Come dine with me!

MICHELE: Well... she can't cook!

This week Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook & Fellow Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala helps his wife Michele cook on TV.

Come Dine with me!

A FEW years ago, Michele was asked if she would go on Channel 4´s Come Dine With Me.

As you may know Michele is a ballet dancer, a fitness and Pilates instructor, my partner and wife but not really a cook!  

Channel 4 sold the idea to us as a show that would showcase our little restaurant and that kind of publicity is great especially as we had just opened.

For those of you that don’t know Michele ….well she can’t cook!

To be honest its not that she can’t but that she won’t and doesn’t need to, being married to a chef!  So when she told me that she had been chosen I asked what she would like to cook.

She immediately said Lasagna that’s because her father is Italian and she knows how to make a great lasagna.  She asked me what to do as a starter and I thought that Burrata was a good idea.

Burrata is a fresh Italian cow milk cheese (occasionally buffalo milk) made from mozzarella and cream. It can also be a mozzarella filled with butter or a mixture of butter and cream. This explains the original meaning of the word burrata literally “buttered” in Italian.

So something very Italian and I gave it a twist by coating the burrata in panko breadcrumbs and deep frying them and then serving on marinated Italian tomatoes and basil oil.

It really is a delicious dish.  For dessert I suggested a type of Tiramisu made from mascarpone cream with fresh cherries keeping the Italian theme, an easy dish to prepare and very tasty.

We tried the dishes out a couple of times at home and even threw a dinner party with Michele cooking the dishes – she really had the winning formula.

Michele´s lasagne is excellent especially when it’s made with great quality mince and I had ordered wagyu mince for her to use on the show. On the show was John the drag queen who performs at Legends in La Cala, he is hilarious.

Also on was a lady from Marbella who has issues with everything and a young man who was in real estate from Puerto Banus. An interesting mix of people, a drag queen, a ballet dancer, a young entrepreneur and a lady with issues…perfect!  

The Little Geranium was never mentioned on the transmitted show and unless you knew Michele you would not have known who she was.  Sadly Michele came joint second beaten by a dish made from drag queen John. No one is a real foodie on these shows and I think the funniest contender won! 

Although this was a few years ago I have never had the chance to write about the Come Dine With Me experience.

I was recently talking with my friend Dave James who runs Global Radio here in Spain and he said that he was on it a few years ago. He is good friends of Beverley Craven who is currently going through the trauma of breast cancer.

She sang her hit song Promise me on his show. It was so beautiful everyone cried! Dave is another one that can’t cook won’t cook and I’m always cooking for him and his lady Elena here at The Little Geranium, they are a lovely couple.

So if you are looking for something a little special or different, do try this panko crumbed burrata served with basil oil, the flavours are amazing….I promise!

Panko fried Burrata, marinated Italian tomatoes, basil oil

Ingredients for 4

2 balls of burrata Mozzarella

6 tablespoons of panko breadcrumbs

6 tablespoon plain flour

3 whole eggs beaten

4 juicy ripe Italian tomatoes with skins removed

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 heaped tablespoon of sugar or a flat tablespoon of honey

3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil

Maldon salt

For the Burrata

Whisk the eggs and pour into a clean bowl.

Put the flour in a separate bowl and the breadcrumbs in another separate bowl.

Line the bowls up in the following order from left to right: flour, egg and breadcrumbs.

The key is maintaining one dry hand and one wet hand. Using your dry hand, place the burrata in the flour and dredge thoroughly; shake off excess. Using the same hand, gently place it in the egg mixture. With your (soon-to-be) wet hand, submerge the burrata fully and ensure that the entire ball is coated.

With the same hand shake off the excess and gently place it in the breadcrumbs. With your dry hand, roll the burrata until fully coated in breadcrumbs. Place on a tray lined with paper tissue.

When ready to fry, gently lower the burrata in the hot oil (190c) and fry in your deep fryer until golden brown, usually 1 minute.  Put on a tray lined with paper tissue and season with Maldon salt whilst still hot.

For the tomatoes

Score the tomatoes with a sharp knife and place in a pan of boiling water for 10 seconds then immediately remove and chill in iced water. Now remove the skins.

Slice the skinless tomatoes into at least 3 slices each and place in a bowl or tray.

Mix the olive oil, vinegar, sugar or honey and salt together and pour over the tomatoes. Add the chopped basil and reserve in the fridge for at least 2 hours

For Basil Oil


1 large bunch of basil

1 large bunch parsley

Approx. half a bag of washed spinach

500ml of Virgin olive oil

Bring a saucepan of water to the boil

Drop in the basil parsley and spinach and leave for 10 seconds.

Remove with slotted spoon and immediately chill in iced water

Leave for 30 seconds in iced water then remove and literally wring out the water

Pour the olive oil into your food processor and add the herbs. Whizz on full power for at least 3-5 minutes until all the green has come out of the herbs into the oil.

Pass through a sieve into plastic squirty bottles and reserve

To construct dish

Remove the tomatoes from marinade onto a clean dry cloth and season with a little Maldon salt

Place 3 slices of tomato into each bowl

Place the crispy fried burrata on top of the tomatoes and drizzle with the basil oil. Serve immediately.

Follow Steven on Instagram: @saunderschef

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The Little Geranium, Winner of Best Contemporary International Restaurant 2019-Costa Del Sol

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Written by

Steven Saunders

Steven Saunders FMCGB - The Little Geranium - La Cala de Mijas & Marbella