Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Dinner 29.06.10


Smoked and peppered mackerel with tomato and rocket on grilled olive oil brushed bread.

And, because I'm always too greedy just just have one- Thick slices of smoked, fresh salmon, with tomato, rocket, holloumi, cracked black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil on grilled bread.

Served, of course, with a big summer salad.

This dinner is inspired by a recent trip to Kensington. The bread was beautiful, and came from the large WholeFoods market there. The smoked salmon is M&S, and the creation is based loosely on the sourbread tartines in the High Street Kensington deli...

It is now undeniably summer, and as well as switching from rich, hot porridges, it is also time to move away from heavy, hot meals, and embrace some summer cooking!

Food Fact of the Day.

The term 'Foodie' was originally coined by Food Magazine 'Harper's and Queen' in 1984...

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Focus on: Notting Hill

(...Or How to Spend the Perfect Day)

If you're looking for the perfect foodie day out, you would be hard pressed to do better than Notting Hill.
Crammed with cafes and chocolatiers, Notting Hill and its neighbouring Portobello are also home to numerous specialist cuisine stores with delis and restaurants as famous as many of its residents. Follow my footsteps in a food tour that will tick the boxes for all curious food fanatics...
Start the day on Westbourne Grove with a visit to Kitchen Ideas. Crammed to the rafters with cake moulds, casserole dishes and chef knives, the place resembles a pound store more than a specialist equipment shop. Surprisingly good value, it is a worthy supplier for both amateur and professional cooks- and is even recommended by the cookbook of nearby deli Ottolenghi's.

Cross the road and you will find yourself at Artisan Du Chocolat, flanked by tables resembling slabs of chocolate. This is an elegant chocolate boutique selling silver coated chocolate moulded stilettos (too beautiful to contemplate eating!) and their famous liquid salted caramels. With chic Chanel-esque branding, these little round chocolates come in a range of experimental flavours, from sage and thyme (No.15) to Madagascan pink peppercorns (No.4).
(A full review and more flavours will follow in a chocolate blog... Coming soon!)

Stop here to peruse their amazing cafe menu, offering a number of stunning sounding chocolate based cocktails, or buy a Red Fruits and Violets O and No.7 Liquid salted caramel. You will find out what it's infused with when you try it...

Visit the first of Notting Hill's many Delis- Travola. Small and beautifully presented, its highlights include huge flat breads, tubs of soup and homemade gellati. The rustic decor includes a wall of sweet decorative plates reminiscent of a french farmhouse.

Trot onwards to DaylesfordOrganic for the fresh fruit and veg, or to pick up a recipe card (Beetroot soup, if you're quick.) Recap on this season's freshest produce- not only displayed in wooden crates, but listed on the walls.

For a change from the rustic-chic vibe projected in most modern delis, head to Tom's, a sweet and nostalgic Enid Blyton-esque shop decked out with St George's Flags.
Bright, busy and British, it stocks old style sweets, lollies and cakes, including the oh-so-fashionable and ever so English Pistachio and Rose Cake.

Before breaking for lunch, finish off the morning in The Grocer on Elgin, for a wide range of ready meals- Notting Hill style.
As well as beautiful bread and sandwiches, The Grocer caters for high end pre-made dinners such as Teryaki Chicken and seafood risotto.

For lunch, remortgage your house, don your Sunday Best and - remember...to...breath.
Ottolenghi's is situated on Ledbury Road, and with the window piled high with enormous, beautifully coloured meringues and tarts, its hard to miss.
Inside, huge wooden bowls are laden with a vast range of salads. Mains include seared tuna, rare steaks and marinaded salmon fillets- all from recipes featured in the Ottolenghi cookbooks.
This small deli is unsurprisingly rammed at lunchtime, so LouLovesFood recommends taking Ottolenghi's offering out onto the streets and finding a bench to enjoy your lunch in some of London's most elegant streets.

