Special New Years Dinner…

I was so excited to finally visit Chez Panisse this New Years. It was one of those ‘I can’t believe I’m finally here’ moments. The restaurant has had a huge influence on my training so far and it was crazy to finally see the place I’ve heard and learnt so much about. Everything was just as imagined and better. Alice Water’s was floating around tasting mis en place before service began all while hugging and greeting guests at the same time. It felt like we were spending New Years at a family home although we were thousands of miles from home.

I’m really excited to spend time working in the kitchen at Chez while I’m here in San Fran so it was nice to sit and relax and enjoy the food before I get stuck in next week.

Some pics which don’t nearly capture how good the evening was…

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Visiting Fern Verrow

Thinking back to last year’s food highlights visiting Fern Verrow farm is high on the list. Fern Verrow is a biodynamic farm at the foothills of the pretty Black Mountains in Herefordshire which supplies Spring with its incredible ingredients. Twice a week Jane and Harry of Fern Verrow make the ten hour round trip to the restaurant in London to deliver what has been picked.

From crates and crates of berries in the summer to an array of squash in the autumn it was so exciting and motivating to see where the ingredients we use all year round come from.

We spent the day exploring the farm, learning of the processes from cultivation to growing to finagling picking. We also got stuck in and helped pick some squash, apples and beautiful quince. We then ate dinner which consisted of foods from the farm. For some reason everything tasted even better after seeing the care and effort put into producing these amazing foods. We whipped up an apple crumble for dessert using a selection of the apples we had just picked. One of the most exciting parts was being at work the next few days and using the ingredients that we had picked ourselves. The concept of farm to plate has had a huge influence on my training as a chef both at Ballymaloe and now at my time at Spring so it was really inspiring to be part of the action for the day.

Here are some pics I snapped throughout the day on the farm…


Escaping London

Every now and again its so nice to escape the craziness of London. Last week we took a trip to Richmond which is a quick train/tube journey just outside London. The main reason for choosing Richmond was to visit Petersham Nurseries.

Petersham Nurseries is a garden shop, tea room and restaurant and also happens to be where Skye Gyngell, who I now work for at Spring, received her first Michelin star.

Here are some pictures from the day and a link to the website for Petersham Nurseries….

 


  
  

Click here to visit the website….

Squashing it

I love Autumn and the seasonal foods that come with it especially squash. I visited my favourite cafe in South London recently and had a yummy dish of baked eggs with squash, sage and feta. I’ve been re creating the dish for breakfast lunch and dinner since. Here’s my version using fresh basil in replace of sage. Both work really well.


What you need to serve 2:

One small squash (onion squash is ideal)

1 onion

Pinch chilli flakes

Few sprigs of fresh thyme

Bunch fresh basil/sage

100g feta cheese

4eggs

Salt and olive oil

Salad leaves and toasted sourdough to serve along side

Preheat oven to 180.

Start by roasting the squash. Cut the squash in half and remove and discard of the flesh. Cut into chunks of equal size and place on a roasting tray. Cut the onion in half and remove the skin. Cut into quarters and place on the roasting tray. Add chilli flakes, salt, thyme sprigs and a good drizzle of olive oil. Roast at 180 for around 20 mins tossing occasionally. Test by piercing the squash with a fork. It’s ready when it’s just tender enough.


Remove squash from roasting tray and discard of onion etc.

In an oven proof pan (this will be your serving dish) gently heat some olive oil on the hob and add the basil/sage leaves. When oil just begins to spit crack in the 4 eggs. Remove pan to the oven and bake for approx 5 mins until the yolks are cooked but still runny.

Remove pan from the oven and toss on the roasted squash, some fresh basil/sage leaves, crumble over the feta and drizzle with olive oil. Serve with some dressed salad leaves and buttery toasted sour dough. Don’t forget to warn your guests of the hot pan!

