Recipe: Lobster soup with toast

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For New Year’s Eve my assignment was to make a lobster soup with sherry, so that’s what I set out to do. But as I needed lobster shell for the stock I thought it best to incorporate the lobster meat as well and did so by serving a delicious lobster toast (on butter-fried bread!) along side it. So yummy!

Obviously one can make the soup sans toast the day after a lobster feast or freeze the shells and use them another day. Same goes for prawn shells; you find a great recipe for prawn soup here.

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Lobster soup, serves 8

4 cooked lobsters

2 carrots

1 onion with skin on 

1 fennel or celery 

a bunch dill stalks

1 tsp fennel seeds

300 ml double cream 

50 ml dry sherry

approx 2 tbsp maizena or corn starch to thicken the soup

concentrated lobster stock (to taste)

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1 tbsp butter

a splash of sherry

2 shallots, finely chopped 

1/2 bunch dill, finely chopped 

Remove the lobster meat from the shells and set aside. Chop the shells very coarsley (it’s only so they fit better in the pan later). Place the shell in a large cooking tray with a little oil. Also add large pieces of carrot, onion and celery/fennel. Roast for approx 20 minutes on 180/200C. Transfer the shells and vegetables to a large saucepan with a lid. Add plenty of water (3 litres) and bring to the boil. Add dill stalks and fennel seeds. Place the lid askew and cook for 30-45 minutes.

Sieve the stock and reduce (high heat, no lid) until approx 1 litre remains. Add salt and pepper and taste. Add some concentrated lobster stock if needed. Add the sherry to a clean non-stick pan and let it bubble for a minute. Add the stock and cream and let it thicken. Add the maizena/corn starch to thicken the soup further. Sieve if you see any lumps. Season to taste with concentrate, salt, pepper and sherry. 

From the lobster meat I used approx 1/4 of the meat, the smallest pieces, to place in the soup bowls. Melt the butter in a pan and add the chopped shallots. After a minute add the lobster meat and add the sherry. Add salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat and add the dill. Divide between the bowls and pour in the soup. 

Lobster toast, serves 8

6 slices white bread

2 tbsp butter

remaining lobster meat from the 4 lobsters

1 batch homemade mayonnaise

1 tsp dijon

1 bunch, finely chopped

1 pinch cayenne pepper

salt, pepper

Chop the lobster meat (not too finely). Add 4 tbsp mayonnaise to a bowl and mix in the meat. Add more mayo if needed. Add mustard, dill and cayenne after taste. Season. Place cold until serving. 

Remove the crusts on the bread and cut into two diagonally. Fry the slices golden brown on both sides in butter on medium-low heat. Divide the lobster mayonnaise between the toasts and serve with the soup. 

London: crudo and pasta at Veneta

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SaltYard Group, the company behind favourites like Ember Yard and Opera Tavern recently opened a restaurant in the newly redeveloped area of St James’s, just next to Swedish Aquavit actually. Called Veneta it has a distinct Italian, and Ventian, cuisine, compared to the other restaurants with a more Spanish menu.

I assume it’s because of my frequent visits to Opera Tavern (I wonder how many times I’ve eaten their mini pork and foie gras burger) that I was on the mailing list for Veneta’s soft launch.Either way, I was quick to book a table and went there one night after work with my friend Ro.

As it was a soft launch they offered 50 % off food in exchange for trying things out on us, and requesting feedback.

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Just like the other restaurants in the group, Veneta’s menu consists of small dishes perfect for sharing. I was super excited to see a whole section of the menu devoted to crudo, i.e. raw fish and seafood, which I love and we quickly ordered the raw red prawns with rosemary (top photo). They were plump and sweet and very fragrant from the rosemary. Lovely! Next time I want to try the raw red prawns with lardo.

Next we had the tortelloni, filled with red prawns and served in a seafood broth. It was nice but didn’t blow us away.

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The goat kid ragu with pappardelle however, did. It was just amazing and I predict it will become one of their signature dishes (if it isn’t already!).

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The salt baked carrots and beets with sheep ricotta, date purée and oregano was lovely and the plate was as pretty as a picture. It’s fun to see the vegetable dishes getting as much care and attention as the meat and fish dishes.

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The lamb with chard, lamb fat crisps and caprini fresco cheese was another amazing dish I’ll come back for.

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For pudding both Ro and I were set on having one of the amazing sounding sundaes but they were all sold out (sob) so we had a rethink and settled on fritelle doughnuts for Ro and tiramisu for me.

