Archive for the ‘London’ Category

St-Émilion au Chocolat

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

choc pot 4

I do not have a very sweet tooth. When it comes to puddings, all I want is a few mouthfuls to round off a meal. A delightful morsel will suffice, such as the Earl Grey Ganache with Caraway Biscuit that ended (unsurprisingly) a superb lunch at Dinner recently. As with most things, simple is best, which is why this easy, five-ingredient dessert made it onto the menu of my most recent Supper Club.

Traditionally, St-Emilion au Chocolat is served on a base of crushed amoretti biscuits doused in brandy, but as all I really wanted was a more decadent and less fluffy version of a chocolate mousse, I skipped this part. That’s not to say that the recipe is any less indulgent, an espresso cup is plenty but a larger ramekin to ‘share’ is also a possibility.

I added an apple eau-de-vie soaked cherry and a sprig of thyme to get a balanced aromatic kick but equally, a tablespoon or so of rum in the mix would work well too, it is nice to have something to compete with the richness.

Perhaps subconsciously influenced by Nigella’s ordeals, this is my tribute to naughtiness and a two-fingers up at any media guff about being healthier this month.

choc pot 1

 

Ingredients

 

serves about 8

 

100g unsalted butter, softened

100g golden caster sugar

1 egg yolk

200g 70% dark chocolate, broken into small bits

100ml whole milk

 

  1. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, or if you’re planning on justifying this recipe with a bit of arm work, use a wooden spoon. I go for the former.
  2. Beat until very pale and fluffy (a good three minutes)
  3. Add the egg yolk and whisk a little more.
  4. Put this mix to one side, and gently heat the milk in a small pan.
  5. As soon as you see a wisp of steam, take off the heat and making sure it’s not too hot, add the chocolate.
  6. Stir gently to dissolve the chocolate and when silky smooth, add to the butter mix.
  7. It’s important to do this quickly whilst the milk is still warm so that the butter gets thoroughly mixed in and you’re not left with creamy lumps in your mix.
  8. Split between the cups. I think it makes about 8 but it’s difficult to remember how much successfully made it to the fridge…
  9. You might need to give them a wipe with some kitchen towel to neaten them up, this my least favourite part.
  10. Garnish, cover with cling and chill in the fridge overnight (or at least a couple of hours if you want a less solid dessert).
  11. Serve at the dinner table or in bed.

 choc pot 3

Sweet Squash Curry

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

squash 3

Inspired by a recent trip to Dishoom (24 hour daal to die for) I thought it was about time I shared my favourite curry recipe. The list of ingredients is a little long, but it’s worth it. Here is where it came from…

 

Every week I head down to The Russet in Hackney to pick up my sack of organic vegetables from Growing Communities. I wax lyrical about it to my friends and colleagues about how environmentally friendly I am, how conscientious I am, indeed, how ethical I am. I have become one of those people and I irritate myself.

 

The only way I know how to make up for it, is by cooking for people where hopefully they are too busy eating to listen to what I am saying.

 

I love getting a different variety each week (the tomatoes were glorious) and especially now the fruits of harvest-time are being reaped by the bucket load, there is always something new to try.

 

Squash and pumpkins come in all sorts of varieties. We’re used to our hourglass Butternut and Halloween carvers but what about the lesser known Kabocha or Turban squash. A few weeks ago, I was faced with a Delicata and Buttercup squash to deal with. I decided to make a sweet and gentle curry to transport me to an Indian Summer, away from drizzly Dalston.

 

I made this recipe because I get upset by recipes such as this one, which just calls for a couple of spoons of curry paste. My recipe is accidentally vegan and doesn’t take as long as a normal curry because you don’t have to wait for the meat to become tender. As with all curries, it is best eaten the day after it is made.

squash 1

 

Ingredients

 

Serves at least four people

 

Spice mix

1 heaped tspn mustard seed

1 heaped tspn coriander seed

1 tspn cumin seed

1 tspn black peppercorns

1 tspn hot chilli powder

1 tspn cinnamon

½ tspn ground nutmeg

½ tspn ground ginger

1 heaped tspn turmeric

5 large cardamom pods, seeds only, crushed

2 large star anise

1 heaped tspn sea salt

 

100ml ground nut oil

1 large white onion

5 large garlic cloves

1 large thumb ginger

½ red chilli

zest and juice of 2 limes

1 400g can of good chopped tomatoes

75g of creamed coconut

2 large cooking apples

5 tbspn of red lentils

¼ Buttercup squash

½ Delicata Squash

1 tbspn aubergine pickle

Lots of fresh coriander

squash 2

 

-       As with a lot of Asian recipes, it’s best to get all the ingredients prepared before the cooking begins. Start with the spice mix.

