After three decades of serving sophisticated Londoners and visitors from its idyllic locale along the Thames Wharf in Hammersmith, the River Cafe has achieved nothing less than mythic status. And on the occasion of its 30th birthday, what better gift could it bestow upon its devoted followers than a particularly stylish cookbook by Co-Founder-Chef-and-celebrity-in-her-own-right Ruth Rogers, affectionately titled River Cafe London: Thirty Years of Recipes and the Story of a Much-Loved Restaurant?
Of course, famous faces have abounded in its elegant dining room and riverside terrace. The book even exhibits how a couple of them – artists Ed Ruscha and Damien Hirst – took to the task of designing bespoke menus for the restaurant. Gwyneth, The Clooneys, Pippa Middleton, Alicia Vikander, have all been drawn to its inimitable charms through the years – but, surely, really came for the food above all.
Recipes From River Cafe London
Mezze Paccheri, Black Pepper and Langoustine (pictured top)
1 ¼ pounds (600g) mezze paccheri
¼ cup (60g) unsalted butter
5 ounces (150g) Pecorino, freshly grated, plus extra for grating on top
¾ pound (360g) medium langoustines (4–5 langoustines per person), cooked and peeled
about 4 teaspoons (20g) coarsely ground black pepper
In a world of rules, including the seminal one that you must never put cheese on a fish pasta, this eccentric recipe combining Pecorino and langoustines commits the cardinal sin. It is incredibly delicious and proves that rules are made to be broken.
Cook the mezze paccheri pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente. When draining the pasta, reserve some of the cooking water for the sauce.
Melt the butter with the Pecorino in a separate large pan over a low heat, using some of the reserved pasta water to create a sauce.
Cut the langoustines into pieces and add to the Pecorino sauce with black pepper to taste. Add the hot cooked pasta and mix until you have a glossy sauce coating the pasta, adding more reserved pasta water if needed.
Serve with extra Pecorino grated on top.
Tagliarini with Asparagus and Herbs
1½ pounds (675g) thin asparagus spears
4 garlic cloves, peeled
4 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley, oregano) 7 tablespoons (100ml) heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup (50g) unsalted butter
9 ounces (250g) tagliarini or tagliatelle
4 ounces (120g) Parmesan, freshly grated
Trim or snap off the tough ends from the asparagus spears. Finely chop the asparagus all together with one of the garlic cloves and the herbs.
Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan with the rest of the whole garlic cloves
and simmer until the cloves are soft. Remove from the heat; discard the garlic.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a separate large saucepan and sauté half of the chopped asparagus for 5 minutes, stirring. Add the rest of the chopped asparagus followed by the flavored cream. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the cream begins to thicken—about 6 minutes. Season. Remove from the heat and keep warm.
Cook the pasta in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly. Add to the sauce along with about half of the Parmesan and toss together. Serve with the remaining Parmesan.
Slow Roasted Tomatoes w/Thyme
3 1/3 pounds (1.5kg) cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
1 bunch of fresh thyme sprigs
If the tomatoes are particularly juicy, prick them with a fork before roasting.
Preheat the oven to 300°F (150°C).
Put all the tomatoes in a bowl, season with sea salt and black pepper, and toss with the garlic.
Spread out on a baking sheet without overcrowding. Scatter the thyme sprigs over the tomatoes
and drizzle with some olive oil. Roast for 1—11/2 hours, draining the juice halfway through cooking,
until concentrated and dry.