Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Vino

I don’t like 4 week menus because you’re cooking the same stuff for too long. It gets monotonous but that is the price that we have to pay for including festivals like Christmas in the year. I may have said so in the past but I never really looked forward to a holiday, not until we started this and now I crave them. So the four week menu took us to the three week Christmas menu and then to the two week break. That two week break is actually from the 19th of December through until the 6th or something of January; unheard of luxury. As I wrote in a blog, the next few menus will be inspired by some of my favourite cookbooks, although we’ll be scattering some of our dishes around as well. If anyone has anything that would like to see again or a dish that they particularly fancy me having a crack, let me know.

One significant, and bulky, addition to the kitchen is a new oven. This will mean that we can keep one oven for soufflés and I think we’ll probably throw a few of them on now. I liked the last menu a lot and we got very good feedback on the whole. The rendang was favourably compared to those available at the thai restaurants in Cardiff but the star of the show was the casumziei. This is a beetroot and vegan ricotta ravioli with a brown butter and poppy seed sauce that is truly wonderful. I actually mis-spelled this on the menu and was rightly criticised for doing so, although I still dispute that the google response to a search on cazumsiei was “kiss my arse”.

On to the Christmas menu and this is it, bar for any small changes that may be made.


Butternut, amaretti and fennel ravioli with lemon and sage butter sauce (vo, co)

This has been requested and it seems a nice way to round off a series of menus which have explored these flavours in different ways.

Cheese gougeres with spicy cheese and chocolate mole (co)

This is my favourite dish of the year, an interesting combination of flavours and a shock to the system. You think you’re eating profiteroles but it just tastes different.

Thai spiced beetroot soup (v, co)

This was requested and as a confirmed beetroot lover, I was unable to refuse.

Not duck rolls with plum sauce (v)

I may just tweak these and try smoking my “not duck”. If it doesn’t work, I’ll go back to tobacoo.


Parsnip, chestnut and potato gnocchi with green curry sauce, mushrooms and edamame (v, co).

This is a nod towards Christmas but with a twist. I think it will work very well but, and this is the exciting part, I could be very wrong.

The bah-humbug: Stir-fry with Indonesian peanut sauce or roasted vegetable rending with spiced rice, beetroot raita and crried pineallpe salsa (either one or other or both will be available)

There will always be a bah-humbug available but some nights, if we’re too busy, we’ll take the stir-fry off. (at least for you guys, I’ll make sure there’s a little for me because it’s my favourite main)

Mushroom, cashew nut and tarragon pithivier with mushroom, chive and parsley sauce *

Beef daube *

* served with beetroot and potato gratin, celeriac chips, sprout pangrattata and carrots

These are the two Christmas dishes with a capital C. The accompaniments should be delicious. (sprout pangrattata back because dan liked it last year as did other avowed sprout haters and Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without sprouts)


Sticky toffee Christmas cake, brandy toffee sauce and ice cream (v, co)

Tried and tested and a personal favourite

Christmas pudding soufflé (co)

This has been described as the best soufflé ever. There will be a gluten free option as soon as a get a gluten free Christmas pudding.

Bombe de noel with gluhwein berries (c, vo)

Pretty much stolen from cook vegetarian I think. We steal the name and then make the rest up. I’m hoping for good things.

Crème bruleé (c, vo)

Most likely be flavoured. I’ve been asked about rhubarb and we have some that we saved from last season in the freezer. I’ll probably dig it out. Probably the dessert I’m most likely to order when I eat out.

So that is the Christmas menu. I hope that everyone enjoys it as much as I’ll hate cooking it by the 19th. If I get lazy the pithivier will be a Wellington by the second week.

Vino has come out of retirement and wishes everyone a happy holiday season and has chosen the following for his festive season. I’ll probably not be allowed to play my Christmas compilation again because they are all very sad but I’ll do my best to get them past leanne.

Hi Everyone,
Sorry for the delay, I somehow managed to lose an almost completed list, so here's a completely new one.
It's a bit of a mixture of old and new. The Broadcast and Tarwater songs are well worth a listen and I highly recommend them for a play in the restaurant.
My next list will have a strong Welsh theme running through it and as a taster I ended this one with the Young Marble Giants track from 1980

Van Der Graaf Generator - Theme 1 (this was a theme tune to some programme in the 70's. Can't remember what though.)
Tarwater - Dia
The Adventures - Broken Land
Broadcast - Tears in the typing pool
Talking Heads - Crosseyed and Painless
Guillemots - Made Up Lovesong #43 (not sure what happened to no's 1-42 but there you go)
Bauhaus - Kick in the eye
Dif Juz - Re
Death Cab for Cutie - I will possess your heart
Frank Black - Headache
Grizzly Bear - Alligator
Modern English - Gathering Dust
Simple Minds - Theme for great cities 
Talk Talk - Such a shame
The Clash - Train in Vain
The Decemberists - Sleepless
The Doors - Waiting for the sun
The Monochrome set - Love goes down the drain
Young Marble Giants - Final Day (a band from Cardiff no less)
Happy listening

I’m signing off as well so,

Love and light

Sunday, December 6, 2009

3 out of 5 ain't good and souffle falls flat

one week in to the christmas menu and it has been decided that this will be the last menu of this type that we do. we decided exactly the same thing last year, then forgot how hard it was to prepare and reneged on that decision. there will be no reneging next year. why?

well the work is one thing but more importantly i think this cooking is more hit and miss than our usual fare. it's a nice meal but resembles school food, albeit with much more taste. a regular customer, whom i shall call alex, liked three courses of the five shared at the table, was not keen on the pithivier and was unsure of the gougeres; the gougeres will do that to a person. the pithivier recipe is something that i'll be toying with this week, as well as the sauce. the star for me is the vegan potato and beetroot dish and most people do not taste that. the undoubted black hole has been the souffle and, with the exception of parties who have pre-ordered, we will be changing that for the final two weeks. of the 20 souffles that i have made, 2 have been served and i wasn't that happy with those. one we dropped as it came out of the oven which caused it to flatten early and the other was heavy on the pudding and light on egg white; the flavour was amazing. i don't like throwing things away at the worst of times but this hit rate is too low to justify the effort.

the other non-seller, though for different reasons, was the stir-fry and we had no time to do this. it's a shame because it's my favourite main of all but we've been under the cosh and another dish would probably have thrown us over the edge.

so check out the menu for the changes, i'll get it up in work tomorrow.



Tuesday, December 1, 2009

more recipes lest i forget

kate's kicked me off the tv in the middle of iron chef so i decided to put some more of the last menu's recipes up. the first is for the dal, which was rather magnificent.

before we start you will need to consult this website for the spice mix recipes.


this is a great website.

for the dal you'll need bizar a shuwa and a berbere spice mix.

fry onion, ginger and garlic until nicely cooked. add spices and fry. you'll need a couple of teaspoons of each per 200g or so of lentils. ass lentils and veg stock and cook for ages.

id you use red lentils the cooking time is very short, my prederende is for the yellow lentils that resemble split peas and whose name i've forgotten. we soak these overnight, then add at the cooking stage, after they have been rinsed. keep checking the liquid content as the dal can dry out quickly.

injera pancakes: not the real recipe, for that search online, but a cheats version that suits restaurant cooking.

flour mix of 2 parts teff flour (v expensive) 1 part each of buckwheat and doves farm plain four mix.

add to the flour mix some salt and pepper and then add soda water to make a thickish batter, about twice the thickness of a crepe batter. the soda water will help the pancake rise a little but the effect falls over time so half way through add some baking powder as well.

using a good non-stick pan and an olive oil spray with soy lecithin (this increases the non-stickiness) make the pancakes. you don't have to turn them over, just wait for the top to dry out, but i always give them a quick flip.

berbere spiced onion jam: sliced onions (2 or 3 depending on size), rice wine vinegar, sugar and berbere spice mix. combine, bring to the boil and simmer until jammy. check the balance of the vinegar-sugar.

11.12 time for bed.

more tomorrow



Monday, November 30, 2009

oops, i forgot the recipes

i was so busy on sunday that when i wrote the newsletter i forgot to put any recipes in. i shall make up for that omission by doing a quick one now, before university challenge starts. many people (2) said that the chocolate and orange cheesecake that we did on the weekend was the best that they had ever eaten. two people doesn't sound too much but only about 5 went out. this is a two-in-one because i'll give vegan and non-vegan.

200g (dairy-free) 70% chocolate
200ml creme fraiche (200ml soy milk)
400g cream cheese (i use quark because it is virtually fat-free and i care about you all, i really do) (1 pack of silken tofu)
1.5 oranges, juiced and zest grated.
100g sugar
2 large eggs (omit from vegan)

use the juice and the sugar to make an orange syrup in the microwave by heating and stirring.

heat the creme fraiche(soy milk) and use this to melt the chocolate. add the other ingredients and whisk together (i'm lazy and use a hand blender and spatula to scrape the sides). tap the bowl to get rid of air bubbles if you can be bothered, they don't bother me too much.

my base was gluten free cornflakes, sugar and butter (soy marg).

heat oven to 180c and cook the base. take out and allow to cool. drop oven temp to 145C. once the base is cool, pour in cheesecake mix and cook in a bain marie. (you should have used a springform pan up until now, i forgot to say) once there is only a very slight wobble left in the middle, remove and allow to cool. refrigerate until needed.

i've missed the first ten minutes so i'm going to get the rest.