Now you are a member of the 'Church of Ottolenghi', celebrate by heading to 'Melt...'
Displayed 'how a chocolate shop should be' and with caramels to rival Artisan's, Melt... is lined with bowls of chocolates, their flavours written in chalk on blackboards mounted onto the walls. Watch the chocolatiers at work, hand piping their chocolates ar the back of the shop before buying a Melt... Ice cream, made in-situ with 50% fruit.

With your ice cream (and chocolate dipped wafer cone!) in hand, make your way to Portobello Market. Whilst exploring the endless antiques shops, you will naturally stumble across the Hummingbird Bakery- if the smell of baking doesn't draw you to it first.
The Hummingbird Bakery looks as good as it smells and sells all manner of loveliness- from red velvet muffins to thick wedges of carrot cake.
If you're really impressed, pick up a copy of The Humming Bird Cookbook. (Good enough to eat!)

Dip into Garcia's- a deli dealing exclusively in Spanish produce- smoked meats, olives and all manner of tinned Spanish supermarkets produce. On a clammy day Garcia's is a cool and fragrant respite from the heat. Wind your way through the market stalls and take in the kind of bread fresh fruit and veg you would expect to find at one London's quality markets.

Crossing the road by an incredibly stocked spice and herb shop on Blenheim Crescent, you will find yourself at the piece de resistance- Books for Cooks.

Need I say more? Let your geek out amongst hundreds of recipe books for all tastes, cuisines and palates.
Take your time- this is where your tour ends. (I for one couldn't take much more excitement, and I wouldn't want to be responsible for any cardiac arrests. Or am I the only one..?)

... You're welcome.


Friday, 25 June 2010

The Picnic.

There are a few culinary moments in my life that I know, even whilst experiencing them, I will always carry with me. Some, like eating street food in the Muslim quarter of Xi’an or a pilgrimage to the Back Street Bistro, are a prerequisite. Others, like the squid and mashed potato in a Hotel restaurant I visited with my Uncle or stumbling across a previously undiscovered London market, catch you by surprise.

When I got together with my food soul mate Aaron and arranged a picnic in Kew Gardens, I knew that it would lead to something truly beautiful.

When it comes to cooking methods, Aaron and I are at odds. Whilst my technique is haphazard and almost entirely intuitive, Aaron is a slave to the recipe book, following them to the letter. Whilst my cooking is simple and ‘rustic’, his is intricate, elegant and creative.
I had wandered how my predisposition for arrogantly altering recipes and throwing about herbs with gay abandon would work alongside his precision.
And though neither of us would care to admit it, this was not just cooking, this was bordering on a social experiment. We had both previously admitted to suffering from a degree of kitchen Nazi-ism- a potentially difficult personality trait to suffer from in the kitchen, and one that had the potential to cause Too-Many-Cooks syndrome.

But, against the odds, our mutual passion for all things edible united us, and a grudging respect for each others cooking styles (Aaron, I hope you agree with me on this!) helped to form a Picnic SuperTeam… And has earnt Thursday 24th June a firm place in my timeline of culinary triumphs.

I should also mention I am now a complete convert to the Church of Ottelenghi (Well, Ottelenghi… It’s the Bible, innit..?) This is the dish that converted me:

Burnt Aubergine With Tahini

The key to this dish is the cooking of the aubergines, which were burnt on a grill until the skin was black and cracking and the flesh inside soft and gooey. The smell is incredible, and though it is imperative that none of the black skin makes its way into the mix, the charred flavour carries right through into the dip.

Look how beautiful it already looks! The chopped aubergine flesh is mixed with tahini and pomegranate molasses, mixed together and topped with pomegranate seeds and extra virgin olive oil.

…Comme Ca.

Dish Two: Prosciutto, ricotta and artichoke Tart

With home made pastry, no less.

This tart, as often happens, tasted better after it had been left to sit for a while- it took time for the flavour of the ham to infuse into the ricotta and give it the saltiness it initially lacked. But it was light and lovely, and anything with pine nuts is good in my book!

