I know rabbit might not be for everyone, and many of you will be thinking of this:
And not of this:
But I can assure you that rabbit meat is delicious… a bit like chicken (looks exactly like it…) but gamier. I recently spent a week at my parents’ house in Paris where rabbit meat is as common as chicken’s and was presented with two rabbits to cook for dinner. I had never cooked it and did not have many ingredients so decided to go for something I know how to do well: a wine stew. I mean you can never go wrong with wine and meat… add some butter and it’s heaven!
For this recipe you will need (enough for five people)
– Two rabbits cut in smallish pieces (ask your butcher to do it, it’s usually in six pieces)
– Two carrots, minced.
– An onion, chopped.
– 300 grams of mushrooms, roughly chopped (preferably a mix of nutty mushrooms).
– Two bunches of thyme.
– Half a bottle of wine (pour the rest into a glass and drink it to get over the fact you’re eating a cute bunny).
– A lot of butter
Start by adding a knob of butter to a pan and brown the rabbit pieces. Reserve and do the same with the mushrooms in batches so they brown but don’t become mushy. Put them aside with the rabbit and add more butter to the pan. Add the onion and carrots and sweat them for 5-10 minutes. When they become soft, turn up the heat and add the wine and the thyme. You can also add a bay leaf at this point.
Let the wine reduce to half and then add the rabbit and the mushrooms. Make sure they are covered and add water if needed. Season with salt and pepper and let cook for at least 45 minutes on very low heat, with a lid on. When the meat looks like it’s cooked and almost falling off the bone take the lid off to let it reduce. Right now is the time to prepare the polenta. If you are experienced you can have a go at polenta flour which has too cook for 45 minutes with constant turning and gives you an arm ache and possibly some burns. If you are not an experienced Italian grandma, grab a good quality semi-ready polenta and follow the instructions. When the polenta is almost cooked add some cream or ricotta cheese and some parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and serve the stew over it.
The next day, if you are lucky to have some stew and polenta left, serve them together. If like me all you had is polenta, fry it in a pan with some butter until it’s crispy. For the courgette, slice it really thinly (with a peeler or a mandolin) fry it for 2-3 minutes in some butter and sprinkle it with salt, pepper, good olive oil and goat’s cheese. And there you go: a really easy and healthy second meal after the indulgence of rabbit and wine.
(Sorry for the low quality pictures, I only had my phone)
I know Quesadillas are technically Mexican, but the whole idea is simply cheese and some other ingredients trapped inside a tortilla to create melted awesomeness. I took this idea really liberally and made quesadillas with goat’s cheese, feta, beetroot and chopped herbs. Yes I am probably as far as I could be from real quesadillas, but it was really good and sometimes you just have to use what’s left in the fridge.
This can hardly be called a recipe but you will need:
- Goat’s cheese (the crumbly kind)
- Feta cheese (blue cheese would be amazing too now that I think of it…)
- Chopped herbs (I had chives, parsley and wild rocket).
- Tortillas (fresh corn ones if you can, it tastes nothing like the Old El Paso/Sainsbury’s/Discovery flour tortillas – sadly I only had that kind this time).
Start by heating up a non-stick frying pan. Throw a tortilla in there (no oil or butter!) and leave it until golden. Turn it around and start adding the cheeses. On top of the cheese add the beetroot and the chopped herbs. Fold the tortilla in two and make sure it is gold on both sides. To serve, I like to cut the quesadillas in triangles and dip them in some kind of salsa/sour cream. Voila, easy, healthy lunch in 10 minutes or less (I am competing with Mr Oliver here!).
These have been three very busy weeks which saw me travelling to three different countries in too little time and left me with no time to think about food or even cook it. When I finally had one whole day at home I craved some easy, simple food. And with this came the discovery that my new flat comes attached with a neighbourhood herb garden…yes that exists in real life!
This amazing herb patch is full of parsley, rocket, coriander and any other herbs you can imagine. It got me longing for really simple and flavourful dishes, full of chopped herbs and butter. I combined all this with the available ingredients in my kitchen: chicken thighs, avocado, baby potatoes and bread. Out of this was born chicken with warm ‘salad’.
