Sunday, January 30, 2011

I ♥ La Fromagerie.

Walk through shelves piled high with jars of preserves, freshly baked cakes and large and bountiful vegetables. Tucked away around the corner, past the table of chocolate, the fridge of homemade yogurt, and through the sliding glass door, towers cheese from Totnes to Toulouse . Taste, smell and sale. The cold can be stood for a small while, but the men in white coats bear it well. Out of the sliding doors, one last peek, and back past the chocolates to the long wooden tables amongst pigeon holes with wine.

Rumble. Time for breakfast. True delight.

Jumbo Porridge with Wild Winter Berry Compote


"Bacon" Sandwich with Pancetta and Homemade Ketchup.

Not forgetting the freshly churned farm butter.

Nothing better.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


I've always said that if there were one cuisine I'd rather not eat over here it would be Chinese. Doesn't sit well in the stomach. Too greasy, too heavy, too fried. The translucent slime that coats chicken and beef has always made me want to eat my chopsticks instead.

Last week, I had a change of heart. Staring ignorantly at a seven-column menu outside a heaving restaurant on Gerrard St, I was persuaded inside by my hungry other and a lovely, however persistent, front-of-house. He ordered the usual Chicken Cashew and Chow Mein; I ummed and ahhed and, being menu-struck, went for a simple Won Ton Soup and Bok Choi with Oyster Sauce.

The best Chinese I've ever had. Not greasy, not heavy, not fried. No shiny sheen.

So, I've stocked up on Won Ton wrappers and pork mince and made myself enough beautiful little pork dumplings to last a month.

And maybe one day I'll venture for something else on the menu. 可口. Delicious.


serves 4 (5 approx. dumplings each)
2oog pork mince
6 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
1tbsp rice wine
1tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp oyster sauce
25g bamboo shoots, finely chopped
20 won ton wrappers (available fresh from most oriental supermarkets)

1 ltr organic chicken stock
2 spring onions, sliced
2 large pak choi
tbsp soy sauce

Mix together the pork, spring onions, ginger, rice wine, soy sauce, oyster sauce and bamboo shoots in a large bowl. Leave to rest while you heat the chicken stock in a large pan.

Lay out the won ton pastry wrappers one by one, covering the rest with a damp cloth so the wrappers don't dry out. Place a teaspoonful of the pork into the centre of the wrapper. Fold in half, wetting the further edge with water to stick the pastry. Fold in the sides and press down with your fingers so the pork is held in its own pocket.

Bring the stock to the boil. Add the white stems of the pak choi and gently drop in the dumplings. Turn the stock to a simmer for about 5 minutes, adding the onions and green pak choi leaves at the last minute.

Serve into bowls, adding a splash of soy sauce. Eat with chop sticks and a spoon. Beware of dribbly nose and soupy chin, but otherwise slurp away. Freeze any excess dumplings for last minute dinner parties, man-flu, normal flu or desperate midnight feasts.


one glorious mug of creamy hot chocolate for a lazy afternoon

10g good milk chocolate, grated
10g dark chocolate with 70% cocoa solids, grated
1 1/2 tbsps cocoa powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg
pinch ground cinnamon
300ml milk

Warm favourite mug with boiling water. Mix all ingredients together in a saucepan, stirring over a medium heat. Simmer but do not boil. Hot water out, hot chocolate in.

Monday, January 3, 2011


Eat with eggs, with cheese, with apples and pears, fried with bacon, paired with braised meat and, best of all, on its own. I present to you the most versatile and comforting of winter companions: walnut polenta.


serves 2

100g polenta (instant polenta is great for a quick fix)
400ml water
1tsp salt
50g fresh walnuts, chopped

In a large saucepan, bring the water to the boil. Add the salt and stir. Sprinkle the polenta grains into the boiling water and stir with a wooden spoon. Turn down the heat to a simmer and gently stir. Polenta thickens with heat - like risotto - so keep adding water to loosen it. Repeat this process for up to an hour (this is unless you're using instant polenta when it will be cooked in just a few minutes).

When cooked, mix in the walnuts. They will still have a crunch, but using fresh walnuts will give a softer texture.

Spoon the polenta onto a plate, bowl or chopping board. As it cools, the polenta will firm up and be easy to slice for serving with whatever you fancy.

For the best polenta have it plain; warm up a knob of salted butter, pour over and season. Or dress with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and garnish with basil leaves.

Bloomin' delicious.