Sunday, 5 June 2011

Dom's Bespoke Scotch Eggs

I have only eaten low quality supermarket scotch eggs with dry sausage meat, chalky yolk and rubbery egg white. While I have always enjoyed eating these substandard eggs I always knew that a freshly made scotch egg would be far better. When Dom came round the other day I witnessed him make scotch eggs and got the chance to eat them warm and fresh.

An impressive thing about Dom's scotch eggs method is that he didn't look at any recipes and just made the whole cooking method up as he went along.

To begin with I pushed Dom to keep the egg yolk runny. Dom thought he would be running before he could walk by trying to do this but eventually he relented and went about making the eggs with the aim of keeping the egg yolk runny inside. To do this he had to soft boil the eggs, cool them in ice water and then peel then shell. It's quite difficult to peel a soft boiled egg and quite a bit of the white was lost.

The eggs were then incased in sausage meat. To simplify any sausage meat making Dom just brought some Sainsbury's taste the difference sausages and squeezed the meat out of the skins into a bowl. He soon realised after squeezing that he had accidentally purchased french style Toulouse sauages which are quite stong and garlicky and probably not what a real British scotcher would normally use.

A few people did tell Dom that it would be best to roll the sausage meat out and then incase the eggs in an even layer of meat but Dom thought it best just to roughly smash the meat on to the eggs with his hands . Good for him as this meant each egg had three sausages worth of meat on them.

The final part of the scotching process was to put the breadcrumb coating on. Dom insisted on buying the bright orange unnatural looking pre made breadcrumbs for authenticity's sake. The meaty balls were double dipped in the crumbs which was a good idea as helped them stay together when cooking later.

To cook originally Dom thought he would simply fry the eggs. Unfortunately the cheap orange breadcrumbs started burning as soon they touched the oil. Therefore Dom flash fried the eggs to seal them quickly and then put them in the oven for 20 minutes to bake.

By some fluke of luck this accidental cooking method turned out to be exactly the perfect way of cooking the scotched eggs as when they were cut the sausage meat was well cooked yet moist and magically as requested the egg yolk was still runny.

Eating a freshly cooked warm scotched egg with a runny yolk is a great experience. Much better to the cold shop bought kind. The ad hoc recipie was triumphant the only downside was that the Toulouse sausage meat did make them taste a bit more garlicky than they needed to be.

Monday, 30 May 2011


I love kedgeree. I think it may possibly be my favourite British breakfast. It's a funny invention which the British colonials created by fusing Indian cuisine with British smoked fish. Maybe because I am also a British Indian fusion myself is why I like it so much.

I normally make kedgeree with smoked haddock but found recently that smoked kippers are one of the cheapest fish in the supermarket so have recently been using them.

Kedgeree is quite easy to make and involves cooking most of the ingredients separately and then combining them at the end. All you need is; white rice, eggs, smoked fish, onions (red if you've got them), curry powder and as much butter as you feel comfortable using.

To begin with I steam some white basmati rice to my normal method and hard boil some eggs (two per person).

If you're using kippers all you need to do to cook them is put them in a tray and pour boiling water over them. They then need to be flaked. Try to remove as much fish skin as possible. The kipper water also needs to be kept for later.

When all this is done I then fry the onions sliced in butter adding a few teaspoons of curry powder before they're soft and translucent. The cooked rice then goes in the frying pan and needs to be coated in the onions and curry butter.

The kippers and some of the saved kipper water go in to make the kedgeree a bit moist. Now the important bit adding more butter.

The difference between a good kedgeree and a great kedgeree is the amount of butter. The more you put in the better it is. I once had kedgeree at The Wolsesley and it had so much butter it was like a savoury rice pudding. It was also the greatest kedgeree I've ever eaten.

