Monday, November 10, 2014

Kitchen Diary #6

The highlight of my week has been a day trip to London where I had a rather grand lunch at the The Gilbert Scott restaurant which is housed the magnificent St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.

The dining room is a very light and airy room and although it has its own street entrance my sense of direction is so bad I could only find my way to the main hotel entrance so I did get to see a little more of the inside of the hotel too.
To get to the restaurant from the main lobby I had to walk through some very ornate pillared corridors and passed this rather aptly named Grand Staircase.
The restaurant is described as a British style Brasserie and there was certainly an excellent range of British produce on the menu. As I now live in Devon I was pleased to see two Devon produced cheeses, Sharpham goats brie and Beenleigh Blue, were featured. I went for the set priced weekday menu which offers three courses for £25 and this is what I had:

Smoked trout with beetroots, sour cream, rye crumbs
Chargrilled saddleback pork chop with pickled mustard seeds, crab apple, brussel sprout tops with bacon
Banana bread and butter pudding with chocolate jelly, rum ice cream

I was actually pretty full after the main course but you don't travel all this way to wimp out before dessert and I was really intrigued by the sound of a chocolate jelly. Well it turned out to not really be that much like jelly but more like a water based ganache, but it was delicious with the pudding and the rum ice-cream. I could have just had a nap in the bar area afterwards but there was more work to be done so fortified by an espresso I headed off to Chinatown to check out the Chinese Bakery's and supermarkets.  I wanted some snacks for the train journey home so some filled Chinese buns seemed a good plan. They make these with such tender and lightly sweet dough, I just love them when they are still really fresh. I bought a bbq pork filled bun and a custard filled bun. The window display was quite beautiful if cakes and buns are your thing.
The little animal cakes were very cute.
I wandered through Soho stopping off at Paul A Young's chocolate shop and another coffee stop at Princi where you can get some really nice pizza and pastries and then a quick look in Liberty's because I just love the building and they sell chocolate too!  Finally over to Waterstones in Picadilly to look at the huge cookery book selection they have. I didn't buy any this time. After a bit of a scrum in the rush hour tube journey to Paddington I was back on the train down country.

Quick Recipe - Chai Tea
I have been drinking more chai spiced tea recently and those prepacked tea bags are quite expensive so if you like chai tea and fancy mixing up your own spices here you go:

recipe based on one from 'Food of the Grand Trunk Road' by Anirudh Arora & Hardeep Singh Kohli

For 1 mug of chai tea
  1 tsp loose leaf black Indian tea leaves
  2 green cardamom pods
  2 black peppercorns
  1 clove
  3-4 cm piece cinnamon stick 
  1 tsp grated or finely sliced fresh ginger root
  160 ml water
  80 ml milk
  sugar to taste
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the tea and the spices.
  2. Simmer gently for 2 minutes
  3. Add the milk and continue to simmer for 5 more minutes
  4. Strain into a mug through a fine sieve and sweeten to taste
Bread & Baking
My bread bake of the week was an apple kuchen based on this Plum Kuchen recipe from blog Grown to Cook. I just made it with home grown thinly sliced apples instead of plums and also about a half size batch as I really think this sort of bake is so much better when freshly baked and there were only two of us to eat it up.
My entry for the #SundayBakeClub challenge this week was Garibaldi biscuits. We had to make biscuits, not cookies, and that stipulation had me puzzling for quite some time as to when a cookie was not a biscuit? Whatever the answer might be, Garibaldis are definitely biscuits, and this recipe from blogger  Poires au Chocolat made a very tasty batch of what some folks also all squashed fly biscuits.

Events - Saturday Night Melting Pot in Bideford
The monthly Saturday night 'Melting Pots' in my local town had eluded me for a few months but this Saturday I finally stumbled across the event notice and encouraged by the promise of Mexican and Carribean street food promptly changed plans and headed into town. They had put on some live music and there were about four or five different food vendors there and despite the drizzle they did seem to have a steady flow of punters. I had a Caribbean shoulder of pork stew with eddoes, carrots, rice and beans, coleslaw and sweet chilli sauce. The photo does not do it justice but bear in mind this is take out food photographed at night with a very basic camera. It tasted really rather good and the guys on the Carribean stall were really charming, offering people small tasters if they were not sure what a dish would be like.
So that is all for this last week, thoughts are now turning to Christmas chocolate making and if that goes well I will put up some pictures. If I don't you will know I have had some chocolate disasters.

Have a good week.

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