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Friday, 7 May 2021

Keto Bread Rolls with Olive Oil and Paneer & Why a Low-Carb Diet Is the Best Weight Loss Approach for Me

This steak sarnie is why I think a low-carb, no-sugar diet is the best weight loss approach for me. I LOVE carbs and couldn’t possibly live without good bread or pasta, but every year, I take the plunge and try and lose those extra pounds.


Living and breathing food, my weight fluctuates massively, and with Covid, I thought I ought to do something about it. I find a low-carb, no-sugar diet is the least restrictive regimen for those who enjoy food – yes, there is plenty of good fat, butter, cheese and cream, as well as meat and fish, but there is also loads of green vegetables.

The weight does fall off on a low-carb diet, but it is far from being a perfect solution – I get incredibly irritable within a few days, and while on ketosis it feels like I am on meds – rather like being on Pro Plus, those caffeine tablets I used to take at university to cram for exams, this means I am fully awake at around 5-6am every morning. Alcohol tolerance is also greatly diminished, I get very tipsy with just a glass of wine, and if I drink any more I just fall asleep!

In the last year, I have been experimenting with Keto baking and came up with this gluten-free recipe for keto bread rolls using Paneer cheese as a base for the dough. The only odd ingredient here is the psyllium husk, but I am afraid it is necessary – I tried to substitute it with less successful results. Psyllium husk will expand in contact with water giving out volume to the dough, while also acting as a binding agent. Psyllium husk is the husk of the plantago ovada plant’s seed, it is 100% fibre so has zero net carbs. Most importantly, it works as mild laxative which is great for those on Keto who for the lack of fibre, may be a tad constipated, another less desirable side-effect of the diet. You can buy psyllium husk on Amazon.

These keto rolls are the closest I could get to something resembling proper bread – I have been baking my own sourdough bread for years, so being on low-carb is a real challenge on that front. The rolls will be at their best while fresh but will toast nicely if a day or two old. They hold their shape really well, so they work nicely for burgers and steak sarnies. Best of all, they are only 2g of net carbs per roll and take about 15 minutes to prepare.

I would be interested to hear about your experiences with a low-carb diet, so please let me know in the comments below. PLEASE NOTE - I am not trying to get anyone here to do a #keto or #lowcarb diet, I am simply describing my experiences with weight-loss and keto baking.

Keto Bread Rolls with Olive Oil and Paneer

(8.1g total net carbs – 1.35g per roll/6 rolls or 2.1g/4 rolls)

Ingredients:

  • 100g Paneer (1.5g net carbs)
  • 50g almond flour (3.5g net carbs)
  • 1 tsp baking powder (1.3g net carbs)
  • 4 tbsp psyllium husk (0 net carbs)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (0 net carbs)
  • 3 eggs (1.8g net carbs/0.6g per egg)
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) Apple cider vinegar (0 net carbs)
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) boiling water (0 net carbs)
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil (0 net carbs)
  • Sea salt flakes (0 net carbs)

Method:

  1. In a food processor, blend the paneer, almond flour, baking powder, psyllium husk and salt until uniform but finely crumbly.
  2. Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the apple cider vinegar, mixing well with a spatula to incorporate. Mix the boiling water and olive oil and add this to the bowl, mixing it well. Let it rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Weigh the dough and divide into 4 or 6 equal sized buns, lightly flatten them so they are just about ½ inch thick. Lightly brush the top with a little water and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes. Place them in a 175C pre-heated oven (or the Aga’s lower oven) and bake them for 30 minutes. Let cool down for at least another 30 minutes before eating.


Friday, 30 April 2021

Italian Sourdough Bread and Cabbage Soup with Sage Butter

If you’ve been baking to your heart’s content through all the lockdowns, and are now wondering what to do with your leftover sourdough - I have a good suggestion for you – make it into this scrumptious Italian soup. This is a recipe adapted from the fab cookbook ‘Jamie at Home’ by Jamie Oliver. I have been making this soup since 2007 when I bought his book, but I have had to adapt it over the years, and I share my findings with you here.

This Italian soup is layered like a lasagne, with grilled slices of sourdough bread rubbed in raw garlic, cabbage and chicken stock. As it cooks, the bread plumps up just like a savoury Bread & Butter Pudding!


For me, the combination of 3 important ingredients with super high concentration of umami (glutamates) is what makes this soup so utterly special – anchovy, bacon and cheese (Cheddar/Parmesan).

