Talking About Peaches.

I can’t stop talking, I just can’t stop!

Deprived of the company of my customers for nearly fifteen months, I’m fit to burst. I’m literally jammed up to the brim, about to explode with chitter chatter, general gibberish and opinions on absolutely everything…so what’s new?

I’m also filled with gratitude for still being here, being vaccinated and knowing the kindness that people have shown to us during this uncertain and deeply stressful time.

So, as we can’t open until May 18th, as per government guidelines, I thought I’d share a favourite recipe with you. Nothing taxing, but something you might like to try.

Nectarines and peaches are a favourite of mine, however you can never trust that they will be ripe, juicy and delicious when you need them to be, so I love to grill them.

Even the ones that stubbornly refuse to ripen will slowly yield to the gentle heat of a grill. In fact, you really need peaches that are not too soft but still firm to the touch, overripe fruit is jam packed with sugar that will simply burn on the grill.

Slice into halves, remove the stone, maybe add a twist of freshly ground pepper. Brush with olive oil and place cut side down on a grill pan or onto your charcoal grill, medium heat and then leave them as they are for 3/4 minutes. Flip them and cook for a few more minutes until ready. Don’t move them around constantly or you won’t achieve those striking, definitive grill marks.

Simple and delicious as a dessert with a dollop of mascarpone and a drizzle of honey, or even better just serve with ice cream, lots of ice cream.

Peach pavlova with raspberries is not too difficult and definitely worth the effort as the effect is breath-taking.

You can pair them with meat or fish, or you can whip up my all-time favourite dessert …peach cobbler. Anyone who has a favourite, failsafe family recipe for this, I would love to try it, so pop me an email ( ffiona@ffionas.com ) I’d really appreciate it.

My favourite pairing, other than ice cream, is with any of the soft, milky, white cheeses that are so essential for summer eating. Creamy burrata, buffalo mozzarella or some delicious curd cheese perhaps a ricotta. The sweet, warm juices from the fruit mix well with a handful of mint or basil leaves and maybe a tiny splash of aged balsamic vinegar to complete the dish.

Whatever you prefer, simply enjoy this sumptuous fruit in all its seasonal glory. Savour the delicate colour and aroma which announce the joy of long, lazy summer afternoons, eating outdoors, hopefully in the company of family and friends.

Bon Appetit!


GRILLED PEACHES WITH BURRATA

  • 5 peaches, halved
  • Small handful of fresh mint or basil leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil to brush
  • Splash of aged balsamic vinegar.
  • 8oz of the best burrata or buffalo mozzarella you can find

METHOD

Grill peaches, place in bowl, add twist of fresh black pepper, mint or basil leaves and a splash of the balsamic vinegar.

Gently mix and then put onto a platter.

Gently tear the soft white cheese and arrange it onto the plate.

Quintessentially Quince

A unique, old fashioned fruit, unknown to most and sadly very underused.Quince season begins right now in October. However you probably won’t find them on them on the shelves of your local supermarket but seek them out at your local farmers market, they are definitely worth pursuing. Green or yellow in colour they closely resemble knobbly, Rochas pears. They emit a wonderful aroma of scented apples and vanilla, in fact it is said that the Victorians used them to scent their knicker drawer! 

They are a magical fruit, brackish white and astringent when raw, they transform when cooked to become deliciously soft, rose gold in colour and the accompanying liquor is the colour of raspberries. The soft aroma becomes a heady perfume….it is the alchemists dream!

They are versatile and can be paired with almost anything, ginger, rosemary, cinnamon, star anise the list goes on. They make great chutneys, jam and compotes (delicious added to a bowl of Greek yoghurt or porridge).

Quince with turmeric, fresh ginger, pistachios and cinnamon make a spectacular lamb tangine to warm you on these cold winter nights. Serve a membrillo (quince paste) with some local cheese or maybe use it to make a truly memorable dessert. 

Whatever your chosen dish, sweet or savoury, quince will add a certain je ne sais quois. I sometimes add a few drops to a cold glass of champagne or splash a little into an icy glass of gin. Oh my! Quince, quince glorious quince, try it and fall in love!

Christmas in London

Feeling festive? Ready to make Santa jealous with your Christmas plans?

Well it’s never too early to start, and where else to celebrate than the world’s favourite capital city, London! Dickensian and modern the ancient and cutting edge, rubbing tinsel clad shoulders together! From Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, to viewing the skyline at the Shard; traditional carol concerts, glorious pantomimes and Christmassy plays; London has it all.

https://www.timeout.com/london/opera-classical/christmas-carol-concerts-in-london-choral

The Royal Opera House will be entertaining us with the time-honoured and enchanting “Nutcracker” ballet, which is a must for all the family.

The Southbank will be hosting its famous Winter Festival from mid-November onwards. Packed with Christmas markets and gifts stalls, there will be oceans of mulled wine and an array of food to satisfy even the most jaded of palates.

Leicester Square will also be transformed; into Santa’s village, centred around the enormous Christmas tree, so look out for busy elves and a magical grotto there.

On the subject of grottos, Santa will be granting wishes and making appearances all over London. From Hamleys (the World’s best toy shop) to Harrods and Selfridges, Leicester Square, Winter Wonderland and Battersea Park’s children’s zoo to mention just a few!

https://www.timeout.com/london/kids/activities/santas-grottos-in-london

Christmas and ice skating go together like hot chocolate and marshmallows, and you can enjoy both, as London offers uniquely beautiful rinks in spectacular settings.

Situated at the Natural History Museum, Hampton Court Palace, stunning Somerset House and my absolute favourite, the Tower of London – where you can skate on the moat around this 1,000 year old iconic building in the dark whilst huge snowflakes are projected up on the walls, and then indulge in pop-up food and drink stalls.

http://toweroflondonicerink.co.uk/

Make you sure you leave time to squeeze in some last-minute Christmas shopping in the West End and take in the sparkling Christmas lights. We mustn’t forget the epic Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, which has fast become a London Christmas tradition and offers something for all the family.

After the cold outdoors you may well need reviving, and as the one and only Mae West once said:

“Let’s get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini”!

…and where else to head to but the famous Dukes Bar in St James – world renowned for their martinis.

We hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and if after all these pre-Christmas festivities you need a fun and delicious, traditional English Christmas lunch or dinner on Christmas Day, then there is only one place to be… Ffionas restaurant on Kensington Church Street – and let us make your Christmas Day really special.

https://www.ffionas.com/christmas-day-at-ffionas

We hope to see you on December 25th, but whatever you choose to do we wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Thick and Chewy White Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Let’s face it there’s no time for wasting at Christmas ?.

If you want to bake you need a fool proof, tried and tested, easy recipe and this is it!

Quick and easy – they take about 10 minutes to prep and far less time to eat! I’ve tried many but Bakerbynature nailed it with this one!

My tip is to add some crushed pistachios to the cookies just prior to baking. It just adds that little bit of green to these red and white cookies that really makes them scream CHRISTMAS ?.

PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS – THEY WILL LOVE ❤️ YOU FOR IT.
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Remember though to leave some for Santa!

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 15 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the dry ingredients; set aside.

In a large bowl combine the butter, sugars, and vanilla; whisk until light and fluffy; about 2 minutes (you may use a standmixer/ handheld mixer to help if you have one).

Add the eggs and beat quickly – for only about 30 seconds – until they’re just combined. Let the mixture rest for 5 minutes, then beat the eggs for another 30 seconds. Gently fold in the flour mixture with a wooden spoon, stirring only until the flour begins to disappear.

Fold in the white chocolate chips and cranberries.

Roll 3 tablespoon sized balls of dough between your palms to form a ball (they should be big; almost a 1/4 cup), then place on prepared sheet (make sure to leave enough room in between each cookie for inevitable spreading).

