Tag Archives: mushrooms

Courgette & Aubergine Curry

The Art of Eating Well arrived on the same day as my first Riverford veg box. I was excited by both, so decided to create a slightly tweaked Hemsley & Hemsley recipe to make room for my extra veggies.

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The result? A sweet, aromatic medley of vegetables that was the perfect antidote to the blisteringly cold weather. So here is my version of Jasmine and Melissa’s recipe – one I’ll make word for word when there’s less veg in town.

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Serves 2 (with yummy leftovers for lunch the next day)

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or coconut oil if you’re as good as the girls)
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 thumb sized piece of root ginger, grated
  • 3 large garlic clothes, diced
  • 1 large leek, chopped
  • 1 large aubergine, chopped into chunks
  • 3 large tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large purple carrot, diced (thank you Riverford)
  • 1 large courgette, diced
  • 4 Portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 lime (grated zest and juice)
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • a handful of chopped fresh herbs (I could only get parsley, which tasted lovely)
  • 1/4 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 tin of coconut milk

Method

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and lightly fry the garlic, leaks, mushrooms and onion until soft
  • Add the diced carrot, coconut milk and vegetable stock and stir well
  • After six minutes, add the aubergine and stir
  • After ten minutes, add the tomato courgette and lime zest
  • After six minutes, add the maple syrup, lime juice and fresh herbs
  • Serve in a bowl with a scattering of herbs and toasted cashew nuts

Tanya’s Cafe, Kensington

As the rudest, most obnoxious man pushed and shoved his way onto the train last week, I wondered if a world without men would be a better place. Especially those that fall into the angry face, big arm category.

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Perhaps that’s a step too far, but time out from men certainly isn’t. So, I’m pleased to share Tanya’s Cafe in Kensington – the perfect place for man down time as no male would voluntarily visit due to its ultra girly raw menu.

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Set up by holistic coach and editor of Better Raw Tanya Mayer, Tanya’s Cafe was born out of a popular supper club and focusses on all things raw. I went a couple of weeks ago and was pleased to find the place heaving…with women.

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The cafe itself is an oasis of calm. A light conservatory filled with clean, white tables and chairs, wooden panels and flashes of colour from fresh fruit adorning the counter and bright green plants hanging from the walls.

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We ordered two My Alkaliser juices (£6.50 each), Lasagne (£15) and Tacos (£15.30). My Alkaliser combined kale, spinach, apple, lemon and cucumber to create a juice my body thanked me for. As for the Lasagne, well that was a pleasant surprise…

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Pasta and meat was replaced with courgette and mushrooms, creating a light, tasty dish that would have been perfect on a warm, summer day, but didn’t go down quite so well in our current climate.

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The Tacos were along the same lines – walnut oyster mushroom meat sat on soft shell tacos with guacamole, soured cream and salsa. Again, this dish was delightfully presented and made a lovely light lunch.

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We finished off with a slice of blueberry cheesecake. This was by far my favourite dish as I love anything that feels like a treat, yet is actually rather good for me.

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I enjoyed my visit to Tanya’s and felt inspired by her creativity. My only real criticism was the cost. I know we were in Chelsea, but £15 for a raw veg lasagne seemed a little excessive. But, perhaps that’s the price you pay for lunch in a man-free environment.

Tanya’s Cafe, myhotel Chelsea, 35 Ixworth Place, London SW3 3QX

Food 4/5 – Price 2/5 – Staff 4/5 – Atmosphere – 5/5

Cicchetti, Covent Garden

The Cheers theme tune sang in my head as I entered Cicchetti last Friday. Everyone was smiling and everybody knew our naaames. We were family. It was the Italian way.

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There were plenty more treats in store when it came to the food. Just like a good steakhouse parades its cuts of meat, our waiter / brother / friend showcased Cicchetti’s beautifully bulbus truffles.

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We smelt them long before they arrived at our booth, located to one side of the bright, marbled dining room. Two black funghi and one, rarer, White Alba truffle that would be used to make my dish of the night.

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Plates of antipasti, primi, carne and pesce appeared in front of us over the course of two and a half hours. I was struck by how fresh the ingredients were – tomatoes that sat like jewels on top of crisp Bruchetta (£4.85) could have been flown in from Italy that morning, and as for the creamy Burrata (£9.95), well I wouldn’t have been surprised to find a buffalo downstairs in the kitchen.

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Most impressive was the White Alba pasta, which came from the daily list of ‘specials’. Homemade ribbons, golden butter and large shavings of truffle were all this dish needed. It melted in my mouth, transporting me to my ‘happy place’.

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That’s not to say the Lobster Risotto (£12.95) and Squid Ink Ravioli stuffed with crab (£8.95) wasn’t divine, but when you taste nectar, you never go back…

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I couldn’t resist ordering a bowl of crisp, sweet, Zucchini Fritti (£4.90) and a couple of Queen Scallops (£10.95). Sitting pretty in their shells, they were lightly fried in olive oil with just a few, simple accompaniments – garlic, lemon and breadcrumbs.