-       Dry fry the peppercorns, mustard, cumin and coriander seed. When they start hopping about the pan and smell fragrant, take off the heat and either grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, depending on how fancy you are.

-       Add the chilli powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, turmeric, and seeds from the cardomom pods and give an extra blast so you have a mind-blowing mix.

-       Roughly chop the onion

-       Mince the garlic

-       Grate the ginger

-       Finely chop the chilli

-       Zest and juice the limes

-       Make the creamed coconut into coconut milk by adding enough boiling water to it so you have a little over a pint and stir well.

-       Peel and chop the apples but keep them in cold water to stop them going brown from oxidisation.

-       Peel and chop the squash into a bit larger than bite-size pieces.

-       Now it’s time.

-       Heat the oil in the largest pan you have.

-       Test to see if it’s hot enough by getting a little water on your fingers and flick into the oil. If it even hints at sizzling, the oil is hot enough.

-       Add the onions and turn the heat down. Sweat them for a good ten minutes and don’t be tempted to skimp on this bit.

-       Turn the heat up a touch and add the garlic, ginger, chilli and lime zest.

-       Stir for one minute.

-       Add your spices and fry for about three minutes.

-       Add the squash, star anise and salt.

-       Give everything a good stir.

-       When sizzling nicely, add the lentils. They make it thick and silky smooth.

-       Stir again and add the tomatoes, coconut milk and aubergine pickle.

-       Bring to a simmer and put the lid on the pan.

-       Check every ten minutes or so to make sure the curry isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

-       After twenty minutes, add the apple chunks.

-       Cook for another fifteen minutes or so, or until the squash is tender to your liking.

-       If eating immediately, serve with some rice or bulgur wheat.

-       Either way, add the lime juice and fresh coriander moments before eating.

-       Sit back and enjoy this gentle, yet filling autumn warmer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fennel Coleslaw

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

fennel3

 

I remember reading once that the recommended daily allowance of fibre is 18g.

 

18g. No more. No less.

 

Nowadays, the Food and Drink Federation are a little more lax and a range is offered: 18-30g. Despite the 12g scope for variation, we are still expected to eat what can only be considered as, a lot of bran flakes.

 

Having left the classroom behind, I tend to be less concerned with numbers but the principle of a hearty, nutritious diet has stuck with me. A friend and I invented this coleslaw over a Scandinavian inspired lunch and were very pleased with the results. Heaped on top of rye bread and oily fish this is a very tasty smørrebrød.

fennel 1

Fennel Coleslaw

 

Serves 3 (or 2 greedy people)

 

1 head of fennel

1 big carrot

5 little gherkins

1 tbspn capers

½ small clove garlic

1 tbspn sunflower seeds

½ tbspn sesame seeds

½ tbspn golden linseed

¼ tspn fennel seed

1 splosh of extra virgin olive oil

1 splosh of rice wine vinegar

½ tsp light brown sugar

lots of sea salt and cracked black pepper

 

-       Start by grating the carrots.

-       Then grate the fennel, releasing the wonderful aniseed aroma.

-       Put the grated vegetables into a large bowl.

-       Finely chop the gherkins, capers and garlic. Add these to the bowl.

-       Gently toast your fennel seed and grind them in a pestle and mortar.

-       Add to the mix along with the other seeds.

-       Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently but thoroughly.

-       Wait 10 minutes before serving to give the flavours a chance to meddle.

-       Use this time to lay the table with pieces of toasted rye bread and mashed mackerel.

-       Gobble

fennel 2

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks Janice

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

It was my birthday last week and I really love birthdays. I mean, really. A lot of people seem apprehensive about making a big fuss about their birth, but it’s not really about that. It’s about having a good excuse to get the best people in one place and do some really great, or in hindsight not so great, dancing. Birthdays also mean presents, and in my goodie bag from my best friend were two foil wrapped gems. Two perfectly ripe avocados. I’m not sure her mother knew how much these would be appreciated. But they were.

