Apple Tarte Tatin

With the excess of organically grown apples from the garden, they don't keep that long so what better way to use them than in making dessert? French apples for french dessert, C'est parfait!

These are the organically grown apples from the garden used for this tarte tatin. 

P's parents gave us so many fruits and vegetables from the garden that if anyone took a peek into our car, they would have thought we were fruit sellers. We had quetsch, pears, apples, cabbage, beetroots and more! Who cares if we looked like fruits and vegetable vendors. I was well happy to have so many ingredients to cook with. What was most satisfying was the fact that I helped pick them out from the garden.

Giant sunflowers the size of a dinosaur

This is quetsch, a variety of plum if you have never seen these, like me.

When i told P I was about to attempt tarte tatin for the second time in my life, he looked impress that I was even trying to make one. Then he made sure to google some pictures and said mine should look like this and not like that. Great! He was setting expectations already!

So I carefully prepared everything to make sure it will come out perfect so the Tarte Tatin made by a Malaysian me would impress the French.



Conclusion, my French man and friends loved it! SUCCESS with a big fat smile.


Apple Tarte Tatin

adapted from Mustard with Mutton
Serves 6

Ingredients:


  • 5 - 6 apples
  • 3/4 cup golden caster sugar
  • 3 tbs apple press (or water)
  • 60g butter
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 store bought ready rolled puff pastry

Methods:


1.  Split the vanilla pod into two, lengthwise. Scrape the vanilla seeds out with the tip of a knife and place them in an 8 inch heavy based stainless steel pan (or any other oven proof pan). Place the split vanilla pod criss crossed on the pan.
2.  Combine sugar and apple press, and bring to boil then lower the heat to medium and cook until sugar melts, thicken and turn into deep amber colour.
3.  Make sure to just swirl the pan and not stir. Otherwise the sugar will crystallise.
4.  Remove from heat and add butter.
5.  Peel, deseed and quarter the apples. Arrange the apples neatly around the edges and the centre of the pan on top of the caramelised sugar.
6.  As the pan will be inverted when the tart is ready, make sure the apples are arranged in a presentable manner.
7.  Return pan to the stove and cook on low heat for an hour. Make sure the heat is low enough to not burn the sugar and apples.
8.  Remove the pan from heat and let cool to room temperature.
9.  Preheat the oven to 180C.
10. Place the ready rolled pastry on top of the apples and trim the sides.
11. Tuck the edges in neatly into a rim and seal it against the pan. Then prick some holes with a knife or fork to let steam out while in the oven.
12. Bake the tart for about 30-35 minutes in the oven until pastry is golden brown.
13. Once ready, remove from oven and let it cool for about 10 minutes.
14. Loosen the edges of the tarte with knife. Place a serving dish over the pan and invert the pan quickly.
15. Cut into slices and serve with vanilla ice cream.


Roux at the Landau | London

The beautiful and glorious interior of The Landau at The Langham Hotel. (Image via Langham Hotel)

Roux at the Landau sees Albert Roux and Michel Roux Jr, the renowned father and son in the culinary world work together for the first time in 19 years. Knowing the magnificent Roux family, they pride themselves of perfection in every aspect. The kitchen and front of house are both equally important. It is of no surprise they chose the best to represent them. Chris King has been chosen to be the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine. He is a Roux protégé who has worked for over 5 years at their 2 Michelin starred Le Gavroche. Even Franco Becci, the Restaurant Manager has been carefully picked to ascertain an excellent dining experience.

The impressive entrance to Roux at the Landau

As I entered through the door, I was greeted with an insane collection of wine through the glass cabinets.


Amuse bouche with nori crisp



Risotto

Braised featherblade beef



The glasses were printed with a horses which I find cute. The restaurant has horse themed decoration to remember historical memories of it accomodating stagecoach horses. 

Artisan cheeses

Lemon meringue parfait with early English blackberries was my favourite of the night. It is similar to Baked Alaska, one of my favourite dessert.

 Petit fours were tasty except the less impressive brownies.

With The Rouxs seeking for perfection, it is of no surprise that while we were there, service was immaculate and attentive yet not intrusive. We ordered their promotional 3 courses menu for £35, which was of a good deal. The dishes were well executed with elegant taste. Though the food was made well and ingredients carefully picked. I must say, some were great and some did not live up to a Roux standard we were expecting. But with this promotional price, it is actually of very good value. 