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The doughnuts were rather compact and chewy but that could have been intentional, as neither of us have had Italian doughnuts before. The taste was lovely though and chocolate sauce, whipped cream and jam works every time. The tiramisu was really nice but lacked a little in presentation I thought.

I could definitely see some teething problems here, like the tables being too close together (it felt like we had dinner with, not next to, our neighbours) and the waiting staff didn’t seem to have worked out a routine yet, but that’s also the whole point of this trial run soft launch.

Food wise I think the savoury dishes were very good and thought out, whereas the puddings could have done with a little more work, however I’m still intrigued by those sundaes and hope they haven’t sold out on my next visit.

I have already planned my meal. Definitely lots of crudo, the kid goat ragu and the lamb. And that ice cream.

Veneta, 3 Norris St, St. James’s Market, London SW1Y 4RJ

Recipe: Cacio e pepe

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Cacio e pepe, this heavenly dish consisting only of pasta, pecorino and black pepper (and a little cooking water from the pasta) has always seemed so daunting to make. I have enjoyed it cooked to perfection in Rome (it’s a Roman dish) but I never thought I could recreate it at home. But then I read Felicity Cloake’s article about the perfect cacio e pepe and decided to have a go as she made it seem so easy. And it turns out, with her guidance, it actually was!

The receipt is perfect. I didn’t change a thing and it worked perfectly the first time. If you’re a cacio e pepe novice like I was I highly recommend reading the article beforehand just to understand the elements of the dish better. And I can’t stress enough how important the quality of the ingredients are; buy some good dried pasta (I love de Cecco) and some really nice pecorino ( I got mine from Natoora) and your finished dish will be just as nice as the one you had in Rome on your holiday.

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Cacio e pepe, serves 2

Adapted from Felicity Cloake’s recipe.

2 tsp black peppercorns

200 g spaghetti 

80 g pecorino romano, at room temperature, finely grated 

Toast the peppercorns in a very hot, dry pan then roughly crush with a pestle and mortar.

Bring a wide shallow pan of well-salted water to the boil, then add the pasta; it should be covered but not by much. Stir occasionally during cooking and, five minutes into the cooking time, scoop out 250 ml water into a wide bowl to allow it to cool slightly.

Drain the pasta and leave it to cool for a minute. Meanwhile, put the cheese and most of the pepper in a large, heavy bowl or pan and beat in some of the pasta water very gradually to make first a paste, and then a sauce the consistency of bechamel. Add the pasta and toss furiously while adding enough of the water to make a sauce that coats each strand of spaghetti.

Divide between warm bowls, sprinkle over a little more pepper, and serve immediately.

 

London: Loved every bite at Kricket Soho

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It feels like almost every day a new fun restaurant opens its doors in Soho. Maybe not quite, but I love how this part of London evolves quicker than the rest.

One of the latest additions to Soho’s Denman Street is the opening of Kricket Soho. Kricket started out in a shipping container in Brixton and created such a following with their trendy Indian dishes that they opened a proper restaurant in Soho.  My friend Felicity, and also my dinner companion this evening, has frequently visited the Brixton restaurant and so was my menu guide here.

Some dishes were completely new additions to the menu, which our waiter kindly highlighted for us. And when I queried if the Grüner Veltliner would work well with the food he poured us a taster so we could decide. And yes, the slightly fruity (but not sweet) Grüner Veltliner complimented the array of dishes perfectly.

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Our first dish of the evening, and a must for Felicity, was the bhel puri – one of their classics consisting of puffed rice, raw mango, tamarind, sev and yoghurt. Sublime!

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The Hyderabad baby aubergines with coconut and curry leaves we had next were nice, but lacked a little oomph compared to the other dishes, we thought.

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The Lasooni scallop with goan sausage, poha and seaweed (we had one each) were really nice! Perfectly cooked, the roe still attached and full of flavour.

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Next we had another seafood dish; butter garlic crab with seaweed papad (papadums) which was also delicious. It was served warm but we still had some left towards the end of the meal and it was just as nice cold.

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The kathi roll with duck leg was utterly moreish and perfectly paired with the peanut chutney and pickled cucumber.

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Although it may not look that special, this kulcha bread with bone marrow and cep was amazing!

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The last dish we had were these grilled lamb chops that we could see on the pass when we arrived and I knew straight away from the smell that they would be delicious. They certainly were and the two sauces; yoghurt with black stone flower and wild garlic chutney were lovely too!

