We’re huge fans of sharing dishes here on YOU magazine (otherwise, we’re always tempted to steal food off our dining companions’ plates!) so we were very happy when Soho favourite Blanchette – which offers delicious French tapas-style plates – opened a sister bistro in East London, Blanchette East, earlier this autumn.
Launched by three brothers – Maxime, Yannis and Malik Alary – and named after their mother, the décor is inspired by the Parisian Belle Epoque era and features a wonderfully colourful mural of a reclining nude (a reinvention of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s painting La Grande Odalisque), as well as stylish copper beakers, brown glazed earthenware and ornate glass lanterns, all softened by greenery in crocheted plant holders. We recommend sitting at the marble-topped bar, where you can get a great view of Brick Lane too.
Unlike its sister restaurant, the menu at Blanchette East – created by executive head chef Tam Storrar – incorporates more Southern French and North African influences. Highlights include the Monkfish with smooth smoked aubergine puree on chargrilled courgette slices along with soft baby tomatoes baked in oil, as well as the rich Lamb tagine with apricot and almonds, which was perfectly accompanied by the Saffron couscous, its creamy yoghurt dotted with bright pomegranate seeds and a sprinkling of fresh parsley. For comfort food with a kick, we recommend the Baked Moroccan eggs with peppers and flat bread – a gorgeous blend of soft eggs and peppers blended with dukkah – Egyptian crushed spices. Also, for a quick bite, the perfectly crisp Frites and béarnaise (a nice twist on the usual mayonnaise) is a simple and satisfying dish.
For pudding, it was back to a Parisian vibe with the perfect Dacquoise – layers of crisp pastry with a chocolate and hazelnut filling and a dollop of crème fraiche ice cream on the side…
Here Blanchette East share their delicious recipe for Moroccan eggs….
Moroccan eggs with homemade Dukkah
For the Dukkah
50g white sesame seeds
50g black sesame seeds
50g peeled walnuts
50g blanched hazelnuts
50g flaked almonds
50g ground cumin
50g ground coriander
15g Za’atar herbs
1 Toast the white and black sesame seeds, cumin and coriander in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
2 Toast the nuts using the same method and pan.
3 Crush the nuts with a pestle & mortar or blender, then mix with the toasted sesame seed mixture, Za’atar herbs and salt.
4 Set aside until later. You can store dukkah in an airtight glass container or jar at room temperature for 7-10 days.
For the eggs
3 red peppers
1 white onion
75ml olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
30g rose harissa (I recommend Belazu Rose Harissa)
25 ml red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
50g (½ dessert spoon) roasted ground cumin (using the same method as above)
50g (½ dessert spoon) roasted ground coriander (ditto)
500 g tinned chopped tomatoes
6 eggs, allowing one egg per person
Salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley and coriander, a good dessert spoon per person
1 Turn the grill to high. Cut the peppers in half, remove the seeds and put them skin-side up on the grill rack, a couple of inches from the heat. Cook until the skins are blackened all over – about 10-12 minutes.
2 Place the peppers in a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to cool.
3 Remove from bowl, then scrape off the skin with a knife. Slice the peppers in to strips and reserve until later.
4 Slice the onions in half through the root and remove root and skin. Now slice into thin slices.
5 In a large pan heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat until hot. Add sliced onions and chopped garlic and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add the harissa (saving some to sprinkle on top at the end), mixed roasted spices, sugar, red wine vinegar and leave to cook for a few minutes.
6 Add the tomatoes and simmer for about 10-15 minutes on a medium heat to reduce by about half. Now add the sliced peppers and cook for a further 5 minutes. You can prepare the pepper mixture the day before if required and store for up to 7 days in the fridge until needed.
7 To serve, heat some or all of your pepper mix in a saucepan before putting in heat-proof dish, depending on how many guests you are serving. Mix with the fresh herbs and place the pepper mix in a large heatproof dish. Make individual hollows in the pepper mixture for each egg, and break one egg into each hollow. Put a lid on and place in a pre-heated oven at 160 degrees and cook for 6-8 minutes until the eggs are cooked to your preference.
8 Remove and sprinkle with a generous portion of home-made dukkah and the remaining harissa. Season to taste. Serve with flat bread or couscous.
By Rosalind Lowe