Smile..

A very good value quality food, ambience and excellent service. 

Frown..

Some of the tastes did not live up to the Roux standard but it is just a very high expectation that we have set since it carries the Roux name. On a general point of view, food was well executed. 
Note: Don't get me wrong here, the food and experience was great. It is just that I have crazy expectations from one of my favourite chef, Michel Roux Jr.


Will I return?

Yes of course. Perhaps a la carte next time. It is possibly more impressive.


Roux at the Landau

1C Portland Place
W1B 1JA London,UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 76965 0165

Roux at The Landau on Urbanspoon

Pied a Terre | London

Pied a Terre has been on my to lunch list for the longest time. Finally, we managed to finally go there for what is known as one of the best value lunch in London. Since we had to take a day off work to run some errands, we thought we might as well use it to the fullest. 

We were greeted with big smiles and warm welcome as we entered. They even asked which area we would like to sit since there were 2 different rooms. We of course sat at the more cosy part, the one without a group of suits at their business lunch meeting. 

The meal started off with some canapes of crispy croquettes and a spoonful of tuna tartare. The tuna was so fresh and melted in the mouth. 




Then came the starter of pickled cornish mackerel with golden cauliflower, heritage carrots, watercress and smoked eel which I really liked. This was the preferred starter to the below sweetbread P had. It was not because I am much more of a fish person but I enjoyed the many different flavours and cooking method of the fish, all well executed.


Salad of veal sweetbreads with mushroom vinaigrette, green beans, baby artichokes and summer truffle was nice and earthy.

Pan fried fillet of cod with lightly poached prawns, rock samphire, sea purslane and tarragon nage was very well cooked and moist. It was an elegant dish.

The lamb was pink and tender, served with shaved fennel, confit garlic, pineapple tomato, and dill puree. The potato pillows were there to give it some visual and crunch effect. A pretty dish in general but lacking in potential flavours from a lamb dish.



Olive oil and lime parfait with crunchy meringue, whipped creme fraiche and macerated cherries was a perfect summer dessert. It was light and refreshing yet not too sweet.

Petit fours

Enjoying the last bits of the meal


Though simple, this was the best doughnuts I have ever had. It was soft and fluffy, light as ever coated with ground cinnamon and sugar. 



Smile..

For what it is, it is of really good value and worth visiting for lunch. The service was friendly and attentive. Food was good though I was expecting more 'blow my mind' flavours since it used to be a 2 michelin star restaurant, now 1. 

Frown..

They only serve lunch menu on weekdays. Would have been good to be able to order lunch menu on a Saturday as well.


Will I return?

Yes of course. Perhaps a la carte or tasting menu the next time. 


Pied a Terre

34 Charlotte Street
W1T 2NH London,UK
Tel: +44 (0)20 7636 1178

Pied à Terre on Urbanspoon

Ayam Tim (Pickled Mustard Greens & Chicken Soup)


Savoury, sweet, sour with a hint of spice and it’s snowballing flavour makes this soup one of the few tastiest simple soup to make. This dish is a derived version from the traditional nyonya ‘Itik Tim’ made using duck instead of chicken. If you are able to buy duck where you are, I suggest cooking with it as it gives a deeper flavour. Otherwise, the next best option will be chicken. 

This soup has converted someone who does not like soup to now, love it!


Ayam Tim (Pickled Mustard Greens & Chicken Soup)


Serves 4

Ingredients:


  • 800g chicken legs
  • 300g salted mustard green
  • 4 carrots (peel & cut to wedges)
  • 2 onions (cut to wedges)
  • 2 dried chilli
  • 3 cloves garlic (remove skin & bruise)
  • 2 inch ginger (sliced)
  • 4 dried salted plums
  • 3 tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • salt and ground white pepper to taste
  • water to cover over the ingredients

Methods:


1.  Soak the salted mustard green in water for about 30 minutes to remove the salt. 
2.  While the salted mustard green is being soaked, prepare the other ingredients.
3.  Place chicken, salted mustard green, carrots, onions, dried chilli, garlic and ginger in a pot.
4.  Pour water into the pot until it covers over the ingredients.
5.  Bring to boil. Then add in the dried salted plums and simmer for about 20 minutes. 
6.  Add in the tomatoes at the last 10 minutes.
7.  Season with toy sauce, salt and pepper to taste.
8.  Serve with steamed rice. 