Enjoy x

Perks of the job…

Most of the time, due to long hours spent in the kitchen, the perks of being a chef are few and far between. But the perks when they do come along can be very perky!! Last week we were invited to a supplier’s evening at La Fromagerie, who I mention quiet regularly on here as one of my favourite spots in London. The event focused on champagne pairings for cheese, chocolate (Said Chocolate) and smoked salmon (Hansen and Lydersen). And yes it was as heavenly as it sounds! It feels wrong to call it a ‘tasting’ as there was literally endless amounts of everything and my champagne flute was never empty. Such a lovely evening. Here are some pics from the event! X


  

   
  

Apple and cinnamon scones

I remember the first time I had an apple and cinnamon scone was with my sister in Bewley’s cafe on Grafton street in Dublin one Christmas. We ordered one to share and after having one bite each we both decided we wanted one to ourselves. They are so yummy warm with melted butter and this is the perfect time of year to make them with all the apples falling from the trees.

900g plain flour
3tsp baking powder
55g caster sugar
3 heaped tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
150g small Apple chunks (skin removed)
170g butter
3 eggs
450ml milk (approx)
For the topping: 1egg, 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius. In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, sugar, cinnamon and salt). Stir in the apple chunks. In a measuring jug whisk together the 3 eggs and the milk.
Chop the butter measurement into chunks and add to the dry mix. Using your finger tips combine the butter with the flour mix until small bread crumb like consistency is reached.
Make a well in the centre and add the milk/egg mix and combine all the ingredients just until a dough forms. Do not over work or the scones will be tough.
Turn the dough out onto a flour surface and knead gently to form a round. Roll out to around 1inch thickness and cut to desired scone shape.
Combine the half cup sugar and cinnamon. Dip each scone top in the egg wash and then into the sugar/ cinnamon mix and transfer to baking tray.
Bake for approx ten mins or until golden brown.

Soho Cafes…

I’m obsessed with dining in Soho! There’s so many quirky eating experiences and everywhere I’ve tried so far has just worked. Yesterday I ate at Said which is a little Italian cafe. Mixing two of my favourite things, Italy (although I’ve never been) and lunch. The cafe is really rustic and simple. They have an abundance of chocolates on display and the smell of coffee is perfect. I ate a San Danielle, mozzarella and basil sandwhich. Pretty simple but so good.


Service was pretty slow but it didn’t bother me as was having a lazy lunch. I love a café that makes you fell like you’re somewhere outside of London. And with all Italian staff and mostly Italian customers I definitely felt like I was sitting in the middle of a busy café in Rome. The best part was the mocha. I’m not a mocha fan but spotted one being made and couldn’t resist. They ladled white, milk and dark chocolate all around the cup and filled it with espresso and hot frothy milk. Needless to say after two sips I was stuffed! But still so good!


My next stop in Soho will be to Bao just around the corner from Said. Bao serves steamed buns which is a huge food trend in London at the moment. But with a never ending queue outside the door, we’ve yet to find the right time to experience Londons current most popular eatery.

Brunch boards….

If you’re hosting a weekend brunch for friends and family the last thing you want to be doing is spending your time couped up in the kitchen stressing over the perfect poached egg while everyone else is catching up without you. A perfect way to avoid this is the brunch board. All you need to do is buy some great ingredients that compliment each other and all the prep can be done ahead of time. Head to a farmers market or if in Cork, the Engkish market and everything you’ll need will be there! Here are some of my favourite foods for brunch:

-Eggs (boiled are the least fussiest and everyone loves a boiled egg with a good pinch of sea salt)

-Avacado (smash it up with some seasoning or keep it simple and slice it)

-Pastries 

-Selection of meats and cheeses

-Fresh seasonal fruits (apricots, peaches, berries….)

-Nuts ( gently toast some walnuts or almonds and they will compliment the fruits and cheeses perfectly)

-Toasted sourdough 

-Selection of preserves and honey 

Serve with some good coffee or even some belinis for a boozy brunch 👌

      (A super simple brunch board)

This is all for now ….

Have been spending all my time in work lately that all I feel I can share on here is a few pictures from work. Hopefully more exciting foody things to come on my days off so I can jump back on the blogging bandwagon but for now…


Beautiful Viola flowers from Fern Verrow making our desserts look extra pretty.


English Eucalyptus tree spotted in the hallway just delivered from Jam Jar flowers and about to be prepared for the dining room. This smells amazing!!


Before and after of yummy brioche buns. A Sunday treat for staff dinner.

Sea salt and Rosemary Focaccia was Monday’s treat…spoilt!


A salad chef’s mistake on a check was my gain during service…yum!

Snapped this pic from the salon on my way out of work today… So pretty!

That’s all for now… X