Yoghurt waffles

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A cupboard full of gadgets

Do you have a cupboard full of kitchen gadgets? We do – the rice cooker, slow cooker, pressure cooker, deep fat fryer, juicer, whisk, blender… this Christmas we got an electronic waffle-maker too.

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A waffle-maker is for life, not just for Christmas!

We tried it out straight away but were less than happy with the results. So, determined to make sure the waffle maker wasn’t lost to the back of the cupboard we decided to try another waffle recipe. Someone recommended Norwegian chef Signe Johansen’s yoghurt waffles so we started searching for the recipe. We dug into her fabulous ‘Scandilicious’ cook book, but no sign of waffles…

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Signe Johansen’s Norwegian baking cook book

After a bit of Google searching we found what we were looking for and after a bit of amendment here’s the waffle recipe. We used Turkish yoghurt rather than buttermilk and swapped the whole milk in Signe’s recipe for soya milk.

Yoghurt Waffles (makes enough for 3-4 people)

You need:

230g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
70g sugar
70g butter
70ml water
150g Turkish yoghurt
100ml milk / soya milk
2 free-range eggs
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
Pinch sea salt

Method:

Melt the butter and leave to cool. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, and add the sugar and a pinch of sea salt.  Next add the butter, yoghurt, eggs,  milk, water and seeds from the vanilla pod. Pop the empty pod into a tub of sugar for delicious vanilla sugar.

Gently, but thoroughly stir together into a smooth batter, then set aside to rest for 20-30 minutes if you can wait that long.  Once rested the batter will be thick and bubbly. Heat the waffle-maker, when hot spoon a ladleful of batter on to the iron. Close it tight and cook for about 6 minutes, depending on your waffle-maker and how crispy you like your waffles.

We were happy with the results this time – luxuriously sweet and rich with the flavour of vanilla coming through; fluffy and light inside and crisp on the outside. They were delicious served hot with a generous dollop of homemade berry jam. They stored well for a couple of days in an air tight tin.

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Waffles for breakfast – they didn’t last long!

 

 

 

 

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Lazeez Lebanese Tapas – Marylebone

Lazeez Tapas – casual Lebanese dining

Just around the corner from Selfridges is Lazeez Tapas, a quiet place to grab a drink and some authentic Lebanese street food after a day of shopping on Oxford Street. Lazeez Tapas is set over two floors with a large pavement seating area popular with shisha pipe smokers. The menu offers a selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes with an emphasis on sharing. There’s a good selection of juices, cocktails and Lebanese wines.

We started with the homemade houmous which was light and fresh and we’d soon wiped the bowl clean. The manager recommended the mixed meze which at about £15pp consisted of crispy lamb borek, tabbouleh & salad, rice-stuffed vine leaves, delicious falafel, more houmous and a lamb or chicken kebab. This came served with Lebanese flat bread, a rich aubergine ‘moussaka’, zingy pickles and dips. We drew the meal to a close with sticky baklava and a big pot of fresh mint tea.

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Homemade houmous

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The mixed meze plate for one!

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Zingy pickled cucumber, turnip and chillies

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Rich aubergine moussaka

Considering its location in the heart of London this is a taste of Lebanon at a reasonable price. It’s popular with locals and tourists who seem to be willing to pay £30 for a shisha pipe. Lazeez Tapas is open daily from 11.30am offering breakfast egg dishes, lunchtime snacks and wraps, through to dinner, late night coffees and cocktails until midnight.

Lazeez Tapas, 29 Duke St, London W1U 1LH

*Disclaimer: we were invited to review Lazeez Tapas as their guests.

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Turtle Bay – Walthamstow

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Turtle Bay’s Rum Bar

Turtle Bay, is the newly opened Caribbean restaurant and bar loudly dominating the corner site of The Scene cinema complex, at the top of Walthamstow’s High Street. Interestingly the owner of Turtle Bay is Ajith Jayawickrema, also the founder of Las Iguanas and investor in Grillstock, the next restaurant due to open on this site.  Turtle Bay is a popular chain nationwide but this is their first in East London.

