North London Kitchen

Cooking, eating, and designing a kitchen in North London

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Passione e Tradizione

Two and a bit years ago when I moved to the area, there was a little Italian restaurant just down the road called Buonissimo.  Inside the decor looked fairly modern and trendy – lots of exposed brick and wood.  Walking past one day I’m sure I saw the word “burrata” chalked on the specials menu.

Unbeknown to me the restaurant apparently changed hands, and when I finally checked it out I had the most average meal imaginable.  I could have bought fresh pasta and sauce from the supermarket and eaten it at home.  There was no sign of any burrata or anything particularly special.  I had taken a date there to help me check it out in preparation for a visit from my mum.  I decided not to take mum there!  It wasn’t actively bad, but I couldn’t find a reason to like it much either.

Not long after the place closed down and was vacant for a long time.  Then rumours started that it had been taken over by Mustapha from the wildly popular restaurant Anima e Cuore in Kentish Town (another restaurant that had been on my list for a long time and I hadn’t gotten around to going there).  The rumour said he wanted to use it as a prep kitchen for the tiny KTown premises.  It would be open during the day but not in the evenings.

After it opened it was so popular they decided to open in the evenings after all.  I went in November not long after it opened and I’ve since returned.  The menu is constantly changing and you can ask for off-menu stuff too.

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Aperol Spritz, now you’re talking.

20161118_193229 Quattro Stagioni pizza – my friend loved this. The pizza oven is not wood fired though, and to be honest you want to go to this place for the pasta. 20161118_193243
Spaghetti with broccoli and clams

On my most recent trip I insisted on starters.
20170114_193459 Radicchio and gorgonzola crespelle. You all know this is a combo I can’t resist. But then I was struck by extreme food envy. 20170114_193448
Because the tuna tartare was out of this world. It came with a smear of avocado on the plate but also a scoop of cucumber sorbet. Did I mention they make all of their ice creams on site? Well I have now.

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For mains we both had tagliatelle, I chose the wild mushrooms and G chose the beef ragu.  We drank a lovely and affordable Montepulciano.

I had to order ice cream for dessert (one scoop each of chocolate and caramel), and we also had hot chocolates, which they will make with dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate.

It was such a lovely meal and I need to go back while that tuna is still on the menu. I don’t think they take cards yet so make sure you take cash with you.  UPDATE: they take cards now!

Passione e Tradizione
451 West Green Road, N15
020 8245 9491

Loven Presents at the Lord Palmerston

The Lord Palmerston is a pub situated between my flat and my friend and running buddy Dave’s.  Despite this, he had never visited in his four years of living in the area, and I had never been either.  

Then one day on twitter, a new account popped up from Eamonn, the new manager there.  I followed the account with interest as Eamonn poured his heart and soul (and no small amount of elbow grease) into improving the pub – check out the pictures of the roof terrace, it looks great. The pub itself is still very much a football pub. Eamonn said a lot of their old regulars left after prices rose, but I can say that those who remain are friendly and the pub had a nice feel to it on a Wednesday evening.

Bottled beer is availble from local favourite Redemption, and as it’s a Greene King pub there’s a selection of their beer including a drinkable pale ale.  Then came the icing on the cake: pizza.

My favourite pizza comes from Loven Presents, a street food pizza outfit formerly located somewhere along the Lea, then relocated to Styx, the theatre/concept bar at Tottenham Hale.  Many’s the time I’ve been there and taken crap photos, and if you follow me on Instagram I’m sure you’ve seen them.  Dave and I were both excited to hear that they deliver, as Styx really is the wrong direction for both of us.  However, they deliver by cargo bike, and have a 1km delivery radius that we live just outside.  HOWEVER, Eamonn has clearly talked them into extending the radius a little further, and Loven Presents pizzas can be obtained at the Lord Palmerston.  Hallelujah.

On Wednesday we went there after running group, and six hungry runners tucked into six different pizzas:

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I love that we all chose different pizzas – that’s how varied and interesting the menu is. However, I keep coming back to the Zola. Gorgonzola, radicchio and pistachio nuts – an interesting combination but it really works. The creamy richness of the Gorgonzola is balanced by the bitterness of the radicchio, and who doesn’t love pistachios? It’s pizza that makes me very happy. I can fully believe in the psychoactive properties of blue cheese after eating one.

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They really know how to make good pizza – the dough is soft but thin, and look at that blistered crust.

