London is on my ever-growing
list of cities where I'd love to live or at least spend additional
time. Fifteen years ago, we visited London on our honeymoon and I
remember being surprised at how incredible the food was. I had
heard the rumors - bland, simple and the words black
pudding were mentioned. Thankfully, London's stodgy reputation
in regards to its cuisine is no more.
The London Cookbook: Recipes from the Restaurants,
Cafes, and Hole-in-the-Wall Gems of a Modern City came to
life when author, Aleksandra Crapanzano, who frequented the famous
Books for Cooks store (isn't that where all good things happen - a
cookbook store?) where she would learned which meal was not to be
missed or that Yotam was almost out of tahini cookies, and more
food gossip. Leaving the store, jotting notes in her nearly-filled
notebook was when the spark for this book took flame. Recently, she
wrote an interesting piece for Food52 sharing more details - be
sure to check out her article.
In The London Cookbook, the London restaurant
experience is documented with photographs, profiles of major
players and almost 120 recipes, The chapters are organized by types
of dishes: Light Fare; Soups; Pasta Rice and Grains; Vegetarian;
Seafood; Fowl; Meat; Desserts; Chilled Desserts and ending with
Cocktails (as all good things should end). Each of these chapters
share recipes from various restaurants: Ottolenghi's Mung &
Haricot Verts; Caravan's Corn & Chorizo Fritters with Smoked
Paprika Crème Fraîche and The River Cafe's Risotto di Peperoni, for
There is so much to love about this book, Aleksandra's vast
knowledge of the chefs and the restaurants of London, the gorgeous
photographs taken by Sang An and the recipes that are approachable
to the home cook. She states that she could have easily written a
600 page tome because she had acquired so much research. Perhaps
there will be The London Cookbook, Volume II in her future, I hope
Be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win one of
five copies of The London Cookbook. Meanwhile, courtesy of the
author and Ten Speed Press, we are pleased to share two recipes you
can try now.
FISH AND CHIPS Serves 5
They are indisputable. A fact of British life.
That, perhaps, is the most important thing you need to know about
fish and chips. So essential to the happiness of Brits, fish and
chips was one of the only foods not rationed during World War II.
Perhaps Churchill was a devotee, or perhaps he simply knew that
ravaged families needed foods that offered not only comfort, but a
sense of national continuity. I wonder if he knew that Jewish
refugees from Spain and Portugal, in flight from the Inquisition,
first introduced fried fish to England in the early sixteenth
Since the days of Charles Dickens and his chips
with "reluctant drops of oil," there has been both much evolution
and none at all. Many a chipper or chippy, as fish and chip houses
are called, still serve roughly the same recipe you might have
found one or two hundred years ago. But then there are chefs like
Tom, who have elevated the art and craft of fish and chips while
preserving the beloved tradition to a T. To my mind, his version is
the best in London. And while chips aren't as skinny as their
French cousins, fries or frites, they are nearly as irresistible,
doubly so, with this tartar sauce. Oh, and on the subject of
origins, tartar sauce has nothing to do with the Tartars, save for
the French predilection for adopting exotic names for their sauces,
including sauce tartare. Too bad, as it would have made for a good
Here are a few pointers about heat and timing, as expertise in
deep-frying isn't a given. If the oil isn't hot enough, your fish
and chips will be soggy instead of crispy. Be patient in waiting
for the oil to heat to the required temperature and work in batches
so as not to overcrowd the fryer and lower the temperature of the
oil. I suggest making the tartar sauce first and refrigerating it
until needed. Then prepare the batter. And finally, heat the oil
and set to frying, first the potatoes and then the fish.
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon English mustard
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 cups canola oil
2 tablespoons ice water, if needed
1 tablespoon chopped gherkins
1 tablespoons capers, rinsed
2 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
FISH AND CHIPS
1½ cups self-rising flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ cup beer, preferably lager
½ cup sparkling water
2 pounds potatoes, such as russets or Maris Pipers, peeled
Oil for frying, such as canola, safflower, or grapseseed
5 pieces cod fillets, roughly 5 ounces each
Malt vinegar, for serving
To make the tartar sauce, whisk together the egg yolks, mustard,
salt, and pepper in a bowl until pale. Whisk in the vinegar and
lemon juice. While whisking constantly, drizzle in the oil to form
a mayonnaise-like emulsion. Only add the ice water as needed to
loosen the consistency if too thick. Fold in the gherkins, capers,
and shallots. Fold in the parsley just before serving.
To make the batter for the fish, combine the flour,
cornstarch, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Make a well in the center of
the flour mixture, then pour in the beer and sparkling water and
whisk to combine. Set aside for 10 minutes, then whisk again until
smooth. Set aside to rest for 15 to 20 minutes longer and then
whisk again. There should be no lumps!
To make the chips. Wash the peeled potatoes and cut
them into ½-inch wide batons. Rinse the potatoes under cold running
water to remove excess starch.
Parboil the potatoes in abundantly salted boiling
water until just short of tender. Drain and transfer immediately to
a bath of ice-water.
Line a plate with paper-towels and place next to the
stove. Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or high-sided saucepan to
280˚F. Working in batches, drain the potatoes and plunge them into
the hot oil to blanch for 2 minutes. Remove with a spider spoon and
drain on paper towels. Increase the heat of the oil to 360˚F, then
plunge the chips back into the oil for 4 to 5 minutes longer, until
golden brown and crispy. Remove immediately to drain on paper
towels and sprinkle with sea salt.
To make the fish, line a plate with paper towels and
set next to the stove. Using the same saucepan or fryer as you used
to the make the chips, bring the oil to 360˚F. Working in batches,
dip the fish into the batter and, holding each piece up by its tail
end, let the excess drip off. Gently place the fish into the hot
oil and fry for about 8 minutes, until golden and crispy. Work
quickly because the beer batter is best used as soon as it's ready.
Transfer to drain on the paper-towel lined plate while you finish
frying the remaining fish.
Serve the fish and chips immediately with the tartar sauce and
APPLE AND CALVADOS CAKE
Serves 6 portions, which are always generous
2 cups sugar
1 1⁄2 cups vegetable oil
1⁄4 cup Calvados
3 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
Pinch of ground cloves
3 or 4 baking apples, peeled and chopped, preferably Bramley or
1 cup walnuts, chopped
Crème fraîche, for serving
When Fergus sent me this recipe, he wrote me this note at the
top of the page: "A very fine cake. What is not fine with a little
Calvados!" How right he is, on both counts. I'm mad for this cake.
The Calvados seems to ambulate in the background, like a haunting.
The chopped apples and walnuts provide texture. The oil would keep
it moist for days, were it not certain to be devoured within hours.
The cinnamon offers comfort, the clove intrigue. The whole is like
a perfectly conceived short story, with a dollop of crème fraîche
as the final punctuation mark.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Butter a 9-inch spring form pan or a 10-inch cake pan.
Whisk the sugar and eggs together either by hand, in a stand
mixer, or with electric beaters. Add the vegetable oil as you would
to make mayonnaise - in a thin stream as you continue to whisk
Add the Calvados, while continuing to whisk. Add the flour,
cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and cloves and whisk to
Fold in the apples and walnuts. Pour the batter into the
prepared pan and smooth the top.
Bake for 90 minutes, until a sharp knife inserted in the center
of the cake comes out clean. Serve at room temperature with a
generous bowl of crème fraîche.
"Reprinted with permission from The London
Cookbook by Aleksandra Crapanzano, copyright© 2016.
Photography by Sang An. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of