Wednesday, 27 February 2013


Well my one at least.

I find avocado to be very spreadable when puréed, so its a healthy yet tasty alternative for butter. Often used in Mexican culture, guacamole is traditionally made by mashing avocado and mixing it with: pepper, salt, citrus juice, chopped tomato, sliced chilli and diced onion.

However my recipe is a little different, perhaps a slightly anglicised(?) one?

1 avocado
freshly cracked pepper
drizzle of olive oil
2 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

Mash the avocado into a smooth consistency with a few lumps.
Mix in the olive oil, and pepper.
Then mix in the worcestershire sauce.
Add the tomatoes, stir in, and voila!

Serve with crisped prosciutto or baked salmon.

Alternatively, you could,
replace the worcestershire sauce with some tequila
add lime juice
add chilli

Baked salmon

Salmon is an easy fish to cook well, and this recipe shows one of the easiest ways.

2 fillets of salmon
herbs- dill, oregano, etc

Preheat an oven to 180C.
Place the salmon fillets on separate pieces on tin foil.
Sprinkle herbs on the salmon fillets, and top with thin slices of butter.
Wrap the tinfoil up loosely into a parcel and put into the oven for 20 minutes.

In the meantime put a pan on a medium heat and gently toast the pinenuts. When the pinenuts are golden brown, take out of the pan or they will continue cooking.

Unrap the cooked salmon and serve with the pinenuts, and some fresh egg noodles.

You could...
instead of using butter, top the salmon with basil pesto and toasted pieces of flour tortilla
replace the butter with a drizzle of white wine
add sprigs of rosemary

Many people think that salmon cooked this way should be eaten straight from the oven, but I think there is often more flavour in the salmon when it is cold.

Friday, 22 February 2013

No.193 (Tap Coffee) - Wardour Street

This small independent chain of three shops all located W1 shows how coffee should be...
Walking in to No.193 Wardour Street, there are plain wooden benches, and high stools for adults who want to feel like children with legs dangling above the floor. Looking around, all you can see are hipsters and advertising types in beanie hats and checked coaks sipping their 2-shot macchiatos.
A latte and an orangina comes to £4.20, an acceptable price for the notoriously extortionate West End. The latte is brought to your table by the 20-something pierced good looking barista in a small glass (as it should be). Spotting the heart on the top of the coffee does make you think you might get the barista's number, but then you realise everyone else has one too.
The latte is smooth and creamy, and a good choice amongst the other drinks offered. Cakes are available (around £2.50), as well as sandwiches. The orangina tastes like orangine.
The constant grinding of coffee ensures it is never silent, and adds to the delicious aroma. With a lack of women, the crowd is surprisingly tame, entertained by the modern art on the walls, and the coffee machine at the end.
Although it is a chain (albeit a small one), the bathroom shows exactly what they think of mainstream coffee shops... the toilet brush holder is a Starbucks mug.
Worth another visit? Definitely, but the seats are not the most comfortable...
Find Tap on twitter, or at their website.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Poached pears*

Poached pears are a surprisingly quick dessert. The softer the pear, the quicker it will poach and the less sweetness it needs.

You can poach pears in many liquids, a sweet dessert wine being one of them (and my favourite too!)Alternatively, you could use white wine, juice, or a syrup- perhaos spiced with cinammon or cardammon.

one-two pears per person, peeled  cored
a bottle of sweet wine, like muscat
a few star aniseed
some cardammon pods
a cinnammon stick
seeds of a vanilla pod

In a medium sized saucepan over a low heat, add the liquid and the spices, and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
Then add the pears which should be covered by liquid. If not, add more wine, or water to dilute it. You could add pear juice to intensify the flavour, but only fresh and definitely not a juice drink.
Leave the pears on a low-medium heat for about 20 minutes (for a medium sized pear), or until the pears can be cut through easily.
Remove the pears and leave the liquid on a medium heat to reduce into more of a syrup.

Serve the pears hot and drizzled in the syrup, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

if you use water, you could use pear stock: leaving the pear skins in freshly boiled water to infuse.
you could poach in milk.
or cider?
use another hardish fruit like an apple.

