Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Very Martha Thanksgiving

Friends, fellow countrymen, Thanksgiving virgins, it's pop up time.

Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, Elliot Erwitt/Magnum Photos 1988

3,500 miles away from your Mom? Don't worry, mine's coming over. And we've got the next best thing: we're bringing Martha to you!

Join us on the 28th for a menu straight out of Martha Stewart Living. Ever look at those pictures and think no one eats like that? Now you can. Our menu is carefully selected from Martha's ever-perfected repertoire, featuring classic American Thanksgiving fare sourced from the finest seasonal ingredients and served in a warm and cozy neighbourhood setting.

So for all you abandoned Americans out there, get your elastic waistbands out. We promise an evening of handmade, wholesome, seasonal goodness just like the doyen of domesticity herself would expect. Except that you'll be in Clapton.

It's a good thing.


Snacks to start

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds
Pickle-Dressed Beets and Squash
Bread & Homemade Cultured Butter

Main Event

Roast Temple Farm Free Range Turkey
Buttermilk Mashed Potato
Chestnut and Apple Stuffing
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sherry Thyme Vinaigrette
Bourbon Sweet Potatoes
Swiss Chard in Bechamel
Turkey Gravy
Orange and Walnut Cranberry Relish


Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

(Menu subject to change based on season/availability.)

**BYO - There is a great selection of beer and wine available for purchase at the Palm2 deli downstairs.

Vegetarian options available on request. Please let us know if you have any food allergies.

Date: Thursday, 28 November 2013
Please aim to arrive at 19.30 for 20.00 feast.

£32.50 donation. Book your space here.

The hostess/chef for the night is an American expat who has lived in the UK for 12 years, cooked in kitchens across London and Denmark and now works at one of the UK's foremost specialist food suppliers based in New Covent Garden Market. She is feeling the love this year and wants to bring a little bit of Martha magic to all with the help of her surprisingly generous family and friends.

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Location: Palm2, 152-156 Lower Clapton Rd, London E5 0QJ

2 min bus from Clapton Station
5-7 min walk from Hackney Downs
15 min walk from Hackney Central

Disclaimer: Though of course we love her, the above event is not endorsed by Martha Stewart or Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and neither party are liable for any portion of this private event.

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Thursday, 31 October 2013

Rose Hips

I work at a specialist food suppliers in New Covent Garden Market. It started as a wild mushroom company years ago so it has some pretty solid connections in the foraging world. Every couple of days we get sacks of hedgerow goodies delivered to us by professional foragers, who I can't help imagining as little Smurfs that emerge from under their toadstool houses with bags of sea aster, rowan berries, sloes and rose hips trailing behind.

I digress. Seeing that the weekend weather was going to be predictably horrific the other day I got a little overexcited with my staff order and came home with a backpack overflowing with berries, herbs and mushrooms and quince coming out of my pockets. Rose hips were up first.

Some points to note:

-Rose hips (aka heps or haws) pack an extraordinary nutritional punch, and have been used as a medicinal herb since the time of Hippocrates. One of the best natural sources of vitamin C known to man (100g off rosa rugosa contains approximately 3000 mg of vitamin C), they are also an excellent source of  vitamins A, B, E, K and P, calcium, iron, selenium, manganese and they contain more antioxidants than blueberries.

-However, copper and aluminium interfere with the vitamin C content in the rose hips so only use stainless steel, wood, earthenware, glass or enamel during preparation.

-Cooking rose hips is not without inherent dangers. Keen to avoid 'itchy bottom disease'? Build in extra prep time in your prep to remove the seeds and little hairs inside the rose hips which, if ingested, irritate the digestive system. (Note: quite a few recipes I read would not specify whether the rose hips were deseeded or not, and others explicitly said they did not need to be as you would later be straining the pulp through a fine sieve and muslin. For the below syrup, I only trimmed the rose hips, I did not deseed. So far, so good. I live on the edge.)

