Tuesday, December 18, 2012

New Discoveries in Old London

Chuse has been coming to Rosie's for about a year. And he always orders the same thing. A small milky coffee, a good european one. I love these sorts of customers. Unassuming and consistent. And it turns out that thick accented spaniard has a passion for ham. Seriously good ham. A few weeks ago he opened a bar, as an extension of his existing jamon stall at Malty Street Market. I went with my oldest friend Helen, who is so good at spanish she gets asked which village she is from, and her husband Simon. So the three (well, four including the baby) of us went off on a wild goose chase, with no idea what we were looking for. After farting around with some parking, and wrapping up the baby, we headed over and went straight into a well light arch with a lovely looking menu. Only after drinking a couple of glasses we realised we were at the wrong place. It was nice, but it just wasn't quite right. So on we went down the dimly light Rope Walk, past the spoils of LASSCO and various roasting houses and stores until just at the end, with a mostly drawn curtain, we found Bar Tozino. Man, was it worth the work.

Bar Tozino is dark and wood lined, and like all good spanish joints, super child friendly which was nice, because Billy is only 3 months old. Its brilliant. Chuse welcomed us with open arms to his warm woody cave filled with deeply aged hams from Spain. We ordered glasses of Cava which were refreshing and crisp and reminded us of one of our favourite nights in Barcelona a few years ago. The menu is appropriately small and really appealing: we had ham (obviously) both from Chuse's brothers farm and also a 4 year aged one which was so rich and sweet it  slightly knocks your socks off. And the milder one from Chuse's family is mild and creamy and youthful. After that came a bowl of soft chickpeas cooked up with chorizo. Not the cheap acidic stuff but smoky lumps of soft meat. And not a dark red sauce but a pink real tomatoey type thing. It was perfect. And then we got this waft, of rosemary and fat and demanded to know what was cooking. Ribs, cured and like bacon with a thick slab of fat encasing them. We chewed away on the ribs and listened to Chuse's stories until Billy finally worked out we were having too much fun and started to cry. Bar Tozino is well worth the visit. Go and meet Chuse and his team and get told great stories about meat and Spain. Next time I go, it'll be without Billy, much as I love him. And I'm going to drink loads and eat more. It's like dipping a toe in a good holiday.

Friday, November 2, 2012

It's a Red Christmas...

I did a Christmas feature for Red Magazine. It was really fun, if pretty knackering, being 9 months pregnant as I was. Having grabbed a copy of the mag to have along with my Banh Mi lunch the other day, it turns out it was all worth it. The feature looks bloody brilliant, which is almost entirely down to the crew of people that created it - a very hard working bunch. The shoot was at our flat, a strange modern building on the top of a very windy hill. Check out these pictures and go buy yourself a copy! It's full of alternative recipes for Christmas, not turkey or brandy butter, but a slightly moorish twist with  quails  and heavy spices. Enjoy x

Thursday, September 6, 2012

AFTERNOON DELIGHT. Creamy Pancakes for Tea

After watching an episode of Cupcake Wars (I know, it's bad, but it's good when you are a beached whale and everything hurts. Guilty pleasures and all that) I was alerted to ricotta pancakes. I'm not sure if they are an American invention, or an original Italian sweet but they struck me as a thoroughly good idea. Perfect for brunch, or in my case, a little afternoon delight. They really are super light and creamy, pillowy if you like. However my day today involved Lidl (one of my favourite shops for certain things) and they don't sell ricotta. Instead I used their soft goats cheese which worked perfectly instead. I've wolfed down these, and have some batter left for when my Mum arrives in the morning. Serve with blackberries (or a late autumn fruit compote) and maple syrup. And even a scoop of ice cream if you really want to push the boat out. 

85g plain flour
5g baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
a good pinch of salt
2 level tablespoons of golden caster sugar
200g soft goats cheese
2 medium free range eggs
120ml milk
vegetable oil for frying

Mix together the dry goods, the flour, baking powder, nutmeg, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Now in a jug beat together the soft cheese, eggs and milk. Using a whisk, gradually beat this into the dry goods bowl until you have a smooth batter. Set this aside for half an hour to melge and bond. 

