Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Whole Pot-Roasted Cauliflower With Tomatoes and Anchovies


I love cauliflower so I get interested in any new recipe that calls for it. This makes use of a bunch of staples I usually have sitting around the kitchen (at least with my slight modifications) so all I need to get is a head of cauliflower and we're off! Thankfully it was a big hit - beware the bit of browning at the beginning as it can get a little smoky in the house - I happen to love the smell of anchovies and garlic hitting hot oil but maybe keep the windows open if you're not as keen on filling the house with that fragrance.

Whole Pot-Roasted Cauliflower with Tomates and Anchovies
Serves 4
From A Girl and Her Greens by April Bloomfield, NYTimes

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), white, green or Romanesco
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 50g tin of anchovies packed in olive oil
¾ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
¼ cup wine, plus extra for cooking (original calls for dry white, I used a red Rioja)
1 large pinch red pepper flakes (original calls for 3, I tried 2 which A still found too spicy)

Method

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 235 degrees C (450 degrees F).

Trim any wilted leaves and brown bits off the cauliflower, but leave healthy leaves. Put the cauliflower on its side on a cutting board. As if coring a tomato, core the base of the cauliflower: insert a small sharp knife about 1 inch into the base of the stem, make a circular cut to loosen the cone-shaped core, then pry it out and discard.

In a deep, heavy ovenproof pot (with a lid), large enough to hold the whole cauliflower, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower cored side up; it should sizzle. Brown the exterior, turning it occasionally with tongs for even browning. This should take about 5 minutes; reduce the heat as needed to prevent scorching. Carefully turn over and brown the other side lightly, about 2 minutes.

Remove the cauliflower to a plate and add garlic, anchovies and rosemary to the pot. Stir until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, wine and chiles. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Return cauliflower to pot, cored side down. Baste with the tomato liquid and pile some of the solids on top. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes to thicken the tomatoes.

Cover the pot, place in the oven and roast until tender, 30 to 45 minutes; a knife will go into the thick stems with almost no resistance. Check on the tomato sauce every 10 minutes or so; it should be punchy and intense but not too thick, so add a glug of wine if it seems to be getting too dry.

Transfer the cauliflower head to a serving plate or shallow bowl and cut in half, quarters or thick slices. Spoon on all the tasty stuff left in the pot. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs. Serve immediately or at room temperature, passing salt and red pepper flakes at the table.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Bao




Bao
53 Lexington St
London W1F 9AS


Bao is one of those restaurants that is hyped so much that I was quite nervous about going - but I found myself in the area around lunch time and decided to treat myself to a solo meal, something that I am getting fonder of. It lets you order exactly what you want, eat at whatever pace you feel like, and not have to worry about whether your dining companion is enjoying themselves. Especially with the dumb queues - I would feel horrible dragging someone else along to wait and then for the meal to suck. Thankfully the meal was good, though I'm not sure I will queue again, since a meal there adds up quite quickly and some elements were a bit repetitive. I had four things - house pickles, the mushroom and century egg dish pictured above, a classic bao, and the guinea fowl rice. I think because there were pickles in the guinea fowl rice, it ended up tasting a little too similar (possibly my fault for ordering both but I didn't know!) The mushrooms were the best dish for my tastes - savory with a hit of fresh cilantro. The bao was a little sweet for me, but they often are - so again, no fault of the restaurant, just not quite my thing. I see why people like it - but if I have to wait I'm going somewhere that excites me a lot more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Marksman




The Marksman
254 Hackney Rd
London E2 7SJ

More East London smugness ahead, I'm afraid. A and I are having trouble keeping up with all the places we want to try, but we're working our way through. The Marksman is not to far from Cambridge Heath and lots has been written about it already so I won't bore you too much except to say it is as great as people say it is. A proper old little boozer that's been done up just the right amount to make it comfortable but still casual. The beef & barley bun is fantastic, A and I could have had one each, and the confit potatoes are amazing as well. We managed to share so we could save room for the brown butter custard tart, which everyone should save room for. I'm not even much of a dessert person but this was totally worth it. Go, go, go.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Le Mary Celeste




Le Mary Celeste
1, rue Commines (3rd)

Paris, France

This was so long ago (April) that I can't tell you what we had with any detail, but the one dish that really sticks out in my mind is the deviled eggs. I kind of wished I wasn't sharing that with C & A. We also had some nice cocktails - it's an attractive space and the food was all interesting and good - but some months on I only remember the eggs and the horrifically slow service, which was almost comical by the end. Don't go if you want any semblance of speed or order to your meal - if you're happy to spend three hours getting a selection of small plates out then it is perfect. P.S. A's coworker was there a week after us and experienced the same level of service so at least I know it wasn't just us.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Feta and Scallion Tart


UPDATE: It's now over two years since I first posted this and it's become a go-to staple whenever I have feta and spring onions in the house. Some edits below to reflect how I usually make this.

I love the idea of a super quick "pizza" at home, and all I needed in addition to things in my cupboard were feta and scallions, so it was a simple decision to make this. I have seen people suggest adding vodka to pastry before - apparently it evaporates very quickly and keeps the pastry tender? - but may have to try this once without vodka to determine whether it is a significant addition. I always make it without vodka now - no noticeable difference. Also, I think maybe my sheet pan is smaller than the one the recipe calls for - 1/4 cup of olive oil meant the tray was swimming in it, and I think the temperature for the oven is too high as well as it quickly meant that smoke was billowing out of the oven and I almost asphyxiated A and myself. Also I no longer use the olive oil coating on the sheet pan. Just some parchment paper works fine. I also skipped the butter as I had issues with topping feta with butter. And never bother with the butter either. Thankfully the end result was fantastic (having the leftovers tonight, in fact) so I am going to tweak this and make it again, even though the original recipe was a bit of a disaster. New recipe is anything but a disaster!

Feta and Scallion Tart
Serves 4
Adapted from Serious Eats


Ingredients

3 teaspoons vodka (optional)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (245g) water
1 egg
1 1/4 cups
(160g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
Kosher salt
200g crumbled feta
4 scallions, thinly sliced

Method

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 200C. In a large bowl, mix together vodka, 2 tablespoons olive oil, water, and egg and whisk until everything is evenly incorporated. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt. Gently whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until a batter forms, making sure to whisk out all the lumps.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour batter onto sheet pan, tilt so it coats most of the pan, and sprinkle with feta and scallions. Bake until feta is beginning to brown and crust is crisp and golden, about 25 minutes. Sometimes if the bottom isn't crisp enough when I take it out, I take it off the sheet pan and pop it directly on an oven rack for a few more minutes, like you'd do with an oven baked pizza. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.


Other things I have thrown on top - frozen peas, parmesan, rocket, etc. I've never tried any meat products as I quite like having a quick veggie option at home, but I don't see why any cured meats such as pepperoni / salami / prosciutto wouldn't work well (you might need to add it a little later in the baking time so it doesn't burn though).