Friday, 28 August 2015

Rock 'n' Roll brunch at The House of Ho, London

Yes this was actually brunch. Not an egg or slice of toast in sight, but the American approach to brunch which starts at noon accompanied by bubbles or cocktails is sweeping the capital by storm.

London has so many weekend bottomless brunch offers at the moment, with seemingly endless plates of food and unlimited drinks (yes, unlimited!), I just had to try one out with the girls.

The closest I'd previously got to this type of brunch was our bubbly brunch at Lima Floral which I blogged about a couple of weeks ago - a lovely restaurant near near Covent Garden, serving delicate plates of delicious Peruvian food, washed down with a couple of glasses of bubbly.

This style of dining is the epitome of a leisurely lunch (sorry, brunch!) and it is a refreshing change from the popular food trends in town at the moment where you have to queue up to eat the latest acclaimed BBQ ribs, only to be stuck at the tiniest table and rushed through your meal by the staff who want to turn around the table as quickly as possible.

Nope. Weekend brunch is all about the girly gossip, trying plates of a new cuisine and sipping on bubbles without being worried about the bill.

This Rock 'n' Roll brunch at the Vietnamese House of Ho in London's Soho provided so much food, we were full up by our first course, and the three of us almost got through three bottles of prosecco, as well as a lychee cocktail each, all for £29.

Be warned - this is definitely stretching the word 'breakfast' to breaking point, but I can't think of a better way to spend an afternoon catching up with two of my favourite girls.

Food, gossip, bubbles - I'm sold.

What we ate:
Lychee Bellini with edamame and prawn crackers to nibble on.
Three sharing plates each - all deliciously paired with their own dips and beautifully presented. They consisted of:
Fresh summer rolls
Imperial Rolls
Mushroom Pho Cuon
Duck Pho Cuon
Chili glazed chicken wings (my favourite)
Stuffed tofu
Smokey aubergine (my second favourite)
7-spiced marinated squid
Chicken pomelo salad
It didn't stop there. Next onto the main course, served with jasmine rice and 
morning glory Vietnamese greens. We chose:
Lemongrass chicken in a fish caramel sauce
Vietnamese chicken curry
And the chef's special dessert was a lovely Vietnamese crème brulee. 
All with unlimited prosecco.

Needless to say, I had to be rolled out of there through the maze of Soho to the tube, followed by a long nap when I got home and definitely no dinner. 

Fresh summer rolls with a peanut dip for brunch

Imperial rolls from the Rock 'n' Roll House of Ho brunch

House of Ho's smokey aubergine

One of the many bottles of prosecco at the House of Ho brunch

Chili glazed chicken wings

Lemongrass chicken with jasmine rice and morning glory greens

Chef's special dessert

55-59 Old Compton Street, 
020 7287 0770

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Mug of the Month: C is for...

C is for Caroline. I thought I'd dedicate August's Mug of the Month to one of my favourite tea cups which I received for my birthday last year.

As I type, I'm drinking tea and flicking through my favourite baking books on this rainy Sunday afternoon. I'm trying to decide what kind of cake to make as I have unsurprisingly caught the baking-bug now The Great British Bake Off has returned to our screens.

At least I have quite a few beautiful books to read for inspiration. Check out my shelfie - what are you favourite baking books? Tweet me @cl_baldwin or tag me in your very own shelfies on Instagram @breakfastatcarolines

UPDATE: For my curious readers, I ended up baking carrot cake with Hummingbird's cream cheese frosting.

Friday, 21 August 2015

Smoked salmon frittata for brunch

This super speedy brunch recipe is deliciously simple, yet elegant and full of flavour.

It's also perfect for alfresco eating and is very portable if you're planning a brunch picnic - just slice and place into a tupperware box. You could even be really posh and layer asparagus spears at the bottom of the pan.

This dish tastes even better chilled, so cook it the night before, to allow you even more time with your brunch guests. Serve with Bellinis and home-made sweet muffins for dessert.

Smoked Salmon Frittata - serves four

Preheat your grill and melt a knob of butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Fry off two finely sliced spring onions. 

Next, fry about eight thinly sliced new potatoes for a couple of minutes (either boil them before or buy ready cooked from a tin to save time).

Whisk four or five eggs in a bowl with a good grind of salt and pepper and a splash of milk.

Pour the egg mixture into the pan and allow to cook for a few seconds before scattering over 200g of roughly chopped smoked salmon.

Cook on a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until it starts to become solid. Gently dot over a few tsps of cream cheese and/or feta cheese and then pop under the grill. Remove from the grill once cooked through and golden.