Do check them out – and maybe drop me a line if you’re heading there!

The Lord Palmerston
197 Philip Ln, London N15 4HQ
@palmerstonn15
@lovenpresents

Smoked trout, kohlrabi and apple salad

Guys, it’s been a while.  I’ve been eating my way around North London so I have things to share.  I was also in Sweden for midsummer, which was amazing.  I have also finished my kitchen, so there will be more posts on that soon.  Oh, and I started a new job.  I’ve never been so busy!

Meanwhile, summer has well and truly arrived here in North London.  Today is set to get up to 33 degrees (I even heard 35 threatened on Radio 4 this morning).

Even in a modern, air conditioned office we are feeling the heat.  The best meals in this kind of weather are those that require no cooking.  With crisp, fresh ingredients and bold flavours.  I was craving smoked trout and managed to find some at M&S – I’ve found fillets at the larger food halls but this was just a packet of hot smoked trout flakes.  I felt like kohlrabi too and so this salad was born.

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No recipe for this as you can adjust quantities to suit what you have available.

Use a julienne peeler or sharp knife to turn half a kohlrabi and one apple (I used a Bramley) into thin strips.  Again with the sharp knife or a mandoline if you have one, slice a few radishes into thin slices.  Add some chopped tarragon, dill or chives (I happened to have some tarragon in the fridge) and some thinly sliced spring onions.  Stir the whole lot together with the smoked trout (don’t break the flakes up too much though).

Make a dressing by shaking up some lemon juice, wholegrain mustard, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and stir this into the salad.  The lemon juice should stop the apple from turning brown.

When you come to serve it, layer it up with some watercress or rocket.

Honey and white miso aubergines

After a weekend spent running against horses, riding horses, and partying hard in Wales I was after some home cooked, wholesome food.

On Sunday I got home at after a long journey back and delved into the fridge, coming up with carrots, an orange that had been zested so needed using up quickly, some kale from last week’s Crop Drop bag, and some tofu steaks (it pays to keep some healthy convenience foods on hand for times like this).  I grated up the carrots and some ginger, adding rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and juicing some of the orange into it for a tasty salad.  I quickly steamed the kale and whisked up a quick tahini sauce (tahini and some hot water to loosen it up – a lot of recipes call for lemon juice but I find it always curdles when I use lemon – best to add a squeeze after you’ve served it up).  It was exactly what I needed to eat and was on the table in about 15 minutes.

For tonight’s dinner I again turned to the contents of my Crop Drop bag and came up with two glossy aubergines and an organic stir fry pack.  This is a mixture of whatever is stir-fryable and in season.

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This bag came with both red and white spring onions, kale, chard, and mizuna.

I decided to try a recipe from Anna Jones’ book, A Modern Way to Cook.  Her recipe calls for kale and pak choi but I decided to sub in my stir fry pack, and halve her recipe because I only had two aubergines instead of the four the recipe calls for.  So here is my version.  Do buy her book for the original and loads of other yummy recipes besides.

