The Great Roast Dinner #3: The Key to a Good Roast Chicken

Roast chicken can be very good if you do it right. It is so very easy to ruin a roast chicken by drying it out and making it tasteless. Roast chicken to me, is a very homely meal – coming from a Jewish family, its a usual main dish to have after a good chicken and matzo ball soup as a starter on a Friday night with all the family around for dinner.

Renata and I have found that the key to a good roast chicken is 3 things: basting, timing and spices.

We came up with this recipe one cold Saturday evening in with a bottle of white wine and our creative chef hats on.

We firstly halved a whole lemon, squeezed some of the juice inside the chicken and then stuffed the chicken with both halves. Then we sliced a whole red onion in half and also stuffed this into the chicken. Next comes the garlic cloves. I crush them so that the flavours come out and then make sure to rub the outside of the chicken with them before also stuffing these inside.

Next comes the salt, pepper, thyme, and olive oil, which you rub on the outside of the bird – then voila its done.

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You can also chop up some onion and garlic and put it in the baking tray with the bird – this is optional.

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As we sat and caught up on life with a bottle of chilled white wine and a naughty little slice of brie, we left the bird to slowly cook on 220 degrees (make sure the oven is pre-heated) for 90 to 120 minutes depending on size of the bird. Every 30 minutes we would make sure to use a baster to get the juices from the tray and pour it over and inside the chicken.

50 minutes before the chicken is ready, its time to get the potatoes into the pan to par-boil before roughing them up and then lightly coating with olive oil, salt, pepper and a tiny sprinkle of flour before putting them in the oven for 40 minutes. Obviously the best way to cook potatoes would be with goose fat, but olive oil is a lot healthier and it does the trick.

Then comes for the vegetables we boiled some broccoli and peas.

And 2 hours later, but still a lot more girly chatting to do, out came the bird.

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And the leftovers are great in salads or sandwiches for work the next day.

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Cafe 338 – A Favourite East London Brunch Spot

Every East Londoner knows of Cafe 338. On Bethnal Green Road, the cafe always has a little line of people waiting outside the door to get a seat by noon on a Saturday and Sunday.

This is why Hannah and I got there at 11:30am this Sunday morning. As Hannah is going away on business for a few weeks next week, we went for a brunch date.

I love the orange juice there. They make it fresh and it has a bit of a sourness to it that definitely wakes you up.

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And I got a flat white for some waking up as well.

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Hannah got a scrambled egg breakfast (£3.80) with some black pudding and I went for the special breakfast (£3.80). Make sure to ask for the cumberland sausage, otherwise you’ll get a frankfurter-type on your plate.

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Cafe 338 is nothing tremendously fancy, no frills, no magic tricks; its just a good, old, well-priced, cheerful little brunch spot that hits the spot. Everyone needs a naughty breakfast once in a while, so go on, treat yourself 😉

Red Dog Saloon – Hoxton Square, London

Red Dog Saloon, a taste of Texas in London. From its decor, smokey BBQ-ed meats, and extra large portion sizes, you definitely feel as though you are no longer in London.

I first heard about Red Dog saloon through their Man Vs Food type challenges; The Devastator Challenge and The Hot Wings Challenge.

The Devastator Challenge is a burger made up of 3x 6oz meat patties, 200g pulled pork, 6 rashers of smoked bacon, and 6 slices of cheese. This comes with half a litre of a milkshake, made with five scoops of vanilla ice cream, a basket of fries, and a large side of coleslaw. This all needs to be finished in 10 minutes – and not many have completed the challenge.

After hearing about this I thought I had to try it. The first time I tried to go, they looked at us like we were from another planet when we said we had not booked a table and thought we could just walk in – of course there were no free tables that evening, jeez! So the second time we booked – and I definitely suggest that if you are planning to go, you do the same.

Tables were filled with families and friends drinking jugs of margaritas and eating BBQ meats and burgers.

We ordered (no we weren’t up for The Devastator Challenge) original buffalo wings to start (£4.95).

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They came with the skin slightly crisp and smothered in BBQ sauce with soured cream on the side. They tasted like perfection.

For our mains I had the ribs, chicken, collard greens and coleslaw (£16.75).

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The coleslaw tasted fresh and it was not creamy at all, which was good. The greens were nice, although a little sour for my liking. The ribs and the chicken were also, perfection. The meat fell off the bone and the spices were great – I guess this is why they advertise themselves as an authentic American BBQ house.

Throughout the evening we would hear alarms go off and people cheering as others around us tried the challenge. Maybe one day I will try it too.

Overall it was a totally awesome night ya’ll (said in honour of our Texan brethren) and I would definitely come again to try some more things from the menu.

http://www.reddogsaloon.co.uk/

Que Viet – Along The Great Pho Mile

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We decided to be adventurous this one evening and make some new discoveries on Kingsland Road (aka The Great Pho Mile). As I have said before, Kingsland Road is literally Vietnamese food heaven, with door after door of Vietnamese restaurants one after another.

I always go to Tay Do restaurant, just because the service is excellent, the food is great, its cheap and cheerful, and its bring your own booze (always a bonus). But, on this adventurous evening we went to Kingsland Road without a plan, except that we wanted Vietnamese and we were going to venture away from Tay Do.

So along the road we went peering into the windows and looking at the menus on all their doors, until finally we stumbled upon Que Viet. Different from Tay Do’s hustle and bustle and table sharing with strangers, Que Viet is a quaint little place. Dimmed lights, candles, lots of wooden decor. It is not a bring-your-own-booze place and its slightly more expensive than Tay Do, but still very affordable, and the atmosphere was lovely so we decided this was where we would end our search.

