#figbarcookbookclub : The Ivy

#figbarcookbookclub : The Ivy

"6:45am The Ivy. The day begins."

Celebrated food writer A.A. Gill wrote this beautiful ode to the Ivy in 1999. It walks the reader through a day in its life peppering the story with its food (as recipes), with delicate introductions to each dish offering support, history, and tips. The food is simple, it's homey, it's beautiful. 

Jaime and I love collecting cookbooks of different restaurants we've visited- souvenir's of brilliant meals we've enjoyed. For August's Figbar Cookbook club, the book we are sharing directly from our home shelves is A.A. Gill's The Ivy: The Restaurant and its Recipes. Why? Because it's a classic. And also, because....

It's finally upon us! The launch party of The Ivy Brasserie here in our Fine City is tonight! We love the mystique and grandeur the Ivy brings to our streets, but, I couldn't put it better than in the words of A.A. Gill himself (in this very book): "The first time you eat in a restaurant there is a high insecurity rating. It's new territory...  A new restaurant can be fun, but it's also stressful... You need to feel comfortable, and it's familiarity that breeds content. What everyone wants is to be a regular somewhere, to be greeted by name, to know which is the best claret, to feel that this is 'my place'. Eating is one of the three most basic instincts and, be it ever so chic and post-modern, a restaurant is a place where the diner must feel a fundamental sense of being childishly safe." The Ivy name and brand holds a lot of clout, and we are so excited to have them opening the doors of their brasserie here. 

Because the words of A.A. Gill live in immortality for so many reasons, I've included the introduction he wrote to the recipe we're sharing here (below) because he shares a very truthful point: it never tastes quite as good as the restaurant. 

There's an advert (commercial, we call them in the USA) for a chicken broth called "Swanson" in the States- and it's got to be one of my favourite marketing campaigns of all time. It's a series of women sharing a recipe, but they just can't get it to the same standard as the original. There is something a little 'off'. Turns out (big applause here to this marketing director) it's because the broth needed to be Swanson broth. I love this campaign because it's so true to life. Recipes can give you context, suggestions, but change the type of tomato (we did- it's what we could find!), use a different brand (try a few different puff pastries, for example), or use a different type of salt, brand of pepper, or change (insert ingredient here)... and watch your recipe morph. Top it off in a restaurant where professionally trained chefs season each dish to their palette- and it's going to change the outcome. The trick in a restaurant is to make it the same every. single. time. That's how to make their recipes work for you- try it differently until you get it 'right'. 

As the Swanson motto goes: "The recipe is not the recipe without Swanson"... and below, this Plum Tomato and Basil Galette is not the Plum Tomato and Basil Galette without the Ivy. But it's so simple and tasty, you may as well try!!

Plum Tomato and Basil Galette

'This is one of the dishes that the Ivy could not open its doors without having on the menu. It is always in the top three as the most popular starter. It is also one of the most plagiarised recipes. Be warned, it is deceptively simple to make and it always tastes wonderful, but it never turns out quite as it does in the restaurant'

Ingredients:

8X16 cm rounds of puff pastry (rolled to 3-4mm thick)

240g sun-dried tomatoes in oil

2 tsp tomato puree

200g fresh basil leaves

8 large or 12 medium ripe plum or well-flavoured tomatoes, blanched, peeled, and sliced

freshly ground black pepper

flaky rock or sea salt

For the basil dressing:

120g basil

150ml extra virgin olive oil

Method:

Pre-heat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. Prick the pastry bases with a fork and bake them for 5 minutes in the oven, turning them over after 2 minutes to ensure that the pastry does not rise (if it does it will form an uneven base). Turn the oven up to 200C/gas mark 6.

Drain most of the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes. Then process with the tomato puree in a blender until a fine paste is achieved, then spoon it into a bowl. Wash the blender and then process the basil leaves with the olive oil. Add a little more oil if the dressing looks to thick.

To assemble the galettes, spread a thin layer of the sun-dried tomato puree on the pastry bases. Lay the sliced tomato in a circle on the top, overlapping slightly. Season with freshly milled black pepper and bake for 8-10 minutes.

Serve on a warm plate. Drizzle the Basil Dressing generously over the tomatoes and sprinkle with a pinch of rock salt.

nb from Chef Jaime:  I have no idea what the 200g basil is for listed under the tomato puree. Follow the 120g suggested for the dressing, but do keep some to sprinkle over the top. You can see in my version that I used micro-cress rather than full-size leaves, but either will taste delicious!  

further nb from Chef Jaime: Try this with cheese! Melted mozzarella, crumbled goats cheese, a bit of fried halloumi... it'll all taste good!

