Kedgeree is a slightly odd Anglo-Indian dish stemming from the Colonial era, encapsulating smoked haddock, curry powder, rice and milk. I know those taste combinations sound odd, but it is actually really nice: imagine a lemony and fresh biryani with smoked fish. The oddness of the dish, married with the fact that it is a breakfast classic (indeed so much of a classic people don’t make it much anymore), meant that it was predestined to end up as a Breakfast Fetishism item on the blog. I made my first attempt at making it this morning. This was brought on by Mr Meatball’s grandmother’s reminiscing about the dish the other day: born in Shanghai in 1928, she recalls this dish being served on silver plates in houses that had butlers!
The end result was very tasty: savoury and mellow through the smokiness of the fish but refreshing with the spices and the lemons. Admittedly it would perhaps not be the first thing I’d think to eat in the morning, but rice and fish are good ingredients to last you through the day so I may have to reconsider that. You need:
- 400g smoked haddock (I bought frozen dyed haddock from Waitrose – theirs is sustainable and good quality but much cheaper than the stuff you get in the fresh section)
- 450 g basmati rice (preferably good quality as rice is central to the dish)
- 2 green chillies, chopped into rings with their seeds
- 1 large onion (a sweet Spanish variety would work nicely)
- 1 large tablespoon mild curry powder
- 2 crushed cardamom pods
- A handful of chopped coriander and chives
- 3 hardboiled eggs
- 1 lemon, cut into slices
- 140 g butter (this is important, I did perhaps not use quite enough in my first attempt)
- Nutmeg (optional, to sprinkle on top in the end)
Start by putting the rice in cold water and let it stand for up to half an hour. There’s a whole school on being able to cook basmati rice properly and I’m still a novice, which explains why I use Mr Meatball’s coffee brewer to rinse the rice (some people have an angel’s patience with my kitchen experiments…). While the rice soaks, poach the defrosted fish gently by putting it in a pan on low heat, and cover it with 50/50 cold milk and water. After ten minutes (or until the fish is done, you want to be careful not to over-cook it), take it off the heat. Preserve the liquid milk/water is was cooking in.
Now, depending on if you want your kedgeree to be dry and fluffy, or wet and buttery you proceed through the next two steps differently. I made mine dry and fluffy, but Delia’s wetter version sounds quite nice and I think I might go along that next time.
For a wet kedgeree, you fry the butter in the pan, add your onions to soften for a few minutes and then add the curry powder, green chili and cardamom pods to fry for a few seconds. Then add your rinsed rice, and pour in 450 ml of the milk/water liquid. Bring to boil, and give a brisk stir before putting on a tight-fitting lid and cooking on low heat for 20 minutes.
If you want a fluffier kedgeree, you fry the onion and spices in the butter separately to the rice, and cook the rice with a tight-fitting lid on according to your harshest basmati-instructions (these are usually on the packet: for me it included not opening the lid of the pan for 25 minutes and then letting it rest on a wet towel, still with the lid on, for five minutes).
Once the rice cooking is done, for both methods, you add the flaked fish (which you remove the skin from whilst the rice is cooking), boiled eggs and lemon juice. Serve with mango chutney and scatter coriander across the top.
(If possible, find some silver in the house, stream Downton Abbey from itv player and pretend your name is Phyllis or Marguerite, and the butler just brought this to your table.)
Hidden away in the rather anonymous and uncharming area between Euston and King’s Cross sits Somers Town Coffee house, an unlikely named gastropub specialising in British tapas. “That sounds odd”, the Salted cod said when I told her, but in fact it is carried off very well. The pub in itself is very pretty inside, with sturdy tables, old school armchairs and a door hidden in a bookshelf for the curious (if you dare open it and walk down the staircase you may be rewarded an invite to their “secret” supperclub) and there’s also a beer garden outside.