You want the grilled side of the frittata to be presented, so place a plate over the pan and quickly flip so it is sitting upside down on the plate. Slide the frittata back into the pan and repeat so the golden top is sitting proudly on the plate.

Allow to cool and then keep in the fridge.

Serve within 24 hours with a garnish of a few sliced spring onions and a grind of pepper.

Enjoy x

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

The rules of homemade granola

I have recently learnt that the first rule of making granola, is that there are no rules. Homemade cereal, I find, is about throwing together your favourite flavour combinations and creating something so simple, yet so delicious.

The satisfaction you get from eating a bowl of your very own granola with lashings of ice-cold milk is truly special. And it’s also a good excuse to go through your store cupboards and use leftovers of nuts, seeds and dry fruit you have lying around from various baking recipes.

I used The Guardian’s ‘How to Make the Perfect...’ series as my main source of inspiration. To be honest the writer Felicity Cloake (what I wouldn’t do to have her job!) explored all the the different elements to the perfect granola for me.

What she concludes is there are four main elements to granola: cereal, nuts & fruit, binding agents and sugar & spice, but as for what those four parts are made up of - that’s completely up to you.

I used this as an excuse to play around with my taste instincts and my first attempt went pretty well and the smell from the honey, nuts and oats drifting through the house was an incredible bonus.

Recipe - makes one large kilner jar (or two small ones, like me!)

Melt one tbsp coconut oil and a good 3-4 squeezes of runny honey in a small pan with a pinch of salt.

While that melts, combine 200g of jumbo rolled oats with your choice of 100g roughly chopped nuts - I chose cashews, pine nuts and flaked almonds (because that’s what was in my cupboard!).

Add a handful of seeds (I had pumpkin to hand).

Once the coconut and honey syrup has melted and cooled slightly in the pan, stir through the cereal and nut mixture. Then whisk up an egg white and stir that through as well.

Layer the sticky cereal and nut mixture on a baking tray lined with parchment and pop in an oven for 30min at 150 degrees. Every now and then stir up the mixture to loosen the granola.

While it’s baking choose your 100g of dried fruit - I chopped up glacé cherries, dates and apricots for mine, as well as a handful of sultanas, and gave them a splash of vanilla essence which they absorbed while I mixed them quickly in a large bowl. 

When the granola is toasted and golden brown, remove from the oven and once cooled slightly, stir into your bowl of fruit. Once completely cool tip  into a kilner jar to stay fresh

TIP: Tie a bow around one of these jars of goodness and you have a thoughtful homemade gift!

Eating homemade granola in your favourite bowl in the summer sunshine is a rather special moment. But just wait until you reach the end of your bowl with the remnants of the milk which has soaked up all the natural sugary goodness - that last gulp of burnt sugar milk tastes so good, and with a recipe that easy, you’ll never go back to shop-bought cereal again.

Cereal love <3

Enjoy x

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Bubbly brunch at Lima Floral, London

Lima Floral, near Convent Garden in London, is the baby sister of the Peruvian restaurant Lima. Lima Floral says its aim is to showcase Peru “as a country full of diversity: ecologically, culturally and historically, sharing an authentic and native culinary offering.”

After a couple of glasses of prosecco from its bubbly brunch menu, I must admit I forgot to pay any attention to the ecological or historical Peruvian elements in this restaurant, but the food on the other hand was particularly special.

A three course brunch of several delicacies are served for £18, and you can also choose four glasses of prosecco for an extra £10. Our brunch consisted of the following:

Cereal. Quinoa Porridge.
Yoghurt. Eucalyptus. Muña Mint.
Fruits. Maca Root. Honey. Bee Pollen.

Potato Pancakes.
Suckling Pig Brioche Bun.
Egg Frittata. Spring Onions.

Amazonian Chocolate Mousse.
Aguaymanto. Cacao Crumble.
Alfajores. Dulce de Leche.

And you can also choose the long lunch for £30 with even more choice.

While I can’t remember, never mind pronounce, every single dish on the menu, I found Peruvian food to be fragrant (quinoa porridge), rich (sucking pig brioche bun) and bitter sweet (Amazonian chocolate mousse). The presentation was beautiful, as were the authentic yet modern surrounds.

Even if you skip the bubbles, £18 per head to taste all of this unusual food is a perfect way to start your weekend. Add it to your brunch list immediately!

Lima Floral
14 Garrick Street
London WC2E 9BJ
020 7240 5778