Spaghetti Il Nero di Sepia - with sea bream, Indonesian tiger prawns and black garlic

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

I've been looking for a bulb of black garlic since visiting Ferdie's Food Lab at the end of last year, and sampling Simon's prawns with fermented garlic. It's sweet, sticky, and unlike anything else you will taste (although it is slightly reminiscent of blackened, burnt onions, but much much sweeter and without the bitterness).

I finally managed to track it down and paired it with spaghetti Il Nero di Sepia (squid ink spaghetti), which we brought back from Priano last year... in keeping with the black theme.

Sea Bream fillets, giant Indonesian tiger prawns (absolute beasts), thinly sliced radish and plenty of lemon to add a sharp tang to the sticky sweetness of the garlic...

Columbia Road Flower Market...

Monday, 13 February 2012

I've lived in London for nearly seven years now but only made it to Columbia Road Flower Market recently. Bustling flower stalls, pots and plants stacked head high, flower sellers shouting bargains at you as you walk past. It's crazy, busy, noisy and vibrant.

There's also some great foodie finds. Fresh oysters shucked as you wait, french cheeses, pork rillettes,  croque monsieur, chocolate brownies, natural wines...

Look out for the friendly faces demanding to be fed... classic puppy eyes. We weren't allowed to share our charcuterie or pork rillette with him though...

There's a Lily Vanilli cafe too, tucked away on Ezra Street behind the market - sadly they serve their coffee in paper cups but still, it's a great spot to stop and take a break from the madness of Columbia Road (and warm up). Well worth a visit to East London...

Confit duck salad, with tiny tangerines, pink striped beetroot and radish

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Whenever I go to France, I always bring a tin of Confit de Canard back with me. Duck legs preserved in duck fat. I try to convince myself that this treat is healthy, as you don't actually cook the legs in fat, but roast them until crispy and falling apart. 

Nonetheless. I do try and serve the confit with something fresh and sharp to counteract the salty richness of the duck.

Today, thinly sliced radish, beautifully striped beetroot and tiny tangerines - super sweet and juicy. A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is all you need.

Crispy salt and pink peppercorn baby squid with lime and schezuan pepper yoghurt

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Sharp lime, tempered with cool yoghurt. Schezuan pepper is it's antithesis. It does something strange to the mouth. Numbs the tongue and tingles the taste buds.

Baby squid, dusted with flour, crushed pink peppercorns and salt. Fried until golden brown.

This didn't stay around for long.

Sea bream with fennel, crispy tentacles and caramelised kumquats

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Kumquats are an unusual fruit. A sharp, lemon-like citrus centre, encased with a distinctly orangey casing that, instead of having a bitter outer rind like an orange, is sweet and fragrant.

Citrus always compliments fish well so, when I spotted these kumquats at Borough market, I thought they would make the perfect pairing with a pan fried fillet of sea bream and sauteed fennel.

The kumquats were caramelised until sticky and the sea bream was topped with crispy garlic tentacles from baby squid.

Bacon and eggs - my way

Monday, 6 February 2012

I love bacon and eggs. It epitomises slow, leisurely Sunday mornings with nothing to do but read the paper and drink coffee.

But sometimes I do like to change things round a bit. These quail's egg nests are simple to make and look great if you've got people round for brunch, or if you fancy a slightly diferent spin on your usual fry up. A stack of crispy, salty smoked bacon, coffee and plenty of ketchup. Sunday heaven.

Pain perdu... french toast with strawberries and Polynesian vanilla

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow is on the ground outside and I need something sweet, indulgent and warm when it's so cold.

French toast made with brioche, free range eggs from Borough market and a Polynesian vanilla pod I brought home from Tahiti ticks all the boxes. Especially with strawberries...

Simply take a loaf of brioche, cut thick slices, and dunk in a mixture of egg, a splash of milk, beans from one vanilla pod and a teaspoon of caster sugar (I use vanilla sugar but regular works just as well).

Just because it looks pretty, I cut out my brioche with a heart cutter... then fry on both sides in butter for about a minute each.

Pan fried scallop with beetroot, lemon and pink peppercorn risotto

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Sometimes, only something pretty for dinner will do. Scallops and beetroot, both naturally sweet, with a sharp tang of lemon, fragrant pink peppercorns and earthy red amaranth leaves.

Not quite filling enough for a hungry husband, but enough to whet the appetite...
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