London: The Palomar, Soho

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The Palomar in Soho is a snug little restaurant serving up dishes from the Jerusalem of today and has been around for a while. It’s still as popular as when it opened and I had a fab dinner with my friend Felicity here quite a while ago that I’d like to tell you all about.

Arriving on a weekday after work the small restaurant was of course full (always expect a popular Soho restaurant to be full unless you go very early or very late) so we put our names on the list and when in search of a drink.

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About an hour later our seats at the bar were ready and our enthusiastic water welcomed us and started to recommend dishes from the menu. The kabaneh, a Yemeni pot baked bread with tahini and a tomato sauce was a must and we loved dipping the fluffy bread in the different sauces.

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Next we had a special for the day; crispy Jerusalem artichoke with tuna rillette and duck fat which was amazingly good. Loved loved loved this one!

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The burnt courgette tzatziki was another favourite. It also pairs very well with the bread!

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Another special, the bonito carpaccio, savoury cookie crumble was also really nice! And full of freshness.

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The Jerusalem style polenta with asparagus, mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil was pure indulgence (I wish I could cook polenta like that!!) and a real treat.

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But the deconstructed kebab with minced beef & lamb, yoghurt, tahini, cured lemon and harissa disappointed us a little. It was still nice – but lacked a bit om oomph compared to the other dishes.

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So did The beets go prawn with smoky beetroot, labneh, prawn jus, basil and chilli but it was still a nice plate of food. Just lacking a bit of wow factor.

All together we had a fantastic evening here, chatting with our waiter, the people next to us and of course each other, enjoying some excellent food and lovely wine! This is what Soho is all about for me; the informal yet amazing dining experiences.

The Palomar, 34 Rupert St, London W1D 6DN

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Roasted Jerusalem artichokes with browned butter mayo

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Jerusalem artichokes. Once they were just a humble root vegetable used for peasant food and then suddenly it’s a gourmet vegetable.

Fine with me; I really like the earthy sweet taste. And if you have a plot of land to grow your own, it’s, according to my mother, the easiest vegetable to grow as it spreads like weed.

I usually use them for soup as I never get tired of the comforting flavour it has, but sometimes I roast them in the oven. Last time I made sort of a sharing dish with browned butter mayonnaise and grated comté. It’s very simple to make (apart form the mayo) and feels luxurious despite the simple ingredients.

Just a note about the mayonnaise: it’s just as easy to make as regular mayonnaise but make sure the butter has cooled down before incorporating into the mayo. And please make it just before serving as mine split after a while in room temperature. It’s not a huge problem though, as you don’t really want to leave any of it – it’s that good!

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Roasted Jerusalem artichokes with browned butter mayonnaise, serves 2 (starter size portions)

200 g small Jerusalem artichokes, washed 

oil for roasting

salt and pepper

grated comté

2 lemon wedges (optional)

Cut the artichokes in half lengthways. Place in a roasting tin and drizzle with some oil. Add salt and pepper and stir around so all pieces are coated with oil and seasoning. Roast in 225C until soft but with crunchy exterior, approx 20 minutes. 

Serve with the mayo below and grated comté. And maybe some lemon juice. 

Browned butter mayonnaise

100 g butter

1 egg yolk, at room temperature

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp white wine vinegar

approx 3 tbsp neutral oil

1/2 lemon

salt, white pepper

Brown the butter and let cool until room temperature. Whisk egg yolk, mustard and vinegar in a bowl. Add the oil drop by drop while whisking. Once you have the start of a mayonnaise, add the butter little by little while whisking and letting the mixture thicken. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve immediately. 

Baked Jerusalem artichoke salad with Parma ham and parmesan

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Salads when the weather’s hot is a must, but despite the warmth I am still as hungry as usual, so for me a salad needs to be filling. I also like contrasting textures and temperatures. Something needs to happen in a salad for me to really enjoy it.

That’s why I like this salad, it has the warmth element of soft baked Jerusalem artichokes, pepperiness from the rocket, saltiness from the parmesan, umami from the ham and some zing and sweetness from the dressing with lemon and honey. Really tasty – and filling!

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Baked Jerusalem artichoke salad with Parma ham and parmesan, per portion

4-5 Jerusalem artichokes

3 slices Parma ham

2 handfuls rocket

Parmesan shavings

Dressing:

4 tbsp rapeseed oil

2 tsp honey

1/2 tsp lemon zest

1/2 lemon, the juice

salt, black pepper

Wash the Jerusalem artichokes and cut each into four wedges. Place in a roasting tray and drizzle with rapeseed oil and season. Bake in 180C until soft about 30-40 minutes depending on the size. Leave to cool slightly. 

Whisk together the dressing and season with salt and pepper. To plate the salad, start with the rocket, then the artichokes, Parma ham and drizzle with dressing. Finally top with plenty of Parmesan shavings.

