Soft Lamb Chops with Red Wine Sauce

I haven’t bought lamb in ages. The last time I did, I bought a big piece for our flat Christmas dinner last year, stuffed it and cooked it for an hour and something – but for some reason, since then, I think of lamb as some super-expensive, fancy dinner that should be eaten only on special occasions.
Yesterday though, I bought some small lamb chops (boneless), and they turned out so juicy and fine, I think I’ll be buying lamb a lot more from now on.
redwinelamb (1)Here’s how I prepared them (and had a lot of fun doing it too!):
I seasoned the chops on both sides, then seared the lamb chops on high heat for 2 and a half minutes on one side or until coloured, then turned them and browned them on the other side. Still on high heat (and this is my favourite part), I added a generous splash of red wine and let it bubble away until reduced and all the alcohol has burned off. Then, I added a splash of water for a bit more texture and let that reduce too.
At this point, the lamb chops were ready. The texture on the outside seemed a bit rubbery, but turned out pink and extremely soft on the inside. Splashed with the sauce, it was an absolute delicacy. The cuminy potatoes were my boyfriend’s request – he liked them so much last time, we went with them again.
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I’d advise for anyone to try this easy method – with enough seasoning (and a pinch of cayenne as usual), this dish really tastes amazing. And for those with more experience: any good tips on how to cook lamb? They were delicious like this, but I’d love to experiment with it.
Cheers!
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Advances of an Amateur, or Why We’re Having Purple Chicken Tonight

Strange how the days fly by. It has already been a week and a half since we moved into this flat, and we’re already at the middle of August. September is coming way too quickly for me – these are the days I want to stay. Reading book after book, cooking my hours away and lying on our comfortable sofa… Wish I could stay like this for a little longer.
Either way, tonight’s dinner was something else. I am certain that culinary chefs all over the world might want to stone me for what I did, but what the heck, it turned out tasty. And red wine was all I had handy. The side dish was, in this case, just as important too, so we’ll get to that as well.
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If you would also like to join the “stick-it-to-the-pros” club (or the “get-stoned-by-them” club), here’s how to do the sauce:

Dash of red wine
Dash of water
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne (Hola, Chef John)
Pinch of sugar
Handful of pink peppercorns (my new absolute favourite, I’d put it in my cereal if I had cereal for breakfast)
Sear the chicken on high heat until nicely coloured on all sides. Don’t turn down the heat – add your dash of red wine and stand back, it spits. Reduce the wine just a little by letting it bubble away, and turn your chicken in it until nice and freakishly purple. Add your water and let bubble away as well. When reduced by about half, add your seasoning and mix well. Turn your chicken in the sauce well to reduce purpleness. Cook until the chicken is soft and moist (and gosh, it really was so soft on the inside).
Now the roast potatoes, I’ve never done before. I was always scared they’d turn out hard. But today, I’ve read up on some recipes suggesting I should par-boil them before the oven, or cook them for 50×2 minutes, and a lot more stuff – until I turned around and ignored most of it, really. A, don’t bother par-boiling before the oven. Why would you? It’s extra effort and extra washing up. Instead, just go straight to the oven. B, they don’t need more than 40-50 minutes in a 180 degree oven, I promise. Here’s how I did it:
Splash a generous amount of olive oil in your roasting tin. Cut your potatoes into relatively big cubes and coat them in the oil well. To my potatoes I added some cumin seeds for a bit of flavour, salt, pepper and cayenne. With all that, the potatoes are ready for cooking at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes. After that, you might want to check on them and toss them around a little, nothing fancy. Taste after 40 minutes – if it’s crunchy on the outside and amazingly soft on the inside, you are done. You can even leave these in the turned off oven until serving, nothing bad is going to happen.
And here they are, the stars of the show:
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I
 even decorated with pink peppercorns. I could literally just munch on them like crisps. Anyway, that’s all I have for today – have a lovely evening!
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Hello From Croydon – A New Era – Wiener Schnitzel Steaks