Crab apple avocado salad stack


Summer in London this year must have been the best we've had for the longest time. So much so that I have not been checking the weather forecast. I just expect the next day to be warm and sunny and continue being like this the day after. I'm getting used to wearing skirts, shorts and no jackets or tights. What a bliss. 


With this weather, comes simple and tasty cool food that does not make you sweat. One that is easy to prepare as well. This recipe is so pretty yet easy to make, it is perfect for a quick summer dinner after work. Even though it is weekday after work in London, having this salad on the balcony just makes it feel like holiday by the beach. Enjoy!

Crab salad served on lettuce gem leaves. This is a good way to serve the salad at a party. It's easy to pop into the mouth.

Crab, Apple and Avocado Salad Stack

serves 2

Ingredients: 


  • 120g crab meat (can)
  • 1 red chillies (diced)
  • 1 granny smith apple (cubed)
  • 120g baby plum tomatoes (quartered)
  • 1 nectarine (deseeded & cubed)
  • 1 large lime
  • 1 avocado (cubed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • lettuce gems
  • handful of fresh mint leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • a few drops of balsamic to taste (on tomato)


Methods:


1.  Remove crab meat from can and drain. Place into a bowl then add the diced chillies and apple cubes.
2.  Squeeze the juice of one lime into the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix the crab well with some sliced mint leaves. 
3.  On a different bowl, place the quartered plum tomatoes and season with salt, pepper, 2 drops of balsamic vinegar and a little extra virgin olive oil. Set aside.
4.  To assemble, place a food ring on a serving plate. 
5.  Carefully place the avocado in the ring. Top it up with the cubed nectarines followed by the tomatoes.
6.  Gently press downwards with the back of spoon to compress the stack of avocado, nectarines and tomatoes.
7.  Top up with a generous amount of the prepared crab and decorate with mint leaves.



Sun-dried tomato pesto Spätzle

Someone's crazy over spätzle!! And yes, he's Alsacienne. Even though I've eaten spätzle before, this was my first attempt which turned out surprisingly well. I had an approved stamp from the Alsacienne so this must be a good standard. For those of you not familiar with spätzle, I would say that it is like a thinner version of the Italian gnocchi. The texture is pretty similar.


This is definitely a fusion version or my take to the traditional spätzle that is usually made with some cheesy white sauce. As you can see, my version has sausage meatballs and tomato. It's even slightly spicy which P mentioned, will be slightly too spicy for the Alsaciennes. On my taste buds, it was just the tiniest spice to excite a plate of pasta. So if you do not like spicy pasta, just omit the spicy ingredients.


Sun-dried Tomato Pesto Spätzle

Serves 2

Ingredients:


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250g spatzle (or pasta of your choice if you can't get spatzle)
  • 4 sausage (remove casing and roll into balls)
  • 1 leek (sliced)
  • 1 courgette (cubed)
  • 150g baby plum tomatoes (halved)
  • 1 tsp sun-dried tomato pesto
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 drops of tabasco (optional)
  • 2 triangle of La Vache Qui Rit cheese (30g)
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil to serve
  • chilli flakes to serve (optional)

Method:


1. Boil the pasta in salty water until al dente following the instructions on the pack. This will depend on the type of pasta you use. Drain and set aside.
2. Heat the olive oil on a pan and cook the sausage meat balls until they are coloured and cooked.
3. Then add the leeks and courgette. Cook for about 3 minutes then toss in the plum tomatoes, followed by the paparika, ketchup, tomato pasta and some water.
4. Let the ingredients simmer and add sun-dried tomato pesto.
5. Season with tabaso, salt and pepper. Then add in the cheese, stir till melt and well combined.
6. Pour in the spatzle and toss until the pasta is covered in the sauce.
7. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some chilli flakes. 

