*THOSE* Chocolate Brownies Recipe

So I've made these now for a few events and by golly gosh have they gone down well! The old recipe was glitching due to popularity so I've re written it out here with both variations. (For the record, I love the ginger ones but I know some chocolate gluttons can't enough of the triple stuff so you've got that here too!) Thanks lots for all your lovely comments about these guys and I hope you enjoy recreating them at home!

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  • 200g best quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or above)
  • 175g unsalted butter 
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 125g light brown soft sugar 
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp maldon sea salt
  • 3 eggs
  • handful chopped stem ginger
  • handful of chopped crystallised ginger (both gingers to taste though- I probably added twice as much!) OR
  • 250g chopped mixed chocolate chunks
  • 1 - 2 tsp maldon salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/ Gas Mark 3/ 325°F.
  2. Place the chocolate in pieces and butter into a bowl over a pan of simmering water (be careful not to let the bottom of the bowl touch the water and keep it topped up if necessary). Leave until smooth.
  3. Using a tea towel (because of the steam), remove from the heat and stir in the sugar until it’s all melted.
  4. Sift in the flour and ginger (if using) and mix thoroughly.
  5. Leave for a few minutes to cool and then stir in the eggs and salt (don't sprinkle it too much - you want gorgeous hunks of salt throughout!)
  6. Mix in the chopped stem ginger pieces and once poured into the tin, stud the top with the crystallised ginger in as even a pattern as you wish or just fold through your choc pieces - finishing with another flourish of salt flakes.
  7. Bake for around 30 mins. If it is still really gooey when tested in the centre and wobbles when shook then leave for a few more minutes. Your own judgement here is important as you can make them as gooey and squidgy as you like but don’t leave them for longer than 45 as they’ll be more cakey than brownie-y…
  8. Leave to cool in the tin completely - this is imperative in retaining that fudginess that we all desperately want for a brownie! You can trim the sides after a couple of hours if you just can't wait all afternoon...

dinner at 100 feet... What Could Go Wrong?

NOTHING! 

Except perhaps looking a little windswept... & we certainly had a good ride with the DS Automobiles, Events in the Sky and of course the chefs from Club Gascon

A certainly hair raising experience, we enjoyed Michelin quality food, all while dangling our feet over the central lawn on the Chelsea College of Art. Before we boarded however we were treated to a little chat through the new DS 7 Crossback, which as of yet has only been ridden by the French president himself, Macron. Released for us mere mortals to drive in 2018 we were lucky enough to have a sneak peek inside a gorgeous burnt orange beauty. With clever little details such as an infrared camera to spot obstacles before even you see them, I'm hoping by 2018 I'll be looking for an upgrade from my old school Ford Focus! 

(Lucky I love smiling by cars so much, ey...)

Before long, however, it was time to board! We headed across the grass and took our seats - with a very 'racing driver' feel about them - even with an 'ejector' style lever that made for some very entertaining squeals when we were at the top. Shane kept our glasses topped up with some gorgeous New Zealand white wine and I have to say I think I got the best seat in the house! Being on a long side is definitely worth it if you're as much of a foodie as I am - I had a prime view of not only the surroundings but of the chefs themselves finishing the dishes right infront of me. 

To get everyone comfortable with eating at such a height and like any good meal should, we started with some freshly baked (and still warm!) bread with smoked butter and little crispy morsels on top. This was swiftly followed by a fois gras set creme with little pearls of aniseed and some other delights adorning it too. [Thanks to Lou for her fab photo of it!]

Shane kept us entertained throughout and we were soon on to the fish course - delicious black cod with baby corn, crisped corn, polenta cubes, a truffle sauce and a little oyster leaf to finish. The fish was perfectly cooked - even at this height and flaked its translucency with ease. The other elements added complimentary set of flavours and textures. 

We then moved on to the cheese course, although it was so sweet both Louise (www.lululoveslondon.com) and I thought that it was some sort of pre-dessert! It was a goats cheese mousse, topped with a very sweet beetroot gel and then a pistachio 'cake' for want of a better word. It was very tasty but I did miss the rich umami savouriness that proper roasted beetroot can give a dish and in this instance I think it would've added a lovely something extra.

We then had a quick trip down to the ground to get set for the actual dessert and then it was a swift ascent again into the beautiful sunshine and pud was served. A take on a millionaire's slice (or even my billionaire's version that you can find here) but with black olive and lemon thyme this time the dish wasn't sweet enough for me! I'm a real pudding gal as you know but do appreciate some less sweet dishes but the black olive and caramel mix may have just been one step too far for my little palette! 

With a final topping up of our wine glasses and a good few rotations up in the air, we were able to fully take in the gorgeous sites and see more of where we were - it's surprisingly easy to get your bearings once MI5 has been pointed out to you! 

Once back on dry (solid?) land we were able to also have a look at some of the other DS models that are available to buy now – including this hunk of a DS 5. Being able to see them up close and sit in them and not feel like a tiny girl in a big scary car was so lovely! Everything was perfectly proportioned and I could reach all the buttons! Sounds ridiculous but you wouldn’t believe the amount of cars with which this is an issue – let alone seeing over the steering wheel or reaching the pedals!

This experience was one of the quirkiest dinners I’ve had in a very long time and it was wonderful to be able to share it with some lovely people, our hosts Siobhan from DS Automobiles, Events in the Sky and of course our chefs from Club Gascon. It was a wonderful invitation and while it may not be for the faint hearted I can assure you, it is one of the coolest ways of spending a warm summers evening in London this summer.