Friday, November 27, 2009

not (quite) living up to dan's expectations

when dan comes in we know we're going to get a fair and balanced critique of the food on offer and last night was no exception. the meal was cazumsiei (spellcheck this for me), gnocchi and bread pudding. i'm afraid to say that it was not an unqualified success. the first and last course passed muster, and i'm pleased to say we had no mistletoe hanging, but the gnocchi did not ring the right bells. the question as to what was missing and what can be done is a simple application of Occam's Razor (look it up); salt. many's the time in the past when we have been hammered about seasoning (well not that many) but the way that i make gnocchi (and you'll be able to see that soon on our webcasts) is to roast the potatoes, mouli them and then turn them into a dough. i like them this way and love the potato taste but i guess that a little salt here and there would not go amiss. i shall endeavour to do better.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

cooking shows forecast

we were thinking of doing some cooking shows for the website. many of the dishes we do would probably be easier understood if i showed you how to make them, rather than giving vague measurements in a blog, most of which are probably wrong. so, in the not too distant future, we will start the series with a pasta masterclass, something on vegan cheeses and creams and maybe some gnocchi as well.

Monday, November 16, 2009

lazy days ahead and a vegan warning

with the exception being the christmas menu, which is beginning to take shape quite nicely, i'll be taking a few weeks (months) off from the creative process of sticking together menus. whilst we beg, borrow and steal some of the dishes, others do involve alot of hard head work. the gnocchi always kill me because it is very hard getting vegan gnocchi just right, not just mentally but physically as well because the dough takes some shifting and you can never be too sure that the end result is not going to be some gloopy mess or rubber. so, as i was lazing in my bath this morning, waching two episodes of 'everybody loves raymond' and looking through cookbooks by tamasin day-lewis, peter gordon, dennis cotter and paul gayler, i thought to myself, 'why not devote entire menus to the stuff that i really like in these books?' and so being lazy, that's what i'm planning to do.

after christmas we shall be visiting the pages of my favourite cookbooks and sampling the delights prepared, for the first time anyway, by other cooks. of course we'll be doing the dishes our way, it will not be a complete exerccise in plagiarism, but the credit shall be given where it is due.

vegan warning: bryanna clark grogan is removing the vegan feast newsletters from the web. you can access them for the moment, and can probably still join for $10 canadian. possibly one of the most inventive cooks around, always imaginative and thought-provoking. if you like vegan food, you should access the site whilst you have the chance.



Friday, November 13, 2009

it's all in the spelling

last night was quite a night. we under-staffed and it got quite busy at one point. either my tastebuds were off or nothing really tasted as good as it had the week before. whether that was because of the slightly hectic pace, i couldn't say but the one dish that always hits the mark is the casumziei. i had a little discussion with a regular customer of ours who couldn't find it on the internet and said that i had made the name up. we have done that in the past but my imagination does not run as far as casumziei. the eplanation is alot simplar, sins the last menw i seme to hav forgoten how to spel, it is casumziei, not cazumsiei as it appears on the online menu (i'm leaving it that way as a penance). It could be casunziei as well. do a search on these and also add batali, the chef that i first saw do this, and then do our recipe, the brown butter makes the dish ten times nicer. so back to school for me and let's get those other dishes just write for today, sorry that should have been wright, no rite.



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

disappointed from the vale

i was very excited this week and it was the fault of amazon.com really. i have spent several pounds buying books and cds from the US. As such amazon.com then send me emails to let me know of similar books and cds that i might be interested in. The particular book that caught my eye was entitled, 'great chefs cook vegan', and was a compendium of 3 and 4 course menus that some of the best chefs in the US had put together. names that you may have heard are Thomas keller (we've done one of his), jean-georges vongerichten and loads of others. because i like to buy in bundles, and that is what amazon are after anyway, i looked through some of the titles in the category, 'people who bought this book also bought'. in the end i had 7 vegan cookbooks on the way. they arrived, as ever, in drips and drabs. two titles first then five. when the five arrived i made myself read the other four before starting the main book. the others were very good, vegan guides to mexico, india and somewhere else offering up one or two interesting dishes apiece. the italian vegan was very good as was a second book on asian cooking. finally i had had enough of the starters and wanted to tuck in to the main course. What set the book apart was the photography. a few of the other books had no photographs at all, merely recipes. this had wall-to-wall photography of each dish, in-depth recipes, chef profiles, the lot. except, well except for the thing that you need most, empathy. the recipes read like military operations and the compiling, done by a vegan named linda long, would have been all the better had each of the chefs been told what the others were doing. i counted 4 (or 5, i never really counted) starter dishes of beetroot with various sauces. the whole book lacked what is most important in any cooking but more so in vegan cookery, imagination. i had hoped that this would unlock the secrets to a classical approach to vegan cookery but it appears that it does not exist. certainly if these chefs can't find it, then it must be bloody hard to find.

the upshot is i'll be returning to the best of them all, in my opinion, eric tucker, and re-reading the two millenium restaurant books. there-in lie recipes and pictures(not too many, not enough really) that excite both the imagination and the taste-buds. if you want to take a look at this (coffee-table) book, let me know and i'll let you have a lend.

cheers and two beers (i've already had a rum in my hot chocolate after golf)


Monday, November 9, 2009

a quick review and was that one really

this is the space where i review the first weekend of the new menu. thursday was hectic. First a meeting with the environmental health officer for our regular check up, the new digital thermometer i order from nisbets didn't work so i kicked, and very nearly broke, the sink. then eight hours of very intense prep, an occasional ten minute break, and finally opening with everything just about done. a very quiet night followed and that was good. friday and saturday were a good deal more hectic and on the whole the food went down quite well. the feedback that we get is first how much comes back and goes into the bin. this was a very good weekend for that and dusty was still very hungry on saturday.

of the starters the pancake was an unbelievable seller. i don't think it's as tasty as the casumziei but it's a close run thing and it seems to appeal to joe. the soup is delish but it's soup so, go figure.

of the mains the most popular would have been, seems amazing to say this given the speciality of the restaurant, the beef. one diner said that it was better than at thai thai, but i don't eat it nor have i eaten there, so i have no means of comparison. i just remembered that i do have some of the veg rendang in the fridge though and that is pretty spectacular, better even that the thai curries, and i never thought i'd say that.

the gnocchi, well kelly didn't like them but andy and sharon (my gnocchissimos) did and that's good enough for me. as we do them vegan-way (nice grammar) the make up is particularly tricky. the secret is to get the starch content right. too little results in gluey slop and too much and the gnocchi are too solid. i'd say i erred on the side of caution and edged toward the latter, over the next 3 weeks i'll be moving formerly. the risotto is not to everyone's taste. this is the third and final step in our, 'how can we do the same dish three ways?' quest. it does it for me but not everyone is that keen on amaretti and if any dish comes back, it is this one.

i said in the blog above, the souffle is stunning, but that is now a was because it's off. next weekend it'll be something else, probably a mille feuille. the bread pudding is vegan and as such it is not as light as one made with eggs would be but the feedback has been excellent.

so that is my review which brings me nicely to one that has been appearing on the review sites. i'd really love to speak to vegan4love to find out what food you had etc. when you came in. if you exist, and i don't believe that you do, please come in for a chat. i'm really not as arrogant as veggiefreak would have you believe but then are you she? (or is that a he?). if the food really was as bad as you say, why not mention the individual dishes? so, if you exist, please come in and see us, we'd like to put it right.



Sunday, November 8, 2009

a recipe for max and a bit of a moan

friday was a great night, full up and a really buzzy atmosphere. the star of the weekend for me were the souffles, which went down very well on thursday, very few people, and were served with a strawberry sorbet that i was told wasa sytep too far. as you may know, i'm a great fan of sod's law, and so on friday we took off the sorbet and just served the souffle naked, only to be told that it needed something sharp. in the words of nobody in particular, 'you can satisfy some people all of the time blah blah blah'.

So friday did buzz and we had a birthday party in for dean, one of whom, max, is wheat intolerant. he ordered souffle, sans sorbet, and enjoyed it very much so i said i'd do a recipe. As many may know, i'm not too good at measurements, preferring to do it without a safety net, so these will be rough guides.

we use elderberry jam and i'm sure i've put that recipe up somewhere, this works for any jam. to serve four you will need about 4 dessert spoons of jam. heat this in a small pan and prepare a slurry of cornflour (water and cornflour, mixed with your finger to ensure no lumps, not too much water, say 30 ml and 25g of cornflour) add this to the jam in batches and heat. it will thicken and once it becomes a paste that you can still stir pretty easily, stop and allow to cool. put your paste into a bowl. In another bowl separate out three medium eggs, doing what you will with the yolks (you can whisk them into your paste if you detest waste, or freeze by whisking in a little sugar and reserve for brulees (two weeks time)).whisk the egg whites until light and fluffy then add 1 oz sugar and beat until stiff peaks are starting to form. take one third of the egg whites and whisk into the paste (you can be vigorous) then add the rest of the egg whites and fold in with a spoon or using a decent sized whisk, draw everything together and allow to fall through the whisk. it takes a couple of minutes but it is worth it in the end.

once everything is nicely incorporated, put your mix into ceramic (must be, metal ones will not work, just ask the first few customers who had my christmas pudding souffle last year) ramekins that have been buttered and then sugared.