#figbarathome: Cold Brew Tiramisu

#figbarathome: Cold Brew Tiramisu

Cold Brew Tiramisu

Our fine city has had some SUNSHINE this summer haven't it?? We've had the oven on in Figbar and in our house regardless (bakers gonna bake!), but it's also super nice to have elements that require refrigeration, because any reason to open the fridge or freezer when it's hot out- am I right? 

This simple, yet DELICIOUS, dessert is easy to pre-prepare for a BBQ or dinner party, but it does require use of the hob, the oven, and the fridge. Feel free to make the elements in whatever order you need- all will keep for a week properly stored- and bring together when you need it for a light, but decadent, dessert! 

Cold Brew Tiramisu

Cold Brew Mousse

Ingredients:

450 ml heavy cream

45g caster sugar

65g tahini

35g cold brew coffee

pinch of salt

Method:

1.     In the bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, whisk the cream into stiff peaks (about 5-6 minutes).

2.     Add sugar, tahini, cold brew, and salt to whisked cream. Whisk to combine.

3.     Place either in serving cups or into a large container (to store) and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

 

Cocoa Crumble

Ingredients:

70g cocoa powder (best quality and darkest you can find)

6g salt

5g cornflour

100g light brown sugar

120g plain flour

120g melted butter

Method:

1.     Preheat the oven to 150°C. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

2.     In the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment, combine cocoa powder, salt, cornflour, light brown sugar, and plain flour.

3.     Add the melted butter and mix to cluster.

4.     Evenly spread the crumble onto the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, push the crumble about a bit, preventing it from sticking and having too big of pieces. Bake for another 10 minutes.

5.     Remove from oven and allow to cool completely (again breaking up if necessary).

 

Cold Brew Syrup

Ingredients:

100ml cold brew coffee

70ml caster sugar

Method:

1.     In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk the cold brew and the sugar to combine. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for about 5 minutes until reduced and syrupy. (nb from Chef Jaime: This is a bit of a ‘feeling’ kind of a cooking situation. Reduction by half may be helpful for some, maple syrup consistency to others, but mostly, it’s how thick you like. You can also double or triple this recipe if you like to get more syrup drizzle or to reduce it further if you like it super sticky).

 

To Serve:

Either:

1)   sprinkle cocoa crumble on top of the prepotted mousse and drizzle with cold brew syrup

OR

2)   sprinkle cocoa crumble on the bottom of a serving dish, quenelle (or spoon) mousse on top, sprinkle more crumble, and drizzle with cold brew syrup

#figbarcookbookclub : Let's Eat!

#figbarcookbookclub : Let's Eat!

Apologies for missing June's cookbook club post!!! Rest assured, that means TWO recommendations are coming for this fabulous month of July... First up for this month's Figbar cookbook club selection (straight off of our home shelves!) is Elly Pear's Let's Eat!. What can I say about this lovely cookbook except, it's fab! A lot of cookbooks claim to be approachable and fun, but this one actually is. I love the layout of chapters which includes "Freeze for Ease", "Building Blocks", "Menus".  I love the creative and intuitive movement of the dishes; for example, the "Freeze for Ease" section gives a base dish and then multiple recipes which use it to create interesting and varied meals. I love the fun and realism (Menus include "dinner for four when you want to show off a bit but not stress" which has recipes for seared scallops, smoked haddock tart, Stephen Fry cabbage, cocktails, and spiced plum dessert!). It's just a great all-rounder of a book with some delicious recipes. Can't go wrong.

What really sold this book to me was a full page dedicated to this: "I have a hashtag on Instagram solely for ideas to use up that bag of kale in the fridge, so there's no excuse to waste any! #100wayswithkale" YES, ELLY! 

To highlight this cookbook's brilliance, and why we have it in our home kitchen, we've made the Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Dhal. It's included in the following recipes: "as a soup", "with a 6-minute egg", "with wilted greens", and "with seared tofu, avocado, pickles and seeds". We made it with the seared tofu here, but have the rest of the dhal neatly stacked in our freezer for more when we need a quick and healthy dinner.

Lentil, Tomato, and Coconut Dhal

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp oil 

2 medium onions, peeled and finely diced

5cm piece of ginger, peeled and grated or finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and grated or finely chopped

3 tsp vegetable bouillon powder

2 tbsp garam masala (nb: Elly includes a recipe to make your own if you want!)

1-2 tsp chilli flakes, to taste

2 tsp black mustard seeds

500g red lentils, rinsed

2 x 400g tins plum tomatoes

1 x 400g tin coconut milk

flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Method:

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-low heat, add the onion, ginger, garlic and a big pinch of flaked sea salt and cook for 10 minutes until softened but not coloured, stirring occasionally.

