Is there no end to Angellica Bell’s talents?


She’s taught our children to cook, inspired us on MasterChef, entertained us on The One Show, sailed the seas for charity and is now solving our financial Covid worries with Martin Lewis.  We find out how Angellica does it all…


Have you always had a passion for cooking?

My gran really inspired me. She was a chef in St Lucia and continued when she arrived in the UK during the Windrush years. I lived with her for a bit and loved spending time with her in the kitchen. From a young age I was gutting fish, frying chicken, cooking rice and baking cakes. Cooking stays with you and I had flashbacks in the MasterChef kitchen of being young learning with my gran. That gave me confidence in those stressful rounds.

What’s your best advice for getting our children interested in cooking?
Maybe not to worry about the mess that can potentially be made in the kitchen! Set them the challenge of preparing the dinner and empower them. They will love it and you may need to guide but it’s so worth it.

Hardest part of Celebrity MasterChef and the most rewarding?
For me, the hardest part was not knowing what was coming up and the challenges they would set. When John and Greg say you have an hour, they mean it. It was scary and stressful, and I was dreaming about food and recipes every night – it was all consuming but worth it when they called my name out as the winner!

What made you write Fantastic Eats?
My plan was not to necessarily write a book at first but a friend in the industry contacted me and said I should. She was the one who introduced me to my publisher Quadrille.
We discussed the idea, and I went away and wrote the book! It made sense to write a book focussed on young people as it resonated with my own story of learning when I was a child, it’s such an important life skill.

What is your go-to recipe from that book?

That’s a tricky question. Either the simple, yet delicious recipe of Tuna Pasta Bake – a family favourite, but the Jamaican Rock Buns come in at a close second, as they remind me of helping my gran in the kitchen. When I make them now, the smell from the oven reminds me of all the amazing memories we shared together.

What is your most used kitchen utensil?

I love kitchen utensils and don’t have enough space to put them! But if you’re asking me to single one out, I’d have to say my Kenwood Mixer is always on the go as it’ so versatile and quick for making cakes. However I do acknowledge having one is a luxury as cooking with my gran and a wooden spoon nearly made my arm fall off!

Did you always want to be a TV Presenter?

I’m not quite sure what I wanted to be exactly when I was younger and being on television certainly wasn’t something I’d considered until much later on, although I do remember my Politics teacher at school telling me I should be in front of camera (probably because I messed about a bit!). I did toy around with the idea of being a barrister, joining the police and maybe becoming a teacher.

How did CBBC come about?

This is a cliché I know, but I was in the right place at the right time. I was working at the BBC as an Executive secretary arranging meetings for staff across all departments. I was told that CBBC were looking for a new presenter and I should put myself forward. I made a showreel and was able to put it on the desk of the Head of the Broom Cupboard department. The rest is history.

How did you get involved in The One Show?

I was lucky to be asked to join the team when it launched on BBC1 in London. I had just left CBBC and went straight onto the show. Right now, there are only two reporters who have been there from the start and I am really proud to say I’m one of them.

Most interesting person you have interviewed for TV?

Every person I have interviewed has been interesting as we all have a story to tell. There have been funny moments, moving moments and awe-inspiring ones too. A couple of years ago I did get the chance to interview Oprah Winfrey who was someone I watched growing up. It was a moment for sure and I even asked for a selfie!

It made sense to write a book focussed on young people as it resonated with my own story of learning when I was a child, it’s such an important life skill.

You obviously love a challenge, what were the hardest parts of Hell on High Seas and 71 Degrees North?

The hardest part for me was the battle in my own head! The will not to give up, pushing through and not wanting to let my team mates down. Those experiences physically pushed me to the edge, and I am so pleased I did them. Facing fears is scary but gives you an adrenaline kick.

The Martin Lewis Money Show has been invaluable answering financial questions during lockdown. As co-presenter do you need to have a head for figures?

It’s not so much about figures as it’s more about where to get the best deal. Working on the show has been invaluable to so many people but also for myself. Martin is an inspiration. I’ve learned so much from him.

As a busy working mum, how do you manage to juggle all the balls?

I like to be organised so carry a massive paper diary around with me which has everyone’s schedule on it. People laugh at me when they see it but it works for our family! Another way to keep focused is not to compromise. I make sure I don’t overwork myself as it would impact on my loved ones and they are the most important people.

How do you always look so fashionable?

I wear what I like and feel comfortable in.

Where did your love of Classical music come from – at what age did you learn the cello?

I had the most inspiring music teacher at secondary school, and he selected me to be in the Madrigal choir. Being part of the group meant I had the opportunity to read and learn classical music. It was new to me. I travelled Europe singing at incredible venues like the Duomo and Gaudi Cathedral and even sang in St Paul’s. That’s why I love working on my weekly Saturday show on Scala Radio. It’s classical music with a modern twist.

What do you do to relax?

I like to go to the gym and go out with friends and both have been tricky this year. I’m going to try and read more and have a new cross- stitch in my bedside draw to try. I don’t take enough me time to be honest, so this is a great question. I don’t relax enough. Do you know what, I’d like to go for a spa day with friends – haven’t done something like that in years!

What project next?

I have no idea! I tend to take one day as it comes and enjoy the moment.

Motto for life?

There is always a solution and way out. Also, if you agree to do something, do it to the best of your ability or don’t do it at all. There’s two.


JAMAICAN ROCK BUNS

If you ask your parents about rock buns they’ll probably reminisce about how they learned to make them at school in Home Economics – the name for a cooking class many years ago. My gran used to make them all the time. I liked them because they were dry, not too sweet and looked like… well, rocks. We called my gran ‘Mama’ and she was a cook in the Caribbean, so she would make hers with a bit of extra spice and coconut. Here’s my version of her Jamaican rock buns.

Ingredients- MAKES 12

75g (1⁄2 cup) raisins
225g (13⁄4 cups) self-raising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon ground mixed spice
100g (1⁄2 cup minus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, at room temperature
75g (1⁄3 cup) demerara (brown) sugar
40g (1⁄2 cup) desiccated (dried shredded)coconut
1 egg
4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Method
Put the raisins into a small bowl, cover them with warm water, then put the bowl aside to let the raisins soak.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Pop a piece of baking parchment on a large baking tray.

Put the flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl. Cut the butter into small cubes, then add it to the flour mixture. With your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like tiny little breadcrumbs. (Don’t give up if your fingers start aching!)

Tip the raisins into a sieve over the sink to drain. Add the raisins, demerara sugar and desiccated coconut to the flour mixture. Then mix everything together with a wooden spoon.

Crack the egg into a jug or medium bowl, add the milk and vanilla extract and mix everything together with a fork. Tip this into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix everything together until it forms a light, airy dough. Don’t over-mix – stop stirring when everything is just combined.

Using a tablespoon, blob the mixture onto your baking sheet, spaced well apart, to form 12 rough mounds. If your baking tray isn’t large enough, that’s fine, you can bake in two batches. Sprinkle the rock buns with granulated sugar.

Bake the rock buns in the oven for 12–15 minutes, until golden brown. Take them out of the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes on the baking tray, before placing the rock buns on a wire rack to cool completely. These are best eaten the same day, but I don’t mind them a bit crumbly a day later! I also freeze mine.


Recipe taken directly from Angellica’s book Fantastic Eats! & How to Cook them (Quadrille). Photo: Ellis Parrinder

 

 

 

 

 


 

This article featured in our Winter 2020 Magazine.  



Other similar posts

WAKE UP and listen to Piers!

Posted on 19 January 2021

Spotlight on Head Chef, Josh Hunter

Posted on 2 December 2020 | PROMOTION