One is the Loneliest Number (Part Two)

True story: I walked past Jay Rayner the other day whilst house hunting around Herne Hill.

It was the weekend of the Lambeth County Fair in Brockwell Park. I’m sure it was much to his displeasure that we did not engage in conversation as he headed east and I west to Britxon, ships passing in silence on this scorching hot day. It looked like he had put on a little weight since I had last seen him on the telebox but was still striding onwards with relish, curly black locks soaring majestically behind him.

Definitely would have made a good Death Eater

I don’t cite that he had put on a little weight as a criticism. I’m dead impressed that someone in his profession doesn’t need to be carted around like Pearl the Vampire from the original Blade movie. I would certainly need to be.  Although I suppose Peter Griffin look-a-like Charle Campion is on a slippery slope.

Sorry for the low-blow Chazzer

Anyway the point to this being that seeing Jay Rayner reminded me that since my first entry into this article series, I read a great piece by him in the Guardian about the pleasures of cooking for yourself entitled Cooking for one: it’s food with someone you really loveI’d recommend reading the whole thing but wanted to highlight this part:

‘Don’t get me wrong: I like cooking for other people (and if any of my family are reading this, really darlings, nothing gives me more joy than keeping you fed). But cooking only for yourself, well now, that’s the real deal. I am always baffled when anyone announces they don’t bother bashing the pans about if they are the only person who needs to eat. My conclusion is they’re not greedy enough. Cook for others and, however appreciative, there will always be something they don’t like…Cooking for yourself is…a culinary event without compromise.’

And with that endorsement under our belt, we push on!

One-pot Chicken Pilaf

Speed: 25 minutes
Cost: £7 approx
Taste/variety of ingredients: Pretty uninspiring stuff, but was good to have chicken thighs instead of breast whilst the other half was out for dinner (yes, chicken thighs are a new addition to the malleable blacklist).
Leftovers: Another portion, tucked neatly between 2 eggs and an Innocent smoothie the fridge.

Link to recipe in title above. Fairly average tasting although weirdly got better as it cooled down. I wonder if leaving the lid on at the end for a bit once the spinach has been added to let the flavours stew in together would have brought it together more.

Could also definitely have done with some lemon juice, coriander and a dollop of creme fraiche stirred in at the end. Did liven up with a good dose of cayenne pepper which helped. Still good amount of veg and protein for a very quick, inexpensive and easy dish.

Sri Lankan & Spanish Omelette

Speed: 12 minutes
Cost: £9 approx
Taste/variety of ingredients: Yes, it’s an omelette, but its the best omelette I have ever made and possibly consumed. Details below.
Leftovers: None

All the ingredients below featured but it was the mix of good quality chorizo (Bath Pig) and green chili that really made it sing. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the contents of a Spanish omelette (potato, onions) but we got quite hooked on Sri Lankan omelettes during our hols last year. Its basically just a thin omelette with tons of chili. Beaut.

Advertisements

Battersea – The Butcher & Grill (review)

Rating: 6/10

Average meal per head: £30 (Mondays) / £45 (rest of week)
Where: 39-41 Parkgate Road, Battersea. SW11 4NP.
Websitehttp://www.thebutcherandgrill.com/battersea

One-line review: Good quality half-price steaks on Monday nights make this otherwise uninspiring place worth a visit.
Top Dish: T-Bone steak with Béarnaise Sauce (N.B. this cut no longer part of half price Mondays)
Gripes: Service poor, unfriendly and not very knowledgeable. The deli out front promises more but feels a bit soulless.

Review

I have retyped this sentence a few times now and am struggling to soften the initial impact into something that doesn’t make you want to gag into your keyboard so here it is: I think its in my nature to inherently look to find the good in people and things, more so than the average person. There. Its out there.

However, I don’t think this is necessarily a laudable trait. For all the optimism it generates, it is in fact one that I’m often abhorred for as I tend to gloss over the bad qualities of something (or someone). This is especially true if I’ve spent money on it (the something in that case). Often the more money, the worse the ‘halo effect’, if you will allow me to incorrectly use some business jargon that I picked up the other day. It is because of this that I figured I would never be a good reviewer of food, or indeed anything.

If you will allow me to self-indulge, I imagine that if I became a food reviewer in my current state that pandemic obesity would clutch the world in a lardy grip. Much like the episode of the Simpsons where Homer does just that, only to miss the poisoned eclair by the skin of his teeth.

