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A Day in Ciutadella, Menorca: Where & What to Eat (& the Best Caldereta)

Some towns capture the heart and the imagination. Ciutadella is one. Previously the capital of Menorca (but not since 1722), it is the same size as current capital Mahon, both small cities with 30,000 people living in each. The remaining 30,000 Menorquins live in other small towns and rural Menorca. Ciutadella is a small city, cosy and friendly, but its architecture and large square lend it a feeling of a much larger place, and one that you want to get lost in. 

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The streets of Ciutadella are gorgeous, winding and narrow. Many shoot off the large impressive main square, the Placa d’es Born, which overlooks the harbour below. The narrow streets are lined with Moorish, Gothic and Medieval architecture. Window balconies jut out above, reminding me of sleepy Andalucia. It is all very lovely, and glorious on a sunny day. 

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Coffee in Bar Imperi, Ciutadella

We started our day in a lovely little cafe in the corner, Bar Imperi. I was meeting Antonio, secretary of the Fra Roger Gastronomy & Cultural Society (Fra Roger Gastronomia y Cultura) and a Ciutadella native. Fra Roger wrote the first Menorcan cookbook and is a very important figure in Menorcan gastronomy. He was a Francisan friar and likely learned to cook in the friary. He wrote down all he learned in his book Art de la Cuina (The Art of Cooking) which was published in the 18th century. 

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Bar Imperi is a local institution and it is clear from the first few minutes that Antonio knows everyone there. Here you can have local pastries and snacks, coffees and alcoholic drinks. There is an open courtyard to the back as is common in buildings like this in this area. Over coffee and sobrassada sandwiches we spoke of Fra Roger and his recipes. He wrote 200 including dishes like lobster meatballs and there are many references to the original mayonnaise, alioli. Menorquins claim mayonnaise as a Menorcan dish, discovered by the French during their occupation of Menorca (and called after its place of origin, Mahon). 

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Seafood lunch at S’Amarador overlooking Ciutadella harbour

Lunch had to be seafood, and we headed to one of the best restaurants in Ciutadella, S’Amarador. It was packed on a Monday lunchtime, on the terrace overlooking the harbour, in the courtyard where we sat, and throughout. We had a seafood platter to start with john dory (sublime!), grouper, cuttlefish red prawns and scorpion fish.

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IMG_4063EDITTo follow we ordered the local speciality Caldereta (invented since Fra Roger’s time and in Menorcan cuisine for 100 years or so). A local spiny lobster soup, this version was rich and had a beautiful deep rust red lobster broth with lots of lobster in, and crisp thin toast to dip in and soak it all up. As good as last years was this was divine and I was full, but the magnetic broth kept pulling me back. For dessert I had to have the local ensaimada, a glorious snail shaped lard pastry dusted with icing sugar, and served with cinnamon ice cream this time. 

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Finish the day with a Pomada, Menorca’s favourite gin drink

My third recommendation is the same as my first, but you will thank me for it. Start your day at Bar Imperi with a coffee, and finish it there with a pomada. A pomada is the local drink, a gin cocktail made with Menorcan Xoriguer gin and lemonade (or lemon fanta). Sometimes, lemon, or homemade lemonade.

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Here I learned a neat trick, maybe two. First, you can order small cocktails, just to start your evening, a perfect primer, and not so much that it will make you sleep. Second, as I witnessed the barman repeatedly smash a bottle of fanta off the side of the counter, I realised that they had frozen the whole thing, and then gave it a good beating to create crushed ice. My pomada was like a pomada slushie, and it was so good in the heat.

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IMG_4158EDITI will return to Ciutadella, I have a list of restaurants to check out and I loved the relaxed friendly vibe there. I think it will be a perfect place to chill out once my book is done (and it nearly is!).

What You Need to Know

Bar Imperi, Placa des Born 5,Ciutadella de Menorca

S’Amarador, Carrer de Pere Capllonch, Ciutadella de Menorca

Map

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To see more recipes and to see them first come follow me on snapchat! I share video recipes from my kitchen, almost daily, along with my other London and travel based food adventures too. Add eatlikeagirl on snapchat using this link: http://www.snapchat.com/add/eatlikeagirl
 

 

I travelled to Menorca as part of a project between iAmbassador and Visit Menorca, who sponsored this project.  As always, I have complete editorial control. With particular thanks to Antonio and the Fra Roger Gastronomic and Cultural Society and Menorca Guides for their help on this wonderful day in Ciutadella.

Related Posts: 

A Menorcan Food & Wine Producers Trail (Wine, Gin, Sobrasada & Mahón Cheese)

Where to Eat, Drink & Stay in Menorca

A Perfect Sunday Lunch: Caldereta de Langosta in Menorca at Es Cranc (Traditional Lobster Soup + a Recipe)

Papardelle with Wild Boar Ragu

Gourmio: the Authentic Italian Recipe and Ingredient Delivery Service

This post is sponsored by Gourmio. It is a review of their service which delivers authentic Italian ingredients, semi-prepared meals and recipes straight to your home. Scroll to the bottom to get your code for a £20 voucher (aka one lovely Italian meal for two!). Delivery is free throughout the UK and the product is authentic and of a high quality. 

My love for Italian food is well documented. Every time I go to Italy I check in a second suitcase and fill it with food and wine. Whatever I can get, especially if I can’t get it at home. Even better if it is particularly local, an unusual pasta shape, a special salame, all of the lardo, all the time. Best quality pasta, seasonal ingredients, little things that make my heart sing. Inevitably I get carried away, I often get told off at the airport (for reasons of luggage weight), but it always leads to many happy evenings cooking at home. 

Friends remark on how much I cook at home, often. Especially now that I am documenting it on snapchat (I share my home cooking and lots of other randomness on there, do come join! Eatlikeagirl there, as with everywhere else). I do indulge in the occasional take away and I eat out a lot, but I am very happy at home by the stove and that is usually where you will find me. I find it very relaxing, and I love cooking good food at home. On occasion I am tired and a little weary and I want something easy and good. Lets call those cheese on toast days. Because inevitably that is where I end up. 

I am generally reluctant to use anything pre-prepared as often pre-prepared means industrial and things in your food that you mightn’t want to eat. There are often compromises of flavour and quality. I generally don’t trust that these things are good things for me to eat. 

Enter Gourmio. Gourmio deliver boxes of Italian ingredients and recipes to your home. Some of the work is done for you already, but everything is fresh and as though it came from a home kitchen. A friend recommended them to me before I agreed to work with them on this post. I took a look at their site and I was intrigued, both by the recipes which were very authentic and some new to me, and the quality of the ingredients.

How it works is you select the recipes that you want to cook, and they will deliver the ingredients along with the recipe. The recipes are also detailed on their site, and photo illustrated, stating very clearly what they will deliver and anything you might need at home (usually in terms of pots, pans etc.). Recipes change daily. 

I tried a few recipes to get a good view. Each recipe is detailed with times, calories and also suggested wine matches which you can add to your box. There are detailed easy to follow instructions, and photos so that you know what your finish dish should look like. These are detailed on the site and you also get a printed recipe card with picture instructions on delivery. I chose some recipes to try, which were delivered within a couple of days in a smart little box with a handle. Very compact and easy to get home from an office if you need to have it delivered there. 

I adore fresh pasta with ragu, and was pretty excited to get the Papardelle with Wild Boar Ragu (£14.50 for two) in my Gourmio box. Tagliatelle with ragu is one of my favourite things to eat when I visit Emilia Romagna. It is a deeply satisfying dish, but it takes time if you want to do it properly home. I do on occasion, it takes at least two and half hours, but longer if you are going to make the pasta yourself too (which you really should if you want to do it properly, and I know that sounds antsy, but this is how they do it in Emilia Romagna). 

The ragu arrives in a jar, the work is already done for you. A quick look at the ingredients reveals that it is all fresh with no preservatives. The jar is small but it is enough for two people comfortably. It comes with excellent fresh pasta, some carrots and a courgette to serve on the side, and some grated parmesan to serve with it. There is a little bottle of olive oil to fry everything in. A note 0n the pasta, this is the real deal and shouldn’t be confused with fresh pasta from the supermarket, which is generally an industrial product. 

Papardelle with Wild Boar Ragu

Papardelle with Wild Boar Ragu

Everything comes together quite quickly. There are just the vegetables to prepare, but cooking time is no longer than 7 minutes for the pasta and ragu in total. The finished dish is excellent, far exceeding my expectations, and taking me right back to one of my many bowls of tagliatelle with ragu in Bologna. 

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Next up I tried the Lasagne con Radicchio, Fontina e Gorgonzola (£16.50 for two). A vegetarian dish and an unusual lasagne recipe for us in the UK, this was really pleasant and indulgent with the bitter radicchio blending nicely with the sweeter cheeses with bright tomato on top. The bechamel is pre prepared and pitch perfect, the cheeses at their best, and the pasta as it would be if you had bought it in Italy. It is very easy to put together in a foil tray provided, and cooks well. 

Lasagne con Radicchio, Fontina e Gorgonzola

Lastly, I opted for another vegetarian dish and one I love to make, Parmigiana di Melanzane (or Aubergine Parmesan), rich and gorgeous, the aubergines came grilled, the tomato sauce (made from San Marzano tomatoes) was prepared and the parmesan was already grated. All I had to do was chop the mozzarella. The dish took a short time to put together (again, in a foil dish provided) and then we just had to wait until it was baked. 

Parmigiana di Melanzane

Parmigiana di Melanzane

I really enjoyed and would recommend the service. I found it a superb idea for a relaxed evening in or for stress free feeding friends. All meals serve two and are perfect for a quiet night in. Prices vary but are all around £15-20 and delivery is free throughout the UK. This is not a subscription service either.  For the quality of the ingredients, the thorough instructions, friendly service, interesting recipes and the results, it is worth every penny.  I will use them again for sleepy evenings. 

If you fancy trying, and you should, you can try them now using the Gourmio code NIAMH (valid until May 31st), which will get you a £20 voucher. AKA one delicious meal for you and someone special, or for you with some leftovers for you the next day. 

Enjoy!

https://www.gourmio.co.uk/

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To see more recipes and to see them first come follow me on snapchat! I share video recipes from my kitchen, almost daily, along with my other London and travel based food adventures too. Add eatlikeagirl on snapchat using this link: http://www.snapchat.com/add/eatlikeagirl

Baked Avocado with Quail Egg & Sobrassada

Hot avocado seems a misnomer. The joy of avocado is its effortless smooth creaminess, always cold. I first saw warm avocado on the menu of a rural Italian restaurant when I first moved to London. It was roasted with a light covering of gorgonzola. I thought it curious and not offensive but I wasn’t inspired to replicate it at home.

Lately, baked avocados have erupted all over this internet. Paleo folks love them (did the cavemen really eat their avocados this way?! Ahem!). I was curious. I decided to have a go. An egg simply roasted inside an avocado didn’t appeal, I felt it required something else. Something porky, or spicy, something that would give it a little edge. I opted for sobrassada, a gorgeous spreadable pork sausage from the Balearics (and in my case specifically, Menorca), very gently spiced. ‘Nduja would be ace here too, as would some chorizo or some chilli and tomato if you wanted something vegetarian.

