Friday, 31 January 2014

Recipe Roundup #1: Chimichurri Steak, Chicken Pho & White Chocolate Chunk Lavender Ice Cream

So, it is time for a new feature! Lots of people have been asking me why I don't include many recipes in my 'Weekly Love' roundups every other week. The thing is, and it is really silly, it is because they bypass my system. Since about the beginning of this month I've actually been using a brand new and shiny MacBook Pro (the keys and battery were wearing out on my last one, and having a smaller, lighter laptop with a jazzy pro retina screen is just much more exciting!), and apparently watching me set it up to my exact specifications I've used on every MacBook I've ever had was hilarious. I can be very very OCD at times, and I like things to fit in with my 'system'. My system for creating Weekly Love posts is having the blog post open as a work in progress, adding fun links as I find them and finishing it off with the photos and my introduction the night before.
Recipe Roundup 1 Recipes on the other hand, go right into my Evernote Food clipper so I can get them on my iPad. Different boxes, with me they don't seem to overlap. But then I thought it was a shame that I was finding all of these great recipes on other peoples blogs, but I was never sharing them with you? So, towards the end of each month I'm going to sift through my Evernote (which by the way, is an amazing app and my most used on my iPad, if you like to cook from food blogs and you have an iPad, I seriously suggest you check it out) and share with you some of the recipes I'm most excited about making that I've found on other peoples blogs, and I'll also throw in any that may be a bit older, but I have made over the month and I've particularly enjoyed. It would also be great in the whole spirit of sharing brilliant things that we ourselves have not created, if you all share any links to recipes you've found that look amazing, or that you've made recently in the comments section, so this series can become one seasonal recipe forum every month? Sound good? 

What recipes have you been enjoying this month, and are there any above that you now want to try as much as I do? I think most likely the steak and the salad will be next for me, once I have finished work on another steak recipe I'm currently playing with. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Sunday Afternoons At Columbia Road Flower Market

After a simply delicious brunch at Beagle, Sherin and I ambled along to the famous Columbia Road Flower Market. Surprisingly for both of us, as we are both East London people it was our first visit. Thankfully, while we got drenched on the way back to the station, the rain let off for a while so we could really enjoy the market and take some photos of the beautiful blooms that had us begging for Spring to arrive. Shockingly this post does not actually involve any food. However, even on such a cold and rainy January day the trip really made me feel inspired, so I thought it would be worth posting some snapshots.
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The flower market is open on Columbia Road (the nearest station is Hoxton Overground, do stop and have brunch at Beagle first!) every Sunday from 8am to 2pm. Before the rain started we had a little amble around the surrounding area and it is full of the most amazing independant cafes, bakeries and second hand and antique shops. And of course Lili Vanilli's famous Bakery
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Now, when I asked at New Year what sort of thing people wanted to see more of on the blog one thing that really surprised me was how many people expressed sadness that I don't do outfit posts anymore. It was something that sort of died away when I was in Los Angeles and I really shifted to food blogging. I'm much happier as a food blogger, I think I've really hit on what I enjoy the most, but anyone who follows me on Pinterest can still tell you that I'm always lusting after new cashmere jumpers, sparkly necklaces and lipsticks, just as I did back when I wrote about clothes and makeup. So, while I'm not really going to bring 'outfit posts' back as such, when I'm out and about on my foodie adventures around London (and I'm not snuggled up in a hoodie and jeans, which is what I'll probably be wearing if you run into me while I'm doing recipe development at Borough Market) I might just drop in a little snapshot of what I've been wearing now and then into restaurant reviews and London adventure posts such as this one. 

While I was tempted by the tulips that are really in season at the moment, I was won over by a bunch of bright pink Ranunculus and a large spray of beautiful white and fragrant Freesias. They are my Mothers favourite flower (when I sent her a photo of my bunch she was rather jealous!), and I simply adore the smell. I'm thinking of once the Patchouli Diptyque candle on my desk burns out replacing it with their Freesia one
Columbia Road Outfit
Here I'm wearing mostly old and much loved clothes. The beret is from Parisian brand Kookai and I think I've had it almost 10 years now. It is my favourite hat, and I just want to take this moment to thank the amazing staff at Reverend J W Simpson, a lovely little hidden cocktail bar on Goodge Street for Tweeting me to let me know I'd left it behind so I could go back and fetch it after dinner; I'd have been gutted to have lost it! Silly me. Anyway, the worn and rain soaked boots are also ancient and need a good polish, and unfortunately my trusty old Hobbs handbag is getting a bit worn too and I can't find a good replacement. My cashmere jumper is from J.Crew (in Los Angeles, not London; I can't afford what they want for cashmere on Regents Street!) and my jewellery is an old mix from J.Crew, Kate Spade and Hobbs. The coat as well, really old (yes Mummy, I actually wear the school coat I refused to wear at the time every day!) and pretty much the only thing here that you can still buy are my jeans. They are actually a brand new pair from Levi's. They are my second pair of Levi's, and I use their fantastic Curve ID system and their free in store hemming to make them the right length, which means they are a perfect fit. In case anyone wants to find similar clothes, I've put together a little widget that includes the jeans and some similar items to the rest.

