Chez Pascal's Wurst Kitchen: Hope Street, Providence

May 30, 2014

My love of food in America is pretty well documented at this point, so I feel I'm allowed to make a criticism. Sorry America but you do not make good sausage- even a number of your fellow countrymen have agreed with me on this point.

Sausage in America can mean a number of things- it can be breakfast sausage in the form of a patty or links, it can be the type you might find on pizza or in a pasta dish, it could be a hot dog or frankfurter style. Each have their place, but none is up there with a good old British banger.

I try not to find the 'American version' of English foods, homesickness calls for a little English style cooking now and then but I feel when in Rome (or Rhode Island) live and eat as the locals do.

Feeling a bit sausage bereft (and spending some time looking up sausage stuffing apparatus online- don't do this by the way- scary) I remembered that we now live in the same neighborhood as a place cooking up feasts from another sausage loving country. Germany.

Though tucked into a cosy corner of the French restaurant, Chez Pascal, The Wurst Kitchen (ironically it's one the the best kitchens in Providence in my opinion) cooks delicious wurst and Germanic style dishes in a modern American style.

The menu is mostly made up of appetizers, small plates and sausages so rather than your traditional three courses you are encouraged to try a range of things. In our case that meant ordering pretty much everything.

We had some delicious devilled eggs to start, the yolk whipped into a creamy mousse with chorizo/chouricco spices and topped with a fresh, lightly dress slaw. I don't love egg white on it's own but the spices of the chouricco yolk were nicely balanced by the milky, gelatinous egg white.

The bread was doused in butter and fennel then warmed in the oven until it was lovely and crisp, the crust roasted and glistening with rich, salty butter.

I thought I would try to temper the meat-fest with some greens so ordered the broccoli rabe which was wilted but still had a nice crunch to it, and covered with a sweet bacon jam. I sometimes find broccoli rabe a bit bitter so the sweetness of the savoury bacon jam was a nice combination.

One of the specials was pork croquettes. Served incredibly hot straight from the bar/pass at which we were sitting, Chris, the simply brilliant chef, warned us to let them cool off before diving in. We couldn't wait too long before getting stuck in, and extremely hot though they were it was worth the 'hooo-ing and haaahing' and the look of 'I did tell you' from Chris as they were delicious.

The Wurst Kitchen is tucked into the front of Chez Pascale and consists of two large communal tables plus a hightop bar which overlooks the small open kitchen. We, on the great advise of a friend, requested seats at this bar and were rewarding with a brilliant cooking show along with our food.

For those not dining in, there is the Wurst Window- where you can grab the lunchtime, bun bound versions of the wurst dishes on the hoof.

For the main event we chose the weisswurst with curried onion and dijon sauce. Now this is a sausage. Meaty, firm, and full of flavour. The texture wasn't grainy or fatty, and didn't disintegrate away from the skin when it was cut. I have fallen in love with a sausage.

Fortunately the Wurst Kitchen also sell sausages by the packet. Pre-cooked, they can be enjoyed as a cold-cut or grilled to give them the intensified flavour that we enjoyed.

Completely sated by the pork feast we had just devoured, we did not need to peruse the dessert menu. But this was only because Chris had told us we HAD to have the pear cake topped with blue cheese.
I adore the pairing of very savoury with very sweet and blue cheese and pear is a particular favourite- check out my blue cheese scones with pear jam recipe!

Like everything else at Chez Pascal's Wurst Kitchen the dessert was incredible. The team at the kitchen are lovely, the atmosphere special but relaxed and the flavours has certainly given me something to think about. That and the package of wurst I'm taking home with me.

Chez Pascal's Wurst Kitchen, 960 Hope Street, Providence, Rhode Island.


Pan fried cod with pea, mint and lemon salsa

May 28, 2014

It's been a long couple of weeks of decorating, packing and moving along with both of our jobs seeming to throw EVERYTHING at us all in one go. Needless to say we are both feeling pretty wrung out and in need of some r&r and wholesome nourishment.

The local Hope Street Farmers Market has return to Lippitt Park for the Summer season opening with it's Wednesday afternoon session between 3-6pm. I hopped in the car post work and mad dashed it up to the park in the hope of snagging some local fresh fish for a much needed injection of goodness.

Though the Wednesday offering of stalls tends to be a bit lighter than the Saturday session, I was delighted that 'The Local Catch' pitch up on a Wednesday. I had the intention of grabbing a pair of fillets for dinner but was so seduced by the ice filled tray of local fish and seafood that I ended up coming away with Cod, Blackfish and Scallops- and I don't regret a thing!