Ingredients

Toast

Avocado

Baby Plum Tomatoes

Fresh Coriander

Lime

Salt

Smush the avo on the toast and arrange as depicted. Eat in bed with a TV show such as Arrested Development or Girls. Follow up with some strong black coffee and an attempt at productivity.

Ham Hock Terrine

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

 

Everyone loves a good terrine, right? That’s what I thought. That’s why I put this scrumptious little number as part of the starter for my supper club back in October. I put the terrine in an espresso cup, served it with some squash, orange and ginger soup and mini Yorkshire puddings and that was it- Bob’s your Uncle and a thank-you very much. The terrine is a bit of a faff, so save it for something special, but it definitely stays within the £20 a week budget, as ham hock is the knuckle of the pig, so it’s one of the cheapest bits you can buy. 2kg shouldn’t cost more than a fiver from a good butcher.

A terrine is really just a coarse pâté so you don’t have to be too neat or exact with the measurements, but I would say go easy on the star anise. I’m a big fan and so was a bit heavy handed and it did taste a little too perfumed for my liking, but each to their own. Also, don’t be freaked out by using gelatine, it’s way easier than you think and there’s quite a lot of natural gelatine from the hock anyway.

I adapted this recipe from the BBC website, it makes a loaf tin sized amount.

 

Ingredients

2 largish Ham hocks weighing between 1.5-2kg together, smoked if you desire

3 small onions

2 large carrots

2 sticks of celery inc. leaves (be careful, over celerying is easy because you’re reluctant to put it in anything else, don’t be tempted to use more, I just fill the other sticks with peanut butter and feed to house-mates)

500ml dry cider, such as Henney’s

1 tspn Bouillon powder

2 large bay leaves (or 3 smaller ones)

2 star anise

10 black peppercorns

3 cloves

¼ tspn sea salt

Good handful fresh thyme

1 ½ tbspn wholegrain mustard

Lots of flat leaf parsley roughly chopped

Capers, to serve (optional)

 

  • Put your hocks in one of the largest pans you can find and add all the other ingredients with the exception of the mustard and the parsley. Feel free to vary the quantities based on your personal preference, but these are reliable guidelines.
  • Poke everything a bit so it’s nice and snug and top up with boiling water so everything is covered.
  • Put a lid on the pan, turn up the heat so it’s boiling and bubbling and you’re salivating from the smell.
  • Then turn down the heat, keeping the lid on, and leave for 2 ½ hours. This is really important.
  • Keep an eye on it and maybe poke a bit more every so often, to make sure everything is in order.
  • When the time is up, fish out the hocks and put to one side to cool down. Then strain the rest of this amazing stock, putting the liquid back in the pan and you can do what you like with the veg (I roasted them a bit and served them as an accompaniment to a Sunday Roast, after getting rid of the whole spices)
  • Now get down and dirty. Not like that! Please. I meant strip the hocks and separate the sinew and fat from the salty, flaky meaty bits.
  •  Put what’s edible in a big bowl, add the mustard and parsley and stir to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
  • Reduce the stock and soak 4 leaves of gelatine in cold water.
  • Whilst this is happening, line a loaf tine with cling film, leaving excess round the edges so that you can fold it over the top easily.
  • Put the hammustardparsley mix in the tin and compact lightly.
  • Measure out around 400ml of stock in a jug, squeeze excess water from the gelatine leaves and dissolve them in the stock by stirring until all remnants are gone.
  • Pour into the loaf tin, but you probably won’t need all of it, just pour in enough so it is level with the meat but not covering completely.
  • Fold the cling film over and refrigerate for about eight hours or overnight.
  • This is great on stale toast with even more mustard and crisp glass of white.

 

Alliterative Quiches

Friday, May 25th, 2012

So this is just a quick post before I head to bed at the end of another busy day but, first, there are a couple of things I want to update you guys on:

1. Next week sees the Accidental Festival return to the Camden Roundhouse for its seventh year and on Sunday 3rd June there will be an excerpt from a play I’m directing, which is very exciting! It would be great to see some friendly faces, you can buy your tickets here.

2. Last weekend I had a great time cheffing with the Wild Food guys. Their supper club was so successful they’re back for more tomorrow night so get in touch if you fancy an evening of foraged food and some great entertainment!

3. I’ve just started a job at Mark Hix’s new restaurant, it’s mainly chicken and steak but my favourite dish is the cauliflower puree with Berkswell cheese, celery leaves and hazelnuts, mmmmm.

