Wednesday 30 November 2011


Mussels with courgette "chips"* and tomatoes.

*not chips

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Monday 28 November 2011

A Few Things

Some delicious salmon that I found in the freezer - with leek/kale and sweet potato mash.

Also - not certain I posted this before, but here is some quail and lentils from last weekend. I love quails. They taste GOOD.


We were too incompetent to buy/defrost anything for tea today, so resorted (pretty cheerily, in my case) to fridge/cupboard creativity.

Cauliflower curry.
Husband had his with, weirdly, pasta in the shape of The Simpsons (I discovered too late that we has run out of rice).

I ate mine with dollops of @KaveyF's chilli pickle, which is delicious :-)

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Friday 25 November 2011

Must be Almost Christmas

As there are sprouts everywhere.

Is fine by me. I love sprouts.

Tonight, we fried lardons, a lot of sliced garlic and some chilli and then turned down the heat and added thinly sliced leeks, which we cooked gently for about half an hour till they were softnice.
Chucked in the quartered sprouts about 10 minutes before the end, cooked for a bit and then added a big spoonful of Dijon mustard, a little tiny bit of butter and a splash of cider vinegar.

Delicious :)

I also made six Christmas puddings and tested my new Red.

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Thursday 24 November 2011

Fish Wednesday

Tea yesterday - Rather inexpertly filleted, but nonetheless delicious sea bass, with garlicky stirfried vegetables.

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Tuesday 22 November 2011

Domestic Bliss

Jerk chicken and veggies.
Made by husband and waiting for me when I got home.

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Saturday 19 November 2011

Pie Eyed

I made some pies for a Pork Pie/Booze Extravaganza last night with lots of lovely people.

I can only show you the outsides as I didn't take any pictures At All once the pies were in session.

One pork:

And one veggie:

And I also discovered these lovely people, who make this:

Which is delicious!

Let's Make Christmas: Mulled Wine Chocolates

A little late with this post, but here's what I made for the splendidly dynamic Vanessa Kimbell's fantastic 'Let's Make Christmas' event at Fortnum and Mason.

Mulled Wine Chocolates (method from William Curley's Couture Chocolate).

For the jelly:
500ml suitable red wine (I used a soft fruity merlot/cabernet blend)
250g demerara sugar
a lemon
8 sheets of gelatine

For the ganache:
400ml cream
a nutmeg
a cinnamon stick
10 cloves
60g liquid glucose
350g dark chocolate (I used Amedei)
60g unsalted butter

For the covering:
60g cocoa butter
150g dark chocolate
500g dark chocolate
lemon zest


Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Add the spices, simmer gently for a couple of minutes and then cover with cling film and leave to infuse for at least four hours.

In the meantime, make the jelly.
Chop up the gelatine a bit and soak in cold water for ten minutes.

Slice up the lemon and stick it into a pan with the wine. Chuck in the sugar too and bring to the boil. Simmer and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

Strain the mixture to remove the lemons (look how pretty and red they are!) and then return to the pan with the (squeezed out) gelatine.
Bring back to the boil, stir to dissolve gelatine and then simmer gently for about 25 minutes.

Line a cold tin with clingfilm or silicon paper.

When it has cooled slightly, pour in the jelly mixture and leave to set in a cool place.

When the cream has had long enough to infuse (it should taste spicy), strain it and return to the pan with the liquid glucose. Bring back to the boil and then remove from the heat, cooling until it reaches 65 degrees celcius.
Melt the chocolate over a pan of barely simmering water to 41.
Add the cooled cream to the chocolate and mix frantically to emulsify.
When this is smooth, add the butter (chopped and room temperature) and mix in.

Pour the ganache over the cold jelly and leave in a cool place overnight to set.

The next day, make a quick cocoa butter mixture - melt the cocoa butter and the (small amount of) chopped chocolate over boiling water.

Allow to cool slightly and then brush over the surface of the set ganache.

Leave to set for a couple of minutes, then flip (easier said than done, a parchment covered chopping board or similar would probably be useful here) over so that the jelly side is facing upwards.
Paint the jelly side in a similar way.

Using a hot knife (I used the hob, a hairdryer is also effective. Hot water isn't great as you, obviously, don't want to get any wet in the chocolate), chop the sheet of jelly/ganache into squares.
I don't seem to have a photo of this bit, but you get the picture.

