Sunday 30 July 2017

Chicken with Hash Browns

Chicken with Hash Browns

  • 1 large potato
  • ½ tbsp. Coconut oil
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely sliced
  • 3 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 chicken breast fillet, sliced into strips
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Turkish chilli flakes
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • White wine vinegar

Put a saucepan of water on to boil, add a couple tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Grate the unpeeled potato and squeeze out any excess liquid.

Melt half of the coconut oil in a small non-stick frying pan over a medium to high heat. 

Add a large handful of the grated potato and use a spatula to flatten it out across the base of the pan, naturally add more potato if required. 

Fry the potato for around 5 minutes and then carefully turn it over in the pan and fry for a further 5 minutes until the potato is cooked through and has a nice crisp to it.

Melt the remaining coconut oil in a second frying pan, chuck in the spring onions, chilli, tomatoes and chicken, stir fry for around 5 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Crack the eggs into individual ramekin dishes and once the water is boiling tip them straight in and cook on a rolling boil for 3 minutes, this should give you lovely runny yolks. Once cooked lift out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

When the chicken has cooked add the Turkish chilli flakes and the spinach to the pan and toss together with the other ingredients until the spinach is fully wilted.

Slide the hash brown onto a piece of kitchen roll in order to soak up any excess oil then plate it up. Top with the chicken and spinach mix and finish with the poached eggs and a few grinds of fresh black pepper.

This recipe is taken from Joe Wicks, "Lean in 15" cook book, the original recipe uses rose harissa, however I`m not a fan of harissa so I substituted this with the Turkish chilli flakes. This is a light yet filling meal, ideal for lunch or dinner and its one of those dishes you can mix up with a variety of ingredients that you may have in the fridge or store cupboard, mushrooms, bell pepper, spiralised courgette/butternut squash in place of the spinach, make it your own!

Sunday 16 July 2017

SAGARDI – The Summer Menu Review

Last year I was invited along to one of the launch parties for the SAGARDI restaurant in Shoreditch (please check out my review), the food was amazing -  so imagine how excited I was when my partner won a competition on the SAGARDI facebook page to go and sample the new summer menu!

On arrival we were greeted by the marketing and sales executive for the restaurant, Jon who explained that the Chef would be coming out with each dish that he had prepared and would talk us through it. 

Pan-fried txistorra

 We were served drinks and a plate of traditional pan fried txistorra (that’s chorizo to you and I) was brought out to us along with some sourdough bread and olive oil in which to dip it. The txistorra was meaty goodness and then some, it had a great smokey flavour to it which went down well with the bread and olive oil. The bread we were told was made fresh each day and purchased from a local bakery, the bakery itself is only able to make just over 200 hundred loaves a day and once they are sold, that’s it, it was therefore a good job for us that SAGARDI seem to have a standing order with them, otherwise we would have missed out on this wonderful bread.

Tomato salad using meta de cabra, cor de bou and cherry tomatoes

Having polished off the txistorra the Chef brought out the next dish, a simple farmhouse tomato salad using meta de cabra, cor de bou and cherry tomatoes from the SAGARDI garden which are flown in each week. The tomatoes were dressed in olive oil and finely sliced Ibarra chilli with a sprinkling of salt, which really brought out the flavours. When I say simple, I mean that in as much that it was an easy dish to prepare, however there was nothing simple about the flavour of the dish, you seriously cannot beat the flavour from a home grown tomato which coupled with the olive oil and chilli made for such a tasty course and one that I will be making myself when my own tomatoes ripen!

To be frank, I would have been more than happy to have just devoured a plate of the tomato salad, however there was more foody goodness to come and we were soon brought out a plate of grilled hake “kokotxas” from Hondarribia. 

Grilled hake Kokotxas from Hondarribia

On first look I thought they were fat anchovies but it turns out the are hake chins, who knew they had chins! Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t really eat fish so you can therefore imagine what was going through my mind, the first thing being I hope Scott likes them because he is going to have to clear the plate! Well obviously it would be rude not to try them, you can’t really comment on something unless you have at least tasted it. Well what do you know, I like hake chins! I was seriously surprised by the texture and also the flavour - kind of salty and somewhat gelatinous. We were told that this is a real delicacy and very difficult to find outside of the Basque Country. The kokotxas come from hake that are at least 4kg in weight and are cooked in a charcoal grill with pretty much nothing else done to them in order that they retain the natural flavours and texture.

