Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Mid-week Wonders - Herb Crusted Roasted Monkfish.

On Monday night I was invited to Siena's new flat. She's just moved into the most divine place in Fulham and it was time I made the epic journey down to see it. She promised me a bed for the night to soften the blow of venturing so far South West. After numerous emails back and forth discussing supper ideas we finally settled on going to her new fish mongers and seeing what he had to offer and then we would take it from there. 

Siena hosts dinner parties like no other. She is the queen of them! (I mean, I have yet to be invited to one but I'm not holding it against her, much) I'm always getting emails from her asking for new ideas or dishes and so this evening was no different for something easy she could whip up on a weeknight. 

After finally getting off the tube we headed to the fish mongers to see what he had to offer. He had all but packed up and was waiting to close but was happy to help up. He had some pollock and monkfish, immediately a recipe came to mind and we opted for the monkfish. 2 hearty fillets for £10, an end of the day bargain! 

We nipped to Sainsbury's to grab the last bits we needed. I can't remember exactly where I first saw this recipe but I have a sneaking suspicion it is a Nigella creation. Either way its super easy, can be prepared ahead of time and then whacked in the oven when it's time to eat. 

For 2 people you will need: 

2 monkfish fillets (around 150-200g each)
Fresh rosemary 
1 Lemon
4 slices of Parma ham 

We paired the fish with roasted baby new potatoes and a salad but really you could do any kind of side. Broccoli, mash, sweet potato, quinoa.... whatever takes your fancy really!

After a quick tour of the flat we headed to the kitchen to rustle up dinner. Siena popped a bottle of prosecco and I got to work.

Start by heating your oven to 220 degrees and if your having roast potatoes, pop them in the oven now as they take the longest.

Next pick your rosemary, say about 2 sprigs and chop it up finely and then grate the zest of one lemon over the top. Mix it together and et voila you have your crust!

Now grab your fish. The one thing with monkfish is that it comes with a membrane over the top of it that needs to be removed. If you don't, when it cooks it's as tough as anything! You cant really see it but it looks speckled grey. Its a bit annoying to take off but a necessity. Our fillets had been prepared by the monger and you can usually get them to do it for you.

Roll your fillets in the lemon rosemary combo, it should just stick straight to the damp fish.

Wrap the parma ham round the crusty fillets... 

and your done! 
You don't need to salt these guys as the parma ham is salty enough, plus lemon works as a flavour enhancer so essentially, the ingredients have seasoned themselves. 

Cut them in half and pop them in a roasting tin. Drizzle with a little olive oil and your set.

Now these bad boys only need 15 mins in a hot oven (220 degrees) so its time to knock up that quick salad.

Baby gem, cherry tomatoes, asparagus and mozzarella, drizzled over with a basil infused olive oil and balsamic. Done in a flash!

By the time this was knocked up and we had laid the table, the fish and potatoes were ready. 

From start to finish, including chatting time and waiting for the oven to heat up, this took us an hour.  

It really couldn't be simpler and perfect for a dinner party. You could prep all the fish the night before, and then when the evening comes around you don't have to spend any time in the kitchen and therefore more time with your guests.

We laid it out on a platter here because I love a good family style service, it means that everyone can help themselves to as little or as much as they want. Plus on this plate, it looked kinda great.

So there you have it, a simple and tasty recipe but something thats also bound to impress your guests! I think people are a bit scared of cooking fish as it is so easy to get wrong but this little recipe is almost fool proof as long as you have a timer!! 

Monday, 23 February 2015

The Joint, Brixton Market

This is a rather belated post. I went on this little mission on Halloween, last year! Still I had to share this with you.

I heard about this place whilst watching one of my favourite chefs on TV. Mr Tom Kerridge. Tom and I, well, I am just really down with his way of cooking and his philosophy towards food. I have both his books and quite often just sit down to read them. The Hand and Flowers is so high on my list of places to go. So if anyone feels like making a booking (and paying) let me know. Father, realistically, I'm looking at you.

I digress... So if you cast your mind back to that gorgeous sunny October that was unseasonably hot *she types whilst wrapped in jumpers and looking out at the drizzle* thats when Tilly and I decided to make the pilgrimage down to Brixton to eat delicious food.

I have never been to Brixton before, well thats a lie, I have been once for a night out but I would pretty much class it as having been there, if you catch my drift! So Tilly and I, in shorts and t-shirts I might add, hopped in the car, put the roof down and set out screaming along to Taylor Swift. Hooray to an indian summer!!

After wandering round in a few circles we finally found our destination within the foodie wonder that is Brixton market. There were so many places I got distracted along the way!

The Joint is a simple messy affair and the brain child of Warren Dean and Daniel Fiteni. They started back in 2012 as a pop-up which then put down permanent roots in Brixton. It has done so well that they've just opened a second site in Marylebone! 

(The Brixton site has just a few tables and chairs and I hear the queue gets massive BUT the new Marylebone restaurant takes bookings!! So don't be deterred!)

All their meat is free range and from the Ginger Pig, a place I love!! 

We grabbed a table outside, we had gone later on in the afternoon so they were no queues! Huzzah, We perused the small and concise menu and came to a conclusion pretty quickly.

Soon the sticky BBQ onion rings were in front of us and it was all we could do to snap a picture before tucking into the crispy freshly fried rings. A real delight! 

 Next to arrive, wrapped in the same neat parcel were the sticky chilli riblets. These guys, I can still taste them now, the meat fell off the bones and the spice level was perfect! 

Heres a close up of these bad boys. Lunch was not a clean affair I can tell you that much! 

The stars of the show came swooping in. A monster piled high with 18 hour slow cooked pork that had melted down into a big sticky mess. I had plumped for the asian which came with ginger and chilli and the crunchiest slaw but what really made this, was the bun. Oh. My. God the bun. Freshly baked and soft as anything, I mean really. I would happily have slept on a bed of those. I mean, it wouldn't be the best bed as I would eat my way out of it.

Look how it just squidges.... 

Tilly was being all low carb and lame. I mean really a wrap? It just doesn't have the same look of awesomeness does it. She was jealous of my bun. My big pillowy bun of dreams.  

Still we couldn't fault the filling. Tilly plumped for the BBQ pork filling, both sandwiches silenced us, which no mean feat! 

^this is a 'goddamit it woman take the picture quickly I wants my food' face^

This is deceptive as it looks like a quick lunch to grab and go, but it wasn't really. I mean we started quickly but soon realised this was a marathon not a sprint but we did it. We made it to the end, we're troopers like that. *warning, you will need a nap after eating*

With our stomachs groaning we decided to have a stroll around Brixton and pick up some halloween items. Our successful afternoon down in Brixton drew to a close and we headed back up to don our cat ears and head back out for a night of mischief, but thats another story..... 

Square Meal

Friday, 20 February 2015

Blogger Dinner, Bumpkin Chelsea

A couple of weeks ago I was thrilled to receive an email from Square Meal inviting me to one of their blogger dinners. We were asked to join them at Bumpkin in Chelsea to sample the new spring summer menu.

I was totally thrilled and beyond excited!

The day of the dinner dawned and due to my impeccable timing skills, which I have inherited from my parents (thanks guys), I ended up being almost half an hour late practically screaming at the taxi driver to go faster.  I was off to a good start running into the restaurant and totally not keeping my cool.

After apologising profusely I was handed an icy cold glass of Pimm's, that made things much better and I took my seat at the end of the table. 

I had a name card and everything!

I introduced myself to my fellow bloggy neighbours, RebeccaJayne and Emma, and Ed and Ben from Square Meal. We soon were chatting left right and centre about why we started blogging, what we did and above all how much we loved food. We all love food a lot. It's a good thing to have in common with people I think!

Soon it was time to turn our attention to the menu, so many decisions! 

Our waitress Katia, who really deserves a mention for looking after us so well, told us her suggestions and then helped to match a wine to go with it. Perfect! 

