Oh hi! It’s me, back again.  Long time coming.  No excuses.  Anyway, today’s recipe is the thai green curry that I made last night.  IT WASN’T ALL THAT GREAT.  That’s not to say that it wasn’t tasty, but I think a few amendments would have made it closer to #asianperfection.  Amendments that I have included in the recipe below.

Firstly, you need to make the Thai Green Curry paste. I already had this made from about a delicious meal I was cooked a few weeks ago. One of the charms of this paste is that it can be kept for up to 3 weeks in the fridge, so make a big ole’ batch.  Anyway, this was a t.g.c.p. that I had no involvement in making, but I am told on good authority that it was this recipe  almost exactly.  Although this paste is lovely, it’s more ‘fragrant’ than it is ‘punchy’, and I would throw in a few more chillies and maybe go a little heavier with the cumin, coriander, and fish sauce.  But that’s just me, and I like a spicy t.g.c.

I made my t.g.c with chicken, broccoli and aubergine. Highly unauthentic, highly delicious.

Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Aubergine:

(Serves 3-4)

-t.g.c.p. around half the quantity made above, but add more/less as you wish

-1 Aubergine

-Cumin seeds

-Coriander seeds

-1 Onion

-3 Chicken breasts

-Some kind of green veg.  I used broccoli as it was in the fridge, but bok choi is probably nicer

-1/2 Tin coconut milk

 

To begin with, chop your aubergine into cubes and toss in oil.  When I was cutting my aubergine I was like ‘oh wow, it turns out aubergines totally smell of bananas when you cut them?’ and I thought I would reveal this awesome revelation to you blog readers to much applause.

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Unfortunately I then noticed I was chopping my aubergine next to some bananas. THEORY DISPELLED.

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Anyway, crush some cumin and coriander seeds and season.  (I scattered some coriander leaves on mine, but this was an error as they just became crispy and sad.) Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cover in tin foil and put into an oven on 200 degrees C for around an hour.  Aubergines take bloody ages to cook.  Image

Once your aubz are all soft and delicious, slice your onion and cook off (with a little of the cumin-coriander mix again).  Once they’re softened a little, add the t.g.c.p. to your frying pan and let it sizzle for a bit.  Next add your chicken, cut into cubes which are small enough to eat in one go, but big enough not to make you think of a ready meal. Depending on how crispy you like your green veg, add in at some point after the chicken but before the coconut milk.  Next stir in your already delicious cooked aubz.

Once the chicken is cooked, add in the coconut milk, and I added about a cup full of water. Note I mean a cup in the having-a-cup-next-to-your-hob-and-using-it way not the American official measurement kind of way. Give that a mix and let it get fully hot.

DID I MENTION YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN MAKING RICE ALL THIS TIME?

Plate up the curry on your rice, and sprinkle with some torn up coriander leaves.  I bought my coriander from Lidl, which meant it was only 59p for a siezeable bag, but also meant that I had a sadness in my heart for several hours afterwards.  It’s pretty grim in there lads.

Anyway, there you have it, Thai green curry with aubergine and chicken and a green veg of your chosing. Enjoy!

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I’d been wanting to go to this friendly looking Vietnamese café for a while, and I conveniently found myself starved and in the area yesterday.  I was pleased to find upon our arrival that the café is really pleasant inside, spacious and light with friendly staff.

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We started with a Vietnamese coffee each; one iced, one hot. These were great, both very strong coffee but with just the right amount of condensed milk layered at the bottom of the cup.  The hot one was served with a jazzy on-cup coffee filter which I loved, and found I was also able to buy for only £3.50- bargain.

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We ate lunch, having one dish each with a side salad to share, which was far more than we needed.  Be warned, the main dish portions are huge.  My sister had the Com Dia Chicken Satay Curry (£6.50).  The curry was thin and could have been a little more seasoned for my taste.  The chicken thigh was really tasty, and the spicy potatoes in the curry were delicious.  The dish was served with sticky rice and a quite endearing little salad garnish.  We both shared a Goi Prawn and Pork Salad (£5.50), which was the highlight for me.  It consisted of vermicelli noodles with grated carrot, spring onion, peanuts and various other treats and was seasoned perfectly; spicy, salty, sweet and sour.  It was a generous size for the price, and thoroughly enjoyable.

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I had the Nanh Canh Noodle Soup with Pork, Prawn and Crab (£7.90).  This was a hefty bowl of soup, with a good serving of all 3 meats.  It was also served with fresh lemon and chilli for you to add to taste, which I liked.  My only beef with the dish was that the homemade noodles were perhaps a little thicker and gummier than I would have liked, but overall I really enjoyed it, and felt thoroughly satisfied, if a little heavy, by the end of the meal.

