- Bad Egg – For a truly bottomless brunch, look no further
- Mushroom, leek and goat’s cheese pasta – Because we all crave sometimes
- Champor-Champor – Thai/Malaysian/British fusion?
- Orange-flavoured, Oven-baked Pork Chops – An orange-coloured delicious mess
- Flesh & Buns – Branching out in the world’s dine-out capital
*UPDATE – Where was my mind? I am talking about oyster mushrooms, not chestnut. Oyster. Duh!*
Sometimes I wake up thinking about dinner. Does anyone else do that?
For two days I have been thinking about pasta, and although in my head it was a rich, tomato-y dish with so much mascarpone you can barely see the tomato, and so many lardons you can barely see the mascarpone, I am, in fact, trying to lose weight.
And although I already devoured a leggera pizza in Pizza Express for lunch, it was pasta tonight, like it or not. At least I skipped breakfast and went for a run beforehand.
This dish is loosely based on Gordon Ramsay’s mushroom and leek pasta recipe, which is undoubtedly delicious. I have made it before. One crucial element missing though is cheese… or meat… you know how it goes.
Actually, we had a discussion over giving up cheese or meat for Lent over lunch, and I definitely came to the conclusion that I’d rather give up meat, or chocolate, or anything (minus wine) instead of cheese. (I mean, can you really have cheese without wine? Does that even count?)
So here it is – my mushroom and leek pasta, perfected with cheese.
One package of
chestnut oyster mushrooms (I think they simply rule the mushroom kingdom, that’s it, your point is invalid)
One leek, washed and finely sliced
Two cloves of garlic, finely chopped
About 50g soft goat’s cheese, crumbled on top
A cube of butter to make it all silky
Pasta, enough for you – or more, as it always turns out anyways
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Big pinch of cayenne (tip hat to Chef John)
A handful of pink peppercorns to top
This recipe couldn’t be easier.
Cook the pasta as per packet – although really, who checks the packet? Just boil it in salted water until it tastes like you want to eat more. Or, alternatively, throw it up on the wall; if it sticks, you’re done. Drain the pasta when done, reserving a good amount of the cooking water. Top tip: once drained, drizzle your pasta with some olive oil and make sure it’s well coated – stops the pasta from sticking together into one big ball. Very convenient.
Heat some olive oil in a pan and throw in your garlic to infuse. After a minute (and a half, perhaps), add your mushroom and season well with salt and black pepper. You will probably need more oil too, these babies need a lot.
After about two minutes, you can add your leeks (I used plenty) and keep frying for a bit. Let them soften, but you don’t need to overcook at this point.
For the final assembly, add your mushrooms and leeks back into your pasta pan. Add a generous splash of cooking water, as well as your cube of butter, thyme, cayenne and salt and pepper to your liking. Keep cooking until the butter has melted, the cooking water soaked up and all is looking glossy and delicious.
Just add your goat’s cheese and pink peppercorns when you’re serving – if the pasta is even remotely warm, the cheese will melt into it and it will all become a lovely, delicious Italian mess (much like Italians themselves, eh?).
Easy peasy, no prep, ready in 20 or less. Delicious though. Must… resist… seconds…
You know how not long ago I wrote that I never try those cool places that Time Out recommends? Recently that hasn’t been true. Like this weekend, my mother came over all the way from Budapest to visit, and we decided to try a Thai restaurant that Time Out sang odes to.
Champor-Champor is a small restaurant, located very near to London Bridge. If you weren’t looking for it, you might miss it. Officially advertised as Thai/Malaysian cuisine, I thought there was just slightly more to the mix – unfortunately, not for the better.
At first, we received some nibbles, which definitely kicked off the international chaos in tastes – some Bombay mix (speaks for itself) with olive oil and balsamic (a speciality from Italy), and some warm bread, which tasted like it was flavoured with banana butter – this latter was stunningly delicious though.
I must say, the olive oil – sweet bread taste worked together, but I am not sure that this is a symbolic Thai dish. Anyone?
For starters, we tried the green papaya salad with grilled tofu, the scallops with a spicy apple sauce, and a Thai lemongrass prawn soup. I was very excited about the first element of this list, but it didn’t quite live up to my expectations – although this is a bit subjective, because I am not a fan of overly sweet things.
It also took me a while to figure out that the crouton-looking bits on the side were actually tofu.
The scallops were delicious and the spices were great with it, and so was the soup – a kind of Tom Yum with flavours of lime and chilli and coconut milk, this is something I’d have any day.
While so far so good, unfortunately it was the main dishes that disappointed. We ordered the braised pork belly with sugar cane, mash potato and red onion compote; the sizzling beef sirloin; and the roasted monkfish. While delicious in taste, the pork belly had really very little to do with Thai cuisine in my opinion; it was very heavy, fatty and especially with the mash potatoes, it reminded me more of British cooking than Asian.
The sirloin looked fantastic upon arrival, but sadly did not match with taste – it lacked a serious amount of spices (even salt and pepper), and overcooked a little in the hot plate.
The monkfish was delicious though – this was cooked to perfection in texture, although I missed a bit of heat in the mix; but this dish is one I would recommend.
At this point we were completely stuffed, but we gave some desserts a try anyway – and this brought the overall score of the dinner up significantly. We ordered the chilli-chocolate cheesecake, which was spiced to perfection – all the heat I missed in the monkfish went into this slice of cake, and the mix of dark chocolate and hot chilli was perfect.
We also ordered an intriguing dessert: the Tom Yum brulée. Now, I am already a fan of creme brulée, but this custard, with perfect caramel on top, flavoured with a spice I was unable to detect, along with lime and just a hint of chilli, was so good that I wanted to get the recipe. It was light, fluffy and delicious. Don’t miss this one.
Overall, Champor-Champor is a good restaurant – nice design and intriguing-sounding dishes definitely play to its advantage. But to be perfectly honest, I doubt I will be returning. When I have Asian food, I enjoy the fact that afterwards I don’t feel bloated and heavy, but I didn’t get this after dinner here.
It’s an interesting idea, but not what I was after – although who knows, it still may be worth a visit for someone else?
I haven’t cooked in so long. Diet food is so uninspiring sometimes that it isn’t even worth putting on here. I’m not complaining, I’m just saying that if I’m having peppered mackerel with brown rice three times a week, then I most likely won’t be very popular with the food blogging community.
When I finally do come around and cook something though, I always love it. Like this recipe – it was one of those days when you toss together what you have, add a little of what you bought, and then something delicious comes out.
It’s quite hard to tell from here (bad photography skills strike again) but there is actually more to this picture than potatoes, asparagus tips and two slices of meat. The latter was in fact marinated in a sweet mixture, made up of:
The peel of one orange
The juice of half an orange
2 whole star anise
A splash of balsamic vinegar
Salt, freshly ground pepper
So I marinated my pork chops in this for about an hour, until they smelled like a Middle-Eastern dish.