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Duck Soup

Duck Soup

41 Dean Street
Soho, London
W1D 4PY
T: 020 7287 4589
Map

Last night we had an amazing meal at Duck Soup with some wonderful friends. We arrived without a reservation (because we didn’t know you could book for groups of four or more!) but were quickly shown to a great table in the back corner. The menu, which is different every day, is mainly small plates and is great for sharing. Our favorite’s from yesterday’s menu were the Lamb Chops with Salmoriglio, Pappardelle with Rabbit, Salsify and Parmesan Cream, and the Chopped Lardo and Rosemary on Toast, which was definitely not low calorie but absolutely delicious. The cheeses were great too. We especially liked the Fourme D’Ambert (a blue) and the Brillat Savarin (soft cow’s milk). The wines are all natural and were unfamiliar to us, but the waiter (who was excellent overall) encouraged us to try a few reds before selecting the one we liked best. He also recommended a lovely white wine to go with the cheeses. A great time was had by all and we can’t wait to go back!

This dessert is perfect for dinner parties because you can do all of the preparation work earlier in the day or even the day before. Some people like to get the panna cotta out of the ramekin for serving, but I don’t see the point – it might fall apart, and the ramekin needs to be washed anyway.

Panna Cotta with Raspberry and Blueberry Coulis

Serves 4.
Preparation time: Can be done in 20 minutes if you make both at the same time. Serving time: 2 minutes.

For the panna cotta
300ml double cream
300ml milk
60g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
2g agar agar

For the coulis
200g blueberries
200g raspberries
50g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
40ml water

Preparation – Panna Cotta

1. Slice the vanilla bean in half lengthways and scrape out the seeds. You could probably substitute vanilla essence for the seeds.

2. Put the vanilla seeds, double cream, milk, sugar and agar agar in a pan and warm on a medium heat until the mixture is hot. Simmer for 5 minutes – do not let the mixture boil. You can tell when it’s boiling because of a) the bubbles and b) the noise, which sounds like a kettle.

3. Remove the pan from the heat, leave to cool for 5 minutes and then divide the mixture between 4 ramekins. Remember to leave enough room for the coulis! Leave to cool for a further 5 minutes and then put in the fridge for at least a few hours.

Preparation – Raspberry and Blueberry Coulis

1. Find a pan with a lid.

2. Put the blueberries, sugar, cinnamon stick and water in the pan and cook on a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved.

3. Reduce the heat to low, put the lid on the pan and simmer for 3-4 minutes.

4. Remove the lid, turn the heat back up to medium and cook for a further 4-5 minutes. At this point you should have something that looks like a sauce and the berries should have collapsed slightly. If it is very thin you might want to leave it for longer until it thickens up.

5. Remove from the heat, retrieve and discard the cinnamon stick, add the raspberries and stir well.

6. Transfer the mixture to a suitable bowl or dish, leave to cool for 5 minutes and then put it in the fridge next to your panna cottas.

Serving

Simply retrieve everything from the fridge and spoon the coulis on top of the panna cottas.

Nutritional information: if you care, you should not be making this dish

Le P’tit Normand

Le P’tit Normand

185 Merton Road
Southfields, London
SW18 5EF
T: 0208 871 0233
Map

Le P’tit Normand is one of our two favourite local family run French restaurants (L’Auberge being the other). The restaurant is small and cosy, the menu of adequate length and the all-French wine list relatively short. Our starters (Fagot d’Asperges et Lardons, Tartare de Boeuf, Escargots and Gaufre au Basilic) were yummy and the main courses (Entrecôte Steak, Magret de Canard, and Escalope de Veau) did not disappoint. To finish off, we had the Creme Brulee and a Plateau de Fromage (we are avid cheese fans!). The cheese was suitably ripe and there was a large selection to choose from. Apart from a few pieces of bread that were very hard, we were very happy with the food. The service, however, was unpolished. Although it was obvious the woman waiting on us was inexperienced, she didn’t get much help from the others and was even chastised in front of us for not clearing the table entirely before bringing us the dessert menu. Not good.. We’ll probably go back again, but the poor service has moved it down a notch in our local rankings.

The Wellington Arms

The Wellington Arms

Baughurst Road
Baughurst
RG26 5LP
T: 0118 982 0110
Map

Last night we spent a wonderful evening at this exquisite pub, which we found in Sawday’s Special Places. We were looking to spend the night somewhere after our painting workshop with Deana Kim and struck it lucky with The Wellington Arms. On arrival we were shown to the “Old Room”, which is one of their two rooms in an old barn. It was beautifully decorated, and as with everything here, there was great attention to detail and everything was perfect! The rain shower with wonderfully smelling Aesop toiletries was the perfect for cleaning up after the painting course. The luxurious fluffy towels, warm tile floor and  sheepskin rug were better than at home!