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The section of the Overground where you can reach Columbia Road is suspended next Sunday, but the Sunday after that, pending more work on the line (Londoner problems!) I really recommend you head over, grab a coffee or some breakfast and a beautiful bunch for your desk. Mine are already brighting up my work space as I type and making the room smell simply beautiful. 

Monday, 27 January 2014

Places To Eat In London: Beagle, Hoxton [Now Closed]

Yesterday, dodging the East London rain I had brunch at somewhere I've walked past many times and keep on planning to eat at: Beagle, which is essentially right underneath Hoxton Overground Station. I've been planning on heading over there for months now, but every weekend I'd been going to go there had been planned engineering works on the line from me to there (I love you TFL), so it took me a while to make it over. But do you know what? It was worth the wait, because it turned out to be the best brunch I'd had since since I last dined at The Tasting Kitchen in Los Angeles last June, which is my favourite brunch on the West Coast. 

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Celebrate Rachel Phipps' 5th Birthday In London With Me

So next Saturday (February 1st) this blog is going to turn 5 years old! I'll leave most of the 'I can't believe I've been doing this for so long' speil for then, so don't worry that I'm going to gush too much! However, as it is a Saturday, and I am in London that weekend, I thought it would be nice to have a little, low key reader meet up in the city for anyone who wanted to come along. We'll meet about 4 or 5pm somewhere in the city (I have an awesome place in mind that also has good bar food, I've thought of the important things!) and have a cocktail or few? I know when I asked on Weekly Love a few weeks ago a few of you expressed an interest in coming along, I'll confirm somewhere when I have an idea of how many of us there are going to be. 
If you'd like to come along, just drop me an email at rachel[at] with your name (and it would be great if you also send me a blog link or a Twitter handle so I can know who you are!) just saying you'd like to come along, and on Monday I'll choose somewhere and email around the location to everyone who has emailed me, by Wednesday evening probably the latest, so it would be great if you could let me know you can come by tomorrow night. I do hope some of you can come along and help me celebrate such a landmark, and hopefully make some new blogger friends in the process! 

Friday, 24 January 2014

Weekly Love: Week 121

Let's talk about cookbooks. I was excited by the news that my favourite GBBO contestant from last year Ruby Tandoh has her first book called Crumb coming out in September. I've tried a few bakes from her blog and they were delicious. This reminded me that you've all been asking what books I got for Christmas that you can expect to hear about this year, so I thought I'd leave you with a little list: John Whaite Bakes (I was not a massive fan on the show, but when I met him in September I decided to go look up some of his recipes, which made me want his book), The Kitchen Diaries (volumes 1 & 2, please don't judge that I have not read them yet!), Melt (the ice cream from Ginger's Comfort Emporium was one of the best things I ate last year), Tiny Food Party (Spoon Fork Bacon is one of my favourite food blogs, books from blogs are usually my favourites), How To Eat by Nigella Lawson (because I feel I ought to read the book that made Nigella Nigella) and Rick Stein's India (because I've really got into Indian cooking, and his recipes usually are flawless).
1. That epic cookbook collection. The only ones I've made it through so far are Tiny Food Party which I plan to share with you soon, and The Kitchen Diaries Volume 1 which is already changing the way I instinctively cook. | 2. The flowers outside Liberty's on Tuesday were pretty, pink and made me excited for Spring. | 3. Wandering around my home city of Canterbury last Sunday putting the finishing touches to a travel guide for an American website that should be live soon, I'll be sure to share it with you. This is the upper facade of The Beaney museum and library on the High Street. One mistake people make when visiting Canterbury is they don't look up enough and miss things like this! | 4. Making sweet pastry from John Whaite Bakes. I'm usually terrible at pastry and intimidated by it, so because these came out so well, kudos to the brilliant recipe! | 5. It is so much easier to eat a healthy weekend breakfast at my desk when Blood Oranges are in season. | 6. An interesting, yet delicious fusion of French and Italian in the form of a tomato, mozzarella and pesto quiche from No Name Shop French deli in Sandwich.

