Every time I go to a decent restaurant and
see rice pudding on the menu I have to have it. In my opinion to impress someone with a
mille feuille is easy, you don’t have them often and they always taste great
but to impress someone with as simple a dish as rice pudding is a challenge.
This happened last weekend at Bistrotheque
in Bethnal Green (@BISTROTHEQUE). We had a 3 course meal, every dish as perfect as the last. We
started with cocktails – I had a cucumber flip which was sublime. The glass had
been rinsed in Ricard before pooring in the flip and so with every refreshing
cucumber-y sip came a faint aniseed taste – INCREDIBLE. (Recipe to follow when
I buy Ricard)
Then came the starter, lardons, frisee,
poached egg. To be honest at first it looked pretty but basic, after I started
eating it I realised that the egg was done to perfection and the lardons were
some of the nicest smoked bits of meat I’ve ever had. Confit duck leg and green
beans followed, literally a leg of confit duck on a pile of green beans. It
looked as if I was going to be left hungry but I wasn’t at all. The portion
size was perfect. I haven’t had as nice confit duck in the Dordogne!
And then came the pudding, the rice
pudding, damson jam, toasted almonds. Simple but perfect! A few glasses of wine
later and it’s definitely one of the top 3 meals I’ve eaten in London! Bold statement
I hear you say, maybe, but it’s definitely worth the visit.
There are certain things that you don’t
realise how brilliant they are until you’re older, for me rice pudding is one
of them. I don’t think I ever appreciated as a little boy the subtle flavours
you can add and versatility of the dish. Also, it’s very easy to make, is
filling and you can make it very cheaply. This is my version of the one I ate
at the restaurant, please don’t be put off by the long cooking time as you
literally don’t have to do anything, the prep time is about 3 minutes!
3-4, Cooking time including prep: 1-2 hours)
75g pudding rice
1 ½ pint whole milk
3 tbsp sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
-Turn your oven to 160 degrees
-First you need to rub butter
onto the buttom and sides of your casserole/baking dish
-Put rice, sugar and milk in the
-Place in the oven
-After about 45 minutes take out
the oven, stir well and grate a good amount of nutmeg over the surface
-It’s done when there’s a thin
layer of skin on the surface (my Sisters favourite bit) and there’s still a bit
of a wobble in the centre
-Serve with toasted almonds and
whatever jam you have in the cupboard, I went for dark cherry jam.
Ever since I worked at Gaucho Restaurant in
Manchester I’ve had a bit of a thing for cocktails. When you have to make and
taste them everyday you kind of end up falling in love with them. So now living
in London I often find myself endulging in a cocktail or two!
I was at Shoreditch House with my house mate
when I first came upon a lemon flip. Having never heard of the ‘flip’ family of
drinks we endulged…unbelieveable! A flip cocktail refers to the use of a whole
egg which makes the cocktail rich, creamy and frothy. In the olden days a flip
was a crude mixture of rum, sugar, beer and spices that was then heated with a
red hot poker which caused it to froth, or flip which gave it it’s name.
Nowadays you don’t see many red hot pokers
behind bars and after trying to create a similar drink by mixing all the
ingredients and then quickly poor into a very hot pan you wouldn’t want such a
drink anyway. I’m not sure whether I simply got the amounts wrong but the warm,
yeasty and rather alcoholic drink I made was vile.
I wasn’t sure what I should use as the base
ingredient so I went to consult one of my favourite cocktail places Public
House in Angel (@Public_HouseN1). After much discussion we thought it might be
interesting to sack off using a spirit at all and instead to use a sweet white
wine such as a Sauternes which is what I ended up doing and here is what I came
up with. You could use another wine but I found this worked perfectly.
This is a lovely cocktail – rich, smooth
and refreshing without being too light. Ideal for a cold evening by a fire!
3 measures Sauternes
½ lemon juiced
Zest of 1 lemon
2 barspoons sugar syrup
1 whole egg
-Add all the ingredients into a
-Dry shake (no ice) for a good
-Fill the shaker up with ice and
-Strain into a small tumbler and
garnish with lemon peel
* It’s important to dry shake so that the
egg white fully incorporates with the rest of the ingredients and it gives the
cocktail it’s frothy texture.
I only started making pickled herrings when
I came to London, in fact I don’t think I’d eaten them before then. I first had
them in a pop up restaurant on the top of a dis-used carpark and immediately
after finishing them went straight up to the chef and had a long conversation
about pickling. There’s something great about food taking about a week to make,
something oldy-worldy – a similar feeling to opening jams from years before or
eating Christmas pudding in June. This is a really easy recipe and works every time, if you can't get herring then it works really well with any oily fish such as mackerel or sardines which are available throughout the year. There’s nothing to be scared about with pickling – it’s simple and
easy but seems to be becoming a lost art. I say re-use those old jars and stock
up your cupboard!
8 herrings, filleted
200g course sea salt
350ml white wine vinegar
8 whole peppercorns
3 bay leaves
6 large spring onions
10 thin slices of lemon peal
-Mix the salt and 300g sugar
together. In a plastic box layer the herring fillets sprinkling the sugar/salt
mixture between each layer
-Leave in the fridge for 24
hours, this will lead to a firmer and tastier fish.
-After 24 hours rinse the
fillets and discard the sugar and salt
-In a pan heat up the rest of
the sugar along with the white wine vinegar and water until the sugar is disolved.
Set this aside to cool
-In your pickling jar layer the
herring fillets along with the spices, onions and peel and then cover with the
cooled sugar solution
-Leave for at least a week
before eating but they will last for a few weeks after