Category Archives: Lifestyle

Ottolenghi Fennel Cherry Tomato and Crumble Gratin

By now I think most of you have come to realise that I am pretty much Ottolenghi obsessed, so excuse me once again when I just can’t help myself by sharing another great recipe from his amazing (1st) cookbook: Ottolenghi, The Cookbook.

This Fennel Cherry Tomato and Crumble Gratin is not your average dish. The mix of savoury and sweet may seem a bit unusual but trust me the creamy sweetness of the crumble nicely offsets the savoury tones of the fennel and the acidity of the tomato to create a most comforting and delicious eating experience! I also really love fennel and it’s slight aniseed taste, plus the recipe is easy to make and you can have this ready well in advance and put it in the oven at the last minute.

image126 Ottolenghi Fennel Cherry Tomato and Crumble Gratin image125 Ottolenghi Fennel Cherry Tomato and Crumble Gratin

Ottolenghi Fennel Cherry Tomato and Crumble Gratin

INGREDIENTS:
1-3 fennel bulbs
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp thyme leaves, plus a few whole sprigs
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp coarse sea salt & 1 tsp black pepper to season
200ml whipping cream
300g cherry tomatoes on the vine
1 tsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

+ for the Crumble
100g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
100g plain flour
30g caster sugar
70g cold unsalted butter cut into small cubes

METHOD:

Preheat the oven to 200C. Trim off the fennel stalks and cut each bulb lengthways in half.  Cut each half into slices.  Place in a large bowl with the olive oil, thyme leaves, garlic, salt & pepper and toss together.  Transfer to an ovenproof dish and pour the cream over the fennel.

Meanwhile combine the ingredients for the crumble topping in a bowl and rub the butter into the sugar and flour until there are no chunks of butter left. Mix the grated parmesan into the crumble mixture and then scatter evenly on top of the fennel dish.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and arrange the tomatoes on top.  Scatter a few fresh thyme springs on top and return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or unit the fennel is soft and the gratin is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for a few minutes then sprinkle with chopped parsley prior to serving.

image123 Ottolenghi Fennel Cherry Tomato and Crumble Gratin

The sweetness of the crumble with the fennel is a great combination and makes it the perfect side dish for any roasted meat or chicken or of course just enjoy it on its own. Ahhhhh, just imagine tucking into this warm comforting dish on a chilly or rainy evening with a nice glass of red. Add this recipe to your to-cook list this winter – you can thank me later :)

  
Leave a comment | Posted in Cooking, Food, Lifestyle, Recipe

The Palomar, Soho London

The Palomar is one of the hippest new restaurants in Soho and has been high on my to-go-to list ever since it opened in June this year. It is run by two Israeli-born nightclub entrepreneurs and serves the food of modern day Jerusalem. They say their menu is influenced by the cultures of Spain, North Africa and Eastern Mediterranean.

The Palomar is a pretty small bar-restaurant with a hip but intimate vibe. As soon as you walk in you are confronted one, by the very welcoming wait staff and two, you can’t miss the long 16 seat bar/kitchen that overlooks the chefs preparing the food. The dining room at the back of the room can seat up to 40 people and the Palomar takes bookings, which is always a huge winner in my books!

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So I went to The Palomar recently with a friend before going to the theatre (yes, they take a 5.30pm pre-theatre booking at the bar, whoop!) The menu is based on small dishes made for sharing which suited us perfectly.

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image101 The Palomar, Soho London

We started off with some spiced olives (£3) and their ‘Yemeni-style’ Kubaneh bread (£5), which is a yeast baked bread in a tin. It’s tipped out in front of you while still piping hot, so you can then tear it into bite sized pieces to drunk into the rich tahini and tomato dips. A bit brioche-like in texture, absolutely delicious!

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Next up we chose two items from the Raw Bar – confusingly, the dishes aren’t all raw, but are served cold; the Salmon Tartare (£8.5) with aubergine 2 ways. yoghurt, pine nuts & parsley and the Fattoush salad (£8) with tomato, cucumber, za’atar, sumac, pita croutons & homemade labneh. The Salmon Tartare was incredible and looked so pretty! I love raw salmon and the soft smokey aubergine puree went with it perfectly. The Fattoush salad was simple but tasty.

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Following this we had two picks from the Stove part of the menu;  the Seared scallops (£12.5) with cured lemon beurre blanc, swiss chard easy over, Jerusalem artichoke & hazelnut tuille and the Pork belly Tajine (£14) with Ras el Hanout, dried apricots & Israeli couscous.

