Now that I’m finally over norovirus and a cold, I’m so ready to make up for lost time and start eating my way round London again. On Saturday we finally got around to visiting the new(ish) Tramontana Brindisa in Shoreditch. I was pleased when they opened up nearer home, replacing the sadly overrated raw vegetarian place Saf and meaning we don’t have to chance getting a spot in their small London Bridge restaurant any more. The new place is much bigger, and was almost empty on a Saturday lunch – I assume it’s busier on weekdays and for dinner.
The temptation is to go nuts with tapas and order way too much, and I might have done that. But everything was sooo good. A little bowl of soft, sharp goats curd was drizzled with honey and served with crunchy little breadsticks, and vivid green padron peppers were moreishly salty and smokey.
I loved the DIY pan de coca, which came with a perfectly ripe tomato, olive oil, salt flakes and cut garlic ready to rub on.
Josh ordered the ‘Patatas Tramontana’: oven-baked potato stuffed with sobrasada – a chorizo-type sausage paste – and cheese with a crisply fried egg on top. It looked amazing: he practically inhaled it and I’m plotting a way to cook a DIY veggie version at home.
This is such a great recipe for this time of year: warming, comforting and yet incredibly healthy. It’s basically a vegan Japanese take on a classic English beef stew, with gravy, melting potatoes and flavourful chunks of carrot and onion. Crispy tofu takes the place of beef, which acts like a sponge soaking up all the lovely liquor. I first got the recipe when I did my Japanese cooking course a couple of years ago, but I’ve adapted it a fair bit since then to suit my taste and store cupboard. Do try it, the flavours you get from so few simple ingredients is really surprising.
Handful green veg - French beans, sprouting broccoli, spring greens or pak choi would all work
20ml/1tbsp cooking sake
30ml mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
60ml dark soy sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
Sprinkle of nanami togarashi / shichimi (Japanese hot spice mix) - optional
Peel the potato, carrot and onion and chop into large chunks. Heat some vegetable oil in a wok or casserole and fry the veg for 5-10 minutes on a med-high heat. You want good colouring all over.
Mix the seasonings (sake, sugar, mirin and soy) in a small bowl and add to the pan, then add water to just cover the veg and bring to a simmer. Cover and leave to bubble gently away.
If you're using non-deep fried tofu you need to pre-fry it. Slice into 1cm pieces and blot well with kitchen paper. Dust with corn flour and shallow fry in oil on a medium heat until golden and crisp on both sides. After the veg has been cooking about ten minutes, add the tofu to the top of the pan.
After another ten minutes,add the green veg. Give another five minutes to just cook the green veg - the potatoes should be soft and cooked through now and the sauce reduced a little. Sprinkle in the nanami togarashi if using, or season with black pepper (it shouldn't need salt)
Leave for 5-10 mins off the heat to get all the flavours fully mingled, and serve on its own or with sticky rice. Serves 2 with leftovers to spare (it tastes great the next day), or 4 with rice.
Wow – I just found this wonderful new website via the Rockett St George newsletter and had to share…
Sous Chef is an online megamart for the serious home or professional chef – it neatly brings together hard to find products, tools and ingredients into one delightful site. Founded only two months ago by Nicola Lando, a home-turned-professional chef frustrated at not being able to source the kit she wanted, the site is a dream to browse if you’re remotely into food or cooking. Nicola has done a remarkable job at curation – the site’s got absolutely everything, from sous vide cookers obscure Korean chilli pastes. I just spent an entire lunch break drooling over all the sections and trying to decide what to shove into my cart first.
One of the smartest product ideas are these kits with all the ingredients you need to get started with certain cuisines or recipes, like Japanese sushi rice or middle-Eastern spices for Ottolenghi recipes. Once you have the basic stuff in your storecupboard, it’s so easy to rustle up quick, authentic food.
They have a particularly great range of Japanese and Korean stoneware, reminding me of some of the lovely ceramics we picked up in Japan. I really want to try cooking some Korean stone-pot rice so might have to pick one of these bad boys up.
