Fri, 01 Nov 2013 19:01:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Petek Fri, 01 Nov 2013 13:36:42 +0000 There are some restaurants you go to that never change and why would you want them to. Their menu stays the same, familiar faces beckon you to your table, you know what wine you like, how much you are going to spend. But sometimes you do find yourself stuck in an ordering rut. The choice that is never really a choice but an old faithful that keeps pulling you pack in, no matter how much you claim you need to break the habit, change your patterns. But here’s the funny thing. Sometimes a change can be for the better.

I went to Petek this week on Stroud Green Road. I have been there many times since I moved to Stroud Green two years ago, it was a rebound restaurant for another Turkish place I frequented back on Green Lanes. I never thought it could hold a candle to the one I left behind but these days I barely find myself thinking about my old haunt, Petek has muscled its way into my hungry heart. But familiar patterns still remain. I have long resigned myself to the fact that I will always order chicken shish, or a variation of it, with one glass of chilean sauvignon blanc which is fine as I always leave happy. But this week when I visited I needed something new, so I ordered differently.

Now when I say I ordered differently please let me put into context the fact that I have eaten all the variations of chicken shish on this menu. I’ve had it with aubergine and red pepper puree, with yoghurt sauce, claypot and even naked. So I do know how to mix it up, that’s all I’m saying. However, there was a choice on this menu that I would have never seen coming, spicy chicken meatballs. Hold the phone, meatballs? I know, it never would normally have appealed to me either, but like I said, something had happened to me that day and I needed to change my pattern.

Thank goodness my dinner companion was on hand to order the Petek special so that if it all went disastrously wrong with the meatballs he would have a few pieces of chicken shish going spare. My concern was short-lived though as I was presented with a colourful plate of food that looked every bit as good as I needed. After I had quickly dispatched one of the five huge meatballs on my plate I vowed that never again would chicken shish have me under its thrall. Meatballs can sometimes go horribly awry with chicken, which is often too dry to be minced up and shaped into patties, but the texture and spicing here were perfect. The deftly dressed salad on my plate was generous, the rice in perfectly separate grains and the aubergine and red pepper puree which I have had before with my shish was outstanding.

I would seriously recommend this good local restaurant if you are in the area, and if you go you will more than likely see me there drinking my glass of wine and chowing down on the spicy chicken meatballs. I would also recommend the mezze served here but if you can manage both then you are a stronger person than I, these portions are not for the weak willed.

Petek Restaurant
96 Stroud Green Rd, London N4 3EN
020 7619 3933

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Pumpkin Cupcakes with Marshmallow Frosting Thu, 31 Oct 2013 16:37:31 +0000 I hate those recipes that ask you to use a bit of this and a bit of that. If I’m buying a tin of pumpkin puree I want to use the whole thing otherwise it will sit in my fridge for a week whilst I try and decide what else I can do with it. By the time I have come to a decision it is not fit for eating. Both the cupcakes and the frosting  here require you to buy stuff that you may not have in your store cupboard, pumpkin puree and marshmallow fluff, but don’t worry you will need to use the whole darn lot. Good for fridge space and good for your tummy.

I experimented with a few recipes to come up with the perfect pumpkin cupcake but then I realised it was all for naught as Martha Stewart has already cornered the market in the recipe below. I couldn’t better it and they are one of the tastiest, moistest cupcake sponges I have ever had. The frosting recipe makes a lot of marshmallowy goodness but if you are ruffling it onto the cupcakes like I did in the photos then that means you do need all of it.

I have loved coming up with Halloween inspired recipes this past week and I hope you have enjoyed the posts. Tomorrow I am making a last ditch attempt to get healthy before indulging in the upcoming excesses of the Christmas season with a month of gluten free recipes. I’m just telling you so you know you need to have a huge blow out tonight. Eat all the cupcakes! I’m gonna!

Pumpkin Halloween Cupcakes

Pumpkin Cupcakes

Adapted from a recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes about 18

400g light brown sugar
225g unsalted butter, melted then cooled
4 eggs
1 tin of pumpkin puree (about 400g)
1 tsp vanilla extract
250g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground allspice

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C
  2. Blend together the sugar and butter until pale and well combined.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla extract.
  4. Pour in the pumpkin puree and mix well.
  5. Sift together the rest of the dry ingredients, then add to the pumpkin mixture until just combined.
  6. Pour into cupcake cases and bake for 16-18mins.

