Eating out: Jane-Tira Thai, London
Thai restaurants aren’t hard to come by, but it’s not easy to find one that offers something a little different, which is what makes the menu at Jane-Tira Thai so appealing… [Read more]
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Karl and I popped in for dinner on a drizzly Saturday evening a couple of weeks ago. While Soho’s ‘no bookings’ restaurants had queues snaking down the road and hour-long waits, Jane-Tira (tucked away on the quieter end of Brewer St) still had a couple of tables to spare. It’s a small place, simply furnished and with no frills aside from the neon sign on the wall which gives the space a warm and cosy glow. 
The menu features the usual green curry, tom yum, som tam and pad Thai. But it’s peppered with all manner of other exciting dishes that brought to mind the sort of food you’ll actually find in Thailand. 
I’d turned up fully prepared to order the khao soi after reading about them on the Lizzie Eats London blog. It’s a big bowlful of northern Thai chicken curry with egg noodles, topped with raw onions, pickles and lime. It fast became a favourite when I was in Chiang Mai a couple of years ago, but I haven’t had it since. 
However. One read of the menu and I was torn – everything else sounded amazing too, from a ‘challenging hot and spicy curry with mackerel’ to ‘stir fried Thai kale with crispy pork belly’. 
In the end I went for the kai yang som tam – chargrilled, lemongrass-marinated chicken, which is served with som tam (papaya salad), sticky rice and a roasted chilli and tamarind sauce. Karl ordered Crying Tiger, char-grilled sirloin steak with a smoky chilli sauce, and we shared a very spicy and garlicky starter of deep fried squid. 
Unfortunately I have no decent photos of the food (the dim lighting made it almost impossible), but everything was beautifully presented, and perfectly seasoned, spiced and proportioned. We’ll definitely be back… and next time that khao soi’s got my name on it. 
/ 1 note

Eating out: Jane-Tira Thai, London

Thai restaurants aren’t hard to come by, but it’s not easy to find one that offers something a little different, which is what makes the menu at Jane-Tira Thai so appealing… [Read more]

Read More

Last minute homemade Christmas gifts
For most of the year, my Pinterest feed is full of lovely fashion, design, food. lifestyle and home products. Come December, this is all replaced with people madly, wildly pinning ideas for a homemade Christmas. Homemade decorations, cute gift-wrapping ideas, elaborate table settings, and recipes galore. [Read more]
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It’s inspiring for all of five minutes, and then everything goes out of the window as I realise how little time I have and how complicated everything is to make. A sugar thermometer? Nope. Two sets of double pointed needles? Forget it. Plus there’s always the secret fear that whatever I make will turn out to be a complete Pinterest FAIL. 
Instead I’ve come up with a safe list of homemade gifts that are super simple and can be achieved in a few hours, with a last minute dash to the nearest supermarket. 
Rocky road – this classic might seem a little predictable but it always goes down well. My favourite recipe is this crunchy one from Nigella (#TeamNigella!!!), but I also love this white chocolate version by Donna Hay. 
Peanut butter cups50g dark brown sugar100g icing sugar50g butter (I prefer salted)200g peanut butter (smooth)300g milk chocolatePaper cupcake cases
***
Mix together the sugars, butter and peanut butter into a paste. Take teaspoons of the mixture and press into little flat discs that will fit in the bottom of the cupcake cases. 
Melt the chocolate and drop a teaspoon full into the bottom of each case. Place a peanut butter disc on top, and then top with more melted chocolate until it’s completely covered. 
Put in the fridge to set. It should only take 20-30 minutes. Handle carefully – as the chocolate isn’t tempered, it’ll start melting to the touch quicker than you expect! 
Christmas granola – for a festive breakfast! Use this recipe as your base, but omit the coconut, double the cinnamon, and make sure you’ve got plenty of pecans and cranberries in there, as well as the zest of one orange for its beautiful festive fragrance. 
White and milk chocolate nutella – this is fab for a homemade gift that people won’t be expecting. The recipe I use is from the Not Quite Nigella blog. 
Christmas spiced macadamias, cashews & pecans – even if you aren’t doing homemade edible gifts, this is worth making just to snack on over the Xmas period. It’s a recipe from Nigella Christmas, for ‘seasonally spiced nuts’, which uses garam masala for a bit of warmth and spice. 
- Lightly toast 500g of mixed nuts in a frying pan.- Sprinkle over 2 tsp of garam masala, 2 tsp of celery salt, 2 tsp soft light brown sugar and a tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary. - Drizzle over a tablespoon of olive oil and give everything a good mix until evenly coated. - Let the coated nuts toast a little longer until they’re a tad darker, then tip onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I never have this, I always end up using greaseproof instead).- Sprinkle with more salt to taste.
 