Even the humble cabbage, you may be surprised to know, is a vegetable with good umami content (50mg/100g glutamates) adding its own flavour and richness to the dish. Cabbage is one of the most popular vegetables in Japanese cooking and at our home. I love it simply blackened under a very hot grill and then doused in Gomadare (a wonderfully creamy Japanese sesame dressing). Heavenly.


This is my adapted version of Jamie’s recipe:

Italian Bread and Cabbage Soup with Sage Butter

Ingredients:

  • 3 litres of chicken or vegetable stock (Note A)
  • 2 Savoy cabbages, outer/harder stalks removed, washed and roughly cut (Note B)
  • 16-24 slices of stale sourdough bread (Note C)
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, unpeeled (Note D)
  • 90ml (6 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil + more for assembling the dish
  • 14 slices of pancetta or good quality smoked streaky bacon, sliced
  • 2x 50g tin of anchovy fillets in oil (100g in total)
  • 5 fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked out and very finely chopped (Note E)
  • 200g mature cheddar cheese, grated (Note F)
  • 150g Parmesan cheese + a little more for serving, grated
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 16-24 fresh sage leaves

Method:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. In a large pan, bring the stock to a boil, add the cabbage and cook for a few minutes until just softened. Remove the cabbage to a large bowl leaving the stock in the pan.

2. Toast all but 5-6 slices of sourdough breads on a hot griddle pan or in a toaster then rub them on one side with the garlic cloves and put aside. The untoasted slices will go on the top of the dish, so choose the best-looking ones and make sure they will cover the entire surface of your pan.


3. Next, heat a large 12cm deep oven proof casserole pan (I use a 26cm x 12cm cast iron pan) on a medium heat with the EVOO, add the pancetta or bacon and the anchovies, mix well. When the pancetta is golden brown and sizzling, add the rosemary and cooked cabbage and toss to coat the greens in all these wonderful flavours. Turn off the heat and transfer the mixture and all its juices into a large bowl.


4. You will need to have all the above ingredients grated, chopped or prepped and in separate bowls before assembling the dish. To assemble, we will do this as we would a lasagne. Cover the bottom of the pan with enough slices of toasted sourdough bread in one full layer. 


5. Spread over 1/3 of the cabbage leaf mixture, sprinkle over 1/4 of the grated cheddar and parmesan cheeses, and add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Repeat this twice. Pour in all the juices remaining in the bowl and end with a layer of un-toasted bread on top, push down on the layers with your hands.


6. Pour the stock gently over the top until it just comes up to the top layer. Push down again and sprinkle over the remaining grated cheddar and parmesan cheeses. Add a good pinch of freshly ground black pepper and a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Bake in the preheated oven, uncovered, for around 30 minutes or until crispy and golden on top.


7. A couple of minutes before the soup comes out of the oven melt the butter in a small frying pan and quickly fry the sage leaves until they are just crisp and the butter is lightly golden, keep warm.

8. When the soup is ready divide it among the number of bowls needed. For presentation, I like topping each bowl of soup with a small piece of the toasted cheesy bread from the top layer, so apportion it wisely. Spoon a bit of the flavoured butter and sage leaves over the that and add another grating of parmesan. Enjoy!



Notes:

A. Fresh, good quality stock is always the best option, but I have used Knorr cubes on numerous occasions for this recipe with similarly good results.

B. Jamies uses a mixute of 2/3 Savoy and 1/3 Cavolo Nero, I do too at times but if I only have Savoy in my fridge that is what I use. Cavolo Nero is harder than Savoy cabbage so soften them separately as they will cook at different speed. As for the roughly chopping, you want pieces of cabbages as opposed to chopping it to smidgens.

C. The number of slices will depend on the size of your bread and pan – I use a cast iron pan that is 26cm in diameter and 12cm in depth which takes about 20 slices and all other ingredients perfectly. You will want a good-looking pan to serve the soup at the table to your guests, the soup looks gorgeous straight out of the oven so choose an equally lovely pan.

D. Jamie calls for 1 garlic clove in his recipe which is far from being enough, I need about 5 at least, but in the unlikely event that you have any cloves leftover, just pop them in a bag and use them later for something else.

E. To avoid having hardy leaves of rosemary in your mouth when eating, do chop them finely. You will get more flavour out of them with none of the discomfort.

F. Jamie calls for Fontina cheese, though I was only able to find it a couple of times from specialist shops in the UK. Perhaps I haven’t been looking hard enough, but I find that cheddar is a great substitute here.


Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Flat Three's *Exquisite* Japanese, Korean & British Inspired 5-Course Menu

 Name: Flat Three

Address: 120-122, Holland Park Ave, Notting Hill, London, W11 4UA, https://flatthree.london/

Cost: 5-course tasting menu (with 2 additional appetiser courses) at £59pp with an optional sake and wine pairing for £49pp. There is a lunch menu priced at £33pp on Fridays and Saturdays (when you are welcome to bring your dog(s) with you).


About: Opened in 2015 by Juliana Moustakas, a Korean-American and former London City banker, Flat Three is a restaurant that is tricky to label – think top notch British produce with touches of Japan, Korea and Scandinavia and you are in the right direction, but Flat Three is much more than just a label.


Flat Three refers to Juliana’s home in Holland Park where she used to host her supper club. It was here that Juliana developed her ideas and recipes and hatched her plan to open Flat Three a year after leaving investment banking. Today, Head Chef Joseph Timarchi, a Peruvian who grew up in the USA, leads the kitchen while Juliana oversees the front of house and the wine and sake offerings. More on the exceptional wine and sake pairing in the What We Drank section below.



Timarchi is an avid forager and is the man responsible for much of the fermentation taking place at Flat Three – they make their own miso, natto, garum (fish sauce) and vinegars and countless number of pickles. In fact, Kathrin, the restaurant manager, tells me that there was little if any wastage of ingredients as lockdown was announced – mushrooms were dehydrated, vegetables were fermented into pickles, vinegars were created and aged. Incredible.


The food at Flat Three is innovative and thought-provoking – I love Timarchi’s lightness of touch, and how he incorporates Japanese and Korean ingredients into his non-Asian cooking where nothing seems forced or out of place. Though the ingredients are the real star here - they take pride in sourcing some of the best produce available in the UK, and rightly so, as the quality really shines through.


If you are one of those culinary purists who think everything should taste like your granny’s cooking, perhaps Flat Three is not for you. But if you have an interest in knowing about your shoyu from your Italian garum or your Korean kimchi from your Japanese dashi in dishes that combine them in perfect harmony, you will be in for a treat at Flat Three.


What We Ate: We opted for the 5-course tasting menu with the wine and sake pairing. Menus change seasonally and most of the below dishes plus many others are also available a la carte.


We started with a delightful tartlet made of Japanese kombu and buckwheat flour topped with a brunoise of raw yuzu-marinated courgette, marigold dressing and Shungiku leaves (edible chrysanthemum). The pastry was crisp, toasty and delicate, the yuzu marinating subtle.



Next up was the bread course in the form of grilled ‘mochi’ flat bread with house-cured salmon and wild garlic capers foraged by the chef (during lockdown). A kind of Japanese blini or crumpet, it was made from glutinous rice flour, wheat flour and yeast. It had a lovely toasty, caramelized outer layer and a creamy, chewy interior. This was a great dish.



Heritage tomato and gooseberries came dressed in homemade Tosazu (a Japanese dressing of fermented rice vinegar, bonito flakes and kombu, here enriched with roasted tomato skins) topped with wafer thin toasted rice crackers and Shungiku petals (edible chrysanthemum). A flavour and texture explosion, this was my favourite dish until I tried the octopus below.



Timarchi’s charred octopus and courgettes glazed with smoked pork fat in a kimchi dashi, with fennel flowers and wild garlic was one of the most exquisite dishes I have eaten for quite a while – the dashi and the plump, soft octopus pieces were bursting with intense umami flavours, the sourness and refreshing acidity of the kimchi offsetting the richness of the lardo so
exquisitely. Perfection on a plate.



Wild seabass cured for 2 days in salt, was firm and well textured, served with Kabu (Japanese radish leaf) and Shiso (one of the most popular of Japanese herbs, similar to a cross between basil and mint), in a rich creamy dashi flavoured with chilli and garlic.



Equally good was the Sussex chicken, cooked sous vide, served with charred Kabu (Japanese radish leaves), brown butter and chicken fat. The chicken was plump and succulent, the jus rich and full of savoury flavour, I could not help using my spoon to lap up every last drop of this heavenly sauce. An excellently judged dish.



Dessert was milk ice cream made with pokeweed custard (a native American plant from which the berries are used for their red colour and flavour), with whey caramel and a tahini-like sunflower seed sauce. With flavours of Ovaltine, and a light, refreshing texture, this was an original dessert to end a well-accomplished dinner.



What We Drank: A wine connoisseur, Juliana put together a wine and sake pairing for us that was exceptional on many levels – classic French wines, alongside American and other New World bottles all interspaced by some excellent Japanese Junmai sakes. Juliana knows many of the wine producers personally and had always some interesting anecdote to tell about each of their wines. It was evident that much thought that had gone into those pairings. The wine pairing is priced at £49pp.



