Archive | November, 2010

Le Café Anglais

17 Nov

Le Café Anglais isn’t the first restaurant that springs to mind when I think of where to go for a Sunday roast, but our friend was visiting from Edinburgh with her Scottish boyfriend and my foodie friend suggested it. So 7 of us descended there on Sunday afternoon.

I love the decor of the place, I’m a sucker for elegance and Le Café Anglais is oozing with it. The restaurant is very spacious due to the high ceilings and is also bright and airy due to the large windows, white walls and crisp white tablecloths.

Rowley Leigh opened Le Café Anglais in 2007 and is well known for his modern British Cooking. It is situated in Whiteleys shopping center in West London, but don’t let that put you off. The restaurant has it’s own separate entrance on the ground floor and you’re then transported in a lift to the main room on the first floor.

The menus were placed in front of us and the decision that I had made to have the roast before I even arrived flew out of the window. It took me a while to choose but I eventually settled on the French Partridge with Cabbage and Bacon. My boyfriend went for the Roast Beef so I still got to try it, which I was happy about.

My group are somewhat big eaters so we went for Hors D’oeuvres, Starters, Mains and Puddings. Yes, we were full afterward and no, we didn’t need any dinner later in the evening!

A plate of Radishes and fresh bread with butter welcomed us to the table – a perfect and refreshing way to stay the feast.

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The dinner started with a delightful Prosecco (welcome friends) and my boyfriend and I shared the Parmesan Custard with Anchovy Toast and the Quails’ Eggs with Duxelles and Hollandaise to start. My friend told me of the praise that the Parmesan Custard has had in the past so I had to give it a go. It was delicious – I was a bit dubious at first, probably because of the word ‘custard’ but it was creamy, cheesy and the Anchovy Toast provided a nice salty touch.

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The Quails eggs were encased in mini delicate pastry boat. The yolks (most important part!) were perfectly runny and divine.

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For starter we shared the Raw Tuna with Ginger dressing. I am a huge fan of sashimi and Japanese inspired food so this hit the spot completely for me.

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The mains came and although the roast was fantastic – big slab of medium rare beef, huge roast pudding, perfect roast potatoes, roast celeriac and just the right amount of gravy, I found the French Partridge to be ever so slightly disappointing.

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Don’t get me wrong, the Partridge was cooked extremely well – it was moist and tender but the accompanying gravy was what let it down. It wasn’t as pleasing to the eye either as the colours were rather drab.

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Pudding was a different story – I ordered the Bitter Chocolate Soufflé with Pistachio Ice Cream. It took 25 minutes to come, which we were advised on ordering but it was well worth the wait. The Soufflé was light, fluffy and gooey. The Ice Cream wasn’t AS good as expected – I don’t think that the Pistachios were roasted before made into Ice Cream and I had difficulty identifying the taste. There was a very welcome touch of melted Dark Chocolate, which we poured over the Soufflé and Ice Cream.

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The bill came and the cost, with one bottle of Prosecco, 3 bottles of wine, coffees to finish and service charge, came to £72 per head.

Three and a half hours later, we rolled out of the restaurant, laughing and extremely content.

Le Café Anglais
8 Porchester Gardens
London W2 4DB
020 7221 1415

Le Cafe Anglais on Urbanspoon

Green & Blacks search for a Taste Assistant

15 Nov

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Have you heard? Green and Blacks have launched a nationwide search to find a brand new Taste Assistant! The lucky candidate will work along Head of Taste, Micah Carr-Hill and will be responsible for developing new flavour combinations for the brand. Sound good? You’ll get to travel the world to source the very best ingredients and devise new products. Is this your idea of a dream job? Then what are you waiting for, enter now!

The job won’t come easy though, Micah is looking for the person that has the ultimate taste buds as well as smell. He’s looking for someone that fully understands the difference between taste and flavour – to enter simply head to www.pieceofgreenandblacks.co.uk. Closing date for entries is 16th December 2010. The successful candidate is expected to take up their role early 2011.

I am a self confessed chocoholic. I can’t go a day without eating at least a teeny bite of the delicious brown stuff. Green & Blacks Creamy Milk is my bar of choice so imagine my delight when I found that Green & Blacks were hosting a bloggers event to coincide with the search for the Taste Assistant.