Grilled Peaches and Bresola with Orange Blossom Salad

Orange Blossom. Buy it. Go. Now.

Crab, Chilli, green bean and coconut pasties:
Another of my favourites! The flavours were perfectly complimentary- The crab and coconut was beautiful with the lime and lemon grass. The texture and flavour are both gentle and not heavy and stodgy, like many pasties. Very summer friendly!

Finally, a picnic classic. Strawberries, marinading in balsamic vinegar and sugar, to bring out the flavour. Because it isn’t really a picnic without them.

I hope this inspires you to cook, have picnics and take photos... Make sure if you do, you send them my way...


Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Orange and Polenta Cake

I think this is one of the best cake recipes I have ever found. Run, don't walk to the Ottolenghi cookbook to make this orange and polenta cake with a caramel topping and a marmalade glaze. The polenta gives it a wonderful consistency and the addition of orange blossom water (from any good Lebanese store) gives it a lovely perfumed feel. It looks absolutely beautiful too. Making the caramel was hard at first but once you've cracked it it should be easy to do again and again. I paired it with a strawberry and elderflower sorbet which brought out the flavours and colours really well.

Recipe courtesy of Aaron, my Ottolenghi loving friend.


Porridge of the Week #6

Porridge of the Week #6
Blueberry Porridge
Category: Healthy
Get some Superfood into your diet. Blueberries are one of nature's most powerful anti-oxidants, as well as being beneficial for urinary tract health, vision and lowering cholesterol.
They have also been attributed to weight loss and promoting brain health. Super food indeed!
This is a very simple porridge. Add milk to your porridge and then heat up a handful of blueberries so they soften and release there juices. Stir into the porridge, turning it a gorgeous milky blue. Top with fresh, cold blueberries. Seriously, you cannot have too many blueberries with this porridge. The more the better!
Simple and delicious.
As an alternative to milk or water you could always really go to town and mix with blueberry or pomegranate juice to make it really fruity and boost its anti-oxidant content and health potential.


Sunday, 20 June 2010

Strawberry Meringue Stack

I've never liked meringue. In fairness, it isn't meringue's fault, it's mine. I think I've only ever had commercial meringue, and just like people who claim they don't like Champagne when they've only drunk it at weddings- I don't think that entitles me to an opinion.

Commercial meringue is horrible. Though it should be a balance of crunchy and chewy, shop bought meringue is always hard and brittle, with no soft texture and too much sugar.

So I made my own! I've been tempted to do this for a while and started to research. I was surprised to discover how versatile it can be. Though tempted by a chocolate chestnut meringue tower, I opted to start with a lighter, more summery version.

This is what we did;

Break two eggs and separate the whites from the yolk. In a bowl, whisk the whites until forming stiff peaks. When they are firm, add in 4oz of caster sugar, two ounces at a time, and beat in. Don't beat too much, or it will collapse.

Scoop into a piping bag and pipe four circles onto baking paper, circling the edges to make a nest shape. Pipe four more flat circles of a similar size.

Preheat the oven at 150 degrees, and then bake in the oven, reducing the temperature to 100 degrees for an hour. Switch the oven off and leave it in the oven to dry out.

Chop a handful of strawberries into small chunks. Spoon some creme fraiche into the meringue nests and top with the small strawberry pieces. Drizzle with raspberry coulis. Place the meringue 'lid' onto the strawberries and then top with some larger slices of strawberry. Drizzle generously with more coulis and sprinkle with icing sugar.

Very pretty, very lovely. A perfect summer dinner party and BBQ sweet!


Caramelised Red Onion Marmalade...

Caramelised Red Onion Marmalade
I've been wanting to try chutney making for a long time. I started with red onion marmalade- one of my favourites!