Dissolve the bouillon powder in 1 litre of boiling water for the stock. Add the garam masala, chilli flakes and mustard seeds to the onion mixture in the saucepan, stir thoroughly, then add the lentils. Give everything a good mix. Add the tomatoes and the stock and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down tot low and cook for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are tender and retain no bite, stirring frequently and deeply so the lentils don't stick and crushing the tomatoes a bit as you go. Add the coconut milk, remove from the heat and season to taste with flaked sea salt and pepper.

 

(nb: Elly also gives instructions here on how to freeze this dish, how to chill it, and exactly what to do. Worth having this book on your shelves to help with meal prep!)

NB: (from Steph)- pictured here is our go-to 1x1 flatbread (again! Three times we have featured variations of this!). This time it's 1-to-1 plain yogurt to plain flour with 2 gloves grated raw garlic and 1 tsp black sesame seeds and a strong pinch of Maldon sea salt, rolled and pan-fried in a little olive oil for a quick and easy naan-type flat bread. 

#figbarathome : Sour Cherry Red Wine Brownies

#figbarathome : Sour Cherry Red Wine Brownies

One thing that cannot be denied is that dark chocolate and red wine are a match made in heaven. So why does it seem so counter-intuitive to put them together in a recipe? These brownies are deep-dark chocolate with a punch from the sour cherries, and the wine cuts through the sweetness to introduce their tartness, and it's just perfection. To make these even more appealing, we've gone and made them gluten-free! Play around with the different coconut flour brands as some are a bit more refined than others. You won't get the flavour of coconut by using it in this recipe as it's quite a small amount!, but you can get the desiccated coconut texture with some varieties. Feel free to use plain flour if you aren't gluten-free as well.

As an extra bonus, take note of Steph's top-secret bolognese wine-pairing secret: cook with the same wine you serve to guarantee the pairing.  Because we can suggest that as the option here too. :-) That, or use up the bottle from a few nights ago that you don't want to drink but also don't want to waste. We always advocate to only cook with wine that you would drink for the same reason that we always advocate using the best quality chocolate that you can find or afford. It will elevate your recipes, and your tastebuds will thank you for it! :-) 

 

Sour Cherry Red Wine Brownies (gluten-free!)

Ingredients:

120g butter

150g dark chocolate chips (plus extra for top)

125g light brown sugar

200g caster sugar

70g cocoa powder

3 eggs

½ tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

65ml red wine

30g coconut flour

150g sour cherries

Method:

1)   Pre-heat oven 165°C. Grease 8x8 inch pan and set aside.

2)   In a medium saucepan over medium heat, begin to melt the butter to brown, stirring gently. It will be ready when it gets little reddish flecks and begins to turn brown in colour with an aromatic nutty scent. (NB from Chef Jaime: play around a bit with this step if you haven’t browned butter before. You can take the butter lighter or darker and it will change the flavour. Just be careful not to burn it as it can change quite quickly!). Remove from heat.

3)   Add the dark chocolate chips to the browned butter and stir until chocolate is entirely melted into the butter and mixed together.

4)   In the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, and cocoa powder until combined. While on a medium speed, slowly pour the butter-chocolate mixture and whisk until well combined. It may look grainy.

5)   Add all 3 eggs at once and whisk again until glossy.

6)   Add salt, vanilla extract, red wine, and coconut flour and whisk again until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

7)   Fold in half of the sour cherries to the batter.

8)   Pour the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining sour cherries evenly across the top. If desired, sprinkle extra chocolate chips evenly across the top.

9)   Bake 35-40 minutes until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

10)  Allow to cool for 30 minutes. Cut into squares and enjoy!

 

#figbarcookbookclub : #RECIPESHORTS

#figbarcookbookclub : #RECIPESHORTS

I cannot help but love a good gimmick, and so this book jumped straight off the shelves and into my arms. I am so so glad that it did. Hot pink spine, bright orange cover, and every recipe guaranteed to fit into a 140 character tweet. I was sold. #RECIPESHORTS by Andrea Stewart is a go to favourite from our bookshelf because of the sheer joy of reading a recipe that concise. Though seemingly simple, I will warn you that this book isn't for those new to the kitchen (as you'll see in the recipe we've made below) because certain instructions just won't fit into the 140 character limit (for example, how high of heat or what to 'whiz' with, or even how to serve). There are a few cheats on the pages (as seen below "garnish with fresh lime"), little boxes that add a bit of extra info to the tweetable recipe, but I just consider it a reply from another user and call it a day :-)

You'll find breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, snacks, and sides. All relatively simple (only so many ingredients fit in 140 characters). There are beautiful pictures, strong typeface, and all around social media happiness. A great range of recipes that simply work. You'll also find a glossary for the inevitable abbreviations (I'm getting too old for text speak tbh <--- see what I did there? ;-)), so it's also a cool way to cook and keep up with the kids these days (without aging myself too much, but srsly, the new grammar and text is cray). 

