Cooking at the River Café
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the day working in London’s famous River Café, and it was incredible! The kitchen runs with a precision you would expect but a calm you perhaps would not. I tried to document as best I could, taking photos along the way. Once service started, I was stationed at the deep fat fryer (Delight! Fried zucchini! Fried anchovies!), and also helped Danny on pasta with his very busy day. It was an experience I won’t soon forget. Thank you to Ruthie and the lovely family that is the River Café kitchen!
Recipes from River Café
A few of the recipes I got to help make during my one-day visit with Ruthie Rogers, her head chef Sian Owen, and their team Danny Bohan, Avi Kumar, Alex Tidey and others:
We started out with “Vongole e Zucchini Risotto,” with Zucchini flowers and Zucchini.
The River Café uses Ferron brand Risotto rice.
To prepare, I chopped up the Zucchini and the Zucchini flowers and put them to the side.
In a large stock pot, we first coated the risotto in butter and garlic.
Then we strained in the fish stock which we’d prepared by simmering chopped up vegetables and leftover fish bones in water for 20 minutes:
- • Celery
- • Leeks
- • Red Onion
- • Fennel
- • Garlic
- • Bay leaves
- • Salt
- • Peppercorns
- • Fish bones
- • White wine
We stirred the Risotto non-stop and for a long time adding butter, basil, and lemon, the zucchini and zucchini flowers at the very end.
Note: I had a scrap pot on the side, so I could keep my chopping and stirring mess tidy.
Meanwhile, in another section of the kitchen, I helped Avi make Ravioli Granchio.
I used to lay out a sheet of pasta, spoon the filling on top, brush it with egg, lay out another pasta sheet on top, and cut out the pieces. At the River Café I learned to spray the pasta sheet with water and fold it over the filling, making sure to press the air out from the center out, thus minimizing waste.
We mixed the filling consisting of brown and white crabmeat, lots of lemon zest, breadcrumbs, fennel, fennel herb, dried chili and olive oil.
Ravioli, stuffed and ready to cook.
The French Yellow Waxed Beans were delicious.
First Alex made a tomato, garlic and basil sauce
and blanched the beans.
Then she cooked them down in the sauce until the final result looked something like this:
I spied the most delicious salmon being made in another corner of the kitchen
The whole fish was stuffed with slices of lemon and rosemary and baked in sea salt.
There was lobster pan-fried with wild and fresh oregano, fresh chili and lemon, and then finished off in the woodburning oven.
We made the simplest most delicious potatoes at The River Café, soaked in lemon, garlic slivers, oil and then baked in the oven.
I helped Avi make Ravioli Granchio. I used to lay out a sheet of pasta, spoon the filling on top, brush it with egg, lay out another pasta sheet on top, and cut out the pieces. At the River Café I learned to spray the pasta sheet with water and fold it over the filling, making sure to press the air out from the center out, thus minimizing waste.
Top grilled steak or chicken with this, or spread a thin layer on toasted bread for an easy appetizer.