I am so inspired (and jealous) of her skill in the kitchen relative to her age, her prizewinning recipe and her meeting with Monsieur Blanc. 
I've left Laura's words exactly as she wrote them...

LEON cook5/Times prize weekend!!


remember a few weeks ago I told you about the cookery competition I won. It was with LEON restaurants and there cook5 website and the Times newspaper. Well it was great. I am going to tell you about it.

My mum went with me. We went on the plane and a few taxis an we eventually got to the hotel witch was great - we stayed at One Aldwich I loved the underwater music in the pool. We went for lunch at Wahaca. And then gone to Hamleys and Fortnum and Mason.

The next day I got a taxi with the other winners Mia and Poppy to the cooking school Food at 52 and it looked fab. You should see it for yourself! first i found all my ingredients and then everybody started to arrive. Henry Dimbleby, John Vincent and Beth from LEON, Giles Coren and Tony Turnbull from the Times newspaper, and Raymond Blanc.

Me cooking the dish

Raymond Blanc was rely kind. He showed me how to prepare squid, he told me to add the salt to my risotto first (which I have never done before). Raymond has a HUGE Love of food. IT was great to see Raymond like my food so much. my recipe was a barley risotto with asparagus and lemon juice, and squid. I was pleased how it turned out ( because it was the tastiest I have ever cooked it!).

HENRY AND JOHN were rely nice and they gave me a basket of goodies from LEON.

My Finished Dish
The Tasting

The day finished with a cookery demonstration from Raymond of pistou soup and chocolate mousse. I think they are rely beautiful. some day I want to have my own restaurant like Raymond. It would be nice to cook for him again in his restaurant!

the weekend was a life time experience.

Isn't she just a foodie star in the making? I'm pretty sure Laura could teach me a thing or two in the kitchen. I have certainly never tackled squid. If you are braver than me and fancy giving her dish a go her recipe is reproduced below. I'm hoping she might agree to giving me a masterclass. Pretty sure Laura is destined for bigger and better things. Hope she'll remember to put Foodie Quine on the guest list when she opens her first restaurant. 

Laura Townsend’s Squid & Barley

“I chose these ingredients because I wanted some vegetables in season and I love squid and wanted to invent something new. Barley grows a lot in Scotland where I live,” says Laura

Serves 4
1 tbsp butter 
2 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp olive oil 
1 bunch spring onions, chopped 
3 garlic cloves, crushed 
300g barley (or risotto rice) 
1 litre chicken stock 
1 big bunch asparagus 
2 squid, prepared and sliced in rings 
Juice of 2 lemons 
Chilli flakes 
Sea salt and black pepper

1 First melt the butter in a pan with 1 tbsp olive oil. Cook the spring onions and garlic gently for 4 min. Add the barley and stir for 1 min. Slowly add the stock and cook gently for 40 min.

2 Meanwhile, griddle the asparagus brushed with 1 tsp olive oil. In a large frying pan heat 1 tbsp olive oil and fry the squid for 2 min. Add lemon juice. Ladle some barley into a bowl, pile squid rings on top and asparagus around the side. Pour over the remaining lemony olive oil from the pan and sprinkle with chilli flakes, sea salt and pepper.

Thanks so much to Laura for letting me share her story and winning recipe. I'm sure she would love to read your comments.


  1. What a wonderful experience for her and Congratulations to Laura for winning such a wonderful prize. BIC

  2. Such an inspirational and enthusiastic wee cook! Raymond best watch his back, you are a wee star in the making Laura! Well done, loving your style! ;-)

  3. Brilliant job Laura. Your food looks amazing. What a lucky girl you are and talented too. I am sure you will achieve your foodie dreams!

  4. thanks for featuring her Claire and thanks for such amazing comments everyone! From a very proud Mum :-) xxx

  5. Fantastic story - well done Laura - great prize & very well deserved - good luck!


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