Is this the best brunch in West London?- Carpentier & Co

Brunch has solidified itself this year as my favourite meal of the day. It is versatile, modern and acceptable to drink alcohol frugal.

What I also love about brunch is that is makes a great outing for all occasions whether it be a meeting, a date or a catch up with friends. A great brunch place also caters well for vegans, vegetarians of the health conscious.

I’ve become quite a gem finder and my most recent find is one of my favourite so far. A mere stone throw away from my house, hides a quaint cafe called Carpentier & Co just off Pinner High Street in North-West London.

It’s fairly small and cosy, so we were lucky to get a table on a Sunday afternoon. You could almost walk right past the cafe, which looks more like a cool vintage store than anything.

Stepping inside felt like stepping into a house from Alice in Wonderland (if Alice was a rebellious teen from the 50s.) The cafe has so much character which is refreshing with most restaurants opting for minimalistic decor these days.

The first item I tried was their Spanish hot chocolate which is thicker and more chocolatey than your standard hit chocolate. Topped with a thick layer of cream and mini marshmallows, this made the perfect indulgent start to my meal.

As well as the hot chocolate, we ordered two bottles of prosecco. Both were delicious and fairly priced. What is brunch without prosecco?!

We ordered a range of items between us as well as some individual options. These were: The Greek sharing board and the antipasti sharing board. The foods on the sharing boards were of high quality and hand lovingly made.

One of my favourite things about the cafe quite instantly was the fact that everything is made in front of you. I get sensory satisfaction from seeing all the elements of my dish come together.

The star of the visit for me however, was the avocado, halloumi and chilli jam toast drizzled in a balsamic glaze. This was nothing short of divine. It’s always interesting to me how simplicity and quality products can create some of the best dishes you’ve had. This was no different. The saltiness of the halloumi balanced well with sweetness of their homemade chilli jam. The chilli jam deserves its own mention. It had just the right amount of kick; it’s unique blend made me crave more.

As well as the food and the atmosphere, the ladies who work in Carpentier and Co are some of the sweetest women I’ve met along The Food Doll’s journey. They were really helpful and explained everything thoroughly.

Overall, Carpentier and Co easily slides into my list of top venues. Our meal was cheap yet blew some of the more high end, costly brunch spots out of the water.

I can’t wait to re-visit the venue who also offer private hire. You can check them out at http://www.carpentierandco.com

The Daddy Burger- Halloumi, avocado, crispy bacon, smoked cheese and double patties on a brioche bun.

I make my cheat days really count and I always let my cravings lead me. All week, I’ve been craving brioche and mountains of cheese. Last night, I ruffled around my fridge and came up with the ultimate indulgent dish idea.

I rewarded myself and made what I call, The Daddy.

Two succulent beef patties, layered with grilled halloumi, peppered avocado slices, crispy bacon, perinaise, smoked cheese, fresh lettuce and ketchup.

The flavours were absolutely incredible. This isn’t quite a recipe but more of a suggestion that you just have to try.

On some toasted brioche, layer some sliced avocado and sprinkle some fresh black pepper over it. Layer one of your succulent beef patties onto the avocado followed by your some ketchup, melted smokey cheese and your crispy bacon above that.

Add another beef patty and then your grilled halloumi. Add a dollop of perinaise mayo and your fresh lettuce.

Try it!

The Food Doll.

Garlic, Chilli & Lemon King Prawn and Salmon Pasta Recipe.

Seafood and pasta is a match made in culinary heaven. I am beyond obsessed with king prawns and it genuinely confuses me as to how and why they are so delicious. (Not to be dramatic or anything but if there was a choice between my friends and an unlimited supply of prawns, then… I guess my birthday would be a very lonely event.)

My favourite thing about pasta is how flexible and fool proof it is. You can take pasta from basic to luxurious or from healthy to indulgent.

I developed this recipe for seafood lovers. It is simple, healthy and tasty. There is no heavy or sugary sauce which allows the salmon and prawns to be the primary flavour of the dish. It is filling and fresh, not to mention quick. A perfect dish for when you want a full flavoured pasta dish without the guilt.

Ingredients.

