Monday, 10 August 2015

Caramel Poached Peaches & Blueberries with Brioche French Toast & Mascarpone | Celia's Saucer

Drawing back the curtains, he demanded to know where the sun was. "Our British summer is over." He declared. While I hold a little more faith, I have to admit that it is a little too cool for over-indulging upon salads, cold soups and pitchers of iced tea in the garden, apart from the odd day here or there that calls for granita to be made quick-sharp.

Brioche French toast on the other hand... or, I correct myself, brioche French toast towering with peaches and tumbling with blueberries poached in caramel, with just a small scoop of mascarpone, and then you're talking. It's bright enough to pass the summery test but also with some substance to keep you full for quite a while.

While the weather might not be as great as we vainly hope each year, our grocers still boast an abundance of soft fruit and berries to enjoy so at least if the outdoors isn't all you hoped it to be, whatever you put on your plate will more than make up for it, if you give it a little thought.

From my breakfast plate, I wanted to elicit the sun, cotton-wool clouds, and that summer sunshine that spills almost everywhere, beaming forth from a sky so blue, it's almost sapphire.

I like to think I captured that here.
Recipes from the Cafe Cat
And so to the how to...
  1. Heat an empty, heavy-based saucepan until you can feel a strong heat rising. Sprinkle in the sugar. It should start to caramelise. Swirl the pan as the sugar dissolves and turns dark golden, but do not stir.
  2. When most of the sugar has caramelised, carefully pour in 500ml/18fl oz just-boiled water, and stir with a long handled spoon. It will spit, so take care. The sugar will become firm, but keep heating and stirring and it will dissolve again. Add the lemon zest and vanilla. Simmer for 5 mins.
  3. Score the peaches in half and twist to separate. Remove the stones. Slip the peaches into the syrup in a single layer.
  4. Return the liquor to a gentle simmer and turn down the heat until it barely simmers. Cook for 3-5 mins until the flesh feels tender when pierced. Remove the pan from the heat, mix in the lemon juice and allow to cool. Mix in the blueberries and serve at room temperature or chilled.
(From BBC Good Food)

Spoon over brioche french toast, serve with a dollop of mascarpone and two spoons to share.

This post is in collaboration with, and inspired by Seasonal Berries. You can follow other summer berry recipes through #BerriesSaySummer

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Madagascan King Prawn, Avocado & Mango Ceviche | Celia's Saucer

Rose Sancerre Domaine Pierre Martin
While I'm generally more of a red wine lover, in the height of summer, there is nothing better than an almost frosty white or rose wine, that has crisp touches of apples or gooseberries, or sometimes the sweetness of peach.

With a reputation for being a good foodie wine, I often opt for a bottle of Sancerre, and with the buzz that surrounded Loire Valley wines this year for their quality and unbeatable price, I skipped over to my trusted pals at Lay & Wheeler, from whom I learned a great deal when I joined them in Bordeaux for the famous En Primeur week.

Tasting a small sip of the 2014 Sancerre Chavignol Rose, the intensity of the mineral was quick to determine that this would pair well with something light, fresh and slightly sweet, to complement the dry but fruity quality.

What better than one of my favourite dishes in the world? A humble but fleshy ceviche with mango and avocado. 

Have you made ceviche before? It's SO easy and the very first time you try it, it's like a swift, delicious kick to the mouth, as well as a colourful, visual feast.
Ceviche paired with Sancerre Wine from the Loire Valley
I've become so accustomed to throwing ceviche together, I don't follow a recipe but have outlined quantities below for you to cobble together your own; it's a rough and ready dish, one which I like to serve with hunks of rustic, porous bread. 

To make enough for two starter-sized portions, mix together:

Eight Raw Madagascan Tiger Prawns, sliced lengthways and in half
(You could choose any raw prawn but I have a real hang-up with the politics behind farmed prawns and so apart from rarely eating them, if I do, they're always from the ocean even though it's still not a perfect choice)

The juice of two limes

One sliced banana shallot

One red chilli (or half to taste)

One roughly diced ripe avocado 

Half a ripe mango

A handful of chopped coriander

A pinch of salt, pepper and sugar
You must leave the ceviche to 'cook' in the acidic juices for at least twenty minutes and it will keep for up to a day, although it will surely toughen up the longer you leave it. 

