Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Osteria dell'Angolo - Restaurant Review -

What are the signs of fine dining restaurant?
Thick table clothes (preferably whiter than white), complementary amuse-bouche to heighten a sense of hospitality and one which never fail to prove that you are about to dine in a fancy establishment is, a waiter with a crumb knife.

Osteria Dell'Angolo displays them all, you know as soon as you enter the dining rooms that this is going to be an Italian experience with a difference.

Prior to our visit, I was told that "this spring, Osteria Dell'Angolo's Head Chef, Maximiliano Vezzi, had put his Neapolitan enthusiasm into a brand new menu".

Amuse bouche: Fried pizza dough balls, Osteria Dell'Angolo
Amuse bouche: Fried pizza dough balls
I am not familiar with Italian food south of Rome and even then, the little I know of Roman food dates back to my early 20s when I decided to travel to every single place of worship during their biggest religious festivals.

I wanted  to make sure that I had a comprehensive picture, so that I could put the matter of the existence of god to rest and live the rest of my life as a fundamentalist atheist. I started with Rome at Easter. I do not remember any culinary experience but I do remember wondering, "What what is  all the fuss about?."
Listening carefully to the solicitous waiter's explanations, my attention was caught by the magic words "Italian speciality" followed by Steak Tartare.
Hmmm, who would have thought?

Steak Tartare is usually associated with Paris. Italian Steak Tartare made as much sense as being on St Peter's square at Easter. But since raw meat is a popular delicacy in many countries, why not?.

When the slate arrived, Tartare had no egg which obviously is the "Italian way," served just with pepper, salt, Parmesan shavings and olive oil to enhance the taste of the beef.

Italian or French if a restaurant serves steak tartare, it has to be the finest of beef and so it was. Absolutely delicious.

He might have been thinking along the same lines, as he chose to go regional with one of the new signature dishes, Scialatielli from Sorrento with fresh crab meat and grilled courgettes as a main course.

Scialatielli from Sorrento with fresh crab meat and grilled courgettes
Scialatielli is, "A speciality from the Neapolitan coast, this is a type of short tagliatelle simply made with high quality flour, water and salt, once only served at special celebrations." The combination was truly delicious which is high praise from someone who doesn't eat sea-food.

It was now obvious why this restaurant had been voted TopTable "best restaurant" recently. More over many of the ingredients used are cerfied as DOP that includes Parma Ham, Pienza's Black Pecorino and an extra sign of quality, artisan breads freshly baked: focaccia, grissini....

Selection of Italian cured meat with mix olives from Apulia

Cooking with squid ink is popular in latin countries, among the treasured dishes of Italy served here Black-ink Tagliolini with “Cornish” squid and cherry tomatoes was my main course choice.

This plate has all the aroma associated with the Mediterranean, close your eyes and you could almost feel the spray from the sea, well...almost. It may have been help by the other customers who were on that night all Italian, greatly adding authenticity to our meal.

Starters are priced between £9 and £12 and pasta dishes don't exceed £13 and other fish and meat mains ranging between £16 and £25, all somewhat reasonable for a restaurant in the heart of Westminster. ‘Prix Fixe’ set menu at £16.50 for two courses or £21.00 for three courses is served at lunchtime and à la carte menu is available for both lunch and dinner’.
The wine list is a different matter, we spotted a “Masseto”, Tenuta dell’Ornellaia, 2000 at £800.00 having said this, A bottle of Borgo Selene, Villa Tonino from Sicily costs £19.50. Our waiter recommanded a Pinot Grigio“Russiz Superiore”, Marco Felluga, Friuli 2010/11 priced at £57.00. "Friuli-Venezia Giulia's reputation as a wine region essentially depends on a select group of quality-conscious, small-scale winemakers – large-scale production is not on the agenda here." And the quality was obvious.

