Month: September 2011

Video: An Afternoon with Ferran Adria, at Google HQ London (Part 1)

I know, right? *Pinch* Ferran Adria, at Google HQ. For a geek who is into food that’s a pretty dreamy combination. Ferran was visiting to promote his book – The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria - and was cooking lunch at the Google London HQ Canteen. It started badly as I got lost, which was frustrating, and that is all too regular an occurrence too, but an hour later, I found myself in a room with Ferran Adria, with an unexpected opportunity to interview him. Now, I never expected this so I wasn’t prepared. I didn’t even know how to change the setting on my camera so that the video could be in colour. I had had a few too many glasses of red wine the night before. BUT, an opportunity to interview Ferran Adria, I couldn’t refuse. It was more of a chat really. What a lovely man he is and he is hugely inspiring. PLUS, he gave us an exclusive. As part of his new initiative, the el bulli foundation, he is …

Recipe: Crispy garlic chicken thighs with diced roast potatoes and crispy sage

Everyone loves a surprise, and this chicken dish has one. Tucked under the skin is a hidden secret, some crushed garlic paste, which coats the chicken flesh and flavours it beautifully, underneath a crisp chicken skin. I’ve used chicken thighs here. I find them full of flavour and much better value for money than breasts. They cook better too, and on the bone retain their moisture. Legs would work well too if you prefer them. Cooked on top of diced potatoes, the potatoes on the edge go nice and crispy. The potatoes underneath the chicken absorb all those fantastic chicken juices and are a delight. They serve two purposes: they keep the bottom of the chicken thigh lovely and succulent, and are utterly delicious after they have done all their work (that is purpose 2!). Read more and find the recipe on iVillage: Crispy garlic chicken thighs with diced roast potatoes and crispy sage | iVillage UK

Lucky Chip: Bang On Burgers and Great Chilli Cheese Fries

Oh, it breaks my heart to publish photos now, it really does. Whoever stole my SLR, lenses and iPod, may – whoever is in charge – smite you down with a giant lens shaped object. Anyway, I don’t want to stop blogging, so to fill a temporary gap, I bought a cheap point and shoot, hopefully it will be for just a short time. I felt this keenly, when I went to Lucky Chip recently, and had to use my flash instead of my lens for lowlight, but I liked it so much, I wanted to tell you about it anyway. So, Lucky Chip is a burger van located in Netil Market Car Park, around the corner from Broadway Market. You can’t miss it, it’s just a van, and the only one in there. This weekend it was licensed with drinks from Off Broadway, but normally it is BYO. The menu is simple and offers simple burgers – just burgers with cheese in a bun – right through a menu with Burgers like the Selleck through …

Decadence: Claudia Roden’s Flourless Gateau Au Chocolate with a Lick of Chocolate Ganache Frosting

I have a Kitchenaid. At last. I feel like I have always wanted one, perhaps I have, although it’s realistic to say that in my early years, I was craving sweets a big stronger. It is bright pink and stands proudly in my kitchen. I have been sent one to review – disclaimer – and I have been happily whipping up cakes and brownies and all sorts of other bits and pieces that are detrimental to my waistline but so, so good for my soul. It has made life very quick and convenient. We had a few run ins but I soon realised that that is because I was putting too much in the bowl. 1.5kg bread too much. That was a bit silly, it is a home mixer, not an industrial one, and treated as such – with one cake mix, not three – it works like a charm. It is tough and quick, and the patisserie attachment has been very useful, especially for my new baking experiments that have been taking place in …

Pumpkin, Pecan & Spinach Mash for Inbetween Days

Summer has gone. The leaves are falling, the winds rising, and the rain is a more regular visitor. The nights close in earlier than before. It’s that time of year when it is impossible to dress correctly, always being too hot, or too cold. It’s just not all that pleasant. But, it’s not all bad. Pumpkins are in season again, their proud round orangeness proclaiming the arrival of an imminent Halloween. Carve ‘em, light ‘em, and make them a jack ‘o lantern. Do eat them too, they’re delicious. I love them in soups, curries, tarts and pies. I love a rough and tumble of diced cooked pumpkin with strong cheese, nuts and spinach. I especially love them in a mash. Now this mash is non traditional. It’s crunchy and soft, salty and sweet. For me it was the perfect plate of comfort that I needed to get me through one of the first autumn evenings. Now pumpkins may seem tricky, but I promise that they’re not. For this, buy one small one, cut in half …