As an aside, part of what I adore about this book is how it highlights the movement of the English language so beautifully. It's absolutely fascinating that we are able to watch the morphing and changing of our language in real time through social media. It's even more interesting that we are able to see the progression of emotion into print. For example, using a full-stop to answer a text question shows a bit of agitation and and indication that the conversation is over: "yes.".  Meanwhile answering the text "yes" without punctuation is a simple answer. There now are new uses for the ellipsis to encourage completion of thought: a reply like "OK..." instead of "OK".

I LOVE THIS STUFF SO MUCH! I could go on and on, but instead, the recipe from the talented Andrea Stewart.

 

SW.POT PNUT SOUP

Sweat 1 chop'd onion,1Tgrlic w/2t garam masala, +600g sw.pot&300g carrots &1.2L chix stock. Whiz w/60g pnut butt. S&P

(text box: garnish with fresh lime. Serves 4-6.)

 

THAT'S IT! Genius. (also... so.deliciously.good!) #dinnersorted

(n.b from Chef Jaime: Pictured here is our home go-to super simple easy flatbread recipe mentioned in the Hugh post with a variation from flatbread to crouton. 1 to 1 self-rising spelt flour to greek yogurt. Spoon drop balls of batter about 1 tsp in size into hot veg oil to fry till crispy. Scatter on top of the soup. Note reply from Steph- how did Andrea Stewart do it!? We couldn't even make a recipe with 2 ingredients that we've written here before fit in 140 characters! Go buy this book.). 

#figbarathome : Island Banana Bread

#figbarathome : Island Banana Bread

When I (Steph) was growing up, my mom used to make banana bread once every week or two. She'd bake it at night, and then she would allow it to cool under tea towels until breakfast in the morning. When I finally was gifted her recipe for my own, I shouldn't have been surprised to discover it was actually banana cake that we were lucky enough to eat for breakfast smothered in butter and honey. I have taken this entirely to mean: if we cook it in a loaf tin, we can call it bread and eat it for breakfast. 

This recipe is originated with my mother's, but Chef's jazzed it up to bring a bit of summer and brightness... and if we throw in extra fruit, we can definitely call it breakfast, right?

 

Island Banana Bread

Ingredients:

1 banana, mashed

250g self-raising flour

225g sour cream

115g coconut oil, melted

200g caster sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

The juice of 1 lime (about 1 Tbsp)

25g desiccated coconut

60g chia seeds

500g frozen mango, defrosted and drained

for top: flaked coconut, chia seeds, and sliced banana

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 160C. Butter and flour 2 loaf tins (or cake tins if you like, I used one loaf tin- for breakfast and one small 6-inch cake tin, for slices with my cuppa. The only variation to watch out for is the cooking time).

2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except desiccated coconut, chia seeds, and mango. Once combined, fold in desiccated coconut, chia seeds, and mango until even throughout.

3. Pour mixture into prepared tins about 3/4 of the way full. Sprinkle the top with flaked coconut and chia seeds and decorate with sliced banana. 

4. Cook at 160C for 1 hour and 15-30 minutes (loaf tin). (nb: the 6-inch cake tin took 40 minutes in our home oven. Our recommendation would be to check every 10-20 minutes by inserting a sharp knife or cake tester. When the cake is cooked, the knife should come out clean).  

5. Allow to rest 10 minutes, then gently tip from loaf tin onto a cooling rack.

6. Serve slightly warm with butter or at room temperature (also with butter if you like! Or honey... or nutella... or maple syrup... or more banana!). 

#figbarcookbookclub : The French Laundry

#figbarcookbookclub : The French Laundry

We have a love of cookbooks; some may even call it an addiction to them. They are such a fascinating insight to the minds of Chefs, the creativity of different cooks, and the inside running of restaurants. When Chef Jaime and I eat at different restaurants, we tend to collect it's cookbook for our collection. After we had one of the top meals of our life at Thomas Keller's Per Se in New York City, we obtained his cookbook for his first restaurant The French Laundry. 

This beautiful book is a fine selection of images, recipes, and knowledge. It shows passion and participation in every process of the creation of a beautiful dish. The simplicity of the dishes is surprising, but it's the care and time that goes into every element that truly makes this collection of recipes phenomenal when you make them. Rest assured, none of these dishes will be ones you can make without dedicating a full day (or even weekend) to, but each bite will be worth the time and effort.

