usually no big fan of haute cuisine dining, the sort of Michelin starred
food served over several (unsatisfyingly) small courses, often within a very
intimidating environment, Pidgin however is different. For one it is located in
the middle of Hackney and could easily be mistaken for the many hipster
neighbourhood brunch places that have sprung up in the area in recent years, with
its minimal, cosy, there are only 30 covers, and slightly shabby chic interior. But don’t be fooled by first appearances. This place was
voted by many, including the Guardian, as the best restaurant around and I find it hard to disagree. I mean it isn’t a place I will casually go
to on a random Friday, the set menu is £49 without wine (which starts at a very
reasonable £22 a bottle), which isn’t exactly what I spend on a normal dinner
out BUT here it is SO worth it. The set menu changes every week which means you
will never have the same dining experience more than once, and they are more
than happy to adjust their modern European menu to suit vegetarian and
feeling a little awkward and out of place when the waiter went on to explain the
complex dishes served, like I had experienced at other fine dining joints, here
there was a casual and welcoming vibe that made us feel at ease even when what
appeared in front of us was far from average. Simple ingredients were elevated
to something truly special and unforgettable (a plate of carrot, lime peanut,
lemongrass and ricotta may have sounded simple on paper but utterly blew our minds), with every flavour fine-tuned to perfection. Yes, there were quite a few
courses but these were spaced out well and never appeared too small so that we left utterly
satisfied (helped by our waiter topping us up throughout the meal with their
outstanding bread and butter). It isn’t easy to secure a reservation here, in
fact we only got one by committing to a late Friday night dinner at 9:30pm here, but
waiting a few weeks to get a spot is hundred percent worth the effort.
someone you want to impress to Pidgin or take yourself if you want to
truly treat your taste buds. Pidgin is one of
a kind that everyone needs to have tried.
I have been somewhat obsessed with finding the perfect pasta bake lately, it being the perfect meal to feed a crowd on a Sunday, all prepped and ready to go into the oven just as your guests arrive so that all that is left to do after a couple of drinks is to pop it for a couple of minutes before enjoying the fruits of your labour! Below two recent favourites, one a little more traditionally Italian, with ready made gnocchi and a fresh tomato sauce at it's core, and one that is a little more experimental, fusing the classic pasta bake with Mexican flavours which may sound odd but turned pretty darn tasty!
Hope you try at least one of them and let me know what you think! Both have been firmly added to my recipe repertoire!!
BAKED GNOCCHI WITH TOMATOES AND MOZZARELLA
SERVES 3-4 (more like 3)
· 500g store-bought gnocchi
· 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
· 2 thinly sliced shallots
· 4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
· 1 tablespoon tomato paste
· 1/2 tsp. salt
· 1/2 tsp. black pepper
· 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
· 2 cups fresh cherry tomatoes
· 1 tin crushed tomatoes
· 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
· 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
· 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
· 1 tablespoon heavy cream
· 240g fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees celsius.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.While the water is coming to a boil, make the sauce.Add the gnocchi and cook according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sliced shallots and cook, stirring frequently, for about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, black pepper and nutmeg, cooking for about 30 seconds more. Add the cherry tomatoes, tomato sauce and balsamic vinegar. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5-7 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat. Stir in the fresh herbs, heavy cream and the cooked gnocchi.
Transfer about half of the gnocchi/tomato mixture to your prepared oven safe dish. Top with about half of the torn mozzarella cheese. Then add the remaining gnocchi/tomato mixture and top with the remaining mozzarella cheese. Transfer the dish to your pre-heated oven and cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the baked gnocchi from your oven and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Top with additional fresh herbs, if desired.
Best served with a refreshing Aperol Spritz of course!
ONE-POT ENCHILADA PASTA
500g pasta (I used Barillag gluten free fusilli)
2 jars of ready made enchilada sauce (El Paso does a great one)
1 can of refried beans
1 cup crushed tomatoes
1 cup of vegetable broth
1 big tin of sweetcorn
3/4 can of black beans (drained + rinsed)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper, to taste
120g grated cheese (I used cheddar)
Fresh coriander and chopped spring onion
Finely Diced Jalapeño
Serve with lime wedges for a burst of citrus flavour and freshly made guacamole on the side!
Preheat oven too 175 degrees celsius.
To make the sauce combine your enchilada sauce and refried beans in a large saucepan and whisk together to mix well. This unsuspecting combo amps up the flavor, adds luscious thickness, and boosts the protein/fiber content of your zest red enchilada sauce.
Add crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, and chickapea pasta.
Bring to a boil, then add corn and black beans (as much as you'd like!) and season with chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
Cover and reduce heat to low/simmer for 5 minutes.
Transfer to to glass baking dish and cook your pasta. Drain your pasta and mix everything together in the baking dish.
Sprinkle cheese on top and transfer everyything to the oven for about 10 minutes or until hot and melty!