Me and my friend shared six tapas dishes and an excellent bottle of Rioja (there are some Tuesday lunch luxuries only dissertation writing can warrant) which came to about £25 each, so it’s not a very cheap place. But some of the dishes were absolutely fabulous. I found a favourite in the rather blandly named Cheese and onion pie, which was incredibly rich and sweet, with a heavy note of caramelised onion and creamy, light cheddar cheese. Potted crab was also lovely, with tender crab and shrimp spreading out coarsely on the different coloured toast. The salad with asparagus, goats cheese and beetroot was simple but delicious, sampling the best of seasonal without making a fuss. We also had a salmon and prawn tart wich was strong and fresh the way only cooked smoked salmon is, with strong hints of dill.
The only let-down was the beef, stilton and stout pasties which had way too much pasty on them and were too dry, with no note of stilton. The jus that came with them was sweet and lovely, and complimented other parts of our dishes well. Since we were hungry we also opted for chips as one of the plates, which were perfectly fine, especially with the jus from the steak pasties, but being… chips, there wasn’t that much to wow us about them.
All in all, it was a lovely eating experience, and we both walked out full and content. This is a good way of sampling little bits of classic British food and when I come back (and I hope I will) I’d love to try the gourmet scotch egg, the smoked applewood chunks, de-shelled popcorn mussels and the marinated pork belly lollipops. If I add that smooth bottle of Rioja, maybe I’ll actually dare enter the bookshelf staircase for the supperclub. 7,5 meatballs out of 10.
Somers town Coffee House can be found here on the map:
- Cream cheese
- Strong cheddar (and preferably one of these to slice it with)
- Generous amounts of newly milled pepper
- Very thinly sliced celery
- Crispy lettuce
- Thick slices of bread (nice granary from the bakery section of your local supermarket, or an actual bakery, is the nicest, but granary slice works perfectly fine too)
- Optional: you can go crazy and add all kinds of salad. I tend to make it when i’ve got nothing else at home, but I’m sure fresh spinach and crushed walnuts would sneak in very easily.
Slice up your bread, spread on a layer of cream cheese on each side and mill lots of pepper on both sides too (it’s important to get the pepper in at this point as it flavours are drawn out in the cream cheese a little, especially if it will be sitting in your bag for lunch, and that tastes very nice). Add a generous layer of celery on one side, put your cheese on top and finish off with crunchy salad. Since there aren’t many ingredients for this one, the key is to think generously for all of them. Press together, slice up to a door stop (or whatever shape you prefer) and pack up in your lunchbox. Easy as that. Enjoy!
Yesterday I ventured south of the river for a few drinks with my friend Nelson and stumbled across this little gem. We were originally set to go to Elephant & Castle but I failed to meet Nelson’s challenge of finding a nice after-work place to eat and drink there – is there not much in Elephant & Castle or does someone know of some diamonds in the rough? Recommendations are appreciated (especially by Nelson who lives there). Either way we went to Borough instead, and found the Roebuck.
The Roebuck is a lovely little pub with airy rooms and a chilled out atmosphere. They have a very thoughtful selection of flowery British ales and wheat beers on tap, sourcing from local breweries such as Meantime in Greenwich and Sambrook’s in Battersea (on a related note, pardon the blurry photos…). Their food is excellent too. Nelson who is veggie had the Celeriac rösti burger with kidney bean salsa and sour cream. Having been a veggie all his life, he said the burger in itself was an 8.5, as the flavours were lovingly planned and it was freshly prepared from scratch. If anything it was a little too rich in the cheese, but given the fact that it was a veggie burger, I can’t seriously take the “too rich” as a problem. The portion of chips was in the smallest category, sadly, as this would otherwise had been quite a bargain at £7.75.
I had an absolutely delicious pan fried coley (a regional white fish which happens to be a sustainable alternative to the over-fished cod) with cauliflower puree and courgette batons with garlic butter sauce (pictured at the top). The skin was crisp and packed full of flavour, and melted incredibly well with the tender fish and subtle cauliflower puree. The garlic butter sauce felt lush and a bit lavish, and was lovely. I often complain over England not being fish-loving enough (in comparison to my fish and seafood-obsessed Swedes), but this little revelation will certainly make me try fish in gastropubs more often. The coley at the Roebuck holds gastropub standards, and at £11.50 I thought that was rather cheap – but then again, the portion was quite small, so it’s more of a tasty treat than a filling main for a starving person.
