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Wild Garlic Frittata

Wild Garlic Frittata

The seasons are swiftly moving, it is almost April folks, and yesterday marked the beginning of summer time. Yeeehaw, isn’t that exciting? It has come very quickly this year.

The first asparagus has already been harvested in Cornwall, and wild garlic abounds. I say abounds, I have yet to actually see any confined by busy-ness to my immediate surroundings. To my rescue rushed Food urchin Dan, wielding a wild garlic plant freshly dug up from his garden as he had done two years previously.

Wild garlic, I just love it. Sour, sharp and aromatic, it brightens soups, spikes salads and caresses potatoes and eggs. It absolutely loves potato and eggs more than most things, who doesn’t? So the first thing I did with it on a busy Saturday, was made a quick lunch frittata. Simple, delicious and I loved it.

I have a small frying pan which is perfect for a frittata for one, but you could double up the ingredients to make it in a large pan. The best frittatas are made with the best eggs, so source them as well as you can. As always, I used my beloved blue Old Cotswold Legbars with their striking enormous rich yellow yolks.

This recipes uses a lot of olive oil. Don’t be afraid of it, it helps you cook the potatoes through properly, and tastes good too.

Wild Garlic Frittata

Wild Garlic Frittata

Serves 1

300g potatoes, cut into half and then sliced (skins on or off – up to you)
3 large eggs, beaten
6 wild garlic leaves, shredded
3 tbsp olive oil
sea salt & pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the potatoes. Coat thoroughly with the oil and cover the pan with a lid or plate. Leave to cook for 8 – 10 minutes. Stirring occasionally and turning potatoes as they brown half way through.
Beat the eggs and add the garlic, I like to cut mine finely with a scissors. Stir through.
Pour the eggs on the potatoes and cover with a plate again. Leave to cook for about 5 minutes and check the eggs, they should be cooked around the edges and starting toi solidify on top. When they get to this stage, cover the pan with a plate, turn it over, and slide the frittata back in to the pan, cooked side up.
Cook for a further 2 minutes and serve hot or cold depending on your preference.

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Bread & Butter from Shacklewell Nights with Ben Rymer

Shacklewell Nights with Ben Rymer

Shacklewell Nights has returned this weekend for the first time in 2011, popping up in another fantastic location in Hackney. I arrived a little late and had missed the waitress that would guide the diners to the venue so I followed the low rumble of almost 100 people talking. I thought that I had the right building, although I wasn’t entirely sure, until I turned a corner and was greeted by a large room lit beautifully and dramatically lit in red and yellow, with tables of silhoutted people drinking their aperitif and awaiting the starter.

Shacklewell Nights with Ben Rymer

Shacklewell Nights is an evolved supper club, much bigger than most, always located in an interesting and often dramatic place, with well respected chefs at the helm – Jonathan Woolway of Shacklewell Nights works at St John and is often supported by colleagues from there. Professional waiting staff effortlessly glide around the room ensuring that everything is perfect. British Seasonal Food is always on the menu.

We started with an aperitif, this time a cava from Codorniu. Sadly I missed which one as I had grabbed one of the last glasses after the bottles were cleared, but it was definitely one of their higher end offerings. I really enjoyed it.

Shacklewell Nights

The starter of Smoked Trout, Pickled Beetroot & Horseradish was served family style on large platters to tuck into. A lovely fresh combination and delicious and simple starter. Vegetarians had Perroche, Pickled Beetroot & Watercress. Pretty much the same dish with perroche – a fresh unpasteurised English goats cheese – instead of the trout.

Shacklewell Nights with Ben Rymer

Main course was Pot Roast Gloucester Old Spot, Butter Beans, Wild Garlic & Cider. The old spot was served sliced and was delicious and light. Greedy as ever I could have eaten more, which was available if you asked for it, although for once I had restraint and saved room for the following courses. The butter beans were large plump ones with great texture and flavour. It was a really pleasing main over all. Vegetarians had Wild Mushrooms, Leeks & Butter Beans.

Shacklewell Nights with Ben Rymer

My favourite course of the evening was the dessert – Orange & Cardamom Cream, Yorkshire Rhubarb & Hazelnuts – I am a sucker for Yorkshire rhubarb. There was some of my favourite honeycomb on here too. I cleared every last bit from my glass.

