The Shed

If I can't eat it I don't want to know. Unless it gets me drunk.

Month: August, 2010

Delhi Grill

[apologies, as usual, for the dreadful photos]

For your average foodie type there are worse places to live than Newington Green. Minutes from my door I have the amazing fruit & veg shop, two Italian delis (this one good for ingredients, this one for pizza), numerous independent caffs for a lazy brekkie and decent coffee, Turkish grocers with their pulses, olives, spices, oils and baklava, and a very attractive, errr, roundabout on which to picnic should you feel the need. Nearby, the smokey delights of Green Lanes, a visceral trip down Ridley Road, or a gastronic splurge in Clerkenwell, all within an iskender’s throw of the green. Decent curry, however, is elusive.

There’s Rasa up on Church Street, serving what has to be some of the best veggie grub in the city, but other than that the Indian food around here is a bit drab and unreliable (though I’d be delighted if proven wrong). And sometimes a gal just gotta have some meat with her spice.

Delhi Grill are bringing a taste of Bombay to the delicate folk of Islington with a neat selection of Indian dishes. Taking more than a leaf from the bible (Qu’ran?) of Tayyabs, they have a limited menu emphasising flavour and freshness, rather than a reading list of potential disaster. Just a few staple curries and a selection of tandoori stuffs, they’re keeping it simple which is no bad thing.

Lovely Hannah of Nourish PR was, well, lovely enough to organise a sneaky roti delivery in return for my thoughts;

The rotis were good with the right amount of chew, and made a handy vessel for the generous contents within. The three fillings – lamb sausage, paneer, and chicken tikka – were well charred with a satisfying whiff of smoke, teamed with fresh salads and various sauces.

The lamb sausage was well spiced (not quite a Bangra but pretty good) though could have done with a teensy touch more salt: a tasty snagg nonetheless. The chicken tikka nicely offset with a dab of raita, enough to make a difference but not so much as to destroy the bread, and the paneer – marinated and grilled – came with soft, smoky, sweet peppers and a welcome spicy kick.

Perfect lunch or lazy-evening fodder, without the usual bank of fat/calories associated with takeaway grub. A delicious introduction to a great local place; I cannie wait to try a full on Bombay blow out*.

21 Chapel Market
020 7278 8882

*which, incidentally, would cost you next to nothing, have you seen their prices?

Courgette Falafel

Like many green fingered folk, I’ve been grappling with a surplus of courgettes. Not because I’m a wicked ace gardener, but because I bought a load for our birthday bash and, well, forgot to cook them.

A quick Twitter poll threw up some delicious suggestions, and in the last week I’ve eaten Courgette & Feta Fritters, Grilled Courgette Salad, and also added courgettes to Hot & Sour Tofu with Aubergines, which is possibly my new favourite dish ever.

And I still have some left, though I’m planning on making Courgette & White Beans with Goats Curd tonight, which should finish the buggers off.

Anyway, last night I made some falafel with added courgettes (I swear I’ll explode if I have to type that word again), with home-made flat breads and spring onion raita. The c********e don’t really add a lot in terms of flavour, but they make for a wonderfully light, fluffy texture. Add a few pickled chillies, cherry toms, and a squeeze of lemon before eating.

For four
1 red onion
2 fat cloves garlic
1 red chilli, or 1tsp powder
1 tin fava beans or chickpeas
2 medium courgettes (argh!), grated
1tbsp plain flour
1tbsp polenta
1tsp ground cumin
1tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
Handful fresh coriander, finely chopped
Handful flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Very roughly chop the onion, garlic, and chilli, then transfer to a food processor and whizz until finely chopped. Add the fava beans or chickpeas, and blend. Transfer to a bowl, and add the remaining ingredients, season generously, then mix thoroughly – get your hands in and start squishing. With wet hands, form the mixture into little balls, about 3cm across. Leave the falafel to stand for 20 minutes which allows the outsides to harden a little and helps them to keep their shape, then fry in around 1cm oil over a medium / medium hot heat until brown and crispy.

Flat Breads
Makes 8 – taken from the Moro cookbook, recipe for ‘Quick Flat Breads’
200ml warm water
1/2 tsp dried yeast
260g strong white bread flour
1tsp fine sea salt
1tbsp olive oil

Mix together the water and yeast, and leave for a few minutes to dissolve. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl, then gradually add the water, mixing the whole thing together with your fingertips. Once combined, add the oil and kneed for a minute or so to make a smooth, elastic dough. Leave to prove for 20 minutes.

