Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Happy pancake day!

Pancake day, or shrove Tuesday, is definitely one of the days in my foodie calendar that I look forward to. Not only does it mean that spring has almost sprung, but it also means you can indulge completely guilt-free.
I woke up with an awful cold this morning, but was determined to make some breakfast pancakes. I won’t bother with a recipe as they are circulating the internet like crazy at the moment, but I spiced my batter up a bit by adding 2 tablespoons of coconut powder and of course, a whole lotta sugar! My toping of choice was the not-so-traditional nutella, but I never understood the appeal of sour lemon and a soggy pancake.
As shrove Tuesday marks the start of lent, pancakes were traditionally used as one last bit of indulgence for all things you were meant to give up, including butter and eggs! Seeing as I won’t be doing that, I substituted my butter for some olive oil and only used butter to season the pan before each pancake, which gave me the same flavour but less calories!
I enjoyed my pancakes with some freshly brewed Fortnum and Mason’s Countess Grey tea, which I received as a present from my boyfriend’s family a few months ago.

The perfect breakfast!

Monday, 7 March 2011

Curried butternut squash, sweet potato and coconut soup.

A while back, I promised to update my thai butternut squash soup post  but as I finally came round to doing so, I ended up tweaking the recipe so much it became a completely different soup altogether!
I was really pleased with the outcome of this soup as my spices came from a mix of Spice Mountain’s mild madras and vindaloo blends. Of course not everyone is as lucky as me to have access to borough market every weekend to get these, so experiment with different curry pastes and powders yourselves!

·         One large sweet potato (approx. 500g)
·         One medium butternut squash (approx .800g)
·         1 medium onion
·         500ml of coconut milk (I used the naughty powdered stuffed mixed with water!)
·         1 and ½ good stock cubes (chicken or veg)
·         1 garlic clove
·         A thumb sized piece of ginger
·         1 tablespoon of chilli flakes or 1 hot chilli
·         2 tablespoons madras powder (I used 1 tablespoon mild madras, 1 tablespoon vindaloo blend)
·         2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil

Bring 1.3 litres of water to a boil and cut the sweet potato and squash (no need to peel but wash thoroughly!) into medium sized chunks, scraping out the seeds from the squash. Add to the pan of water and simmer for 20 minutes or until cooked through and the skin peels off easily. Drain using a sieve over a large bowl or other container, then add the stock cubes and mix well.
 Peel the sweet potatoes and squash once cool enough to handle then return to the pan. Roughly chop the onion, ginger and garlic before frying in a separate pan with some oil on medium heat. Once the onions are starting to turn golden, add the curry powders and chilli to form a paste, adding more oil if required. Add to the pan of squash and potatoes, before pouring over all the coconut milk and simmering for 10 minutes.
 Leave to cool for several minutes before pouring half the stock and half the coconut and veg mixture into a blender or food processor, repeat the process with the rest of the batch. Season if needed. Serve hot with some naans or warm bread of your choice!

Hint: If your pan is not big enough, try roasting the veg instead for a lovely smoky flavour before blending with coconut milk and 1.2 litres of hot stock.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Two-for-One at One-o-One

