Month: November 2010

Swedish Lapland: Indigenous Sámi Souvas (that’s reindeer to you and I)

It’s icy out there, bitterly cold and the grass is now a shade of mint green, each blade with it’s little frosty jacket. I do wonder what it must be like in Lapland. Definitely, much worse than this. When I was there, this Autumn, it was already starting to cool down and I had a brief insight to your upcoming, and now very much present, Winter. I had many fine experiences on my trip, one was an afternoon with indigenous Sámi people, who introduced us first to their herd of reindeer, and second, to one of their defining traditional dishes, souvas. The Sámi people are the indigenous people occupying Sápmi in Northern Europe, an arc of land consisting of parts of far northern Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They are the only official indigenous people remaining in Northern Europe. Traditionally the Sámi people traditionally rely on a variety of livelihoods, including coastal fishing, fur trapping and sheep herding but their food supply remains almost entirely dependent on their nomadic herds of …

‘New Nordic’ Danish Yule with Trina Hahnemann

Trina Hahnemann is surfing the crest of our current Nordic food obsession with her wonderful books, The Scandinavian Cookbook and The Nordic Diet. I recently had the pleasure of meeting her, and she is even more inspring in real life than in print. Yesterday, she prepared a New Nordic Danish Yule feast at the Danish Embassy. The recipes are all new (Trina seems endlessly creative) and really, were all wonderful. Bright, fresh, clear flavours and contrasting textures my favourites were a beautiful and very wintry warm apple drink, bacon and apple sauce with bacon croutons (seriously fabulous and comforting – a Danish traditional dish too) and “Rimsalted” cod served on baked celeriac. I highly recommend her gorgeous book, it’s one of my recent favourites – The Scandinavian Cookbook – out now in paperback at £14.99 (or just over £9 on Amazon). Organised by month, every recipe is interesting, and most ingredients are easily accessible. A great Christmas gift, but do get one for yourself too.

Recipe: Balsamic & Thyme Duck with Aubergine & Tomato Mograbiah

I love a bit of urban foraging. Turning a corner and seeing rosehips, blackberries, wild garlic, the random edibles that grow in random places. This summer I even found a wild apple tree in the hedgerow at the end of the train track. Another type of urban foraging I love is not really foraging at all, although I call it so. I love finding ethnic food shops and exploring their shelves looking for previously undiscovered delights that I can use at home in my kitchen. A few years ago, one such forage yielded a bag of mograbiah in a Turkish shop. Like giant “giant cous cous” (really Israeli cous cous – widely available in the Jewish section of larger supermarkets and Jewish food shops), I wondered what it was. The instructions were illegible to me, so I chucked it in my basket and approached the counter. I intended to ask the lady at the checkout for some advice, when she picked it up and looked at it, and I thought – SWEET! She’s going to …

Recipes from the Archives: Some Top Winter Warmers

November is a lovely month to spend indoors, cooking for friends and family around a roaring fire, mulling some wine or gin or confecting some hot port. Those weeks leading to Christmas demand a certain prudence in advance of silly season, when things can get a little too much. There’s lots of old recipes on this little blog that have remained very popular over the years, and remain the most read. They could almost be called The Pork Files, however there’s a couple of great vegetarian numbers and others to enjoy also. Some newer readers might not know them, and it’s always nice to have a list of Winter Warmers, so here you are, my top suggestions for those toasty evenings in. Prawn Curry A spicy dazzler, and one of the most popular recipes on this site (second recently to it’s vegetarian sibling which will appear later in this post). Buy your spices whole and use the best tinned tomatoes and you will be rewarded with a warming and fruity curry with clear bright flavours. …

