North London Kitchen

Cooking, eating, and designing a kitchen in North London

Category: Food (page 1 of 2)

100% foolproof guide to avoiding avocado hand

Last week everyone was talking about avocados.  Apparently millennials are spending all of their money on avocado toast instead of houses, oops.  Ok, so I was living on scraps from the back of the fridge with multiple other people of varying degrees of personal hygiene in a flat with no living room for about ten years before I was finally able to afford my own little space, but I’m not going to give any advice on how to get on the property ladder to those younger than me because I get it.  I bought the last affordable flat in North London so I know there’s nothing left.  You may as well drink your single estate espresso and eat your avocados.

But please do so safely.  The Guardian also reported that people keep injuring themselves trying to cut avocados.  I know.  I have been there.  But you do not have to live like this, my friends. I’m here to tell you that cutting an avocado safely is much easier than saving for a deposit.  Here’s how:


Step 1: Taking a sharp knife, cut around the middle of your avocado.  A sharp knife is less likely to slip and head off in the wrong direction.  I nearly sliced the top of my finger off with a blunt knife as a teenager in my mother’s kitchen.

Do not, I repeat DO NOT attempt to put your knife, however sharp, in the avocado stone.  That way lies blood and stitches.  Instead do this:


Step 2: Cut your half avocados in half again. You will be left with the stone in one of the quarters.  And then it’s simple:


Using your fingers, which you still have because you did not cut them off in Step 2, to gently remove the avocado stone.  Now, why didn’t you think of that before?

Extra for experts: waste none of the avocado.  From here the skin is easy to peel away from the avocado flesh.  Any minor blemishes tend to stick to the skin, so what is left is ready to use.


Get your bread into the toaster, an egg into the pot, mash up your avocado, and brew your coffee.


Breakfast is served.

If you really, really can’t afford avocados get a packet of frozen broad beans for £1 at your local convenience store.  Double pod them and mash them up with some roast garlic, olive oil, s + p.  You might think of it as a poor man’s avocado toast but it’s delicious in its own right.  And it doesn’t involve any knives at all though does involve boiling water – I’ll leave you to do the risk assessment.

Performance enhancing porridge

Sorry, I’ve not been around for a while.  Literally – in that for three weeks I was away from North London in New Zealand running, hiking, kayaking, meeting my new nephew, trampolining with my niece and generally having fun.

And then three weeks after I came back I ran the London Marathon.


I’ll tell you a secret: I took that photo at least an hour after I finished the race. I did not finish looking that fresh! Running is hard. That smile is probably because I was on my way to Franco Manca for a free pizza. Thanks Franco Manca!

My previous meal (if we don’t count gels or concentrated beetroot juice) had been at about 6 that morning: what I like to call my Performance Enhancing Porridge.  It’s my favourite thing to eat before a race, and certainly when I started making it last year I started getting personal best after personal best.  Maybe that’s because I’d also just trained for and run my first marathon so I was in very good shape, but maybe it was the porridge.

And did it help me in London? Well I got a 37 minute personal best so I’m very happy with that!

This is how I make it:

Performance Enhancing Porridge
Write a review
836 calories
73 g
0 g
57 g
20 g
38 g
303 g
30 g
18 g
0 g
14 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 836
Calories from Fat 475
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 57g
Saturated Fat 38g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 6g
Monounsaturated Fat 8g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 30mg
Total Carbohydrates 73g
Dietary Fiber 12g
Sugars 18g
Protein 20g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 100ml organic porridge oats
  2. 200ml coconut milk
  3. 1 tablespoon chia seeds (it don't matter if they're black or white)
  4. 1 tablespoon almond butter
  5. honey or maple syrup to taste
  1. Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, turn the heat to medium high and start stirring. I use a risotto spoon (it has a hole in the middle which helps make the risotto creamier). It cooks pretty quickly so make sure your coffee is ready to go too. Stir until just before your preferred consistency, you're going to eat it straight away but it does thicken up slightly on standing.
  2. If you have a microwave, you could put everything into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for about two minutes on high. I quite like the ritual of stirring it over a stove though - especially before a race.
  1. You'll notice this porridge is dairy free. I'm trying to cut down on dairy for ethical reasons (baby cows, climate) but I still love cheese so much. I figure cutting out milk is a step in the right direction. Also, milk can cause digestive issues for some runners. The coconut milk tastes divine so it's a win/win.
  2. I use a volume measurement for the oats and milk - pick the same cup to use every time once you figure out the right amount for you. I use a cup for measuring rice but a teacup would probably work well.
North London Kitchen