Heat a flat cast iron griddle pan (these are best because they take on a lot of heat and hold on to it unlike flimsy frying pans) on a high heat until it is smoking. Then turn the heat right down and brush with oil. When the oil is hot, pour on a small ladle of the batter. Flip the pancake when it is dry around the edges and has tunnels of bubbles on the surface. Heat for just long enough on the other side for the pancake to seal. Remove from the pan and serve up warm. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012


I'm not going to give you the recipe for this cake. As you can see it's pretty damn cool. Sorry!

But I will tell you, it's a classic victoria sponge with a quick star anise, ginger and plum jam, sandwiched with a goat's curd and vanilla cream, which also constitutes the lattice over the top.

I've got friends coming for tea and can not wait to plunge my knife into the centre of this and see what's going on. It bodes very very well, even if I do say.

The reason I'm not disclosing the recipe is because if I did that all the time, I'd never have any recipes for my books. And I'm pretty sure this is one is going to make the cut somewhere down the line. And I'm hoping that the next 6 months is going to be full of pictures like this. The idea of having time at home and pottering (albeit with a new born baby and no doubt endless piles of shitty washing!) and reflection is just so exciting. For the first time in 8 years I wont be at my deli. Anything could happen. Watch this space. x

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Tart of Beets

Beetroot, Feta and Mint Tart 
Todays dinner. It's smelling delicious and buttery. I made a short crust pastry, heavy on the butter, blind baked it and then filled it with last nights roasted beetroots from my favourite grocers; crumble over some feta and a little chopped mint; pour over a batter of free range eggs and double cream and a healthy dose of freshly ground pepper. I baked it for just twenty minutes. Tomorrow I'm testing out a new cake recipe... watch this space!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Mondays Cake and a touch of Lou Reed

Yesterdays cake. An upside down cake, which is one of my favourites. I love how sticky the base gets. It was bloody delicious even if I do say so. It's all in the blend of flours I think: a mixture of ground almonds, wholemeal flour and self raising flour. These gave a gorgeous moisture, but a lightness too, and the wholemeal flour added a comforting sweetness. I used some lurking plums and apricots and the colours looked glorious. Add to this some freshly grated ginger and some mixed spice,  piece of piss! Needless to say there isn't much left.

Whilst baking this beauty I listened to Lou Reed's Transformer... Check out this one. The tuba is excellent for beating!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Yogurty Aubergines with Perfect Rice

Raf is really good at cooking rice. And eating it. It is, in fact, one of his favourite things. Which means that when ever I cook it for him, I bodge it up. It's the pressure. And when ever he's out, I make perfect individual grains of basmati fit for a king. Tonight is just such a night. I've made a delicious aubergine and yogurt dish to go with it, which comes from one of my favourite cookbooks, Madhur Jaffrey's Ultimate Curry Bible. I recommend you buy the book and give the aubergines on page 165 a try. The mint here is a must - and perfectly accompanies the sweet onions and super-soft turmeric laced aubergines.

As for my perfect basmati rice, the best method is as follows: 1 cup of rice feeds 2 people. Place the rice in a smallish pan. Cover with 1 1/2 cups (the same size cup) of water and add a generous pinch of salt. Heat on a lively flame so that it reaches the boil. Continue to simmer until the water has visibly disappeared and the tunnels of steam and remaining water are nearly empty. Reduce the heat to its lowest possible, cover the pan with a lid or plate and let it continue to steam for 5 minutes. Now turn off the heat all together, leaving the pan covered and let it sit for 15 minutes or so. Fluff up with a fork (never a spoon and never a silver one) and serve just like that. It should be light, with individual grains. Easy. 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Post Ibizian Pumpkin Salad

Thank god for holidays. We went to Ibiza last week. Not for raving, or sun-roasting or drug induced fun, but for a quiet retreat in the hills. And I have a lot to thank Ibiza for: my appetite is finally back! And not just things like fruit and vegetables. But prawns and ham and even coffee. Basically all the good things in life. Our first meal was at a ramshackle fish shack at the end of Talamanca beach. You are offered whatever are the catches of the day. The nice boss-man reels them off through his John Waters 'tache, prawns, sword fish, squid, etc etc. The fishes all come with the same get-up - cold boiled potatoes and a very dated iceberg lettuce related salad. On a warm evening this feels absolutely right. Especially the potatoes. I don't know what they do to them in Spain to make them taste so damned good and waxy and creamy at the same time. And all this while overlooking the beautiful baleric waters on one side, and a very funny nudist display on the other.