The Front Parlour | Burnham-on-Sea

We found this beach out of coincidence and thought it looked nice so we spent some time resting and enjoying the sun on the sandy beach. The sand was although different from the white sandy beaches I am used to from South East Asia, this, I thought was still better than pebbles on the beach. What was weird, was that it might have been low tide and was not much water in the sea but no one was actually near the water. P tried going close to the water but it was just muddy and odd so never ventured any further. Perhaps it was one of those beaches with sinking mud that we have seen throughout this road trip. 


After enough time spending soaking up the sun, we headed to The Front Parlour which we thought looked quaint with wafting smell of a great Sunday roast. Too bad we already had a big breakfast at Dr. Fox's Tearoom in Weston-super-Mare earlier so something small in the late afternoon would have sufficed. 

Afternoon tea of scones with clotted cream and jam.

The Sommerset afternoon tea the table behind us were having looked fabulous, I wanted one too. What a bliss to have afternoon tea on the seafront after a relaxing lie down on the sandy beach. Plus, this felt so authentic. Scones with proper clotted cream and jam with tea is one of the best ways of enjoying the sun on the English coast. It was a well spent afternoon in this charming family run tearoom. The next time I come back, it will be for their famous roast. 


The Front Parlour
6 The Esplanade,
Burnham-on-Sea,
Sommerset,
TA8 1BB, UK

Tel: +44 01278 787383

Salad with tomatoes from the garden

Just as we left P's home in France, his parents gave us a whole box of fruits and vegetables from their garden. Fresh prunes, apricots, nectarines, courgettes, lavender and tomatoes. They gave us too much that we had to freeze some of those fruits up for when we make smoothies. 

So here we are, back in London with overload of fruits and tomatoes. I love it that I know who grew these babies. As these are such good tomatoes, they are best eaten just as, or slightly enhanced with a little sprinkle of sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. With some black pepper if you like. It's really up to you but keep them as close to its original state as possible.


Tomato salad

You won't believe how tomatoes organically grown on the garden differs from those mass produced for supermarkets. It is meaty in flesh and is packed with all its original flavour and juiciness. This is when you realise that supermarket tomatoes won't cut it. 

Maybe it is time to be living in a space with garden. Do you grown your own tomatoes? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
  

Dr. Fox's Tearoom | Weston-Super-Mare

If you read my post on '30 hours road trip to somewhere', you will know how we got to Weston-Super-Mare. Although not knowing where we were, we managed to get some local tips for the best breakfast in town. Dr Fox's Tearoom was immediately pointed out to us. They even got awards for their food.

Dr Fox's Tearoom (image via Geograph)

Off we went, getting lost in town and doing things we don't normally do. Have sweets and fudge at nine in the morning, played all the nostalgic arcade games and receiving those tickets we used to collect tons of just to get a free doll. It was such a fun morning remembering the childhood fun times. Pacman and Pinball were one of them. Too bad they didn't have Street Fighter where I used to fight my brother with Chun-Li over his Ken. Those were the times where iPads or games on the phones were non-existent.

Playing arcade games

Once we were done being a child again, we got ourselves some grown up breakfast on the seafront. The breakfast was great. Omelette were cooked well. Better yet, they sell their own jams which we did buy one for when we get back to London. Our time having breakfast in the sun was very pleasant.

Full English breakfast and cheese omelette



Dr Fox's Tearoom

Knightstone Island,
Seafront, Weston-super-Mare,
BS23 2AD, UK

Tel: +44 (0)1934 707411 
  

Sergio’s Italian Restaurant | Bristol


Our visit to Bristol was impromptu so we had no clue what we should do or where we should go while here. We left it all to chance and instincts while exploring this city. It was interesting to explore a city this way. There were no expectations so all we saw were new and exciting and thoughts formed then were original.

The one thing we saw the most were graffiti all over. Some were very impressive. Of course, we spotted some Banksy as well. And very near to where the Banksy was, we found a quaint little family run Italian restaurant. The staff were so nice that they accommodated us so well.


The evening was beautiful thanks to the delicious food and smiles exchanged.


We ordered the Monk fish farcito wrapped in Parma ham with red pepper and saffron sauce. The meaty monk fish was well cooked and moist though I think it was a tiny bit salty for my liking. The saltiness was to P's liking though.