Shacklewell Nights with Ben Rymer

We finished with a glass of single malt Auchentoshan was served with a Neal’s Yard cheese plate, oat cakes & large kilner jars of hackney chutney

Tickets were £46 including booking fee, for 4 courses with the aperitif and single malt at the end. Drinks otherwise were BYO with no corkage. Good value I think, and a great experience in a quirky location. There are still some tickets for tonight if you have no plans and fancy something different.

http://breadandbutterdining.eventbrite.com/

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Spuntino Review: Now With Decent Photos

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The other day another blogger asked me if half the photos from my Spuntino post were from a PR agency and the ther half mine. It’s a compliment really, as they were all mine from a really rubbish old phone with some post processing. Granted I clearly should have left the ropey half out but I wanted to leave them in. I have had no contact with the PR agency whatsoever, for the record. It was a walk in visit, as I like to do.

I liked it so much, I went back again a week later, and now I love it more. Why? The olives. The olives? The olives are stuffed with anchovies and breadcrumbed then deep fried. Unbelievably rich and intense and salty, and I wanted more. So I got more. And I plotted to make them when I got home.

So here are some proper pictures so that you can get a real feel for the place – in a fancy new slideshow too. I am not sure what I think of it yet but thought I should give it a go. Get the olives if you go, the beef and bone marrow slider and the truffled egg toast. Wash it all down with some wine, contemplate some dessert, definitely have a cocktail. Swoon.

First Review (with dodgy pics!) Spuntino has Landed

http://spuntino.co.uk/

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Bitesize: Shacklewell Nights, Ravinder Bhogal at The Modern Pantry Pop-Up, London Coffee Festival

The sun is out, my book is almost written, so I am looking at ways that I can let my hair down from this weekend. Top of my list are:

Shacklewell Nights in association with Ben Rymer presents “Bread & Butter” on Friday 25th & Saturday 26th March

Shacklewell Nights is back! I went last November and it was superb. The fourth weekend of Shacklewell Nights has moved to a new secret venue in the heart of Hackney. 4 courses of British seasonal food will be served in unusual and informal surroundings and will include a Pot Roast Gloucester Old Spot, Butter Beans, Wild Garlic & Cider which I am excited about.

Price £46 including booking fee, aperitif and single malt whiskey to finish. BYO with no corkage. Full menu details and last remaining tickets here: Shacklewell Nights – Event brite

Ravinder Bhogal at The Modern Pantry at Meza in Association with the Friday Food Club

The Modern Pantry has taken over Meza on Wardour St for a month, and RavinderBhogal (aka Cook in Boots) and Friday Food Club will take it over for one night only, next Wednesday. It’s a pop up in a pop up, the next evolution! :) I’ve had Ravinders food recently when she cooked at The Secret Larder with James Ramsden and this is one you shouldn’t miss. Her food is terrific and it’s a rare opportunity to catch her cook.

The menu includes Crispy Soft Shell Crab and Aubergine with a Spicy Triple Nut and Tamarind Sauce, Home-ground Ras al Hanout Lamb Cutlets with Spiced Green Lentil Rice, Crispy Fried Onions and Pomegranate Yoghurt and Orange and Cardamom Scented Champagne Rhubarb Jelly, Rose Pannacotta, Rose and Pistachio Praline. Tickets are £68 for 6 courses including wine, a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne and a cocktail. Book by emailing bookings@fridayfoodclub.com

More on The Modern Pantry Pop-Up in my next post.

London Coffee Festival, 8 – 10 April, Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London

Until recently, it was a chore to find a decent coffee in London. Not anymore, there has been a mini coffee revolution, and now we also have a coffee festival. Taking place in the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, the coffee-obsessed will be immersed in a world of discovery, tastings, demonstrations and entertainment.

Tickets are £8.50 and 100% of all consumer ticket sales from The London Coffee Festival will go directly to Project Waterfall, a charitable initiative raising funds to deliver clean drinking water to coffee-producing countries in Africa. The first project will provide clean water to 7,000 people in Tanzania in partnership with WaterAid.

http://www.londoncoffeefestival.com/

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Excitement! Included in The Irish Times Food File

A little piece in The Irish Times :)

Today, there was a lovely little piece in The Irish Times which has made me very happy indeed. The piece was in the Food File and was on me, this blog, and my forthcoming book, to be published in September by Quadrille. My good friend The Wine Sleuth is in there too!

