Sunday, 23 April 2017

HAM, SWEETCORN & LEEK QUICHE

My daughter Arabella was given a cook book for her birthday and so last week we decided to try out a recipe for supper. I am feeling a lot of guilt at the moment as I don't make home cooked meals from scratch every night for Arabella like I used to. There is very little time nowadays because of the baby. I know it's not for long - in a few months time Olympia will be on proper food and we can all eat the same thing - but I still feel guilty. 

Anyway I decided to cook this quiche as Arabella and I are big fans of the Higgidy ones, the recipe recommended making your own pastry but I decided to take a short cut and buy short crust pastry. I have never blind baked before and I made a bit of a mess of putting the pasty in the tin but thankfully my presentation didn't affect the taste!

This took quite a while as you have to blind bake for 20 minutes and then bake with the filling for 40 minutes and then leave it to stand for 10 minutes. In typical me fashion I didn't read this so it was all quite rushed and stressful!

Ingredients for 4 people:

A roll of short crust pastry
2 eggs, beaten
100ml single cream
125g sweetcorn
100g ham, cubed / shredded
100ml milk
75g gated cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small leek, sliced

You will also need baking beans to blind bake.



Firstly take the pastry out of the fridge an hour before you need to cook it. Then you need to blind bake / pre-bake - I had never done this before so was a little apprehensive. 

Start by preheating the oven to 200 C / gas mark 6. Then roll out the pastry into a lightly greased quiche tin, press it down and mould round the tin. Finally prick with a fork all over. My tin was slightly too big hence it didn't look particularly neat. Next cover with a sheet of baking paper and fill with the baking beans. Pop into the oven for 15 minutes. Then remove the paper and beans and bake for another 10 minutes.



Whilst this is baking fry the leeks in a tablespoon of olive oil until cooked.



Reduce the oven temperature to 180 C / gas mark 4.

Fill the quiche base with the ham, sweetcorn and leeks. Then whisk together the eggs, milk and cream and pour this over the base and top with the cheese. Bake for 40-45 minutes.




Leave to set for at least 10 minutes and then serve with a crisp green salad.



This was pretty simple to cook but I found it a right hassle and as I was cooking this I was thinking, what a nightmare, it will be rubbish and I am never cooking this again!! Luckily I was very pleasantly surprised. It tasted delicious and I was really proud to have baked my own quiche. Arabella liked it however she has requested than next time I leave out the leeks. If you wanted a vegetarian version you could substitute the ham for extra vegetables such as mushrooms or peppers or broccoli or if you like it meaty you could add some bacon. The choice is yours, knowing me next time I expect I will add more cheese!

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

GRATIN OF MACARONI WITH BACON AND LEEKS

I really wanted to cook a roast lamb on Easter Sunday but it seemed a little OTT as it was just my daughter Arabella and I for lunch. So instead I went for Arabella's favourite.....pasta! This is a recipe I found on Waitrose's website, I wanted something quick and easy as I am still finding cooking with the baby quite difficult. She seems to save her moaning to when I am slaving over a hot stove!! Anyway this only took about 15 minutes to prepare and then 25 minutes in the oven.

Ingredients for 2 people:

150g macaroni
1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, sliced
200g lardons
350g tub of cheese sauce
50g Parmesan, grated
50g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 small bunches of cherry tomatoes (I only used one as Arabella doesn't like cooked tomatoes)


Preheat the oven 190 C / gas mark 5.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet's instructions. Mine took 10 minutes. 


Meanwhile heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the lardons for around 4 minutes and then add the leeks for another 4 minutes or until they start to soften and the bacon is cooked.




Add the cheese sauce and bring to the boil, then stir in the pasta and a good grinding of black pepper.



Transfer into a baking dish and place the tomatoes on top. Pop into the oven for 20-25 minutes until the topping is golden and the tomatoes are soft. Serve and enjoy.





