Hello, something new is on its way!

ApArtsylights

Hello, hello lovely people who still subscribe to this blog despite me not posting in it since the beginning of the year.

There are a couple of reasons for this but let’s talk about the fun one…

I’ve been working on a new blog to go alongside the new lifestyle-y crafting business I’ve set up with my mum and my cousin.

We’re called We May Be Little and we make things. At the mo: crochet coasters, macrame planters, baby hairbands and coffee cup cosies that protect your hand from the ‘Americano burn’. But there’s loads more to come.

Our lifestyle blog We May Be Little.com that sits alongside our Etsy shop – and will cover everything from cocktail making to clothes shopping – launches tomorrow and we’d love you to follow us.

Have a click through to the new site now if you fancy it; there’s a FOLLOW button on the right where you pop in your email address.

In the meantime, New Girl On The Chopping Block will still be lingering around the Internet and will be updated with the recipes that go on to the new blog.

Thanks everybody – hope to see you at the new place!

Weekend inspiration: Maltby Street Market

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Ropewalk, Maltby Street Market is a lovely little way to while away an hour or two on a weekend morning.

It’s a bit off the beaten track and is set beneath scuzzy old railway arches in Bermondsey, about a 20-minute walk from the heaving Borough market.

When you make it to Ropewalk you’re met with a cute and buzzy, delicious-smelling alleyway of food and drink that makes you want to stretch your stomach to double its size for the morning so you can fit everything in.

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Veggies who want doorstep-sized sandwiches of bubbling grilled cheese of all varieties should head to The Cheese Truck. Carnivores who want huge amounts of chic cow between their slices of bread should head to Monty’s Deli, which specialises in “Jewish soul food”. The deluxe reuben is stuffed to the gils with pastrami and salt beef and accompanied by a humongous gherkin. (Julian had the reuben, I had his gherk).

Sweet breakfast-lovers (me) can go to Waffle On for big, fat authentic German waffles drizzled in all manner of teeth-decaying deliciousness, or Comptoire Gourmand for posh coffee and made-right-before-your-eyes croissants and cakes in super sizes.

It doesn’t stop there: you can pick up pork pies, meats and olive oils, designer breads and dirty burgers – all the usual lovely craft food market fare, but without the big old queues you get at Maltby’s good neighbour, Borough.

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Then there’s booze. My little party (me, Julian and baby girl in the Baby Bjorn) went on a Sunday morning, in the car, so drinking potential was limited – but oh, how I wanted to settle in at the shabby chic Little Bird Gin bar and try some of their London-made gin concoctions.

Instead I settled for healthy booze from the Polish Punch store: a steaming mug of spiced apple juice with an, um, big shot of vodka. Julian stuck with his Comptoire Gourmand coffee, being the designated driver for this particular trip *cough*.  The Polish Punch packed a right old punch, by the way. I slept for an hour on our return.

And if you want a bit of eye candy/retail therapy, head to antique store Lassco with its big Aloha sign that welcomes you in.  (Ahhh, Hawaii…) Have a browse around the old restaurant signs, vintage mirrors, doorknobs, mirrors, you name it – and know that even if your budget is tiny you can buy yourself a little handmade soap or cup of joe from the coffee bar inside.

Lovely.

Ropewalk, Maltby Street Market, 41 Maltby Street, SE1 3PA

Top marks for ten, Hornsey


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Hello, NGOTCB is back! Yes, it has been a year since I last blogged (hides behind hands…) but I have a good excuse. And it goes like this: Julian and I now have a permanent plus-one and her name is Jasmine. And she’s delish. With a baby in tow, my attempts at cooking have taken a bit of a back seat. Right now it’s all about finding great local cafes and restaurants that feed me.

Step forward, ten. ten is a new family-run  cafe-restaurant in my neighbourhood of Hornsey/Crouch End. Not only does it do wonderful coffee and pastries in the morning – something Hornsey has been lacking for tiiime – it has an all-day and night food and drink menu that wouldn’t look out of place in one of those trendy no-booking Soho eateries (the ones I used to frequent once upon a time!)