All in all, the Roebuck is a very nice little pub. A real effort has clearly been put into creating interesting, locally sourced and freshly prepared food, and the ale selection is very satisfying. Go for a mid-week treat when you want to chill and have some good food, as the atmosphere seems a bit south of the river too – not too stressful, never packed, but very friendly and relaxed. If the portions had been of slightly bigger size me and Nelson would have given it 8 meatballs out of 10, but we settled for 7.5/10.
The Roebuck, 50 Great Dover Street, SE1 4YG
On the meatball and salted cod map:
Soft-boiled eggs with marmite soldiers is one of the top 5 things Britain has given the world (yes, I’m deadly serious), and I eat it every single morning. It is simply amazing. The saltyness of the marmite spread thinly on the toast and then dipped into a hot, gooey egg is a perfectly simple yet moorish flavour for a sleepy morning palette. It is also a filling and reasonably healthy breakfast which keeps you full for a long time.
People often say they don’t eat breakfast which is understandable with the stressful mornings many have. Gulping down a few eggs and a smoothie is often more than a rudely awoken weekday-stomach can hold. However, on a Sunday you can afford to lie in bed for ages, catch-up on telly and reading and then make a glorious breakfast! Like soft boiled eggs with marmite soldiers!
- 2 soft-boiled eggs
- 2 slices of white toast
- Kalles Kaviar (optional – I make things a bit crazy by adding Swedish smoked fish roe (Kalles Kaviar) at the beginning and end together with the harder bits of boiled egg, but this is a habit only my countrymen seem to understand. And they are freaked out by marmite.)
Soft boil the eggs by dropping them into boiling water and cook for for 5 minutes (if they are medium size and have been sitting outside the fridge – if they’ve been in the fridge give them 7 minutes, if they are small slightly less). In the meantime, make your toast, butter them and spread marmite very thinly all over (this is a bit of an art, as too much tastes horrible). Make your soldiers by cutting each slice toast into thin strips (I find this is easiest to do by turning the marmite-sides towards each other and then slicing it all together). Take the eggs off the heat, run under cold water for a little bit and then put in eggs cups (or shot glasses if you lack the former). Crack open your eggs, dip the soldiers and indulge!
What is your favourite breakfast? If you tips us off about something that sounds delicious we might well end up doing it, so we are more than grateful for suggestions.
My friend Ella is a trainee-journalist master brownie-maker from the North, and taught me how to make these amazing bundles of lavishness. Still can’t make them as well as she does, and I failed miserably two nights ago by forgetting eggs and making them with hard flour (see photos below: they were simultaneously liquid AND horrifically burned. Awarded myself the first crushed meatball on the 1-10 scale).
Anyway, the second, successful attempt, included the three missing eggs and normal plain flour. Ella usually has them in the oven for 40 minutes but mine were in for 1 hour and could probably have taken another 10 minutes but I chickened out. You simply have to feel your way there.
They are not the cheapest sugary treat to make, but everyone deserves a bit of luxury for special days. My ingredients came to about £7 for one batch. You need:
140 g dark chocolate
225 g butter (unsalted)
450 g caster sugar
110 g plain flour
55 g cocoa powder
1 mars bar (added an extra to mine to compensate for not having any cocoa powder, but really sticking with Ella’s recipe is a safer bet)
+ 3 eggs, don’t forget!
Heat the oven to 190 degrees and line a tin with baking paper (smudging some butter underneath it makes it stick). Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water (I did this in the microwave, which works as long as you take it out every 30 seconds and stir so it doesn’t burn). While the chocolate is melting, put the butter and sugar together in a pan on the stove and make that melt together too. Take them off the heat and stir in the eggs, then the flour and roughly chopped mars bars. Pour the mix into the roasting tin and bake for 30-40 mins until the top of the brownies is firm but the inside feels soft. Let them cool off in the tin, and serve them with your preferred creamy, milky addition: vanilla ice cream, cream, raspberries? Or just on their own with a coffee. They steal all the attention anyways…
PS. You are doing something wrong if they look like this: