Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Maison Maille Flagship Store in Piccadilly

A mustard lover must know this adorable shop  that sells only Maison Maille products. Situated at 2 Piccadilly Arcade Piccadilly SW1Y 6NH London it is a gem not really hidden, luckily, and a foodie, can find all the specialities from this French company that dates back to 1747. When you step inside this shop you  will leave with at least a small jar of its renowned mustard.
As well as jars of mustard in several flavours already packed, at the Maison Maille shop there is a mustard pump where, after choosing from selected flavours, the mustard will be poured in a stoneware jar and sealed with a cork stopper.
These jars are so beautiful that are the perfect gift for any food lover. I find the idea of the mustard from the pump very clever and with a vintage charm that takes us back to when shops like this, were really selling their stuff filling up jars on the spot giving a guarantee of freshness.
These two jars contain  a Limited Edition mustard that are delicious. The pink one is a Honey and Modena Balsamic Vinegar Mustard while the orange one is Mustard with Acacia Honey and Orange Blossom. Both are great with duck breast or with cheese and also to prepare  vinaigrette and marinades.
Cornichons or pickled gherkins for us from this side of the English Channel are a speciality at Maison Maille and as well as the classic version there are  cornichons with sauteed onions and white wine vinegar or with sun dried tomatoes and white wine vinegar.  Some ideas for pairing the sun dried Tomatoes variety could be with goat cheese while the Onions ones with cheese or roast meat.
Vinegar is another strong point for the Maison Maille. There is a great selection from fruity vinegars to balsamic from Modena to vinegars made with different wines and alcohol like  cider or liqueur. It is possible to have gift box customised with your own choice of products.
Extra Virgin Olive Oils are in the Maison Maille catalogue. As well as the plain EVO, a truffle olive oil and also hazelnut or walnut oils can be found in the shelves and online. With only ten Maison Maille stores all over the world, at least we can shop online at its beautiful website that has got the same vibe  that you can find in the shop. Some items are not possible to be delivered abroad  so check the description of the product you want to see if it can be delivered to another country different from the one of the website.
This gift set contains  three  Mustard. Having written about the first two, I can add that third mustard is with Apricot, Curry and White Wine Vinegar.  In store it will be possible to compose your own gift set while online the choice is limited but still very satisfactory.
I love this gift box with Truffle Oil and matching Mustard with White Alba Truffle fresh from the pump. At Maison Maille wooden spoons for tasting or wooden spatulas for spreading the mustard are available as well as aprons and tea towels. If you are in London, visit the store or browse online at www.maille.com

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Recipe: Pasta Penne with Gorgonzola Cheese

This pasta recipe is very tasty and creamy. The ingredients are easy to find in any supermarket and it takes the time to boil the water to make the sauce.
I won't put quantities, you can  choose how much cheese to use. For the pasta you can calculate about 100 grams per person. I've used unsalted Butter Inalpi, Gorgonzola Cheese DOP by GVerdi, long life Cream by Parmalat, Black Pepper from Tesco and Pennette Rigate Barilla that you can find anywhere. Regarding the long life cream, I've noticed that in UK it is not very popular yet, so you can either use single cream or you can find the long life cream in any Italian deli, in case you can stock up and keep them in your cupboard so you can use  them any time you want to try a new recipe or if there are guests at home for dinner.
While you put plenty of water to boil with a handful of rock salt let's start preparing the sauce by melting  a slice of butter in the wok. I always use a wok to prepare the sauce because I can stir the pasta when ready and the sauce will be perfectly mixed.
When the butter is melted add the Gorgonzola cheese that you have cut in small pieces so it will be easier to melt. I've used organic Gorgonzola from an Italian company called GVerdi that has got an interesting story and I will tell you one day, but you can use any Gorgonzola cheese that now is very popular and you can find it anywhere.
When the cheese  is nearly melted add the cream. This packet of Parmalat "Panna Chef" is 200ml so  if you use fresh single cream just buy a small packet. Actually I think I've seen some long life cream at Tesco and I can tell you, it is a great cupboard staple. I did not add any salt in the sauce because the Gorgonzola is already quite salty.
This is how the sauce must look like, very creamy and uniform. Meanwhile the water is boiling so it is ready for the pasta. Once the  Pasta is cooked " al dente" drain it and stir it in the wok so the sauce will be mixed perfectly.
Grind some black pepper on top and serve still hot. Quick, delicious and filling. For a cheese lover this recipe is a must.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Recipe: Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes Tuna and Capers

