Elliot's Cafe | London

My dear friend / food buddy decided to keep it a secret that we were coming here for dinner. It was a surprise. I love surprises cause it's exciting!! The only hint I got was to meet near Brindisa at Borough Market. As we walked along the busy Stoney Street by Borough Market, it was hard to tell which one we were going to as it is a street full of cafes and restaurants.

It was Elliot's Cafe! Great!

I have been meaning to dine at Elliot's for some time now and just never made it. It has a warm and cosy atmosphere as we entered with bar seating on the right which is perfect for drinks and some small plate to snack on. We got one of the tables inside instead since we had a reservation. Elliot's is a destination known for its fresh seasonal ingredients and simple cooking to allow its beautiful ingredients to shine on its own. I think they stayed true to their concept.

Here's what we ordered and the verdict:

Steak tartare was well seasoned with a hint of mustard yet not too strong.


The mussels were plump, juicy and fresh, also well spiced with nduja but I find there's too much of fennel and was overpowering the delicate flavour of the mussels.


Hand dived scallops with herb butter was perfectly cooked which makes me really satisfied as over-cooked scallop makes me furious. This one left me with a smile so wide, you can see my teeth twinkle in the dark.

Stinky bishop soufflé was the best dish of the night; creamy, light and cheesy.

Initially, we weren't sure about stinky bishop but we were assured that it is amazing and won't stink at all. So we trusted the comment and went with it. It was a simple plate but truly delicious. It's good my dining companion's a gentleman otherwise, we would have wrestled for it! I'm quite confident I'll win.


Duck breast although cooked to medium, I would prefer it to be pinker to retain more of its moisture (the picture looks pinker than it actually is). The elements on the plate was well cooked, with slightly sweet and earthy notes.

When it comes to ordering dessert, I can be pretty decisive but not this evening as they all looked pretty darn good. So we requested for recommendation from our lovely Australian server and this was what we ordered.

Blood orange financier and cinnamon ice cream, yum.

Cinnamon and blood orange together? Who would have thought they work together! Well they do on this plate.

Clementine curd tart and rhubarb 

It was similar to a lemon tart but less sharp with smooth flavours of clementine set on very crispy and tasty pastry which I really like. The poached fleshy and tart rhubarb was a good addition.


Smile..

The night has been very pleasant with all round great food and service.

Frown..

Too full to have more desserts.

Will I return?

I will definitely come back. Maybe next time for a cuppa and some pastries.


Elliot's Cafe

12 Stoney Street
Borough Market SE1 9AD
London, UK.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7403 7436

Nearest station: London Bridge (jubilee / northern line)
*Take the Borough High Street exit.
Elliot's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Song Que | London

It is always exciting walking along Kingsland Road, the street famous for its limitless choices of Vietnamese food. Even though I have not tried all of them yet, I have been to quite a few and have established some selected favourites. Song Que is one of them. It is bright and open, with quite an extensive menu I sometimes wonder how they do it.  If you are looking for cheap, no-fuss and authentic Vietnamese food, this will be the one.

With its bright green sign at the corner of Kingsland road and Cremer Street, it is impossible to miss. Plus, it is only about a minute walk away from Hoxton station.

Grilled beef wrapped in betel leaf

It gets a little messy while eating but this isn't stopping me from ordering this ever so often. It is the process of wrapping the grilled beef in lettuce and betel leaf then dip into the sauce that I really enjoy.


Known for their excellent pho, do try their beef pho. In this photo, it is stewed beef noodle soup. The beef has been cooked for so long, it falls apart easily and the soup is packed full of flavour. Just delicious!


Hot and spicy prawn noodle soup is different from the typical beef pho. If you prefer seafood to beef, this will be a good option. It actually reminds me of the less intense version of Malaysian prawn noodle soup which I love. 


Smile..

Excellent pho and Vietnamese food. Valuable.

Frown..

Service is relaxed here so don’t expect seamless service.

Will I return?

Of course. Already have!


