Month: April 2011

Giveaway! An Appliance for One of You, a Magimix for Me

How could I resist a visit from the Fairy Hobmother? I couldn’t. An email arrived asking if I would be interested in a free magimix, with only one string attached, I should blog about it and allow readers to win an appliance too. Well, it’s very clever of them isn’t it? A giveaway and I get something too, win – win. Who is the Fairy Hobmother? Well he works at Appliances Online (who sell cookers and other white goods). I’ve been moving so it’s not even out of its box yet but it should make my kitchen a sleeker smoother place, and for someone who loves pastry but has warm hands, it’s a dream. So thanks to the Fairy Hobmother, and over to you guys. Leave a comment and he will pick one of you and send you an appliance.

Morning Move Essentials: Breakfast Duck Hash

**imagine a lovely picture of a duck egg hash with an oozy golden egg yolk – coming soon once I can get it off my camera!** There are some things that must be done. Even if you don’t know why. I am moving flat (AGAIN I know – it’s a long story but, succinctly, this small flat was only a short-term solution to my last lovely house being sold, it’s too tiny to stay), and on this most gorgeous of Easter weekends it’s even more traumatic than usual. Packing, decluttering (kinda – I am not very good at that) and cleaning abound in this mini hell of mine. I went to the supermarket to get some oven cleaner, and came back with 2 bunches of asparagus and a whole fresh duck. Oven cleaner too you understand, it was on the list after all. After a tough day packing and moving, I roasted the duck for the ultimate midnight feast with a little Spanish paprika and some sea salt rubbed on the skin, after it had …

Easter Recipe: Tom Herbert’s Hot Cross Buns

This blog sometimes throws some nice things my way, and recently one of them was the offer to review a weekend baking course in Cornwall (at the Bedruthan Steps in Bedruthan to be precise). I am a keen home baker but there is always more to learn, so when I discovered that the course would be led by fifth generation baker Tom Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery, I jumped at it. Bedruthan is a sleepy village in Cornwall, not too far from Watergate Bay – home to Fifteen and the Beach Hut – and itself home to sister hotels The Scarlet, a gorgeous ecofriendly hotel and Bedruthan Steps, its more family friendly sibling. They are running many crafty courses over the coming months including also beekeeping, sewing and knitting. (Aside: I am actually an expert knitter & seamstress – genuinely! – my babysitter growing up was a professional aran knitter and taught me everything she knows. We learned to knit and sew in school too.) The baking course package included full board and two nights …

A Postcard from the Waterford Festival of Food

I sit in Dungarvan, gazing out at a gorgeous sunny day, with maybe a few hours before I dash to catch my flight back to London. Pondering the brilliant Waterford Festival of Food, I have to send you a quick little postcard on it. I am immensely proud of what has developed in my little home town over recent years. We have food to rival anywhere and attract great food talent like Mark Hix & Richard Corrigan. The Tannery had some fantastic events that top anything I have been to elsewhere. Brilliant local cheeses were showcased, fantastic beef, local oysters and other fish. Our local brewery, the Dungarvan Brewing Co made a terrific coffee & oatmeal stout with – of course – our local Flahavans. We have everything here, including Irelands only michelin starred chef outside of Dublin, Martin Kajuiter. I am bursting with pride. What really made it was just how much fun it was, and the enthusiasm of everyone involved. I can’t wait to see next years evolution. More soon once I get …

This Weekend: Waterford Festival Of Food

I am bursting with excitement! This weekend is the Waterford Festival of Food in my hometown of Dungarvan in Ireland. There is so much great stuff going on and I will be filling my boots. Of course, I am going to wax lyrical about it. We have a brilliant food culture there and I frequently rant about it. In case people didn’t believe me, I brought four other bloggers there, and they loved it too. And now, Richard Corrigan and Mark Hix are popping over to cook dinner this weekend. The weekend is peppered with Bus Bia (Bia is food in the Irish language) tours including a Beer & Seafood one on Saturday, and  a Seaweed Seminar on Sunday. There will also be Farmers Markets, walks, talks, demonstrations in the town hall and lots of fringe events. Highlights (for me!) are: The Dungarvan Brewing Co are launching a festival beer – a coffee and oatmeal stout. It will be available in the Craft Beer Garden at The Moorings all weekend. Only established one year,they have …

Modern Pantry Pop Up at Meza

Another quick photo post for you. Book writing is taking precedence this days but I can show you some photos! Anna Hansen’s Modern Pantry of Clerkenwell has popped up in Soho and will be there until April 16th so you’ve got a little while to get in there before it closes. Modern Pantry fusion food favourites feature along with matched wines. There is also some recession bargains incl. a terrific lunch deal, a pre theatre menu and a 3 courses for £25 deal in the evenings. I dined as a guest at the opening, and loved the Persian Lamb Rump (Persian spiced lamb rump, turmeric & curry leaf besan chips, green beans, preserved lemon yoghurt). Krupuk crusted soft-shell crab was a lovely starter (Krupuk crusted soft-shell crab, spicy brown crab sauce, shiitake, cucumber & Sichuan pepper pickle, shiso cress). Extremely crispy, I can never resist soft shell crab on a menu.