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve now done breakfast, lunch and dinner at ten – plus, coffee, croissants and cocktails. And they were all brilliant, because what you get from this place is quality ingredients and dishes made with loads of TLC. Being a family-run venture, you know that the chefs really care about the food they put out there. Breakfast granola, for example is not just any old granola, it looks like this…

Granola

Granola

The menu isn’t just full of the standards you’d expect from a local cafe, either. It boasts ingredients such as quince and quail eggs – and there’s a special cheese and wine board, too. Dinner options include an extremely tasty chicken escalope with house salsa and mash; and baked salmon with kale and new potatoes. Its breakfast menu (priced from about £4.50 to £8) doesn’t just do yer standard full English and veggie options, it boasts ‘eggs ten’ – yummy scrambled eggs, salmon, avocado and mushrooms on sourdough; and spinach and tomato bake, all garlicky and spicy like my old fave, shakshuka. But if you want a full English, you can have it, it just won’t come swimming in grease.

The Sunday lunches (£11-£13 a pop) boast that little bit extra, too. Along with your roast root veg and huge hunks of quality pork belly, chicken or beef – sourced from local butchers – you’ll get a ramekin of homebaked cauliflower and broccoli cheese and as much tasty gravy as you want. Yum.

And the cocktails. Along with its own house cocktail – containing premium gin, Prosecco and elderflower – ten does the best espresso martinis this side of Oblix at The Shard. Not sparing any detail, the martinis always come with three delicately placed coffee beans and really do hit the spot, particularly handy for sleep-deprived new parents. Though never before 11am of course. Oh, and they do 2for1 between 5 and 7pm.

And if you want to come here and work during the week, you can. It has complimentary wi-fi to go with your coffee and cake. ten is all about the details and its attention to detail makes it stand out from the pack.

 


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It’s also a great informal little hangout to come with friends (see picture above), family and BABIES (see above-above)!!! It’s decked out stylishly while not being over-designed and you’re almost always guaranteed a table if you’re passing by. It is worth booking for Sunday lunch, however. What with my old faves Pomodoro and Shiso and ten around the corner, Hornsey is becoming a vibrant little hub, definitely worth the bus or tube ride if you’re not from round here. Fortunately, for me and my dark circles, I am!

Paltrow’s Puttanesca

January is no time to be living on lettuce and water. March, maybe. January, just cruel. As if the sudden end of all things twinkly, boozy, foody, Pogues-y, party-y and Christmas 24-y isn’t bad enough.

Hearty food as ascribed by Gwyneth Paltrow – whether you like her or not – is the solution. Take this pasta puttanesca, for example.

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Pasta puttanesca is one of the best undo-your-belt-an-extra-notch meals on the market- but coz it’s January *shudder*, Gwynnie’s version seemed most appropriate. It contain saintly amounts of olive oil and butter (um, none), about 10 of your 5 a day of tomatoes and anchovies and capers for that super-tasty, salty tang. As Gwyneth is regularly featured with a glass of vino in her hand in her first cookbook, I took this to mean that white wine was an integral part of the dish, so I uncorked a bottle toute de suite (well, I unscrewed the cap on one anyway…)

HERE’S HOW TO DO IT

Ingredients for 4:

2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
6 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp olive oil
800g chopped tomatoes
3 basil leaves
Dried pasta
100g black olives
1 tbsp capers
(A tin of responsibly sourced tuna – not on St Gwyn’s ingredients list)

Instructions
Tomato sauce first
1. Gently fry your two minced cloves of garlic, in your oil, in a big saucepan
2. Add the dried chilli flakes and anchovy fillets
3. Stir for a bit until your anchovies begin to disappear into thin air
4. Turn up the heat and add your tomatoes – and your basil
5. Leave your pan to simmer for about 20 mins or so
6. At the 10 minute point, cook your pasta in boiling salted water
7. When pasta is cooked, drain – but save a bit of pasta water (cook’s tip!)
8. Chuck pasta into pan, along with olives and capers (and tuna, if you’re me)
9. Throw in pasta water if all looking a bit thick
10. Stir for a bit then serve
11. With a glass of wine.