Their opening in early January was a boisterous night; loud DJ’s, delicious cocktails, enthusiastic staff and spicy party food. We went back on an average Friday evening to see if it lives up to the buzz, and more importantly for us, to get a real taste of the food. This is definitely not the place for a quiet romantic night out, but it stirs up holiday fantasies of warm summer nights on a Caribbean island. Helping to paint this picture is a jerk street food shack, colourful shipping containers, loud reggae and decent rum cocktails. The Jamaican Mule – spiced rum, fresh lime & homemade ginger beer was way too drinkable!

The service is eager and friendly once you get past the door staff, and our ‘server for tonight’ was keen to recommend dishes and drinks. There is a busy bar in the centre of the ground floor where cocktails (2 for 1 every night 12-7pm & 10-12pm) and small snack plates called ‘cutters’ are served plus there are numerous tables around the open kitchen. There is more seating upstairs for at least 30 more diners –  great for a birthday or  event.

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Kitchen hard at work on a Friday night

The food like the decor is fun, loud and affordable. We went with the recommended Trini Doubles – 2 puffed roti with curried chickpeas, cucumber chutney & coconut  and Jerk Pit Ribs – marinated, grilled pork ribs with a sour orange chutney (both £4.95). I think our Trinidadian sister-in-law would approve of the Doubles (her Trini chicken puffs is still one of the most popular recipes on this blog!). The ribs were spicy and soft but the chutney tasted like a gooey marmalade mistake. The hot pepper and jerk sauces on the table were not homemade which is not surprising for a chain but disappointing.

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Trini Doubles

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Sauces & cocktails

The One Pots – curries and stews with rice & peas were tempting, but we decided on Escovitch Fish – whole baked bream in a sauce of tomatoes, scotch bonnet chilli & peppers, with salad, and swapped the rice ‘n’ peas for sweet potato fries (£12.50) and the Double Dipped jerk rump steak with Caribbean slaw and  more sweet potato fries (£14.25).

The fish was well-cooked, moist and fleshy and the fries were a real hit, we’d go back just for them on a cold Friday night!  The steak was cooked as requested, medium-rare, but the spice overwhelmed the flavours of the meat and we felt the portion was small for the price.

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Escovitch Fish – not easy to say, easier to eat!

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Double Dipped Steak

We loved the puddings especially the spiced chocolate pot with coconut ice cream, and BBQ pineapple with a rum caramel sauce (£4.85). A rum and coffee finished the meal perfectly.

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BBQ Pineapple

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Chocolate Pot

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Rum and coffee – happy days

So what’s the verdict? We are predicting that this place will remain jammed as it appeals to a diverse range of people and serves decent, spicy food at accessible prices. From the ‘lights’ menu you could have a burger, slaw and fries for £6.95 and 2 for 1 cocktails so a night out for less than £25.  It’s a good addition to the Walthamstow night scene, we’ll be back for more cocktails and those sweet potato fries but we’ll certainly have to book!

Turtle Bay Walthamstow, The Scene, 269 High Street, London E17 7FD

*Disclaimer: we were invited to review Turtle Bay as their guests.

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Dabbous – Whitfield Street, London

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Homemade sourdough bread, butter flaked with sea-salt & big green nocellara olives

Dabbous, in central London, launched in 2012 to rave reviews. It was quickly impossible to get a table, with a year-long waiting list, especially after winning it’s first Michelin star in 2013. But it’s not about formal fine dining; the decor is like an industrial workshop – battleship greys, rough plaster walls, cold steel scaffolding pipes, bare wood and concrete. There’s no linen tablecloths or flowers, the service is calm and friendly, and wines are served by the carafe. The dining room is on the ground floor, while downstairs is a bar where the well-dressed  drink cocktails.

So, how good is it?