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As you have probably noticed if you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, I spend an awful lot of time at Borough Market. Yes I have been writing my 'Borough Market Challenge' column, but I have also been working on a little something for the Borough Market website which has turned out to be my favourite freelance project to date. Check out the Borough Market blog today to read about about why I love shopping at the market, about some of my favourite recent discoveries there, and for the above recipe for a Kale, Blood Orange and Mozzarella Salad I made for the market. I've been pretty obsessed with these stunning jewel like fruits since they came into season, and the mozzarella from Neal's Yard Dairy has become another recent obsession; it is some of the creamiest and sharpest I have ever tasted.  

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? Weather and Overground closures allowing (or control rooms being filled with concrete, so glad I was not planning on taking the Victoria Line last night!) I'm looking forward to trying out one of the brunch places I've had my eye on in Hoxton, before hitting up Columbia Road Flower Market for the first time; because of the two above reasons (the closures and the weather, not blunders caused by civil engineers!) I still have not made it over! 

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Recipe: Mint Aero Ice Cream

There is a joke going around that I don't leave London and head down to Kent to see my parents, but just to use my Mother's kitchen. Over the weekend both our cleaner and the postman were told that I had come home just to use her ice cream maker, not caring for my parents at all. If truth be told, that was the primary reason I decided to hop on the train, but getting to enjoy the countryside is something living in London I have learnt to value. The nice kitchen where I could make two stir fries in a real wok, some lemon and white chocolate tartlets and this: the first ice cream flavour I've ever created, but I have been thinking about for a while.
You see, for my third post in my collaboration with Aero I had originally planned to make a Mint Aero Ice Cream, but I was in London, and Kent seemed far away. So I made something else. In case you're interested, if you melt one big bar of classic Aero, stir in 40g of cornflakes, 25g of mini marshmallows and half a big bag of Mint Aero Bubbles, spoon them out onto some baking parchment and allow them to go solid, you'll be left with some rather wonderful crunchy treats! The problem was, to say that they photographed badly was the understatement of the century, so back it was with my original plan to go to where the ice cream maker was. 
My Mother has a really fancy Cuisinart ice cream maker my Dad got her for her birthday, but any ice cream maker will do. Another note on the recipe, for a very long time for me Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream was green, and white ice cream with dark chips in simply confused me. However, on account of not being a kid anymore I know to get that green colour you just need to add a tiny bit, I mean just the end of the cocktail stick tiny to your mixture. I think though it is nicer without, where you can see the Aero pieces. 

  • 220ml (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) Whole Milk
  • 150g (5oz) Granulated Sugar 
  • 450ml Double (Whipping for the USA, not the UK) Cream
  • 1 tsp Peppermint Extract
  • 1 Large Bar Mint Aero

In a medium bowl whisk together the milk and the sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the peppermint extract and the cream. Cover and leave in the fridge to infuse for a couple of hours (I'd say 2-3), or preferably overnight. Churn as per your ice cream makers instructions for about 45 minutes, or until you get a loose but still firm ice cream like texture that holds its shape. Meanwhile, chop the Aero into small pieces, and add them to the ice cream maker in the last 5 minutes of churning. Freeze in a 1 pint tub or small individual tubs. This should keep about a month.

What is your all time favourite ice cream flavour? I can't believe I failed to mention this in my introduction to this post, but mine is actually Mint Chocolate Chip, which is why I had such fun making this! Oh, and for those of you who are following the vote of what is going to be the next new Aero flavour, the winner of the Facebook poll was White Chocolate. It will be hitting stores in March, and I am very excited. When it came to the taste test, though I was #teamStrawberry, it was actually my personal favourite flavour! 

This is a sponsored post. To read my policy on sponsored posts, please click here.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Cocktail Hour: Between The Sheets