Once the moral conflict regarding butter has been resolved it's ready to serve. I add the sliced boiled egg on top of each serving. It may be better to chuck in during the cooking but whenever I've tried the yolks fall out.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Oysters in New York

Oysters are very popular in New York and much cheaper than in Britain. The culture here is to go to a bar and have some oysters while having a drink in the early evening.

Millers Tavern in Williamsburg does $1 dollar oysters every day from 4pm. We had a dozen between us.

A good drink I found to have with the Oysters in Millers was a left hand milk stout a drink which goes very well with oysters. Milk stout is a stout similar to Guinness but it has lactose sugar from milk added when brewing. Yeast cannot break down lactose sugar so it gives the stout a creamier body and a much sweeter taste. It's nice but you can't really drink more than two without feeling full.

We also went to the most famous place for oysters in New York the Oyster Bar at Grand Central Station . It is a crazy busy tourist destination but worth it for the oysters and the station itself is beautiful. The prices at the oyster bar are a bit higher than other places but they do have a huge variety from all across North America.

We had the house oyster platter of eight oysters for about $20 and I also ordered two oysters from Prince Edward Island in Canada as that's where my grandfathers family is from. They cost about $3 each

We got a huge selection of condiments to go with our Grand Central oysters: Lemon, vinegar, salt, pepper, tabasco, horseradish, some cheap looking oyster crackers and tomato ketchup. The ketchup seemed a bit odd and I couldn't really work out how it would go with the oysters. I just like to put a bit of lemon juice and a splash of tabasco on mine. The oyster bar also has a full menu of meals but they are very expensive compared to the rest of the city's restaurants so I'd recommend going somewhere else for a full meal.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Katz's Deli (bit of a rip off)

While in New York I visited Katz's deli. You know that famous deli that was in an awful film with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal. It's become a bit of a tourist destination and not just for the movie. It's a famous old New York Jewish style deli. It's still got that old time New York look, the staff are all good old New Yorkers and they bake the bread and bagels on site. They also cure and cook all the meat in house. It's great that they've managed to keep the good old look and feel after all the fame. There is one huge elephant in the room however and that's the price. Everything in Katz's deli costs about five times what it would in any other deli in the city.

I had a pastrami sandwich which was great. The pastrami was cut straight off a freshly braised piece of meat from the cooker so was warm and tender. It did cost $16 which is a huge amount for a sandwich in New York.

I also noticed something about pickles in New York. Pickles are not picked in vinegar like we have them in the UK. They are pickled in brine so do not have the sharp vinegar taste. It's a subtler taste and probably why the Americans are able to stuff so many pickles in their sandwiches.

Mathilde had a smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel. It was good, definitely much better than a nasty chewy old Brick Lane bagel but cost $12 which is about £8. A bagel or sandwich from a deli in New York normally costs about $5.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Lunch at Aldea

Yesterday I went to Aldea which is in the flat iron district of Manhattan. The French tyre manufacturer had given them one of their special stars so I was expecting something good.

The three course set lunch is $24. That's about £15. You'd never be able to eat at a London Michelin starred restaurant for that price.

Aldea is what you'd expect from a Michelin starred eatery. Cosmopolitan and sophisticated but as it's American still very welcoming and not at all pompous.

For my starter I had pork and duck terrine. This came with a load of white wine meat jelly on the top. It's good to have some decent savoury meat jelly a substance which makes some odd people balk. It was a good starter.

For my main I went for the braised brisket. This was a truly amazing dish and may be one of the best things I have ever eaten. The perfectly cooked brisket was on top of a delicious carrot custard with celeriac, ground chorizo and asparagus. With all the bits shoved into my mouth it tasted like the greatest expression of a beef stew.

Mathilde had the farro rissotto which must of been good as I wasn't given a taste.

For pudding we both had the banana bread, bead pudding which was also pretty amazing.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Steak at Peter Luger

Peter Luger is reputedly one of the best steak houses in the world. Zagat have rated it the best steak house in New York City 26 years in a row. Its Brooklyn restaurant has been in the same site in Williamsburg for over 100 years. In 2002 they received a star from the French tyre company. Yesterday I went there for lunch.

