Dinner at The Big Easy, Covent Garden

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The Big Easy on Kings Road has been around for 20 odd years and only recently opened a more central sister restaurant in Covent Garden. My friend Gaby introduced me to the original restaurant and she was also the one suggesting we try out the new edition on one of our girl’s nights.

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The menu is quite very similar to the Kings Road restaurant but the restaurant itself is a lot bigger, more spacious and feels more modern. On the lower ground floor you can see the chefs hard at work in the kitchen and there is a bar area on each floor.

We started with some voodoo prawns (top picture) and delicious chicken wings to share since we know that the portions here are big here, huge in fact. Which of course fits well with the American BBQ food they serve.

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Gaby and Rowena had the ribs and although they had had them before they were surprised of the portion size. Six big, juicy (and very delicious) ribs each, as well as coleslaw, beans and a potato salad makes for quite a substantial meal…

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Laura and I chose the lobster roll which was really good but really filling as well. The filling had large chunks of lobster and was quite creamy (in a good way) and brioche roll was large and shaped like a loaf. With a side salad and chips we were stuffed!

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Instead of pudding (as they all seemed too heavy in our food coma state) we had some cocktails and milkshakes. Even the milkshake was too much for me but really yummy.

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I really like this place! As a restaurant it feels more up to date than the Kings Road branch mainly because it is a lot bigger and has a more modern look. It’s more fun on the weekend as it is buzzing with people and has a large capacity and the food is just as good as on the Kings Road.

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I definitely think it is a winning concept; not changing the menu trying to be too edgy but instead sticking to what you know.

Big Easy Bar.B.Q & Crabshack, 12 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7NA

Cooking is my yoga (and a three course dinner)

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Sometimes I forget how much I love to cook. It’s true. When I have a busy work week and come home exhausted in the evenings and haven’t hatched a plan for what to cook for my evening meal I usually surrender to a cheese toastie or just toast with cheese and cucumber slices, which in my world does not constitute cooking.

On Friday I had promised to cook for my flatmate as it was one of those rare occasions when we were both spending a night in. Although I almost regretted my decision as I noticed how very tired I was when I was on the tube home.

But when I got home, put my pinny on and started prepping I got second wind. And it was so much fun! I wasn’t stressed because my flatmate Daisy was happily perched on the sofa in front of the TV with a glass of wine in hand and I let the cooking take its time. Because it’s usually the time aspect that is my downfall. I can be a bit of a time optimist and when I realise that I am running late I get stressed and become clumsy and a not-so-great cook. But when cooking without the time pressure I am truly happy. Cooking is my yoga. It relaxes me and keeps me sane.

What I cooked? My favourite spring time starter; steamed (British) asparagus with wild garlic mayonnaise and Parmesan shavings (and some watercress) followed by caramelised pork fillet, an amazing mushroom crème, roasted new potatoes and steamed purple sprouting broccoli. To finish vanilla icecream, chewy meringues, whipped cream and chocolate sauce.

Eating it would make anyone happy, so lucky me who got to cook it too.

Crab linguine with white wine and cream

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In my family we have always made a distinction between weekday and weekend food. Every Friday we would have something a bit more luxurious than the weekday meatballs and more often than not it was prawns or other kinds of seafood.

I too, make this distinction of weekday and weekend when it comes to food. At the weekends one have more time to enjoy a lovely breakfast, brunch with friends or a nice dinner and I think that should be celebrated.

A few weeks ago I made this lovely pasta with crab, shallots, white wine and cream, well worthy of a Friday night in, and together with a glass of nice dry white wine and a good film it was a very enjoyable evening and a good start to the weekend.

Crab linguine with white wine and cream, serves 2

2 portions linguine, cooked al dente (according to the instructions on the packet)

1 shallot, finely chopped

50 ml dry white wine

100 ml double cream

1/4 fish stock cube

100 g crab meat (both brown and white)

chopped parsley

Heat up a saucepan and add a knob of butter and the shallots. Fry for a minute or two without browning. Add the wine and let it reduce by almost half. Add the cream and let the sauce thicken. Add the stock cube and season to taste. 

Drain the pasta and add the linguine to the sauce. Carefully heat up the crab meat in a non-stick pan and add to the pasta and sauce. Add the parsley and stir to combine. Serve immediately. 

Going back to the 1920s… for an evening

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When it was my friend Marie-Louise’s birthday a few weekends ago she invited us to a 1920s themed evening at The Candlelight Club. It was literally like travelling back in time for an evening.

