Measurement – Yogurt Cake

Measurement
14.3 Grams, ½ ounces, 3 teaspoons, 15 millilitres, ¼ cups…
Who would have thought that cooking would sometimes require a degree in mathematics?

For some people, cooking is considered to be a universal language where everybody gathers for the love of food… until the time comes to debate about the best way to weigh chocolate chips.

Although every kitchen around the world has a wooden spoon and pan, it’s another story to open a cookbook without a calculator and an Internet connection and make sure to use the proper mass of flour or chicken.

Sometimes the success of a diner may just hold in the balance of what Miss Cup, Mister Teaspoon or Mrs Gram tell us… as long as we understand their language! Why do we make our lives so difficult? That is the question…

Until you find the answer, why not try the following recipe that uses… yogurt pots as a measurement unit.
Yes, yet another unit to add to your ever-growing list of measurements, but at least it’s universal!

Yogurt Cake – 6 personsYogurt Cake
1 pot of natural yogurt
3 yogurt pots of flour
2 yogurt pots of sugar
1 yogurt pot of sunflower oil
1 tablespoon of baking powder
3 eggs

Pre-heat the oven at 180°C/Gas 6
In a big bowl, mix all the ingredients together and stir well until smooth.
Pour the mixture in a non-stick cake form.
Place it in the oven for 30 min.

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Food, the best recipe for a therapy

Couch
Among all of food’s incredible attributes, from medicinal to revitalising, Food can also be just as revealing as lying on a psychologist’s couch. Not only can food reveal your personality, it can even offer the comfort of a thousand words.

No need to talk or express what or how we feel; the way we eat, the way we choose our meal, the ingredients we crave, our reaction to the contents of a fridge; or even whether or not we jump on the bread at a restaurant waiting for the meal to be served; our gastronomical habits tell their  own little story about who we are.

And as the couch we lay ourselves down on is an integral part of our mental therapy, enjoying a meal will revitalise the spirit just as it will nurture the body… be it through the pleasant bitterness of a piece of chocolate or the calming leisure of a traditional Sunday dish.

Tuna Mousse Verrines – 4 persons
4 tomatoes, dicedTuna Verrines Bis
2 cans of tuna
250g of ricotta
4 tablespoons of tarragon
A handful of rocket, chopped
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

In a bowl, season the diced tomatoes with a teaspoon of vinegar, salt and pepper.
Set it aside.
Drain the tuna and break into small pieces.
In another bowl, mix the ricotta with the tuna and the tarragon.
Using a spoon, place the tuna mixture in a glass, cover it with the tomatoes and finally with the chopped rocket.

Mastering the art of cocktails

There are people in life that you will always remember.
People you meet for the first time and who you may not have the chance to see again but who will stay in your mind forever. People who will turn an easy-going evening into a once in a lifetime experience. People who, within a few hours, will teach you more than you have ever dared learn, just by listening to their passion and knowledge.
While enjoying this priceless experience, you suddenly feel like a child being given a lesson in humility and modesty. And, secretly, you dream of feeling that same passion for life when the alarm clock rings in the morning.

But first, Rules. Trying to move with the times while reflecting is weighty history, Rules , the oldest restaurant in London, is still rife with a charming English atmosphere reminiscent of a fine Parisian bistro; waiters dressed in bow ties and armed with a ‘sans-faute’ service.

Rules collage

The grouse confirms its success day after day among customers who have come to enjoy its delicate taste for more than a hundred years. Since 1798, though, some creative touches have crept into the menu, including the tasty Dressed Dorset Crab. And, as the way to celebrate the national how-how of making pudding, the Sticky Toffee Pudding with Butterscotch Sauce will definitely reconcile you with traditional English cuisine.

And now, let’s step Upstairs at Rules. A year ago, when Rules reconverted their first floor into a bar, giving justice back to what it had been during the war, they couldn’t have made a better choice than hiring one of the most recognised bartenders that long and short drinks have ever encountered.
Rules Bottles

Mastering the art of cocktails may seem as easy as mixing the right measure of liquors in the right order and shake for the appropriate length of time… just like cooking is all about mixing ingredients in the right order and cooking to taste.  The perfect cocktail is about respect, about love and the passion you pour into every drink you make. And this is something that the Cocktail master Upstairs at Rules has understood to the very core.
Brian

Thirty years after having served his father his first cocktail, Brian Silva, bartender extraordinaire at Rules, has become a master of understanding his customers’ expectations, be it to create their preferred pre-dinner drink like they’ve never had it before or think up the relaxing potion which will put the finishing touch on an  exquisite dinner at the restaurant downstairs.

