Feta, Fennel and Red Onion Linguine

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Silky sweet red onion, fennel and basil gain a perfect counterpoint in the shape of tangy feta in this delightfully simple linguine. Light yet indulgent (if a little uninspiring aesthetically) no more than 20 minutes are likely to elapse between the first, satisfying chop into your onion and the first, exponentially more satisfying forkful tickling your palate.

To make two generous portions, or three rather more miserly ones, you’ll need:

  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 medium to large red onion
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • a good handful of fresh basil
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 200-225g ribbon pasta, ideally linguine

First, slice the onion and fennel bulb. The idea is for your bowl to play host to a hearty tangle of pasta and vegetables – to which the feta will cling, partially melted – so these can be left as fairly long ribbons.

Whilst you’re performing your knifework, heat a generous couple of glugs of olive oil in a heavy-based pan, preferably one with a lid. Add the chopped onion and fennel to the pan, and start to sweat slowly (though not before seasoning with black pepper and salt. Be a little sparing with the latter because the feta will provide a good deal of salinity too), covering with the lid and stirring occasionally.

At this point, start cooking the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. By the time the pasta is ready, the onion and fennel should be soft, silky and sweet. Add the basil, roughly chopped, and crumble in the feta. Finally, add the pasta and mix until the aforesaid tangle materialises.

Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson London

Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea

Fall down the rabbit hole with Sanderson London at their Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea.

Sanderson London have long been renowned for their magical Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea, and following the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland, they have reinvented the experience in an attempt to best their own menu.

Settling into our snug table for two it’s easy to see why people love it so much. Before the food has even arrived, I sat with a glass of pink champagne in the closest thing to Wonderland London has. Set outside under big floaty umbrellas (and heated lamps of course – this is Britain after all), the courtyard garden of the hotel is a different world in its own right. Complete with a faux-waterfall, moss, and a lot of exotic plants, it’s easy to believe you’ve been transported to a different world just from the setting.

After finding the menu hidden within the pages of an antique novel and being entertained by the music-box sugar-box for longer than I probably should have been, the first course appeared. It was a fantastic quartet of mini sandwiches, with a smoked salmon and caviar scotch egg, ham and smoked applewood croque-monsieur (the finest grilled cheese you will ever consume), a crab eclair and a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich on lime bread.

Feeling suitably impressed, we had another glass of champagne and waited not so patiently for the sweets to come out. When we were presented with a four-tier cake stand of magnificence the room was suddenly filled with Cheshire cats, grins ear to ear.

We started at the bottom with a ‘Drink Me’ strawberry smoothie and the classic scone with jam and cream. After that we dove in unashamedly to the main event – the Alice In Wonderland themed cakes and treats. From a Queen of Hearts Oreo cookie soldier to a Red Velvet ladybird, the Banana Bread-and-Butterfly to The White Rabbit’s pocket watch macaroon, no detail had been forgotten, no page of the source left unturned to find inspiration for a true experience.

The icing on the (many) cakes was the beautifully crafted cocktail menu. With four “Chapters”, my personal favourite was Chapter Three – A Caucus Race and A Long Tale. Delicately refreshing, it was the alcoholic version of a lime sorbet, and made it a lot easier to forget the amount of chocolate we had just consumed.

Tea is served daily and is priced between £48 and £65 per person.

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Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea

Brunch at Jimmy & The Bee, Clerkenwell

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Tucked underneath a towering block of flats in central Clerkenwell lies an unassuming and somewhat unnoticeable little cafe, which goes by the name of Jimmy & The Bee.

Take a quick glance through the window and it becomes evident the business is a family run affair. Sourcing produce from local merchants highlights focus on serving good, flavoursome food in a friendly, neighbourhood environment. They don’t have a big social media presence, but this adds to the homegrown charm. You feel like you’ve stumbled across a true hidden gem.

The cafe is a delight; with simplistic, minimalistic, Scandinavian inspired decor, up-cycled furniture & walls covered in artwork from local talents. A floor-length chalkboard greets you offering a refreshing array of natural, organic and locally sourced delights, changed daily. The coffee is roasted and provided by The Alchemists, the thick, decadent sourdough and pastries provided daily by the team at Yeast, and the granola from Primrose Hill’s Husk & Honey.

Popular locally for their friendly service, impressive collection of cacti and butternut squash and lentil salad, pop down to Jimmy & The Bee this weekend for a lengthy brunch or settle yourself into one of their corners for a long working lunch. You won’t be disappointed.

Jimmy & The Bee- website here. 135 Goswell Road, EC1V 7JY.

Open Monday to Friday 7am-6pm, Saturday 9am-6pm, and Sunday 10am-5pm.

Chocolate, Hazelnut and Cardamom Cookies

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If you’re looking for something a little different for your next sweet treat, you’ve found it. Cardamom, more often used in curries, adds a spicy sweetness to these otherwise classic cookies.

Makes 6 big cookies or 8 small ones

butter 50g

caster sugar 60g

light muscovado sugar 40g

hazelnuts 100g

dark chocolate (the darker the better) 50g

green cardamom 6 pods

egg 1

vanilla extract 1/4 tsp

salt 1/4 tsp

wholemeal flour 100g

baking powder 1/4 tsp

 

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a baking tray with baking parchment and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugars until pale in colour and the texture becomes light.

Toast the hazelnuts in a dry pan until golden in colour. Keep them moving regularly to prevent burning. Take half of them and blitz in a food processor or chop finely. Cut the remaining ones roughly.

Cut up the chocolate. A mixture of larger chunks and finer shards works well.

Crack open the cardamom pods and crush the seeds inside with a pestle and mortar, or even just the back of a spoon.

Break the egg into a bowl, mix lightly with a fork, and add to the butter and sugar. Mix in the vanilla extract and salt.

Add the flour and baking powder gradually into the rest of the mixture.

Finally add the chopped chocolate, ground cardamom and chopped hazelnuts.

Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture on the baking sheets, giving them room to spread. Press down a little.

Bake for about 17 minutes, until your kitchen is filled with an incredible aroma. They should still be quite soft. Leave for three or four minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack, if they even make it that far.