Marshmallow frosting

400g unsalted butter
500g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 x jars marshmallow fluff (about 400g in total)

  1. Whizz up the butter and the icing sugar on a high speed in the mixer for 5-10 mins until very light and fluffy.
  2. Add in the vanilla extract and mix well.
  3. Add the marshmallow fluff a spoon at a time whilst your mixer is on a slower speed until fully incorporated.
pumpkin cupcakes



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Halloween Party Dips Wed, 30 Oct 2013 17:07:48 +0000 I wonder sometimes if my body is made up of mostly houmous. I eat it by the bucketload and there is usually more than one variety in my fridge just so I have a choice between smooth or course. I count myself very lucky that I live in Haringey where Turkish food is prolific, although that certainly doesn’t help my addiction. I read recently in the Guardian that more than 40% of Britons have a pot of houmous in the fridge and it is now seen as a grocery staple. So that makes me feel much better that I am not alone in my affliction.

It was whilst I was stuffing my face with houmous last night that I considered whether there may be an alternative. Dinner parties at home, Christmas morning, late night board games are always accompanied by a pot of houmous and it’s not that I’m getting bored of it. Never!!! But perhaps those around me might. So, keeping in mind the bunches of parties coming up, I am challenging myself to have a houmous free existence for the next few months so I have had to come up with some different options. After all, dips are still a necessity, aren’t they?



So, at the end of an afternoon filled with chopping, whizzing, spicing and tasting I actually think I have cracked it. These dips are not only much more attractive than the rather dour chickpea beige but they are also sublimely moreish which is exactly what you want when trying to polish off a bag of kettle chips. Although technically one of the recipes isn’t mine and belongs to the divine Silvena Rowe and don’t worry that one contains tahini, lemon juice and garlic so it’s practically houmous anyway.



The butternut squash dip is made by roasting the lovely orange flesh with lots of spice which makes it deliciously rich. The chorizo is by no means essential, you can quite happily make a veggie version and you won’t be missing out at all. Or you could pair the butternut squash with some lamb chops to make a wonderful accompaniment as part of a main meal.

I will usually devour dips indefinitely with a packet of Clearspring’s sticky rice crackers assisting me in the task which I think you can get in most supermarkets now. They are a slightly healthier alternative to those kettle chips.

Butternut Squash with Chorizo Dip

60ml olive oil
1 x butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Grated zest of ¼ orange
1 tbsp Fino or other dry sherry
Plenty of salt and pepper
2 x chorizo sausages, diced small

  1. In a large baking dish mix together all the ingredients, bar the chorizo, and place in an oven preheated to 180°C. Roast for 45mins – 1 hour, giving it a good turn over halfway through until the squash is soft. Remove from the oven.
  2. Pulse the butternut squash in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Place the chorizo in a small saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to crisp up.
  4. Serve the butternut squash dip with the chorizo piled on top.

Silvena Rowe’s Avocado and Sumac Whip

2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 small lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tahini
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sumac
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Scrape the avocados from their skins and blend in a food processor with the lemon juice until smooth.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until thick and smooth.
  3. Serve with the sesame seeds scattered on top.
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Pickled Purple Cauliflower Salad Tue, 29 Oct 2013 16:58:10 +0000 I lucked out in an obscene manner at the farmers market at the weekend. It’s as if all the produce had got together and artfully arranged themselves adjacent to each other so I didn’t have to use my imagination at all. The purple cauliflower sang out immediately. Of course it would – it was purple. Purple veg are actually the best, they make everything a lot more fancy. I am absolutely addicted to purple carrots at the moment. But then carrots are complete rock stars in my eyes anyway and can do no wrong, the purple is just an added bonus.