Song Que Cafe

134 Kingsland Road
E2 8DY
London, UK.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7312 3222

Nearest station: Hoxton (overground)

Song Que on Urbanspoon

Chocolate Mille-Feuille

Making mille-feuille seems like a daunting attempt at first but it is actually pretty simple if you use store bought puff pastry. And since you save so much time from using ready-made puff pastry, it takes little effort to make with 4 simple steps. All you have to do is to bake the pastry, make the ganache, assemble and decorate. It is as easy as that and the final dessert looks stunning and impressive. 


Chocolate Mille-Feuille

makes 10

  • Ready rolled puff pastry (store bought)
  • Icing sugar

Chocolate Ganache

adapted from William Curley’s Couture Chocolate pistachio ganache



  • 300ml whipping cream
  • 1/4 tsp pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g fine dark chocolate (finely chopped)
  • 20g unsalted butter
  • Fresh raspberries

Method:


To make pastry:
1.  Preheat oven to 190C.
2.  Place rolled puff pastry on a baking tray and prick the entire pastry sheet with fork to let the air out so the pastry does not puff up too much.
3.  Put another baking sheet on top of the pastry to weigh it down.
4.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until pastry is cooked and golden.
5.  Sprinkle some icing sugar on the pastry and transfer to a cooling rack.
6.  Let cool completely before cutting pastry into rectangles with a serrated knife.
7.  Sprinkle pastry with icing sugar again before assembly.

To make chocolate ganache:
1.  Boil whipping cream  and salt then pour over the bowl of chopped chocolate.
2.  Stir until well combined then add butter and mix until smooth.
3.  Set aside for an hour to firm.
4.  Spoon ganache into a piping bag with an 8mm nozzle.

To assemble:
1.  Place a cut rectangular sheet of pastry on a flat surface and pipe two rows of chocolate ganache.
2.  Arrange raspberries in between the rows of chocolate ganache.
3.  Carefully place another rectangular sheet of pastry on top of the ganache.
4.  Decorate with whole raspberry and mint leaf. Repeat the process.



Sweet and Sour Pork Soup with Vermicelli

Today, I would like to show you my personal cooking style. It is the way I normally cook without any particular recipe and just make things up as I go along. Of course, I will have an idea of what main ingredients I would use but the finish dish is usually sort of a surprise. It makes cooking flexible, fun and interesting without having to follow any rules. The only key to this is to taste, taste and taste as it progresses.


From one of these creative cooking sessions, this was one of the few creations that made it to this blog; the 'Sweet and Sour Pork Soup'. As the name suggests, the two prominent flavours will be sweet and sour. The sour element of this dish derives from the tamarind paste, tomatoes and lime juice. Whereas the onions and pork gives it that natural sweetness without having to add any sugar. 

I have enjoyed this for dinner last week and hope you do too. 


Sweet and Sour Pork Soup

Serves 4

Ingredients:


  • 450g pork cut into 3cm cubes or strips
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 1 inch ginger (sliced)
  • 1.5 litre hot water
  • 2 chicken bouillon
  • 1 chilli (sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (bruised)
  • 2 tbs tamarind paste
  • 6 tomatoes

  • 1 lime
  • coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • vermicelli enough for 4 

Method:


1.  Sweat the chopped onions until translucent.
2.  Add the boiled water into the pot then the bruised garlic, ginger, chilli and chicken bouillon.
3.  Turn the heat down to medium-low and place the pork into pot.
4.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes then add in the tomatoes and tamarind paste.
5.  Let it cook for another 10 minutes.
6.  Squeeze the lime juice into the soup and season with salt and pepper to taste.
7.  Briefly toss the vermicelli in hot water then portion them into four bowls.
8.  Scoop soup over each bowl and garnish with coriander leaves.



p.s: I think this dish sounds like some Vietnamese food I've seen somewhere.