Season: September - December (peak October/November). Many recommend harvesting after the first frost which helps break down the cells inside the fruit and develop their flavour. Though there will be some variation in colour, orange usually signals just shy of being ripe and deep reds are overripe; once shriveled or soft, they are past their best.

So famed for their extreme nutritional content, rose hips lose some of this potency the longer you leave them after harvesting so use immediately after collecting.


Sometimes I feel the need to upgrade from my Robinsons Fruit Squash.

This recipe is from the book The Art of Cooking With Roses (1968) by Jean Gordon, which my friend confirmed she'd bought for me purely because she thought it was pretty and never expected that I would ever use. A valuable if unexpected resource.

Rose Hip Syrup

4 pounds rose hips
2 1/4 pounds sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Cover the rose hips with water in an enamel pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until tender and mash with a wooden spoon. Pour into a jelly bag and squeeze out the juice. Return the pulp in the bag to the pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10 minutes. Put this into the jelly bag also and squeeze. Empty the jelly bag and wash thoroughly. Mix the two lots of juice and pour into the clean bag; hang over the bowl to drip all night. This method makes the juice perfectly clear.

The following day boil this juice until it is reduced to 3 pints. Add the sugar. Stir until dissolved, then boil for 5 minutes. Add lemon juice. Bottle while hot and seal immediately. Store in a dark cupboard. (I recommend the fridge if you are not confident in your canning/sterilising techniques.) 


I quartered the above recipe, having only started with 500g of rose hips.

Wash your hips first. You never know...

To get them tender enough to mash, I ended up simmering the rose hips for about an hour, and had to add water periodically. Many other recipes I have read recommend bringing to a boil and then taking them off the heat to infuse for 20-30 minutes (sometimes chopping them first). I'll try this method next time.

If you don't have a jelly bag or muslin, get creative. I used a combination of j-cloths, a sieve, and laundry pulley.  I read elsewhere that someone used a pair of tights.

Mix with apple juice and sparkling water (or wine), pour on porridge, over pancakes, ice cream, yogurt or anything else you think would benefit from a sweet, slightly floral kick.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Ja Tak

Ja tak.

It's Danish for 'Yes, Chef'. Actually, I think it literally means 'Yes, thanks', but then that's just another example of how the Danes have got it all figured out  - even in the most violently hierarchical environment you can think with its demi-chef de parties and sous chefs, where the whole successful functioning of the system depends on everyone's understanding their place on the kitchen ladder, the Danes say 'yes thanks'. It's used in the same fashion as 'yes, chef' and believe me, the same get-your-ass-in-gear rule applies in Danish kitchens as it does in every kitchen in this world, but there is something subtly different about 'ja tak'. Verbally at least, I feel like there's just that tiny extra ounce of humanity coming through which seems to pervade most aspects of Danish life.  Healthcare, education, cycling, paternity leave, cheap food, expensive food - all good. I know, I know the taxes…but at least in spirit I think we can all do with injecting a little Danish goodness into our everyday lives, not to mention some of their excellent foodstuffs. 

In April I spent a month(ish) as a stagiaire in Copenhagen. That means working for free in restaurants (no not that one), which in turn means that rather than presenting you with an artful slideshow of all the beautiful New Nordic cuisine being produced in this idyllic city full of the happiest people on earth, means that I have 100 pictures of cinnamon rolls and hot dogs. No, my jeans do not really fit anymore.

Most meals I ate were staff meals consumed just before service in my apron, or otherwise, the cheapest food I could get on my (non-existent) income. It was an excellent excuse to do a little 'research' into dough, bread, sausages and all the other things Women's Health is telling me to eat less of.  But in the kitchens, I saw some of the most innovative, creative, delicious food I have worked with or eaten so far. Really inspirational.

And so I have developed a small encyclopaedia as a guide to some of the culinary delights of the city, from single ingredients which kept appearing across my chopping board to favourite spots for a midday Tuborg. Velbekomme!