/ 1 note

Last minute homemade Christmas gifts

For most of the year, my Pinterest feed is full of lovely fashion, design, food. lifestyle and home products. Come December, this is all replaced with people madly, wildly pinning ideas for a homemade Christmas. Homemade decorations, cute gift-wrapping ideas, elaborate table settings, and recipes galore. [Read more]

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'Tis the season… to bake the perfect Christmas cake!  
Love it or hate it, no festive season is complete without a Christmas cake – studded with jewelled, booze-soaked fruit, draped with golden marzipan, smothered in snowy peaks of bright white icing. With one month to go until the big day, the countdown begins now. Here are my five steps to the perfect cake… [Read more]
STEP 1: Soak that fruit

You can use whatever dried fruits you like best, although steer clear of anything that will become too mushy. My favourites are sultanas, currants, dried apricots, glacé cherries, crystallised ginger, mixed peel and dried figs. These get soaked overnight in about 120ml whisky until they’re plump and boozy. The following day… 
STEP 2: Bake the cake 

For the past two years we’ve been using this recipe from Felicity Cloake for our cake, and it’s served us extremely well. The outcome is a dense but not too heavy, golden cake, rich with flavour and texture. 
STEP 3: Make it boozy

This is perhaps my favourite bit. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick it with holes using a skewer (don’t go all the way down or the alcohol will seep right out of the bottom) and brush with a booze of your choice. I’ve been going with Grand Marnier, because I find its spiced orange flavour very well suited to Christmas. Wrap it up in foil or parchment and store in an airtight container. Brush it again once or twice a week until the day before you plan to marzipan it. Be warned, unwrapping a gorgeous-smelling Christmas cake every few days and not eating it requires a certain level of patience. 
STEP 4: Drape it in marzipan

As far as I can tell, white or golden marzipan are both fine for this. First heat a tablespoon of jam (apricot or marmalade are best) with a splash of water until you have a thick-ish syrup, the consistency of double cream. Sieve it to get rid of any bits, let it cool a little, and then brush it all over the top and sides of your cake. This will act as a glue. When it comes to layering over your marzipan, take your guidance from Dan Lepard’s handy video tutorial. 
STEP 5: Smother it in icing

This is where it all finally comes together. Last year, instead of buying royal icing, I made my own using this fantastic Nigel Slater recipe. The result is a wonderfully thick icing that’s simple to make and decorate with. I halved his recipe as my cake was a lot smaller than his, and I increased the proportion of icing sugar as I wanted a finish that was more matt than gloss. If you’re adding some lovely kitsch decorations, make sure you do so before it sets as the icing gets pretty solid, which is great if you’re going for snowy peaks. 

'Tis the season… to bake the perfect Christmas cake!  

Love it or hate it, no festive season is complete without a Christmas cake – studded with jewelled, booze-soaked fruit, draped with golden marzipan, smothered in snowy peaks of bright white icing. With one month to go until the big day, the countdown begins now. Here are my five steps to the perfect cake… [Read more]

STEP 1: Soak that fruit

image

You can use whatever dried fruits you like best, although steer clear of anything that will become too mushy. My favourites are sultanas, currants, dried apricots, glacé cherries, crystallised ginger, mixed peel and dried figs. These get soaked overnight in about 120ml whisky until they’re plump and boozy. The following day… 

STEP 2: Bake the cake 

image

For the past two years we’ve been using this recipe from Felicity Cloake for our cake, and it’s served us extremely well. The outcome is a dense but not too heavy, golden cake, rich with flavour and texture. 

STEP 3: Make it boozy

image

This is perhaps my favourite bit. Once the cake is out of the oven, prick it with holes using a skewer (don’t go all the way down or the alcohol will seep right out of the bottom) and brush with a booze of your choice. I’ve been going with Grand Marnier, because I find its spiced orange flavour very well suited to Christmas. Wrap it up in foil or parchment and store in an airtight container. Brush it again once or twice a week until the day before you plan to marzipan it. Be warned, unwrapping a gorgeous-smelling Christmas cake every few days and not eating it requires a certain level of patience. 