I think my Mother, this blogs longest standing and most dedicated reader did not think that I'd put enough work into my new 'Cocktail Hour' column in the latter half of 2013. In my Christmas stocking (yes I have one, and it is always full of cookbooks, cooking equipment and chocolate!) I was given a stainless steel cocktail shaker and a set of miniature mixers to play around with. And do you know what? The gifts have worked and been put to fantastic use, and I mixed up a fair few different new cocktails in the lull between Christmas Day and New Years Day. This is a lovely, warming and powerful cocktail I mixed up in my new shaker, which I found on cocktail website Punch (that I was introduced to by Joy The Baker) and adapted negligibly, just to suit what spirits and mixers that could be found in my parents drinks cupboard and on my drinks table. 
It is essentially a riff on the classic Sidecar, and it is believed to have come from the famous Harry's Bar in Paris, where pretty much every great non prohibition cocktail has come from. I could drink many of these, and I think it is perfect for pre dinner drinks this time of year, when you want the mix of rum and brandy to warm you up a little, but I warn you that they are rather potent! Now, I have found it is so much easier to mix up a cocktail of an evening now I have my cocktail shaker (and I know how to use it, thanks to the fantastic team behind the bar at Hakkasan Hanway Place where I attended a cocktail masterclass over the Summer), but if you don't want to invest in the kit you can mix up your cocktails in a jam jar with the lid tightly on.
As for your garnish, I promise you this one I've made does actually look quite good, but is really easy to make. I was too scared to try and make an elegant curve with an orange, lest I slice my finger open. My Mother tried, and my Father had to hold her steady for the light headedness while I ran and got a plaster! Then, my Dad, genius that he is went to the kitchen drawer, got out a standard vegetable peeler and made this in about two seconds. Lesson learnt. 

  • 3/4 oz Cognac (you could use standard brandy if you don't have Cognac)
  • 3/4 oz White Rum (I use Bacardi as I have it around to mix with juice in the Summer!)
  • 3/4 oz Triple Sec
  • 1/2 oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice 
  • 4-5 Ice Cubes

Shake all of the ingredients, including the ice in a cocktail shaker or jam jar. Shake it more than you think you need to, and strain out into a cocktail strainer or a small kitchen sieve, into a cocktail martini glass. I don't have the facility for crushed ice here (I miss the ice machine on my American fridge!), but in cocktail bars the way they chill the glass is by filling it with crushed ice while they make up the cocktail (but you need to use solid ice for the cocktail or you will dilute it too much), then tipping it out just before they serve. Add the garnish to the glass, and enjoy! The measurements above are for a single glass, but I have tripled it and doubled it with no trouble. It is too easy for much bother, to be honest! 

Do any of you have cocktail shakers and kit at home to mix up drinks, or do you like to save treats like these for when you go out for an evening. And you you prefer long or short cocktails? I think I need to invest in a muddler for the Summer! 

Friday, 17 January 2014

Recipe: Spicy Carrot Soup with Greek Yogurt & Coriander Lime Oil

So it was not my intention to have two carrot soup recipes on my blog, but when I tasted this incredibly spicy, creamy and hands down delicious soup complete with perfectly complimentary toppings from Gizzi Erskine's book Skinny Weeks & Weekend Feasts the team at Cosmopolitan were kind enough to give me, I just knew I had to share my version of it. I've only really made one big change; I've switched out the milk for single cream. Yes this makes the soup less 'skinny' than it was originally intended, but as I only use milk for baking, so I therefore only have it at the farm, single cream is more practical for me. A great tip for if you only have a little leftover cream in a tub, is to pour it into an ice cube tray. When frozen store them in a sealed plastic bag in the freezer. You can then use these cream cubes in later soups or sauces from frozen. 
I've made this recipe to serve three people as it is more manageable for me that way, but you can always double it up to serve the original six people. Gizzi's original recipe also took half the spices out of the pan and using them as garnish, but I just like to leave them in for an extra hit of the spicy and cumin flavours.

  • 1/2 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  • Large Pinch Chilli Flakes (Red Pepper)
  • 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 500g (17.5 oz) Carrots, roughly grated or finely sliced 
  • 100g (4 oz) Split Red Lentils
  • 750ml (3 1/4 cups) Chicken (you can make your own here) or Vegetable Stock
  • Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • Total (Fage) 0% Greek Yogurt
  • Small Bunch Fresh Coriander (Cilantro), roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Zest & Juice of 1 Lime

Either chop the carrots into tiny pieces (don't worry about peeling them), or if you don't have the patience like me, I think Gizzi's suggestion from the book to just roughly grate them is fantastic. Heat a large saucepan and dry fry the cumin seeds and the chilli flakes for about a minute, making sure they don't burn but when they release their lovely Indian aromas. Add the oil, carrot and lentils to the pan and fry for another few minutes until the carrot starts to soften a little. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, make the Coriander Lime Oil. The whole thing is pretty simple. Add your roughly chopped coriander to a mortar and pestle, bash to a paste, add the oil and lime zest and muddle together until well combined. You can obviously forgo chopping the coriander all together and do the whole thing in a mini chopper if you have one, but I think a good mortar and pestle is a fantastic investment for making sauces, dressings and curries, especially for a student. You can even use it to make mayonnaise. I use a ceramic Cole & Mason mortar and pestle, which while it was given to me by the guys at Cole & Mason and John Lewis, I would still be waxing lyrical about it anyway, as it is one of the best pieces of kitchen equipment I've ever had (because probably, because I don't have the space for it and I can always use my Mother's at home I have not taken the new cream Kenwood K-Mix I got for Christmas out of its box). My ceramic one will set you back £25, but for a bit more they also do lovely marble ones

