I haven’t written a restaurant review for aaages.
But the food at White Rabbit was amazing enough to make me want to. I’m still obsessing over a stand out dish of charred broccoli (and as someone who really doesn’t like broccoli, trust me when I say this was a revelation) with mead puree, pickled mustard seeds and almonds. The vegetable had an almost meaty caramelisation to it, while still retaining a tender vibrancy. I’ve never wanted to eat broccoli as a main course before but I could have happily sat there and polished off plate after plate of this.
A small dish of of burrata, sweet pickled plums, squash, sea purslane, pumpkin seeds and fennel pollen was scarfed with gusto, the perfectly al dente squash worked really well with the sweet and sour plums and velvety cheese. Charred aubergine with smoked yoghurt, honey and ash was another winner. Having said that the yoghurt may have been a teensy bit overkill. Just ever so slightly.
Gin and beetroot smoked salmon bejewelled with roe, a pickled tangle of fennel, dill pollen and pomegranate was an exercise in freshness and light. This was followed with hake with burnt leeks and confit garlic aioli which was hauntingly flavoursome, the tiny beads of smoked yeast like so many hundreds and thousands, laced with pure eau de croissant. We fought over a bowl of mussels in miso dashi with shiitake mushrooms, which was basically layer upon layer of concentrated savoury goodness. Then a dish of king scallop with hunks of Tuscan sausage, harissa, coriander oil and crowned with straw potatoes which was sweet, spicy and demolished in seconds. It’s a bit of an understatement to say they do some pretty clever things with seafood in this place.
We were so full at this point that we were reduced to just morosely picking at the final dish of lamb belly with miso and melon radish. If I had one criticism it was that the lamb wasn’t crispy enough for my liking and the miso barely detectable.
On a Saturday night the place was rammed. Nonetheless the staff managed to remain incredibly laid back, approachable and totally clued up about everything on the menu. I was invited to eat at White Rabbit, but in the words of Mr A Schwarzenegger – I will be back.
16 Bradbury St
020 7682 0163
Sprouts are possibly my least favourite of all vegetables. I’ve always been baffled by their time honoured spot on the table of otherwise deliciousness that makes up Christmas lunch.
So when an errant net of these toxic little brassicas turned up in my veg box I decided to do what I always do when faced with the unpalatable and give them a Bengali makeover.
Panch phoran, that magical Bengali five spice of fennel, fenugreek, cumin, mustard and nigella works really effectively here, namely because the fennel and mustard seeds temper and tame any sulphuric business. You do need to shred the sprouts quite finely and to patiently steam fry over a lowish heat until they’re properly caramelised and charred. A splash of coconut milk to mellow things out and a handful of prawns if you’ve got them make this a killer dish to have alongside a nice tomato, red onion and coriander salad and a stack of parathas to mop the lot up.
brussel sprouts, trimmed and finely shredded
1 tbsp. oil
a pinch of turmeric
1-2 tsp. panch phoran (alternatively add fennel, cumin, mustard, nigella, fenugreek seeds)
1 onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp. fresh finely shredded ginger
1 tsp. dried red chilli (or chilli powder)
200ml coconut milk
- heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and all the spices.
- Tip in the sprouts, mix well and fry over a lowish heat, partially covered with a lid for about 15-20 minutes or until charred and caramelised.
- Add the salt and sugar and adjust seasoning according to taste. Add the coconut milk and serve.
Niku jaga, literally means “meat and potatoes” in Japanese. I’ve had such a hankering for this simple hearty stew lately. I first tried it in the depths of a very snowy Saitama Winter when my neighbours Kei-chan and Masa-chan invited me over for dinner. Slightly sweet, savoury and rich with soy and caramelised beef, this is more comforting than a Hello Kitty onesey. It might seem a bit odd to add sugar to a beef stew, but my mum always adds a hefty pinch to her phenomenal meat curries and here the see-saw of salty-sweet really works. The niku is traditionally wafer-thin slices of fatty steak but I found it to be just as satisfying with some leftover roast topside. If you do invest in steak, the whole thing is padded out with enough potatoes, carrots and shiitake mushrooms to justify matters. Perfect with a fat tangle of udon or steaming rice and fantastic the next day once the flavours have done that developing thing.