So, the purple cauliflower was in my bag and I immediately knew I wanted to pickle it which would keep the cauliflower as raw as possible so as not to lose any of its vital colour. Then, just as I was wondering how to incorporate it into a salad, what should be sitting next door to Ole Purple Brains, but bulls blood leaves. That’s right, an unassuming salad leaf handily named something gruesome – perfect for my Halloween week. I hadn’t heard of bulls blood leaves before but they are from the beetroot family and these ones had been organically groomed to take on the beetroot’s purple hue which makes them sweeter. So, in the bag they went.

Now what goes the bestest with cauliflower? If you said cheese then you are completely correct. My husband point blank refused to eat cauliflower at all when we first got together but once he had tried homemade cauliflower cheese suddenly it all made sense to him. In fact a lot of things can make sense with just a spoonful of cauliflower cheese, it really makes you think clearer.


Anyhow, the farmers market. So next door… Next Door! the veggie man was the cheese stall. Wildes Cheese are a self proclaimed urban cheese makers who make the most wonderful artisan cheeses from their micro dairy in Tottenham. They recommended The Howard to go with my haul, a softer cheese but with a slight blue note to it which would lend its robust flavours to the sweetly pickled cauliflower and the strong slightly bitter bulls blood leaves. The final ingredient to this wonderful array of ingredients was the walnuts which I wish I could tell you I foraged on the way home along the Parkland Walk but no, I just stopped off at Sainsbury’s.

The thing is with this salad is that you might not be able to get hold of bulls blood leaves but you can easily substitute it with any salad leaves. Radicchio would go very nicely. The same with the cheese, if you live in North London then I would definitely recommend sourcing from Wildes Cheese but if not, then any soft light British blue would go just as well. The pickled cauliflower is just as lovely if you can only get white cauliflower. The purple one just makes it prettier.  The pickled cauliflower can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks and makes brilliant snacking if you are standing in front of the fridge at 10pm on a Tuesday night.



Pickled Purple Cauliflower
Makes about 2 x 500ml jars

2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
½ tsp celery seeds
1.5 tbsp salt
400ml cider vinegar
180g caster sugar
1kg cauliflower florets
1 large onion, halved then sliced thinly

  1. In a large saucepan toast all the spices for a minute or so.
  2. Add the salt, vinegar and sugar and boil for around 10 mins.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets and onion and bring back up to the boil, then boil for around 3 mins.
  4. Remove from the heat and bottle into jars.
  5. Leave for a day or so for the flavours to come together.

For the salad
A large handful of salad leaves
A chunk of cheese, crumbledIMG_2229
A handful of walnuts, toasted in the oven then cooled
A couple of spoonfuls of pickled cauliflower
Dressed with the dressing below

Salad dressing
1 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2 tsp honey mustard (I used Maille’s honey dijon)
1 tbsp olive oil

Whisk the vinegar, seasoning and mustard together, then drizzle in slowly the olive oil, whisking all the while until it emulsifies into a thick dressing.


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Gingerdead Men Mon, 28 Oct 2013 15:05:27 +0000 Do you know what I love? Gingerbread men. They are delicious. I could eat a mountain of the chirpy little fellows. Are they strictly adult food? Maybe not but do I have to feel slightly embarrassed that I spent a wonderful afternoon baking and decorating these without a child in sight? No, I don’t.

I did, however, in a very grown up and scientific way conduct very thorough research on this humble biscuit and made two different recipes. For science. One was the biscuit I grew up on, flavoured with golden syrup and ground ginger. The second was a more adult version from Dan Lepard which had a lot more spice, treacly muscavado sugar and cocoa powder creating a darker, smoother, snappier biscuit with deep flavour. They were very good but I am a fool for the old school slightly soft texture, subtle ginger taste and shabbier looking biscuit from my youth. Don’t worry, both of these recipes were put through very rigorous taste tests to make ultra sure of my decision.

There is something ever so slightly sinister anyway about gingerbread men. At least with these gingerdead men you don’t have to feel so guilty, I mean they are already dead. You could even hash out a quick game pretending you’re Buffy, slaying the monsters and stuff. Not that I did that. At all. But some biscuits did get slayed. For science.