The hall where the party was hosted was an art deco building in West London (although the venue changes and is kept a secret until a few days before the party) and a perfect fit for this party. As you walked up the stairs to the ballroom you noticed the stage where the band later played charleston songs, and the DJ next to it, who was entertaining us in between the sessions.

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Walking further in you saw all the round tables laid with proper linen tablecloths, lit candelabras, champagne buckets and coupe glasses.

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Everyone went all in dressing up in 1920s gear and it was lovely to see one outfit after another! The bar at the back served typical 1920s cocktails and you could order food from the menus on the tables all through the evening. It was so well planned!

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Instead of a traditional cake Marie-Louise got a ‘cake’ of macarons!

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Thank you for a great evening!

 

Brunch: purple sprouting, poached egg, dijon and tarragon crème, parmesan

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When spring has sprung my body just craves greens and other healthy things it wasn’t interested in much during the winter months.

That’s why I made this healthy brunch dish last weekend. The combination of broccoli, poached egg, a lovely crème with dijon mustard and tarragon and some salty parmesan certainly hit the spot on a sunny spring Sunday.

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Purple sprouting with poached egg, dijon and tarrgagon crème, parmesan, serves 1

4-6 stems purple sprouting broccoli

1 egg

50 ml creme fraiche

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/2 tsp dried tarragon

To serve: parmesan shavings, grassy olive oil

Combine creme fraiche, dijon mustard in a bowl. Add salt and pepper and set aside. Cook the broccoli in salted water for 2-3 minutes. Then drain and return to the dry pan to keep warm while poaching the egg.

Bring water to simmer in a sauce pan. Add a tsp of white wine vinegar. Crack the egg into a mug (or small bowl) and lower into the simmering water and pour out the egg. Let it simmer for 3 minutes (set a timer). Once done remove with a slotted spoon and put the egg into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking. Place the broccoli on a plate, place the poached egg on top. Drizzle with the crème, scatter parmesan shavings and finish with a drizzle of olive oil. 

Best of: SPRING

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I’ve had the blog for quite a few years now and there are plenty of good recipes in the archives that I still cook from quite to time. In these very sporadic ‘best of’ posts I’d like to highlight a few seasonal favourites:

Sumac pannacotta with lemon jelly - nothing says spring like lemon for me and this pannacotta with sumac (which also has a citrus-y flavour) is divine

Mother’s wild garlic soup - this green and creamy soup is spring in a bowl

Asparagus with wild garlic mayonnaise and parmesan shavings – more wild garlic in this fab mayonnaise with asparagus, so delicious!

Key Lime Pie - another citrus favourite

Lavender chicken (with lemon, garlic and thyme) - I cook this chicken dish all year round but it works best in spring served with new potatoes

 

Dinner at Quo Vadis, Soho

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Quo Vadis has been on my (extremely long) to-eat-list for quite a while and last weekend I finally got the opportunity to go there. My friend from home, Linus, was visiting and as he happened to have two colleagues in town we thought we’d meet up for dinner somewhere central and my friend Laura was up for coming along too.

We met at Soho diner for a few drinks before our dinner and it was so warm we could sit outside.

As we had quite a late dinner we decided to go for both starters and mains and I just had to have the baked salsify I’ve seen Simon Hopkinson rave about on TV. They were gorgeous; crispy on the outside, not too soft on the inside and tasted absolutely lovely with the grated parmesan.

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Our waiter thought one portion of the salsify was not enough as a starter so I had another snack, the duck rillette which was nice too.

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Louise had exactly the same starter as I and Linus and Jacob both had the spinach and Alexanders (a new acquaintance for us all) soup. Laura had the squid above and was pretty much in food heaven she said.

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Jacob and Laura both had the salt cod with soft boiled egg, anchovies and salad which they really enjoyed.

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Louise and Linus had the onglet with horseradish and pickled walnut (it’s hiding behind the horseradish) and some roast potatoes and steamed vegetables to share. photo 42

I had probably the healthiest maincourse I’ve ever had. Brill in a vegetable broth with mussels, broadbeans and leek. I really enjoyed it but when I read it on the menu I actually expected more of a creamy broth.

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Somehow we all managed pudding as well. Laura and Jacob had the same again; poached pear and winter fruits with Jersey cream which was quite heavy but nice.

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Louise, Linus and I all had the crème brulee and it was a very good version. The custard was not too sweet and quite runny and velvety.

Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean Street, London W1D 3LL