As for the other main, we ordered the Mixed Impepata in tomato sauce. It was a generous portion of mixed seafood; mussels, scallops, calamari, tiger prawns. This plate was so flavourful and each piece of seafood were cooked to perfection. None of them were overcooked. This shows the chef's skills and freshness of seafood. I had to ask for a spoon to scoop up all the sauce goodness.


Dessert in an Italian restaurant is always a Tiramisu for me as it shows the authenticity of the restaurant. The tiramisu past my test with flying colours.



Smile..

Lovely warm service in a cosy family run restaurant serving well cooked food.

Frown..


What's to frown when it's mostly smiles.

Will I return?


Yes of course.


Sergio's

1-3 Frogmore Street
BS1 5NA Bristol, UK

Tel: +44 0117 9291413


30 Hours Road Trip to Somewhere

A spur of the moment weekend road trip is always fun. I love the spontaneity! Well it is not just all smiles. I do get a little grumpy at times when we get into distress of getting lost in the middle of nowhere. But the smiles float to the surface again, after a little quick release of angst. Thank God P’s patient with me. Before I get into this little distress it was all happy and exciting. Let's start the journey.



BRISTOL


On a late Saturday afternoon, we thought lets go on a little road trip to somewhere. Yes, somewhere. We weren’t sure where we were heading until just minutes before entering the town on the Sat Nav. Bristol it is! It wasn’t too far from London so it’s very doable for a short weekend break. When we arrived at Bristol, we came across many interesting things even though only for a few hours. There were mismatched architecture in the newer part of the city, the Old City being our favourite with more character. Lots of Street Art were everywhere. We even spotted a few Banksy. Our dinner restaurant find was a romantic cosy little Italian Restaurant called Sergio's (review post to come).

Tips: Make sure to wear flat shoe if you are planning to explore Bristol on foot. It's pretty hilly.


Bristol's oldest pub, The Hatchet Inn


WESTON-SUPER-MARE


When we left Bristol, we were not sure where to go except somewhere along the coast. Then we decided to head to.. I can’t remember where.. But the Sat Nav stopped working mid-way through a narrow dark alley with no sign. What was worse, our iPhone battery were dead! Great! What a timing. This was when our instincts were put to test. Luckily we end up in some small town (Weston-Super-Mare) by the coast. It was practically dead at 1am. Found a Premier Inn and hoped they have a room to shelter us, two lost souls. Fully booked!! Why? It didn’t seem like the most interesting of towns to be. Oh well, what do we know. The receptionist was kind enough to let us charge our phones and wait in the lobby for a little while. They did sort of ask us to leave when my phone was charged to about 80% cause they had to clean the area. Okay. Never mind. We parked the car in some grassy open parking space and slept in the car. Yes, we slept in the car! Best thing was, we weren't the only one. There were about 3 people in their sleeping bags on the grass.

By morning, we found out why they were sleeping on the grass. There was some concert where Jessie-J will be there. The queue to the concert got longer and longer as the hours past. Well, all we wanted was to walk along the beach. Curiously, it was almost empty then we saw a danger sign that says ‘Sinking Mud’! First time to come across this on a beach. Better not walk too close to the sea then. We asked around for the best breakfast place and was recommended the award winning Dr Fox’s Tea Room (review post to come soon). 


BURNHAM-ON-SEA


Next stop! Again, somewhere along the coast was our plan. We found Burnham-on-sea on the map so we headed there. It seems like a nice place and we spent a few hours soaking up the sun on the beach. Just where we were parked was what looked like a quaint little Tea Room / Café called The Long Parlour (review post to come soon). We had an afternoon tea break there and was pleasantly surprised with it. The roast smelled really good but too bad we had a big breakfast and only wanted something light. The traditional Somerset tea came with scones with clotted cream and jam was really lovely. If I ever come back again, I am sure to try the appetising looking food too.


SIDMOUTH 

Later, we headed southwards. Sidmouth is a charming seaside town beneath the red cliffs. It is also on the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. Besides its natural beauty, it is enchanting with its attractive independent shops, and the town itself exudes calmness. It is no wonder 60% of the residence are over 65 of age. A relaxing town perfect for retirees. Even though we are far from being 65, we still enjoyed its serenity and beauty. Dinner was in The Black Horse Pub (review post to come).