Thursday, 31 October 2013

Happy Halloween! 20% Off All Advertising On Rachel Phipps Halloween Weekend + Spicy Toasted Pumpkin Seed Recipe

Happy Halloween! To celebrate this frightfully fantastic weekend, aside from making up a big plate of Bloody Axeman Snacks, some Jelly Pumpkins and a big bowl of Nigella Lawson's Slime Soup I've decided to celebrate by offering 20% off of all advertising spots this Halloween weekend on Rachel Phipps. You can either take out a space in the sidebar, or in one of my 'Weekly Love' posts by using the code FRIGHTNIGHT on my checkout page.
DSC_1167 Also, for the final instalment of this years Halloween recipe series I wanted to share with those of you who have not carved your pumpkins yet a quick recipe for what to do with the leftover pumpkin seeds you'd otherwise be throwing away. Spicy and toasted, as well as being good for you they make a great nibble to go with drinks or sprinkled on top of salads or Autumn soups. As I type this I's enjoying a good handful sprinkled on top of a big, steaming bowl of my Mothers homemade Roasted Pepper Soup.

  • The seeds from a small to medium pumpkin
  • 1/2 tbsp Soy Sauce 
  • 1/2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Hot Chilli Powder

Pre-heat the oven to about 200 degrees (400 degrees fahrenheit). Rinse under cold water and dry on kitchen towel the pumpkin seeds. Mix the soy, oil and spices together in a small bowl to form a paste and add the dried seeds. Mix well until they are all well coated. Cover a baking sheet with non stick baking parchment and spread the seeds over the sheet until they are no longer clumped together. Toast until golden and dry, watching the spices don't burn and turning around with a spatula every few minutes, for about 20 minutes to half an hour. Once cool store in an air tight tub.

What is everyone dressing up as this evening, and what are your plans? For me things are going to be pretty low key, at home with my parents perhaps with some cocktails and lighting the pumpkin (why is it I seem incapable of carving a scary pumpkin, my vampire pumpkins always turn out cute?) as we are up bright and early tomorrow off to our French home. On that note, if you do buy advertising after today remember as I am away until next Thursday lunch time, any ads purchased won't be approved until then. 

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Halloween Treats: Bloody Axeman Snacks

To follow up from my Miniature Jelly Pumpkins post, the other Halloween treat I remember from my childhood; Axeman Snacks. Now, I want to preface this recipe with a disclaimer. Now, usually I'm about 99% natural, additive free and homemade, but Halloween is my exception, one of the reasons I say 99% rather than 100%. While for this recipe you can make your own ketchup (though I do prefer Heinz), and make your own hot dog rolls, there is no avoiding the totally terrible hot dog sausages that you simply have to use to make this recipe work. Anyone who has ever been in any fast food joint in California that is not In-N-Out Burger will tell you, hot dogs are one of my (terrible) vices. They are glorious even if I don't know what is in them. So sue me.
Honestly, I was really proud of how these turned out as I literally have not made these since my parents helped me put them together as a kid. I swear they look even more like bloody fingers than they did back then. I think it is all about finding the right size and colour hot dog sausages is the key. These are Waitrose's own brand.

  • 6 Frankfurter Sausages (I think Waitrose's own brand are the best)
  • 6 Soft Finger Rolls
  • 2 Large Radishes
  • Tomato Ketchup

Cook the hot dog sausages as per the manufacturers instructions. Meanwhile, using the handle of a wooden spoon make a hole down the middle of each soft roll, leaving the bottom sealed. Slice the radishes into thick slices and cut into triangles, with a sharp tip and one end and a strip of skin at the top to make the fingernails. Cut beds out of the top of the sausages with a sharp knife for the fingernails and push them into the sausage, sharp end first. I think the above photo makes it pretty self explanatory. Squeeze ketchup in lieu of blood into the hole in each roll and insert a 'finger'. Enjoy! 