To fit a whole egg in half a hass avocado is a challenge that requires removing much of the avocado flesh, so I opted instead to put in a quails egg. Fiddly, yes, but straight forward when you gently pierce the shell with a sharp knife and remove enough shell to coax the quails egg out without breaking the yolk. I did remove a little flesh (which I ate immediately and with glee). Some sobrassada first, raw quails egg on top, and salt and pepper and a splash of extra virgin olive oil on top, before roasting in the oven under a cover of foil to protect the egg from crusting.

The verdict? Yeah, these are good! And even better with some toast. Spread some of the avocado and sobrassada on, and top with that gorgeous egg.

Enjoy!

Follow me on instagram! (@eatlikeagirl)

snapcodeTo see more recipes and to see them first come follow me on snapchat! I share video recipes from my kitchen, almost daily, along with my other London and travel based food adventures too. Add eatlikeagirl on snapchat using this link: http://www.snapchat.com/add/eatlikeagirl

Baked Avocado with Quail Egg & Sobrassada

Baked Avocado with Quail Egg & Sobrassada

Ingredients

    per person
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 2 tbsp sobrassada or ‘nduja
  • 2 quails eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • on the side
  • A tomato to roast alongside, if you fancy it
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Toast, to serve
  • you also need
  • a small roasting dish
  • aluminium foil

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C.

Cut the avocado in half and remove the stone. Scrape out a little avocado from where the stone was, creating a slightly deeper hole. Put a tablespoon of sobrassada or ‘nduja in each. Carefully shell the quails eggs (I find it easiest to do this by piercing the shell gently with a sharp knife, taking care to just pierce the shell and therefore not damage the yolk). Season with salt and pepper and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil over the egg and avocado.

Put in a small roasting dish, ensuring that the avocado is stable again the side. Add the tomato if including, and season and drizzle some oil on top. Cover the aluminium foil and roast for 15 minutes. Check and if the white is set it is done, put it back in and keep an eye on it.

Eat hot with toast. Enjoy!

http://eatlikeagirl.com/baked-avocado-with-quail-egg-sobrassada/

Cork-featured

NEW! A Map for Where to Eat, Drink & Stay in Cork

Whenever I travel I add places that I love to my Google Maps and places of interest, so that I can return and recommend them. I save the best places to eat, drink and stay, and anything else of interest in between. It is high time that I shared them with you! So, I am introducing Eat Like a Girl Food & Travel Maps to help you plan your next adventure. 

Starting with Cork, home to my alma mater and also somewhere that I lived for 8 years, I go back often and know it very well. Details below but all included in the map also so that you can navigate on the hoof when you visit. All address information etc is in the map below. 

> Where to Eat in Cork

Miyazaki – fantastic authentic handmade Japanese food. Ramen, udon, excellent sushi. A small takeaway, you can eat in at the counter. There is no drinks licence but you can BYO. 

Greenes Restaurant – fine dining with the best of local ingredients. Excellent value pre theatre menu, available all night earlier in the week. A la carte and tasting menus with matched wines are also available. Check out their range of Irish craft spirits too.

Café Paradiso – One of the best vegetarian restaurants in the UK and Ireland. Chef Denis Cotter and team produce consistently exciting and very tasty food. Relaxed fine dining. Booking is essential as it is very popular. 

Fenn’s Quay – tucked on the ground floor of an old tenement building in Cork, Fenn’s Quay is a local Irish bistro (at least that is what I would call it anyway). Kate Lawlor, head chef, has put together a lovely contemporary Irish menu. Space is limited, so again, best to book.

> Best Cork Cafés

Idaho Café – gorgeous small characterful café. All food is made on site and is contemporary traditional. The sausage sandwich or the waffles with bacon and maple syrup make an excellent breakfast. Open for lunch and in the afternoon too.

The Farmgate Café – A cafe and restaurant, the cafe makes up the largest bit. An essential stop serving the best of Irish produce in a traditional and contemporary fashion. The Irish stew is excellent. Fresh oysters from the market below are always good. Try the toasted sandwich and soup combination. Or anything! They have a great selection of Irish craft drinks too.

Triskel Arts Centre – café, bar, arts centre, it is hard to know how to categorise it. There is a terrace outside in summer and lots going on in the arts theatre too, including arthouse cinema. 

Filter – great little contemporary café a little out of the way and on the river. Filter serves espresso based coffees but has a brew bar also. Cakes etc are also available. 

Rocket Man – just outside the English Market, the Rocket Man serves excellent salads, fresh pressed juices and wholefoods. They serve good coffee too, and offer a selection of non-dairy milks (oat and almond when I visited).

Nash 19 – café and art gallery, Nash 19 veers more to being a restaurant. Excellent Irish food is served in lovely surroundings, the back of the restaurant is an art gallery. It is packed with locals, and is just down the road from the English Market.

> Best Cork Pubs

The Hi-B – a glorious little old school pub, always packed. There is an open fire in winter, as with most Irish pubs. Don’t order Guinness – a Dublin drink – Cork tipples Murphy’s or Beamish are on offer here. There is always someone who wants to chat too.

Mutton Lane Inn – Small dark and cosy, this gorgeous pub down a laneway from the English Market is a lovely place for a drink. It gets very busy in the evenings with the crowd spilling outside. Be sure to take a look at the stunning wall mural outside painted by local artist Anthony Ruby.

Meades Bar 126 – Meade’s is one of my favourites, a small cosy bar, like being in someones house, especially in the winter with a roaring fire. There is a nice wine selection here and tapas too.

Sin é – characterful with excellent traditional Irish music sessions on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, sometimes other nights too. 

Arthur Mayne’s – in a converted old pharmacy, Arthur Payne’s retained all the old bottles and cabinets and added enomatics making it a great destination for wine lovers. Food and craft beers etc served also.

The Long Valley – famed locally for their doorstep sandwiches which you can get toasted, try the local spiced beef. I love the Long Valley for lunch but it is also great in the evening. There is a weekly poetry event upstairs every Monday. 

Callanan’s Bar – a cosy lovely local with a great craft selection. 

Tom Barry’s – a little out of the way, but perfect for a pint after Miyazaki’s nearby, or for a woodfired pizza in the large lovely beer garden outside. 

Franciscan Well Brewery & Brewpub – Cork’s original brewpub and finest.

> Cork’s Markets

The English Market – A special place that defines Cork and is packed with producers from old school butchers selling Cork’s spiced beef (think corned or salt beef with spices), pickled pork and bacon, the local tripe and drisheen, and contemporary offerings like Frank Hederman’s wonderful smoked salmon and other products. Fresh seafood lines one side of the covered market, you can also find great chocolate, cheese, charcuterie etc.  

Coal Quay Saturday Farmer’s Market – small lively selection of local producers every Saturday.

Shopping in Cork

Bradley’s Off Licence – far more than just an off licence, Bradley’s has a terrific selection of Irish and international craft beers and spirits and local foods too. 

Brown Thomas – Cork’s poshest department store, should you need anything!

Iago’s – A gorgeous Italian deli, if you are staying in Cork self catering you need to shop here. Italian and Irish produce, cheese, fresh pasta, pizza dough, fresh chorizo and anything else you might require for a great dinner.

> Chips! (Yes – because they are good)

Jackie Lennox Chipper – I loved this chipper when I was in university. Proper chips, batter sausages and legendery cheese and onion pies (mashed potato with cheese and onion, battered and deep fried).

> Where to Stay in Cork 

The River Lee Hotel – upmarket hotel with comfortable well decorated bright rooms 5 minutes walk from downtown. Very friendly with a large buffet breakfast. The Weir Bar lines the river and is a lovely place to relax over a drink. 

Hotel Isaacs Cork – central hotel with rooms ranging from budget to higher end suites. Very well located and very friendly. Recommend staying here particularly if you plan to eat in their lovely restaurant, Greene’s. Have a drink outside by the natural small waterfall, and do try the local gins while there. 

> Follow me!

snapcodeStay up to date with my restaurant and food adventures by following me on instagram (occasional pictures from restaurants and my kitchen) and snapchat (eatlikeagirl there, so much fun and lots of little cooking videos too). I am always on twitter and facebook also!

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Padella Pasta at Borough Market: Excellent, Affordable & Handmade

London hasn’t been short of great Neapolitan style and sourdough pizzas in the last 5 years. I love a pizza, but what I never could understand was why nobody had applied the same approach to great handmade pasta. There are restaurants serving very good pasta in London, but mostly at the high end. Pasta takes effort and expertise but isn’t necessarily expensive so that wasn’t making any sense to me. At last someone has opened a pasta restaurant, and it is great. All hail Padella.  

Padella – handmade pasta at Borough Market 

Padella is from the team behind Trullo, an Italian restaurant and local favourite in Highbury, which has become a destination too for their pasta and fiorentina steaks. I really enjoyed it, but it is a little far from my corner of South London and so I have not made it as much as I would like. Padella, on the other hand is a short hop up the Northern Line, and wedged into Borough Market by the entrance.

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I say wedged, but what greeted me was a bright stylish space with high ceilings, and a gorgeous clash of black and white in different patterns. Black and white honeycomb tiles and black and white marble counters (very instagram, but also very Italian). The chefs cook behind an open bar, and the seats are arranged by the window and counters with one larger table upstairs. There is a downstairs area with more tables too. 

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I had just hopped off the plane from Ireland at London City Airport. I had my suitcases, but I also had a strong desire which overtook any sensible need to get home and unpack everything. I wanted something very good to eat, something swift, and relatively inexpensive. I had a list of places that I wanted to try and Padella won. 

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I grabbed a perch in the bright window, it was a lovely sunny day. The menu is short and sharp with 4 starters, 6 pastas and 2 desserts. There are 2 London beers on tap, 2 red and white wines on tap, prosecco and bollicine by the bottle, 3 cocktails and some digestifs. Coffees are espresso based, and the prices are all very reasonable (wine is £3-5 by the g;lass, cocktails and £5-6). I liked that the pastas had variety both in shapes and sauces, and also that they weren’t entirely wedded to Italian regional pastas, and were being quite creative. 

The Menu

Beans are so underrated and often sad, served bloated from tins soaked in salt and sugar and rendered flavourless by their time there. I adore beans, dried and fresh. I have a whole section on them in my first cookbook, including batch cooking them. I always have lots in my kitchen. The borlotti beans on the bruschetta starter here were plump, proud and stretched out in a salsa rossa, served on crusty bread. An excellent beans on toast, and a perfect appetiser. 

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It is rare to see cacio e pepe on a restaurant menu in London, and here it is served with handmade pici which had a wonderful texture. A little misshapen and toothsome, caressing the cheesy sauce. Cacio e pepe is one of the 4 pillars of roman pastas, traditionally made with pecorino romano and black pepper, made fluid with some energetic tossing with the pasta, along with some pasta cooking water. Here, (I heard the server tell the person next to me), they use parmesan, black pepper and a little butter. It was excellent, soothing anguished parts of me after a tiring (but great) weekend. The portions are on the small side, but the prices are too. With a starter too, I had enough though. And I never need much of an excuse to try a second plate of pasta, especially at that price.

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The Wine

On the side I had a Sicilian red, a Nero d’Avola, on tap (£4.50 for 125ml). A little lunchtime pick me up or maybe knock me down. Either way 125ml wouldn’t do me much harm, and it was great with the cacio e pepe. 

The Verdict

My bill with service came to £16.88. I wanted to try everything on the menu, and I will be doing that. Padella has no reservations, but it is open all day, which means it is actually possible to eat there if you are willing to eat outside normal hours. Too many times recently I have had to spike intentions of eating in some of London’s new restaurants because of waiting times upwards of 2 hours. I love food, but when I am hungry, I want to eat. Right?! 

