Sunday, November 24, 2013
Monday, November 18, 2013
The pure pleasure of being really well treated it noteable here. The waiters are perfectly attentive and explain everything, including the rotisserie roasting pineapples groaning and turning on heavy-duty iron machinery. It looks more like something you might loose a limb to in the industrial revolution. The very visible kitchen is like as beehive, full of activity and calm and order. Very very ordered.
To start, I had a simply served roast marrow with snails and anchovies. The accompanying pickles were so lightly preserved they still had a fantastic fresh crunch and life, and the cauliflower was cured with a little turmeric, a perfect twist to the tale. Served on an alabaster piece of bone it was simple and effective. The other main event in the starters was of course the meat fruit for which Dinner is famous: a pate encased in a mandarin gelatin case. It was so believable you could easily have slung the single fruit into the christmas centre-piece! And once bust open, the most delicate and slightly boozy parfait emerges. This dish is full of theatre but backed up with flavour.
Once I have recovered my waistline (and the in-laws bank balance) I would love a return to Dinner. It was everything we wanted it to be: the perfect balance of theatre, excellence and luxury.
Wednesday, November 6, 2013
One of my new favourite things is a bean sprout salad. It sounds a bit worthy, but trust me, it brings new light to these odd jellylike strands which have always rather confused me. Bought in big bags in the Wing Tai Supermarket, we usually use half a bag in a hot chicken broth and then the remaining sproglets lurk in the fridge until they take on a really rather revolting odour. Whilst this speaks volumes of my bad organisation in the refrigeration department, it also highlights how I suspect few of us really know what to do with a bean sprout. Great with some chicken skewers and simple rice, this really is like penicillin. Given that sprouts are very high in water you need to add flavours which are punchy and bring life, so don't hold back on the salt or toasted sesame oil - it really completes the picture.
Inspired by one of the best spots in Brixton Market, I've added kelp. This adds a really meaty angle to the simple salad. At Mama Lan's you can eat in peace (sometimes a hard task in Brixton!) I always order the vegetarian dumplings with a seaweed salad. It is always an absolute treat and entirely restorative sanctuary.
So, you need:
a bag of beansprouts
some dried kelp
toasted sesame oil
light soy sauce
a little chilli oil
the green tops of spring onions, sliced finely
black sesame seeds
All these ingredients can be bought from a Chinese supermarket like the Wing Tai. First of all bring a salted pot of water to the boil. When this is at a rumbling boil heap in the bean sprouts. Blanch for about 3 minutes and then plunge into cold water. They should be translucent. Meanwhile, pour boiling water of a handful of kelp to bring it back to life. Make the dressing by combining the sesame oil, soy, sugar, sea salt and chilli oil. The dressing should have a good salty kick so don't be shy. Thoroughly drain the sprouts and kelp, even placing in a clean drying-up cloth to absorb any excess water. Dress generously and garnish with lots of black sesame seeds and spring onions. This salad will keep for a few days in the fridge which is always helpful.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Right now, the darker the chocolate, the more hallowed it seems to be. And often, this is true. Milky chocolates can be over sweet and sickly. However, recently I've been fed up with the trend so wanted to explore some dairy chocolate cakes that are less intimidating than their deep dark chocolate counterparts (which often dry the mouth). The results have become a standard within weeks at Rosie's. Paired with banana, milk chocolate makes a fantastic loaf, a little chocolately, a little sweet and a lot comforting. The recipe from whence this comes has been slightly tweaked around. Yogurt instead of sour cream for example. Come and do a taste test. I'll throw in the tea for free. xxx
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Friday, October 4, 2013
The risotto itself was pretty simple and followed the usual pattern. Shallots, butter, saffron, rice, vermouth. I added roughly chopped string beans which have been in abundance of late and piled in the parmesan. Shared with my one of dearest of girlfriends, and washed down with cheap-corner-shop-wine and some seriously good gossip, it made for a perfect midweek dinner.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, blended or finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 carrots, blended or finely chopped
4 sticks of celery, blended or finely chopped
2 cans of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp olive oil
500g minced beef
1 dsp lea and perrins sauce
Sea salt, sugar and pepper
Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed medium pan on a medium flame. Blend the onions and garlic together so that you have a smooth mix. Pour into the pan and sweat for a few minutes, mixing frequently. Now add the carrots and celery and again sweat, this time for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and continue to simmer for half an hour on a low heat. Meanwhile heat some more oil in a frying pan. Add the beef and then quickly and meticulously stir and break it up as much as possible. There should be NO lumps. When the meat is beginning to brown, add to the vegetables and continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.