cook in a pre heated oven at 180 C until well-risen and firmish. they'll stay up for a couple of minutes no problem, so plenty of time to look good for the guests.

my moan: the vegetarian society, who very graciously agreed to have four of us go up to london and attempt to drink the bar dry, would not give us the feedback on the decision to award the best (non-approved) restaurant to greens in manchester. when i say feedback, i mean the review of us. are we too noisy (the man from del monte, he say yes (great band, by the way)), what did they think of the food, the mabience etc etc. Really it is the only way to move forward, to get some criticism and is the reason that i put you good people through it every night. so i was hoping to pass on the feedback to you, those who pay to come, to see what a bad deal you're all getting, but i have nothing to say.

on a more positive note, we did have a very nice review in the christmas issue of "cook vegetarian" magazine. a subscription to this would make a great christmas present and you'd get two rose elliot books free (that's enough plugging! ed.)

anyway, enjoy the souffle, if we get another oven, which looks likely, we'll probably make them more often.

cheers and beers (i may have one this afternoon)


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

salmonella sandwich

one of my favourite lines in a song is by half man half biscuit and it something like this

i went to store to get myself a salmonella sandwich, when a man came up to me.
he said 'dear sir can i ask you a question, if music be the food of love, are you the indigestion? ooh yippee aye oo.

it's something like that anyway. so today i woke late. i'm making up for those restless nights and went off at about 10.30 and didn't wake until just before nine. now normally i get some muesli but i didn't have time as i was lecturing at 10-30. hopped in the car and thought that i'd treat myself to a veggie breakfast. problem was that when i said veggie sausages, motioning towards what i assumed them to be, i actually got chicken sausages. a small bite later and my suspicions were fully aroused, so now i'm waiting on the salmonella. in fairness a very nice lady did take my meal away as i lay crying on the floor and brought me another, sans chicken.

i'm currently waiting for my rice to cook so that i can cleanse myself with a green curry.

Monday, October 26, 2009

addendum to the food festival

by and large the demonstration went pretty well. i hadn't slept properly for a couple of nights and was pretty nervous at the start but frances donovan eased us in gently and then things went ok. that is until the wind kept blowing out the gas and the water would not boil. my plans of doing 7 or 8 of each type of ravioli were scuppered because instead of taking one and a hlaf minutes to cook, these were poached. the comments we got were very nice though and the silver lining was that we didn't have time to do the gnocchi. silver lining because i've just eaten the mix now, with the rest of the sage butter sauce and i can honestly say that they were amazing. so shame about the gas but hooray for my dinner. we're going to stay with this menu for two weeks more, so come and get them.



ps we're not open on thursday, we're all off to the smoke to find out who beat us to best veggie restaurant this year.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

cowbridge food festival

the food festival started badly for me when i agreed to a late transfer in to do a demonstration, sleep seemed to come harder for a couple of days. then, when watching the watchmen on friday in the champagne tent, my glasses were sent flying whilst pogoing to teenage kicks. a frenzied three minutes bopping later and my legs were aching, then my head joined in in the morning. another no show last night (please ring and let us know)and then up to write the recipes. i forgot to write the gnocchi recipe, so i'll put that in the next newsletter.

so the news is that we're on at 3.00, closing the festival. here are the recipes that i'll be doing.

Recipes for Cowbridge Food Festival.

Chocolate fudge cake:

175g self raising flour
125g caster sugar
50g cocoa powder
1 heaped teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

175g pitted prunes

Place prunes in a one litre jug and top with water until it hits 475 ml. Place in a microwave and microwave on full power for 2 minutes, checking that it does not boil over. Remove and add 100ml of veg oil. Using a hand blender, blitz until smooth. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and then add the hot wet mix and whisk together. Once incorporated add 100ml of maple syrup and mix again. Place into a cake tin and bake at 175C until springy. It will fall back a little.

Chocolate sauce:

Equal quantities of water and sugar to make a sugar syrup. Heat this in a microwave or pan until hot. Add the same volume of chocolate to syrup and whisk until smooth. You can flavour the syrup with lemon grass, star anise, vanilla, cardamom by steeping the syrup with the spices.

200g plain flour.
1 tablespoon of oil

Place the flour into a food processor, add the oil and set the blade running at full speed. Add the water slowly until breadcrumbs form. You need these to form a dough under pressure. If the dough comes together too easily, it is too wet. Place the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge.


1. Casumziei

Filling: 2 medium-size cooked beetroot
50g Ricotta cheese (or vegan ricotta)
lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Blitz everything together in the cleaned food processor. Put in the fridge.

Sauce: 100g butter, melted in a pan until the solids turn nutty brown (beurre noisette). Poppy seeds.

Roll the dough in a pasta maker to its thinnest setting. Place on a floured surface and cut into squares about two and a half inches across. Place some beetroot mix in the centre, then close the pasta over and stick together, forming ravioli. Boil in salted water for two minutes, plate and top with the butter sauce and grated vegetarian parmesan.

Simple alternative: 1 pack of wonton wrappers from a Chinese grocery store can be used instead of making fresh pasta.

2. Celeriac and lemon thyme:

Roast or boil celeriac in salted water. Mash and flavour with lemon juice, lemon thyme and salt and pepper. Fill ravioli as above and serve with the butter sauce.

3. Butternut, fennel and amaretti

Roast a butternut squash with fennel seeds. Mash and add crumbled amaretti. Fill ravioli as in 1 and serve with lemon sage-butter sauce.

Lemon sage butter sauce:

Sweat a shallot in oil (do not use butter at this point) until soft, add sage (to taste), lemon juice (to taste) and stock (100ml). Dice butter (100g) and using a hand blender, blend into the sauce. (Vegan alternative, blend soya margarine rather than butter).

4. Vanilla ravioli with chocolate hazelnut filling and chocolate custard.

Prepare the ravioli as above but add vanilla extract and vanilla sugar. The filling is made by making a ganache. This was a hot mix of cashew milk (any milk or cream will do here) and maple syrup. Then add the chocolate as above for the chocolate sauce, whisk and finally add the hazelnuts. Place in the fridge to set. (this ganache would mage very nice truffles dusted in cocoa powder, very ferrero roche).

Make as above and top with chocolate custard.

Chocolate custard: equal quantities of vegan custard and chocolate sauce.

Curry base:

Chillies, ginger, garlic, shallots.

Chop then blitz together. This is the base for several curry pastes that we use.

Thai: add lemon grass, lime zest and juice, fresh coriander, ground coriander and cumin and jaggery (brown sugar will do) and oil. Blitz until a paste forms.

Rendang: add lemon grass, ground coriander, cumin, fennel and cardamom and toasted desiccated coconut. (This is my favorite curry and made the best samosa)

Indian: add garam masala, curry leaves, fresh coriander. Really the list here is exhaustive.

Indonesian peanut sauce: fry onion and add thai curry paste. Add peanuts and coconut milk and blitz. (for satay, add jaggery) To cook, sir-fry and add splas of soy sauce and splash of rice wine vinegar.


Fry thai curry paste with a little onion. Add stock and coconut milk. Add tofu, noodles and veg.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

not so 'top'table and the menu review

Saturday was a dreadful night. We were full and busy. 13 in at 7.00 then 20 at 7.30 and a couple of twos after that. Prep was done, adrenaline flowing and a telephone call. The 7.00 was now 7.30, 33 at 7.30, all hell was going to break loose and then it didn’t. I went out and explained to the tables that service might be a little staccato but that we’d do our best but there was a problem. Our table of 13 had booked through toptable and had been informed that we’d do more meat dishes, some steak or chicken. As you may, or may not, be aware, we do what we do. If I can cook something else from what I’ve got, I’ll try to accommodate but meat we do not keep. Twenty minutes later and they had disappeared and so had our full restaurant. Unfortunately so had the adrenaline and the low was low. Even writing this now, having had a very poor night’s sleep, I’m still pretty low. I’ve just asked toptable to remove us from their web site (out of all the restaurant booking sites they are alone in charging the restaurant) because of this mis-information and if you check us out on there now you may well be mis-informed about a book twice get one free promotion that we aren’t involved in. (writing is supposed to be cathartic but I’m winding myself up something rotten at the moment.) So goodbye to toptable and by association to messrs Rhodes and ferguson, you shall not be missed.

The review.

Menu is pretty good if a little hard on the stove, with pans being sent hither and zither.

Chakalaka has been the best selling starter by a mile and I think this may be because it has the best name. chakalaka sounds cool when you say it (or type it) and it is a really nice dish if you like sweet and hot crunchy veg. the beetroot is sweet and delicious and the laksa needs no selling because it is wonderful.

Of the mains the star has been the meatballs. These are made with a mix of herbs, Cajun spices, chickpeas, kidney beans and wheat gluten, mushed up and rolled into balls. They make a very nice burger too. The polenta is still stunning and we’ve had many requests for the recipe but my favourite is probably the dal and if you look closely you’ll see me eating my way through the bottom of the pan at the end of the night. Most probably I’ll have the super-size spoon stuck in.

We don’t sell much fruit; the pear has been ok but the most popular dessert, as always, is the sticky toffee pudding. One day, soon, I’ll put the recipe for that and the fudge cake up on the web. The fudge cake is not going to be secret for that long anyway because I’ll be demonstrating it at the cowbridge food festival on Sunday, along with a few other dishes. I’ll probably do the chocolate ravioli as well, which got off to an ok start but the pasta could have been thinner. By Friday everything was cool except for the amount of vanilla in the rav dough, by tomorrow all should be well. Let’s hope so because we are pretty full.



