Friday, 17 March 2017

PELLICANO, CHELSEA

After our disappointing supper at Smith and Wollensky, we decided to go out for lunch the following Sunday to make up for it. We rarely go to Italian restaurants other than our favourite local Gola, but we needed to buy some baby clothes at Peter Jones so we decided to try out the nearby Pellicano

Pellicano is a family run Italian restaurant with a Sardinian twist that has been open for 17 years. The restaurant's aim is to serve freshly made, wholesome food in a warm friendly environment and it certainly did that.

I am still a little apprehensive about going to restaurants with my baby - she is 7 months - but we were immediately made to feel welcome. We checked out the menu whilst tucking into delicious freshly cooked bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Olympia liked the bread too!



The menu is pretty varied - starting with antipasti such as calamari with chilli, garlic, cannellini beans and Sardinian sausages or grilled goat's cheese with baby spinach and beetroot carpaccio. However we decided to share a pizza as they did my favourite type - a margarita with Gorgonzola and speck.


The pizza was fantastic - cheesy but not overpowering with a crispy base and plenty of speck - we loved it and were fighting over the last piece. I was regretting not having a whole one for myself!

For mains you could choose between pizza, pasta (you could have this as a starter as well), fish or meat. I was torn between the ossobucco with risotto Milanese or homemade tortellini pasta filled with seasoned meat served with ham and mascarpone sauce. Whereas Pascal couldn't decide between the homemade tagliatelle sautéed with Sardinian sausage or veal Milanese with rocket, Parmesan and tomatoes. In the end I went for the pasta and he had the veal and neither of us were disappointed.




The pasta was out of this world - I was worried I wouldn't have enough Parmesan as the waiter served it to you rather than leaving it on the table (I think I have a cheese addiction), but actually I didn't need too much as the pasta was so tasty and flavoursome. 

Veal Milanese is one of Pascal's favourites and he really enjoyed his too - the meat was really tender with a crispy coating and the rocket and Parmesan salad complimented it perfectly.

We didn't have room for pudding and by now we were on borrowed time with Olympia so we paid the bill and wondered home feeling very satisfied after a wonderful lunch. I already can't wait to go back and me being a creature of habit would have the exact same meal again! I can see why Pellicano remains so popular after so many years.

Pellicano

19-21 Elystan Street,
London
SW3 3NT
Tel: 020 7584 1789

Square Meal
Pellicano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

SMITH & WOLLENSKY, WEST END

I first went to a Smith and Wollensky restaurant in Miami over ten years ago and from the get go I was bowled over by the fantastic food and great service. In following years, I went to a few more outposts around the States and always had an outstanding meal. Therefore I was delighted when Smith & Wollensky opened in London in June 2015 - I wasn't so delighted when I saw the prices however as they are pretty steep. Despite this, my husband and I decided to treat ourselves last week to a belated Valentine's Day supper. 

The restaurant is big and airy and has that real American steakhouse feel to it....I liked it. We were immediately shown to our table and we ordered drinks whilst we perused the menu - not that I needed to as I already knew what I was going to eat. I had advised Pascal not to have a starter so we could go to town on the mains and sides. 

Pascal ordered a 395g USDA Prime dry-aged sirloin with bearnaise sauce and being French he ordered it blue. I ordered a 400g British Rib-Eye medium rare, Gorgonzola crusted with bacon and scallions. For sides we ordered a truffled Mac and cheese, creamed spinach and an iceberg wedge with blue cheese, smoked bacon lardons and tomato. I had read on the square meal website that the sides could easily feed a family of four and I was looking forward to literally rolling out the door.....

Despite very attentive service, the food took 40 minutes to arrive - and I am sad to say we couldn't have been more disappointed. Firstly both our steaks were overcooked especially Pascal's - not very impressive for a restaurant where the main focus is steak. 



I had ordered the exact same steak last year in Las Vegas and it had been amazing but this was completely different. The pictures below show my steak in London followed by the exact same meal in Vegas! My steak at the London restaurant couldn't even be called "Gorgonzola crusted", it basically just had some sauce slopped on. Not what I was expecting.