Kitchen stats:
Kitchen cock-ups: Weirdly, none. Except maybe, I’d have shared two bottles of wine rather than one.
Listened to: Technotronic – The Playlist, Pump Up The Jam (on Spotify). Yep.

Hot Halloween Apple Cider

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Okay, it’s All Hallow’s Eve so here’s a quick easy boozy recipe to celebrate.

Literally all you need is 5 ingredients, 6 if you’re feeling posh… And a slice of apple for garnish

Ingredients:

Two cartons of apple juice, if you’re making for more than two people – 5 or 6, say.

One carton if you’re making for 2-2 and a half people.

Half a teaspoon of cinnamon for 2 people, one teaspoon for 4 or more

Quarter of a teaspoon of nutmeg for 2 people, half a teaspoon for 4 or more

Cinnamon stick if you’re feeling posh

Lashings of dark Rum

Apple

Directions:

Slice an apple into slim circles – make a slim slit in the apple so you can attach to side of cup or glass

Pour apple juice in saucepan

Add nutmeg and cinnamon

Pop the hob on a medium heat, stir to prevent spicy globules and taste as you go along

Once you’re in possession of a warm-verging-on-toasty beverage, decant into mugs – or if you’re a poseur like me, pour into vintage-style jam jar glasses and decorate with paper straws (try not to burn your hands along the way; I decanted over the sink. )

Add the rum – you know how much… Stick in a cinnamon stick

Consume, ideally with horror film on the telly and pumpkins glowing in fire place. (And spooktacular cupcakes and Halloween Haribo if you fancy).

Kitchen stats:

Kitchen Cock-ups: don’t boil your apple juice if you want to enjoy it. Don’t fill glass jam jars to top if you want to hold glass jam jar without suffering first degree burns

Listened to: New Rae & Christian album, Mercury Rising. Lovely.

 

Grilled Fish Tacos in London

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Many, many fish tacos were consumed on a recent honeymoon to Hawaii. See exhibit 1, top left.

Eating fish tacos became an integral part of my daily life, like brushing my teeth and texting my mum.

It was inevitable that returning to London and normality would bring with it a deep gaping hole where once there were fish tacos.

The only solution was to make some. Please see exhibit 2, top right (London fish tacos – taco means tortilla in Hawaii, by the way).

I don’t pretend that my fish taco recipe shows a woman at the height of her culinary powers – I didn’t even cut up my own lettuce (thanks, J) let alone make my own salsa, but if it’s a quick-fix tasty tea with delusions of Hawaiian grandeur you’re after, then this is it.

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Ingredients for 2

4 x Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself tortillas
4 x  white fish fillets –  I used the sustainable, responsibly sourced Sainsbury’s frozen haddock fillets. Grilling fish from frozen is fine, I checked.
Squeeze of lemon
Salt & pepper
Blip of olive oil
Iceberg lettuce shredded by someone nice – even if that somebody is me, as Prince would say
Grated cheddar
Several dollops of low-fat creme fraiche
Some tomato salsa
Some green jalapeno salsa (essential for British fish tacos wanting to ape their Hawaiian counterparts)

What to do

1. Put your grill on a medium heat, put some tinfoil on your grill pan, wash the icy bits off your frozen fish, dry with kitchen towel, blip a bit of olive oil on each side of your fish fillets and then add salt and pepper, place under grill and set your Russian doll egg timer for 12 minutes
2. Panic because your oven is being used to grill fish so how are you supposed to cook your frozen fries
3. Decide to give your fish 10 minutes under the grill then wrap it in tin foil to retain the heat while your fries are cooking for 20 minutes, then pop fish back under grill for 2-5 mins once chips are done
4. Grate cheese, lettuce – and tomatoes if you have them
5. Get salsas from cupboard and creme fraiche from fridge
6. Wait for everything to cook, squeeze some lemon on fish
7. Fill tortilla wraps – aka tacos – with all your ingredients
8. Eat