Remove the soup from the heat and using a stick blender puree until smooth. Add the cream and season with lots of sea salt and black pepper, and whizz up again. Return to the heat to make sure it is heated through, and serve with a good dollop of Greek yogurt and a drizzle of the Coriander Lime Oil on top of each bowl. 

Honestly, I'm a little obsessed with blended soups, and I'm so sorry if you don't like carrot soup, because I have a couple of carrot and coconut soup recipes bookmarked and I want to try, and I feel that mash ups of may, inevitably, end up gracing this blog too! As it is the right sort of season for a good pureed soup, you might also want to check out my original Warming Carrot Soup recipe, my Pea & Mozzarella Soup or my Spiced Squash & Potato Soup. Alternatively, if you like things a little chunkier I have a Basic Chicken Soup recipe for you, too! 

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Recipe: Forced Rhubarb & Cardamom Breakfast Compote

I'm terrible at breakfast. No, really I am. Unless I leave the house and go out for breakfast and brunch my food choices early in the morning are frankly embarrassing. The thing is, first thing in the morning is just about the only time I don't feel like cooking anything. Just about as much as I can manage in the mornings is dumping things in a bowl, or putting something in the oven that won't require much washing up. When I was living in Los Angeles the amount of times I had oatmeal with honey that only took a few moments in the microwave, or local farmers market strawberries with Greek yogurt on top puts me as a food writer to shame. 
I don't really believe in New Years Resolutions, but one thing I have promised myself is that in the New Year I'm going to try and be a good girl and make better, more imaginative breakfast choices. This means hopefully less homemade chocolate chip cookies when I have forgotten to make sure that there is actual breakfast food in the house, and less cheating by picking up smoothies, duck confit or steak and rocket sandwiches on my way around Borough Market in the mornings. 
After spying the first forced rhubarb of the year in Daylesford Organic it became one of my new ingredient obsessions, knocking butternut squash off of its perch (though, kale is still going strong!), which is how I came up with this quick and easy breakfast compote which you can just serve over yogurt in the mornings and you're good to go. The whole process takes less than twenty minutes, or, about a minute in the mornings if you do what I did and serve it cold, from the fridge where I'd made a vat of it for the week ahead over the weekend. With the view of making it so your breakfast is sorted during the week, this makes 6 portions, so you can enjoy it every morning (and maybe jazz it up each morning with some different nuts and seeds?) guessing that you'll probably go out for breakfast once over the weekend. The rhubarb is tart and perfect to make you feel virtuous in the mornings, and the cardamom flavour is delicate; it tastes like it is only just there, but if you omit it completely from the recipe you will feel its loss.

  • 4 Stalks Forced Rhubarb
  • Juice of 1 Orange 
  • 2 tbsp Golden Caster Sugar (regular granulated is also fine)
  • 4 Green Cardamom Pods

Wash the rhubarb and cut into 2cm pieces. Add to a medium saucepan along with the sugar and the orange juice. Please don't use orange juice from a bottle here, use the freshly squeezed from the actual oranges, as otherwise the flavour balance will be all wrong. With the back of your knife crush the cardamom pods to release the black seeds inside and add the whole thing to the pan. Stir, and set over a high heat until the juice starts to boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cover. Allow to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the rhubarb has broken down. Taste, and add a little bit more sugar if you think it is a little bit too tart for your liking. Fish out the green husks of the cardamom pods, but you can leave the black seeds in the compote. Serve warm over Greek or natural yogurt, or allow to cool to room temperature before refrigerating. 

What do you usually have for breakfast on a weekday? Are you extremely lazy about your breakfasts like me, or are you much better at getting motivated to make something in the mornings?

