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Spinach and Ricotta Pancakes

2012 February 21

spinach and ricotta pancake

I always make sure I celebrate Pancake Tuesday by making and consuming at least a pancake or two.

The way I make my pancake batter, I use duck eggs instead of those that come from a chicken. This is because I find they give a richer and fuller flavour.

If I’m having them for lunch or dinner, then I would cook something savoury to go with them. The following recipe has a spinach and ricotta topping that I find goes wonderfully well with the pancakes.

For the pancake batter you will need:
190g plain flour
2 duck eggs
1 cup milk

For the ricotta topping:
2 diced shallots
250g spinach
250g ricotta
salt, pepper

To make the pancakes:
Whisk the eggs, flour, and milk together in a bowl. Add more milk if you find the mixture is too thick. Add a pinch of salt.

Heat up a frying pan with oil. Add the desired sized pancake batter, and cook on a medium heat for around 3-4 minutes on each side (or until browned).

To make the ricotta topping:
In a separate pan, heat up some oil, and add the shallots.

When the shallots are browned, add the spinach and stir.

After around 2 minutes, when the spinach has reduced, drain any excess liquid and add the ricotta.

Add a shaving of nutmeg, a pinch of salt and pepper, and stir until all the ingredients have mixed together.

To serve:
Place the pancake on a plate with the spinach on top. Fold the pancake around the topping if desired.

Callop Monday

2012 February 20

Today, February 20th, is Callop Monday.

This is the day which precedes the more important (in my books) Shrove Tuesday.

The word callop means either a small piece or thin slices of bacon or meat. So on this day it is customary to eat all your leftover cold meats as well as eggs.

And for tomorrow, it is of course customary for the fat from the callops are to be used for the pancakes.

Having a Reuben at Mishkins

2012 February 12

The Reuben Sandwich

From the people behind the Venetian / Italian inspired Polpo and da Polpo, Mishkins is their New York Jewish deli inspired offering (with other influences mixed in too).

Located on the outskirts of Covent Garden in London, it is perfect for grabbing a quick and hearty lunch or dinner.

For the pre and post theatre punters who don’t want to deal with the restaurants and the crowd that goes with them, this would also be a suitable alternative.

The meatloaf

I myself have found the opening hours of 11:30am to 11pm are perfect for when I’m stuck starving in the area at a non-traditional dining time.

The room has a choice of seating at the bar, booths at the front, or tables at the back. There’s also a quirky seating option situated inside an old telephone or recording booth.

Many different options are available on the menu for any type of hunger. You have the choice of sandwiches, meatballs, all day brunch or supper, or you can head straight to the puddings.

Its signature dish is the Reuben sandwich, made famous by Reuben’s deli in New York. As with tradition, it is served on rye with pastrami, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese.

Inside the meatloaf

The portion size, as with all other dishes, is generous enough to make it feel like a nice achievement if you finish it.

Another dish, the meatloaf, is quite nicely served and presented in a small loaf tin. A nice surprise is found when you cut inside to find a hard-boiled egg baked into the middle. How this is actually achieved, I didn’t get the answer to, but it’s nice not knowing this exactly to keep the magic alive.

Puddings are American in their inspiration. With the New Orleans dish banana foster on the menu, as well as a warm chocolate chip with ice cream.

Lemon drizzle cake and shake

The soggy lemon drizzle cake was delightfully sticky and tangy, and even better if had with the chocolate malted milkshake.

For drinks, there are reasonably priced wines on the menu, with many gin-based drinks on the cocktail list.



25 Catherine Street
London WC2B 5JS
020 7240 2078
Bookings taken for lunch and dinner


2012 February 8
by ruduss

  A staple tea-cake of Australia, in that country the lamington is available in all supermarkets and corner stores. More often than not you would walk 5 minutes down the road and pick up a packet from the milk bar, rather than make them yourself.