Follow Me!

Stay up to date with my restaurant and food adventures by following me on instagram (occasional pictures from restaurants and my kitchen) and snapchat (eatlikeagirl there, so much fun and lots of little cooking videos too). I am always on twitter and facebook also!

PLUS WIN: You still have a chance to win a £750 Tefal Cuisine Companion – just comment on the post! 

What You Need to Know

Padella, 6 Southwark Street, London, SE1 1TQ
no reservations

http://padella.co/

4/5

Map

 

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Crispy Parmesan Eggs with Wild Garlic Pesto

Yes, I know. Now, lets sit right back down and get on with business. You need to make these.

Crispy parmesan eggs are a joy and they are so easy. Can-make-with-a-hangover easy. Will bring a rainbow to your breakfast table joyful. Rich deep crisp parmesan, and an egg on top. Now, finish that with some wild garlic pesto and take it to the next level. Have a seat and congratulate yourself before you inevitably make another one.

Wild garlic pesto is a perfect fridge ingredient. So versatile, have it with pasta, on toast, your morning eggs. Spoon some on some tomatoes and add more parmesan before you roast them. Drizzle some on top of potatoes, or put a little in between layers of potato dauphinoise. If you are lucky you will have a free source which no doubt you keep secret. I managed to find some in Cardiff on the weekend near a friends house. Gorgeous tufts of wild garlic huddled in tight beside a stream. It is early in the season there and so most of the flowers had yet to breach their husky cocoon and the leaves were small and tender.

With wild garlic pesto, you can look to the traditional ligurian pesto and make a version similar to that. Parmesan, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil and wild garlic. I like to make some changes. This time, I used hazelnuts instead of pine nuts, I love the flavour but almonds work very well here too. Instead of extra virgin olive oil, I use a cold pressed rapeseed oil. It feels more appropriate and works very well. Taste and adapt yours if you need to, some patches of wild garlic are more pungent than others. I don’t blanch the leaves as I want the full blind force of the wild garlic.

The parmesan eggs are very straight forward, you just need to make sure you are using a non stick pan or a well seasoned cast iron one. I like to start mine in bacon or guanciale fat, why stop with parmesan underneath, but you can use an oil of your choice too. Extra virgin olive oil, rapeseed or groundnut are what I generally use.

Enjoy!

Crispy Parmesan Eggs with Wild Garlic Pesto

Crispy Parmesan Eggs with Wild Garlic Pesto

Ingredients

    per egg
  • 1 egg, the best you can get, eggs are one thing it is worth buying the best of
  • 3 tbsp finely grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp oil of your choice or bacon / guanciale fat
  • 1 tbsp wild garlic pesto (see below)
  • sea salt
  • optional: wild garlic flowers for garnish
  • wild garlic pesto
  • 50g wild garlic leaves, washed and tried on towel
  • 75g fine grated parmesan
  • 75g hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 150ml rapeseed oil
  • sea salt, to taste

Method

Put the wild garlic, parmesan, hazelnuts and a tablespoon of the oil in your food processor or blender. Pulse or blend intermittently in short bursts, adding the rest of the oil bit by bit. Season to taste with wild garlic.

Put the oil or bacon fat in a non stick or well seasoned pan. Add the parmesan then crack the egg on top and sprinkle some sea salt on top. Cook until it is at your liking (for me: a set white and very runny yolk).

Serve immediately with the wild garlic pesto drizzled on top, and some toast for dipping in that yolk.

http://eatlikeagirl.com/wild-garlic-pesto/

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Overnight Slow Roast Wild Garlic (Ramps) Porchetta (and Ponderings on an Irish Childhood)

Jump straight to Overnight Slow Roast Wild Garlic (Ramps) Porchetta

First things first, American readers, wild garlic is the same as ramps :) 

I always wondered why I didn’t know about wild garlic when I was growing up in the Irish countryside, and why the surrounding hedgerows and fields weren’t full of it. There was 3 cornered leek, slender and more grassy with a longer season, but still with gorgeous oniony flowers. But no wild garlic at all. The answer became clear as I investigated, rural areas which have lots of dairy cattle don’t have much of it because cows eat the wild garlic and it makes the milk very pungent. So the farmers dig it up. Once it takes root, if conditions are right, wild garlic will take over and spread. You will find it in the shade and with moist soil, you will often find them near patches of bluebells. Once I discovered this, I realised that we had had wild garlic all the time.

In an old abandoned stately home at the end of my road (not uncommon in Ireland), there was a beautiful wood which would be carpeted by bluebells and what we called white bluebells in Spring, and which I now realise was wild garlic. I loved that place and dreamed that one day I might own it. A big old house facing the Atlantic, it had a large wood on either side where we would go for conkers and fruit in Autumn and flowers in Spring. It had a walled garden with apple trees, cherry trees and gooseberry bushes. It was a secret garden that we would play in, the green door still intact and the white wall still high. There were abandoned old stables and a big house, still fully furnished. We found diaries, skis and a wedding dress when we investigated one day. There was a gorgeous small lodge at the entrance outside, which by now was a field full of cows. It was demolished to make way for a golf club, and I was devastated to discover it. Most of the local community were. 

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We spent much of our childhood wandering around here. The house slowly degraded and became dangerous so we weren’t allowed go there but we still always would. The cows moved in from the field outside to the woods and the ground, and one day we were chased by some bulls (although I fear actually timid bullocks) and we spent hours up a tree waiting for them to go, having to dash across at one point and climb a thick briar, to be rescued from on top of the high external wall by my friends visiting cousin when he wandered past and heard us wailing. We brought a ladder another day to access the house from the first floor now that the downstairs was barred (remember: dangerous!) only to discover a hole in the window and a dead crow splayed on the ground. I took that as a sign and turned heel, with everyone else yelling chicken after me. Chicken maybe, but I just saw a dead crow! 

This wasn’t the only old abandoned house that we played in but it was by far the largest and the most magical. When people left Ireland in poverty, they left their houses behind to crumble with the weather and time. Woodhouse became one of their number and there are no photos that I can find of this gorgeous place. Likely it was much smaller than my child’s eye remembers. Fond memories remain only. 

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Harvesting wild garlic as I was all those years ago, although with no idea, just to put in vases all around the house. I loved their pretty flowers. Now, I treasure the flowers and the leaves and do all I can to get my mitts on them in season. The flowers have a gorgeous sharp flavour, the leaves too but more sour. I buy it at the farmer’s market, my friend Danny has a garden full and recently donated a plant to my cause, and last weekend I was in Cardiff and went foraging with my friend Abi. We found a riverside carpeted with it, it was more of a stream really. Tender small young leaves and mainly unopened flower buds, which I will pickle like capers. 

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With Danny’s plant, I made a wild garlic porchetta. I had porchetta in my head since my last trip to Rome and I had to make it, if only to exorcise it from my brain. I adore porchetta when it is well made. At home it is tricky, you really need to seal the porchetta as well as you can so that you can retain the fat within, the fat is key to moisture and flavour and there is much of it in the meat. The best way to do this is to stitch the porchetta closed all round. You can seal the ends with tin foil too. I didn’t have a butchers needle (although I have ordered one now) but I did have butchers twine, and so I wrestled my slippery porchetta just before midnight on a night last week and closed it as tightly as I could manage. 

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For porchetta, you want the loin and belly still as one joint (with the ribs removed). Ask your butcher to do this for you, one of my favourite butchers in London Turner and George prepared it expertly for me (they have an online shop and deliver too). I then blitzed some wild garlic leaves with some oil (rendered pork lard would have been better but I didn’t have any), and rubbed it on to the flesh inside. I rolled it tight and tied it as best as I could – not terribly well if I am honest, I need to work on it – but the results were still gorgeous. I started it bright and furiously, then covered it with foil to roast overnight at a lower temperature. In the morning, my flat smelled gloriously porky with a perky sharp edge of wild garlic, I removed the foil and blasted it again until the skin was perfectly crisp. Roasting it slowly overnight will always give perfect crackling once you dry the skin before you put it in. 

This was such a gorgeous dish. I recommend getting some friends around and serving it as you would a roast, or for a picnic in pizza bianca or gorgeous crusty bread. If you want to serve it for dinner, put it in first thing in the morning, it doesn’t need to be overnight. 

I have so many ideas for my wild garlic but I would love to hear yours too. Or do you have any favourite recipes that you could link me to? Thanks!

Danny’s superb food blog – http://www.foodurchin.com/

Abi’s gorgeous travel blog – http://www.insidethetravellab.com/

Other wild garlic ideas from Eat Like a Girl:

Wild Garlic Pesto (aka the Joy of Spring) [Recipe]

Wild Garlic & Chorizo Potato Gratin

Recipe: Linguine with a simple tomato sauce, wild garlic flowers and pine nuts

Crab Claws with Wild Garlic & Chipotle

Wild Garlic Frittata

Edible Wild Flowers: Three Cornered Leek/Wild Onion

Gorgeous wild garlic recipes from elsewhere:

Wild Garlic Pesto, Soup, Bread etc etc etc from Food Urchin

Wild Garlic Irish Soda Bread from Donal Skehan in Ireland

Wild garlic pesto aka ramson pesto recipe from Nami-Nami in Estonia

Wet & Wild Garlic Lasagne with Creamy St. George’s Mushrooms & Fresh Egg Pasta from Ramson’s & Bramble in Leeds, UK

Overnight Slow Roast Wild Garlic Porchetta

serves 8 - the leftovers are brilliant also

Overnight Slow Roast Wild Garlic Porchetta

Ingredients

  • 1 x 4 to 5 kg porchetta joint (ask your butcher to prepare one with the belly and loin with ribs removed, and skin still on) - you won't regret making more, it is sandwich heaven
  • 50g wild garlic leaves
  • 2 tbsp oil like extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil (or pork dripping if you have it)
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper
  • you will also need
  • butcher's string
  • aluminium foil to cover
  • a deep roasting tray that will fit the roast comfortably

Method

This is best prepared in advance, although I have prepared it right before too, so don't stress too much if you don't have time.

Score the pork skin with a very sharp knife or craft / stanley knife, or have your butcher score it for you. Try to just cut the skin down to just before the fat but not below. If you go into the flesh, the flesh will lose moisture and you run the risk of drying the meat and the escaping moisture will kill the crackling on the way out.

Put the wild garlic and the oil in a food processor or blender, or chop the wild garlic finely and mix with the oil. Rub into the flesh (not the skin side), season with some sea salt and black pepper, and then roll the joint so it is skin side out and as tight as possible. This might be a bit of a slippery wrestle but it is worth it. Tie it tightly with string as best you can (there is lots of info online about butchers knots, mine were clumsy but worked). You really want it to be as tight as possible to maintain flavour and moisture as much as possible. You can cover the ends with foil which will help, and the gold standard is to stitch it all closed tightly with a butchers needle and string.

Dry the skin with kitchen towel, and if you have time, place it uncovered in the fridge for as long as you can, up to 8 hours, to dry out the skin completely.

Or just roast it, which is ok, just make sure the skin is very dry. You can even use a hair dryer here if you like (it works!). Season the skin with sea salt just before it goes in (and not earlier as it will draw moisture out).

Preheat your oven to as high as it goes and when hot place the porchetta in the tray and put it in. Blast it for about half an hour or until the skin starts to blister. Remove from the oven and turn the oven down to 130 deg C. Cover the porchetta with foil and put it back in the oven to roast it for 8 hours - or overnight.

