Chestnut crepes

Chestnut flour is something we don’t rave about enough. I hadn’t really heard of it until this year, having come across it in a couple of recipes while editing a cookbook, but it is such a scrumptious and delicious flour that I intend to use more often. It isn’t easy to find, nor is it the cheapest flour on the market, but if you do enough research you can find it slightly cheaper than what Wholefoods sell it for. I found mine at Lina Stores in Soho but you can also get it from the brilliant Natoora website.

These chestnut crepes are so wafer thin and taste divine. I went to the photo shoot for the Nina St Tropez cookbook (publishing in June 2014) and Nina made these with her Nintella (like Nutella, but with the luxurious addition of macadamia nuts). We got to eat the crepes after the shot was done and oh my my was it a rollercoaster ride of the tastebuds. I was literally stamping the ground with my feet in excitement because it was the best crepe I had ever eaten. Paired with the chocolate spread, it tasted truly out of this world. They are so delicately thin and light-tasting. The chestnut flour gives the crepes an almost roasted nutty, sweet quality, and even after you eat five or six you don’t feel bloated or fat (and they are gluten free).  Since making these the first time, I’ve had them again and again. They are going to be my go-to weekend breakfast, there is simply no turning back.

Pictured directly below are Nina’s version from the photo shoot.

photo (11)

Chestnut crepes

150g chestnut flour

60g golden caster sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

300ml whole milk

10g unsalted butter

In a large bowl, mix together the chestnut flour, sugar and egg. Drizzle in the milk, stirring continuously with a whisk to stop any lumps from forming. Place a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat and add a little butter to coat the bottom of the pan. Once melted, add a ladle of batter to the pan, quickly swirling it around to create a very thin crepe. Cook for about 1 minute per side. Eat immediately. Don’t even attempt to keep them warm because they are best straight out of the frying pan and into hungry mouths.

Serve with Nintella (recipe featured in the book, published in 2014!) or Nutella. I also love them with Greek yoghurt, maple syrup and strawberries or sliced bananas.

(Recipe from Nina St Tropez: Recipes from the South of France, Nina Parker, W&N, June 2014)


Ricotta Pancakes

There is something so luxurious about adding cheese to pancakes, especially fresh ricotta. It is one of those ingredients that adds a lovely lightness, and a fresh taste you can’t quite put your finger on. Although the husband makes a pretty faultless pancake (using a Skye Gyngell recipe), I was inspired to try my hand at them myself. What better excuse than the just purchased Rose Bakery cookbook: Breakfast Lunch Tea. The book’s cover, a florescent green, is arresting enough to be instantly pick-up-able, but the recipes in it speak to me, all those tea cakes and rich tarts – things you want to eat everyday for the rest of your life. Recipes like chestnut and chocolate tart for those times when you are feeling just that little bit ambitious; lemon, rice and polenta cake: irresistible; and blueberry scones, which seem so inviting in their simplicity, all make me want to visit Rose Bakery in Paris. These ricotta pancakes were divine served with strawberries, bananas and a good drizzle of maple syrup and a bit of yoghurt. They really gave my husband’s pancakes a run for their money …

ricotta pancakes

Ricotta Pancakes

200g ricotta cheese

190ml whole milk

4 eggs, separated

150g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

unsalted butter, for cooking

To serve

75g unsalted butter, softened

1 tablespoon icing sugar

fresh berries, banana or any kind of fruit

1. Firstly make the sweetened butter by whisking the softened butter with the icing sugar together to lighten and combine. Set aside while you make the pancakes.

2. Beat the ricotta with the milk and egg yolks together until smooth

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt

4. Add the ricotta mixture to the flour and carefully stir until just combined

5. Now beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold them into the pancake mix, trying to keep in as much air as possible.

6. Melt some butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add spoonfuls of the batter to make as many pancakes as you like. Cook on a low to medium heat until the pancake is lightly golden underneath.

7. Turn over and cook on the other side for about another minute until both sides are golden. Continue making all pancakes in this way. Serve hot, spread with some sweetened butter and fresh fruit.

Momofuku, New York City

I don’t want to make a thing of putting up photos from my travels as I don’t want to turn into one of those foodie-obsessives who go travelling and photograph all their food from many angles in turn, letting the food go cold and ruining the ‘food moment’. But I must admit, there is a strong sense of appeal for me to savour the food with photographs so here are some shots from what I ate on my recent trip to New York. It was my birthday, yep, another year towards 30! This year I celebrated by visiting the much talked about Momofuku. I had heard much about David Chang’s chain of tasty, inexpensive and interesting take on Asian food. A bit of a radical and meat-loving chef, David Chang’s cookbook Momofuku has long been on my wish list for cookbooks to read. There is something so simple about cooking ramen with a twist, or just inventing a twist on traditional Asian cuisine not yet done, making it cheap and accessible, and not compromising on taste. Known for his meaty and no-nonsense kind of food, I made it a must on the itinerary to take a trip to try some of the ramen dishes first hand. Having spent all my money on the plane tickets, I thought it wise not to go to Momofuku Ko (partly because of the infamous intense booking system) but to Momofuku Noodlebar in the East Village instead.