Thursday, October 15, 2009

some acknowledgements

the problem with blogging is that, on our site, one small mistake on the blog page and i lose everything i've written and enter some game. after being bitten by this on more than one occasion i'm now doing it in wordpad and cutting and pasting.

today it's quite early and i'm watching scooby doo with the girls. i'm just going to make their breakfast and let them eat and watch, there's plenty of time before school. i have to give thanks to georges laurier, a canadian chef from the programme 'cook like a chef', the tofu burger was pretty much lifted from this show. one of the best successes, cooking-wise, was the scone because it was vegan. the cooking technique used an innovation that we first used when making our vegan blinis. that recipe was taken from 'veganomicon' although we had to adapt it to get the consistency we needed. what they did was curdle the soy milk and we did this for the scones. here's the recipe

8oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
3 oz soy marg
soy milk curdled with lemon juice
salt and pepper
chopped mixed fresh herbs

put all ingredients except the soy milk in a food processor with the cutting blade in and process until fat is incorporated. put into a bowl and add enough sot milk to get a slightly wet dough. tip onto a floured surface and spread. cut with a cutter and bake at two hundred until browned and risen. i think this would also make great sweet scones.

happy cooking

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A promise

no, not the echo and the bunnymen song but a promise that i made to three ladies who were interested in the buddhs'a delight recipe. i'll get to that in a moment but as i'm on the subject of echo and the bunnymen i might as well tell you a story. i went to see them at the birmingham hippodrome (hopefully pulled down) in december 1985 and the most memorable thing about the gig is the fact that we had to sit down throughout or be beaten by the very large and overly-aggressive bouncers.

i went with a good friend of mine at the time, one ian cock. an unfortunate name i think you'd agreed, apologies to other cocks who might be offended by that. i lost touch with ian several years after leaving poly, although a group of us had met up regularly for quite some time. with the advent of the internet, one can often find old acquaintances with a simple web search, so i thought i'd give it a go. ian used to live in burgess hill or hayward's heath near brighton so, and let this be a warning to you, i searched in google for 'ian cock brighton'. suffice to say, i didn't search for very long.

recipe: buddha's delight

start with a small buch of fresh coriander, one small onion and some minced garlic and ginger

then add roughly equal quantities of

lime juice
lemon juice
rice vinegar
free from worcestershire sauce
double (or to taste) some sweet chilli sauce
agave nectar or honey to taste
a little plum sauce

blend the lot in a jug until well combined. you're looking for a balance between sweet, hot and sour.
now add some kecap manis, dark soy, light soy, or tamari depening on what you have and your allergies. you need some dark stuff. if you are coeliac the tamari is thick enough anyway.
taste for the salt now and then season. fry off your veg etc add your noodles then the sauce and cook to allow to coat everything.

i'll re-edit this when i remember the stuff that i've left out.



Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Review of current menu

wherever appropriate i think i'll make this a regular spot. i'll put the menu up and comment on each of the dishes.

Samosas with tamarind and date ketchup and banana raita (v, co?)

not a coeliac option and cannot be because it would involve more deep frying. started out using thin pasta dough, the same as samosa dough but it was a little underseasoned. we've now progressed (regressed) to spring roll pastry. this is tastier but also a little greasier. i'm upping the size as well. they were nice but i would have wanted more

Sweet potato and lentil cakes with szechuan dipping sauce (v, c)

want these to be vegan so no egg. this means that their a little drier/crumblier than they could be but they do taste really nice. the szechuan sauce is lovely. no change.

Sopa azteca with corn chips (v, c)

this is a really lovely soup. maybe you want it spicier but i don't. has complex flavour.

Main Course
Texan beef chilli with arroz verde (c)

my attempt at arroz verde on thursday was a total failure. i added the spinach and corainder at the start of cooking and by the end all the colour had gone. more arroz dirty greeny brown. tony's subsequent efforts were much more successful. we'll pack a little more flavour in this week with some garlic as well. i'm sure the chilli was good but be warned, it is texan so it is beef.

Vegetarian chilli with arroz verde (v, c)

to my taste, and comments above noted, delicious. may add some tvp for a meatir texture.

Fresh corn polenta with imam bayeldi and onion, cucumber and pomegranate salad (vo, c)

polenta could have been creamier, imam bayeldi possibly spicier but i ate two bowls and want more this week.

Buddha's delight (v, co)

i can't fault this dish, others can. i'm not changing it though.

Autumn vegetable cassoulet (v)

vegetables too soft/roasted too long on thursday. started to break down and the sauce was too thick. better at the end of the weekend.


i've nothing bad to say. possibly could put some thyme on the plums but it is in the sauce and is maybe a little lost.

Chocolate fudge cake with chocolate sauce and ice cream (v, co)
Sticky toffee cake with toffee sauce and ice cream (v, co)
Cannoli with elderberry ricotta and blackberries (vo)
Figs roasted in wine, agave, cinnamon and thyme with sweetened ricotta (vo, c)

next menu is beginning to take shape.



Sunday, September 27, 2009

Who was sod?

whoever sod was, i'd like to give him (i'm assuming) a piece of my mind. why does his law seem to strike at the worst time.

thursday: as you'll know, at least those of you who pay attention, we had some inspectors in on a training exercise. we could have played it safe, gone for the previous, delicious menu, but we thought we'd take a few risks, introduce some new dishes. now as many of you may know, it is often the case that the first time a dish is tried in its entirety is when it served to the first paying customer. this was to be the case on thursday and those customers were to be the inspectors. but that is not when sod appeared, rather he appeared when constructing the banana raita. we had no yofu. there had been a slight misunderstanding in the day about who was to get it but chris (the lovely man at the hungry planet) and his wife ruth (alos lovely) are always very helpful when it comes to our last minute lack of planning. thursday, no yofu and time was getting on. so for the first time in twenty months we made a non-vegan raita. in the hustle ande bustle leading up to a busy service i didn't tell the girls that the raita was non-vegan and during service a vegan samosas was ordered.

this is when a friendly hand came and settled the score with sod, who was determined to ruin our night. the vegan lady asked leanne if the raita was vegan. leanne knows we make all our sauces thus but came to ask, so before any real problems were encountered i whisked the offending starter away and replaced it with the vegan version.

a happy ending you might say but sod had the last laugh. this was of course witnessed by 17 inspectors.

c'est la vie

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Latest menu

Good to be back

September 24 - October 10

Samosas with tamarind and date ketchup and banana raita (v, co?)
Sweet potato and lentil cakes with szechuan dipping sauce (v, c)
Sopa azteca with corn chips (v, c)

Main Course (£8.95)
Texan beef chilli with arroz verde and something else (c)
Vegetarian chilli with the same (v, c)
Fresh corn polenta with imam bayeldi and onion, cucumber and pomegranate salad (vo, c)
Buddha's delight (v, co)
Autumn vegetable cassoulet (v)

Chocolate fudge cake with chocolate sauce and ice cream (v, co)
Sticky toffee cake with toffee sauce and ice cream (v, co)
Cannoli with elderberry ricotta and blackberries (vo)
Figs roasted in wine, agave, cinnamon and thyme with sweetened ricotta (vo, c)

Any two courses for £11.50, three courses £13.50

Please specify if vegan or coeliac options are required.

c-suitable for coeliacs, v-suitable for vegans
co-coeliac option, vo-vegan option .

Sunday, September 20, 2009

An apology and a recipe

sometimes i underestimate the power of my own voice so i must apologise to the couple who sat down on saturday night, stayed for twenty seconds, then got up and left. maybe the combination of the wedding present in the speakers, myself blaring out the lyrics of kennedy from the pass, and the thought of that for an entire evening was too much. fortunately for us, ben and anne popped in so i was able to sing to them all night and pass on the little present that i had for them. is it true that every cloud has a silver lining or is that just bull?

anyway another menu bites the dust and the pannacotta recipe is finally a success. it didn't take long, just the entire menu, before it came together but it did, so here it is.

you will need (infinite patience)

150 ml mango puree
300 ml coconut milk
50 ml agave nectar
1 sachet vegegel

put all ingredients together in a microwave safe jug and, to ensure good distribution of the gel, blitz with a hand blender then put it away.

place in micro for 2 mins on full power. take out and whisk. back in, 1 min, and whisk. depending on the power of your microwave, this should be enough.

pour in to ramekins, leave for a few hours in the fridge and they should unmould beautifully.

don't use the blender again because this seemed to destroy the gel and result in what we'll be calling on a future menu, a mango and coconut cream.

serve with a salsa made from lime segments, passion fruit, kiwis and sweetened with agave.

happy hair-pulling



Saturday, September 19, 2009

And finally

and finally the nightmare of mango pannacotta is behind us. i've just taken two minutes to check up whether any problems are encountered when trying to set mango and it appears not. the only excuse can be, and it isn't much of an excuse, that i'm pretty poor at making mango and coconut pannacotta.

i'd like to think that we got about a dozen right but that's not really a very good success rate. i'm retiring mango from the pannacotta roster for the moment but might try a white chocolate one soon.

new menu coming soon.



