Tag Archives: recipe

Art meets Coffee

25 Jul

An alluring poster in the Nespresso shop

Standing in front of a giant window display with pods formed into a shape like a London bus, the shiny white walls reflecting the summer sunlight and whispered speech echoing delicately around me, I feel as if I could only be in a museum.

But I’m not. Instead, I’m standing in the new Nespresso store on Regent Street – a flagship among flagships.

The new major storefront, which launched this month, did so with much fanfare, even pulling Phil Howard (of Michelin star restaurant, The Square) on board to integrate espresso into a tasting menu for a few lucky folk.

This is the latest step for the company which is pushing the idea of in-home, high-quality coffee ever further into consumers’ minds. While on our screens George Clooney swoons over the creamy-topped liquid emerging from his favoured machine, the brand seeks to reach consumers’ minds by creating an “experience” which brings together art with the love of the bean.

The new shop is impressive. Situated at the bottom end of Regent Street, the immense space is designed to the esthetic favoured by loft-livers and Banana Republic, clean-cut clothed coffee sippers. Throughout, white cubed tables feature the latest pods and shiny cups and saucers. One whole side is dedicated as the ‘Accessory Collection’ harkening to the latest fashion trends in coffee culture. It is, after all, seemingly attempting to capture today’s dedication to a proper cup of alluring caffeine that many of us lust after with ever greater focus.

After taking in the new space, I sat down to a meal with the master chef himself, Phil Howard. This is the first time in 21 years he has partnered with a brand, his declaration summing up the idea he was in full support of Nespresso. While he said he considered the task of working with coffee beans to create distinct dishes “fascinating” he added it was not always easy.

“In savoury cooking, it only works well with dishes that have a sweet element. As long as there’s some sweetness in the dish, it seems to work,” he explained, saying fish was by far the most tricky thing to partner with coffee.

In making his creations, he added he learned to appreciate how many subtleties there are in various versions of coffee, each of which can pair in different ways with myriad foods.

I tried his roasted granola with coffee, Greek yoghurt and honey (the recipe for which is below); a smoked venison and pork Scotch egg rolled in coffee grounds and served with an espresso brown sauce; and, a duck liver parfait with port, cherry and currant chutney and coffee nougatine.

The first was highly delectable – a crunchy, spicy morning kick that I would happily make at home. The Scotch egg, meanwhile, was deeply flavoured, with a delightfully gooey yolk and just enough espresso bite on the crust and in the brown sauce to make it stand out. The final dish was my favourite however. The creamy duck and sweet and sour chutney did a merengue in my mouth with the Rosabaya de Colombia coffee nougatine. Muy excelente!

While Phil won’t be on hand to cook for those patrons who find themselves tip-toeing around the vaulted Nespresso store space in future, I can confidently pass on the details that his creations (more of which you can view on the Nespresso site, here) will make you rethink how coffee can be used in dozens of delectable dishes.

For now, I invite you to give the granola recipe a go – and let me know if it delights you too!

Roasted Granola with coffee, Greek Yoghurt & honey:

  Ingredients:

  • 225g jumbo oats;
  • 60g sunflower seeds;
  • 60g white sesame seeds;
  • 90g apple puree;
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice;
  • 60g agave syrup;
  • 30g honey;
  • 50g muscavado sugar;
  • 125g nibbed almonds;
  • 1 tsp salt;
  • 2 tbsp hazelnut oil;
  •  20g Dulsão do Brasil grounds
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Runny honey

Place all of the ingredients except the coffee grounds into a large bowl and stir them thoroughly until they are evenly distributed.

Place the mix into a large baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Add the Nespresso Dulsão do Brasil grounds and continue baking until the contents of the tray are golden brown – no darker.

Remove from the oven, set aside to cool and store in an airtight container.

To serve: place the yoghurt into a small bowl, drizzle with the honey and finish with a covering of granola.

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Nusa Soup For You!

12 Dec

Growing up, I knew almost every line of Seinfeld. My father and I would spend ages entertaining each other repeating scenes and quotes while cooking dinner, standing in queues at the grocery store and during the show itself, probably to the great ire of many around us.

By far one of my favourite episodes is the early-days show entitled “Soup Nazi” – “No soup for you!”

That line still makes me laugh every time, bringing back visions of George, lacklustre and leaving the shop with no bread, or soup. Or frizzy-haired Elaine shouting the line to the chef when she discovers his recipe secrets in an armoire. Brilliant!

So, it was no surprise that the lines of this famous episode were running through my mind as I headed to Nusa Kitchen recently to learn just how they make their soup – no sneaky armoire finds for me, I swear I was invited!