  • Salmon fillet (one per person, skin removed)
  • 6-8 raw king prawns (per person)
  • Low fat margarine (or olive oil)
  • 1 spring onion (chopped)
  • 4 Cherry tomatoes (per person)
  • 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • Parsley
  • Lemon juice
  • Red chilli (de seeded, amount dependent on heat preference)
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Cooked pasta (spaghetti or linguine recommended)

Method.

1.     Cut your salmon fillet into equal sized chunks. (Not too small or it will overcook)

2.     Season your salmon and king prawns with some salt and black pepper (If you don’t have raw king prawns, you can use cooked but this makes a big difference to the taste.)

3.     Put some margarine into a frying pan on medium heat and add your spring onion, garlic and chilli. This will become the base to your sauce. Sautee for about 20 seconds.

4.     Add your king prawns followed by your salmon chunks. (These will cook very quickly so make sure you are attentive.)

5.     After a few minutes, once the salmon and king prawns have almost cooked through (not all the way otherwise they will be overcooked by the end), add the chopped cherry tomatoes and stir through gently.

6.      Add some more margarine to the pan and about two tablespoons of lemon juice, and then turn the heat down slightly.

7.     Add a little bit more garlic, some parsley,  salt and pepper and simmer for a couple of minutes until you have a slightly thicker sauce.

8.     Add your hot, cooked pasta to the pan and turn gently so the sauce coats all the pasta. (be careful not to be too heavy-handed as you will break up the salmon)

9.     Serve with some parsley and parmesan sprinkled on top. Enjoy!

I’d love to see how this dish came out for you! Why not post a picture of Instagram or Twitter and tag me @thefooddoll in.

The Food Doll.

Delicious & Easy Pepper Steak Recipe.

Pepper steak is one of the most delicious, yet lesser known signature dishes to come out the Caribbean. West Indian cuisine tends to favour red meat in their dishes, from oxtail to curry goat.

I adore this dish because of how easy it is to make and how well it keeps for meal prep. I actually find it tastes even better the day after as the flavour truly permeates the steak. It’s also one of the quickest dishes to make which suits the working person.

I hadn’t planned to do a recipe post for this. I had only planned to do a tutorial but on my soon to be released YouTube channel (subscribe so you are the first to see my first video once it goes up!), but I was asked so many times, it was only right.

I’ll also be showing a live tutorial of this recipe with some luxurious additions at What’s New Pop Up: Food, on the 11th February which you do not want to miss. Use my code FOODDOLL10 to receive 10% off the final release tickets here:

Ingredients:

  • Steak- pre cut strips or any tender cut such as sirloin, flank etc. 900g
  • 2-3 Bell Peppers- various colours sliced
  • Scotch Bonnet- ½ chopped, de-seeded
  • Soy Sauce- 2 tablespoon
  • Olive Oil- to coat pan
  • Garlic- 1 crushed
  • Crushed black peppercorns- enough to coat
  • Pimento- 5
  • Everyday or oxtail seasoning- 1 tablespoon
  • Black pepper- ½ teaspoon
  • Thyme- 3 fresh sprigs or one teaspoon
  • Stock cube- 1 beef flavoured
  • Honey- 1 tablespoon
  • Onion- 1 small sliced thinly
  • Scallion- 1 diced

Method.

1.    First combine the sliced steak with half of the garlic, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, the seasoning, black pepper, pimento and half of the thyme. Rub this in thoroughly.

2.    Place your crushed pepper corns and a little salt on some cling film and coat the slices in the dry coating and leave to marinade for at least 20 minutes.

3.    Heat some olive oil and brown your steak by rotating the pieces periodically. You’ll need to fry it on all sides to lock the flavour in.

4.    Add the remaining chopped onions, scallion, thyme and garlic, followed by the bell peppers about 1 minute after (bell peppers sprout water so will prevent the onions from caramelising properly if put in at the same time)

5.    Add the remaining soy sauce and honey, then combine thoroughly.

6.     Add about half a cup of water, the scotch bonnet, the stock cube and then cover and cook down until the sauce is thick and the meat is tender.