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Honey and white miso aubergines
Serves 2
Anna Jones' recipe for miso dengaku, adapted for the ingredients I had to hand
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Total Time
45 min
Total Time
45 min
615 calories
110 g
0 g
15 g
16 g
7 g
690 g
909 g
23 g
0 g
7 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
690g
Servings
2
Amount Per Serving
Calories 615
Calories from Fat 131
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 15g
24%
Saturated Fat 7g
37%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 4g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 909mg
38%
Total Carbohydrates 110g
37%
Dietary Fiber 24g
95%
Sugars 23g
Protein 16g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
20%
Calcium
18%
Iron
26%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 150g brown sushi rice
  2. 2 long, slim aubergines
  3. 1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
  4. 1 tablespoon white miso paste
  5. 1 tablespoon dark miso paste
  6. 1 tablespoon runny honey
  7. 1 tablespoon mirin
  8. a healthy pinch of chilli powder
  9. 1 stir fry pack (bag of mixed stir fry veg)
  10. a splash of soy sauce or tamari
  11. 2 teaspoons yuzu juice
  12. 2 tablespoons black and white sesame seeds
  13. 1 tablespoon brown rice or white rice wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Get all your ingredients together and preheat the grill to medium.
  2. First, cook the sushi rice. This is how I like to do it: wash the sushi rice three or four times in cold water, until the water runs clear, then add 200 ml of cold water and bring to the boil. Put a lid on and boil for 10–15 minutes for white rice and 15–20 minutes for brown, then turn the heat off and leave the lid on. Don’t peek, as it will release the steam, which you need to finish the cooking.
  3. Cut the aubergines in half lengthways, then cut the flesh in a crisscross pattern without cutting into the skin. Brush both sides of each aubergine with the oil. Place on a baking tray cut side down and grill for 5 minutes, then turn them over and grill for a further 5 minutes, until soft all the way through. Turn the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7 and turn off the grill.
  4. Mix the white and dark miso in a bowl with the honey, mirin, chilli powder and a tablespoon of hot water. Rub the cut side of the aubergines with the miso mixture and put back into the oven to cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Heat a pan with a little coconut oil and sauté the vegetables until just cooked, then toss with the soy and the yuzu or lime juice. Take the aubergines out of the oven and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Take the lid off the rice and stir in the brown rice vinegar. Serve the rice topped with the greens, aubergines and the sticky sauce from the tray spooned over. Top with more sesame seeds if you like.
Notes
  1. Isn't it lucky that one of Crop Drop's pick up points is a Japanese grocery, Sika Oriental Express on Green Lanes. They sell most of the ingredients but you will have to search further afield for the yuzu - I got mine from www.souschef.co.uk but I have also found some at Natural Natural, an amazing Japanese shop on Goldhurst Terrace, just off Finchley Road. It's expensive but worth seeking out.
  2. I served it with some of the leftover sesame orange ginger carrots from last night - it went well with the other flavours in the dish.
Adapted from A Modern Way to Cook
beta
calories
615
fat
15g
protein
16g
carbs
110g
more
Adapted from A Modern Way to Cook
North London Kitchen http://northlondonkitchen.com/

 

 


Hanoi Pho, Green Lanes

Green Lanes is famous for its Turkish restaurants.  They come and go a bit, with new ones opening all the time alongside old favourites Gökyüzü , Antipliler and Selale.  Turkish food is great but locals were hanging out for a bit of variety on the Lanes.

Back in 2014 rumours started that a Vietnamese was coming to an empty premises near the grand old Salisbury pub.  These remained rumours for some time, with stories of problems with the extractor, or was it the council?

Finally late last year Hanoi Pho opened its doors.  It’s been near the top of my list to visit ever since.  My kitchen has been fitted but was swiftly buried under a mound of DIY stuff – I still needed to lay the floor, plaster, paint, and put shelves and doors up.  I’m part way through this and think I will save it up for a “big reveal” once everything is finished.  At any rate, I haven’t moved in yet and I’m still eating out a lot (with a couple of pots of pasta and some microwave meals thrown in there).  

I have Pilates class nearby so after class the other day I had the perfect opportunity.  

The tiny restaurant manages to fit in several tables and some bar seating facing the street outside. There is a TARDIS effect with more space inside than it appears from the outside. I think next time I’ll sit facing the street – it’s never quiet on Green Lanes.

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The menu is not extensive as it is a small restaurant, but offers summer rolls, spring rolls and salads to start, followed by various noodle and rice dishes as well as larger salads as mains. I was also very tempted by the salt and pepper squid but mindful of my budget as well as my healthy diet I passed on this occasion. I also passed on a plate of morning glory (my favourite vegetable) for £6.50 – I’ll wait until I have company to share it with. Mains are around the £8 mark and my prawn summer rolls were £4.50.

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For a main I ate rice noodles with vegetables and tofu.

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I was tempted to try the Pho but I felt like the dry noodles this time. I really enjoyed my meal though so I’m sure I’ll work my way through the menu gradually! I drank tap water as they were out of the coconut water I wanted (having tried and disliked fresh coconut water a few years ago I have recently rediscovered it and realised I like it now – perfect for after exercise!).

My bill came to around £12, though it could easily have climbed much higher with the addition of drinks and sides – especially when everything is so tempting. Definitely a restaurant to go back to, and nice not to have to hop on a bus down the Kingsland Road.

A healthy dinner from Rose & Mary

I think I mentioned, as well as having a kitchen fitted this week, I am running a half marathon in the weekend.  This caused a slight panic towards the end of last week (as opposed to the “what if it all goes horribly wrong?” panic).  Without a kitchen, what was I going to eat this week?  The idea being I should keep up my usual healthy diet then lighten up on the fibre and add a few more carbs in the couple of days before the race.

