Pasta with steak and mushrooms

Though I eat pasta a fair bit, I do like to try different things, though more often then not it is a variation on a theme as is the case with this dish.

Pasta with steak and mushrooms

I cooked the steak in a hot pan, generally in the same way I cook any steak. Hot pan, no oil in the pan, but oil the steak with a good olive oil and season with black pepper (but no salt, as the pancetta used later has more than enough salt to season the dish).

I cook the steak and leave to rest.

While the steak is cooking, cook the pasta of your choice, I used a specialty air dried pasta from the Taste the Difference range from Sainsburys.

After removing the steak from the pan, add some diced onion and pancetta. When the onion has softened and the pancetta cooked, add some button mushrooms. When the mushrooms have cooked add some freshly chopped parsley, a few spoonfuls of creme frache and the steak which should be sliced.

Place the pasta on the plate and spoon the steak and sauce onto the top of the pasta.


Ambassadors at Bloomsbury Part One

I was recently up in London and stayed at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. Staying with friends we had the Christmas dinner at the Number Twelve attached restaurant. I started off with the Chestnut Pasta and had the Ribeye steak for my mains.

The home made chestnut pasta was served with seasonal wild mushrooms and a white butter sauce. I did enjoy this dish, the pasta was cooked well and nice selection of mushrooms.

For my mains I had ribeye of 28 day Donald Russell beef, served with celeriac, braised red onion, wild mushrooms and roast potatoes.

ribeye of 28 day Donald Russell beef

The steak was not the best I’ve had, slightly tough and was certainly not full of flavour compared to others I have eaten. The celeriac was nice as was the onions and mushrooms.

Overall I did enjoy both the started and the main course.

Breakfast at Bloomsbury

I was recently up in London and stayed at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. I generally dislike having breakfast in hotels, as more often than not they are overpriced and though have extensive choice are not really value for money. For example a month or two back I stayed at the Thistle Barbican Hotel and breakfast (though included in my room rate) would have cost you £15.95. For that you would have to queue up unless you got up really early. Having sat down in the Thistle, if you were lucky, the waiting staff would bring you some coffee and toast. Then it was self-service for the cooked breakfast, which was not very inspiring.

So I was well pleased with breakfast at the Ambassadors Hotel in Bloomsbury. It was about the same price as the Thistle, but unlike that place, at the Ambassadors they served you your cooked breakfast at the table, and what an excellent cooked breakfast it was.


Beautifully served, it consisted of a excellent meaty sausage, some very nice grilled bacon, a small bowl of baked beans, grilled (and skinned) tomato, mushroom, bubble and squeak, black pudding and egg. You had a choice of eggs (chicken or duck) and cooked to your liking, I had a poached duck’s egg. It was also garnished with lettuce, not sure about the lettuce.

There was quite a choice of other cooked items as well, such as boiled eggs and kippers.

Along with the cooked breakfast, there was also a (self-service) selection of toast, bread products such as croissant and panettone, fruit, yoghurt, juice, cold meats, cheese and smoked fish.

Overall I was well impressed and would recommend the breakfast, though still not sure about the lettuce.

What a load of crepe!

One of the issues I have with a lot of department store restaurants (and visitor attraction restaurants) is that they cook the food in advance and then keep it warm for hours on end… Now that is possible with some dishes, but with others it just means dried out food.

One of the dishes that you can get at my local John Lewis is freshly cooked to order crepes. They make them as and when needed, rather than make them at 9am in the morning and keep them warm till 6pm in the evening!

We had crepes the last time we were there, one with chilli beef and one with mushroom stroganoff; both were served with salad.

The beef chilli was well cooked and nice and spicy. A little too hot for my tastes, but not excessively so.


The mushroom stroganoff was really nice and went well with the crepes.


The salad though was disappointing, I have had much better salads before at John Lewis, this was in the main lettuce with a tiny bit of red onion and pepper.

Overall for a department store restaurant they were really nice and probably one of the better items available. The fact you can buy wine and beer to go with the crepes makes the place even more attractive as a place to go out and get a quick bite to eat whilst shopping.

Beef Wellington

This is my version of the classic Beef Wellington.

Beef Wellington

I used sirloin steak, which I cooked in a pan until it was cooked medium rare. You can of course cook the steak how you prefer it. Ensure it is cooked to a point before you would call it perfect, as it will cook more in the oven.

I then cut the steak into portions, about two inches square.

The steak was then spread with a mixture of chopped mushrooms and mustard. I used French whole grain mustard.

Using some puff pastry (and I will admit I do buy ready made puff pastry as I have no idea on how to make it).

I cut out some circles, about four inches in diameter. Placed one circle on the baking tray, added the steak. Using beaten egg and a pastry brush I brushed egg around the edges of the circle and placed a second circle of puff pastry on top. This top puff pastry circle was then brushed with beaten egg.

The parcels were then baked in an oven for about ten to fifteen minutes until golden brown.

I served mine with a mix of salads.

Chicken and Irish Sausages

Well I mentioned I had purchased Paul Rankin’s Irish Pork Sausages again.

This time I roasted them in the oven with chicken, red pepper, mushrooms and pancetta.

Chicken and Irish Sausages

I served it with a lemon risotto.

Pan Roasted Chicken

One dish I seem to make much more on a regular basis is pan roasted chicken.

Pan Roasted Chicken

This is an easy and quicker dish than a simple roast chicken in many ways.

Start off with some chicken, either joint a whole chicken, or buy some thighs and legs (they have more flavour).

Place them in a pan with onions, pepper, pancetta, mushrooms, cubes of bread, herbs and a good dash of olive oil.

You can add other things as well such as sweet potato, parsnip, partially cooked potato, tomatoes, sausages and courgettes if you so wish.

Roast in a hot oven for about thirty to forty minutes.

The bread is a key as this will soak up the wonderful juices.

Pasta Salad

I do like a nice pasta salad, especially as it can be eaten instead of bread and adds some substance to a salad based meal.

The problem I have with some you can buy is that they are either too salty or too wet! So where possible I try and make my own.

This is a very simple recipe and you can adjust quantities to taste, how much you want, how much you have in the fridge.

Pasta Salad

Cook some pasta.

You can use any pasta, but have been using and prefer De Cecco’s Fusilli.

While the pasta is cooking, in a frying pan add some olive oil and then add onions and red pepper. After that has cooked for a while add some mushrooms.

Ensure that they are cooked through, add some freshly chopped parsley and turn off the heat.

Now you could add the pepper and mushrooms raw, but I prefer to have them cooked.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and then to stop it cooking further and to cool it down rinse well with cold water.

Put the cooked pasta in a bowl, add a splash of olive oil for flavour and to stop it sticking. Note always add oil to cooked and drained pasta to stop it sticking. Adding it the boiling water does not do this as the oil floats on the top of the water.

To the cooked pasta add some mayonnaise and some creme frache.

Then add the cooked mixture.

Stir with a spoon until the rice and cooked mixture is evenly coated. As with a lot of salads though you could serve this straight away, it will improve if you leave it in the fridge for a few hours.