Tonight is the turn of the Cod, feeling a little homesick (as we always do when we're a bit run down) I wanted to do a play on the British favourite of fish and chips but in a lighter healthier way. The weather has also been teasingly Summery so a full on fried dinner just didn't feel right with all this sunshine.

I alighted on the idea of pan fried cod with pea salsa (plus a roasted potato salad which will be on the blog soon).


2 fillets of Cod- though this dish would be lovely with any white fish or even some salon.
1 cup of peas- mine were frozen, my thoughts on frozen verses fresh peas and sweetcorn can be found here if you're inclined to read
The juice of half a lemon
A small bunch of fresh mint leaves
Salt and Pepper


Defrost the peas by rinsing them under hot running water, don't boil them in a pan or anything, you want them to be unfrozen but not warm or hot.
Squeeze over the juice of the lemon half then add in finely chopped mint. My small bunch of mint amounted to a generous pinch from the bunch I had on the windowsill and ended up as a good heaped tablespoon of fine choppings.

Scrunch the peas with your hands to mix the ingredients together, by srunching you will creak up some pea whilst leaving some whole creating a nice texture. Unlike the traditional mushy peas, which I use a stick blender to make, you don't want to create a paste, you want a salsa constancy- the lemon and pea juice keeping everything moist and mixed while the scrunched and whole peas give a bite.

Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside whilst you cook the fish. If you are making this in advance pop it in the fridge, other wise leave it at room temptreture. I don't like it to be fridge-cold over the top of the hot fish as it cools the fish too much.

I cook the fish really simply with a little butter in a medium hot pan for about 3-4 minutes each side (depending on the thickness of your fish) the fillets I had weren't super thick so this was more than enough to cook my fish through and give it a few little golden touches here and there.

Let the fish rest in the turned out pan, off the heat for a minute then douse it with the butter and pan juices before serving up. Heap a generous portion of the fresh pea salsa over the fillet and pair with chips or roasted potato salad (coming soon!).


Blackfish with Garlic Beurre Blanc and Fiddleheads

May 26, 2014

Having stocked up on some fishy delights from 'The Local Catch' at the Hope Street Farmers Market recently I've been enjoying thinking about light, summery fish dishes.

After a winter of heavy sauces and comforting food it's lovely to be playing with fresh, zingy flavours and interesting new ingredients.

I've not have Blackfish before, it was described as a firm white fish much the same texture as Cod or Haddock but with a slightly stronger flavour.
I missed out on cooking with Fiddleheads last year, I discovered them late in the season then embarked on a mad dash between various markets to hunt some down but, alas, I missed out on some Fiddlehead homecooking. Seeing them in the market on a post work meander through the aisles I pounced in a manner that was probably disproportionate to my prey.

I watched Julie and Julia recently, a fantastic film about Julia Child and a modern day food blogger's quest to cook her way through "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Child's awe-like, almost wordless description of how delicious Buerre Blanc is, had inspired me to try making it for myself. With the Blackfish's flavour being described as being more robust that Cod I thought it would be the parfect pairing, allowing each to shine, with the richness being cut though with the fresh, lemon seasoned Fiddleheads.

Ingredients: Serves 2

2 Blackfish fillets
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp dry Vermouth
1 Tbsp grated garlic
1 stick of salted butter (about 115g)
Salt and pepper
2 cups fiddleheads
Juice of half a lemon


The Blackfish has lovely soft, pink flesh but the fillets I had were REALLY boney. Its the first time i've cooked with Blackfish so I don't know if this is normal or if I just had a really boney pair of fillets. The bones, however, are thick and strong and didn't break when I plucked them out.

I've found that the best tool for plucking out thick bones in fish is a pair of plier- proper DIY, think nosed pliers. You will want to sterilise them in the dishwasher or by giving them a really tough scrub with hot water and soap them rinsing them with boiling water. I also skinned the fillets as I wanted a lovely soft fillet rather than one with a crisped skin.

The fish will cook quite quickly so it's best to get your sauce started first so everything ends up being ready at the right time.

