Wednesday, 27 May 2009

bookReview and restaurantReview: Ottolenghi

OK...WE KNOW... we have been gone for just about forever. Exams and final grades, plus packing and saying goodbye to four years of friends and experiences...

Please forgive us, its been a lot to deal with...

Anyway a post is long overdue and his one is a double one: Ottolenghi cookbook and restaurant review. So about forever ago now Jacqueline took Pete to Ottolenghi’s in London (Islington location) for his birthday...and about forever and a half ago she had received the Ottolenghi cookbook in mail, which is what had inspired the lunch idea.

The fun of cookbooks is not just reading through the recipes and getting ridiculously excited to cook them, but reading the stories behind the creation of the books and the authors lives’.
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook is a magically colorful and tasty cookbook. It represents the ethos we share- cooking naturally and healthfully from the ingredients this good earth gave us. Yotam Ottolenghi (an Israeli man who grew up with Italian and German grandparents) had a life in Jerusalem very different from his not-yet discovered Arab neighbor Sami Tamimi. We love the story of how two people existing in a land where two cultures often raise children to hate their Israeli or Palestinian neighbors, have actually come together through a love for food, family and lifestyle of eating properly. They don’t believe in really using a fridge, so you know if you go to any four locations of Ottolenghi in London (Kensington, Islington, Notting Hill, Belgravia) you are eating freshly prepared, farmers-market and locally produced food.

Their cookbook gives you that same farmers market fresh feeling. For their own philosophy encompasses a ‘realistic approach to cooking and eating’ promoting ‘the idea that cooking can be enjoyable, simple and fulfilling, yet look and taste amazing; that it mustn’t be a chore or a bore, with lots of complicated ingredients to source and painstakingly prepare, but can be accessible, straightforward and and eating are not hazy, far-off ideals but part of real life, and should be left there.’

They love lemons, garlic, eggplants/aborigines, pomegranates, and anything in season! When Pete and Jacqueline ate at the Islington location for his birthday they had the char grilled broccoli and saffron eggplants, as well as the most amazing quiche ever! The food really was divine! The service was not the best to be honest, but the food absolutely made up for it.

‘We love real food, unadulterated and unadorned.’ We couldn’t agree with them more- that’s why this book is getting a 9.5 /10. A must buy!

Charlotte & Jacqueline xx

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Beetroot and Rhubarb Soup

Whilst we can definitely see an improvement in the weather, grey clouds are not yet things of the past which means we don't have to give up soup just yet! We often have soup and salad for lunch as it is tasty, warm and quick. Jacki is particularly good at making huge batches of soup and freezing them in individual portions ready for an impromptu meal. The colour of this soup is truly amazing - deep vibrant pink. It is a happy soup and it will certainly get people talking about its colour, taste and sheer craziness. The rhubarb's tartness contrasts with the earthiness of the beetroot making for a wonderful mix of healthy goodness. We like things to look and taste good - presentation is important to us and this soup lends itself to being creative. Avocado has been used here as the pink and green look great together but a swirl of yoghurt or orange zest would be just as dramatic!

4 Beetroot
2 Rhubarb Stalks
2 Small Sweet Potatoes (approx 300g)
1/2 Small Red Cabbage (approx 200g)
6 Small Carrots (approx 300g)
1 Red Onion
1 Litre Vegetable Stock
Juice from 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Orange

Saute the red onion in a saucepan with a little olive oil. Roughly chop the carrots, sweet potato and cabbage and add. Stir and allow to cook for five minutes. Add the vegetable stock and simmer until vegetables are starting to tender.

In a seperate pan, add the rhubarb which has been cut up into 3cm chunks. Pour the juice of the orange over the rhubarb and cover, to allow to soften. This should take about 5 minutes.

If you are using pre-cooked beetroot, add the beetroot to the vegetables in the saucepan and allow to soften for a few minutes until you can slide a knife easily through all of the vegetables. If you have got raw beetroot, cut and tail them and place in a pan of boiling water and simmer for 30 minutes or until soft. Once cool, peel off outer skin and add to vegetables in other saucepan.