The event was held at the lovely Miele Gallery in Central London and there were three competitions to take part in on the evening. My boyfriend and I took part in the 15:15 challenge. What is this I hear you cry? We had £15 to spend on ingredients to create any dish that we liked but here’s the catch – we only had 15 minutes to cook it from scratch! There were 9 contestants in total and each person created something incredible in the allocated time. The dishes were judged on the taste element (obvioulsly) and Micah wanted to see great flavour combinations that exploded your taste buds when hitting the mouth. I went for a Lemon and Lime Cheesecake with an Oreo Biscuit Base

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and Jack opted for Pan fried Scallops wrapped in Pancetta with Pesto and Capers.

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Each contestant had their own cooking station with a helper from the Miele Gallery. It was a little nerve wracking because the guests that weren’t cooking were watching intently!

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During the cook off, guests could enter the other two competitions of the evening, both to test the taste buds of course! The first was the ganache test – you had to taste two ganaches and write down as many ingredients as you could decipher. The second test was tasting the flavours that were present in two cocktails.

I have to admit, I realised that my sense of taste isn’t the greatest. I had difficulty figuring out what tastes were present in either. I got a couple right but that’s not nearly enough if I wanted to apply for the role of Taste Assistant. I was too busy cooking and watching others cook to enter the ganache test and by the time I realised, the answers were alreay been looked at! I definitely don’t think I would have come top anyway!

The winner of the cocktail taste test was the lovely Jennifer from Chocolate Ecstacy Tours and the winner of the ganache taste test was the equally as lovely MiMi from Meemalee’s Kitchen.

The dishes from the 15:15 challenge were all lined up and Micah, armed with a fork, set out to try each dish. He gave nothing away as he slowly tasted each dish and moved onto the next. Each contestant stood grinning as he took a mouthful of their creation.

After much deliberation, the winner was announced. Drum roll please…….. MiMi!!! She made a fantastic Japanese dish using linguine with fish roe and wild mushrooms. The flavours were great – I really can’t remember exactly what was in it but it was delicious!

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A round of applause was followed by tears of joy and a quick photoshoot. Doesn’t she look so happy!

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Two more dishes were highly commended – Jennifer’s mille feuille and the rather scrumptious looking piece of beef, which according to Micah was just a little bit too spicy. YUM!

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The best looking for me though was the fantastic Partridge garnished with Rose petals.

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I had an absolutely fantastic evening and got to walk away with a gift – a Green & Blacks box containing 15 (yes, 15) different bars of Green & Blacks, a bottle of wine, a USB stick and my very own taste test kit. I was happy as larry walking out of there.

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I may not be up to the challenge of Taste Assistant but if you feel like you’ve got what it takes, don’t delay, enter now. You’ll be the envy of millions!!!

Coach and Horses, Farringdon

13 Nov

A friend of mine was recently pronounced head chef of The Coach and Horses. Having never tasted his food before as he used to work outside of London, a big group of us decided to go down one Thursday evening and try it out. His name? Harry McKenzie. Remember that one.

I have read some great reviews and fellow blogger Neil Davey (The Lambshank Redemption) hails it as his favourite pub in London. I can see why.

The menu is not for the faint hearted (or the veggie). However, knowing that 2 of our group are vegan, Harry concocted an extra special 3 course meal consisting of Wild Herbs and Sea Vegetable Tempura to start, Celeriac, Candied Beetroot and Squash Lasagne with foraged Mushroom Risotto, Wild Chervil and Cobnuts for main and Chocolate Mousse, Apple Sorbet and Herb Crisps for pudding!

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The Coach and Horses homemade Scotch Egg has been the talk of the town for a while so I decided to order it as my starter. It is on the bar menu but I was allowed to substitute this. My boyfriend and I generally share everything we get so he got the Potted Cornish Mackerel with Toast and we swapped plates half way through.

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The Scotch Egg came and it was huge. Inside was a Duck Egg with a runny and rich yolk. You may have read my post recently after I had baked a cake with Duck Eggs. I’m becoming quite a fan! The Sausage meat was fatty and hearty, JUST what you want from a Scotch Egg.

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The Markerel was rich and creamy with a delightful fatty layer on the top. It was presented very nicely on a wooden board.

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For main I ordered Pork Belly with Mash, Roast Beetroot, Spinach and Ceps and Jack had Cornish Brill with Clams, Sea Vegetables, Baby New Potatoes and Bisque. I told him that the meat options would be better because the menu is mostly predominantly meat plus Harry is a meat fanatic (or at least that’s what I gather from my conversations with him). My pork was definitely the best option but maybe i’m biased because I Pork Belly is always one of my favourite dishes. I don’t think I’ve ever had Roasted Beets before but they were absolutely delicious with a hint of sweetness.