Then the truffled mac and cheese and creamed spinach were tiny (I think they could only feed a family of four mice), plus they weren't hot and were both pretty bland. We did however enjoy the iceberg wedge - thank goodness.




We were so gutted as we had been looking forward to the meal for ages and I have to admit it was one of the most disappointing meals I have had in years and I think this is the first negative review I have ever written on my blog. We were honest with the waitress and she very kindly deducted 50% off our bill (it still came to £100 and that only included 1 glass of wine). Despite being 9pm on a Friday night, the restaurant was half empty and I can understand why. When you are charging such high prices, you expect high quality food, give me Hawksmoor over this any day!

As I mentioned the service was exceptional however that is not enough for me to recommend or return.....I will wait till I am stateside again or easier still, just make my own blue cheese steaks!

Smith & Wollensky

The Adelphi Building
Covent Garden Riverside
1-11 John Adam Street
London 
WC2N 6HT
Tel: 020 7321 6007

Square Meal

Smith & Wollensky Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Sunday, 12 March 2017

EGG AND BACON FRIED RICE

We never have Chinese food - in fact the last Chinese I had was probably a couple of years ago. I love it but I always get carried away and eat too much and then feel sick. Plus my daughter only likes crispy prawns and nothing else. However every so often I dream of a good Chinese and so this weekend I decided to cook egg and bacon fried rice in hope that it would satisfy my craving. This is from Olive magazine and took 15 minutes.

Ingredients for 2 people:

150g pancetta or lardons
1 tbsp oil
A small chunk of ginger, peeled and sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped (I left this out)
250g pouch of steamed basmati rice
75g peas (not frozen)
2 eggs, beaten 
1 tsp of sesame oil (I forgot this in the picture)
A handful of chopped chives

To serve:
Soy sauce



Prepare the ingredients by chopping the ginger, crushing the garlic and beating the eggs. Mix a teaspoon of sesame oil with the eggs and set to one side.





Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a wok or large frying pan and fry the bacon until crispy. Scoop the bacon out of the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside, leaving as much fat as possible behind. Next add the ginger, garlic and chilli (we left this out) to the pan and fry in the fat for a minute until adding the rice, peas and bacon. Keep cooking and tossing until the rice is piping hot (this only took a few minutes).







Pour over the eggs, stir and toss with the rice until just set and then scatter with the chives.



Finally serve with a dash of soy sauce and tuck in.



This was super good and really flavoursome and I reckon even better than a Chinese restaurant. Both my daughter Arabella and I loved it and it was very quick and easy to make. I spoke to my brother and he seemed to believe I needed to add something like sweet and sour pork or beef in black bean sauce, which I am sure would be great, but we liked it just the way it was. Healthier this way too!

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Thursday, 9 March 2017

ONE POT PASTA WITH GOAT'S CHEESE & SPINACH

A couple of weeks ago I cooked One Pan Puttanesca where you cook the entire pasta dish in one pan - apparently it is all the rage on Pinterest at the moment. I then came across another one pan pasta recipe, and due to my complete lack of time at the moment, I thought I would give it a go. Less washing up time is a huge bonus! It took about 20 minutes in total and was very simple. 

Ingredients for 4 people:

400g of pasta such as penne or elicoidali
8 spring onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
300g soft goat's cheese
100g Parmesan, finely grated (plus extra to serve)
1000ml vegetable stock
200g spinach, chopped



Starting with the pasta, put all the ingredients except the spinach and stock in a large pan. Pour over the vegetable stock and season well.



Bring to a simmer and cook for 12-15 minutes, stirring now and again, until the pasta is just cooked (taste regularly so you don't overcook the pasta). Stir in the spinach until it wilts and then serve with an extra sprinkling of Parmesan.






This was super easy - which is just what I need right now with a baby and although I will admit it wasn't my favourite dish, it still tasted good and both my husband and daughter loved it and had seconds. Plus as far as pasta dishes go, it is quite healthy with the hefty portion of spinach. We did have left over stock which you could keep as a cheesy soup!

