Sunday, 29 November 2015


As I walked into La Brasserie on Friday night, I felt like I was being transported to Paris. The French staff, the red banquettes, the busy atmosphere and the slight hint of garlic make the restaurant typically French. La Brasserie opened in South Ken in 1972 and claims to be the first brasserie to be open all day in London. It is in prime location for the museums such as the V&A, shopping on the Brompton road or Walton Street and is in perfect position to people watch….especially if it is sunny and you have a table outside….not at this time of year though!

We navigated our way through the busy bar and restaurant to our table and immediately ordered some drinks, olives, bread and butter whilst we perused the menu. The bread was warm, the butter was salty and the olives delicious.

The menu is characteristically French - for starter I was torn between the scallops with pea puree and crispy pancetta and the mussels cooked in cider and cream but we ended up ordering the salmon rillettes with pickled cucumber for me, half a dozen snails in garlic butter to share and Pascal had the coarse duck pate with onion marmalade.

All were delicious and I can easily say the garlic butter which accompanied the snails was one of the best I have ever had - we went through two bread baskets mopping it up! I adored the salmon rillettes and they went perfectly with the pickled cucumber and Pascal was a huge fan of his tasty duck pate.

There was plenty to choose from for mains such as different types of steaks, sole meuniere and beef bourguignon however we both ordered the confit de canard with gratin dauphinois and spinach. This was amazing, the duck was perfectly cooked as the meat just fell off the bone and I loved the crispy skin. The gratin dauphinois was more cheesy than creamy with very thin slivers of potato, the whole thing was extremely moreish.

Obviously there was room for pudding…

I went for the creme brûlée with rosemary and orange - I was a bit put off as I prefer a vanilla creme brûlée but in the end I was not disappointed, the pudding just had a hint of rosemary and orange and it was luscious. If only it had been double in size…..

Pascal had a selection of cheeses - a Roquefort, Corbier and a Camembert - a great assortment.

The bill came to £130 and that also included two glasses on wine and an aperitif. Service was efficient, quick and friendly. We left the restaurant stuffed and satisfied…..we will definitely be back, maybe for afternoon tea next time or for supper so I can order exactly the same all over again!

La Brasserie is open from 8am-11.30pm everyday. 

272 Brompton Road,
Tel: 020 7768 1686

Square Meal
La Brasserie Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, 26 November 2015


Arabella has been nagging me for ages to bake a banana bread - it is not something I would normally ever eat but I figured I should give it a go as it's basically fruit, right? This is a recipe from Fay Ripley's second cook book and it took about 20 minutes to prepare and an hour to cook.

Ingredients for 8 slices:

130g butter, softened
150g light brown soft sugar
3 ripe bananas (about 300g), peeled and mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large free-range eggs
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g dark or milk chocolate, broken into chunks (I used milk)
3 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 180 C / 160 C fan / gas mark 4. Butter or line the loaf tin with baking parchment.

Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until fluffy. I used my whisk for this as my butter wasn't really soft enough.

Add the mashed bananas, vanilla and eggs and whisk together. I obviously wasn't reading the recipe properly as I didn't mash the bananas before I put them in the bowl which made things more difficult….but not impossible!

Sift in the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and mix in well.

Fold in the chocolate chunks and milk until combined.

Pour the lot into the lined tine and bake for 50-60 minutes, until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the bread comes out clean.

Cool slightly in the tin and then serve warm if possible (although it tastes absolutely delicious cold as well).

As I said I have never been a fan of banana bread however I am now fully converted - this was amazing, so moist and tasty and I adored the soft chunks of chocolate. Arabella decided it was too "banana-ey" and so I polished the whole lot off with glee. A real success and perfect for breakfast, afternoon tea and all the time in between!

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


I love to cook a proper lunch on a Sunday although unlike most English, I don't like to do a traditional roast and instead like to mix it up a bit! Here is a Spanish pork recipe I found in a Waitrose magazine and it is from the London based chef Jose Pizarro who has a tapas bar and two restaurants around the city. It took around 2 hours to make.

