Saturday, 29 June 2013

Delicious baked eggs at Coco di Mama

Coco di Mama is a new chain of Italian cafes which have been popping up all over London. Serving up a great selection of pastas at lunchtime, as well as some excellent Italian-style coffee, they are also the source of my new favourite breakfast treat.


The baked eggs florentine is simply incredible: closer to a crustless quiche than what I would traditionally think of as 'baked eggs', the rich, buttery egg custard, shot through with tender spinach and topped with a glossy brown gruyere crust, is mind-blowingly good.

And despite tasting pretty decadent (and being big enough to keep you full right through to lunch), it's healthier than you would think - according to the sign, it contains a mere 267 calories. I'm quickly developing a Coco di Mama habit - I've been at least 3 times a week since I made my discovery - and I definitely recommend checking them out!

  Coco di Mama on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Friday, 21 June 2013

Summery fruit salad (with strawberries, blueberries, mango, and pomegranate seeds)

This tasty fruit salad is one of my go-to dinner party desserts - a light and summery end to a filling meal, it goes well with anything from Middle Eastern feasts to elegant Japanese cuisine.

I usually make it with nectarines in the place of mangoes, but "adverse weather conditions" (according to a sign in the supermarket) resulted in a lack of stone fruit this Spring. While I do prefer my original version, the mango was a nice change - a little more tangy and exotic than nectarine, while still providing the colour and texture contrast I was looking for.


500g strawberries, hulled and quartered
250g blueberries
2 nectarines or 1 large mango, cut into chunks
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (see de-seeding tips below!)
1 teaspoon of caster sugar


The method is pretty straightforward (that's the best thing about fruit salads!). Prepare the fruit as described above, mix together in a large bowl, sprinkle with the caster sugar, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (this gives the sugar time to draw the juices out from the fruit*).

However I thought this would be a good place to share the fantastic tip a commenter gave me for de-seeding pomegranates. I used to really struggle with this - everything would end up splattered in red juice, and I'd usually have to do it in my underwear to avoid stains - fine, but not that convenient if your guests have already arrived!

What I didn't realise was that I could eliminate this problem by de-seeding the pomegranates under water: Fill a large bowl with cold water, slice the pomegranate in two, and - when submerged in the water - simply remove the seeds in the usual fashion. The white pith floats to the top, making it easier to separate from the seeds - and best of all, there's no mess! Sorted.

*By osmosis - Year 9 biology say whaaat!

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Salted caramel ice-cream at Paul A. Young

Over the past few weeks the sun has finally been making an appearance, kicking off my favourite time of the year: ice-cream season! Having heard very good things about Paul A Young, I headed to their branch near the Royal Exchange for my first (OK, third) ice-cream of the year.

Dark chocolate sauce, slowly solidifying over sweet-salt caramel ice-cream - does it get any better than this?

On the day of my visit, there were three flavours on offer - sea salt caramel, white chocolate and cassis, and a 70% dark chocolate sorbet - along with a vat of melted chocolate sauce and cocoa nibs or chocolate balls for sprinkling. I went for the sea salt caramel, and the nice guy at the counter let me do my own toppings (cue a flood of that ridiculously delicious chocolate sauce!) - incredible.

At £4.50 a pop, the ice-creams aren't cheap, but the beautiful combination of sweet, lightly salted caramel ice-cream and glossy, slightly bitter chocolate sauce was well worth it!

The flavours were quite intense, which meant that the serving size was probably slightly too large (even for me!). When the ingredients and flavours are this good, you don't need too much, so next time I might share with someone.

My Paul A Young experience definitely lived up to my expectations - and the tasting plate of brownie samples means I may be going back for more than the ice-cream.

  Paul A Young Fine Chocolates on Urbanspoon Paul A Young Fine Chocolates on Urbanspoon

Monday, 10 June 2013

Drinks and tapas at Morito

I visited Morito once before (for a special seafood and sherry tasting event last year), but - despite numerous trips to sister restaurant Moro - I never managed to return to try the standard menu. I finally got my chance a couple of weeks ago, at a relaxed Monday night dinner with my boyfriend and his lovely cousin. Showing up at 7pm, we had no problem getting a table for three, making Morito a great alternative to Moro if you haven't had the chance to book weeks in advance! (although it's still pretty busy later in the week).

Morito has a great tapas menu, offering everything from light vegetable plates to hearty egg and potato concoctions; and with the cheerful orange decor, carafes of wine, and somewhat over-enthusiastic application of olive oil, you can almost imagine you're in Spain.

The menu changes weekly in accordance with the seasons, meaning that you're always getting the best possible ingredients (and giving you a good reason to go back again and again!). I was enjoying my meal too much to take many photos, but I did remember to snap one or two!

The grilled tetilla cheese with walnuts and membrillo was probably my favourite dish, the decadently oozing cheese pairing perfectly with the sweet, grainy membrillo paste.

The spiced lamb with yoghurt, aubergine and pine nuts was another winner: flavourful shredded lamb, paired with tender, buttery aubergine, sweet pomegranate seeds and toasted pine nuts. Delicious.

The other dishes went down equally well: shell-on king prawns with tasty aoilio dressing; griddled asparagus with walnut vinaigrette; pork fillet coupled with with jamon ham and sweet Padron peppers; and chicarrones de cadiz (crispy chunks of slow-roasted pork belly flavoured with cumin and lemon).

And the desserts - creamy vanilla ice cream topped with a scattering of plump raisins and drowned in sweet sherry, and crema Catalana (a Spanish take on creme brûlée) - were excellent. I've had the former a few times before at Moro, and it was already a firm favourite, but the latter was also exceptionally good; a smooth and deliciously rich egg custard topped with a thin layer of crackly caramel.

Morito on Urbanspoon Square Meal

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Pho at...Pho

Working near Liverpool Street puts me in walking distance of Spitalfields Market and a variety of great lunch spots. A couple of weeks my boss and I wandered over to Pho - a family run chain specialising in Vietnamese street food - for a quick sit-down lunch.

We both ordered pho - the big bowls of hearty Vietnamese noodle soup from which the restaurant takes its name - and I was very impressed. The rich, flavourful broth was packed with noodles, greens, and plenty of tender, flaking beef brisket; while a side serving of fresh herbs, raw beansprouts and chilli added a nice element of DIY to the meal - although I stupidly added too many chilis to my soup and ended my lunch with streaming eyes!

"Flowering" tea - so pretty!

All in all, a great little spot: nothing too fancy, but perfect for a relaxed lunch. Perhaps now the weather has turned I'll go back for one of their summery Vietnamese salads.

  Pho on Urbanspoon Square Meal