So, I think my Pea & Mozzarella soup that is actually adapted from one of Nigella Lawson's Halloween recipes 'Slime Soup' would make a great starter, and for your final ghoolish dessert you can make my Miniature Jelly Pumpkins. Check back on Wednesday for an idea for using up the seeds from your pumpkin carving to make some delicious pre-meal drinks nibbles. 

Monday, 28 October 2013

Halloween Treats: Miniature Jelly Pumpkins

While I was school age, I only ever hosted two Halloween parties. The most recent, age 17 in my final year of school I can remember. We drunk an awful lot, we had Halloween themed cupcakes I'd made and a massive vat of Nigella Lawson's simply divine Slime Soup. There was an incident involving a Spiderman costume, my friend Jeet and the roof of his car, and hilariously a photo of my friend Rachel, a school prefect passed out slumped across the hall table at my parents house, covered in fake blood and with lots of empty wine bottles at her feet that later made it back to our housemistress once we'd got back to school. I was much younger for my first Halloween party; I dressed as a witch and it was a much more sedate affair, mostly focused on the food. There are two dishes I hope to share with you I remember vividly from that party that became firm Halloween favourites, that originally came from a children's book that has since been lost. 
This post is more of an idea than a recipe, but I think it is a really good one so I just had to share it. Buy the biggest oranges you can find (I've used Waitrose Jumbo Oranges here), scoop out the middles and keep the tops as you would a pumpkin and carve with a very small, very sharp knife, again as you would a pumpkin. Fill with brightly coloured, mashed up jelly and put the lids back on. Enjoy as a totally awesome Halloween dessert for kids or adults (vodka jelly anyone?) alike. Stay tuned tomorrow for another one of my favourite spooky treats!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Places To Eat In London: Caravan, King's Cross

In my first year living in London, before America happened Sherin and I had an absolutely amazing girl date one afternoon. We started our Sunday brunching in Notting Hill, doing Portobello Road Market. We took the bus and had cupcakes at The Primrose Bakery in Primrose Hill and walked back to the tube station though Regents Park. Our original Sunday brunch plan last month was to try out a place in Hoxton and then head to Columbia Road Flower Market, but as the Overground was not running that weekend we decided to divert to King's Cross. But then we had no idea what to do with the rest of our day, so the idea came up to do the whole thing again, this time walking through Regents Park, which is simply beautiful in Autumn to The Primrose Bakery, then back down Marylebone High Street where I found a copy of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking in Oxfam for £3, and then ending up in the Selfridges Christmas Shop. But this post is really about our amazing brunch that sustained us. For more pictures of our lazy Sunday, you can head over to my Instagram feed!

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Places To Eat In London: Recipease, Notting Hill [Now Closed]

I know it seems like I'm just running around London reviewing just restaurants owned by Jamie Oliver recently, but I promise you that it is not intentional. Okay, maybe it is a little bit intentional, because from Union Jacks to Barbecoa I've had fantastic meals, there their just happen to be great places to eat in locations I've been meeting up with people. However, if you'll put up with me banging on about his fantastic restaurants for another blog post, I just need to tell you about a recent Sunday morning brunch trip to the Notting Hill branch of Recipease, because Recipease is not only a great brunch spot with the ultimate hang over cure (more on that in a moment), but it is a street corner in my favourite part of London which embodies everything I believe in about good food and good cooking. And the Bloody Mary's are fantastic. 