In other parts of the world their availability is a different story. In London for example, they sometimes appear in some of those brilliant Antipodean cafés that are opening up, although they’re quite expensive and quite a trek to get to.

No matter what part of the world you’re from, you would find making them yourself very easy and rewarding.

Here’s how you do it:

For the sponge cake:
1/2 cup self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour
1/2 cup castor sugar
3 large eggs
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp boiling hot water

For the chocolate icing:
300g icing sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder
60ml milk
60ml boiling water
15g butter

Pre-heat the oven to 160c.

Grease a shallow baking tin with butter, and cover all sides with baking paper.

Beat the eggs and butter until thick and creamy. Add the sugar one spoonful at at time until it completely dissolves.

Sift the self-raising flour, cornflour, and plain flour into a separate bowl.

Then sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture.

Pour the tablespoon of boiling water down the side of the egg and flour mixture.

Gently fold in all the ingredients with a large metal spoon until all combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin, and bake for 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in comes out clean.

For the icing:
Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a bowl.

Add the milk, butter, and water and stir over a bain-marie until smooth.

Technique for icing:
When the sponge has cooled, cut into even sized pieces.

Hold each end of a sponge with forks, and dip into the icing.

If the icing is too thin, as it won’t leave a nice coating on the sponge, add more icing sugar and beat it with an electric beater on low for 5 minutes.

Make sure you cover all sides of the sponge, and drain off any excess icing.

Cover in coconut and put on a wire rack to dry.

Serve with your favourite cup of coffee or tea.

Cookery Workshop at Busaba Eathai

2012 February 6
Chef Jude

Chef Jude

On what seemed to be an extra cold evening last week, I was invited along to Westfield Stratford to participate in one of the cookery workshops being held by some of the restaurants.

Having not ventured to Stratford before, I was surprised by the scale of the place. Located a stones-throw away from the Olympic stadium, it has over 70 food stores and restaurants. Oh, and there are some clothing stores as well if you’re interested in that kind of thing.

The cookery workshop I was there to attend was with the Thai restaurant Busaba Eathai. I am a fan of their other restaurants, so was looking forward to learning more about creating some of their dishes.

Trying to tie the pandan leaves. Pic: Megan Hart

Donning the chef whites and hair nets for health and safety reasons (or to get us in the mindset), we were taken into the kitchen where Chef Jude took us through preparing and cooking a few of their dishes.

These dishes were the pandan chicken, and a fried spicy chicken dish that’s not on the menu.

pandan chicken fried

pandan chicken being deep fried

Whilst Chef Jude was taking us through these dishes, it struck me just how easy they were to prepare and cook. The hardest thing seemed to be tying the pandan leaves into a pocket for the chicken to fit in.

The vital thing that stood out with the Busaba Eathai dishes, and any other reipe for that matter, is the freshness and quality of the ingredients being the key. Without that you just can’t get the flavours needed to make a dish successful.

pandan chicken

Here is the pandan chicken recipe for you to try yourselves:

You will need:
For the chicken:
200g chicken thighs, boneless
4pieces or more of pandan leaves
For the marinade:
4 cloves of finely
chopped garlic
4tbsp dark soy sauce
4tbsp light soy sauce
4tbsp oyster sauce
4tbsp finely chopped coriander
1tbsp sugar
8tbsp coconut milk
10pcs whole white peppercorns
1pinch salt and white pepper

For the sauce:
100ml dark soy sauce
150ml water
220g white sugar
5tbsp sesame oil
5tbsp sesame seeds
5tbsp white vinegar

For the chicken:
Start by cutting the chicken thighs into 5cm square pieces.
Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, add the chicken and mix so it is fully coated. This should marinade for at least 2 hours.
Remove the chicken from the marinade and either spread across a roasting pan and roast in oven at 200°C for 20-30 minutes, or cook in a wok for around 5 minutes.

