Sunday, 30 November 2008
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
Sunday, 2 November 2008
Saturday, 25 October 2008
I reckon he the mans is allowed a small percentage of experimental disasters, I certainly have in my time; watery cauliflower cheese , sunken cakes , over alcoholised stews, over cooked rock hard
My success in August , was a lovely breast of duck in sichuan spices. I was very reluctant to cook it as its not an easy dish to do , as you have to be patient and render the fat of really slowly by cooking on a low light skin side down and I was determined to make sure it was medium rare too , so quite a tall order I gave myself!!! He the mans was due home late and I just had to try. After a lot of shouting and panicking to no one in particular, it came together. You would think I was creating some intricate gourmet dish with the way I was flapping around! It was in fact very simple in the end! I wilted some pak choy and then after I then de glazed the frying pan with soy sauce , rice wine and a little sugar poured this over the dish.
Another dish Id forgotten about , but was very savoury and flavoursome , was a Bruschetta dish created by he the mans with fresh grilled sardines on toasted Bruschetta bread , served with a wonderful tomato compote made with a mixture of mini santini tomato's, capers , onions , balsamic vinegar , parsley , lemon, garlic & seasoning all shallow fried together with olive oil.
Tonight's meal is another experimentation, whilst it doesn't sound to good , it smells amazing. He the mans has coated lamb chops with ciabatta breadcrumbs , mixed herbs and garlic salt. There is also a whole butternut squash being roasted in Cinnamon, honey & olive oil and seasoning. It should in all intents and purposes be good to eat, who knows , Ill find out in 5 minutes and let you know!!!!!!
Sunday, 28 September 2008
Tuesday, 2 September 2008
ohhhh what a lovely weekend we had for our anniversary a couple of weekends back. A wonderfully smart evening at Clos Maggiore followed by a night at One Aldwych In Covent Garden. I was allowed to leave the nest much earlier than he the mans and headed up to Covent Garden on the overground and underground, (which I like as I get to read for a solid 40minutes with no interruptions), for a wander around mid afternoon. It was bliss: sun , shopping and no kiddlies hands!! Don't get me wrong I love my girlie's and missed them , but Im with them morning , noon and night , sometimes with no adult contact for days except the shopkeeper up the road! This has been one long long long summer break , at nearly 8 weeks!!! There is however nothing like freedom!!!
We unfortunately had to wait nearly half an hour for our table , which was a little bit of shame , but the upside was being offered a lovely glass of pink champagne on the house and my favourite; some tapenade with bread sticks, all served in these lovely little teeny copper pans! All partaken in a lovely little dark and cosy sitting area at the front of the restaurant. The staff were very apologetic and kept on making sure we were OK and that we didn't have long to wait.
Eventually we were shown to a lovely table as requested at the back in the conservatory. We chose the lavish six course Tasting menu as it seemed to have a lovely selection and we thought well, it is for a special occasion . Its also a great way to try a variety of the restaurant dishes in miniature!
Id never had pigeon before but as the 1st starter it was melt in the mouth and a wonderful combination, all sweet , savoury and salty. The teeny fried egg was a cute touch and matched the quirkiness of the place perfectly!
The second starter of scallops was also very delicious and savoury , with a ridiculously healthy fluo green watercress puree.
He the mans wasn't so keen on the taste and texture of the lobster dish as small squares of black , green and white pasta sat in the bisque base which had a slightly smokey flavour to it. I would have liked some more bisque in mine , sans the pasta, as it was so velvety and moreish! The nice touch is that it is poured into your bowl at the table from one of those little copper pans.
At this point he the mans was getting a bit touchy about me snapping away and not just enjoying , so alas I have no picture of the duck dish. It was however very delicious. The duck was perfectly cooked , the deep dark unctuous sauce not to sweet and the treacle marinated skin a lovely touch . I loved the little grapefruit cake on the side , he the mans detests the stuff so I had a little extra! It helped balance the sweetness of the meat and sauce with its sour acidic taste. This is one of my favourite types of evening dishes.
I also have no picture of the cheese plate , but we had a small taste of about three -four soft and hard cheeses from around europe including ; a hard cheese comte from France, a soft cheese
Robiola Pineta from Italy and Isle of Mull Cheddar , all with a lovely small block of quince jelly which Id love to find to have at home. This was served with the most enormous basket of lovely whole wheat , seedy and black and brown biscuits and breads, but we were so so full by then , only the cheese could be eaten!!