On with the good stuff! So, my actors pointed out that if my quiche was to be truly alliterative it would have to be filled with ingredients such as quail and quinoa, which, believe it or not, were not items I had lying around. However, I did have some beautiful organic chard, which I bought from London Fields’ School Market, and some salty mature cheddar to make: Eve’s Cheddar and Chard Quiche.

Every decade seems to have a food. According to this rule, quiche belongs in the Seventies when cholesterol-high French foods were all the rage and England was basking in an Elizabeth David inspired culinary glow. Then, the amazing Nora Ephron pointed out that ‘Pesto is the quiche of the eighties’ but I’m slightly stumped when it comes to pinning down a defining food of the nineties…or the noughties come to that. Thoughts?

Enough babble, here is the recipe.

Cheddar and Chard Quiche

100g plain flour

55g butter

2-3 tablespoons COLD water

a big bunch of chard

100g (or so) good cheddar

3 medium eggs

¼ tspn nutmeg

splosh of white wine vinegar

olive oil

paprika

salt and cracked black pepper

  • Start with the pastry. I have a food processor but, if you don’t, then you’ll need to rub the flour into the butter with your finger tips, quickly. If you overwork the  pastry then it will tough and we want light, flaky pastry.
  • Get rid of any big lumps by shaking the bowl and seeing if any big ones come to the top, if so, continue rubbing a bit more. When satisfactory, add a little water at a time so the dough just about comes together.
  • Then cling film and put in the fridge.
  • Meanwhile, turn the oven on to 180ºC, grease your tin/dish/old cheesecake foil, grate your cheese, beat your eggs and trim and chop your chard into chunks about two inches long.
  • Then gently fry the chard in olive oil and when wilted and slightly soft, season and sprinkle with nutmeg and a dash of white  wine vinegar to give it a tang. It makes such a satisfying hiss when it hits the pan…
  • Put your cooked chard, cheese and eggs to one side. Get your pastry out of the fridge, and roll out on to a floured surface. Line your dish, prick the base and place some greaseproof paper with baking beans or lentils on top to stop the pastry puffing up the oven.
  • It’s important this is done quickly and that the oven is at temperature, the dramatic change in temperature makes the pastry more flaky. Bake for 15 mins.
  • Then, take the lentil/beans out of the case and put it back in the oven for another ten mins to brown. You can brush the edges with some of the egg if you like, as this is really only for aesthetic purposes it doesn’t matter about the bottom of the quiche, I mean, you won’t see it when it’s filled with loveliness.
  • When golden brown at the edges, take out of the oven. Spread the chard around in the pastry case, which may have shrunken away from the edges slightly, then evenly put the cheddar on top. Season the eggs and pour into the case. Crack some  more black pepper on top and sprinkle a touch of paprika to give it some colour.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until solid when shaken. Leave in the tin to cool.
  • This is great with some fresh salad and is just as good hot or cold!

Happy Christmas

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

One of the most boring things about blogs is when the blogger makes ridiculous excuses for not having blogged in a while but hear me out, I think mine is pretty good. For the past few months I have had neither a kitchen nor the internet and when you write a food blog, it’s fair to say both of those are, well, imperative.

This is just say that I am still basking in the wonder that was our house Christmas dinner last Sunday (see picture below)

It was definitely a good’un.

Fourforrafiver!

Saturday, September 25th, 2010

I have settled in nicely now and have been exploring the area’s markets accordingly. As part of my money saving efforts, I’ve invested in some wonderful fresh herbs. Herbs are super, although a quarter of my weekly budget went in an instant, it’s a one off expense and it’s like having a living store cupboard! I’ve stuck to the basics: basil, garden mint (mojito essential), coriander and thyme but there’s always next week to expand my collection.

I properly felt like I was in an episode of Eastenders as the herb stall lady divulged intimate details of her personal life interspersed with cries of ‘fourforrafiver!’ and ‘allsmall’unsapaaand!’. I’m glad that although ‘her Nancy was giving Tom’s Rob the eye’, she had some time to tell me about the five different types of basil she had to offer and as I result I came away loaded with new fragrant friends.

Last year, I got teased for treating my basil plant as a pet; I took very good care of it and it flourished. There’s no problem with that. This time there are four of them though, so Basil is going to have to fight for attention.