Supper Club: Shed Likes Food

Shed Likes Food is good, it’s very good. Quirky and petite, not unlike host Nicola, it’s a warm, intimate and charming supper club based in Newington Green. They’re definitely not in it for the money, charging only the cost of ingredients. Madness! Some supper clubs are more about the experience than the food, Nicola comfortably covers both, and makes it look very easy. On the night we visited, Nicola’s usual partner in crime, boyfriend Andrew, was away, so she was ably assisted instead by Alexis of Lex Eat (another excellent supper club, it’s a serious omission that I haven’t written about it yet). The Supper Club is hosted in a great shed at the end of her garden. Beautifully decorated and warm, we ate dinner with a small and very friendly group of people, 9 guests in total, and our hosts. The food was rustic and very well executed. Lots of big flavours – very much the kind of food I love. We started with appetisers of padron peppers, spiced seeds, marinated olives with a …

Recipe: Chorizo, Iberico Pork Belly and Chickpea Stew

It has been a good week for cooking. I love it when Winter saunters in and I have so many excuses to retreat to my kitchen and cook up my own storm to match the one outside. A mid week shopping trip provided excellent ingredients, particularly the Iberico pork belly I used in my last recipe, I used it again today. I tend to cook old favourites right now, and it occured to me that I haven’t really blogged them. I always like to cook new things and experiment for recipes that wind up here, but I’ve decided to start blogging my old favourites, those soothing winter warmers, over the next little while. The Iberico pork belly is a big fatty piece of salted pork belly from those finest of Spanish pigs. It’s like super fat pancetta that when rendered, releases smoky rich fat that adds a beautiful dimension to any dish, I am not sure I’ve ever had anything quite like it. The lovely Iberico pigs  spend their lives happily wandering munching on acorns, …

Some Curling and a Recipe for Hendrick’s Hot Gin Punch

Folks, I’ve found my sport. SPORT, on a food blog? Does it help if I tell you we played for haggis? And what about if I told you that what this post is actually about is a recipe for Hendrick’s Hot Gin Punch? HOT GIN PUNCH? I know, so bear with me while I tell you about, *cough*, sport. So, sport, eh? I found my sport, and my sport is curling. I wasn’t happy about the idea of going curling initially, and spent the entire trip there thinking up schemes to get out of it, but one hot gin punch later, I thought I would give it a go. Chasing a 20kg granite stone up and down the ice with a sweeping brush – I hate them too, almost as much as sport – sounds like a nightmare, but it proved to be fun. The ice won’t allow you to run, or it will take you with a fall, so measured giggly forays up and down the ice with a sweeping brush proved entertaining. SWEEP …

An Evening with Hendrick’s Gin and Bompass & Parr in Glasgow

Hendrick’s. It’s not for everyone. Or so they say, but really who can resist? I love the stuff. I quite like gin anyway. I am a big fan of boutique gin operations, as you may have seen, given that I have written about London based Sipsmith before. They love to experiment, as it turns out Hendrick’s do too. The appeal of Hendrick’s for me is the gorgeous complex botanicals and the freshness and aromatics introduced by the rose and cucumber notes  that are added post distillation. There are many other botanicals in there too like elderflower and coriander, but more on that later. More than anything, I do love the Hendrick’s G&T with ice and a slice (of cucumber). Try it sometime. Recently, I found myself in Glasgow for a dinner which brought together an explosive pairing: Hendrick’s Gin and London’s own Bompass & Parr. Picked up at the airport by a gin mobile, the fabulous Hendrick’s car, complete with a rose for gear stick, a silver cucumber with wings on the front, and a bar in the boot – …

Recipe: Roast Chicken with Chorizo, Iberico Pork Belly & Tomato

Just look at that chicken! How relaxed and happy does it look? It should have sunglasses. Languishing at the edge of that dish, resting on a bed of comforting sauce, leg draped over the side, sporting a golden tan. Ah, roast chicken. Not just any though. This chicken came from the South West of France via my butchers. I find supermarket chicken so depressingly bland, all of them, not just the battery (which I won’t touch – it’s just not right), but all of them. And you may think me some kind of middle class horror professing that everyone should buy posh French chickens, but really that is not what I am saying. Any chicken from a farm that has received proper care and attention and that has been allowed to roam free is good. Eat less and eat better. Farmer’s Market chickens are great, I just couldn’t get access to one today. Not cheap, this one cost me just shy of £13 but used well it can still be a bargain. How so? I …