A is for AOC
Michelin-starred restaurant owned by Sommelier Christian Aaro. Food by Head chef Soren Selin and sous chef Jakob Mogensen.  Beautiful, thoughtful New Nordic cuisine set in the basement of a historic mansion in the centre of old Copenhagen.
Dronningens Tværgade 2 
1302 Copenhagen K 

+45 33 11 11 45

B is for Brør
Super-chilled, young restaurant opened recently by 2 ex-Noma sous chefs, the Swedish Victor Wagman and English Samuel Nutter. More relaxed approach to new Nordic, but still plenty of charred leeks and biodynamic wine.  Eat as much of the homemade butter as you can.
Skt. Peders Stræde 24A
1453 Copenhagen K
+45 3217 5999

C is for Coffee Collective
Everyone kept telling me it's the best coffee in town. They're right! Three sites, including one on Jægersborggade and one in the food market (see below).
Jægersborggade 10
Copenhagen N
+45 60 15 15 25

D is for DØP

Den Økologiske Pølsemand - Copenhagen's finest organic hot dog stand started by Claus Christensen. More things like wild garlic, parsley and nettle, less E120 . All the usual accompaniments: bun (sourdough), gherkins (house pickled) and remoulade (homemade)  still apply. And rentable for your wedding!

At Købmagergade by the Rundetårn and on Strøget by the Helligåndskirken

E is for Emmerys
More organic, more bakery (see a theme?). Good coffee, breads, locations. Baby/mommy-friendly. On my first visit there were 4 unlocked strollers parallel parked outside like only the Danes can do.
Multiple central locations.

F is for Foraging
Bold is the man in Copenhagen who calls himself a chef and doesn't know his chickweed from his chervil. It's a huge deal here, a sort of litmus test of chefiness. To their credit many chefs forage themselves, so the appreciation and knowledge of the different flavours is much deeper than anywhere else I've ever seen.

G is for Geist
Run by Bo Bech, celebrity chef in Denmark before half the people cooking in this town were out of their cloth diapers, Geist is set right up the road from the pretty Nyhavn of your mom's postcard. Huge, scene-y, dark, and pumping a regular stream of house music, the food here is less concerned with strict adherence to the new Nordic manifesto and more on creativity and playfulness.
Kongens Nytorv 8 
1050 Copenhagen 

+45 33 13 37 13

H is for Hot Dogs
See P below.

I is for  Indre-By
Literally meaning 'inner city' -  picture less gangs and urban malaise, more arts, antiques, restaurants, shopping, parks and royal palaces. Also included in this is the Christianshavn, home to weedy wonderland of the Christiania freetown.
Culinary highlights in this area include:

Gronbech & Churchill
Orangeriet ApS
Restaurant AOC
Restaurant Schonnemann

and loads more.

J is for Joe and the Juice
My roommate introduced me to Joe and the Juice by explaining their Abercrombie & Fitch-esqu HR policy - apparently a strong emphasis on the appearances of their juicers…Seems v popular with the kids, they are everywhere. Now in the UK.

K is for Kadeau Copenhagen
Undoubtedly my favourite restaurant of all (anywhere, ever) so far. Creative, exceptionally well-prepared food using unexpected ingredients and thoughtful techniques, avoiding the pretentiousness that catches out many of its new nordic colleagues. The ingredients, owners, sommelier Rasmus Kofeld and Chef du Cuisine Nicolai Nörregaard, and indeed much of the staff come from the island of Bornholm in the Baltic Sea, whose people and landscape are oft described as rugged. This has clearly influenced the atmosphere and design of both the food and restaurant - equal parts masculine, relaxed and playful. Go.
Wildersgade 10A 
1408 Copenhagen K

+45 33 25 22 23

and also for

Kind of Blue bar
An excellent nightspot for a bourbon and ginger ale (or 5, with the accompanying deep and meaningful conversation about life, as I can personally attest to). Recommended by my roommate as a good local for those in the Norrbro area. Come back to the street once you've recovered the next day to amble through the plentiful antique stores.
Ravnsborggade 17 
2200 Copenhagen

+45 26 35 10 56

L is for Lagkagehuset
Exceptional bakery. Bread and pastries second to none. The multitude of sites across the city (country?) hasn't diminished the quality but instead stands as a testament to how good it is.

