Monthly Archives: January 2013

Let it snow

When you wake up to this…

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You know you can throw away all sensible plans and just snuggle in for the day.  Well, until you go to work, that is.  But for now, I am warmed by the soft glow of the laptop, endless steaming cups of tea and this very delicious, very moist cake.

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As I was rifling through the pages of the new food supplement in the weekend Guardian I came across a Dan Lepard recipe for Clementine and Cinnamon layer cake.  I cannot resist the heady perfume of a lovely clementine, it somehow seems more aromatic than its friend the orange, it reminds me of flowers.  And cinnamon is just a spicy hug really, what we all need on cold days like these.

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And so, after my fingers thawed from my trip out into the cold, I started putting the cake together, I had baked it yesterday and made the curd and now it was time to assemble.  The kettle was on, the tea was ready to be brewed and my stomach was crying out in indignation after a missed breakfast.

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As I write this the snowflakes are dancing around the window, growing more shapely by the minute and all seems well with the world as I take the first cinnamon laden bite.  What more could Little Chef need, delicious cake, hot tea and scrumptious hugs with my beautiful niece?

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Brawn

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‘A boar or swine’s flesh, especially when boiled or pickled.’  Not exactly a sexy descriptor but an accurate one nonetheless.  You don’t go to Brawn to not eat pig and pig we did eat.  And a respectable amount of it.  Brawn has been on my restaurant hit list for way too long now and yesterday I finally made it.  On an unassuming corner of Columbia road, the light bright building looked inviting and warm on a cold winters night.  As we walked in, we realised the reservation may have been unnecessary, it was far from busy but it was a Monday night after Christmas so I’ll reserve judgement.

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There was a small selection of nibbly bits available on the short yet varied menu, the most enticing of which was the Nduja scotch egg.  I love Nduja, it is essentially a spicy spreadable sausage, which can comprise meat from the head of the pig amongst various other piggy offcuts.  If you’re a bit squeamish then just lie back and think of bacon and you’ll have a great time.  As I  couldn’t indulge in the scotch egg myself due to its glutenous casing, my kind friend, stepped up and took one for the team.  And then I got really, really jealous when it arrived.  A perfect little breaded ovum appeared atop a silken swirl of green.  I’m not sure what the sauce was exactly, it had the colour of something containing avocado but definitely had the flavour of tarragon and the consistency of mayonnaise… When it was sliced in two, it revealed a perfectly runny quails egg which was wrapped in the spicy nduja.  The nduja was the hero of the night.  Spicy, sultry, very, very piggy.  I would happily eat that every day for the rest of my life.  You could smear it on a London pavement and I would lick it off, it was that good.

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We shared a mixed charcuterie plate which was pleasant but underwhelming, it featured Felino, a mediocre pressed pork terrine and pork rillette.  Having spent a large portion of my chefs apprenticeship working in French restaurants and learning the art of charcuterie, I was sad to realise that I have had better charcuterie before and not to blow my own trumpet but I have made better charcuterie before.  Never mind, onwards and upwards.

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For my main course I decided to opt for Sea bream with brown shrimp and fennel compote.  It was a testament to simplicity.  The bream was sat proud on the fennel compote which was packed with flavour, the anise was not too in your face, quite a feat considering they had added fennel seeds to the mix and the brown shrimp tied it all together with a sweet, meaty accent.  All in all, a very nice evening.

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Brawn is a restaurant with a good, solid reputation and they served good, solid food yesterday.  There were flashes of genius (that egg) and there were more moments of simple, lovely food being made with good techniques.  Go to Brawn and order a dozen eggs and you will die happy.

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The things I didn’t show you

Ok, ok, I know, I’m sorry.  I have attempted to sit down and write several times over the last few weeks.  I have half finished blogs coming out of my ears.  The blog I wrote about the imminent arrival of christmas now seems somewhat superfluous.  So, I thought I would start this blogging year with a selection of photo’s from my festive season.

Pre christmas san choy bau, oh so fresh and crunchy

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The san choy bau all wrapped up in some crispy iceberg lettuce

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Delicious reindeer casserole, a lovely Norwegian treat cooked by a lovely Norwegian lady

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Christmas eve lunch at the Falcon in Poulton, tender venison with silken parsnip puree

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My favourite Christmas day breakfast, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with roasted red pepper and obligatory glass of champagne.

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A lovely light start to a huge evening of wonderful food and wine on Christmas day featuring a fabulous tarragon dressing

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Christmas dinner, yum!

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New years day hangover cure, The Black Farmers daughter chipolata’s languishing in a sea of onions, grapes, mustard, wine etc

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Enough potatoes roasted in goose fat to make me feel much less jaded.  You can never have too many roast potatoes

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So, there you have it.  The festive season wrap up.  I promise in the coming year, I will endeavour to write to all of you more often and will be bubbling over with more reviews, more recipes and soon…videos!  Oh yes, I am currently in the process of making some little food videos to share with my lovely readers.  Watch this space.  Thanks for your support in the last year.  Little Chef had the biggest year on the blog yet!

Little Chef x x x

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