Pagos de Araiz Rosado Navarra

With each of the dishes that we were served, the sommelier paired them with an appropriate wine, I have to say the rose that we tried, Pagos de Araiz Rosado Navarra, was by far my favourite, the aroma alone was so intense and fruity.

White tuna from the port of Bermeo

Following the kokotxas the Chef then brought out white tuna from the port of Bermeo which was served with a fresh tomato sauce and green Ibarra chilli peppers. Again, fish! Was someone out to get me? Well, what can I say other than I loved it, the tuna was so meaty, I almost forgot I was eating fish! The sauce that accompanied the tuna along with the chilli peppers really enhanced the flavour, luckily we had more bread as well too mop up the sauce, waste not want not as they say!

There was me thinking that was it, hell no! Chef comes out with yet another plate, this time beef sweetbreads with roasted tomatoes and yes, I was thinking exactly the same as you are now, however as it turns out these were not those type of sweetbreads, these were from the neck, phew!

Beef sweetbreads with roasted tomatoes
I really couldn’t actually give you a description of what these tasted of, they were nice, especially the edges which had crisped up, they were soft in the middle and the roasted tomatoes complimented them nicely but again, its difficult for me to liken them to anything, I guess you will have to give them a try yourself and if you do, let me know what you think.

Peach in txakoli syrup with vanilla ice cream

Just when you think you couldn’t eat another thing, Chef brings out dessert (time for me to loosen my belt!), peach in txakoli syrup with vanilla ice cream. Just incase you are unsure, txkoli is a slightly sparkling, very dry white wine produced in the Basque Country. This was very nice, however at the time I was slightly disappointed as I was expecting to be wowed after having had such a wonderful meal with so many different flavours and taste sensations, that said and in hindsight, it was actually the perfect end to the meal, simple and light, there was no need for anything heavy or intense.

We rounded the meal off with a cappuccino along with dark truffles with a hint of Sagardoz apple liqueur. I have to say whoever makes the truffles deserves a Knighthood for services to the country, oh my days, these just melted in your mouth, I think they should box them up and sell them! Mmm now there’s an idea I might take up with them!

What can I say, it was a very welcome return to SAGARDI, we were once again knocked out by the amazing food and the great service, I couldn’t fault a thing and hey, I ate fish! There is plenty of choice on the menu so certainly something for everyone, we got to sample some of the highlights from the menu which I am sure is going to be a big hit. Thank you SAGARDI for a great evening and for looking after us so well.   

Cider Pouring at Sagardi

Had lovely feedback from Sagardi for my review! It's great when restaurants appreciate my reviews!

Sunday 9 July 2017

London Paella School - Cooking Classes

Following the launch of the London Paella School I was lucky enough to be invited back to attend one of the actual classes.  My partner and I popped along to the Open Kitchen in Hoxton to learn how to cook "Paella de Marisco", or to you and I, that's seafood paella!  

There was a small group of 6 of us which was actually quite nice as you got to have a good chat with everyone and the kitchen wasn't cramped with too many people!  That said there was plenty of room in the kitchen with around 12 individual workstations which were fully equipped with everything needed for the class.

Before the class commenced, our teacher, Xavi served us some tapa, chorizo, manchego cheese and olives which we washed down with cava and an orange liquor called "Carmeleta - Licor de Naranja", which I have to say was so refreshing and much needed on a hot day!  

The liquor isn't available in the UK as yet but Xavi will soon be importing this and once he does our names are down for a couple of bottles!  I highly recommend it and can't wait to try it with some gin which I think will be a perfect combination.

All the ingredients were laid out, ready for us to chop
As there were 6 of us we paired off and then Xavi ran through the ingredients with us and talked us through the cooking process, thankfully we also had the recipe typed up for us as there was a fair bit to take in and my memory isn't what it used to be!

Whilst the ingredients were all measured out for us we none the less had to do plenty of chopping and dicing, which those who know me will realise I was in heaven, I do like a uniform dice lol.  Whilst we cracked on Xavi and his assistant moved between the groups lending a hand if required, answering our questions and ensuring we had everything we needed.  As well as making the paella we were also going to make a traditional "Ensaladilla Rusa, which is a  tuna and potato salad, so it was handy there were two of us as there was a fair bit to do and remember!  