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As you might have noticed, we didn’t try the Báhn Mì, largely because it was such a horrible day that we felt in need of something warming, but I definitely intend to go back and give them a go.  However, the dishes we had were pretty decent overall with a special mention for that amazing Goi salad.  Given the price, I would definitely return for a speedy, but tasty, lunch.

3/5

Báhn Mì Bay

4-6 Theobald’s Road

WC1X 8PN

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 a.k.a. Ridiculous Meal for one

I left work one night this week having thought about steak pretty much all day.  Since bout 8am my eyes had been pretty much glazed over, as I was thinking about every steak I’d ever known.  I even googled a few steak images (and, in doing so, found this gem of a tattoo.)

However, I realised that it was a night where my house was (unusually) empty.  Usually there are at least 3 of us together at dinnertime.  Not so tonight.  So, as I was rattling around the shops picking up food I was thinking, ‘Just me tonight. Light salad. Probably just have, like, a pitta.’  And then I saw a steak.

What followed was probably the most ludicrous meal for one I have ever cooked, for myself, on a work night, alone.

Small handful cherry tomatoes

Parsley

1 Banana Shallot

½ a Red Chilli

1 Clove Garlic

1 tsp Sugar

First chop the tomatoes into halves or quarters.  Thinly chop the shallot, chilli, garlic, and parsley. Mix together in a bowl with a glug of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Season with salt and pepper and a teaspoonful of sugar.  Leave to…I want to say ‘macerate’?

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1 large Maris Piper potato

Few springs of Rosemary

Peel the potato and chop quite evenly into 1cmx1cm squares. Heat olive oil and a few sprigs of rosemary in a frying pan, and add the potatoes.  Cook the potatoes over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, tossing them in the pan every minute or so. The pan should become quite dry, but the potatoes will not stick, but should slowly begin to brown as they cook.

1 Steak

When your potatoes are almost done, season your steak and rub a little oil onto it. Place into a very hot pan for 1-2 minutes each side for a rare steak. I’m not sure how to do other levels of cooking but I assume just leave it in longer.

3 tbsp white wine vinegar

4 black peppercorns

3 egg yolks

225g Butter

Tarragon

When the steak is done, take it out of the pan and leave to rest while you do your Béarnaise.  Boil the vinegar & peppercorns until they reduce by half, then strain into a heatproof bowl, over a pan of gently simmering water. Don’t let the water boil and touch the bowl, come on now.  Then add your eggs and whisk furiously until it becomes light and frothy.  Take off the heat and whisk in the melted butter, salt, pepper, and tarragon.

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ImageServe the steak with a jug of Béarnaise, a good spoonful of tomato salad, your PDTs and a nice glass of Prosecco.  Voilà – a ridiculous meal for one.

P.S. apologies that I didn’t wipe the jug clean properly. I’d never make it in a top kitchen.

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So, the time of year has come again…when everyone is totally disgusting and ill.  Given that basically everyone I know has been struck down with what my dad has always inexplicably called ‘stomach on the chest’ (?!), I felt the time was nigh for some comforting chicken dumpling soup.

Now my initial approach would usually be, chicken soup, drop in some Matzo balls, done. But, I remembered a while ago seeing Rachel Khoo (of The Little Paris Kitchen fame) making chicken quenelles in a broth and so I thought why not give that a go.

Chicken Stock:

Chicken carcass, bashed up a bit (hence this is perfect for a day-after-roast-chicken dinner),  alternatively you could use some wings and drumsticks, and remove them and pick the meat off to whizz up for the quenelles.

2 onions

2 carrots

2 celery sticks

Couple of Bay Leaves, bit of Rosemary & Thyme.

Fry off the veg in a big pot with a glug of oil until they’re just softened.  Season liberally with salt and peppercorns. Add the chicken and herbs, and fill pot with cold water.  Bring to the boil, skimming the gunk off the top as you go.  After 1.5-2 hours, sieve the mixture, leaving a tasty, almost clear chicken broth.

You can use as much of this as needed for the soup, and freeze the rest.

Or…buy some chicken stock and tell no one.

 

Chicken Quenelle Soup (Based on Rachel Khoo’s recipe):

Chicken Stock

2 Carrots (peeled and sliced in rounds)

5 Slices white bread (no crusts)

200g Chicken Breast

1 Egg & 1 Egg Yolk

100ml Double or Single Cream, depending on how heavy you want them

Nutmeg

Handful chopped mushrooms

Heat a large pan full of chicken stock and add the chopped carrots.  Bring this to the boil while you blitz together the bread, chicken, eggs, cream, nutmeg and salt and pepper.  If you’re feeling really decadent you can also add 50g butter to the mix. Make quenelles from this chicken paste by passing it between two spoons, and drop them into the simmering soup base.  They should float, and take only about 5 minutes to cook.  A couple of minutes before they’re done, add your sliced mushrooms.  I like Chestnut or even Shitaake. Serve with an absolute tonne of chopped parsley on top.

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This soup is really comforting on a cold winter’s day, and the quenelles are surprisingly rich and filling.  This will serve 4, but I don’t think it keeps very well so best to use it on the day.  Apologies for the filters on the pics.  I’m not really sure what I was thinking there.  Also, they make red wine look like coke.  Interesting.

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I wanted to try Bone Daddies after reading that it was the place that one of my favourite food bloggers, Lizzie (aka Hollow Legs), was going to break a bout of veganism.  Since mostly I have found her to have a similar insatiable appetite for all things excessive and meaty, I knew I would like it.

Having opened only a month ago, Ross Shonhan’s self-styled rock’n’roll ramen bar is already massively popular.  We went at 9pm on a Tuesday night and waited about 20 minutes for a table for 3. The wait was crowded but not wholly unpleasant, as the staff were friendly, and there was a bit of queue-chat going on.  The venue is all high tables and stools crammed quite closely together, with walls of rock’n’roll images of Tokya biker gangs etc. overall, it’s pretty vibrant and fun from the moment you arrive.

Once seated, we received our drinks (reasonable prices, good selection of Japanese Shochu and Whisky) and ordered food immediately.  For a kind of starter, we had the long stem broccoli (£4.50) and the fried chicken (£5).  The broccoli was totally up my street- cold and with a bite, served with Yuzukosho mayo (I think!) which was perfectly spicy and tangy.  We also had the fried chicken which was served with a squeeze of fresh lemon: chewy and salty and delicious.

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For my main, I couldn’t resist the Tonkotsu (£11) due to the ’20-hour bone broth’.  I added corn to mine (roasted and freshly sliced from the cob), but the range of possible add-on toppings was wide, and very reasonably priced.  One of these add-ons was a pipette of animal fat- possibly this would be nice with a lighter broth but it absolutely was not required in the case of the Tonkotsu.  The pork was delicious and falling-apart, complemented by crisp spring onions and pickled ginger.  The noodles were plentiful, the bamboo was soft and tasty, and the egg white was gelatinous with a runny yolk. The broth itself was delicious- incredibly deep with layers of rich pork flavouring. My only problem with this was that it was almost too rich.  Every spoonful coated the mouth (in a not-unpleasant way) but I found I couldn’t quite finish my bowlful, and felt VERY full after.

All in all, Bone Daddies is a raucous, fun and most of all tasty experience. Go with friends, expect to wait, have a few drinks, and slurp down some Ramen.  You’ll have a class time.

 

4/5

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So to preface this I’m going to have to say I KNOW I’m late to the game with this one, but- in my defence- I’m pretty new to London, and Brixton is bloody miles away from where I live.  But yes, Honest Burgers is now known as a Brixton Village institution, despite its relative newness.   With 5 star reviews from Time Out, and similarly high praise on review sites, I had high expectations, which I’m happy to say were not disappointed.

Being a person who has barely been south of the river, finding Brixton Village was a little tricky for me.  Just to save those of you who are new to the area a bit of wandering, if you are coming from the tube you take the left hand entrance to Brixton Village (c.f. the right, where the delights of Wishbone lie).  Brixton Village on a weeknight is a bit of a ghost town, and Honest Burgers was the only place open in the area we were in.  Given there is always a wait, this could be a little annoying, but they take your phone number and give you a time estimate meaning you can wander off to a pub that’s a little further afield.

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When we did get seated in the busy, makeshift-looking venue, we swiftly ordered a carafe of red wine (£11 and quite tasty) and went for the honest burger (£9).  They also had a fantastic sounding festive-y special (including cranberry and Camembert if I recall correctly), which looked lush, but I thought I should go with the classic.  It was beautiful. The beef is from Ginger Pig (meaning like me, it is Northern) and the quality of the meat was apparent thanks to the perfectly rare cooking; it really was exceptionally rich and juicy.  This was offset by the sharp pickled cucumber, and sweet onion relish.  It also included just the right amount of salty melted cheese (cheddar?) and a really tasty crispy bit ‘o’ bacon.  I’m a massive bread fan, and the bun was amongst the finest burger buns I’ve had the pleasure of tasting.  Sweet and perfectly toasted.  Each of the elements came together perfectly, and the result was undoubtedly one of the best burgers I’ve ever had.   All of the burgers come with Rosemary fries, which were perfectly salty with a real hit of rosemary.  My one criticism here is that ours were a little cold, but still very enjoyable.

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Service-wise, our waiter was friendly and efficient (given the high turnover even late on a Tuesday night) and had an impressive tendril of mullet creeping out from under his pork pie cap.

In terms of negatives there were only 2 real drawbacks- the chips, as mentioned, were a bit cold and not quite as fresh as I’d hoped.  This is a very minor criticism, and I definitely could still have eaten another bowlful.

My second criticism is more about London’s weather than the restaurant itself.  It was around -4 outside when we visited, and despite being full to the brim, the restaurant’s ad hoc venue wasn’t much warmer.  On top of which around half of the tables actually ARE outside, and despite the canny fleecy blankets that are left on each chair, the lack of heaters mean they probably won’t be too pleasant from now until about March.

In spite of these minor criticisms, I would HIGHLY recommend going if you haven’t already.  I have also heard from friends that the original Brixton Village restaurant is preferable to the Soho version, so, whatever the weather, grab a coat and get y’sels down there.

4.5/5

Yesterday was a great day at work.  Not only did I find a forgotten fiver in my desk drawer, but I was lucky enough to be invited along to Pierre Hermé for a tasting at their London Boutique.  I had heard of Pierre Hermé a few times before from Parisien friends.  I knew he had a reputation as a superstar pâtissière, but I had no idea of the delights that were to come.

We were greeted by our contact, the impossibly beautiful, impossibly French Matilde.  She told us about Pierre Hermé’s history.  Sometimes known as ‘the Picasso of Pastry’, PH studied under Gaston Lenôtre and previously consulted for Fauchon and Ladurée before setting up his own boutique in Tokyo 16 years ago.  The past 2 years have seen the first 2 British outposts.   I was pretty surprised to hear that his first shop was in Tokyo, but I think something of the very simple branding of the product, and the complex fruit and floral notes of his monthly Jardin D’antan collection probably reflects those Eastern influences.  Below is the picture of PH that we were shown which I found inappropriately hilarious. It looks like the caption might read “Chocolate macaroons?? I dunno, maybe add some foie gras?”

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Anyway, on to the actual tastings.  Firstly, it’s worth noting that the macaroons really are remarkably beautiful.  The shop had a macaroon Christmas Tree decoration, and the beautiful shine and colouring in the macaroons looked incredible when assembled into a structure in that way.  Even under the glass counter they glistened and sparkled, all ranges of colours and contrasts.  Another thing that is instantly noticeable is that they are significantly fuller than most macaroons (I’m looking at you Ladurée)- with a sizeable hunk of ganache between each shell. YUM.

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The salted caramel macaroon was a perfect mix of sweet and savoury, and the almost bitter taste of very dark caramel worked beautifully with the tang of sea-salt.  The signature ‘Mogador’ macaroon (Milk Chocolate and Passion Fruit) was a beautiful yellow flecked (apparently by hand) with dark brown, and tasted of intense passion fruit, whose sharpness was tempered by the smooth milk chocolate.  It was delicious, although admittedly the name is a little too Lord of the Rings to be instantly appealing.   The one macaroon I regretted not trying was the Dark Chocolate and Foie Gras variety.  I really didn’t believe it could work, but after trying his White Truffle macaroon (below) I realise I should have trusted him enough to request one.  My colleague did try this one, and she assured me that it was beautifully rich, and perfectly balanced between sweet and savoury.

The best macaroon I tried was genuinely unlike anything I have ever tasted before.  The White Truffle and Hazelnut macaroon.  My initial reaction to this is that it was probably a bizarre and thoughtless mashing of luxury ingredients.  I was wrong.  This macaroon is (necessarily) seasonal, and it LOOKS festive, shining like snow in white and silver. As soon as you lift it to your mouth the fragrance of the white truffle hits you, and- I admit- I was nervous to see how this would work with the sweet Macaroon.  The answer is: incredibly.  The closest I can come to describing it is to see imagine eating a mouth meltingly sweet piece of garlic. But of course it is so much sweeter, and so much more subtle and complex with the truffle flavouring.  It was genuinely astonishing.  Admittedly, it probably isn’t for everyone, and my colleague had a small retch at her first bite.  For me, it was perfection and I know I will be returning for a box for Christmas day.

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Thanks to the lovely Matilde and Jenny for such a wonderful morning. And to PH I guess, for making the best macaroon I’ve ever tasted.

(Photographs courtesy of the lovely Sarah Blaize-Coar @sassyblaize, image of Pierre Hermé from telegraph online).