Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweetcorn fritters - recipe

These golden sweetcorn fritters are a real crowd-pleaser and are the recipe most often requested by Marc!  The crispy batter, juicy sweetcorn and hit of chilli is a match made in heaven.

They're also really easy to make and work well for canapes, starters or even breakfasts.

Sold yet?  Go on, give them a go.  Guarantee you'll love them, or your money back (except not the second part).

Ingredients (Serves four for starters):
125g self-raising flour
1 egg
100ml milk
340g tin of sweetcorn, well drained
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli finely chopped (more or less, to your taste)
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to season
Vegetable oil to fry

Sift the flour into a bowl.

Make a well and add the egg.

Gradually beat together, adding the milk a little at a time, until you have a lovely smooth batter.

Add the sweetcorn, spring onions and chilli and a good pinch of salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan.  Drop in spoonfuls of the batter and press down gently to form fritters.

Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy.

Serve with a simple salsa, or chilli sauce to dip.

Eat, enjoy.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chestnut, mushroom and red onion pie - recipe

You just can't beat a pie on cold winter's evening.  This one is particularly seasonal, with chestnuts and mushrooms making up the filling.  It's also quite hearty and I guarantee it will appeal to veggies and carnivores alike (the Committed Carnivore said he'd like to eat it every day!).

I recommend using ready-made puff pastry - apparently even chefs don't bother making their own at home, as it's so fiddly, so don't feel guilty!

Ingredients (makes 2 substantial pies):

1 pack chestnuts 350g
1 red onion
Knob of butter or glug of oil
Glug of balsamic
150g shiitake mushrooms
200g chestnut mushrooms
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
100ml red wine
Handful fresh herbs (parsley and thyme)

1 pack ready-rolled puff pastry


Pre-heat the oven to 200c

Using a small, sharp knife, cut a cross into the round side of each chestnut.  Place cross-side up in a baking tray and roast for 25-30 mins.  Peel tough outer shell and inner skin and roughly chop. **You can use ready cooked chestnuts if you prefer**

Whilst the chestnuts are cooking, slice the onion and gently fry in a little butter or oil for 5-7 minutes.  Add a good glug of balsamic vinegar and cook for another 5 minutes over a low heat.

Add the garlic.  Cook for a further minute.  Add the mushrooms and chestnuts and stir to coat with onion mixture.

Pour in the red wine.  Simmer for 5-10 mins, until the wine has reduced down.

Season with salt and pepper and add the herbs.

Pour the mixture into individual pie dishes and top with puff pastry, cut to fit your pie dishes and crimped at the edges to seal.

Cook in oven at 200c for 25-30 mins, until the pastry has risen and is golden brown.


Roasted chestnuts ready to peel

Ready to tuck in

Monday, November 21, 2011

Franco Manca - review

I eat a lot of pizza (an awful lot in fact!) but it occurred to me that I rarely talk it about it here.  I think there's some really great pizza places in London - not necessarily hidden gems but I thought I'd share some of my favourites with you.

First up, Franco Manca in Chiswick.  The original restaurant is in Brixton Market but, mainly due to limited opening hours, I've never made it over there.  The new-ish branch in Chiswick is bigger, takes bookings and is open every day until 11pm.

The restaurant has a casual, rustic feel to it, with wooden tables and benches, a tiled floor and hanging ham legs.  The menu is short, apparently showcasing seasonal ingredients, although I was a little surprised to see they were still offering the summer menu in mid-November...

But no matter, the food we had was excellent.  We started with beautiful, rich burrata (Italian cheese made with mozarella and cream) and panouzzi (flame grilled bread) topped with ricotta, roasted cherry tomato and truffle oil.  Both starters were delicious and just served to whet our appetites for the main event.

Oft cited as London's best pizza, I have to say it really does live up to the hype.  The pizza base is made from slow rising sourdough and cooked in a wood burning oven.  The result is a base slightly charred and crispy on the edges and soft and chewy in the middle.  I'm sure it would be delicious with just a drizzle of olive oil but of course, it's even better with additional toppings.  I went for the veg special: caramelised red onion, gorgonzola and spinach.  Marc went for a similar pizza with the addition of Serrano ham.

Full and happy, the bill was a pleasant end to the meal.  At just over £40, including three glasses of wine and three beers, this is extremely good value - particularly when you take into account the quality of the ingredients.

I will most definitely be going back.  As often as possible!


Franco Manca on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A neglected blog and a Japanese cookery lesson

As most of you know, I recently decided to quit the rat race and go back to University to study Psychology.  I thought making the decision was the hard part but I definitely underestimated just how much work would be involved.  For the last few weeks, I've found myself with my nose in a book (yup, they still do use those!), or with my head so swimming with statistics that stringing a sentence together has been a challenge (let alone a blog post).

But I've decided it's time to rejoin the real, albeit online, world, give my blog a bit of TLC and tell you about my latest Japanese cookery adventures.

My sister and I are back at Hashi Cooking to do Reiko's gourmet course (check out the lovely new website).  As ever the food was fantastic and we met some great people.  Reiko is, of course, the star of the show though - she is a fantastic teacher and a very talented chef.

Some pictures below.  I'm planning on recreating some of the dishes at the weekend, so I'll post my efforts and recipes then.

Reiko's signature dish being prepared

Ready for the oven

Et voila: scallops with spicy sauce and
 sushi rice (the best scallop dish I've ever had)

Tofu steak with wild mushrooms

Mackerel with apple and ginger sauce