Wednesday, 15 April 2015

PUY LENTIL, SPINACH & BLUE CHEESE SALAD

How beautiful was the weather today - it was boiling in London and so we thought it was the perfect day for our first barbecue of the year. We have simple tastes when it comes to grilling and so had cheese burgers and sausages but I wanted to make a different type of side dish to our usual green or potato salad. I found this lentil salad recipe in a waitrose magazine from last year - it was apparently inspired by Le Tour de France.

It took around 10 minutes to prepare and 30 minutes to cook.

Ingredients for 6 people (as a side dish):

250g puy lentils
3 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, sliced (I didn't have a leek and very much missed it)!
1 carrot, diced
1 celery stick, sliced
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 x 25g pack of flat leave parsley, roughly chopped
100g bag baby spinach
Squeeze lemon juice (optional)
100g blue cheese (such as Stilton or Roquefort)


Cook the lentils according to the packet instructions. I put the lentils in a saucepan and covered them with three times their volume of vegetable stock (you could just use water). Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are firm to the bite.



When they are ready drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large pan and fry the leek and the carrot over a medium heat for 10 minutes. As I mentioned earlier I didn't have a leek so had to just make do without.


Add the celery for a couple of minutes and then stir in the remaining olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.


Tip the drained lentils into the pan and mix together with the vegetables.


Remove from the heat and add the parsley and spinach, tossing together until the leaves have started to wilt.





Pour into a bowl / serving dish, season well and add a splash of lemon juice. Finally scatter with some blue cheese and serve warm or at room temperature.


This was very good although as I mentioned earlier I missed having a leek. Pascal adored this salad - it is definitely one of his favourites. I think you could easily mix it up a little - for example add some cherry tomatoes or pine nuts or whatever you have available. It would also go very nicely with some crusty bread and butter although I definitely enjoyed it with my cheese burger….you can never have enough cheese right?!

Monday, 13 April 2015

MALLORCAN VEGGIE BAKE / TUMBET

I went to Mallorca for several summers when I was in my 20s and the villa I stayed in was looked after the most amazing woman called Maria who was an absolutely outstanding chef. One of her specialities was "tumbet" which is a Mediterranean vegetable bake….it was divine. I have always wanted to recreate it so was super excited when I found a recipe card in Waitrose and thought it would be the perfect accompaniment to Le Gigot d'Agneau / Lamb Pascal.

Ingredients for 6 people (as a side dish):

400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano (I used dry)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium aubergine, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
500g Estima or Maris Piper potatoes, peeled and sliced


Preheat the oven to 200 C / gas mark 6.

In a pan combine the chopped tomatoes, oregano, garlic and 1 tsp of olive oil (I overdid it slightly)! Season and simmer over a medium heat for 10 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally.



Meanwhile, toss the chopped aubergine, pepper and onion in the remaining oil and season well. Arrange over the base of a ovenproof dish and cook in the oven for 10 minutes.



After ten minutes remove the veg on to a separate plate and then return to the dish, layering the roasted vegetables with the sliced potatoes and tomato sauce, seasoning each layer. Finish with a layer of potatoes and then tomato sauce.



Cover with kitchen foil.


Bake for 45-50 minutes (remove the foil halfway through) until the vegetables are tender and the top is golden. 


Leave to stand for 5 minutes for the flavours to develop and then tuck in and enjoy.


This was good although I made the error of only using half a tin of chopped tomatoes and it definitely needed more. I would probably add another clove of garlic as well. This wasn't as good as Maria's but it definitely has potential and is quick and easy to make. It went really well with the lamb but would also work with chicken or fish or alternatively you could have it as a main and serve it with salad and crusty bread and butter. Can you believe I haven't even mentioned cheese?!

LE GIGOT D'AGNEAU PASCAL (LAMB PASCAL)

As we were flying home from France on Easter Sunday we were unable to have a proper roast lunch. My husband Pascal was most put out as it is tradition in France to have "Lamb Pascal" -  a simple roast leg of lamb with herbs. We ended up having it today as a belated Easter lunch - I am just gutted we have no Easter eggs left for pudding!

Cooking times totally depend on the size of your leg of lamb - ours was 1.940 kg and took 1 hour 35 minutes - it will say on the packet instructions.

Ingredients for 5-6 people:

Leg of lamb (around 2kg)
5 cloves of garlic
Salt and Pepper
A good glug of olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 tbsp "herbes de Provence" (a mixture of savoury, thyme, lavender and other herbs)



If you can try to remember to take the lamb out of the fridge two hours before cooking so the meat is not too cold.

Preheat the oven to 190 C / 170 C fan / gas mark 5.

Run the lamb under cold water to remove any stickiness of the meat and dry it well with paper towels. Removing all the excess moisture will make for outside crispier when cooking.



Cut the garlic into small slithers and then cut holes/pockets into the lamb with a sharp knife and stuff the garlic in.



Add a glug of olive oil (not too much as lamb already has lots of natural fat) and generously season with salt and pepper and the "herbes de Provence". Next dress with some rosemary.



Put the lamb in the oven and roast for the correct time. Once it is ready, take it out of the oven, cover in foil and rest for another 10 minutes so the juices flow back into the meat.



Pascal doesn't like sauce so we didn't make any however you can put your roasting tin on the hob over a low heat (if the tin allows that) and add a large glass of chicken stock or red wine and deglaze the pan by scrapping all the good bits from the bottom. Reduce, season and then serve as a nice simple sauce. As I said we didn't do this, however I think it is a good idea.

Finally carve the lamb and serve with a vegetable of your choice. We chose the Mallorcan dish Tumbet (recipe to follow) however it would have been more traditional to do small roast potatoes and green beans.