The chef, Oliver Dabbous, trained under Raymond Blanc and worked at The Fat Duck and Noma. The food is balanced, carefully thought-out with a focus on the ingredients rather than fancy foams. The 4 course set menu lunch is short, simple and seasonal, and a real bargain at £32.

We kicked off with a healthy plate of shaved raw celeriac, muscat grapes & toasted hazelnuts and the alternative starter of iced raw scallop with eucalyptus – a savoury granita idea, not entirely convinced but definitely an experience. A dense acorn flour noodles in a rich duck & fenugreek broth  with garlic chive flowers followed. One foodie declared it was ‘lick the bowl’ good while the other really disliked it – bit of a marmite experience, I’d say!

Perfectly cooked, poached cod with warm potted shrimps on a bed of potato puree, pea shoots and a fish broth was the highlight dish. Light and delicious. The roast pink veal fillet with autumnal vegetables & a cheese broth was well executed and interestingly topped with nutty, thinly sliced raw mushrooms.

We felt the burrata and tamarillo: a creamy mozzarella with caraway and a slice of sweet, roasted tomato-like tamarillo was ok, but steep at a £5 supplement. But we both loved the dessert of a miniature warm fig & honey cake, and a chilled, frothed rice milk infused with fig leaves. We’ve been determined ever since to recreate this simple dish at home. Finally, chilli-infused, gold bullion bar chocolates ended the meal perfectly!

So why was it so special? Probably the fact that we’re still talking about it. It was a real treat to be able to have a very ‘London’ foodie experience without a massive bill …. maybe we’ll go back for the eight course tasting menu next time!

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Shaved celeriac

Iced raw scallop

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Acorn flour noodles in duck & fenugreek broth

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Poached cod & warm potted shrimps

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Roast veal fillet with autumn vegetables & a cheese broth

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Burrata & tamarillo

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Fig & honey cake, with a chilled rice milk

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Finally, chilli-infused, gold bullion bar chocolates!

Dabbous, 39 Whitfield Street, London, W1T 2SF

Dabbous on Urbanspoon

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Hipster hangouts – the changing food scene in Palma de Mallorca

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La Seu – Palma Cathedral

Palma, the capital city of the Spanish island of Mallorca has changed over recent years and eating out now has become an amazing culinary experience which really took us by surprise. There’s a tidal wave of Peruvian ceviche, Japanese fusion and slow-poached truffle eggs.

When we stayed here about 7 years ago we froze in the Hostal Cuba, it was a cheap and friendly but cold and old-style Spanish hostal in the traditional fishermen’s area. Now it’s a boutique hotel complete with a roof terrace, restaurant and bar in the trendy Santa Catalina district.

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Hostal Cuba in Santa Catalina

This gentrification has brought the arrival of hipster hangouts across Palma – it’s like Hackney, Dalston and Barcelona, all bearded guys who ride white racing bikes and drink aeropress coffees. We especially liked La Molienda serving designer coffees, cakes and gourmet teas which happened to be just across the road from our apartment.

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La Molienda – Carrer de les Caputxines

The Room (Calle Cotoner, 47) is a Santa Catalina pasticerria and restaurant with informal cafe decor and friendly staff. Their lunchtime menu offers 3 courses for 14 . We opted for a cream of cauliflower and cheese soup decorated with steamed greeen beans, drizzled with a rich olive oil, followed by a homemade pasta with a veal ragu, and desserts of banoffee tart and cheese cake accompanied by a glass of Mallorcan red wine.

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Veal ragu @ The Room

Across the street is Bros, a Skandi decor restaurant / cafe with bearded hipster staff in designer aprons. Their seasonal foodie menu of the week is only 12.90 €. From the 4 starters and mains offered, we chose the goats cheese salad with piquillo peppers, and the gooey aubergine stuffed with cheese & tomato with a sticky red wine & onion reduction. For mains, the risotto of courgette & shrimp and the grilled pork loin & potatoes with mushroom salsa were well executed. We greedily polished off a rich chocolate fondant with chocolate ice cream.

