An Ode to the Leftovers

19 Jan

Tonight’s supper shall consist of leftovers. Leftovers of the highest standard. I’ve got some stuffed aubergines, some tuna mix, a slice of rainbow pie, jars of olives and chunks of cheese…..all of these lovely things atop some dark sourdough bread shall suit us rather well this eve I should think. No doubt Basil will include the new jar of lemon curd into the ceremony somewhere! And you are not mistaken, I do indeed call tonight’s supper a ceremony as leftovers are the God of food in Basil’s eyes! Nothing in this world apart from me of course, bring him as much pleasure as stuffing some leftovers between two slices of nicely spread bread and then going back for seconds! Of course it’s the “seconds” part that he really relishes in! Cars, gadgets, sleeveless bomber jackets…they all appeal of course, but nothing in this sufficiently modernized, superbly materialistic world of ours spells luxury like “seconds” do to Basil!

In a world where so many of us live in cities, in flats for two but always end up cooking for 6 (guilty), the leftovers pile must almost certainly exceed the amount we actually eat each year. If only Basil had Santa like abilities… He could fly through the world every night, into each home across the land dispelling peoples preconceptions of leftovers with his charismatic authority. However, I fear, like Santa he might be given a bite to eat too, and I would wake up to a sleigh full of leftovers every morning from around the world. It may in fact constitute a good restaurant model though. Amongst all the pop-ups and supper clubs and restaurant openings by the dozen and street food markets across London town, perhaps just perhaps, there may be room for Leftovers? A rubbish idea (excuse the pun), yet so rubbish it might work?

Or perhaps, all you need is a good loaf of bread and squeeze everything you’ve got between two slices!

And if you do see a van knockin’ bout London with the company name ‘Bread for the Leftovers’ don’t bother swinging by to say hi! It’s probably not me! I just write about this shit! ;)

Love Oregano

x

The Silver Spoon antipasti

18 Jan

For me antipasti normally means ‘great excuse to visit my local Italian deli’! Never do I really prepare anything apart from season a few tomatoes and put a LOT of effort into picking the right cheeses and meats. And so this evening I have prepared some Tomato Bruschetta Page 113, Stuffed Aubergines Page 141 and Rolled Peppers Page 143. Nothing too complex I will admit but boy does it involve a LOT of work!

Never have I understood more than I do today, why all the women in an Italian family prepare and cook food together. There is an ENORMOUS amount of  preparing involved!! Not to mention multi-tasking. Well that’s if you don’t want to be at your kitchen worktop for the entire day! Yes Please!

This evening’s meal cost me 20 quid with some ingredients left over and of course leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch! :)

Tuna filling for the rolling of the peppers!

Into a blender goes 12 basil leaves, 1 roughly chopped deseeded chilli, 12 pitted olives, 1 roughly chopped and peeled tomato, 300g tuna in olive oil, 4 tablespoons lemon, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Simply heaven! And a great dipping sauce too for all you tortilla lovers out there.

Stuffed Aubergines just out of the oven!

These bad boys were seriously yummy!! For 2 people get yourself 2 aubergines. Slice each one in half, spoon out all the flesh leaving the skin intact. Chop up 1 stick celery, 1 small onion, 2 peppers (any colour), 2 tomatoes and the aubergine flesh. Pop your onion into a hot frying pan and then lob in everything else. Keep stirring for about 15 mins. Take the pan of the heat and then stir in 2 lightly beaten eggs. It should now look like this;

Aubergine mix!

Then plop the mixture into the empty skins and top with grated parmesan like so;

And Boom! You're in business!

Pop the Stuffed Aubergines into the oven at 180 degrees and leave them in there till they start bubbling!

For the Tomato Bruschetta that no doubt you’ve done a thousand times cut yourself some bread. Fancy stuff like this in subtle light!

San Francisco Sourdough Bread

Then chop up some sweet tomatoes, grill the bread, rub bread with garlic cloves, lob them tomatoes on, sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with the vey best of olive oils!

Bellissimo!!! Simply gorgeous!! I could live on this stuff!

Tomato Bruschetta

Rolled Peppers stuffed with the Tuna Mix!

Once you’ve got all the above set on the table you’ll be damn pleased with yourself! And shall almost certainly consume it in an eight of the time it took to prepare!

4 recipes into The Silver Spoon I’m thinking……Woah, just Woah!

Time to deflate I think… in front of The Sopranos!

Happy tummies y’all

Oregano x

Farmhouse Rainbow Pie – The Silver Spoon

17 Jan

And so Day One’s recipe is in. Found on page 224 of the Savoury Pies and Quiches section.

Kinda got off to a wobbly start when mixing the flour with the wine and olive oil! Too acquainted with a bowl and not enough with the counter top it would seem! The wine seemed to escape from the “well” I had made, so suddenly I was scrambling to draw in the wine to my flour as opposed to the other way round! The adrenaline kick was good though as this dish requires a lot of multi-tasking.