Once the vegetables are tender, switch off the heat and add the rhubarb and orange zest. Blend until smooth, adding more hot water if necessary to achieve the consistency desired. The beetroot tends to make the soup quite thick but if you prefer a smoother soup, add more water and stir to blend. For a really professional finish you might one to pass the soup through a sieve - we rarely do this as we like the texture of the vegetables to still be tasted.

Finish with a contrasting flourish and serve with chunks of bread and salad.

Charlotte & Jacqueline


Friday, 8 May 2009

guestChef: Halfdan's Ginger and Lemongrass Lobster Bisque

Well when we feature guests or friends we cook with we generally label it under Food with Friends, and this recipe certainly was made with friends, yet I have to give the credit to this Norwegian man and make a new label - guestChef - which will still be under Food with Friends, but signifies that Charlotte and I took the backseat on cooking this time around. Half here even wrote up most of the recipe...

[borrowed from Juste's photo's]

Basically Charlotte was away with her sis this weekend and I was having some old flatmates (roommates) over for dinner...I get a call from Halfdan telling me that one of his flatmates had just made lobsters and how we needed to capitalize on the this opportunity to make the most amazing stock from the shells. Since we are poor students we did not have lobster to put in the soup so we used organic salmon (which is always fresh in Scotland) but you could use lobster (of course) or any other substantial white fish.

Poached Salmon in a Ginger and Lemongrass Lobster Bisque

Ingredients- Serves 5-6

500g lobster shells, legs, tails and heads
4 shallot onions
2 lemon grass sticks
1 large piece of ginger
6 garlic cloves
1 handful of Parsley
1 bottle of dry white wine
2 leeks
1 onion
1 tbs dried thyme
1 tbs tomato puree
1 lime
Water to cover
1- 2 cups of fish stock (fresh is best)
Double cream to taste (we used 80 ml).
A large knob of butter (aprox. 60 grams)
Olive oil
500g salmon (around 4 fillets)
Maldon Salt (or any natural sea salt)
Ground pepper


Step 1- Create the basic lobster Stock

Remove the gills from the leftover lobster remains. Dice 4 garlic cloves, 3 shallot onions, half the ginger, 1 leek, half an onion and roughly chop the parsley (save some to garnish later). Cut lemon grass in half and hammer with hilt of knife to release flavor. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and melt butter. Add the chopped and diced ingredients and stir for a few minutes. Add the lobster shells. Crush the shells with a rolling pin or a robust wooden spatula while continuously stirring until the shells are fragmented and seared through. Add 2/3 of the wine. Add boiling water until the shells are covered. Throw in a generous pinch of Maldon Salt and a few pepper grinds. Let simmer for 1 hour while stirring occasionally.

Drain the mixture through a sieve and set aside in a separate bowl.

Step 2- Poached salmon

Finely dice two garlic cloves, half an onion, 1 shallot onion, 1 leek the remaining ginger and lemongrass. Saute ingredients in a saucepan with two swigs of olive oil until golden. Add 1 pint of boiling water and dissolve the fish cube (or add in a pint of fresh fish stock). Add the remainder of the wine and let simmer for a few minutes. Pour in the lobster stock. Slowly add double cream to taste until soup is opaque and cloudy. Squeeze in the lime. Turn off the heat. Place the Salmon fillets in the saucepan and poach for 5 minutes in the soup. Remove the Salmon, peel the skin and divide it between 5 deep plates. Flake into large pieces with a spoon. Add the soup to the plates with a ladle. Garnish with parsley, squeezed lime and salt (optional).

Note: Don’t worry if the salmon is not cooked through completely after 5 minutes. It will continue to cook in the plates when covered by the hot soup and be perfectly soft and pink by the time the first hungry spoon dips into the glory. Perfection. Enjoy!

I love the last note Half leaves us with: 'You can be creative and add other types of fish and mussels at your fancy.'

This is a great and impressive dinner party dish! Enjoy Enjoy Enjoy!

Halfdan and Jacqueline

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

How to...Headbands

Whether you want to be Pocahontas, channel your inner hippy child or just feel very girly, headbands will make you feel special, quirky and make you look a little bit different. Not only are they really easy to make but they can be as crazy or as conservative as you want! You will have a lot of fun making and wearing these headbands and we promise they will put a smile on your face!