Point to this being that the following is a review for a medioca restaurant and it pains to put that down after my initial foray into reviewing SushiSamba. However, any phantom guilt I felt over the positivity of that review has since been exorcised by comparison.

Rib-Eye

Rib-Eye

I wouldn’t bother going here on any other day except for Monday when you can take advantage of the half-price steak menu. Getting a well cooked and OK-ish sized 280g Rib-Eye for £10.50 in London is no mean feat. You can also choose from Rump, Sirloin and Fillet cuts on the half-price too. I was most disappointed to find that since my first visit, they have taken the T-Bone steak off the Monday menu meaning you need to lay down £32 for the pleasure which is too much here.

The meat was cooked perfectly (medium-rare as per above). Texture, taste and juiciness also ranked highly. The accompanying sauces all seemed to go down well. I loved my Bearnaise and my fellow diners lapped up their peppercorn and fillet combos with gusto too.

The sides were hit and miss. The chips were very good, crispy and chunky. However the rest was forgettable and a little greasy.

The staff were also fairly unfriendly and this was accentuated by my time at the bar when I overheard two waiters complaining fairly loudly about another customer. Plus the dessert was naff. Really naff. Although in fairness it looks pretty good down there; it was not.

Dryer than a cracker challenge

Dryer than a cracker challenge

In its defense it was a Monday night, but the deli at the front of the restaurant added to the cavernous feel of the place. I would put my neck out though and say it probably does decent breakfasts. Would say I’d give it bash but our breakfast radius tends to be staggering distance from the front door. If anyone else has though, would be keen to know.

Planning to get back on with the baking soon. Its just so hot right now.

‘South African’ Eggs Benedict with Parmesan Hollandaise / English Muffins

The Daddy

The Daddy

As a breakfast, I didn’t think regular Eggs Benedict could be topped until I tried this (yes, even by a Full English). As far as I’m aware, there is no such thing as South African Eggs Benedict. I have just only ever eaten this or seen it on a menu at The Peech Hotel in Jo’berg. Hence the imaginative leap to the name of the dish.

In total I think I’ve stayed at the Peech for seven nights over the space of a year. Six times I’ve had this breakfast and once I regretted my foray into omelette territory. Not that it was bad, but a far cry from the above.

I knew I must recreate this dish at home. The difference being between a regular Eggs Benedict that instead of spinach, avocado is used. And of course the parmesan that goes into the hollandaise. I had thought bacon instead of ham was also an innovation but apparently this is a more common exchange.

For this, I also made a batch of English Muffins (veering for a change away from the safe doughy hands of Paul Hollywood and using this recipe instead). You can obviously use store bought ones (in which case skip the below), but I’d urge you to give it a go. They were dead simple to make.

English Muffins

Having never made them before, I was expecting oven baking to be involved but was more than pleasantly surprised to find I’d be shallow frying them in a ton of melted butter.

Golden brown, texture like buns

Golden brown, texture like buns

 

I cannot implore you enough at this stage to cut one of these open while they’re hot, slather it in butter and make it your bitch. Muffins done.

The Eggs

First things first is the hollandaise. There are tons of ways to make this from quick cheats to slow cooking. I figured as I’d bothered to already make the muffins, I should probably give this a full going over too so I went for the latter option, reducing down some white wine vinegar and water with a bay leaf and pepper corns. Boiled it down to about a tablespoons worth.

I’ve made hollandaise a few times now and it can be a cruel mistress if you’re in a hurry. The eggs will curdle at a moments notice if they get too hot. Use a bowl like the above, moving it on and off the top of a boiling pot, using the steam as heat. If in doubt, slow it down until all the butter has been slowly added and set aside. While you cook the bacon and eggs, occasionally bring it back over the heat to stop it solidifying.

Apologies for the photo above. For the assembly, toast the muffin and thinly slice just over two thirds of an avacado over the top.

As the bacon crisps up, poach the eggs in boiling water (with a dash of white wine vinegar) for exactly 3 minutes. Make sure you use a whisk to create a swirling vortex before sliding the eggs into the water.

Add the cooked bacon as per the above. You might want to depress the middle and do your best to create a dent for the eggs to sit in, or they will slide off.

Add the eggs on top and at this point grate some parmesan into the hollandaise. If you don’t want to use all the hollandaise at this stage, section some off and add the cheese to this otherwise the main mix will curdle. Then, whisk it up for about a minute to get it nice and thick (something I neglected to do).

Revel in its buttery decadence!