9.2.17

CHICKEN "RAMEN" RECIPE

I'm a huge fan of ramen and really appreciate the time and effort that goes into making a proper bone broth in my favourite places that serve it in London and Kyoto - the broth takes 24 hours to make in the best restaurants, but sometimes when you get home from work and only decide what to eat en route home you need a cheat's way to speed things up. I whipped up this ramen in 40 minutes or so for friends and family last week and it went down so well that I wanted to share it here. It's not authentic, and probably shouldn't even be called ramen, but it was delicious, so here's my version. I was inspired to make this having spent an evening watching a wonderful new mini series called Hot Off the Wok with Lee Kum Kee - which you can catch here.

Serves 4

4 chicken thighs, bone in
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp Lee Kum Kee sesame oil
1 bobble of ginger (I didn't have any fresh ginger so used a couple of the mini packs ginger I'd kept from my Sushi Shop delivery recently!)
Water

4 free range eggs

Good quality chicken stock
2 tbsp miso paste, dissolved in a little hot water to make a liquid paste. I used red miso paste but you can use whatever you have/can buy 
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sriracha
Ramen noodles - I used 2 portions of these. You cook them straight from frozen, so they're handy to keep in the freezer for when you need them
12 mushrooms
1 chinese cabbage or pak choi 

Coriander
Chopped spring onions
Roasted sesame seeds

Start with the chicken. Marinate the thighs for up to 24 hours in the soy, sriracha, sesame oil and ginger. The best way to do this is adding it all to a zip lock freezer bag and popping it in the fridge. Once marinated tip the marinade and chicken into a large saucepan and fill with water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 40 minutes, scooping off any scum that forms on the top. Remove the chicken, keeping the liquid. Leave the chicken to cool slightly then shred the meat.

Bring another saucepan of water to boil and add the eggs. Cook for 6 minutes then run under cold water and peel.

Top up the chicken broth with some chicken stock, miso, soy sauce and sriracha. Bring to the boil and add the noodles, finely sliced cabbage and sliced mushrooms. Cook for 2-3 minutes.

Divided the shredded chicken between four bowls. Scoop out a big spoonful of noodles and vegetables and put them on top of the chicken. Fill the bowls up with the broth and top with a halved egg, coriander and spring onions and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. 



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8.2.17

RECENT EATS (III)

Another month, another selection of restaurants that for one reason or another - I think mostly that I didn't find any of them to be destination restaurants, ie they're fine and good if you're in the area but I wouldn't necessarily travel far to eat there again - aren't getting their own post but worthy of a mention all the same.

KILN, SOHO

Having been to neither Kiln, nor it's bigger sister Smoking Goat, Rhea and I rectified half of that situation with a trip to the former on Friday. Kiln is in the middle of Soho and like so many of the good ones, there's no reservations. So I whizzed down there straight from work and got our names on the list, then met the girls at Bar Swift where I'd booked a table for our unavoidable wait. Luckily Kiln run a "text you when your table's ready" system so we relaxed and caught up over martinis til we got the text to say there were seats for us at the restaurant. I think it was around an hour and a bit wait, and I'd put our names on the list at Kiln at ten past six. 

Kiln is a thai grill, seafood and claypots cooking restaurant which is lively and buzzing. There's counter seating upstairs where we sat and bigger tables downstairs. Go in a small group and then a) you have to wait as long and b) you'll get the counter seats which is where all the magic happens. We worked our way through a big portion of the menu and sizzled our tongues along the way. Highlights for me were the aged lamb and cumin skewer, and smoked sausage with turmeric, as well as the grilled Tamworth pork loin. Clay pot baked glass noodles with pork belly and brown crab meat was lacking in both meat and fish for me, and Rhea's made up version of the monkfish curry didn't really hit the spot, but then we shouldn't have swerved from the menu like that! Our bill was around £70 a head so not overly cheap, though with SO many excellent places open and opening in London I'm not sure I'll be rushing back to Kiln often. 


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3.2.17

A WEEKEND in PROVENCE

Our weekend in Provence with Olivence revolved mostly around food - after all, we were there to try all the wonderful olive products that are made in the region. This also included two wonderful meals in two of Marseille's top restaurants where we ate meals that had been designed to showcase the wonderful olive oils we'd sampled at the different mills and groves.

First up was a meal at Les Trois Forts, which is several storeys up at the top of the Sofitel hotel, with the most incredible views out over the old port of Marseille. Though this gorgeous sunset was actually looking out towards Les Trois Forts from our walk round the Christmas market before dinner.