New Opening Alert & Place of the Month - Duck & Waffle Local

Red Ducky! @dandoherty_

Red Ducky! @dandoherty_

It's here folks! You've followed the red ducks and you've found yourselves in the new area of Piccadilly called St. James Market and the red doors of heaven have beckoned you in... Perhaps you're a local, perhaps you've come from far but wherever you've travelled from - be it in or outside the M25 - you are treated like the most frequent of customers when you first enter Duck & Waffle Local. With amazing staff on hand instantly to chat you through the ordering process, this friendliness doesn't let up the entire time you're inside - even if only for a quick trip to pick up a take-away back of gorgeous golden duck gizzards (something I'll be doing a lot...!)

Heading into the middle of a gorgeously bright central area you are greeted with more smiley, happy servers, a menu above your head and all the choice you could wish for. My top tip here is to not stress out! I even got panicky thinking I was holding up the queue when there was no one behind me! Stop being British and worrying - take your time having a look at all the delicious things on offer and if you really are overwhelmed - ask! I laid my faith in the lovely Amy (I think!) and she chose brilliantly - suggesting those gizzards, the duck hearts and the crème brûlée. Yep, you've read that right - in the small plates section there was a duck liver crème brûlée... life changing I promise you. 

The Full Elvis

The Full Elvis

After ordering you're shown your seat and get to hang out a little bit before drinks are brought over and then everything as its ready - this keeps it in a nice stream of edible bites without them being too overwhelming. Still hungry? Grab a server and order some more from your seat or move straight onto desserts. These are the things of dreeeeeams. Huge waffle cones filled with basically enough dessert ingredients to feed two - but I of course managed one solo. I went for Elvis with everything that he had to offer me: peanut butter lined cone, strawberry jam drizzle, vanilla ice cream, bananas, raspberries, cacao nibs and crushed peanuts all packed inside and dribbling seductively over the edge. 

 

Something else that is totally worth a mention is the Breakfast Fizz. At D&W Local - the drinks are as special as the food. With a central bar serving all sorts straight from the tap including house brand beers such as the Duck & Stormy, there's also some fizzy options with cocktail blends made in house every day. The Breakfast Fizz was layer upon layer of the weirdest most wonderful drink I've had in a long time: buttered brown seeded toast topped with marmalade and a drizzle of honey and fresh grapefruit? How it works I don't know - all I know is that it does. 

So head down to the newly developed area of Piccadilly and get your hands on all these little ducky morsels before it's too late! Open all day with a special breakfast menu, try it out soon and let me know how you find it...

(Big thanks to Dan & the team for my treats)

Savoury Buckwheat Crêpes Recipe

I've been lucky enough to visit France a number of times, both holidaying there as a child and more recently on trips to Paris with friends but wherever I've been, one of the flavours I most associate with it are these delicious buckwheat crêpes or Galletes de Sarrasin. Perfectly stringy, melty, nutty cheese, iron strength of spinach and a perfectly gently warmed egg yolk all combine to create a delicious and oddly familiar flavour. These flavours should work together and with their little buckwheat blanket, they do.

If you can, make your batter the night before or at least three hours before you're going to eat them - it really does make the difference to the texture of the finished crepes and also the ease at which you make them. Although it's not the gluten that's chilling out and relaxing, the flavour of the flour also has plenty of time to permeate through the batter making an even more delicious pancake! 

I found that these guys really do need a swoosh round with something to get that clean round shape and without the need to buy one of those wooden crepe turner (although they are only a couple of pounds online) I found that a traditional T-bar wine opener did a fine job! Just dip it in some water before each swish and keep the pressure light to fill in all the gaps - adding tiny drops of batter if  needed. 

Traditional fillings are spinach and Gruyere cheese but you can go crazy! Some lovely shredded gammon ham is always welcome but don't forget that quick twist of nutmeg over the spinach - it really does elevate their flavour. I also love the nutty flavour and stringy texture of Emmental but Comte would of course be delicious too- play around!

Makes: 10 - 12 

Ingredients:

330g buckwheat flour

10g coarse sea salt (Maldon)

650-750ml water

1 egg yolk

For serving:

50g grated cheese per person, Gruyere & Emmental

Handful of spinach per person

1 egg yolk per person

3 grated strokes of nutmeg per person

Sea salt & cracked black pepper

 

Start with your flour in a large bowl and whisk through your salt finishing with a well in the centre. Slowly start to pour the water in making sure you whisk in the same direction the whole time to avoid lumps. When it has come to a runny texture (like melted chocolate) add in your egg yolk for some colour and richness. Some recipes add melted butter too but the oldies are sometimes the best and these are yummy as is. Leave to rest overnight or at least 3 hours.

When ready to serve, pop the oven on its lowest setting. Using a dap of lard or some butter on a medium heat in a large flat pan, melt the fat and then wipe off with a kitchen towel to leave just a little amount in the pan. Add a ladle of batter in the centre and after a couple of seconds, spread the rest the batter around and let cook for a couple of minutes until gorgeously brown all over - they will of course be darker than normal crepes but don't worry, just have a little look underneath and if it looks bronzed and the top is dry, then flip it over and cook for another couple of minutes. Transfer to a plate in the oven and keep warm while you cook off the rest of the crepes.

To fill them, grab a crepe from the oven and pop back in the pan over a very low heat. Start with your cheese and give a good scattering all over leaving a slight border. Then add your spinach and pop a lid over the pan so it can start to wilt. After a minute or so, add your egg yolk too and pop the lid back on so it can warm through gently. Give it about two minutes and then add lots of lovely salt and pepper and grate over your nutmeg. Fold the edges in carefully with a flat spatula and hold them down for a moment to ensure they stay! Serve immediately. 

It can help to have a couple of people doing the fillings at once so that everyone can eat at sort of the same time although it can be a bit of a logistical challenge!