Monday, 21 October 2013

Borough Market Challenge #1: Mussels with Chilli & Samphire

For the first time since I started my 'Student Suppers' column over two years ago, I want to introduce you today to a new column here on Rachel Phipps: 'Borough Market Challenge'. The premise is simple. Each morning I visit London's famous Borough Market and I have a free afternoon I'm going to buy a little of what looks good, what is seasonal or what I just fancy and put together something fresh and original once I get home. I love that most of my recipes on this site are basic, bright and simple, and I want to keep in with that tradition. However, in trying to make things cheaper, or easier or by sticking to my blogging schedule I know sometimes the seasons pass me by. I also need to be challenged to stretch my cooking skills and learn to think outside the box more. 
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While there was so much beautiful and fresh produce practically everywhere, and I was quite tempted by some of the mental mushrooms and the start of the game season, I always gravitate towards fish counters. I'm a seafood fiend. I just thought there was no way I could not start this column off with something from the ocean, so after I'd picked up the fruit and vegetables on my weekly shopping list, and some spices I needed from Spice Mountain I started browsing the fish counters. Just look at these incredible mackerel!  
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Anyone who has read this blog for more than a month or two will know that mussels are my all time favourite food; especially when I found wild not rope grown, it was really a forgone conclusion. The thing was, up until Friday when I put this dish together I had never actually cooked mussels in my life, and the preparation was worrying me a bit. But really, did you know how stupidly easy it is? There is honestly no reason to be worried about it. The Kitchn and Waitrose have two great online guides to read before getting started. 
Samphire is a relatively new ingredient to both my personal tastes and repertoire; I'd only cooked it once before. You can get it at the Waitrose fish counter, but it is rather pricy so I'd recommend you try to pick it up at markets. It has a very strong, distinct, salty and sometimes slightly bitter taste, and it really is a flavour you need to acquire. I was quite worried working my way the market about using some samphire with my mussels because of the strong taste. What else was I going to use? I was sure I did not need any other herbs or really to salt the broth because of it, but my overwhelming urge to use it put my idea of steaming the mussels with halve cherry tomatoes out the window somewhat. I did not want to add chilli as another bold flavour profile just to add colour, but in the end it turns out it really works. Don't get me wrong, I think the combination of chilli, mussels and samphire is an acquired taste, but for lovers of all three I think served with a big hunk of fresh, French country style bread it is a real treat that made for a great lunch to kick off my weekend. If you are a samphire first timer, I suggest you just sauté it for a few moments in a pan of very hot butter and serve alongside a piece of grilled salmon to get a taste for it. 

  • 1 Portion (about 600g) Fresh Mussels 
  • 1 Handful Samphire
  • 1/2 Large Red Chilli, roughly chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • 1 Echalion Shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, finelly chopped
  • Dry White Wine

Clean and debeard the mussels (see above) and discard any that are broken or won't close when tapped. Sweat the shallot and garlic in a small glug of olive oil in a saucepan with a lid over a medium heat until the onions are translucent. Sweating is basically softening without allowing for browning, done over a lower heat with the lid on to create steam. Add the chilli and cook for a few minutes more until the chilli has softened slightly. Add a dash of wine to the pan enough to create steam, but not much more. Add the samphire and mussels and put the lid on for about 5 minutes until the mussels have steamed open. Serve with a hunk of bread, discarding any mussels that have not opened during cooking. Also, please refer to my guide on How To Eat Mussels, don't just eat them with a fork! 

I hope you've enjoyed my first Borough Market challenge, I'd love to hear your thoughts on my new column, and of course these mussels if you decide to try them. I think the combination of mussels and samphire work, but I'd love your thoughts on the matter. 

Friday, 18 October 2013

Weekly Love: Week 115

Wow a lot has happened since I last wrote a Weekly Love intro. I've been working on so many exciting projects that should be coming up in the next few months for you all. I've also filmed my first ever cooking video in collaboration with the team at Voucher Codes, and I simply can't wait to get the footage! With that, other food events (see below), and some politics and other business things too, my first week was mental, so this week I've just been trying to spend some time in my flat, catching up with university work and getting really stuck into my dissertation research. On that track, I'm going to be spending a lot of time in the research library of The Globe Theatre next week, so to go food recommendations on Southbank would be much appreciated! 
1. The perfect Sunday brunch at Jamie Oliver's Recipease in Notting Hill. Review to follow, probably on Friday. | 2. Getting ready in black tie for the first time in forever. The dress is pretty old and from L.K. Bennett and the necklace was made by a small independent designer in Villefranche in the South of France. | 3. A little snapshot of my current cookbook rotation including my latest acquisition, Gizzi Erskine's Skinny Weeks & Weekend Feasts, James Morton's Brilliant Bread that I am still obsessed by, One by Florence Knight which I have not made a single thing from that was not delicious yet, The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook which I think has to be my most used cookbook, and The Joy The Baker Cookbook that I still have at the top of my pile a year on. | 4. Spending the afternoon with Costa Coffee trying out some of their up and coming Christmas drinks. Here we have a simply divine raspberry chocolate torte and a Salted Caramel & Cream Latte. All Christmas drinks available November 7th, Hot Spiced Apple with Star Anise & Cinnamon Stick available from next Saturday (26th!) | 5. From the day with Costa, a simply perfectly cooked starter of roasted scallops at Gauthier. | 6. In the studio with voucher codes. I can't wait to share the video with you all!