When this is also set, you can temper your (big portion of) chocolate. Temperatures obviously vary a bit from chocolate to chocolate, but the principles are the same.
Heat the chocolate up (over boiling water) to about 41 degrees.
Then cool down to 28-29 (I did this in an ice bath, but it also is effective to add cold chopped chocolate).
Heat chocolate back up to 31 degrees.

Dip each square into the tempered chocolate to coat (easier said than done...) and leave on silicon paper to set.
I decorated with slivers of lemon zest.

Et voila!

The event itself was lovely. It was nice to see existing friends and meet new ones (sorry I didn't get to meet everyone - I promise to do better next time).

The quality of the homemade presents was phenomenal - everything looked really stunning.
I didn't take pictures, but there are lots knocking around on Twitter and blogs.
I took home Kavey's (of Kavey Eats) amazing chilli and ginger pickle. Hot and delicious - my favourite kind of thing - I'm really enjoying it so far.

Thursday 10 November 2011

You People Can Try To Tell Me...

... that this isn't the Actual Best Tea Ever, but you will be wrong.
And I shan't believe you!

See how pink and good?

Bandita totally agrees with me - she REALLY wants to eat it...


I accidentally ate in the Hawksmoor Guildhall bar last night.
I'm not going to name any names, but I was lured there under the false pretence of a quick post work drink...

I drank two delicious cocktails, which I don't remember the names of, but were both very pretty and in lovely shiny glassware.

And I ate this. A giant burger of giantness. With stilton in it.
And a vast thing of chips cooked in dripping.

The French dip ribby thing was also rather splendid...

Then I went home and made these.

AND did all the resultant washing up...

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Tuesday 8 November 2011

House Husband

My tasty husband is on a kind of sabbatical at the moment - he's conveniently finished one job a month before starting the next - so I keep coming home to a lovely clean house and my tea cooked for me :-)

Today - green things and jerk chicken...

A couple of days ago - beautiful duck livers with mushrooms and bacon with cauliflower and lovely broccoli...

Isn't he awesome?

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Monday 7 November 2011

Hawksmoor Guildhall

A few weeks ago, I excitedly made a booking for the new Hawksmoor Guildhall soft opening...
I booked an afternoon off work, ate a teeny tiny breakfast, omitted to make a packed lunch and then disaster struck... They had a kitchen fire and closed for 48 hours. Much sadness was in my world...

However, the nice Hawksmoor people were extremely lovely and helpful under what must have been horrible circumstances and made me a new reservation for lunch the following week.
AND, on Thursday, it was finally time!

I know lots of people have already said it, but I hadn't really been ready for the sheer scale of the place. It's enormous. I'd only been to Spitalfields previously, which is quite moderate and snug. The new Guildhall restaurant is not. It's vast. And very oak panelled and glossy. Not AT ALL good for taking iPhone photos, so apologies for the quality!

We were shown to our table and immediately snuggled down with the menu and wine list.
There is also an extensive and delightful looking cocktail list, but husband somehow managed to talk me into being sensible, it being only 1pm and all.

I won with the ordering though I silenced his hmming and haaing over how hungry once could possibly be at lunchtime and manfully ordered us the plum pudding ribs starter.

Ribs were melty meaty good and smothered in a delicious sticky marinade (which, I assume, provided the plum pudding element). The pickled cabbage was a lovely vinegary, very slightly scrunchy contrast.
It was quite salty. I like salt, but found it only just on the right side of the salt borderline. Husband felt similarly. Extremely enjoyable overall. He will defer to my superior starter judgement without a fight in future, surely :-)

We ordered steak mains, obviously.
Husband had the fillet and I had the (super aged) D rump (which, in my mind, will always be drump). Both turned out to be good steak choices. The people on the table next to us (who were, as was almost the whole clientele, well dressed city gents - no strangers to the steak lunch, I would say) had, I think, ribeyes, which were a much thinner cut. I think they were a bit jealous and resentful :-)

This is the fillet - husband ordered it very rare - bleu, and wasn't totally sure that that was what he actually got. However, there was no denying that it was delicious.