Remove the foil and remove any excess fat that has rendered. This will be brilliant for roast potatoes another time. Turn the heat right back up for about 20 minutes, keeping an eye on it, until the crackling is perfectly crisp.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for half an hour before serving. You can heat slices gently for warm sandwiches later too.

It is SO good, Enjoy!

http://eatlikeagirl.com/overnight-slow-roast-wild-garlic-ramps-porchetta-and-ponderings-on-an-irish-childhood/

 

Beijing Dumpling: Handmade Dumplings in Chinatown

The first time I went to Beijing Dumpling there were no dumplings available that day. I am a little dumpling obsessed and I left disappointed wondering how a dumpling restaurant could have none. It was early days and there must have been some teething problems. My subsequent visits have been a lot more successful, and filled with them.


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On Lisle St in Chinatown, you will first notice Beijing Dumpling when you see the chefs making dumplings fresh in the window. Small careful xiao long bao filled with a flick and finished with a gentle twist. Chefs work from a large lump of dough and a bowl of meat and produce stacks of bamboo baskets filled with dumplings ready for steaming. 

The menu is large with lots of Cantonese dishes and hot pot. I have heard that the beef ho fun is very good, but I always max out on the dumplings getting a mix of Xiao Long Bao and the Seafood Supreme Dumpling, always with a pot of tea. The Xiao Long Bao are small and come in four flavours: pork, spicy pork, chicken and pork & crab. All are £6 for 8 except the crab meat which is £7.

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I go with spicy pork, which are very gently spiced and as I like a kick, I prepare a dipping sauce of approximately 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part black vinegar and about a teaspoon of chilli oil, all of which are on the table. These little plump dumplings never burst, nevertheless I take great care as a burst XLB fills me with sadness and longing. 

The Seafood Supreme Dumpling arrives with great ceremony in its own tray in a little steamer and a joyful orange pop of roe on top. How to eat it? I had no clue. This is a large delicate wobbly dumpling. I asked and was told to remove the tray, and then on reflection they went and got me extra napkins. Which filled me with confidence in the task ahead. I carefully removed the tray and placed the dumpling on the spoon, very carefully (it was far too big for it). Then I bit the side and sucked out some of the broth. Gorgeous and light and very fresh. A treat. 

Spicy Chicken Dumplings in soup are large and unwieldy. Again, the spicing is gentle and the broth is light. These don’t have the same impact as the XLB, but they are pleasant, and good for a dark day or a cold one.  A plate of wok fried choi sum (£8.50) on the side adds a little brightness to the meal. 

Dumpling comfort and joy. Cosy & affordable. I heartily recommend that you check it out. 

4/5

Beijing Dumpling, 23 Lisle St, Chinatown, London WC2H 7BA

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Sesame Crusted Tuna Fish Fingers

This is so simple that it hardly demands a recipe, but it is so tasty I feel compelled to share. I bought a big wodge of tuna to make my recent Tuna Tartare with Blood Orange & Radicchio and I had some leftover which I needed to use. It was a particularly excellent piece of sushi grade tuna and whatever I did with it would be good. I thought about just frying it, but I wanted more, and so my mind wandered back to some almond crusted tuna that I had years back in a restaurant in Sicily, and I wondered how a covering of sesame seeds would work instead. I love their flavour and their nutty texture. 

I love fish fingers, which is a funny thing as I remember distinctly deciding that I hated them and would never eat them again when I was about 3 or 4 in my aunts house. That would start a childhood of freakish food habits. There were foods that I loved (potato, beans, eggs, rhubarb, apples, gooseberries, CRISPS!) and everything else was pretty much rejected. I would starve myself and spent hours at my grandmothers table watching my cousins and siblings playing outside. I was not allowed to move until I ate my meal, which I never would. I am stubborn, and it has served me well. 

I have come back around to the fish finger now, especially made at home with hake or halibut or the posher ones from the supermarket on rare occasion. I have even embraced the fish finger sandwich slathered with peas and mint and a slick of mayo. I think this must be an English thing as I never came across it until I moved here (Irish readers: am I wrong?!). I figured tuna in a sesame jacket, crisp outside and rare with, might raise my fish finger game a little. It did. 

I served mine with a miso mayo, but if you want peas and mint go ahead, and blitz them a little to make a dip. Chilli mayo works well too. Recipes for both mayo recipes are included below. 

Other Eat Like a Girl recipes for tuna lovers

Almond Crusted Tuna with Chilli Roast Pumpkin, Wilted Lettuce, Tomato & Curry Leaves

Cooking in Sabah: Two Healthy Sea Gypsy Recipes (Fish Soup & a Fish Salad)

Other tuna recipes you might like to try

Tuna Tataki from Just One Cookbook

Tuna toasties for a busy Friday night from Cooksister

Gorgeous recent blog posts from elsewhere

Fish Cakes and Salad. The Sea, The Sea – from The Little Library Cafe, a gorgeous blog penned by Kate sharing recipes inspired by literature. 

PEA SOUP WITH PANCETTA AND MINT, JUST LIKE ME… – from the lovely Jul’s Kitchen, a gorgeous Tuscan cooking blog.

Recipe: Sesame Crusted Tuna Fish Fingers

Recipe: Sesame Crusted Tuna Fish Fingers

Ingredients

    per person
  • 300g tuna, cut into fish finger size widths (about an inch wide and 3 inches long)
  • 1 egg
  • 100g flour (plain flour or rice flour or similar if you are gluten free)
  • 100g sesame seeds
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • light oil for frying like groundnut or rapeseed - enough to fill the pan you are going to fry in to an inch deep
  • miso mayo
  • 2 tbsp mayo, 1tbsp miso of your choice, 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Korean chilli mayo
  • 2 tbsp mayo
  • 2 tbsp gojuchang (Korean pepper paste)
  • a squeeze of fresh lime juice
  • optional garnish
  • fresh coriander leaves and edible flowers (I used wild garlic flowers)

Method

Season the flour with sea salt and black pepper. Put the flour, beaten egg and sesame seeds in three different plates. Dust each piece of tuna with flour, then dip it in the egg ensuring it is completely covered, let the excess drip off and then coat in the sesame seeds, pressing them in as you do.

Heat your oil until a piece of bread will sizzle in it when you add it, or until it is 180 deg C if you have a thermometer. Fry the tuna fingers, in batches if you are making a lot, ensuring that you raise the temperature of the oil between batches too as the tuna will cool it down. When golden, turn the tuna over gently with a tongs or a fork. Just for a minute each side if you like your tuna rare.

When removing them, allow the excess oil to drop off before putting them on several layers of kitchen paper for a couple of minutes to drain any excess that might have remained.

Eat immediately with the mayo of your choice.

http://eatlikeagirl.com/sesame-tuna-fish-fingers-recipe/

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A Food Lovers Road Trip in Nova Scotia: Halifax to Pictou

This is part 1 of a 2 part series. Coming soon: road tripping in Cape Breton with all the lobster! The photo above is from the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton.

If it were possible to unravel the coastline of Nova Scotia, it is said that it would stretch across Canada. This can’t be true when you look at the map but it is indicative of the length of coastline that there is to explore of the Eastern Canadian province and it makes for a terrific road trip. Almost an island, but not quite, the coast line of Nova Scotia clinging on to the side of Canada, almost like a hinge. 

I love Nova Scotia, I have been several times to see friends. I love the easy charm of the place, the friendly people, the vibrant local wines (particularly the sparkling and white wines) and the produce. It reminds me so much of home, yet it is different. The accent is similar yet different. The seafood is so good. Lobster and scallops are in abundance and very affordable, you see both in roadside diners wherever you stop. 

Halifax

Food and drinks at Obladee in Halifax

Start off in Halifax and treat yourself to a couple of nights there. My favourite place to stop is Obladee wine bar, and – full disclosure – it is owned by my good friend Heather. What she has created here is the best of what she loved when she lived in the UK and explored Europe, but with a distinct Nova Scotian flavour. Obladee serves the best of Nova Scotian and Canadian wines, and international wines too. Themed wine flights change weekly, and the food served by chef Brock is very good. The menu changes, on my recent visit I adored the chicken and wild rice soup and reuben sandwich. The toutiere pie with spiced minced pork within gorgeous flaky pastry was so good I returned the next day to have it again. The goat’s milk chocolate fudge is an essential finish. 

Donair and beef brisket tacos at Field Guide in Halifax

A trip to Halifax demands a kebab, sorry, a donair. An evolution of the doner kebab, specific to Halifax and now Maritime Canada generally, the donair is a beef kebab, sliced like a doner, and served with donair sauce, a sweet garlicky sauce made of evaporated milk, sugar, vinegar and garlic. King of Donair claim to have invented it, and that is still a favourite for locals to go to. Field Guide in Halifax are doing an upmarket interpretation which I loved, more of a donair sausage served in a steamed bao. Field Guide is a lovely contemporary space serving excellent food. I loved the beef brisket tacos with housemade tortillas also. I had some local wine that night but the cocktail list looks well worth exploring.

http://obladee.ca

http://fieldguidehfx.com/

Hit the Maple

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Heading out of Halifax make Sugar Moon Farm your first stop. Sugar Moon is a small independent maple farm focussed on making maple syrup (and you can see that in action if there in season), they also have a lovely restaurant space and do an excellent brunch. Local sausages and bacon are divine, and they are deservedly proud of their pancakes. Maple Tonic is a must on a cold day (maple syrup, lemon juice, hot water and cayenne), which you can upgrade to a Maple Toddy with a shot of white rum. I had try the Irish Maple Coffee, a Sugar Moon coffee with Irish whiskey and a maple sugar rimmed glass. 

Baked eggs with ham and cheese, Irish coffee and the fabulous sausages and bacon at Sugar Moon Farm 

http://www.sugarmoon.ca/

Cook Up Some Lobster with the Kilted Chef

Chef Alain Bosse is the culinary ambassador for Atlantic Canada, and runs excellent and fun cooking classes from his home in Pictou. We made gorgeous lobster rolls using fresh cooked lobster in the traditional rolls that you get in Eastern Canada. The rolls are not round rolls like we are used to, but have cut sides, which crisp beautifully when you grill them before filling them up. We also made lobster caesars, and if you don’t know what a caesar is yet, may I suggest that it is one of the first things that you try off the plane. It is the Canadian take on the bloody mary using clamato in place of tomato juice. Clamato is tomato juice with clam brine and it is a very delicious thing. Now, imagine dressing that up with some lovely fresh lobster and making your own clamato with lobster brine? Yes! Chef Alain has classes scheduled in advance but you can also book private classes.

http://kiltedchef.ca/

Part 2 of a Nova Scotian Road Trip to Cape Breton including the Cabot Trail and lots of lobster, coming soon!

With thanks to Destination Canada and Tourism Nova Scotia who sponsored my trip.

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Roman Style Potato Pizza, with Guanciale

Jump to recipe

Potato pizza. Yes! It is a thing. And yes, it is wonderful. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! (Twirls!). I first had it on my first trip to Rome at an innocent 19. I was to discover pizza a tavola and gelato and I would speed from a tiny size 6 (US size 2) to a still small but bigger size 10 that summer. The die was cast. I wish I had such problems now!  