7. The sun going down after an afternoon lazing around pubs in Richmond. This was the view of the river outside The White Cross, who do an amazing tempura squid. | 8. A decedent warm brownie dessert with raspberry sauce and the most amazing ginger ice cream at another brilliant Richmond pub, The Shaftesbury Arms. I also recommend their Venison & Pork burger. | 9. Relaxing after class with a glass of Sancerre and Waitrose Magazine. | 10. A box with every chocolate sold at Hotel Chocolat, retailing at £350 at their Christmas preview. | 11. A quick rub for chicken thighs made with five different herbs, lots of garlic and fresh chilli. | 12. Words of wisdom on the London Underground.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? London for me this weekend, hanging out at a friends birthday drinks on Saturday, then brunch with one of my best friends in Hoxton on Sunday morning, with plans to meander around to Columbia Road Flower Market afterwards! 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Student Suppers: Pea & Mozzarella Soup

I've actually posted this Pea & Mozzarella soup recipe on this blog before, as one of my original Student Suppers recipes, but because my food photography was so awful back at the beginning, and because it is still one of my firm favourites I felt like it needed a bit of a do over. It is adapted from Nigella Lawson's book Feast where she has it listed as 'Slime Soup' in her Halloween section. It is the perfect Student Supper as it is super cheap, super delicious and super easy. I'm not joking when I say you can have it on the table in 15 minutes.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Places To Eat In London: Barbecoa, St. Paul's

My first Sunday brunch living back in London: two people who used to live in Los Angeles chatting about the city sharing American food in the (otherwise scarily quiet) Square Mile in a restaurant that bears the name of one of Britain's most famous chefs. Talk about mixed cultures. I have learnt to expect great things from Jamie Oliver's restaurants, and after my meal at Union Jacks I just knew I'd enjoy my breakfast. However, I think it is the decor combined with the fantastic views of St. Paul's that make Barbecoa such a special spot. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

What To Do With Leftover Asian Flavours: Fresh Ginger Peel & Lemongrass Tea (My Personal Cold Medicine)

I have Fridays off, and on my first Friday back at university you'd have found me with first the first cold I'd experienced in over two years, and after a trip to Waitrose (In London the time when so many things in store are reduced is on a Friday morning) spending the afternoon in the kitchen. The reason my afternoon cooking and my cold were related, because my irritation at how much my food shop had cost combined with my still sore throat lead to the discovery of my new personal cold medicine; Fresh Ginger Peel & Lemongrass Tea. 

Monday, 7 October 2013

Street Feast Europe #dalstonyard: Soft Shell Crab Tacos, Vanilla, Clove & Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream & Big Apple Hot Dogs

The last Sunday in September found my old school friend Eddie and I hanging out in a car park just down the street from Dalston Junction. All through the latter part of the year I spent in Los Angeles, and over the Summer while I was in the countryside without a base in London I lamented my missing out on Street Feast London and associated street food events where all the cities best vendors gathered at the temporary spot that had been christened Dalston Yard. It seems the moment I got my keys for my new flat in the city the event was over until they found a new venue (still a work in progress). So, when I heard about Street Food Europe, where not only were some of the best British street food vendors going to be gathering, but some from around Europe too I knew I just had to get tickets for my first London street food pop up experience.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Weekly Love: Week 114