On return I have found myself (thankfully) a lot more inspired in the kitchen. I wouldn't wish this pregnancy malarky on anyone!  Today's salad at Rosie's was a corker, even if I do say so. The sweet floury roast pumpkin was nicely set off by a bunch of crisp peppery radishes. Bulked up with some spanish lentils and lots of fresh oregano and basil, I'm really rather chuffed with my spoils. Maybe it'll make it into a third book... you never know. Nearly all the ingredients came from The Nour Cash and Carry, my favourite shop in Brixton Market.

Here's the recipe in a fly by style.
Peel and deseed half a pumpkin. Dice and place on roasting trays. Drizzle with Olive oil and lots of sea salt and black pepper. Place in a very hot oven for about twenty minutes or until the pumpkin is soft but not mashy. Meanwhile, wash and chop the radishes. Drain and rinse a jar of spanish jarred lentils (mine were from Brindisa's collection, for which we stock in the deli). Combine these in a big salad bowl. Finely chop a good handful of fresh oregano and fresh sweet basil and add these too. Pour over lots of extra virgin olive oil and a generous amount of red wine vinegar (remembering that the lentils will always dilute the salt and vinegar so you can be generous). When the pumpkin is room temperature, fold into the salad. Finally grate over some mature pecorino and serve with some dressed spinach leaves. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A Sesame Summer Salad.

In case you wanted to know, pregnancy is weird. Really weird. For months now I have been sick and lackluster and have pretty much only eaten penne with thick tomato sauce. And suddenly last week I started wanting some decent food. I feel like my personality has returned! I've been a boring wretch with no inspiration and now I want sushi and salads and everything fresh and super healthy. I think this may be as close as I am going to get to a 'cravings' stage (a falacy in my book, like many of the so-called traits of pregnancy). But I am not complaining. It is amazing to have some taste buds back and makes the continuing nausea much more bearable! Here is my delicious dinner. I have been thinking about a sweet wet sesame heavy dressing all day. It's easy to make and thoroughly refreshing.

I used a selection of (exorbitant) baby vegetables from Waitrose (very naughty). Blanch the vegetables (baby leeks, baby fennel, small french beans, baby courgettes excluding the sliced tomatoes and cucumber) so that they retain a good crunch. Set these aside to cool. Cook your noodles according to packet instructions. Mine were prawn noodles which have a nice slightly salty aftertaste and gentle pink colour. Rinse these under cold water when they are cooked so they don't stick together and also so that they cool.

To make the dressing, take a jam jar with a matching lid. Mix together rice vinegar, toasted sesame oil, light soy sauce and honey, so that it is sharp and zingy and quite salty. Pour over your salad and toss in some black sesame seeds. Perfect for a summers evening.

 Oh and by the way, if you want to buy my new book, which is rather lovely, click here to jump onto amazon. xxx

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Old friends, New Icing

With friends coming round for tea today, I have fallen back on a familiar favourite from my first cookbook, Baby Banana Cakes. It feels really comforting to return to those recipes that have been cooked time and time again, especially if they are your own. But each time I cook one of my recipes I tend to tweak and change and adapt according to mood, memory, and what's in the cupboard. Added to this I have added a new cylicone mini loaf tray to my baking collection so these cakes are little loaves, not cupcake shape. It's amazing how even the shape of something makes it feel entirely new and exciting. Either that or I am seriously sad.

