Bar Boulud

French Chef Daniel Boulud – say it with me, dan-yell boo-loo – decided to give his name to another restaurant and opened Bar Boulud in London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel in 2010.

Reviews ranted and raved about his dishes, but I never got around to trying it.
In fact, the first time I ever tasted one of Boulud’s dishes was two years later at Taste of London 2012.
You may recall me raving about a certain perfect hot dog here.
Well, this bad boy belonged to Mr. Boulud himself.

A year later, I was surprised with sunflowers and taken to Bar Boulud for a celebration over a perfect hot dog. The restaurant was completely booked and buzzing with men sipping whisky in designer suits and elegant women dining dressed to the nines

Bar Boulud Bar Boulud Bar Boulud Bar Boulud We quickly decided that this was going to be a filthy celebration of maximum caloric intake. A mandatory order of the Tunisienne Hot Dog was made. A spicy lamb merguez served on a brioche bun with mint yoghurt and pepper stew.
The Tunisienne had great flavour from the mint yoghurt with a little bit of kick from the pepper stew, but was missing that snap that completes the perfect hot dog.
Bar Boulud

Bar Boulud Bar Boulud

A little bit let down, we moved on to bigger and better things.
Burgers.
From a selection of New York Grilled Beef Burgers we ordered the Piggie and the “BB”, as well as a mountain of frites.

Bar Boulud The award winning Pigge is a beef patty topped with bbq pulled pork, green chili, mayonnaise, bibb lettuce, red cabbage slaw and melted cheddar on a bun.
I must start by saying this little Piggie made me go wee wee wee all the way home. I couldn’t stop talking about the perfection of this burger and wish we had stopped our order here.
The texture from the cheddar melted on top of the top of the bun is what I would like to call the cherry on top. Beneath this cheesy bun lay perfect pulled pork, crunchy red cabbage slaw, crisp bibb lettuce, spicy chilli mayo and a smoky, succulent beef patty cooked to perfection.
Bar Boulud Bar Boulud This little piggie didn’t stand a chance. Bar Boulud

Then we came to the BB.
A luxurious, if not gluttonous, combination of beef patty, foie gras, red wine braised short ribs, truffle frisée, horseradish mayonnaise and confit tomato on a black onion seed bun.
Although the generous serving of foie was creamy and added a nice, rich texture to the burger, there’s nothing else about this burger I enjoyed.
The beef patty was overcooked, truffle was overpowering of both the horseradish mayonnaise and confit tomato and the braised short ribs seemed unnecessary.
Each ingredient should enhance and complement the dish, yet this burger felt more like what can we throw on here to make it more extravagant.
I was incredibly disappointed and wished that this little piggie had ended on the Piggie.
Our lovely waiter took the burger off our bill which left me slightly less bitter before ordering dessert.

Bar Boulud Bar Boulud Ah dessert.
Recovering from the bitter end of our meal, we over ordered on dessert.
First, the theatrical Coupe Peppermint suggested by the waiter.
Flourless sponge with hot chocolate sauce and mint-chocolate ice cream.
The chocolate disc on top was melted by a hot chocolate sauce poured over the top. This caved into the mint-chocolate ice cream below which had the flavour of fresh mint, rather then that fake, spearminty flavour.
As a result of the hot chocolate, it all became a sort of soupy, minty mush. And the described flourless sponge was apparently one bite-full hiding at the bottom which I wasn’t quick enough to taste.
Overall, although the presentation was exciting, the flavours and textures were not.

Bar Boulud Bar Boulud IMG_8070 IMG_8072 Bar Boulud Next to try was an assortment of macarons.
Now I must warn you, the macaron happens to be my favourite sweet treat and over the years I have become a bit of a macaron master through extensive taste testing research. This frequently results in over-analysation of these finicky confections and I’m often left disappointed.
Hesitantly, we ordered the assortment of macarons: chocolate lime, hazelnut and passionfruit.
Have you ever smelled a citronella scented mosquito candle?
If so, you’ll know exactly what this chocolate lime macaron tasted of. I can safely say both mosquitos and I will be staying far away from it.
The hazelnut macaron didn’t have the perfect texture, but had a nice, if not muted, flavour of hazelnut.
To save the day/plate, the passionfruit macaron had good texture and a lovely, strong passionfruit flavour.
Overall, I’d give a 1 1/2 out of 3.
Bar Boulud To finish on a sweet note, the Birmane.
Fresh mango julienne, saffron crumble, mango orange mousse and a blood orange sorbet.
The presentation was simple but beautiful in a small glass. The mousse was creamy and sweet and contrasted perfectly with the cold, sour sorbet. I only found one piece of saffron biscuit, but enjoyed the snap of saffron. The pieces of juicy blood orange and strips of mango added a great texture and overall I really loved the dessert.

