Archives for posts with tag: Brindisa

It’s been a funny old week. Another rollercoaster ride through the trials and tribulations of life.

I find the best way to manage my temperament through it is to cook! and with lots of different people crossing my path this week it has been an opportunity to prepare some nice meals.


First on the menu was the builders, or renderers to be specific. Now normally my builder repertoire is tea (taken with 2 sugars) and biscuits or a cake if I have the time. But somehow the latest team, who have just completed a really great job on the house, had other ideas. The week started with their specifications on coffee (as opposed to tea), milk and which biscuits they liked and progressed through the week until the final day. Did I have bacon in the fridge? they asked. In my usual overly helpful way I said no, but I have eggs. Oh – that would be fine, they replied! Er. Are you asking me to make you egg sandwiches? …yes! But I only have a really lovely brown sourdough loaf bought at Bread Ahead this week. That’s fine, they say. And what salt do you have? they ask. What salt? Maldon – is that OK with you? Yes, Maldon will be fine, they say. Hmmm. When did the building community get to be so demanding?

This is the official pic as I didn't take a pic of my efforts, but they were much more rustic!

This is the official pic as I didn’t take one of my efforts, but they were much more rustic!

Thankfully my next catering experience was for my friend C. She makes cakes for a living, award winning cakes at that. And she also caters for parties, and is able to tell good from bad, so I want to do something nice. I opted for a favourite dish inspired by Ben Tish, which he made on Saturday Kitchen some time ago: chorizo stuffed squid. Waitrose serve a really good baby squid on their fish counter which is just begging to be stuffed with chorizo. The only issue is that it needs to be cooking chorizo which is not so readily available, but I had been up in London earlier on in the week and had the ideal one from Brindisa. Once stuffed, you fry off with new potatoes, peas, sage, garlic, capers, lemon and I add onion before serving with a home-made aioli. Leftovers went to the builder, who proclaimed it marvellous and asked for the recipe so it must have been good.

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At the end of the week I had my Spanish friend over and was certainly not going down the tapas route with her. So I adapted a couple of recipes that I love and had a great excuse to work with some kitchen items I love too, including my favourite Anthropologie rolling pin which is rarely aired and my Nom Living fluted quiche mould.

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Crab and saffron tart was crossed with Rose Bakery’s quiche mixture to good conclusions. I used good quality tinned crabmeat (which is always worth having in the larder), and replaced the tomato sauce base with fresh Isle of Wight tomatoes as they are so wonderful at the moment. I also infused some of the cream in my favourite copper saucepan (thanks Mum and Dad) with loads more saffron than the recipe to get that incredible Summery yellow infusion that went in the egg & cream mixture. I had wanted to make the Rose Bakery quiches ever since I saw them featured on Russell Norman’s The Restaurant Man. The show is no longer available but this clip of Kate & Alex in Paris is the bit I was inspired by.

Lunch is served

Lunch is served

The outcome was an indulgent lunch but truly yummy served with a simple salad and Mum’s classic vinaigrette dressing. I made it with a dollop of the leftover aioli to add a bit of garlicky zing and it was just perfect.

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My friends are so wonderful that they come with presents for me as well. So now I am looking at the most wonderful bunch of flowers and a cluster of gifts from Barcelona. The oil pourer reminds me so much of the traditional Spain I went to as a kid and I am told I have to treat the outside base of the bowl by rubbing with garlic to seal it which is the tradition. Once done, I can discover new recipes from my Catalan cookbook, hopefully including these nuts.

Casa Gispert - a treasure trove to discover

Casa Gispert – a treasure trove to discover

They are from a tiny shop called Casa Gispert in El Born, Barcelona, which specialises in nuts and fruits. You see them come in, get roasted in the same wood oven they have used there since 1851 and then weighed and sold out the front. Such a fabulous shop that was recommended to me by my Spanish friend who is from Barcelona. These sorts of places are only known by locals so remember this one and look it up if you are ever there.

It has been a lovely food week and my house is now rendered to perfection. Bring on another week.

Christmas seems to have pounced upon us from a very warm mild place and suddenly I am desperately wrapping, ribboning and checking that I haven’t left anyone out.

I have been perusing the pages to see what food inspired gifts I have missed in my shopping this year and did my usual rounds of the department stores who are in their element at this time of year. You can really understand why they are destination shopping emporiums. Where Selfridges and Fortnums inspire, so Liberty was a difficult place to shop this year. But it is worth noting that there were deals to be had everywhere if you were prepared to wait. Note to self: hold out for the Selfridges 20% off day in 2014!


As for the independents, some continue to just do a wonderful job. Clearly my friends at Melrose and Morgan are a destination shop for treats galore with the most impressive bakery range of biscuits and cakes. I also thought that Daylesford managed their gift boxes very well this year. I know it’s not fashionable to say this, but I loved Carluccio’s as well, with their lovely panettone packaging and that grown up Terry’s chocolate orange: Clemente in Camicia.


For something a bit more unusual, visit Brindisa, the new Maille shop in Piccadilly and here’s one from my Master of Wine expert friend: Hedonism Wines in Davies Street…amazing.

In no particular order, and in deference to the lovely army boy, here are a few top lists of my picks for this year:


1. The soda stream: from £79.99. I got mine last year and love it simply for sparkling water, but I am sure you can do so much more. Try Lakeland for a good deal


2. Brindisa’s Iberico Bellota Pequeno Ham set £380. I know a friend of mine has bought this for her hubby and I am very jealous. How perfect. a whole bellota ham complete with stand, knife and a DVD to show you how to carve!


3. The Wonderbag £59.99. This eco friendly cooking utensil is the creation of South African Sarah Collins. It reminded me of the street food we had in Peru and I am sure it harks back to the way our third world ancestors cooked. Now the latest trendy green must have in the kitchen, it is the perfect present as we hit the winter season for wonderful slow cooked meals. And, for every one we buy, Ms Collins donates one to a family in need in Africa. What a lady! No wonder she was named one of Fortune’s most powerful women entrepreneurs 2013.


stollen bites

1. Stollen Bites from Melrose and Morgan. Well frankly anything from here so why stop there. The biscuit range, cakes, puds, savoury biscuits…I could go one. All wrapped in their own elegant, inimitable style and ideal for Christmas gift giving.

2. Kenspeckle cinder toffee coal may have sold out now, but they are worth noting for the future.

Maille pots

3. Maille mustard pots which make the most wonderful gift. You can splash out in the Sauternes or Chablis & black truffle variety or keep it simple. Up to you.

4. Amelia Rope chocolate cubes. Created last year, but still so relevant with bite sized treats of all her award winning flavours.

5. Selfridges bombes: more chocolate but a cute design and great stocking filler.


Not normally my speciality but special mention goes to the following:

1. Chase vodka’s seasonal flavour which is Rhubarb this year


2. Grays and Feather ‘drink me‘ mini bottles are a must have – so cute!

3. Taster boxes: both whisky and gin feature heavily this year at places like Masters of Malt, and Compass Box Whisky Company.

4. For something completely different, how about renting a row of St Emilion Grand Cru vines. This £159.97 experience from Vintage Wine Gifts includes wine, accessories and a personal tour of the vineyard.

Best Christmas product 2013

And the prize for just the best product I have seen this year goes to … Asda (!) for their Christmas tree crumpets.