Unfortunately , due to the late dinner start we had to rush the dessert of mini opera cake and espresso ice cream , which was a shame as it was gorgeous, melt in the mouth and decadent. Guess what I had on mine?????
Yep I finally got my birthday plate with candle !!!
This is what he the mans one looked like before being devoured.
The Happy Birthday was a bit of an oversight by the restaurant , as it was our anniversary , nevertheless we thought it quite funny due to the boxwood birthday omission and didn't say anything, as the staff there were so attentive, thoughtful and efficient . We were literally running out of the restaurant at this point , to a shocked maitre de face , I think he thought we were upset with the meal ! My sister and her mans were also in central London for the evening for their anniversary dinner at Apsley , a gorgeous modern Italian restaurant at The Lanesborough ( I see another contender for a review )and had planned to meet us for drinks at our Hotel at 11ish. It was now heading for 11:45 , and a bit like Cinders the night was nearly over.
We finished the night off with drinks , (mine was a watermelon and lychee virgin cocktail which was very fresh and aromatic ) and nibbles in the lounge at One Aldwych.
The next morning , we didn't fancy breakfast at the hotel , as it seemed all a bit to formal and serious , so we made the most of being alone and drove over to Clerkenwell , initially the idea was too try a brunch at The Zetter hotel, but when we got there we just didn't fancy the rather overpriced and fussy menu and noticed everyone walking to The Modern Pantry behind the hotel .
What a lovely surprise find ; cool relaxing decor of grey panelled walls , white and copper elements , friendly staff and a very well priced comforting menu (empty Zetter take note!). A winner all round and a very civilised end to a wonderful weekend reading newspapers and reminiscing about pre kiddy life!
It HAS to be done again next year , sighhhhhhhhhh!
Friday, 29 August 2008
Ive been wanting to come here since I visited taste Of London 3 yrs ago and had tried to get that famed melon soup recipe off of Stuart Gillies!
After all that I didn't even have it for my starter!!!!!! If Id had the tasting menu , I would have got to have it alongside my chosen starter and nosing at the tables aside from us , it looked like a good idea to have such variety.
Its attached to the Wonderful Berkley Hotel , which has the famed Blue Bar inside its classic , quirky yet contemporary decor and on the opposite side of Boxwood is also the famed Petrus , head chef Marcus Wareing.
I thought the atmosphere quite low key and relaxed with soft jazz music playing , despite this muted atmosphere , it seemed like every chic Hen do had decided to come for the evening (reems and reems of all female tables). It isn't what I would say is a funky happening place , but it was still quite lovely. We unfortunately weren't in our loveliest of moods , having dealt with a meltdown from Cupcake an hour before at home! More of that on Gifted Hand!
At an opened door we were greeted by a Maitre de , (he the mans pointed out that he felt all of Gordon Ramsey's Maitre de's look like someone from the Mafia, think Godfather!!), in what seemed like a very green interior .The main theme is dark woods and dark mint green leather with silver walled tiles. Some of the lighting looks tired and battered and above some of them were ripped! I don't think we had the best table in the house and really should have said something, no matter the food was still very good!
He the mans started with a Foie gras pate, he found he couldn't finish it due its rich sweetness , so I did him the favour of cleaning the little pot out! It was a nice taste change to my Salmon Ceviche , which I was a little disappointed with, as this is one of my favourite dishes if done properly. A true South American Ceviche is teeny cubes of raw fish marinated in citrus's and sometimes spices, which gives the dish a piquancy I love and may be I'm being philistine to want these strong flavours with such good qaulity salmon , but there you go! Although beautifully served , I found the large slices a bit bland and the shredded crab a bit tasteless. It was all very very fresh though.
For my main I just had to have Lobster, I don't have it out very often due to the cost v the quality as in many places its been so rubbery and measly, but on my birthday he the mans said to go for it! It was most probably the best Lobster Id ever had ; soft , sweet , flaky and melt in the mouth. The only thing , although I love it ,was that I stank of garlic for the next 3 days, as it was smothered in it with herbs!!!
He the mans had a lovely Halibut on a buttery sauce with new potatos , but I didnt even try it , as by this time , I think I was all fished out!!
For dessert although quite cheesy , we had a Valrhona chocolate fondue with fresh marshmallows, Biscotti and strawberries. I was channeling the 10yr old in me , as the table next to us had been served with a Birthday plate version of his fondue for the husband and I didnt get any such a thing , (he the mans take note for next year!!!).