Thank you so very much, and if you are coming from there, you are most welcome here. I hope you like it :)

The Irish Times, Food File

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St Patricks Day Giveaway: Two Irish Food Hampers from Bord Bia

OK folks! It’s time for a giveaway. It’s St Patricks Day today, a huge day in Ireland of national celebration with parades in every town, everyone wearing green, and lots of children breaking their lenten fasts and tucking into sweets they have been storing over lent like squirrels. They won’t have gotten too far with our late Easter this year, but I am sure they all have a healthy stash in an old biscuit tin somewhere.

Celebrating St. Patrick ’s Day in true Irish style, Bord Bia (the Irish Food Board) is giving away two fantastic hampers of authentic Irish goodies. Each winner will win a selection of some the products below, which include the fantastic Flahavan’s porridge made local to my family home!

Butlers Chocolates
Connemara Peated Single Malt Irish Whiskey
Ditty’s Oatcakes
Solaris Botanicals (herbal tea)
Ballymaloe Country Relish
Lir Chocolates
Flahavan’s Irish Porridge Oats
Jelly Bean Factory

To enter, just comment, and tell me a funy Paddy’s Day story, something about Ireland or simply the colour green. Should be interesting, an fun! :)

Winners will be drawn on Monday at 6pm randomly.

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Spuntino has Landed

Spuntino

Spuntino has landed. Smack bang in the naughty part of Soho, amid the peep shows and porn shops, this is the latest offering from Russell Norman and Co, the brains behind Polpo & Polpetto, both of which have taken London by storm.

I hadn’t anticipated going so early, certainly not on the first day, but I was walking past yesterday and spied a seat so I nabbed it. You’ve just got to, no? As a result, you will have to forgive the photos as I didn’t have my camera, and they are taken with my horrible little phone, s,oto compensate I have gone a little AWRTY. Yawh.

There is lots to love about Spuntino. A large counter dominates the room with one table at the back and a long small shelf down the side allowing those in the queue to munch and imbibe. Original tiling crumbles on the wall, and it has a cosy and almost industrial feel. It has a great energy, even when not particularly busy.

The service is very good, the menu is quirky and interesting, and very well priced too. Good drinks, I loved the Nero D’Avola served in 250ml carafes. The cocktails are very good, not overly sweet. Do try the terrific Jerry Thomas Manhattan. Shots of Dewars are a crazy £2 too.

Spuntino

Food is the small plates you would expect. Once seated you get an enamel cup of popcorn, a fun touch. I loved the beef and bone marrow slider, tiny moist and intense, it tastes of only MORE. Soft shell crab with tabasco aioli was a treat although more tabasco for me please, or on the side at least. Truffled egg on toast was sensational, with a hole scooped and with the egg inside, the egg white is actually Fontina cheese. Swoon. Egg with soldiers is like a scotch egg without the meat, I spied it across the table and will order next time I go.

Spuntino

Spuntino

The calamari with chicpeas and ink were gloopy and delicious with tight firm chickpeas. There are farmhouse cheddar grits, an extremely comforting soupy polenta style American dish which I have never seen on a menu here before. Other dishes which didn’t leave as much of an impression were eggplant chips with fennel yogurt which although very nice, were not a show stopper, and beets with salted ricotta and rocket was a pleasant side and a good counter to the slider and crab.

Spuntino

Spuntino

Desserts are fun. An ice cream peanut butter and jelly sandwich was terrific and the sashimi like pineapple with licorice ice cream looked great too.

I loved it, I want to go back, and I will often. I just hope that I will be able to cope with the inevitable queue. I had lots to eat, and plenty of wine too, and my bill was identical to what I spent at Nopi without alcohol. No contest, I know where I will choose, unless Nopi reduce their prices and make it more accessible. Please please do!

Spuntino, 61 Rupert St
http://www.spuntino.co.uk/

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The Latest from Ottolenghi: Nopi

Nopi

Nopi has arrived, a worthwhile addition to the Soho food scene from Ottolenghi. I am a fan of Ottolenghi – both the restaurant and the cookbooks – and I was excited to try it. I love the style of cooking, the big flavours and the bright colours, and while it isn’t always perfect, it is always interesting and mainly delicious.

Nopi

The room at Nopi is beautiful and bright, and instead of being greeted by a towering pile of meringues as at Ottolenghi, a copper bowl of chillis greets you at the door at Nopi. Pointing perhaps to the savoury domination of the menu, which is divided into Veg, Fish, Meat & Sweets. I love the ordering, veg is the star of the show here, as you would expect.