Continue this process until all the dough has been rolled. Place baking sheets in preheated oven and bake for 11-14 minutes, or until golden at the edges but still soft in the middle.

Let cookies cool for 5 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire wrack to cool completely.

Magical Summer

“Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.”

Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty

This summer…

I will be still.

No catching flights
No trying to make…
connections

No checking in and out of airports and hotels.

No meeting up
No catching up
No “doing stuff”
No commitments
No running

This summer…

I will be still…

I will sit..
I will breathe…
I will reflect (a lot) it’s been one helluva year
I will sip G&Ts (a lot)
I will walk on the beach (in Devon)
I will lunch there with my friend Sharon
There will be crab and
Bloody Marys!

I will sleep (a lot)
I will think (too much)
I will grieve (it’s time)
I will cry…

…but

…above all

I will be still

Spring, Rebirth of a Passion

Spring is the season of new beginnings as April kickstarts Mother Nature’s many miracles. Blossom and green shoots abound as the world wakes up, throws off winter’s shackles and remembers how good it is to be alive. For me, this Spring has heralded a return to my professional roots as I rediscovered the sheer joy of cooking.
There is nothing more satisfying than entering an empty kitchen, lighting the ovens, selecting the pots and pans and then getting to work, creating dishes that are full of flavour, aromatic and nourishing. Cooking is such a creative act. Once you have learnt the basics, you can indulge your imagination and experiment to your heart’s content.

Personally, I find solace in cooking well-loved dishes that never fail to disappoint. Nothing beats hearing the sizzle of foaming butter waiting for a mountain of crisp chopped onions and creamy garlic to join it in the pan. Whilst these gradually soften, fresh herbs join the mix, preparing the way for whatever comes next: meat, fish, tomatoes, potatoes, whatever takes your fancy. Add some stock, perhaps a dash of wine, simmer, season, simmer again and soon the meal is ready to serve. Prepare a colourful salad with a home-made dressing a few hunks of crusty bread and you have a feast. It’s really as simple as that!

March and April allow us to indulge in Wye Valley asparagus, peppery watercress, tender radishes and the king of all potatoes, jersey royals. So, rather than a salad, you might consider this suggestion to accompany your main meal.

The History of Brunch

Brunch is probably one of our favourite meals here at Ffiona’s. We like to think it provides an opportunity for friends and families alike to get together, recover from an evening’s revelry, get ready for a day out or just as an excuse to enjoy good food, drink and company.

But where did the famous Brunch come from?

The roots of Brunch, a playful mix of the words “lunch” and “breakfast” can be traced back to an article that appeared in Hunters Weekly in 1895 titled “Brunch: A Plea”. Unfortunately the original article is no more, we only know of its existence due to its reference in another article published a year later in Punch magazine, although we have found some quotes that purport to be from the original article online.

It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.

Apparently Guy also seemed to think that is was well suited to those who had perhaps had a little too much fun on Saturday night.

Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a post-church ordeal of heavy meats and savoury pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee . . . By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday night carousers.

Neither the quotes from the original article nor the later piece in Punch actually tell us the origins of the word, but the two main theories are that brunch was a meal eaten late on Sunday morning to break the fast or alternatively that is was a meal eaten before a hunt.

Brunch in the 30s & 40s

So we know that brunch has been about for over 100 years but it seemed to have gained even more popularity in 30s Chicago. With Hollywood stars travelling across the continent, they would often stop off in Chicago for late morning meal.

It was in the post war 40s however that Brunch really began to take a foot hold. With church attendance dropping and housewives keen for a day off, the tradition of going out for a Sunday Brunch took off; what had previously been a treat for the famous and wealthy, became a norm for the middle classes and restaurants across the country were now opening for Sunday Brunch.