Id say It was a lovely meal but I wouldn't rush back there as it didn't set the world alight. I found the menu to be mainly good classic dishes, but may be I'm in the mood these days for something a bit crazy and different, like L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (as I'm so spoilt at home with he the mans own great food, so its all his fault for raising the bar!!!!). It was however very fresh , beautifully served , amazingly cooked and the service was efficient , may be a little too efficient !
Saturday, 9 August 2008
I may have to set one evening a week to post on here and stick to it ,somehow!!!
A couple of weeks back he the mans made an old fave for me and my littluns fish goujons. We normally have it with salsa Verde , but this time he made a traditional tar tare sauce (well a cheats one!). His special ingredients for the batter being panko breadcrumbs and ciabatta breadcrumbs. It gives them an amazing crunch and the leftovers were heated up in the oven the next day for my girls and they love them.
You will need
sunflower oil for frying
2 fillets cod/haddock
panko breadcrumbs (or try Atari Ya supermarkets)
ciabatta breadcrumbs (sometimes sold in Waitrose - although not seen them on Ocado)
1 whipped egg
check seasoning , some ready made breadcrumbs are seasoned already
Cut fish into long small pieces , coat in egg , roll in the breadcrumbs and fry until golden.
Tar tare sauce :
chop all ingredients finely and mix with the mayo.
Onto the Salmon kebabs for the girls, cupcake loved them , however pickle wasnt so keen , but its always worth another try!
You will need
2 fillets of salmon cubed
I did these in a chinese marinade with light and dark soy sauce, mirin, agave syrup and sesame oil and a little groundnut oil for frying. Make up the kebabs 1st and sit them in a wide shallow dish with the marinade for a couple of hours. Then griddle until done. I served them with an uncle bens special fried rice. I would normally do fresh , but this is a great time saver when I only have a little time at home before their dinner
Sunday, 20 July 2008
I love this hotel and always enjoy a meal here. Its tucked away in the forests of Hertfordshire near Watford and you wouldn't even know it exists far from its entrance gates on the A41. It was once a large old country home to the Earl of Clarendon , now a well thought through contemporary funky haven. I love its unusual and eclectic mix of antique, quirky Avant garde and modern classic furniture and artefact's. I was lucky to work with the main designer Mary Fox Linton a few years ago. They design the most sumptuous furniture, taking classic styles and making them very much of now.
Monday, 14 July 2008
You could say we had a Ramsey comes Rhodes inspired night and to help with our presentation I made some notes for us to both refer to ! Its a big thing for us cooking for a new audience , so everything had to be thought through.
Here's the menu :
Starter made by moi :
Chilled melon and basil soup - care of Stuart Gillies at Boxwood Cafe (Gordon Ramsey Holdings)
I was very lucky this worked well the 2nd time ,as lets face it , you cant always re create things as well as the 1st time. We had a mini disaster when opening the melons to find they were green ones and not what we had ordered and he the mans had to go searching quite late in the day for ripe orange cantaloupes , not an easy task but he did well. Its always quite good for the foodie ego to experience a humbling mini disaster!!! I was a bit nervous about serving this , as chilled liquids can be a somewhat acquired taste , but everyone finished every drop. My dinner guest L went as far to say that if M&S sold it fresh in a tub , shed go and buy it!!! Such a lovely compliment and makes all the effort very well worth it.
Main made by he the mans mainly from Gordon Ramsey's Secrets book :
Fillet with gratin of wild mushrooms - page 73
Braised baby gem lettuce - page 126
Butter fondant potatoes - page 151 of Gary Rhodes at the table
Sadly I have no picture of the finished plate , well apart from the one you can just make out in my previous posts pictures at the bottom from the book, but it went down very well and every plate was clean!!! I was really surprised at the lettuce dish , as soggy lettuce I didn't fancy much and urged he the mans to think of something else , but he ignored me , as you can see!(well you cant actually , but you get my drift). My other dinner guest K said it was reminiscent of bok choi and she was right , it is a savoury, soft and crunchy side dish. The potatoes were a good change to roast potatoes , but much much more naughtier being cooked in butter, I must admit I try not to eat as many as I used to when eating meat also.
The steak was wonderful (I think I can say that, it being he the mans creation and not mine?) . There is nothing more comforting than steak with a creamy sauce , but whats lovely about this is a sauce that sits perfectly right on the top of the steak so that every cut you make comes with a substantial topping. We were also blessed on the night that it didn't all slide off! Oh and despite it coming out quite rare , it was still eaten , even though several said they don't normally eat steak that way.