This pasta is something that can be prepared with cupboard staples. It is delicious and perfect for this season. Among the ingredients I've used, there are a couple I've sourced in Italy, but you can find something similar in delis or supermarkets.
All the quantities are up to you. I've used some Penne by De Cecco, Capers and Tuna Chunks from Tesco, two Chillies and a clove of Garlic, Sundried Tomatoes in oil by Orto Green and here you can find something similar in delis or supermarkets and some Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Castel Ruggero Pellegrini Gallo Nero Chianti Classico Ruggente.
While you put the water to boil with a handful of coarse rock salt, cut into pieces the sundried tomatoes and then add them to the oil, garlic and chillies in a wok. Make all the ingredients to flavour for a few minutes.
Add the capers and stir the ingredients. Take a ladle of the boiling water and add it to the sauce so it won't be dry. Don't add salt because the sundried tomatoes and the capers are already salted.
Add the tuna chunks and again let the ingredients to gain flavour. Meanwhile the water will be quite ready for the pasta.
When the water is boiling add the Penne and stir with a skimmer so that the pasta won't stick together and they will cook evenly. One minute before it is ready take the pasta and drain it.
Add the drained pasta to the wok and stir so that all the ingredients will be evenly seasoned.
Ready and delicious. Do not add cheese because of the presence of the tuna.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Recipe : Puff Pastry Parcel with Ham and Cheese Slices

A friend of mine gave me a packet of cheese slices from Italy and I've decided to bake something indulgent and savoury with them. In Italy cheese slices are very popular while even if I've seen them in supermarkets I've never seen a big selection in different flavours. The ones I've used are Emmental Cheese flavoured.
In Tesco I've bought the majority of the ingredients. A roll of Puff Pastry, a box of Ham Slices, you can choose your favourite among the different varieties. I've picked Honey Roast Ham. One Egg, Sesame Seeds and the Cheese Slices are from Inalpi, an Italian brand.
I've put the puff pastry in a baking tray, leaving it in its paper and after having unrolled it.
I've filled it up with the ham and the cheese slices only halfway, leaving the other side free from the filling. I've put seven slices of cheese and seven of ham.
I've folded the rest of the puff pastry over the filling, pressing the edges so that the filling will stay inside the parcel.
In a little bowl I've divided the yolk from the egg white and I've kept the egg white in the fridge, to make a fluffier omelet later. I've transferred the yolk in the little bowl.
I've brushed the yolk with a food brush over the parcel, so it will have a nice and golden colour during the cooking time.
I've made diagonal cuts with a knife all over the parcel.
At the end I've sprinkled sesame seeds  and put in the oven at 180* Gas 4 for 20/25 minutes.
Isn't it beautiful to look at ? Most of the ingredients are cupboard staples and it is a dish that can be made in less than a hour in total between preparation time and cooking time.
It is delicious. Serve it hot and be ready to have second helpings.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Fabrics and Soft Furnishing

Soft furnishing and beautiful fabrics make so much for a room that just changing the upholstery to an armchair or adding some cushions on the sofa, gives a new lease of life to a tired looking space. I've picked few brands, some high street and some independent and unique in order to revamp your living space.
This Retro Chaise by Florrie + Bill is gorgeous. Its style dates back to the 1950s while the fabric is inspired by the workspace where the two interior designers work. Actually this chaise is an original one and it has been upholstered after being restored. Florrie + Bill have got a range of cocktail chairs, armchairs as well as cushions which you can see a small range in the picture. They also can refurbish and upholster a chair that you love and that you can't think of being apart from. Check their website at www.florrieandbill.com
John Lewis has got a range of gorgeous armchairs, and this Liberty Fabrics and John Lewis Sterling Armchair is a great collaboration between two iconic British department stores. There are many fabrics to choose from depending on the decor of your place  and this armchair is great in the bedroom or close to the fireplace for a cosy corner.  www.johnlewis.com

This Biba Home Veronica Palm cushion from House of Fraser is gorgeous. Made of velvet and filled with feathers, it will be great scattered on a sofa. Now there is an offer in store where you can buy 3 and pay for 2, so it is the right time to revamp a living room. The gold and maroon colours are great with either light or dark  furniture. www.houseoffraser.co.uk
Have you ever dreamt of putting your feet up and have a bit of  me time reading a novel or simply  watching a film ?  This Zola chair with foot stool in blue velvet is by Next and it is just right. Arrange it on a corner of the dining room or in your bedroom and relax in luxury. www.next.co.uk
Cushions are an immediate revamping tools and these gorgeous ones from the Star by Julien MacDonald  at Debenhams are very glamorous with sequins and embroideries. Scatter them on your bed or pinpoint your favourite sofa spot with the sparkiest one. www.debenhams.com
At Heal's you can find many ideas to renew  a room or just a corner of your flat. These cushions by artist Susi Bellamy are bright and colourful, made for a contemporary style home decor. Her hand designed marble patterns are digitally printed on velvet and made in Britain. The back of the cushions are made of solid colours. www.heals.com
A rug can change completely the look of a room. This Medina rug with Moroccan inspired geometric pattern can be found at Matalan. It is available in three sizes and it is made of 100% wool. Matalan has got a huge range of rugs for all tastes and matching all home decors either plain or patterned. www.matalan.co.uk