When I say new era, I mainly mean new kitchen. I know I’ve mentioned that I am moving to a new flat – well that move is now complete (even the internet is connected now) and so I am back on the blog, finally.
I’d like to start by introducing my new kitchen. It has got an electric hob which heats up so fast I don’t even have time to blow my nose; the oven finally has proper temperature measures on it (grill included) and we even bought a microwave. It’s red and it looks cooler than it sounds. Anyway, without further explanation, ladies and gentlemen:
kitchen3 kitchen2 kitchen4
It is definitely a one-person kitchen, but my boyfriend doesn’t object to that.
We’ve moved in about a week ago, so until now it has been takeaway pizza and buttered toast. Yesterday though, I finally got around to making something that took more than 10 minutes – and that would be Wiener Schnitzel steaks.
Why I call them steaks? Well, The point of the breaded schnitzel is usually that it is huge, but thin, like it has been bashed with a rolling pin. Traditionally pork, although sometimes chicken, and so very deliciously crispy. Most of those things manifested in my creation too – except my schnitzels were made of pork shoulder steaks, and so by definition, they were as thick as my finger.
wienerschnitzel steak (2)
For a portion that served two and left one slice for today’s lunch, I used:
4 thick pork shoulder steaks
3 eggs
About 10 tbsp flour
A generous amount of breadcrumbs (nothing fancy, I used what I had)
Lots and lots of flavourless oil (vegetable/sunflower etc.)
Frying these babies is actually much easier than I though. I always had this paranoia about breading meat. The breading order goes like this: flour – egg – breadcrumb. This is what kept me up. Doesn’t the egg wash off the flour? How are the crumbs going to stick? To be honest, I learned on the job, so I guess I can proudly say I am no longer scared of breading. (Hey ho!)
Anyway, for those of you who haven’t done it before: you dip your meat into the flour and cover it really well, every inch. Shake off the excess, then dip the meat into the beaten eggs in a separate bowl; cover with the egg all over, because this will be the glue for the breadcrumbs. Finally, roll your meat very well in the crumbs, making sure once again that every inch of it is well coated.
Heat enough oil in a deep frying pan so that it covers the meat at least halfway. Wait until the oil is sizzling (you can test with a crumb), then put your steaks into the oil, laying them away from you. 
Now normally, if these were skinny schnitzels, you’d need about 2 minutes on each side; in this case, I fried them for about 4.5 each, making sure the breading doesn’t burn. All this time made the crust even crunchier though, so it’s win-win. When you feel like you’re done, once again only in this case I do recommend cutting into each slice a little, just to make sure you’re not serving raw pork, because no one will thank you for that.
I served the steaks with a mixture of rice, sweetcorn and peas (a school cantine classic) and they were a hit. Much quicker than they look, these thick pork steaks are delicious and actually quite a fast dinner to make. You can even do all that washing up whilst your meat is frying.

wienerschnitzel steak (1)

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Cherry Clafouti – so very good for when it is 30 degrees outside

Yes, it has been a while, and I am terribly sorry. The good news is though, in about two months, I will be moving my cooking to a brand new kitchen in a brand new flat, so the frequency of posts will be, hopefully, back to normal. Until then, I hope everyone is having a lovely summer, and if not, here’s how to improve it.
clafouti (1)
Clafouti is one of the easiest desserts I have ever made, and you could really put anything inside from chocolate to banana.
For this recipe, which serves about 2-3-4 people, you need only these basic things that you’d have in your cupboard anyway:
125g flour
100g sugar
3 eggs
300ml milk
About 400-500g of whatever filling you choose (in this case, pitted cherries)
First off, add half of the sugar to your cherries and mix them up. Let them soak and put them aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Then, break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat them with a whisk until quite pale and fluffy.

Next, in bits, add the flour and whisk until the lumps are gone – then add the sugar (this can be added in one go) and then the milk. Don’t worry if your mixture seems too liquid, this is actually a good thing.

Grease your baking tin (I used a springform but it could be a simple square baking dish), then lay the bottom with the filling. Finally, pour your mixture over the filling and when you’ve made sure it covers all of it, you are ready to bake.
I baked mine for about 40 minutes and this is how it turned out:

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I also dusted it with some icing sugar mixed with a little cinnamon, and the result was stunning. It tastes like one thick pancake, really.

Hope you enjoy this super easy recipe – it really is amazing before a lovely Sunday nap.
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Sweetcorn Fritters with Yoghurt Dip

This is probably one of the few vegetarian dishes that I truly adore. These little fritters are packed with sweetcorn to the extent where you can hardly taste the batter – and the thai twist on them, added by the genius of Mr Ramsay, really make them special.
They literally take 20 minutes maximum to make, and they are extremely delicious.
sweetcornfritters (1)
For the amount that you can see on the picture (would serve 2, if I hadn’t been so hungry…), you’ll need:
100g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
250g sweetcorn, patted dry
2 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
Chilli powder
1 egg, beaten
5 tbsp milk
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper

For the tip:
Yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 lime
Chilli powder
Chopped coriander, if you have any

The method is simple. First, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and baking powder (remember to sieve – avoid lumps!). Like me, you may start to worry, thinking the flour is not enough, but you will see in the end, it is.

Make a well in the middle and add the beaten egg and milk. Whisk together until it forms a smooth batter – you will probably need to add some extra milk. Now add your olive oil and whisk again until well combined.

To this batter, add your sweetcorn, spring onion and chilli powder – you can also add coriander here, along with anything else you would want in your fritter. Mix together and your batter is ready!

