Sunday, 7 December 2014

For starters: Jerusalem Artichoke Veloute

I once had a Jerusalem Artichoke veloute, around 5 years ago, at a restaurant off Goodge Street. Sadly, I can't remember the restaurant, let alone get a copy of their recipe, but the memory of this incredible soup stayed with me. Only recently have I actually tried to recreate it. Luckily, I practically stumbled upon the Jersalem artichokes by accident in the Parliament Hill farmer's market, and remembered that I had already made a deliciously rich poussin stock - perfect. 

Recipe (enough for 4-5 bowls)
20g butter
1 red onion
600g Jerusalem artichoke
400ml Really good stock
200ml milk
3 tablespoons of cream
Black pepper
Small squeeze of lemon

To garnish:
Olive oil infused with lemon peel and garlic
A pinch of paprika

Finely dice your onion. Peel and dice the Jerusalem artichoke leaving the pieces in lemony water so they don't turn brown

in a thick based sauce pan melt the butter and sweat the onions for 5 minutes. Add the Jerusalem artichoke and sweat for a further 5 minutes. Add two ladles of stock and boil over a low heat, covered for 10 minutes, check and add more stock and boil for a further 10 minutes or until soft and mushy

Blend with a hand held blender and then sieve until velvety and smooth, I discard the bits that don't go through the sieve after I have had a really good go at it and blended the most stubborn bits again. 

Return the purée to the saucepan with the rest of the stock, pepper, milk and cream. Season with salt,  to taste, and bring to the boil. Reduce the soup to the consistency you like, whisking all the time to get a frothy texture

Ladle into soup bowls, drizzle with the oil and pinch of paprika. Ta da!

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Flo's Signature Crab Ravioli

Crab is one of those ingredients I find hard to resist on a menu or at the farmers market. I have tried many different recipes with it over the years, and this has to be one of the very best. If done correctly, the beautifully thin sheets of pasta will encase a fresh and zesty crab meat mixture that flakes perfectly, and does the ingredient justice. 

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to crab ravioli - either fresh and crab-rich, or mousse-like with mascarpone or ricotta. The first way sounds simpler and involves a shorter list of ingredients but it is counter-intuitively richer too. If you use the brown meat to bind it, it has a creaminess of its own and the flavour remains pure. Needless to say, that is the type of recipe I have gone for.  

Recipe: (makes 9 large ravioli - enough for three as a starter or two as a main)

For the pasta:
When it comes to making pasta, Felicity Cloake has consolidated many different methods in her 'how to make the perfect...' column. I have always used Georgio Locatelli's recipe that uses 3 large eggs, 2 large yolks and 500g 00 flour which is also cited by Ms. Cloake, but will leave you to choose your own. I also like to make my pasta dough in advance and freeze it so that when I feel like making ravioli or making a great sauce, the pasta is already done. You will need an additional egg yolk for brushing the ravioli once rolled

For the ravioli filling:
125g of white crabmeat
25g brown crabmeat (sieved)
zest of one third of a lemon
1 clove garlic
4 basil leaves, finely chopped
2 pinches salt
1 pinch pepper
Half a small red chilli, finely diced

For the sauce:
1 clove of garlic, crushed
Half a chilli, chopped
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 basil leaves, finely diced

Once you have made your pasta dough, make the filling and sauce before rolling it. 

For the filling, crushed and gently pan fry the garlic in olive oil until soft but not remotely coloured. Then prepare all the other ingredients and mix them all together thoroughly. 

For the sauce, mix a crushed clove of garlic and the other half of the chilli in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to infuse for half an hour or so. Sieve and add 4 leaves of basil, finely chopped.

Now, roll your pasta into thin sheets. Keep the pasta you are not using straight away under a damp cloth so that it doesn't begin to crack and don't roll too much at one time.

Cut large circles out of the dough, ideally using a cutter and then place 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of filling in the centre.

Now brush the edges around the filling and one side of another circle of pasta with whisked egg yolk. Now place the second circle on top of the filling and carefully press the two sheets of pasta together around the edges until you have a neat, firmly formed ravioli without any air pockets.

Repeat until you have used up the filling and freeze whatever pasta dough you have left for a later date.

Finally, put salted water on a gentle boil and cook the ravioli for a few minutes until they float and the pasta is al dente (you can tear a little of the rim off to check) 

Gently drain, place in a warm dish and drizzle with the sauce.

We served it with a lightly oaked Furmint that we brought back from Budapest

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Flo's Weekender: Stockholm

Stockholm is perfect for a weekend away. There are lots of wonderful things to see (such as the incredible Vasa Museum), but not so many that you feel under pressure. 