Finely grate the garlic into a saucepan and add the vinegar and Vermouth. Bring to a simmer and leave to reduce until the garlic is only just covered by the the liquid. Chop the cold butter into  about 10 chunks, remove the pan from the heat and add a piece of butter to the vinegar/Vermouth mix. Whisk it in until it's completely melted and mixed, continue to add the chunks of butter piece by piece, waiting for the butter to melt before adding the next. You want to keep whisking through the process so that the butter and vinegar/Vermouth emulsify together to create a thick creamy sauce.

Once all the butter has been whisked in, pop the pan back on a very low heat to thicken the sauce until it thickly coats the back of a spoon and is thick and glossy.

Fiddleheads, for those that don't know- which included be prior to moving over here, are fern shoots that are tightly wound spirals of tender fern stems that taste like a green/string bean, spinach stalk, asparagus hybrid.

I saute the Fiddlehead with a little butter, salt and pepper. After about 10 minutes of sauteing on a low heat, when the fiddleheads are tender I throw up the heat and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon. Let the juice sizzle away for about 30 seconds then serves up or hold in the pan off the heat until you are ready.

Simple pan cook the fish with a little olive oil, salt and better until it's just cooked through and a little golden.

Serve the fish on a bed of the Fiddleheads with a few spoonfuls of the beurre blanc over the fish. It does down really well with a cold glass of white wine!


The Ivy Tavern: Hope Street, Providence

May 23, 2014

My inaugural 'Eating Out' post!

The Ivy is our new local, a fact I think I like more than the actual house itself. We sublet for a very short period, when we first arrived last year, on Lewis Street in Hope and discovered The Ivy just before we moved to closer to Downcity.

Now we are back in the neighbourhood we are making a concerted effort to achieve the holy grail of all bar goers: having the barman know your 'usual'. Normally a 'usual' would be a beverage of some sort. In our case it's going to be Korean style chicken wings, but I digress.

Tucked into the street between the kitchen store 'Stock' and 'Pizzico' Italian restaurant, The Ivy's tile hung double fronted facade is marked by day with it's hung sign and by night with it's fairy light strung windows. The Ivy isn't about a gimmicky interior or chi-chi furniture, it's about decent home cooked food and great drinks.  

The atmosphere has been inviting, relaxed and inclusive every time we've been in- with customers ranging in age, style and order preference each and every time we've popped by. Though I've not been be on my own I would happily stop in for a drink or some food alone, equally with a group of girlfriends or my parents. The Ivy is good, simple and honest.

My go to beer is a Narragansett larger, both because it's on draft and thus I can get a pint and because my American friends have teased me mercilessly about my naive love of Miller High Life.  Charlie is better at sampling different guest beers and asking for recommendations and so went for the Foolproof that was on draft. Both were crisp, refreshing and didn't last long- that being said our empty glasses didn't last long either as the server was eagle eyed and offering another round at the appropriate moment.

Having eating at the Ivy a fair few times we've got our order down to a T. That's not to say there aren't other great dishes on the menu but these are our favourites for a relaxed quick dinner to go with a few pints.

We ordered up the Korean chicken wings, garlic fries and calamari. I also got an extra portion of the accompanying coleslaw with the wings because: A) those wings have a kick b) it's also really good.

The food was quick (no doubt helped along by the smooth flow of Gansett and Foolproof on the part of our sever) and was cooked fresh to order in the not-quite-open-but-you-can-see-the-chef-cooking-your-dinner kitchen behind the bar.

Hands down the best chicken wings in Providence. I'll willingly try the others but they've got stiff competition here. It's a combination of the flavour and the texture. The wings are fried until really crisp in a light coating that not a batter or breading but crisps more than simple chicken skin would. Doused in a sweet and spicy sticky sauce that's just on the right side of 'it burns, it BURNS', I would happily eat these wings and only these wings for the rest of my stint Stateside. Teamed with the crisp, not overly rich coleslaw there is literally nothing about this dish that should be changed. Ever.

The garlic fries are, again, crisp on the outside, fluffy within and piled high with friend garlic. The garlic is fried just before the point of turning bitter so it's flavour is really savoury and the garlic bits themselves are crispy and crunchy and don't leave you needing desperately to brush your teeth.

The calamari was a new one for us this time, we know we need three apps shared between us for a good sized dinner and the calamari caught my eye. Knowing this is a State tradition (so much so that there is considerable weight behind the issue of naming it as the State's official appetizer!) and having tried it elsewhere in the city I was confident it would be a winner. For me it had fallen over the edge of 'it burns, it BURNS' and the accompanying chipotle mayonnaise just confirmed the oral inferno, but that's personal preference. I'd have probably teamed it with a lemon aioli to cool it down a bit so you may well see that coming out of my kitchen soon!