I was living in Nice for the summer, and it was only my second time outside of Ireland. I already knew I wanted to travel a lot, and I really have no idea why I picked Nice as a place to start, but that is where I went. I think I chose France because I spoke French, and I was curious after 6 years of studying it. Nice is lovely, that long beach, the wonderful light. So hot, too hot for me. When I first arrived and didn’t put sunscreen on the side of my feet I learned the hard way with third degree burns on the second day. I could hardly walk. It was a mesmerising time. I was startled by large lizards clambering over an imposing wooden gate protecting the entrance to a house bigger than I had seen before. I loved the packed terraces full of people eating and drinking, and I was entranced by all of the new foods and the lovely little towns nearby. 

It was a coming of age summer for me in many ways. It was my first proper summer away from Ireland, learning a lot about myself, good and bad. I spoke French, but was nervous to in the beginning, so lots assumed I couldn’t. It is amazing what people would say when they thought I couldn’t understand. I met lots of people, I trusted everyone, I learned that maybe I shouldn’t. But I also met some terrific people too who inspired me and made me think about how wonderful and large the world could be, and how much I wanted to explore it. I worked hard, and everytime I got to 1000 francs (about £120 at the time), I saved it as a travellers cheque. 

I had a tiny studio apartment off the Promenade des Anglais with a friend, a 2 minute walk from the sea, right in the heart of it all. I was discovering food, and I popped down to a local sandwich stall often to have a toasted baguette with hot chicken curry inside. I loved it! That summer I had my first coffee when I learned that a hot chocolate at 35 deg C was a not too pleasant experience. And we all know how that went. 

Fuzzy flashback to that summer in Nice - one of the rare photos that I have from that time

Fuzzy flashback to that summer in Nice – one of the rare photos that I have from that time

When the weather changed there at the end of August as I had been told it would (and it was incredibly predictable to the day then, some winds came and it got colder, and it seemed like everyone left), I packed my bags and my saved travellers cheques and I booked a one way train to Florence. I didn’t love it then. As a young solo female traveller I got a lot of grief from creepy guys, and so I took myself to Rome. Rome was bigger and easier and gorgeous. I fell in love with it. Rome became the kind of city that I started to seek out. A city that is thriving, beating and bursting, a city that knows you are there but isn’t really bothered as it is just getting on with everything that makes it so good.  I stayed for almost 10 days and burned through some of my hard earned summer savings. I spent all day walking and luxuriating in how gorgeous the city was, stopping to sit for gelato and pizza every now and then, more impressed by the seemingly abandoned gorgeousness on every street and street corner than the packed tourist spots. 

Rome! Photos from my last trip there.

I have such fond recollections of that time. It was my first time travelling solo, which I do all the time now. Potato pizza is the thing that I remember the most. Sometimes with potato matchsticks and other times with potato slices, sometimes with just potato, sometimes with cheese, sometimes with some herbs. Always good. Served from tavola caldas (hot tables), the pizza are served by the slice from enormous rectangular versions, cut with a scissors into the size you desired. I couldn’t believe it.  A POTATO PIZZA?! I was sold. I have been making them at home since, and when I go to Rome now, it is the thing I want more than anything. Well, almost as much as Bonci’s porchetta sandwich, but that is a story for another time. 

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In Rome, the best of these pizzas is served on pizza bianca, a pizza that is made first with toppings added after, and then heated to order. Pizzarium and Bonci (both owned by Gabriele Bonci, mentioned already, both are a must in Rome) are the gold standard for these. I use my standard pizza base at home, and I use mozzarella as a milky buffer between the base and the potato. I have a weakness for buffalo mozzarella (the real Mozzarella di Bufala Campana which is made in Southern Italy and protected by PDO particularly), but if you can get a proper fior de latte, a good cows mozzarella made with cows milk, that is superb too. I love the romance of Italian descriptors for food, to describe a cheese as the flower of milk is just gorgeous. Taleggio works brilliantly too, so feel free to use that also.

Time for the potato, and on top of the cheese I layer sliced potatoes. When I started out they were painstakingly sliced by hand, as thin as I could. Now I use my food processor, but a mandolin is perfect too. One large potato does two pizzas, a potato pizza is a frugal joyful thing. Occasionally I like to squeeze in a couple of layers of fine guanciale slices for an extra layer of dizzying indulgence. If guanciale is not on your radar yet, it is a bacon made from the jowl of the pig (the cheek and surrounds) and it is one of the best ones. You can get it in great Italian delis and Fortnum and Mason stock a terrific one from Peter Hannon in Northern Ireland, already sliced fine and perfect for this pizza. 

I hope that you will indulge in this Roman slice of gorgeousness. It brings me much happiness. Enjoy! 

Other posts on Eat Like a Girl on Italy: 

Where to Eat Pizza & Pasta in Rome

Making Pasta in Abruzzo, the First Harvest and the Pupe

Dispatches from Abruzzo, Italy: Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo and Where to Eat

Cooking with the Grandmothers of Abruzzo [Video]

Blasting Pasta Myths – 13 Reasons Why You Should Eat Pasta

Roman food blogs that are must reads:

Rachel Eats – dispatches from Rachel’s Roman kitchen. Rachel has also penned a terrific book (Five Quarters: Recipe & Notes from a Kitchen in Rome) and Rachel also has a lovely weekly Guardian column

Elizabeth Minchilli in Rome – Elizabeth blogs about eating out in Rome, primarily, but also much of Italy. She also shares great recipes and videos. Elizabeth does food tours too, and has a terrific app for eating in Rome, and other parts of Italy. Elizabeth has a book on Eating Rome too. 

Katie Parla has a terrific blog all about eating in Rome and Roman food culture, and she has an excellent app for eating out in Rome too. Her first book on Rome (Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavours and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City) has just been published. Katie runs food tours too. 

Gillian McGuire blogs about Rome and all of Italy on Gillian’s Lists.

Roman Style Potato Pizza, with Guanciale

Serves: makes 2 pizzas, with 4 extra bases for another time (there is always another time!)

Roman Style Potato Pizza, with Guanciale

Ingredients

    dough (for 6 pizzas)
  • 450g strong flour
  • 10g dried yeast
  • 300ml just warm water
  • 25ml extra virgin olive oil
  • a generous pinch of sea salt
  • toppings (per 2 pizzas - which is what I usually make, but triple to make 6)
  • 1 large potato, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
  • 250 g ball mozzarella (I prefer buffalo)
  • one tbsp of rosemary needles, stems discarded
  • 6 thin slices of guanciale or pancetta (or streaky bacon!)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and black pepper

Method

The dough will make enough for 6 pizzas. I usually make 2 and then I freeze the extra bases (which I stretch out into circles) between layers of greaseproof paper, ready to top another time.

Make your dough. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the oil. Add the water a little at a time, mixing it through. When the flour has come together to a ball there is enough water. Add more a little at a time if you need it (each brand of flour is a little different). if it gets too wet just add a little more flour. Knead for 10 minutes or 5 minutes if you have a mixer with a dough hook. Cover with cling film and let it rise slowly in the fridge overnight or let it rise in the warmest part of your kitchen until it has doubled in size (about 40 minutes to an hour). Knock the dough back by literally knocking the wind out of it, and let it rise again for another 10 minutes at room temperature. It is now ready to use.

Preheat your oven to its highest heat.

Divide the dough into 6 balls and using your hands, gently shape it into a circle. I like it when it isn’t too thin, liking it to be approaching foccacia but not quite. You should have yours as thin as you like it. If you find hand shaping awkward you can use a rolling pin.

Put the dough on a floured or oiled baking tray and put half the mozzarella on top of each pizza base. It is easiest to tear it with your hands, making sure it is evenly distributed. On top of this layer the potato slices. This will depend on how big your potato slices are and how bit your pizza base is (aka how thin you like your crust) but every two lines of potato slices, I tucked in some guanciale. Scatter the rosemary and season lightly with sea salt which the potatoes will need but the guanciale won't, as it is salted already. Finish with freshly ground black pepper (it wouldn't be Roman without it) and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil.

Roast in the oven for 5 - 8 minutes. This depends on how hot your oven goes. Keep an eye on it after five. They pizza is done when the dough is starting to brown, as are the potatoes, and when the base is crisp.

Best eaten hot! Enjoy.

http://eatlikeagirl.com/recipe-roman-style-potato-pizza-with-guanciale/

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Breakfast Bacon & Egg Pizza: Because You Can (and Should)

I like to cook in batches. Even though I am generally cooking for just one or two. Some stuff just makes sense that way: big pots of stock, beans, a roast hunk of meat that can become 4 dishes in the day after, pizza. One big bowl of dough will keep well if you let it rise gently overnight in the fridge. And you can eat it for every meal that day. And you really can, you know? Or you can have a pizza party. 

This morning as I looked at the bowl of dough that I had just retrieved from the fridge I was thinking, oh yes, egg & lardo pizza. Because you know those are two of my very favourite things. I quite like to cover my egg yolks with lardo anyway. And I have lardo in the fridge. (Lardo? Cured gorgeous pork fat, mouth melting and divine. Not lard. Which is also great but for different reasons). But I have something even better too. Guanciale! Roman cheek bacon, the very best bacon there is. I consider myself an expert after all the testing that I did for my next book Project Bacon (which is in the final stages, and I know I have said that before but it really is). 

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I didn’t have a meat slicer (and oh how I want one!), and what I really wanted was a thin sheet of guanciale, rich with fat and weak with a quiver of pink meat. It would protect and coat the egg as it roasted in the most gorgeous way possible. It drives me crazy when an egg on a pizza hardens and blisters as it roasts. I tried my food processor and it did well enough. All systems go, pizza for breakfast was going to be a thing. 

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I am lucky, I have gorgeous Roman tomatoes, bursting with ripeness. If they could speak they would be exuberant and you might not want to sit next to them, but as a tomato they are a perfect thing. Chopped into large enough dice so that they still had personality and texture and shape, they were the first layer on my breakfast pizza. Thrown cautiously over a carefully teased piece of dough, shaped into a careless circle with my fingers. On top, a little chopped fresh rosemary. I cracked an egg into the centre where there was enough of a lack of tomatoes to hold an egg, with a wall of tomatoes around it. On top, three carefully placed slices of guanciale joy. 

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Into the oven at its highest setting, and about 6 minutes later there it was. My perfect breakfast pizza, bacon and egg at its most joyful. You must make it. I promise it is worth making the dough. Have a breakfast pizza party!

Breakfast Bacon & Egg Pizzas

Breakfast Bacon & Egg Pizzas

Ingredients

    dough (for 6)
  • 450g strong flour
  • 10g dried yeast
  • 300ml just warm water
  • 25ml extra virgin olive oil
  • a generous pinch of sea salt
  • toppings (per pizza)
  • 1 good tomato, chopped into dice or a couple of tablespoons of good tomato passata
  • a little fresh rosemary or thyme
  • three thin slices of guanciale, bacon or lardo
  • 1 egg
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • black pepper

Method

Make your dough. Put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the oil. Add the water a little at a time, mixing it through. When the flour has come together to a ball there is enough water. Add more a little at a time if you need it (each brand of flour is a little different). if it gets too wet just add a little more flour. Knead for 10 minutes or 5 minutes if you have a mixer with a dough hook. Cover with cling film and let it rise slowly in the fridge overnight or let it rise in the warmest part of your kitchen until it has doubled in size (about 40 minutes to an hour). Knock the dough back by literally knocking the wind out of it, and let it rise again for another 10 minutes at room temperature. It is now ready to use.