I think Recipe Card based the calorie count on coconut milk in a tin rather than the milk alternative kind, so dn’t be alarmed by the calorie count! But I do tend to save this for before a long run or race.


I took this around 6am yesterday morning. I had been woken up by my smoke detector running out of batteries at 4:45am, which just happened to be the time Nike’s Breaking2 attempt started. So I decided to watch it. And I’m glad I did. When they introduced the athletes I was so impressed by Eliud Kipchoge. The guy is a Zen master of running. He didn’t break 2 hours, he did it in 2:00:25 but that’s still incredible.

So I’m going to ring off with this video about him. What an inspiration (I wonder what he eats for breakfast?).

Sambal Shiok at Blend

I’ve written about Blend before, one of my favourite coffee shops with its Antipodean style coffee, Danish furniture and great brunches.

At dinner time at the moment the flavour changes a lot: laksa outfit Sambal Shiok have taken a residency.

I ate there in November (I said I had a backlog, right?).  The menu says “Ask for your laksa to be regular spicy, otherwise it will be served SUPER SPICY by default.”  I loved this.


It was nicely challenging and I wouldn’t have traded down to regular spicy, though I recommend making sure you have a full pitcher of water and a couple of tissues on hand (yes, I had another winter sniffle at the time – spicy food is a good but somewhat violent remedy).

I just stopped in for the laksa, but there are coconut rice plates, some tasty looking snacks and a few kids’ options too – which judging from the noise coming from the back of the room were being heartily enjoyed.  I had the veg laksa which came in a vegetarian broth.

Reading over the menu as I write this post, I see that they deliver via Deliveroo.  They also do collection.  And their website advises that if you arrive early (before 6:30) you will get 25% off in January.  Booking advised – especially as Jay Rayner recently gave it the thumbs up.

Sambal Shiok
Blend Cafe, 587 Green Lanes, Harringay N8 0RG

New Year, new pizza

How are those New Year’s resolutions going, folks?

My blog hosting just renewed, reminding me that one of my resolutions is to get back on the blogging wagon.  I’ve been eating a lot, and taking a lot of pictures, but just wasn’t quite getting around to the blogging part.  I blamed it on technical difficulties for a while, but I have a new computer now.  For a while there my time was also taken up with marathon training.  I ran my first marathon at the start of November.  If you’ve never run one before, you have NO IDEA how much it takes over your life.

So of course I’m in my first week of training for the next marathon now.  THE marathon.  Somehow I managed to land a place in the London Marathon.  It’s like finding the golden ticket.  Then illness struck and derailed my first week of training, but I got it together in time for my first long run today.  I’m feeling so much less fit than I was two weeks ago, but I know it will come back.

The plus side of illness of course, is one of my favourite hobbies, comfort eating. Remember when I wrote about LOVENpresents?  At the time they were based at Tottenham Hale, in the outdoor bar at arts venue Styx.  I also wrote about the time they started delivering to the Lord Palmerston.  Well, it gets better: at the end of 2016, they opened their own restaurant!

LOVENpresents is located in a building on Norman Road N15, close to Seven Sisters station.  I went there on New Year’s Eve with my friend Caroline (who now has my cold. Sorry Caroline). It’s a warehouse type building, and you have to press a buzzer to be let in – it was quite dark outside and it took us a while to find it!

20161231_193720 Inside the place was buzzing. There is a bar at one end serving up a good range of cocktails.  A rather glamorous looking pizza oven sits to the right of the room. 20161231_193716

The textiles were all made by a local company. I want those cushions!