By the way, before you think I’m incredibly witty I may have unashamedly cribbed the name ‘gingerdead’, from far clever bloggers than me.

gingerdead biscuits


Gingerdead Biscuits
Adapted from The Good Housekeeping Step by Step Cook Book

350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
100g unsalted butter, cubed
175g soft light brown sugar
4 tbsp golden syrup
1 egg

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger.
  3. Rub the butter into the flour mix with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Add the sugar and mix well
  5. Warm the golden syrup slightly in a saucepan to make it runny and easier to use. Finally pour the golden syrup and the egg into the rest of the ingredients. Bring the dough together with your hands until everything is incorporated and is a nice smooth ball.
  6. Roll out the dough and cut out your ghouls.
  7. Place on a baking tray and bake for between 8-10 mins. They spread out ever so slightly in the oven so make sure you give each biscuit a bit of room on the tray.

Dan Lepard’s ginger biscuits recipe can be found on the Guardian website. I do recommend if you make the above recipe you should also make his. For science.

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Maple Pecan Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato Fri, 25 Oct 2013 11:23:55 +0000 There is something about the time around Halloween which brings out the American flavours in me. When ginormous pumpkins are beaming at you from their orange mountains within Tesco’s doorway and witches and goblins leer out of every shop window there is something in the air that makes me want to reach across the pond. I imagine myself in a dinky New England town with kids cycling in circles around the pumpkin patch, fathers raking up leaves as moms bake cookies in between sewing incredibly ornate trick or treat outfits for their five year olds. Multiple viewings of The Woman in White when I was a pre-teen might have had something to do with that vision. Now that’s a scary film.

So when I’m itching to incorporate a little bit of Halloween in my meals in the run up to the big day I can’t help but crave toasty pecans paired with maple syrup, the real amber nectar. Apparently I shouldn’t eat sweet things all day long, even though that would be the dream, so I pile them atop tender chicken and serve with a pipingly hot baked sweet potato. Although I completely draw the line at the American tradition of putting any kind of sugary nonsense with my sweet potato. It’s sweet already, it says it in the name.

This recipe has been heavily adapted from one of my favourite and most used cookbooks, the first Ottolenghi book where the chicken was originally paired with saffron, hazelnuts and honey, just in case you were wondering.



Maple Pecan Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato

2 x sweet potatoes
2 x chicken supremes
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
50g pecan nuts
1 tbsp maple syrup

  1. Wrap each sweet potato tightly in foil and place in the centre of an oven pre-heated to 180°C. The potatoes should take between 75-90 mins to bake depending on the size of your potato
  2. Mix together the cinnamon, ginger and olive oil then rub it all over each piece of chicken. Marinate for at least half an hour before adding to the oven to bake alongside the potatoes. The chicken should take between 30-40 mins to cook thoroughly depending on the size of your chicken supremes.
  3. Meanwhile spread the pecan nuts in a shallow baking tray and add to oven to bake for 10 mins. Remove, chop roughly then mix in with the maple syrup.
  4. 10 mins before the chicken is ready, remove from the oven the spoon oven the pecan nuts, pressing tightly against the top of the chicken. Put back in the oven for the remaining 10 mins.
  5. Serve the chicken with the sweet potato, peeled out of it’s foil and a knob of butter.
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Willow’s Wicked Elixir Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:20:44 +0000 Did you have squillions of blackberries rolling around your kitchen this year after many an enthusiastic and prickly squandering of all the blackberry bushes within a 5-mile radius? You did? Samies!

Not so Wicked Willow


This year our Halloween temptress herself requested a cocktail in her name which was very good of her seeing as she only drinks catmilk, and I pooh-poohed that suggestion straight off the bat. From there, I didn’t have far to look for inspiration as sitting resplendent at the forefront of our drinks cabinet was evidence of this year’s obsessive blackberry picking. Most of the blackberry elixir has been sequestered away as presents for very special family members, but I kept a bottle back for medicinal use as the long autumn evenings require a little extra vitamin c. You know, to ward off colds.

This particular elixir was crafted to make full use of the pulp and pips which were left over after I made blackberry jelly and I couldn’t bear them going to waste. However, this is so good that the blackberries could have been picked solely for this purpose. So if you have any cleverly stashed blackberries in your freezer from last month which haven’t quite made it into a pie yet then you must work quickly and quietly whilst everyone is out. If you store your elixir at the back of the cupboard where no one can see it or drink it but you then its magical properties will work all the better. Willow insists and it is her elixir.