Knead the dough for 30 seconds, then split into 8 pieces. Flatten a piece with your hands, before rolling flat and quite thing with a rolling pin. In a hot, dry pan or over a griddle, cook each bread for a few minutes either side, until spotted with golden brown bits but still nice and soft – you can keep the finished breads warm in the oven while you cook the remaining dough.

Spring onion raita
3tbsp good Greek or natural yoghurt – never low fat
4tbsp cold water
1tbsp chopped coriander
1tbsp chopped parsley
1 spring onion, finely chopped
1tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
Tiniest dash of white wine vinegar

Combine all of the above, add more of whatever you think it needs!


Ossobuco is perfect weekend cooking; lots of chopping, a slow braise, fiddle-faddle with a risotto and all the time in the world to savour your rewards with a glass of plonk. It’s worth making friends with your butcher for several reasons, one of which is getting perfect ossobuco – a fat chunk of veal with a decent sized marrow-filled bone.

One thing you must totally never ever do is move the meat around too much while it’s cooking, as you risk loosing your unctuous, gelatinous, glorious nugget of deliciousness. Leave well alone.

For two, easily multiplied for larger groups

2 Rose veal ossobuco (or is it ossobuci?)
Olive oil
1 white onion, finely diced
1 celery stick, finely diced
1/2 fennel bulb, finely diced
1 carrot, finely diced
2 fat garlic cloves
1 sprig thyme, whole
12 cherry tomatoes, skinned and diced or 1/2 tin of good quality tomatoes
250ml dry white wine
200ml chicken stock

Oil and generously season the ossobuco before searing in a hot pan an setting to one side. Gently saute the onion, celery, fennel, carrot and garlic until translucent, then add the tomatoes, wine, stock and thyme. Return the meat to the pan and push down to completely submerge – add a bit more wine or stock if you need to. Simmer, loosely covered (stick the pan lid at an angle) on the lowest possible heat for around an hour and a half, or until the meat is totally tender. Remove the ossobuco from the heat and leave to stand, covered, while you make the risotto – trust me, it makes all the difference in texture and taste.

To serve: gently place the meat atop risotto alla Milanese with a bit of the sauce, and sprinkle with gremolata.

Risotto alla Milanese
1 white onion, diced
Celery, diced
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil
150g arborio rice
Generous pinch saffron
750ml chicken stock
250ml white wine
Handful grated parmesan

I won’t bore on about how to make a risotto, I’m sure you’re all experts.

Zest of 1 lemon
Handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/3 garlic clove

Make a paste out of the garlic with a little salt, and combine with the grated zest and finely chopped parsley.

Boozy Sorbet Madess

Firstly, let me apologise for the terrible photo above. This apology goes not to the reader but to the sorbet; I’m sorry I failed to appropriately capture your beauty with this badly lit iPhone pic. My second point is to make clear the total awesomeness of sorbet. Delicious AND easy.

Essentially, so long as you’ve got a tasty liquid well balanced in the sweet / sharp stakes, you’re quids in. The sweetness will fade slightly as the liquid freezes so it’s best to be ever-so-slightly over-sweet than under.

I use an ice cream maker but I’m pretty sure you can make without, using some Tupperware and an hourly stir. These are the three I’ve made so far, you may notice a recurring theme…hic….

Cider Sorbet
Take a 500ml bottle of cider, add 1-2 tbsp of caster sugar and stir to dissolve. Add the juice of one lemon, and taste; it should be tangy and sweet, and – obviously – cidery. Churn until it starts to look like sorbet, then transfer to a tub and pop in the freezer. After an hour, give a good stir, and put back for at least another 4 hours.

Blackberry & Cassis
Put 8 handfuls of clean blackberries into a pan with 200ml water and 2tbsp of cater sugar, and simmer gently for 5 or 6 minutes. Push the berries through a sieve, and discard the pulpy pips. Add the juice of a lemon to the liquid and a good slug of cassis and taste; again, tangy, sweet, fruity – you may need more sugar depending on your berries. Leave to cool, churn, and freeze as above.

Pink Grapefruit & Gin
Heat 150ml water and the juice of 6 pink grapefruit with 2-3tbsp caster sugar until boiling point is reached and the sugar has dissolved. Taste for sweetness – adjust if necessary – and leave to cool. Once cool, add 60ml gin, taste, and churn as above.