7.    Serve over white rice or a healthier option such as quinoa. You can also leave this to rest then portion this off into containers for meal prep.

The Food Doll.

Healthy Jamaican Protein Banana Fritters.

The smell of banana fritters being fried in the morning by my mother, is a really nostalgic moment for me.

I adore banana fritters and how easy they are to make. They can be prepared the night before and quickly cooked in the morning.

The only problem, (if there ever could be one with them) is that they can be full of sugar and heavy flour and that’s not conducive to our New Years clean eating promise, is it?

In general, I have found some difficult balancing the amazing dishes of my west-Indian culture with my current fitness goals and hope to adapt my most loved dishes without compromising flavour.

On my journey towards fitness and clean eating, the original recipe would need to remain a treat but for other days, I have experimented and developed this recipe.

Read on to see the ingredients and method.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Alpro coconut and almond milk
  • 1/2 cup Oats (gluten free or normal)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon Skinny syrup 0 calorie 0 sugar vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon Sweet freedom natural fruit syrup
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 2 Over ripened bananas
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder.
  • Protein powder (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon or all spice (optional)

Method.

1. Mash the ripened bananas in a bowl.

2. Beat the eggs and add to the bowl.

3. Add the remaining ingredients until the consistency is thick enough that it drops slowly of a spoon. (It should be much thicker than that of pancake batter and thick enough that it doesn’t spread much when placed into a pan)

4. In a non stick frying pan, spray done low calorie olive oil spray and fry on a low-medium heat. (You have to be patient with these, try not to move them until they are ready to turn and be very steady with your hand as they are less firm than a normal fritter during the cooking stage)

Enjoy these on their own, or with some chopped fruit and a spoonful of healthy cashew or peanut butter.

The Food Doll.

Melt in the Middle Mozzarella Meatballs Recipe.

Italian is by far one of my favourite cuisines. Besides West Indian culture, a lot of my recipes are influenced from the time I’ve spent in Italy and being taught dishes by Italian friends.

I fell in love with homemade meatballs when they were made for me by an Italian friend. They were juicy, bursting with flavour and extremely versatile. I decided to combine this with my love of cheese and finding delightful surprises within my food. Thus was born this recipe.

Read below for the ingredients list and recipe.

  • 1 small pack of minced meat (I used beef but you can use any. For super tasty meatballs, use half beef, half pork.)
  • Blended brioche rolls or hard/stale bread
  • Garlic (2 cloves fresh or 1 teaspoon dry)
  • Rosemary (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Thyme (1 teaspoon)
  • Oregano (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)
  • 1 egg
  • Olive oil spray
  • 1 Finely chopped onion
  • 1 Mozzarella ball.

Method.

Brown the chopped onions in some olive oil spray until translucent.

Drain off the oil and add into a bowl with your mince and seasonings; then mix well with your fingertips so that the mixture incorporates the seasoning.

Add your brioche or bread to a blender/nutri-bullet and blitz until at breadcrumb texture.

Add your brioche breadcrumbs and beaten egg to your mince mixture and combine until into a workable texture with your hands. It should be moist enough to work into ball but not soggy.

Spray some olive oil onto a tray and create meatball shapes by moulding the mixture in the palm of your hands. Ensure that these are equal sized. Try not to handle the mixture too much between your hands.

Once your meatballs have been mounded, cut your mozzarella into equal chunks.

Using your index finger, press down into your meatballs to create a dip.

Place your chopped mozzarella into the grooves of the meatballs and re-roll to enclosure the mozzarella chunk evenly into the mixture.

Finally brown your meatballs in a little olive oil in a frying pan until browned and crispy on the outside. You can either cook your meatballs fully this way or pop then into the oven as I do to finish then cooking.

Enjoy these meatballs by themselves, in a sauce or with pasta. The choice is yours!

The Food Doll. ❤

Pan Fried Sea Bass, Mediterranean King Prawns and Summer Vegetables Recipe.

Sea bass and prawns are two of my most favourite sea foods for not only their delicious taste, but their versatility. You can cook the most glamorous and delicious of meals in next to no time.