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Seasonal menu @ Bros

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Shrimp & Courgette risotto @ Bros

When we arrived in Palma a local friend recommended the new Toque de Queda (Can Cavalleria, 15B) a deli / bar in an historical oven bakery ‘Forn Cremat’. It was so good we went twice. They specialise in local and Mediterranean platters of meats and cheeses and tapas served with cristal tomato bread. They are part of the wave of restaurants reinventing tapas aimed at the new young locals with money looking for the Barcelona lifestyle.

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A 1/2 racion mixed platter, cristal bread and oven roasted potatoes @ Toque de Queda

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Hot Provolone cheese with mushrooms @ Toque de Queda

Another new bar on the scene is Can Trispol, (Travessa Den Ballester, 6) named after a local Mallorcan red wine. They specialise in llonguets – an artisan bread traditional to Palma. Here they are served filled with anything from quinoa veggie burgers to smoked salmon, cheese and jamon. They boast using local products from the market including the Mallorcan Pep lemonade.

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Newly opened Can Trispol

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Mallorcan hand-made Pep Lemon

Even the stalls in the old market halls in de l’Olivar and Santa Catalina have been given a makeover following in the fashion of the Mercado San Miguel in Madrid and now are a hive of drinking and eating. Street food, tapas and pintxos is served from small kiosks and stalls. So if you fancy a foodie weekend or longer, Palma is an exciting place to be.

Now get me back to London – I’m dying for a good curry!

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Fibonacci coffee stall @ Mercat de l’Olivar

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E17 Cook Book Club – 28 January, Spanish theme

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Our next E17 Cook Book Club get-together will be on 28 January 2015, 8pm in the back room at The Bell, 617 Forest Road, E17 4 NE.

The concept for the Cook Book Club is simple: it’s a foodie social evening, each person brings some themed food to share and buy drinks at the bar. The theme for 28 January is Spanish food. We now have a Facebook page, E17 Cook Book Club, so we can all discuss and see in advance who wants to cook and bring what to avoid a glut of cakes as happened at our last one!

Everyone is welcome to join us, just turn up at 8pm. The plan is to meet every 6 weeks and for it to be … well… fun!

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Last minute Christmas food shopping in the Stow

20130522_185627[1]I love to be organised, so you’d think that all our Christmas food shopping would be in hand. Well it’s not. I’ve just started a new job and seem to be spending a lot of time travelling up and down the country, so playing Santa has been neglected this year. But all is not lost. Although I’ll be working right up to the big day I know that our wonderful shops in the Stow won’t let me down.

I thought that I’d share, as we often get asked, some of the places where we’ll be shopping including some of the less obvious shops that we love. This year the meat will be Yorkshire game from home, but last year we bought a duck and an organic chicken from the Sunday Farmers Market. We’ll be picking up some home-smoked salmon from Davies Fishmongers at Bakers Arms – they can also supply fresh lobster and crab if ordered in advance.

DSCN6156We’ll probably get our favourite merguez sausages from Maghreb on Hoe Street as an alternative to pigs in blankets. It’s also the best place for dates to wrap in bacon – a great tapas snack.

DSCN0640We have a regular veggie box from Organiclea which we’ll add to from the Veg Hut on Chingford Road. Herbs, fruit and olives will be from the Turkish supermarket, Akdeniz on Hoe Street. DSCN0644Cheese was sorted by a trip on Friday to what will be the new East London Cheese Board shop on Orford Road. For steaks I’ll be popping into the Brazilian butchers Boi na brasa and wine will be from Forest Wines.

DSCN6567I’ve heard about sourdough from Fluffy’s Bakery on Lea Bridge Road so I’ll be off in search of that, although if I run out of time there are many Polish shops selling great rye bread. I’ll be getting sliced meats and cheese from Gulliver’s the Polish deli on the High Street.

