THE FIRST PODCAST EPISODE! (Finally!)
Please visit cookforukraine.org or search #cookforukraine on social media. Please follow my friends @oliahercules and @alissatimoshkina as well.
Visits to some of my favorite bakeries and a bean to bar chocolate launch.
This week’s Delicious Things discussed in this order:
- Whipped Feta Cheesecake from Honey & Co
- Hazelnut brownie from Miel Bakery
- Chocolate rye cookie from E5 Bakehouse
- Pastry from Pophams
- Aubergine noodles from Fen Noodles. Spicy and filling and vegan.
- Xoco Chocolate – loved them all
NOTES ON THE PODCAST:
Here’s the promised link to the Honey & Co Feta Cheesecake recipe: https://shop.honeyandco.co.uk/blogs/recipes/feta-honey-cheesecake-on-a-kadaif-pastry-base
There is one on the Times website too but it’s behind a paywall. The Honeys call it Kadaif pastry (sorry for saying it differently, Honeys!). It is called Kataifi by some (here’s a recipe if you want to make it from scratch). Itamar and Sarit also say you can make their dessert with strips of filo pastry!
Later, when I say Frank “discovered” the cocoa type, I should have said he helped to formerly identify it as a unique species. Clearly the cocoa had been discovered already as it was already being used and I clearly still need to shake off my colonising heritage… 😳🤦🏻♀️
Read The Next Delicious Thing podcast transcript here…
Jennifer Earle 0:02
Hello, and welcome to the very first episode of The Next Delicious Thing. Thanks for joining! I’m Jennifer Earle. You can call me Jen. You might know me as the founder of London’s longest running food tour business, Chocolate Ecstasy Tours. Or you might know me from Instagram @Jennifer.Earle. Or you might not know me at all. Hi, if that’s you, welcome! The Next Delicious Thing is a weekly podcast and blog where I’ll be sharing with you the most delicious things that need to go to the top of your list to try next. If you’d like to receive them by email as well, you can go to thenextdeliciousthing.com, or subscribe and every Wednesday I’ll be here in your ears telling you about what is so incredible and amazing that you must go and get it.
Before I tell you all the things I want to tell you this week, I just wanted to make you aware of a campaign called Cook for Ukraine. On social media the hashtag is #cookforukraine and the website is cookforukraine.org. If you’d like to use the way that you eat to help support people suffering as a result of the war in Ukraine then please check out those links. I’ll provide them in the show notes as well.
This week, I’m going to share with you four items from four of my favourite bakeries in London, a street food dish, and the launch of a new bean to bar chocolate. If you’re a pastry chef, you’re going to be particularly interested in this. First, to the bakeries: two of these are in Fitzrovia in central London and two in Hackney in East London. Fitzrovia is not technically a borough of London, it’s an area like Soho – a similar size to Soho – that was home to a lot of artists and writers in the 20th century and they nicknamed it Fitzrovia because they used to drink in the Fitzroy Tavern. There’s also a Fitzroy Square. And both of those got their names from Charles Fitzroy, who was a Baron, and he bought the manor of Tottenhall, which was a Downton Abbey style house in London, of which there were many in the 18th century. And this particular one apparently had a moat around it. Pretty much located where the two bakeries that I’m going to tell you about are.
The first is not technically a bakery, I kind of think of them as a bakery because they bake so many different things in house: biscuits, cakes, tarts, pies…and you can buy them from their deli across the road. So you have Honey & Spice Deli, Honey & Co. and, around the corner, their restaurant, Honey & Smoke. Honey & Co was the original. It was founded by husband and wife Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer who are incredible Israeli chefs and they have four best selling books and just make the most delicious, wonderful food and they are such fun, kind people you just want to be around. They are really really really lovely. The lease at Honey & Co will be ending at the end of April so I went for one last breakfast with my friend and had cake. What’s the point in being an adult if you can’t have cake for breakfast? This was not just any cake but their whipped feta cheesecake. If you’re interested the recipe is online at the times.com I will include the link in the show notes. This whipped feta cheese cake has been on the menu since the very beginning instead of the sitting on biscuit base. It sits on a nest of kataifi pastry. This is that kind of straw like pastry that you might have seen before. The batter is oil, water and flour. It is cooked in strands on a pan. It’s often used in Middle Eastern deserts and it’s usually baked and so it’s crispy and then they pour a syrup on it which will often have orange blossom or rosewater. I’ve also seen it wrapped around prawns and deep fried so it just gives like a really crunchy crispy texture. The recipe online suggests it’s very important that even though it’s called a whipped cheesecake, you don’t want to whip too much air into it so it should be quite dense in the way that most good cheesecakes are. It’s a mixture of cream, cream cheese and feta to give it that tang, then it is drizzled with a honey syrup. It is delicious. You can still get Honey & Smoke on their dessert menu or you could make it at home. The kataify/kataifi/kadhafi pastry is sometimes referred to as shredded filo/phyllo. It’s not the same thing. You can’t just buy filo and cut it you’ll need to actually buy the kataifi pastry if you would like to make this.
Just a few doors down from Honey & Co is Miel Bakery and although Miel means honey in Spanish, French and possibly other languages, it is not connected to Honey & Co. Miel Bakery was founded by Shaheen Peerbhai in 2019. Shaheen is Le Cordon Bleu trained and she’s worked in Michelin star restaurants around the world. She is super focused on the quality of her ingredients so it’s all Clarence Court eggs, French flour, French butter, French chocolate – she uses all of Valrhona chocolate. She has incredible caneles, pastries, cakes, cookies… On this occasion, I bought the hazelnut chocolate brownie. Typically if you heard that you’d think that it had toasted hazelnuts inside the brownie, but this was a hazelnut paste blended into the brownie batter. So the whole thing was really rich indulgent and slightly hazelnutty and, yeah, it was gorgeous.
