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"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

Somerset Maugham

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Thursday
Aug052010

Sunday lunch at The Drapers Arms

A rather unappealing and geeky habit of mine is buying the latest good food guides, reading them cover to cover and marking venues according to how much I want to try them out. It all started out quite casually with my marking a venue of interest with a small asterisk, but I soon had so many asterisks that they became meaningless and I had to invest in a more rigorous marking system:

  • A star with a circle around – absolutely must go, life depends on it
  • A star – may self harm if miss out
  • An asterisks – yes but no but
  • A dot – not going to lose any sleep over it
  • Nothing – does this really have any place in the guide?

I now apply this to all my guides, although to save some face I should say that I have only got as far as reading and marking the North and Central London parts of the Which? Good Food Guide 2010 (it covers the whole of the UK, I am not that sad!) and the corresponding chapters in the Michelin London Restaurants and Hotels 2010.

This is the first year that I have bought the Michelin, always having assumed them to err on the side of pretentious and pricey, so I was pleasantly surprised to see so many entries for gastropubs. One such pub is The Drapers Arms, a recommendation corroborated by the Good Food Guide and further substantiated by a star with a circle round in both books (consistent starring and circling on different occasions with no memory of having done so equals extra credibility).

So it was that when my Mum and I found ourselves at the end of a very long line for a table at Ottolenghi, we said a collective “blow this” and headed to The Drapers.

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Tuesday
Aug032010

Elizabeth David’s Piedmont roast peppers (via Delia Smith)

I have come backwards to arrive at this post; normally when writing about someone else’s recipe I would test it and then discuss how it worked. In this case I made the dish first and then went in search of the recipe. Perhaps I should explain...

Last year I went for dinner at the house of some family friends who live nearby. As the starter, Lynne served a selection of antipasti which included the most delicious roast peppers I had ever tasted; they were so good that I cannot remember any of the other antipasti, and this coming from someone who annoys people (read the boyfriend and previously the ex-boyfriend) by describing a restaurant not by where it was or what it looked like, but by what they and I each had for starters, mains and dessert.

I had made many a roast pepper in my time, but none matched up to these.

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Wednesday
Jul282010

Vinaigrettes - here’s one that I prepared earlier

I have two core vinaigrettes that I make up in jars and always have ready in the fridge to use as salad dressing. They keep for ages, the only fresh ingredient (garlic) being preserved by the vinegar and oil. Since I will refer to these a lot in my recipes I thought I should do a separate post on them, so as not to continually be repeating myself.

Just a little point of trivia – always one to err on the side of caution, I was doing some research to ensure this was the correct use of the term ‘vinaigrette’. I was concerned that in order to fit the definition, the preparation must involve the slow pouring and whisking of oil into vinegar to create a creamy emulsion. As it turns out, this is just a style of making vinaigrette, but by no means a definition.

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Tuesday
Jul272010

Stephanie Alexander's simple banana cake

Updated on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 4:10PM by Registered CommenterVix

This recipe is a staple in my house, I make it all the time. This is mainly because the boyfriend has a habit of slipping a large bunch of bananas into the trolley each week and then leaving them to rot. I find this cake works best with overripe bananas, so I try to step in before they are completely past it and the result is a seemingly never-ending supply of banana cake and some very happy friends and colleagues.

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Monday
Jul262010

Raspberry and mascarpone cheesecake

Last year I made a cheesecake for my friend Mishka’s birthday. I based the measurements on a recipe for white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake from the Philadelphia website, but changed the ingredients to suit my tastes. I am not a big fan of chocolaty cheesecakes, I think the best cheesecakes are the simplest ones and I find that chocolate overpowers the subtle cheese flavour; if I wanted a chocolate cake then that is what I would make. The furthest I will stretch with embellishments is to use some berries or a squeeze of lemon and some zest.

Since it was a birthday, I wanted to make something special, hence the mascarpone. It would work just as well to substitute extra cream cheese, but the rich and creamy mascarpone does add an extra dimension (and a little sophistication) which is complemented perfectly by the raspberries.

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