With all these amazing and diverse independent producers and traders, I really can’t see the point of all the rushing and queuing in the supermarkets – the little shops always have more unusual and better quality products. All that remains is for us to wish you a safe, happy and healthy Christmas – see you in the New Year!

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Pizza Express – Walthamstow

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Chefs at work at the new Pizza Express Walthamstow

We’ve watched ‘The Scene’ cinema complex develop over the past 15 years on the corner of High Street and Hoe Street, Walthamstow. A WW2 flying bomb first cleared the area in 1944, then the derelict 1960’s concrete arcade was demolished in 2004 leaving a tarmac open space that’s hosted the occasional market, a wonky blue xmas trees and a tiny ice rink over the years. After all the rumours, planning changes, the ‘fight the height’ campaign, false starts, funding problems and scrutiny comittees something finally happened in April 2013.  The JCBs arrived to rip up the tarmac, followed by huge cranes, loads of builders, lorries and mud.

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Start of the work on The Scene

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Beginning to take shape

And now it’s nearly finished … and so we are home to penthouses, apartments, a nine screen cinema and five new shiny restaurants to try although only two are currently open. When we were invited to review the new Pizza Express at first we argued – about our integrity, our independence  – but, hey free pizza on a Friday night proved to be too tempting!

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Mare Rosa pizza

The decor is based on the old Walthamstow Stadium dog track and the cinema theme is reflected in the camera-styled lighting. I’m sure the large seating area outside will be a popular people-watching spot on warmer days. Back indoors, the booths are great for groups of four. We were given a large round table in the centre of the restaurant which was probably meant to be an upgrade on the rather tight tables for two, but the staff use it as a cut-through from the pizza ovens, passing behind with plates of food, which was rather disconcerting.

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Try and bag a booth table

We wanted to try the pork & pancetta croquettes from the Xmas menu but they’d already run out, so they must have been popular. Instead we had the Arancini Provola – risotto balls with spinach & cheese, unfortunately they were a flavourless start to the meal, although the spicy arrabiata sauce they came with was addictive. The antipasti sharing platter of salami, olives, sunblush tomatoes and mozzarella with bread sticks was enjoyable and good value for a group at about £10. However we must admit that we do prefer Sodo’s mozzarella and local cured meats – we’d like to see Pizza Express putting more locally sourced products on the menu.

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The antipasti platter for sharers

The rocket and Gran Moravia (a veggie-friendly parmesan alternative) cheese salad with truffle oil was fighting – some would find it overpowering. Onto the pizzas, the Mare Rosa was generous in it’s toppings of prawn, salmon and broccoli but was under-seasoned while the Francesco Mazzei Calabrese suffered from being too fiery. I love chilli but I found the balance of sweet roasted peppers didn’t work with the hot ‘nduja.

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Fiery Calbrese pizza with ‘nduja

However the desserts brought smiles, especially the little dolcetti served with a coffee, the Cafe Reale mini figs soaked in spiced wine with mascarpone was a great end to the meal.

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Figs & mascapone – dolcetti and coffee to finish

It was a bit odd being asked to review a Pizza Express – surely everyone’s been before, has their opinion and has a favourite pizza already. Ok it’s a chain and limited in being creative or individual, but what’s great about Pizza Express is that it appeals to such a wide range of people and Walthamstow needs that. Everyone was out last Friday night, frazzled mums and kids; old and new Stowers; couples of every nationality, gender and ages; folks celebrating with prosecco and those just sharing a pizza and a couple of cokes. It’s a place for a reliable, happy night out and you know what to expect. There’s always plenty of online vouchers and deals available and it’s commendable for the wide range of gluten-free and less calorie options. Of course we are loyal to Peppe – his pizzas are fantastic, but it’s quicker at Pizza Express and you don’t have to hang around in the pub for 40 minutes (although this isn’t really a hardship!) But Pizza Express suits people who wouldn’t eat out in the pub or don’t have the budget for the restaurants in the village which up until now have been the only options for an evening out in Walthamstow. I’m sure we’ll go again – the staff were lovely and it’s a reasonable price, a convenient location and there’s plenty of choices to work our way through.