Abergavenny Food Festival: A Masterclass with Some Blaas, Some Hangover Guidance & Lots of Scandi Goodness

Everyone loves Abergavenny. Touted as one of the best food festivals for very serious food lovers such as us, I don’t know why it took me so long to get there. Abergavenny (or in local speak Aber-gaa-veiny) is a sleepy town in Wales, and home to two of the best restaurants in Wales and – I have been told and am yet to eat at either – the UK generally: The Walnut Tree and The Hardwick. The festival was charming. Gentle corporate sponsorship that didn’t interfere with proceedings supported it. It was rich with masterclasses from the likes of Bill Granger, Angela Hartnett, Fergus Henderson, Lucas Hollweg, Henry Harris, Richard Bertinet, Signe Johansen, Trina Hahnemann, James Ramsden and lil ole me. I made lots of blaas – literally hundreds – and homemade butter from raw cream. I loved it. What brilliant company too, I had to pinch myself. Highlights for me were:

Bitesize: Vintage Dirt, Sipsmith Damson Vodka & Sloe Gin, London Restaurant Festival

I am back in London and Bitesize is back. I have had a few requests for info on food happenings in this town, so it was definitely time to bring back Bitesize. Vintage Dirt Vintage Dirt is pleased to announce that on Saturday 24th September 2011, they will be in association with Laverstoke Park Farm presenting a six course tasting menu of Bio-Dynamic Food in one of East London’s best kept secret locations. Douglas McMaster (Wasted (Aus), St John Bread and Wine, Young Chef of the Year 2009) and Claire Roberson (Shacklewell Nights & Green Onions) will be combining their  ‘pop – up’ credentials for one night only. Both from farming family backgrounds, Douglas and Claire firmly believe in the importance of the role of Bio -Dynamic produce in modern-day cooking and farming as it’s the only sustainable way to farm organically in the modern world. Tickets for the six course tasting menu on Saturday 24th September 2011 will be available for £50 per person, we will be offering a Bio – Dynamic wine match per course for an …

A New Blog for iVillage: Celebrate with Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies

Greetings folks! I’ve been writing for iVillage for quite a while now, and as of this week, I will be writing a recipe blog there. I am quite excited about it, they’re great people to work with and I get to flex my culinary muscles for them on a weekly basis now which I will post links to here so that you know when they are live. I started with some Dark Chocolate & Raspberry Brownies which are luxurious and addictive. Mosey on over to iVillage for the recipe. Enjoy!

Back to London: Joe’s Cafe in Knightsbridge

Hello London! I am back. I didn’t want to come, but then when I did, I remembered how much I love it here. Hello, hello, hello. So, I have lots of places to tell you about that I have been to over the summer. I’ll start with one that really charmed me, Joe’s Cafe in South Kensington. Owned by the Joseph clothes brand – now stay with me and don’t be put off – they very sensibly have paid attention to the food that they are serving and have put Maria Elia at the helm. Maria Elia grew up in her Cypriot parents restaurant kitchen in London, before spending time at El Bulli and Elena Arzack. Impressive, no? She most recently worked at The Whitechapel Gallery Dining Room before moving on to Joe’s earlier this summer. Why did I like it? Maria is clearly very talented, and the food it effortless and flavourful. No doubt it is very complicated and detailed, but the food belies this. There is no pretentiousness, this is simply great food from a talented chef who …