It's that time again when I use part of the opening to my 'Weekly Love' post to wax lyrical about a chef. This week (again) I want to tell everyone about Anthony Bourdain. Yes, everyone should go out, buy and read his book Kitchen Confidential, but this week I want to talk about his 1/4 foodie and 3/4 journalistic travel documentary series for CNN, Parts Unknown (again). Yes, following on from my last endorsement for his episode on Los Angeles' Koreatown (and home to one of my favourite restaurants in the world, Soot Bull Jeep) there is another episode I think you need to see that kicks off Season 2: Jerusalem. Not only does he eat some pretty amazing food and does Yotam Ottolenghi make a cameo, but he reminds us all of the human aspect behind some of the fighting and horrors we see so often on the news they all blur into one. 
1. Going around with (and at some moments helping give the tours) new Freshers on tours of the Houses of Parliament. I had not really been around the whole complex (House of Commons, House of Lords etc.) since I was about 17, so it was a lot of fun and a real blast from the past. | 2. More on this on Monday, but this incredible ice cream creation from Ginger's Comfort Emporium has to be one of the best things I've eaten this month, and has become my most popular picture on Instagram already. | 3. Also more on this on Monday, an absolutely incredible Soft Shell Crab Taco at Street Feast Europe in #dalstonyard. | 4. Saturday brunch at Lantana in Fitzrovia. This is the BERT; sourdough with bacon, tomato, rocket, aioli and a wonderfully fried egg. I also recommend the Virgin Mary's. They're incredible, but they are so spicy they will wake you up/ blow your head off. | 5. The obligatory flower shot outside Liberty. | 6. Falling back on one of my brunch favourites, Green Eggs & Ham.

All Summer while I was staying down in Kent I was working on lots of brand new original recipes for various projects. As quite a few of them have been for specific things, I have not been able to share them with you on the blog, but one I can share with you today is a biscuit I created for Laura Ashley which if I may say so myself I'm rather proud of. So, if you head over to the Laura Ashley blog, you'll find my recipe for Lemon and Lavender Shortbread Biscuits. Let me know what you think of them, and hopefully making a batch will prolong Summer!
7. Testing out Florence Knight's new book One by making her Panzanella. It was fantastic so I can't wait to cook more from the book, and I also think this is the only viable lunch option to use up the stale end of a homemade loaf. | 8. If you have not already read my review of Whyte & Brown, head over there now. It is one of my new favourite London food spots. | 9. The stunning view of St. Paul's out of the glass side of Barbecoa. Such a great spot, look out for my brunch review on Friday. | 10. Another of London's iconic buildings I love, Liberty in the early evening. Taken on a different day to the above flower shot. | 11. My first Big Apple Hot Dog in simply eons. | 12. A great way to use up the ends of peppers, red onions, courgettes etc. in your fridge is to roast them for about 30-40 minutes at 200 with some halved garlic cloves and extra virgin olive oil makes the most incredible roast vegetables, fantastic cold for speedy lunches.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I'm down on the farm at the moment for the weekend, spending some time in the kitchen, with my family and hopefully fitting in a good few country walks. 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