Monday, 13 January 2014

Recipe: Baby Spinach, Walnut & Pomegranate Salad

I made this salad as part of a big dinner party spread on New Years Day (which also included my Asian Butterbean Salad), and it is something of a mash up from two spinach salad recipes I read while I was planning the menu: one from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi's (who I think gets forgotten far too much!) cult book Jerusalem, and another book featuring Jewish cookery that holds cult status in the foodie world; The Book Of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden which is the book you need to read if you want to learn about Jewish cuisine. This recipe makes one big bowl, and while the different element can be made ahead (I did), it needs to be assembled just before you serve it, so the dressing won't make the pitta croutons soggy. 

  • 1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 1/2 Red Onion, very thinly sliced
  • 30g (1oz) Unsalted Butter
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Small or 1 Large Wholemeal Pitta Bread, torn into small-ish pieces
  • 50g (2oz) Walnut Halves
  • 25g (1oz) Walnut Pieces
  • 2 tsp Sumac
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Chilli (Red Pepper) Flakes
  • 150g (5.5oz) Baby Spinach Leaves
  • 2 tbsp Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice (Roughly 1/2 a lemon)
  • Seeds of 1/2 Pomegranate 
  • Sea Salt (I use French Breton Fleur de Sel)

Heat the butter and half of the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the torn pitta and the walnuts. Fry over a medium to high heat for about five to six minutes until the pitta pieces are golden brown at the edges and crunchy, and the walnuts are toasted but not burnt. Remove from the heat, and toss through 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt, chilli flakes and the sumac. Set aside to cool. Place the onion slices in a small bowl with the vinegar and another 1/4 teaspoon of salt and set aside for 20 minutes. Drain away the excess vinegar, and set aside.

When you are ready to serve, mix together the remaining tablespoon of olive oil the lemon juice and and a large pinch of the salt in the bottom of a large serving bowl. Toss through the spinach so all of the leaves are well coated then add the onions, pitta and nut mix, and most of the pomegranate seeds, setting aside a small handful. Toss everything together again and sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds across the top of the salad. Serve immediately. 
I know at first glance this salad may seem a little Summery, but the pomegranate and the walnuts give it a lovely Wintery edge, and I think the jewel like nature of the pomegranate seeds bring a little brightness into what is usually the dreariest month of the year. Serve alongside some kind of protein such as my Moroccan Chicken Goujons with Yogurt and Mint Dip

Friday, 10 January 2014

Weekly Love: Week 120

Hello to the first Weekly Love of 2014! I arrived back in London last Friday. Honestly, over the Christmas period I was more interested in just relaxing and spending time with my family and I felt a little miserable about the blog, but cooking up a storm for my family on New Years Day, shooting the first recipes of the year and spending a weekend out eating in this incredible city now has me very, very excited for everything I have planned for here on the blog in 2014, which I started working on in earnest this week. And while I usually don't go in for reality TV that is not The Great British Bake Off, those of you will remember how excited I got about the first season of The Taste hitting the USA. So, you can imagine my joy at being able to enjoy both the British and American versions at the moment, a double whammy of three of my favourite food people: Nigella Lawson, Anthony Bourdain and Ludo Lefebvre every week. Lets hope I don't get too confused watching both!
1. Finding the first forced rhubarb of the year in Daylesford Organic. | 2. My best discovery of 2014 so far. You can get real, genuine, California style cold pressed juice from Canyon Juicery, inside the Joseph store on Westbourne Grove in Notting Hill. My cold pressed from Pressed Juicery or Blueprint Cleanse was literally one of the things I missed the most about living in Los Angeles. | 3. The scotch egg on the bar snack menu at The Brown Cow on Fulham Road in Parsons Green is something really special, and if you live on my side of London, well worth trekking out West for. Remind me why I was willing to share this one? | 4. Picking a little of whatever I fancied while I was working on a feature from Ottolenghi's in Notting Hill for both breakfast and lunch. From my visit, I recommend the Cinnamon Pretzel Rolls and the Sweet Potato with Lemongrass Cream (I've actually made it from the Plenty book, and the in store version is disturbingly better.) | 5. Another one from Parson's Green worth visiting for: Hally's. A stupidly late brunch at 2pm of Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese, Rocket, Avocado and Capers on Rye with a wedge of lemon and two poached eggs on the side. I also really recommend their Bloody Mary's. | 6. Pisco Sours to start off an incredible Sunday lunch of steak and seafood at Shrimpy's in King's Cross.