In The Independent and a Bridgestone Review

WHAT A WEEK! I feel like I went 10 rounds with Big Daddy last week at Electric Picnic. I  am still shattered physically, which is ridiculous as I am not 95. El downside of this food writing business and my personality combined is that I am prone to laziness and indulgence (peppered with moments of frenetic activity), so recipe testing for my mini-tome Comfort & Spice and lots of Posh Lunch Clubs (mixed with Posh Dinners and more down and dirty guilty pleasures) mean I am now a little larger and more slow moving than before. A disgrace. A good friend in Ireland dispensed some much needed advice this week: “Niamh, food and drink is your business. You will always eat and drink. Always. You need a personal trainer. “ And woe, I fear it has come to that. There is a little interview with me in The Independent Magazine (My Secret Life – Niamh Shields) this morning with a really fun photo which was the result of a really fun shoot but all I …

Comfort & Spice Café: The Real Stars, Brilliant Producers

So, Comfort & Spice Café at Electric Picnic went well, and I was delighted with it, but what really made it special was the brilliant produce – mostly Irish – that went into the food. (I had photos of all of the products but someone stole my camera so, generously, Aoife of I Can Has Cook has donated the ones that she took of the food) Stars of the show were: Crowe’s Farm Organic Pork Shoulder & Bacon – terrific stuff, I highly recommend it. For Overnight Roast Pork Shoulder and that infamous Bacon Jam. Crowes Farm also fulfilled a last minute order for me with ease. Irish people – check them out – you won’t regret it. http://www.crowefarm.ie/ Frank Hederman Organic Smoked Salmon – only the very best will do, and for me that is Frank Hederman’s smoked salmon. A generous friend arranged to pick it up for me direct from the smokehouse, and we were all set. http://frankhederman.com/ Great local potatoes from the Stradbally Farmers Market which became part of the potato cakes …

Comfort & Spice Pop Up Café at the Theatre of Food, Electric Picnic

So, we did it. Two days of pop-up brunching at my favourite Irish music festival, Electric Picnic, at the new Theatre of Food in Mindfield. It was challenging. I have never delivered food on this scale with restricted access to equipment (pots, knives, you name it, my fault – bad planning and lack of experience). It didn’t help that I had to travel overnight from London the night before to even get there. But I am so glad I did it. We delivered, people really liked it, and I have learned so much for next time. Highlights for me were: – the people – lots of great lovely people from my friends who helped, to customers, to chefs and restaurateurs in the Theatre of Food (which was absolutely fantastic too and a credit to Electric Picnic, the chefs and artisan food producers of Ireland). On the morning of the first brunch, I had had hardly any sleep, having prepped into the early hours. Paul Flynn – legendary Irish chef and fellow Dungarvan local – got …

Missing Camera – taken at Electric Picnic. Please Help

Hello folks! So this is not a recipe post or a food post, just a little plea. It looks like someone took my camera and lenses plus lots of memory cards not yet backed up, and my ipod touch from my prep kitchen at Electric Picnic last night. I was there until very late so it was late at night or this morning. I am hoping it was an accident and someone will find it. Or that if someone took it they will have a change of heart and get it back to me. My camera has my only pictures of my pop up café and lots of my little niece and nephew. There’s lots of videos and pics plus recipe ideas on my ipod touch. They were both in a small black bag. I can’t afford to replace it just now so I am really in a bind. I don’t actually care if someone took it, just please get it back to me. Or the memory cards at least. So, if you were there …

This Weekend: Comfort & Spice Cafe at the Theatre of Food, Electric Picnic

Well, I am so excited. I am going this weekend to one of my favourite music festivals in Ireland – Electric Picnic – and running my Comfort & Spice Café there for brunches! Recipes from the book feature predominantly, and it runs from 12 – 3 on Saturday and Sunday. Come, and I will sooth your hangovers with slow roast pork shoulder and spiced apple (homemade) blaas, chorizo, potato and egg hash a veggie spicy tomato, egg and potato hash, Turkish eggs with chilli butter, my homemade bacon jam with soda farls and bircher muesli for the virtuous out there. We will also have wine from The Wine Buff. Well, it is a festival, isn’t it? And I do love wine. So, come by and tell your friends! It’s a big space and there will be plenty of room. Personally, once my apron is off, I will be checking out all of the other wonderful food events including the farmers market and food collective which will have talks and demos from some of my favourite …