Loads of top cookbooks from cult restaurants and chefs, alongside some classics (I highly recommend Japanese Cooking – A Simple Art, just as a wonderful bedside read. Yes, I read cookbooks in bed. What?)
Plus the site has loads of mouthwatering recipes to give you inspiration for what to cook next.
I’m really quite bowled over at the selection and delightful browsing experience of the well-designed site, and am filling my cart with goodies: a pot of Mexican bittersweet smoked paprika, a ravioli stamp, some shaoxing rice wine…
All product pics c/o Sous Chef (and this isn’t a sponsored post by the way, I just love the site).
Last weekend we had a good day out at the Fifteen Street party in Hoxton. Lots of great truck food, rum, and ice cream = my idea of fun. Rather than just take photos, I challenged myself – at Josh’s suggestion – to put together a little video of the event. So here it is:
Despite being pretty wobbly and amateurish I am quite proud! It only took an afternoon and I didn’t swear at Premiere once. Like it?
If you’ve been following my Instagrams recently you might have noticed (amongst the cats) a renewed enthusiasm for home-cooked dinners. The reason is that I got the new Ottolenghi book Jerusalem and I want to try making almost everything in it!
Written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, who both grew up in the city, the book is a love letter to the city’s rich food history. From childhood favourites to street food and special occasion desserts, this book covers loads of different recipes as well as giving lots of little insights into the fascinating history and culture of the area. You’ll also find a few recipes from Ottolenghi’s new restaurant NOPI, like the stunning butternut-tahini dip. It’s probably two-thirds vegetarian – there are separate meat and fish chapters but the pulse, pastry and vegetable chapters are stuffed full of things I want to try. (Talking of stuffed, there’s a whole chapter dedicated to things stuffed into things. Oof.)
It’s beautifully designed and photographed as usual and while the recipes can be time-consuming, they are not particularly difficult to follow. Perfect for relaxed Sunday evening cooking. One frequent complaint of Ottolenghi recipes is that the ingredients are hard to find, but I haven’t found anything hard to track down yet – though handily I do live in an area full of middle-eastern shops. But if you don’t, Ottolenghi has opened a web store of ingredients so there’s no excuse!
Here are a few of the dishes I’ve made already. Griddled and roasted courgette and tomatoes, boreks, and chermoula aubergine with fried cauliflower. They’ve all been super tasty, though I do need to learn to not deviate from the recipe or just guess at quantities, because the balance of flavours can get a bit overpowering if not handled properly.
Since the publishing company gave me a review copy but I was geeky enough to have pre-ordered it, I’m giving away the spare copy, along with a promo tote bag, to one of you! To enter, just comment on this post telling me to your favourite cook book or recipe site. Get an extra entry by tweeting about the giveaway too – just hit the share link right at the top of the post. The winner will be chosen at random on Sunday 23rd September. UK entrants only please.
The competition is finished, congrats to the winner, Jenny
I’ve mentioned before that I used to be not so good with baking. General cooking, no problem, but the mysterious alchemy of baking? Not so much. But things are improving – proving, hah – and I had a fun experiment recently thanks to a lump of fresh yeast, bought for just 50p at my lovely local bakery.
Making the perfect from-scratch pizza at home has become a bit of an obsession, and I’m getting very close now. It has a Franco Manca style raw pulped tomato sauce on top, finished simply with mozzarella, basil and olive oil. I just need a wood-fired oven to get that perfect bubbly charred finish.
Then I made these Nutella-spiked brioche buns (based on this recipe) to take into my first day at Sidekick. They were pretty tasty, though kind of more cakey than bready in texture. I also realised that Nutella is pretty delicious, after years of thinking I wouldn’t like it. I still maintain it is not appropriate breakfast food, however: I couldn’t even face these bad boys first thing in the morning.
I have the leftover yeast sitting in my freezer now – any favourite bread recipes I can try next?
I really enjoyed watching Michela Chiappa‘s recent Italian cooking series on Channel 4. The short series went from the basics of pasta making up to showstopping occasion pasta. Lots of veggie stuff too that was more exciting than the standard Italian fare too, like these ‘Nidi’ rolled pancakes.
