Erica Drum is a TV Chef, Cookery Tutor and stylist. She works all things food-related and loves to pass on her passion. Her ability to explain and teach building flavour, taste, and individuality is encouraging and bright.
During the pandemic, Erica has been hosting engaging Live cookalongs through her social channels. She is a huge advocate for stoping food waste, sustainable cooking, growing your own and loves to give tips and tricks.
Erica and her business partner @sarahshannonyoga host online cookery and yoga events and retreats through there page @culuretreats .
We caught up with Erica to find out more….
Why did you become a chef?
I grew up in a house of cooks and food lovers. We travelled a lot as kids and my appreciation for delicious food and flavour began at a very young age.
My mother used to host cookery classes and do private catering. This was the bit I loved the most. Teaching others and passing on the passion. So now, in my career, I try my best to teach and educate people about flavours, textures and simply cookery techniques. I love to encourage and empower others to cook from scratch.
What was one of the very first things you ever cooked?
I remember peeling Dublin bay prawns with my Dad at a very young age and simply frying them in garlic butter and serve them with boiled rice! Heaven.
What is your ultimate comfort food recipe?
Parmigiana Mellazane, when I first became a chef at the age of 17 I worked in a beautiful Restaurant in Howth, Cafe Blue, and this was my favourite dish. It was extremely popular with locals and tourists alike. Its layers of perfectly fried aubergine, tangy yet sweet tomato sauce, the best buffalo mozzarella and then baked in the oven, oozing juices. Topped with grated parmesan and basil. We would dip what is called teeth buttered crispy bread. The butter is so thick that you could see your teeth marks after taking a bite! I actually salivate every time I think about it! The original recipe is up on my Instagram.
What are your top 3 ingredients you couldn’t live without and why?
Butter – like I am in love with butter. I genuinely think it is Irelands greatest commodity! It starts and finishes so many dishes with its silky smooth gloss. Its divine simply smeared on hot toast, melted over fish, baked with eggs and flour. It’s my desert island item!
A very close second is garlic – anyone who knows me, knows I am garlic obsessed. I once went to a garlic restaurant in San Francisco, The Stinking Rose, there was garlic salsa, garlic wine, garlic soup, 40clove chicken and even garlic ice-cream. Sounds weird I know but for me it was heaven. Needless to say, I stank of garlic for at least a week after!
Lemon – I love what it does. The acidity of a lemon not only changes the flavour of foods it can also be a texture changer, think ceviche! I absolutely adore lemon, I always find a use for the zest, juice and pulp. I even dry out my peels and use them as firelighters for the BBQ or when I’ve used a lemon as much as I can I will pop it on the glass tray of the dishwasher to give an extra natural shine.
What are your top tips for people cooking at home?
Be confident, believe in your self in the kitchen and don’t be scared. Someone once said to me, ‘if you can read, you can cook’ I think this is true to a certain extent. It takes a lot of practice and some things may not come naturally but go easy on yourself.
Another thing is to make the dish your own if you don’t like peppers swap them for courgette or whatever you do like. Just make sure you understand the purpose of the item as such, like if you are taking out a liquid that you swap it for another liquid.
Really importantly, salt. The difference between home cooking and restaurants is seasoning. Buy the best quality you can afford and season, and then season a little more!
Name one dish everyone should know how to cook.
Scrambled eggs. They an incredibly easy dish to make perfectly, once you know how!!! Low and slow is key! cook them over a very low heat, constantly string with a wooden spoon. only season at the end. No need for butter, cream etc if you have done them this way they will be super creamy and delicious.
Erica will be doing an IGTV takeover on our Instagram page which will go live on Sunday 31st May. She will be baking an Orange and Elderflower Polenta Cake.
Elderflower and Orange Polenta Cake
Makes 2 serving 6 or one large serving 10-12
- 200g Ground Almonds
- 80g Fine polenta
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 200g Butter, room temp
- 150g Caster sugar
- 2 Large eggs
- 25ml elderflower syrup
- 1 orange, zest only
For the icing:
- 200g Icing sugar
- Juice of 1 orange
- 25ml elderflower syrup
- Preheat your oven to 180C/ gas mark 4/ 350F.
- Grease one large or two small spring form cake tins and line the base with parchment.
- In a bowl, mix your almonds, polenta and baking powder.
- Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
- Next in a bowl whisk your eggs and elderflower syrup together.
- With the machine on low start to add a little egg mix and then a little dry mix. Repeat until they are all gone.
- Finally add in your orange zest.
- Pour the mixture into the tin or tins and bake in the preheated oven 30-40 minutes depending on your tins, smaller ones will take less time. It will become a beautiful golden brown and not be wobbling in the centre when cooked.
- While it is cooking you can get your syrup ready.
- Mix together the icing sugar, orange juice and elderflower syrup.
- While the cake is still in its tray, prick holes with a fork or skewer all across the top and pour over the syrup.
- Leave it to cool if you can! Slice it up and enjoy with fresh cream, mascarpone or yogurt.