Thursday, 18 August 2016

AMORINO, FULHAM BROADWAY

It is very quiet on the blog front at the moment as I am so busy with my new baby daughter Olympia. She was born nearly a week late on 28th July and since then I have barely had time to eat, let alone cook and go out to restaurants! However I was invited to sample the "Afternoon Gela Tea di Amorino" at the newly opened Amorino in Fulham Broadway and I was determined to go come hell or high water. 

Arabella, Olympia and I were warmly greeted as we entered the gelateria and our mouths started to water immediately as we saw all the delicious ice creams and sorbets on display.

This is the 9th branch Amorino have opened in the UK - there are others in London such as Chelsea and Soho and there are also a couple further afield in Bicester Village and Southampton. I can see why they are so incredibly popular and I expect they will be even more so with the addition of their afternoon tea.

To drink Arabella and I both chose a mango sorbet frappe which was perfect for a hot sunny day and a real treat in itself - it slipped down so smoothly and I almost felt like I was having a bellini. Had it been our usual typical cold English weather, I would have indulged in one of the ten flavoured hot chocolates (milk, hazelnut, caramel, almond to name a few). They also serve coffee and a variety of teas (such as earl grey, vanilla black tea, detox green tea and several others).



The tea also consists of a selection of four sorbets paired with their complimenting edible flower and served in the shape of a flower. They were almost too pretty to eat - but not quite - as we didn't resist for long! There was Mango Sorbet Alfonso d'India paired with lemon citrus tagetes, Sorbetto al Cioccolato Bio (chocolate sorbet) paired with lavender, Lampone Heritage (raspberry sorbet) paired with purple nemesia and Seasonal Exotic Lemongrass paired with oregano. 








Arabella was amazed that you could eat the flowers and neither of us held back as we polished off all the different sorbets - they were all so smooth, sweet and refreshing. It was hard to pick our favourite one - Arabella's best was the mango and I adored the raspberry although they were all extremely good. They are also all vegan friendly so it is one place I can bring my sister!

The next part of the tea was a selection of macaroons made with gelato - there are 8 different flavours and we chose mango, vanilla, chocolate and caramello but we could have also had lampone, caffe, pistachio and inimitabile. Arabella and I are huge macaroon fans and these certainly did not disappoint. Crispy yet soft and filled with delicious ice cream.



Finally we rounded off our tea with some samplers - a pistachio sorbet and a hazelnut and vanilla ice cream and then a beautifully presented raspberry and mango cone for Arabella. I would never choose hazelnut as a flavour but it was incredible and now I am a convert!





Wow - what a tea! I am meant to be losing my baby weight and so the opening of Amorino in Fulham is going to throw a real spanner in the works as I already love ice cream but these ice creams and sorbets are something else. No wonder there is always a queue outside the branch on the King's road and there are 140 stores all over the world! I can see why Amorino is so popular and I expect it will be even more so with the introduction of this afternoon tea. It cost £35 for 2 people and you definitely get your money's worth. Arabella and I have already discussed how Amorino should become an after school tradition. I won't be getting rid of my maternity jeans any time soon if that is the case!!

Amorino

8 Fulham Broadway,
London 
SW6 1AA

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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

CHORIZO CARBONARA

Another day and still no baby despite spending the past few days walking round Battersea Park twice, Kensington Gardens and Hatchlands Park. Anyway at least I have a few more days to eat for 2 and so tonight we cooked chorizo carbonara, again from Pascal's new cookbook of 200 recipes. This was very quick and simple and took about 15 minutes. (I have made a few alterations to the original recipe). 

Ingredients for 3 people:

200g chorizo sausage, sliced
1 tablespoon of olive oil
400g dried pasta (such as penne, rigatoni, fusilli)
4 eggs (I am missing one from my photo)!
80g Parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra to serve
Salt and pepper


Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet's instructions. Ours took about 12 minutes.


Whilst this is cooking, fry the sliced chorizo in a tablespoon of oil over a low heat in a frying pan. 



Meanwhile in a bowl mix together the eggs and Parmesan cheese and season generously.



Just before the pasta is ready turn the heat up to high for the chorizo so it is sizzling hot. Next drain the pasta and then put it back in the saucepan. Mix in the egg mixture and chorizo and stir vigorously so the eggs cook evenly from the heat of the pasta and chorizo.




Serve immediately with a scattering of Parmesan and a good grinding of black pepper.


In all honesty my mouth doesn't water much at the thought of carbonara nowadays as it is Arabella's favourite and we have had it sooooooooooooo often. However I will admit I was very pleasantly surprised by this, I really enjoyed it - we all did and we would have all had seconds were there any left over. It's nice to have chorizo rather than lardons and if you wanted to add any green, you could always add some leeks. I love how simple and easy this was, a real winner.
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Monday, 25 July 2016

PASTA WITH AUBERGINE & RICOTTA

Pascal recently bought a new cook book of 200 pasta recipes - a dream come true for him. He is going to be in charge of meal times when this baby does finally make an appearance (I am currently 3 days overdue) and pasta is his speciality. Obviously we had to try it out straight away. This recipe took about 40 minutes to cook and prepare.