There is a wide range of wines and sakes available by the glass and bottle, apart from the wine and sake flight. On Tuesday, Wednesdays and Thursdays, it is BYOB with £15 corkage per bottle, maximum 2 bottles per table.


With our tartlet amuse bouche with started with a sake aperitif - a floral Junmai from Miyazaki prefecture, this was aromatic and with a rich, creamy finish.


This was followed by Chanin, a Chardonnay from Santa Maria vineyard, Rita Hills in California, made by Gavin Chanin, who paints his own labels. Oaked, rich and aromatic with citrus and stone fruit flavours, it had a very long finish.


Next up was a biodynamic orange wine - Gut Oggau Timotheus Weiss 2015 from Austria, a blend of Grüner Veltliner and Weissbergunder. A cloudy, unfiltered orange wine, this had a savoury quality.

Our 2nd sake of the evening was Akitabare Daiginjo, “Moonstone” – a rich and aromatic yet pure and light sake.

With our chicken main, we had a Southern Burgundy Ruilly 1er Cru from Jean-Baptiste Ponceau. Rich, complex with well integrated oak, flint, and cedar, this was a fine example of a top white Burgundy.


Dessert was served with a 3rd and final sake - a Koshi no Kanbai, Sai “Blue River” from Niigata. Enjoyed as a Spring drink to celebrate plum blossom season in Japan, this sake had notes of caramel and a rich, savoury finish though refreshing and clean on the palate. This was a great pairing to the lightness and not overly sweet dessert by Timarchi.



Likes
: wonderful, thought-provoking food, dog-friendly restaurant (on Fridays and Saturdays at lunchtime only), BYO on Tue, Wed and Thu (max 2 bottles at £15 corkage/bottle), fantastic wine pairing, super friendly and knowledgeable service, loved how the 5-course menu turned out to be a 7-course menu and at £59 for that quality of cooking and ingredients, it is a real steal!

Dislikes: None.


Verdict: Exquisite Japanese, Korean and British inspired dishes that are packed with umami flavour and gorgeously presented. I truly cannot fault a single one, Flat Three’s tasting menu just got better and better after each course. Probably one of my favourite London restaurants right now, I cannot wait to return and try the other dishes on their menu. Very highly recommended.


Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Angelina - Exquisite Italian-Japanese Cooking in East London


Name: Angelina

Where: 56 Dalston Lane, London E8 3AH, http://www.angelina.london/

Cost: £39 for 5-course tasting menu with an optional £35 Italian wine pairing, or £9 for the dish of the day with an optional £3 for a beer or glass of wine.

About: Few London restaurants have excited me as much as Italian-Japanese @Angelina.dalston - and glad to report that our experience there was nothing short of outstanding.


Owner and General Manager Joshua Owens-Baigler @joshuabaigler, a Japanophile at heart who lived in Umbria, trained at the River Café and cut his teeth with the Bistroteque Group,  Hix, and Bocca di Lupo. And this is where he met Roman Head Chef, Daniele Ceforo (former Café Murano and Enoteca Turi), now heading the kitchen at Angelina.


Joshua’s knowledge of Italian and Japanese ingredients is encyclopaedic, but better still is how he brings these two cuisines so beautifully together, nothing is forced or out of place, and every ingredient, be it moromi miso, extra virgin olive oil or fatty tuna, matters and complements his harmonious Italian-Japanese creations.


Angelina, a bright 40-cover restaurant, was designed by Jason's mother, an award winning interior designer and founder of Anna Owens Designs. Angelina is heavily inspired by Japanese minimalism and monochromatic aesthetic combined with high-quality Italian materials including a gorgeous Italian marble bar overlooking the open kitchen. 


We also loved the use of gorgeous green foliage scattered around the restaurant which brought freshness and warmth to the elegant decor.



What We Ate: We went for their 5-course tasting menu, a real steal at £39pp, opting for an additional cheese and miso course (£10 supplement).