M is for Manfred & Vin
Younger, cheaper sister to Relae across the street. Both run by ex-Noma chef Christian F. Puglisi, wear your sneakers here and your Loubis there. Actually, this is Copenhagen; those Converse will be fine.
Jægersborggade 40,
2200 Copenhagen
+45 36 96 65 93

N is of Nasturtium
Peppery, watercressy, radishy and spicy, Nasturtium were featured on dishes at all three restaurants I worked in and others I just ate at. With the added bonus of having both tasty flowers and leaves, these prove edible flowers aren't all just for show. Entry-level edible flower. Apparently also easy to grow at home.

O is for Oysters and Grill (CoFoCo)

Confess I didn't make it before I left but my local friend suggested it to me as a good, reasonably priced (on the somewhat warped CPH scale) spot in Nørrebro if you were looking for something off the new nordic path. Run by Christian Lytje and Torben Klitbo of CoFoCo (Copenhagen Food Consulting group), which also includes a handful of other trendy spots in town focusing on midrange eateries with simpler concepts and menus (see Spuntino, Les Trois Cochons) than the high achieving star gazers around them.

P is for Pølser(vogn)
The idea for this trip originally came about on a Saturday afternoon when I decided London should have a Danish hot dog outlet, and so I must go do some market research. Hm. That may have been the justification for eating a pølse a day for 3 weeks, or it could be that I couldn't really afford anything else, but mostly it's because these little salty sweet guys are just so inexplicably good. Here is the briefest of introductions for the uninitiated:
Which: Rød Pølse = the bright red ones. Ristet = served in a bun with all the toppings (see below). Also available are the ones that look like something from a middle school health class diagram where you shove the pølser into a hollowed out bun.
How: Best eaten with all the trimmings, i.e. mustard, remoulade, ketchup, gherkin, fresh chopped raw onion, and crunchy fried onion. Yes you will have bad breath. TAKE NAPKINS. This will all fall on the floor through your fingertips. 
Where: At any of the pølsevogn (traditional wee hot dog vans) throughout the city, airports, towns and roadsides of Denmark. Taste best when eaten directly at the van, with glass bottle of Coke,  although traditionally that is meant to be a chocolate milk (?). Look out for Steffs brand, a personal fav.

Q is for Quality
Not a lot of shoddy workmanship around here. Quality standards are  pretty universally high, whether you are talking rye bread or watches.

R is for Rugbrød
My sister-in-law was once offered a piece of rye bread the day after a particularly heavy night and balked that it was the worst, most unsatisfying food anyone had ever tried to give her for a hangover. Apparently highly polarising outside of its native environment, the dark wet rye breads from this part of the world are in my mind off the charts. It's not fluffy and soft and toasty but I would gladly eat this every day for the rest of my life. With butter and cheese. Or leberwurst. Or a slice of ham and a fried egg. Or a lightly fried piece of fish. Or peanut butter. Or a slathering of Nutella. The possibilities are truly endless.

S is for Smørrebrød
You'll have heard about smørrebrød, the famed traditional open sandwich. One of my youthful Danish chef colleagues described them as 'something my grandmother would eat at her friend's funeral.' Grim. Not everyone is such a downer - Adam Aamanns runs a very successful deli and restaurant split over 2 neighbouring sites featuring a modern take on the smørrebrød. So cool the even have a NYC site open in Tribeca.
Aamanns Deli & Take Away
Øster Farimagsgade 10
DK-2100 Copenhagen
+45 35553344

T is for Torvehallerne
I thought for a second I was in Madrid, this newly-created food hall looked so similar to the glass box of the Mercado de San Miguel; but it's not. The newly built Torvehallerne is located right near the busy Nørreport station, and apart from being filled with a sampling of some of the city's most popular coffee, fish and pizza shops, it makes a particularly handy spot for having a beer in the sun before your visitors depart for the airport on a Sunday. Excellent people watching.
Frederiksborggade 21,
1360 København K
+45 70 10 60 70


U is for Undskyld!
Excuse me. Handy to know when you're bumbling through the city unprepared!

V is for Vin
Specifically, Biodynamic vin. I get the moony, holistic concept of biodynamic; it's good. The food tastes nice and I feel wholesome and happy about all that sustainability and care. Thanks Rudolph. But the wines I've had so far are rough. And you're no one in Copenhagen unless your wine list is at least half dedicated to this cosmic treat. Maybe I need some further education or a bigger bag of kroner to look further down the list but I don't think I'm cool enough for this yet.

W is for Wienerbrød
Wienerbrød, not 'Danish'. Those flaky things on a tray in the middle of your board meeting are just a very bad version of this very exceptional foodstuff. I refer you back to letters L and E for a start but a visit to any corner bakery in town will show you what I mean. Apparently it all started in the 1850s during a strike which brought in foreign workers from Austria who tinkered with the Danish baking techniques.

X is for X-ing
Tenuous, I know, but x-ing as in pedestrian crossings.  There's no jay walking in Denmark! Even at 3am, without a single chance of seeing a moving vehicle within a mile radius, you'll see people waiting for the green light. Not so cool and relaxed as they seem!

Y is for Yeast
The appreciation of the fermentation process in Copenhagen is impressive. Breads, pickles, beer. Mmm, cultured.

Z is for Zombie
What you look like after working 5 shifts in a row. Blissfuly, that seems to be about as bad as it gets for chefs here, none of the multi doubles that you get over in London and beyond.

Æ is for æg (egg)
Best eaten boiled and served with two slices of toast, butter, jam and a couple of slices of cheese at Mokkariet, a little local Nørrebro cafe, on your day off.

Jagtvej 127
2200 Copenhagen
+45 22 27 06 86

Øl  is for Øllebrød (beer bread)
An old Danish porridge-like dish traditionally made of beer and leftover rye bread, it looks like it's having a resurgence as I saw re-worked versions of it in a number of kitchens. Winner: øllebrød tuilles at AOC, where the øllebrød paste was smoothed out like a fruit leather then cut into strips and left to curl into spirals naturally. Clever! 

Å is for ål (eel)
Smoked, so much better than jellied.

See you at Weight Watchers!

Monday, 8 April 2013

The Soufflé

I like making soufflés. The risk : reward ratio is so high, it's emotionally-charged cooking. A good rise and everyone can see - you're a champion, master of the egg white, queen of the oven. A bad rise and you're a feeble excuse for a cook, a domestic flop. I did a pretty good job of documenting most of my early soufflé attempts at home over the years through crappy iPhone photos taken between burning myself while trying to extract the puffy hot cheesy cloud out of the oven and excitedly digging a big silver spoon into the middle to see whether it was cooked (no turning back from here), see below. There was the odd success, but more often than not it was just a case of eating a delicious but ugly eggy dinner and a very good excuse for a glass of something cold, white and French.

My initial approach to the soufflé was to keep things simple: read one book (again, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I swear I do have more cookbooks than this!), follow one method, ignore all advice, do no other research. This is completely out of the ordinary behaviour for me. With a five year career in research under my belt and as a seemingly perennial student, over-researching things is what I do.  Food, holidays, home contents insurance. The usual result is that I end up massively confused, unable to draw any conclusion and with a pocketful of competing (now useless) facts. After receiving from my mother-in-law the delightful gift of an 18cm soufflé dish, I opted for restraint this time and voted no to research, settling on Julia as my guide.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Teagan's Test Kitchen: Butter (or How to Make Croissants)

It's been a meaty month. Wedged between pork week, lamb week and game week, we took a small detour into breads and pastries at school. It was short but very sweet. And buttery. Average weight gain in the class was about 4lbs.

I will not profess to be any sort of expert on bread, pastry or baking. I'm terrible at pastry and have only touched the tip of the breadberg. But I love a good bit of dough! One day when I have learned/practiced/eaten more I will have a go at explaining what I know about breadmaking, but for now I introduce you to the croissant.