Although using lots of Indian flavours and ingredients there is definitely an element of cross-over here, by using wild garlic and creating dishes full of flavour but not too spicy. I’m sold! And will be back shortly. Probably with Felicity as we both loved it!

Kricket, 12 Denman Street, London W1D 7HH

Recipe: chicken bulgogi

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This Korean chicken dish has everything I want from a dish; plenty of flavour, seriously tender meat and a little heat.

The first time I made it I had it with rice, thinly cut carrots and pickled cucumber (using rice vinegar instead). The second time I used to fill steamed buns (recipe to come) and both ways were delicious.

Apart from flattening the chicken this recipe is as easy as making a marinade and forgetting about the chicken until the next day, when it takes a mere 5 minutes to cook it.

The recipe is courtesy of David Leibovitz via Koreatown: A Cookbook.

Chicken bulgogi, serves 4

Adapted from David Leibovitz’s recipe.

125 ml soy sauce

1-2 tbsp Korean chilli sauce gochujang 

1 small onion, finely chopped of puréed

2 tbsp soft light brown sugar

1 tbsp mirin or rice vinegar 

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

2 tsp grated fresh ginger

black pepper

2 tsp sesame seeds (I omitted these)

4-5 chicken thigh fillets  

Mix soy, chilli sauce, onions, sugar, mirin/rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil and ginger in a large ziplock bag. Also add black pepper and sesame seeds.

Cover a plastic chopping board with cling. Place a chicken thigh fillet (or two) on top. Cover with cling and flatten it by bashing it gently with a rolling pin. Repeat with all the chicken. 

Add the chicken to the marinade in the ziplock bag, squeeze the air out of the bag and seal it. Place it in the fridge overnight. 

Grill or fry for approx five minutes of medium-high heat. Brush with extra marinade while cooking. Slice thinly and serve. 

 

London: Shackfuyu

As proof that time is passing at what feels like the speed of light, here’s a post I meant to publish at the end of the summer last year when I’d just enjoyed my birthday meal at Bone Daddies’ Shackfuyu. I love this type of food that I would describe as Japanese junk food and the restaurant calls Western Japanese food.

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My friend Ro and I met up for a drink at then newly opened Café Monico before heading over to Shackfuyu. We were both really hungry and ordered away. First up was padron peppers. Not much to say about them really; they’re always lovely!

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Next we had the Korean fried wings which were nice and hot, just very messy to eat!

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The imo fries, crispy sweet potato fries, with yuzu mayo were also lovely.

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And by the time we had the sashimi it was a lovely palate cleanser with its fresh flavours.

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At the beginning of the meal the food arrived at a fast and steady pace but when it was time for the last two dishes – the heavier ones – we waited for approximately 40 mins. Not great and it wasn’t communicated very well to us either. It was just a shame as we then started to feel full before the rich meaty dishes finally arrived. We still managed to enjoy them though, but it was a bit of an effort trying to finish them!

The sukiyaki style wagyu picanha was amazing but so so rich. It was piping hot when it arrived, cooking the beef in the stone bowl at the table. When it was cooked we mixed it all together and thoroughly enjoyed the sweet sticky sauce enriched with an egg yolk and the enoki mushrooms. A must-order dish!

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The sticky fatty lamb ribs with pickled plum miso glaze were also full of umami and finger-lickin’ good.

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We were beyond full at this point but still had to order the Kinako French Toast with matcha soft serve ice cream. It’s probably the most instagrammed dessert in London and very very good, even when you’re so full you’re about to explode!

Shackfuyu, 14a Old Compton St, London W1D 4TJ

 

London: dim sum at Grand Imperial

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Luckily all my friends appreciate good food, but out of them Gaby is definitely my dim sum buddy! Last time we went for dim sum she introduced me to a new restaurant, and one of her favourites; the  Grand Imperial at The Grosvenor Hotel just next to Victoria Station.

We ordered most of their dim sum menu; xialong bao, pork buns, scallop dumplings and prawn dumplings, duck spring rolls with hoisin sauce and the most amazing turnip cake.

All the dishes were really nice and very authentic. Although it lacks the bustle of China Town, which I find charming, it’s very authentic yet more upmarket without being expensive.

Grand Imperial, The Grosvenor Hotel, 101 Buckingham Palace Rd, London SW1W 0SJ