Sunday, 30 November 2014

Shropshire Blue & Raisin Biscuits

I got my 10th post in for the month!  Phew.  I used to do around 15 posts a month, now I'm just trying to do at least 10, and even with these 10, like what, only half are recipes?  My God.  Stressful times.  I go to culinary school, I'm in school 40 hours a week cooking, cooking things that I'm not allowed to share online, and when I'm home the lighting's not good enough because of the shortened days.  Happy Belly really is my only motivation to cook now. 
Maybe December will be better as I'll be on holiday, I'll be back home, so no more forced cooking.  I really am the last person you'd expect in the world to not enjoy culinary school.  Maybe it's just the time of the year with the winter blues kicking in.  I should invest in a SAD lamp. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Best Eats This Week - Pappardelle with Wild Boar (London)

Like every Italian, I’m very particular about my pasta. Everyone thinks they can make pasta, and sure, everyone can to a certain extent, but you can say the same thing about ramen and steak and sushi. I’ve witnessed and unfortunately sampled very disappointing pastas outside of Italy– mostly just bland and overcooked – heart-breakingly overcooked. And so I never order pasta here.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Kintan (London)

It was first sushi that took this town by a storm. Bite-size pieces of seasoned rice topped with raw fish, or rolled and encased in seaweed with an imaginative range of other ingredients, still remain stylish and trendy today. Then more recently, the tonkotsu ramen, with its creamy pork broth and thin noodles, was given the spotlight, and now the Japanese have finally brought their BBQ over here as well. With a mini grill installed onto every table, plates of meat and vegetables are brought out and you, the diner, get to cook away with a pair of metal tongs throughout the meal. Yakiniku, as it’s called in Japanese, and Kintan is apparently the first of its kind in London.
With establishments already in Tokyo, Jakarta, and Hong Kong, Kintan recently opened up their branch in London right on High Holborn. A massive venue that spans over two floors, with large open space, sparse tables, high ceilings, dim lighting and atrocious signal. The staff is largely Japanese and so is the clientele. In fact the socioeconomic profile of 80% of the patrons that evening was middle-aged Japanese businessman in a suit.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Rosemary Olive Oil Pancakes w/ Honey & Goat's Cheese

I had the most distressing experience in purchasing this goat's cheese.  I was on my way to a date, a lovely man was making me a lovely dinner and I thought bringing cheese would be appropriate.  I had planned this out in my head - to arrive at 7, I would leave my house at 6:30.  I would finish class at 5:20 and it would take me 30 minutes to get to my house.  It would take me 20 minutes to get ready, therefore I had 25 minutes to purchase cheese.  I had thought that a purchase should take no longer than 10 minutes and thus I had an extra 10 minutes as a leeway.  I unfortunately underestimated the incompetency and inefficiency of some of the people in this world.  Went to a health store that had a cheese deli at the back.  It was a Wednesday afternoon and the woman at the deli informed me that the cheese man's off on Wednesday's and she was not an expert.  No problem, in that case I will just choose the cheeses that I know, I said.  "Not an expert" is very different from "I don't know what the f*ck I'm doing".  She did not know what the cheeses were, she did not know  how to slice the cheese, and she did not f*cking know how to use the scale.  My cheese probably aged into a whole new category by the time she handed it to me.  The worst part of the whole experience was that she just kept apologizing and so I just apologized back and told her to take her time because I felt bad.  I hate it when incompetent people are nice because then I can't get angry. 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Cardamom and Cashew Granola Bars

I apologize, you will be seeing a lot more healthy recipes on this blog for a bit.  I'm in a French culinary school.  Everything I cook and eat there is laden with butter and cream and other love handle-friendly ingredients.  I need to eat healthy at home when I can... But that doesn't mean it has to be boring!  Look at these delicious cardamom and cashew granola bars.  They're healthy if you eat them in the right..amounts... See, granola bars are a weakness of mine.  I try not to make them because if I make a batch I usually eat it all in one go.... I was better this time, I ate them in two goes. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Best Eats This Week - Buttermilk Pudding with Plum Compote & Ginger Biscuit (London)

There's such an art to perfecting simplicity.  We can get so caught up with out-of-the-box ideas of flavor combinations and presentation that we get these overwhelming plates of a dozen different components and colors and textures.  At the end it's more about showcasing the technical skills of the chef rather than the actual consumption and enjoyment of the dish. 

Don't get me wrong, I love an art-gallery-fit plate of food that's more complex than I could ever comprehend, but sometimes something like this, a simple buttermilk pudding with plum compote and a ginger biscuit, cooked perfectly, is better.  It's difficult though, because like I said, it needs to be perfect when you don't have much going on.  That's what 40 Maltby Street is good for - faultless, unfussy, simple food, and this dessert was the best thing I ate this week.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Roasted Butternut Squash with Brussels Sprouts Salsa

 So I was given a peeler on a date once.  I was invited over for dinner, and he was peeling some beetroots, I commented on the aesthetics and the quality of his peeler, and next thing I know he said he had two and he gave me one.  I got a lovely home cooked meal AND a peeler at the end of the date.  I think I did well.

Anyway, thought about that date as I was peeling the butternut squash for this dish.  This is a recipe from Ottolenghi, and oh, that brussels sprouts salsa is simply amazing.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Best Eats This Week - The Emilia Burger (London)

When are brioche burger buns going to leave the food scene? When it first showed up couple of years ago, it was cool.  A classic French pastry encasing your meat patty, giving your standard comfort food a posh spin was new and different and cool. There came a wave of gourmet burgers with truffle oil, foie gras, caviar and diamond speckled baby veal meat patties all sandwiched in a brioche bun, and yea, it was fascinating but these food trends come and leave and it's time for the f*cking brioche bun to leave.  After the gourmet aspect was stripped away you just started getting everything in a brioche bun.  Everything's in a f*cking brioche bun.  From your classic cheese burgers to your exotic curried chicken patties and sausages.  What happened to the humble burger buns? Your down to earth American buns that are perfect in their simplicity?  What happened to your simple burgers?  Fortunately Shake Shack's sticking to traditional ways.  Serving your roadside American classics with fries, milkshakes and your 50's burgers -- no posh spin on them, rather they just focused on using quality produce. And whilst their usual items are good, on Sunday they had the holy grail of burgers.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sun-Dried Tomato and Cheese Profiteroles

 I can't cook in culinary school.  Something about the time limit, the teacher watching my every move, the need to strive for perfection.  I'm having to weigh the salt and butter, quadruple-check the recipe, and be constantly conscious of washing my hands and not double-dipping.  I know they're good habits to keep but f*cking hell.  My food's often overcooked or undercooked or bland or unevenly cut or served on a plate with finger prints on.  The other day I f*cked up a risotto and a pasta in front of an English chef.  An Italian, having her pasta and risotto criticized by an English man.  That was a new low.

So I haven't been cooking much at home.  Not because I cook all day in school and I'm in school 40 hours a week but because I come home everyday utterly deflated as I doubt my ability to turn on a stove. 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Peanut Butter Granola

I officially joined the gym today.  I signed away a large sum of money to be taken out of my account every month for 12 months.  12 months.  I've never been committed to anything for 12 months before -- even my current flat lease, I can choose to end the lease early in just 6 months.  This gym membership, no.  I'm having regrets already.  Well, the sense of regret flooded in as soon as I signed in blood this morning.

Culinary school hasn't been good for my love-handles so I thought it'd be good to join the gym and eat healthy stuff like this.  I used to be addicted to granola.  Granola and coffee made up a large part of my diet when I studied for exams in university.

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