Willow’s Wicked Elixir

200g blackberries
Juice and Zest of 1 lime
600ml vodka
250ml Armagnac
250ml sugar syrup

Add all the ingredients together, store in a large bottle or jar for 2 weeks, giving it a shake every other day, then strain and bottle. Easy peasy pudding and pie.

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Red Phantom Cake Wed, 23 Oct 2013 10:03:55 +0000 It is the moment he has been waiting for all year. His dank hollow eyes peered at me from beneath the cheery red wrapping last Christmas morn, a relic of Halloween, his moment dead and buried with October. For the past ten months he has bided his time, trapped within his cellophane prison, a malevolent sneer upon his metal mouth as he silently watches the eight inch sandwich tins jump gleefully from the shelf, celebrating birthdays, anniversaries and Fridays.  Now his time has finally arrived. His cheeks bloom with the crimson terror of red velvet as he stares menacingly with his glowing raspberry gaze, terrifying all who dare to look upon the diamond white frosting. Finally delivering a devastating blow of delicious horror at first bite leaving you shuddering with ghoulish delight.

It seems fitting for this cake that red velvet just will not die. It is the cake flavour I am requested for the most and was the only choice for today’s Halloween cake. The moist light sponge is taken to cake heaven by the fruity addition of the last of this year’s raspberries. The cream cheese frosting is also redeemed from being too sweet by the mascarpone which evens out the sugar and reminds me once again why red velvet is now a bit of an oldie but by my word, it’s still a definite goodie. Just don’t tell the Phantom as he likes to be thought of as a bit of a baddie.



Red Phantom Cake
adapted from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook
For the cake
60g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
1.5 tbsp red food colouring
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cocoa powder
150g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
120ml buttermilk
1½ tsp vinegar
raspberries to decorate

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter the skeleton cake tin.
  2. Beat the butter and caster sugar together for a few minutes
  3. Add the egg and beat until the mixture is thick
  4. Add the food colouring and vanilla extract and mix well.
  5. Sift together the cocoa powder, flour and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and set aside for a moment.
  6. Mix together the buttermilk and vinegar in a jug.
  7. In alternate turns add the flour and the buttermilk mixtures to the rest of the batter. You should add the flour in 3 additions and the buttermilk in 2 additions, starting and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.
  8. Pour into the skeleton cake tin and bake for 30-35 mins.
  9. Rest for 10 mins in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

For the frosting
adapted from ‘Baked in America’ from the Outsider Tart boys

300g cream cheese
250g mascarpone
140g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat all the ingredients until thick and fully incorporated and the right consistency for piping.

Skeleton cake 2
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Halloween Chilli with Cornbread Muffins Tue, 22 Oct 2013 12:43:57 +0000 I might have to rein myself in. It is coming up to my favourite time of year, Christmas lights, parties and food- and the run up to Halloween is what kicks it all off. You can never be too old for Halloween, at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m squabbling with the ten year old child in Sainsburys over the last witch’s broom in their seasonal section. This is the time of year for sharing, I explain to her. Actually it’s more like the time of year for us all to explode out of our boxes, be daring and fun in the way that only dressing up like a bozo will let you. You can finally break out that twerk that’s been building up in your behind, you can show how down with the pre-schoolers you are by rocking the Despicable Me Minion look or reveal your drug lord tendencies by Walter Whiting your night. Anything goes, it’s Halloween.

And that’s why I’m going to go absolutely crazy and… make a chilli. Yeah, that’s right, I’m doing it, I’m living wild and free. You had better watch out, who knows what freaky business I will get up to next. If it helps I’m making the chilli with my tongue sticking out of my mouth and stirring it with a foam finger. Cornbread muffins in the shape of diddy pumpkins and skeletons though, now that’s rock and roll, just in case you were wondering.

cornbread muffins


A vat of hot comforting chilli is just what you need as a standby for pre or post Halloween parties and the cornbread muffins are as quick as a flash to knock up. You are more than welcome to make them in simple 12 hole muffin trays, but let me warn you, they don’t taste the same.