Thursday, September 17, 2009

Blackberry picking

i am a blackberry picker of some 35 years experience. when i was very young, and the summers seemed hotter and longer, we'd hunt blackberries in packs, hoping to sell some to housewives who had little time to be wandering through fields of thorns.

there was always something special about finding good blackberries. for me that meant large, well-formed, not too bulbous, and to come upon such fruit, even just a few, made the whole thing worthwhile. the sister plant of the blackberry would appear to be the nettle and this, in addition to bramble thorns, is the main obstacle to the blackberry picker. as i have aged i have become more tooled-up in my search. now you will see me, possibly on the roof of my car trying to pick from the top, accessorised with a golf club and a pair of kitchen scissors, in the forlorn hope that i can avoid injury. from my last two forays i have spinters in my fingers and the remainder of tens of nettle stings up my arms. the wonder of nettles is that they can grow so bloody tall. you can be ten foot up, hanging from the car in search of that elusive blackberry, glimpsed briefly from below, and just as you first touch its lustrous skin, the searing pain from the unseen nettle top invades your senses. as you drop that berry, so juicy and now unknowable, a kind of masochism drives you on; must get more, find more.

i think it is that masochism that differentiates the blackberry hunter, and hunters of other wild foods, from others, that, and the ability to conduct long and involved conversations with themselves and their fruit. certainly most of my conversations at the time are with the thorns that i am plocking from my skin with my teeth, or congratualtions to the nettle that caught me unawares or sprang back from my golf club to shake my hand.

the spoils are worth it though. in two hours, maybe a little less, i picked a couple of kilos of free fruit; black juicy and delicious.

i will probably develop a dessert around them for the next menu, i'm thinking canoli and i'm also thinking cashew nut ricotta sweetened with the elberberry jelly i made.

get out there and pick, but remember to leave some for the birds.



Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Remember the rosehips experiment?

Well we got back to work and the weather took a turn for the better. That’s two consecutive years when the pick of the weather has been june and September, maybe we should start to re-classify the seasons. As I’ve blogged, blackberries are out in abundance at the moment and, as this is the last week before lecturing starts once again, I shall once more be treading the back-lanes of the vale in search of free fruit. I’d better be successful or one of our desserts will be a disaster, a cannoli with elberberry ricotta (cashew ricotta for vegans) and blackberries. I started this dish last week by cutting some elderberry stems and making an extreme amount of jam. I’ve also started the year’s vodka production and currently have elderberry and blackberry on the go. I’ve plans to defrost some of my saved raspberries and also to experiment with rosehips, although the horror story reported to me by one of our regulars is making me think twice.

The undoubted disaster of the last menu was the pannacotta, not in terms of flavour but in terms of set. I’m glad to say that by the last night we had got it right.

To what next. We’ve been playing our game of spot the critic as we’re due, or have already been visited by, critics from the vegetarian society. I thought I’d picked them out on saturday, a most unusual service, but unless the lady was extremely quick on her feet and an accomplished liar to boot, it was not them. I do hope that they came for this menu because it was a rather nice one. Our only problem was with the cassoulet, and that is because we roast the vegetable first and then add them. If I cook it in too large a quantity the veg can tend to disintegrate and you lose the essential unctuous tomato taste. That said, it and the buddha’s delight will be on the next menu.

I’ve just emailed this off to a guy who is bringing in 18 on Thursday and I’ve just received an email explaining who they are. It turns out that we’ve 18 inspectors coming in to visit and the organiser is none other than simon wright of y polyn fame, ex-AA guide editor. It looks like we’d better sort ourselves out better than we do for most first Thursdays. I’ll also have to consider my final dessert with a little more care and attention than I was planning.

I think that we have finally booked martin Stephenson on the 17th January, a Sunday night. It will be £22.50 a ticket and will include a three course meal; an easy one so that I can do more watching than cooking. It should be a great night and we have only a limited number of tickets still available.

That is another effortless segue onto the subject of music. Our resident pop-picker vino has these recommendations.

Friendly Fires - Kiss of Life 
David Bowie - Oh! you pretty things 
Magazine - Shot by Both Sides 
Blur - The Universal 
Editors - The Racing Rats 
Dodgy - Stayin out for the summer 
Elbow - One Day Like this 
Eels - Novocaine for the soul 
The Fall - Touch Sensitive 
Martin Stephenson and the Daintees - Wholly Humble Heart (couldn't resist putting this one in) 

Bon Appetit 

I’d like to add to that list a US band called Hockey, last week featured in the Sunday times, all around good guys who bought everyone who went to see them at clwb ifor a drink a couple of months back.

Blackberries are only with us for another week or so, and with the nice weather set to remain, get out there and do those blackberries proud. Maybe I’ll see you out there and we can fight for that elusive, perfect blackberry.

Love and light


Sunday, September 6, 2009

stop the world, I'm getting off!

no, not a reference to something sexual more an allusion (i'm mis-using the word, i think) to the week, or rather thursday, just passed. it started with the trip back from wet and windy west wales where we had been holed up inside a caravan for five days.   i did don my (new) wet-suit once more as a show of defiance and it was with this mood that we started afresh on thursday. we don't do long days anymore, not since we consigned day times to the past, and so early starts to make all the cakes, fail to make the pannacottas correctly, make about three litres of green curry paste- this alone meant chopping about seventy blades of lemon grass- and generally learning the new menu meant that we were tired.

oh boo hoo i hear you say and you may be right but just as i was starting the coeliac ravioli the phone went.

'hello, canteen, wayne speaking. how can i help?'

'it's environmental health. your annual check is due, can you open the door?'

after scraping myself and any of the other detritus that lay strewn there after our marathon session, we opened the doos and let her in. we have nothing to hide but we also don't do everything that we should. we do take temperatues of fridges and freezers but don't always write them down. we should and we will do so now, especially as we have been told to do so, but the forty or so minutes meant that we were well behind for service.

what else could go wrong? our six burner is a little temperamental to say the least and two minutes into cooking decided to take the night off. she came back to cheers at 10-30 but by that time it was too late. we had completed a service on two rings and a hot-plate. needless to say, tony and i needed a rest.

now what really bothers me is that i've since been informed (this is hearsay i'm afraid) that inspections of this sort only happen when a complaint has been made. i wrote about our enemy a few blogs ago and i know i'm putting two and two together but i would like to think that whatever we had done, somebody wouldn't stoop that low. i guess we'll never know but i'm sure glad i'm taking my full holiday at christmas now.

cheers (and i maybe having a beer)


Saturday, September 5, 2009

Martin Stephenson

Well, we have reached our summer break and I don’t think any of us are actually using it. I’m caravanning (is there really an extra n?) and watching the rain fall outside, tony is probably walking somewhere and leanne is probably sleeping until 7 every evening. We almost booked a late holiday to Greece (kos) but were thwarted by somebody else doing the same thing at the same time; ergo when we started there were enough flights, when we finished there weren’t. many tears (all mine) later and several more fruitless hours of searching (discarding a Turkish option along the way) we were packing to go to west wales. I am in the process of putting some recipes together from the last menu because we thought that it was one of our most successful yet. Being able to change things in an ad hoc manner, keeping most of our options available whilst fiddling with one or two starters and the occasional main course or dessert, has been quite fulfilling. The real advantage is that it’s easier and I’m quite lazy but it has also meant that we can push the boat out in ways that we would otherwise not do, for example the Parisian gnocchi or the gougers. These dishes are a little more tricky to do than our normal fare and would represent a bit of a headache if included as part of a full menu. (you’ll already be aware that I’ve used up the ‘headache’ menu title as well, so that would be another headache)

I think that that may well be the path that we travel in the future, with a more fluid menu and more regular changes but with some dishes staying on longer than the normal three weeks. The next menu is still up in the air, particularly if kate books for Sardinia (things are moving fast even since I started this newsletter), but this is the current version.

A soup, possibly African peanut
Butternut ravioli with lemon, sage and butter sauce
Not duck rolls

(update, hotel in Sardinia is gone, we’re back in the caravan watching the rain)

autumn cassoulet
buddha’s delight
thai green (free range) chicken curry
a risotto

coconut and cardamom pannacotta with kiwi and lime salsa
sticky toffee
chocolate fudge
possibly a fruit strudel (blackberry and apple?)

sound pretty nice and shouldn’t be too taxing.

It was at this time last year that we were reviewed by the veg soc people and, to our horror, they chose all the experiments on the menu. Now they’ve either been already, and I’d be pretty happy with what we’ve done, or they’ll be in during this menu, which looks pretty strong.

Is anybody interested in a party?

I noticed that martin Stephenson is playing Newport in January but it’s on a staurday night. I am a long time fan of the daintees and probably saw them seven times between 1986 (keele university) (picure below)


and 1992, when I saw them at bristol university on crutches (I was on crutches). Both times we went for a drink with them back stage. Anyway I appear to be rambling, the point is that I can book martin for an appearance the night after the Newport gig and was going to do it as a canteen Christmas party (albeit in the middle of January). Anyone interested in coming, please let me know and I’ll set the wheels in motion. It really would be a great opportunity to hear one of the country’s best songwriters.

My pop picks for this month

Boat to Bolivia: martin Stephenson and the daintees
Magic touch: the golden silvers
Seagull - Half Sleep
The Foxes - Bill Hicks
New Rhodes - Come Into The Room
The Wedding Present - I Lost The Monkey
The new noah and the whale album that I’ll be getting as a present to compensate for no holiday

Sunday, August 30, 2009


Is anybody interested in a party?

