Pear and stilton gnocchi

This recipe sounds ultra-fancy, but it can be knocked up in fifteen minutes, making it a very sociable dish for guests. And it’s cheap – a couple of pears, an onion, garlic, cheese, and some gnocchi comes to about £2 per serving. Pear and stilton is such a complimentary combination – don’t feel alarmed. Here’s some rare pictures of me cooking in my gorgeous student kitchen, curtesy of my wonderful photographer (and friend), James.

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Pear and stilton gnocchi (serves 2; vegetarian)

 Ingredients: 

  • 1 onion (I find brown works best, but shallots would also be banging)
  • 2 ripe pears, peeled and sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 100g stilton
  • 500g gnocchi

Method:

  1. Heat a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive, then fry off the onions for 5 minutes on a gentle heat. Add the sliced pear, followed by garlic and rosemary. Cook for about 10 minutes, while the gnocchi is cooking, stirring occasionally.
  2. Boil a pan of water, add the gnocchi and cook for 3 minutes – be careful to not over cook.
  3. Take the saucepan off the heat, and stir in the drained gnocchi. While still very hot, crumble the stilton over, and mix gently until creamy.

4. Season with pepper, and sprinkle over some nuts for added texture – pine nuts, cashews or walnuts work well.

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happy guests

Mango and Asian mushrooms teriyaki soba

Mango and Asian mushrooms teriyaki soba vegan; serves 2

don’t be skeptical of the combination of shiitake, enoki and oyster with ripe, juicy mango 

Ingredients:

  • 300g Asian mushrooms (I’ve used shiitake, enoki, and oyster)
  • 1/2 large fresh mango, chopped into cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 bundles of soba noodles (approximately 180g)

Method:

  1. In a frying pan, heat a little vegetable oil on a medium heat and sauté the mushrooms for 2 minutes.
  2. Boil a pan of water and cook the soba noodles.
  3. Whilst the noodles are cooking, combine the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce, sesame seed oil, garlic and curry powder. Pour onto the sautéing mushrooms, and add the chopped mango. Fry for a further minute.
  4. Serve up piping hot, and with sriracha sauce, if an extra kick is needed.

 

Autumnal menu reivew at The Oddfellows

My first impressions of The Oddfellows are from comedy and cocktail nights in the upstairs speakeasy; the vintage interior offers sophisticated quirks and charms that are a luxury for students, and the vast array of spirits and ales are incredibly exciting. The cocktails are an absolute delight – these experimental and delicious concoctions are overshadowed by popular and inexpensive cocktail bars in the city, attracting students from the deep, dark depths of their deadlines. If you’re in need of a cosy space for an uninterrupted first date, then students, leave the sugary, syrupy cocktail pitchers at Firehouse and head across the road to The Oddfellows. If conversation is sparse you can discuss the eccentric decor, like the giant pine cone chairs, or the animal heads hanging from the walls.

Sometimes I just hate breaking the news that I’m vegetarian to the restaurant owners overseeing my reviews, particularly after first-glance at a lavish meat feast of a menu consisting of duck breast, black pudding mousse, chorizo couqettes…the chefs certainly know how to curate a menu according to season. So when my lovely server, Ryan, recommended the last of the venison on today’s specials board I didn’t want to announce “I’m afraid we’re (referring to my lucky reviewee partner and myself) vegetarian”. And that’s made awkward more so by the fact that the only vegetarian main on the menu was a risotto, albeit a luxurious, al dente, creamy risotto. Although, I do prefer it when a menu is composed of a few extensively and passionately designed dishes. Situated on a table with full view of the happenings of the kitchen, the solo chef on this Monday evening knew his way round the elaborate yet tempting menu, juggling the orders for hungry diners.

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The dish that deserves the spotlight from this three course is surprisingly a simplistic vegetarian starter, which merely thinking about is making my mouth water. On paper, it’s rather unexciting: Goats cheese mousse, quince purée, and butternut squash. This restaurant certainly loves its mousses and purées. The goats cheese mousse melted in the mouth – it wasn’t overpowering or too rich like you’d expect it to be but was the perfect, soft accompaniment to the crunchiness of the butternut squash – which there were only three cubes of – a tad ungenerous, if not to emphasise the mousse as centerpiece.

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An additional vegetarian starter on the specials board also caught my eye: salad of roasted heart of artichoke, giant caramelized shallots, served with a concentrated spinach and basil dressing, and a sprinkling of pumpkin seeds. This was a wholesome and more filling starter compared to the first. But starters aren’t meant to fill you up, they’re there to whet your appetite for the next courses, and the goats cheese mousse was incredibly exciting, making me anticipate the what would come next.

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Up next was unfortunately the only vegetarian main up for grabs: creamy roasted cauliflower risotto with truffle oil. It didn’t disappoint in taste and appearance however; the charred cauliflower with truffle oil against the luxurious base of al dente (cooked to perfection in my books) risotto rice really worked. If you prefer less rich, less creamy risotto then this may not be for you – it’s truly indulgent.

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I’ve never had parfait before, so the dessert was an appealing excuse to try it I’m also a sucker for all the components of this dessert: peanut butter, caramelized banana and salted caramel sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed the way this was assembled, rather than merely plated; it was similar to the artistic arrangement of the winning starter.

On average starters and desserts were priced at £5.50, and mains ranging from £13 to £19, so it’s a student treat, or somewhere to take when the parents visit for graduation perhaps. I would definitely go again if the options for vegetarians were increased and more varied, there’s much more scope for experimentation in the non-meat dishes. Otherwise I’ll just have to order three of the goats cheese mousse starter.

Aubergine katsu and miso crunch bao buns

Aubergine katsu and miso crunch bao buns makes 4 buns; vegetarian 

tackling this Taiwanese dish; they’re a worthwhile challenge. Here I combine the pillow soft buns with classic Asian flavours. 

Ingredients:

For the dough:

  • 130g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 30ml whole milk
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil

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  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, yeast and baking powder. Pour in the milk and sunflower oil; mix well until a smooth and stretchy dough is formed. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  2. Shape into a ball and wrap in clingfilm. Place in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for approximately 2 hours.
  3. Once the dough has doubled in size, separate into 4 equal-sized balls, weighing approximately 80g each.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the balls into flat oval shapes. Brush the dough with little sunflower oil. Fold over, placing a chopstick where the crease in the bun will be, so it can be filled with tasty ingredients.
  5. Prepare the steamer (this can be bamboo or stainless steel), and steam the buns in batches for 8 minutes each.

Processed with VSCO with c1 presetAubergine katsu bao:

  • 1 small aubergine, sliced into 1cm discs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp katsu curry paste
  • 5g fresh coriander, chopped

Method:

  1. Lightly dust the aubergine discs, then coat in beaten egg and panko breadcrumbs. Fry the coated aubergine in 1 tbsp sunflower oil, for 3 minutes on each side until cooked through andgolden brown.
  2. Gently warm the katsu curry paste, adding the fresh coriander. Fill the steamed buns up with the aubergine discs and curry paste.

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Miso crunch bao:

  • 70g cabbage, roughly shredded
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 4 radishes, sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 small red chilli, sliced
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1tsp dark soy sauce

Method:

  1. Fry the cabbage, spring onions, radishes, garlic, ginger, chilli in miso paste and soy sauce.
  2. Load up the steamed buns with the stir fry.

Salad to serve:

  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Fresh red chilli
  • Cucumber
  • Spring onions
  • A sprinkling of sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce

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