It can be a bit daunting to pick up a recipe from a chef the caliber of Thomas Keller (fangirling a bit- he's incredible), but the instructions throughout this book are detailed, thorough, and thoughtful. It absolutely does take time and patience to create these dishes, but they are achievable in your home kitchen. Sometimes special equipment is needed (an ice cream machine, for example), but generally not. We chose to highlight a lobster dish from this book (mostly because, yes please lobster every time!). You can see from the recipe it won't be repeatable here, as you have to refer back to other recipes to make it (I'll include where other recipes are found throughout the book with page numbers in the ingredients list itself if you are able to pick up a copy). You can get a good sense of this book's simplicity and an understanding of how this collection of recipes works by reading through it, and I hope it encourages you to peruse a copy or try it for yourself!  

 

"Macaroni and Cheese" 

Makes 6 Servings 

Ingredients:

2 cups creamy Lobster Broth (page 35)

1/2 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)

2 Tablespoons mascarpone

Kosher salt

Three 1 1/2-2-pound lobsters, "Steeped" and meat removed (see page 124; reserve knuckle meat for another use)

1 1/2 cups Beurre Monte (page 135)

1 Tablespoon minced chives

Coral oil (page 167, in a squeeze bottle)

6 Parmesan crisps (page 37)

 

Method:

Place the lobster broth in a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Reduce the broth to a sauce consistency; you should have 1 to 1.25 cups. Set aside in the pan.

Cook the orzo in boiling lightly salted water until just tender. Drain the cooked pasta in a strainer and rinse under cold water. Shake the strainer to remove excess water and add the orzo to the lobster broth.

To Complete: If the lobster pieces have been refrigerated, bring them to room temperature.

Heat the orzo and lobster broth to a simmer. Add the mascarpone and season with salt to taste. Let simmer for a minute, then remove the pan from the heat and keep warm.

Meanwhile, place the lobster pieces in one layer in a large saucepan. Pour in the beurre monte: the lobster should be almost covered. Heat gently to warm the lobster.

Stir the chives into the orzo. Pipe a 2-inch circle of coral oil in the centre of each serving dish. Place about 1/3 cup of orzo in the center of the oil, allowing it to spread the oil out into a larger circle. Arrange a piece of lobster tail and a claw in the center of the orzo and top each serving with a Parmesan crips. 

#figbarathome : peanut butter cornflake bars

#figbarathome : peanut butter cornflake bars

We love a good mixing project in our household, and this non-bake one keeps our kiddos mixing until the sweets are ready to eat! We generally like to make every element of our treats, but for home cooking it's also nice to use what we have around the house (and things we just love to eat). Crunchy Nut Cornflakes are definitely a favourite. When I (Steph) first moved to England, I picked up a box because they claimed to be "moorishly good". Now, I don't think it says that on the box anymore, but at the time, I'd never heard the word "moorish" (we don't have it in American English), and it peaked my interest. Best decision I ever made.

This recipe combines a lot of loves: crunchy nut, dark chocolate. peanut butter, and honey, alongside a little homemade peanut brittle (my grandfather's favourite). It's pretty simple to make, but does require some patience between each layer while it sets. But that leaves plenty of time for mixing of the next layer, which my children definitely appreciate (those two could mix all day!).

These are super rich and sweet, and definitely moorish. That old ad campaign is still working it's magic!

Peanut Butter Cornflake Bars

Ingredients:

200g caster sugar

90g whole roasted peanuts

400g good quality dark chocolate chips (you'll use 200g x 200g for different layers)

60g + 1 Tbsp runny honey  

150g crunchy nut cornflakes (NB from Chef: regular cornflakes will also work here if that's what you have to hand... to be fair, so would any cereal really, though you may have to adjust the weight of cereal depending what type you go for)

85g butter

150g smooth peanut butter

220g icing sugar, sifted

10ml whole milk

Method

1. Make the peanut brittle crumble (n.b. from Steph: the "peanut sparkle" as our three-year-old calls it. That's probably a better name for it!). Prepare a baking sheet with a silpat mat (n.b. from Chef: parchment will not work here as the melted sugar will just stick to it. These non-stick mats are awesome and our kitchen wouldn't be complete without them!). In a medium saucepan, over high heat, cook caster sugar until it begins to melt and turn golden (around 3-5 minutes). It will turn from melting to dark caramel very quickly, so don't move from the stove! Remove from heat and immediately stir in the peanuts. Pour directly onto the silmat and spread out as much as possible. This is imperative: move as quickly as you can. You probably have about 30 seconds before the sugar sets and you can't pour it to the mat. Allow to cool then smash into a million tiny pieces (we used a thermomix blender, but a food processor will also do the trick or place into a plastic baggy and crush/beat with a rolling pin.). Set aside. 