Bar Boulud The food at Bar Boulud was good and I’m assuming that a one off mistake was made. The service was great with knowledgable, friendly staff that were attentive and happy to  rectify the burger mishap.

You can book a romantic date or caloric massacre here and I’d thoroughly recommend making a reservation as this place fills up quickly.

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Red Velvet Brownies

It’s holiday time, which means you have presents to buy, halls to deck, and parties to attend. For the Christmas party goer that doesn’t have much time between gift wrapping and hall decking, I have the perfect recipe to dazzle your friends with.
Red Velvet Brownies.
The deep red colour is perfectly festive and the rich, dense flavour will have all your friends saying, “let it snow.”

Red Velvet Brownies

Here’s what you’ll need

Ingredients:
1 cup unsalted, room temperature butter
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 oz red food colouring
4 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350F/ 176C degrees
2. Spray a non-stick spray over your 9×13 glass baking dish
3. Beat together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time and mix until combined.
4. Time to put the red in the red velvet. Add food colouring until you have a deep red colour. Don’t overdo this or you’ll end up with bright red brownies. Add vanilla extract and mix until the colour is fully incorporated.
5. In a separate bowl, mix flour, cocoa and salt until fully combined. Slowly add dry ingredients into wet ingredients until you have a gooey, red batter.
6. Pour batter into your prepared pan and pop into the oven for 35 minutes. This will ensure a thin crust and gooey goodness underneath.
Now you have time to lick the spoon and get back to wrapping those last few gifts.

Red Velvet Brownies Red Velvet Brownies Red Velvet Brownies Red Velvet Brownies Red Velvet Brownies Red Velvet Brownies Red Velvet Brownies Red Velvet Brownies Red Velvet Brownies Do you have any favourite Christmas baking recipes you’d like to share?

Naughties

Put down the carrot stick, it’s time to be naughty.

Sometimes we all need to be a bit naughty. You don’t need to tell me your reasons, I’m sure you deserve it.
Naughtiness is only truly enjoyed when it’s easily accessible, and let me tell you, these Naughties are easy.
However, easy isn’t the only requirement for naughtiness… it needs to be worth it. So worth it, that the waves of guilt that arrive after finishing the entire batch are overcome with, “whatever, they were damn good!

Now that I’ve convinced you to abandon that diet* that you weren’t really sticking to anyways, I’m sure you’re wondering what naughty, self-control destroying treat could possibly be worth “after batch” guilt.
(*the only diet you should be on is eating balanced meals with occasional naughtiness and exercising…step away from the laptop)

Naughties are a magical combination of chocolate chip cookies and brownies sandwiching any candy of your choice.
Imagine your favourite candy bar: Snickers, Kit-Kat, Milky Way, Twix etc, sandwiched between chewy cookie and gooey brownie.
Naughty, right?

For this post, I decided to share with you two of my favourites: Naughty Reese’s and Naughty Nibbles

Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix
1 box chocolate chip cookie mix
1 egg
4 tblsp vegetable oil
Candy bar of your choice (I used Reese’s Peanut Butter cups and Cadbury Caramel Nibbles)

If you want to go all Martha Stewart on your Naughties, go ahead and make any cookie dough and brownie batter from scratch. Or… you can be naughty and make it from the box, because life’s short and it’s just one of those days.

To Create Your Naughties:
1) Preheat oven to 350F/175C
2) Prepare your muffin tray by lightly coating with butter or spraying with PAM (a magical non-stick spray that ensures baked goods pop out easily, I’m sure there are Brit alternatives…I just prefer smuggling PAM back from the US as it’s the best)
3) Follow instructions on the box to create your cookie dough
Or get out the apron for your from scratch batch, you little Martha Stewart you
4) Squish about a tablespoon of dough to cover the bottom of each hole
5) Place candy bar of your choice in the centre of your dough
6) Follow instructions on the box to create your brownie batter
7) Spoon about a tablespoon of brownie batter to cover the candy, leaving the hole three quarters of the way full
Bake for about 15 minutes – 18 minutes

Serve warm and squishy from the oven with a big scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for a full blown Naughty.