Twenty minutes is all I need and then it's lavishly spooned onto bread and devoured, with some of that sharp Sancerre to wash it all down with.

A real summer delight.
Paired with wine from Lay & Wheeler

Friday, 5 June 2015

Chocolate Guinness Cake | Celia's Saucer

Pictures from the kitchen of the Cafe Cat - shelves filled with spices, pots and ceramics

Not one for cutting corners, I suppose you could compare my style of cooking to that of Nigella Lawson: quite decadent. 

No low-fat this, or sugar-free that, please. Just common sense and sharing what some might call the guilt, but what I like to call the delight.

This chocolate Guinness cake is absolutely no exception. There's so much butter and sugar in this bad boy, I advise total and complete denial.

Just enjoy yourself.
Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Guinness Cake Recipe with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe from Nigella Lawson

For the cake

  • 250 ml Guinness
  • 250 grams unsalted butter
  • 75 grams cocoa powder
  • 400 grams caster sugar
  • 142 ml sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 275 grams plain flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

For the topping

  • 300 grams cream cheese
  • 150 grams icing sugar
  • 125 ml double cream (or whipping cream)
For more ridiculously delicious food pictures, you can follow me on Instagram and Pinterest
A rich, dark and moist cake. Perfect for rainy Sunday afternoons. With chocolate, Guinness and vanilla.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Cafes in Islington | Highbury

Islington is a funny little borough. I spend a lot of time wandering around it and I never can quite tell where it begins and where it ends. As an avid cafe fan, I am blessed to live in this nook of North London, where you'll find them liberally peppered about. 

You might have already enjoyed my 'Cafes in Islington | Holloway Road' edition, which tells short tales of some of the establishments I enjoy there. The thing is, that's just three cafes amongst dozens of others on one stretch. So you see, to service the whole of Islington, I've got plenty to write about.

Let's have a look in and around Highbury, starting with possibly my favourite cafe of all, not just because I have fond memories of the area but also for its resident cafe cat, Max, who likes to come challenge my territory. I have had to let it slide though; he is an actual cat after all.
Places to Eat in London: A great little Islington Cafe

Islington and London Cafe, with Mat & Jess

Fink's Cafe is run by the lovely Mat and Jess, who I had the pleasure of interviewing in their opening week and they have a year since brought the place to life, filling it to the rafters with happy customers.

With fare quite unlike anywhere else, they are the masters of small plates and boards: of fish, of cheese, of meats and of other delights. And everything is presented oh-so-beautifully.

It's like a larder full of loveliness. I often have the salmon board with a giant glass of their excellent Vinho Verde.  

Islington Cafes

Spanish Tapas and Jazz Cafe in Highbury, Islington
Highbury Arts Club

While the opening hours of this little gaff and the fact they don't take cards is a touch irksome, it possesses a number of charms that almost help you to forgive them entirely, such as their Spanish/Australian style brunches - think sunny eggs and greens. Open in the evenings for tapas, there's a number of plates to be shared alongside some plinkety plonkety jazz or cosy comedy. I use the adjective cosy because it is small and it gets steamy but, for me, that makes it unique in its place along the Highbury Barn.

A North London Islington Cafe - a great place to eat in Islington
Little Gem

You're likely not to find this place unless you look for it, which is probably what the locals might prefer. Tucked just off Highbury Corner on a residential street (Corsica Street to be exact), Little Gem is a little gem indeed.

Peaceful proprietors of a mean toasted sandwich and serving Monmouth coffee, Little Gem is also Japanese-inspired, with subtle touches from the plates to the curios that adorn the walls.

If you fancy a clandestine coffee date, no one is likely to find you here. 

A lovely French cafe in Islington, North London
Le Peche Mignon

Serving also Monmouth coffee, you'll find this cafe if you slip off Holloway Road en route to Highbury Fields (Ronalds Road).

With shelves filled with French delights and a counter brimming with fresh salads and pastas, it's a pretty busy and cosy spot for a bite to eat and some gentle shopping. This Islington cafe also has a petite garden that is a regular little sun trap, too.

 If you're in Highbury soon, why not check them out for yourself? Or if you're in Islington in general and on the hunt, just tweet me @thecafecat.

For more London sweet spots, be sure to follow me on Instagram.

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