2. Line a 9x9inch pan with greaseproof paper. Set aside. (n.b from Chef: This may complicate the matter, but don't stress about pan size. These bars aren't baked, so they can be as shallow or deep as you like. You can also put them in a round tin, a star-shaped tin, doesn't matter, they'll still work.). 

3. Layer 1: In a medium saucepan, stirring with a heatproof spatula, melt 200g of the chocolate and the 60g of honey together until fully melted. Quickly poor in the cornflakes and stir until the flakes are evenly coated in the chocolate/honey mix. Pour into the lined tray and smooth until evenly distributed in the tray. Place in the refrigerator until fully cool and set (about 20 minutes).

4. Layer 2: In a medium saucepan, stirring with a heatproof spatula, melt butter, peanut butter, icing sugar, and milk to a lovely tan pourable mixture. Pour the peanut butter layer over the cooled cornflake layer and evenly spread out over top. Place in the refrigerator until fully cool and set (about 20 minutes).

5. Layer 3: In a medium saucepan, stirring with a heatproof spatula, melt remaining 200g of dark chocolate with 1 Tbsp runny honey. Pour over cooled peanut butter layer and spread out evenly. Sprinkle with the peanut brittle sparkle. Place in the fridge until fully cool and set (about 20 minutes). 

6. Cut into shapes and eat at will! Since it's made with cereal we can have some for breakfast, right? :-) Or, it's just perfect with a mid-morning cuppa (or afternoon one at that!). Hope you enjoy! 

#figbarcookbookclub : River Cottage Veg

#figbarcookbookclub : River Cottage Veg

Vegetables! We love 'em. One thing I didn't really anticipate in running a dessert bar (weirdly, I know), is quite how much sugar I'd start eating! I mean, someone has to be the official taste tester, right? But that does mean both Jaime and I quite often crave salt, protein, and vegetables. Lots and Lots of vegetables. 

One great cookbook that satisfies any veg craving we have is River Cottage Veg everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. BBQ corn on the cob? Yup. Lemony Guacamole? He's got it. Beetroot Hummus? Why, yes please! Brussels Sprout winter stir-fry? Don't mind if I do!

Although- I must admit our love for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and River Cottage runs deep (so deep, he is in fact referred to as "Hugh" in our household), so we would recommend any of his books/shows/restaurants anyway, but this one is a pretty solid 'go to' in our house when we want variety. With over 200 recipes, it's hard to get stuck in a rut of making the same old, same old!

Last night for dinner, we made one of our favourites from this book: Mexican Black Bean and Tomato Soup. YUM. Chock full of veg, lovely beans for protein, and a dollop of sour cream so you feel a bit naughty, this hearty soup works through all the seasons and is generally made of staples in our household: tomatoes, black beans and red onion. It's easy to alter based on your fridgeful (for example, sometimes we roast the tomatoes first, other times we use a leftover jar of pasta sauce instead of passata, or sometimes we even throw in bean variations, extra vegetables, or toss a few tortilla chips over the top). We also tend to leave this soup pretty chunky and take the 'finely chopped' suggestion with a grain of salt (see what I did there? ;-), so if you do go ahead and make this recipe, chop it your way! 

All I know is that vegetables are great, this soup is magical, and this cookbook is often used in our house and highly recommended!

Mexican Tomato and Bean Soup

Hugh Fernly Whittingstall's River Cottage Veg everyday!

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 red onions, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1-2 medium-hot green chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

1/2 tsp ground cumin

600ml veg stock

200ml roasted tomato sauce or passata

400g ripe tomatoes, cored, deseeded, and finely chopped

400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed

a handful of oregano, chopped

a pinch of sugar

juice of 1 lime

small handful of coriander, roughly chopped

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

To Finish: sour cream, chopped coriander

Method:

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over a medium-low heat, add most of the onions (reserving a little to finish the soup) and salute for about 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, chillies and cumin and stir for a minute. 

Add the stock, roasted tomato sauce or passata, tomatoes, beans, oregano, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice and coriander. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Serve the soup topped with dollops of soured cream, if you like, and scattered with the reserved red onion, chopped coriander, and freshly ground pepper.

N.B (from Chef Jaime): We like to top our soup with a bit of grated cheddar and some chopped avocado as well. In these images you can see the homemade bread we made- simply mix 1:1 greek yogurt to self-raising flour with some olive oil, roll out, and pan-fry in a non-stick pan! Perfect for dipping and the tang of the yogurt in the bread accompanies this soup particularly well.  

