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Pea & Ham Soup

Pea & Ham Soup

I have been going through a slightly obssessive ham and pea phase of late, buying fresh peas at the market and eating them in a variety of ways from speedy dishes like peas with parma ham, spring onions, fresh garlic and lemon, to last minute soups with bacon on top. Peas and ham are perfect partners in every way, from the flavour combination of intensely savoury hamand the sweet pea, to the coarse texture of the ham contrasting with the smoothness of the pea, and the colours, green and pink dancing in your bowl, begging to be eaten.

I had seen a Heston Blumenthal recipe in the Times Online, and was keen to try it, but knew it wouldn’t be a quick affair. As much as I love what he does, I am not sure I have his dedication or stamina, at least with time being so limiting at the moment, amounting to, at most a rare evening or a weekend day. This particular recipe was from The Hinde’s Head, his gastropub, so I thought, surely, it won’t be too intense? I have also eaten there before and really enjoyed it, so I decided to give it a go.

Pea & Ham Soup

How was it? If I had made the stock the day before it would have been very straight forward but doing it all the same day took alot of time. Especially as I started at 4pm. Was it worth it? Yes, every minute, I’d just organise it better next time. The stock was gorgeous, so savoury and I even got a secondbatch of stock from the bone, once I’d stripped the ham from it, I boiled it again with the fat that I wasn’t using, some suitable vegetables, herbs and peppercorns for a couple of hours.

The soup itself was a lovely bright green, with pancetta, ham and peas peeking through, very different to a traditional split pea and ham soup, it is much livelier, more fragrant and so very sweet. It was really substantial, bordering on a stew and would have been an ample main course.

I didn’t alter the recipe in anyway, so I’ll link to it rather than reproduce it. Enjoy!

Pea and ham soup – recipe from The Hinde’s Head, by Heston Blumenthal for The Sunday Times

Pea & Ham Soup

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Gooseberry Fool

Gooseberry Fool

Gooseberry Fool

Gooseberries are very much underrated and underused, fantastic on their own, with cream, in desserts or savoury dishes, they should be gracing every table at summertime. I’ve always loved them, my aunt used to grow them and I loved visiting so that I could indulge. I shouldn’t have liked them that much, they can be quite sharp and sour and they’re hairy when ripe, so, how could they be attractive to a child? Especially a little girl who doesn’t much like eating anything unless it’s almost all sugar? I suspect, the fact that hardly anyone liked them was attractive (there was lots more for me) but the flavour is something that I’ve always loved, that tart burst when you bite into a gooseberry is fantastic.

When I was last home, a friend gave me a gift of some delicious elderflower cordial, so I thought it fitting to pair it with this delicious seasonal fruit and some whipped cream, to create that favourite dessert of mine – fool. I keep my fruit fools quite simple, usually a fruit compote of sorts mixed with twice the amount of whipped cream. Sometimes, when I want to feel a little better about this indulgence, I stir in some greek yoghurt, approximately half yoghurt/half cream. Were I organised, I’d have made this when the elderflowers themselves were in bloom and stewed the gooseberries with a few heads of elderflower tied in muslin. Alas, that was the month of crazy business that was June.

Gooseberry Fool

Topped & tailed gooseberries

This recipe works well with the bright green sour gooseberries in the markets right now. It really is very simple and doesn’t require a recipe as such, I used 450g green gooseberries, 100g sugar, enough water to cover, and 2 tablespoons of elderflower cordial. Simply, boil the water with the sugar until dissolved, top and tail the gooseberries and add to this with a couple of tablespoons of elderflower cordial (adjust to taste) and stew until the fruit bursts, takes about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust the amount of elderflower cordial if necessary. Stir this into your whipped cream, again to taste, I usually add it cream:fruit, 2:1.

Related recipe: Rhubarb Fool.

Borough Market

Borough Market Gooseberries

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The Providores – Turkish Eggs

The Providores - Marylebone

Sometime in the future, I will blog about fine dining at the Providores (a very worthwhile experience if you’re curious!). For now, I want to dedicate a post to their Turkish Eggs. Sounds bizarre but if you had them you’d agree! I promise.

