Another visit to Prezzo

It took five years from my first visit to Prezzo to visit it again. This time is was less than month since my previous visit to go there again.

Having had an enjoyable meal at their branch in Euston, this visit was a family celebration at the branch in Weston-super-Mare. This is quite a new branch, less than a year old. We arrived early evening on a Saturday, or you could have even described it as late afternoon. It’s a nice smart clean restaurant with a variety of seating options available. We were quite a large party so we just had some tables pushed together. We were given a warm welcome and we sat down perused the menu. Unlike a lot of places these days, their set menu is available all the time, seven days a week and it is quite a good set menu at that.

I started with the Caprese Salad, tomato and burrata cheese with basil pesto and balsamic glaze.

Caprese Salad

The tomato was ripe and the burrata cheese was fresh and tasty. A really nice starter.

I had the Fiorentina Pizza, a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and an egg.

Fiorentina Pizza, a classic pizza with spinach, olives, mozzarella and an egg.

This was a very tasty pizza, I really liked the toppings and the base was cooked well.

I wasn’t going to go with a desert, but I did fancy a coffee, looking over the dessert menu, I went with the Affogato. Two scoops of vanilla ice cream served with a double shot of espresso and a lemon cannoli. Wasn’t too enamoured with the cannoli, but did enjoy the espresso over ice cream.

Overall a tasty meal. The service did leave a little bit to be desired, initially it started off well and our food arrived in a timely manner. However we did get asked three times if we wanted dessert, seemed they were desperate to provide us with dessert. They also provided us with the wrong bill. Ah well, it was a tasty meal.

Airside Small Plates

I am not a great fan of airport food, usually over priced, badly cooked and service can leave e a lot to be desired. I don’t know about you, but I try and avoid eating there if I can.

Having said all that I knew that for a variety of reasons that I would be eating at Glasgow Airport, so as you can imagine I had quite low expectations.

After waiting ages at one place and not getting served, I left and went to the Caledonia.

Not really wanting a sandwich and actually not really hungry decided to go with a couple of small plates and a side salad.

My first choice was the crab mayonnaise with flatbread soldiers. This was described as crab & chive mayonnaise with a stack of atbread soldiers & a lemon wedge.

crab & chive mayonnaise with a stack of atbread soldiers & a lemon wedge

The crab mayonnaise was nice, but only just about tasted of crab. The flat bread was toasted, but for some reason was covered in dry oregano.

My second choice was garlic prawns with flatbread. The menu describes this as king prawns roasted in garlic & herb sauce, olive oil & fresh lemon, served with flatbread.

king prawns roasted in garlic & herb sauce, olive oil & fresh lemon, served with flatbread

The prawns which I thought would be roasted came swimming in garlic butter, literally swimming, there was more melted butter than prawns. It came with flatbread too, and it was also covered in dry oregano.

The salad was small, consisting of salad leaves and tomatoes with a lemon and basil dressing.

salad leaves and tomatoes with a lemon and basil dressing

Overall it was something of a disappointment, and for the cost of each dish in excess of five pounds, I thought it was overpriced.

Barbecued Chicken

barbecuing over charcoal

I have done this method of barbecuing a whole chicken a few times now and each time, the end result has been delicious tender moist chicken full of smokey and chargrilled flavours.

The first part of the process is to spatchcock the chicken. I don’t have a pair of poultry shears so I usually use a big cook’s knife to cut out the backbone. I also don’t use skewers to secure the legs or keep it flat, but you just have to be more careful when turning the chicken.

I usually marinade the chicken, lemon and parsley (with some diced onion) I find works well. Adding some white wine adds more depth of flavour.

As for the barbecue, the key here is to avoid cooking the chicken over a direct heat. After lighting the charcoal, once the flames have died down, and they are covered in grey ash you can start to cook. However the first thing you need to do is to move the coals to the sides of the barbecue leaving the middle empty, the chicken will be placed over this empty zone. Moving the coals can be tricky as they will be really hot, but the aim is to create a circle of hot coals around a clear area. This will allow the chicken to be cooked via in-direct heat without overcooking or burning.

The chicken is placed down on the grill carcass side down. I then use a wok lid to cover the chicken. This creates an oven effect and helps to stop the chicken drying out. You could of course if you have one use the lid on your barbecue.

barbecuing over charcoal

Turn the chicken after 15-20 minutes and cook the skin side. Take care when turning the chicken, especially if you like me didn’t use skewers. Add any remaining marinade to baste the chicken. Re-cover with the wok lid.

Check the chicken is cooked and then remove from the barbecue.

We served it with salad and some crispy fried (well actually roasted) potatoes. No I don’t add any barbecue sauce!

Another time I am thinking of using a similar method to cook beef or pork.

