It’s been a typical March week of weather that has roller-coastered from the hottest day of the year so far (17C in London) to the arrival of the last gasp of Storm Stella, which has crossed the Atlantic, to bring strong winds and rain this evening. Fortunately my week of food has been more reliable – old favourite restaurants out and old favourite recipes at home.
Saturday – Here Comes Summer
You know summer is coming when a long queue winds out of Gelateria Danieli in Richmond and along the narrow passageway of Brewer Lane, which conveniently leads out on to Richmond Green where, having bought your ice cream, you can find a bench to sit and enjoy it – and the view. The gelateria is known as one of the best in London (which actually now boasts are vast array of glorious ice cream parlours). For me it’s a regular summer treat and it was on the spur of the moment, walking through a warm and sunny Richmond last Saturday afternoon, that I decided to divert from the high street and treat myself to some gelato – dark chocolate sorbet and some frozen yoghurt with fruits of the forest.
Sunday – Barbecue & Birthday Cake
My brother Adam came over with Clara and Leo. Clara had turned 14 during the week so I made my lovely niece a birthday cake. It was the same chocolate and vanilla marble cake I’d made Freddie only a couple of weeks before but I thought some pretty rose decorations (that I bought in Waitrose – my creative skills in the kitchen don’t go as far as making flower decorations like this) would be more appropriate than the Paw Patrol ones I’d used for my 2-year-old grandson. But first we’d eaten a great barbecue of kofte and marinated chicken, all from Moro recipes, prepared by and cooked by son Jonathan. My savoury contribution was some labneh to go on the table with the meats and salads. I love making labneh because it’s fun to produce home-made cream cheese so easily and know it contains nothing more than good Greek yoghurt and a little sea salt.
I left it draining in the fridge overnight then served it simply, tipping it into a bowl and drizzling over a good amount of extra virgin olive oil, then sprinkling with za’atar. Sometimes I flavour it with spices or rolled into little balls and preserve in oil – click here for recipes.
Monday – Mushrooms & Cream
I had a little cream left over from making the chocolate ganache icing for the birthday cake and some mushrooms that needed using up. So I made a pasta sauce with them, plus some bacon from the freezer and parsley from the garden that remarkably has lasted all through the winter (click here for recipe).
Tuesday – Lost in Location
It was a rather manic day of rushing around, which included unexpectedly heading over to deliver Freddie to nursery very early as Jonathan called to say he was too ill to take him. I treated myself to one of Stefano’s croissants and some coffee in Your Bakery Whitton for breakfast before heading home. I then managed a couple of hours of work before heading into Richmond. I grabbed a quick little egg roll in Paul (almost like an old-fashioned bridge roll, filled with egg mayonnaise) then dashed into Richmond station to meet friend Elsa. She’d crossed London from Hackney in the morning for an appointment and suggested meeting on the train back into central London, knowing I’m currently doing a basic art history course at the National Gallery on Tuesday afternoons. We stopped for coffee and muffin at Waterloo station then went our separate ways. By the time I eventually got home I couldn’t summon the energy to head out again to book group, even though I love it, and took some aubergine & tomato sauce from the freezer to go with pasta and a glass of red wine!
Wednesday – Joe’s and Covent Garden
I headed into Covent Garden in the evening to meet my good friend Annie at our favourite and most frequented restaurant – Joe Allen. After about 20 years of going there it’s a bit like an alternative home and the welcome matches the feeling. We always meet in time for their early evening set menu that at £14.95 for 2 courses is one of the best and best value around. But that’s not why we’re there, though it’s a bonus – we’re there because we love Joe Allen.
Thursday – Raiding the Freezer Again
It was another busy – though very lovely – day of Freddie in the morning and a work meeting in the afternoon. Come evening I took some frozen kofte from my freezer and made a spicy tomato sauce with tinned tomatoes, sliced onion and red peppers and chilli. I browned the thawed kofte in oil then added them to the sauce and let it all simmer for about 15 minutes while I cooked some rice. Perfect and easy supper! Whenever I make kofte I make extra to freeze – either for the barbecue on another day, or to griddle, or to go into a sauce like this.
Friday – Neopolitan Heaven
I suggested to my lovely friend Jane that we go to Masaniello for lunch. She’d read about it on my blog and was talking about the holidays she used to have south of Naples. Well Naples might be too far for lunch but Masaniello has to be the next best thing. As it was lunchtime and neither of us wanted anything too heavy, I suggested we ordered a couple of dishes and a salad to share – small plate style. I thought Jane couldn’t go away without having tried Livio’s wonderful Napoli pizza, so that was a definite choice. We had a Margherita, a gorgeous Melanzane Parmigiana and a Rocket & Parmesan salad. What a great end to the week.