I'm not usually one for doing guest posts on other peoples websites, but when the lovely Tania who writes the blog Joy Felicity Jane asked me if I wanted to contribute to her 'Making Lists' series I jumped up and down with excitement. I have loved her beautiful photos on her site since I first stumbled across it when she took out advertising here on Rachel Phipps. It was also very lovely to be able to meet up with her for brunch just before she headed back to her native France, before she moves off to Australia for a year; talk about exciting! Anyway, if you head over to Tania's blog you'll find some photos I shot earlier this week for the feature of some of my favourite London food spots and on one of my favourite walks in the city along Southbank, and my list of 10 reasons why it is amazing to be a food writer living in London.

What have you been enjoying this week, and what do you have planned for the weekend? I've honestly got a few days of studying ahead of me, but depending on how I'm doing at the end of tomorrow I might try and make a few last minute brunch or lunch plans for Sunday morning to break things up a bit! 

Also, in other news, on February 1st Rachel Phipps is going to turn 5 years old - practically ancient by internet standards I know, but I landmark that I can't believe that both the blog and I have made it to! I was wondering as it is a Saturday if I put together some sort of event like a brunch or drinks in London as a type of reader meet up to celebrate the blog birthday, if any of you would be interested in coming? Let me know in the comments section, or via Twitter or email

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Places To Eat In London: Shrimpy's, King's Cross [Now Closed]

I'm mad about seafood, and since Shimpy's, located in an old filling station in King's Cross seemed to have hallmarks of two of my favourite things I ate in 2013 on their menu. (Soft shell crab, in Shrimpy's signature burger, which I first fell in love with by way of a soft shell crab taco at Street Feast Europe, and ceviche, which I became obsessed with when I was introduced to Peruvian food at Lima) I felt it would make a great Sunday spot for my first weekend back in London. Also, I still had Lucy's amazing photos of their soft shell crab burgers in my head. Last weekend was actually pretty awesome food wise; keep any eye out for my first Weekly Love of 2014 tomorrow which will feature some of the awesome things I ate in Parson's Green on the Saturday. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Recipe: Prawn & Potato Stir Fry

A while ago I was contacted by the team at Best British Bloggers to ask if I wanted to take part in a great cook club challenge for Instaprint, to celebrate the fact that you can now use their online service to print up your own recipe cards. The idea was that we all contributed a recipe to the box, and we cooked another bloggers creation at home. I chose the Prawn & Potato Stir Fry from lifestyle blog Oh So Amelia, and just adapted it only slightly for what I had in the house at the time. I shared it with my Father Wednesday lunch time.
DSC_1318 DSC_1342 DSC_1339 DSC_1310 To be perfectly honest, I was very dubious about the idea of using potatoes in a stir fry, especially alongside the rice noodles. I was worried about it the whole way through cooking, as was my Father who assisted, who is the Wok master in our house. But, it was in fact delicious and made for a very filling meal, something I'd really recommend as a quick week night supper. 

  • 1 Large Potato
  • 1 Yellow or Green Pepper
  • 3 Spring Onions
  • 2 Large Handfuls Cooked Prawns
  • 1 Green Chilli
  • Large Pinch Dried Chilli Flakes
  • Groundnut Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • 100g (4oz) Rice Noodles

Cook the rice noodles as per the packets instructions. Heat a large splash of the oil in a wok. Add the potato, sliced really thinly for a couple of minutes until they start to brown. Add the chilli flakes, then the pepper and the green chilli, again both sliced thinly. Cook until the pepper has started to soften and add the spring onions sliced, the prawns and the drained noodles. Heat the prawns through and season to taste with soy sauce. Serve with a sprinkling of freshly chopped coriander if you wish.

Do any of you use a recipe box to keep all of your recipes straight and all together in one place. I'm going to put my family recipes I don't already have a record of here on the blog in the box the Best British Bloggers team sent me alongside my new set of recipe cards, as well as all of the recipes I pull out of (mostly Waitrose) magazines that I want to try at some stage. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Recipe: Asian Butterbean Salad

When I threw a dinner party for all of my close school friends after I moved back from America last Summer, I made I adapted an Asian Style Butterbean Salad from the original Ottolenghi cookbook which turned out to be one of my favourite dishes of the entire meal, so much so that I felt it had to have a reprieve at the next dinner part I threw, this time for my Dad's family on New Years Day. What I love about this salad is it is not only full of flavour, but it is so versatile. It has Asian flavourings, but in a way that it can be paired as part of a spread with so many other cuisines. And, as well as being a salad that everyone can have a little bit of (this way it serves about 6), it is also for serving 2 to 3 people for lunch, and would be great for a desk lunch. 
Asian Butterbean Salad

  • 2 Cans Butterbeans
  • 6 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 70ml (2.5 oz) Sweet Chilli Sauce (dipping sauce is fine)
  • 2 tbsp Toasted Sesame Oil 
  • 3 tbsp Soy Sauce (I like Amoy Special Selection)
  • Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 2 Red Peppers (Bell Peppers), chopped into squares
  • 4 Spring Onions, white and green bits, chopped
  • 1 Bunch Coriander (Cilantro), chopped
  • 1 Bunch Fresh Mint, chopped
  • Sea Salt (I like French Breton Fleur de Sel)
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper 

Drain the beans into a sieve and rinse in cold water. Set aside to drain away any excess water. Meanwhile, whisk together the garlic, chilli sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce and lemon juice, and set aside. Add the peppers, spring onions and chopped herbs and drained beans to a large bowl and pour over the dressing. Toss together until everything is well coated, and season with sea salt and pepper to suit your personal tastes.
Asian Butterbean Salad
I just wanted to ask you guys, because I have another salad coming up on the blog in the next week or so, do you like these posts about dishes that you serve as part of a meal so you can play mix and match with the recipes, or do you prefer more of the posts I've been doing in the past which have a whole meal in the post, or would you prefer a mixture of both? I'd love to hear what you'd like to hear more of, either in the comments section or via email or Twitter.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Recipe: Moroccan Chicken Goujons with Yogurt & Mint Dip

When I wrote my round up of the year post and I looked back at a lot of the recipes I shot when I was living in Los Angeles I realised that I have been neglecting the cooking side of things here on the blog since I moved back to London. Well, never fear because I have a lot of exciting recipes (look out for my favourite bean salad next week, and some more Student Suppers posts) planned for 2014 - Happy New Year to you all, by the way! To kick things off this morning I thought I'd share a quick dish I put together for lunch the other day (we had this by itself and a bottle of bubbly, hey, it was Christmas, but you can also serve it with a salad) using Sainsbury's new Taste The Difference Moroccan Breadcrumbs that they were kind enough to send me to try out. 
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I love how easy it is to create something exciting with them without having to worry about mixing your own breadcrumbs. I usually use matzo meal to bread and fry things and just a little salt and pepper, but these made for slightly spicy and really interesting chicken pieces. I particularly liked the little chunks of apricots that added a little sweetness. After making these for the three of us I still have about half a tub left, so I would like to use them in some homemade meatballs as it would mean I would not have to add any more spices or herbs to the mix, just an egg to bind it all together. 
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The dip I've actually adapted very slightly from the original Ottolenghi cookbook. I find Yotam and Sammi's recipes are usually fail safes for dips, and sometimes when I've tried recipes from any of their books I've written down what was in the dip and discarded the rest of the recipe! But honestly, you could just serve these with a little natural or Greek yogurt with a little salt, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil mixed in to taste. This recipe serves six people for lunch, as a general rule you'll need two chicken breasts for every three people.

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 1 Tub Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Moroccan Breadcrumbs
  • 1 Large Glug Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Large Glug Groundnut Oil

  • 1/4 Cucumber
  • 225g (8 oz) Greek Yogurt (I use Total 0%)
  • 3/4 tsp Paprika
  • Juice 1/2 Lemon plus extra to taste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Fresh Mint Leaves, chopped
  • Sea Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper

First make the yogurt dip. Peel the cucumber and chop it up into the smallest cubes you can manage. Add to a bowl with the lemon juice, paprika, yogurt, olive oil and freshly chopped mint. Mix well, and season to taste with the salt, pepper and more fresh lemon juice. If you accidentally add too much lemon or you feel the half a lemon was too much for your tastes in the first place, add a little sugar to the mix. Set aside in the fridge. 

Slice the chicken breasts into goujons and bash out with your palm to flatten them a bit, to ensure they cook through. In three shallow dishes beat the egg into one, pour breadcrumb mix into the other, and add the flour into the third. To coat the chicken pieces dip them first in the flour, then the beaten egg and finally in the breadcrumbs. Heat a 50/50 mix so that it covered about a centimeter of a large saucepan. When the oil is hot, turn the heat down to medium fry the chicken on each side in a couple of batches, turing when golden brown on the bottom. Leave them to drain on kitchen towel until you're ready to serve them warm or cold. Enjoy!

Has anyone else tried any of Sainsbury's new Taste The Difference breadcrumb mixes yet? There is a pistachio one, and a lemon and pepper version. You could also use any of the mixes to coat in this way a chicken breast butterflied in half and bashed out, or a steak or piece of veal bashed out thin to serve as a weeknight supper, or to make ahead and keep cold for more interesting desk lunches.