The meal kicked off with a selection of 7 primi (small dishes), a mix of ‘Fritto Misto’ and ‘Crudo’ raw fish to share:


1. Deep-fried, Panko coated Taleggio cheese with pancetta and pickled cucumber served with tonkatsu sauce (made in-house):


2. Red snapper Carpaccio with truffle soy and furikaki seasoning:


3. Japanese Shishito peppers (akin to Padron Peppers) served ‘kushiage’ style (though no skewers), coated in Panko and deep fried - an Izakaya staple:


4. Vitelo Tonnato - a classic from Piedmont - thin slices of cooked veal in a rich tuna mayo - though at @angelina.dalston a katsuoboshi mayo (air dried bonito flakes used to make dashi stock) was used instead with great results:


5. Light as feather Cime di Rapa tempura:


6. Exquisite fatty toro (tuna belly sashimi) with moromi miso & extra virgin olive oil and crispy pancetta:


7. Sliced sourdough bread - top image in What We Ate section.

And then onto the pasta course - raviolo filled with soy marinated egg yolk, and served with oyster mushroom, baby yucca, nasturtium leaves and shavings of Perigord truffle in a light dashi of kombu and dried porcini - exquisite!


Secondo (main) was a delectable dish of red mullet and burnt soy butter served with Tema artichoke.


Cheese and miso platter included wakame (Japanese seaweed), aged tofu in moromi miso, and robiola piemonte cheese, Gorgonzola naturale, tastuno al Barolo, served with Sardinian Carasau bread (paper thin and crispy), and a glass of sweet Passito wine (Sagrentino Montefalco).


Dolci (dessert) of black sesame Castella cake, chocolate langues de chat, and an ultra-refreshing blood orange sorbet ended our meal in a high note.


If you don’t fancy a full-blown 5-course meal, the restaurant offers a daily changing plate (katsu curry on the day we were there) for £9, with the option of adding a glass of wine or beer for £3.

What We Drank: A fantastic Italian wine pairing for the 5-course tasting menu is available for £35. Though as we were there at lunchtime, we decided to play safe and had a glass of Zabibbo, Curatolo Arini 2018 from Sicily, a luscious, muscat-like wine with tropical fruit.

Likes: the toro with moromi miso and extra virgin olive oil was sensational, as was the red snapper carpaccio with truffle soy and furikake, and the deep fried taleggio! We loved the selection of Piemontese cheeses and aged tofu, I would recommend it for the £10 supplement. The optional £35 wine pairing is excellent value and features some unusual, niche Italian wines. We loved the Sicilian Zabbido wine (and grape), it was our first time trying it (similar to a Moscatel).

Dislikes: None.

Verdict: One of my favourite restaurants in London right now - there is so much to love about Angelina - harmonious, creative Italian-Japanese cooking with great quality ingredients, in a very beautiful setting and at £39, their 5-course tasting menu is also a real steal. I cannot wait to return! Very highly recommended.

Friday, 4 October 2019

The London Foodie Goes to Northern Ireland - The Fabulous Shola Coach House Boutique B&B in Portrush


A very good morning from the fabulous Shola Coach House Boutique B&B in Portrush, our lovely "home" during our Northern Ireland travels.


And no better way to get the day started than with Sharon's Full Ulster Fry with all the trimmings including traditional local family Ethersons Butchers' reared bacon and sausages, my favourite Clonakilty Black Pudding, soda farls and potato bread. We also had freshly cut fruit salad, yoghurts, and more homemade breads, what a feast!


Sharon and David set up Shola B&B in 2013 and since then they have been garnering a number of awards - in 2015 they were voted the 2nd B&B in the World by the Travellers' Choice Awards.



Sharon and David run their B&B single-handedly - they deal with all booking enquiries, and with no hired help they make the beds, do the cleaning, fry our breakfasts, make guests' restaurant reservations, and with their incredible wealth of local knowledge, advise us on the best places to visit and places to eat.



We were lucky to share breakfast with a number of different people during our stay - surprisingly most of them were from Northern Ireland, they were regular guests who stay at Shola's several times a year!



Shola Coach House Boutique B&B is in Portrush, one of the most popular seaside towns of Northern Ireland - there is so much to explore in the area including the incredible Giants Causeway, Portstewart (great golfing), Bushmills town and distillery (great Irish whisky), and miles after miles of the most stunning seaside scenery - think rugged landscape, high cliffs overlooking the blue Irish sea and plenty of greenery, a fantastic place for long-distance walking.


Best of all though was finding a number of great restaurants in the area too including Harry's Shack in Portstewart, The Mermaid, one of the four Ramore Restaurants in Portrush and Billy Andys pub in Larne. I will post about these fabulous places on a separate entry.


This was no press trip, and this is no #ad, we were on our own dollar on this trip and we loved Shola Coach House Boutique B&B. This gem of a place is our top recommendation in Northern Ireland. But make sure to book well in advance, with only 4 bedrooms, Shola is always in high demand, and we can see why this is!

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