Regular readers will know my fondness for Marylebone and my Sunday trips to the farmer’s market, the Ginger Pig and La Fromagerie. There’a a few other places I pop to on occasion and one from this list is the Providore’s. Lots of people I trust like it, Aidan Brooks is a fan and did some work experience there while training, indeed I shared a lovely meal with him there recently, and Krista at Londonelicious includes it in her London top 10. It should therefore come as no surprise, that the Providores features quite highly on my list on these Sunday jaunts, with my usual being their wonderful turkish eggs accompanied with a great latté, something that is rare in London these days.

So, what are the turkish eggs? It’s a dish that hails from Changa restaurant in Istanbul (which Peter Gordon is also involved in) but served also in the Providores – two poached eggs with whipped yoghurt and hot chilli butter. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, but for that reason, I knew it must, and spectacularly so, otherwise, why would it be on the menu?

My first taste of that dish, was just wonderful, I can still recall. Perfectly poached eggs, sitting on a pillow of whipped yoghurt and wrapped in hot chilli butter, it’s just superb. Another of my must-try-to-recreate. For now, I am very happy to go there on my Sunday trips and indulge. I recommend that you do too, should you find yourself in the area.

The Providores
109 Marylebone High Street, London, England W1U 4RX
tel: 0207 9356175
email: anyone@theprovidores.co.uk
web: http://www.theprovidores.co.uk/

The Providores - Marylebone

The Providores - Marylebone

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Taste of Cork

Taste of Cork
Taste of Cork
Taste of Cork

Taste of Cork

I do like to do nice things, and these often involve food, ok, mostly involve food. I can never pass up the chance to attend a food festival, so when a friend mentioned that Taste of Cork would be running for the first time this year in Ireland, I made sure that I would be there for it.

Taste of Cork, like Taste of London, showcases the best food that the area has to offer. It was in a fabulous setting, in the old city gaol, and on a beautiful day. We went along to the evening session, and keen as ever, arrived early to join an enormous queue. Well, to be truthful, I thought I was late as I had the time wrong, but, just as well!

Taste of Cork

Taste of Cork

Now, I’d done a little research, and some Cork restaurants that I really wanted to try were there, so I had already drafted a list in my head, determined to start first with Ballymaloe House and then the Ivory Tower, moving onto Bell Tower, Capella from Castlemartyr. There were some others that I was curious about but these were my top three, anything after that would be a bonus.

Potato soup with garden lovage pesto and chive flowers from Ballymaloe House

First impressions, the venue was great and it was more compact than Taste of London. This, for me, was a good thing, as I only saw a small portion of Taste of London in the time that I was there. Not that that’s a hindrance, next year I’ll just go twice! Nestled in at the base were two of the restaurants from my short list, so I went straight to Ballymaloe House to sample their wares.

Ballymaloe is famous for a few things, their restaurant, Darina Allen, Rachel Allen, Rory O’Connell, their cookery school and their passion for local irish ingredients. I wasn’t ready for a dessert yet, and given I had yet to have anything to eat, a starter seemed like a sensible option. On offer was potato soup with garden lovage pesto and chive flowers. It was pretty, delicious and very smooth, full of flavour, with the chive flowers offering a bold textural contrast, that at first I wasn’t too sure about. By the end, I wanted more.

Ballycotton mackerel with gooseberry sauce and organic Shanagarry salad

The main course available was Ballycotton mackerel with gooseberry sauce and organic Shanagarry salad, however by now, I already had my eye on swordfish from the Ivory Tower next door. The swordfish was served with mango salsa and banana ketchup. I was intrigued by the banana ketchup and wondered how it might taste. It sounds idiotic to say but it tasted exactly like you would expect it to taste – banana flavour with the texture and viscosity of ketchup, yellow of course. It was beautiful with the mango salsa and the swordfish. I fell in love and must try and find a recipe to replicate it.

