Chooks: tapping into the fashion for open brickwork, neon lights, sharing tables etc. etc.

Chooks: tapping into the fashion for open brickwork, neon lights, sharing tables etc. etc.

I had a lovely day yesterday with A. He updated me on his trip to Mykonos and all the yummy things he ate whilst there. We went off to lunch at Chooks in Muswell Hill which has been on my list for a while and did indeed serve a lovely grilled chicken. All very fashionable and simple, but tasty nevertheless. A. asked me where we could go to get great ice cream and so onwards we went to Chin Chin laboratorists.

Chin Chin labs

Chin Chin labs

 

This small ice creamery in Camden is a one off and sticks to a winning formula: three flavours of ice cream made from beautiful custards mixed with liquid nitrogen. There is all the drama that this process creates along with lovely cooking: pure flavoured ice cream, wonderful sauces and a selection of toppings. Sadly the popping candy is no longer (something about it popping over and causing havoc in the kitchen) but the grilled white chocolate was a new one that caught my eye. A. thought the brownwich (brownie cookie sandwich with your choice of ice cream centre) too much for him so we left armed with chocolate ice cream, salted caramel sauce and honeycomb topping! Still, we walked it off by meandering through a sunny day up Primrose Hill and down Regents canal just taking in the day. Lovely.

It has been a busy week which generally means I don’t have much time to prepare stuff at home and having been away last weekend my fridge was an embarrassment with absolutely nothing in it save a pot of sourdough starter just waiting for me to have time to transform it into a lovely loaf of bread. So on my way back from London, I nipped into the supermarket to stock up on nice things that will feed me over the week. Now I know it’s not great to talk supermarket when there are loads of great places to shop for food that would show me in a more authentic light. But the truth is that supermarkets are an integral part of life and where else would I be able to do a weekly shop at 6:00 at night?

The trick is to know what to buy and how to make the most of it. In the past few weeks, I have been falling back on one favourite recipe that was inspired by the lovely whole sea bream in the Waitrose fish counter. I much prefer bream to bass. It just seems meatier and sweeter, if that is the right thing to aspire for in a fish. The trained staff are able to prepare it as you want and all I need is the guts taking out. I like to keep the head on and the scales on – more of that later. That, paired with a lemon and some lovely fine beans are all you need – promise.

Dill from my walled garden

Dill from my walled garden

When I got back I knew I was 20 minutes away from a yummy dinner. I stuffed the inside of the fish with slices of lemon and a handful of dill from my walled garden, then seasoned it and wrapped it in baking parchment. “En papillote” is the technical term, but honestly, you just wrap it in the paper making sure that it is watertight but with a bit of space inside. Some people add wine, others stock but when the fish is as lovely as this, I don’t think it needs anything else at all.

photo 4

 

20 mins in the oven is time enough to get the beans on to boil, pour a glass of wine and prepare the table. When the fish is ready, it is a matter of peeling back the paper, peeling away the skin (which pulls back all the easier for having the scales on) and filleting the fish: four succulent pieces of beautiful sea bream and seasoned buttered beans. Add a squeeze of lemon and there you are – I could almost have been in a Greek taverna myself.

The buttery beans and lemony fish just finish this dish

The buttery beans and lemony fish just finish this dish

 

 

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