Sutton & Sons on Stoke Newington High St is quite simply the best fish and chip shop I've ever been to. After years of soggy fish and grey mushy peas it's great to find somewhere locally which sells excellent food and doesn't overcharge for it. You can get plenty of food and a drink for around £10 each, which for London isn't bad. Whilst fish and chips may not be something that's thought of as haute cuisine, it's part of our heritage and should be as celebrated as other British classics are. When they're done well, fish and chips can be incredible so it's great to find somewhere which does them justice.
Pleasingly long menu
One of the things I like about Sutton & Sons is that it's a happy medium between a take away and a fancy fish restaurant. They have large wooden benches, serve a wide range of wine and beer to complement the excellent food and have table service. However, it's not one the many London restaurants trying to serve you fish & chips for £20 nor have they bastardised it in an attempt to improve on a classic dish. The food they serve is traditional and reasonably priced, the relaxed atmosphere and communal tables make it a great place to eat with friends.
Salad & fishcakes
We shared the prawn and salmon fishcakes and a mixed platter. The fishcakes were packed with fishy goodness (unlike the potato heavy ones you normally get!) and came with a fantastic salad; deliciously fresh and dressed perfectly. The mixed platter was incredibly cheap for the amount of food on it; crab cakes, calamari, tempura prawns, battered cod and a side salad. The crab cakes were delicious, spiked with chili and lemongrass, they tasted as good as those served in YumYum's, but were half the price. It all tasted as though it had been freshly cooked, as the batter was light and crispy. Their homemade tartar sauce is also delicious and unlimited in supply and the mushy peas actually taste like peas which is a vast improvement on what you normally get served in a chip shop.
So many fried delights
Overall, the food is fantastic and it's great for when you're feeling too lazy to cook but don't want to splash out time and money at a restaurant. The fish is all sourced from a local fishmongers, and along with the usual suspects they also serve oysters and a range of specials depending on what they can get in. If you're feeling particularly lazy they also offer free home delivery. The only downside is that if you eat in, you do spend the rest of the evening smelling like fried fish, but it's well worth it!
Inspired by a recipe on Good Food, I decided to make lamb and feta burgers for dinner. Sainsbury's on Stoke Newington High St didn't appear to stock harissa, so I swapped it for a tablespoon of tomato puree and two tsp each of paprika, chili powder and cumin. I also added some garlic and ginger and swapped the mint for parsley as I have some growing on my balcony. As Valentine Warner would say, they were 'bloody good' served with plenty of salad, hummus and tzatziki. YUM!
This salad takes less than 5 minutes to make, only uses a few ingredients and most importantly tastes delicious! It's great as a starter or a light lunch, and beetroot is surposedly a superfood so it's reasonably good for you. I had something similar in The Real Greek a few weeks ago, but there wasn't even nearly enough beetroot, so I decided to make my own exactly the way I like it:
It was lovely Chris' birthday last weekend, so I made him the most chocolaty of chocolate cakes. I don't actually like icing so this cake is perfect, as the topping is basically just melted chocolate. As far as I'm concerned it's the best chocolate cake recipe EVER! I'm not sure where it was originally printed, but it's a hand me down from my madre. Anyway, I command you to make this cake:
For the cake:
165g self-raising flour
165g caster sugar
165g soft margarine
3 large eggs, beaten
1.5 level tsp baking powder
1.5 tbsp milk
2 rounded tbsp of cocoa powder
Butter the cake tins and line the bottom with baking parchment. Put the oven on to preheat to 170 degrees
In a large bowl blend all the ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth, but do not over mix
Divide into the prepared sandwich tins and bake for 25-30 min until a knife comes out from the middle clean
For the topping:
One small tin carnation evaporated milk
115g light muscovado sugar
115g chocolate broken into pieces
55g soft butter
Few drops vanilla essence
Combine the sugar and evaporated milk in a small heavy based pan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, stirring often
When dissolved bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer for 5 minutes without stirring
Take off the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir briskly until it all becomes smooth and glossy
Leave to cool (but not chill) before spreading on the cakes
Last weekend I went to Shropshire for the Wellington Mid-Summer Fayre. To make the 4 hour car journey more bearable I made some brownies for the trip, using a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. They were very rich and crumbly and were a welcome reminder of how delicious home-made brownies are in comparison the dry ones you can buy in the shops. I made the basic recipe, but some chocolate chunks or nuts would have been a tasty addition.
Inspired by a veggie burger I once had at the White Hart in Stoke Newington, I decided to make these tasty mushrooms for a quick and easy dinner last week. The mushrooms were really delicious, but the meal could have done with some bulking out with some wedges or chips.
4 portobello mushrooms
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 pack of Stilton
2 burger buns or rolls
Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Put the mushrooms in a roasting tin and top with the garlic and cheese, drizzle with olive oil. Cook for 20 minutes until the mushrooms are soft
Serve in a toasted bun, with mayonnaise and plenty of salad
After a long weekend of meat eating in Shropshire, I decided to make us something vegetarian for dinner on Monday night. I really enjoyed this bean chili, but I'm not sure Chris is convinced by vegetarian food, as his first comment was how nice it would be with some chicken or beef in it. But considering this is a man who said 'I like vegetarian food, as long as it's got loads of meat in it', there probably isn't much hope of him becoming a fan of meat-free meals. Frezule and I will be eating the leftovers tonight, so lets hope she's a fan!
