Friday, 19 December 2014

Restaurant review - Pitt Cue Co. Soho

After several failed attempts, be it down to arriving just as the kitchen was closing, or the restaurant being full, we finally managed to get a seat in Pitt Cue Co. in Soho. 

It was worth the wait.



The restaurant has an unassuming façade, no flashy signs, you could easily walk by if you didn't know it was there. They also take no reservations! This isn't (as they say) that they are trying to be cool but simply because with only 30 seats it is the fairest system that you get in on a first come first served basis.

On this day, that made me happy as we were able to perch at the bar upstairs and excitedly order our plate of meat!!


Not really knowing what we'd get we ordered a side of loaded skins. They were not what we expected for skins and were kind of deconstructed... creamy mash layer on the bottom, oh so crispy fried potato skin layer piled high with more delicious pulled pork and a slightly spicy carrot and chive garnish.   These came out first and whet our appetite perfectly... now we were more than ready for the main event.

We both chose the pulled pork, minus the bun. For my side I chose the green chilli slaw, just a little heat, not too much. The pork came served in these fab enamel dishes with some pickles and a hunk of griddled bread on the side.  

My friend chose the pork with a side salad of beets, walnut and ricotta, also getting the pickles and bread on the side.

We demolished the lot! The pork melted in the mouth and was perfect for me, just the right amount of vinegary tang and smoky sweetness, complimented by the fresh slaw and salad on the side.

Wouldn't hesitate to go back and maybe try something different next time... then again, the pork was so perfect I might just end up choosing it again.

Pitt Cue Co. is located just off Carnaby Street in Soho

Opening times
Mon-Sat 12-3pm and 5.30-11pm
Sun 12-4pm


Thursday, 11 December 2014

Winter fruits and Bonne Maman Madeleine Charlotte cake

I was recently invited to attend a festive Madeleine Master Class with Bonne Maman and the ever so lovely Eric Lanlard, held at the newly styled and purpose built Good Housekeeping Institute in Soho.

We were first shown to a table adorned with an array of decorations including, sprinkles, flowers, sugar christmas trees and lots of baubles and glitter where we decorated our own Bonne Maman Madeleine.

After tea and a sample of Bonne Maman's Chocolate Caramel and Lemon tartlets we watched Eric Lanlard demonstrating his delicious Madeleine Charlotte cake (recipe below).



Soaking the Madeleines in strawberry sugar syrup before layering up with deliciously light strawberry mousse and more Madeleinies, finally decorating with lots of fresh berries and fruit.

Me assisting Eric lining the tin with Madeleines



Oops... I think we enjoyed it!


Summer fruits and Bonne Maman Madeleine Charlotte cake
Recipe by Eric Lanlard

A light and fluffy strawberry mousse topped with fresh summer fruit, all held beautifully in place with Bonne Maman Madeleines, this delicious dessert is perfect for weekend picnics and summer parties. Using buttery Bonne Maman Madeleines instead of the usual sponge fingers gives this dessert a traditional French twist and is guaranteed to impress your party guests.  

Serves: 8
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Set time: 3 hours

Ingredients:
For the Bonne Maman Madeleine syrup:
·      100ml water
·      100g golden caster sugar
·      100g strawberries
Everything else:
·      20 Bonne Maman Madeleines
·      250g of mixed summer fruits
For the mousse:
·      300g strawberries
·      100g golden caster sugar
·      4 egg yolks
·      300ml whipping cream
·      2tsp vanilla bean paste
·      5 gelatine leaves

Method:
For the Bonne Maman Madeleine syrup:
·    In a saucepan, mix the sugar and water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Leave to cool.
·    Wash 100g of strawberries, remove the stems and liquidise in a food processor to make a coulis.
·    Pass the coulis trough a fine sieve to collect all the seeds.
When the sugar syrup is cool, mix with the coulis and put to one side