The food in the restaurant was also exceptional. To start, we had the Isle of Man queenie scallops and the vegetable terrine with fresh radishes that tasted like they were straight from the garden (bear in mind, it is February!). A lovely bottle of Barbera D’Alba accompanied our main courses, the roast brill and the butterflied leg of lamb, which were both fantastic.  Because we can’t help ourselves, we shared a sticky toffee pudding and the cheese board with a glass of Sauternes – a great finish to a wonderful evening! The Full English breakfast this morning was equally good.

Everything about The Wellington Arms exudes quality and pride. We were honoured to experience Simon and Jason’s labour of love. Keep up the good work!

L’Auberge Restaurante

L’Auberge Restaurante

22 Upper Richmond Road
London
SW15 2RX
T: 020 8874 3593
Map

We spotted this small French Restaurant on the South Circular in August, but didn’t get around to trying it until last Saturday night. It’s run by a husband and wife team who made us feel like part of their family from the moment we walked in the door.  We started the evening with an aperatif – I had an amazing but subtle Fig Kir Royale from the extensive list of Kir Royaux. To start we had the Aumonière surprise, a Filo pastry parcel wih a Camembert, pine nut & apple filling and the Assiette Sud-Ouest, a home-made duck terrine with potted duck foie gras & orange smoked duck breast – both of which we would definitely have again! The main course was Entrecôte à la moelle – a Scottish ribeye steak, classic shallot & marrowbone sauce, and Poisson du Jour – squid in a tomato sauce with fresh vegetables. Although we’re on a diet, we couldn’t resist dessert and tried both the Chocolate and Chilli Bombe and the French Cheese Platter, both of which were delicious.  In fact, the whole meal was so amazing that we returned this Friday night and had many of the same things!  Oh, and they do take-away too.. c’est dangereux!

York and Albany

York and Albany

127-129 Parkway
London
NW1 7PS
T: 020 7388 3344
Map

We discovered this fantastic restaurant last night after visiting the zoo for Zoo Lates, a late night opening of the zoo where we saw beautiful lions and tigers and many other animals. There was some takeaway food available at the Zoo, but we decided we wanted a proper meal and pulled up Google Maps to search for a restaurant. Lucky for us, we found York and Albany right around the corner and decided to give it a try.

It didn’t look that busy as we approached it and we even briefly considered not going in because it looked too quiet, but when we got inside it became obvious that the restaurant was around the back and was quite busy. On arrival, the host made us feel a bit silly for not having a reservation and said he would see what he could do about a table. After what seemed like 5 minutes, he came back and said he had a table for two. When we sat down, there were a few free tables around us (some of which remained empty throughout our meal) and the host asked for our name so he could put it down for the reservation.. which seemed strange, given that we were already sitting down.

However, the evening only got better. The menu was fantastic and the service was perfect.. attentive but not overbearing. So many things on the menu looked enticing but we eventually chose the Quail breast ravioli with confit leg, spinach, truffle and shallot and the Salt and pepper squid with baby gem with anchovy and pepper relish, smoked paprika mayonnaise as our starters. Both were elegantly presented, perfectly proportioned and absolutely delicious! For the main course we had the Smoked squab pigeon with glazed cherries, cabbage,
horseradish spätzel, and toasted pecan nuts
and Roasted cannon of lamb with onion purée, rainbow chard, confit potatoes, green olives, and red peppers which were also heavenly. We chose the Atanasius (Blaufränkisch/Zweigelt) wine to go with the meal and it did not disappoint. It was light, fruity and very easy to drink. We didn’t pass on dessert either.. oh no.. there were too many temptations on offer. We chose the Roasted figs with iced lemon semifreddo and Chocolate and coffee pavé with coffee ice cream, both of which were amazing. The coffee ice cream was an espresso bean dream and the fresh figs were full of flavour and delicately spiced.

It was definitely the best meal we’d had in ages and was especially good since we happened on it accidentally. It wasn’t cheap but for a 3 course meal for two including wine and 2 gin & tonics, we felt it was really good value given the quality of the food and service. I think it’s worth a special trip to experience Angela Hartnett’s fabulous menu and if you’re in the neighbourhood, I definitely recommend popping in. I know I’ll be back!

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

If you love pecan pie and pumpkin pie, this is the pie for you! Great for Thanksgiving or any time you want sugar hit!

I made this fabulous pie for Canadian Thanksgiving last weekend. It’s based on Libby’s Pumpkin Pecan Pie, but with a few modifications.