You can use any beans you happen to have in your cupboard, but I like to have a mix including baked beans; the sauce helps to prevent the tomatoes being too acidic and half a tin counts as one of your 5 a day. It's reasonably spicy, so a dollop of yogurt and some cooling avocado piled on top tasted great. It's also nice served with brown rice or with a roasted sweet potato, topped with cheese.
For the bean chili:
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 courgette, chopped
250g pack mushrooms, quartered
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp hot chili powder
1 tin baked beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 tin black eyed beans, drained and rinsed
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 squares of dark chocolate
Add the onion and garlic to a pre-heated pan with a little oil and allow to soften for 5 minutes. Then add the red pepper, courgettes and mushrooms and leave to cook on a medium heat for a further 10 minutes
Add the cumin, chili powder and paprika and cook for 1 minute, until the spices are fragrant
Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste and all the beans, bring to a light simmer, adding a little vegetable stock if necessary. Turn the heat down and leave to cook with the lid on for 1 hour
Once the sauce has thickened, add a few squares of dark chocolate and allow to melt into the sauce. Season and serve with roasted butternut squash, topped with yogurt and avocado
Despite the fact that it's June, we've had some pretty awful weather recently. Sunday before last was more like a dreary winters day than mid-summer, so I decided to make my favourite comfort meal; sausages and mash. There's something about smooth, creamy mash with crispy, meaty sausages which tastes so delicious. We added butter, milk and wholegrain mustard to the mash which was a great addition. I also made a red wine and onion gravy to go with the mash and served it with plenty of vegetables on the side, perfect food for a cold and rainy day!
For the gravy:
1 red onion, sliced
Knob of butter
1 heaped tsp plain flour
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
1 large glass of red wine
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A few sprigs of rosemary
Gently fry the red onion in the melted butter until soft. add the flour to the onion and fry for a further minute.
Add the red wine and allow to cook down until the alcohol has burnt off. Add the redcurrant jelly, balsamic vinegar and rosemary and leave to gently simmer for 10 minutes
If the mixture gets too thick add a little stock or water to loosen it. Serve poured over plenty of mashed potato
A few weeks ago we decided to make our own pizza using a Jamie Oliver recipe. It was a bit of a disaster, as the dough was so sticky that it was impossible to handle. I'm not sure if this is how it was meant to be or if we measured out the ingredients incorrectly, but I think it probably could have done with some extra flour. When it came to rolling the mixture out, I couldn't stop it from sticking to the surface and rolling pin which made it difficult to get the base thin enough. Transferring the pizza base to the baking sheet without it falling apart was also a bit of a mission. When we got the first pizza out the oven we realised we'd forgotten to flour the baking tray, so we had to saw it off with a knife. Despite all this, the toppings were really delicious; it's just a shame the base was too thick as it meant it was stodgy in the middle and hard rather than crispy on the edges. I'm not sure if there's anywhere you can buy good quality pizza bases, as choosing your own topping makes for a much better pizza, but the hours we spent trying to make the bases meant it probably wasn't worth the hassle. If you're better at making pizza dough than I am, the toppings below are delish:
4 garlic cloves
A good handful of basil, chopped
Plenty of seasoning
Simply mix the ingredients together and spread over the rolled out base
Chili beef topping:
250g beef mince
2 green chilies, diced
1 ball mozzarella
Half a red onion, sliced
Half a red pepper, sliced
4 mushrooms, sliced
Fry the beef until browned, add the chilies and cook for a further minute
Top the passata with chili beef, add the sliced vegetables and dot with the mozzarella. Drizzle with Tabasco to taste
Goats cheese topping:
Half a butternut squash, deseeded, cut into small chunks
A few sprigs of thyme, chopped
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp redcurrant jelly
Goats cheese, sliced
Roast the butternut squash with the thyme and some oil, for 45 minutes or until soft.
Meanwhile lightly fry the red onion in a little oil until soft. Add the balsamic vinegar and let it reduce, add the redcurrant jelly and allow to melt into the onion. Take off the heat and allow to cool.
Top the pizza with the roasted squash, balsamic onions and slices of goats cheese - tasty!
A few weeks ago we went for dinner at my new favourite restaurant in Stokey; Alistair's Brasserie. Situated on Church St, I've walked past it a hundred times but never really noticed it among the dozens of menus vying for my attention. The food has been excellent both times I've been, although it is reasonably pricey it's well worth it (starters are £6-10 and mains are £10-20).
To start I had asparagus with a poached duck egg, hollandaise and parma ham. It was a simple dish done well if not particularly exciting! Chris had scallops with pancetta, cauliflower tempura and a caper and raisin sauce; which was my favourite dish of the evening. It's not a combination I'd ever think of myself but it worked perfectly.
For my main course I had a delicious venison dish, served with poached pears, pancetta, braised red cabbage, parsnip puree and a red wine sauce. The venison went perfectly with the sweetness of the pears and the salty pancetta, and the parsnip mash was incredible. Chris opted for steak with chunky chips, portobello mushrooms, roasted shallots and Cafe de Paris butter. The steak was perfectly cooked and went brilliantly with the shallots.
One of things I love about Alistair's is that the food is well made and inventive without being pretentious. Whilst they serve several classic meals, they also offer plenty of dishes with an interesting culinary twist. The staff are friendly and attentive, without being overbearing and despite the strange green wallpaper the decor is nice. It offers a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of most eateries on Church Street, although did lack a little atmosphere as we were the only diners for most of our meal.