All you need for this dish is:
- Chicken Thighs (also works with other parts of the chicken but I find the thighs tastier)
- Baby potatoes (or any other good salad potato)
- Old bread, torn in small pieces (optional)
- French Mustard
- Avocado, chopped
- A handful of chopped herbs (I had fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and parsley)
- Chopped rocket (the spiciest the better)
- Salt and Pepper
Begin by parboiling the potatoes in salted water. Then combine half of the chopped herbs with the mustard and marinate the chicken in that mixture for an hour or so (you can also do without the marinade if you are in a hurry, just brush the chicken with the mixture and cook straightaway) and then fry it in butter, just to crisp up the skin. Combine the potatoes, the bread and the chicken in an oven proof dish (I use a dutch oven, its quicker), season it, and mix the ingredients well so all the flavours really combine. Cook in the oven until the chicken falls off the bone and then mix everything with the avocado and the rest of the fresh herbs and the chopped rocket. Taste and season if needed. Voila!
As mentioned in my previous post I took it as my mission to taste as many of Boston’s food trucks as I could. On Sunday I walked all the way to the South End to SoWa Market – a big market that takes place every Sunday. I quickly moved to the food truck section which was already crowded with hungry Bostonians. I started my lunch with a pork taco at BBQ Smith.
For $3 you got a taco filled with crispy and smoky pulled pork topped with avocado salsa and a spicy sauce. This was incredibly tasty and a really good start to my lunch. They also had really good looking sandwiches but I had to save my stomach for my next truck: Lobsta Love.
Lobsta Love’s lobster slider was all that Chowda’s slimy lobster roll wasn’t: fresh, not drowned in mayo and made to order. The lobster was mixed with mayonnaise and tarragon but kept its strong flavour. The brioche bun was lightly toasted and seemed to be brushed with butter and was the perfect accompaniment to the lobster. Lobsta Love offered many lobster options including a lobster mac and cheese which I will absolutely have to try before I leave Boston. By this point I was pretty full but could not leave before trying famous cheese melts from Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese.
Roxy’s Gourmet Grilled Cheese are a bit of food truck royalty as they have won many prizes and have taken part on the Food Network’s Great Food Race, so I knew I was in for a treat. I thought I might as well go all out so I went for the Mighty Rib: Fontina cheese, braised back ribs and caramelised. Yes, ribs, in a cheese toastie! After 20 minutes waiting with other 50 people the beast finally came out. It looked glorious, all cheese and and pork amazingness. This toastie completely changed my idea of what cheese toasties should be and I am definitely recreating this at home. The only thing missing was a bit of spice like some sliced jalapenos or a salsa I could dunk the toastie in. Aside from that…fatty perfection!
All I can say is that Boston is a great city if you like food! Now I can’t wait to go back to London and explore the food truck options there.
After the disillusion of Chowda’s lobster roll I took it to my online bible of American food – Serious Eats – to find some tasty food for my next few weeks in Boston. I began my search for a place to have lunch around my office – Downtown Crossing – and came accross Chacarero’s, a small place that serves enormous Chilean sandwiches called Chacarero’s. I came back to the office and quickly messaged Miss Meatball to tell her about one of the best sandwiches I had ever had. This thing was gigantic and so so good. It’s basically and white homemade bap, smeared with avocado, topped with your choice of beef, chicken, or both (I tried chicken but really should go for both next time), munster cheese and then runner beans (yes, runner beans), tomato, lettuce, and an incredible mistery green spicy sauce.
All the ingredients were incredibly fresh and every sandwich was made to order. A large chacarero came to 8 dollars (that’s roughly 5 pounds) which fed me for both lunch and dinner (it is a really big sandwich). This made me think about the amount of times I had a horrible sloppy sandwich from Pret or worse, Sainsbury’s, simply because there are no other affordable options around (read Holborn). If only I could have walked five minutes from LSE and pay five pounds to have a gigantic, fresh and made to order (no Pret making your sandwiches in the morning doesn’t count as ‘fresh’) for five pounds. But on to more food from Boston.