Kitchen stats:
Kitchen cock-ups: the grill for fish/oven for chips thing was a cause for concern, but it worked out just fine. Grilled haddock is much tastier than oven-baked haddock. Yay.
However, there was one blooper. I only had 3 wraps, so I only had one fish taco. Which wasn’t enough to satisfy me, so I ended up having a pitta bread with the leftover cheese and lettuce and more salsa instead. Be warned: two fish tacos per person is essential.
Also, next time, I’m going to melt my cheese a little bit on the tortilla before filling.
Listened to: Arctic Monkeys’ AM – back on form, they are.
P.s did you spot the pumpkin?

2 Days in New York

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New York in October. It’s truly chilling.

To set the scene: J and I arrived on a busy Wednesday lunchtime on a night flight from sleepy Hawaii – on the last leg of the ‘moon – quite jet lagged and already missing the Alohan spirit we’d become accustomed to. But hey ho. We could deal with that, we were in ruddy New York. What we probably should have done next, though, was go easy on ourselves with sleep and fresh, healthy food and lots of water. Instead we went hard on pizza, un-PC comedy, rum and dirty martinis.

And so, after an evening of pizza-ing it up (Keste, Bleeker Street), watching The Book of Mormon, accidentally getting very drunk in a midtown bar whose name escapes me, winding up back at the hotel at 5am and managing about 4 hours’ sleep, the Meatpacking District looked scarier than it ever had done, the following morning.

Our vision blurred on us, strangers stared at us, locals laughed at us, buildings loomed down on us, traffic screeched at us, elevators mocked us, lunch reservations evaded us, words escaped us, crowds of tourists swooped on us and birds practically pecked us. It was enough to send me, at least, screaming for the hills.

But, determined to wring some more fun from the ‘moon, we rallied – via the medium of really delicious club and grilled cheese sandwiches and chunky vegetable soup – from The Grey Dog, West 16th Street, Chelsea – and a movie, whose protagonists were going through something even scarier than we were. The Purge might not have had great reviews from the critics, but it certainly worked to make us feel a bit better about our lives.

By 5pm we were ready and, erm, raring – well, prepared – to go…

So we ventured down to Mexican restaurant, Móle, on Hudson Street in the West Village. Don’t ask me how to pronounce it. I mentally pronounced it as mole, at first, like the underground animal – until I decided it must be pronounced like the last part of guacamole (but recently I seem to have gone back to mentally pronouncing it as just mole).

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It’s a brilliant place. We ordered fresh-as-a-daisy cerviche, delicious scallop tacos and sizzling prawn fajitas, to share. We were only sorry we couldn’t muster up enough strength to wash it all down with one of Móle’s killer Margaritas (tried them on a previous trip and yet to taste a better one anywhere) – but we’d learned from our mistakes. I was also comforted to see lots of Halloween paraphernalia, inside and outside the restaurant, including a little witch sitting on a shelf.

From there on in, we were bombarded with Halloween stuff. Turns out, the more horrific I feel, the more I take comfort from horror – so it became my mission to take as many Halloween-y snaps as I could. At what do you know, there seemed to be a pumpkin on every street corner.

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Chelsea Market, where we got delicious Ninth Street Espresso coffees the next morning, was full of ’em.

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Before we left NY once and for all, we visited our favourite breakfast place, Bubby’s in Tribeca – a lovely little place that is as good to look at as it is to eat in. It’s all organic and locally sourced and made on site and shiz. We didn’t go for breakfast though, of course. Due to the 2-day hangover/jet lag we managed to just make it there in time for lunch.

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We sat at the bar and had the  Bubby’s burger (delicious, according to J) and tuna and alioli sandwich with fries – mmm, those fries were so good they must have been cooked in beef dripping – just don’t tell me (my vegetarianism is getting better…). Still scared of the alcohol, we drank organic apple juice and pink lemonade.

And look what I spotted while we were in there…

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Gourd-jus, eh?