Both huge hits in our books. The scallops were soft and that hazelnut tuille, yum! The pork belly tajine was rich, sweet, sticky and spicy all at once and was a pretty decent sized dish as it came with lots of flavourful fluffy couscous.

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Because we were seated at the bar we saw the chefs preparing a lot of the food (while chatting to us in the meantime) and some of the other dishes on the menu, like the Shakshukit (deconstructed kebab with minced meat, yoghurt & tahini) and the Labenah tortellini with butternut squash cream, tomatoes, confit garlic & mange tout looked delicious too. Oh well, for us (or you) to try next time!

We were actually quite happily full at this point but decided we couldn’t resist dessert. After a bit of a discussion with the chef’s on recommendations we decided on the Malabi Rose-scented milk pudding (£7) raspberry coulis, coconut meringue pistachio crunch, fresh raspberries & kataifi and the Chocolate Cremeux (£7) Puffed rice crunch, pomegranate coulis, cocoa tuile & almond streusel.

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And WOW, both of these were absolutely insane. I have to admit that the rose-scented milk pudding wasn’t sounding like a winner to me initially but with the crunchy topping and the fresh berries it was soft and refreshing and not to overpowering on the rose flavour. The chocolate dessert however sounded like a true champion from the start and didn’t fail to impress! It was a true melt-in-your-mouth chocolate pudding and one of the best desserts I’ve enjoyed in a little while.

image112 The Palomar, Soho London

All together we had a great evening at The Palomar. The staff was all very friendly, helpful and fun and seem to have a real passion for what they do. The food was delicious, of a very high standard and culinarily exciting. Plus I think it was good value for money because the sharing plates were of a decent size and after enjoying all these dishes we were actually super-duper full, but happy I must add. Think this is one new restaurant in London you will just have to try. NOPI (by Ottolenghi) has always been a huge favourite in my books for Soho, but would have to say the Palomar is now topping very high in that list too.

The Palomar
34 Rupert Street,
W1D 6DN, London
Phone: 020 7439 8777
www.thepalomar.co.uk

  
2 Comments | Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurants

Ottolenghi Carrot and Walnut Cake

A cake containing vegetables for sure makes it healthy right? Well OK maybe I can’t promise that this Ottolenghi Carrot and Walnut Cake is completely guilt free, but I can promise that it is absolutely delicious. Me and my dad have both made this cake for several occasions and it’s always a winner.

image86 Ottolenghi Carrot and Walnut Cake image89 Ottolenghi Carrot and Walnut Cake

Ottolenghi Carrot and Walnut Cake

Ingredients:
160g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground gloves
1 large egg plus another egg yolk
200g sunflower oil
260g caster sugar
50g walnuts, chopped
50g desiccated coconut
135g carrot, roughly grated
2 more egg whites
Pinch of salt

And for the frosting you will need;
175g cream cheese
70g butter, unsalted
25g honey
30g walnuts, chopped and lightly toasted

Method: 

Preheat oven to 170C and grease and line an 20cm cake tin.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices. In a separate little bowl bowl lightly whisk the whole egg with the egg yolk. In a big bowl beat oil and caster sugar a minute, then add beaten egg. Mix in the walnuts, coconut and carrot and then the sifted dry ingredients. Don’t over mix.

Whip the egg whites and salt (in squeaky clean bowl) till peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the carrot mixture in 3 additions, being careful not to over mix. Streaks of white in the mixture are okay. Pour the cake mixture into greased and lined tin and bake for about an hour. it could take longer. A skewer inserted in the centre should come out dry. If the cake starts getting dark before the centre is cooked through, cover it with foil. Let the cake cool completely and then remove from the tin.

To make the icing, beat the cream cheese in a mixer until light and smooth. Remove from the mixer. Beat the butter, icing sugar and honey in the mixer until light and airy. Fold together the cheese and butter mixes. Spread waves of icing on top of the cake and sprinkle with the toasted nuts.

image88 Ottolenghi Carrot and Walnut Cake

I know the cake has a few extra steps (like the egg whites) but this really makes the cake that little bit more amazing. It’s rich but light and super moist and the frosting combination of cream cheese, butter and honey is out of this world. Trust me, make this cake and enjoy yourself some vegetable goodness ;)

  
Leave a comment | Posted in Baking, Food, Lifestyle

Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill

A little while back I had a great evening with friends at Hereford Road in Bayswater. This restaurant is a real local gem because it serves simple yet innovative British comfort food, has friendly and efficient service and reasonable prices. Tom Pemberton, former head chef at St Johns has cooked at Hereford Road since its opening in 2007. Don’t expect anything hip and trendy here – it’s a lovely low-key local, perfect for a dinner with friends or family in a nice environment with quality flavourful food. The menu at Hereford changes daily and dishes are reasonably priced from £6-£8 for starters and £10-£15.5 for mains.  Also, there is a great value set lunch for £13.50 for 2 and £15.5 for 3 courses.