Preheat your oven to its highest heat.

Divide the dough into 6 balls and using your hands, gently shape it into a circle. I like it when it isn’t too thin, liking it to be approaching foccacia but not quite. You should have yours as thin as you like it. If you find hand shaping awkward you can use a rolling pin.

Put the dough on a floured or oiled baking tray and add the tomatoes, making sure there is room for an egg in the middle. Season the pizza at this point (the bacon will have enough salt. Sprinkle on the rosemary and crack the egg on top. Carefully put the guanciale or lardo or bacon over the egg, making sure the yolk is covered. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top and sprinkle with some black pepper.

The pizza shouldn’t take long. Keep an eye on it after 5 minutes.

Eat hot and enjoy! I love it :)

http://eatlikeagirl.com/breakfast-bacon-egg-pizza-can/

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Tuna Tartare with Blood Orange & Radicchio

I am trying to slow my life down, and stop being part of the cult of busy-ness, even though it is central to my nature. I need to finish my book, I need to work on some health issues, I need to sort my flat. All big things, I feel small beneath them, but all achievable, and it is time to just get things done. It sounds easy right? Not so far but I remain positive and I try to remain focussed. It seems a weakness to admit it, but I have been completely overwhelmed by everything.

Food is where I turn when life feels very complicated. Perhaps a bit too often but there are worse things. I love deeply savoury food, and food that is rich in fat and flavour. Oh, pork belly, you devil, I can never resist you. A slippery carb bright with sauce or soup, some spaghetti, or some ramen. A plump dumpling or a roast chicken fresh from the rotisserie and kissed with homemade mayo.  

That is my usual plan of attack, but right now, I feel a little different. My body is craving freshness and I need salad. I need bright colours and juiciness, food that will nourish and cheer. I am craving fish too. And it seems I always crave it on Sundays or Mondays when my fishmonger is closed.

I have had the idea for this recipe for a couple of weeks now, doing circles in my head. I tend to get like that. I get an idea for something that I want to cook and it sticks and jars, refusing to leave until it is done. Inspired jointly by the wonderful prawn tartar at the Tata Eatery pop up and a gorgeous blood orange and radicchio salad that Elizabeth Minchilli blogged recently, I thought that the two would come together very well. I wanted tuna or halibut as the centre piece instead of prawn.

I headed to my fishmonger to see what it was on offer, and there it was, sushi grade tuna. I already had the blood oranges and radicchio waiting in my fridge for their moment to shine. It worked so well. It will be the perfect thing for after all that Easter indulgence too.

Enjoy and have a wonderful Easter.

Tuna Tartare with Blood Orange & Radicchio

Preperation Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2 starters or 1 main course

Tuna Tartare with Blood Orange & Radicchio

Ingredients

  • 150g sushi grade tuna
  • 2 blood oranges
  • the juice of half a lemon
  • 25g radicchio, sliced finely
  • the white of two spring onions, finely sliced, or one small shallot
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 8 mint leaves
  • edible flowers for garnish
  • sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Method

Juice one of the oranges and combine it with the lemon. Add the onion and leave it to the side.

Chop the tuna into small pieces (less than a cm cubed). Toss in the orange and lemon juice and cover. Put in the fridge for maximum 10 minutes while you prepare the rest.

Remove the skin and the pith from the orange (the pith is bitter so be sure to remove it all. Chop into dice approximately the same size as the tuna. Remove any pips.

Add to the tuna mixture. Add the radicchio and the sesame seeds and mix well but gently. Season with sea salt and a little pepper.

Serve with the flowers arranged on top and eat immediately. I recommend wild garlic or leek flowers for their lovely onion-y freshness.

Enjoy!

Notes

Best made just before eating.

http://eatlikeagirl.com/tuna-tartare-with-blood-orange-radicchio/

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Road Testing the Tefal Cuisine Companion (and one to Giveaway Worth £750) – In Partnership with Tefal

This is a carefully selected sponsored post in partnership with Tefal. I review the Tefal Cuisine Companion, a new appliance for the modern kitchen which claims to offer home cooks an extra pair of hands as it chops, steams, cooks, kneads and makes sauces over a range of temperatures and speeds.

Most kitchen appliances compete for space amid cluttered kitchen counters. Particularly in tiny urban kitchens like my own. A piece of kit needs to earn a permanent space, it doesn’t just get one. Items that I use occasionally live in my office, and are brought out when I need them. If they cut the mustard. If they don’t, I don’t have any space for them at all. My small London flat is bursting at the seams, and I feel my head might too at times. Do you feel the same in your kitchen? I would imagine many passionate home cooks do.

In terms of kit, my small kitchen has very limited counter space with few permanent residents. There is a mixer which I use quite a bit, and a food processor. We also have a blender for smoothies on the mornings that I can remember to make them. I prefer a stick blender for my soups, and this lives in a cupboard below.

The Tefal Cuisine Companion claims to do all of the jobs that these do. You can chop, blend, whisk, cook and steam. You can make soup, stew, pastry, pasta, dough. You can cook at different temperatures and very precisely, to the second. You can cook at different speeds. I put the Tefal Cuisine Companion through its paces to see if it could live up to what it was offering.

The Cuisine Companion comes with a book offering lots of basic recipes and 300 others divided between starter, main and dessert sections. There is a detailed guide to the machine, presented visually, and very easy to follow. There is also an oven temperature conversion table that offers a temperature chart detailing conventional ovens and fan ovens in fahrenheit and celsius, and UK gas mark too.

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There are 6 automatic programmes (sauce, slow cook, soup, steam, pastry and dessert), a manual mode, 12 speeds, a large bowl capacity (4.5l with a useful capacity of 2.5l) and accessories that you fit in the bowl (an ultrablade knife for speedy powerful chopping and blending, a whisk, a mixer, a kneading and grinding tool and a steaming basket.

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Lets start with the basics, and they start with pastry, dough, sauces, stocks and pasta. I was impressed with their thorough listing, and even though I am familiar with much of these already, the Cuisine Companion allowed me to make them faster, and easier, using all real ingredients. The shortcut was that I didn’t need to stir, I didn’t need to stress about eggs splitting when I made egg based sauces as the temperature was controlled and the companion is a powerful and speedy stirrer. This is best illustrated with the hollandaise, a tricky sauce that I reserve for special occasions when I have time, now all I had to do was add the ingredients and with the sauce programme whisk it at 70 deg C for 8 minutes. And that was it. A perfect hollandaise for my avocado toast with poached egg.

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A recipe that always stands out for me as tricky for beginner cooks is choux pastry, that gorgeous pastry that can become eclairs, gougeres and paris brest. The first time I made it, well I was only about 10 but I was already making toffee etc., it completely confounded me and I didn’t attempt it again for many years. It is a pastry that needs to be made over heat, and requires a lot of stirring and vigour. It is worth it, but again, I don’t make it very often as I need to have the time to dedicate to it. Here, it is a little fiddly as you need to wash the processor in the middle of the recipe, but it still makes choux pastry easily and painlessly, and better still in a controlled fashion. The control and the hands off approach to producing real food is what I was beginning to appreciate the more I tested recipes.

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On a recent trip to Tooting I spied a new Naan Bakery that I am really keen to visit. I love a naan, and they make them fresh all day. Traditional plain naans, my favourite keema naan and a genius nutella naan. Well, I wanted some of that and I decided I should try the naan recipe in the Cuisine Companion cookbook. A yeasted recipe, it was made with yogurt, strong flour and a little oil. Using the pastry programme, it is kneaded for just one minute. There was no resting time indicated, but as it is a yeasted recipe, I added it in to allow it time to prove (about half an hour) and also to allow the dough to rest. Then I divided it into balls, flattened it with my hands, and put a tablespoon of nutella in the centre. I then folded it back over before frying it in a hot try pan on either side. Delicious! They might become a regular.

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The Cuisine Companion seems perfectly setup for soups, and so I gave the potato and leek soup a whirl, it is one of my favourites. I let the companion do all the chopping in just 10 seconds, and then the soup cooked on the soup programme for just 50 minutes. I used  a different garnish, some lovely onion flowers that I found recently in an Indian shop in Tooting. 

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For the main course, I liked Basque Chicken, it seemed a perfect weekend lunch or weekday supper. I made a few changes and took some shortcuts, making it speedier and more to my taste. I didn’t pre chop anything, chucking in the onions and the pepper with the ultrablade knife which minced them in just 20 seconds. Then I added sherry (manzanilla – yum – and perfect for a Spanish chicken dish!) and oive oil, and with the slow cook programme, slow cooked it at 130 deg C for 8 minutes, before reducing the temperature to 95 deg C and slow cooking it for 45 minutes with tomatoes, stock and chicken thighs. It was lovely, tender chicken, great flavours. Next time I will add paprika as I love a little spice and punch, and I will use gorgeous deeply flavoured piquillo peppers which I happen to have a jar of in my cupboard. Seek them out if you don’t already know them, they are wonderful.

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I was particularly excited to try out some more desserts. Meringues were so easy and perfect, requiring only that I add the ingredients to the bowl and whisk on speed 8 for 10 minutes at 40 deg C. I added cream of tartare which helps a little with the texture. I finished them with some freeze dried raspberries before putting them in the oven (they are one of my favourite store cupboard ingredients, also great for granola, yogurts etc.).

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Finally, I wanted to try a sorbet. I am always looking for quick healthy sweets, and a berry sorbet made with frozen fruit (or fresh fruit you freeze) with an egg white and a little icing (confectionery) sugar worked a dream. I will be making this regularly. The one photographed here is raspberry using frozen raspberries which I always have in the freezer for smoothies etc.

Thoughts overall? Yes, the Cuisine Companion is expensive at a retail price of £750, but it is extremely convenient and solid, and it offers a hands off way to make real food for busy people. It is also perfect for nervous cooks who might be afraid to make hollandaise, bearnaise, custard and other egg based dishes that brighten brunch and steak dinners. Its strength for me is in sauces, desserts and pastries, affording the busy home cook an extra pair of hands and time away from stirring to do other things. The recipe book is thorough and has lots of interesting dishes too. I am keen to try their burger buns, soufflé, pretzels, steamed prawn wontons, panacotta, chocolate brioche roll and yogurt & watermelon granita.

Mine has retained its space on my counter. If you would like a chance to have one for yours, Tefal have given me one to giveaway to a reader. If you would like to win, leave a comment and let me know what you would like to cook with it, or why you think you would like one for your kitchen. You must be based in the UK or Ireland for practical reasons (and apologies to readers who aren’t). Winners will be drawn on the 25th April and the winner will be notified by email (if you comment on the blog post via facebook, I will contact you that way, otherwise leave your email address in that field on the comment post but not in the comment). I will give the winner 3 days to reply, and if I don’t hear I will need to select another.

Best of luck! In the meantime, I look forward to your comments.

http://www.tefal.co.uk/cuisinecompanion

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Sausage, Sage & Leek Soda Farls and Some Snapshots from St Patrick’s Day, London

It was St Patrick’s Day this week, and I hope you all had a good one. I love this day, it is a simple celebration of everything that it means to be Irish, and a chance to stop, take stock and spend time with Irish friends and quell any feelings of homesickness. I still feel as I did when as a child when I would be putting on my green and white jumper which a baby sitter had knitted for me, and when visiting my granny’s house to be pinned with soggy shamrock, which would make me feel bright and excited.