Like the sausages, this is not something you'll be whipping up in place of your Saturday morning pancakes while watching James Martin miraculously avoid spilling butter on his velvet blazer. If we're being honest, it takes two days but if you're pottering around the house on a cold weekend avoiding pulling your tax papers together, it's a winner. Much more gratifying than a trip to the pastry section at Sainsbury's for one of those insipid, undercooked balls of yellow gumminess.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Teagan's Test Kitchen: Pork (and How to Make Homemade Sausages)

And back to the kitchen with a bang! Or more accurately, a firm, slappy thud as the side of pork hit the stainless steel counter-top. Term started again with pork week and was lovingly filled with sausages, trotters, bacon, brawn, pig's ears and tenderloin - not really what I needed coming off the back of a slightly overindulgent holiday season but there's no one complaining here.

Half side of pork

We set out with a pretty aggressive agenda for utilising as much of the pig as possible. The side of pork was butchered with producing bacon in mind (should be ready next week) and we then eased our way in with curing the shoulder and leg for ham.

Bacon, eventually

Next up was butchering a pig's head and prepping it for brawn.

Brawn, stage 1

Brawn, stage 2

Brawn, stage 3

Then came Pierre Koffmann's stuffed pig trotters.

Pig's trotters Stuffed with Morels, Veal Sweatbreads and Chicken Mousse

Cleaning out pig ear wax and singeing off bristly hair was quite a new experience for me - really not a pleasant smell that - but the resulting crispy fried strips of pig's ear were little twiglets of crunchy heaven (maybe a new Super Bowl snack? Cheaper than a nacho!). A small unexpected lunch of sticky ribs wasn't too bad either.

Pig's ear braised in red wine a la Fergus Henderson's pig tail recipe
Slice, batter and fry

And on our final day of pork week we were given a tenderloin and a mystery box of ingredients which included a Bergamot orange and purple kale among other treats and sent on our merry ways to try and make loin less dull. I give you my Earl Grey-smoked pork tenderloin with dehydrated purple kale milk-skin, blood sausage, Bergamot orange foam and crispy pig's ear.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Weddings, Cooking School, Kale and One More Slice of Cake

Oh boy. Sorry for the delay but since we were last here together, check me out:

1. Married
2. In cooking school

Not like, my mom bought me a coupon for a Saturday afternoon baking class at Divirtimenti for my Christmas but like, I quit my job and I'm going to college and getting a culinary diploma. And I now have a husband! Wow!

So one or two changes over on this end. No idea what happens next but let's hope it's black and white, has 4 legs and a wagging tail. And as for this blog, things will resume as normal but with the addition of a Teagan's Test Kitchen segment in the new year where I plan to share with you one especially exciting lesson from school that week. We can learn together!

Term starts again in January but until then, I bring you two seemingly unrelated recipes for these celebratory times - cake and kale - which have both reminded me that family and tradition are awesome and not just for those few fun/challenging days when we all go home for the holidays every year.

Himbeertorte (Raspberry Cake)

Without getting too emotional about this, one of the most amazing things about weddings is not only putting together all the people you love in one place at the same time -- by far one of the most rewarding if tricky to coordinate experiences of a lifetime -- but the incredible generosity and support you get back from these loved ones which for some reason surprised me in and amongst the hullabaloo of all the organising. Exhibit number one: wedding gift from god-parent-type-eternal-family-friends which included two hand-written recipes for their family's favourite cakes sourced directly from their sister in Germany, passed onto us as a newly formed family ourselves to encourage further mistaking/baking and to keep the traditions of Kaffee und Kuchen alive for another generation. I had a little moment when I opened it, realising that not only was someone apart from my mother actually reading this, but that I had a mini-team of cheerleaders who seemed to be as excited as I was about all this cooking and tradition. I made the cake the day we got home from the wedding, a nice little treat to take the edge off of returning to the real world of doing laundry and emptying the dishwasher.