Modern Brunch

Nowadays brunch is available all over the world, and the dishes served are as varied as the places serving them. This is perhaps not very surprising, after all we don’t all feel like eating the same type of food first thing in the morning and with the only prerequisite being that it’s the first meal of the day served after breakfast but before lunch, it seems only fitting that people can chose whatever they want.

At Ffiona’s we apply our ethos of “Inclusive Not Exclusive” to everything, including brunch. Not only does our menu include everything from Porridge to Chicken Schnitzel to Pancakes; wherever possible we offer gluten free options. In fact our Pancakes and Waffles are Gluten Free as standard.

So here we go again…

So here we go again…

a new year,

a fresh page,

a time for reflection and resolution.

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Personally, I think that this year the buzz word will be ‘mindfulness’ . Mindful of how we treat and respond to others and of how we treat ourselves.

Think before you act, tread softy and let kindness be your watchword.

Here at ffionas we’ve had our fair share of ups and downs over 2016. Behind the scenes a lot went on but … we survived!
This crazy business has taught me many life lessons, but above all else it’s taught me that nothing is set in stone – shit happens – and normally at the worst possible time.

I listened to the Queen’s speech on Christmas Day. She spoke of how it’s the small acts of kindness, the unseen and the unsung heroes that add up and make a real difference to our world, and she’s right.
Life can be tough, that’s a given but when it’s good, it’s joyful and that’s what we live for, the good times.

If I had to make a resolution it would simply be this …

“Work hard and be kind”

Birthday Brunch

So here it is….

6 Yrs ago today our brunch was born and oh boy it was a painful labour!

I mean just how do you poach eggs ? for ? people and keep the yolks dippy?

Today we served 138 people (we have 8 tables)BOOM ?.

Just 5 people make this happen – yep you heard it right.. 5!

2 of us run the floor and run a ton of food and plates up and down the stairs whilst 2 cook up a storm ⛈ and 1 washes everything up! 

That’s IT!

We run a tight ? ship.

Upstairs around lunchtime we shoot “mini marys” to ? us up to keep on  running whilst down in the kitchen they eat “emergency pancakes” dipped in toffee sauce for a energy boost!

Streamlined service by dedicated, extremely talented people. Who continue to amaze me every week.

We reckon we can top 150 so come on guys get on down here and be part of it … come brunch with us.

Let’s break some eggg and records!

Great British Puddings

It’s that time of year again – out goes the diet and in comes comes the winter wardrobe heavily laden with lovely warm woolies to cover the extra couple of pounds! If making puddings was an Olympic sport, we Brits would take gold every time. In fact we’d take gold simply on the naming of puddings!

Spotted Dick sussex_pond_pudding
Jam Roly Poly (or Dead Man’s Arm!)
Sussex Pond Pudding
Canary Pudding
Kentish Well and Black Cap Pudding, to name but a few.

What is a pudding?

Some people refer to pudding as being any dessert, but a true pudding is boiled or steamed. There are two types of steamed or boiled pudding – those made from flour and eggs and those made with suet. The sponge puds normally have a ‘hat’ of treacle or apple and are served with hot creamy custard, whereas the suet puds break open and all the delicious sauce runs out, but they are also great with custard.

The oldest puddings are mentioned in cooking books at least 250 years ago and were probably savoury versions such as black pudding and white pudding boiled in intestines – essentially sausages. But over time puddings have evolved into a huge array of both the sweet and the savoury.

Satisfying and warming, we think this is the perfect time of year to make one! And at the end of this post we’ve added a link to a helpful video, showing how to use a pudding basin.

Delia Smith’s Steamed Treacle Sponge Pudding

Ingredients

1 tablespoon black treacle
3 tablespoons golden syrup
6 oz (175 g) self-raising flour
1 rounded teaspoon baking powder
6 oz (175 g) butter, softened
3 large eggs
6 oz (175 g) soft light brown sugar
To serve:
3 extra tablespoons golden syrup
custard or crème fraîche

Method

First of all butter the basin, then measure 3 tablespoons of golden syrup into it. Then take a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder into it, add the softened butter, eggs, sugar and black treacle.