Halloween Chilli with Cornbread Muffins

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
700g beef mince
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sweet hot paprika
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry fried and bashed
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
3 whole dried chillies
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
70g coriander including stalks, finely chopped
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 bottle passata
300g tin of kidney beans
Salt and Pepper – season gently after every step
Sour Cream to serve

Cornbread Muffins
Makes 12

250g cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
500ml buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, when hot add the onions. Cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes before adding the celery. Continue cooking until the onion starts to caramelise. This should take about 20 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots, red pepper and garlic and stir for about 5 mins until they slightly soften.
  3. Mix the mince into the pan and after about 4 minutes of stirring add all the spices.
  4. Take the tops off the chillies and shake out the seeds and discard. Place the chillies in warm water for about 5 minutes to soften, then remove and chop finely. Add to the pan.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. Fill the empty passata jar halfway with water, put the lid on and give it a good shake so you get all the tomato juice. Add to the pan. Put the lid on the pan and cook on a gentle simmer for about half an hour.
  6. Add the kidney beans and carry on cooking for about 15 minutes.
  7. Once the kidney beans are added you can make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter a muffin tin.
  8. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and combine thoroughly.
  9. Pour the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 12-15mins.
  10. Remove the muffins from the oven and while they are cooling for a few mins in their tin you can make the glaze. Melt the butter then stir in the agave nectar or honey until they form a syrup.
  11. Remove the muffins from the tin and then over the top of each one pour over the glaze so that it sinks into the warm muffins.
  12. Serve the chilli in deep bowls with a scattering of chopped coriander leaves, a swirl of sour cream and the warm muffins.


Halloween Chilli and cornbread muffins


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Smokehouse Mon, 21 Oct 2013 11:26:19 +0000 I had been keen to try Smokehouse for a while.  Often a new restaurant opens, I will read a glowing review, then after deluding myself that I’ll book a table right there and then it will be put on a to-do list never to be thought of again.  Then months later I find the to-do list scribbled on a manky receipt at the bottom of my bag.  I’ll delude myself once more and then put it back feeling very organised to have such an infallible system.

This past year John Salt was one of these restaurants, I had salivated over the menu and clapped my hands with glee at the fact it was practically on my doorstep.  But then I forgot about it.  Then comes Smokehouse to remind me.  It boasts Neil Rankin fresh from John Salt fame and an origin story of the Pitt Cue Co.  It has also taken over the delightful location where the House used to be, a twinkly lit gastropub which I used to go to all the time but then stopped.  I have no idea why, those lights were very becoming on a chilly evening in leafy Canonbury.

This time though I actually to-did it.  Although to be fair to my uselessness it was on a list for a couple of months, we didn’t book a table and we turned up at 7.30pm on a Friday night wholly expecting to be turned away, so it wasn’t a perfect plan.  But low and behold, we were not rejected cruelly like an over-25 on X-Factor but instead we were welcomed in with open arms, offered a dinky table in the bar area and were brought gin and tonics forthwith.

In fact it was this service which sold the place to me.  Yes, the Foie gras, apple pie and duck egg thingy was great fun, yes the crab toast wasn’t just crab toast etc. etc.  Oh, okay then my mutton chops were fabulous with their silky capanota and the anchovies and parsley showing off all over the place.  Sure my Vanilla Vanilla Vanilla reminded me exactly why we should ALWAYS pour a bucket load of alcohol over ice cream for it to even be worthwhile.

But it was the service that sang to me.  Never once did it feel intrusive or distant, it was that special place in between.  The nirvana of offering to bring another glass of wine before I’ve finished the previous one without making a fuss or making me feel like an alky.  The breezy easiness of getting the bill without us having to perform semaphore or wait until we’re 80.  Oh, and the cherry on top of the Friday Pie (which they also serve for dessert by the way and it’s very nice thanks for asking; honeycomb, chocolate and caramel) is those lights.  They still twinkle as if it were yesterday.

63–69 Canonbury Road,
London N1 2DG
020 7354 1144

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