I probably wouldn't have choosen to walk in the Osteria Dell' Angolo and I would be wrong. He should not have order the chocolate mousse, that's better made the "French way" on the other hand in France expresso is rubbish compared.
The Osteria Dell'Angolo with its political elite customers doesn't need Pebble Soup's approval but judged on our experience that evening I would gladly give it and even go as far as booking a trip south of Rome to taste more contemporary Neapolitan dishes.
In short:
Service was spot on. 
Top quality ingredients shone through dishes expertly executed.
Our choice of dishes was good value for money
Wine list is superb but tend to be expensive.
The clientele was entertaining and there was certainly a lot of good natured atmosphere.
Our thanks to the Osteria Dell'Angolo where we were guests for the evening, I wasn't asked to write a positive review, all opinions in this review are strictly mine. 
Address: 47 Marsham St, London
Phone:020 3268 1077
Osteria dell'Angolo on Urbanspoon
Square Meal

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Nutella Cake - the quick and easy version -

Last minute Easter panic, it's time for Nutella Cake. There are two ways to bake such a cake and it's a matter of time on your hands. Both cakes are equally delicious, one will be sort of gooey as the other will tend to be soft and melt in the mouth.

                        thank you to Oceane Mathieu for her picture

Version 1 is a sponge cake to which Nutella is added, that the version which will take longer doing.

Whereas Version 2 requires only a few ingredients therefore little work and less chances to get it wrong.
Nutella cake - the quick and easy version -

6 large eggs -separated-
pinch of salt
125 grams soft unsalted butter
400 grams Nutella (1 large jar)
Top with Ganache and 50g toasted Hazelnuts 

Preheat the oven to medium setting 180C/gas4
Get the eggs out of the fridge and leave them to stand at room temperature 

While you melt the butter gently in a saucepan then
Beat the nutella and the cooled butter until perfectly integrated, that can be done in a large bowl with a whisk or fork

Then in a food processor with the eggwhite attachment beat the egg whites till you get thick snowy mix (a pinch of salt can be added, I don't, never seen the point but I am sure there is one)

Line or grease a round cake tin with loose bottom.

Incorporate the egg whites gently to the nutella mixture, little at the time.

Pour in the cake tin and bake for 40 minutes and leave to cool on a rack.

When cold, Top with Ganache and decorate with toasted Hazelnuts.

I am sharing this emergency Easter cake with Love Cake at Jibber Jabber

And with Chocolate Log Blog because it's so good, everyone should have a go 


Monday, 14 April 2014

Ploughman with Maple Caramelised Onion Mini Quiches

Can't think of any english sound more difficult to pronounce than "ough". It's a nightmare.
"Through" sounds like "flew", "cough" like "off", "though" like "so" and what about "plough" why should it sound the way it does? For years, a group of us met at The Plough and for years, the jokes were on me. There would be all sort of references and invitations for me to say the name of the pub which I kept pronouncing "The Ploof".
For my defence, I had no reason to know how to pronounce that word, one doesn't use a ploof in suburbia. Of course when it came to order a "ploofman" so called friends chuckled in their beers. Eventually, I worked it out and The Plough never saw my custom again.
quiche, ploughman, maple caramelised onions.

A couple of weeks back, Sue bought a wonderful food parcel back from Canada. It contained a jar of "Maple Caramelised Onions" which yesterday became a dinner saver. Shortcrust pastry, a spoon of the wonder jar, covered with guiche filling (egg + cream) and topped with grated cheddar, this is a must try recipe, Ploughman made into a quiche. My little revenge on The Ploofman and it was delicious cold too.
Camilla Stephens' Cheddar Ploughman Tartlets, seen in Higgidy Cookbook were the inspiration.
 Ploughman Mini Quiches
Makes 4
Preheat oven 190C/fan 170C/gas mark 5
1/2 pack of Shortcrust pastry (bought commercially)
1 onion finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp of maple syrup
1/2 spoon of balsamic vinegar
1 egg
2 tablespoons of creme fraiche
salt and pepper
60g mature cheddar grated
3 cherry tomatoes (optional)
To caramalise the onion
in a small saucepan
heat the oil
add the onion (2 is small)
leave it to soften and when it's translucid add the syrup and the vinegar (make sure the heat is low)
cook 5 minutes to coat the onion. have water ready on the side in case onion catches
For the quiches' egg mixture
in a bowl beat 1 egg and 2 tablespoon of creme fraiche (thick cream is required), season well.

Assembling and Baking
Use single tartlets tins.and a bowl larger that each shape to cut out the pastry
Roll the pastry out as thin as you can 0.5cm
cut 4 shapes
place the circles in the tins and layer thinly with onion, add the cream mixture, then the cheddar and top with half a cherry tomato
Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes
Serve hot or cold

As I want a maximum people to know about this new recipe, I've shared it with

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Salmon Verrine with Dill & Lime Mustard and Fennel Mousse, A Maille Culinary Challenge

Salmon Verrine with Dill and Lime Mustard and Fennel Mousse, A Maille Culinary Challenge

Here is an experiment for you: take a French person, preferably over 12, look at this person and say the magic words, "moutarde Maille". Without fail your person will reply "Il n'y a que Maille qui m'aille". Very few brands have managed to hypnotise a whole nation with a motto.
La maison Maille created by Antoine Maille in 1747 did. Soon after he'd opened its first shop in Paris, Maille became King Louis XV's official supplier of vinegar and mustard.
267 years later, Maille opens its first shop abroad (Picadilly, London) and launches a new "collection", subtil flavours favoured by Louis XV's entourage (that's Mme de Pompadour) aptly name Le Potager du Roy.

Why am I giving you an history lesson? because the other day, I got an email from the company asking if I wanted to take up a recipe challenge. The idea is to incorporate product(s) from their exclusive online boutique and creating a unique recipe. 
French mustard can be rather strong compared to its sweet mild counterpart, here I chose to work with Moutarde Aneth et Citron Vert a zingy, fresh tasting condiment, picked for its medium strengh.
To get the taste of the mustard through the dish, the recipe needed to be delicately balanced. To complement Aneth (Dill), I chose salmon and salmon chose fennel, which in my opinion was a good choice as the fennel mousse ended up being of a very similar colour to the aneth and lime mustard. 
The slightly coarse texture of the salmon and finely chopped shallot contrasted perfectly with the silkiness of the fennel mousse. All the flavours could be picked up individually and married ever so well. As you can see, I am very proud of my recipe and will do it again, though next time, I'll used butter on the top rather than gelatine and will serve it with asparagus topped with Dijonnaise.

This verrine, in spite of its long title is extremely simple and fast to make, it will serve four and could be set in individual glasses or in a terrine.

 Salmon Verrine with Dill and Lime Mustard and Fennel Mousse

10 min. cooking time, assemblage time 10 min.
Serves 4.

20 g butter (+ 5g to use to cover the verrine)
160 g salmon fillets
1 fennel chopped in slices (keep the leaves for decoration)
1 lemon cut in half & reserve 1 slice for decoration
1 shallot finely sliced
3 tsp Maille Mustard - Aneth and Citron
3 heaped tbsp of creme fraiche (alternatively use 100g of cream cheese)
milk (might be necessary if the mixture is too thick)
Salt and pepper to season to taste
5g butter or 1/2 leaf gelatine to seal

  1. Add 10 gr butter to a skillet and pan fry salmon fillets both side for a total of 6 minutes, it could still be slightly pink in the middle. 
          Note : When using frozen salmon make sure it's well cooked (not pink in the middle) cooking time might be slightly longer.

    2. In the meantime, gently melt 10g of butter in a saucepan and add the chopped fennel, squeeze lemon lightly over the top (the equivalent of 2tbs), cover and leave fennel to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the fennel is very soft. Turn heat of and leave to cool until it's needed

           Note :There is no need to season at this stage.

     3. While this is doing chop the shallot as finely as you can.

     4. When the salmon is cooked, take off the hob and let it cool for a few minutes. Skin the fillet(s) and place them with the juices in a small food processor.
     5.Season and add 3 heaped tablespoons of creme fraiche.

     6. Process, it's done when it reaches a firm and smooth consistency with very little pieces of salmon. If the mixture turns into a thick ball add a little milk.

      7. Put the mixture in a bowl, add 3 teaspoons of Aneth and Lime Mustard and  the finely chopped shallot, mix well with a fork.

      8. Rinse the equipment clean and process the fennel until it gets smooth, season generously and mix a little more.

Choose a serving dish, either a tumbler glass or four small glasses or a terrine dish, layer half the salmon first, press as much as you can to get the air out, then spread out the whole of the fennel mixture, press to get the air bubbles out, top with the rest of the salmon, press again.

If you use butter to seal, melt 5g of butter, leave it to cool slightly and pour on the top, decorate with fennel leaves and a slice of lemon, if you use gelatine, melt 1/2 leaf according to the instruction and proceed the same way as with butter.

Store in the fridge for a minimum of 1 hour, verrines can be prepared several hours in advance or even the day before. Serve with toasts.

Disclaimer: thank you to Maille for sending me Aneth et Citron vert Mustard in order to create the recipe.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Peanut Butter Cookies


People often have an incredulous look when they hear that bloggers meet in real life. Oooh no! we are not always glued to our computer-screen far from that but without new technologies we would probably have never met.
As it is we share projects, meet up at various events, call one-another and help when we can. Generally we do whatever people do in their respective community.
And that generates trust. When I want a recipe, I'll tend to search the work of bloggers I know then I cross reference with recipe books or Chefs' sites.
Since lately, baking has been on the agenda and as we know, I am not the greatest of bakers, help was required.
Part 1, the background: Antoine was coming back from his travels, 8 months in South America, it was time to get the peanut butter out and make his favorite. Which in this case was extremely general: anything with peanut butter.
That's when I spotted that Emma MT at Cakes, Bakes and Cookies had published her childhood recipe. After cross referencing it with Baking Mad, it was time to bake.

Cross referencing allows to adapt the recipe to your own requirements but it also add to the general knowledge. Here for example BakingMad.com tell us that "apparently the traditional criss cross pattern on top of peanut butter cookies is so you can distinguish them from other cookies" really quite useful for allergy sufferers.

Recipe-wise : Emma uses self raising flour, easier than having to make your own and 1/2 the amount of peanut butter.

The result couldn't have been better an empty biscuit tin by the time Antoine flew back to his beloved Savoie.
Part 2, the background: Antoine's girl friend is a Nutella Cake fan but that is another recipe coming up soon.
peanut butter, cookies, biscuits
  • 125g                    Butter (unsalted)
  • 140g                    Unrefined light muscovado sugar       
  • 1                          Egg (free range)       
  • 150g                    Self raising white flour
  • 125g                    Peanut butter (crunchy)
Preheat oven to 180C or 150 fan oven - Line two baking sheets with baking paper
In a bowl or a food processor, beat the peanut butter with sugar add the butter and process until smooth, gradually add the egg and the flour
When this is done, using a tablespoon take enough dough to fill the spoon and roll into ball, place on the baking sheet leaving a gap. 
Press with a fork until you get the desired thickness usually 1cm. Bake for
15 minutes.
Leave to cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

How to Taste Olive Oil

In January, The NY Times published an infographic put together by illustrator Nicholas Belcham. Its title? Extra Virgin Suicide: the Alduration of Italian Olive Oil.

It's a great  visual piece detailing the not so Italian olive oil food chain. We learn that much Italian Olive Oil doesn't come from Italy but from countries like Spain, Tunisia and Morocco and it's only the start, it gets much much worse. I leave you to have a look at it,
A couple of months later, in sunny Greenwich, I received a couple of tiny samples of Greek olive oil to raise awareness of D.O.P (Protected Designation of Origin) a label connected with a specific geographical area that define the quality, taste and other singular characteristics of a product.
Cause to effect, may be not and let's not be sinycal but if I were in the very lucrative olive oil business or liquid gold, as a mate of mine, himself a producer, calls it, I would definitely get worried about the bad press on the subject .
A point of interest in the infographic was that "to combat the fraud, the Italian Carabinieri relied on smell as lab test can be easily faked". Which brings us neatly to how to do a bit of Olive Oil tasting which was the subject of a previous post: Know Your Olive Oils.
 But in short, here is how to taste olive oil:

First place 15-20ml of oil in a small glass
Cut your hands around to glass to warm the liquid
Smell. Good olive oil should have a pleasant aroma
Then take on a piece of white bread and dip it in the oil, you should detect spiciness and fruitiness

"Spiciness is a peppery sensation at the back of the throat and a slight "burning"on the throat"

"Fuitiness is a sensation of freshly cut olive fruits and leaves when smelling the oil" there will also be a bit of bitterness

Tasting olive oil neat, without the bread is a revelation, only use a minute quantity, less than a teaspoon. I would be rather curious to know how it went, leave me a comment.

disclaimer: some of the tasting notes are from Olive Oil World a current, generic ,campaign to raise awarness about olive oil, some are from my own experience.