With a menu of only 10 specials but more than a thousand recipes in mind (and 200 written in his little black book), when Brian Silva looks at you and pops the question,‘What are you in the mood for?’ you know the experience is going to be worthwhile. Put the menu away, don’t give a second’s thought to what you thought you were going to drink; let yourself be lead by the master’s flair and know-how. A last check if the drink should be rather short, long, sweet or bitter and the whole creation process starts.
Cocktail collage

Among his alchemist’s laboratory of first-choice liqueurs, Brian is a flurry of activity, only slowing as he pours each measure by eye over the perfectly 2-by-2-by-3 icecubes.  For a moment, you’re sure he would be just as quick – although no less impressive – if he was blindfolded.

For me, the hit of the evening is to see the smile on my customer’s face when they take their first sip’.

So what does Master Silva think of the infamous classic, Rosebud’s OBI Long Island Iced Tea? “Equal measures of all the spirits and around 25ml or less of lemon juice. The spirits don’t have to be a 25ml measure they can and probably should be less, say around 15ml of each. The cocktail should be tasted first and then balanced with coca-cola to offset the lemon. Lots of ice please!

Thank you dear Brian for this unforgettable evening, we will always remember it.

Long Island – One person
In a mixer:
1.5 cl (three parts) Vodka
1.5 cl (three parts) Tequila
1.5 cl (three parts) White Rum
1.5 cl (three parts) Triple Sec
1.5 cl (three parts) Gin
2.5 cl (five parts) Lemon juice

Add 3.0 cl (six parts) Coca-Cola or to taste

Rules
35 Maiden Lane,
Covent Garden,
London
WC2E 7LB
0207 836 5314
www.rules.co.uk

Rules on Urbanspoon

The romance of restaurant

As a kid, going to a restaurant was always an event on its own; the moment where you belong to the world of grown-ups.
As a teenager, it’s the place where you bring your first date after having saved penny after penny to bring her to the best place you knew.
This is where you’ll bring your wife anytime of the year, to surprise her, share a romantic moment together or simply come back to a place of comfort.
This is where people passionate about food meet up to enjoy the latest trendy place which has just opened.
This is where all the members of a family gather to celebrate Grandma’s 80th birthday.
This is where the cooks and masterchefs achieve their dreams, where they express their creativity and reveal their talents.

LRF collage
From October 8th to 13th, The London Restaurant Festival is celebrating those unique and priceless moments by giving Londoners the opportunity to meet chefs, to live amazing experiences such as The Big Roast or The Gourmet Odyssey and to enjoy a specially-created fixed-price ‘Festival Menu’ in many of the 500 restaurants that signed up for the event.

To celebrate the craziness of fine cuisine, famous chefs will be cooking dinner for guests on the London Eye while Pierre Koffmann will be honouring the ‘pop-up’ restaurant created on the roof of Selfridges until the end of October.

Make sure not to miss Covent Garden, the Hub of the Festival where the passionate and the curious should seek out the silver truck at Covent Garden and the lovely people who will be happy to help.

tossers 2

A big thank you to Porters and Palm Court Brasserie for having welcomed Eatlikeagirl, Scandilicious, EssexEating and myself for the opening night.

Once upon a Belgian dream… Oktoberfest

Once upon a time, as fairytales often begin, two food & football fans wanted to enjoy a good Belgian meal to celebrate the victory of Belgium during one of the games for the European Football cup (We did say this was a fairytale!). Desperately looking for a decent place in London, our Anglo-Belgian and French-Canadian pioneers found themselves having to make do with a bowl of chips washed down with a Stella Artois.

In their quest to honour Belgian cuisine, our two valiant knights decided to launch Belgo, a restaurant dedicated to the perfect national match: beer and food. The place was such a great success that, 12 months later, a few square meters were added to the initial room. A second restaurant, Belgo Centraal, saw the light of day in Covent Garden in 1992.

Belgo collage

Like in every fairy tale, where miracles allow the wandering prince to find his perfect princess, Belgo’s magical recipe was held in three words: Moules, frites et bière; mosselen, frietjes en bier; mussels, chips and beer. Londoners come to enjoy the 73 beers selected from the finest breweries of Belgium and the freshness of the mussels which are consumed at a rate of seven tons a week.

Nevertheless, neither enchanted forest nor mysterious creatures welcome you to Belgo… and yet the waiters dressed as monks and make it their pleasure to elucidate all the mysteries of beers and Belgian specialties.

Biere

In a fairy tale, the legends that surround the main story are as important as the plot itself, creating the right atmosphere in which to enjoy the story.The same holds for Belgian beers: When enjoying a glass of Orval trappist beer, you may notice the fish printed on the glass.