We were seated at a huge round table right in the middle of the restaurant and started our specially designed meal with a perfectly poached egg (which I think had been cooked in a water bath at 63 degrees), on top of wild mushrooms and a green herb sauce made with the fruite noir olive oil. 



Our main course was the star for me - expertly cooked fillets of mullet on a creamy, rich risotto a la Provence with a bouillabaisse foam that was so tasty. Drizzled with olive oil this dish was right up there. As was the huge trolley of cheese that got rolled round afterwards for us to choose from. Though having chosen cheese I missed out on the olive oil themed pudding, but we all know how I feel about puddings!





Les Trois Forts was wonderful but the real highlight of the trip was the next day when we headed to Michelin starred Une Table, Au Sud where we had a cookery lesson with France's youngest starred chef, Ludovic Turac before sampling his creations at lunch in his restaurant. We prepped some of our lunch with Ludovic then watched him make his "aioli" - a piece of squid ink and olive bread topped with cod brandade and ribbons of vegetables - such a simple dish elevated to Michelin standards. 





Lunch opened with smoked mackerel pate on crispbread and a puff pastry roll stuffed with tapenade, which was warm and light and fluffy and superb. 



We'd made the parmesan tuille for the starter which came with vegetables and citrus zest in olive oil and melted in the mouth. 



Mains was bream wrapped in vine leaves with fennel and bisque foam. It was so good - zesty and really light, and cooking the fish in the vine leaf was such a great way to keep all the juiciness in. 



Dessert was a pretty plate of pineapple in various forms, with candied black olives, but far too sweet for me.



The food at Une Table, Au Sud is innovative and absolutely delicious. They do a lunchtime menu of three courses for 32euros, which is incredible value, so if you're in Marseille it's definitely worth checking out. 

Huge thank you to Olivence, all the wonderful olive oil producers and restaurants we ate at for such a great weekend. 





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2.2.17

A DOG'S DINNER with GRUB CLUB

Food and dogs are two of the things in life that can put an instant smile on my face. Combine the two and I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon, especially when it's with the lovely Grub Club team who invited me to Patio in the Park to do just that a couple of weekends ago. One of Grub Club's top chefs, Michelin trained Pratap of That Hungry Chef, had teamed up with dog walking company Tailster to put on a feast for both two and four legged guests. It was such a fun afternoon, and not nearly as chaotic as 20 humans plus 12 dogs who'd never met each other might've been! 




We started with bubbles for humans and dog beer (yup, that's a thing) for the dogs outside the venue, while we heard a few dog handling tips from a dog training expert. The dogs then had their starter of bone broth with vegetables before we all moved inside (humans and dogs) so us two leggeds could get stuck in to the delicious menu Pratap had prepared.


Our food kicked off with steamed wild mushroom and fermented rice cake, curried celeriac puree, hen's egg and toasted coconut. A wonderful start to the meal, and perfect for Sunday lunch as it was like a dreamy brunchy egg dish that I would happily eat every Sunday morning. Chat round the table turned to all things furry and waggy and it was so cute having the very well behaved dogs chilling in the venue with us. 


From a perfect brunch dish, to a perfect Sunday lunch dish for mains, Pratap's venison braised with rum, chocolate and spices, turmeric and thyme mash and savoy cabbage was divine. Soft, slow cooked meat full of rich flavours on a bed of punchy mash and one of my favourite green veggies. 


After our mains it was outside so the dogs could have theirs - a canine venison kebab shaped into a bone, they wolfed it down. 


We headed back inside for our final course of spiced pumpkin and honey cake with vanilla cream, pecans and maple and sage dressing, which was pudding, so therefore not for me, but mine was the only not clean plate, so a huge success by the looks of things!


I'm not sure if/when Grub Club are doing another doggy pop up but they've always got plenty of fun and unique dining experiences of their site across London, so do check them out. 



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1.2.17

COCKTAILS with CHRISTABEL'S

If you want to perfect your cocktail making skills over an evening full of fun and glitter I've got just the place for you to go. Christabel started off running pop up restaurants and soon realised that drinks were where the real fun was so now runs, among other things, bespoke cocktail making evenings at her beautiful flat.

Before Christmas I spent at Christabel's trying my hand at a few cocktails. It was a brilliant evening - we laughed, ate canapes, shook our shakers and drank delicious drinks. 