Whole Chicken Barbecued

Whole Chicken Barbecue

Cooking a whole chicken on a barbecue is not a simple process, you can have undercooked on the inside and burnt and charred on the outside. I used this process to cook a whole chicken.

The first thing I did was prepare the chicken by spatchcocking and then marinated with lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, parsley and some olive oil.

Though you can cook a spatchcocked chicken directly on the barbecue, it can be quite challenging to ensure that the chicken is properly cooked, through, without burning or overcooking the outside. Part of the issue is that it is difficult to control the temperature of the barbecue unlike a normal grill. The key process is to recreate some aspects of a “normal” oven as opposed to the usual way of using a barbecue as a grill.

After the coals have reached cooking temperature, move them to the sides of the barbecue, so that when the spatchcocked chicken is placed on the grill, it is not over direct heat.

The chicken I placed it “inside” down with the skin side on top. The chicken was then covered, I used a wok lid, but this is where a kettle barbecue comes into its own.

The end result was a properly cooked chicken, which was moist and succulent and full of flavour.

Leek and Lemon Risotto

Leek and Lemon Risotto

I seem to have been making paella a lot recently, so for a change I decided to make a risotto. As with paella, having the right kind of rice is critical to get that creamy risotto texture. I have used arborio, though this time I used carnaroli.

In a large frying pan, I put some olive oil and some butter, to which I added the zest of a lemon and some chopped garlic. I then added onion, red pepper and leeks.

These were cooked off in the pan until they were soft. I then added the carnaroli rice, this I coated in the oil, butter, onions and leeks. You can tell how far to go before adding the stock, the rice should be at what is called the “popping stage”. Now if you have some white wine, this would be an ideal time to add some, otherwise add some stock.

Don’t add all the stock, the key to success with a risotto, is adding stock a little at a time and lots of stirring.

After twenty minutes and just before serving, first check the rice is cooked, I then added the juice of a lemon and some parmesan cheese. You could add some rocket if you wanted, this adds flavour and colour. Freshly chopped parsley would be another nice idea.

I served the risotto garnished with lemon slices.

Grilled Lemon Chicken

Grilled Lemon Chicken

The original plan was to roast the chicken I had bought and have it for lunch, but the plans were scuppered as we ran out of time. So for lunch we had salad, cheese and bread.

So though I could have roasted the chicken for the evening, wanting to save time, I decided though to cut it into portions and grill it.

Portioning a whole chicken is not difficult, I cut the legs off first (and depending on the size will then portion them into a drumstick and the thigh). I will then cut the wings off, usually with a proportion of the breast meat (so to make it a proper portion). I prefer to leave the bone on the breast, as it helps to stop the meat from drying out, especially when roasting or grilling.

If I had a little more time I would have marinaded it, but as there was no time, I brushed some olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and some dried mixed herbs onto the chicken and placed it under a medium-hot grill.

As it cooked I brushed the chicken with the oil and lemon juice and turned it a few times too.

It was really nice, it reminded me how much I enjoy grilled (and barbecued) chicken. I served the chicken with steamed vegetables and a lemon risotto.

Lemons

Lemons

I like lemons and really find them an useful ingredient for many different recipes. For example I really like to make a Lemon and Rocket Risotto which adds a great sharp taste to the creamy cheesy rice.

I also use it often as a way of marinading chicken to add flavour and tenderise it. I will often add the lemon to the roasting tray or add them to the barbecue coals.

They also work well as a garnish adding flavour to dishes such as paella. Placing quartered lemons on top of the paella as you serve allows the diners to add some lemon juice if they want to.

I prefer to buy unwaxed lemons as the zest is essential for many dishes to add additional flavour.

More Lemon Slices

These are my lemon slices just after they come out of the oven.

Baking Lemon Slices

Having now made them a few times, I can make them quite fast, though still have to follow the recipe carefully.

I am thinking next time of trying to make them with oranges instead.

Lemon Slices

Made some lemon slices at the weekend using this recipe.

Having now made them a few times, I can make them quite fast, though still have to follow the recipe carefully.

The biscuit base works well and can be used with other things. Getting the lemon custard right is key for these. The recipe calls for a lot of lemons, this time I only used two, but it seemed to work just as well. If you double the sugar, you get a more meringue type texture to the lemon custard.

They also work best served chilled. You can dust them with icing sugar, however I miss this step unless I am serving them to guests as storing them can then get messy.

Lemon Bars

Last week I made Toffee Nut Slices using this recipe. In the same copy of BBC Good Food Magazine and using the same base was a recipe for Lemon Bars.

These are simple to make and really tasty and lemony. Someone who ate mine described it a bit like eating lemon meringue pie.