First things first.. the pumpkin… In the past when I’ve made pumpkin pie, I’ve always cooked the pumpkin myself and then pureed it. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the resulting pies were often soggy. When researching pie recipes this year, I found a great tip from Keri Fisher:  after pureeing the pumpkin, put it back in the oven spread thinly on a cookie sheet and roast it until it gets drier and thicker.  My pie was not in the slightest big soggy.. I think this tip made all the difference.  And before we start, I’ll admit that I didn’t make my own crust. I bought all-butter frozen shortcrust pastry from Waitrose. 🙂


Pumpkin Pecan Pie

Preparation time: 20 mins + 50 mins cooking time (assuming you already have the pastry and pumpkin prepared).
Makes one 9-inch pie.

Pumpkin Pecan Pie

1 (9 inch) unbaked (4-cup volume) deep-dish pie shell
250 g pumpkin puree (see note above)
65 g brown sugar
1 large egg
2 g pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves)

160 ml honey
100 g brown sugar
2 large eggs
45 g butter or margarine
3 ml vanilla extract
120 g pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350°F/175°C.

1. COMBINE pumpkin, sugar, egg and pumpkin pie spice in medium bowl; stir well. Spread over bottom of pie shell.

2. COMBINE honey, sugar, eggs, butter and vanilla extract in same bowl; stir in nuts. Spoon over pumpkin layer.

3. BAKE for 50 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Serve with freshly whipped cream and enjoy!

Another great recipe from delicious Magazine..

Mom, I think you’ll like this one.. yummy roasted garlic and beets. Two of our faves!


Roasted Garlic, Thyme and Beetroot

I made this recipe a few months ago but it was so good I have been meaning to add it here for ages. I thought the flavours worked really well, and a bit of roasted garlic never goes awry.

I hadn’t used beets in quite a while and had forgotten how wonderful they look on the inside. I couldn’t resist taking a picture of them before I cut them up. Since I had the camera out, I thought I’d document the pan before and after it went in the oven. Unfortunately, they looked so good when they came out of the oven that I completely forgot about taking a picture and served them up immediately.

Click here for recipe @ delicious

Beets with magical colours.

Beets with magical colours.

All ready to go in the oven.

All ready to go in the oven.

The Wells

The Wells
The Wells - Hampstead

30 Well Walk
Hamsptead
London
NW3 1BX

Map

We discovered The Wells on our first visit to Hamsptead. It was a crisp December day and we were looking for a nice pub to have drink before dinner. We were pleasantly surprised to find The Wells on the corner of Christchurch Hill and Well Walk. I sampled a lovely white from their extensive wine list and got Rob a pint of Leffe. The atmosphere was lovely and the place had a good feel about it. After seeing their food menu and the awards for Best Gastro Pub on the wall, we decided to return someday and sample the food.

We came back for lunch on New Year’s Day. I was glad we had booked as it filled up quickly. We sat next to the fireplace and enjoyed a latte before our meal. It was another freezing cold day so we started with the soup, which was fabulous. We both had fish for our main courses and the apple and blueberry crumble for dessert. It was all very yummy! We wil definitely go back.

Seafood Risotto

This is one of Rob’s all-time favourites. It’s always a joy to watch his eyes light up when we’re on the way home from work and he asks “what’s for tea?” and I get to say “Seafood Risotto”. I usually make it with Sainsbury’s Seafood Collection which is a mixture of cooked mussels, king prawns and squid rings, because its easy and relatively cheap, but I’m sure it would be wonderful with lots of other seafood too.

I’ve been experimenting with this recipe for ages. Sometimes I add a bit less lemon or a bit more cheese. I’ve also used red wine as a substitution for white, which I don’t recommend. Apart from turning it a wierd colour, it just didn’t taste right. The parsley isn’t essential, and could be curly rather than flat if that’s what you have. If I have some asparagus on hand, I like to grill it with some olive oil, salt and pepper, cut it into one inch pieces and stir it in at the end.


Seafood Risotto

Serves 2.

Seafood Risotto

2 1/2 tbsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
fresh ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
150g arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine
2 1/2 to 3 cups of stock, chicken or vegetable
235g (or more) mixed seafood, cooked
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottom saucepan over medium-high heat. When the butter is melted add the chopped onion and cook until almost translucent. Add a few grindings of black pepper and the minced garlic.

2. Just before the garlic starts to brown, add the rice and stir well. Keep stirring until the rice has absorbed most of the butter and the pan is almost dry.

3. Add the white wine and turn down the heat a notch. When the wine is almost absorbed, add 1/2 cup of stock. Stir frequently adding the rest of the stock in approximately 1/2 cup portions until the liquid is almost all absorbed. If the rice is still a bit hard, add any seafood juice from the packet or some hot water and cook until it is absorbed.

4. Add the lemon juice and stir for a few more minutes. Add the seafood and a bit more pepper.

5. Just before serving, stir in the parmesan and the parsley.

6. Serve up in bowls with some extra parmesan and a bit more parsley as a garnish.