There are a few cocktail workshops coming up soon - one on Valentine's Day evening (what a GREAT idea for a Valentine's date!) where you can make the Flirt and Zinger cocktails, which you'll then pimp up with glitter, sequins, rose petals, super special ice cubes and stirrers, while nibbling on canapes. Then Christabel is teaming up with one of my favourite vodka brands, Black Cow - who make their vodka from milk, to do some Mad Hatter Mar-tea-ni masterclasses

Christabel's workshops sell out really fast so book now to avoid missing out - you really don't want to miss these. 



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31.1.17

CHOPITOS + MOJO VERDE

With the rainy drizzly January about to turn into a probably similar February it doesn't take long for my brain to wander to sunnier climes. Especially when asked to create a recipe inspired by Tenerife. I'm fed up with winter food so jumped at the chance to whip up something a bit sunnier in my kitchen. Tenerife is known for its cheeses, seafood, light stews and broths and grilled meats. There was just one recipe I really wanted to make though - delicious lightly fried baby squid with the tangy, herby, vinegary mojo verde sauce. The slight crunch of the squid batter encasing the soft squid dunked in the sauce is pretty much all I'd want to eat if I was sitting in the Tenerife sunshine right now.

Serves 2

For the squid:
300g baby squid or squid tentacles (the fishmonger should do these really cheap because a lot of people buy squid and ask for the tentacles to be removed)
1 egg white
2 tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper

For the mojo verde:
Half bunch coriander
Half bunch parsley
Half bunch mint
3 cloves of garlic
1 green chilli
1 tsp sea salt
Sprinkle of cumin powder
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil

Start by making the mojo verde sauce, as the squid takes minutes to prep and cook. Roughly chop the herbs and smash or crush the garlic cloves. Add them all to the blender with the chilli, salt and cumin and a splash of oil. Blend, adding oil as you go until you having a liquid paste. Stir in the sherry vinegar.

Whisk the egg white in a bowl and put the flour in another bowl. Heat the oil in a frying pan. Dunk each piece of squid in the egg then the flour, then into the hot pan. Cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove and pop the squid onto a piece of kitchen roll to absorb any excess oil. 

Serve the crispy squid with a big squeeze of lemon juice and the mojo verde sauce drizzled all over the top. Cold beer optional but advisable!


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30.1.17

108 GARAGE, GOLDBOURNE ROAD

A couple of weeks ago I was out and about with Lucy when we saw a tweet from Giles Coren recommending a new restaurant that neither of us had heard of. His tweet was so convincing that we would've booked in regardless, but when we realised that this new restaurant was a five minute walk from where we live we phoned to book straight away. Last Thursday we headed down to 108 Garage, which by then had been reviewed by Fay Maschler, among others, to find out what all the fuss was about. 

108 Garage is just that - an old garage on Goldbourne Road that now has restaurant seating in the front two things and an open kitchen with bar seating at the back which is where we were sitting. Seated up at the counter we got a great view into the kitchen and were able to chat to the chefs. Before we'd even looked at the menu a complimentary basket of warm sourdough and pots of chicken liver parfait and tarama were passed over to us, as well little bowls of mackerel dashi broth. All absolutely delicious and a great sign of things to come. The bread and dips in particular were SO good that I could've eaten just those and left happy! Salty tarama mopped up with warm bread is one of my favourite things, and this was the best version I've had. 

We settled in with negronis while we chose our "proper" food and perused the wine menu. As usual we chose dishes to share, starting with lamb heart agnolotti, swede dashi and mustard oil, and roast octopus with golden turnip and tahini for starters. Both were excellent - the agnolotti was rich and meaty in the lightest of broths while the octopus was so tender and complimented perfectly by the crunch of the turnip.


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25.1.17

SUSHI SHOP, LONDON

If you've been reading this blog long enough you'll know about my penchant for all things Japanese when it comes to food, particularly the raw varieties. I'm also a fan of the odd Deliveroo. Having just moved from south of the river to a more lively part of London my options of Deliveroo have tripled and now include a fair few restaurants where I eat out anyway. But they also include places I'd never heard of, with one particular place, Sushi Shop, making my ears prick up. Beautiful, bright photos of delicious looking sashimi, sushi, tartares, ceviches and pokes had me filling my basket and clicking order before I could even consider other options. And within half an hour or so, one of the most professional looking food delivery packages arrived at my door. Fold out boxes opened to reveal perfect hand rolled and sliced deliciousness. 