STEP 4: Drape it in marzipan

image

As far as I can tell, white or golden marzipan are both fine for this. First heat a tablespoon of jam (apricot or marmalade are best) with a splash of water until you have a thick-ish syrup, the consistency of double cream. Sieve it to get rid of any bits, let it cool a little, and then brush it all over the top and sides of your cake. This will act as a glue. When it comes to layering over your marzipan, take your guidance from Dan Lepard’s handy video tutorial. 

STEP 5: Smother it in icing

image

This is where it all finally comes together. Last year, instead of buying royal icing, I made my own using this fantastic Nigel Slater recipe. The result is a wonderfully thick icing that’s simple to make and decorate with. I halved his recipe as my cake was a lot smaller than his, and I increased the proportion of icing sugar as I wanted a finish that was more matt than gloss. If you’re adding some lovely kitsch decorations, make sure you do so before it sets as the icing gets pretty solid, which is great if you’re going for snowy peaks. 

image

Ten things you must eat in Lisbon 
Before I went to Lisbon, all I knew of Portuguese food was custard tarts. After one week in this beautiful city – and nearby in the coastal town of Cascais – I’ve now had the best custard tarts Lisbon has to offer, and plenty more besides… [Read more]
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1. Prego steak rolls at Old Vic

A beautiful, simple steak sandwich presented in its own serving dish. The bread is slightly chewy, the steak pink, and nestled in the middle is a whole garlic clove that infuses the sandwich with its fragrance and flavour. This is the perfect midnight snack, washed down with a beer. The Old Vic bar was recommended to us by our lovely Air BnB hostess, Maria. It’s not exactly central, but it’s certainly worth the journey if you’re staying nearby. 
Old Vic bar, Travessa Henrique Cardoso, 41+351 21 797 8395

2. Tinned fish tapas at Sol e Pesca

Sol e Pesca is a teeny tiny bar down near Cais do Sodre that turns tinned seafood into delectable little tapas dishes. The wooden cabinets inside hold row upon row of beautifully packaged tins of every kind of fish and mollusc, from sardines, mackerel and anchovies to octopus, squid and mussels.

We perched on dinky chairs at dinky tables and chose whatever took our fancy from the extensive menu – smoked mussels, stuffed squid in tomato sauce, and slivers of salty anchovies were particular favourites. Great with the house red or white wines, or a small beer. 
Sol e Pesca, Rua Nova do Carvalho 44+351 21 346 7203
3. Ice-cream at Santini

Who knew ice-cream could be so good? We stumbled upon Santini by accident on our way home from the bars of Bairro Alto. At midnight it was buzzing with locals and tourists alike. They do every flavour under the sun, but our favourite by far was the fresh, fragrant and very slightly chewy coconut. Paired with a scoop of chocolate, it’s like eating a frozen Bounty bar – but better. 
Santini, Rua do Carmo, 9+351 21 346 8431

4. Cheese and meat platter at Wine Bar do Costelo

It always feels quite adventurous walking the ruins of a castle. After an afternoon of roaming the ramparts of Lisbon’s castle, we stopped off at the Wine Bar do Costelo for some refreshment. What would be more suitable than a regal feast of meats, cheeses and wines? The food was sublime, with an extensive selection of cheeses to try (I wish I could tell you what they were!), perfect with a bottle of locally produced red. 
Wine Bar do Costelo, Rua Bartolomeu de Gusmao 13+ 351 21 887 9093
5. Beer & kebabs at Martim Moniz square

If you’re looking for a quick and easy lunch to eat outdoors, Martim Moniz square offers a vast selection. There are about 10 permanent food stands on offer, with plenty of seating available under canopies, out of the scorching midday sun. Here you can find everything from sushi to burritos. We went for kebabs – the first doner I’ve had in years, and by far the best. No regrets. 

6. Custard tarts at Pasteis de Belem 

Ask anyone where to go for the best custard tarts, or pasteis de nata, and they’ll direct you straight to Pasteis de Belem on the outskirts of the city. I’ve had my fair share of Portuguese custard tarts in the past, but these were like none I’d had before. They’re served warm, the custard blistered on top and the pastry golden underneath. On your table are shakers of icing sugar and cinnamon for you to sprinkle over them yourself before biting in. The pastry is crisp and flaky, the custard smooth and not too sweet. It’s the perfect snack. 

Belem might seem a long way to go for a pastry, but there are some lovely monasteries in the area and it’d be well worth spending half a day there, stopping by Pasteis de Belem for a mid-morning coffee or afternoon tea. We hopped off the train here for an hour or so on our way to Cascais… 
Pasteis de Belem, Rua Belém 84-92+351 21 363 7423

7. Hot dogs at Hot Dogs of Cascais 
The train journey from Lisbon to Cascais is a leisurely ramble along the coast, which is gorgeous on a sunny day. Naturally, once we were there we tried to spend as much time as possible by the seafront, and this bright yellow hot dog van proved the perfect place for a cheap and cheerful lunch.

Parked up near the Boca do Inferno, HotDog Cascais offers hot dogs, cold drinks and views of Cascais’s stunning shoreline. 

We went for chilli hot dogs, which come topped with raw onions and crunchy chipsticks. 

HotDog Cascais, Estrada do Guincho (Boca do Inferno)

8. Traditional Portuguese food at O Pereira

It can be difficult to know where to find traditional but non-touristy food when on holiday, so I spent a bit of time researching and came across O Pereira, which didn’t disappoint. It’s up a dimly lit lane, and we would have walked right past without noticing it had it not been for the owner spotting us looking lost and confused. Inside was warm and welcoming, the menu all in Portuguese, the specials handwritten on a sheet of A4 paper.Our waiter mentioned three meats we understood so we picked two and hoped for the best. The best arrived.

Mine was grilled pork chops with rice, salad and homemade crisps, while Karl had a rabbit and potato stew. Dessert was a single, enormous stewed apple. It was amazing. 
O Pereira, Travessa Bela Vista 42+351 21 483 1215
9. Fresh fish (and sardine pate) at Dom Pedro 

No visit to the seaside is complete without some exceptional seafood, whether it’s fish & chips on a grey British shore or a king prawn curry on golden Goan sands. In Lisbon we found Dom Pedro, a seafood restaurant tucked back from the sea on a tiny side street. It didn’t have a view of the ocean, but it didn’t matter with the freshest fish on offer. I had swordfish, Karl had tuna – both were simply grilled and served with potatoes or chips, salad and a wedge of lemon. Neither needed anything more. One of the things I enjoyed most though, was the starter of sardine pate and crusty bread – so much that I’m desperate to seek it out now I’m back home. 
Dom Pedro, Beco dos Inválidos 32+351 21 483 3734
10. Whatever they’re cooking at House of Wonders
It was a blackboard outside mentioning a roof terrace that drew us into House of Wonders, a gallery-cafe in Cascais. Once we were up there, we didn’t want to leave - it’s a pretty oasis of calm that reminded me of the nicer traveller cafes in south east Asia, where we used to while away an hour or two reading, chatting, eating and making use of the free wifi. But this is even better, because it isn’t full of gap year travellers, it’s for grown ups!

The seating is comfortable, the staff friendly and the food exceptional. It’s the sort of place where you’re happy to just order a bit of whatever they happen to have cooked that day – whether it’s a fresh tomato soup with basil and a dollop of cream, a slice of vegetable quiche, or a spinach and feta tart. 

Always on offer is a salad made with a random but perfectly chosen selection of ingredients - parma, mango, walnuts, butternut squash and feta? Sounds bonkers, but somehow it just works. And it helps that it’s all so beautiful and colourful on the plate. We ate here three times in four days, and could easily have gone back for more. Highly recommended. 


Cafe Galleria House of Wonders, Largo de Misericordia+351 91 170 2428

Ten things you must eat in Lisbon 

Before I went to Lisbon, all I knew of Portuguese food was custard tarts. After one week in this beautiful city – and nearby in the coastal town of Cascais – I’ve now had the best custard tarts Lisbon has to offer, and plenty more besides… [Read more]

Read More

Eating out: Grillshack, Soho, London
These days you can’t move for burger joints in Soho. As if Honest Burger, Burger & Lobster, Burger Shack, Brgr.co, Ed’s Diner, and not one but two branches of Byron weren’t enough, Beak Street is now home to one more. But Grillshack is different. Why? Read on… 

At Grillshack there are not one, not two, but three ways to order and pay. Once you’ve been seated in a diner-style booth, you choose from a short and simple menu and then you either:
* Stroll over to the counter at the back of the restaurant, where a real live person will take your order and payment.
* Stroll over to a touchscreen order point (also at the back of the restaurant) to place your order and pay.
* Stay seated in your booth, whip out your iPhone, log on to Grillshack’s wifi network, download the Grillshack app, and use that to place your order and pay.
Food is brought to your table, as are beers and wines, while other drinks (sodas, tea and coffee) are ‘pour-your-own’ using dispensers near the counter. There’s also a shelving unit lined with sauces that you can take back to your table, Nandos-style.