Chef John Relihan with Irish pork and beef smoking low and slow over turf, at the Bord Bia St Patrick’s Day food market in Trafalgar Square

St Patrick’s Day is a national holiday in Ireland, but in London the celebrations are the Sunday before. They are quite large with a parade that finishes at a stage in Trafalgar Square where selected Irish bands play throughout the day, and where there is an Irish food market. There are thousands of people watching, from everywhere. I always find it really positive and fun and pop down when I am in town for it.

St Patrick’s Day Celebrations in London, 2016

The internet positively erupts with Irish recipes this time every year. I love seeing the world embrace and celebrate our culture. We are a small island but with a large global footprint following centuries of emigration and chatter. We love to talk. There are many posts of Irish stew and beef & guinness stew, and these are two I should share my versions of at some time (it seems strange that I haven’t!). Today I want to share a recipe for my take on an Irish breakfast bread, a twist on the humble soda farl.

Dublin Bay Prawns at Corrigan's Mayfair for St Patrick's Day breakfast

Dublin Bay Prawns at Corrigan’s Mayfair for St Patrick’s Day breakfast

Irish smoked salmon at Corrigan's Mayfair for St Patrick's Day breakfast

Irish smoked salmon at Corrigan’s Mayfair for St Patrick’s Day breakfast

You know soda bread, I am sure. A simple flour and buttermilk bread using bicarbonate of soda as a raising agent. The acidity of the buttermilk activates the soda and fluffs the bread. Buttermilk isn’t always available here, in Ireland you can get it by the litre almost everywhere as it is a large part of our cooking culture. When I don’t have it, I substitute it with whole milk and lemon or whole milk and yogurt which gives enough acidity and creaminess and results in a still excellent bread.

A simple Irish breakfast bread, soda farls are simply soda bread that is flattened in a circle, and cut into wedges and fried instead of baked. I love to have these to dip into runny eggs. I like to fill these on occasion, and this morning I added some softened leek, Italian sausage and fresh sage. I make the dough first and then I add the fried sausage, leek and sage, weaving it in.

These are speedy and very tasty, and a little bit different too. If you are vegetarian, try coarsely mixing in some goat’s cheese with the leeks and sage, or another cheese of your choice. If you are dairy free, substitute any milk substitute, and include lemon to wake the soda up.

Enjoy!

(The recipe follows below)

From the archives:

Another Irish bread recipe: the Blaa from Waterford. My story of tracing it through emigration from Waterford to Newfoundland and a recipe for you to make it at home. It is a wonderful fluffy roll – give them a go! 

Links I loved this week: 

Homemade Corned Beef from David Lebovitz

A Sardinian Hare Stew with a gorgeous illustration, lovely travel story, recipe and photos from Ailbhe at Simply Splendiferous

Dobradinha, a Brazilian tripe stew recipe from Rosana at Hot & Chilli

Tartiflette – an Alpine treat from Jeanne at Cooksister

Retsina braised shoulder of goat with whipped feta from Helen at Food Stories

A Speedy Irish Breakfast Bread: Sausage, Sage & Leek Soda Farls

Preperation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

A Speedy Irish Breakfast Bread: Sausage, Sage & Leek Soda Farls

Sausage & Sage Soda Farls

Ingredients

  • 325g wholemeal flour plus a little extra for shaping
  • 1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a pinch of salt
  • 25g butter
  • 225ml buttermilk or 200ml milk and 25ml natural yogurt or fresh lemon juice
  • 175g good sausage (2-3) chopped into small chunks
  • 1 leek
  • 1 tsbp chopped fresh sage leaves
  • a little butter and light oil for frying

Method

Slice the leek finely and saute in a little butter and oil until soft over a medium heat (about 6 minutes). Add the sausage and fry until cooked through. Add the sage for the last minute.

Now for the farls. These are very easy, you just need to use your hands. Put the flour, salt and the soda in a large bowl, ensuring there are now lumps in the soda (which will result in holes in your bread). Just squish them out with your fingers or through a sieve. Add the butter and mix through with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.

Add the milk and form a dough. Add the sausage and leek mixture and mix through well.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and flatten onto a circle. Cut into 8 triangles by cutting into halves and then further into quarters and eighths.

Heat a little butter and oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the farls over a low heat for about 10 minutes on each side so that they cook right through.

Serve hot, and with butter if you fancy it. Or just dip them into some lovely runny eggs.

Enjoy!

http://eatlikeagirl.com/sausage-sage-leek-soda-farls/

 

Orange & Hazelnut Cake

Orange & Hazelnut Cake (Gluten & Dairy Free & Joy Full!)

I wouldn’t say that I am bloodthirsty. Sure, I like my steak rare, and I can deal with the sight of blood. But sometimes I get upset when I don’t see any, in my blood oranges at least. I was slicing through a batch yesterday, perpetually disappointed to see only occasionally blushes and not enough rushing red. So annoyed was I that I accidentally cut through my own finger in my rush, and yes, there was blood, but not the kind of blood that I was hoping for.

I was on a mission. I love Italian polenta and almond cakes. I had a slice for the first time in Gelupo in London not long after it first opened and it stopped me in my tracks. Literally, I was eating it on the run (it was that kind of day), and I stopped and looked at that simple cake and thought about what a surprise it was. So understated to look at, but bursting with flavour beneath. My kind of flavours, not too sweet and a little crumbly. This is a perfect breakfast cake. It made the cut in my first book as a kind of a muffin. Italians love to have cake for breakfast and they do everything else right so why not?! I have embraced it.

Last week, I spotted a gorgeous version that Kellie from Food to Glow had cooked, an upside down blood orange polenta cake. It got me thinking. I still had wonderful IGP hazelnuts from my last trip to Piedmont that I needed to use. I had a wonderful coarse bright yellow polenta that I had bought in an Italian deli in town. And I had some blood oranges.

This cake is dairy free and gluten free too. Sometimes I mix in some plain flour too to make it a little softer but it isn’t essential and the stoneground polenta I used gave it a brilliant flavour and a coarsely textured crumb which worked very well. Each way is very palatable, go with flour if you fancy something a little less coarse and a bit cake-ier (substitute 75g plain flour for 50g polenta). 

Enjoy, and embrace cake for breakfast. It is a beautiful thing!

Orange and Hazelnut Cake

Preperation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Orange and Hazelnut Cake

Orange & Hazelnut Cake

Ingredients

  • 150ml rapeseed or olive oil
  • 125g soft brown sugar
  • 150g polenta or cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 175g ground hazelnuts (I ground whole ones in my food processor)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 oranges - the rind and juice of 2 for the cake, the remaining sliced with the rind & pith removed
  • juice of half a lemon
  • one cake tin approx 20cm or 7/8 inches
  • greaseproof paper / baking parchment

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 deg C.

Mix the oil and the sugar well.

Add the rest of the ingredients, excluding the orange slices for the top of the cake, and mix very well. I use a mixer but a wooden spoon and elbow grease would work very well too. You will end with a wet grainy batter.

Prepare your orange slices by removing the skin and pith with a sharp knife and slicing into narrow slices.

Line your tin with greaseproof paper and arrange the orange slices in a layer.

Pour the batter on top (give it a good mix before you pour it in) and bake it for 35 - 40 minutes until the top is set and gives only a little when you push on it. Don't worry if it has risen unevenly, it will relax as it cools.

Allow to cool and serve sliced with a light dusting of icing sugar on top.

Store any leftovers in an air tight container for a few days.

http://eatlikeagirl.com/blood-orange-hazelnut-cake-easy-recipe-baking-dairy-free/

Lunch at Harry's Shack, Northern Ireland

The Giant’s Causeway & Lunch at Harry’s Shack in Northern Ireland

Half my family come from Northern Ireland. My Grandmother and Grandfather were both raised there before they moved South to Waterford where I would eventually be born. I have a deep affection for all things from there, and I have always felt a strong tie. Despite that I have not been there since I was a child, which makes no sense. Except of course it was a very long drive – 8 hours – with restless children piled in the back seat asking relentlessly if they were there yet. I remember it clearly. I remember drawing piles of turf that I saw from the car window, and a factory with smoke billowing out of the chimney. 

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I had never been to the Giant’s Causeway in Co Antrim. I seemed alone in this. I was almost ashamed to admit it. I finally went late last year on a wild day during Storm Clodagh where winds gusted up to 70mph. It is a stunning vista of approximately 40,000 interlocking basalt columns hugging the coastline, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption but said in legend to be the result of a challenge between two giants who built the causeway with giant boulders so that they could meet. It is a world heritage site now with a wonderful visitors centre that offers guided walks and information.   

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At the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland

Winds ripped through, over and around, the ocean spat spray furiously, and we stumbled around, laughing and trying to stay steady, until we heard ferocious whistling from a man in a high vis jacket just behind. It was too dangerous and we had to leave.

The short walk to the Giant's Causeway from the Visitors Centre

The short walk to the Giant’s Causeway from the Visitors Centre

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway

The Giant's Causeway

The Giant’s Causeway

Try telling that to the couple who didn’t speak English and who were determined to take the wildest selfie of their lives. I yelled behind them, only a foot away, but the winds were so fierce they stole my voice and threw it behind me. Eventually I got through, and we stumbled back. By now, it was difficult even to walk. But, what a day. And the perfect way to see the wonder that is the Giant’s Causeway.  

A little wet! But very happy. With Lucy of Food Goblin.

A little wet! But very happy. With Lucy of Food Goblin.

Harry's Shack

Harry’s Shack

The view from Harry's Shack, complete with rainbow

The view from Harry’s Shack, complete with rainbow

After, it is essential to go to Harry’s Shack nearby, a wonderful restaurant on the beach at Portstewart. It is a gorgeous little restaurant forged from wood, with large windows overlooking the sea and the sky and a gorgeous wood fire at one end. Food is all locally sourced and beautifully cooked. Seafood is a must, but there is always a meat dish on offer too. 

We ate very well, starting mussels and prawns and wonderful dressed crab. On the side, good bread with Abernethy hand rolled butter with dulse. 

For mains, we had whole plaice with cockles and smoked bacon; hake with chorizo, paprika and potatoes and buttermilk battered haddock, with, of course, chips. 

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To drink, we had some terrific Irish craft beers from Kinnegar. I couldn’t fit dessert. I always prioritise savoury food. I am definitely more salty a person than sweet.

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Afterwards, we continued back along the Causeway Coastal Route, a stunning drive and a thrill for the Game of Thrones fans of the group. I am one. More on the rest of my trip soon, and my time in Belfast. 

My trip to Northern Ireland was sponsored by Tourism Ireland. This year is the Year of Food & Drink, and the perfect time to visit. All editorial is my own, always. I never write about things I wouldn’t love to share, or heartily recommend.

 

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Asma Khan’s Darjeeling Express at The Sun & 13 Cantons

You have only got 11 days in which you can sample the food I am about to tell you about, so pay close attention, and then book it swiftly. Asma Khan’s food at the Sun & 13 Cantons is some of the best Indian food in London right now, and you have to try it. I have been twice and I will go again before it closes. Twice more if I can.

When Asma moved to London in 1991 from Calcutta, she didn’t know how to cook. She was trained in law, but she missed the food and went back to her ancestral kitchens to learn the royal Mughlai and Nawabi school of cuisine from her father’s side, and the food of Calcutta from her mother’s side (and where she was born and raised). It wasn’t long before Asma started serving her food from her popular supper club at home in Kensington. For the past year she has been in residence at The Sun and 13 Cantons. If you follow me on social media you will have seen my posts from lunch and dinner there (come join! instagram | twitter).  