Serving three boozy sorbets together allows you to make different ‘cocktails’ with each spoonful – what fun! All boozy sorbet suggestions welcome….I think margarita is next on the list.

Baked peaches and a rough guide to making caramel sauce

Baked peaches (or plums, or apricots) are my faithful standby, my I-can’t-be-bothered-to-measure-or-time-anything pudding. With just a couple of ingredients and a tub of something creamy you have a sweet, syrupy, fruity hit which gives the false impression that you’ve made any effort at all. They make a delicious breakie the next day covered in yoghurt and sprinkled with oats, so make more than you need.

You’ll need
1-2 peaches per person
Brown sugar (but not dark brown sugar)

To serve
Mascarpone, cream, or yoghurt
Caramel (see below) or honey

Heat the oven to gas mark 4/180 degrees. Cut the peaches in half and remove the stones. Lay them cut side up in a baking dish, and put a small nugget of butter on each peach half, around the size of a 20p piece. Sprinkle with a little sugar – the riper and sweeter the peach, the less you need – no more than a couple of teaspoons. Bake uncovered in the oven for 30 minutes, before flipping each peach and cooking for a further 15. Done! Serve warm from the oven, drizzled with a little honey or caramel and a big dollop of something really bad for you.

A few notes on caramel sauce
You can probably find better instruction out there, but this is how I do it. I think my biggest tip is hold your nerve. Actually my biggest tip is do not lick liquid sugar straight from the spoon, but other than that show no fear ‘cos the caramel will smell it.

Into a small, heavy-based saucepan, put a tbsp of butter and about 8 tbsp caster sugar – you want way more sugar than butter. Place over a very gentle heat and leave until it starts to caramelise – do not stir at this point. Once the sugar starts to melt, turn up the heat and shake the pan to bring it together; you’re looking for a relatively cohesive liquid. Here’s the bit where you think it’s all gone wrong; add 100ml of double cream, and stir like crazy. It will fizz up, and there will be lumps but don’t worry; keep at it. Turn the temperature back down, and let it bubble away to a smooth consistency, before adding another 200ml cream and doing the same thing again if necessary – shouldn’t take so long this time. You should have caramel by now….add some salt, and some brandy too if you’re feeling cheeky.

Italian Salsa

This is the taste of Italianate summer. Serve with crisp bruscetta, spoon over fish, or eat straight from the bowl with a spoon. Your choice.

Makes enough for 6 greedy people
5 ripe plum tomatoes
10 ripe cherry tomatoes – the sweetest, most delicious you can find
1 smallish red onion
2 tbsp capers – rinsed if packed in salt
Handful each of basil and flat leaf parsley
1 dessert spoon white wine vinegar
Generous slug extra virgin olive oil
Good sea salt
Finely chop and combine the tomatoes, onion, capers and herbs, discarding any excess tomato juice as you go along. Add the vinegar, oil, and taste for seasoning. If using salt-packed capers, you probably won’t need to add too much additional salt. Add more vinegar/oil/seasoning as you see necessary, and allow to sit in the fridge for an hour or so to get tasty. If you need to make a day in advance, leave the herbs out until shortly before serving.

The Shed is one!

Not the blog – though technically I guess this is one too – the supper club. And what a year it has been. If you ever feel a bit despondent or lose your faith in humanity, I urge you to start a supper club; you’ll soon discover that people are amazing. You’ll also realise that you’re slightly bonkers but WHO CARES? it’s a whole pile of fun. Go on, have a go, and invite me while you’re at it.

Anyway, we had a party.

Bruchetta with Italian Salsa
Cured meats from Trealy Farm
Olives, Bread & Oil

Saffron Cream Pasta
Pasta Arabiatta

Griddled Prawns with Lemon Mayonnaise
Marinated BBQ Pork
BBQ Vegetables
Aubergine Parmagiana

Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream & Salted Caramel Sauce
Baked Peaches with Mascapone & Honey


All washed down with wine smuggled back from Sicily
£10 a head

We had 29 attendees and so did away with chairs, crockery, and cutlery in favour of mingling and disposable plates. Lex of Lex Eat made the most delicious – and attractive! – birthday cake we could have asked for; a rich, moist chocolate cake with a white chocolate and cream cheese frosting and Smarties. Bloody marvellous. What started as a moderately civilised garden party ended with shots of grappa while laying on the floor of the shed; a fitting celebration I’m sure you’ll agree.

Thanks to Lex for the cake, Matt for the photos, and everyone who has been to The Shed for making it so damn special for us. You rock.