With a final tab of just over $50 for four pints and three large apps that over filled us I've got to wonder if there is anything wrong with this place? Atmosphere, check. Great food, check. Brilliant service, check. Good beer, check. Value for money, check. Korean style chicken wings, check mate.

The Ivy Tavern
758 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906
(401) 421-4489


Eating Out

May 21, 2014

We eat out a lot, we've always enjoyed food and dining out but since moving to America our opportunities for doing so have increased tremendously. That's not a criticism of British restaurants or eateries in any way but we've found here that eating out is both far more affordable and far more usual. 

Back home you might go to the pub after work for a few beers or meet friends in a bar for drinks on a Friday night, though drinking still happens it's almost always accompanied by food. In most cases bars in Providence MUST serve some sort of food as a condition of their license. As such food is a huge part of the social scene here and with more places to grab a bite, the range of dishes, styles and flavours is vast!

It might seem at odds that a enthusiastic home cook would admit to eating out and getting take out as much as I do, but I love trying new things- or the same thing in different styles. It sparks my imagination for flavour combinations, makes me want to figure out how to do something myself or makes me miss dishes and flavours that are missing from the American vernacular. Would a writer read other author's works? Would a designer look to fellow designers ideas for inspiration? Certainly!

I'm lucky to get to visit some awesome restaurants, bars and cafes with my work, and our new neighbourhood is packed with great delis, local markets and ethnic stores plus even more restaurants and bars. I want to write about them because they form such a huge part of my food, flavour and ingredient education, both as an untrained home cook and a British transplant.


Put a fork in me...

May 20, 2014

It's taken three weekends of hard work, another of lugging boxes and very square furniture up some very narrow stairs, another day of arrange the contents of those boxes into some semblance of order but we are finally done. And this is my beautiful kitchen.

As I've said before, we are renting this apartment so it's been a balancing act between creating a workable, beautiful, functional kitchen and not spending copious amount of money we are never going to see again. I think we've achieved the former and the online banking app appears to suggest we're not too far off the latter.

We owned the large Ikea Stenstorp Island and the Norden gate leg table along with some (previously horrible brown) Walmart folding metal chairs we spray painted. The fridge and (gas- yes!) stove, which are in really good nick, came with the apartment along with a whole lot of orangey wainscot panelling- that was what we had to work with.

I knew I wanted a preparation 'station' alongside the cooker but originally thought I would reposition the stove into the middle of the wall and keep everything symmetrical with a couple of new smaller Ikea islands either side. But totting up what that was going to cost and coming to realise that the width of the stove and our existing island were exactly, and I mean exactly, the width of that wall I felt that the design Gods were suggesting otherwise.

Adding cabinets was also a must, we have a lot of cupboard space in the pantry (still to be fancied up) but that wasn't really where I wanted to keep heavy traffic items I'd be using regularly such as flour, pasta, spices etc etc. It all starts getting a bit exciting money wise when you considered fitted kitchen cabinets. Even the budget ranges at Ikea, Home Depot and Lowes were coming in at over $100 for a slim wall cabinet, and I wanted two doubles. 

America's love of cavernous closets saved the day on this one. ClosetMaid produce a huge line of closet and laundry organising units, cupboard and shelves which are simple, plain and (especially in the Target sale) cheap. 

My two double wide units cost me $24.48 each. No that's not a typo. With a few bracket fixings from Home Depot plus some heavy duty wall plugs, screws and my handy new drill, they make for excellent, simple, economical kitchen units.
I'm planning on replacing the handles with something nicer and putting some moulded trim along the top but I imagine I will still be planning to do that in a year's time so we shall see.

The remaining space above the stove houses the microwave shelf and will soon have two more shelves above for cooking books and various kitchen bits and bobs.

With some fresh flowers on the table, potted herbs on the window sill and a brand new butter dish on the island (a Vine household must) I'm starting to feel a bit like baking.


My Kitchen

May 12, 2014

Whilst this is not a DIY blog I feel I owe anyone who likes to see new blog posts and recipes an explanation for my lack of activity recently. 
We've moved home to a fantastic new place that needs a bit of TLC. ESPECIALLY the kitchen. I'm not really sure you can call the room that was there previously a kitchen as it was void of anything remotely kitchen related aside from the oven.