On my third day of work I was asked by my boss to replace someone at a talk at MIT.It was a conference on food trucks and mobile payments (yes these exist) and while it was totally useless from a work point of view I got to find out a lot about the Boston food (and fashion) truck scene. I found out that Boston is one of the cities in America with the most food trucks per capita and I have made it my mission to try as many as I can. I started by having my leftover sandwich with some rosemary french fries from Clover – one of Boston’s most famous food truck enterprises (they have over 5 trucks and a restaurant) which has one of its trucks close to my hotel on the Boston Common. These fries were so good – crisp outside and soft inside and speckled with fried rosemary. At first I thought the rosemary was just a gimmick but then I started thinking about all the possibilities of dishes that could be sprinkled with fried rosemary – which made the herb milder than usual and very crispy.
My next food truck experience was my next day’s lunch at Bon Me. Sadly I have no picture of my food so you will have to drool on this image of their menu from their Flickr page. Bon Me is a Vietnamese food truck and serves three main dishes plus some extras (no more noodle soup). You choose your base then add your filling. I had the Bahn-mi with bbq pork which was incredible. Fresh bread, pork pate, punchy pickled carrot and daikon and smoky bbq pork topped with fresh coriander. This was amazing and incredible value for $6. The truck stops quite close to my work on Fridays so I will be sure to try the other options next week. Now I’m off to SoWa open market to test as many food trucks as I can.
I have to thank miss meatball for actually making this review possible. Back in April she introduced me to a person who would give me a freelance job, which would then turn into a full-time job (with two weeks training in Boston) which turned the poor salted cod student into a working salted cod who can now spend more on food!
I’ve been in Boston for a few days now, but due to jetlag and weird tropical weather, I have only just managed to try clam chowder (or chowda as Bostonians say) and lobster roll – Boston’s two iconic dishes. So I decided to head out to nearby Faneuil Hall and try both at Chowda, famous for its clam chowder and cheap lobster rolls.
I had never tried clam chowder before so I had no point of comparison, but this was good! While it looked less than appetizing (imagine pale yellow goop) it tasted extremely fresh and fishy. It was full of clams and white fish and had a great consistency – not too thick, not too thin. As you can see I only bought a very small portion, but this was extremely filling! I could easily have done with that and a bit of bread on the side.
But, the temptation of a clam chowder and lobster roll combo was too much to resist and I ordered the lobster roll too. Unfortunately this paled in comparison to the chowder. I regretted it as soon as I ordered it…The lobster roll was not made to order but was actually the last one standing in a refrigerated section of the stall. I don’t know if this is simply because I came in at a time when they had run out of fresh lobster or were not busy enough for the lobster roll to be made fresh to order, but what I experienced was a very cold, too sweet lobster roll. Despite the great amount of lobster in the roll it was drowned in mayonnaise and lacked in seasoning. I ate some of the lobster and left the roll which tasted cold and old.
I also have to point out to the horrible service. Having been a waitress myself I think I am allowed to be pretty strict with service. I would say that Chowda has some of the worst service I have ever experienced. Despite being empty (I came in at 5) the two people working there carried on their conversation for a good minute before attending to me. Second, the person serving me actually took a call from his phone while he was serving me. He did not try to end the call or make it brief, he was on the phone the whole time! I found this extremely rude and almost gave up on the food… but the chowder smelt too good and I was hungry.
While the clam chowder was great, I am pretty sure I will not be going back to Chowda anytime soon. I had heard that Faneuil Hall was a bit of a tourist trap for food and this only confirmed it. I will be trying more lobster in the coming days and I hope it is as good as the amazing 10 pound lobster me, The Swedish Meatball and some friends had last week at Burger and Lobster.
Looking for a cheap and cheerful place for lunch close to my flat I searched my endless list of food blogs for a dim sum place I had a vague idea about close to Earl’s Court station. Thanks to the ever knowledgeable Mr Noodles I found Dragon Palace, a little gem of a place on Earl’s Court Road.