Fry your fritters in batches, tapping them down as you place them into the frying pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides – and dinner is ready!

For the dip, just mix everything together until well combined.

Hope you enjoy this delicious dish as much as I do, every time! :)

sweetcorn

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Green lentil soup – so what if it’s not in season?

I’m up for a nice soup any day. But since soups take time and effort, who makes it when you can just buy it in plastic bags? Not this one though. No Cuppa Soup can replace this delicious lentil soup that is, yes, officially a winter warmer, but what if I just want to stuff my face with lentils?

Not to mention that it is so easy to make.

The inspiration came from Chef John over at FoodWishes.com, who just made this soup with black lentils. My little news agent didn’t have any black ones of course, but green ones are very tasty too.

lentil (3)
For an amount that serves about 3-4 people, you will need:
About 250g of green lentils, washed
2 carrots
2 onions
(2 celery stalks – I didn’t have any, but it would have been nice!)
2 cloves of garlic
About 750 ml of chicken stock, plus more to top up
1/4 of a can of chopped tomatoes
3 slices of bacon
Vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
Cayenne, salt, pepper, dried thyme
First of all, get everything ready – dice your vegetables (mirepoix) and slice your bacon into small chunks.

Fry your bacon in a big saucer until it begins to crisp, then throw in, with a splash of vegetable oil, your carrots, celery, onions and seasoning, and sweat them for about 10 minutes, until everything is starting to cook. Now throw in your lentils as well and stir everything.

After this comes the chicken stock, along with the two bay leaves, the garlic and the splash of chopped tomatoes. Mix everything up and bring to a boil – let it bubble for about 5 minutes, then turn it down and let it simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are done. Remember to top up with stock or simply water when the stew seems too dry.

Basically, that’s it. What could be easier?

lentil (2)Don’t you just want to dig into that thick, delicious stew?

P.S. You know what would make this even better? Some cheese, under the grill until crisp. Now that would be a royal finish. Next time!

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Restaurant review: Clos Maggiore – London’s most romantic, says Time Out!

So yesterday I had the opportunity to dine at what is, according to Time Out London, London’s most romantic restaurant. Clos Maggiore is a small restaurant in a quiet street near Leicster Square – but if you walked by it, you would probably never guess that you just walked by London’s sweetheart date location.

On the inside, however, the restaurant is breath-taking. Despite the fact that this was the second time we visited, we still couldn’t get a table in their legendary garden room, which has flowers and trees on the ceiling and all around, decorated with fairy lights, and a fire place in the corner, surrounded by comfortable arm chairs to sit on for the diners. It really is beautiful. Although having booked a day in advance only, we didn’t really expect to get a table in there anyway. (At least we got closer than last time.)

Even with reservations, there is a good chance that you have to wait around 10 minutes to be seated – but staff make you extremely comfortable during that period, offering you cocktails, champagne or anything you fancy.

The outer room is also very romantic, fear not – the walls are covered with a green hedge with paintings on the wall, and exquisite French jazz makes the dinner even more enjoyable. And the food… Well, the food is mind-blowing!

With perfectly combined tastes from mainly the French and a little from the English cuisine, this restaurant really grabbed the essence of a romantic meal. The dishes are reasonably portioned and everything we tasted was extremely delicious. The food gets a 5/5 from me.

The view from the waiting room:

Waiting room viewMy starter: Seared Rare Yellowfin Tuna, Smoked Crushed Aubergine & Feta, Lightly Spiced Chickpea Croquette (the consistency of the tuna was outstanding!)

2Year (5)
Fresh Maine Lobster, Scallop & King Prawn Tortellini, Roasted Scottish Langoustine & Warm Fragrant Piperade
2Year (1)
Slow Cooked Fillet of Cornish Cod ‘Rougaille’, Caught Off The Scottish Coast by the Fishing Boat ‘The Lapwing’, Roasted Vermicelli & Mussel Casserole, Iberico Chorizo Sauce and creamed spinach

2year (10)

Oven Roasted Rack Of Welsh Lamb & Braised Shank Grémolata, Grilled Ratte Potatoes, Black Olive & Goat’s Cheese, Light Lamb Jus – a bit too big of a dish for me (could hardly manage it with all that was going on on the plate!) but oh my God. I want it again.
2year (13)
My absolutely amazing dessert: Praline ‘Paris Brest’ & Toasted Salted Hazelnuts, Piémontais Hazelnut Ice Cream
2year (6)
Milk chocolate mille feuille:
2year (9)
Shockingly, of course, the restaurant isn’t cheap. (Sarcasm.) But with the quality of the food, the extremely beautiful design and, needles to say, flawlessly well-mannered (mostly French!) staff, it is worth a pay cheque. I had a lovely evening, amazing food – hopefully next time will be even better, if possible.
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