Pic: Channel 4 Food
I’ve already had somesuccessfulexperiments with pasta making, so decided to level-up and try this lovely ‘silhouette’ pasta: the sheets are sandwiched with herbs before being cut into strands, leaving a pretty see-through effect as well as extra flavour.
I used some herbs from my garden pots – basil and sage – shredding them instead of keeping the leaves whole to distribute the flavour a bit more, and also added a generous amount of chilli flakes.
My pappardelle could have done with being a bit thinner – though you do add thickness from having two layers and risk ruining the effect if you re-roll too thinly – but the colour effect and extra flavours definitely came through.
The cold no-cook tomato sauce Michela paired the pasta with was really punchy and fresh, a great complement to the spiced herby pasta and perfect for a warmer evening. As the recipe warns, the sauce is VERY garlicky, so you might want to reduce the amount if you’re not a garlic fiend. I also blitzed mine a bit with a stick blender to make it coat the pasta better.
You can find the recipes for the pasta and sauce here. Making your own pasta is so much fun and really easy after a few practice runs. All you need is a basic cheap machine and you can even make the dough in bulk and freeze portions so you have fresh pasta practically on tap.
Josh has been homebrewing beer for quite a while now – since I bought him this kit last Christmas. One early explosion disaster aside the brews have all been very tasty, and he’s quickly graduated from using a kit into buying individual malts and hops to make specific flavours and styles.
For his latest one – a summery IPA – he let me design the label. I hand-drew the whole thing and just adjusted and coloured in Photoshop. I got them printed onto clear vinyl by the nice folks at Diginate.
The brew was supposed to be a celebration of our new garden, but a lot of setbacks have meant that it’s still a work in progress… anyway, the labels came out nice and I’m looking forward to enjoying one in the garden when it’s finally finished. I just hope that summer isn’t quite over yet…
I was invited to spend a night eating at the Global Feast on Friday, a series of suppers running alongside the Olympics which celebrate the cuisines of most of the competing countries. The nightly dinners each feature guest chefs cooking alongside Kerstin Rogers, the location of each night’s origins moving west round the world. A hugely ambitious project combining my loves of food and travel? How could I resist…
The evening started with a gin and tonic in the pretty setting of Stratford’s Old Town Hall, just a skip away from the Olympic Park.
The stunning banquet table, dreamed up by Alex Haw of Atmos Studio, who we had the pleasure of company with for the meal, is laser-cut into the shape of the world complete with longitude lines, topographic accuracy and a hole bored in to mark each large city. We were sat on the coast of Brazil facing the Andes!
Besides the amazing table itself, the effort put into the presentation was really impressive. I loved the map flowers and mini herb gardens sprouting up.
The food was equally impressive. After canapes and a started of curried egg, the main was a thali-style combination of paneer biryani (chicken for the meat-eaters, and a spiced lamb chop) with peanut aubergine and a little glass of yogurt soup called khadi, complemented by brilliant pink beetroot raita and warm chapattis. It looked as good as it tasted, the spicing containing Persian-influenced ingredients like rose and pistachio which are often found in Pakistani cooking.
After an interlude of brilliant Northern Indian dancing for entertainment, dessert was a trio of chocolate tarts by Pistachio Rose, each spiced with a warming background of chilli, fennel and chai. The white choc with fennel and rose was my favourite, yum yum.
The Global Feast runs every night of the Olympics, so there’s only 8 days left. Read more about the Indian night on Kerstin’s blog and grab tickets to the remaining nights here. Much more fun than that sports malarkey, eh?
Time for a roundup of what I’ve been eating lately. Sorry for mostly iPhone pics, my semi-broken camera means I don’t carry it around as much as usual..
We went to the soft launch of the new Wahaca on the South Bank. It’s constructed from shipping containers, beautifully designed and decorated, and the menu has loads of new dishes (hellooooo, 3-chilli tacos) as well as old favourites.
Macaroni cheese, tacos and griddled corn, washed down with lethal slushie margaritas, at the super-hip Rita’s pop up in Dalston’s Birthdays bar. In fact it was probably all a bit too hip for Sarah and I, and the food and hectic service not quite good enough to encourage a return visit.