I developed this recipe to incorporate everyday items in your fridge and lack of time to create a beautiful but classy dish.

Read on for the method and ingredients.

Ingredients

  • Sea bass fillets (bones removed)
  • King Prawns shell on (cleaned)
  • Red Onion (roughly chopped)
  • Red Chilli (chopped and deseeded)
  • Lemon
  • Fresh coriander
  • Green beans
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Pancetta (optional/chopped)
  • New Potatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Vine ripened tomatoes

Method.

  1. Clean, peel and de-vein your king prawns before seasoning with salt, pepper, lemon and crushed garlic.
  2. Dredge the seasoned prawns in some flour and black pepper.
  3. Fry the prawns in a little olive oil until cooked throughout and crispy before draining on kitchen paper.
  4. Boil your new potatoes whilst partly cooking your green beans and put to one side.
  5. Taking two sea bass fillets per person slash the skin of the sea bass then season with a generous helping of salt and pepper.
  6. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan, add chopped garlic, chilli and the chopped red onion until slightly caramelised.
  7. Add your sea bass in skin down and allow to cook for about 5 minutes until the sides of the skin curl up. Flip the sea bass over and cook for another 90 seconds.
  8. Remove the sea bass and add your par cooked green beans, pancetta (optional) and tomatoes into the pan. Cook until the tomatoes are soft.
  9. On a plate arrange the plate as followed: a bed of the sauce left in the pan, the green beans on top and sea bass fillets above that. Place your new potatoes on the side and your king prawns besides that. Finish off with torn coriander and lemon on top.
  10. Enjoy!

The Food Doll.

Caribbean Vegan Curry Recipe.

I think it’s very easy to hear the word vegan and assume that the dishes may be bland or flavourless.

In the Caribbean, we have a particular type of cuisine called Ital food. Derived from the word vitality, it focuses on natural vegan foods that are bursting with flavour.

One of my favourite vegan dishes to make is a Caribbean Vegan Curry packed with delicious vegetables such as chickpeas, potatoes and tomatoes. This is also a great dish for meal prep as it can be eaten with a range of sides. Not to mention, super easy!

I usually have this with fried plantain, white rice and naan bread. Read below for the full method and ingredient list.

Ingredient List.

  • Chickpeas (1 can)
  • Chopped tomatoes (1 can or fresh equivalent)
  • Scotch bonnet tops (or two tablespoons of scotch bonnet hot sauce)
  • Jamaican sweet pumpkin (optional)
  • One large potato
  • 1 spring onion
  • Half an onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 lime
  • Spinach (half a packet)
  • Hot curry powder or mild curry powder
  • Jamaican curry power
  • All purpose seasoning
  • Thyme
  • Black pepper
  • Soy sauce

Method.

  • Sweat your diced onion and chopped garlic in a frying pan in a tablespoon of oil on a low heat.
  • Add your cubes potatoes and fry until translucent.
  • Add your spring onion and chopped tomatoes. Turn this onto a high heat until the mixture bubbles then turn down to a low heat.
  • Add the curry powders, all purpose, black pepper, thyme, soy sauce and whole scotch bonnet. Bring this to a high heat also for a few minutes then turn down to low and remove the scotch bonnets.
  • Add your chickpeas and cook for a further 10-15 minutes on a low heat.
  • Add your spinach and squeeze half a lime through the curry.
  • Serve with rice, fried plantain and naan bread.

Let me know how you got on with this recipe by sending me pictures on twitter @thefooddoll or tagging #thefooddoll on Instagram.

The Food Doll.

Meal Prep Series- Jerk BBQ Chicken Breast and Rice Peas.

As part of my meal prep and healthy eating series, I am putting together some quick, easy and healthy recipes intended to save time and money.
I work in the city and often work 7 days in a row. It is essential for me to cook lunch in advance to save money and dinner in advance as I don’t always have the time to do this when I get home from a long day.
One of my favourite recipes, is a quick adapted version of classic Jerk chicken and rice and peas. This can altered if you prefer BBQ or sweet chilli chicken by simply changing the sauce base.


Ingredient List:

Chicken:

Chicken breast fillets

Chicken seasoning (dunns river)

Black pepper.