- 1 tbsp. oil for frying
- 1 large onion, peeled and chopped into wedges
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 4 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
- leftover roast beef or steak, thinly sliced
- 500ml dashi stock/beef stock
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tbsp. sake/dry sherry
- 3 tbsp. mirin
- 4 tbsp. soy sauce
- shiitake mushrooms, soaked in 100ml boiling water
- handful of green beans
Heat the oil up over a medium heat and saute the onions. After a few minutes add the potatoes and saute for another five minutes.
Add the carrots and mix well. Finally stir in the beef and continue to cook until it’s just turned pink.
Sprinkle over the sugar and stir until everything begins to caramelise then throw in the sake and reduce. Add the mushrooms and the soaking water.
Add the dashi, mirin and soy and bring to the boil (skim off any scum that arises)
Reduce and simmer for 15 minutes, add the beans.
Simmer for a further 5 minutes and serve.
Faced with a glut of coxes I decided to try my hand at pickling a few. I can’t believe I’ve never done this before because pickled apples are truly superb. Sweet and crunchy yet saturated with the acidity of cider vinegar, these were the perfect partner to some smoked mackerel and fat chunks of garlic roasted onion squash. I trickled over lime and cumin yoghurt dressing for a truly autumnal mid week supper.
for the apples
2-3 coxes or other eating apples
100ml cider vinegar
8 tsp. caster sugar
1 tsp. salt
for the roasted squash
one onion squash (or any squash) hacked into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
a sprinkling of mace
for the dressing
250ml greek yoghurt
a splash of olive oil
1/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. ground roasted cumin seeds
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 a finely diced red onion
the juice of half a lime
a handful of toasted sunflower seeds
smoked mackerel, flaked
- mix the sugar, salt, vinegar and water together in a bowl until dissolved. Core and chunk the apples and leave to steep in this mixture.
- Toss the pieces of squash in the mace, garlic, salt and oil and roast for about 40-50 minutes at gas mark 4 until tender.
- Mix the dressing ingredients together. Place the lettuce, seeds and cress in a salad bowl with the mackerel. Add the roasted squash and the drained pickled apples. Dress liberally with the yoghurt.
I had a salad last week that I can’t stop thinking about.
It was part of a lunch cooked by Ben Spalding representing the sort of thing we’ll all be eating in the year 2063. As part of the London Design Festival, Miele collaborated with Ben to create a futuristic foodie vision, more of which you can check out here. I was intrigued as I’d heard a lot about Ben, who’s worked with the likes of Heston and Raymond Blanc, but had never actually had the chance to try his cooking before.
Turns out that he’s a bit of a creative genius. I really admire his experimental approach to food and his contempt for any sort of waste (this is someone who likes to make interesting things to eat from burnt lime rind and banana peel). I also like the way he challenges conventional fine dining norms. “Cucumber and vodka” turned out to be a gel that we licked from the back of our hands (because let’s face it, all food tastes better when you do away with cutlery). We kicked things off with Patrik’s raw butter from Goteborg, sourdough loaf whipped malt bread and fermented elderflower. Veal brain dumplings with 3 month old kimchi was presented in an uber kawaii mini bamboo steamer and served with a crazy cocktail containing clamped carrot juice, tonka beans, tuna mayonnaise and lime which sounded disgusting but tasted like a well rounded virgin Mary with a kick. Yum. This functional food cocktail was supposed to contain all the essential minerals and macro nutrients we’ll need to survive. Sticky rice with a savoury gravy was also lush (I skipped on the pork but was told it was very good). But for me, it was all about that salad. Every mouthful a lucky dip of liquorice, intensely sweet peach, aniseed here, earthy salty beetroot there, and a whole load of other stuff we couldn’t even begin to identify. All the ingredients were sourced from within London and the cress was grown in a prototype farmino machine. We finished with a microwave cake with iced lemon thyme and muscovado sugar that was the very essence of strawberry shortcake dolls (in a good way).