As recommended by Mr Noodles we decided to go for dim sum with a side of Singaporean Needle Noodles. Mr Salted Cod also had a Won Ton soup to start the meal, which was perfectly light and tasty. We had Gar Herng Yee Mai Gor (Village Dumplings) which were beautiful parcels filled with red tilapia and vegetables, Ha Gau (prawn dumplings) filled with incredibly fresh prawns, Char Siu Cheung (BBQ Pork Cheung Fun) thick rolled noodles filled with lovely barbecued pork and War Tip (Shangai dumplings) which were pan fried and filled with pork and vegetables. The dim sum was all really tasty and the parcels beautiful and thin as they should be. The accompanying noodles were definitely not necessary towards the end but were still amazing. Completely transparent and cut in small pieces, the noodles were smoky and salty and mixed with fresh vegetables and prawns in a slightly dry sauce.
Service was also really good (always an important point for me) with the waiters being extremely attentive but not too invasive. The total came to £24 for two people with service included and way too much food. All in all this is a great choice for lunch in Earl’s Court and would be great for dinner with friends as there are a few big tables.
I am back from a blissful two weeks in Corsica and I thought there was nothing better to remind myself I am no longer there but in cloudy London than to recount my culinary adventures in the Île de Beauté. Before going there I had images of fresh fish barbecues, relaxed meals by the beach and not much to do. Little did I remember that we would be TWELVE! I don’t know how I managed to forget that my close family (bother, sister and step brother and sisters) includes 7 children plus my parents, with the addition of cousins and grandmas but I wasn’t really prepared to cook for 12 people everyday for a week (we were ‘only’ 8 for the last week) in a house prepared to welcome 7. So I thought it would be a good idea to give some tips on how to cook for big parties, maybe some of you have ridiculously big families too or just want to entertain some your close friends all at the same time…
The first thing I have to say is BBQ! This is your best friend when you are cooking for a lot of people. No need for complicated prep, not a lot of washing, and something that almost everyone will like. Before going to Corsica I was dreaming of fish and seafood barbecues, but due to the amount of people that populate the island in the summer fish was almost always unavailable or ridiculously pricey so we stuck with meats. You don’t want to spend a long time prepping when you could be enjoying the view above with a glass of wine (yes that is the amazing view from the barbecue) so just stick to simple marinades: smashed garlic, salt, pepper and mustard for pork (or pasta de pimentao/pimiento with some oil if you’re in Spain or Portugal), good old salt and pepper for beef (good steaks don’t need more than that) and salt, pepper, garlic and some mint (optional) for lamb. Make sure you leave the meat marinating for quite a long time in the case of pork and lamb and make sure to only salt the steaks close to cooking time.
Your next best friends are starters and sides. If you are cooking for many, especially in a kitchen which doesn’t have enormous pots and pans, the easiest thing to do is to prepare a lot of small different side dishes and starters. Starters can be anything from local charcuterie (coppa and saucisson from Corsica are great), to small vegetable dishes (cucumber salad, tomato and mozarella, mini quiches) or soups (gazpacho is my favourite for summertime) and are great to divide up your meal so you don’t have to cook a big dish. Also make sure you make a lot of different side dishes to keep everyone happy and to make cooking easier. My favourite sides for a barbecue are a big green salad with lots of vinaigrette and oven roasted fries. Other good ideas are grilled vegetables (that you can make at the same time as the meat), baby potatoes blanched and then cooked in butter with garlic, grilled asparagus, coriander rice or sweet potato fries. Just make sure they are easy to cook so you can juggle two or three at a time.
My final tip is to make salads! This might seem like a weak meal at first but we have provided you with many salad meals which are all but weak. My favourite remains the Swedish Meatball’s grape, halloumi and pomegranate salad but this summer my stepsister (merci Philippine!) prepared us a dream salad which consisted of mâche (also known as lamb’s lettuce), roasted pine nuts, melon and feta cheese tossed with classic vinaigrette and might just become my new go-to salad. Salads are easy because they don’t require much cooking and you can actually call your guests and ask them to do some chopping. And with that comes an extra tip: when cooking for big parties, make them cook too (and provide a lot of wine)!
This is a really easy and healthy salad which will make you forget you are actually eating something healthy. The important thing here is the sauce. I mean you could do without the beef (but who would want to?!?) and change up the vegetables but the sauce really just brings everything together. For this amazing sauce you will need:
- Ginger (minced)
- Lemongrass (minced)
- Soy Sauce (half cup)
- Fish Sauce (one big tablespoon)
- Sriracha Chilli Sauce or chillies (as much as you like)
- The juice of one lime (and more if needed)
- Garlic (minced)
- Beef, seared and then sliced finely
- Red Peppers, chopped.
- Spring Onions, chopped.
- Noodles, cooked according to instructions, chilled (I used thai bean vermicelli, but this would be nice with some thicker thai noodles).
- Coriander, chopped finely.
To prepare it..well it’s a salad! So just mix everything up, add as much sauce and you want go eat this amazing tangy,spicy, fake salad.
I will start by saying that this recipe is AMAZING and that you need to go and do it now and that the photo really does not do it justice… Also I understand that for students pork loin comes a bit on the pricey side, but you can easily substitute it for pork shoulder or pork belly and just cook it slower. Anyway what’s important here is the marinade! Spicy, sweet, smoky and tangy all at the same time. For a medium size pork loin, you will need:
- 3 chipotle chillies in adobo, with two teaspoons of adobo ‘sauce’ that comes with them. You can buy these at Whole Foods, Borough Market, Cool Chile and other shops/supermarkets that sell Mexican products. These chillies are incredible: not too spicy and very smoky. Once you try them you’ll want to put them in everything you cook… which I do!
- 3 tablespoons of your favourite bbq sauce.
- 1 tablespoon of ketchup.
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed.
- enough salt to season your piece of meat (not much needed if you are using pork belly or shoulder)
- half a lemon’s juice.
Put all of this in a ziplock bag, get your pork loin in there and chill in the fridge for a few hours. Now on to the black beans! You will need (for a generous serving):
- 2 cups of uncooked black beans which you will soak overnight (or buy some canned black beans, but it’s definitely not as good. If you are using canned beans skip to step 2.).
- 2 bacon rashers or pancetta, sliced finely (you can also use spanish spicy chorizo, tastes great!).
- half an onion, finely chopped.
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced.
- one chipotle chili (see here they are again!) finely chopped.
- salt and pepper for seasoning.
- Start by cooking the soaked black beans in their soaking water (adding more if needed) on a medium heat until they are fully cooked. Take them from the stove and reserve (you can do this hours in advance and then start from step one just before you want to eat your beans).
- Now heat some oil in a heavy pan and fry the bacon for a few minutes until it starts to render fat. Add the onions and garlic and fry for a bit until they become soft.
- Add the chilli and the beans and cook on a very slow heat, adding water if needed. The beans should be getting soft and soupy.
- Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. There you go, ready for your tacos!
- While the beans are simmering away take the pork loin from the bag and brown it on both sides, until it’s quite dark. Move it to an oven-proof dish, along with the marinade, cover it with foil and cook it for 30-35 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees.
- After the pork has been cooked, leave it to rest on a cutting board and take out the marinade into a blender. Add some more lemon juice, some coriander and blend it into a sauce.
- Slice the pork into thin slices and serve with the beans, coriander and your preferred salsa on corn tortillas (the best are from Cool Chile – no they don’t endorse me in any way… but if they want to, I’m more than happy with that!)
- Now eat those amazing tacos and curse the time when you didn’t know about chipotle chillies or this marinade!
- A mix of cooked grains and pulses (I used quinoa, bulghur, red rice and Puy lentils).
- Two handfuls of salad leaves per person.
- A mix of crunchy vegetables (all I had were spring onions and celery…).
- Some chopped herbs (here I used coriander).
Mix all the ingredients together, incorporate the spicy sauce so that it’s coating everything and add the cooked pork loin on top.