Pancakes

These homemade pancakes can be a bit time consuming to make but they are so good with your homemade Peking duck and once you get the hang of it, it becomes easier.

250g plain flour

250ml boiling water

15ml sesame oil

Place flour in a large bowl and slowly add water mixing all the time in one direction. When mixture has formed a dough and is cool enough to handle, knead for 2 minutes, cover and leave for 30 minutes.

Roll dough into sausage shape and divide into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball then brush one side of each ball with oil. Press two balls – oil side touching – together.

Flour your work surface and roll each set of balls flat – about 12cm across.

Heat a frying pan, brush with some sunflower oil and on moderate heat cook the pancakes until lightly browned on each side. The centre should fill with hot air and puff up.

Remove from pan and separate each pancake.

Wrap pancakes in foil whilst you cook the rest.

Robert Carrier’s tip is to place all the pancakes in a steamer, steam for five minutes and you then have very soft pancakes to enjoy with your Peking duck.

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Robert Carrier’s Peking Duck

Robert Carrier has been a favourite chef of mine and I was inspired to cook by his “Great dishes of the World” cookbook. Some of his recipes I used were classic French and Oriental cuisine and homemade Peking duck with pancakes became a dish the girls asked for time and time again. We made this dish recently – Easter holidays.

2kg oven ready duck

15ml honey

22ml soy sauce

200ml water

Sauce:

90ml soy paste

45ml Chinese plum sauce

45ml honey

30ml sesame oil

Slowly pour 1 litre of boiling water over the duck. Dry with kitchen paper and hang for 4-5 hours or overnight in an airy place. This technique gives you a crispy skin.

Heat oven to 200C/400F. Place duck on a trivet in roasting pan and roast in oven for 1 hour. Mix together the honey, soy sauce and water. Remove duck and baste then return to oven for another 15 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

Peel skin from duck using your thumb and blade of a sharp knife and do the same with the meat. Place skin on one side of serving dish and meat on the other.

Slice spring onions into matchsticks and do the same with cucumber. Mix all sauce ingredients together and heat gently in a small pan until blended then pour into small serving bowls.

To eat – everyone takes a portion of crispy skin and meat, place on a pancake top with spring onions and cucumber then dollop some sauce on top, roll up and enjoy. Serves 4.

Fiona’s two minute turmeric noodles

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Ingredients:

  • 250 dried brown rice vermicelli noodles
  • 2 corn cobs, kernels removed
  • 1 bunch chinese greens
  • tofu, grilled chicken, or other protein
  • coriander for sprinkling
  • sesame seeds for sprinkling

Soup base:

  • 3 spring onions, white part chopped and green part sliced for sprinkling
  • 8cm turmeric, chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk (inner core) roughly chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, seeds removed and chopped
  • 1/3 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1 tbls tamarind puree
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • coriander root

For the soup base, pulse white spring onions, coriander root and stems, turmeric, lemongrass, chilli, peanuts, tamarind, fish and soy sauces in a small food processor for 20 seconds to roughly chop.  Add 1/2 cup of stock and whizz until smooth.  Add coconut milk and remaining 1/2 cup of stock and whizz again.

Transfer soup to a pan over medium heat and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant.  Add l litre water and bring to the boil, then add noodles and cook for 2 minutes or until tender.  Add corn and broccoli for the final minute.  Grill chicken or tofu separately.

Ladle coconut broth into bowls, lay protein on top, sprinkle with coriander, sesame seeds and spring onion.

This is a warm and comforting bowl of great flavours and textures.  Fiona added prawns as our protein and it was truly delicious.  It was just what we needed after the Easter holidays as we had eaten a lot of red meat.

 

Magpie

Sister restaurant of Pidgin (Hackney). Modern restaurant with an open kitchen which seems to be rather popular and the small plates sharing concept again. Very friendly staff and great service.Beef tartare, taleggio and truffle crisps…..raw beef put me off here but the crisps were rather delicious

coal roasted beetroot, seaweed curd, sesame seeds-beetroot delicious but not much taste of being coal roasted

Coq au vin fried chicken – again the coq au vin was missing but chicken crunchy

celeriac, parmesan and truffle – interesting combination and great flavoursburrata with basil oil and smoked almonds

chocolate, aubergine, cherry coke tapioca – now this is just a very weird combination and three of us in our party said it did not taste nice-sorry Magpie!!

birthday cake, white chocolate, rhubarb and various powders – hmmmm!!

Islay’s PhD graduation ceremony was earlier in the day and we told Magpie we were celebrating and they stuck a candle in with the cake to congratulate her so top marks for the gesture.

Trullo Restaurant

Another brilliant restaurant in Islington. Opened in June 2010. Its sister restaurant -Padella is in Borough Market. Great find on a Monday evening as most restaurants seem to close on this day.

Very simple Italian fare but beautifully done. As with so many restaurants today it is the sharing plate concept which gives you the opportunity to try several of the dishes and not leave ‘stuffed’.

Chargrilled quail with aioli -tender, juicy and so tasty.

Burrata and anchovy with olive oil. The creaminess of the burrata and the saltiness of the anchovies are just divine.

Pappardelle with beef shin ragu. Home made pasta with a very rich and tasty sauce.

We also had the Dorset lamb rump with baked borlotti beans and anchovy and rosemary dressing. The lamb was chargrilled so had lovely crunchy bits but still pink and the borlotti beans an unusual ingredient but combination was fab.

Menu changes daily and will definitely have to return to try some more of these Italian dishes.

Oklava

A Turkish-Cypriot Kitchen. Fab little open plan restaurant i.e you can see the chef and her team preparing the food. Warm and friendly welcome at the door and throughout the evening.

Sharing plate idea so we ordered Kaburga which was cured and smoked lamb ribs – these were so delicious and tender we had a second order.We had the marinated octopus pide – flatbread in the shape of a boat. We also had the chilli roast cauliflower which was incredibly good.

The sumac and wild oregano glazed duck breast, braised leg, cabbage and mussel sauce was not as good as I expected

Norse

First visited this restaurant about 6 months ago and was not impressed with the service or the food at the time, however, we decided to try it again especially since they were offering a Saturday lunch menu of 2 courses for £18.00 or 3 courses for £22.00.

Service was much nicer this time round. My husband had a gin and tonic to start and I had a glass of Prossecco. After ordering we were presented with sour dough bread and a chive, lovage and sorrel butter-unusual and tasty.

For our starters we chose the Pine smoked lamb shoulder, pickled turnip, charred sprouts and roasted onions – the lamb was rolled into cigar shapes and coated in breadcrumbs then deep fried so had a very crispy texture; and the poached sea trout and tartare, kohlrabi, linseed, nasturtium and chive buttermilk – sea trout was beautifully cooked and the tartare was silky. They used the nasturtium leaves which had a slight peppery taste.

For mains I had the cod, cauliflower, crispy greens, crab fritter, hasselback potato and shellfish sauce. It may sound like a lot but with modern cooking it is light and beautifully presented. An excellent plate of food. My husband had the Pork belly and cheek, roasted squash, salsify, turnip tops. He said they were all cooked well with all the flavours marrying well.

Only two desserts to choose from so we had one each. Tonks poached rhubarb, custard, brown butter ice cream and dill pollen almond crumb; and the Aebleskiver, riskrem, sour cherry, puffed rice, blueberry, apple marigold sugar.

The only disappointing element to the dessert was the aebleskiver which is an apple dumpling which we found a bit heavy and tasteless

With our meal we had a nice french viogner. Very happy we tried it again as was very impressed with the unusual ingredients and the modern techniques used.