Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sticky Toffee Pudding

There are not that many English desserts that I think are that great, but sticky toffee pudding makes up for all the rest. The only problem is that I feel too guilty to make an entire one for just me and A, so it usually only comes out when we have guests over. It was scarfed down quickly on the last few evenings I presented it at, so I think this recipe is a keeper.

Sticky Toffee Pudding
From BBC Food


For the pudding

150g/5oz dates, stones removed, chopped
250ml/9fl oz hot water
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
60g/2¼ oz butter, softened
60g/2¼ oz caster sugar
2 free-range eggs
150g/5oz plain flour

For the toffee sauce (I usually only make half of this recipe - it seems to be plenty to drench each slice)

200g/7oz butter
400g/14oz brown sugar
vanilla pod, split (I subbed a good splash of high-quality vanilla extract)
250ml/9fl oz double cream


Preheat the oven to 180C/370F/Gas 4.

Mix the dates, bicarbonate of soda and the water together in a bowl and leave to soak for ten minutes. (I pureed this mixture after the dates were soft when I made this the second time because there were chunks of dates in my first attempt, which weren't bad, but apparently aren't very traditional.)

In a clean bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Still stirring the butter mixture, gradually add the eggs, making sure they are well mixed in.

Still stirring, gradually add the flour, then add the date mixture.

Pour the mixture into a 20cm/8in square cake tin. Place into the oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until cooked through.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a thick bottomed pan over a medium heat.

Add the brown sugar, vanilla pod and cream and stir well. Simmer for five minutes.

To serve, spoon out a portion of the pudding onto a plate and pour over the hot toffee sauce.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tortilla de patata

For a Rioja tasting night that we were hosting, I decided to make some Spanish dishes for everyone to nibble on. Tortilla de patata is one of my favorite dishes and it is so simple to make - the ingredient list is short and it only takes a little bit of patience. Most recipes call for an astonishing amount of olive oil. While I am sure that adds a lot of grassy olive oil flavor, I cannot bring myself to cook my potatoes and onions in cupfuls of oil, so my version with a very reduced amount of oil is below. I still love it, and any leftover slices are fantastic for packed lunches or snacking on.

Tortilla de patata

Adapted from


7 medium potatoes, peeled

1 whole yellow onion
6 large eggs
olive oil
Salt to taste


Cut the peeled potatoes in half lengthwise. Then, with the flat side on the cutting surface, slice the potato in pieces approximately 1/8" thick. If you slice them a bit thick, don’t worry – it will simply take a bit longer for them to cook.

Peel and chop the onion into 1/4" pieces. Put potatoes and onions into a bowl and mix them together. Salt the mixture.

In a large, heavy, non-stick frying pan, heat about 3 tbsp of olive oil on medium high heat. Carefully place the potato and onion mixture into the frying pan, spreading them evenly over the surface. You may need to turn down the heat slightly, so the potatoes do not burn. Cook with a lid on the pan, checking every so often to stir the potatoes.

Leave in pan until the potatoes are cooked. If you can poke a piece of potato with a spatula and it easily breaks in two, your potatoes are done. Leave in the pan to cool.

Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat by hand with a whisk or fork. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Pour in the potato onion mixture. Mix together with a large spoon.

Pour 2 Tbsp of olive oil into a large, non-stick frying pan and heat on medium heat. Be careful not to get the pan too hot because the oil will burn - or the tortilla will! When hot, stir the potato onion mixture once more and “pour” into the pan and spread out evenly. Allow the egg to cook around the edges. Then you can carefully lift up one side of the omelet to check if the egg has slightly “browned.” The inside of the mixture should not be completely cooked and the egg will still be runny.

When the mixture has browned on the bottom, you are ready to turn it over to cook the other side. Take the frying pan to a sink. Place a large dinner plate upside down over the frying pan. With one hand on the frying pan handle and the other on top of the plate to hold it steady, quickly turn the frying pan over and the omelet will “fall” onto the plate. Place the frying pan back on the range and put just enough oil to cover the bottom and sides of the pan. Let the pan warm for 30 seconds or so. Now slide the omelet into the frying pan. Use the spatula to shape the sides of the omelet. Let the omelet cook for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the tortilla sit in the pan for 2 minutes.

Slide the omelet onto a plate to serve.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Meat Liquor

76 Welbeck Street

The search for buffalo wings in London is over! I can definitively say that Meat Liquor is the king of buffalo wings and that I can't imagine ever finding better ones in this country. Plus, the price is just right - you get that whole pile you see there for 6 quid. The carrot/celery garnish on the side was pathetic and sad, but who cares when the wings are this good?! A had a cheeseburger that he loved, and we went with the dirty dirty chili cheese fries. I'd probably advise against it in future - it's just too much of everything, salt, spice, grease, etc. - and a pile of regular fries would have been easier to finish. But on our first visit, it had to be done, just to see what they would be like, and we did manage to polish them off, just. I have friends who seem to be coming here multiple times a week now - good thing that it's not too close to home, or else I might be doing the same...

Monday, March 05, 2012

The Fox and Goose

Church Road
IP21 5PB

The Fox and Goose is a terrific pub restaurant in the village next to where R & S live. We were spending a lovely Christmas break with them, and decided to go there for Christmas Eve dinner, which was a really good idea. The Christmas menu had so many dishes that I wanted to try, it was quite difficult to pick - I ended up getting the cured duck salad to start and then the lamb for my main, but I was able to nibble on A's pork belly starter and filet steak main as well. Every dish was beautifully presented and the components had been thought through with care - flavors and textures combined to make dishes more than the sum of their parts. A was too stuffed to attempt a dessert, but I found some room for baked Alaska, along with bites of some of the other desserts around the table. The atmosphere was one of my favorite things as service was good but not stuffy, and it never felt like a hushed restaurant, nor was it too boisterous. If you're ever in this neck of the woods, make sure you make time for a meal here.

Friday, March 02, 2012


25 Catherine Street

P and I often meet up in order to eat enough food for three people. Mishkins was no different  - the list of dishes we ordered was ridiculous in length, but we finished it all as it was fantastic! Pickled herring with beet tartar was a lovely, vinegary start to the meal, along with the cauliflower and caraway slaw. Chopped chicken liver with schmaltzed radishes was spread onto toasty bread and consumed with delight, and the meat loaf came in a miniature bread tin and contained a surprise soft-boiled egg in the center. The duck hash, fried egg and liquor was ducky and hashy, full of crisp corners and gamey, tender duck, and the deep fried sprouts were exactly that - brussel sprouts covered in breadcrumbs and fried until crunchy. You would think this would be enough - but then the dessert menu was offered, and we succumbed to a warm chocolate chip cookie and the pecan pie special, which turned out to be one of the best decisions of the night - the pie had some spices in it, including Chinese five spice and fennel, and was the perfect level of sweetness for pecan pie. If they added the fried olives from Spuntino to the menu, I may well move in.