At this point, remove however much you need for your child to a container and refrigerate when cool. Continue cooking the grown-up sauce, adding vermouth and seasoning and worcester sauce and simmer for another 5 minutes. Cook your spaghetti and add parmesan or mild cheddar to serve.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
That said, this book is genuinely right up my street. And I'm not being paid to say so or anything! Each page is dedicated to a different design classic or kitchen object of desire. I do love a design classic.
The reassuring fact here, is how many of these design classics I actually own. It makes me feel like I'm really getting somewhere, building my tiny little empire of Kilner jars, pyrex jugs, Nambu Tekki saucepans (a wedding present). The beauty of this sort of a catalogue is that it makes you look at those ordinary every day objects with renewed respect. It's easy to forget how brilliant the ordinary is.
And then the other quality of a book like this is that it gets the juices flowing for the list of 'wants': my top three are the Robert Welch candlestick; the Jasper Morrison Kettle (so sleek!) and more Global knives. Anyone, feel free to gift!
This book makes for an excellent bit of bedtime reading and well worth giving to someone that a. likes design. b. likes cooking. Simple.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
My husband has gone away for the weekend. And he's taken the baby! I haven't been alone for ten months. Not really. Not without Billy. So this morning, having bid them farewell, I slunk back to bed to watch the last episode of Luther on the iplayer, lolled around in my pyjamas, oiled all the worktops and finally headed out with my shopping trolley. With the world (well, Peckham) as my oyster, I headed for Franks Cafe and had a shandy and some mackerel escabeche. It was delicious, uninterrupted and very sunny. I cruised into Charlie's at Flock and Herd for a piece of gammon and headed home with the ambition of some focussed recipe testing. The pavlova base is cooling in the oven and here's the lemon curd recipe to accompany these little snaps.
Pretty easy, right?
Sunday, June 16, 2013
Friday, May 17, 2013
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Sunday, May 5, 2013
We've been closed for a week, with Sean at the helm of a refurbishment for Rosie's. It has given me nightmares but when I arrived at the deli yesterday morning I was totally overcome by what an amazing job he had done and how lovely our little cafe is. The music was pumping and the vibes were very very strong! And all the girls were busily putting everything back in place and creating the warmth and vitality that we are known for. I caught up with an old friend over coffee and then ordered what is fast becoming a signature sandwich, The Reuben. It was absolutely sensational - sharp pickled cabbage, salty wet beef, fat gerkins, swiss cheese and a delicious sweet dressing. It is honestly one of the tastiest things I have ever had. So come on over, check out the new improved deli (even with a roof window drenching the place in natural sunlight) and try a classic Reuben on rye. Wash it down with a flatwhite and bob's your uncle. To be honest, I am so hungover this morning after Sink the Pink that I might actually have to get an express delivery.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
.... In the words of The Spice Girls.
My husband has been away for 2 weeks, living it up on work in LA. I have been looking after Billy, our baby, a wonderful and relentless task. You frequently forget to eat and I have been totally devoid of inspiration in the kitchen. This is because food for one, at the end of a very long day, is just boring. There are no two ways about it. I made a pasta sauce and that lasted a few days. And then there was some set polenta, which when shallow fried makes a delicious treat. Hardly interesting though.
Raf got home and within an instant, the chillies were out and we were plotting our dinner. Maybe that's the point. You get to plot and ruminate together and converse until you reach the decision of what is for supper. Then you go shopping and grab a few things, and then things start hotting up. Last night we had a simple crunchy noodle salad, loaded with chillies and turmeric baked chicken thighs. And tonight I've quite literally knocked up a peri peri chicken marinade (perhaps fitting as our first date was actually to Nandos!) We decided on buttery rice like they serve in the Portuguese cafes in and around Brixton, and a crunchy lemon dressed bowl of iceberg lettuce. It just seems so much more exciting than what I've been cooking in his absence. Thank god he is home.