Asma’s food is a joy. There is street food like papri chaat (spiced potato and black chickpeas on a bed of crisp papri dressed with tangy tamarind sauce, garnished with sev). The idea is to pour some of the lovely tamarind dressing on to the potato and chickpea in the crisp shell, and immediately wolf it down. Gorgeous.

Then there are masala fries. Very simple, proper hand cut potato chips spiced with chilli flakes & crushed sea salt. Served with tamarind sauce. The tamarind sauce is the star (and that is from a potato obsessed Irish person). The beetroot chop was a surprise highlight, grated beetroot deep fried in a croquette served with smoked chilli & sesame chutney.  So light and spritely. Mutton shikampuri kebab were gorgeous little aromatic spice minced mutton cakes served with yogurt. 

Goat khosha mangsho, tamarind dal, and aged basmati rice at Darjeeling Express

Goat khosha mangsho, tamarind dal, and aged basmati rice at Darjeeling Express

Methi Chicken at Darjeeling Express

Methi Chicken at Darjeeling Express

For mains, the methi chicken was as perfect a chicken curry as I have ever had. Chicken cooked on the bone, so rich and moist, but served boneless with dried fenugreek leaves & tomato. Goat khosha mangsho, a 6 hour Bengali goat and potato curry was gorgeous, deeply flavoured and cooked in the dry style. On the side, each time, a tamarind dal, lentils tempered with mustard seeds & curry leaves was perfectly balanced and velvet smooth with just the right amount of tart tamarind. 

Nimbu Pani at Darjeeling Express

Nimbu Pani at Darjeeling Express

To drink, we had Nimbu Pani, a freshly made lemonade with sugar, a touch of Himalayan sea salt and garnished with fresh mint leaves. I had two, in fact. My friend is a fan of masala chai, and loved Asma’s version, a spiced Indian tea cooked with garam masala & ginger. Dessert of Khoobani ka Meetha, stewed Hunza apricots served with clotted cream and garnished with pistachios was a perfect bright finish. 

Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express

Asma Khan of Darjeeling Express

Over the course of my visits there I have chatted to Asma about her food and her story. She is fascinating, and I hope to share more of Asma’s story via my soon to be launched podcast (Asma has kindly agreed to be a guest). We chatted at length about her village and food culture, and about what it means to be a second daughter there. Asma is a second daughter and most of the women working with her in London are second daughters also, just by chance.

Asma says “The culture in our society is to value boys more than girls and the birth of a second girl is often a cause of sadness rather than celebration in most families, irrespective of the class, caste and background. We send back a large percentage of our profits back to educate girls, particularly the second daughter. We let families know in the villages we support that we will support their baby girl, that she should not be seen as a burden and that one day she will make the family proud and could be the breadwinner of the family, like many of the women working with me at Darjeeling Express.”

It is International Women’s Day and I wanted to shine a light on Asma and her wonderful food, but also her generous and kind spirit and the wonderful women in her kitchen. We should also spare a thought for all of the women worldwide who don’t have our good fortune, our easy access to education, our health service and everything we have that we take for granted, and that we should be fighting to protect. When I think of all of those refugees pushing with all of their might for better lives, I am only ashamed. It must be terrifying.

Asma is an inspiration and her food speaks for itself, you should visit while you still can. Her supper clubs will still be running, although you must be swift to get a spot, and she will also be at Druid St Market during Ramadan. 

Darjeeling Express at The Sun & 13 Cantons, 21 Great Pulteney Street, London W1F 9NG

http://www.darjeeling-express.com/

Tata Eatery Pop Up Brunch at the Newman Arms

TĀ TĀ Eatery: Pop Up All Day Brunch with an Asian Accent

On my last trip to Japan after a gorgeous meal in a lovely neighbourhood restaurant, I spoke with the chef about the food and his inspiration. We had had some wonderful dishes, a particularly sublime sandwich of sliced lotus root sandwiching minced chicken and fried in a marinade / sauce of soy, sake and mirin and wonderful rice. He told me that the most expensive thing in his restaurant was the rice, as it was the most important thing. Painstakingly sourced and executed with care and precision the little bowls of rice served there were bowls of perky joy soothed with all sorts of gorgeousness like that lotus root sandwich. TĀ TĀ Eatery want you to think about rice too.

TĀ TĀ Eatery centre their food on their rice, both as a vessel for eating and in congee. From Zijun Meng and Ana Goncalves, both former chefs at one of my favourite restaurants (that is sadly no more) Viajante, and the Chiltern Firehouse after.  They are a street food favourite at Druid St Market where the serve ricewiches (rice sandwich with things like short rib, carrot and kimchi) and previously at Broadway Market where they were serving congee with Galician beef floss, egg and piri piri oil. I am still furious with myself that I didn’t run up there and get a bowl. For the month of March they are serving an all day brunch menu with a strong Asian accent at the lovely Newman Arms. I went on Saturday. 

I was keen, to put it mildly, so much so that I was stopped mid order and asked if I really wanted to order that much. Yes, I did! I didn’t want to share my congee so we need two, and I don’t want to share my XO egg with katsuobushi either (who would?!). But I paused and reflected and took a couple of things off. In the end, we had the perfect amount of food. 

Chicken Congee at Tata Eatery

Chicken Congee at Tata Eatery

Congee with chicken stock, herb sauce and crispy chicken skin with dough sticks started us off. A bowl each. Natch. The congee was gently and soothing with pops of crunchy intense skin and spikes of flavour from the herb sauce which had a Scandinavian flavour to it. Crowned with the  slices of dough stick, chewy and gorgeous as they were.

Braised peanuts with edamame and celery at Tata Eatery

Braised peanuts with edamame and celery at Tata Eatery

Housemade fermented vegetable salad at Tata Eatery

Housemade fermented vegetable salad at Tata Eatery

Braised peanuts with edamame and celery didn’t last long. There was something very more-ish about them. I love a cooked nut. House made fermented vegetable salad was intense and vibrant with lots of small contrasting sharp bites with an underlining depth of flavour from the fermentation. 

Prawn tartare with egg yolk and tobiko at Tata Eatery

Prawn tartare with egg yolk and tobiko at Tata Eatery

Prawn tartare was lovely, fresh and deeply savoury cured prawns with egg yolk and pops of tobiko (tiny flying fish roe). This is intense on its own with some bitterness underneath and goes very well with some of the rice with house dressing. Steamed tofu with spring onions and soy was simple and lightly dressed. 

Tata egg (fried egg with XO and katsuobushi) at Tata Eatery

Tata egg (fried egg with XO and katsuobushi) at Tata Eatery

Butifarra with turnip tops and a fried egg at Tata Eatery

Butifarra with turnip tops and a fried egg at Tata Eatery

Time for the eggs. TĀ TĀ egg, fried egg with XO (a spicy sauce from Hong Kong made with dried seafoods like scallops) and katsuobushi (dried, fermented and smoked skipjack tuna flakes) was bright and also intense. It didn’t last long. We finished with butifarra, a Catalan pork and rice sausage with a perfect fried egg on top and some turnip tops. A star. Get two of those if it is on.

On the side we had a glass of sake each, a Ninki “Junmia Genshu 11”, clean and round and a great match for the food. I love sake and find it generally misunderstood as sherry is. Many think it is a spirit, but it is in fact rice wine, and it can be quite light too.

The bill came to £46. We had already paid £10 each for our tickets and this was deducted from the bill. Their residency at the Newman Arms continues through March on Saturdays, and I will go again. Check out their Druid St Market stall too, and Druid St Market generally. It is a joy. Tickets are available on Billetto

Hotel du Petit Moulin Paris

A Luxurious Baking Mini Break in Paris at Hotel du Petit Moulin

Lets go to Paris shall we? Just for a little while, and just in our heads. Lovely Paris, broad boulevards, gorgeous architecture, the small winding streets of Le Marais and the pep and the quirk abounding. A quick jaunt to Paris is one of my favourite London things to do. It is such a joy to hop on the Eurostar in central London, and just over 2 hours later arrive in central Paris. A whole new world greets you off the train. 

Le Marais is one of my favourite places to stay when I visit. Previously the Jewish Quarter (and it still is to a large extent), Le Marais is very central and has many lovely restaurants, bars and cafes. Many designers have moved in, and yes, the chains are moving in now, but Le Marais still retains a charm and a gorgeousness that reels you in.

I spent a night at Hotel du Petit Moulin, a 17 room boutique hotel. In a 17th century building (and former boulangerie where Victor Hugo would buy his bread), I went to try a package that they were offering with La Cuisine, a cookery school just outside Le Marais facing the Seine and île Saint Louis, that small island in the centre of the Seine.

Hotel du Petit Moulin already has much to recommend it. Each room is individually designed by Christian Lacroix, and the breakfast room / evening honesty bar is one of the most cheerful and gorgeous rooms that I have ever seen. It is located in one of the most charming areas of Paris and is within walking distance of some terrific places to eat and drink. My room was beautiful and eclectic, and very comfortable. A free standing bath was accompanied by Hermes toiletries. Breakfast was classic French, pastries, yogurts, fruits, jams. I loved the whole hotel experience.

At La Cuisine I had a choice between making baguettes or croissants and breakfast pastries. Why make croissants when you can just buy them everywhere? Right? But homemade croissants are so good, so flaky, so rich with butter and they have to be eaten very fresh. Best out of the oven. And worth every ounce of effort. Yes, even corner shops sell croissants, but they are a bit lacklustre, aren’t they? Usually made with margarine and not butter, and only seeing a human hand when you go to eat it at the end.

Ah yes, but how do you know? In the shop or bakery, how do you know if they are made with butter or margarine? You can trust your nose and your taste buds of course, but you can tell with your eyes. Are the croissants straight or do they have a curve in them? Curved croissants are made with margarine, you see, and straight ones are always made with butter. Those are the (actual) rules.

Straight croissants rule. Croissant pastry is pastry that is delicately layered with butter with painstaking effort and organisation. Butter trumps margarine, no contest. For flavour, texture, and to quote a much used phrase “I would rather trust a farmer with my food, than a pharmacist”. Not only this, but freshness is key, you must eat your croissant within a few hours of them being baked, as traditional croissants are pure and have no preservatives.

Making croissants and breakfast pastries is fun. They take a while, and like most baking projects have rigid steps. But you are rewarded with wonderful golden flaky pastry, and better still you can play with them and be as creative as you want. The classes at La Cuisine are small and taught in English. My teacher was enthusiastic and knowledgable and taught us not only how to make the perfect croissant, but many other things that we could do with the croissant dough like pain au raisin, pain au chocolat and pain suisse (with pastry cream and chocolate chips_. We also experimented with delicious pastries made with pistachio paste (YES) and apricot jam. We experimented with shapes, and shaped them as rolls in and baked them in muffin trays. 

I left the class with a joyful bag of pastries in hand planning kitchen adventures with croissant pastries of my own. And planning my next return to Paris, and my next stay at the lovely Hotel du Petit Moulin. 

With thanks to Hotel du Petit Moulin who hosted my stay. Stays at Hotel du Petit Moulin start from €195 per room per night, based on two sharing on a B&B basis. The three-hour croissant and breakfast pastries class at La Cuisine costs €99. Booking in advance is recommended as they are popular. I travelled to Paris with Eurostar, who are currently offering tickets from £29 each way.