Tuesday, 25 November 2014

CRAB & TRUFFLE RISOTTO

It dawned on me the other day that since starting my blog just over a year ago, I have not cooked one risotto. Shocking considering risotto is one of my favourite foods. I much prefer a home cooked risotto as they can be badly cooked when mass produced in restaurants and I like to add plenty of Parmesan (no surprise there)!! Arabella and I had planned to cook a Fay Ripley goat's cheese and smoked salmon risotto a couple of weeks ago but we never did, so instead Pascal and I made one last weekend with crab and truffles and it was incredible.

Ingredients for 4 people:

1 tbsp of olive oil
15g of butter, plus extra to finish the risotto
1 onion, finely chopped
300g Arborio rice
125ml white wine
900ml hot vegetable stock
75g Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra for sprinkling if you wish (I did)
100g brown crab meat
100g white crab meat
A small black truffle, grated
Truffle oil (optional)


Heat the olive oil in a pan over a low heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, stir in the onion and sauté over a low to medium heat for about ten minutes until softened..


While this is cooking make up the stock - I used a stock cube and boiling water.


Once the onion is softened, stir in the rice and cook for 1-2 minutes. 


Then pour in the wine and stir.


Add a ladleful of stock to the pan and stir.


When all the liquid has been absorbed, add another ladle.


Continue until all the stock has been absorbed - this should take about 20 minutes and all this stirring is like a little arm exercise! When adding the last of the stock, season to taste.


Stir in the Parmesan - it melts quickly!


Then stir in the brown crab meat and half of the white crab meat.


Top with a couple of knobs of butter and stir (once again).


Add half of the black truffle and stir for the final time (phew)!


Spoon into bowls and garnish with the remaining white crab meat and truffles (and Parmesan if you are a cheese maniac like me) and enjoy! We did also drizzle with some truffle oil if you have any handy but it is not essential.


This was exceptionally good!! I LOVE crab, it is something I will always order in restaurants but have never actually cooked with - I certainly will do again. Pascal, who is normally so anti fish, absolutely adored this too which was a huge surprise. Risottos are time consuming as you do have to stand and stir repeatedly however they are worth it. I can't believe I hadn't cooked a risotto for so long, I guess it is because Arabella and Pascal are such pasta fiends….thankfully I have some leftover rice so I am already planning my next risotto of pea, goat's cheese and bacon….and I am dribbling at the thought of it!!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

SEA BASS & SUPERFOOD SALAD

A couple of weeks ago my gorgeous friend Jamie invited me over to her house for a cooking lesson with some of her friends - I felt very privileged to be included in their American group as I am such a wannabe American. It was a fabulous evening - food and Americans - I was in my element!

The lovely chef Sam had created a fantastic menu for us of Sea Bass with Salsa Rosso, Lentils and a Superfood Salad and then a Chocolate Bomb with Vanilla Creme Fraiche - YUM! The superfood salad was so unbelievably good that I have been desperate to make it ever since and so tonight I did for Arabella and I along with the sea bass.

Ingredients for 4 people:

4 sea bass fillets with skin on
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
1 broccoli head, cut into bite-sized florets
150g peas, frozen
Half a cucumber, cut into slim baton
Half a packet of feta cheese, cut into chunks 
2 avocados
1 handful of toasted seeds, sunflower and pumpkin
30g quinoa
1/4 lemon juice
1 tsp soy sauce (I forgot to add this to the original picture)
(You can also add 20g alfalfa and a handful of fresh chopped herbs like parsley & mint - I didn't bother as it was just Arabella and I)



First off preheat the oven to 180 C and boil some water for the quinoa and peas.

Then cut the broccoli into bite size pieces, pour over a good glug of olive oil (about a tablespoon).


Put the broccoli in the oven for 10-12 minutes until it starts to brown and then simmer the quinoa in some boiled water for 15 minutes and boil the peas for 3 minutes.


As the ingredients become ready pour them into a big bowl. You will need to strain the quinoa first.

While you are cooking the above, cut the avocado and feta into chunks and the cucumber into slim batons.



Then start mixing together.




Dry fry the seeds and then mix with a teaspoon of soy sauce.



Add to the rest of the ingredients and mix with the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season.



Set the salad aside and start on the sea bass. Season generously and score the skin of the fish a couple of times.


Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan until hot. Fry the fish skin side down for 5 minutes until the flesh starts to turn from translucent to white. Don't touch or move the fish as it can then stick.


I wasn't paying attention and made the mistake of cooking it for 7-8 minutes and burnt it!! Whoops!! Anyway after 5 minutes, take the pan off the fish and flip over and cook for one minute.


Then serve over the superfood salad.



Despite the fact the skin on the fish was burnt to a crisp, this dish was absolutely amazing. I am obsessed with this superfood salad and cannot wait to eat the leftovers tomorrow. Plus the fish was so incredibly tasty, it got the big thumbs up from Arabella too. My only complaint is that my house now stinks of fish….thank goodness for scented candles!!! 

Now I need to work on recreating that chocolate bomb….

Monday, 17 November 2014

LASAGNE

Life is extremely busy at the moment - I am class rep and so busy organising the Christmas fair and Christmas party, and at the same time trying to organise my wedding celebration supper and start my Christmas shopping. Westfield was manic yesterday - especially the Disney shop - I dread to think what it will be like in December!