I have had my eye on this Knighstbridge restaurant for quite some time, as it has had a lot of critical acclaim in the press winning the title of the 9th best restaurant in the UK by the Sunday times. But where is your Michelin star, One-o-One?  
It’s difficult to be critical of a restaurant where they clearly know what they’re doing, and after all, I am just a food blogger! Irrespective of the brilliant time I had here, the meal was not without its imperfections and I’m here to give you an honest account of this highly acclaimed restaurant.
In all honesty, the only way I could ever afford a place like this is with my trusty tastecard, which gave us 50% off the food bill. Before I visit any restaurant I read and re-read the menu a few times because I am extremely indecisive and it could take me over an hour to be happy with a choice. To save the waiter some trouble, I had already planned out my meal upon arrival but as luck would have it, my chosen dishes were not on the menu! I had read a lot about Pascal Proyart’s petit plats menu but was surprised to find it was not available in the evenings. So for a la carte we settled.
With a warm but professional greeting by the maître d, we were led to the dining area which was a little under-occupied, with only 3 other tables taken. The decor was reminiscent of a cruise ship dining room, which is not completely unsuitable as this is a seafood restaurant but it could do with a little modernising! We skipped the wine menu simply because the cheapest bottle was nearing the £40 mark and we were there purely for the food. The waiter was very understanding about this and did not push us on the wine front (so many restaurants ask really, why, are you sure before giving up on you!) and we were quickly offered a selection of fresh breads which we enjoyed alongside a simple creamy butter and a more unique version of a seaweed butter which had my mouth tingling from the salty perfection that it was! While we waited, I must have had about 5 pieces of their bread, as the waiter kept on offering more as soon as the last crumb had disappeared and I was starting to panic that I will be too full from it to enjoy the food! Admittedly, we thought this was a ploy to get us full so we don’t notice the small portions (which is what we had expected from a place like this) but we later discovered they were just as generous with their courses as they were with their bread. We were offered an amuse bouche of a creamy fish soup with some parsnip crisps on the side, which my taste buds accepted as eagerly as I did, a fine combination of silky and crispy.
I chose the starter of red king crab legs from the Barents sea in a sweet chilli ginger sauce (there was the option to have them simply on ice with mayo and lemon or an Italian version with basil olive oil and sauce vierge.). My choice was easy, as the head chef is the ambassador for this incredible sea creature and was responsible for introducing it to this country, therefore he must know what to do with it! I’m a lover of shellfish and the meat of this was sweeter, more succulent and more satisfying than of any lobster or crab I have ever eaten.

My dish had a simple yet enticing presentation of six generous portions of leg and pincer topped with a lightly crisp cheese crust and garnished with a drizzle of the sweet chilli sauce and some coriander leaves (although looking lovely, I had to discard as I’m just not a fan!). On first appearance the legs look difficult to tackle, but I was given a lovely little device for scooping out the tender meat out of the shell and the whole dish was a delight to eat. The cheese topping was inspired and gave the dish a thermidor-ish feel but the sweetness of the sauce was a little overpowering if eaten too generously and I actually left most of the sauce on the plate and enjoyed the crab mostly on its own. Such a beautiful ingredient deserves to be celebrated but not out-sweetened!
I also managed to get a bite out of Tom’s starter of black truffle risotto with more of the king crab (although his portion was smaller than mine) but also had fantastic flavours.
Following on from the starter, was a farm roasted fillet of norwegian halibut on a bed of paimpol coco beans, truffle cassoulet, sauce bisque, parsley puree, carrot puree before being garnished with a butterflied langoustine and a slice of black truffle. Too. Many. Flavours!

As soon as the plate had landed in front of me, a soothing aroma of truffles enticed my senses and I happily tucked in. The halibut was perfectly crisp on top but the meat retained its smoothness. The first bite had me trying the halibut with the sauce bisque (from which the truffle aroma had come from as it was presumably generously drizzled with white truffle oil). Then I tried it with the green sauce, which I guessed was parsley puree, a refreshing twist to the dish. On my third bite I dipped the meat into the carrot puree which was sweet and delicious. But all together? Chaos in my mouth. Not a bad chaos by any means, a very delicious chaos but still too much for such a meaty fish to take on at once. The coco beans were a slight disappointment, I actually didn’t know what to expect from them but I didn’t think they would taste and feel like your regular haricots. Don’t be fooled by the innocent looking langoustine on the side, it erupted with flavour and richness with every (little) bite. I really enjoyed this dish, despite the epidemic of flavours, but I still believe that less is sometimes more. Trying too hard for that Michelin perhaps?
I only had a tiny bite out of Tom’s main, which was a creative combination of pan seared yellow-fin tuna (line caught don’t you worry, fellow fish fighters) and a generous chunk of meaty foie gras garnished with asparagus spears and fondant potatoes.
Although feeling very full, we couldn’t leave without sampling a pudding. We ended up sharing a slightly risqué dessert of white chocolate and juniper berry mousse with lemon sorbet and gin and tonic jelly.

The flavours both satisfied and tickled my palate, the scoops of mousse were delicate and sweet while the sorbet was tangy and refreshing. The chef did not skimp on the textures, giving is a crunchy white chocolate triangle as well as a light and crispy biscuit base and a dramatic topping of tuille. The gin and tonic jelly was...an experience. A little bitter for my taste but luckily a little shaving of mint helped rescue my senses. All-in-all, an interesting dish.
So if your wallet is ever feeling a little heavy and you’re in the mood test your senses, give this one a go. I plan on returning for their lunchtime petit plats menu, come on, I’ve already chosen!

One-O-One on Urbanspoon