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We were seated and then given some prawn crackers to munch on as we chose our food and I decided on an Iced Vietnamese Coffee to sip on. Vietnamese coffee is great. Its a very strong espresso-like coffee mixed with condensed milk (£3.50).

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We decided to share a couple dishes.

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We started with Prawn Vietnamese Summer rolls (£3.80), which was very refreshing because they had a lot more salad inside them than the vermicelli, which I personally enjoy.

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Then for our mains we shared a Chicken Bun (£7.50), which is vermicelli, stir fried chicken, salad, which you then mix together with a fish sauce. It is a very refreshing noodle salad. The one minor detail is that they served this on a plate, whereas I prefer to eat this in a big bowl.

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We also ordered a Beef Pho (£7.50), which is a noodle soup cooked with an amazing beef broth, some fresh thinly slice beef, and some flat white rice noodles. This was delicious. Unfortunately they did not have as many choices of Pho as Tay Do, but what we did have was absolutely perfect. It definitely warmed our tummies before we headed back out into the windy weather.

A great night for a sophisticated Pho Mile experience and may I add, the service was terrific!

http://www.quevietrestaurant.co.uk/

New World – an original London Chinatown Dim Sum spot

The London Chinatown that we know and love today was established in the 1970s and New World was one of the first restaurants in this area, which is around the time that my mother discovered it. It became a regular Sunday Dim Sum spot for our family at least once a month.

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It has a great atmosphere, with its trolley service that reminds me of the old Hong Kong Dim Sum service, which makes the experience exciting as you wait for the trolleys to come by and you can see all the food and pick what you would like for the table.

Esme was visiting London and as China Town is one of the tourist attractions, Russell, Patrick and I took her to New World for the experience.

It always buzzing when you walk in. You sit down, order your drinks (we decided on Chinese tea for the table) and wait for the trolleys to come round one by one.

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The first trolley that decided to stop at our table was the steamed baskets. We chose siew mai (a pork and prawn dumpling), har kau (a prawn dumpling), and xiao long bao (a Shanghai-nese pork dumpling).

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The next trolley that came round was the cold meats (that you can ask them to warm up). We decided on some char siew, which is a sweet barbecued pork dish.

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Then the fried foods trolley came round and we chose some spring rolls, Woo Kok (fried yam puff with a pork and mushroom filling) and another dish which is a deep fried sweet sticky pastry with a pork filling.

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To end the meal, we had some Portuguese egg tarts.

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We left the restaurant extremely full of Chinese deliciousness and paid £15 each. Overall its a fun, sociable meal to be shared and a must try if you fancy some affordable dim sum in Chinatown.

http://newworldlondon.com/

The Great Roast Dinner #2: Roast Pork Shoulder with Fennel

For our last house dinner as the four of us, Glenn, Nathan, Hannah and I decided for a roast dinner at home. We wanted to treat ourselves, so where else to go but The Ginger Pig to get a good piece of meat. So Hannah and I made our way to the Borough Market branch.

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The Ginger Pig have all free-range, fresh meats, that are all farmed in the UK. The butcher that we spoke to was great. We explained to him that we wanted to make roast pork for 4 people (£20) and he recommended the pork shoulder, recommended the size, explained how long to cook it for, and gave us some ideas for spices to add.

Next we went to Elsley and Bent, also in Borough Market, for some vegetables to go with the dish. They have beautiful fruit and vegetables and are a family run business that started in 1911. Once I figured out how I was going to cook the pork, I decided that we would use some garlic, onions, fennel, potatoes, carrots and green beans.

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I cut up a whole fennel, a red onion, and 3 cloves of garlic then placed it on the tray and laid the pork joint on top. The Ginger Pig had already scoured the skin, which was perfect because without the right knife, this can be difficult. This made it easier to rub the sea salt into the scours and all over the joint.

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I pre-heated the oven to 150 and put the pork on the bed of fennel, onions, garlic in to slow cook for 4 hours.

An hour before the pork was ready, I started on the potatoes. I par-boil my potatoes, then when I strain out the water, I fluff them up. These fluffed up bits will crisp up to perfection in the oven. Next, I use olive oil, a couple pinches of flour, salt and pepper to very lightly over the potatoes. I sprinkled the juices from the meat over the potatoes before I then stick them in the oven with the meat for 45 minutes.

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Next I put the carrots in the tray with the pork for 30 minutes.

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10 minutes before the pork is done I stir fry the green beans with finely chopped garlic, a sprinkle of chicken stock, salt and pepper.

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And the timer goes to take everything out the oven!

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Nathan did the carving up as I served it up, et voila!

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A great way to end the 2 years and 3 months of the four of us living together in the passage as one big family.

Glenn, you will be missed in the passage for sure. It will not be the same without your 17 sneezes in a row and singing in the shower. I wish you the best in your next step in life. I am sure you and Tess will make a beautiful home together.

http://www.thegingerpig.co.uk/
http://www.elseyandbent.co.uk/about-us/

El Panzone – Brixton Village

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You’re heading out to a concert after work at Brixton Academy and the band isn’t playing until 9pm – so what do you do in the time between finishing work and 9pm? Go to Brixton Village, obviously!

Brixton Village is filled with little hidden gems to explore.

We were going to see Alt-J this particular evening and decided we needed some pre-concert-brixton-village-exploration. We stumbled upon El Panzone which has an outdoor area in the front with fake grass and garden furniture, luring you in for a freshly made margarita and feeling the need to wear a sombraro.

I ordered an ice cold corona and a quesadilla with chorizo (£7), which came presented in quarters with salsa, sour cream, and guacamole on the side.

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Very cheesy, just the way I like it and the chorizo gave a lovely smokey flavour. And that concludes our Brixton adventure pre-concert – and might I add, Alt-J were amazing.

http://www.elpanzon.co.uk/‎