I’m in love with the cookbooks from The River Cafe in London. Actually, it would be better to say that I’m in love with The River Cafe. Those who know me well, know that I’m not much for celebrity chefs and their cookbooks and I do not usually aspire to getting that nearly impossible reservation at their restaurants. The River Cafe is the exception. I’m not even sure where I originally heard about this London spot that opened twenty years ago in an area of the city that was definitely off the beaten path. I’ve had their first cookbook for years and I enjoy using it today, as much as when it came out thirteen years ago. It’s Italian cooking, like Italians would do it, although it comes to us from two British women-Ruth Rogers and Rose Grey.
As I sit here writing this, I can’t believe that I really had dinner at this famed restaurant. I’m lucky to have a my wonderful British friend, B. who take care of phoning to secure that coveted reservation. Our evening there is a story in itself-the food exceptional, our travels to get there, laughable. I will save it for another time.
The recipe that I tried tonight is from their second book. I have to admit that I’ve never cooked monkfish before tonight. I know that for a while it was called “the poor man’s lobster”, but I wouldn’t exactly call it an inexpensive fish (the customer next to me at the fish market was buying shark for $4.61 per pound, while the monkfish was $15.95). This was easy, delicious and a light entree.
2 pounds monkfish
2 tablespoons chopped fennel fronds
3 tablsepoons extra virgin olive oil
12 Pancetta slices
Cut the monkfish into 16 cubes, 1-1/4 inches square. Put the monkfish into a bowl with the fennel and the olive oil and season with salt. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Heat the barbeque, grill pan or broiler.
Fold the pancetta slice into about the same size as the monkfish. Thread the monkfish onto skewers, alternating with the pancetta, using 4 pieces of fish and 3 pieces of pancetta per skewer.
Gril the spiedini carefully, turning from time to time, for about 8 minutes.
Serve with lemon. Serves:6.
This exercise in delving into my huge cookbook collection has been great and I look forward to weeks full of new recipes.
P.S. The River Cafe was also where Jamie Oliver (whose food and show I adore) was discovered while working in the kitchen when a film crew came in to record a segment on the restaurant and its owners!