It was actually really easy to make and there’s so many ingredients cooking at any one time your kitchen will smell amazing!!

Cost me 30 quid to make but that’s cuz  I had no white wine or parmesan cheese lying around. Normally I’d have both. Without those I would have spent 15 which ain’t that bad when it covers lunch tomorrow too! :)

1

Farmhouse Rainbow Pie recipe

2

The Food Stuff

3

The Dish

4

I salvaged my dough!

5

The Dough before going into the fridge for 30 mins

6

Grilling the peppers

7

More than a tablespoon of thyme....cuz I love it!

8

4 tablespoons of parmesan.....maybe 5!

9

500g of spinach but my how it shrinks!

10

Shrunken Spinach in 1oz butter

11

Spinach with 100g of Double Cream, salt, pepper and thyme

12

In goes the cheese!

13

Spinach mix ready!

14

Plop the peppers into a bag to cool down and soften

15

Butter that dish!

16

Rolled out dough. Bring on the filling!

17

Peel them peppers!

18

Peeled peppers feeling good!

19

Thinly cut ham ready!

20

Had to use Taleggio instead of Fontina!

21

The layering effect!

22

Nearly done!

23

Egg wash on, ready for oven

24

Out of the oven!

25 The wash up. As all fine dinners end!

wash-up

26 And Finally!!

Bellissimo!

It’s only after uploading all these photos that I realized the full extent of my resolution! If I can’t tell you a recipe in my sleep at the end of 2012 something will be wrong with my brain!

Love sleepy Oregano

x

The Silver Spoon

17 Jan

The Silver Spoon can only be described as a bible for all lovers, eaters and cookers of authentic Italian cuisine.  And my resolution for 2012 is to cook as many recipes out of the 2,000 plus recipes this book has to offer. Practicing a faith will never have been so pleasurable!

And now, with the updated edition to hand thanks to my friend Aoife who got it for me and Basil as an engagement present I now have 400 photographs to compare with. (no pressure!)

Some may think me crazy doing all this cooking and eating in the run up to a wedding. I think it adequate research for the ultimate wedding day feast!

My posts throughout the year will be split between video and text. I was gona say video for the more complicated recipes and text for the easier ones but who am I kidding!? Video for when I’m feeling slightly presentable, text for those god awful looking horrific days! My very professional (home-made) tv studio cannot afford a make-up artist, though I may need to put in a request for liposuction towards the end of the year! :)

If you have the book at home and there’s a recipe you’d love to try but are a tad scared of let me know and I’ll endeavor to show you!

But for now it’s off to the market with me to get myself some jars for the Onion Chutney on Page 76 that I’m dying to make!

Ciao,

Oregano x

Mishkin’s.

30 Nov

And so the greatly anticipated Mishkin’s opens and I was happy to get a table for 2 at 6:30pm on a Tuesday evening (the second evening of its normal service).

The interior was quite cool, unsurprisingly, in a minimalist sort of way but largely different to Russell Norman’s four other  restaurants. The lighting was perfect, very minimal also and the layout of the restaurant was just right for the space. Our table was at the back of the restaurant, right beside the Chef’s bar where the renowned reuben sandwiches get made. A great spot, one which will be sought after by regulars I’d imagine!

The menu is also dare I say it quite minimal too! And I think I’d be quite bored with it after a second visit. There does seem to be a specials board though. However I’m not sure how big it is as we were only made aware of it at the end of the night by one of the waiters. Shame.

Because of the lighting, the vibe and the type of food being served, me and Basil opted for “The London Cup to share” cocktail as it read deliciously and for me Mishkin’s isn’t the kinda place you drink wine in!

Way too easy to drink! Seriously refreshing and you’ll want another jug! And in characteristically hip fashion it gets served up in cold jam jars! Already Mishkin’s is a playground for adults!

In fact throughout the night I felt like I was eating party food for adults! Not many places give you that feeling and I really enjoyed it!

We started with the Cod Cheek Popcorn which was very good but could have been amazing had it been seasoned more.

Then came the Lamb and Pistachio Meatballs which again were very good but definitely needed more seasoning! The meat was excellent though. Perfectly tender allowing the flavour and texture of the pistachio to drive through.

The Reuben Sandwich met all expectations if not exceeded them! It’s like the Beastie Boys of toasted sandwiches: Fundamentally simple but whose explosive flavours propelled it to an all-time classic.

The Knish rhymes with delish which was clearly intentional! Although it has the appearance of  a stodgy dumpling its fishy flavours were masterfully balanced and surprisingly delicate.

The Cauliflour and Caraway Slaw was essentially ruined by too much salt. Simply inedible!