Walking inside it's a very different atmosphere from the rest of Williamsburg. Over the last 10 years Williamsburg has become a hipster nest much like Shoreditch in London has. Peter Luger has not been affected by such shortsighted trendyness and venturing inside is like walking into proper old school New York. There are no hipsters in here (except me and Mathilde). The restaurant is full of proper Brooklyners having proper lunches. You can feel that this place is the elemental origin of the steak house. All those crap chains like Beefeater and Harvester this is where it began. This is what they all aspire to.

The waiters are all salt of the earth proper Brooklyn geezers and their customer service style is surly and honest. They roughly throw the menus on the table and in a "wadda ya want" way but they don't come across as rude.

I saw the bacon slabs on the menu and had to order one as a starter. A bit odd that a starter can consist of solely a large bit of perfectly cooked bacon. You do gat a bowl of bread on the table but it's still a bit weird as your only getting pure grilled bacon on the plate. It was the greatest bacon though.

Normally when you get a steak at Peter Luger you get a large steak for two. Mathilde now eats fish but is still off her meat bless her so I had to go for the single steak while she had the salmon. I also ordered some creamed spinach.

When the steak comes out theres a bit of theatre from the waiter. It's sizziling on the platter, they place it on the table with a small plate on under one corner so it's raised presented to you and the meat juices collect in a handy pool. They serve two bits placed artfully on top of each other with a splash of meat juice and you're then left to eat it as you want.

I will say this is one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. Also for the small single steak it was pretty big. It was about the same size as a steak for two people I've had at London pretender Goodman's.

Each table also gets a boat of Peter Luger's own steak sauce. It's a ketchupy sauce with fresh horseradish. It goes very well with the steak and also my bacon starter.

Looking around the room the size of the steaks to be shared by two people are quite scary. The huge slabs of meat would easily feed six. A culture of doggy bags thankfully means many take about half of what they have ordered home with them.

The other diners in Peter Luger do not look like the heathlest of chaps. It was a bit of a culture shock walking in from off the hipster skinny jean wearing streets into a dining room full of elasticated waist bands. Cardiac medicine is not cheap when you don't have an NHS.

If you are planning to visit New York and would like to go to Peter Luger you'll need to book about a month in advance.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Hotel Delmano Williamsburg

Hotel Delmano is not a hotel it's actually a cocktail bar. I'd actually say it's one of the best bars I've ever been to. It has the best decor I've seen in a bar. The huge antique mirrors which adorn the back of the bar show signs of age with rust stains coming through the glass. There are a load of antique rickety looking shelves which contain all the various booze bottles used to make up the drinks. To get to the higher shelves a library ladder is used.

If this bar was in London I don't think it would be as nice, as in London it would be full of pompous twats. In Williamsburg New York having an expensive cocktail is not just the preserve of the twat and quite a diverse mix of normals and hipsters can be found in the bar. That's what makes it good. You don't feel like you're out of your depth, you're made to feel welcome.

Hotel Delmano serves proper cocktails. Ones which are basically two types of neat alcohol with a drop or two of syrup and bitters. The ones that if you attempt to make at home you'll come out with perfumed nail polish. They also have a raw bar serving a variety of oysters and other cold seafood. One cool thing you can get on the menu is a tin of sardines with saltine crackers.

I went for the Williamsburg cocktail which is rye whisky based with sweet vermouth, sherry and orange bitters. Quite strong and grownup tasting. Though definitely drinkable. I also noticed that the glasses here are actually quite deceptively large. I saw the barman put at least four shots into the shaker while making and nothing was left over when poured.

Mathilde went for the hornets nest which was a rum based drink. Was very nice. Rum based cocktails are dangerously drinkable.

I also think Hotel Delmano has the greatest toilets of any bar. Look at them copper walls, antique fixtures great!