For starters we ordered the shiitake steamed buns. Instead of the traditional looking steamed buns where the filling is central and encased within a fluffy white bun, this one was more like a steamed bun sandwich—the bun had been cut in half and the filling packed inside. The shiitake was tender and what’s more it was packed full of flavour—a bit of soy sauce and oyster sauce perhaps with some other sweet and delightful undertone.

Next up was the Momofuku Ramen of pork belly, pork shoulder and a poached egg.

The poached egg was the best part as it was perfectly cooked—breaking the middle made the yolk ooze out all runny and amazing. The temperature of the ramen was hot, but not piping hot so the egg didn’t continue to cook which made the ramen so tasty. The pork belly itself was the tenderest meat I have ever had and the second best part were the little slices of pink swirled fish balls (well, I think it was fish?!).

The milk bar was a bit of a different story. I got the brown butter cake soft serve and found it a bit too sweet and sickly. It may have been that I had a cold that day or it might be that I just don’t find cake flavoured soft serve the best thing to finish off a delicious meal.

Ottolenghi: Green pancakes with lime butter

Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book Plenty is on my number-one list of cookbook classics. What is excellent is that all the recipes are vegetarian, and although I am a fond lover of fish and meat, I find myself salivating at these recipes. Such moreish recipes like ‘parsnip dumplings in broth’ or the more exotic sounding recipes like ‘soba noodles with aubergine and mango’ where you think to yourself: ‘no this couldn’t possibly work?’ end up delighting your tastebuds. I used to pass by Ottolenghi’s recipes in the Guardian as I must admit I was a bit sceptical. It seemed like he loved using raisins (ick!) in a majority of recipes and fruity elements mixed with savoury, which are or should I say ‘were’ my ultimate food hell.But now I am an absolute and utter Ottolenghi convert and have tried about five recipes so far that have worked a gem! I have now come to the conclusion that this man is a genius! As you can tell, I couldn’t be more enthusiastic.

The cookbook is divided into categories based on the main ingredient and the overall presentation is very clean looking. This is quite hard for me being a bit of a messy cook: first of all the cover is white and now the book already looks like it has caught some onion, oil stains and other food splatters; second of all there is a lot of white space around the images which doesn’t help with the kitchen spills. I don’t have a copy of Ottolenghi’s last book which was a huge success and got tremendous reviews, but I think that the layout and text design is much more attractive and simpler than the last one.

The green pancakes instantly appealed to me. I always think of my best friend Kushana when I see recipes with fritters or pancakes as she was the one person who introduced me to them years ago. The most astonishing aspect of the recipe is the lime butter, who could resist the combination of lime, coriander, garlic and chilli added to the wonderous thing that is butter? The flavours all work really well together and the texture is definitely more pancake-like (quite thick) than it is fritter or rosti-like. One thing to note about the recipe is the baking powder. Although there is a lot, it doesn’t taste overpoweringly like baking powder because the other ingredients balance it out nicely. Due to my greediness, I only took a couple of quick shots of this meal but the picture does not do justice to the most deliciouness of this recipe!

Green pancakes with lime butter

250g spinach, washed

110g self-raising flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 free-range organic egg

50g unsalted butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cumin (use freshly ground if you can)

150ml milk

6 medium spring onions finely sliced

2 fresh green chillies, thinkly sliced

1 free-range egg white

olive oil for frying

Lime butter

100g unsalted butter, at room temperature

grated zest of 1 lime

1 1/2 Tablespoons lime juice

1/4 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of white pepper

1 Tablespoon chopped coriander leaves

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes

Make the lime butter by putting the butter in a bowl and mixing it with a wooden spoon till soft and creamy. Add the ingredients for the butter and mix well. Tip out into cling film and roll out into a sausage shape. Twist the ends to seal and chill in the fridge till firm.

Add spinach to a pan with a little hot water to wilt. Drain and squeeze out all the moisture when cool. Chop and set a side.

Now make the pancake batter. Add flour, baking powder, melted butter, whole egg, salt, cumin, and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk till smooth. Add the spring onions, chillies and spinach and mix with a fork. Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and gently fold into the batter.

Heat a frying pan on med-high heat. Add olive oil and for each pancake, ladle 2 Tablespoons of batter into the pan and press down gently. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side or till you get a golden-green colour. Continue until all the batter is used up. Serve with the lime butter and some salad on the side.