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For pudding, I couldn’t resist trying the Popcorn Panna Cotta with Cinnamon Doughnuts, Toffee Popcorn and Apple Sorbet. One word – yum! The apple sorbet is one of the best I have ever tasted. It was bright green, which made it look super fresh and was tangy and sweet at the same time. Harry shared the recipe with me after our meal and I’ll no doubt be making it soon. Watch this space.

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Popcorn is popping (excuse the pun) up everywhere at the moment. There’s something comforting about it – probably because it reminds me of when I was a little girl being treated by my parents at the cinema. That was (and probably still is) one of the best parts of a cinema trip wasn’t it?!

The pub wasn’t all that busy on a Thursday evening. There aren’t a large number of tables but we took up most of the dining space! I heard that there is a room off the back with a terrace but I assume that is only used in the summer.

I clocked that they do Sunday roasts just before I left and have already penciled a date in the diary to return!

Coach and Horses
26-28 Ray St
City of London
EC1R 3DJ
020 7278 8990

Coach & Horses on Urbanspoon

No bake Rhubarb Cheesecake

7 Nov

Hemingway parties are always full of delicious food and the annual bonfire party is no exception. Each year, a range of pies and an array of puddings (including the infamous ‘bonfire cake’) are made to feed the 100+ guests.

This year, I helped out by making a couple of puddings. I made the no bake rhubarb cheesecake and the bonfire cake, this year made from Panatonne and decorated with a rich chocolate butter cream, Cadbury’s flakes, mint Matchsticks, Terry’s chocolate orange segments and Smarties.

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The cheesecake was a bit of an experiment. Jacks mum and I decided to add rhubarb pulp to the cheese topping and make a jelly out of the rhubarb juice for the top. The result:

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There wouldn’t be a Hemingway bonfire party without carved pumpkins – so we set to work and carved away. Unfortunately mine is the rather amateur looking one!

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No bake rhubarb cheesecake

Recipe

1 pack Hobnobs
50g unsalted butter, melted
2 x 250g tubs marscapone
400g fresh rhubarb
100g golden caster sugar
3 tbsp water
100g golden icing sugar
10g gelatine powder

Method

1. Blitz the Hobnobs in a food processor, add the butter and combine
2. Press the biscuits into the bottom of a greased tin and place in the fridge
3. Place rhubarb, water and sugar into a pan. Boil down until really mushy
4. Sieve the mushy rhubarb – keep the juice and the pulp separate
5. Beat the marscapone, icing sugar and rhubarb pulp together until well combined
6. Take the biscuit base out of the fridge and smooth over the marscapone mixture. Place back in the fridge to set
7. Heat 1/2 cup of rhubarb juice in the microwave and add gelatine powder. Mix until fully dissolved
8. Pour into the rest of the rhubarb juice and leave to cool
9. Take the cheesecake out of the fridge and pour on rhubarb juice. Place back in the fridge to set

It worked – it was delicious! Enjoy!

The display:

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Chocolate soufflé recipe

1 Nov

I have had the fear of God put into me about making soufflé. I have often wanted to try one but been put off by countless disasters that I have seen on TV.

My boyfriend needed a couple of egg yolks for dinner a couple of weeks ago and rather than seeing the egg whites go to waste, I decided to bite the bullet and make a chocolate soufflé.

Chocolate Souffle with Vanilla Ice Cream

It was probably one of the easiest puddings that I have made in a while. Chocolate soufflés are notoriously harder to manage as the chocolate is so dense that it can ruin the whipped egg white. The way to get around this is by taking a small amount of egg white out and adding the chocolate to this before folding it back into the rest of the egg whites.

I’d suggest to serve with Haagen Daaz Vanilla Ice Cream.

Ingredients
Serves 4

100g good quality dark chocolate (I always use Lindt. This time I used 50% Cocoa)
50g Golden Caster Sugar
4 Egg Whites
2 Egg Yolks
Butter (to grease)

Method
1.Pre-heat oven to 150 degrees c
2. Grease ramekins
3. Melt chocolate by sitting a bowl on top of a pan of simmering water. Do not let the bowl touch the water
4.Whisk the egg whites in a bowl. Once thick, start to slowly pour in the sugar while whisking. You can stop whisking once the eggs form stiff peaks
5. Take the melted chocolate off the heat and mix in your egg yolks, then stir in one spoon of your egg white mix
6. Add the chocolate mix to the egg whites and fold in slowly until combined. Do not beat the egg white mixture because it will knock the air out of it
7.Spoon into your ramekins and smooth the edges with your thumb (this helps them rise evenly).
8. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Make sure you don’t open the oven door because they will collapse!

Enjoy!

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