Roasted Jerusalem artichokes with lemon and parmesan

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This might sounds like something out of a rom-com, but sometimes I think some things are just meant to be.

And no, I am not referring to meeting Mr. Right (Darcy of course) or anything like that.

Instead I am referring to one Sunday when I watched a BBC re-run of Nigel Slater’s Simple Suppers and came across this recipe when I at the same time was contemplating how to use up my last Jerusalem artichokes.

Since I made (well, asked) my mother grow them for me, I feel I need to make them into something really nice every time I cook with them so it is worth the effort of her growing them, and pruning as they grow like weed, and me transporting them home.

This is a fabulously frugal dish (as long as you already have Parmesan at hand) and so delicious. But because it is a typical ‘less is more’ dish you need a really nice oil. I used coldpressed rapeseed oil but Nigel prefers a nice olive oil.

Roasted winter roots with lemon and parmesan, serves 4

Adapted from Nigel Slaters receipe.

750 g Jerusalem artichokes

250 g potatoes

penty of rapeseed or olive oil 

2 lemons

salt and black pepper

2 handfuls parsley

Parmesan

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Wash the root vegetables but leave the skin on. Cut the Jerusalem artichokes in half lenghtways and cut the potatoes in similar size pieces. Parboil for about 10 minutes (I skipped this step). Place in a roasting tin and toss with oil. Halve the lemons and squeeze the juice of one and a half lemon into the tray and place the empty lemons in it. Season well and roast for 30-35 minutes (about 45 minutes without parboiling). The root vegetables should be soft and sticky. 

Plate, toss with more oil and squeeze with fresh lemon. Add more seasoning, parsley and shavings of parmesan.

Pork belly, Jerusalem artichoke purée and creamy black trumpets

In a way it has been liberating food wise to move to the UK. It might sound silly, but in the UK everyone eats. In Sweden not so much.

Maybe it is because the world’s perception of Swedish people as blond, slim and beautiful that Swedish girls in general don’t eat much. They are all very conscious about what they eat and unless it is low-carb, low-fat the food is merely pushed around the plate instead of put in the mouth.

This is a generalisation of course, but for a foodie, this environment felt rather hostile. Moving to the UK almost four years ago, I could not believe it when the really slim women in my office had a sandwich and a packet of crisps for lunch. I mean bread? Crisps? And they still stayed slim. Was that even possible? Of course it was. In the UK people ate the way we did when I was young; everything in moderation. And it works.

But you can imagine that if people don’t want bread for lunch they certainly wouldn’t eat crackling. In Sweden a few years ago it seemed that it was only chicken breasts and salmon fillets that people ate. Some still do, and I am sick and tired of both. But foodies eat differently, thank God, and restaurants with the same philosophy as St John are opening up everywhere in Sweden and it seems more OK to actually eat there now. Or maybe I just don’t care anymore.

Pork belly, Jerusalem artichoke purée and creamy black trumpets, serves 2

2 slices pork belly

salt

a few sprigs thyme

300 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled

3 tbsp salted butter

1 handfull dried black trumpets, soaked in water

1 tbsp butter

1 garlic clove

a splash of dry white wine

50 ml cream

1 tsp concentrated vegetable stock

salt, white pepper

Preheat the oven to 125C. Place the pork belly slices in a buttered dish. Rub salt into the crackling and add some salt all over. Place the thyme on the meat. Let it cook for at least two hours or until tender.

Cut the artichokes in equal pieces, cover with water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Cook until soft. Turn the oven up to 250C and cook the meat for another 10 minutes until the crackling crisps up.

Squeeze the water from the mushrooms and chop roughly. Fry in the butter on high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the wine and let some evaporate. Add the cream and stock and let it thicken.

Purée the artichokes with the butter, season ieth salt and pepper.  

Jerusalem artichoke soup 2.0

Jerusalem artichoke is one of my favourite root vegetables and something I would love to grow if I had a garden. Since I don’t, I get mine in Waitrose or at Borough Market.

This soup was well liked on Saturday, which I am grateful for, since it was the best version I have made so far. Richard, Christopher’s brother, described the flavour similar to smoked bacon and I see what he means. I will try his suggestion of topping the soup with crispy bacon instead of girolles next time.

Jerusalem artichoke soup, serves 4 as a starter

2 shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

600-700 g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled

water

2 tsp concentrated chicen stock (like Touch of Taste)

50 ml single cream

salt, white pepper

Topping: Girolles fried in butter, salt and white pepper and some fresh chopped shallots.

Fry the onions soft in a large saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the Jerusalem artichokes and fry for a minute or so. Cover with boiling water. Add salt. Bring to the boil and cook until the artichokes are soft. Drain away half of the cooking water, but save it for later. Puré the artichokes with the remaining water with a blender or stick blender. Add the cream and enough of the cooking water to get the thickness you require. Add the stock and season to taste. Bring to the boil again and serve.