20161231_194814 And then the pizzas. Oh, the pizzas. They have expanded their range from the pizzas they previously served, so there’s a great amount to choose from. Caroline had my favourite Zola: 20161231_195324

Radicchio, Gorgonzola, pistachios.  Such a good combination. I decided to branch out with one of the new pizzas and chose Burrata.


A whole ball of oozy burrata on top of a pizza with tomato, cherry tomato, and rocket. And for only a tenner.

Prices seem to have risen a little with their overheads, but I don’t think I’ve had better pizza than this in London, and now you can eat it inside, from a real plate, with a knife and fork (if you’re weird like me; if you prefer to eat with your hands they do slice the pizzas).

Deliveries will re-start in the next week or so.  This could be very very dangerous. In a completely delicious way.

2 Norman Road
N15 4ND

North London Vegan

I’ve been back in training as I continue to recover from shin splints.  They weren’t getting any worse the more I ran, so I took the plunge and committed to a couple of half marathons (and 10k and 14k trail races) over the next couple of months.

Determined not to get injured again and inspired by reading ultra champion Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run, I thought I might try going vegan for a while.  Jurek found that on a vegan diet full of vegetables and whole foods, his recovery times were faster, he was injured less and his race times (and records) speak for themselves.

The timing works because I’ve been trying to cut down the fish I consume to just what I receive from Soleshare (more on them another time!), and they’re taking August off.

It turns out it’s very easy to eat vegan in North London, with a few small slip ups.   I didn’t realise some fries I had ordered would come smothered in mayonnaise, for example.  But I’m not worrying too much about the small stuff.

Here’s some of the food I have been tucking into:

Nasu dengaku with chard, sesame carrot salad (grated carrot with grated ginger, a splash of sesame oil, a slug of rice wine vinegar and a sprinkling of black sesame seeds) and brown sushi rice.  Veg all from Crop Drop.

Lunch al desko (my new job is BUSY): smoked tofu, more of the carrot salad, and a lovely salad I made with cucumber “noodles”, edamame and peanut sauce.

Five runners came over after Finsbury Parkrun one day and I served up an almost entirely vegan meal. 



The most amazing heritage tomatoes from Crop Drop became…

Butter beans with fennel, lemon and tomato, from Anna Jones’ book A Modern Way to Cook. I am in love with this book. Everyone raved about the other recipe I made from the book: kale, sumac and crispy brown rice salad. The crispy rice is made by cooking it three times – boiling it, dry frying it to dry it out further, then frying in coconut oil to make very crispy rice. It’s a fantastic textural element.

I have now purchased her earlier book A Modern Way to Eat. In fact tonight’s dinner of sweet potato and cannelini bean quesadillas (no queso!) was from that book.

Eating out and about has been easy too. I had a fantastic lunch from Spice Box, who serve up fantastic vegan Indian food (without dairy, if you choose). Also from Kerb Kings Cross I tried a delicious vegan burrito from Club Mexicana. One day I lunched with a friend at Google’s Pancras Square office (where I felt too self conscious to take photos!). There were plenty of options including a chickpea tagine and various salads.

Tottenham Green Market has great vegan food too:


My favourites The Green Bean. Next time I go I must remember to take a container so I can take home some salad without the waste of packaging.


Newcomers Vurger, serving up three different vegetarian and vegan burgers. This was amazing after a 2 1/2 hour run.

Finally, I dragged some friends out after a run for vegan pizza from Fed in Dalston:


That’s some sort of cashew concoction in place of cheese. Everyone liked it.

Cheese though. I’m off to Paris later this week. As good as I’m feeling, will I be able to restrain myself? We shall see….

Brunch at Moka, Wightman Road

Wightman Road forms the left leg of the Harringay “Ladder”, with Green Lanes on the right.  Finsbury Park lies to the South, Turnpike Lane to the North, with cross streets forming the rungs of the Ladder.  West of Wightman Road are the railway lines that bisect the borough: the poshest parts (Crouch End, Muswell Hill) are on the far side of the tracks, but the Ladder is the most affluent part of the East side of Haringey.

Currently, Wightman Road is closed to traffic due to a railway bridge replacement, causing havoc with the commuter rat race though local residents are all welcoming it.  With the loss of vehicular access locals were worried Moka could be experiencing a downturn in trade.  Having heard good things about it I suggested it as a place to meet my friend G, who had an appointment nearby, for brunch.