A small group of us (including Jo Allison who writes the wonderful Four a day blog) strolled over last Friday, after post-work beers at The Sun & 13 Cantons pub across the road. Working at a retail consultancy, where our job is to report on interesting ways of buying things, we were intrigued by the ordering system and tempted to try out the app. “I wouldn’t bother,” warned the waitress as she seated us, “you’re better off just going to the counter.”
It raised a question we often end up asking when we come across techy things in shops and restaurants. “Is this really necessary?”
In this case, it’s hard to say. There are obvious advantages. If there’s a queue at the counter, you don’t have to wait in it. If you’re ordering take-away, you can place the order before you arrive. And if you’re feeling anti-social, you don’t have to deal with other people.
But you do have to deal with technology, which in itself can be a bit of a bitch. The main disadvantage of the app is that, unless you plan on eating at Grillshack quite regularly, you have to download an app that you don’t really need. And you have to connect to the wifi. And you have to enter your card details. In my opinion, that’s too many steps for a hungry person to deal with, especially if they’re on an iPhone 4 that’s on its last legs.
I’m guessing the main intention of this setup was to give customers more options. But, as a customer, does having more options make the experience any easier? Surely the only decision I want to make is over what to have for dinner, not how I want to order it.

The food was pretty good. I had a decent burger, some great seasoned fries, radish slaw and a craft lager. The place itself has a nice vibe too - warm, inviting and lively on a cold Friday evening. Honest is still my favourite place for burger and chips in Soho, but if the wait time is another ridiculous two and a half hours on a Friday evening I’ll definitely be making a bee-line for Grillshack instead.
The high-tech ordering system isn’t what will draw people back here, it’s the atmosphere and the menu. Even as I type, I’m wondering when I’ll get a chance to head back to try their flattened rump steak and shoestring fries, and maybe an ice-cream cookie sandwich for dessert…

Grillshack, 61-63 Beak Street, London W1F 9SL
info@grillshack.com

Eating out: Grillshack, Soho, London

These days you can’t move for burger joints in Soho. As if Honest Burger, Burger & Lobster, Burger Shack, Brgr.co, Ed’s Diner, and not one but two branches of Byron weren’t enough, Beak Street is now home to one more. But Grillshack is different. Why? Read on…

image

At Grillshack there are not one, not two, but three ways to order and pay. Once you’ve been seated in a diner-style booth, you choose from a short and simple menu and then you either:

* Stroll over to the counter at the back of the restaurant, where a real live person will take your order and payment.

* Stroll over to a touchscreen order point (also at the back of the restaurant) to place your order and pay.

* Stay seated in your booth, whip out your iPhone, log on to Grillshack’s wifi network, download the Grillshack app, and use that to place your order and pay.

Food is brought to your table, as are beers and wines, while other drinks (sodas, tea and coffee) are ‘pour-your-own’ using dispensers near the counter. There’s also a shelving unit lined with sauces that you can take back to your table, Nandos-style.

image

A small group of us (including Jo Allison who writes the wonderful Four a day blog) strolled over last Friday, after post-work beers at The Sun & 13 Cantons pub across the road. Working at a retail consultancy, where our job is to report on interesting ways of buying things, we were intrigued by the ordering system and tempted to try out the app. “I wouldn’t bother,” warned the waitress as she seated us, “you’re better off just going to the counter.”

It raised a question we often end up asking when we come across techy things in shops and restaurants. “Is this really necessary?”

In this case, it’s hard to say. There are obvious advantages. If there’s a queue at the counter, you don’t have to wait in it. If you’re ordering take-away, you can place the order before you arrive. And if you’re feeling anti-social, you don’t have to deal with other people.

But you do have to deal with technology, which in itself can be a bit of a bitch. The main disadvantage of the app is that, unless you plan on eating at Grillshack quite regularly, you have to download an app that you don’t really need. And you have to connect to the wifi. And you have to enter your card details. In my opinion, that’s too many steps for a hungry person to deal with, especially if they’re on an iPhone 4 that’s on its last legs.

I’m guessing the main intention of this setup was to give customers more options. But, as a customer, does having more options make the experience any easier? Surely the only decision I want to make is over what to have for dinner, not how I want to order it.

image

The food was pretty good. I had a decent burger, some great seasoned fries, radish slaw and a craft lager. The place itself has a nice vibe too - warm, inviting and lively on a cold Friday evening. Honest is still my favourite place for burger and chips in Soho, but if the wait time is another ridiculous two and a half hours on a Friday evening I’ll definitely be making a bee-line for Grillshack instead.

The high-tech ordering system isn’t what will draw people back here, it’s the atmosphere and the menu. Even as I type, I’m wondering when I’ll get a chance to head back to try their flattened rump steak and shoestring fries, and maybe an ice-cream cookie sandwich for dessert…

image

Grillshack, 61-63 Beak Street, London W1F 9SL

info@grillshack.com

Eating out: Kimchee, London
If you’ve never had Korean food before, Kimchee provides the perfect introduction. Based on New Oxford Street, it caters to a hungry crowd of workers and students from the surrounding offices and universities. Last Friday I strolled over with my team from work to check it out. [Read More]
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The smart exterior with its big glass windows make Kimchee a bright and inviting lunch option, particularly compared to the cluster of Korean cafés on St Giles High Street (near Centre Point), which might be considered more authentically but can feel less accessible to Korean food first-timers.Inside, Kimchee has a familiar Pret-style layout, with refrigerated shelves by the door for customers grabbing a quick take-out lunch. For those eating in, there are long, communal tables with quirky stools that are far more comfortable to sit on than you’d think…

I made a beeline for the bibimbap, which I’ve been craving for weeks –  rice topped with a selection of shredded, seasoned and sautéed vegetables (served cold), including carrot, mooli, mushrooms and bean sprouts. I chose the tofu option but there was also chicken or beef. 
What I thought was particularly clever was the packaging – unfortunately I don’t have a picture so you’ll have to make do with the following description and your imagination. You pick up your box of bibimbap topping, take it to the counter and pay. It turns out the box has two sections. The compartment with the toppings is lifted off to reveal a deeper one underneath, which is filled with rice (plain white or mixed grain) to order, before the top compartment is replaced and the box sealed up. It’s all very clever.  
Kimchee also offers a selection of salads, kimbap (similar to Japanese sushi), hot noodle soups, dosirak (like Japanese bento), and plenty more. Everything is clearly explained, beautifully wrapped and reasonably priced. The best way to discover it is to try it… 

As well as the New Oxford Street branch, there’s also one on the Strand, as well as a proper sit-down restaurant on High Holborn. 
Kimchee, 106 New Oxford St, London, WC1A 1HB(open every day till 10pm) 

Eating out: Kimchee, London

If you’ve never had Korean food before, Kimchee provides the perfect introduction. Based on New Oxford Street, it caters to a hungry crowd of workers and students from the surrounding offices and universities. Last Friday I strolled over with my team from work to check it out. [Read More]

Read More

Eating out: Burro e Salvia, Shoreditch, London
From cannelloni to carbonara, pasta is Britain’s most popular ready meal according to sales data gathered by market research company Kantar Worldpanel. Not only did it overtake such British classics as shepherd’s and cottage pie, it also beat curry! [Read More]
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Even when it comes to home cooking, pasta has become an easy dinner option – for most of us, it’s the first thing we learn to cook once we’ve let go of mother’s apron strings. 
While it’s clearly much-loved, we rarely take the time to appreciate pasta at it’s very best – freshly made and simply cooked to generations-old Italian recipes. 
If you do fancy taking the time to seek this out, head to Burro e Salvia (which means Butter and Sage) on Redchurch Street. It’s a small, bright and cheery cafe where you can eat in, take-away, or buy exquisite ready-to-cook pasta. 
The front of the store is taken up by the shop. Not only can you buy pasta and sauces, you can also watch the team making everything from delicate strands of tagliatelle to neatly folded tortelli. 
At the back is a small cafe space, which is where I spent a lovely lunch hour with my team at work earlier this week.

The menu is simple, with only six mains to choose from. To make sure everything is as fresh as it can be, there are only four portions of each available at any one time – they only cook the next batch once these have run out. 
Between us we ordered a rich, creamy and comforting orecchiette with gorgonzola, sausage and radicchio (below); a pretty pink beetroot pasta filled with potato and broccoli, with an anchovy sauce; and (because it was Halloween) a pumpkin and caprino cheese filled pasta, with a buttery thyme sauce. All washed down with a bottle of light, red Grignolino wine by Carlin de Paolo. 