A glass of pink fizz! Katia could spot me a mile off!

While we were waiting for our food we tucked into the little shots of healthy goodness laid before us and surveyed our surroundings. Bumpkin really is so pretty with real thought having gone into their outside Secret Garden area. Perfect party place and indeed there was a birthday going on behind us!

Bloggers doing what bloggers do best!

Our lovely healthy shots, which feature on their brunch menu, weren't really my bag but tasty enough and a good pallet cleanser! 

Soon our food started arriving to the table and naturally before anyone could tuck in the obligatory photos where taken left right and centre. 

My choice was the scallops in a pea soup with pancetta crisps. Beautifully cooked scallops matching well with the sweet pea and the salty pancetta it was a great start and one of the most popular starters amongst us!

Here was the asparagus with poached egg and truffle shavings, another popular starter. 

Emma gave everyone massive food envy when her dressed crab turned up! A delight, she informed me. 

After a good first round Bumpkin were doing well and I was excited for my main. 

Oooooo look there's my name card again... sorry back to the food.

The main event: Monkfish with samphire with a mussel curry sauce. 

Oh my, it really didn't disappoint. 

A perfectly cooked hunk of meaty monkfish by a yellow pool of heavenly smelling, delightfully yellow sauce. (My white shirt was not so happy to see the minefield of yellow sauce, luckily I was a big girl and didn't smother myself in it)

It even had a hidden surprise of a sweet potato fondant underneath. Honestly I contemplated asking for bread to mop up that sauce, it was the star of the show, and if it hadn't been considered rude my lick my plate I would have done. 

Other mains surrounding me were 

Seabass with braised chicory, fennel and crab salad

Lamb rump with Heritage carrots and spinach 

Rose veal chop with a mushroom, tarragon and anchovy sauce, this was a string contender for my main. Emma went big and got the mac and cheese as a side too. A lady after my own heart! I can confirm that Bumpkin do a laaaaavely mac and cheese. 

A mozzarella tart with Golden and Elegance tomatoes accompanied by sides of peas and beans and a buttery Jersey Royals. A veggie feast for Ed!

A slow braised short beef rib with cauliflower cheese and triple cooked chips

A hushed silence descended as we feasted with the waitresses making sure we were all topped up and happy with our choices. We were really spoilt. 

Bumpkin had tweeted me earlier saying they were looking forward to showing off and boy, did they show off. 

It really is such a fantastic menu you are spoilt for choice but there really is no rest for the wicked as dessert menus were placed in front of us. 

Even I was persuaded to have a dessert after one of Katia's recommendations of summer berries with lemon curd, meringue and cream. 

To be honest, I should have gone with my gut, ha, and plumped for the sticky toffee pudding as for me personally this wasn't a dessert for me. What I left behind though was eagerly snapped up by waiting vultures with spoons poised, so don't worry, there was no wastage.

There were oooos and ahhhhs from Ed and Rebecca as they demolished the chocolate tart with honeycomb

Jayne tucked into her generous cheese plate and the evening began to wind down. 

Soon we were the last ones standing, typical I had to be there, and we heaved ourselves off our chairs and said our goodbyes. 

It really was such a nice evening, so great to meet new people and chat about something I love so much. I really could talk a hind leg of a donkey when it comes to food and discovering restaurants in London. 

The names above are linked to the other's blog and I suggest you head on over to have a sneaky read of them!

We compared notes on so many different things but the ultimate conclusion was that all of us would be returning to Bumpkin as soon as we could. I really, really need to share that curry sauce. It needs to be shared, quite possibly one of the most moreish dishes I've eaten in a while.

Thank you so much to Square Meal and Bumpkin for such fantastic evening! 

Square Meal

Barnyard, Charlotte Street - Fitzrovia

I'm a touch late to the game with this restaurant. By a touch late I mean pretty much bang on a year...

