Monthly Archives: October 2013

Caravan

31st October 2013

Have you been to Caravan in Exmouth Market?  I am sometimes laughed at for loving brunch too much, but this place backs me up.

It’s about a fifteen minute walk from King’s Cross station – I met K there one Saturday morning before she jumped on a train to Yorkshire.  If you’re craving proper breakfast food but want a refreshing upgrade on the standard fry up, Caravan is the spot.

Start, as lots of good mornings do, with a Bloody Mary…

Bloody Mary

Caravan

I had a fresh carrot, apple and ginger juice and it was scrumdiddlyumptious.  I often think that fruit juices in London restaurants are a rip off – you get a small portion of something that doesn’t taste special for a big price.  I was very pleasantly surprised by the juice here.  A generous glass, and really delicious.

Apple Carrot Ginger Juice

Caravan Outside

Caravan Sign

Food arrived quickly – for me a countryside feel, carbier (can I use that as a word?!) twist on Eggs Benedict.  

Ham hock hash, poached eggs, peas and honey mustard hollandaise.  

Ham Hock Hash

K had avocado on toasted sourdough, with olive oil and chilli flakes…

Avocado on Sourdough

And she ordered some extra bacon to pop on top (fantastic shout).

Avocado and Bacon

Poached Eggs

Egg and Peas

Great eggs, and the potato hash was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Oh, did I mention we also had a side of sausages?  Why not.  I love it when a restaurant has a good selection of side orders – it lets you get more creative.

Sausages

All rounded off with one of the prettiest coffees I’ve had in ages.

Latte

Next time I go to Caravan I’ll be trying the coconut bread with fresh strawberries and lemon curd cream cheese.  Doesn’t that sound amazing?

Happy Halloween everybody!  If you want a giggle, check out these sexy food themed costume ideas…

Caravan Exmouth Market on Urbanspoon

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Give It Some Welly!

23rd October 2013

Beef and pastry – two of the best ingredients in any menu.  I hosted a dinner party recently, and decided to ‘give it some welly’ (see what I did there?!).  I had never made Beef Wellington before, but it seemed like a fun challenge (and I really fancied beef and pastry).

But before I explain the main course, let me show you the starter.  O and I got inspiration for this one at a restaurant we visited in Thailand, and have been meaning to make it for a while.  I will not claim the credit, he did all the work on this course!

Stuffed Tomato

It’s a stuffed tomato, served with the ‘lid’ on.  So, we bought one beef tomato per person, sliced the tops off, and then O got to work scooping out the insides.  These are then chopped and mixed with mozzarella, basil and seasoning in a bowl, before being spooned back in to the hollowed out tomatoes.

Tomato with filling

Lids are placed on top, and then we reduced some balsamic vinegar on the stove to decorate for serving.  The tomatoes look very pleasing when they’re brought to the table – I think this would work with other fillings as well (maybe goats cheese and pepper?).

Stuffed tomatoes

Starters munched, onto the Wellington.  I’d prepared this in the afternoon, so popped it into the oven as we were serving the starter.  It needed about 25 minutes in a hot oven to cook to medium rare. 

Firstly, you need to buy some really good beef fillet.  This should be from a butcher or the meat counter in a supermarket (be warned, it is a bit pricey…).  Around 1kg should serve six people well, but if you can afford more, buy more – you’ll want seconds!

I precooked the fillet (brushed with olive oil) for 15-20 minutes, and then put it in the fridge to chill.  While it’s cooling, throw a load of chestnut mushrooms into the food processor and chop them till they’re quite fine.  These are then pan fried with butter, oil, thyme and white wine to make the ‘duxelles’.  

Use cling film to wrap the fillet in prosciutto ham, with a layer of duxelles between the ham and the beef.  The duxelles keeps the beef moist, and the ham will help to prevent the pastry becoming soggy. 

1

When the beef is wrapped, put it back in the fridge to chill (wrapped in cling film still), while you roll out a sheet of puff pastry.  You then need to place the fillet on the pastry sheet, and brush the whole lot down with egg yolk.  Lay another sheet of pastry over the top, and seal by pressing a spoon around the edges.

Trim the pastry and then decorate the Wellington with the excess, before brushing more egg yolk over everything.

Beef Wellington ready for the oven

I blobbed the remaining bits of pastry around the tray, because I know people always like extra pastry…

The Wellington can be chilled like this for up to 24 hours before you put it back in the oven.

Cooked Beef Wellington

To my blogging shame, I was too excited with the result and forgot to take a photo of the beef when I’d carved the Wellington into slices.  But I can say following reviews that it looked (and tasted) pretty good!

As a side dish, I served an Ottolenghi dish I’d been recommended by K – sweet potato gratin.  You can find the recipe on that link.  I will hands down be making this again – minimal prep (especially if you can slice the potatoes with a food processor), and so, so delicious.  The short story is, you roast sweet potatoes, sage, garlic and cream in the oven and create something magical.

Ottonlenghi Sweet Potato Gratin

As you can see, the finished gratin will make a big impact (the colour is lovely).

Pudding was raspberry pavlova, washed down with Amarula.  We were joined after supper by some neighbours across the road who spotted us dancing through the window.  (A little strange, but why not?)  So we danced the night away…

Raspberry Pavlova

Raspberry Pavlova

What are your go-to dinner party recipes?