The rest of the afternoon was spent having tea and cake at the Albion Cafe (giant macaroons and the most exciting Battenburg I’ve ever seen!), a snoop around the Boxpark pop-up mall, a peek at the new Ace Hotel on Shoreditch High Street, a recline on the gorgeous sofas at House of Hackney, and a final round of cocktails at Dishoom (try Sonia’s negroni).
Why can’t all work days be like this?! 
Burro e Salvia, 52 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP020 77394429 (open for lunch and dinner, reservations only for tables of 6-8 people)

Eating out: Burro e Salvia, Shoreditch, London

From cannelloni to carbonara, pasta is Britain’s most popular ready meal according to sales data gathered by market research company Kantar Worldpanel. Not only did it overtake such British classics as shepherd’s and cottage pie, it also beat curry! [Read More]

Read More

Three great ways to cook salmon, from someone who doesn’t like salmon.That’s right, I don’t like salmon. I’ve never ordered it at a restaurant. I rarely cook or eat it at home. Give me a piece of white fish, smoked fish or shellfish and I’ll gladly gobble it up. But salmon? Not so much.The reason is simple - it’s too rich and the flavour is overpowering.I used to think that I just plain hated it, but I’ve discovered that really it’s all about what you eat it with. Salmon is best kept simple, and the secret to success is to serve it with something that tastes bright and fresh. So, here are three salmon recipes that I love… [Read More]
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Keralan salmon wraps (pictured above)
An Anjum Anand recipe, and my favourite way to eat salmon. The tomatoes and lemon create a tangy sauce for the salmon, while the coconut and peanuts add interesting textures. Served in a wholemeal wrap with shredded baby gem or ice berg lettuce, this isn’t curry as you know it, but it’s definitely one you’ll want again. 
Fried salmon with boiled vegetables and lots of butter

Don’t let the unimaginative name put you off this one – it’s delicious and healthy. And it couldn’t be simpler to make: fry salmon, serve with lightly boiled vegetables (broccoli, asparagus, green beans, edamame beans), a big knob of butter and a few twists of salt and pepper. The butter is all you need by way of sauce, and the vegetables are fresh enough to counter the rich salmon. It’s all so easy I’m not sure it can even be called a recipe? 
Salmon with a creme fraiche potato salad

The recipe says trout but it works with salmon. It’s one of Angela Hartnett’s mid-week supper recipes for the Guardian, and it’s a slightly different take on the salmon, boiled potatoes and mayo combination. Here, the creme fraiche and lemon make the whole dish a bit lighter, and it’s especially good if the potato salad is served cold but the fried fillet of salmon (with crispy skin!) is still hot. An even lighter alternative would be this recipe from Bon Apetit, which replaces the potato salad with wilted greens and a radish raita. 

Three great ways to cook salmon, from someone who doesn’t like salmon.

That’s right, I don’t like salmon. I’ve never ordered it at a restaurant. I rarely cook or eat it at home. Give me a piece of white fish, smoked fish or shellfish and I’ll gladly gobble it up. But salmon? Not so much.

The reason is simple - it’s too rich and the flavour is overpowering.

I used to think that I just plain hated it, but I’ve discovered that really it’s all about what you eat it with. Salmon is best kept simple, and the secret to success is to serve it with something that tastes bright and fresh. 

So, here are three salmon recipes that I love… [Read More]

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An alternative Sunday roast: Crispy duck in pancakes, with homemade plum sauce
I know, I know, you really can’t beat a proper roast dinner. But if you do fancy mixing it up a little, this is a low effort alternative that I’d highly recommend. It’s also a handy one when you’ve got people coming over for dinner on a Saturday evening. [Read More]
As is always the case with a roast, there are various components to this dinner, but none of them are complicated. 
The duckI’d recommend buying a whole duck – not only do you get more meat, it’s also juicier and fattier, which means more flavour. 
Pat the duck dry with kitchen paper and place it in a roasting tray. Sprinkle all over (outside and in) with salt and Chinese five spice. Rub a chunk of grated ginger around the inside cavity too for extra flavour. Roast on the middle shelf of the oven at 170C, for 1.5 or 2 hours – until the meat is tender and the skin crispy. Every now and then, use some of the excess fat to baste the meat and spoon off the rest. If you need to, turn the oven up to 200C for ten minutes at the end to crisp the skin. 
The plum sauceWhile the duck roasts, you have ample time to prepare a homemade plum sauce. For four people, de-stone four plums and cut into quarters. Cook on a low-medium heat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of sugar, a big pinch of five spice, a pinch of salt (or splash of soy sauce), a couple of tablespoons of water and a teaspoon of grated ginger. Let this bubble away gently until the fruit has broken down into a thick sauce. Taste the seasoning (you might decide you want it sweeter). When you’re happy with it, pour into a little bowl to cool. 
Everything elseFinely slice cucumber and spring onion into long, slim batons. I also did the same with a couple of red chillies, but this is optional.
As well as the tangy and sweet plum sauce, I’m a big fan of dark, glossy hoi sin sauce. This can be bought in jars and just needs to be mixed with a little water to thin it down. 
And finally, the pancakes. I bought mine from the freezer section of the local Chinese supermarket. They can be steamed or microwaved – either way, they are ready in seconds so I’d suggest leaving this as the last thing you do. 
All that’s left is to pile everything into the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves. 