Anyway with all this going on I have not had much time for cooking recently, although I did manage to knock up a lasagne a few days ago which was delicious….plus the thing I like about lasagne is that the leftovers taste even better!

This recipe is adapted from one of Jamie Oliver's recipes.

Ingredients for 6 people:

600g mince meat (I used a combination of beef and pork but it is totally up to you)
Lasagne sheets
Parmesan cheese, grated (I obviously go overboard on the cheese and use about 250g but this is probably ott)
Grated cheese (same as above, I used about 250g but you could use less depending on taste)
2 x 150g balls of mozzarella, torn up
Olive oil
300g cheese sauce (Pascal doesn't like white sauce)
Salt and pepper
300g button mushrooms
3 x large leeks (you could use other veg such as carrots, celery and onion)
Pancetta (optional - we had some in the fridge so added it in)
1 tbsp dried sage

For the tomato sauce:

4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
Olive oil
A sprig of fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
2 x 400g tins of good quality plum tomatoes



Heat a pan and add a splash of olive oil. Slowly fry the garlic until lightly coloured and then add the rosemary, bay leaves and tomatoes. Cook gently for 45 minutes with the lid on. While this is cooking preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / gas 4.



About halfway through the tomatoes cooking, fry the mushrooms and leeks in another frying pan.





You also need to cook the meat in a frying pan along with the pancetta if you are using it.



Once the meat is cooked through, add it and the vegetables to the tomato sauce, with a little hot water if it's too dry, and season.




Simmer for another 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. Remove the rosemary and bay. Butter a large baking dish. Depending on your pasta, you may need to blanch the lasagne sheets in some salted boiling water. I didn't have to.

Layer your baking dish, starting with the lasagne sheets.



Top with some meat ragu.



Then add the cheese sauce.



"Sprinkle" with Parmesan and cheddar cheese.



Repeat the process and finish with a layer of Parmesan and cheddar. 





Finally tear over the mozzarella, sprinkle with the dried sage and drizzle with a tiny bit of olive oil.



Finally cook in the oven for 45 minutes or so, until golden and then serve.





This was absolutely incredible!! Not showing off or anything, but this lasagne was so delicious, it was like a master piece - we devoured it! What I loved about it was the combination of meat, the leeks, mushrooms and pancetta and the copious amounts of cheese. As I mentioned at the beginning, you can add any vegetables you like and use any type of meat combination that you like - Jamie actually suggests using pheasant, duck, pigeon and rabbit - however I am not that adventurous. Another thing I love about lasagne, is that it tastes even better the next day and also goes extremely well with a green salad and garlic bread. A fabulous meal!!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

BARBECOA, ST PAUL'S

Barbecoa is a Jamie Oliver restaurant in the city with phenomenal views of St Paul's. On the website it describes itself as a "cathedral to fire and food" - personally I would describe it as a steakhouse, and a good one at that. I went yesterday with my lovely friend Katie and despite the grey, miserable cold weather, just sitting in the restaurant brings a smile to your face as you look out over one of London's most iconic buildings. Arabella and I had climbed to the top of St Paul's during the summer which was one scary experience!!!

Obviously I had been online looking at the menu beforehand and I had also checked out the 101 posts of food on foodspotting - clearly a popular venue.

I wanted to be adventurous with my eating and order the short rib or the smoked ribs three ways but as there was a burger on the menu, I had to try that!

Katie and I started off by sharing the crispy calamari - it was on a bed of something but I am not sure what!! According to the menu it was guacamole with chipotle hot sauce however it wasn't spicy at all (thank goodness). It was delicious though, the calamari tasted perfect, I could have eaten a lot more!



Katie is a very inspiring runner - I always see her runs on Facebook and they put me to shame as she can easily do a 10km whilst I am struggling with half of that. As she'd had a good run that morning she decided to eat the fillet steak with béarnaise sauce. It also came with bone marrow which she declined.


I obviously went for the burger which was 8oz Wagu beef with truffled short rib, porcini mushrooms, onions and cheddar cheese. It was impressive just to look at!




Even though my mouth isn't exactly small, there was no way I could get that in, so I had to cut it up. It was delicious, especially the porcini mushrooms, they were so flavoursome. I enjoyed the rib part about couldn't taste the truffle. The burger itself literally melted in your mouth, my only complaint was that there wasn't enough cheese but that seems to be a problem for me in lots of places. I really enjoyed it though and ate every last morsel. Surprisingly they would only cook the burger medium, I thought this extremely strange for a restaurant which specialises in meat….and I would be interested to know why. Unfortunately I was too busy stuffing my face to ask!

Katie and I also shared some fries which tasted like roast potatoes as they were cooked in beef dripping and were deliciously crispy.

All in all, a great lunch - fabulous company, mesmerising views and divine food. My only gripe would be the prices - £26 for a burger - pretty steep - but then I guess you are paying for the view, plus the service was extremely attentive and hospitable. Would I go back, yes I would and to be honest, despite the price I would probably have the burger all over again, although maybe with extra cheese this time!!

The restaurant also has a private dining room and does butchery classes.

Barbecoa

20 New Change Passage,
London
EC4M 9AG
Tel: 020 3005 8555

Square Meal

Barbecoa on Urbanspoon