*thanks Grandma!

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Fabrica (E8)

Espresso (£2.40 I think)

Brownie (£2.50)
Arrving at Dalston Junction I didn't exactly have a plan of where I was going, so finding Fabrica in Kingsland Road was a pleasant surprise.

Walking in you're greeted with heat (useful in Winter), and a selection of European languages. At the bar - which is more of a breakfast bar than a wine bar - there are different cakes and pastries ranging from £2 to £3.50. Along the bare-bricked walls there are bottles of Fentiman's rose lemonade and coca-cola lined up on one side, and pieces of art on the other.

Savoury foods like salads and sandwiches are available to feast on. Made with artisan bread, you can watch the huge legs of pork being sliced for you.

The cosy atmosphere is encouraged with the amount of tables and chairs crowded into the small space. If you are lucky enough to get a squishy armchair, pat yourself on the back, but otherwise, you run the risk of breaking a creaky and weak wooden chair. There's a sense of community like in Le Pain Quotidien as there are a couple of tables there to be shared.

Aside from the safety hazards of the rough wooden tables aching to give the customers splinters, the lack of personal space, and the smell of oil by the bathrooms, Fabrica is one of those cute places worth going into to have a (quick) coffee, and reading a few of the weekend newspapers.

Coffee-wise it's quite good, but doesn't reach the standard of very good, as it's quite watery and a little cold. On the brownie side of things, chocolatey but dry, and a little small to cost £2.50.

Would I go there again? Hmm, there are better places, but I haven't seen any better ones round here. Yet.

Fabrica is near Dalston Junction station, which can be reached by Overground.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


What is the difference between a pancake and a crêpe?
Crêpes are made from a thin batter and are light, whereas pancakes are thicker and fluffier. The size of a pancake is usually around half that of a crêpe.

What is the difference between an American pancake and an English pancake?
American pancakes having a raising agent like baking powder, and often use buttermilk instead of milk. Buttermilk can be made easily by squeezing some lemon into milk 10 minutes before you need to use it, and leaving it to curdle.

American pancakes
150g self-raising flour
a teaspoon of baking powder
125ml milk
one egg - I like to separate and whisk the white to give more lift.
olive oil or a few tablespoons of melted butter
a few teaspoons of demerera sugar depending on whether you're making sweet or savoury pancakes

Sift the dry ingredients together, and then whisk in with the rest of the ingredients.
On a medium heat, melt a blob of salted butter in a pan.
Pour in the liquid and don't touch until the pancake has solidified and begins to bubble. As American pancakes are small, you can make several in the pan at the same time. I tend to make mine between 7 and 14 cm diameter.
Flip the pancake and leave until golden.
Stack high and serve.

Add blueberries or raspberries into the pancake mixture.
Serve the traditional way with crispy streaky bacon and maple syrup or golden syrup.
Fill with cheese, ham and spinach  and pine nuts, and roll to make a roulade.
Top with an egg or melted gruyere.

200ml milk - I find that full-fat holds a better texture
125g plain flour, sifted
2 eggs - and a bit of eggshell if you're like me!

salted butter

Blend all the ingredients together; this is best done adding the flour a little at a time.
Heat a crêpe pan (basically a normal pan with a thick base and low sides) until it starts steaming.
Turn the pan down to medium heat, and melt butter in the pan, swirling it around.
Pour in some of the mixture and leave until the edges curl and you can see steam. As long as you tilt the pan whilst pouring the mixture in, you will have a thin and evenly spread crêpe.
Flip the crêpe and leave until it turns golden.
As soon as it is ready, take off the heat, put in the filling and roll.

I used salted butter as brings out the flavour of the crêpe.
Putting sugar in the butter before putting the crêpe mixture in it will give the crêpe a caramelised taste.
When all the crêpes have been made, you could roll them up, put them in a lined baking tray, cover with custard and bake until the custard sets- a bit like a bread and butter pudding.
Alternatively, you could make Cpes Suzette.