I have been meaning to go here for, well since I heard about it really on this lovely little blog 

Nip over to her blog and have a read, Im always seeing what she's up to!

Considering how much I manage to slut it about on the restaurant scene I don't really have an excuse for not having been here. So I apologise.

So welcome to Barnyard, a venture from Ollie Dabbous (of the highly praised Dabbous, which also happens to be just down the road). When this opened it had a no reservations policy but Im glad to see this has changed when I booked 5 of us in for dinner last night. I was also really glad because the place is tiny! They have managed to make good use of the space with the majority of seating up at the back with larger tables to accommodate 6 of us and then smaller high tables for 2 down at the front as well as being able to sit along the bar.

Jess and I were the first to arrive and promptly set about doing the important things like ordering wine and nibbles. There were many an interesting cocktail, or hard shakes on the menu but I can't ever really handle such a massive drink when I want to eat all the food.

Which from a first glance at the menu, I did. 

It was simply laid out under the different headings, pig, cow, chicken and egg, and then vegetables and sides.

As Maddie arrived so did our nibbles, closely followed by Cameron's sister Keisha, who it was a pleasure to finally meet. Finally Cameron arrived, stylishly late as always, (being on time is so over) 

We tucked into the wine, big fat green olives

A delicious charcuterie board of cured mutton, fennel salami, prosciutto and crispy salty olive oil smeared bread. 

Then the cornbread, oh the cornbread. We ordered one, took one bite and ordered another. Sweet, warm and doughy dreams of mouthfuls. I'd go back again just for this.

The waitress explained the menu, saying that it was a good idea to have about 2-3 plates per person and they came exactly as they said on the menu. We decided, after a quick look that we all pretty much wanted everything on the menu. So thats what we did, ordered almost everything. 

The suckling pig with a celeriac and caraway seed slaw

2 portions of sausage rolls with a homemade piccalilli 

The barbecued Bavette steak with a homemade dill pickle mustard and black treacle 

Cooked to perfection I may add

Roast beef and watercress salad with sweet pickles, horseradish and shavings of Berkswell cheese. This was truly a master of a salad, with big thick slices of cold rare beef with smearings of horseradish 

2 portions of the delicious crispy lemon and garlic chicken wings with smoked paprika which were a firm favourite round the table. 

A pot of bubble and squeak with apple chutney, black pudding topped with a fried egg

which was a dreamy mess of goodness 

and the black pudding was to die for. I may have kept that down my end of the table for a bit longer that was possibly fair

No meal is complete without sides. Cauliflower cheese...

2 portions of Corn on the cob, which the kitchen kindly cut into 5 pieces for us, as it usually comes as one whole cob in a portion. I mean that kind of service really never goes unnoticed. 

Finally a chicory salad with lovage and mint and a charred broccoli to make sure we got in our greens.

Our table filled to groaning we ordered abetter bottle of wine and got stuck in.

For me personally, you can't beat this kind of meal. everyone chatting away over delicious plates of food. Passing things around and all being able to comment on the same things. I just would like to always eat this way. 

I also think its so much better value for money. Look how many dishes you get to try!

I really couldn't fault the food. The broccoli had the best crunch, the bavette steak was just so rare and  juicy. The only thing that didn't grab me on the table was the salad but I'm not a massive fan of raw things. My food partner of dreams Cameron also agreed with me. We would have rather had the cheese ladened jacket potato! 

The only downside was we had to vacate our table by 8.30 and we had a particular raucous crowd of boys behind us that just got a bit grating to be honest... 

The service was wonderful with a lovely waitress that took us through everything and made sure we were well looked after, and even apologised for having to kick us off the table. When we got the final bill I was so pleasantly surprised, for 2 bottles of wine and 16 dishes, it was £35 each including tip. 

I mean really, how can you ever argue with that. We paid up and headed off for a few more drinks down the road at the London Cocktail Club. Mmmmmm all the cocktails. Perfect end to a lovely evening!

So glad I finally made it here. I will be back, at some point, so many restaurants, SO little time.

Square Meal