To make Peri Peri Sauce, it really is very easy. Whizz up the following... A roasted red pepper (I used a jarred one), 4 garlic cloves, 7 small red chilies, 1 lemon, juiced, 2 tsp salt, lots of freshly milled pepper, 1 tsp smoked hot paprika, 1 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 2 tbsp olive oil and 3 tbsp white wine vinegar. Pour over your chicken. I took the wings off mine and then chopped the whole carcass in half which required a little elbow grease. Leave for a few hours to melge. Shortly Raf will sling it on the BBQ, that's if I can wake him from his jetlag induced sofa coma.
Sunday, March 31, 2013
We have been plotting today's lunch all week. It's very simple actually, dependent on a good homemade chicken stock and some decent sea bass. It was, I must concede, perfect. Light but filling. Delicate and straight forward. There is a waft of aniseed from the crushed fennel seeds which nicely off sets the fish. And equally the creaminess of risotto rice juxtaposes the clean fish meat.
Simply, make a risotto starting with celery and shallots. Use lots of butter. Add puréed butternut squash, saffron and good stock. Finish with more butter and Parmesan.
For the fish, it will take about 6 minutes. Make a rub by grinding fennel seeds, red pepper corns and rock salt. Rub this on the skin side of fillets of sea bass. Fry in a non stick pan on a high heat so that the skins become crisp and brittle.
Serve with crisply fried pancetta for a salty injection.
We got our sea bass from Soper's in Nunhead. Just so you know.
Monday, March 25, 2013
I gave my husband, Raf, Every Grain of Rice for Christmas. This was clearly a selfish present. However as it turns out, he gave me Charles Phan's Vietnamese Home Cooking, so we are basically even. Or both obsessed with food. Both books are beautifully published and insight extreme cooking lock-ins!
As Raf was in Miami this weekend, my best friend Doctor Helen and I had planned to engulf ourselves in Every Grain of Rice by Fuchsia Dunlop. A Chinese banquet of new proportions. We chose an array of dishes, some new to us and some more familiar friends, and a few of our own too. It was an absolute blast and I can't think of a much better way to spend a Saturday. While Billy, the baby, bounced in the doorway, we poached beef, smashed cucumbers and pressure cooked the most unctuous ribs I have EVER tasted.
What's great about Fuchsia's book and something really noteworthy, is that each of the dishes we produced looked exactly like the food photographed in the book. This isn't always the case. For extreme proof of this, checkout Pip's acerbic blog on just this subject. Here is a beef dish and a cucumber salad which are almost identical to Fuchsia's. The beef dish called for shin, not a cut I have previously bought. You slow poach it for hours with ginger and spices (which makes the house smell fantastic). Cold and finely sliced, heaped with crunchy celery and nuts and a dressing, it's not your average Chinese take-away standard. It's hot and deep and thoroughly pleasing (I was worried it was going to be dry but it's not. It's flaky and delicious). The cucumbers were also a triumph. Literally smashed, with a rolling pin, and marinated in Chinese chilli oil and Szechuan pepper corns, this salad is disceptively fiery and fantastic as a result: hot from the dressing and cold from the watery cucumbers.
We also made Chicken with blackbeans, which sounds more recognisable. You might be imagining diced breasts and a gloopy blackbean sauce. THINK AGAIN. Like every cook worth their salt, she stipulates thighs, a much more tasty portion of bird, being close to the bone and blessed with more brown meat. The thighs were marinated in a light mix of soy sauces, shaoxing cooking wine (which smells just like sherry actually) and potato flour. At the last they were fried in Doctor Helen's well seasoned wok with peppers and salted black beans. These, like many ingredients listed in this great book, can be bought at a good Asian super market. Our nearest and dearest is called Wing Tai Supermarket and without stressing the point too much, is my favourite shop in the world. Whilst these new fangled ingredients may be off putting initially, don't be faint hearted. By exploring new ingredients you will learn so much. The black beans came in a small packet and were shrivelled with a slight bloom. Rinsed, they were absolutely delicious. I would happily eat these just as they are with a cold beer as a snack. They are small and potent and salty and when added to lightly seasoned chicken they are the perfect juxtaposition. Once you have cooked (and quickly devoured, hence the lack of photo) this dish properly you will understand why it has become such a stalwart in the Anglo-Chinese restaurant culture.
In short, buy this book. It's bleeding good and the food is delicious. Accept the challenge, do some foraging in your local shops and you too can have a perfect Chinese banquet.