Jerk BBQ sauce (or BBQ or Sweet Chilli).
Rice:

1/5th Scotch bonnet pepper.

2 cups of washed basmati rice.

1/2 tin of red kidney beans with water.

1/2 diced onion.

1 spring onion.

Thyme.

1 Tablespoon of creamed coconut.

A knob of butter or low fat margarine.

Dunns river every day seasoning.

Salt.

Method.

The Chicken.

Ideally, I always try to season any meat a minimum of two hours in advance or overnight however life doesn’t always allow this. 

To get the best flavour out of a short seasoning time, I score my chicken breast diagonally about 3/4 of the way through the fillet. This allows the seasoning and sauce to penetrate the meat whilst cooking and creates wells of flavour when cooked.


I kept the seasoning simple. Using a sheet of foil; add your pepper, chicken seasoning mix, jerk BBQ marinade (or swap with BBQ or sweet chilli if you wish!) add the dry seasonings first then follow this with the sauce.
Bring the foil around the chicken breast to meet in the middle and roll it downwards to seal. Finally, fold the sides upwards to create a pocket. This will allow tender cooking of your chicken breast in the sauce and it’s own juice.

Pop this into the oven at 180 degrees to cook for about 20 minutes.

Leave the rest for a few minutes before opening the foil pocket. (beware of escaping steam). The gravy can be poured straight from the pocket onto the rice.


You can alternate the sauces to create variety. Why not try a smoky barbecue sauce, a sweet chilli base or some garlic paste mixed with lemon juice?

The Rice.

The rice and peas is much simpler than meets the eye. For a traditional dinner, I would use a different recipe with additional ingredients and steps. 

For meal prep, wash two cups of rice with lukewarm water.


Put this into a pot and fill with the 1 1/2 parts water. I used 3 cups of water to my two cups of rice.


They key is to over season the water to hold the flavour. Add all the rice ingredients to the pot except the kidney beans which will be added later.


Bring the rice to the boil on a medium to high heat. Once brought to the boil, stir once cover and turn down to the lowest heat.
After five minutes, add half of the tin of kidney beans and pour in half of the kidney bean water. 

Steam until the rice is fluffy and box into containers for lunch or dinner. 

You can freeze the containers to eat or store in the fridge for a maximum of three days.

Enjoy! 

The Food Doll.

Authentic Jamaican Curry Goat. 

Besides jerk chicken, this is hands down the most popular dish to come out of the Caribbean and for good reason. Being raised in Jamaica has blessed me with some of my country’s most delicious dishes as taught to me by the women of my family.


I decided to share one of my most precious dishes: Curry Goat/Curry Mutton as I know this dish can be tricky for some. Especially because Caribbean cooking rarely use measurements, instead relying on our eye and experience. Nevertheless, here is my recipe for succulent flavourful Jamaican Curry Goat.

Ingredients: 3-4lbs of goat or mutton meat cubes. salt 1.5 teaspoon, pepper 1.5 teaspoon, curry powder 6 teaspoons, pimento seeds (15), thyme (2 teaspoons), scotch bonnet (1, chopped), butter (1 tablespoon), onion (1, chopped), scallions (two sprigs, chopped) water (to cover), carrots (1-2 diced) and potatoes (1-2 diced).
Step one: mix together all the ingredients except the carrots, potatoes and butter. Leave to season overnight or at least 2 hours in the fridge.


Step Two: Add the butter in a Dutch pot or deep pot. Brown your meat on a high heat for a few minutes to seal the juices in by turning periodically.

Step three: Add enough water cover your meat and bring it to the boil.

Step four: Turn the heat down to very low and slow cook for about 2-3 hours. At 45 minutes before end of cooking, add potatoes & carrots. 

Step five: Boil some white rice or rice and peas, fry some plantain and serve with coleslaw.

Tip: The longer this dish sits before serving is generally the better it tastes. I often cook this in the morning or afternoon, then reheat it on the stove whilst preparing the rice. By this time, the meat has truly soaked up the flavour of the sauce and becomes uniquely tasty.

Enjoy!

The Food Doll ❤