Nopi

Nopi

The menu points to lots of big flavours and interesting combinations and for most dishes delivers. Some tweaks are needed, a herb salad with the hake kebab had an alarming amount of dill which dominated and killed other flavours, and the pickled mushrooms with the otherwise delicous baked blu di pecora cheesecake were intensely bitter. There is a lot of potential here though and I think it will develop.

Nopi

Nopi

There were several highights, one was the burrata & blood orange with coriander seeds, although sadly the burrata didn’t ooze cream as I expected it would.

Nopi

Brisket croquettes which were rich, intense and delicious, a lively asian slaw was a perfect addition.

Nopi

Polenta with osso buco was a joy, rich creamy perfect polenta with intense shreeded osso bucco.

Nopi

The hake kebab was really a fish cake, and underwhelmed, a shame as I love to see hake on a menu. My main issue was with the salad which dominated and distracted.

Nopi

Nopi

The desserts were gorgeous. The vanilla ricotta with blackcurrants and raw rhubarb was fresh, lively and perfect for lunchtime. Cardamom rice pudding with rose syrup and pistachio was comforting and aromatic.

The bathrooms are worth a little mention. A design feture decked out in mirrors, they are startling and amazing, resembling Supermans crystal cave. I can see a lot of tipsy diners getting stuck in there.

I loved the style of cooking and the atmosphere, and I do think that it will grow to become a favourite and a bit of a Soho institution. It will no doubt become a breakfast destination when they start serving them.

The only real down side for me is the cost, lunch without alcohol was £46 each for the recommended 3 dishes and a dessert, and while I feel that the prices are in most cases deserved (e.g the polenta with osso buco is a work intensive dish and was pitch perfect), it is a shame that it couldn’t be priced in a friendlier manner, like new Soho stalwart Koya or similar, where the following evening I had gorgeous quail for £7. I appreciate that they have different offerings, but the prices at Nopi could be a little cheaper. That way I could regularly enjoy it whereas for now it will remain a rare treat.

http://www.nopi-restaurant.com/

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Comfort & Spice: An Update

Cooking for the Comfort & Spice Photoshoot

No pancake day post?! WHAT?! Where have I hidden my sense of occasion? I did celebrate of course but never wrote about it as things have been rather busy. We had delicious pancakes on Tuesday on location at the photoshoot for Comfort & Spice – my cookbook that will be published later this year.

We finished yesterday and I love the photos. It was fun to break out some of my old market recipes and tuck in once they were no longer models for the shoot. I wish I could show you them now but we’ve all got to wait until September. It really isn’t that far away, is it?! Georgia Glynn Smith did a fabulous job of understanding my love of big flavours, bright colours and print and colour clashes. I hope that you will agree too.

Just a few more days writing and testing ahead. Triple testing takes its toll financially and mentally but it’s an essential part of the process for me. It means that I don’t have as many recipes to share here as I would like, but I have a long list not in the book to power through from next week :)

See you all then!

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Love at First Sight: My Gorgeous N’Duja Pig

N'Duja Pig

They say that you know when you meet the one. Thunderbolts! Lightning! Love at first sight.

I knew from the first moment that I saw his shiny pink face through the glass, his blush pink nose, his hollow head. Great sausage too. I had to have him, and I had to have him there and then.

I bought that N’Duja pig.

Eh? Whazzat? This, my friends is a pig shaped burner, about the size of an aromatherapy one. But no oils go in here, at least not for fragrance. This burner heats up my N’Duja sausage gently over candlelight and makes it spreadable and warm. It’s a fabulous treat.

N’Duja is a spicy spreadable Calabrian sausage, specifically from a small town Spillinga and the region around it in Southern Calabria. It can be difficult to source but is worth all of your efforts, I promise you. Food fact: it is closely related to the French andouille sausage, used in my previous recipe post for gumbo.

Made using meat from the head (minus the cheeks, which are used for guanciale) and other cuts like shoulder, belly and back fat, roasted hot red peppers give it its characteristic intense fiery taste.

And boy is it fiery! Like chorizo and paprika you can buy dolce or piccante (spicy). I went for spicy today, and calmed it down with some creamy goats cheese on top. It was a perfect and wonderfully indulgent snack. At least the first one was. The second was guilty, the third greedy. I had to hide it from myself then (they were big Swedish crackers).

Londoners who want some of their own pig action, I bought it in Selfridge’s whilst seeking out some elusive sparkling white fresh Iberico pork lard (also amazing and a post in itself, but sadly, not available this time).