What candy bar will you make even more naughty?

Coconut & Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta

This may sound odd, but I love things that are squishy.
I like play-doh, I like bean bag chairs, I like overweight animals, and I even like the word squishy. Say it out loud: squishy.
I bet you’re smiling.
Anyways, let’s get down to business. As you can tell, I am a tad sugar high and quite pleased with myself.

Since waking up to find London immersed in fog and rain, again, today was definitely an indoor day, and what better place to be indoors than the kitchen.

One of my favorite desserts in the world is an Italian Panna Cotta. Panna meaning cream and cotta meaning cooked, the dessert essentially consists of cooked cream. I’ve been craving this dessert for weeks and decided I would make myself some as a kickoff to my Birthday Week. Yes, I get a week. 

The good thing about this recipe is that it is so incredibly easy to make. The bad thing, it’s so incredibly naughty.

Ingredients:
400ml canned Coconut Milk
200ml Full-Fat Milk
50g Caster Sugar
1 Vanilla Pod
12g Powdered Gelatin (or leaves)
Serves: about 3
1. Pour the coconut milk and milk into a saucepan, then add the sugar. Split the vanilla pod in half and scrape out the seeds. Add seeds and empty pod into the pan, and give everything a good stir. Bring the mixture to a boil, and be ready to have the most glorious smelling kitchen in the entire world. Once the mixture is fully boiling (not just a few little bubbles), remove from heat and leave to infuse for 5 minutes. Seriously, walk away.

2. After 5 minutes, return to glorious smelling brew. Spoon 200ml of the hot mixture into a bowl. Shake in your powdered gelatin whilst whisking until it has dissolved into the mixture. If it’s not dissolving completely, return the mixture to a gentle heat for 1-2 minutes and stir. Stir back into the coconut mixture and discard the vanilla pod.

3. Pour the mixture into little ramekins or moulds, preferably with a cool shape. Imagine how it will look upside-down. This recipe is enough for 3 good sized desserts, but you could always make lots of little Panna Cottas or a couple larger ones.

4. Place in the fridge for at least 3 hours, until they are firm with a slight wobble. Squishy.

As my little desserts sat to harden safely in the fridge, I saw my massive bowl of pineapple and decided to experiment.
I heard the Dessert Gods in my head warning me to never experiment with baking. But, this isn’t really baking, is it? I’m using a stove and things are boiling, surely that counts as cooking.
I am so glad I ignored the Dessert Gods because my experiment could not have turned out better!

If you’re willing to defy the Dessert Gods and want to add some serious flavour to your Panna Cotta, I give you: Caramelised Pineapple & Coconut Sauce with Mint Sugar. This was an in the moment experiment so hopefully my instructions are accurate enough to get you the same yummy sauce.

Ingredients:
Sauce
1 cup Ripe Pineapple
1/2 cup Caster Sugar
1 tblsp Water
1 tblsp Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Coconut Milk
1/3 cup Double Cream

Mint Sugar
Handful of Fresh Mint
1 tblsp Sugar

1. Pour sugar and water into a saucepan and place on medium heat. Stir until sugar has almost completely dissolved.

2. Chop pineapple into small chunks and add to your saucepan. Add vanilla extract. Stir pineapple with vanilla and sugar water and let simmer for about 8 minutes until the pineapple begins to break down and brown.

3. I wanted the sauce to be slightly creamy, but still maintain the juiciness of the pineapple, so I decided to make my sauce a full fat situation. If you want, you can stop here and have a perfectly yummy sauce. But, I don’t think you want to. Stir in coconut milk and double cream and remove from heat.

4. Finely chop fresh mint leaves and mash together with sugar with a mortar and pestle. A spoon and bowl works just fine if you can’t find your mortar and pestle, like me.

And Voilá! Experimental Caramelised Pineapple and Coconut Sauce with Mint Sugar!

3+ hours later: They’re DONE!
To Serve:
Boil some water and dip the mould for about 10 seconds to loosen the Panna Cotta. Don’t leave it in the water too long as it will instantly begin to melt. Turn onto a serving plate and wait for it to plop out. There it is! Your squishy, flawless masterpiece.
Top with warm Caramelised Pineapple and Coconut Sauce and garnish with a sprinkling of Mint Sugar.


Perfect way to kickoff my week of celebrating! Happy Birthday to meee!