Chef and co-founder Tom Pemberton remarks, “It seems to me the area lacks a strong neighbourhood restaurant. Our main priority is to provide genuinely high quality, interesting and affordable British food in a relaxed environment.”

Here some photos of our evening at Hereford Road in Notting Hill…

image85 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image82 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image81 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill

As soon as you enter Hereford Road you stumble across the open kitchen and some casual small tables that are perfect for a casual drink and dinner for two. And then down a small flight of stairs is the main dining room, that is light due to a large skylight. It was a very relaxed vibe and seating wise has large red leather banquettes or 2 – 4 person sized tables.

We started off with some wine, freshly baked bread (nom nom) and some starters; the Globe artichoke with vinaigrette and the Crab with English Tomatoes and Pea Shoots.

image72 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image73 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image75 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image74 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill

For mains we went for a nice selection of different meats! Little fact; before Hereford Road was a restaurant there was actually a butchers in this location.  We had the Braised Rabbit with Fennel and Bacon // The Guinea Fowl with Lentils and peas // The Roast Leg of Lamb with Chard and Anchovy // and the Blythburg Pork Belly with Runner Beans and roast Red Onion.

image77 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image78 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image79 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image80 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill

They were all delicious. I had the lamb which it was perfectly cooked and the salty anchovies flavour accompanied the meat very well. But think I did have slight food envy for the pork belly – that definitively looked and tasted amazing.

Then some of us couldn’t resist a cheeky dessert, yes…I was one of those people! I had the chocolate pot with cherries and creme fraiche, oh so yummy – and my friend had the Eton Mess which is simple but sometimes you can’t beat fruit, cream and meringue goodness.

image84 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill image83 Hereford Road Restaurant, Bayswater / Notting Hill

Overall a great night at a lovely bistro in Notting Hill / Baywater!

Hereford Road
3 Hereford Road,
Notting Hill, London
W2 4AB
Tel: +44(0)207 727 1144
www.herefordroad.org

  
2 Comments | Posted in Food, Lifestyle, London, Restaurants

Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Salad

Summer evenings call for healthy salad dinners and this Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Salad is one I’ve been loving the recently. The sweetness of the cinnamon roasted butternut squash with the spicy chorizo makes a delicious combination. Looks pretty tasty doesn’t it? Check out the easy recipe below!

image108 Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Salad image109 Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Salad

Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Salad

Ingredients:
1 medium sized butternut squash (or pumpkin will work perfectly too)
Olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Ground cinnamon
Chorizo (I used a pre-diced pack but you can also just dice it up yourself)
1 medium sized zucchini
2-3 handfuls baby spinach leaves
A few pecorino shavings to garnish (optional)
Balsamic Vinegar (or vinaigrette if you prefer this)

Method:
Pre heat oven to 190C.  Prepare your squash by chopping it into big chunks – with your without skin, depending on preference. Place them on a baking tray and drizzle over just enough olive oil to coat the squash, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with some ground cinnamon. Give it a good hustle and pop it in the hot oven for about 20-25 min until the squash is nicely roasted (and soft).

While the squash is roasting in the oven, heat up your grill or frying pan over a medium heat and fry the diced (or sliced) chorizo for a couple of minutes on each side. You don’t need to add any oil because of the fat in the sausage already. When done, drain on kitchen paper to remove any excess oil. While the pan is still hot also grill/fry some sliced zucchini until cooked, they don’t need long as you don’t want them too soft.

When the roasted squash is ready place it in a large bowl, add the chorizo, zucchini, fresh baby spinach leaves and gently mix them all together. Top with a few shavings of pecorino (optional) & drizzle over some balsamic vinegar.

image111 Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Salad image110 Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Salad

This salad is a great light meal on its own but also would be perfect as part of a BBQ. It’s got that lovely mix of sweet, spicy and fresh and so easy to prepare. Do you like the look of this Roasted Butternut Squash and Chorizo Salad? Let me know what you think if you end up making it!

  
1 Comment | Posted in 80/20 Diet, Food, Lifestyle, Recipe