Speaking of ultra rich and chocolatey my favourite item from E5 Bakehouse in Hackney in East London is their rye, sea salt and chocolate cookie. It is also very famous and justifiably so. It is really rich and indulgent and just the right amount of salt. I feel like sometimes there are some chefs using a little bit too much salt in their desserts lately. This is just perfectly balanced. I also recently tried the vegan chocolate chip cookie, which was very good, lots of chunks of really good quality chocolate. I think though I’ll be sticking to the chocolate rye and sea salt one in future. E5 Bakehouse also sell some of the best bread in London and even though I didn’t actually need any bread I bought a loaf anyway.
Joanna Brennan – who founded the excellent Pump Street Bakery with her dad Chris, in Suffolk – she told me that if you wrap a full loaf of bread really well, put it in the freezer and when you’re ready to eat it, you turn the oven up really high, put it into the hot oven and leave it for about 20 minutes and then take it out and wait till it cools. And then you have basically like freshly baked bread, which is kind of even better than as it would be if you just bought it from the shop and ate it later that day and it means, if you have space in your freezer, you’ll never have to be without deliciously freshly baked bread again, without having to keep a starter alive because, I mean, please come and tell me @thenextdeliciousthing if you have managed to keep your starter alive since Lockdown 1 or any of the lockdowns, whenever you started, I will be very, very impressed.
A very short walk away from E5 Bakehouse is Popham’s. Popham’s are kind of unusual in London because they are the only bakery that focuses solely on Viennoiserie and on bread, and in the evenings they do pasta. This means you won’t find a brownie, won’t find cookies, won’t find cakes. That dedication just in viennoiserie means that their croissants are really, really exceptional in London. They are consistently flaky and buttery and I don’t think we can overestimate how important good butter is in croissants. If you’re going they are all wonderful, but I would urge you not to walk past the cheesy one. It is a swirl of Marmite, Schlossberger and spring onion, and the cheese goes really crispy around the edges and the flaky pastry… and butteriness… it is just the most delightful crispy, umami hit.
In 2017 Old Spitalfields market, just near Liverpool Street Station in East London, decided to revamp and so where it previously had sold mostly antiques and crafts, it created a set of kitchens where street food sellers could have permanent bases rather than constantly having to set up and pack up every day. It’s open every day of the week and is a really easy place to go and get lunch or an early dinner. The only business – as far as I’m aware – that has been there since the launch in 2017 is Dumpling Shack which was founded by husband and wife John and Yee Li. It has gone from strength to strength to the point where they ended up with a second site just a few doors down called Fen Noodles. They hand pull the noodles themselves so they have biang biang noodles. I had the aubergine (eggplant) vegan version. It was just so comforting. The noodles were chewy, the aubergine was soft, and there was a chilly kick in the slick of oil, which was just what I needed on that day.
Finally to the launch of the chocolate. Xoco Chocolate, that’s x o c o, have actually been going since they were founded by Frank Homann in 2007. So they’ve spent the last 15 years perfecting to be able to launch a bean to bar chocolate at the moment only available to restaurants and chocolate ears. They sell in kilo blocks. So maybe it’s possible for individuals… If you are interested in having a kilo of chocolate in your house – and why wouldn’t you be? – then hit me up and maybe I can sort you out.
The thing about Xoco that is different is that what they started to do 15 years ago was to study the genetics of cocoa – or cacao, in this case interchangeable – to figure out what made great tasting chocolate. It’s surprising that cocoa is so understudied in this area. All other fruits have been studied for what makes them taste better, yet cocoa had only ever been looked at from a genetic standpoint to see how you could get higher yield or to make it more resistant to disease. There’s a common myth that there are just three varieties of cocoa. You might have heard before: Criollo, Trinitario and Forastero. We actually don’t know how many varieties there are, there could be hundreds, there could be 1000s. An apple, for example, has 7000 Different varieties despite the fact that we probably could only name about 12 varieties off the top of our head… so Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Jazz, etc. The same is true with cocoa where we don’t even know all the varieties yet because they haven’t been studied. So Frank has two varieties of cocoa beans, one he discovered in Nicaragua and the other in Honduras. So the Honduras is called Maya Red and the Nicaraguan is Tuma yellow for a long time he was selling the cocoa beans to other chocolate makers, but now they have a factory in Costa Rica where they are making the chocolate in different percentages to sell to any excellent restaurant that wants to buy it. It is very consistent because of their focus on the genetics and roasting and fermenting and all of the stages that can affect the flavour. They have spent 15 years making sure that they perfect each one of those through trial and experimentation.
If you are a pastry chef or you know a pastry chef, then I would encourage you to have a look at them. The dark versions of the Maya Red are really fruity like blackcurrants and the 100% – so, no sugar at all, basically the espresso of chocolate – is almost like kumquats in sourness. Then, the same cocoa when turned into 48% milk chocolate is really malty and biscuity and incredibly moreish. So that was definitely a hit at the launch. I think they’re all wonderful. So it depends on what you plan to use it for.
Apart from being delicious, yhe reason I really want you to consider Xoco Chocolate is that this is a company who understands and is involved in all of the aspects of the supply chain and they therefore make sure that the farmers are paid well, that everybody who works on the chocolate is paid fairly and that the environment is considered so it’s fully a sustainable approach from all angles.
That is it for this week. If you’d like this list emailed to you go to thenextdeliciousthing.com and sign up. Remember to subscribe and I will be with you next Wednesday.
I cannot wait to chat with you.
Until then, happy eating.