Smoked Haddock Fish Cakes

My trips home of late have been hurried and frantic, but when I can, I will visit Cork’s English Market to indulge. I love to pop to the Farmgate Café for a toastie (either our famed Irish toasted special or sometimes something unusual like Ardrahan Goat’s Cheese & Beetroot), a coffee, or a rich and nostalgic Irish Stew for lunch. After that I will wander about picking up bits and pieces. This deserves a post on its own and it is way overdue. One of the things I always do, is pop to Frank Hederman’s stall and buy my fix. It’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Frank’s produce. I used to get it at his stall at Midleton Farmer’s Market,and have previously called to his Belvelly Smokehouse to buy some for my market stall in Covent Garden. It’s wonderfully convenient now at the English Market. Better still, he has expanded his range. For these fish cakes, I used his Beech Smoked Haddock. It is very gentle and rich, I haven’t tasted …

So, you want to be a blogger? Some tips and some thoughts

So, you want to be a blogger? I’ve been getting many emails from new bloggers and those that want to start blogs asking for tips and guidance. Rather than email every time, I thought it better to write a post about it. And here it is. First things first. The anthropology of food blogging! We’ve been around for a little while now and some patterns exist. Food blogging is a broad field comprising two very different types of blogs and within this a sea of individuals. There are grey areas of course, and sometimes some overlaps, but generally they are split into two – the restaurant bloggers and the cooks. The restaurant bloggers often don’t cook (although some do) and they eat out a lot. They tend to be urban, where most restaurants are. They vary from those focussed on geography (like the restaurants of a particular city area) to those that collect the high end restaurants, visiting the worlds 3* restaurants for example. The second area is the cooks. These tend to be enthusiasts …

Hawksmoor in Seven Dials & the Evolution of the Hawksmoor Burger

Recession? What recession? At the rate that restaurants are opening in London, you’d be forgiven for thinking that we were in a boom, particularly with the surge in new openings in Soho and Covent Garden. More interestingly, many of the recent openings have been second offerings (and sometimes third) from new London favourites. Places that have a solid following are opening new siblings, and not identikit chain restaurants, but ones styled along the original with a twist and with great care. Which? The folks behind Polpo have opened their second restaurant, Polpetto, tucked away above one of my favourite London bars, The French House. Their third restaurant Spuntino is rumoured to open soon. Actually Polpetto was supposed to be the third, but that is a long story. Les Deux Salons arrived recently, from the folks behind Michelin starred Arbutus and Wild Honey. St John’s open St John Hotel just off Leicester Square in former stalwart Manzi’s. The folks behind Salt Yard open their third, Opera Tavern, in Covent Garden in January. A little further East …

Recipe: Mushrooms on Toast from The Tannery Cookery School, Dungarvan

Of all of the photos that I posted of my recent trip to Ireland, the mushroom on toast from The Tannery, in Dungarvan drew the most audible gasps. Gorgeous robust portobello mushrooms, draped in mushroom sauce (based on a beurre blanc) and resting on some brioche with a sliver of intense mushroom puree in between, it is perfectly autumnal in colour, texture and taste, and delicious. It was one of my favourite dishes and I did promise to share the recipe, so here it is. Enjoy! Mushrooms on Toast from The Tannery Cookery School, Dungarvan Serves 4 4 slices of toasted brioche or country bread 4 field mushrooms 50g butter 2 cloves garlic chopped Pinch chopped thyme Salt and pepper Mushroom Sauce: 175g/ 6 oz butter 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots 50g/ 2 oz of dried mushrooms (porcini or similar) Half teaspoon cracked black pepper 75mls / 3 fl oz dry white wine 150mls/ quarter pint chicken stock 75mls / 3 fl oz cream 55mls/ 1 fl oz sherry vinegar Squeeze lemon juice 1 sprig …