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:

clafouti (2)

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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The Story of How Mr Jones Came Up With the Perfect Pasta Recipe

When I know that he is coming over, I always try to balance his taste and my pleasure in cooking. I’m not saying he is picky, it’s more the case of a … peculiar kind of taste. Anyway, there are a few things that he likes for sure, and three major things on that list are bacon, cheese and spinach. (Who doesn’t? Yum!)

Although I never thought of combining those things into a pasta dish.

So when he suggested that I do, I was taken with the idea. Add a little double cream (a little, yeah right) and we are more than on the same page – so I was eager to try this recipe. I’m not going to lie, the dish requires a bit of preparation – but when you’re on your own in your flat on a Friday night with a bottle of red wine at hand and a playlist with all your singalong cheer-up songs, you’re unstoppable. I know I am.

huwpasta11You know the ingredients, so here’s the method.

I started by cooking the pasta – I got it out of the way. Whilst that was boiling, I also started to sautée my spinach in a generous amount of butter, salt, pepper and nutmeg. I drained the pasta and waited until my spinach wilted to its normal measures, then put it into a colander and let it drip dry.

Next, I wiped out the massive pan I used for the spinach, then fried the bacon in the same pan. When the bacon was nice and pink, I added my pasta, stirred it a little and then added a whole pack of double cream. I let it reduce and waited until the pasta absorbed enough of it. I turned the heat off and went to grate a generous amount of cheddar – I used a cheddar that is rather mild but still had that nice strong flavour – I guess kind of in the middle.

I turned the heat back on under the pasta and added my cheese – it melted into the sauce and onto the pasta, making the whole dish gooey, creamy and delicious. The final step was gently stirring the spinach into the mix and adding a nice nob of butter, giving the pasta a nice shine and a little bit of nutty flavour.

huwpastaSo not only is this dish evident and easy – it is also extremely nice with all good things, and it also earned hundreds of boyfriend and girlfriend points. Kudos to Mr Jones.

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Honey and Mustard Pork Chop with Lamb’s Lettuce and Crusty Bread – Sounds more fancy than it is

This is yet another quick and easy recipe to do something more with the meat than just fry it. Also, I have invented the first vinaigrette that worked for me – and what’s this? Am I starting to enjoy the taste of white wine vinegar? What kind of sorcery is this?

honeymustardpork (3)For the chop: heat the pan with a little oil until hot, then lay the meat into the pan with the fat away from you. Fry for two minutes, then turn and add a nob of butter. When the butter has melted, baste the meat with it to keep it moist. With the tongs, lift the meat and press the fat into the hot pan to sear it and make it crispy. When done, let rest for ten minutes.

For the vinaigrette, I used:
Dijon mustard
White truffle honey – only because that’s what I have, make it honey is the point
Some dry parsley
Salt, pepper
White wine vinegar
Olive oil

Whisk everything but the oil together. When all combined, add the olive oil very slowly, in a thin stream, while whisking constantly. Season to taste. Delicious.

For the salad:
Buy lamb’s lettuce. Or lettuce. Or any salad. Done.

For the bread:

In all fairness, I didn’t do anything to the bread because the euphoria that fresh, crusty bread gave me is indescribable. Like I got home from Waitrose and instantly sliced myself a slice and ate it plain. God, I missed this.

Anyway, voilá, your perfect everyday dish in about 10 minutes. Easy-peasy.

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Orange and chocolate cheesecake, baked – how to make your kitchen smell like a million bucks

One of the million perks of being able to cook: you have a secure way to cheer someone up. One of the million perks of being in a relationship: you have someone to cheer up. So if my boyfriend is having a long and exhausting day, I am damn sure going to make him an orange chocolate cheesecake, just to make it all better at the end of the day.
orangechoccheesecake (1)This amazing cheesecake recipe is loosely based on Gordon Ramsay’s baked raspberry cheesecake, but I replaced the fruit with chocolate – and not just any chocolate. For any kind of baking really, I recommend Lindt; and this cheesecake really got the extra kick out of this very specific type:
chocNot only is the chocolate quality excellent, the taste of orange comes through just enough for it to be sweet and dark at the same time. Gosh, it is just amazing, what can I say…
Anyway, for this recipe, I used:
600g cream cheese – but when people say that, I get confused, so here it is: Philadelphia cream cheese, natural, NOT low fat please…
160g caster sugar
2 tbsp flour
3 eggs, whisked
200g chocolate – or any filling you wish really
Butter, for greasing
Start by preheating your oven to 180 degrees, then whisking together the cream cheese and the sugar. For this, it is advisable to take the cream cheese out of the fridge 30 minutes before using, because this way, you can actually whisk it. No kidding. Once that’s done, add your whisked eggs bit by bit, and combine well.
After the eggs, add your flour and whisk until you see no lumps and you get a relatively runny, creamy cake batter. Finally, fold in your fillings (if you’re using chocolate, chop it up finely before this step).
Butter your cake tin, then fill it with your batter, layering evenly. Pop it in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until the edges are set but the middle still feels a bit wobbly. Don’t worry, when you let it cool, it will set.
As a result, you should probably get something as delicious-looking as this…
orangechoccheesecake (6)Now tell me that’s not going to make anyone’s day. Honestly.
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