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Deals & vouchers!

 

*Disclaimer: we were invited to review Pizza Express as their guests.

Pizza Express Walthamstow
The Scene
265 High Street
London
E17 7FD

Tel: 020 8521 8889

Open daily: 11.30am-11pm (Sun 10pm)

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Tassili – Algerian cafe on Hoe Street

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Tassili Algerian Cafe – Hoe Street, Walthamstow

It’s not a glamorous location – sandwiched between a barbers and a Sri Lankan grocers, opposite the Skoda garage on Hoe Street, so there’s nothing from the outside of Tassili shouting “come in, give us a try!”. But if you’re feeling brave and venture in you’ll find a warm welcome and authentic Algerian dishes. This is our secret Saturday lunch place when we want quick, very cheap, home-cooked food.

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Grilled marinated liver kebabs – £4.50

There’s always a range of fresh fish, tagines and grilled meats. Everything comes served with either homemade chips or spicy rice, plus salad and a warm baguette.

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Snapper & chips

The owner brings fresh fish with him every morning from Billingsgate Market, there’s often tuna steak, swordfish, mackerel and sardines. The portions aren’t enormous but this red snapper only cost us £5.50 and was freshly grilled and tasty.

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Merguez sausages – c £5.00

We’ve had a meatball dish which is broken down and fried with an egg – I’ve forgotten the name but it was delicious.

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The mystery meatball dish

Recently the ‘Loubia b’lham’ was an amazingly comforting white bean stew with lamb – cooked like his mother does, apparently! There’s no menu, just look in the counter and see what you like, and let the owner talk you through what’s cooking. Sometimes there’s some scary stuff – a tripe tagine or other offal offerings. Everything costs around £5.00 including sides and bread, so with drinks and coffees a lunch only ever costs us about £12-13.

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Tagine Djedj b’ Zeitoun – Algerian chicken with olives

It can be a bit of a ‘men’s place’ – we’ve never been brave enough to go in the evening when the football’s playing or try out the pool table in the newly opened back room. We’re often the only women and usually the only non-Algerian customers. But we’re always made welcome by the friendly owner and staff – when we’ve asked for a diet coke or mustard they’ve gone to the shop next door, and we’re left in peace to enjoy our lunch. They also do sandwiches and takeaway.

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Good coffees too!

In August 2013 Tassili scored a ‘4 Good’ in the FSA hygiene ratings.

Open daily 9am – 11pm.

Tassili
134 Hoe Street
Walthamstow
London
E17 4QR

 

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E17 Cook Book Club

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Ever since I heard about Thane Prince’s Cook Book Club in Islington, I thought it was a great idea. Being a bit shy I had put off attending and I wasn’t sure about taking food to complete strangers for their critique – I had a vision of something between Come Dine With Me meets Bake Off! But I had a great evening and plan to go again.

The concept for the Cook Book Club is simple: it’s a foodie social evening, each person brings some food to share and contributes to cover the cost of the venue. The themes or cook books change – I attended the ‘Wild’ night and took a rabbit pate, while other others took foraged fruit jam, bread and potted shrimps.

I raised on Twitter the idea of having a Cook Book Club in Walthamstow and so we launched the E17 Cook Book Club last week at Bygga Bo Cafe. After lots of interest we were worried that it would either be a dismal failure and no one would turn up, or we’d have too many people and run out of space! Thankfully, neither nightmare came true and we had a lovely group of people with a shared interest in food – quite a lot of which turned out to be cakes. Everyone brought along a favourite dish to share and a few bottles of wine helped the evening along.

So we’ve agreed the theme for the next E17 Cook Book Club is ‘Spanish’ and we will be meeting up on Wednesday 28th January 2015 – venue to be decided, everyone is welcome to join us. Again, it will be bring a dish and maybe the recipe or cook book. The plan is to meet every 6 weeks and for it to be … well… fun!

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