Even though I was missing having lamb, this was a great alternative - I love a Mac and cheese and this recipe was so easy to make. Next time I might stir in a teaspoon of mustard to give it a bit of a kick. I was tempted to not bother with the tomatoes but they made a great addition and next time I will serve it with a mixed green salad. I am constantly looking for recipes that don't take too long and would suit a midweek supper and this definitely hits the spot.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

STICKY FINGERS, KENSINGTON

We have all become slightly obsessed with counting our steps in our household and so when we went for lunch a few weekends ago, we decided to combine it with a good walk. We decided to go to the restaurant Sticky Fingers in Kensington as the menu is both adult and kid friendly and I was particularly drawn to the pudding menu. Sticky Fingers is the brainchild of Bill Wyman, the ex bassist from the Rolling Stones and it named after their 9th British album (a good one actually - love Wild Horses)! The menu is your usual American fare - chicken wings, squid, burgers, steaks, hot dogs, fajitas....the choice is vast....8 different types of burgers....my type of place!

Unsurprisingly we were all starving so we ordered Nachos Fondita to start...unlike normal nachos these came with a slightly spicy cheese dip in the middle and we added some pulled pork.







These were delicious and a good hefty portion, we loved the addition of the pulled pork although the cheese dip had quite the kick to it. Anyway it certainly whet our appetites for the mains. Arabella ordered off the kids menu and not surprisingly chose mac and cheese with garlic bread.



The curly pasta is served with a 4 cheese sauce and a biscuit crust. Arabella enjoyed the pasta but she wasn't keen on the crust which worked well for Pascal and I because we loved the cheesy topping.

Pascal went for a New Yorker style burger which was served with bacon, cheese, lettuce, red onion and gherkin. Pascal being typically French, likes his meat blue but they cooked it more medium/medium rare. He wasn't complaining though as the burger was really tasty. 




I was so torn over what to order - I wanted it all basically - a pulled pork hot dog, a blue cheese burger and the fajitas - but then I went for the buffalo 'n bird - a chicken burger with hot buffalo sauce, chopped lettuce, blue cheese sauce and chicken wings.




I love buffalo sauce and wish more restaurants in London served it like they do in America. This was really good although pretty spicy so I added some extra blue cheese sauce and it tasted like a dream. I am not normally a huge chip fan but these were the most amazing fries I have ever tasted.

By this point in the meal I was already stuffed but I couldn't resist a pudding. As part of the kid's menu, Arabella had a pudding included so we ordered her the fruit kebab which actually baby Olympia had. Arabella and I had bigger ideas....a freakshake....a salted caramel donut one to be precise!




The freak shake consisted of a salted caramel thick shake topped with whipped cream, salted caramel sauce, a homemade salted caramel donut and marshmallows. It was Heaven!! Arabella and I were fighting over every mouthful - if I am going to be critical the donut wasn't a patch on Krispy Kremes but it was still delicious and I loved the whole salted caramel combination. I think we would need to walk to Antartica to burn off the calories!!

A great lunch - service was so friendly and attentive and we all felt very satisfied. Sticky Fingers has been around for nearly 30 years, the decor is slightly tired, it isn't cheap but it was worth it. Bill Wyman originally opened the restaurant because he wanted somewhere to go just as he liked it - friendly and welcoming with excellent food and service - and 28 years on it does just that. 

Sticky Fingers

1A Phillimore Gardens,
London
W8 7QG
Tel: 020 7937 8690

Square Meal Sticky Fingers Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Saturday, 25 March 2017

TOFFEE APPLE DUMP CAKE

My ex mother in law came for tea last week and so it gave me the perfect excuse to bake a cake. I LOVE cake even more than normal at the moment as I have given up chocolate for lent - it hasn't made me cut down on sugar like I hoped, and instead, I have just gorged on other sugary treats like liquorice allsorts, Krispy Kreme donuts and haribo!! Anyway I had found this recipe in Olive magazine a couple of months ago and it seemed easy enough so I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately Fulham seem to be having a toffee drought so I had to use fudge instead, I don't think it made too much of a difference. The cake took about an hour and fifteen minutes to make plus cooling time.