Ingredients for 4 people:

2 large aubergines
Olive oil for frying
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
20 basil leaves, torn (I probably used more than this because I love basil)
400g dried pasta (such as rigatoni, penne or farfalle)
200g ricotta
4 tablespoons of finely grated pecorino / Parmesan cheese
Salt and black pepper



Cut the aubergines into quarters length ways, then each quarter in half length ways (if that makes sense). Then cut the pieces into finger-sized lengths.



Heat a good dollop of oil in a large frying pan over a high heat until the surface of the oil seems to shimmer. Add the aubergines in batches and fry until golden. With a slotted spoon, remove and drain on kitchen paper.




Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and add the garlic for 30 seconds. Then stir in the aubergines and season well. Next add the tomatoes, bring to the boil, and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes.





Meanwhile cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet's instructions. Mine took around ten minutes. Drain whilst reserving a ladleful of cooking water.



Remove the tomato and aubergine sauce from the heat and add half the basil. Season again if necessary - we needed to. Next mix in the pasta and add some cooking water if necessary - we added a little.





Finally serve immediately with a scattering of ricotta, pecorino / Parmesan and the remaining basil.



This is the kind of pasta dish that Pascal would order in a restaurant whereas I prefer something with a bit of meat. I have to say I am now converted to vegetarian pasta dishes as this was incredible. The combination of all the flavours was amazing and it tastes so fresh. This is Arabella's food hell as she hates aubergines but I love them and don't have them enough. I will definitely be making this again soon - plus all this veg must be good for the baby!!
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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

CHIT CHAAT CHAI, WANDSWORTH

I rarely eat Indian food as I am not a fan of spice, however it is two days until my due date, I am desperate to have this baby sooner rather than later, and curry apparently brings the labour on. Unfortunately it is now the next day and I am still pregnant but I am happy to say the food was so good I might now be a curry convert!

So last night we went to Chit Chaat Chai with our lovely friends Hard and Fran. Chit Chaat Chai is a new restaurant on the Old York Road in Wandsworth and it serves "chaat food" which is Indian street food, family food, treat food, weekend food - according to the website - the best of all foods!

I had no clue about the menu however the waitress kindly explained the different dishes and what went with what plus Fran had been here before.

We started off with pani puri and yoghurt puris. These were so good we ordered them twice! The pani puris are a combination of sweet, spice and tangy flavours and the yoghurt puris are crunchy round puri balls filled with chickpeas, yoghurt and chaatneys. You eat both of these all in one mouthful! They were excellent and the yoghurt puris were my favourite of the night.



We shared everything - next up were the masala chicken wings - these were good but small, I liked the sauce though.


We also had the okra fries which went well with the Bombay bhel which is a Bombay beach classic of puffed rice, potatoes, onions, chickpeas and tangy tamarind topped with pomegranates. Both so tasty once again - so much flavour and a good kick but not unbearably hot.



We also had the chilli paneer in hope that would be spicy enough to bring the baby on - they were hot but not hideously so and even though I have no idea what they actually are, they tasted great.


For the more "traditional" curry part of the evening we had baby aubergine curry in a peanut masala sauce and lamb railway curry which is apparently what they used to serve in all first class railway carriages and a basket of nan breads. I can't really describe the flavours and what was in the curries but they were good!




My baby brain is in full swing and I am limited in my description of all the food. However what I can say it that it was all really good - my favourite was definitely the tapas style starters. I think the last time I had a curry was when I was pregnant with Arabella 8 years ago, now I know about Indian Street food, I definitely won't be leaving it that long this time. I would really recommend this place. Maybe I will be back again next week if the baby still hasn't arrived?!!

Chit Chaat Chai

356 Old York Road
London
SW18 1SS
Tel: 020 8480 2364
Email: bookings@chitchaatchai.com
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Monday, 18 July 2016

STEAK AND BLUE CHEESE MELTS

I love steak with blue cheese and this weekend I was tempted to book to go to lunch at Smith & Wollensky's in the West End as they do an excellent steak with blue cheese sauce. However, it costs almost £50…..I'm not sure I like it that much…..think I would rather spend the money in Zara!!

Anyway as an alternative I decided to try and cook it myself, blue cheese is one thing I have not been able to give up during my pregnancy. This is really easy and literally took about 10 minutes. We cooked our steaks on the bbq however you could grill or fry them.

Ingredients for 2 people:

2 thick cut sirloin steaks
3 tablespoons of creme fraiche
75g of creamy blue cheese (I used Roquefort)
1 tablespoon of parsley



As I mentioned earlier we cooked our steaks on the BBQ - if you are doing this preheat the BBQ for ten minutes whilst you make the blue cheese topping.

In a bowl mix together the cheese, creme fraiche and parsley. Season with black pepper and set aside.


If you are frying the steaks in a frying pan, preheat the grill to high. I like my steak medium rare so Pascal cooked it on the BBQ for two minutes on the first side and then a couple of minutes on the other side.




Then add the topping and either cook on the BBQ for another two minutes or pop under the preheated grill for another couple of minutes.



Serve with a crisp green salad and enjoy.




This was really really good - I can't believe I have never tried to make it before - it is now my ultimate favourite. So tasty and so easy and a great way to jazz up an ordinary steak. If you wanted to be really "naughty", you could even add chips or I was thinking a side of mac and cheese. 

This is definitely going to be a regular supper this summer. Once the baby is born (3 days til the due date) Pascal is going to be in charge of cooking which means pasta, pasta and more pasta but hopefully I can squeeze this in on other days!!
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