Monday, October 31, 2016

Cauliflower, Potato & Green Pea Matar Dal

Yellow split peas — or matar dal — are not the most frequently used legume in Indian dal curries, but their rich, earthy taste and hearty, chewy texture balances beautifully in this delicious low fat Indian recipe made with potato, cauliflower and green peas. Rather like an Aloo Gobi Dal all in one, the addition of grated ginger, cumin, chili powder, garam masala and cilantro, make a rich, satisfying and healthy vegetarian curry, which is made creamy with the addition of extra water left over from cooking the split peas. Served with fragrant Basmati rice and crisp papadam, the curry is delicious garnished with a dollop of thick plain yogurt, a few sprigs of cilantro and a little lemon zest for extra zing. 

Cauliflower, Potato & Green Pea Matar Dal garnished with cilantro, plain yogurt and lemon zest

Aged Basmati Rice with cilantro and lemon zest garnish

Cauliflower, Potato & Green Pea Matar Dal
Serves 4-6
Recipe adapted from 'Flourishing Foodie'

5 cups water

1 cup dried yellow split peas, rinsed
1 bay leaf
4 tbsp ghee or butter
1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 cups potatoes, chopped into 1/4-inch size pieces
2 cups cauliflower, separated into small florets
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin 
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish
1 lemon, zested
6 servings of Basmati rice or naan bread
1 cup plain yogurt, for garnish

Bring 5 cups of water to boil in a large pot. Once boiling, add the split peas and a bay leaf, and reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the split peas are soft, mushy, and falling apart, about 70-90 minutes.

While they are simmering, in a large frying pan, heat the ghee or butter, on medium. Add the onions and fry until translucent and soft, about 10-15 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, potatoes, and cauliflower and fry until soft, about 30-40 minutes.

Add the turmeric, chili powder, garam masala, and salt to the cooked dal — there should still be 1 1/2 cups of water left from split peas in the pot. Add the cauliflower, potatoes, and frozen peas, adding additional water if necessary, so that the sauce has enough moisture to produce ample sauce. Simmer on low for 20-30 minutes until the curry is creamy and cooked through. Season with extra salt or chili powder as needed. Garnish with chopped cilantro, a dollop of yogurt, lemon zest and serve with Basmati rice or naan bread.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Colbert: French-Style Brasserie on Sloane Square

Inspired by the great boulevard cafés of Paris, Colbert is a charming and informal neighbourhood rendez-vous in the heart of Sloane Square. The latest offering from Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, the duo behind the Wolseley, the Delaunay and Brasserie Zédel, Colbert, which opened in 2012, pays homage to the grand Continental tradition of classic Parisian pavement cafés, with lots of marble, linen napkins, vintage posters and mirrors galore. Dishes are mostly traditional French brasserie fare, from simple croque monsieurs, to moules marinière and cassoulet, but they also serve wonderful omelettes and an all-day full English breakfast. 

The menu at Colbert, with breakfast, lunch and dinner right through to dishes for the post-theatre crowd

A hot Cappuccino with crema in the shape of a heart

Our lovely corner table at Colbert, great for people watching

Tableware with a french fleur-de-lis, Colbert's logo

A vintage lithographic poster of Jane Venturini, who was an old French singer from the 1930s 

The Full English with choice of fried, poached or scrambled eggs with bacon, sausage, 
tomato, black pudding and mushrooms

Omelette aux Fines Herbes

Warm toasted baguette 

A small pot of butter served with the baguette

Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Cena: Northern Italian Cuisine in East Twickenham

A favourite neighbourhood restaurant in Twickenham since opening in 2001, Tim Healy and Camilla Kennedy started A Cena out of a passion to serve high quality simple Italian food set in an elegant but relaxed friendly atmosphere. Having launched Giorgio Armani's first restaurant in Knightsbridge in 1989, Camilla was no stranger to high quality Italian cuisine. Having an Italian mother who was an exceptional cook, she loved being in the kitchen with her, and visiting family in Lake Como and Emilia Romagna ignited a passion for simple, stylish, great tasting food. It was only natural that she would become a chef. Together with husband Tim Healy, a world-class polo player, and head chef Nicola Parsons who Camilla knew from the Armani Café, the idea of A Cena was born and since opening, has had stellar reviews. Serving authentic Northern Italian cuisine with a modern twist, Chef Parson's seasonally inspired menu changes every day using only the finest, freshest, seasonal ingredients, with dishes such as Fusilli with Homemade Pork and Fennel Seed Sausage, Marinated Gressingham Duck Breast with apricot and watercress, and Torta di Verona, a tiramisù-style sponge cake soaked in amaretto and marsala with mascarpone, blueberries and roasted almonds. The wine list is extensive, ranging from small, modest Italian vineyards to some of the great names and superb vintages. An exceptionally pretty town on the banks of the River Thames, with stunning views of the beautiful Richmond Riverside, Twickenham is also the home of English Rugby, who thankfully weren't playing as we made our way over the Richmond Bridge and back to Sloane Square. 