Friday, 19 May 2017

Maitre Choux Patisserie

I've discovered Maitre Choux while wandering around South Kensington with time to kill. I was drawn by the white front  with colourful dots and the delicious looking Eclairs on the window display. I could not resist and I went  inside for a well deserved break.
Maitre Choux is at 15 Harrington Road South Kensington SW7 3ES and it is the only branch in the world serving these scrumptious eclairs and choux. The Michelin starred pastry chef Joachim Prat is behind this sweet venture.
This is just an example of what you see walking by the window of Maitre Choux. It is impossible not to stop in front of it and then be tempted to go inside and buy a box of eclairs. It is possible to sit and enjoy it with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate, but the place is tiny and it can sit only about 6 people.
Let your taste buds be in heaven and try some of these yummy eclairs. Among the many on offer I would compose a box with the Persian Pistachio with its filling of Pistachio Mousseline cream patissiere and ground pistachios sprinkled on its top, the Spanish Raspberry Pink filled with a soft mousse with raspberry seeds for texture and the Tresoir a la Noisette with hazelnut and a gold leaf decoration on top.
If an eclair is too much, you have to try the Choux, smaller but filled with the same mousses and creams as the eclairs. Try the Salted Butter and Homemade Caramel with a very soft texture or the Tahitian Vanilla Choux with its delicate filling of mousseline  with added whipped cream.
Last but not least the Chouquettes are made of light dough and baked with sugar pearls on top. They are empty and perfect next to a cup of hot chocolate and in the case of Maitre Choux I can say that its hot chocolate is delicious, thick and creamy. The patisserie closes at 7 pm and I've heard that by 5pm most of its eclairs are sold out. I went there on a Saturday at about 1pm and as you can see from the pictures the offering was amazing. Make it a stop for a midday break or an early afternoon tea. www.maitrechoux.com

Saturday, 15 April 2017

House of Fraser Home Range

I like shopping in a department store because you can find everything under one roof. And I love shopping for homeware and interior decors, especially when the season changes. It is like welcoming the new. Also it is a good place for a wedding list or to look for a gift now that it is the time for all this kind of celebrations and occasions. House of Fraser ticks all the boxes. I've picked a few items in order to refresh the look of a dining table or a living room.
This lovely dining set is from the collection "Linea Tribe Dinnerware" range. They are in porcelain, dishwasher and microwave oven safe and you can mix and match plates, bowls, serving plates and mugs just to name a few and prices start from £ 6.00 up to £ 25.00.
It is very colourful the Collection "Linea Villa Vista" range where it is possible to match table linen and napkins as well for a tropical look on your table. This collection is in melamine, designed exclusively for House of Fraser. It is dishwasher safe but don't put it in the microwave oven or traditional one. prices start at £ 3.00. The beautiful cutlery is from the Odette range by Biba Home in gold plated stainless steel and dishwasher safe. The set comprises 24 pieces to sit 6 and it comes in an elegant box. Perfect for a wedding gift and cutlery is never enough.
The Gray & Willow chopping board has got a copper handle, made of ashwood and it is perfect for either cooking preparation or to display cheese or other food on the table. It is recommended to hand wash it. The sets of cheese knives are from Gray & Willow and they come with a cheese board with marble top where they are allocated inside.

Gray & Willow has got  range of kitchenware products that remind me of a country cottage. This Citrus Reamer in acacia wood and marble is a piece that not only is useful but it is a decor for the kitchen as well.
From the Junipa Mikki Dinnerware collection you can find a range of stoneware plates, bowls and mugs dishwasher and microwave oven safe. It is a lovely set that you can mix and match given the four different patterns and they will be great for a nice brunch.
Scatter around the dining room some of these lovely tea light holders in resin by Junipa. The hand painted finish make it looks like ceramic and the flower shape keeps the flame protected so safe to put on the table. The choice of colours is either pink or grey.

I love this Biba Home cut out lantern where the famous logo of the iconic fashion designer can be seen. When you put a pillar candle inside, the lights will project the intricate art deco pattern of the lamp all around. Perfect in the garden during a summer party or on a terrace as well as in the dining room in order to warm up the atmosphere. Find more ideas at www.houseoffraser.co.uk on how to improve your interior decors.