Monday, 11 July 2011

Quick Bites: Chimichurri dip

Chimichurri is a traditional Argentinean dip, kind of like their version of pesto! I discovered chimichurri when shopping in borough market one day and I was instantly hooked. It was a little pricey, so once I used up my first pot, I've had to learn how to make my own. I experimented quite a bit with it so only use this recipe as a guideline. Admittedly, it wasn't as good as the borough market version, and I still can't figure out why to this day!

You'll need:
·         1 cup of fresh parsley
·         1/2 cup of fresh oregano leaves
·         4 cloves garlic
·         Half a medium red chilli, roughly chopped
·         1/2 cup of good quality olive oil
·         1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
·         Sea salt and ground pepper
Using a blitzer/small food processor, add the fresh herbs and roughly chopped chilli and blend until finely chopped. Mince some garlic and add to the processor, season with salt and pepper and pulse again. Stir in the wet ingredients, and taste. If something is missing, add it. Sometimes just a squeeze of lemon can balance out the flavours perfectly!
I used this as a marinade for steaks and also reserved some to spoon over once cooked. It will give your steak that refreshing taste of summer!

Tarte tatin!

If you have this image of tarte tatin as being this complicated French pastry dish that you wouldn’t dare make at home, this recipe will change your mind!

You don’t need any fancy ingredients, although if you have a vanilla pod, throw in the seeds! Cinnamon is optional but I think it gives it that gastronomical edge!

·         200g puff pastry (plus some flour for dusting)
·         4 eating apples
·         A squeeze of lime
·         100g caster sugar
·         100g butter
·         1 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 200C. Roll out and cut the puff pastry sheet to match the size of your pan, so that it fits perfectly over the top. Your pan must be suitable for use in the oven, so nothing with a plastic handle!

Peel, core and slice the apples in half. As soon as you’ve done each one, place in a bowl of water and lemon juice so they don’t go brown!

Melt the butter with the sugar in the pan over a low heat, stirring occasionally so nothing sticks! Increase the heat slightly once its blended and simmer for a few minutes until the mixture turns a golden-brown caramel colour but this will remain fairly frothy in consistency.

Very carefully, place the apples in the pan as snugly as possible, as they do shrink! Leave to simmer in the caramel for 15-20 minutes.

Once the apples have shrunk slightly and turned a slightly golden colour, leave to cool for a few minutes. Place the pastry over the top, use a wooden spoon to even out the surface and tuck in the edges! Place in the oven for 20 minutes, or until it looks something like this;

Take out and leave for a couple of minutes before very carefully turning out the tart onto a big plate, preferably with edges so the caramel doesn’t ooze out! Be very careful when doing this and always wear protective gloves and have a tea towel over your arm to prevent splashing! Decorate with icing sugar or some grated nuts!

Et voila!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Gastro-pub-grub at the Tommyfield, Kennington.

The Tommyfield is the sort of place every neighbourhood should have, as I found myself too lazy to cook one evening, it proved to be a great little culinary hideout!
As you enter, the atmosphere will hit you straight away as bustling tables of happy diners (and winers!) and smiling staff come into view. We were welcomed warmly by a waiter who turned out to be very knowledgeable about wine and although suggested which bottle of wine we should have, it wasn’t in that pressurising manner that some pontsy restaurants do to get you to buy the overpriced bottle! We chose a light and summery bottle of Viognier as we both settled on scallops followed by poultry! We had just about made up our minds when we saw some gigantic pies march out of the kitchen and onto the tables next to us. My boyfriend at that point officially changed his mind and went for the chicken pie while I was still set on trying (for the first time ever) some guinea fowl.

Our scallops starters were well-cooked and tasted fresh as well as being very reasonably sized. I loved that they left the corals on, I hate seeing chefs let that tasty little treat go to waste! The parma ham it came with was a little dry in texture however, as I prefer it either uncooked or really crisp, so I felt that let the dish down slightly, otherwise it was a lovely starter!

As soon as the pie arrived on Tom’s side of the table he quickly delved in while my guinea fowl two ways was presented in a pub-grub manner, with plenty of jus and generously sized. The taste was certainly there and the simple elements of the dish came together very well.
All in all, the Tommyfield is a good excuse to get away from your kitchen and offers fantastic comfort food for all. I was also very pleased to see the Tommyfield support the fish fight, so next time I’m in the area, I shall pop back for some sustainable fish and chips!
The Tommyfield on Urbanspoon