Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More experiments

I've just gone to the oven at home to check on profiteroles number three; they're looking pretty good. The biggest mistake I made previously was the non-stick mat I used, it was too thick and the choux failed to cook from the bottom as well as the top. Another example of Occam's Razor I suppose. Anyway I changed the recipe, have included some smash and omitted the flax eggs. At present their puffing up and starting to colour.

The next experiments relate to cheese or rather to no,t-cheese. I've been having a crack at vegan ricotta and vegan feta. This is because two recipes I want to do soon are courgette canneloni, where courgettes are marinated in lemon juice, salt and olive oil, then wrapped around ricotta, pine nuts and other nice stuff, and spanakopita. To do this vegan-style we need alternatives. The ricotta is made with silken tofu, cashew nuts, lemon juice, nutritional yeast (I used a little too much) and salt. mine is very tasty but a little too creamy, I like the slightly crumbly texture of ricotta and so may try firm tofu instead.

The feta is made with a similar list of ingredients but also with agar-agar to set it. It's in the fridge at the moment and we'll have to see how it sets up.

Just come back from the oven with a burnt hand, right on the mound of venus, and it really hurts. The profiteroles are just about done and the next change will be the amount of fat. Conventional recipes have too much I think.

I'm stopping now to re-douse my hand in cold water.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Vegan profiteroles

Possibly a gastronomic oxymoron, certainly, according to some web vegans, the holy grail of vegan cookery. It will be an interesting, if frustrating, road to travel. Attempt number one, resounding failure!

This was the recipe;

65g plain flour
40g veg shortening (trex)
150ml water
2t orgran egg replacer
1 1/2 flax eggs
dash of vinegar
2t icing sugar
1t bicarb

Proceeded as normal, stirring flour into water and fat mixture, then added other ingredients. Texture was okay but when added to the oven the mixture lacked structure and went a bit flat. It was a shame really because the taste was great. It could have been cut and filled but would not have looked the part. I'm going to experiment with different flours, raising agents and combinations. I like the flax eggs because they add some body, maybe I'll add less water next time. All comments welcome.

love and light


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Success and failure

Some of you may be aware, I was once (still am?) a lecturer in Economics. On my lazy days I would under-prepare for a class, or series of classes. If it was a series of classes then I would generally get better after the first one or two, and students who turned up thereafter got a better deal. This was a very infrequent practice. Having been involved in the catering game for three months, I can see that parallels exist, although the improvement can be random. This weeks risotto was the case in point. Risotto is a twitchy animal to tame. If you do not cook it enough the rice has too much bite, tastes starchy, and for me, ruins the dish. If you cook it too long it can resemble rice pudding; tastes nice but it's hard to distinguish the grains. Cooked properly, the grains retain some bite but you lose the starchy edge. This weekend I think we got it right twice (Thursday and Saturday) and slightly overcooked it on Friday. I still think it was a good dish, and one well worth the price, but Friday's child this week reaped the least consumer surplus (that's the economics).

love and light,

Monday, February 18, 2008


This little vignette relates to some misfortune with our card machine. Some of you may be aware of the problems we've had, having been to the bank when the little bleeder refuses to work. Well this Valentines's day the paper ran out during a sale. This caused the transaction to be cancelled but the waiting staff did not re-do the sale. Net result one payment down. This is therefore a plea. If you were with us on Thursday last, could you check whether or not you paid? To make it easier the amount was 36 pounds 95p. That amounts to two three course meals and one bottle of house wine. This may not seem like a large amount, but at this stage of the game every little really does help.



Wednesday, February 13, 2008

New wines

We have changed our wine list so that all our wines are suitable for everybody, whether you are vegetarian, vegan or otherwise. We hope you enjoy them as much as Wayne enjoyed choosing them. One of the chores of running a restaurant apparently.

A Triumph

You may think that this cooking lark is easy. I know I wasn't anywhere near prepared for what the job entails; long periods of boredom followed by intense hard work; long periods of frustration when things don't go as well as you think they might. What compensates for these downs are the ups when things do go well. At the moment I'm thinking about desserts. These are things I think we do pretty well. The eight treasure pudding may not have been to every one's taste but it certainly surprised me, pleasantly. We could aim safe, I know that my cheesecakes are as good as you'll find anywhere in Cardiff, but that would be boring and, as I said, there's enough boredom already. The solution, experiments. Now, as any scientist out there will know, experiments can go wrong. Our first attempts at vegan chocolate fudge cakes were not as good as our final attempts. The same was true of the cassoulet, but I'm supposed to be talking about desserts. What has got the juices flowing today are two desserts I've designed for the current menu that are both vegan and coeliac friendly. The first is the sticky toffee pudding, our mainstay dessert and as famous around Cardiff as we are (not very). I believe that I have created a version suitable for coeliacs, it is not the finished article yet but we will be offering a version from tomorrow night. The second dessert is the vegan chocolate torte. Who knows how a mix including soy milk, 74% chocolate, soy marg, agave nectar, silken tofu and others will turn out? All you can do is taste as you go and hope. It is in the fridge and it looks fab. We'll be taking some up to Chris and Ruth at the Hungry Planet for a tasting tomorrow. I'll let you know the results (if they like it).

love and light,


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Butternut ravs

Just a little note to all of you who enjoyed our butternut ravioli on the Christmas menu. Today I cleared the freezer of the ravs we had left after Christmas that I could not bear to see go in the bin. The verdict, still delicious, although you do need the lemon butter sauce to cut through the sweetness. I'm sure they'll be back soon.

Coming sooner still though, and this is simply an aide memoire pour moi, will be ricotta, quark and parsley gnocchi (malfatti?) in some lovely cheese broth. I can't say when because I'll probably forget.

love and light


Sunday, February 10, 2008


It's difficult to know how many people have been to see us since we opened. As I've said to many of you, on our first weekend the total was zero, save for some family and friends who showed up on the Saturday. It really started to go in the right direction in early December, when, one Saturday, we had more paying clients we didn't know, than paying friends that we did. This meant that our first couple of menus did not sell that well. In fact the first menu was sold only to family and friends and we've introduced one or two of the dishes from those menus recently.

On the next menu we'll be doing the same, re-introducing a dish, the falafels (apologies for spelling, I do it differently every time) that we thought were really nice but that only a few people tasted. This is likely to be something that we do from time-to-time, if only because it reduces the first-Thursday pressure.What we would really like to know is, what dishes would you like to see come back? In order to allow for this feedback, you can now click on the
past menus page and tell us what dishes worked for you. In the kitchen we can get a feel, but it's a noisy signal. For example, take the last weekend. On Thursday we sold about twenty portions of the cassoulet but does this mean that those customers want to see it return sometime? I liked it but is that how we should develop every menu? Incidentally on Friday the Buddha's delight was best seller, Saturday it could have been the beef (it wasn't but you get the idea). One of the pitfalls of the frequently changing menu is that it is infrequent to have customers return to order the same thing twice.

It did happen to the webmaster but on that occasion it was a waiting error (we made him pay). So did the cassoulet work, or did the majority of the twenty conclude that they'd never eat it again?