To wrap the chicken in the pandan leaves:
Fold the pandan leaf, bringing the base up in front of the tip to make a cup. Put a piece of chicken in the cup, take the bottom of the leaf and wrap it around the chicken to look like a tie knot. Repeat until you have used all the chicken.

Deep fry in very hot oil for 5 minutes, drain and serve immediately with sauce on the side.

For the sauce to serve with the chicken:
Combine all the sauce ingredients (excluding the sesame seeds) together in a heavy pan and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool to room temp before serving, adding a pinch of sesame seeds at the last minute.

Other Busaba Eathai dishes

Thai Calamari

Thai Calamari

A few other dishes also were bought out for us to taste that Busaba Eathai have on their menu.

The Thai Calamari was a dish I had not tasted before. After trying it, I will certainly order it on my future visits.

Tender with ginger undertones, it’s a dish that is a great starter as it is quite light, and readies the taste buds for more to come.

Green chicken curry

Green chicken curry

The green chicken curry is a dish that I’ve had many times before. It tends to have the right amount of spice for my spice-weak taste buds, and was very comforting for such a cold night.










Here are the videos of Chef Jude showing us how to prepare and cook the dishes:

Pandan Chicken:

3 Ingredient Challenge:

Thanks to Westfield Stratford City for the videos.

Apple Pockets

2012 February 1
by admin

Apple Pocket

This recipe is just so simple to put together, especially if you cheat and buy the filo pastry yourself (like I did).

What you’ll need:
1 packet filo pastry
2 large apples
caster sugar

Heat the oven to 180c.

Grease a 12 cup muffin pan with butter.

Cut squares out of the filo pastry big enough to fill and overflow the muffin cups, and place in each of the cups.

Cube the apples (don’t bother about removing the skin), and fill each of the cups about 2/3 of the way.

Filled cups

Sprinkle around 1/2 teaspoon or less of caster sugar on each of the apple parcels.

Cover each of the parcels with the overlapping patry, and glue together with the milk.

Place it in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is brown.

Baked apple pockets

Great served on its own, or with cream or ice cream.

The finished product

Food and Wine Dinner with Michelle Richardson at The Bull

2012 January 30
Dining Room at The Bull

Dining Room at The Bull

The Bull in Highgate has recently been relaunched by Dan Fox, previously of The White Horse in Parson’s Green. It’s very welcoming and spacious for diners and drinkers alike.

From the kitchen comes seasonal British ingredients, and from its own micro brewery comes its own IPA, bitter or seasonal brew under the ‘London Brewing Co‘ name.

I was a The Bull attending their first wine and food evening event, with Michelle Richardson’s wines being showcased.

Michelle Richardson has been in the wine business for the last 20 years. Her wines come from Central Otago in New Zealand’s south island. On paper Otago doesn’t seem to be the best place to grow wines, but its cold nights mixed with hot summer days work well.

Michelle Richardson Pinot Gris 2010

Michelle Richardson Pinot Gris 2010

A unique thing which sets Michelle’s wines apart are the natural occruing yeasts she uses, which adds an uncertainty to the winemaking process, but also an extra texture to the wines.

The night began with the 2010 Pinot Gris. Tasting more like an arneis grape, it is a wine that fits in between a sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio with its fruity bouquet and taste. A wine that is certainly very drinkable on its own.

Pan-Seared Scallops

As a further taste of New Zealand, perfectly tender spiced New-Zealand Lamb was served as a canapé. These were gorgeously infused with rosemary sticks skewered through them.

Next came the delicious pan-seared scallops with an apple and cauliflower purée was paired with the equally delicious 2009 sauvignon blanc.

Slow Roasted Pork Belly

Slow Roasted Pork Belly

Slow roasted pork belly with wild mushroom and truffle stuffing followed, paired with the 2010 Michelle Richardson Chardonnay. With the chardonnay’s nutty bouquet, and fruity aftertaste, it cut through the pork fattiness and freshened the palate.

