Okurrrr, I am so excited about this new column. SO EXCITED! When I created my website, I knew I wanted to get some of my talented friends involved. Mainly because a lot of the time, they don't realise how bloody good they are. This is going to be a monthly column about food by 2 of the biggest foodies I know. The Dine out part will be a restaurant review. The Dish up part will be a recipe.
Introducing my contributing editors, and 2 of my very good friends, Yvette and Dom.
Here's A bit about them
IN MY WORDS
Yvette goes out with one of mine and Theo's best friends in the Universe, Julio. I met her on a boiling hot day in Brixton, she was smashed (she'd been at the Rugby), but even so, she had the shiniest hair I'd ever seen! On top of that she had the most incredible energy and I could tell that her and Julio had a li'l something, something going on. However, it wasn't until 3 months later that this was confirmed. J asked if he could bring someone to a dinner party we were hosting. I hoped so much that it was shiny hair girl, and to my joy, it was! Since then we've become firm friends. I love her, she's just one of the people that brings joy to my life. She also loves food more than anyone else I know. And she's always going to the coolest joints, and her reviews on those places will be what she shares here.
IN HER WORDS
Hello, I’m Yvette. Pronounced like “a vet”. But I’m not one and if you have a poorly dog, I can’t help you.
But if you’re after the best hotdogs in town, look no further.
You see, I try to find the good in every situation. Wait. That was a typo. I meant food. I try to find the food in every situation. So if you’re looking for inspiration for your next dinner destination, you’ll forkin’ love it here.
IN MY WORDS
Dom and I have been friends for years. He co-owns an experiential events company, The Persuaders, with his partner, Andy, (my fave of the 2. Kidding, I love you both equally). The guys produce the most epic events, they created all the best Benefit cosmetics ones. Anyone remember the ship and the World Cup pub? That was their doing.
I bloody love Dom. Not only is he hilarious (sometimes), he's one of the most caring, loyal and wonderful people I know. You guys love him. I mean the hashtag #Bringdomback was basically trending after he appeared in my #Lisatakesstuffoutofboxes series.
Him and Andy own a beautiful cottage in the Lincolnshire town of Belleau. It's a real haven and one of my favourite places to spend a wintery weekend. Dom cooks the most gorgeous, homely dishes and they are what he will be sharing here.
IN HIS WORDS
My name is Dominic and I’m a food writer, cook and event producer. I live and work between the large village of London and the teeniest village of Belleau (pronounced Bell Oh), tucked away in the Lincolnshire Wolds and I have a passion for cooking that came from watching my mum cook, then when she was at work, bunking off school and pretending I was a TV chef in her kitchen! I started my recipe blog belleaukitchen.com 12 years ago and am currently the UK’s number 1 male food blogger (although quite frankly there are only 3 of us men, so it’s really not that great an achievement!)
You may know me from my guests spots on Lisa’s #LisaTakesStuffOutOfBoxes InstaTV (A hashtag that I’m very proud of creating. It took weeks.) I’m the funny one that everyone loves and quite frankly I should have my own show but Lisa won’t let me.
The food I love to cook and share is the basic good stuff. Traditional ‘at home’ food that anyone with a little kitchen confidence can handle. If you can read (or be read to) you can cook and enjoy my recipes.
So now the intro's are out of the way, let's get stuck in.
By Yvette Thomson
The venue | SMOKESTAK
It’s Friday night and I am celebrating the end of a long, hard Veganuary with my nearest and dearest. Who am I kidding? We’re all friends here. I lasted three days. I read somewhere nobody ever trained for a marathon by not running. So.
But I digress.
Our venue tonight is the industrial-chic hipster haunt that is SmokeStak on Sclater Street. It’s all very urban and cool and manly. Dark wooden panels, low lighting, open fires, man buns and SO. MUCH. MEAT.
The brains (or shall I say brawn) behind SmokeStak is David Carter, one of the biggest names on the London food scene. His brisket buns started their world domination in 2013. After he left his job at Gordon Ramsay, he used his life savings to buy a big ol’ Texan smoker and started selling his buns of joy at popups and street food festivals. In 2016 SmokeStak’s permanent location opened up in the heart of Shoreditch.
It soon became a favourite amongst meat lovers in the city and has since built up a loyal fan base. It’s easy to see why. Although it changes most weeks, the menu is a constant smorgasbord of carnivorous delights.
The standouts include dishes such as crispy ox cheek with anchovy mayo (trust me on this), pork belly ribs with pickled cucumber and of course, the showstopper, USDA beef brisket. While they do cater for non-meat eaters – you could technically order the grilled seabass – I don’t recommend going with your vegetarian mates.
We ordered all of these above, and then some.
I had FOMO when the table next us received their food so ordered the pastrami with pickles, mustard and dill as well. Forgetti the regretti - so worth it.
Because my mother always taught me to eat my vegetables, we also ordered a few dishes which did not once moo: mushrooms on toast with lamb gravy, baby gem, ginger and green chilli salad, salt baked beetroot with goat cheese and hazelnut and bone marrow flat bread (this is a vegetable, right?)
“What about the booze?” I hear you ask. Well, the drinks list is small but equally impressive. Craft IPAs, creative cocktails (try the green chilli tommy’s – tequila, jalapeño, lime, agave and triple sec - but stop at 3, I speak from experience) and a perfectly good selection of wines.