Ingredients2kg red onions or regular onions
4 garlic cloves
140g butter
4 tbsp olive oil
140g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
75cl bottle red wine
350ml sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
200ml port


1.Halve and thinly slice the onions, then thinly slice the garlic. Melt the butter with the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a high heat. Tip in the onions and garlic and give them a good stir so they are glossed with butter. Sprinkle over the sugar, thyme leaves, chilli flakes if using and some salt and pepper. Give everything another really good stir and reduce the heat slightly. Cook uncovered for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions are ready when all their juices have evaporated, they're really soft and sticky and smell of sugar caramelising. They should be so soft that they break when pressed against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon. Slow cooking is the secret of really soft and sticky onions, so don't rush this part.

2.Pour in the wine, vinegar and port and simmer everything, still uncovered, over a high heat for 25-30 minutes, stirring every so often until the onions are a deep mahogany colour and the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds. It's done when drawing a spoon across the bottom of the pan clears a path that fills rapidly with syrupy juice. Leave the onions to cool in the pan, then scoop into sterilised jars and seal. Can be eaten straight away, but keeps in the fridge for up to 3 months.

I took this recipe from Good Food magazine, (October 2003) Thankyou, Good Food!


Friday, 18 June 2010

The Curse of the Red Onion.

Yesterday I made caramelised red onion marmalade. It was a lengthly process, and I spent most of it with tears flooding, streaming, coursing, down my cheeks. They were not the usual tears of excitement and uncontrollable joy that usually accompany my food preperation (okay, so they were a little bit...) but the result of 2kg of chopped red onion.

When my vision became so blurred I risked losing a finger, there was more mascara on my cheeks than my lashes and my shirt was starting to dampen, I decided to do some research into how to prevent onion tears.

There's only one thing scarier than a girl loudly crying her eyes out- and thats a girl with a face set in grim determination, doing it in absolute deathly silence.

It is, like eating semi defrosted food because I just can't wait for it to thaw any longer, one of the many things I do in the kitchen I never want to be caught doing.

When chopped, onions release a chemical irritant, syn-propanethial-S-oxide. This is the fume that gets into your eyes, causing irritation and stinging. I have over the years heard many different tips on how to dodge these inevitable annoyance, many of them sounding suspiciously like old wives tales. Other seem a little more credible. Heres what i discovered;

1. Chew on a toothpick. Really?
2. Cut the skin of the onion under running water (this makes sense, but I found it quite a hassle)
3. Burn a candle close to where you are chopping.

4. Chew gum.
5. Put the knife in the fridge and the onions in the freezer prior to chopping.
6. Suck on a teaspoon.

7. Rub the chopping board with white wine vinegar.

8. And finally, this is a good one. Hold a slice of bread in your mouth!

One onion into 2kg, and I was already streaming. In my desperation, I tried a few of these tips. Simultaneously. I refrigerated the onions and the knife, splashed vinegar about with gay abandon and attempted to suck on a teaspoon whilst holding a peice of bread in my mouth.

Have you any idea how hard it is to have food in my mouth and not eat it?

The good news is, it kind of worked. Not fully, I still cried and blinked, but nothing like the torrential force of the tears that I had cried before. The kind of tears you only see on red-wine- drunk teenage girls. (Trust me, I've been there.)
The bad news is, I'm not sure which of these techniques did the trick. I somehow doubt it was the bread or the spoon.

So, next time you're preparing food in your kitchen and your eyes start to prick, you can either grimly hunch over a pile of vegetables, grasping the knife with tears silently coursing down your face, or you can coat yourself in vinegar and get on with the task, a piece of bread and a teaspoon poking out from the corners of your mouth.

... Either way, you're gonna look like a tool.


This recipe looks GOOD.

Is it a little too hasty to be trying the summer recipes..?

This started life as an Ottolenghi recipe but I messed around with the spices and the combinations a fair bit. Slices of roasted, almost charred aubergine, smothered in greek yoghurt mixed with saffron, garlic and lemon, and garnished with fresh basil leaves and pomegranate seeds. The textures are incredibly varied and the smoky charred aubergine goes really well with the heady, elusive taste of saffron. This one disappeared quick.
By regular contributer, Aaron.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Thanks Pete!




Food Fact of the Day.

The French will tell you a French monk Don Perignon created champagne, but it was actually invented intentionally for reproduction by an English physician Christopher Merett
in 1662 (20 years earlier) by taking a bottle of french wine and adding sugar...


Sunday, 13 June 2010

Cod Provencal

I've been going to France with my family since I was little, and I still go a lot now. One of my favourite things about it is obviously the food (and the wine!) We do a lot of cooking whilst we are out there, and cassoulets are one of my favourites.
This is a gorgeous dish cooked by mon Pere.


Fry some chopped onions and plenty of garlic. When soft add a tin of tomatoes, a generous amount of herbe de Provence and Sel de Camargue (rock salt will also do), a squeeze of tomato puree and half a cup of water.. Allow to simmer briefly then stir in a tin of butter beans and flageolet beans.

Then add the cod (though haddock works just as well) - this can either be individual portions of the fish or diced fish, whichever you prefer.

Leave on a low heat for 20-30 mins, until the fish is cooked through.

Serve with french beans and crusty bread.

Merci Papa, tres bien! x

Thursday, 10 June 2010

There Will Be Baking.


~Em-Lou's Patisserie~


  • Fudge
  • Sticky Toffee Pudding
  • Toffee Apple
  • White chocolate and Raspberry

  • Pear and Ginger

  • Apple Crumble

  • Honey and Granola

  • ~

  • Spiced Banana and Chocolate Loaf


    • Porridge of the Week #5


      Porridge of the Week #5

      Yoghurt, grated apple and muesli
      Yoghurt, pear, sultana, and muesli

      Category: Flavoured
      You have two options this week! Because we tested two varieties this morning, and they were both great, and only a slight variation of each other.
      Soak the porridge in milk or apple juice. Stir in a few tablespoons of crunchy muesli (We used Jordan's raisin and nuts crunchy oats) and warm through. Grate in half the apple and heat through. When the porridge is ready to serve, spoon on the yoghurt (plain or flavoured, according to personal taste) and top with the remaining half of the apple.
      For the pear version, stew some pear in a little water and cinammon. Serve with sultanas, yoghurt and cereal.



      Wednesday, 9 June 2010

      Edible Gifts.

      Going to stay with friends= edible chocolate gifts!

      These chocolate thins are are made with either crushed ameretti, crystalised ginger, caramelised almond, white chocolate and raspberry, vanilla or pecan.
      They're also super super easy, fun to make, and have hundreds of possible varieties!


      You can never have too many muffins.

      Aaron sent me a photo of these muffins he made... Theres nothing I don't love about these!

      It has encouraged me (yeah, as if I need that much encouraging) to make some myself, so tomorrow my beautiful assistant Emma and I, will be having a long baking session!

      Check back for that- but for now, satisfy your cravings with this...

      Muffins are a lot of fun because they don't need a food processor and are super easy to mix. The key is to fold the flour in carefully to the batter and not mix it too hard. You want lumpy unmixed bits of batter to give it that distinct muffin texture. You can also experiment by throwing in whatever you like. These have carrot, apple, sultanas, coconut and marzipan, and they are topped with a sandy, crumbly mix of oats, three seeds, honey and sugar. Make sure you have plenty of people around to try them, or you will end up eating more of them than you intended, as I discovered to my cost!

      Aaron, if you're reading this- I want one I want one I want one I want one!


      Monday, 7 June 2010

      How to Solve a Problem Like Giovanni Rana.

      I have never been a fan of prepackaged stuffed pasta.
      I love fresh tortellini and ravioli, and its high on my list to accomplish making my own, but I can't help but finishing a plate of pre filled and packaged pasta with a crushing sense of anti climax.