Making the fish stock 
Once all the prep is done, chopping the veg and squid, cleaning the prawns and making the stock, everything else just falls into place as you go and whilst I was a bit daunted before we started it all began to make sense thank god lol.  

Adding the oil and salt to the traditional paella pan
Frying the squid and tomatoes
Hands-on advice from Chef Xavi
Adding the paella rice
 Having never made paella before, this was a real eye opener as it seemed a lot simpler than I had first thought and unlike making a risotto, there was no endless stirring, once you measured out the paella rice in the traditional way (making a cross of rice half a finger deep above the top of the stock and ingredients) you then pretty much left it to cook away, which was handy as we had the salad to finish!

Making Mayo from scratch

The Ensaladilla Rusa pretty much comprised of boiled potatoes, peas, pickles, carrots, boiled eggs and tuna which was all mixed together with homemade Mayo (yes, we made Mayo and who knew how easy it was!)

This was then plated up in a sort of Christmas pudding shape and coated with mayo and topped with peppers and olives and grated egg, and if I do say so, it tasted good.

By the time the salad had been made everything else had come together and we were ready to sit down and sample our creations over a bottle of beer.  I have to say I was really pleased that when serving up our paella we had managed to create a crispy bottom, or the technical term being socarrat, a golden caramelised crust, which is so intense in flavour.

Whilst we had all made the same recipe it was interesting to see that all of our efforts looked different to each others, I suppose this comes down to individual artistic licence however everyone loved what they had made and it was nice to sit back and relax with our lunch after all our hard work.

All in all the class, including having lunch, lasted around 3 hours and costs £55 per person, which given that you are learning a new skill and having lunch and drinks on top I think is darn good value for money and a great way to spend a few hours. Would I recommend a class at the London Paella School? What do you think? YES!  This is a great way to meet new people, and one lady had come on her own and was visiting from Dubai!  

Please visit The London Paella School for details of their future classes, they even do a singles night!  What a way to meet the future love of your life, they do say the way to a mans heart is through his stomach!

Big thanks to Xavi and his team for looking after us and more importantly for teaching us a new skill in a fun, friendly and relaxed way.

Tuesday 4 July 2017

Lime, chilli & coriander grilled chicken with toasted spiced chickpea salad

 Lime, chilli & coriander grilled chicken with toasted spiced chickpea salad
  • 2 chicken breasts (butterflied)
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 X 400g tin of chickpeas (drained)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded with a vegetable peeler into thin strips
  • Small bunch of coriander roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp mint leaves finely chopped
  • 100g haloumi, grated
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp honey
  • Juice of a lime
  • 1 tsp of chilli flakes

In a small bowl mix together 2 tbsp of olive oil, the lime juice, half the chopped coriander and the chilli flakes (the marinade should thicken) then pour this over the chicken and ensure it is evenly coated and then put in the fridge.  I would usually do this about an hour before I'm going to cook the dish.

When the chicken has had time to marinade, heat a griddle pan and when smoking hot add the chicken and cook for several minutes each side. The olive oil in the marinade is sufficient for cooking purposes so no need to add further oil to the pan.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, heat a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat.  Add 1 tbsp of olive oil, cumin, paprika, salt and fennel seeds and cook for around 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Add the chickpeas and cook, stirring for 5 to 10 minutes until the chickpea see are toasted and coated in the spices.

Place the carrot, the remaining coriander, mint, haloumi, lemon juice, honey and 1 tbsp of olive oil into a bowl and toss to combine.  Plate up your cooked chicken and divide the chickpea salad between the two plates.

Now that summer is here this recipe is perfect for al fresco dining, which is exactly what we did.  The salad itself is quick and easy to put together as is the chicken which you can cook on the BBQ. Put together a big bowl of the salad and you will have plenty for a get together we friends and family (obviously adjust the ingredients depending how many people you are feeding). The recipe above feeds two, if you double up you only need to double the amount of chicken, chickpeas and haloumi, the rest of the ingredients are fine.

This is a Donna Hay recipe from "Fresh and Light" which I adapted.