Walking in it was nice to see the place pleasantly buzzy.

20160604_133129 20160604_133133

G had a soy flat white but I’d already had two coffees so I opted for an apple juice mojito (non-alcoholic). After perusing the very tempting menu, G chose the Baked Eggs and I the Mauritian Omelette. A shelf next to us had travel & coffee table books on New Zealand and Mauritius – it was nice to see this reflected in the menu too.

20160604_125229 20160604_125222

The bill came to about £22 for both of us. Definitely one for the “to go back to” list.

Moka, 5 Wightman Road 5 Wightman Rd N4 1RQ

Courgette ‘papardelle’ with asparagus, avocado salad & rocket

A few months ago I started getting a weekly bag of vegetables from Crop Drop.  I have mentioned it before here but not for a while.  The way it works is you choose a small or large bag, potatoes or no potatoes, and pick it up once a week from a drop point somewhere in Haringey.  All of the vegetables are organically grown though their smaller suppliers aren’t certified (it’s an expensive process).  Picking up from a local business is great because I can get some other local shopping done while I’m at it.  It’s a win win for the environment and the local economy.

This week’s bag contained, among other things, asparagus and courgettes.  Asparagus season in the UK starts in May and lasts about six weeks.  It’s really the only time to eat asparagus – Peruvian asparagus doesn’t taste the same and then there’s the whole food miles argument (how does Peru have such a long asparagus season anyway?).

Turning to Eat Your Books I found a recipe from a book I hadn’t used yet, Lorraine Pascale’s Fast, Fresh and Easy food: Courgette “papardelle” with asparagus, avocado salad and rocket.  The book was published in 2012 but it’s new to me – a neighbour was destashing a few months ago and I came home laden with cookbooks (that remained packed in a box until it was time to move in to my new kitchen).  I followed the recipe exactly except for using my new spiraliser to prepare the courgette.  The great thing about the book though is that the recipes don’t require any fancy kitchen equipment.


Courgette 'papardelle' with asparagus, avocado salad & rocket
Write a review
1598 calories
155 g
17 g
95 g
57 g
17 g
1667 g
646 g
37 g
0 g
72 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 1598
Calories from Fat 820
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 95g
Saturated Fat 17g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 11g
Monounsaturated Fat 61g
Cholesterol 17mg
Sodium 646mg
Total Carbohydrates 155g
Dietary Fiber 48g
Sugars 37g
Protein 57g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 400g tin of cannellini beans
  2. 250g bunch of asparagus
  3. 3 courgettes
  4. 1 perfectly ripe avocado
  5. Olive oil
  6. 1 bag of wild rocket
  7. Small handful of fresh mint
  8. Small handful of fresh basil
  9. Handful of toasted pine nuts (about 25g) (they come ready-toasted from the supermarkets)
  10. 25g Parmesan cheese
  1. 1 small red chilli or a pinch of dried chilli flakes (optional)
  2. 1 lemon
  3. 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  4. Couple of squidges of honey
  5. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. 1. Put the kettle on to boil.
  2. 2. Meanwhile, make the dressing. Deseed and finely chop the chilli (if using) and add to a mug or small bowl, or simply add the dried chilli flakes. Finely grate the lemon zest in and squeeze in the juice. Add the oil and honey and season with salt and pepper. Whisk together with a fork. Next, drain and rinse the cannellini beans, toss them through the dressing and set aside.
  3. 3. Pour the now-boiled water and a big pinch of salt into a medium pan and put on a high heat to bring the water back up to the boil. Trim the ends of the asparagus where they look dried out and add to the water to cook for 4 minutes.
  4. 4. Using a peeler, take a strip of the length of a courgette to look like ‘pappardelle’. Keep going going in the same place until you have peeled away half of the courgette, then flip it over and do the same with the other side. You now don’t need the bit that is left when you’ve peeled away all you can, but you could save it for a soup or stir-fry. Repeat with the remaining courgettes.
  5. 5. Once the asparagus is just tender, remove it from the water with a slotted spoon and rinse under cold running water for a minute or so until cool. Then set aside. Now add the courgette ‘pappardelle’ to the boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes.
  6. 6. Meanwhile, quarter, de-stone and peel the avocado. Cut it lengthways into 1cm-thick slices, drizzle with oil (so they don’t go brown) and set aside.
  7. 7. Once the courgettes are just tender, drain them in a colander and rinse under running water until cool. Drain well and toss a drizzle of oil through them to stop them sticking together.
  8. 8. Now to assemble. Tip the rocket onto a large serving platter. Scatter the courgette and asparagus over. Rip the leaves from the mint and basil stalks and sprinkle over the pine nuts. Give everything a little toss about with your hands and arrange the avocado on top. Spoon the cannellini beans and dressing over and then shave the Parmesan on top using the peeler and serve.
  1. Like I said, I spiralised the courgette instead of peeling it into strips - but I love Lorraine's instructions for peeling the courgette. She makes everything sound very easy!
  2. I took this for lunch two days in a row. If I get more asparagus I'll definitely make it again. I'm keen to try other recipes from the book too.
Adapted from Fast, Fresh and Easy Food
Adapted from Fast, Fresh and Easy Food
North London Kitchen

