Another delicious salad that I love, and that is the perfect accompaniment to barbecued meat, is a beetroot salad I’ve been making for years (if not decades!). This recipe was originally shared with me from the wife of a very good friend’s cousin.
Back when we were teenagers with driving licences and too much time on our hands, my friend Helen and I would race around the country on a whim, visiting wherever we thought was a good idea on that day! One day we decided to go and visit (unannounced – I now realise how irritating we must have been!) Helen’s cousin and wife in Southend-on-Sea. They were so welcoming to two crazy teenage day-trippers and gave us a meal that included one of the most delicious salads I have ever tasted. I LOVE beetroot, and it also includes cheese (which is something of an addiction for me) and garlic – yes please! Helen’s cousin had married a Russian lady and she said she’d brought this recipe with her from Russia.
What is so great about this salad is that its really yummy the day after, spread thickly on a piece of crusty baguette. The only thing is, it’s so delicious it may not last until the day after!
Grate equal parts of cooked beetroot and cheese (I like to use a mature cheddar) and mix with a couple of spoonful’s of sour cream and crushed garlic (I’d suggest two cloves of garlic for every four cooked beetroots). It really is that simple!
We’re at the height of barbecue season (yes, even in the rain – we’re British!) and while meat plays the staring role in most people’s barbecues I find the supporting role of the salad to be just as important. So my next couple of posts will focus on delicious salads that go perfectly with your barbecue.
Last month one of my lovely regulars, Pam, gave me a couple of homegrown loquats the day before I was due to host a family barbecue. The loquat is a tangy plum-like fruit originally from China and Japan but it’s increasing in popularity in the UK – and as Pam has proved they can be grown in Wimbledon!
Loquats make delicious jams and jellies but I decided to use them in a summer salad. I sliced the loquats and layered them along with pieces of serrano ham and slices of goat’s cheese on top of a bed of baby salad leaves and I have to say this salad was just beautiful as a side dish to the delicious burgers and sausages we feasted on. You may also want to try my potato salad recipe for a refreshingly zingy side!
I can’t get enough of elderflower in the warm weather and this juicy apple cake is yet another delightful way to enjoy what has become a rather British taste of summertime. I would suggest enjoying a slice of this cake with a cup of black Earl Grey. Too delicious for words!
8oz self-raising flour
3 apples, roughly chopped
Dried elderflower petals
As with most of my cake recipes, soften the butter and cream in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, and then mix in the flour (make sure you don’t overmix, it’s important to keep as much air in as possible). Fold in the chopped apples. I like to keep the skin on for texture. Bake in a greased and lined loaf tin on 150 for around 40 minutes or until golden brown. Don’t forget to do the skewer test to make sure it’s cooked all the way though!
To make the drizzle add a couple of capfuls of elderflower cordial to half a mug of icing sugar and stir vigorously. You may need to add a tea spoon or two of boiled water to help it on its way – I would advise you to add a tiny amount at a time or you might find you need to add more icing sugar. Drizzle the icing over the cooled cake and lightly sprinkle the dried elderflower petals on the top. This pretty loaf cake deserves to be served on your finest china!
The tennis championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, more commonly known as ‘Wimbledon’, brings excitement to our little corner of south west London every summer. And for those two weeks it’s hard to venture out of our borough. But now that the tennis is over it’s worth noting that south west London has more to offer than just two weeks of tennis.
Sitting on the River Thames at Richmond, the Bingham Riverhouse gives you beautiful views whether you’re seated inside or out. Having recently undergone a makeover with a £1m refurbishment and a new Head Chef – one who has a Michelin Bib Gourmond and 3 AA Rosettes – the Bingham Riverhouse is definitely worth visiting this summer. While it has the feel of a members club as you enter – there’s no garish neon signage at this restaurant, only a discreet name plate by the door – we were told by the team that their aim is for the restaurant to be far more accessible than it was in it’s former life, so please don’t put off booking because you think it’s too posh; everyone is welcome at the Bingham Riverhouse!
I can’t lie, as I stood on the balcony enjoying my aperitif cocktail, I did feel like I could’ve been in a period film, one that’s set in the twilight of the big houses’ heyday. There is a calmness to the river, despite it being kept busy with rowers training, birds flying overhead looking for supper, aeroplanes flying to nearby Heathrow; noise seemed to disappear and it was just me and my drink. And the many other guests enjoying the Bingham Riverhouse that evening too!
I was treated to a tasting menu which included torched mackerel, raw beef with a spiced tomato relish and raw egg yolk (I would call this steak tartare), and delectable duck (the most beautiful slices of rose-pink duck breast). The absolute stand-out dishes for me were the pig head croquette (I’m still dreaming of that succulent meat) and the salmon with oyster mayo and crispy oyster on the side. Simply heavenly. We finished off our feast with a pudding of bitter chocolate with wild strawberry sorbet, which I certainly went wild for!
You can enjoy dining at the Bingham Riverhouse from just £37 (for two courses, £45 for three courses) and I would say with such fine quality food and beautiful surroundings it’s really not to be missed. Dining here may become another British summertime tradition for me!
I’m a big fan of homemade gifts; to me they show far more thought (they’re so easily personalised) and are made with love and imagination (although flowers and jewellery are still gratefully accepted ). These rose creams are pretty, easy to make and are as sweet as the person you’re giving them to!
