Percebes in Tetuan

Tried these amazing ‘goose neck clams’ which we had previously been calling dinosaur feet. They are little clams which look totally inedible, and frankly it’s best not to look too closely at what you’re eating if you’re prone to squeamishness. They are amazing; sweet, salty and a little chewy. And totally weird and gross and unusual which makes it all the more fun. We bought 100 grams for three to share as a starter which was plenty. We drank a beautiful, oily white wine with it ‘Fiore de Carne’(?), and had amazingly buttery langoustine and delicately fried white fish to follow. The Dueña was amazing - a large and  very friendly lady with boundless energy and smiles. We basically sat bumping elbows with the friendly double dater’s next to us, and asked what they were having - it looked great and they seemed to know what they were doing. This is all at El Marucho - which reminded me of Capitan Corelli’s in Battersea with pictures on the wall, old school but delicious food, and bags of character(s).  The place next door has the biggest shellfish in town, and quarter of a cow in the shop window too by the looks of it. 

http://www.maruchorestaurante.es/es/

Umma, Santander

Nice restaurant in Santander. Lovely staff, nice atmosphere and jazz on thursdays. Recommended are the baby squid rabas (deep fried squid - staple of the northern spanish diet), avocado tartar, tuna tartar, and the oxtail main dish. A few of of the dishes were pretty third rate, which is a shame. OH! I ate pork snout and trotter. Yes, that’s right, I went for the weirdest thing I could find in the name of … er …. wanting to try new things all the time. It was quite alright - weird gelatinous texture, which is to be expected when ordering trotter, but the flavour was great. 

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Restaurante-UMMA/158066481015727

Spinach Mousse with Parmesan cream

I went to collect some pots from my old Art teacher the other day, who happened to be making this when I arrived. I had to try it because it looked so good and fun to make. I made it that very evening, and it’s delicious. 

You’ll need:

  • 225g of fresh Spinach
  • 2 large eggs
  • 220 ml thick cream
  • a knob of butter
  • salt, pepper and nutmeg to season

for the parmesan cream:

  • 220g whipping cream
  • 80g parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper

Take 4 ramekins and grease with butter. Cut out discs of greaseproof paper and place in the bottom of the ramekins. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees c. and put a kettle half filled with water on to boil.

In a pan with a lid on it, wilt the spinach in the butter. Once all leaves are darker green, remove from heat and run gently under cold water through a sieve. Then drain throughly by pressing against the side of the sieve. Now you’ll need a clean tea towel to get some more of the moisture out of the leaves. Blend the spinach in a food mixer with the eggs until smooth. Pour into a mixing bowl, and stir in the thick cream. Season with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper, and grate in some fresh nutmeg. Mix well. Put the ramekins in an ovenproof dish and spoon the mousse mixture into each one, and then cover in tin foil. Now, carefully pour the boiling water around the ramekins, into the baking dish. Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until firm to the touch. 

Whisk the cream and then add to a pan on a gentle heat. Stir in the parmesan, being careful not to boil the mixture, and then season to taste. 

Serve with a garnish and enjoy!

I want to try this with beetroot next time. My brother has also done ones with asparagus! What else could you try? Mushroom? Aubergine? Sweet potato? 

There’s a tutorial on How.Do for those who have it. Those who don’t, join in!   Search your app store for how.do

Tarta de Santiago

Had a version of this for dessert at Brindisa the other day, and was keen to try my hand at it. Also nice because I’m now living in the area of Spain it hails from. It’s also called Galician tart, if I’m not mistaken.

I used: 

  • 225g Ground almonds
  • 6 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar (could be a touch less)
  • grated zest of one lemon and one orange
  • icing sugar for dusting, or blanched whole almonds for decorating

Pre-heat the oven to , and grease a spring form tin (8inch or 11inch will do). Dust the tin with a thin layer flour by putting a spoonful of plain flour in the greased tin and turning the tin round so that the flour reaches all the corners and edges.

Separate the yolks into a mixing bowl with the caster sugar in it and blend until it forms a creamy mixture. Stir in the ground almonds and zests and mix thoroughly. In another mixing bowl, having cleaned the whisk heads, whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks. Remember not to whisk once the eggs have stiffened; the result will be collapsed eggs that will no longer come back to life. Carefully fold the egg whites into the almond mixture. It’s quite thick at first so be patient and go gently. Then, use a cutting action to fold in the rest of the whites, spoonful by spoonful. If decorating with blanched almonds, now’s the time to do it. Pour the mixture into the baking tin and put in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until it’s springy to the touch and golden brown on top. Serve with vanilla ice cream or bottled fruit.

Some recipes ask for almond essence, but I’m not sure about it. I, personally, don’t want my cake to start tasting like marzipan. You could try adding blueberries, rhubarb or raspberries (when in season) into the mix before cooking, to add a bit of colour and fruitiness. This version is gluten free. 

There’s also a tutorial for making this on the brilliant app, How.Do. Check it out here: https://www.how.do

Cold remedy

Woke up with a stinker of a cold and a very sore throat. As well as taking echinacea, zinc and vitamin C supplements, I’ve made some cold remedy tea. Call me gross, but as well as all the obvious (lemon, honey and ginger) I put garlic in my tea for extra oomph. Honey is a naturally anti-bacterial, and soothes sore throats and coughs. Ginger is warming and helps decongest your sinuses. Lemon is full of vitamin C, boosting your immune system, and also has anti-bacterial properties. Garlic is an antioxidant and immune system booster, packed with vitamin B6. Sipping warm tea and inhaling the vapour also has soothing effects. 