I came away feeling inspired, full, thoroughly spoilt and like I could really, really do with a farmino machine in my life.
Tricky, pretty things, courgette flowers. Fiddly to stuff and yet too good to chuck away. I’m a big fan of Helen’s brown shrimp and crab recipe and also this quesadilla one, by Homesick Texan. My mum likes to rake them through a lightly spiced batter before shallow frying. These are especially good with cucumber raita and a hot cup of tea.
2 tbsp. gram flour
2 tbsp. rice flour
1 shallot, grated
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 tsp. powdered cumin
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tbsp. finely chopped coriander leaves
1 tsp. salt
- Mix all the ingredients bar the flowers, adding enough water to form a thick paste.
- remove the stamens from the flowers. Dredge each flower in the paste until fully coated.
- shallow fry until crisp. Eat immediately.
I’m a truly rubbish Muslim. Seriously. I’ve been known to enjoy the odd half of snakebite, am married to a devout atheist; rarely buy halal anything and would never dream of circumcising my baby boy. Despite this, I’m still a Muslim and am therefore incredibly excited about the UK’s first and indeed, the world’s largest halal food festival at the London ExCel from 27-29 September. Let’s face it, it’s about time “haloodies” were represented in a predominantly non-Islamic foodie ocean of white, middle class bacon munchers. As Islamophobia continues to spread its poisonous tentacles and as seemingly every government, power and faction has homicidal designs upon the people of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon; it’s good to see something positive for Muslims for a change, even if that something is as simple as a food festival.
The festival will feature cooking demos from Cyrus Todiwala, Shelina Permaloo and Jean Christophe Novelli. I’m particularly excited about the launch of Indian street food by Cinnamon Kitchen chefs “Joho Soho” and can’t wait to try their Bengali mutton and fenugreek chicken. I’m also looking forward to feasting on Palestinian medjool dates, stuffed with organic fairtrade nuts and topped with rosebuds by The Datelatiers. Meanwhile here’s a recipe for Papeta pur eeda or “simply divine eggs on potato” from Cyrus Todiwala. Mashallah!
Cyrus’ PAPETA PUR EEDA
THIS IS QUITE SIMPLY DIVINE “EGGS ON POTATO”.
POTATO One large, peeled and sliced to approximately 1/8th of aninch thick. If you have a mandolin you’ll get more even slices, otherwise do not fret.
one medium onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 small, finely chopped green chilli
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tbsp. finely chopped fresh coriander
4 eggs, organic if possible
salt, to taste
two to three tablespoons or half oil half butter (Cyrus prefers to add a healthy heap of butter once the cumin is coloured)
Peel, slice the potato, wash and set aside.
Slit the onion into half and slice thinly.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the cumin seeds.
Allow them to sizzle for a minute or two over a medium flame.
Add the green chillies & garlic, saute for a further minute or two before adding the sliced onion. Saute for a minute or two until opaque and add the potato slices.
Saute for at least three to four minutes, sprinkle salt and level out the contents of the pan. Add enough water to just below the level of the contents, cover the pan and on a low flame cook until the potatoes are just tender, but still firm without being mushy.
At this stage Cyrus likes to add a small spring onion thinly sliced and sprinkled, but it is optional. Sprinkle over the coriander, check the seasoning, mix gently and level the contents of the pan again, ensuring the sides of the pan are clean.
Make four, well spaced indentations with an egg where you would like to have each egg. This should roughly be one and a half inches from the sides of the pan.
Break each egg taking care to drop the yolk into each cavity.
Cover the pan and cook over a very low flame.
The eggs will poach in the steam, however if the heat is too high the potatoes will burn.
When done to your liking, cut out into four segments and serve with mango chutney and warm baguettes.