Ingredients for 6 people:

1kg diced pork shoulder (I couldn't buy diced pork so ended up buying pork loins which I diced myself). 
4 tbsp olive oil
150ml red wine
2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g chorizo, skinned and chopped
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree
400g can of chopped tomatoes
300ml fresh chicken stock
3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
2 tbsp chopped oregano
4 bay leaves
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp caster sugar
100g pitted black olives

Season the pork. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish and sear the pork in batches, until browned, then set aside in a bowl.

Add the wine to the pan and as it bubbles up, scrape down the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the caramelised juices. Pour over the pork and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan with the onions, cover and fry gently for 15 minutes, stirring now and then until they are very soft.

Add the garlic and chorizo and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the paprika and cook for one minute.

Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, stock, herbs, pork and juices. Season and simmer for 1 hour with a cover on for half the time. I made the mistake of not checking or stirring mine and managed to burn it a little so I advise you to keep an eye on it! Although I expect mine burnt because I just cooked half the recipe.

Boil the vinegar and sugar in a small pan until it reduces to about 1 teaspoon.

Stir into the casserole with the olives and simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes until the pork is tender.

Season and serve with some fried potatoes (if you like).

This was way better than I was expecting and we all really enjoyed it - the chorizo in it made it much more appealing to Arabella than she thought and I adored all the flavours. It was very warming and so tasty…..I have now added Jose Pizarro's restaurants to my list of places I want to eat! This worked really well as a family lunch with fried potatoes and I think it would be dinner party worthy as well.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Sausage and mash has always been a favourite of mine however I am not the hugest fan of mash unless it is mixed with cheese or mustard or truffles. However it is a classic dish that I will always order if I go to a pub for lunch. I was overjoyed when I found this recipe in my Olive magazine - I love a potato rosti - we used to have them at home as children from a German frozen food delivery company and I would want them with every meal. This recipe took around an hour.

Ingredients for 4 people:

Sunflower oil
8 sausages
4 large King Edward potatoes
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
2 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tsp English mustard powder
1 egg, beaten

2 onions, thinly sliced
25g butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat the oven to 180 C / fan 160 C / gas 4.

Brush 1 tbsp of oil over a shallow roasting tin, about A4 size, or a round ovenproof pan, about 20-22cm across. I was only doing the recipe for two of us and the dish I used was far too big - it didn't really matter to be honest - and just meant that my potato rosti was very thin!

Brown the sausages in 1 teaspoon of oil for 5 minutes or until golden.

Grate the potatoes, no need to peel them. I have never grated potatoes before and it was easier than I thought. Put them in a clean tea towel and squeeze out as much water as you can - the amount of water that came out really surprised me!

Add the potato to a bowl and mix in the thyme, 1 tablespoon of grainy mustard, 2 teaspoon of English mustard powder, the beaten egg, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper.

Tip into the roasting tin, brush a little oil over the potatoes and then add the sausages on top. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the sausages and potato are crisp, golden and cooked through.

After about 15 minutes it is time to make the gravy. Put the onions and butter in a frying pan and cook gently until really soft and starting to caramelise - about 25 minutes.

Stir in the sugar and brown over a higher heat for a couple of minutes. 

Then stir in the flour, mixing it until it has completely blended in.

Gradually stir in the stock, followed by the remaining tablespoon of grainy mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and then reduce until it has a good consistency and season to taste.

Finally serve the potato rosti and sausages with plenty of delicious onion gravy.

Yum - this was really good - I loved the crispy potatoes and they tasted incredible with the sausages and lashings of onion gravy. Next time I would probably add some peas too. Arabella wasn't mad on the onion gravy but she adored the sausages and rosti so it was both adult and kid friendly - another success. It took a while to cook but it was definitely worth  the effort!