I noticed that Martin Stephenson is playing Newport in January but it’s on a Saturday night. I am a long time fan of the Daintees and probably saw them seven times between 1986 (keele university) (picure below) and 1992, when I saw them at Bristol University on crutches (I was on crutches). Both times we went for a drink with them back stage.

Anyway I appear to be rambling, the point is that I can book Martin for an appearance the night after the Newport gig and was going to do it as a Canteen Christmas party (albeit in the middle of January).

Anyone interested in coming, please let me know and I’ll set the wheels in motion. It really would be a great opportunity to hear one of the country’s best songwriters.

Monday, August 24, 2009


i said in the newsletter that we'd be doing a coconut pannacotta and i've just watched levi roots on the television and that made me think about mango and passion fruit. the result is a mango and coconut pannacotta with passion fruit and kiwi salsa, something a bit different to the one we were going to do. it will be vegan and will also have some cardomom in it.

whay hey, that should be cardamom shouldn't it?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

please don't be my enemy

i'm a big fan of the waterboys and like to play them whenever possible. i think that one of the best tracks on the "this is the sea" album is be my enemy and it appears that we have made one of our own. it had to happen sometime because one cannot walk in the world without ruffling someone's feathers.
at present we are being attacked online in the review sites. i can guess as to the reason why but i find stuff like this rather childish. what i particularly enjoyed was the fact that the food was revolting both times that 'veggiefreak' had been (this in addition to the long waits, poor service and arrogant/rude chef (look in the mirror, wayne, ed.)). i usually do not return if it was revolting the first time but i guess we must have showed some promise.
if you care to look, you will see that this review appears on (almost) every review site. let's hope it has the desired effect, i could do with a couple of quiet nights.cheerswayneps. i'm working up a load of recipes which i'll post up pretty soon.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

sticky toffee pudding wars

last night we had our much anticipated sicky toffee pudding war. i believe that we do a very good sticky toffee pudding but we were challenged to a taste-off by kate and dylan. last night they brought their version in and i have to say it was delicious. our version is light because it is my belief that at the end of the meal you are looking for something at that end of the spectrum not a rib-sticker. their version is a rib-sticker and i should say that both are vegan. the result was that we agreed that they were different versions of the same thing, i could certainly not say that ours was better, it wasn't, but i know i could finish my version.

it has also made me realise what the tea and biscuits reviewer meant when he suggested that our version had had all the flavour sucked from it. i don't agree with that but it is not the pudding that dylan made. for those of you who would like to see that version, the link is below.

Dylan's pudding

if you want to stop the sauce from splitting, use a small amount of xantham hum, too much and it'll be wall paper paste.

cheers and thanks to the family stewart


Saturday, August 1, 2009

from discrete to continuous and more charges

i have a theory about bookings and i can't help it, i have to share. most people eat out a given number of times per month, year, whatever and these discrete events, when summed over the population, gives the (approximately) continuous distribution of available bookings over a given period of time. sometimes the discrete events intersect, valentine's day is the best example, and we see a peak in the wave function and at other times they mostly don't and bookings are hard to come by. for us, last saturday was one of those events, the latter, whilst last night was the former. we could have seated another eight tables and this presents us with a problem.

we are not going down the two sitting route, book a table with us and it's yours as long as you want it, but we may have to ask for deposits on large tables. the problem that we had last evening was that we had a booking for 14, only ten of whom turned up. one person had rung to let us know and 13 versus 14 makes no difference anyway, however the other three meant that we had a table of 4 which we could not sell because we did not know about it. in the future for large tables we will book in principle but ask for a deposit one week before, the need for this is precipitated by the reduction in spend per head that we've noticed since the beginning of the year. our margins are such that small differences can have significant effects, especially as we are only open 3 evenings a week.

Monday, July 27, 2009

some things

thanks are due to olivia c who reminded us of the responsibilities that we have as restaurateurs, that is to provide what the customer wants. in the case of a risotto, unless we are advised otherwise, this menas something that is rich and appealing as a good risotto should be. as you may be aware we ofetn sacrifice somethings in order to make the food as general as possible, however usually we make this decision on the preparation of a whole dish, not simply whether we add butter and cheese at the end of a risotto. henceforth we shall be finishing risotti (i wonder if that is correct) with aforementioned butter and cheese.

the holidays continue to be a bane for us. this weekend saw two very easy nights when we expected to be hammered because it's a new menu. for those of you who didn't come in the star was the koftas and i'll be putting up the full recipe soon. a version will be on as a starter next week, to up our salad sales, and it'll be all new specials for next week. off to catch the champs elysee in the tour now.



Sunday, July 19, 2009

What's so special

We travel with increasing velocity towards our summer holiday. Swine flu fever has taken over our house and I’ve been banned from flying (along with the rest of our family). If things continue at this pace I’ll be holidaying in an oxygen tent in hospital. The last menu was one of my least favourite of recent times, although it seemed to be generally well-liked. I can’t really put my finger as to the reason why but I just felt that we did not really push ourselves; I didn’t get that excitement that you can feel when you really feel that the food is special.

That brings me nicely to the name of our next menu, ‘what’s so special’. This menu will run for the five weeks that precede our week off. The thought of a three and two week menu or two and three week menu was not a pleasant one but I also get very bored when we have to prepare the same stuff week-in, week-out. The compromise is that we will give ourselves some flexibility by having unannounced specials, although I shall be putting the details on the webpage. This gives us a chance to do a few things. First we get to run down stocks of stuff that we have in the freezer, things that we couldn’t bring ourselves to throw out. This means that one of the first desserts that we shall be doing is a white chocolate risotto, which will allow us to use the stock of white chocolate parfait that I couldn’t bear to discard a couple of menus ago. We will also be re-visiting the beetroot gazpacho, something involving smoked almond pesto and also the wild garlic malfatti. It will also allow me to stretch out a little and put on some dishes that I haven’t had a chance to do yet. Technically demanding dishes (Parisian gnocchi, gougeres) are sometimes left off menus because I can’t be bothered to give myself that extra hassle. However what we usually find is that by week two of the menu, we are pretty well grooved and the prep becomes more formulaic. This extra time means that during this menu these dishes will appear. The Parisian gnocchi will be based upon a dish that I once cooked at home based on a recipe by Thomas Keller, the owner/chef of the French Laundry in California. It is a true delight to eat because the gnocchi are made from a choux paste and are as light and delicate as gnocchi can be. The gougere is a baked choux paste, a profiterole, and I have wanted to do a savoury version because our sweet version was so unpopular. This will be Mexican profiteroles with a savoury cheese filling and a chocolate mole sauce. In my head it tastes like heaven. As some of you will be aware profiteroles were the break dish for me in my vegan chef mode and so it is unlikely that there will be a vegan version. The good news is that a vegan customer of ours has promised to send her vegan Yorkshire pudding recipe to me and if that works profiteroles could be back on the menu again.

One other promised vegan dish is spaetzle, which I tried some years ago on a skiing holiday in Austria. I tried to get a recipe for these on Friday, so fingers crossed.

The next menu, as it looks at the moment, is

Special (probably beetroot gazpacho with avocado sorbet)
Feta and watermelon salad (the salads may also be specials)
Meze with lavash. The meze are likely to be from around the world rather than north African or Spanish or greek or ……We’ve been talking about various things and whilst most will be familiar to you, there should be dishes that we’ve never done before on this dish (in a bid to empty our store cupboard) You’re probably sick to death of lavash so if you are let me know.

Stir fry with Indonesian cashew sauce (my own favourite dish) there is a chance that this dish will change to buddha’s delight or disappear altogether if I get sick of stir-frying.
Risotto with mutton and red pepper ragu (this can be ordered as veggie with other stuff possibly)
Pineapple, butternut and plantain curry ( a nod here to Jamie oliver, pukka)
Special, which I haven’t decided yet but is likely to involve cous cous, halloumi and tomatoes. What about a burger?

Raspberry ripple cheesecake (this could be altered over the course of the menu because on the last menu we mis-judged the gooseberry season and the bushes had been stripped at hendrewennol when we came to the final week)
Chocolate fudge cake (could revert to type and put sticky toffee or maybe have both)
Special (I’ve given the game away; this is the white chocolate risotto with some berries)

The kids are getting on my back about tea so I’ll bid you all farewell. Vino’s off on holiday so he hasn’t given me any selections so here are some of mine

Understanding electricity: official secret’s act
Therese: the bodines
Doesn’t make it alright: the specials
Consolation prize: orange juice
Backwards and forwards: Aztec camera
Lucia di lammermoor: Donizetti, 1955 berlin
Simpatico: joan of arc
Slipslide: the world can wait
This fragile army: the polyphonic spree

Love and light


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

the secret is in the small print

i think i mentioned that we've been shortlisted by the veg soc again and one of the things that we will have to do is send them a complete list of ingredients for every item on the next menu. this is to guarantee that each item is indeed suitable for vegetarians. sometimes it's pretty obvious, other times less so.
for example last year there was a question about whether the wine vinegar that we used was suitable and i have to say that i hadn't given it too much thought (it was). things are more complicated for us because we also have the vegan/coeliac element to consider. at the moment we have the artichoke and mushroom rillette on the menu. the artichoke is on because we prepared too much when we had the risotto on some time ago and they are just marinated in oil, wine vinegar, lemon juice and herbs, then blitzed.
the mushroom rillette is sauteed onions, then sherry vinegar, sherry (vegan), herbs, a little stock from porcini and cashews blitzed. when the sherry ran out i used chinese rice wine and hey presto, no longer gluten free. the two bottles of rice wine we have both have wheat as a listed ingredient so i've made an alternative with port (which is not vegan).

sometimes the mental gymnastics are such that i think my head will explode and sometimes we have made mistakes. usually i catch them in time, i've run up the restaurant after pasta dishes in the past, but i have had to apologise on a couple of occasions when it's been too late. we're lucky that our customers appreciate what we are trying to achieve, so thank you for that.

the next menu is likely to be our best ever because it's going to be relatively fluid with dishes appearing and dis-appearing as we try to run down our stocks of food for our week long summer break. more on that next week.