Next, using an electric hand whisk (or a large fork and lots of elbow grease), beat the mixture for about 2 minutes until it’s thoroughly blended.

Now spoon the mixture into the basin and level the top using the back of the tablespoon. Place the sheet of foil over the greaseproof paper, make a pleat in the centre, and place this, foil-side uppermost, on top of the pudding.

Pull it down the sides and tie the string, taking the string over the top and tying it on the other side to make yourself a handle for lifting.

Trim off the excess paper all the way round.

Now steam the pudding for 2 hours, checking the water level halfway through.

To serve, loosen the pudding all round using a palette knife, invert it onto a warmed plate, and pour an extra 3 tablespoons of syrup (warmed if you like) over the top before taking it to the table.

For a short video demonstrating how to steam a pudding, click the following link:

How to Wrap and Tie a Steamed Pudding

King of the Kitchen

Believe me when I tell you that running a restaurant is no walk in the park. Since we’ve returned from our holiday, I’ve been rudely reminded that no matter how great your product is, and no matter how many wonderful customers may be lining up at the door… you need staff to make it all happen. Not just anyone; you need reliable, dedicated, special people.

Restaurant people are a breed apart. They start work early, finish late and then they go out! They can find a drink at any time, day or night, anywhere. They know all the night bus routes and they can operate on very little sleep.
They’re a mixed bunch: Phd students, world travellers, fully-fledged pilots, serious party people. All walks of life and nationalities are represented, the common denominator being that you have to love it; toleration just won’t do.

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There are the chefs who sweat through the shifts, poaching, grilling, sautéing, creating and occasionally cursing. Here I must mention my head chef, Jose da Silva. 22 years of dedicated service and in all that time he has remained calm, organised and never lost his temper. Jose cooks with passion, flair and creativity. He is the lynchpin of ffiona’s, as far as chefs go he’s a one off and believe me I know how lucky I am to work with him.

Then, the waiters and waitresses, who smile their welcome, and run the service seemingly seamlessly. The general rule being, the deeper you’re in the shit, the more you smile!

However king of hill, top of the heap, is without doubt the kitchen porter. Good KPs are worth their weight in gold; if you have a great KP you have a happy chef, the KP is the oil in the engine – everything runs smoothly and everyone’s happy. Can you imagine Sunday brunch for 130 people and no one to wash up? I tell you it’s the stuff of nightmares.
It’s theatre, it’s magic, it can be hell on earth…but it gets under your skin and into your blood and we can’t do without it!

GLUTEN FREE DIET (GFD)

This dish is suitable or can be adapted to be suitable for those who are on a Gluten Free Diet.

As part of our Inclusive NOT Exclusive initiative we have introduced many new dishes and tweaked some of our long standing favourite dishes so that they can be enjoyed by those with specific dieatary requirements.

DAIRY FREE / LACTOSE FREE DIET

This dish is suitable or can be adapted to be suitable for those who are on a Dairy Free or Lactose Free Diet.

As part of our Inclusive NOT Exclusive initiative we have introduced many new dishes and tweaked some of our long standing favourite dishes so that they can be enjoyed by those with specific dieatary requirements.

VEGAN/RAW DIET

This dish is suitable or can be adapted to be suitable for those who are on a Vegan or a Raw diet.

As part of our Inclusive NOT Exclusive initiative we have introduced many new dishes and tweaked some of our long standing favourite dishes so that they can be enjoyed by those with specific dieatary requirements.

THE PALEO DIET

This dish is suitable or can be adapted to be suitable for those who are on The Paleo Diet.

As part of our Inclusive NOT Exclusive initiative we have introduced many new dishes and tweaked some of our long standing favourite dishes so that they can be enjoyed by those with specific dieatary requirements.