Id' just like to say here that I'm rather proud and in admiration of he the mans ability to put together a lovely combination of dishes and flavours. A little round of applause to him.
Anyway enough of all that , his head will swell to much, back to the menu!
Dessert was a joint effort and we made a lucky old favourite of pears accompanied by some new serving ideas :
Vanilla poached pears care of Delicious magazine September issue 2004 (page 76 for anyone who collects it). They may do back issues , Im not sure how far back though.
Served with dark chocolate sorbet - page 114 of Chocolate by Linda Collister
Watermelon and raspberry sorbet - page 96 of Ice cream and Frozen desserts by Peggy Fallon ,
Topped with Caramelized Melba toast - page 211 of Gary Rhodes at the table.
The pears always do well and are a nice fresh finish to a solid main dish. Its a mix of syrup, sweet Riesling , lemon and fresh vanilla in a wonderful fragrant combo. Unfortunately my chocolate sorbet became a grainy mushy mess, despite everyone thinking it was a mousse , I knew it was wrong and was quite disappointed and very typically said so, (I'm not good at lying but they would have been none the wiser had I kept shtum!). It becomes a very strange acidic sandy like mooosh rather than an icy melt in the mouth chocolate zing if the chocolate doesn't melt properly. Its actually a very hard sorbet to make, only 1/4 has ever worked, but I'm determined this summer to get it right and record how!
The watermelon sorbet is great (it reminds me of watermelon juice served in Thailand) and the addition of the raspberry vodka makes it all the more decadent and grown up , although may be not as healthy as pure watermelon, which is meant to great for the body in the summer. Little cupcake is very upset that I wont let her have any. I keep saying it has very grown up drink in it but shes not convinced!!!
I told my guests of my error to take more pictures and they said the best picture would be the table after its all gone , so here it is :
A sign of a good meal
Saturday, 12 July 2008
a sneaky at the recipe
Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Its great if you want seafood , or just a lovely piece of fresh fish. The latest refurbishment of this mini contemporary restaurant, (all padded cream and plum suedette walls and Wenge type woods), makes it feel like your in the West end and not Palmer's green. I don't know what it is but going out locally never feels like a proper night out , but here it does . I think what makes it an evening is that you can wait for people in a smart little bar area at the front with tables and bar stalls and even sit outside with the road unseen at the front on a small terrace with umbrellas that reminds me of holidays in the med. There's something nice about an aperitif before partaking in a meal , its all very civilised!
We all opted for fresh fish, 2 of our party being kosher. It just didn't feel right somehow eating some huge crustacean, even though they don't mind and I'm the liberal sort of Jew ,it just sometimes feels a bit funny it in front of others who are more strict.
I started with a melt in the mouth tuna carpaccio , which wasn't on the menu , but on the online one and the chef kindly agreed to make it for me with the additional guacamole. The others chose an amazing Pernod marinated Alaskan black cod, which was really savoury and sweet with a fruit salsa, a great combination but not easy to replicate at home I imagine.
We all then went for versions of grilled Terbot and Dover sole in various sauces : meuniere or fennel and cucumber salsa. All very beautifully cooked and tasty.
It was a last minute thing later in the week to go and I'm surprised we got a table for Saturday night for four people , although it was for 9:15 . I am always a bit apprehensive about some of the local places and went thinking this will be an OK ish evening, but I'm glad we went . It worked out lovely , ( I got a chance to dress up and out of my mum clothes) and we had a very enjoyable evening with charming surroundings , (we had a private little room like area to ourselves), friendly thoughtful staff and great food .It also makes such a refreshing change to have good service after my experience a few weeks back too. I recommend it to all who come this way.
Alas I have no pictures for this and the website while clever doesn't show you what it really looks like.
Oh and he the mans also made a great Stifado (a rich , meaty and spicey sweet greek stew) and parsley & lemon potato's at the weekend and I need to post the recipe, as it was the scrummiest . Although hes not been home to tell me were he got his recipe from , so it will be on here soon!
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Don't get me wrong I'll slum it with the best of them and in those moments when sometimes all you want is a food pill and be done I'll eat with my fingers , out of paper , polystyrene (god forbid) or anything coming my way . Just at home in our own space we like to have fun and strive to do it with style. The only thing is that no one wants us back to there's after a dinner party here , as we tend to go on mission like the next Masterchef!!!! and now Ive said that all our future meals will probably be dire and we'll be eating humble pie not Heston's!!! and yes may some of it is posturing , but also , we just enjoy the process of it all and the enjoyment others have in eating what we serve and how we serve it.