The second picture is of our progress so far, some of it cosmetic some of it practical. There is a new tiled splash back to the main work area, my stand alone worktop unit will be slotting in here. The cupboards above are actually by ClosetMaid and designed for laundry rooms or (giant American) walk in wardrobe spaces. They are perfectly sturdy, with some heavy duty fixings to mount them to the wall and some bolts to hold them together, they will be a perfect pantry!
I'm going to finish off the tops with a piece of moulded trim or short skirting board, the cupboards are actually upside down as I wanted the flush side to be the side at the bottom. There is a nice recess on the (now) tops of the units so I can tuck some fairy lights into the voids to create some nice ambient lighting.

On the subject of lighting, there is only one single ceiling mounted light which is operated by a pull cord, not ideal. I'm going to fiddle about and design a cabling system of extension cords, power strips and hidden lighting to try and make something a bit more user friendly. This will include a switch by the main door to operate the over cupboard and some under cupboard lighting, plus I've plans for something similar that can be easily flicked on when you enter through the back door.

I'd have preferred to have installed a cook hood over the stove but seeing as there is an apartment on top of us and I can't see the point in the fan driven, air recycling hoods this would be purely cosmetic and the space can be put to better use. The plan is to have shelves above the microwave shelf for cookbooks, spices etc. 

We're booking the moving truck for Saturday and have Monday off work for Memorial day so hopefully a three day weekend will give us enough time to move in our things, potter about, put things in place then make a home cooked meal!

The finished product (and some recipes!) coming really, really soon!


Egg, Bacon, Artichoke and Rosti Supper Bowl

May 01, 2014

So, work keeps getting in the way of some decent blog dedication.

I follow a number of blogs and get a bit stroppy when new posts are not forthcoming, I then remind myself how neglectful a blogger I am and feel a bit embarrassed.

Same old story: work, life and a billion other things going on. That's not to say i'm not cooking, I try not to be a recipe snob, after all my whole philosophy about cookery blogging is that i'm not a professional, I have no desire to be one, i'm just a home cook. This being said, i'm not sure a blog populated with a lot of repeated old staples would make for interesting reading!

This is a quick supper whip up from last week when I rolled in from work (networking...ok, drinking) and couldn't face ordering a pizza because the last time I called he referred to me by name in a manner of over familiarity only an over reliance on junk food can produce.

Ingredients: Serves 1

1 medium sized red skinned potato
1 small clove of garlic
3 or 4 strips of bacon (American streaky bacon so Brits use 2 or 3 normal slices)
Preserved artichoke in oil, I used the equivalent of one whole choke cut into quarters
1 egg
Salt and pepper


Start by grating your potato in a bowl, I don't peel it (just make sure it's clean) but you can if you wish. Sprinkle over a little salt and let it stand for about 5 minutes. This won't be long enough for the air to make the potato go brown but it will allow time for the salt to encourage out some excess liquid.

Squeeze the grated potato over a sieve in the sink to squish out as much liquid as you can, lay out the grated potato on some paper towel whilst you get your pan ready.

Use a small frying pan to make your rosti, heat it up with a little of the artichoke preserving oil. Before it get's very hot, grate in your garlic, you want it to sizzle gently but not colour too quickly- you want a nice savoury, soft garlic flavour, over-cooking it too quickly will result in a harsh acrid flavour.

When the garlic has sizzled for a few minutes, pile in your potato and press it down into the pan. You want to compress it so that as it cooks it knits together to make a 'cake'. Turn the heat up a little to get a good crispy crust on your rosti, fry for about 3 or 4 minutes then turn the heat to a low/medium to allow the rosti to cook through with out burning. You will need to flip it over midway through cooking- at about the 10 minute mark, keep prying the rosti up to see if it's browned and if the strands of potato have knitted together before you flip!

In another pan fry your chopped bacon in a little of the artichoke oil until it's cooked but not crisp, throw in the artichoke (they don't need to cook just warm through) and continue to fry until the bacon crisps.

Turn out your rosti on to a hot plate and pile your bacon and artichoke on top, return the bacon pan to the stove and use it to fry your egg. The rosti, bacon and artichoke will stay warm whilst the egg cooks if you pop them on a hot plate. If you have no hot plates (or have gotten to this point having not heated up a plate in preparation... sorry!) then pop it all in the oven on a low heat whilst you fry your egg. A fried egg takes moments to cook so it's not a huge exercise in culinary timing!

When cooked pile this on top of your rosti, bacon and artichoke and enjoy!