1 egg white
14oz icing sugar
2 teaspoons of rose water
A dash of pink food colouring
Mix the egg white with the icing sugar, rose water and food colouring (I like to use my Kenwood mixer) until it makes a pink paste – see, I told you they were easy to make! Lightly dust a rolling mat with icing sugar and roll out until its around 5mm thick and cut out into pretty hearts, flowers or any other shape you choose. Leave to dry for around an hour or so. These look so charming in a lovely gift box, or on a pretty vintage plate.
I love the first part of winter – the novelty jumpers, looking forward to Christmas, smells of gingerbread, mulled wine and clementines – but there comes a time during winter that I start to really miss the summer; my sunny holidays and the taste of Mediterranean food. This dish brings together winter comfort food with the flavours of summer holidays in such a delicious way!
1oz plain flour
1.5 pints of milk
7oz cheese grated
20 black olives, halved
9oz macaroni or conchiglie
Slice the chorizo and fry in a non-stick pan. You’ll find the chorizo leaves oil in the pan. Remove the slices of chorizo and add the butter to the chorizo oil and then, over a low heat, stir in the flour to make a roux. By using the chorizo oil with the butter you’ll give your roux a lovely zing! Once you’ve made the roux, gradually add the milk, still over a lowish heat, until you have a sauce. Thicken the sauce by adding the cheese and stir in the slices of chorizo and the olive halves. You don’t want the sauce to be too thick as it will naturally thicken as the macaroni cooks in the oven.
Place the dry macaroni in a dish and pour the sauce over the top, covering entirely. Cook in an oven on gas mark 5 for 30 minutes. This is quite a rich dish so I like to serve it with a crisp salad or some fresh broccoli stems.
If you’re not a fan of fruit cake or winter spices, this is a great Christmas cake alternative…
12 oz sugar
12oz self-raising flour or 9oz self-raising flour and 3oz cocoa powder
For the icing:
6oz butter at room temperature
12oz icing sugar
Milk (a dash)
Candy canes to decorate
Cream the butter until soft and then add the sugar. Add the eggs, one by one, and mix until the wet mixture is even. Sift in the flour and mix again but not for long as you don’t want to beat the air out of it. Put the mixture into two 8” tins that you’ve greased and lined and pop in the oven on 150 for around 30 minutes or until golden. Remember to make sure the cakes pass the skewer test!
To make the icing cream the butter and add the icing sugar and peppermint essence. Add the milk a little bit at a time until you’re happy with the consistency. Mix and then mix some more! You’re your icing is light and fluffy spread a layer on top of the first cake and place the second cake on top. Cover the whole cake with the remaining icing and decorate with the candy canes – I chose to crush the candy canes and sprinkle on the top and around the edge but you can be as creative as you want with. Cut a slice and make a Christmas wish and you never know, it may come true…
For a south-west London girl who loves country music and food (in no particular order), I was really excited to hear of a new southern American restaurant, Stagolee’s Hot Chicken and Liquor Joint, opening up in Fulham. While I’ve made the journey across the pond a few times I’ve never been to The South so this cuisine was virgin territory for me, and my taste buds were beyond excited. No pressure then Stagolee’s…
The South is famed for its hospitality and Stagolee’s didn’t let us down. We were greeted by friendly (but not too intrusive) staff and enjoyed a chat with the Nashville-native owner, Jordan, who talked us through the menu, whisky, moonshine and what makes southern cuisine so special.
We started off sharing the hot spinach dip, a cheesy spinach and artichoke dip served with tortillas. I could have eaten this and nothing else all evening and left a happy woman. Spinach, artichoke and cheese are three of my favourite foods, so put them all together and I was in food heaven for a while. But it was my duty to eat a main course too…
We opted for the chicken platters; excellent value for money at under £10 each. Beware those of you who aren’t keen on heat, you might be best off choosing the skillet fried chicken. We went for the hot chicken which I loved – but I was pleased to have sides to balance out the heat. Olivia found the hot chicken a bit too hot, and she’s fairly hard-core, so tread carefully, but if you think you’re tough enough I personally recommend the hot chicken.
When I say excellent value for money I really mean it. We each got two pieces of delicious chicken, two yummy sides and cornbread. And speaking of cornbread, where has it been all my life? I wasn’t expecting to enjoy what seemed like cake with a main course quite as much as I did. I really must have a go at making some myself! Sides include the classic mac and cheese, sweet potato, southern-style greens (served with ham hock – again, mouth-wateringly scrumptious), and carrot salad (which reminded me of coronation chicken without the chicken. Or the mayonnaise). The carrot salad was refreshing and full of flavour – definitely my favourite. Crinkle cut chips are also available but it seems a shame to me to not enjoy the other side dishes. Let’s face it, you can get chips almost anywhere.
I’m afraid pudding beat us – there was simply no room left. However, it would have been almost criminal to leave without enjoying a whisky. Having started the evening with a delicious gin cocktail and then enjoyed a bottle of red with the main meal I wasn’t really in the best place to judge how good a whisky it was, so I’ll just have to trust the barman on this one. Needless to say, I enjoyed it!
So the big question is, would I go back to Stagolee’s? Absolutely, although really do feel the need to visit Nashville even more than ever now to check out the food, if nothing else!