Sunday, July 12, 2009

two stone lighter

i've just recovered from last night. from 7.30 until 10.00 we were hammered. i lost about two stone of water during the night because the whole resaturant was boiling hot. that was strange because the night was foul but the combination of lots of people coming in slightly damp, the heavy atmosphere and the numbers of people meant that it was not the most comfortable night. the dish of the night was the hardest to plate, the tomato gateau (more to come soon) and that doesn't help for a smooth service. one table had too long a wait, which i discussed with them at the end of the evening, and we sent them on their way with some mint for an impromptu pimm's party that they were having later.

the bad news is that the two stone was back when i woke this morning.

ah well


Friday, July 10, 2009

hairy gooseberries and the vegsoc awards

two things to say.

the first is that it is quite incredible how hairy gooseberries are. not only that but the fibres run through the goosgog and the little blighters look exactly like hair. quite unsettling in the middle of service.

we've also been shortlisted for the vegsoc awards with a possible night out to london on offer at the end of october. a big thank you to everyone who followed the link and voted for us.

a big thank you also to the makers of burneze after i scalded (then scolded) myself whilst making the chocolate sauce yesterday evening.

random recipe: imam bayeldi

this forms part of the gateau, was a starter on the last menu, will form part of the next menu and has been a main in its own right. a staple of the canteen and the best thing imaginable to dip with anything.

you will need

tin of tomatoes
some parsley and coriander
half a teaspoon of cumin, coriander, ground all spice, ginger, smoked paprika (could be more if you want)
1 onion
handfull raisins/sultanas
olive oil, quite a lot

sweat the onion in a decent amount of oil, more than you would normally use, until soft then add the spices and cook out over a low/med heat for a couple of minutes. add the tomaotoes and the raisins and cook out for ten minutes.

dice the aubergine, oil and roast in a 200c oven until tender and browned. add to the tomato mix.
chop the herbs and add.
add a little more oil if it isn't glistening.

put in the fridge and allow the flavours to develop for a couple of days.

it's brilliant in front of the telly with some crusty french bread.



Monday, July 6, 2009


The wonders of computers never cease to amaze; I’m sitting typing and watching ‘the Colbert report’ at the same time. The last menu is over and it is time for a new one to begin. I am quite a fan of the menu that we just finished, although I’m not sure if new customers would be as wowed as by some of the others. One serious mis-judgement was the profiteroles. I had imagined that they would be the best selling dessert and was worried that I would run out every night. My worries were groundless, they sold like the proverbial cold cakes. They were so bad that we’ll be resurrecting them in the future as a starter and a main course, gougeres and savoury paris-brest. The runaway hit for me was the ratatouille and I’ll be enjoying some in some stuffed mushrooms for lunch today. The secret is to cook everything separately, fry the courgette, roast the aubergine and peppers and slowly dry the tomatoes. Then make a dressing with lemon juice, smoked paprika, agave, cumin, oil and seasoning. Dress the stew, heat and serve.

We’ll be borrowing ideas from elsewhere again on the next menu. For some reason we had a recipe bookmarked and have decided to do a version. This was for lavash nachos with nice stuff and we’ll be marrying them up with our old favourites, smoked aubergine cream (baba gannoush) and imam bayeldi, as well as a guacamole made from peas and broccoli. Beetroot was not going to appear on this menu but ben and anne let me borrow some of their moosewood recipe books and that got me book-searching on the web. The upshot is that our gazpacho has become a beetroot gazpacho and the humble beetroot is back. I’m off for a couple of days on the next menu so to keep things as easy as possible there’ll be no pasta dish, so pierogi fans will have to wait a little longer; it’ll be worth the wait. The last starter is the courgette cannelloni.

For mains we’ve also kept it quite simple. A vegetable tagine (I’ll be making ras-el-hanout) on Monday, thai red mutton curry, a rice flour galette filled with a szechuan tofu, mushroom and sweet potato stew and pea, broad bean, lemon and mint risotto. So a couple of new dishes and a couple that are re-workings of other stuff that we’ve done. For desserts we have the same-old, same-old sticky toffee, a caramel cheesecake with hazelnut brittle and a napoleon/mille feuille of hazelnut biscuits and apple with berry sauce.

A new, irregular section now, an introduction to the canteen music maestro, vino. Vino’s great achievements so far are a mention of our restaurant on the 6 music show by cerys matthews and a compilation of new kids on the block. This is his first list

My trawl through the airwaves and tracklistings of various radio shows and web channels (last fm what a find that is, keeps me going on a night shift I can tell you), has thrown up a few gems.
I hope you like them
Broken Records - Until the earth begins to part
Grizzly bear - Southern point
Empire of the sun - We are the people
Hot Chip - Ready for the floor
The Doors - Touch me
Stevie Wonder - we can work it out
Fleet Foxes - He doesn't know why and Mykonos (reminds me of Midlake, ask Paul when you see him next)

Grizzly Bear - a top new band anything by them is worth a play.

Other news now. We may be contributing some recipes to the publication ‘Cardiff Life’ as part of a series that they are putting together. I’m writing them at the moment but, as you’ll know from these, I’m not very good when it comes to measuring.

Friday, July 3, 2009

thank you alex and leanne and alex's girlfriend whose name i've forgotten and stuart's girlfriend's

on thursday, the new menu. the aubergine gateau looks good but sometimes looks can be deceptive. alex's girlfriend ordered the gateau on the recommendation of leanne and whilst it is nice, she did not enjoy it as much as we would have hoped because the tomatoes were too watery.
Beefsteaks, even when sat in garlic and lemon and oil still do not hold enough flavour. the result was that we have changed these in favour of the reduced cherry toms and plums that we have been drying out. stuart's girlfriend's mother wanted more flavour in the beans, so we've now upped the garlic content, i think to the benefit of the dish as a whole.

thanks to everyone who plays a part in this restaurant.



Tuesday, June 30, 2009

elderflower hunter

so we've got elderflower and gooseberry fool on the menu at the moment and i remembered this morning that i hadn't made the elderflower cordial. i was in the car and thought about all the lovely lanes around here; there must be elderflower in abundance. thirty minutes later i'd stopped the car about five times and had the same number of elderflower bunches. getting desperate i decided to drive to my special tree, the one i use for berries. twenty minutes later, another couple of bunches. things were getting desperate, so desperate that i contemplated invading the hedges of houses. having stopped myself from doing so i lucked upon a veritable elderflower orchard in llanharry cemetery, ten minutes later i had increased my haul fifteen-fold and had still left thousands of flowers for the bees.

at the restaurant, elderflower suitably prepped, we needed a recipe. all recipes call for citric acid, the need for which is to do something i guess. where to find that? the chemist? yes but they have none, not since it was discovered that it can be used for more nefarious purposes. that is one of the problems of clifton street i guess. to get some now do i have to go to a drug dealer?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

recipes and a promise of more

so, two days into the new menu and things are going well. the star starter, at least in terms of orders, is the lavash nachos. the star dish, full stop, is the szechuan tofu. this was a nightmare because i'd never really cooked chinese before, buddha's delight as a possible exception. so it was with a sense of, 'i'm sorry but this is of the menu tonight', that we trawled the web for recipes. with a non-exhaustive list of ingredients written down and an unsteady hand, i put a recipe together. i'll let you have that soon because i haven't measured anything yet but it is very nice.

the two recipes for today are the risotto, requested on thursday, and the tuile biscuits, which do not even appear on the menu but accompany the spiced plums.


1 Onion, 1 stick celery both finely chopped.
500g Arborio rice
mint, lemon zest and juice, shelled broad beans, peas
glass of white wine
veg stock

Saute the onion and celery in oil until soft. Turn up the heat a little, add the rice and coat with the oil. Add the wine and wait until it is absorbed. Now add the stock. I’m not one for adding a little by a little, so I would add about 500ml of vegetable stock now. What is important is that you don’t stop stirring. Once this amount is absorbed, then add more a little at a time until the rice is cooked. once the rice is just about there add the peas, zest, mint and broad beans. to finish, add some butter and cheese at this point if desired.


this recipe is vegan and is basically stolen from the veganyumyum blog. it is a different recipe because i tried hers, which is based on US ingredients, and it didn't work. so this is the recipe i used


1 tablespoon of flax eggs, ground in a coffee grinder.
65 ml water
1/2 cup of sugar
3/4 cup of plain flour
pinch of slat
teaspoon of vanilla extract

put the groand flax seed and water into a food processor with blade attachment and run on full speed. once the mixture thickens, add the veg marg, the sugar, salt and the vanilla and continue to blend until everything is nice and smooth. don't worry if it looks separated. now add the flour and continue on full power until everything is nicely incorporated. heat the oven to 180C, fan-assisted, and spread out a teaspoon of the mix onto good baking paper or a re-usable baking sheet. spread it very thin with a palette knife. you can use a template at this time and circles work best although i find it's easier if you don't have a template to spread them into rectangles.

place into the oven and bake util the edges beging to brown. using a palette knike remove them from the baking sheet and shape as required, eg cones, baskets, long thin ones that you didn't get to quickly enough but that will go with the plums anyway, that sort of thing. follow the link above for the general idea.