To a big teapot of boiling water, add:

  • juice of one lemon and one lime (add a bit of peel too - the oils give a nice texture!)
  • two finely grated cloves of garlic (one if you’re averse to garlic) and one big knob of ginger, also grated on the fine side of your grater.
  • two tablespoons of local honey

True-Food Co-op, Reading

This is the wonderful true food co-op shop in Caversham, Reading, where I volunteer when I’m home. They have just started selling a great range of breads, using locally grown and milled flour. They have a sourdough to rival Poilâne’s which I highly recommend. 

http://www.truefood.coop/News.cfm?NewsId=59

If you’re in London and don’t know about Poilâne, get yourself to Borough Market where you’re sure to find some. I know Neal’s Yard cheese sells it.

http://www.poilane.com/pages/en/company_boutiques.php

Cocktails at Aqua Shard
A little soulless; and like it’s neighbour on the other side of the shard, a teensy bit off-putting due to the high number of footballers-wives-types, the shard is still a fun place to drink when showing visitors round London, or when you want to feel high up. The cocktails are yummy (if overpriced), the service is good, and the views are breathtaking. More of a novelty bar than a regular haunt, but I still love the odd visit!

Cocktails at Aqua Shard

A little soulless; and like it’s neighbour on the other side of the shard, a teensy bit off-putting due to the high number of footballers-wives-types, the shard is still a fun place to drink when showing visitors round London, or when you want to feel high up. The cocktails are yummy (if overpriced), the service is good, and the views are breathtaking. More of a novelty bar than a regular haunt, but I still love the odd visit!

L’ETO
Salad of the year. And another rubbish photo. This is where I had lunch on Saturday, L’eto on the Kings Rd, Chelsea. The salads are amazing. I had broccoli with a delicious sweet and spicy dressing (detected fish/oyster sauce, soy sauce, chill and sesame oil if I’m not mistaken. Probably had some rice vinegar in there too), delicious grilled aubergine with greek yogurt, spring onions and pumpkin seeds, and a mushroom and mangetout salad. We also got a fresh juice with everything. Really inspiring food, and worth a visit if you’re nearby.
http://letocaffe.co.uk

L’ETO

Salad of the year. And another rubbish photo. This is where I had lunch on Saturday, L’eto on the Kings Rd, Chelsea. The salads are amazing. I had broccoli with a delicious sweet and spicy dressing (detected fish/oyster sauce, soy sauce, chill and sesame oil if I’m not mistaken. Probably had some rice vinegar in there too), delicious grilled aubergine with greek yogurt, spring onions and pumpkin seeds, and a mushroom and mangetout salad. We also got a fresh juice with everything. Really inspiring food, and worth a visit if you’re nearby.

http://letocaffe.co.uk

Brindisa Tapas, London
Hello Strangers. The last few months have been a bit stressful and hectic. I’m back on track now (pretty certain) and living and working in Santander, Northern Spain. I’ll be honest, I really had a bad time food wise during the first month; eating out became a nightmare. Tons of meat, white bread and ‘salads’ swimming in oil and covered in a mixture of fried meat and mayonnaise. The food in several restaurants I have tried has been tongue numbingly salty, and so rich I feel nauseous thinking about it. Pintxos are the tapas up that end of Spain, and as yet I have not been impressed. HOWEVER, having said all that, I’m willing to be impressed. I’m sure there are hidden gems tucked away that need discovering. Until then, I’ll enjoy cooking at home using tons of fruit and veg :)
So! Ironically, the first place I eat out on returning to London for Christmas is Brindisa. Gotta say, I haven’t had tapas this good in Spain. The Chorizo on offer there is delectable, you can get a plate of my all time favourite Padron peppers, and the wine selection is great. I had a Rueda, a type of Spanish white wine, which I would highly recommend. The almond tart, ‘Tarta de Santiago’ is amazing, and if you haven’t drunk enough you can have it with an amazing sherry whose name I forget (look for ‘Christmas pudding in a glass’ on the menu). Apologies for the crappy photo, didn’t want to faff too much at table.

Brindisa Tapas, London

Hello Strangers. The last few months have been a bit stressful and hectic. I’m back on track now (pretty certain) and living and working in Santander, Northern Spain. I’ll be honest, I really had a bad time food wise during the first month; eating out became a nightmare. Tons of meat, white bread and ‘salads’ swimming in oil and covered in a mixture of fried meat and mayonnaise. The food in several restaurants I have tried has been tongue numbingly salty, and so rich I feel nauseous thinking about it. Pintxos are the tapas up that end of Spain, and as yet I have not been impressed. HOWEVER, having said all that, I’m willing to be impressed. I’m sure there are hidden gems tucked away that need discovering. Until then, I’ll enjoy cooking at home using tons of fruit and veg :)

So! Ironically, the first place I eat out on returning to London for Christmas is Brindisa. Gotta say, I haven’t had tapas this good in Spain. The Chorizo on offer there is delectable, you can get a plate of my all time favourite Padron peppers, and the wine selection is great. I had a Rueda, a type of Spanish white wine, which I would highly recommend. The almond tart, ‘Tarta de Santiago’ is amazing, and if you haven’t drunk enough you can have it with an amazing sherry whose name I forget (look for ‘Christmas pudding in a glass’ on the menu). Apologies for the crappy photo, didn’t want to faff too much at table.

Cookies and Cupcakes at Duke of York Sq. Food Market

If you’re in west London on Saturday check this out! And leave room in your belly to try a few things on offer. I had this mini-cupcake which was delicious. 

http://www.londontown.com/LondonEvents/DukeofYorkSquareFoodMarket/c81ce/