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Tuesday, 7 March 2017

FAY'S BAKED CARBONARA

As I have mentioned several times, my daughter Arabella's favourite meal is carbonara and so when I asked what she wanted for supper last week, I was not surprised that the answer was......carbonara. I decided to cook this recipe from Fay Ripley's original cookbook - it is my favourite book and as it is baby friendly I expect I will be using it a lot more regularly in the future. This recipe took around 40 minutes to make.

Ingredients for 4 people:

1 small onion, finely chopped
200g pancetta, bite size
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250g dried spaghetti
2 large eggs yolks
150g asparagus spears
150ml carton single cream
4 tablespoons vegetable stock
4 tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped ((I left this out as I didn't have some)
1 tablespoon olive oil
(I also used extra grated cheese but that is because we LOVE cheese)!




Preheat the oven to 180C (fan), 200C, gas mark 6. 

Fry the onion and pancetta until cooked, and then add the garlic briefly.



Meanwhile cook the spaghetti, drain and immediately mix the egg yolks with the hot pasta. At the same time, make up the stock and either steam, blanch or microwave the asparagus (I microwaved but you could steam them over the pasta). Set to one side.



Gently mix together the eggy pasta, the onion and pancetta mixture, asparagus, cream, stock and half the Parmesan. Pile into an ovenproof dish. Mix together the remaining Parmesan, breadcrumbs, parsley and olive oil and scatter over the top. I also added some grated cheese. Bake for 15 minutes.




Divide into 4 helpings and enjoy.


Arabella was initially a bit peeved that I wasn't cooking Pascal's Pasta Carbonara but once she had eaten a couple of mouthfuls, she was waxing lyrical about how delicious this carbonara was and so were Pascal and I. It worked so well and I adored the addition of the asparagus - it made the carbonara much fresher and lighter. I will definitely be cooking this again - a real treat.

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Sunday, 26 February 2017

CHEESE & BACON GRATIN

We wanted to cook a roast on Sunday but had limited time as we also wanted to go to church and we didn't have a morsel of food in the fridge....not ideal when the recipe I picked out took over 4 hours. So instead I had to improvise and we decided to buy a roast chicken and cook this potato gratin from a Waitrose recipe card. It took about an hour and 15 minutes in total and was pretty easy. 

Ingredients for 4 people:

10 rashes of smoked bacon, cut into 1cm wide strips
900g mix of potatoes and sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
115g pack of baby spinach
350g gated cheddar cheese
1 bunch of salad onions, thinly sliced
200ml reduced fat creme fraiche
100ml vegetable stock
1 tsp English mustard (I used 1tbsp dijon mustard)
4 tbsp breadcrumbs
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds



You can fry the bacon but I prefer to grill as it is slightly healthier so start by doing this and then preheat the oven to 200 C, gas mark 6. Once the bacon is cooked, cut into 1cm wide strips and set to one side. Meanwhile cut the potatoes into thin slices.




Layer a third of the potatoes and spinach in a medium sized ovenproof dish. Scatter a third of the cheese, cooked bacon and onions on top. Continue to layer up the ingredients, setting aside a handful of cheese for the top.







Whisk together the creme fraiche, stock and mustard and pour over the layered gratin.




Scatter the remaining cheese, add a good grinding of black pepper and then pop into the oven for 40 minutes. Keep your eye on it towards the end in case the topping goes too brown. After 40 minutes, add the breadcrumbs and pumpkin seeds, (and if it is too brown, cover with some foil), then put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.





Finally serve either as a main with a side salad or as a side with some roast meat such as chicken or lamb - we went for roast chicken.




I have mentioned before that I am not a huge potato fan however I really enjoyed this. The combination of the potatoes, cheese and bacon works amazingly and we all loved the crispy topping. Both my daughter and husband were also huge fans. Although Arabella (and I) thought we could add a little more cheese....maybe some mozzarella would work well! 

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