With a warm and inviting interior and great food, A Cena has been a favourite neighbourhood restaurant in Twickenham since opening in 2001

Fresh flowers and candlelight create a welcoming atmosphere on the swooping cocktail and champagne bar as one walks through the door

Owners Camilla and Tim Healy

A big silver bucket of Prosecco and Champagnes are ready to be uncorked

The wine menu is extensive, ranging from small modest Italian vineyards 
to some superb vintages, but also features great wines by the glass

Rocket Salad with Roast Pine Nuts, Balsamic and Parmesan

Fried Tiger Prawns with Lemon and Chilli Mayonnaise

Fried Chickpea and Sesame Seed Panelle Pancake with Cauliflower 'Puttanesca' 
of Anchovies, Black Olives, Capers, Chilli and Tomato

Ricotta Gnocchi 'au gratin' with Spinach, Gorgonzola, Cream and Parmesan

Pan Fried Spiced Marinated Gressingham Duck Breast with Apricot and Wild Watercress

Whole Roasted Seabass

Tim Healy eyeball to eyeball with dinner

Spring Lamb with Cherry Tomatoes, Asparagus and Black Oliver Tapenade

 Torta di Verona

Taleggio, Gorgonzola and Fontina with Grapes, Honey and Nuts

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Saturday Lunch at The Wolseley on Piccadilly

Modelled on the grand cafés of Vienna, Milan and Paris, there are few places that can match The Wolseley for sheer elegance. Originally a 1920s car showroom, it was built on such an extravagant scale that it bankrupted Wolseley Motors. Swift black-clad waiters now glide across the gleaming marble floor, carrying groaning platters of fruits de mer, steak frites and lobster bisque between the pillars and archways of this Italian-influenced dining room. It has a reputation for being packed with celebrities at all times of day and booking a table is usually done weeks in advance. The glittering restaurant, which is open from breakfast to dinner since 2003, is the creation of Christopher Corbin and Jeremy King, the original owners of The Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheekey. The pair are big on the personal approach and often one or the other can be found working the room at lunch, dinner, during afternoon tea or even in the wee hours of the morning for the ever-popular Breakfast at The Wolseley — there's even a cookbook and fine set of crystal glasses or antique silverware available online! 


Lunch at the Wolseley is always an elegant affair

Warm and chewy, even the humble baguette-style breadsticks get the silver service 
at the Wolseley

Butter served in an elegant silver plate with a Wolseley wrapper

The extensive wine list with many served by the glass

2015 Jean-Francois Guilbaud Chateau La Bretonnerie Muscadet Sur Lie, 
the ideal wine to enjoy with oysters and fruits de mer

The Muscadet Sur Lie served in the Wolseley's fine crystal wine glass with 
short sturdy stem and a wide foot are actually sold online - 6 for £90.00

Dungarvan Rock Oysters and plump juicy Whelks served on crushed ice with fresh seaweed

A small pot of mignonette sauce and buttered bread served with the oysters

Homemade mayonnaise is served to enjoy with the whelks

Croustade of Quail Eggs and Hollandaise 

Chilled Minted Pea Soup - thick and delicious

Wiener Schnitzel with Sauce Robert

A tangle of golden Pommes Frites

Steak Tartare topped with an egg yolk with toasted pain de olé

Chilled Pea Soup with Shredded Radicchio and Romaine Lettuce
Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of The Wolseley

1 white onion, thinly sliced
1 stick of celery, thinly sliced 
2 oz thinly sliced leeks
2 lb frozen peas 
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of mint
1 sprig of thyme
1 cup hot water 
1 lb ice cubes
Kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste
1/2 head Radicchio shredded finely
1 small Romaine lettuce heart, shredded finely
2 oz peas to garnish
3/4 cup olive oil 

Wrap the thyme, bay leaf and mint in a muslin bag. In a large pan, add a splash of water and simmer the onions, celery and leeks, then add the muslin herb bag. Place a lid over the pan and simmer, cooking the vegetables until they are just tender, about 5 minutes. Then add the the frozen peas and boiling hot water to the pan, cover with a lid and once boiling, cook for 2 minutes then remove the pan from the stove and add the ice cubes to cool it rapidly — this is important as it will maintain the colour.

Remove the muslin bag and blitz the soup in a liquidizer and pass through a conical strainer, then season with salt and ground white pepper. To Serve, reheat the soup and have four warm bowls ready. Pour into bowls sprinkle on the romaine lettuce hearts, radicchio lettuce and a sprinkle of peas. Drizzle with some olive oil and serve.