This was so simple and easy but really delicious - a favourite of Pascal's. Personally I prefer something with a bit more "sauce" but it was nice to eat something more rustic for a change. It went wonderfully with the aubergine, pepper, onion, potato and tomato of the tumbet - not very French but still Mediterranean - especially when I added a dollop of hummus on the side :-)

Friday, 10 April 2015

KUROBUTA, CHELSEA

If anyone ever asks me to list my favourite restaurants in London I would probably name Zuma as my top one. However recently this has been knocked off it's spot by Kurobuta. I have been three times in the past three months and each time I am so overwhelmed by the amazing food, I forget to take pictures!

Kurobuta originally opened as a pop-up in Chelsea in autumn 2013, they then opened a second branch in Marble Arch and at the end of January this year, they moved to a permanent space on the King's road which they are still in the process of expanding. Thank goodness as the small pop up was permanently fully booked and it was impossible to get a table!!

The chef Scott Hallsworth trained at Nobu and the food is Japanese with a twist.

I could have literally ordered the whole menu.

We started with crunchy rice senbei crisps with avocado jalapeƱo dip. These kick the s*** out of prawn crackers and I don't even like jalapeƱos! I can also recommend the edamame beans and next time I am trying the pork scratchings.



We then had the salmon gravadlax and avocado tartare with dill mayo, rice crunchies and fresh yuzu zest. I hadn't had this before and while it was very good, I probably wouldn't order it again as there was a bit too much mayonnaise for me and there is so much other great dishes on the menu.



One of my favourite parts of the menu is the Japanese junk food section. The tuna sashimi pizza with truffle ponzu, red onions and green chillies is divine - so fresh and crisp and a lot healthier than a dominoes!! Despite the chillies, it is not spicy at all.


Another dish that we adore is the beef fillet tataki with onion ponzu and garlic crisps. This is phenomenal - when I first tried this, I ordered seconds straight away!! Apparently the onion ponzu takes a week to make but the effort is definitely worth it. The beef is so tender and literally melts and the garlic crisps add so much flavour.


Next up was the BBQ pork belly with steamed buns and spicy peanut soy. These are to die for - I can't tell you how good these are (they are so amazing I took two photos). Once again the sauce is not spicy (I hate spice) but more sticky and sweet and the pork is cooked to perfection - it falls apart in your mouth. 



I could have just ordered more and more pork belly til I burst!! However we then had the baby shrimp tempura with spicy mayo and warm ponzu dipping sauces. Writing this I have realised that we didn't receive the sauces, not that it mattered as we had soy sauce and these were delicious on their own - big juicy chunky prawns and very light fluffy batter. The best shrimp tempura I've had in a very long time.


Seeing we were at a Japanese we had to have some maki rolls so we went for the spicy tuna maki rolled in tempura crunchies. Fantastic like everything else and not actually spicy.


We then ate the nasu dengaku; sticky miso grilled aubergine with sesame seeds. This isn't something I would normally order however a waitress recommended it on my first trip and I am so grateful she did - it is fabulous. 


Finally we finished with the wagu beef sliders; steamed buns, crunchy onions, pickled cucumber and umami mayo. I would have previously said it is impossible for me to enjoy a burger without cheese….however Kurobuta have proved me wrong…these are unbelievable. The beef is cooked pink and so tender and with all the little extras, it tastes so good. My only complaint is the size - I want to supersize it!!


Unfortunately that was the end of the meal - we were tempted to order more but knew that was a little piglety (plus I still have quite a few Easter chocolates leftover). 

I am not the only one to sing Kurobuta's praises - last week it won the BMW Square Meal Award for Best New Restaurant (previously won by Zuma) and it has also been awarded the Opentable Diner's Choice award for 2015.

The decor is cool, exposed brick and wires etc, the tables are pretty close together and the music is pretty noisy however none of that actually matters as the food is so frickin' good. It is expensive but worth it. I want to go back there now!!


Kurobuta

312 King's Road
London
SW3 5UH
Tel: 020 3475 4158
Email: info@kurobuta-london.com

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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FISH FINGER DOORSTEP SANDWICH

I was planning on cooking cod with lentils and chorizo but then Arabella turned her nose up. Therefore I decided to do something more "relaxed" seeing as it is nearly holiday time and Arabella chose this recipe. I never cook Arabella fish fingers, even though she loves them, as I think they are too processed but I was pleased to see Waitrose sold a healthier, more natural version. I liked the look of this recipe as I used to love a fillet-o-fish at McDonald's and this seemed pretty similar - I was gutted I forgot to buy cheese slices though but probably better for me!!

Ingredients for 2 people:

6-8 fish fingers depending on the size
2 tsp capers
4 cornichons, finely chopped
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 lemon, zested and a squeeze of juice
4 thick slices of good bread
Butter
A few lettuce leaves



Cook the fish fingers according to the packet instructions - mine took 15 minutes in the oven. Once they are cooked leave them to cool a little.


In a bowl mix the capers and cornichons with the mayonnaise.


Stir in the lemon zest, a squeeze of juice and season.



Slice the bread and then butter it - my butter was too hard to spread! Lay some lettuce leaves on one slice.


Then add the fish fingers and the mayo mix and make the sandwich.





This was so much better than I expected. I never make sandwiches so it was a real treat and the homemade tartar sauce was absolutely delicious. As I said earlier I would be tempted to add a slice of cheese although that is probably because I am a cheese addict. Plus I need to learn to slice bread better….my penultimate picture says it all! This was a great alternative to our normal suppers and I will definitely try it again. Arabella loved it although she found the thick bread a struggle to fit in her tiny mouth…thinner slices for her next time!

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