Tottenham gets a prosecco bar

Prosecco has been the common thread running through my weekend.  On Friday my friend J came for supper and we drank a bottle of fizz that I found in the fridge.  On Saturday P and I checked out Trufflesecco, a new truffle and prosecco bar near Mornington Crescent.  I had noticed it when I was on lunch from a work training course nearby a couple of weeks ago.


P ate risotto and I had fresh tagliatelle.  The risotto, we were warned, would take 20 minutes to make.  Good! we said – that’s how long risotto should take.  Any shorter and you know they’re reheating some made earlier, which is a crime against risotto.  Both dishes came topped with a generous amount of shaved black truffle.  Other menu options included burrata with truffle, cheese and meat boards, and bread.  There was plenty of prosecco to choose from including two by the glass. They were out of Bellini mix but for dessert we had Bellini popsicles.


Yesterday I had to pick up some things at Ikea, and while on the Ikea bus, gazing out the window I saw a sign: SOFT LAUNCH. Out of the corner of my eye I also glimped the word “prosecco”. Could this be true? What kind of place sells prosecco and has a soft launch on Tottenham High Road?

I think I might have a radar for these things. Today, nursing a slight hangover and hungry for a very late lunch I headed out to investigate further. N17! opened three days ago in a former pet shop on Tottenham High Road. Owner Tapiwa is originally from Zimbabwe but moved here at the age of 10 and went to school in Tottenham. He decided to open up on the high street because he wanted to bring more variety to the area – more choice for people. He also mentioned there are plenty of places for men to drink in the area but not so many for women. It’s a stylish place but in a way that you feel right at home there. There was a bit of a Cuban vibe going on and it was great looking out the window at the hustle and bustle of the high street.  I loved all of the pictures and mirrors on the walls.



The bar specialises in prosecco, as mentioned, but also in toasties. This is an inspired move. You can do so much with a toastie. The place is still in the soft launch stage but it’s clear that Tapiwa has done a lot of recipe testing and he’s serious about his toasties. He’s already upgraded his equipment because he wasn’t happy with the results he was getting from his first toastie grills.  He has plans for a suggestion box so you can request your favourite combo (can’t go wrong with a Marmite cheese toastie I say).

Tapiwa said he was about to make himself an “Oi Gordinho” toastie, so I asked him to make me one too. The Oi Gordinho contains ricotta, praline, cinnamon and banana. Amazing. Feeling thirsty on the first hot day this summer, I couldn’t ignore the slushy machines churning away to the side of the bar and ordered myself a naughty ginger beer and dark rum slushy. Yum!  Because of the soft launch the bill came to a wallet-friendly £9.


I’ll be back, and next time I’ll bring friends – who’s with me?


Trufflesecco, 11 Camden High St  NW1 7JE

N17!, 560 High Road N17 9TA

Teochew Kitchen at Craving Coffee and adulting

When I say not having a kitchen has forced me to eat out a lot, I don’t really mean it.  I have a fridge and a microwave and I ate a ready meal the other day.  It was better than I thought it would be.  Really the no kitchen thing has been a good excuse to get out and about and do things.