Ingredients for 9 people:

125g butter
225g dark muscovado sugar (I used light as that is what I had in the cupboard)
2 eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
100g soft toffees, chopped into pieces (I used fudge)

Frosting
100g butter (at room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g icing sugar
Toffee or caramel sauce



Heat the oven to 160C / 140C fan / gas mark 3.

Put the butter and muscovado sugar in a food processor or use a mixing bowl and mixer and whizz for a couple of minutes, then blend in the beaten eggs. Next add the flour, baking powder and whizz until combined. Finally stir in the apple and toffee pieces.









Pour the mixture into a buttered, base-lined 20cm square tin/baking dish and bake for 1 hour or until golden and risen. Remove from the tin and cool.



To make the frosting, beat the butter, vanilla and icing sugar with 3 tablespoons of toffee sauce until smooth. Spread over the cake and then drizzle over some more sauce to finish just before you tuck in.










I have never ordered an apple flavoured pudding in a restaurant like apple crumble or tart tatin as I didn't believe it was my thing....I am now seriously regretting all the years I have missed out....as this apple and toffee cake was seriously amazing. I am proud to say my ex mother is law loved it and so did I. I adored the cake so much I have managed to eat 8 portions in 3 days 🐷🐷🐷. The apple, the fudge, the frosting, the cake - it was all obscenely good and so easy to make. I would recommend as an afternoon treat or a pudding....or even for breakfast - it is absolutely delectable.

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Friday, 17 March 2017

PELLICANO, CHELSEA

After our disappointing supper at Smith and Wollensky, we decided to go out for lunch the following Sunday to make up for it. We rarely go to Italian restaurants other than our favourite local Gola, but we needed to buy some baby clothes at Peter Jones so we decided to try out the nearby Pellicano

Pellicano is a family run Italian restaurant with a Sardinian twist that has been open for 17 years. The restaurant's aim is to serve freshly made, wholesome food in a warm friendly environment and it certainly did that.

I am still a little apprehensive about going to restaurants with my baby - she is 7 months - but we were immediately made to feel welcome. We checked out the menu whilst tucking into delicious freshly cooked bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Olympia liked the bread too!



The menu is pretty varied - starting with antipasti such as calamari with chilli, garlic, cannellini beans and Sardinian sausages or grilled goat's cheese with baby spinach and beetroot carpaccio. However we decided to share a pizza as they did my favourite type - a margarita with Gorgonzola and speck.


The pizza was fantastic - cheesy but not overpowering with a crispy base and plenty of speck - we loved it and were fighting over the last piece. I was regretting not having a whole one for myself!

For mains you could choose between pizza, pasta (you could have this as a starter as well), fish or meat. I was torn between the ossobucco with risotto Milanese or homemade tortellini pasta filled with seasoned meat served with ham and mascarpone sauce. Whereas Pascal couldn't decide between the homemade tagliatelle sautéed with Sardinian sausage or veal Milanese with rocket, Parmesan and tomatoes. In the end I went for the pasta and he had the veal and neither of us were disappointed.




The pasta was out of this world - I was worried I wouldn't have enough Parmesan as the waiter served it to you rather than leaving it on the table (I think I have a cheese addiction), but actually I didn't need too much as the pasta was so tasty and flavoursome. 

Veal Milanese is one of Pascal's favourites and he really enjoyed his too - the meat was really tender with a crispy coating and the rocket and Parmesan salad complimented it perfectly.

We didn't have room for pudding and by now we were on borrowed time with Olympia so we paid the bill and wondered home feeling very satisfied after a wonderful lunch. I already can't wait to go back and me being a creature of habit would have the exact same meal again! I can see why Pellicano remains so popular after so many years.

Pellicano

19-21 Elystan Street,
London
SW3 3NT
Tel: 020 7584 1789

Square Meal
Pellicano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato