Month: May 2007

Canteen – Spittalifelds, London

I have heard many good things about Canteen in the new Spittalfields market in London since it opened in the Autumn of 2005. In the 2006 Observer Food Monthly awards it came second in best for breakfast (public vote) and in this years food monthly awards it won best restaurant. On paper it sounds like everything I love, quality ingredients cooked well and at very reasonable prices – starters are from approximately £5-7 and most main courses are under £10. It’s not fussy either, just good food. We decided we’d go for my birthday and booked a couple of weeks in advance. It’s a nice looking restaurant, modern with a clean sharp look. The walls are glass facing out into the market so it’s great for people watching and there’s a busy open kitchen facing the diners. When we arrived tonight we were offered two seats squashed between two couples at a communal table. I know its communal eating but surely if you book two weeks in advance you can get a better seat? There …

Mutter Paneer – a speedy interpretation

Before I begin, I will stress that this isn’t truly tried and tested but it was nice so I will post it. It’s a curry sauce that I do already changed on a whim to fit a mutter paneer dish. I will change it next time I do it as I am not 100% happy with it – it’s a nice curry but it’s not truly a mutter paneer. The sauce is thicker than it should be and it’s quite tomato-y. I wanted to make it mainly with things that I already had and quite quickly as I want another quick after work curry to add to my quick dishes. I am over-analysing perhaps – I did enjoy it and I will make it again. I blame Sabras, I want all my curries to taste like theirs now and I don’t have any of their recipes. Before I begin I should mention that the goats milk paneer is delicious! I thought it might be too strong but it was not dominant. The goat milk flavour …

Some amateur cheesemaking – homemade paneer

  With Sabras closing recently we have been deprived of their mutter paneer. It’s been a while since we made Indian food so I decided that I would make some paneer last night and follow up with mutter paneer tonight. I am lactose intolerant so can’t have cows milk, but this usually isn’t a problem for paneer making as living in London and so I can get my hands on buffalo milk quite easily. Well, I could, until Waitrose stopped selling it. So, it had to be goat’s milk which isn’t my favourite but it will do. Next time I’ll have to plan it and get some buffalo milk at the farmers market.   It’s very easy to make paneer. All you do is boil some milk, reduce the heat and add something acidic to separate the curds and whey – white vinegar, lemon or lime juice will do, and then press out the excess moisture. I had a lime to hand last night so I used lime juice, roughly, a couple of tablespoons for …

Tuna steak with warm new potato, chorizo & tomato salad

  We’ve just had a long sleepy bank holiday weekend in London with plenty of time for cooking. We brightened up a rainy Sunday with a tuna steak and a warm salad accompanied by some lovely rioja. It was very quick, the tuna itself takes only a few minutes to cook and the salad is very straightforward. The recipe is for one as everyone else was eating steak, double it for two. Ingredients (for one): Tuna Steak Salad: Chorizo sausage – as much as you fancy a handful or ripe, juicy cherry tomatoes salad leaves – we used rocket, watercress & baby spinach baby new potatoes – we used jersey royals red onion lemon extra virgin olive oil salt and freshly ground black pepper Method: Chop the potatoes into halves or quarters (depending on how big they are) and boil until soft. Finely slice the onion and squeeze some lemon juice over the onion slices. Halve the cherry tomatoes. Slice the chorizo and fry in some olive oil until tender (a few minutes). Once the …

Eating in Japan: Tsunahachi, Shinjuku

I was extremely fortunate to have a work trip to Japan this year and while it was a very busy week I did get an opportunity to sample some of the wonderful food and sights that Tokyo has to offer. I had never been to Japan before but had heard a lot from varied sources. I have always had a fascination with Japan, from the history and clothing to the food. I went through a phase of buying vintage kimonos from Japan for the beautiful silk, but, until now I had never had an opportunity to visit. I had heard that Tokyo was a very busy city and was very expensive – even worse than London. Well, I live in London, and thought, really, how much more busy/expensive can it be?! The answer is it’s not. Perhaps London is the best leveller for world cities, I have been to a few and each one has been calmer and less expensive (I haven’t been to NY yet before you comment). Relative to London, Tokyo is actually …

Roast baby orange peppers with feta on pita

I fancied a quick snack so I raided the fridge. I had lots of leftover bits. What most interested me was feta left over from the risotto recipe and a big bag of orange baby peppers that needed to be used before they went bad. So, I roasted the peppers, we don’t have a gas cooker so I brushed them with olive oil and put them under the grill until they went black, then turned them around and did the other side. Don’t be afraid to completely burn them, the flesh is protected by the skin underneath. When blackened all over I placed them in a plastic bag and into the fridge to cool. Doing this ensures that they sweat and makes it much easier to peel their skin off. Once cool (takes half an hour or so) I peeled them and chopped them into strips and mixed them with crumbled feta. I left them in the fridge for a half an hour or so to allow the flavours to mingle. You could add honey …

Asparagus risotto balls stuffed with buffalo mozarella

There are many good reasons to make risotto. It’s delicious and perfect for a summers day. It goes very well with wine and is perfect after a long day in the office. It’s therapeutic to make, one of those dishes that requires alot of time and energy but is worth every little bit. My favourite one is: you can make risotto balls with the leftover risotto. When I make risotto, I always make twice what we need for dinner so that we can make risotto balls the next day. Risotto balls are so easy and quick. All you need is leftover risotto, bufallo mozarella & breadcrumbs, egg & flour. Some recipes add egg to the risotto before moulding but I like my risotto quite moist so that when it’s cool it’s still quite sticky so usually doesn’t need it. I used leftover asparagus risotto. You can find the risotto recipe on my blog, it’s the previous post. I ommitted the feta cheese for the risotto balls as they should be all about the buffalo mozarella. …

Asparagus, lemon & feta risotto

I have mentioned it before, but I’ll say it again, I *love* asparagus! After much trawling in the farmers markets I found a lovely asparagus stall with big bunches of asparagus. How could I leave them there? I usually like to cook them as simply as possible to keep their strong fresh flavour but it had been a while since we had risotto so I thought I’d make a nice summery one with it. I find asparagus goes really well with lemon and feta so thought I’d adapt a tried and trusted asparagus recipe. I prefer to use feta that has sheeps milk only as the cows milk ones (or even those with a little cows milk) don’t have as nice a flavour, I find them more acidic. Apparantly, the reason cows milk is added is it’s much cheaper and reduces production costs. Anyway, I found a nice organic sheeps feta so used that in this recipe. I always make enough for four people so that we can make risotto balls with the leftovers. Recipe …

Quinoa with soya beans, parsley, sesame seeds & red onion

Quinoa is one of those foodstuffs that is so nutritious that I try to include it in my diet as regularly as possible. I like the nutty texture and as the flavour is quite subtle it mixes with almost everything. You can use it in the place of cous cous for a healthier tabbouleh or as a side dish in place of rice. It’s one of the few non-meat, non-dairy foodstuffs that contains the full complement of essential amino acids. I am not vegetarian but I was for 11 years and still keep to a predominantly vegetarian diet, mainly because I really enjoy vegetarian food and it’s extremely healthy once you take care to mix your proteins. I hadn’t had quinoa for a couple of months so I thought I’d drag it out of the cupboard and make a healthy lunch out of it. I cook quinoa in a similar way to rice, twice the amount of liquid to grain. The only difference in the way I cook it is I like to fry/toast it …

A new take on guacamole

I have been called a food snob in the past (amongst other things!). I am fairly strict with my recipes and like to do things as they should and have always been done, for example, you don’t put chicken tikka on a pizza, you do it the way the Italians have always done it! And I have always had a simliar attitude to guacamole. I like mine with lime juice not lemon juice for example. There’s a recipe I have stuck to for years since I’ve first started making it and anything outside that is an avocado dip – not guacamole. Yesterday, however, we had a breakthrough :-) I was making an asparagus risotto for dinner and in our hunger it seemed to be taking forever. I thought I’d knock up a quick snack. In the fridge I had an avocado, shallots, orange peppers and feta. First of all, I thought I’d roast some peppers and mix them with some feta and maybe green chilli on ciabatta toast. I started this but again, impatience got …

Cloud mushroom with sesame oil, red onion & parsley on ciabatta toast

On my recent trip to Marylebone farmers Market I came across a gourmet mushroom stall. He had some fantastic large brown and white oyster mushrooms, mixed dried mushrooms and fluffy white ones that almost looked like coral or seaweed. I love coming across new things like this and enquired after this one. The new discovery was a cloud mushroom which I was told has a texture similar to crab or lobster and is best eaten raw or lightly cooked. How could I resist?! A few years ago I had bought a big bag of St Georges Mushrooms in a state of excitement only to discover that I didn’t like them atall so I thought I’d play safe and bought one big one to experiment with when I got home. I carried my little treasure home in the palm of my hand like a kitten worried I’d break or damage it. Some investigations on Google weren’t all that beneficial, at least for my culinary purposes. I discovered it is used in Chinese medicine, primarily an extract …

Pumpkin, Banana & Chickpea curry with brown basmati rice

Another chickpea recipe. I don’t think I can take many more for a while so I promise this will be the last one for a bit. This is a lovely summery curry. Very sweet and works well with a glass of dry white wine on a bright evening. It’s based on a recipe that I found on the Post-Punk Kitchen. For those of you that don’t know it the Post-Punk Kitchen is a public access vegan cooking show in the US. I have never seen it but I love their website mainly for their recipes. They also published two great cookbooks – Vegan with a Vengeance & Vegan cupcakes take over the world. Pumpkin, Banana & Chickpea curry Ingredients Sunflower oil 1 small onion, sliced 2 cloves garlic, chopped 2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger 1 teaspoon coriander seeds 1 teaspoon cumin seeds 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 cinnamon stick 500g onion squash (or any other squash/pumpkin), peeled, seeded and cubed 1 tablespoon hot curry paste – I prefer to make my own, but you can …

A Spring take on minestrone

The weekend just past was filled with trips to farmers markets in an attempt to buy some sprue asapragus. Unfortunately, all trips were unsuccessful but I did get some great produce in the shape of onion squash, baby carrots, mixed wild mushrooms, garlic chives, shallots and white & green asparagus. Next week, I’ll get down there earlier and get the sprue before it sells out! I am very happy with my haul though and can’t wait to tuck in and start experimenting with all of these goodies. Having spent the day wandering I wanted something quick, light and tasty last night using some of my farmers market goodies. I decided on a pasta soup using the young carrots and squash as main ingredients. It was delicious and light and is definitely one to reproduce over the summer using seasonal vegetables like broad beans and peas. The recipe is a rough guide, add more or less of ingredients according to your preference, it’s really flexible. Ingredients: 170g macaroni 100g red lentils 750ml vegetable stock 200g Squash …

Hummus-ish and chickpeas on crackers

We have a bit of a glut of chickpeas at the moment as I cooked a big batch of dried ones earlier in the week. My intention was to freeze them in batches for further use but there are so many I have kept half to experiment with. Today, I had planned to make hummus but thought I might try and vary it a bit. The end result really wasn’t all that different from hummus, the only difference being that I substituted sesame seeds for tahini to give it a crunchier texture. It was nice for a change. This was thrown together in a haphazard fashion so the measurements are approximate. Ingredients: 400g chickpeas 50g sesame seeds Juice half lemon 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped Extra Virgin Olive Oil Crackers Method: The method is very simple! Reserve a small amount of the chickpeas and sesame seeds to put on the crackers after. Chuck the rest save the oil in a blender and add the oil slowly until you are happy with the consistency. Season to …

Chickpea, tomato, red lentil & basil soup

I used to be very good at bringing in lunches to work. After all, it usually means just putting leftover dinner into a lunchbox to heat in the microwave the next day. These last few months I have been rubbish though and find I am now feeling unhealthy as a result. So, to make amends and apologise to my poor body I decided to make a healthy tomato and bean soup. Now, I know this blog has been very much tomato based recently but I’ve read that they’ll keep me young, so it’s worth a try, eh?! This is a very simple soup and I usually don’t measure anything out but just adjust as I go to get the right textures and tastes. Ingredients: 2 cloves of garlic olive oil one tin of tomatoes approx 50g red lentils (or more if you like a chunky soup) 500ml vegetable stock one tbsp of sugar chickpeas ~ 400g – I cooked them from dry as I prefer these but you can use tins – one tin if …