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23.1.17

THE EMPEROR'S FEAST at HKK, LIVERPOOL ST

January can be a gruelling month - whether it's because of a new diet, dry January, resolutions you're trying to stick to or the tightening of purse strings after the Christmas period it can all seem a bit bleak. But there's still plenty to celebrate, especially with Chinese New Year round the corner. And my favourite Chinese restaurant, HKK, have got a pretty spectacular menu running from now until 11th February, aka The Emperor's Feast - a ten course tasting menu, with paired alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks. Before I go on, I have to say that this is pricey (£98 for food plus £58 for alcoholic drinks pairing or £28 for the non-alcoholic), there's no escaping that, but my plus one who came with me on the review (and has been on a lot of reviews with me) said she thought this was the best value meal we've been to - so you get what you pay for, which in this case is food, service and a restaurant worthy of the Michelin star it holds.

So what do you get? The meal starts off with what they call a "punch". I've always classified punch as being a weaker kind of cocktail mix. Not this one! This one is made with Baijiu (a Chinese spirit coming in at 64% abv!) mixed with two types of rum (to dilute it!!) and lime.... It's punchy, warm and delicious and is served with a goji berry jelly that explodes in the mouth.



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19.1.17

KENSINGTON PLACE, NOTTING HILL

My first brunch of two last weekend was much closer to home. Emily had invited me to join her at Kensington Palace which sounded very regal so I jumped at the chance. Fast forward a few whatsapps and we'd worked out it was D&D restaurant Kensington Place, not Palace, but having checked out their menu I was still super keen to go. Kensington Place is a lovely modern brasserie style restaurant that's been running for over 25 years and is attached to a small fish market just off Notting Hill. No surprise then that they specialise in fish and seafood. They do a great brunch deal - 2 courses at the menu price, with a £15 supplement for bottomless prosecco or Bloody Marys. 

We settled in with a glass of prosecco while we tried to choose from the delicious sounding menu, which includes brunch dishes like eggs benedict; crispy squid with chilli and lime; flat iron steak, egg, chips and tomato chilli relish; and waffles with yoghurt and berries. 

With a weekend full of eating I went for the lighter option of oak smoked salmon, crushed avocado, poached egg, baby kale and charred dill and buckwheat toast. Perfectly poached eggs sat on wonderfully seasoned avocado and top quality smoked salmon. It was the perfect portion for me for brunch and all tasted so light and fresh and zingy. 


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18.1.17

ROTUNDA, KINGS CROSS

Two brunches in one weekend isn't something I normally do but last weekend was different. I basically ate my way through the entire weekend! My review of Saturday's brunch will be up soon, but I wanted to start with Sunday's brunch at Rotunda in Kings Cross. Rotunda is my kind of place. They really care about the provenance of the food they serve with their own farm in the Northumberland countryside supplying all the meat that's then dry aged in the restaurant's hanging room. The menu is short and sweet, nothing is over complicated, there's a great drinks list, and it's right on the canal so you can sit and watch the world go by at a slightly slower pace than it normally does in Kings Cross.

I met Michelle at the restaurant, when I finally found it - if you go, get down on to the canal by the walkway and it's easy from there! We went to check out brunch but in order to really check out their offerings I went for the brunch menu, which is served 11am - 3pm on Saturdays and Sundays, and Michelle had their roast. 

The brunch menu is excellent - there's something for everyone on there and for £26.95 you get one dish from the menu (which includes things like full English; Corneyside Farm 32 day aged steak with Clarence Court duck egg; Cornish crab with avocado, persimmon and buckwheat, and lots more choices) plus bottomless prosecco for 2 hours. I had the poached then deep fried eggs on brioche with creamed wild mushrooms and Parmesan which was so rich and indulgent but absolutely delicious! It's once in not very often kind of dish for me personally, but absolutely worth making the trip to Rotunda for again. Washed down with a glass of prosecco it was really was dreamy. 



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17.1.17

TEMPER, SOHO

I don't normally go to a new restaurant three times before I review it but for one reason or another that's what happened with new meat joint Temper in Soho. No big deal, because I love it, so I'll be back many more times too! Temper is a massive and beautiful basement restaurant with booths, tables and 'at the counter' seats where you watch all the action in the kitchen in the middle of the room. And by action I mean the huge grills and barbecues where all the meat is smoked and cooked. The restaurant brings in whole carcasses, they butcher everything on site and even make their own tacos and flatbreads that all the delicious meats are served on. 

Having been three times now I think we've tried everything on the menu, which is split into tacos; chopped, smoked and grilled meat; sides/vegetables; sauces; and sprinkles. And it really is one of those restaurants where with a group of 4 or more (with appetites like me and my friends) you can work your way through the whole menu.

My personal non-meat favourites from the tacos section are the aubergine and chipotle miso, and the crab and pickled onion pork skin, both of which come as build your own tacos. 
  

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