#figbarathome : churro muffins with pear chocolate jam

#figbarathome : churro muffins with pear chocolate jam

With two little figs running around our house (ages 1 and 3 years-old), we love recipes that involve a bit of a 'project'. Filling these muffins with pear chocolate jam is just the ticket for a little bit of extra fun (and mess! I can't lie!). Plus, the left over pear chocolate jam is a great 'special treat' (as our girls say) on rice cakes for snack times later on in the week. With a bit of freshly sliced pear layered over top, you can also enjoy 1 of your 5 a day!

Churro Mini-Muffins with Pear Chocolate Jam

Pear Chocolate Jam

Ingredients

700g peeled & cored pears in a small dice

2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 Tbsp cold water

275g caster sugar

big pinch cinnamon

85g best quality dark chocolate chips

Method

In a wide mouthed pan over low to medium heat, cook pears, lemon juice, & water for about 5 minutes until the pears begin to soften. Add the caster sugar and cinnamon and stir to dissolve.  Leave to cook down for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is a bit gooey. Cool for about 10 minutes. Using a stick blender or food processor, blitz to consistency desired (note from Chef Jaime: we like to leave a bit of texture in our jam, so it’s not completely smooth).  Stir the chocolate into the warm mix until melted. Set aside.

 

Churro Mini-Muffins

(makes 24)

Ingredients

350g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

100g caster sugar

110g brown sugar

2 eggs, lightly whisked

240ml whole milk

85g butter, melted

 

Butter & Sugar Bath

6 Tbsp melted butter

100g caster sugar mixed with 2 tsp cinnamon

 

Method

1)   Preheat oven to 170°C. Butter and flour mini muffin tin and set aside.

2)   Place flour, backing powder, salt, caster sugar, and brown sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer and whisk to combine.

3)   Add eggs and milk, whisk again. With the whisk running on low, slowly tip melted butter into the batter. Whisk until fully combined.

4)   Fill muffin tins ¾ full and bake for 12-15minutes until the edges begin to brown.

5)   Allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Push the back of a spoon into the top of the muffin to create a small hole and wiggle around to create space in the center of the muffin. Using a piping bag with a small tip, pipe the pear chocolate jam into the middle until the muffin feels heavier and you cannot fit any more jam inside without the muffin exploding. Immediately dip top into melted butter and then directly into the cinnamon sugar mixture.

6)   Eat and enjoy!

 

#figbarcookbookclub : A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate

#figbarcookbookclub : A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate

It's my favourite post of the month! This year, we have started the #figbarcookbookclub where we will share one of our favourite cookbooks from our home collection (of over 120!) and cook one of the recipes here along with you! Last month was the brilliant Victuals, and if you missed that post, definitely check the archives for it and the biscuit recipe.

This month's pick may seem a bit surprising to you, or maybe not! Either way, I'm super excited to share Hotel Chocolat's A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate as February's cookbook club pick. We received this book as a gift a few years ago and have turned to it for inspiration to add chocolate to literally e v e r y t h i n g. The beauty of this book is helping turn sweet into savoury in a delicate way. Yes, there is a 'dessert' section that, of course, utilizes chocolate in every recipe, but just wait till you flick through the unconventional chocolate uses: black pepper cocoa nib beef jerky, not-so-scotch egg, beetroot carpaccio, rump steak burger with cocoa beer-braised onions, cocoa brine roast turkey, citrus salad with white chocolate dressing, portobello mushroom risotto.... have I enticed your tastebuds enough? If that doesn't, then the gorgeous pictures definitely will. The book also is a lovely introduction to the Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia, Hotel Chocolat's beautiful cocoa estate, with a bit of it's history and ideals of sustainability (brilliant news since I recently read an article that the cocoa plant may be extinct by 2050!!!!! But more on that tangent another time...). As mentioned in a little footnote at the start of the book, "falling in love with Rabot Estate was easy". If this book and it's elegant dishes say anything, it's that I love the Rabot Estate too! 

But, alas (said for increased dramatics), if we can't all go to St. Lucia to eat chocolate, let's use this book to bring the warm islands to our cold February, England! 

One dish in particular has become Jaime's & my go-to for one-upping our friends in the pot-luck appetizer game (now they'll read this and know our secret!), which is this brilliant recipe for 'Smoked Mackerel Ganache'. Oh. My. Goodness, you guys. When I first made this, I thought it would be tasty, but believe me when I say, "It is tasty.". Make sure that you use only the best quality ingredients you can find for this recipe, especially the smoked mackerel, and pair it with really good quality bread. There's a recipe for cocoa nib crispbread in the book that is a great complement. 