I voiced my worries on Twitter, and then @roseandmary followed me.  It was like a sign.  For Rose and Mary are a local outfit selling healthy takeaways – specifically, gluten free and sugar free food, with a bit of a gourmet bent.

They offered me a meal and I gladly accepted*.  I don’t usually eat gluten free but there are plenty of people who can’t eat gluten, and to be honest if you didn’t tell me it was gluten free I wouldn’t have noticed – things like quinoa and lentils are a regular part of my diet anyway.  And the pictures on their website all looked gorgeous!

I got a little bit greedy and ordered aubergine and miso cream, and kale with crab and avocado.  I’m at the outer edge of their delivery area and I know how bad traffic can be – my food took about 40 minutes to arrive which is about what I expected, and the soup was still warm.  It gave me time to get home from a friend’s place where I had placed the order on my phone.  You can order via their iPhone app, on their website, by phone or by going into the shop.  I have an Android phone but their website is so well optimised for mobile it felt like using an app to order anyway.

The next thing to impress me was the packaging – often a source of guilt when I order a takeaway, my food was packaged in cardboard boxes (with no bag or extra packaging), containing plastic tubs which could be recycled or better, re-used.

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First up, the cream (soup):

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Basically, this was liquidised nasu dengaku. One of my favourite Japanese dishes turned into soup. Attractive it ain’t, but I was always going to like this anyway. Possibly I didn’t need both it AND the next course…

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The crab, avocado and kale.  Three of my favourite things, on one plate.  I was a bit worried about plating this up, as it’s styled so beautifully on the website, but I think I did ok! I was also impressed by the serving size – and at £8.90 (including delivery) the very reasonable pricing. Of course, it was delicious. It’s hard to go wrong with those ingredients.

I resolved to eat from Rose and Mary again this week. I have so far failed on that count, but I’ll blame circumstances. I’ll definitely order from them again soon.

They also gave me a code I can share with you if you’d like to make an order: enter SARAH16 and you’ll get £10 off your first order. Take a look at their menu – what would you eat tonight? It’s changing all the time too, with an emphasis on seasonality and sourcing.

Check them out: they deliver to Highgate, Muswell Hill, Crouch End and Stroud Green/Finsbury Park (and South Tottenham as it happens – if you’re in the general vicinity of any of these areas plug your postcode in to the app or website to see if they deliver to you)

Rose and Mary, 177c Priory Road, London

http://roseandmary.com/

@roseandmaryfood

*disclosure: I said if I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t write about it.

 

Tuesday dinner

Progress was quite speedy in my kitchen today.  I worked from home so I was on hand if the fitters needed me, though I decamped to the Banc Brasserie and later Tri Prana after they shut off my electricity and water.  They both have nice tea and coffee, free wifi, friendly service and flushing toilets!

There was one mistake (at least I hope it was only one) in my kitchen order so after my evening running group I went to Ikea to rectify this.

Hence this dinner, at 9:30pm:

I promise my next post will feature healthier food (I know this because I’m going to rewind a few days and tell you about my Saturday dinner!).

Stay tuned… what will I eat next?  What will go wrong next?  All in the next thrilling installment of North London Kitchen.

Hook, Camden Town

Ask me what my favourite food is and I’ll probably say chips.  Of course, my tastes are varied and usually tend towards healthy, colourful plates full of vegetables, but my death row meal would probably be a plate of fish and chips.

In search of fish and chip nirvana I dragged some colleagues along to Hook in Camden Town, and I have to say I think I came pretty close.

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Set in a bright, airy space on Camden Parkway, Hook offers fish and chips with a twist.  The menu is creative but not too “out there” – it still lets the quality of the ingredients shine through. Fish is served crumbed with seasoned panko or flavoured tempura batter – when we were there this included cajun spiced panko and wasabi batter.  These vary depending on the catch

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Sea bream with wasabi batter.

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I had the mackerel.  I asked for advice as I was wavering between this and another dish.  Our waiter raved about the mackerel – said it was in season and they had a new very good supplier.  This is the kind of enthusiastic advice I love to hear at a restaurant (I experienced the same at Trullo the other day – which fact I mention here because that restaurant is far too dimly lit for photographs so probably won’t feature on this blog otherwise!).  Mackerel is my favourite fish too, so the decision was easy – and I didn’t regret it.

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A sea trout salad was gorgeously presented.

I drank a lovely rhubarb lemonade – another flavour that goes well with mackerel.  The chips were seaweed salted and delicious too.