Legend says that Countess Mathilde was walking next to a lake when her wedding ring fell into the water. Having lost her husband recently, her ring meant a lot to her and she prayed for the ring to be returned to her. A fish suddenly leapt from the water, holding the ring in its mouth. As a gratitude to God, Countess Mathilde decided to build a monastery on the lake’s shore

As with any successful quest, it is time to celebrate what made Belgo famous: the beer. For the occasion of Oktoberfest (Oct. 1st – 31st), and a friendly donation of £27.50, the restaurant will kick off the festifities with a 3-course menu of Belgian specialties, each matched to its own beer .

Starter Mussels

Among the starters, the Shelled mussels in a cream & De Koninck monay sauce with buttered leeks in a puff pastry case, paired with Brugs Wit is a fine introduction to Belgian cuisine with tasty mussels and a delicate sauce.  The pastry is light and the portion is ideal for a starter. The Brug Wit is soft and sweet, opening the palate for all the pleasures to come.
Starter Croquette

The crunchy yet creamy soft Belgian cheese croquettes made with Orval trappist beer served with Orval beer melt in the mouth. They are served with well-balanced sweet and sour piccalilli. The Orval beer is quite fruity, and is the ideal match for the tang  of the piccalilli.

Main Course Pastry
As a main course, my favourite goes to the puff pastry case filled with wild mushrooms in an Orval beer with Truffle cream sauce with asparagus spears and button onions matched with Steenbrugge Blond.
The well-rounded fruity hoppy beer cleanses your palate just so with every mouthful  to savour the delight of puff pastry perfection, smooth Truffle cream sauce, and crisp asparagus.
Main Course Carbonnade
The braised beef cooked in Faro beer, nutmeg and brown sugar paired with Mort Subite Gueuse is one of the classical Belgian dishes where the slow, 8-hour cooking process allows the meat to absorb all the flavours and release an even sweetness. The sweet and fruity Mort Subite Gueuse beer may have emphasized the sweetness of the dish a bit too much, though, and the portion was truly belgian.

Dessert
As an ode to Belgian chocolate, the Belgian dark chocolate cheesecake on a biscuit base with cherry beer coulis was the perfect choice for dessert. Each morsel is a pure pleasure to the palate, the spicy cherry beer coulis balancing nicely with the delicacy of the chocolate.
The paired Früli Strawberry beer was reminiscent of a fruit smoothie with a slightly more bitter taste; a good choice if you’re the kind of person who needs a sweet taste after a meal.

The Oktoberfest is the perfect example of the definition of Belgian cuisine: In the words of our master waiter, a combination of German portions with French culinary skills. German portions indeed. Make sure to have your stomach ready for a feast!

Belgo Centraal
50 Earlham Street
Covent Garden
London
WC2H 9LJ
Tel.0207 813 2233
www.belgo-restaurants.co.uk

God… and the Icecreamists Save The Cream

Voltaire

In a world where conformity has become the rule, where we all walk in eachothers’ steps, where high-street fashion stores dictate the way we should dress, where the level of information and points of view delivered by the media hardly change from one channel to another, the words provocation and anti-conformism have a new resonance.

What would be a better example of tradition than queuing for an ice cream at the beach in the middle of summer, where the sun is rising, the temperature is at its highest? This well-established pleasure that only summertime seems to have the right to is about to be revised in a most provocative way by the latest, decadent installation at Selfridges, offering visitors ‘the coolest and creamiest fix’.

Ice cream bar US

Matt O’Connor, the biggest fan of ice cream that the frozen world has ever known, has just launched a temporary creative ice cream boutique at Selfridges’ Ultralounge (Until November 1st). Once you step through the doors of the Icecreamists, decorated in a pink and black modern baroque design, the norms and rules cease to exist. In the wise words of Voltaire, “Ice cream is exquisite. It’s a shame it’s not illegal.” That said, enjoying an ice cream at the Icecreamists is truly guilty pleasures at its best.

Icecreamists

Copy of Sex Pistol - Product ShotThe Icecreamists have not only reinvented the concept of ice cream but the way of eating it as well. As an example, licking their decadent signature ice cream ‘God Save the Cream’, a ‘reverse flambé’ that even the Queen will be jealous of, served at a tepid -196°C provides you the feeling of indecency that each of us has always been secretly looking for.

Want to feel filthier? Have a try with the ‘Sex Pistol’, a ‘natural Viagra’ ice cream containing gingko bilobna, arginine and guarana served with a shot of Absinthe and the world of debauchery holds no secrets any longer. Available only to over 18’s and just one per person, no less. Debauchery may be good, but its even better in small portions!