How To Make Your Own Mayonnaise

Did you know how stupidly easy it is to make your own mayonnaise, and by extension, aioli? I'd always read recipes for it that sounded really difficult by hand, or involved a food processor which therefore leads to a lot of washing up, and a lot of bother when you can just get mayonnaise out of a jar. My finding out why shop bought mayo is white while the homemade stuff in France I have is yellow (the processing involves a centrifuge) and a crash crash in making mayo in my wonderfully new ceramic Cole & Mason Pestle & Mortar that John Lewis were kind enough to give me and you are going to have to put up with me banging on about for quite some time with wonderfully fun chef Rachel Green led to me deciding I'd me making my own in future. 
Just as a side note before we get onto more about the eggy, gloopy stuff. You might notice something a bit different about these photos; welcome to the first recipe shot in my new London kitchen. Did you know, you've never actually seen a recipe from the last two years since my food photography became at least passable that I've shot in an actual kitchen before? Everything I shoot in the Countryside is either on one of the two patio tables, the patio floor or a big slate tile perched on one of the aforementioned surfaces. Or sometimes in the conservatory if it is pouring it down with Great British rain. In Los Angeles, almost everything without fail was shot on the patio table I showed you at the end of this pasta sauce recipe post. Because of lighting constraints only one recipe was ever shot on the floor, and one on the dinning table as I ended up using an Instagram shot. Even in France I use one of the slate floors, or occasionally shoot the food right at the table as we eat it. All this is because every kitchen I have ever used has been dreadful for photography. They are all poorly lit, and in the case of the LA kitchen, have a simply putrid coloured granite work surface. The natural light outside is brilliant for food photography, as well as you learn the right times of day in what seasons to shoot. The problem is, I live on the third or fourth floor (the stairs are so many they confuse me so I have not quite worked it out yet!) in East London. I no longer have the outside space to shoot, so, with much playing around with my camera, a mug and dissembling our kitchen while my flatmates were out, I found the perfect corner, usually under the microwave to shoot. You better get used to this stretch of granite. 
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Okay, so back to mayonnaise. There are recipes with set measurements of different ingredients to make mayonnaise, but I think they are pointless. Homemade mayonnaise is great because it can so easily be personalised. This is what you will need though: 

  • 2-3 Egg Yolks (this is great to make with leftovers from meringues) 
  • Olive or Rapeseed Oil
  • Lemon Juice or White Wine Vinegar
  • Sea Salt
  • Smooth French Dijon Mustard 

In a pestle and mortar, break up your egg yolks. Add a small splash of oil and mix vigorously until it has vanished and the mixture is smooth. You need to keep on adding oil like this, little bit by little bit and mixing in until smooth until the mixture has thickened and is a little gloopy and glossy, like the mayonnaise you're used to, but yellow. If you add too much oil at once your mixture may split, so while it seems like a lot of elbow grease, you need to keep on going at a slow and steady pace until you mixture is just a little ticker than you'd like. The acid you need to add next will thin it out a little again. 

Now you need to season to taste, using acid (I used a squeeze of fresh lemon here, but I prefer White Wine Vinegar, but I don't have any in my new flat yet), sea salt and tiny amounts of mustard. I say tiny amounts, because you don't want the mustard flavour to overpower. Usually I use Maille Dijon Mustard from France (though you can get the brand in England easily), but at the moment I have mustard decanted from massive vats at the wholesalers into old Bonne Maman jars which is so spicy it will blow your head off. This has taught me that different mustards have different heats, which is why you need to season with caution. As with any type of seasoning and flavouring, you can always add more flavour but you can't take it away. 
Enjoy on fresh bread, as part of a traditional potato salad or, how I am used to having homemade mayonnaise, as a dip for fresh prawns and seafood. You can use this same recipe to make aioli by crushing a little salt and a small garlic clove first before adding the egg and the oil. In my aioli, and in my mayo if I am making it to be paired with seafood I also like to add a little chopped fresh dill into the mix at the end to make things more interesting. 

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Places To Eat In London: Whyte & Brown, Carnaby Street

What came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, it does not really matter at Whyte & Brown, a new(ish) restaurant on Kingsley Court just of of Carnaby Street whose menu is dedicated to the very best Free Range British chicken and eggs; they feature as part of practically every item on the menu. You know when a meal is so good that it makes you start to forget the last meal that you ate out that you really, really enjoyed? While they are both very different so I don't really want to compare them, Monday night's dinner at Whyte & Brown has made me shut up about raving about Lima in Fitzrovia for at least a few days, and they've just won a Michelin star. Also, before I get onto the food, I want to give a shout out to Ade, one half of one of my favourite restaurant blogs We Love Food, It's All We Eat who reviewed Whyte & Brown just over a week ago, and is therefore responsible for my discovering such a great restaurant, and the fact I chose to kick this blog post off with the chicken or the egg question in the first place! (Also, apologies about some of the photos. I'm working with a mix of camera and iPhone shots here, because my camera has been messing me around a bit recently. I'm hoping it is something that can be fixed because it is about 5 years old.)