Month: January 2012

ducklegs

Recipe: Rich Roast Duck Legs (Chinese Style)

It is duck weather, so we might as well just get on with it. Not weather for ducks, where it is so wet, ducks will love it. But weather for eating ducks, when the richness of the flesh and creamy duck fat is so appropriate, I can’t quite think of eating anything else. Today at least. I may change my mind tomorrow. I love roasting duck legs, I’ve blogged about them before and they’ve featured in my book Comfort & Spice too. They are cheap, full of flavour, and perfect for cooking for large numbers. On this occasion I cooked just for myself, and marinaded them in a wet marinade, sacrificing perfectly crisp skin (although still getting some crispness) but being rewarded with intense umami flavour on the already beautifully rich duck. Before Xmas, I was sent a wonderful Chinese hamper from See Woo to try, and while moving flat I smashed the bottle of oyster sauce. I panicked, ran to the kitchen with this broken bottle looking more weapon than culinary source of joy, …

Where to Eat in Paris: Brasserie Balzar

Food is changing everywhere all the time. That’s life, and that’s a good thing, in the main. You’re as likely to find Scandinavian inspired haute cuisine in Paris now as a souffl√©, so it takes a little research to find somewhere that does the old school classics and does them well. When in Paris, and especially when in Paris in January. I want French Onion Soup. I need French Onion Soup. I need it’s comforting rich beefy stock and sweet sleepy slippery onions beneath their heavy cheese blanket. I need to pierce that cheese and bread with my spoon and drag some soup out, savouring every gentle spoonful before diving back in. It helps if I can then follow this with a fresh rich steak tartare, sharp with mustard and capers, and creamy with egg. Spreading it on toast, all the while not really wanting to talk but to watch everything going on. Watching the waiters, the other tables, sipping some wine, soaking it all in. Enjoying Paris, enjoying the characters, the families eating Sunday …

Evening Standard Recipe Column: Beetroot Latkes

I love latkes! What’s not to love? Grated potato shaped into a cake and fried before being served with apple sauce and sour cream. LOVE. I do a twist on them occasionally. Favourite Irish combination of parsnip and carrot is a favourite as is my recipe in today’s Evening Standard for beetroot latkes. A perfect recipe for January that is indulgent but also quite healthy. Those beetroot will help your liver detox. Recipe on the Evening Standard: Beetroot Latkes

A Belated Kung Hei Fat Choi (Have a Happy & Prosperous Chinese New Year!)

I love Chinese New Year in London. I love popping to Chinatown and having lunch and spotting the red envelopes being handed out. I love all of the celebration around it and the food. Yesterday, I popped down to Chinatown to soak it all up and to have some of my favourite dumplings. Not traditional Chinese New Year food but comfort food of the highest order, (pork) Xiao Long Bao, gorgeous steamed dumplings with pork and soup inside. I like to have them at Taiwanese restaurant Leong’s Legend, they’re the best I have found. They’re tricky to eat as the soup is molten when the dumplings are steaming. Remove them gently from the steamer by their tip using your chopsticks, plonk them (gently!) on the soup spoon before dipping them in the delicious black vinegar and ginger. Then bite the top off, suck the soup out (trying not to burn yourself) and eat the dumpling. And do it 7 more times before leaving happy. Love it. Some more on my trip to China & Hong …

Where to Eat in Paris: Les Papilles

When I travel, one of my first pit stops is twitter, where I ask the hivemind for recommendations. Results are mainly successful, sometimes bizarre, but always a brilliant starting point when travelling and wanting to eat well. Particularly when you want to eat as locals do and off the tourist track. When I recently asked for recommendations for Paris, two people I really rate resounded “You have to go to Les Papilles”, so I took that as an order and I did. Les Papilles is part epicerie, part wine shop, mainly restaurant. It is wooden and warm with a big round table in a bay window / alcove at the back and all other tables seemingly proceeding towards it, lining a long counter and shelves of wine with occasional food bits lining the walls. ¬†There is also a downstairs area with a huge table, and lots more wine. The menu is fixed, you have it or you don’t, although a vegetarian friend in Paris has told me that they can prepare a vegetarian menu if …

Evening Standard Column: Beijing Dumplings (Jiaozi)

When I wrote my book, I hadn’t been to Beijing, but was obsessed with Beijing dumplings. Now I have been to Beijing and am even more obsessed, and not just with the dumplings but with Peking Duck, Noodles with Pork & Black Beans and lots more lovely things which I am adding to my repertoire. More on those soon…. For this weeks column on Beijing dumplings, and the recipe, head over to the Evening Standard.

Paris Break: Living it Up at Hotel La Tremoille

Paris Part 2! Last weekend I journeyed a speedy 2 hours on the eurostar early Friday morning and found myself in Paris for a bistro lunch, caviar & champagne late afternoon snack and a brasserie dinner. We had a sneaky indulgent champagne breakfast on the eurostar too – we couldn’t resist. I love it and that was just Friday too. We stayed at Hotel La Tremoille in the 8th, an old school hotel with some modern twists. It was perfectly central allowing us leisurely strolls along the Seine. There was even a local caviar shop and truffle shop and restaurant. Tres luxurious. Part of our package was a Baguette to Bistro walk led by Meg of Context Travel and Paris by Mouth, a fun, informative and really delicious morning tour of St Germaine taking in a lovely boulangerie, cheese shop and chocolate shop. The highlight for me was the cheese tasting. We visited one of the oldest cheese shops in Paris, Androuet (now also in London). Proud and rich in history there were stories of …