      And post-feed anti climax, along with wasting food, skipping breakfast, fast food, bad grammar and mispronouncing 'specific' is one of my greatest pet hates. (Yes, the list grows.)

      I find it so hard to get right. The Italians recommend 'keeping it simple' with butter and oil. With fresh ravioli, I can see the appeal of this, but with anything from a packet I find it a little bland and tasteless, my mind wandering across and away from the plate.
      Conversely, if I make a sauce (Generally a Ratatouille style tomato creation) then the pasta itself is lost, the filling utterly unrecognisable. They are, generally, little more than a suspiciously coloured sludge.

      On Friday, whilst in London, I found myself face to face with a promoter handing out free packets of Giovanni Rana Pasta. I'm the kinda lady that will take anything thats free, on principle. Its what student life does to you. So I was filled with great excitement to recieve not just a tester, but an entire pack to take home with me.

      I decided to take the opportunity to have an experiment and try and create a way of serving the troublesome tortellini that didn't leave a sour (yet oh so bland) taste in my mouth.

      And so...

      I served the Ricotta and Spinach Tortelloni (apparently) on a bed of mashed butternut squash, seasoned with pepper. I don't add butter as I like my squash to taste absolutely light and fresh. I then placed a thin layer of fresh spinach over the mash. I briefly boiled the tortelloni with shredded spinach and tossed it together before placing on the plate.
      Finally, I sprinkled with powdered garlic and drizzled with chili oil. (Chili oil goes beautifully with both pasta and butternut squash.)
      The heat from the pasta above it and the squash below slightly wilted the layer of fresh spinach sandwiched in the middle.

      I have to say this recipe was kind of win. It tasted super fresh and light and was delicate enough to not overwhelm the pasta, which added a bit of substance to the vegetables. Next time, I'll try it with my own, home made tortellini and the world will be my oyster.


      Sunday, 6 June 2010

      Focus on: Borough Market

      Borough Market is without question not only one of my favourite places in London, it is easily one of my favourite places to be anywhere. As a lover of good quality produce, it fills me with such open mouthed joy and excitement I often have to remind myself to breathe.

      For those unfamiliar, the market is a vast sprawling, and often overcrowded affair located under the arches of London Bridge. Housing hundreds of stalls, it sells a variety of food and drink from organic vegetables, cider and game to Italian mozzarella, home made pesto and hundreds of varieties of chutneys. Stalls also provide lunch options in the form of world street food such as Ostrich burgers and Boreks or treats including smoothies, biscuits and cakes.

      They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, so if that hasn’t yet convinced you…

      The lovely gentleman at deGustibus

      Tuna. The most pornographic of foods.

      The Owls, by The Cinammon Tree

      LouLovesFood Recommends:

      Balsamic Glazes- Borough market stocks a massive variety of oils and vinegars, but I would particularly recommend The Olive Mill, for their range of sticky and sweet fruity balsamic glazes- Orange or Fig in particular.

      Muesli- Mini Magoo is a great company selling breakfast mixes to cater for a variety of tastes and intolerances. Their Ginger Granuesli is uber tasty!

      Pate- I partially attribute the breaking of my mushroom abstinence to the Mushroom Pate made by Pate Moi. A good alternative for vegetarians, it is beautifully creamy and rich and full of flavour.

      Pesto: Borough Market is a great place to stock up on Pesto, and I always make it my mission to pick out my favourite. This time, I sided with La Tua Pasta. The beautiful Italians that work there aren’t all that bad either…

      Cakes and Biscuits: This is almost impossible to decide, with the plethora of pastries and cakes on offer. Though Flour Power are always popular for their huge brownies, and Artisan make a gorgeous looking cheesecake, I went with the little company The Cinammon Tree for their simple but adorably cute Owl biscuits and Indian Elephant Cookies.

      Thankyou to the kind people who allowed me to lurk around their stalls and permitted me to take photos, especially to the good people at deGustibus, Artisan, The Olive Mill, The Cinammon Tree and Une Normande et Londres.