Friday, 30 September 2016

Chiccetti in Venice

All'Arco was featured on Rick Stein's 'Venice to Istanbul'on TV
Sestiere San Polo, 436 | Calle ArcoVenice

 Only a few steps from the Rialto Bridge this tiny bar serves chiccetti (a Venetian version of tapas) and wine or beer. There are one or two tables outside and a small bar were you can perch your goodies while you eat. Or you could take them with you and find a square to sit down and eat.
I think we tried them all and they were delicious especially the baccata mantecato This is made from dried cod which is soaked then whipped with olive oil, as you would when making mayonnaise, till it reaches a light and creamy texture. Also excellent value.

Not far away is Aqua & Mais, a hole in the wall serving chiccetti as street food in cones to be taken away.

Friday, 12 August 2016

Eneko at One Aldwych

 Memories of the Bay of Biscay: oyster, crab and wild prawn tartare.

This was presented with a bit of theatre, something was poured through the lattice onto some seaweed from the Bay of Biscay. This produced an ethereal mist with a faint smell of the sea to complement the most delicious seafood and beautiful presentation.
The white wine is BizkaikoTxakolina one of the wines form Eneko and his uncle's winery.

Anchovy tempura wrapped in a cornet (the Fork Times!) with ginger and tomato granite

Basque style hake in tempura with red pepper sauce and parsley emulsion. Beautifully cooked succulent fish with a crisp tempura coating.

Potatoes in herb and txakoli ( a Basque sparkling wine) sauce with fried crisp egg yolks. The potato seemed similar to gnocchi, I would have preferred some new potatoes.

A selection from the sweet trolley.

Raspberry macaron with basil ganache

Basque vanilla pudding. Both deserts were served with Basque ice cream. It was made with sheep's milk and perfectly smooth and delicious.

Dappled sunlight from windows above bathes the natural materials of wood stone and copper and highlights the sweet trolley.the sweet trolley

Eneko is a new restaurant at One Aldwych near Covent Garden London. Opened at the beginning of August it is a new venture for Eneko Atxa whose restaurant in Bilbao has 3 Michelin Stars. Azermendi Restaurant
Menus for Eneko can be found here
The interiors are stylish with bespoke furniture made from Spanish wood.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016


Spanakopita or spinach pie is a Greek savoury pastry. I have been wanting to try this recipe for some time so when I was given some home grown spinach I decided to look for a recipe. There was quite a variation between the first 4 or 5 that came up on a google search so I worked out my own version based on what I had available.

8oz spinach chopped
I onion chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
8oz feta cheese
2 eggs beaten
Freshley ground nutmeg. yum!
Fresh marjoram (I chose this herb because I have lots of it in the garden. You could use dill or parsley.)
Frozen puff pastry (I used puff pastry because that was what I had in the freezer and it is quicker to put together than filo pastry)

Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil till golden and starting to soften.
Add the spinach and cook until the water content has mostly evaporated.
Leave to cool.
Roll out one section of the puff pastry till thin and a rectangle shape.
Add the marjoram, plenty of nutmeg, cheese and beaten eggs to the vegetable mix and stir well.
Spread the mix evenly onto the pastry, make a parcel, seal the edges and prick a few holes in the top to let any steam out.
Cook at gas 5 for around 30 min till the kitchen fills with a delicious smell and the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with chopped tomatoes, red peppers and cucumber and yogurt with chopped mint.
Can be eaten hot or cold.

For a vegan version use tofu instead of cheese.

During Lent the Greek version omits the egg and dairy ingredients.

Swiss chard, sorrel or leek can be used. I've got lots of sorrel in the garden so might give that a try and I think Wensleydale or Cheshire cheese would also work well.

Monday, 22 February 2016

Sweet Potato Bread

To make this bread I used 475g of flour,50% strong white flour with 50% strong Canadian wholewheat flour, 250 ml water, yeast, salt and sugar but substituted 90g of flour for 90 g mashed sweet potato. This is less water than I would use if it was all flour.

Pecans, olives and halloumi cheese for the filling

Some of the dough was spread out flat and the filling put down the middle,

then rolled up and baked.

The rest of the dough was shaped like the one on the right inspired by the Madeiran breads in the previous post.
On the left is a slice of the filled loaf.

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Madeiran Breads

The breads shown above are called Rosquilhas. They contain little chunks of sweet potato that has a taste like chestnut.
In January I visited a little artisan bakery near Santo da Serra in Madeira. The visit was arranged by the Porto Bay hotel Group and also included a visit to an artisan cheese maker (that's for another post) and a 3 course lunch at their charming little hotel Porto Bay Serra Golf. We climbed up and up on narrow roads and passed through some beautiful scenery, driven expertly by Bruno.

This is the baker who get up at crack of dawn to bake these delicious breads for us. 
Outside we could already smell the wood smoke and as we entered the house there was a welcoming smell of baking bread.
Sweet potatoes are grown in Madeira and are added to bread. The flesh is white unlike the orange colour of the ones we get in the UK.
 These artisan breads are cooked in wood fired ovens. They are available to buy from the market in Santo da Serra at the weekend.
They were all delicious. 

Marilia came with us from Porto Bay Serra Golf and told us about the breads.

                         with Portuguese chorizo

Below I have made bread with sweet potato before, and since this visit have made some more in the shape of the Rosquilhas shown above. I use about 1 part mashed sweet potato to 4 of flour.

I was given a sweet potato cutting from the garden at the Porto Mare hotel. The flesh of this type is firmer than the orange type we have in the UK
It survived the journey home and is growing on my window sill.

Update Sept 2016 I have since tried this recipe with a much higher % sweet potato ie just over 1/3 to 2/3 flour and less water and got a good rise.
See below