Andina | London

Walking along the streets of East London always surprises me with new cafes and restaurants. Andina was a discovery made while walking along Shoreditch High Street. It seems so inviting, sat at the corner edge of Redchurch street. So as soon as I could, a dinner plan was made to try out this newly opened Peruvian restaurant (opened in December 2013). The name Andina represents women from the Andes who lovingly cooks for her family.

'Quipus' by Maricruz Arribas

So here we are on a buzzing friday evening, trying out some Peruvian food that is getting more and more attention in London. As we entered, there was an art display of what is called 'Quipus', a system of knotted cord used by the Incas as a way to communicate. Each of these knots in this art represents a superfood cooked with in Andina.

Mini Chicharrones and Tiger's Milk Trio

We started our meal with a side of confit pork belly with rocoto chilli jam, one I wish it came in a bigger portion as it was so tasty. And that trio of tiger's milk, packed a serious punch!! It was spicy, sharp and full of flavour. Definitely not for the faint hearted, don't say I haven't warned you.


Res, the thinly sliced beef was dressed with fruity and fresh dressing of kiwi, mint and pisco.

Causas Amantani (hake, trout and scallop on potato cakes)

The potato cakes what they described as cool, was colourful and vibrant with well-cooked fish. The scallop was so good, it melts in the mouth, your eyeballs had to spin around and look up into heaven. 

*Saying this in a high pitch voice, "Scallop high!"


The star of this dessert was the well balanced sharp and slightly sweet pineapple sorbet but the rest of it was just thinly sliced pineapple with chilly sweet lime dressing. Nice, but not impressed.

Mousse de Lucuma

Although I have no idea what Lucuma fruit looks or taste like on its own, i thought the smooth lucuma mousse tasted almost like caramel and if the real fruit tastes like this, I'm in love. The quinoa biscuit basket the mousse was sat on was thin and crisp. I like the addition of strawberry too which added a dimension of juicy sweet and slight acidity. Definitely a dessert I like and will order again. A great end to a wonderful evening.

A happy and curious chef peeking at my phone photography skill 

Smile..

Charming service and exciting food with fresh ingredients.


Frown..

What is there to frown about when one got high on scallop alone and had fruit that tastes like caramel.


Will I return?

Yes, pretty soon I hope.


Andina

1 Redchurch Street
Shoreditch E2 7DJ
London, UK.

Tel: +44 (0)20 7920 6499

Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street (overground)
Andina on Urbanspoon

Sausage and Gnocchi Soup



Comforting winter warming food is perfect as it seems to have gotten colder these weeks. So for a weeknight quick and simple hug in a bowl, I present you my version of sausage and gnocchi soup. I used Polish sausage in this recipe but any sausages will do. If you have one of those British sausages, do fry them first as you would normally or if you are too lazy to do that, just remove the casing and make them into little meatballs. Cooking is so flexible and fun, there is no need to follow recipes by the point so whatever you have, use it. Even leftover Sunday roast or duck from yesterday’s Chinese takeaway will be great in this gnocchi soup. Also, gnocchi can be replaced with any other types of pasta or dumpling too.


Sausage and Gnocchi Soup

Adapted from Very Culinary
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 340g Polish sausage, diagonally sliced (I used )
  • 1L water
  • 2 chicken bouillon
  • 3 carrots (cubed)
  • 6 juniper berries (bruised)
  • 2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 500g ready made fresh gnocchi
  • 130g spinach
  • sliced chilli for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

1.  Heat oil over medium saucepan or pot and sweat onions until soft and translucent then sautĂ© the garlic until fragrant.
2.  Add the sliced sausages and slightly colour both sides then add the carrot cubes and juniper berries.
3.  Pour in water and let boil. Then add the chicken bouillon, marjoram and paprika and let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
4.  On a separate pan, pan fry the gnocchi to crisp up the outer layer on both sides (optional) and portion them into bowls.
5.  Wilt the spinach in the hot soup, season with salt/pepper and ladle soup over the gnocchi.
6.  Garnish with sliced chillies and serve.