Roberto Lobrano, the master of pleasure, has combined all the guilty pleasures in a range of flavours that our palates The Sundae Lunchcan’t resist for more than a second: Asian Spice Ginger, Italian Espresso, Twisted Toffee Apple, English Brown Bread and, as the reverential snub at the most traditional and conventional of British meals – the Sunday roast – the Icecreamists have come up with a provocative and frozen interpretation.

The only thing you will need is a spoon to eat the Fresh pea sorbet with a hint of mint, beef bouillon and horseradish sorbet with a Yorkshire Pudding crisp and an apple and blackberry crumble gelato. I haven’t had the chance to taste it yet but Sunday has definitely turned into the most indecent day of the week.

The Icrecreamists
Ultra Lounge
Lower Ground Floor
Selfridges
400 Oxford Street London
W1A 1AB
www.theicecreamists.com

A love affair

CookbookEvery foodie has a particular relationship to cookbooks. Some will consider them a survival guide that will show them the way to the ultimate recipe while others see them as their best friend to whom they turn for the best advice.

Properly tidied away on a shelf, religiously sorted by theme or name or in one of the kitchen’s corners next to the spices and the oils, cookbooks can live myriad lives depending who their owners is are. Some will age with use, splattered with the traces of the recipes and ingredients hidden within while others will retain their freshness and the smell of a new book for years to come, a precious treasure protected from the traces of time.

Opening a cookbook is like opening the door to Ali Baba’s cave of wonders, where all the treasures of times past are possible once again, where chefs present their life’s achievements, leaving their mark for generations to come.

Surviving through the years, the traditional 2,000-page cookbook that still stands in our mothers’ kitchens reveals the secrets of dishes of our childhood – or even their childhood – and how ingredients have changed since our grandmothers’ first stepped into the kitchen. What better way to honour the first reasons why we came to love food and cooking and maybe allow ourselves a glint of pride when we teach them a trick or two.

For the novices among us all – we all have to start somewhere! – cookbooks have the power to reassure those stricken with the all too common phobia of the pan and wooded spoon.  The perfect alternative to a psychiatrist’s couch, cookbooks can give you the confidence to embark upon the most daunting of expeditions into… the kitchen! Jamie Oliver perfected the trend taking the fear out of cooking with his cookbook Ministry of Food, giving easy versions of recipes that everybody loves, enticing people back to their kitchen.
Jamie Oliver

Beyond teaching you how to finally make your favourite recipes for yourself, cookbooks have also become a way to travel, following in the footsteps of great pioneers such as Julia Child with her groundbreaking Mastering the Art of French Cooking. With books dedicated to cuisines from around the world, it is now easier to bring the flavours of Italy, Senegal or Japan into any kitchen, no matter where you are. Your attempt may be far from the true taste of those traditional dishes prepared in the heart each country’s local restaurant or kitchen but, with a bit of practice, it no doubt open your mind to food cultures and your mouth to tastes of places we may only dream of ever visiting.

Taking a page from post-war cookbooks of the 60’s and 70’s, when women’s rights were still limited to house and hearth, cookbooks often now revisit the cooking techniques of the fabled Michelin star masterchefs and homecooking magicians, teaching us the fineries of boning a whole leg of lamb or the complexities of a perfect Soufflé Au Fromage or Sabayon as described in Joanna Farrow’s Chef School.
Chef School

And, just in time for that ever-looming important dinner with your boss or, Apicius forbid!, a proper cordon bleu, more and more chefs are now inclined to divulge their favourite recipes, even going so far as to describe their signature 3-course meal as in the last pages of The Silver Spoon, self-named bible of authentic Italian cuisine.
Silver Spoom

Publishing houses have also learned to woo and allure younger generations with creativity and imagination, turning cookbooks into attractive designer objects, where pictures have become as important as the recipe itself. Be it a particular atmosphere that a foodie will look for while opening a cookbook, or the perfect shot of a that recipe your now craving for on page 34, the quality of the pictures will often be the tipping point to determine which cookbook is worth its salt.

The Eagle CookbookAs an example of a modern cookbook where pictures and produce share pages in perfect harmony, The Eagle Cookbook exudes sobriety and class, both in design and photography… an invitation to savour the recipes of England’s original gastropub in the serenity and relaxation of your own home.

C-W:DD

Many thanks to Oliver Thring, Cathy Shore, With Knife and Fork, The Graphic Foodie, Weezos, Catherine Phipps, Chef and meemalee’s kitchen for having shared their thoughts about cookbooks.