British Cheeses

British Cheeses

Being a huge fan of the pino noir grape variety, the 2008 Michelle Richardson Pinot Noir did not disappoint. Served with British cheeses including a British Brie and cheddar.

Genesis wines distributes Michelle’s wines in the UK.
Tel: 020 7963 9060

The Bull
13 North Road,
London N6 4AB

I was invited by The Bull to review this event

Lunch at The Ship in Wandsworth

2012 January 20
lunch menu

lunch menu

Having admired it from afar (Twitter and various blogs) for quite some time, a bloggers lunch at The Ship in Wandsworth was too good of an invite to pass up.

The menu was a showcase of The Ship’s finist dishes, with even an appearance by the famous scotch egg.

The starters came out first (obvoiously), with a highlight being the chicken liver and foie gras terrine. The rum soaked baby figs and toasted brioche for which it was  served with provided perfect support.

pork and cider pie with burger

pork and cider pie and the burger



For their mains, the braised pork and cider pie was quite comforting for the cold winter’s day. Served with excellently cooked mustard glazed carrots.

The most sought after meal on the day would have to be their signature burger. It  was the perfect mixture of bun, meat and filling. I hear that they add extra cream and butter to the processed cheese they get in to make the cheese even tastier. The actual recipe is a secret, although what they do to it certanly works very well.

Treacle tart with stem ginger ice cream

Treacle tart with stem ginger ice cream

For puddings, the treacle tart was perfectly complimented with stem ginger ice cream. The pastry perfectly crisp and easy to cut through, with the treacle filling not too sweet.

Another pudding bought out for our enjoyment was the chocolate fondant, which passed the test of the perfect cake to runny middle ratio. If you’re after a small pudding to finish things off, then you may struggle to get through the larger than average serving size.

chocolate fondant

chocolate fondant

I can’t wait to go back to The Ship. It’s perfectly situated within 5 minutes walk of Wansworth Town underground, and there are various buses you can easily catch there as well. It’s situated right on the river, so I will be looking forward to taking advantage of the outdoor tables on a summer’s day.

Watch out for their sandwich challenge coming up in the later part of 2012 as well. It promises to build upon the scotch egg challenge held there previously.


A big thank you goes to Gail Doggett and Osin Rogers for organising such a wonderful gathering!


Further details:
The Ship
41 Jews Row, Wandsworth
London. SW18 1TB
T: 020 8870 9667

Turnham Green Terrace Market Day

2012 January 20
by admin

If you’re around the Chiswick area or looking for something to do on Saturday 21st January, then stop by the Turnham Green Terrace Market Day.

To promote the benefits of shopping locally, around 40 independant traders on Turnham Green Terrace in Chiswick will by putting on something special for the day.

A selection of those participating are: the fruit and veg shop Andreas Fruit and Veg, the butcher Macken Bros and the Deli Mortimer and Bennet.

Market Day

Getting There:

The closest station is Turnham Green, and there are plenty of buses run down Chiswick High Road.

Baked Cauliflower

2012 January 16
by admin

Let’s face it, cauliflower is rather dull on its own, although it does lend itself well to being enhanced with different flavours. Below is my baked cauliflower recipe that can be served on the side, or is rather tasty on its own as well.

What you’ll need:
1 head of cauliflower
1 lemon for the zest and juice
2 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp dried chilly
a handful of sliced, blanched almonds

Preheat the oven to 200c.
Brake the cauliflower into its florets.
Boil salted water and place the cauliflower in the water for around 2 minutes. Drain, and leave to the side to dry as much as possible.
Crush the coriander seeds with the chilly.
In a shallow, oven-proof pot, heat some oil.
Place the crushed corriander and chilly in the pot, along with the almonds. Cook on a medium-heat until the almonds turn brown.
Add the cauliflower and cook for another two minutes, mixing well.
Grate the lemon zest and squeeze the lemon juice over the cauliflower, and mix well.
Cook for anohter minute or two, and transfer the pot to the oven for around 10 minutes.

Serve with a bit of butter