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We weren’t all that impressed by dessert – probably our fault as we greedily ordered a mixed plate of puddings, which were far to heavy for our already overwhelmed stomachs.

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So, to finish on a high, I’ll leave you with the Funghi Crostini, also knowns as my second favourite dish of the night. The dark, meaty mushrooms glistened with butter, perfumed by fresh parsley. It was begging to be demolished, which is exactly what happened.

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If you want good, Italian food that you can afford on pay day, but not by the end of the month, Cicchetti is for you. It’s not as cool as Polpetto, or as pretentious as Bocca di Lupo, but it does serve lovely Italian food with a bright, friendly smile.

Cicchetti Covent Garden, 30 Wellington St London WC2E 7BD

Food 4/5 – Price 4/5 – Staff 5/5 – Atmosphere 4/5

San Carlo Cicchetti on Urbanspoon

The Pig, Brockenhurst

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Sometimes – when you’re really lucky – you can get away with excuses like ‘the dog ate my homework’‘my three alarms didn’t go off’, ‘there was a wild pony in the way’

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I used the latter last weekend when driving to The Pig in Brockenhurst. You see, there really was a wild pony in the way. A stubborn, brown wild pony that didn’t want to move, so just stood and stared, enjoying the power. Were we, or The Pig, surprised? Of course not – this is what happens in the New Forest.

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We were there for lunch, which started with a cocktail in the opulent bar of a magnificent country house. Our jaw dropping menus were stuffed with food that either came from The Pig’s walled garden, or anywhere within a 25 mile radius. Garden to plate is The Pig’s delicacy.

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A large, bright, rustic conservatory housed the dining room, which was packed with guests staying in one of The Pig’s 26 rooms and people like us that had battled wild horses to be there for lunch.

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A handful of honey covered, rosemary almonds kept us going at the bar, but didn’t stop us ordering from every section of the menu. ‘Piggy Bits’ were our appetisers (£3.75 each) – dense, crisp Black Pudding Balls were lightened by a side of piccalilli and long strips of crackling looked too scary for my teeth, but were happily munched around the table.

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When I heard they’d been foraged that morning, I immediately ordered the New Forest Mushrooms & Black Garlic Mayo with a crispy Burford Brown egg as my starter (£6). Dripping in parsley butter, the mushrooms had the most beautiful flavour and texture, made all the more special by the runny, golden egg.

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The Pig’s Extraordinary Bath Chap was the only main for me (£15). Our smiley, attentive waitress tested my squeamishness by mentioning that this Bath Chap came with his teeth. But that didn’t bother me, I was going in.

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When I lifted the vast side of crackling off my massive pig’s head, I found the cheek, which couldn’t have been more succulent, and the teeth, which made me feel sick.

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A simple turn of the plate soon sorted that out and I continued my hearty meal, smothering all meat in homemade apple sauce and enjoying the occasional piece Roasted Crown Prince Squash and our side of purple sprouting broccoli (£3.75).

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We shared a Garden Tarragon Cheesecake for dessert (£7). We weren’t hungry, but the sweetcorn sauce sounded interesting and I’m a sucker for anything with popcorn. This was accompanied by Fresh Mint Tea (to aid digestion) and Piggy Fours (£5.50) – bright pink lumps of deliciousness that almost looked too good to eat.

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I’d go back to The Pig in a heartbeat and am now dying to try The Pig on the Beach in Dorset. I hear they may be planning to expand nearer home – a rumour I very much hope turns out to be true.

The Pig, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7QL

Food 5/5 – Price 5/5 – Staff 5/5 – Atmosphere 5/5

Raw Press, Mayfair

I never thought I’d say this, but I can now imagine life without meat and fish. Life where fruit and veg rule my diet, along with pretentious pulses and edible seeds.

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I can thank my lovely almost Vegan housemate for this, along with Deliciously Ella‘s recipe app, Yotam Ottolenghi’s incredible salads and cold-pressed juice bars like Raw Press, which just opened in Mayfair.

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Walk into Raw Press and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a hipster cafe in Brooklyn, or how I imagine every LA restaurant to be. It’s shiny, clean and white, with splashes of colour from glass juice bottles and big bowls of salad. It magically makes you feel healthy the moment you arrive.

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I was lucky enough to taste all their cold-pressed juices, which made picking my favourites easy. No. 2 Green is my ultimate thirst quencher, packed with superfood goodness from its combination of apple, cucumber, celery, kale, spinach, Swiss chard and lemon (£5.50/£7.50).

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Then, for something a little naughtier, it has to be No. 7 Coffee & Mylk (£5.50/£7.50). Made with almonds, coconut water, dates, Himalayan salt, vanilla bean and cold brew coffee, it blows any regular flavoured milk out the water.

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Now some of you will be wondering what a cold-pressed juice is. Well, the answer is simple – instead of using a heat inducing centrifugal juicer that lowers the nutritional value of the juice, these bottles of deliciousness are made with a hydraulic pressed juice extraction that’s slow and, best of all, cold.