My colleagues all enjoyed their meals.  I can’t wait to go back – I’m hungry just writing this!  I’m told the calamari – available as a side – shouldn’t be missed, so there’s a good reason to go back already.

Hook, 63-65 Parkway, NW1 7PP, http://www.hookrestaurants.com/
@HookCamden

 

Note – this visit was a few weeks ago now. The menu there is constantly changing depending on the catch of the day.  I’ve had other demands on my time including a trip to Spain – follow me on Instagram if you want to keep up with my activities. You’ll see a bit of movement on the kitchen front – soon the woodchip wallpaper will be gone!

 

Stretching mozzarella with Wildes Cheese

We are so lucky in North London to have locally made cheese readily available in the form of Wildes Cheese.  A few years ago Philip Wilton gave up his job to be a full-time cheese maker and Wildes Cheese was born.  His partner Keith has now joined him in business as well as life.

A couple of weeks ago I joined Philip and Keith, and a bunch of cheese lovers from as far afield as Oxford to learn how to make mozzarella.  We donned fetching paper hats and plastic aprons before being led into the dairy, where Philip and Keith make cheese to the strains of their favourite disco music (to the horror of their 17 year-old apprentice).

Philip kept up a steady stream of witty repartee as he loaded us up with all of the geeky facts about cheese making.  We learned that it takes about 10 litres of milk to make 1kg of cheese.  All of this milk currently comes from a single herd of cows in West Sussex, though the dairy is now consuming all of the milk the herd produces.

This has led Philip and Keith to search further afield for milk and they have been trialling milk from the Estate Dairy.  Estate Dairy is the new project from one of my very favourite baristas, Shaun Young of Noble Espresso.  He teamed up with a couple of young dairymen in Lancashire to produce a milk that is ideal for coffee.  That’s coffee geekery to the max – I admire it even though I take my coffee black.  We got to try some of the milk and at 6% fat it was incredible.  If the thought makes you shudder you should probably stop reading a blog post about cheese.

There was more talk about the right milk for cheese – the milk Wildes uses is pasteurised at a lower temperature than supermarket milk.  Pasteurisation helps milk to keep for longer but too hot and it wont curd properly so it’s no good for cheese. Homogenisation is another form of processing milk goes through – where the fat molecules are broken up so that they remain separate and the milk has a uniform consistency.*  Philip says “don’t buy it – get water and put Tippex in it”.

After a description of the cheese making process we had a tour of the dairy’s “cheese cave” – the two rooms where cheeses are left to mature – I say left but they are turned regularly.  My favourite part was learning about Brian, their test cheese.  Every new cheese Wildes produces is called Brian until it gets passed into production and given a name of its own.  They test it at the farmers markets and rely on customer feedback – “oh yes, I really liked Brian”.  Which Brian would that be then – last week’s Brian?  The Brian we saw was modeled on a Reblochon, and will be hitting the markets of North London in the next couple of weeks. I’m also expecting to pick up a pot of curd with wild garlic – my favourite!  Cheese names tend to be inspired by local features and famous figures (Alexandra, Howard, Nash), but there are also cheeses named after Philip and Keith’s mothers.

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Anyway, after the tour it was the moment we’d all been waiting for – learning how to stretch mozzarella.  Philip and Keith brought out some curd they had prepared earlier in the day.  In order to turn it into mozzarella we needed to cut it into small uniform cubes, then cover it in hot water and wait for a couple of minutes for it to relax before gently bringing it back together with a pair of wooden spoons.

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Cutting the curd

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Then the stretching could begin!  I found it a lot like making a loaf of sourdough bread.  We could also stretch it as far as possible and some people plaited their mozzarella.

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We got to try a lot of the cheeses as we went, then took our mozzarella home with us.  Mine was destined for pizza the following evening – it was delicious.

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As well as the mozzarella evening class, Wildes also run full day cheese-making class where you will make mozzarella from start to finish as well as a soft curd cheese and a fresh cheese. More information about their classes here.

Wildes Cheese is available at Borough Market, Alexandra Palace farmers market, Tottenham Green Market, and Enfield Farmers Market.

https://wildescheese.co.uk

* Detractors of homogenisation say homogenisation contributes to heart disease, inflammation, allergies and other chronic conditions, while there are plenty of industry-funded studies that say it does no such thing.  Personally I err on the side of caution and avoid it as I am prone to inflammation – only drinking unhomogenised when I can get it.