On Saturday I went to Parkrun and afterwards ate breakfast (porridge and a kale smoothie, good solid hipster food) at the Finsbury Park Cafe.

A photo posted by Sarah (@nlondonkitchen) on

I was there on my own but I bumped into someone I knew from running, Anna, and a couple of her friends, and I had a lovely time. On Sunday I went to Tottenham Green Market for lunch. I took my roti canai across to the communal table where a couple of young families were sitting and asked if they minded me sitting down. They welcomed me to the table and offered me a glass of Chardonnay.

Despite these moments of calm it has been a hectic week. A couple of days ago I passed a mother at the end of her tether. “BE QUIET!” she shouted at her little girl who was in full on meltdown mode. “I don’t want to be seven, I want to be two again” wailed the girl. In that moment I knew exactly what she meant. I honestly thought when I started this blog it would be a way to project some sort of glamorous, competent persona when really it has become a forum to share the love I have for local food but also to be honest about my worries and insecurities. Yet, this week has seen salary negotiations, booking a solo holiday, instructing workmen, and making decisions.  I’m beginning to feel a little bit like a competent adult.


This brings me back to dining alone. This evening was the first night of Teochew Kitchen’s monthlong residency at Craving Coffee. I hadn’t managed to persuade any of my friends to go with me but by the time I headed there I was looking forward to some time alone, in a room full of people – if that makes sense! I found a table, drank dry cider and read Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run.


Appropriate to the reading material, everything I ate tonight was vegan:


Smashed cucumbers. I haven’t eaten this dish in years but I remember it being spicier than cucumber had any right to be. So I was suspicious of the 1 chilli rating on the menu. Fortunately this turned out to be Singaporean mild, not English mild – so that by the end of a portion of this, the heat level has built to the point where your sinuses feel pretty clear and you’re glad of a cold drink next to you.


Chilli ginger soy choi sum. Try saying that five times quickly. I was craving vegetables and this tasted clean, green and delicious.


BBC – broad bean, bean curd and Chinese chutney with steamed jasmine rice. I think this was actually edamame. Yum. Also, the rice made me want to never be lazy about my rice preparation habits again.

I was also given a complimentary little pot of Szechuan roast almonds – delicious. All in all it was proper feel good food.

Teochew Kitchen will be at Craving Coffee all May on Thursday and Friday evenings. I’m already trying to mentally plan when I might have time to go back.

Craving Coffee
Unit 3, Gaunson House, Markfield Road, N15 4QQ

Wednesday dinner – pizza at Styx

Today I got home and my kitchen didn’t look much different from yesterday.  The workmen were still here muttering away so I left them to it while writing up Rose and Mary.  It turned out most of what they had done was background work – tidying up the pipe work to make the cabinets fit better.

Busy writing, I didn’t take much notice when they left.  But then when I got ready to dash out myself – to a Streetbank exchange on my way to running group – I took a peek in my kitchen first and suddenly the units were all fitted to the wall and half of the worktop was there.  To see that definitely helped me to relax.


After running today I dragged a couple of the girls out to somewhere I’ve been meaning to go for a long time: Styx Bar.  Located near Tottenham Hale station, Styx is a mostly outdoor space that looks like it’s been cobbled together from pallets.  It had a similar feel to the Pallet Pavilion that used to be in my hometown, Christchurch.


Anyway, on to the food – pizza pushers @lovenpresents are there with their wood fired oven.  It definitely isn’t gluten free – though they do have some gluten free options on the menu.  My pizza, the Zola, had gorgonzola, radicchio and pistachios on it.  What a combination!  I think gorgonzola may be the ultimate comfort food.  Good food, good conversation and beer from local brewers Beavertown – and all after a run.


I came home feeling relaxed for the first time this week.  Maybe I started carb loading a little early for my race, but it was worth it for how I’m feeling now.  I’m determined to get back to Styx soon!  



5 Ashley Road, N17 9LJ


Older posts