An alternative Sunday roast: Crispy duck in pancakes, with homemade plum sauce

I know, I know, you really can’t beat a proper roast dinner. But if you do fancy mixing it up a little, this is a low effort alternative that I’d highly recommend. It’s also a handy one when you’ve got people coming over for dinner on a Saturday evening. [Read More]

As is always the case with a roast, there are various components to this dinner, but none of them are complicated. 

The duck
I’d recommend buying a whole duck – not only do you get more meat, it’s also juicier and fattier, which means more flavour. 

Pat the duck dry with kitchen paper and place it in a roasting tray. Sprinkle all over (outside and in) with salt and Chinese five spice. Rub a chunk of grated ginger around the inside cavity too for extra flavour. Roast on the middle shelf of the oven at 170C, for 1.5 or 2 hours – until the meat is tender and the skin crispy. Every now and then, use some of the excess fat to baste the meat and spoon off the rest. If you need to, turn the oven up to 200C for ten minutes at the end to crisp the skin. 

The plum sauce
While the duck roasts, you have ample time to prepare a homemade plum sauce. For four people, de-stone four plums and cut into quarters. Cook on a low-medium heat in a pan with 2 tablespoons of sugar, a big pinch of five spice, a pinch of salt (or splash of soy sauce), a couple of tablespoons of water and a teaspoon of grated ginger. Let this bubble away gently until the fruit has broken down into a thick sauce. Taste the seasoning (you might decide you want it sweeter). When you’re happy with it, pour into a little bowl to cool. 

Everything else
Finely slice cucumber and spring onion into long, slim batons. I also did the same with a couple of red chillies, but this is optional.

As well as the tangy and sweet plum sauce, I’m a big fan of dark, glossy hoi sin sauce. This can be bought in jars and just needs to be mixed with a little water to thin it down. 

And finally, the pancakes. I bought mine from the freezer section of the local Chinese supermarket. They can be steamed or microwaved – either way, they are ready in seconds so I’d suggest leaving this as the last thing you do. 

All that’s left is to pile everything into the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves. 

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A very simple supper: Smoked mackerel & cheese on toast
When it comes to cooking fish, I’ll almost always choose smoked over fresh. My reason is simple - it’s almost impossible to get wrong. You don’t need to worry about over- or under-doing it, and it’s packed with flavour so all you really need to do is throw in some carbs and you’re halfway to a decent meal. [Read More]
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At the more complex (but hardly rocket science) end of the scale you have a spicy kedgeree. At the other, there’s smoked mackerel stirred into white rice and served with steamed greens – a very comforting bowl of food. 
Or there’s this, the first thing I ever cooked from Nigel Slater’s Real Food, and now a firm favourite, suitable for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s so simple it hardly needs a recipe…
Smoked mackerel & cheese on toastMackerelBreadCheeseSingle cream
***
Grill mackerel until heated through.
Toast bread.
Flake the grilled mackerel into a bowl and stir in a handful of grated mature cheddar and a couple of tablespoons of single cream.
Pile the mixture onto the toast and whip under the grill until melted and slightly golden.
No, really, that’s it. 
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A very simple supper: Smoked mackerel & cheese on toast

When it comes to cooking fish, I’ll almost always choose smoked over fresh. My reason is simple - it’s almost impossible to get wrong. You don’t need to worry about over- or under-doing it, and it’s packed with flavour so all you really need to do is throw in some carbs and you’re halfway to a decent meal. [Read More]

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