For the mousse:
·    Wash 300g strawberries and remove the stems.
·    Heat the strawberries in a small saucepan with 50g of golden caster sugar to create a puree.
·    Cover the gelatine leaves with cold water in a separate bowl.  
·    In a separate bowl, whisk 4 egg yolks with the remaining 50g of golden caster sugar.
·    Pour the hot strawberry puree on to the yolk and sugar mixture and whisk continuously.
·    Put the strawberry puree, yolk and sugar mixture back in to a saucepan and heat whilst continually mixing until the puree thickens and coats the back of a spoon.
·    Drain the gelatine and add it to the hot strawberry puree. Put it to one side to cool.
·    Use an electric hand whisk to whip 300ml of cream in to soft peaks, adding the vanilla bean paste half way through
When the strawberry puree is cold, fold in the whipped cream in two stages to create a smooth and creamy mousse

To build then Bonne Maman Madeleine Charlotte cake:
·    Line a 22cm in diameter springform tin with baking paper.
·    Cut the Bonne Maman Madeleines in half length ways and line the tin with the curved sides against the wall of the tin.
·    Fill the bottom of the tin with the other Bonne Maman Madeleines halves – cut them to fit if need be.
·    Using a pastry brush, paint the Bonne Maman Madeleines with the syrup made at the very beginning.
·    Using a ladle cover the Bonne Maman Madeleines with the mousse.
·    Repeat the process – add Bonne Maman Madeleines, paint with syrup and add mousse. Make sure you leave a small gap between the final layer of mousse and the top of the Bonne Maman Madeleines.
·    Place the cake in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours.
·    When set, gently remove the tin and put on a serving plate or cake stand.

Decorate with mixed summer fruits and enjoy - the cake can be enjoyed at any time of the year with a selection of fruits, shown here with winter berries.


Happy baking xx

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Win 2 tickets to the BBC Good Food Show Winter!



Competition time!!

How would you like to win 2 tickets to the BBC Good Food Show Winter at the NEC?

This fantastic prize gives one lucky winner a pair of general admission tickets for a day of your choice (excludes Saturday).

And as a bonus I will be giving the winner a box of 6 cupcakes to be collected from my stand at the show!


To be in with a chance of winning, comment on this post below or retweet on twitter

For more details on the show, to see who is exhibiting and which celebrities will be there,visit the BBC Good Food Show Winter website.

Good luck!!

These are general admission only which means they do not include a theatre seat. A seat in the Supertheatre can be purchased in advance, however these are subject to availability.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

WIN tickets to the BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes show in October!!


Competition time!!

How would you like to win 2 tickets to the BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes Show?

This fantastic prize gives one lucky winner a pair of general admission tickets for a day of your choice.

And as a bonus I will be giving the winner a box of 6 cupcakes to be collected from my stand at the show!


To be in with a chance of winning, comment on this post below or retweet on twitter

For more details on the show, to see who is exhibiting and which celebrities will be getting their bake on, visit the BBC Good Food Bakes and Cakes Show website

Good luck!!

These are general admission only which means they do not include a theatre seat. A seat in the Bakes & Cakes theatre can be purchased on the day however these are subject to availability.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Recipe for Orange Sriracha Chicken

I'm always checking out the speciality ingredients section in Tesco, looking for inspiration and something new to try. I picked up a bottle of Sriracha sauce a little while ago and after a quick Google, found some recipes which combined lime and honey in a glaze for chicken. Only having orange juice to hand, I adapted the recipe to include this instead.

Sriracha is a type of hot sauce or chili sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt.
The result; a deliciously moreish, sticky chicken that my boys couldn't get enough of.
Serves 4
Chicken:
  • 12 chicken drumsticks 
  • 2 tsp sea salt
Place the chicken drumsticks in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and set aside

Marinade:
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • 120ml orange juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place all the marinade ingredients into a blender or food processor, puree until smooth.
Pour the mixture over the drumsticks, turning to coat.
Pop in the fridge and marinate for at least an hour, or overnight if possible

Orange Sriracha Sauce:
  • 120ml orange juice
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha (available from Tesco)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Add the orange juice, honey, sriracha and butter to a pan and bring to the boil.
Once at a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for another 5 minutes until thickened.