The Deep Fried Sprouts sounded good in principle, looked good on the plate but just didn’t work in my mouth! There was a bitterness which came from either over or under cooking and wasn’t helped by too much lemon either.

Bananas Foster. Basil described this as inexplicably delicious! Banana, rum, caramel and ice-cream; basically alcoholic baby food!

Warm Choc Chip Cookie and Ice-cream which consisted of a warm choc chip cookie and ice-cream. Flawless. Just flawless! You will be 100% satisfied with this dish. Perfectly sugary. Perfectly chocolatey. Heaven. I wanted another!!

Overall, Mishkin’s lives up to the hype but oddly isn’t a place you’ll probably frequent.

Oregano and Basil

Trust me, Just go already!

9 Nov

So when I discovered that the team behind The Engineer were opening up a new pub in West London called The Hampshire Hog, I wasn’t going to let the waiting list build up before I placed my order! Went to their website, loved the menu and the prices and made my booking.

Booked a table for 7:30 as I didn’t want to be told the first sitting had finished off a specific dish my taste-buds were craving!

Bit of a journey to get there by taxi from where I am in West London but it was Bonfire night so immense traffic was to be expected I guess!

Walking in I wasn’t expecting it to be so spacious but man was it big!! Clientele of The Engineer will remember it’s cosiness  and all the nooks and crannies. The Hampshire Hog is quite different! But once settled at our table I had time to adjust to an interior quite unlike what I had expected from the team behind The Engineer. I’m still not sure what my feelings are on it….. but perhaps it’s just a case of being too familiar with the old.

Seeings as both I and Basil had given the online menu a right going over we were pretty much half decided on our choices before the menu landed in front of us. I was surprised not to see any specials, but given their age and the busy night ahead of them perhaps the presence of specials would have been a test too far!

The bar snacks seemed all too tempting to go without so Basil and I opted for a selection of bar snacks for starters. Excellent choice. Very generously sized portions and perfect between two.

The Scotched Quail Egg was simply luxurious!! Silky, magically seasoned, completely wolfable!!

The Chorizo Sausage Rolls were probably the best sausage rolls I’ve ever had and that says a lot as anything with pastry and sausage has my name on it!

The Boquerones with Olives and Caper Berries were good but unfortunately I kept comparing them to Brindisa’s anchovies and they simply couldn’t match up. They were too tough for me. I like my anchovies to be juicier and tender.

Osso Bucco Milanese, gremolata was absolute heaven! I could have nursed this plate all night only my tummy got greedy once my taste buds sent out messages telling it “this is epic stuff!” The meat was perfectly tender and wonderfully flavoured. The risotto creamy. I’m sure my facial expressions divulged I was having a good time being its eater, and I was!

Basil went for the Marinated Lamb Leg, Potatoes al forno, Mint, Yoghurt which had jealous eyes stare at it from neighbouring tables. This was quite a dish! Uniquely served and again hit all the right notes where flavour was concerned!

To wash this beautiful assortment of food down we went for a ‘2009 Barbera d’Asti Casareggio, Agostino Pavia e Figli’ upon the advice of the waiter. Silky, plummy, smooth, grew in body with air, a great choice and match.

I also love how transparent The Hampshire Hog are about their wine prices. The menu displays the take home price as well as the dining in price. Serious respect for that! It also allows you to make a better decision on your choice of wine. So often I’m unsure about the quality of wine I’ve ordered as I know mark up on prices can sometimes vary restaurant to restaurant. Never seen this transparency anywhere else.

For pudding I went for the Treacle Tart with Dulce di Leche. Again superb! The pastry was beautiful, the treacle moist, the dulce di leche exquisite and I took a sneaky swig of Basil’s custard as the tart though beautiful did need the addition of a bit of creamy liquid!

Basil chose the Autumn Fruit Crumble with proper custard which was simply delish! The fruits were incredibly sweet and the custard magnifique!

We enjoyed the meal so much that we couldn’t leave even though our given 2 hours was nearly up. Outside the back of the restaurant is quite a large garden so we decided to finish the night out there barely managing to fit 2 digestifs into our by now quite bloated tummies! Indulgence is one of the finest things in life!

All in all, top notch food, good service, good atmosphere and great to have the garden if you couldn’t be bothered moving on from this wonderful nest to find a drinking hole elsewhere.

To The Hampshire Hog – we will definitely return!

 

To Book, To Dine;

http://www.thehampshirehog.com/reservations/

227 KING STREET, LONDON W6 9JT 

Where to find unadulterated pleasure? 12 Archer Street, London.

16 Oct

Blogging about food hasn’t changed the way I eat food. How I eat food dictates which restaurants I like and which ones I don’t! It was Saturday night at Bocca Di Lupo when I realized this. Bocca Di Lupo made me feel at home. I was in a cocoon of love. I was in an Italian’s house! And everything about it felt right! The staff were all smiles and though the same smiles showed a slight tiredness as the busy Sat night progressed the smiles still carried the same intention which was to make you feel both wanted and welcomed, earnestly.

For someone who likes to be looked after, who enjoys being pampered, who appreciates attention to detail Bocca Di Lupo can feel like your only haven and finding it, experiencing it can leave you feeling quite overwhelmed! I do not exaggerate but whether you believe me or not you must go. Go with a loved one, go with someone on your wavelength, go solo if that’s your preference in experiencing such loveliness!

There is something old about Bocca Di Lupo even though the setting is quite modernly designed. After some reflection I discovered that the sense of time I was feeling was down to the food and how it was presented. The menu sites the different parts of Italy in which each dish came from or was founded. Normally when I eat Italian food I’m unaware of its exact origins within Italy. But deciding what to eat from a menu which sited the origin of each dish for some reason reinforced the age of the recipes for Bocca Di Lupo’s food and in turn transported me back in time to appreciate the hands of the first woman or man who would have rolled out the pasta for the tortellini I was going to eat that night. It all felt very enlightening and thus the night started off with a sense of fulfillment before a morsel of food was even eaten!

We started with a round of small plates and a glass of white wine each before moving onto the meatier part of the evening accompanied by some pretty exceptional red wine.

I had a wonderfully floral robust white wine which after drinking left some  fruity notes linger on my palate. Basil went for a very interesting sauvignon blanc which tasted fruity and finished with just the slight bit of crispness! Premium wines to say the least.

Sauvignon Blanc, 2009,
Ermacora, Friuli.

Pigato, 2009,
Laura Aschero, Liguria.

Our first small plate was the Tortellini of prosciutto and mortadella with cream and nutmeg – region Emilia. Incredible dish! Simple, creamy, comforting, chewy, soft distinct flavours, definitely plate of the night for me. Have never tasted tortellini so good!

Our second small plate was the Fritti Romani of olive stuffed with minced pork and veal. Tender, gooey, meaty, juicy, a foodies version of  a gob stopper perhaps!

Our third small plate was the Fritti. Fried squid, red prawns, aubergine and lemon – region Campania. A surprisingly refreshing dish. Not overly seasoned like so many other Fritti. Each ingredient was allowed to stand alone for you to really enjoy its actual taste as opposed to just fried salt! Fried lemon was a first for me and had a way of making your tummy feel incredibly light after consuming it! A splendid dish to finish our first course on.

Upon the Sommelier’s recommendation we went for the slightly expensive but worth it carafe of Nebbiolo, 2006,
Aldo Conterno, Piemonte.
Light and earthy it tasted mature beyond its age just like the Sommelier promised! A real pleasure to drink and the perfect accompaniment to the game we had ordered.

Partridge arrived with cheek bacon and wet polenta and oh how beautifully sweet the polenta was! The partridge delicate but tough at the same time. Juicy, meaty with tender, subtle flavours. And the cheek bacon had serious serious flavour! Sweet as honey! I could have gobbled down a whole cheek!

Cimi di rapa with garlic and chilli – region Campania made an interesting side dish. This sounds odd but it brought an element of hydration to the plate as I suppose a lot of supper green veggies do! Its flavour wasn’t a million miles away from that of asparagus except more intense!

To finish of our second course was the Finferli (girolle mushrooms) and parmesan risotto – region Lombardia. Mouth-watering!! The texture of the risotto was supreme and the mushrooms tasted of pure luxury! An indulgent note to finish our second course on!

Dessert was SENSATIONAL! I am a big big gelato fan and eater and nothing could have outdone my Gelato cup bonet – amaretti soaked in rum, bonet gelato, salted caramel gelato and espresso syrup. Oh good god it was heavenly!! Creamy, textured, chocolatey chocolatey chocolatey! The salted caramel was yummy yummy yummy! All I could do was sit silently and indulge guilt free! Mama Mia!!! Dessert of my lifetime!! And I don’t speak… well in this case type those words lightly! And in fact in this case I type very heavily as it excites me just remembering the happiness I felt as the gelato oozed through me!

Basil opted for a lighter dish as he was feeling quite full! However all I can do here is show you a picture as I didn’t care to taste anything less than my own Gelato Cup Bonet!! Blood Orange Granita with almonds and mint – region Scilia

I didn’t want the night to end! I want to go back as soon as I can except this time treat myself to double of everything! Tasting is not enough at Bocca Di Lupo. You must eat with gusto verging on greediness! And that is how I like to eat! With gusto and a supreme amount of greed! Just give me the food and leave me to ravage it!

Bocca Di Lupo – 10/10

The price of excellence- 

Views from the bar where we sat;

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