Recipes taken from "A New Way of Cooking with Chocolate" from the Hotel Chocolat

Purchase the book here

Smoked Mackerel Ganache

Ingredients:

125g peppered smoked mackerel

100g cream cheese

zest and juice ½ lemon

2 Tbsp White Chocolate Horseradish (recipe follows)

salt and pepper

Method:

Skin the mackerel and make sure there are no bones in it. Break into smallish pieces. Place in a bowl along with all the other ingredients and use your hands to mix everything until completely combined. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days (note from Steph- the only reason it lasts in my fridge for 3 days is if I make it ahead of time for a party. I’ve never ended up with leftovers!).

 

White Chocolate Horseradish

Ingredients:

50g white chocolate (at least 30% cocoa butter content)

110g creamed horseradish

Method:

Gently melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t actually touch the hot water. (chef note from Jaime- this is called a ‘bain marie’).

While the bowl is still sitting over the pan, add the creamed horseradish and mix until fully combined with the chocolate. Remove the bowl from the pan and beat for 1 minute further. Allow to cool and store in an airtight container in the fridge until needed- it will keep for up to 2 weeks. (Note from Steph – eat this for breakfast to up your avocado and salmon toast game!).

 

Breakfast in Bed!

Breakfast in Bed!

Did you see the new Vanilla Magazine? It's a gorgeous collection of reasons to 'love your locals': fashion, beauty, homes, and (of course) food! Chef Jaime Garbutt features this month in their article 'Yes Chef!' with a recipe that will woo your honey or impress your mummy... Valentine's Day, Pancake Day, Mother's Day... we've got you covered! Breakfast in Bed anyone?

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Here's the rest of the recipe to complete the cake featured in Vanilla. It's time consuming, but so adorable! 

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

See Vanilla Magazine Feb/March 2018 pg. 82 for Recipe (available at Figbar if you need!) 

 

Maple Milk

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp buttermilk

1 Tbsp maple syrup

Method:

Place buttermilk and maple syrup into a small bowl, whisk with a fork to emulsify. Set aside until required.

 

Maple Icing

Ingredients:

100g unsalted butter

75g maple syrup

250g icing sugar

1 tsp lemon juice

Method:

1)   In the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk butter and maple syrup together until well combined.

2)   Sift the icing sugar into the maple mix. On a low speed, incorporate the sugar into the maple mix. Add the lemon juice, and mix again

3)   Turn the speed to high and whisk for about 5 minutes until the icing is light and doubled in volume.

4)   With a spatula, decant the icing into a piping bag. Set aside.

 

Maple Candied Bacon

 Ingredients:

4-6 strips of good quality bacon

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 ½ Tbsp brown sugar

Method:

1)   Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with aluminum foil.

2)   Place bacon strips in a single layer row on the tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake for another 10-15 minutes until crispy.

3)   While the bacon is cooking, in a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and brown sugar until the brown sugar dissolves into the maple syrup. Set aside.

4)   Remove from the oven and, using a pastry brush, immediately coat the bacon pieces with the maple syrup mix. Flip the bacon and coat again. Use all of the mix.

5)   Set aside and allow to cool completely. Break the crispy bacon into small pieces. Set aside.

 

Vanilla Buttermilk American Pancakes

Makes about 25 bite-size pancakes

Ingredients:

125g  plain flour

2 Tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp nutmeg

pinch of salt

240g buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

60g melted butter

1 tsp coconut oil, for frying

Method:

1)   In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, mix together plain flour, caster sugar, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and salt.

2)   Add buttermilk, vanilla extract, beaten egg, and melted butter to the dry ingredients. Set aside for 10 minutes to allow the mix to rest.

3)   In a non-stick frying pan over low heat, melt coconut oil.

4)   Using a dessert spoon, spoon small rounds of batter into the frying pan. 

5)   Once bubbles begin to form in the frying batter, flip the cakes over.  Cook until lightly browned on both sides. Making the perfect pancakes is an art form and may require some practice. Don’t panic if the first set is overdone, turn down the heat and go again.

6)   Place cooked pancakes on a plate to cool. Continue with steps 4-5 until all the batter is used. Set aside to use for decorating.

 

To Decorate:

On each cooled cake, pipe maple icing in small rounds to build a beehive shape base. Sprinkle candied bacon pieces atop of the icing, paying particular attention to the sides. Place 2-3 mini pancakes on the top of the icing, gently pressing to create a solid foundation. Add two small pats of butter and just before serving, if you feel particularly fancy, drizzle with a little maple syrup so it drips down the edges of the pancakes.