Sabras – Superb Vegetarian Indian Food in Willesden Green

  Update: 25th July 2007 I have just discovered that they were forced to close as the landlord increased the rent. After 33 years! Absolutely dreadful. So disappointing.   Update: 22nd May 2007 Unfortunately Sabras has closed! Very upsetting news. However, I will leave the review as testament to how good they were. I have just joined a new foodie community site in London – Trusted Places. It’s a site where you review places you’ve been to, rate them, provide pics if you have any and connect with other foodies. So far, so good! I just reviewed one of my favourite curry houses there and I thought why not share it here also? Forgive the pic, I took it in a rush at the restaurant as I didn’t want to draw attention to myself! This is their sabras special curry – really superb. Here’s the review: Sabras 263 High Road Willesden Green London NW10 Sabras serves beautiful indian vegetarian food in the heartlands of Willesden, North West London. Sabras is the best vegetarian indian I …

Prawn linguine with rocket

Prawn linguine with rocket One of our favourite dishes. We have this at least once in every two weeks. It’s very quick and has clean sharp flavours. Great for a quick meal in the evening with some white wine! Ingredients (for 2 people): Half a packet of linguine (you could substitute spaghetti but I prefer linguine) 2 cloves garlic Sundried tomato paste 1 glass dry white wine Prawns ~ 300g, preferably raw, shelled and de-veined Rocket 1 lemon Extra virgin olive oil Method: Finely chop the garlic and saute in some olive oil until translucent. be careful not to burn it as it will ruin the flavour. Add a couple of tablespoons of the sundried tomato paste and fry with the garlic for a couple of minutes. Add the white wine and cook off the alcohol, again, just a few minutes. In the background cook the pasta for however long it says on the packet – usually 10/11 minutes. Add the prawns to the garlic, sundried tomato paste & wine and cook for 5 minutes …

Asparagus is in season!

Asparagus is in season! HURRAH! An exciting time of year, I love asparagus. So many ways to cook it but my favourite is to fry it in a little olive oil and serve it with a poached egg on top. Also great used as soldiers for eggs. This time I fried it, wrapped it in prosciutto and flash fried it again. To serve I drizzled it with extra virgin olive oil and served with the ubiquitous garlic toasts.

Now to start: Spaghetti with homemade tomato & basil sauce and garlic toasts

So, I thought it best to start with something really simple and delicious that I can’t misrepresent on my new blog! This is one of my quick fixes, some food for the heart and soul that’s sometimes required after a long day when you know you have only got a short evening ahead. Ingredients (for two with large appetities): Half a packet of spaghetti (linguine also works really well) Sauce: 1 tin of tomatoes (I use La Fiammante, gorgeous fruity Italian tomatoes) a handful of basil (I used greek basil – I love it’s tiny leaves and potency) a dessert spoon of sugar a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar dried or fresh chilli – as much as you like, I like it hot one white onion 2 cloves of garlic (or one big one) Extra Virgin Olive oil to drizzle on top Garlic Toasts: Baguette or nice ciabatta. I prefer the second but the deli had run out. 1 garlic clove Extra Virgin Olive Oil Method: Chop the onion and garlic finely. Saute the onion until …

My first food blog…

So, this is my first post! On my food blog! At long last, it took me long enough to get around to it and now, even if I am the only person that reads this I can at least be happy that I did it. So, on this I intend to chatter about my culinary meanderings in London, post recipes (if they’re mine), post my food pics and talk about where I’ve eaten out. I may dip in and out of my cook book collection (now > 100 and climbing) and review my new foodie purchases. I hope to talk about food that I will eat on future travels and perhaps reminisce on food that I have had when I was away before. I may pay hommage to the various wonderful food blogs that I follow – favourites being: 101 Cookbooks, La Tartine Gourmande, Mahanandi, The Travellers Lunchbox, and so many more… I am not sure where to start. Perhaps a recipe. Watch this space…