The power of mood is particularly strong at the moment because I am pregnant. Most foods repulse me even at the thought. I am happiest with trash and stodge right now - polystyrene boxes of vinegar heavy chips, plainest pasta with nursery style tomato sauces, cold cold milk, and Gregg's iced buns. So I've made my familiar friends the Baby banana cakes, but instead of the recommended caramelish syrup I've made a very naff dribbly icing by combining a thimble of milk with icing sugar and scattering over roughly chopped mixed nuts. I just need my friends to arrive so I can start eating them!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

OXTAIL IN BRODO. It's not all about tomatoes you know.

This is categorically the worst time of year. Christmas is over. Nothing is going on. Money is sparse. And the tax man is calling. The only thing to do then, is to cook hearty warming foods full of comfort and reassurance. In response to my, frankly, suicidal mood today, I'm cooking Orecchiette in Oxtail Broth. I love Italian broths. Not the Italian food that most people think of. Not tomatoes and sharp sweet sauces but deep pale meals cooked over long periods of time, invented before America was found and the tomato pillaged the character of all subsequent dishes. Don't get me wrong. I really love tomatoes. It's just that there was life before the tomato you know. A life full of delicate subtle-sweet European vegetables and meaty broths.

I bought my oxtails from my nearest butcher 'Dombey's' in Market Row, Brixton. This meal is clean and fresh and has almost improved my mood! Oh and by the way, ordinarily I would use tagliatelle but we haven't got any at Rosie's at the moment so I've made do with another favourite.

For the broth:

400g oxtail joints
3 litres of water
1 tsp all spice berries
2 bay leaves
1 stick of rosemary

Place the oxtails in a medium saucepan. Cover generously with water and add to this the all spice berries (for a deep wintery aroma), bay leaves and rosemary. Bring the pan to a gentle boil and then lower the heat to a lazy simmer. Place a lid on the pan and continue to heat for 2 hours or until the meat is soft and succulent and falling off the bone. Strain the broth into a jug and set aside. Shred the meat off the oxtails and set aside. Discard the aromatics.

For the rest:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 carrot, finely diced
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and diced
1 leek, trimmed and finely sliced
1 big glass of white wine
lots of maldon sea salt
lots of freshly ground pepper
a few leaves of fresh basil

Heat the olive oil in large pan on a moderate flame. Throw into the pan, the carrot, celery and leek. Sweat, stirring often, until it's all soft. Now add about a litre of the stock that you have kept aside. And also the wine. Simmer for a few minutes and then add the stripped oxtail meal. Season. Boil the orecchiette until really soft. Serve all together in bowls with shredded basil and more pepper.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

....and some more Baking.

This week seems to have flown by. I had planned to have this recipe up by Wednesday and I find myself here on a Sunday night with a heaving belly after a massive Sunday lunch! Hey ho, here you go. It's a bloody delicious Pistachio and Orange cake, dense and wet and really good. And the really good bit is that it was photographed by the inimitable Lisa Barber, a local to the shop. She very very helpfully offered to come down to the shop when she saw that I was baking this peach of a cake. Isn't Brixton brilliant? I couldn't wish for a better community. For more recipes like this, you can preorder my new book here. This cake really is the ticket. The pistachios combined with the orange zest is a well worn path that works every time, like an old friend. And the introduction of ground almonds adds a fantastic moist sponge that rises just as much as is needed, from the beaten egg whites.

Dense Orange & Pistachio Cake

2 oranges, zest and juice
330g butter
330g golden caster sugar
5 large free range eggs, 3 separated
a pinch of salt
110g ground almonds
220g plain flour
160g natural yogurt
100g pistachio nuts, roughly broken
2 tbsp caster sugar

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 26cm round spring form cake tin and line the bottom with grease proof paper. Place the orange zest in a bowl with the butter and sugar. Using a hand held electric whisk beat until this forms a light and pale mix. Now add the 2 whole eggs and the 3 egg yolks (keeping the remaining 3 egg whites aside.) Beat until smooth again. Add salt and fold in the ground almonds and flour. Now beat the remaining egg whites so that they form stiff peaks, using a hand held electric whisk. Fold these into the cake batter at the same time as the natural yogurt and then fold the batter out into the cake tin. Scatter over the broken pistachio nuts and place in the oven for 45 minutes or until just firm. Make a syrup with the remaining orange juice and a couple of tablespoons of caster sugar. Pour this over the cake and let it infuse in the cake tin for an hour. Remove to a cake plate and serve with a good old brew.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