Just be careful you don't fly into Skavsta 'Stockolm' airport since it is NOT IN STOCKHOLM and could take many valuable hours away from your trip... 

Stockholm is lovely to stroll around and get into the Fika fix culture (who doesn't love coffee and cake?!). The old part is full of charming cobbled streets and historical buildings, and the newer bit around Sodermalm comes alive in the evening and is full of little speakeasies and bars.

We stayed in a Sodermalm Air BnB which was very reasonably priced and right next to fantastic cafes such as Il Caffe and Urban Deli. Il Caffe makes wonderful coffee and the most incredible Cardamon pastries that were so good I had to take a load home for everyone to try. 

Urban Deli

I never took a picture of the cardamon buns as they were so good I ate them within seconds but here is a picture of the cinnamon bun - also delicious!

In terms of where is best to eat, we found the Michelin starred place we tried - Matbaren - disappointing. Stockholm is already very expensive and so any where with a Michelin star is extortionate by my standards and although it was interesting, the food just wasn't up to the standard of other (cheaper) Michelin starred restaurants I have been to. 

We really enjoyed the more casual eateries we found, especially Meatballs for the People, where you can get all sorts of meatballs in different sauces with loganberries and other Swedish condiments. 

While we were there I also found a couple of shops I really loved. The first - Whyred - I stumbled upon by chance and found this beautiful cut-out dress that I fell in love with. They do men's and women's and have beautifully tailored and textured garments for what I would consider reasonable prices given the quality.

My dress!

The second shop is Grandpa in Sodermalm. Another men's and women's shop, this boutique showcases a lot of Swedish designers alongside quirky design pieces and stationery

If you are looking for more things to buy out there, there are of course lots of beautiful design shops, but a lot of the Swedish mainstream brands - & Other Stories, H&M and Monki - are the same price in London. Acne is however considerably cheaper so I stocked up on my favourite cut, and for guys, Eton shirts are quite a bit cheaper and such fantastic quality it is worth getting some, along with Sandqvist back packs. 

For a map with all my recommendations on it, click here, and for guide (consisting of my collection of articles, blog posts, recommendations etc) here.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Three Foodie Recommendations for New York

couple of weeks ago I got to travel to New York with work, accompanied by my lovely colleague Rosie. Since I was actually working I don't have a long list of recommendations, but here are my three best picks from the week, plus a wonderful hotel. 

So we could afford said hotel, we were lucky enough to stay in my friend's beautiful apartment in Dumbo for the first half of the week while he was away with business. Every morning we would wake up to the most beautiful view and drink fresh vegetable juices from Foragers before setting up our laptops against the unbelievable backdrop...

For the Best Brunch: Vinegar Hill House in Dumbo

The best foodie recommendation I have for the area is Vinegar Hill House. I was feeling experimental so ordered the Shrimp and Grits which came with poached eggs, pickled fennel and shallots, whilst Rosie had the most delicious eggs Benedict I have ever tasted (and I have tasted a lot of eggs Benedicts!) It came with succulent, salty brisket and sharp, sweet pickled baby onions - I will definitely be trying to recreate this one at home.

For the Best Hangover Lunch / All Day Grazing: Smorgasburg Market

On sunday we headed over to Smorgasburg market in Brooklyn. The walk along the river is pretty spectacular and the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Once you get there, you are met by a vast array of venders setting up shop and tempting you with all sorts of evils! I went for the infamous ramen burger - a meat patty sandwiched between two solid bap-like clumps of fried noodles. It was under-seasoned and overhyped but a fun idea all the same. The chips on  the other hand were well worth the wait and truly delicious. I was rather sad that I didn't have a bigger appetite at the time since the pulled pork and doughnut stalls were very tempting.

We walked from there into Manhattan and then strolled along the high line so I could pick up my favourite blood orange olive oil from Chelsea Market's Filling Station

For the Best Steak: Quality Meats

We wanted to experience the best steak in New York and after a some digging around, ended up in Quality Meats. The service was impeccable, delivered by attractive thespian waiters, and the food was divine. I had a melt in your mouth tuna tartare followed by a flavoursome fillet mignon. The pudding of sticky toffee pudding was a real taste of home and came with extra pouring sauce so I was extremely happy. 

So there you have it, my three foodie recommendations. If you have the budget I would also highly recommend The Ludlow hotel in SoHo. It is in one if those iconic brown brick buildings and has the most lovely decor and wood fires on cold evenings. El Ray around the corner also does fantastic coffee and rather delicious light lunches. The area is also great for clothes and wine shopping with Pixie Market and the lovely guys at September Wine Shop  a couple of minutes' walk away.