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But Raw Press isn’t just about the juice. There’s also an amazing range of vegan salads and snacks by the immensely talented Ella Woodward. For less than a tenner, you can order a giant plate of scrumptious Zucchini Noodles with homemade Brazil Nut pesto, Marinated Kale & Sweet Potato Salad, Broccoli & Avocado Salad and Chickpea & Squash Salad. All fantastically tasty and wonderfully good for you.

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And, there’s even a range of sweet treats (I particularly loved Ella’s Energy Bites and Banoffee Pie Pots). But the biggest surprise are her brownies – who knew they could be made with sweet potato and still burst with flavour? Yes the consistency is different, but the feeling of satisfaction when chomping your way through? Exactly the same.

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So there you have it. You can enjoy a varied, delicious diet free from fish and meat, which juice bars like Raw Press inspire. I’m not saying goodbye to sausage & mash, spag bol or fish pie, but vegetables are now playing a larger part in my life – hell, I even threw a vegan dinner party last night.

Raw Press, 32 Dover Street, London W1S 4NE

Blanchette, Soho

Blanchette was a dream come true. The waiters were my friends, the food comforting, and the drinks? Well, they just kept on coming. And let’s not forget the company – Crump Eats, The Edible Woman and handsome Steve Jones (sitting on the table next to us).

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I loved it from the start. The pretty dining room was filled with quirky French ornaments, colourful tiling, brushed wood and exposed brickwork. The memory will inspire when I decorate my dream home.

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Everyone had that Thursday feeling, so we started with a round of cocktails, olives and baked St Marcelin with bruchetta and large caper berries. An indulgent start that couldn’t have been more tasty.

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The menu had a ‘French Tapas’ theme as everyone in our city loves to share. We ordered as we ate, starting with succulent Braised Octopus with radish, tomato and a Verjus dressing (£7.50), along with a Roast Quail, Jamon Sec & Herb Croquette (£7.50). The dishes were totally different, but both were matched in impeccable presentation and taste.

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Steamed Mussels were juicy and enormous (£6) and Roasted Beetroot Salad with girolles, Fleur de Marquis and a tarragon dressing (£5.75) was almost too pretty to eat. Almost.

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Frites and Béarnaise was a must at £3.75. We all remarked on the flavour of the chips and how well each golden wonder went with the sauce. Could Ketchup and Mayo be a thing of the past?

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At dessert, we were so impressed with Chocolate Marquise, salted caramel puffed rice and pistachio ice cream (£5.95) that we ordered a second pudding – Lemon Pot with Strawberry, Gin & Parsley Sorbet (£5.25). It was a modern take on a traditional French Strawberry Tart, brimming with beautiful creme patisserie and served with thin, crisp shortbread.

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Our last surprise came with the bill. We were stuffed and had drunk more than our fair share, yet only faced a charge of £46 each with tip. There is no doubt in my mind – I will experience this dream again and, for now, leave Blanchette with a LLE Rating of 9/10.

Blanchette, 9 D’Arblay St, London W1F 8DR

Bistro Blanchette on Urbanspoon

8 Hoxton Square, Hoxton

I think I’m suffering from ‘blogger’s block’. Over the past few weeks, I’ve chomped my way through Michelin starred food at Club Gascon, French fancies in Provence, breakfast at Shoreditch House and sharing plates at Blanchette. But have you heard about it? No.

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Well this is stopping, right now. The tonic? My review of 8 Hoxton Square – the newly born sister of 10 Greek Street that made me a meal I don’t mind re-living.

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In a medium-sized, rustic dining room, we shared plates of food over a bottle of Riesling, whilst enjoying a course of fresh air from the open fronted restaurant. I loved the crisp, golden croquetas (£6) almost as much as I enjoyed the fresh, simple flavours of Dorset Crab with a lightly battered courgette flower, roasted cherry tomatoes and salty samphire (£9).

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Fried Goats’ Cheese came topped with peppery rocket, beetroot and large, crunchy walnuts – a heavy ‘starter’, but no less delicious (£5). That said, it was the Shallot Tart Tatin with girolles, goat’s curd and truffle (£14) that stole the show for me.

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The light pastry was stuffed with sweet shallots that balanced the sour goat’s curd. Punchy truffle shavings sat atop watercress and green beans that added  freshness to the buttery girolles. This was a dish that could turn a carnivore.

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We greedily shared three desserts between two. Baked Ricotta covered in crumbled amaretti and a blueberry and grappa compote looked attractive, but was too savoury for my sweet tooth (£6). I far preferred the fun and aromatic Lemon Curd with meringues, strawberries and fragrant basil (£5), and the indulgent plate of cheese, chutney and crackers (£7).

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Aside from the Baked Ricotta, I couldn’t really fault 8 Hoxton Square. Everything from the food to the staff was lovely and more than enough to drag me out of my block. So to say thank you, I’m giving 8 Hoxton a LLE Rating of 8/10.

8 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU

8 Hoxton Square on Urbanspoon