JANUARY BAKE OFF... starts now

I feel like baking. I feel like eating hunks of meat. And generally, I feel like hibernating. So thank goodness we just had our kitchen done and are the proud owners of a Rangemaster mega-cooker, not just with a grill, or even one oven, but two bloody ovens, ideal for roasting, baking, toasting and generally turning me into a massive pig. Since we re-opened Rosie's Deli Cafe after the Christmas break we've been making these fantastic cookies, daily. They have been satisfying my desire to turn on the oven and warm up the joint. And again today, at home, I find myself making these same cookies to take round to my best friend Helen's house for dinner. Here's the recipe, for which the original blue print came from Olive Endeacott, a friend of mine who lives down the road in Catford and is a budding baker. They are perfect for a healthy January, being packed full of seeds and oats. However, the heftly injection of butter will ruin your diet! Bad luck.


Makes about 14 Cookies.

240g jumbo rolled oats
240g plain flour
240g golden caster sugar
a big handful of...
sunflower seeds
pumpkin seeds
black sesame seeds
a generous pinch of salt
240g unsalted butter
4 tbsp whole milk
3 tbsp runny honey

Preheat the oven to 160-180C, depending on how good your oven is. Grease a couple of baking sheets. Measure out the oats, flour, sugar, seeds and salt. Mix these together in a bowl. Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan with the milk and honey. Pour this into the dry goods and thoroughly mix together into a thick mix. Roll the cookies out between your palms gently and place on the baking trays, with a little space between them. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes or until they are golden at the edges and slightly splayed. Leave the cookies to cool and firm up on the baking trays and them remove to a tin.

Now I just need to get the seeded bloomer out of the oven. I fear it will never get any respite. Next time, I'll be extolling the delights of a PIstachio and Orange upside down cake....

Monday, January 9, 2012

Malaysian Encounters.

2011 was frankly ridiculous. I organised our wedding, our housemove and 2 work trips abroad. So when we finally arrived Kuala Lumpar I was desperate to kick back and enjoy being cut off for a few weeks. The food we encountered was confusing and strange, not always very nice, but nevertheless exciting. Assam Laksa was the first really mental thing we ate - a murky broth full of dried ground fish and fat noodles. Served with a tiny lime and serious chilli kick, this was my least favourite meal. Malaysian food is a strange mixture, being a fusion of many cultures - Indian, Chinese and Nonya (Malay/Indonesian food). The overriding theme which we encountered everywhere was dried fish. This becomes the base seasoning for a lot of Malay cooking.

The best food we ate in Penang was actually the Chinese food. Teksen Restaurant was a treat of place with a really chic interior of matching metal stools and a seriously gorgeous fine boned girl running the show. The food was punchy, with a lot of dishes coming in scorching clay pots. My favourite dish was by far the winged beans which came with chubby prawns and a light sambal (a pickled sauce common in Nonya foods). I'll definitely be testing out a few sambals and if anyone can tell me where to get the winged beans I'll buy them a grateful drink! They have a fantastic firm crunchy texture and delicate flavour which takes chilli really well. Plus with their increased surface area you could really drench them in a good sauce.

The street food which we encountered, piping from every corner of Georgetown's alleys was predominantly chinese in origin. I have a new respect for chicken satay. Popular on the '90's fusion menu in dodgy local restaurants and therefore pretty undesirable, my opinion of chicken satay was always low. But that was until I tasted real satay. We drank beer on the pavement and watched a seriously dexterous woman twiddle and turn her sticks rammed full of either pure chicken meat or liver and gizzard. With each rotisserie turn she dabbed the meaty sticks with a brush. It wasn't until we got really close and started quizzing her that we worked out what was going on: the brush was actually 3 sticks of lemongrass tied together and split at the woody end. And the liquid she was dipping the 'brush' in was actually an infusion of lemonglass water and oil. Served with some slithers of cucumber and a dark satay source (which probably had dried fish in it and also dried chillies) we happily downed our beer and mopped up the atmosphere of these smoggy but fun streets.