My Drump - rare. Beautiful. Sometimes I think I like other steak cuts better, but, honestly, is there anything that can compare to the flavour of a nice bit of rump?

We had sides of macaroni cheese (not something I would usually consider a side dish, tbh, but there's been so much raving about it, that I felt we ought to try), bone marrow and buttered sprouts with chestnuts.

So mains overall - fillet possibly done a little harder than requested and, like the ribs, both steaks were certainly on the edge of being oversalted. The meat was beautiful and flavourful though, and I loved the chargrilliness.
The macaroni cheese was nice, but I maintain that it's a weird side dish. I don't think we loved it as much as the rest of the world, but husband isn't a massive fan of cheese (I know, I know, but we're very well matched in lots of other ways ;-) ) and I don't *love* macaroni.
The bone marrow was hot, bone marrowy and delicious, but the star of the sides was indubitably the sprouts - buttery and lovely, retaining a little bit of scrunch and delightfully complimented by chestnuts and teeny tiny onions. Yum.
We drank four different wines by the glass (hence the non photographing thereof) - two French, one Italian and an Argentinian. All very good and in a variety of entertaining shaped glasses.

I'd have quite like a small foray into the world of desserts, but we really were a bit stuffed by this stage, and, in fact, none of them leapt off the page at me as major must haves. I suspect that's more to do with me than with the quality of the offerings - I'm not a massive hot pudding person and, as winter is approaching, that seemed to be the general theme.

When the bill arrived, our 50% soft opening food discount was magically deducted without us even asking, even though we were there a week late and after the official opening date.

The service was delightful - attentive without being annoying and really friendly and we enjoyed the food.
With the discount, I'd definitely go back. Without, I'd have to think a little bit harder - possibly for a special occasion, though I might specify that I wanted my steaks a wee bit less salty if at all possible.
I fancy the breakfasts though - they look absolutely amazing.
Now, how can I persuade husband to get up in the actual morning to come with me....?

Thursday 3 November 2011


Despite extreme volume of Hawksmoor lunch today (more on that later), I found myself a bit peckish this evening...

So - bread (which I made last night - doesn't show up very well here, but using rapeseed oil in it has made it a lovely yellow colour) and gravadlax.
Washed down with Champagne.

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Wednesday 2 November 2011

Cultural Exchange

I asked Twitter what I should get for my small nephew's first birthday the other day.
The gorgeous @Miss_Jordi was pretty unequivocal about the answer. This. Clearly.

So I ordered it from Amazon, it arrived and, it turns out, really is very lovely.
It raised some questions though. Most specifically, Lamingtons, wtf?

Google, Aussie colleagues and Twitter were pretty helpful. They seem to be little cakes, with or without jam, covered in something chocolatey and rolled in coconut. Yum.

I had to make some. Straight away :-)
The supremely clever Lex of LexEat came up trumps with these deliciously detailed instructions, so here's what I did...

The sponge was like a really light swiss roll type mix, where you frantically beat the eggs with a little bit of sugar for about a million years until they're super fluffy, before folding in some flour and a splash of melted butter.
I believe that such whisking activities do wonders for one's bingo wings...
However, I am the proud owner of a lovely stand mixer, and, for that, I am extremely grateful :-)

I opted to make my sponge thin.
I used a swiss roll tin, but I think even that might have been a bit over the top - it's definitely the kind of mixture you can just spread out on a sheet.
Here it is baked.
As per instructions, I turned it out and left it in a tin overnight.

I opted for mini sandwiches as an alternative to the messy jam dipping. I am assured that this is acceptable behaviour.

I opted for ganache, rather than chocolate icing. I don't know whether this is acceptable or not, but it was nice and straightforward.

The double dipping took a bit of practice before I really got the hang of it, but it went pretty well overall.

The fridging of the cakes was an extremely cunning step... It made the enchocolating work really well.

They went down a storm.
Or maybe people were just being polite :-)

In any case, I feel like I've learned something about another culture.
Possums and cake - how civilised!

Bonza :-)

Tuesday 1 November 2011

The Cure

Gravadlax, wot I made (with thanks to @timhayward for his clever recipe, @markymarket for the salmon and @EffBeeee for having the idea in the first place), served with fried green things.

It really IS that bright.

I am very proud :-)