Thursday 30 April 2015

Hoxton 100, probably the best place to eat in East London

Hoxton 100 the best restaurant in Shoreditch? With all the up-market restaurants in east London these days that's a big claim. I'll explain my reasoning point-by-point.

1. I can't actually pick a favourite dish. Every single dish we ordered was superb.
2. They have an amazing early-bird offer that includes Saturdays and means you get 5 sharing dishes for £30, and it's enough food for a satisfying meal. We were both full.
3. Happy hour with amazing cocktails at the same time - winning.
4. Friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere. Un-pretentious.
5. I can't wait to go back there.

So this is why Hoxton 100 is  my new favourite Shoreditch spot and if your rating system is anything like mine, then you should check it out.

Friday 24 April 2015

Cheeky cod cheeks

The cod cheeks took me by surprise. You know those days when you know exactly what you're going to cook only to be thwarted at every step. You go to your favourite butcher to get quail. No quail. Ok wild rabbit then. No wild rabbit. So I bought pork, then remembered by partner doesn't eat it. Walked into three organic, specialist green grocers'... No sorrel anyone? Really? Luckily, I stumbled across these delicious cod cheeks while looking dejectedly around a fishmonger. 
Cod cheeks are cheap and absolutely delicious by the way. Two massive portions cost about £4. I fried them on some butter with chopped green chilli and garlic, and squeezed lemon on top. So easy. We ate them with butternut squash mash and a warm salad of yellow courgettes (zucchini), halloumi cheese and tomatoes over some salad leaves. I was informed that it could well be my "best yet". 

Monday 20 April 2015

Nettles fried in chickpea beer batter

My garden mystifies me. Everything is in bloom and I don't know when it happened. Now the weeds are taking over and I'm not sure if I mind. I wish I knew what to do with dandelion, because I've heard it's very beneficial, but I don't feel confident with it. I get flashbacks to my childhood and being told not to lick my hands of that milky residue the dandelion flowers leave behind. They said it was poisonous. So for now the dandelion gets left alone. Nettles I am confident with however. Despite their aggressive personality, they've always held a fascination for me and I've been brought up to see them as "good". So today, while making a start on my garden, I picked some nettles, braised them in salted water, dipped them in batter, and fried them for a tasty snack.

12 Nettle leaves
75g chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
50ml light beer
50ml sparkling water
Runny honey and sea salt to serve

Simply mix the chickpea (gram) flour with the garlic salt the whisk while adding beer and sparkling water. Use tongs to dip the nettle leaves in the batter and fry. They're ready when golden, it should take about 3min each side. Serve drizzled with honey and sprinkled with sea salt.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Mango-mascapone semi-freddo dessert

The world has woken up. Little buds are appearing on trees, the sun's out almost every day, if only for a short while and there are even some cherry blossoms that are in full bloom, though not the ones in Victoria Park, which always take a bit longer for some reason. Last weekend, I was in Eastbourne on the coast and for a few, very brief moments it felt almost like Summer. One of those brief moments was sitting on the warm, sun-filled, wind-protected porch, eating this mango dessert and washing it down with champagne. 
This is just a step on from the Thai mango lassi and yes, yellow mangos are the best. Just blend all the ingredients down there to a smooth-ish consistency. It's nice to have a few tiny, juicy mango bits I find.
Champagne because we were celebrating my book deal. In my heart, I knew it was meant to happen, but it's still the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me. Now I have less than 6 months to produce the book. At the moment I am easing myself into it but very soon, I may have to give up everything else in my life.

Ingredients (makes 3)

2 yellow mangos
Handful ice cubes
150g mascapone cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Sugar-free chocolate-coconut truffles and the power of gratitude

In 2015 instead of New Year's Resolutions, I decided to have a monthly focus that helps me bring new habits into my life. The April focus is gratitude. Gratitude seems a bit meaningless. Everyone knows they should be grateful for what they've got, because there are people out there that have a lot less... blah blah blah. If we are grateful only when comparing ourselves to others then I think we're missing the point, because every person is on a different journey. I'll explain why I'm finding gratitude to be a truly transformative force in my life. When you are grateful for something and you make time each day to have this realization, then you simply can't abuse, mistreat or even take for granted what you are grateful for. For example, if I'm grateful for my body, then it follows that I treat it well. Gratitude almost immediately alters your mindset, you see. All of a sudden not eating processed sugar isn't a struggle, but something that I want to do. So with that in mind, here are some sugar-free, gracious chocolate truffles I made.
You simply blitz all the ingredients in a blender, then roll the resulting mush into balls. Roll them around in more cacao powder to finish and press the nut of your choice into the top. These ingredients worked very well but you can of course mix them up with whatever you have available. I have many things to be grateful for right now, but even before all this incredible luck came my way, I had plenty - we all do. I am even making a point right now of being grateful for things that haven't happened yet but I would like to happen, in advance, to encourage them into existence.

Ingredients (6 big truffles)

75g good quality, pitted dates
50g brazil nuts
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons organic cacao powder and a bit more for rolling
Almonds and walnuts to go on top

Friday 3 April 2015

Radiccio and venison risotto with pinenuts

I don't usually blog about risottos and the like because, well, everyone knows how to make a risotto. However, a few days ago I stumbled across such a great flavour combination that I can't not tell you about it. Luckily, the days are getting longer now here in the UK so it was light enough to take a picture. Here it is, at various stages of being eaten.
You make the risotto like you usually would - fry the red onion, add the arborio rice, stir etc. Before adding stock, however, you squeeze the meat out of the venison sausages into the pan and fry it along with the onion and rice, squashing it down with a fork. After about 5min of this, start adding the stock and continue as usual. Add the dried oregano somewhere near the start. Meanwhile pour the balsamic vinegar over the radiccio, along with a little bit of olive oil and roast it in the oven at about 180 degrees C for about 25min. Half-way through add the pinenuts. Finally,  mix the radiccio and pinenuts with the risotto, and stick the cherry tomatoes in the hot oven for 10min. Right at the end we season well, according to our own taste, add the grated parmesan, and serve with the roasted cherry tomatoes on top as you see up there. I've made many risottos in my lifetime, but this one is my current number one, for the sheer depth of flavour. This recipe serves 2.


200g arborio rice
1 radiccio, chopped
2 venison sausages
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pinenuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Black quinoa with kale, walnuts, marinated peppers and sweetcorn

Today's post was going to be all about patience. About how life is always asking me to be patient and how nothing goes more against my very nature. But then everything happened all at once. Now I'm finding it hard to keep up and I've just managed to squeeze in a quick post about this salad I made when I still had time to do such things. It was delicious and I wish I had some now, working through lunch in my edit suite whilst keeping up with various emails and contracts. Yes contracts. Some of you may already know my exciting news, but for those that don't, I will reveal all when I have time to linger and enjoy each word.
I cooked the corn on the cob and quinoa the night before I made this salad. I also baked the kale with olive oil and sea salt, eating some kale chips as a snack and adding the rest to the quinoa. Then the next day all I had to do was take the corn off the cob, chop the marinated peppers, chilli and walnuts, soft boil the egg, make the vinaigrette and mix it all up.


150g Black quinoa, cooked
50g Curly Kale, roasted
Handful walnuts, chopped
2 marinated red peppers, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper