Sunday, 18 July 2010

Brunch with Alice Hart, at La Fromagerie

The last week or so I have been ill, hence the absence. After not eating for four days, I was plunged back in at the deep end once recovered with an early Saturday morning wake up call. The parents and I were headed into London to the infamous La Fromagerie restaurant/cheese-shop/grocers/cafe (!) to  watch a cookery demonstration by Alice Hart. A great cookery writer, her bio from the La Fromagerie is so impressive:
The youngest ever food editor at Waitrose Food Illustrated, a chef, and a food stylist. Her popup restaurant Shoreditch in February sold out in less than a day. Later this year she plans to launch a Vietnamese restaurant. And whenever she has the time, she is cooking and travelling in her pride and joy: Myrtle the Hurtle, a bay window, 1972 VW camper van, fully decked-out with kitchen.
Here making aioli from scratch in a pestle and mortar with Patricia Michelson, owner of La Fromagerie, Alice Hart provided the audience of 20or so with great tips and entertaining talk as she coked up delicious food. Firstly, we enjoyed blackberry granola muffins – something I look forward to making and sharing with you fully later this year. They were gorgeous and the use of wholemeal flour, hazelnuts and granola made them feel positively healthy.  Next on the menu were courgette flowers stuffed with fresh goat cheese alongside a summer squash agrodolce. Whilst I am normally into my sweet food, being ill had left me craving savoury and the food here was exciting and new to me – I enjoyed it all! The squash agrodulce was like a summer salad of roasted squash and courgette with a fresh dressing, perfect under the soft richness of the goat-cheese flowers. Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures so these are the few from my Dad’s phone. Alice made an interesting point that people often hear of battered and fried courgette flowers and think this is the only way to eat them. Whilst yummy, that is such a faff and the flowers are very versatile – can be eaten raw, shredded in salads or baked. IMG00008-20100717-1111Next up was beetroot cured salmon with a fennel salad and the aformentioned aioli. I haven’t tried much fish before but the beetroot cure made this totally beautiful and the whole audience seemed to love it. The aioli was a wonderful yellow and tasted just as vibrant, it was also new to see it being done in a pestle and mortar with no whisk to be seen. Also saving on washing up because the garlic and salt can be crushed in here first before you go on to create the emulsion. The fish was served with a glass of prosecco with a stunning purple borage flower which tastes of cucumber! (Don’t worry, my prosecco was passed along!) We finished with mocha affogatos (chocolate ice cream with hot coffee poured on top) which were an indulgent end. Overall, I had a wonderful time and enjoyed trying fresh new food and great produce. Alice Hart is lovely and I have noticed many more delicious recipes to try from her new book which I highly recommend. In particular I am looking forward to trying salted caramel mousse cups with scooping biscuits - sounds totally divine.
PS head to the lovely Culinary Travels blog here which has a full review of Alice Hart's book here.

Friday, 2 July 2010


Gift: The WI Book of BiscuitsDSCF7249

Recipes: Crunchies

Verdict? Addictive! This gift was a big surprise and it is precious as well – it was my Granny’s for many years and I feel guilty for receiving such a delicious book of hers! Dotted through the book were bright pink post-it notes from my Granny, telling me which cookies she had tried, which worked, what amendments to make etc. I am excited to get through her list of recommendations and trying some of the more unusual biscuits from this book – Curly Peter anyone? Napoleon Hat? In the mean time, I’m sure these will be made again!DSCF7254Arguably all cookies are simple – but these really are. After simply melting the golden syrup and butter, all the dry ingredients are just poured in. At first the ratio of ingredients seems far too dry, but a good old mix and everything is good. Another positive on this recipe? It makes a lot a cookies! Although the dough is pretty good so this number does go down a little ;)DSCF7261   Straight out of the oven these are delightfully soft and chewy. The next day they will be crunchier round the edges but still have a soft and sweet middle. Tempted enough? Here’s the recipe…DSCF7294