Towpath Cafe is Back

ANOTHER LONDON POST! Before all you non-Londoners, and folks generally more interested in cooking, unsubscribe en masse, bear with me. I am splitting this here blog in a forthcoming re-design into sections so that you can follow what interests you and only or all of that. Two of those sections will be cooking and London, you can follow either, neither or both! Londoners, though, lookie here. Towpath is back! Joy. Sitting on the canal towpath in the sun with a friend eating toast and jam with a decent latte and a Bloody Bucks chaser – that’s prosecco and orange juice, I didn’t know either – and getting progressively redder in the sun (I am working on a recipe for human crackling). But it’s back, and I am happy. I hope that they have more supper clubs this year too. The string quartet one last year was terrific. Towpath Cafe, Dalston on Regents Canal off Kingsland High Rd.

Street Foodie : New Korean/Irish Kid on the Brick Lane Block

A wander around Brick Lane this weekend introduced me to Danny, a Belfast boy just back from 2 years in Seoul with a passion for street food, Korean street food in particular. He’s dishing up sliders in Brick Lane at weekends, starting from yesterday. He expects to expand the menu in time , right now you can sample Bacon & Kimchi sliders and Korean-Style Pulled Pork with Sesame & Ginger Coleslaw. At two for £4 they are tasty & fun and well worth a sample. Once you’ve finished you get to eat a Korean sweet out  of a papier mache pigs head too. What’s not to like? I love that street food is finally starting to take off in a serious way in the UK. It brings me right back to my market days, and I look forward to resurrecting my stall once my book is written. Watch this space for details later in the year. For more on Danny, visit his blog:

This Weekend! The Chocolate Festival

The Chocolate Festival has set up its annual camp behind the Royal Festival Hall this weekend on the South Bank. Some of Londons best chocolatiers are there – William Curley, Damien Allsop, Hans Sloane – as well as market favourites The Dessert Deli with a sensational chocolate creme brulee and lots of other treats. Impressively, there were lots of dairy and gluten free options too, check out Sugargrain, who is alos giving a masterclass today. Naturally, given the time of year there are lots of gorgeous Easter Eggs. It’s on all day today, so if you’re free you could do a lot worse than check it out, then have a drink in the sun in the South Bank. A perfect sunny London day. And do go in the glass lift in the Royal Festival Hall – I PROMISE it will amuse. Just try and see. I love it. (Really, do!)

A Postcard from Emilia Romagna

On Monday and Tuesday am of this week, I was in a sleepy little town in Emilia Romagna, by the river Pellegrino. Of San Pellegrino, yes! We got there by windy roads that dipped and climbed fiercely through the mountains. I did well to hold on to my breakfast. The focus of the trip was to learn about coffee with Gaggia, but I had a wander around, met some locals and purchased salamis and other delights for my belly and my kitchen. The highlight – coffee aside – was a lunch at a local Trattoria, Trattoria Toscana Castelli Di Pellegrino. The menu was typical of the region and quite classic, I had the  wild boar ragu with papardelle to start, perfect rich egg pasta and a light soothing ragu. Veal t-bone for mains was a sensation, beautifully light and packed with flavour. It was all washed down with chianti and with terrific fried artichokes, potatoes and stuffed tomatoes on the side. We refused dessert and limoncello but they brought some anyway, then left the bottle …

A Postcard From Florence

Greetings earthlings! I am making my way back from a very quick trip to Florence & Gaggia near Bologna (more on that soon), and thought I would take advantage of the airport wifi to upload some photos! The weather is gorgeous and there is lots of great food everywhere. I sadly managed to develop a bladder infection so I will have to wait until my next trip to explore the restaurants properly. I did have a walk around though and explored one of the markets and lots of little shops. My luggage is rammed with fabulous tomatoes, extremely pungent fresh garlic, salamis, courgette flowers and lardo. I love that stuff! Back soon with some Tuscan recipes!

Crab Claws with Wild Garlic & Chipotle

Crab claws are very common on restaurant menus by the sea in Ireland, but I rarely see them here. Perhaps this is because I don’t spend enough time by the sea here (I don’t), or perhaps we just love them more in Ireland. Either way I bet many of you don’t cook them much at home? I don’t either. I don’t know why that is. At the market at the weekend, the fish stall had 1 kg of crab claws just sitting there, and I thought, oooh, I bet they would be lovely in a wild garlic butter sauce! They were, they were really good, but not just because of the wild garlic but also because of the robust smokey and warm undertones provided by some chipotle that I had brought back from the US with me on my recent trip there (you can get it very easily online here too). They look like a lot of work, both to cook and to eat, and they are a little bit for both. I had to …