Arriving at Nusa's Old Street location

Nusa, which has two locations in London, prides itself on making fresh soup from scratch every day with only fresh ingredients. From Singapore Seafood Laksa, to Thai Chilli Tofu Broth, much of the inspiration behind the soup comes from the experiences of owner Patou Sekhon’s childhood in Singapore. Her son, Mark, was on hand to tell me the history and how they came up with their ideas.

“It was a bit of an accident. We said, “Let’s do food that’s hot.” We decided to give soup a go,” he explained.

Patou comes up with the recipes at home and then visits to teach them to head chef Michael Bahda, who was took me through the recipes.

The day begins, he said, at 5am when the team arrives to start making the soups in the basement of the Old Street location. All soup has to be done by the time the truck comes to pick up the supplies that will head over to the Adams Court location in the City. Often, the team makes 1000 litres of soup in a day! The “Soup Nazi” would be proud!

As it was Friday, I didn’t have to arrive at the crack of dawn because it is a prep day for the team since the shops are not open at the weekend. Instead, I pitched up a much more reasonable 11am to see the process of soup making from start to finish and help the team get prepped for Monday’s lunchtime rush.

After gathering the ingredients together for our two soups (Keema and Lemon Chickpea) Michael brought out two giant 55-litre pots and began frying the onions in each, while I stood by and took notes. He explained it is a very intense process and brute strength is needed to shift these pots when full.

Head chef Michael shows how it's done as he pours tomatoes into the big pot

I was surprised how similar the Keema recipe was to making a curry – after the onions, we fried garlic, ginger, cumin, chili, turmeric and bay leaves, before adding (salt-free) stock, 7.5 kilos of beef mince and water. Unlike a lot of shop-bought soups out there, the recipes use no added salt, which makes them healthier.

We went through a similar routine with the lemony chickpea soup – frying onions and spices, before adding wine and chickpeas and allowing to cook for a while.

Owner Mark takes a look at the soup while head chef Michael gives some a blend

The smells in the kitchen were intense – and only made my hungry tummy grumble more. The savoury spices floated through the air while the bubbling coconut milk of one of that day’s lunchtime soups lent a sweet flavour to it all. As we waited for the soups to finish, Michael gave me samples of some of the other soups that would be on offer the following week. As the soups are on a four-week rotation, any soups featured only have a short time to impress customers, who will hopefully remember their delicious blends down the line.

My favourite was definitely the spicy chicken with coconut milk and the Jamaican Jerk Chicken, which packed a proper punch.

After the soup had bubbled and boiled for around an hour, we were ready to blend it up and finish things off – with Michael adding cream, fresh lemon juice and coriander to the Lemon Chickpea for an added kick.

I rock out in a too-cool-for-school outfit while Michael and assistant Kamal work to move the heavy pot

The Lemon Chickpea soup soon became my new favourite – by adding the fresh lemon juice and coriander right at the end, Michael said it allows the flavours to really stand out, rather than having them boil away in the melee of ingredients. Stunning!

And, although my day at Nusa came to a close too soon, I went home all inspired by what I saw. And don’t worry, if you visit, they will only be saying, “More soup for you?” rather than “No soup for you.”

If you fancy making one of Nusa’s soups at home, try this to get your body feeling better post-Christmas!

Nusa’s “Body I’m Sorry” Soup:
1 l vegetable stock
50 ml Ponzu Dressing
50 ml Mirin
150 gm Organic Tofu
1 stick of Lemongrass
10 gm chillies
250 gm Chinese Cabbage
25 gm Star Anise
25 gm Ginger
3 Carrots
10 gm Bamboo Shoots
10 gm Water Chestnuts
20 gm Wood Ear mushrooms
2 Cinnamon Sticks
A bunch of Spring Onions
A bunch of Coriander
250 gm fresh Spinach
150 ml Chinese Vinegar
Bring vegetable stock to the boil.  Add ginger, chillies (coarsely chopped) and crushed lemon grass.  After about 10 minutes add mirin, chinese vinegar, star anise, cinnamon sticks and ponzu dressing.  Bring to the boil.  In the meantime, shred cabbage, dice carrots, dice water chestnuts and bamboo shoots. Soak the wood ear mushrooms for about 20 minutes or till softened before cutting them up into small pieces.  Finely slice tofu, spring onions and coriander.  Add all diced vegetables & tofu to hot broth. Let the vegetables soften, before adding spring onions and coriander.  SERVE WITH NOODLES & SPINACH.

Nusa Kitchen has two locations: one at 9 Old Street (EC1V 9HL) and the other at 2 Adams Court (EC2N 1DW).

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