Blackened Swordfish with Banana Ketchup and Mango Salsa

Next up, a browse around some of the stalls, a taste of the new Lindt chilli chocolate (yum!), some flavoursome irish strawberries, and some prosecco, to wash it all down. The English Market from Cork were there, a fantastic indoor food market that has been serving the city since 1786. There are lots of traditional butchers in there selling the likes of tripe, drisheen and spiced beef, fishmongers, cheese shops, a fresh pasta stall, the farmgate café, it deserves a blog post of it’s own so I’ll leave it for now.

At the Pig’s Back from the English Market had lots of wonderful irish cheeses at Taste of Cork, and I was quite pleased to see a girl there, that had served me at the market some months previously, quite nervously as it was her first day, she seemed to be enjoying herself, which was nice to see.

What else did I eat? White bean soup with pork belly and chorizo oil from Capella, one of the stars of the evening. Definitely one restaurant to return to next time I am in Cork.

Surely, I couldn’t handle another main? Well, they were small, and I just had to! There was roast fillet of pork with black pudding, potatoes, caramelised compote of apple and plums and marjoram juice from Orchid’s at Hayfield Manor in Cork City. Phew, what a mouthful, but the dish itself, regardless of the complexity of the title, tied together beautifully and was responsible for me buying lots of black pudding to bring back to London. A potato and black pudding sandwich with tender fillet of pork on the side – soul food.

Roast fillet of pork with black pudding, potatoes, caramelised compote of apple and plums and marjoram juice from Orchid

What about dessert? I kept it savoury and went back to the Ivory Tower for some pizza ice cream: tomato and basil sorbet, olive and parmesan tuile and it was great.

Pizza ice cream: tomato and basil sorbet, olive and parmesan tuile

What about the food I wanted but didn’t have the space or mental capacity to fit? Herb Coated Slaney Valley Lamb, Carmalised Onion Crushed Potato, Saffron Emulsion from Bell Tower, Capella featured as did the aforementioned mackerel witrh gooseberry sauce from Ballymaloe, the porchetta on the spit, gubbeen cheeses, clonakilty black pudding and the connemara smoked salmon.

Herb Coated Slaney Valley Lamb, Carmalised Onion Crushed Potato, Saffron Emulsion from Bell Tower, Capella
Porchetta

I am afraid I was pretty poor on the demonstration front but I did catch the end of Rory O’Connell who was very enjoyable.

Overall, it was a very pleasant evening with some outstanding food. I’d definitely recommend it and I’d go again.

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Burrata with heirloom tomatoes

Burrata with heirloom tomatoes

Every now and then, I like to treat myself to something nice to eat from Harrod’s Food Hall. I really like Selfridge’s and Harvey Nichol’s also, but Harrod’s is so vast and decadent and full of treats. On a recent visit I spied a buffalo cheese that I hadn’t seen before – burrata – of which there where two types, one normal and one with truffle. I was so intrigued but I didn’t actually buy any, I was on a mission that day and was looking for borlotti beans. I went back the following week, but, to my dismay, there was no burrata to be had. It’s delivered on a Tuesday and always sells out on the day.

So, the following Tuesday, I made sure I got down there to buy some of this intriguing cheese, but there was none there! I waited impatiently for the lady behind the counter, just to check, and happily they had a box of it stowed away in a fridge. They didn’t have the truffle one so I got the normal one.

Some background on burrata for anyone like me that hadn’t come across it before: it’s a fresh cheese made from buffalo milk and cream from water buffalos. Traditionally it was wrapped in vine leaves, but now is more commonly wraped in plastic. When making it, the hot cheese is formed into a pocket, which is then filled with leftover mozzarella. Fresh cream is added before closing and wrapping in the fresh or synthetic leaves. The fresh leaves would have been an indicator of the freshness of the cheese, if the leaves were green, then the cheese was fresh, if not, it wasn’t.

What does it taste like? A really fresh and milky mozarella. Really delicious. I ate it with with large slices of heirloom tomatoes and some fruity extra virgin olive oil. It was wonderful and shall be adapted for many lunches and starters in the future.