Friday, 28 March 2014

Slow Braised Shank of Lamb

Today could have been very different. For various reasons, I turned down a day visit to The Foxhunter; a restaurant said to be one of the most exciting in Wales; owned by television chef Matt Tebbutt and located in Nant-y-derry, bet you that is an adorable village too. If I had gone, I would have learned about  PGI Welsh Lamb.

As it goes, I am still slightly ignorant about Welsh Lamb and its PGI status which doesn't stop me having an opinion on the subject and here it goes:
We probably have some of the best lamb on earth, the PGI badge recognises its quality and acknowledges farming good practices. It also means that only sheep  born and raised in Wales and slaughtered in approved abattoirs can legally be described as Welsh Lamb.

It's soon lambing season, remember that lamb meat keeps in the freezer for up to nine months. If sometimes lamb might look expensive, there is no reason to ignore the less expensive cuts which are excellent braised, casseroled, stewed and slow-cooked.
At Pebble Soup HQ, there is no slow cooker, all is done in the oven, it may provide less control but it works very well too, that's how this recipe was done.
Slow Braised Shank of Lamb
1 Lamb shanks (per person, though I use one for two)
15ml (1tbsp) olive oil  
3 or 4 Onion, peeled and quatered  
1 Red and 1 green chilli, sliced
5 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/4 pint Lamb stock (or vegetable bouillon)
Rosemary sprigs, sage and bay leaves to flavour 
2 tbs tomato paste 
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2 use an oven-proof casserole if unavailable use an oven tray with high sides and aluminium foil to cover tightly

Place the lamb in a big casserole pot and season with salt and pepper be generous with the seasoning and drizzle the oil over.

Cut the onions into quarters, add to the pot with (unpeeled) garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs, sage and bay leaves.

Mix the bouillon with the tomato paste

Pour over the lamb, place the lot in the oven and let it cook for 2h1/2.

Serve with roasted potatoes and vegetables

More Lamb Recipes on Pebble Soup
Great British Chef's Slow  Cooked Lamb Shank

and the ultimate
7 Hour Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb by Greedy Gourmet

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Give-Away #24 : Brioche Pasquier Hamper: a Selection from the Traditional and Pitch range

Breakfast in France can be a bit of a miserable affair, contrary to popular belief, croissants, pains au chocolat, brioches and the likes  are often kept for the week-end or reserved for guests and special occasions. However when the hour for goûter strikes, around 4 o'clock when children get out of school, the French will stop their activities and snack but that is not snacking as we know it, no greasy chips eaten out of carboard boxes, Non, non, non. That's when pains au chocolat, brioches etc play their role.
 Brioche Pasquier which uses traditional recipes and an authentic process to create its "breakfast  and gouter favourites” kindly offers one lucky Pebble Soup reader a hamper from their traditional and pitch ranges.

Give away description although it won’t necessarily be all of these, but a mix:
From the traditional range,
·         Pains au lait: Based on a traditional recipe, using the finest butter, milk and levain
·         Pains au chocolat: Made with brioche dough that is worked into a light puff pastry and filled with a dark cacao-butter chocolate
·         Croissants: Light buttery croissant made using processes authentic to the original French bakery
From the Pitch:  Perfect for a lunchbox treat or for snacking on the go, soft brioches, individually wrapped and filled with a number of flavours:
·         Chocolate: A chocolate flavour filling with a hint of hazelnut
·         Choc Chip: Light brioche filled with chocolate chips
·         Strawberry: Brioche filled with a light strawberry centre
·         Lemon: Brioche filled with a tangy lemon curd

How to Enter

  • Complete the Rafflecopter form below, unlock bonus entries by answering a question in the comment box.
  • Closing date: 30th March 2014.
  • Read the “Terms and Conditions” link at bottom of Rafflecopter form.
  • Winner will be contacting by email and announced on the Rafflecopter form.
Good luck

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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