To cook the chicken 

Preheat the oven to 200.
Place the drumsticks on a wire rack, covering with a little of the marinade, and cook for 35-40 minutes, turning half way through, until the skin is golden brown.
Brush some of the orange sriracha sauce over the chicken pieces and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Remove from the oven and brush with more sauce, sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds to serve.

I made this to accompany my Wakame and Miso Udon Noodle Soup

Monday, 22 September 2014

Recipe for Wakame and Miso Udon Noodle Soup with Clearspring Organic

I was recently sent some Clearspring Organic Japanese products to create some delicious recipes with. Not knowing what would be in the box until it arrived, it was a little like Ready, Steady, Cook! You do remember the TV programme with Ainsley Harriott where guest chefs were given a bag of food to create a dish with??? Good :-)


So when my box of goodies arrived I was happy to find in there some brown rice udon noodles; should be fairly simple to create a dish with. Silken tofu; I've cooked with firm tofu before but this variety would be a first. And finally, (dried) wakame flakes; an edible seaweed which starts out as tiny flakes and once soaked in water, results in beautifully soft, sweet tender fronds. Wakame has huge health benefits, it is extremely high in nutritional value while being low in calories and minimal in fat content.

Before
After
I think I could eat like this every day... so light, fresh and flavourful.

Recipe notes:
You could also add prawns or roast chicken to make this a more substantial meal.
I also made orange sriracha chicken to eat alongside the soup.

Recipe for Wakame and Miso Udon noodle soup
serves 4
Ingredients
  • 20g of Clearspring Wakame Seaweed
  • 40ml of light soy sauce
  • 2tsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 packet (300g) Clearspring firm silken tofu, cubed
  • 200g Clearspring udon noodles
  • 3 pints of water
  • 3 tbsp miso paste
  • 3 tsp rapeseed oil
  • 50g mange tout
  • 50g baby sweetcorn quartered
  • 50g sliced mushrooms
  • 50g brocolli
  • 1 red chilli deseeded and finely sliced
  • Spring onions to garnish
Method
  1. Soak the seaweed in a bowl of water for five minutes. 
  2. Place the cubes of tofu in a bowl and pour in the soy sauce and sesame oil. Leave to marinade whilst the you prepare the rest of the soup. 
  3. In a heavy based pan bring the water to the boil and add the miso paste.
  4. In a shallow dish, mix the soy sauce and sesame seed oil. Add the miso soup and stir well, then remove from the heat. 
  5. Fry off the tofu in canola oil for a couple of minutes until golden brown. 
  6. Drain the seaweed and add it to the serving bowls together with the udon noodles and vegetables
  7. Pour over the miso and serve
  8. To garnish sprinkle with spring onions and a drizzle of sesame oil.

Enjoy x

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Cooking with Bottlegreen

Started by husband and wife team Kit and Shireen Morris in 1989, bottlegreen has been making refreshing, clean crisp flavours for over 21 years. They first planted vines to make delicious elderflower wine, but as they waited for them to mature, they started producing elderflower cordial instead. They made this in their kitchen sink and sold it at farmers markets and local delicatessens. 
Bottlegreen Cordials
Bottlegreen cordial is the deliciously quaffable drink for you to enjoy relaxing by yourself or in an ice filled jug with a close group of friends.  It’s the perfect soft drink for you to sit back and enjoy some peaceful time away from your day-to-day hassles. They're also a great way to add flavour to your favourite dishes.
All cordials contain only the purest and finest natural ingredients blended together with clear spring water. Each one is as delicious as it is light, crisp and distinctive.
Bottlegreen cordials are also free from all artificial colours, flavours or sweeteners.

I was asked to test three different flavours in my cooking; Elderflower, Strawberry and Ginger and Lemongrass and was happy to use the recipes provided as a base, adding my own twist!
Seafood in Coconut, Ginger & Lemongrass sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 300g of baby corn mange tout and broccoli
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
  • 400ml canned coconut milk (use reduced fat if preferred)
  • 400g salmon fillet, skin removed
  • 300g peeled raw tiger or king prawns (thawed if frozen)
  • Juice from ½ large lime
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 spring onions, shredded
  • handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Method
  1. Cut the baby sweet corn in half lengthways. If the mange tout are large, halve them. 
  1. In a deep frying pan (or sauté pan), gently cook the chopped shallots until softened. Stir them into the curry paste, tomatoes, and coconut milk. Bring to boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until reduced by half when the tomatoes are pulpy.
  1. Meanwhile, cut the salmon into 4cm chunks. Pat the prawns dry on kitchen paper. Add them to the sauce with the Ginger and Lemongrass cordial and lime juice, and then stir together. Add the vegetables, let it simmer for 5 minutes until the prawns turn pink and the salmon is cooked.
  1. Scatter over shreds of spring onion, chopped coriander and accompany with basmati or Thai jasmine rice. Ready to serve.


Recipe notes:
As with Thai food you need to add the four main elements; salty, sweet, sour and spicy. The heat in this dish comes from the curry paste. Taste, and if you need to add a little more heat, add some chopped fresh chilli. The sweetness comes from the small amount of added sugar in the cordial. I found this to be enough so no need to add anymoe. The fish sauce adds the sour element.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Review: Banana Tree, Milton Keynes


I was eagerly anticipating the opening of the new Banana Tree restaurant at The Hub in Milton Keynes. I'd checked out the menu before at their branch in Soho, so couldn't wait to try when they finally opened their doors.

Banana Tree serves up fantastic food and drinks from the Indochina region; Thai, Vietnamese, Malaysian and Singaporean dishes. They have several locations, mostly around London but are creeping their way up via Watford to Milton Keynes... yay!!

The bar area is really cool, with big comfy chairs hanging from the ceiling, my boys loved having a swing in these while we waited for our table. There's a long seating area to the side of the bar too so a good place to meet friends before dinner.

We were seated quite quickly and given some prawn crackers to nibble on while we chose from the menu. 
I wanted to try EVERYTHING!! 

First up, these fresh Indo herb wraps; light and aromatic Nem Noung Coriander Meatballs, served with Batavia lettuce, fresh herbs and a delicious Nuoc Cham dipping sauce.

Sticky Thai wings; Marinated fried chicken wings tossed in house special tamarind, garlic, sweet basil and chilli sauce

Dried pulled beef with aromatic herbs and peanuts; served with prawn crackers.
Our waitress told us to chew slowly to really release the flavours. It had an amazing intense taste.

We also had the steamed chicken dumplings in a vinegar, garlic and fresh herb sauce, but my boys dived in before I had the chance to take a pic.

This was from the kids menu; crispy chicken with mango and sweet lime sauce, served with either steamed rice or noodles. It also included a dessert of either ice-cream with sauce and sprinkles or sorbet.

The Banana Tree Laksa; Rice noodles topped with house special spiced coconut broth, with aubergine, tofu and bean sprouts. There was a choice of coriander meatballs, chicken or king prawn.

I had the legendary beef Rendang; a famous speciality from the Minangkabau hill tribe of Indonesia. A deliciously rich and nutty slow cooked dry and fragrant curry with a toasted coconut based sauce. I chose a lovely fresh and spicy green papaya salad to go with.

The boys enjoyed their ice-cream and I sampled the spiced Malay 'pull' tea, which was like a chai and made with condensed milk. A lovely end to the meal.

I can't recommend the Banana Tree enough... we thoroughly enjoyed our meals and I can't wait to return again very soon.

Enjoy!
Julie x