Finally, there’s the dessert. The sticky toffee pudding is a particular gem here. It’s served with burnt butter ice cream and sent straight from the food gods. Fluffy, moist and unapologetically sweet, this dessert won’t go to your stomach, it’ll go to your heart.
SmokeStak is an east London hit, and deservedly so. Regardless of its hipster credentials, it’s warm and welcoming. The food is to die for, the service is lovely and atmosphere buzzy. If this isn’t enough to fall off the vegan wagon (vagon?) I don’t know what is.
The damage: ££
Worth the burpees? You bet your gluteus maximus
www.smokestak.co.uk / 35 Sclater street, E1 6LB / 020 3873 1733
By Dominic Franks
The Recipe | SPINACH AND MUSHROOM DEEP PAN FOCACCIA PIZZA
So here’s the thing. I live with a guy (let’s call him The Viking) and he LOVES him some Pizza Hut. There’s no telling him that Domino’s or Pappa’s are better, it won’t wash. I’m sure it’s a working-class, northern thing but as far as he’s concerned these modern, trendy, ever-so-thin pizzas are vile, floppy things that are not pizza and essentially taste like burnt wood. He loves the thick doughy texture of a classic deep pan. But it has to be The Hut. I think it was the first pizza he ever ate and it’s stuck. There’s something about the aroma and the cheese. To be honest, i’m easy. I really don’t care because usually when we eat it i’m drunk and any carbs will do. But I do remember going there as a young teenager back in the day and thinking it was so cool. Don’t come at me. Things were different back then. It was just such a new and revolutionary experience. They brought the pan to your table and you got a whole pizza to yourself. So maybe he’s got a point.
I’ve been testing out recipes to try and emulate that incredible deep-crust pizza base. It’s actually pretty basic but it’s the fact that it’s cooked in a pan (doh!) rather than on a stone that gives it that wonderful doughy quality and of course the pan also gives the pizza that iconic golden crunchy crust. Which got me thinking that it’s essentially a focaccia with cheese and tomato on top! Genius.
This isn’t the quickest recipe but it’s well worth the bother and the sauce takes the same time as the dough so you may as well be doing something in that time. If you’ve never made dough before, don’t panic, it’s super-easy and this recipe is pretty failsafe. Making your own tomato sauce may seem like a hassle but I promise you, you won’t regret it, this tomato sauce is just beautiful and so rich. If you double the batch you can use it for all kinds of dishes, plus it freezes really well too. I’ve gone for a very simple vegetarian topping here too but feel free to go wild with your favourite toppings.
For the dough
7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
1½ tsp fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon caster sugar
300ml lukewarm water
500g strong plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the tomato sauce
1 knob of butter
4 tbsp olive oil
1 banana shallot, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 celery stick – finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (or 1 tablespoon dried)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (in addition to the above)
1 tsp caster sugar
½ tsp sea salt
100ml white wine
800g (2 tins) chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
For the topping
2 large field mushrooms
100g baby spinach
150g fresh mozzarella, torn
50g strong cheddar, grated
Fresh oregano (or dried if you don’t have)
For the ‘pan’ i’m using a 25cm x 33cm metal tray with deep sides. It’s the tray that came with the oven… but you can use any metal or cast iron pans, cake tins or a cast iron shallow casserole dish would work just as well.
Let’s start with the dough by placing all the dough ingredients into a large bowl and bring together with a spatula or your hand, tip out onto a lightly oiled surface and knead for 10 minutes. This can be done with ease (and a lot less bother) if you have a stand mixer with a dough hook, for the same 10 minutes.
Place the kneaded dough in a greased bowl, cover tightly in clingfilm and set aside for at least an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Whilst the dough is rising we can make the tomato sauce. Gently heat a large pan and melt some butter and olive oil, then sauté the onions, celery and garlic gently for 5 mins, then add the fresh oregano (or the first amount of dried) the sugar and salt and let it all sweat for a further 5 minutes, then add the rest of the ingredients (except the dried oregano) and stir well.
Place it on the lowest heat and let it gently plop and bubble away for a minimum of an hour. After half an hour stir in the dried oregano. (I let mine cook for 2 hours, it becomes really thick and incredibly intense in flavour.)
Grease your pizza pan liberally with olive oil and turn the oven on to 200C
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove the cling film and knock it back by punching it with your fist, then place it into the oiled pan and smoosh it around with your fingers till it fills the pan, (it may not make it quite all the way to the edges but don’t worry, it will expand,) cover with a tea-towel and set aside for 30 mins. It will rise again but as it’s flat it won’t seem as prominent
The tomato sauce should be ready so take it off the heat. Slice your topping vegetables very finely and prepare you mozzarella and cheddar cheese. Wilt your spinach – this can be done is a warm pan with a dash of water or easily in the microwave.
Remove the clingfilm from the pizza pan and press your fingers into the dough all over (so it’s dimpled all over and looks like a focaccia.) Then add the sauce, spreading it around but leaving a generous edge for the crust, add the mozzarella (I like to use torn chunks of fresh) and half the grated cheddar and then add the wilted spinach, slices of shallots and mushrooms, then add the rest of the cheddar.
Sprinkle over some more fresh oregano and season well and then bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is golden and puffy and the cheese is wonderfully melted.
Eat and of course, enjoy!
Hey, it's Lis again. HOW GOOD WAS THAT?! I'm now officially starving and it's 7am! Ha! Let me know what you think of Dine in, Dish up below. Personally, I love it and I hope you do too.
Yvette & Dom will be back next Month with another edition.
Love & lipstick,