If you need some persuading, check out the beautiful creations on Bando. It just shows what you can do with a little imagination and some time. Whilst they are very beautiful, they are not always wallet friendly – why not try making your own? Next time you have a spare five minutes, have a quick look in the charity or haberdashery shops for anything you could use to adorn your head. Vintage brooches, flowers, feathers and trinkets will all be perfect!

P.S. Thank you all so much for the wonderful comments – it means a lot to us to have your support!

The headbands above have been made in two different ways. The top two have been plaited whilst the bottom pink headband has been made using an elastic back. Sometimes you may feel like wearing something very simple but other times you might want to go for an all out everyone-look-at-my-head attitude!

What you will need…

Adornments – flowers, brooches, feathers etc.

Needle & Thread

The simplest headband is to make a plaited band which you can sew pieces on too. The top two headbands in the photo have been made this way. You will need three lengths of fabric or ribbon twice the circumference of your head. Tie a small knot about an inch from the top of the ribbons, joining all three together and plait away. Tie another knot an inch from the bottom to secure the plait. You can wear it simply as a plait, tied around your head or add some flowers or a feather to it.

If you are feeling a little more creative and want to progress on the headband stakes, try making an elastic backed one. For this you will need a length of ribbon the circumference of your head minus 2 inches. Next, cut a length of elastic 2 inches long. Place the right side of the ribbon (with the pattern or side you want to be seen) to the elastic and sew securely together, keeping as close to the ends as possible. Repeat this and join the other end of the ribbon to the elastic. Now if you turn the circle the right way out, the sewn edges should not be visible. Now get creative and add sequins, flowers or anything you fancy.

Put a big smile on your face and wear with confidence! Remember you can’t help but have fun wearing these!

Charlotte & Jacqueline

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

newTunes: Yeasayer

[borrowed from google images]

Anna - Jacqueline's ridiculously hip (not hipster) NY girlfriend, who as an NYU student living on the Lower East Side knows the coolest of the cool, suggested Yeasayer as our next newTunes entry. Well Anna your suggestion has not gone unheard! Guys this band has a totally unique sound, there songs feel loud yet peaceful, you can almost hear the music vibrate through your head rather than lyrics in your ears. From Brooklyn, NY the Yeasayers offer a new spin on alternative music.

Check them out:

My space webpage:

Yeasayer- Sunrise

Yeasayer- 2080

Yeasayer- Wait for Summer

Yeasayer- Tightrope

kudos to Anna

C & J

Devouringly Rich Ice Cream Cookie Sandwiches

These ice cream sandwich cookies are an intense mix of banana, peanut butter, and chocolate chunks with a hint of molasses. They are best with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream in the middle (or yogurt if being healthy) but funnily enough are vegan (without the ice cream) and are a perfect desert to serve to a vegan or diabetic guest. When we served them they were literally gobbled up. We thought they may even be too rich but everyone pleaded with us not to change a thing! And of course these cookies are very health conscious but you would have no idea as you bite into them!

Oh and we made these with cups so we are in the process of converting the measurements.

Makes 12-14 cookies
Prep time 15-20 min
Cook time 17-20 min

3 ripe bananas (mashed)
¾ cup peanut butter
2-3 tablespoons of Black Strap Molasses (that is the less processed version, add according to your preference of molasses)
½ cup honey (I used honey but agave would probably work too)
1 ½ cup unprocessed oats
½ cup whole grain spelt flour (or wheat flour)
½ cup unbleached white spelt four (or wheat flour)
½ cup ground almonds
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350 F or around 180 C.

Mash the three bananas on a plate or board and let them sit out in the air and oxidize further (we find it makes them even more banana-ie in recipes). Then mix all the wet ingredients together. Fold the bananas through the wet ingredients softly. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. And lastly mix the chocolate chips through.

Place parchment paper onto a tray and place the dough on parchment paper in balls that have been slightly flattened with your hand or the back of a spoon. It is important to make sure the balls are in a cookie shape before baked because these cookies will spread but not as much as traditional cookies; therefore, if you do not shape them they might end up being baked as balls. Bake for 17-20 minutes depending on your oven. They will be darker because of the molasses so it is hard to tell when they are browning, and thus you need to watch them carefully so they do not burn!

Lastly: ENJOY (as always)

C & J