Friday, June 12, 2009

avocado sorbet

one of the pleasant surprises of last night's menu opening was the popularity of the beetroot gazpacho. when we are thinking about recipes, we will usually take a trawl of the internet to see what others have done and then pick out the bits we like. well the gazpacho pretty much takes care of itself but on my trawl we noticed an avocado sorbet accompaniment by a two michelin star chef whose name i can't recall but recipe i can. this is not his because i had no limes when making it so now it's (kind of) ours.

take 150ml of hot water and place in a jug and add 150g of caster sugar. place in microwave and heat to make a sugar syrup. add the zest and juice of a lemon and the flesh from two large avocados. blitz with a hand blender. place in the fridge to cool. once cooled trasfer to an ice cream machine and churn until frozen.

hope the guys from the embassy cafe had a good time and have found this recipe. i'm popping in for lunch on my way to work.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

that coeliac profiterole recipe re-visited

well, i can never settle. the recipe i posted before, i'll not look at again. this is better

100ml mix water and milk
2 tsp caster sugar
pinch of salt
40 g gram flour
20g rice flour
10 g tapioca flour
40g butter
2 medium eggs

melt butter in water/milk mix and bring to a rolling boil. in one go add the seived flours, sugar and salt and beat together with a wooden spoon until your arm explodes. let mixture cool. beat in the eggs bit by bit. i used a nice moulinex mixer with the dough attachments which worked wonderfully. if only anyone read this thing i might get another for free. take spoonfuls (why only one l? just spent 2 minutes checking the spelling) of the mix and place at intervals on a baking sheet and place in a pre-heated 185c oven. bake until nicely risen and golden.

yum yum

Monday, June 1, 2009

good times at UBC high

many many years ago i was a student at the University of british columbia. the two tears that i spent at UBC was when i discovered what good food could be. well, what a samll world because on staurday i found out that one of regular customers was there around the same time. in fact we overlapped for one year. Now this lady was also kind enough to lend me a couple of the moosewood cafe cookbooks as well and i've ordered some online so may well be thefting recipes soon.

during the conversation it also transpired that we had both played intra-mural sports at bc lions dome. i played co-ed field hockey and football. our football side was billy the fish and, but for me not getting sent off in a bad-tempered semi-final, we could have done okay. i've also just finished reading the auto-biography of chris donald, who started viz and enjoyed that so much that i thought i'd stick up an old photo of the whole team.

they are, from the left, back row first

forgot, benoit delage, yours truly, rene van diepen, pat kenny.

front row

henry thille, chris worswick, pat francois (economist and aussie rules player extraordinaire) nils von hinton reed (no kidding) and sorry, forgot.

they were some of the nicest people i ever met, and i mean some.

anyway on to some recipes. i was talking to a couple on friday and i promised some recipes, so here they are.

coeliac profiteroles

2 eggs
100ml water
100ml milk
70g butter
dash of salt
2 teaspoons sugar
130g gluten free flour. we use a mix of rice, gram and soy flour (don't use a ready made mix as it already has gums in it and reacts badly in the first stage)

heat butter, water, salt, sugar and milk in a suacepan and when boiling add the sieved flour in one go, beating with a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a dough and comes away from the side of the pan.

put on a plate and allow to cool. beat the eggs then, once the dough is cool, beat them into the flour mix. pipe or spoon dollops of the mix onto a baking sheet and bake at 190c until risen and brown.

if you want the recipe for the gluten-in profiteroles, we sue ramsey's F-word recipe.



Saturday, May 30, 2009

the webmaster speaks

the webmaster was in last night and accused me of being too morose in my sometimes daily missives. so, to start a joke.

A couple of New Jersey hunters are out in the woods when one of them falls to the ground.
He doesn't seem to be breathing, his eyes are rolled back in his head. The other guy whips out his cell phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps to the operator:

"My friend is dead! What can I do?"

The operator, in a calm soothing voice says:

"Just take it easy. I can help. First, let's make sure he's dead."

There is a silence as the man walks away. then a shot is heard.

A few seconds later he returns to the phone and says

"OK, now what?"

That was judged to be the funniest joke ever, although personally i like the fishsticks joke on south park, written by jimmy and stolen by cartman. i'd let you in on it but we have fishfingers in this country so the homophone disappears.

anyway the point is to put the recipe for the cherry chocolate cake up so that i don't forget it.

this is what i use, you can scale down.

1 680g jar of cherries in syrup, blended and sieved if any are unpitted. this needs to be heated. (use the syrup for the blending, don't throw it away or it won't work)

300g SR flour
225g caster sugar
60g cocoa powder
1 dsp bicarb
150ml veg oil

sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl, add the oil to the boiling cherry mix and whisk. add hot mix to the dry mix and whisk until fully combined. it will be bubbling away and will seem very wet. pour into a lined tray, we use a big one for this much mix.

this is a nice way of making good vegan cakes, for our chocolate fudge cake we use prunes and add some maple syrup to the mix, sticky toffee it's dates and/or raisins. the finished cakes are moist and light. for any coeliacs, this is also a very good baking method for gluten free cakes.

i hope that was upbeat enough for the webmaster or he'll remove my writing privileges.

go the lions

Friday, May 29, 2009


we try to make the menu as inclusive as possible but sometimes you have to draw the line, or it gets drawn for you. this menu, a headache, has illustrated this point. profiteroles, regardless of what the internet will tell you, are a lost cause. it is impossible to replace the egg in this mixture and i've tried just about every possible way. to that end i've removed the vegan option from the menu, it was simply not up to the standard that we expect.

the same could have been said of the parfait, especially my first attempt. the reason was my own stupid idea that i can do anything as well as those manufacturers who have built businesses on their soy cream. the truth is that i'm wrong, as i often am and so i changed the recipe yesterday and very much like the toffee sauce, toffee pudding, i couldn't tell the difference. this is the recipe

1 box of soy whipping cream, whipped to firm peaks
1 small box of soy custard, or make your own
some vanilla sugar or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.
300 ml soy milk, heated to boiling point
vegan white chocolate chips (these are hard to find. we got ours from the states although i now have a supply of cocoa butter so i can make my own)

melt the chips in the hot soy milk, blending well. mix with the custard, then pour into the whipped cream and fold in.

pour the mix into a loaf pan lined with cling film and freeze. cut with a warm knife to serve.

recipe for vegan cherry chocolate cake to follow.



Thursday, May 28, 2009

tin drums and burnt legs

couple of days in a caravan and i'm knackered. day two, beautiful sunshine, the golden sands of broadhaven, picnic in the dunes, sand sculptures with the kids, sound idyllic. problem was some idiot, whilst applying sun cream to head and face, forgot the legs. well they're not likely to burn are they? too bloody right they are, irregularly as usual and the result, poor night's sleep.

the following night, well the storm came. god hammering with his drumsticks all night, i'm up at seven watching telly, then that blows and i'm all alone. somehow everyone else is still sleeping. the kids troop in about 9, so then breakfast and out, only to be told that we can't do what we want, swim in a pool, because everyone else in west wales is trying to do the same. luckily nobody was stupid enough to go crabbing, too cold, so we managed to do that, hauling crab after crab out of the water to confuse the dogs.

actually that was kind of idyllic i suppose. still bloody tired though. i'm now going to vote for us on the vegsoc website. should have done that before probably. recipes to follow soon. current menu is pretty good i think.



Sunday, May 24, 2009

long weekends away

last night was interminable. in fact the whole weekend felt flat, the curse of the bank holiday weekend strikes again. whereas most of the country looks forward to these, for us the foretell doom. everyone goes away and a busy restaurant on saturday is transformed into morgue. add to the general atmosphere two no shows (expletives deleted) and one cancellation and we have the slowest night on record since time-keeping began. it was hard.

so to get my own back, we're going, en famille, down west to enjoy a couple of days rest and recuperation. actually neither of the above because we'll be in a caravan. anyway, i enjoy a walk on the beach in a howling gale and if our luck this week is anything to go by, then my wish will be granted.

super duper


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

phone-ins and brain-outs

today has been as bad as it gets. i did the jason mohammed phone-in on radio wales (i'm sure the bloody webmaster will make it available to everyone) and my head been elsewhere ever since. the phone-in was a jon stewart "shit that's never going to happen" segment about whether people would become vegetarian or not. i went on, ostensibly to say that it didn't really matter what people did but i was wearing headphones and got the impression that i didn't know what i was talking about. i certainly found it hard to follow anything that i, or anyone else, was saying.

so armed with the knowledge that i was going on, i forgot to put veg oil in the base cakes for the parfait; result two wasted cakes that i'll try and foist on the kids. i also forgot about the vegan profiteroles that i was making and burnt the first lot. the second lot were like flat yorkshire puddings so i gave up. i also discovered that if you want to make coeliac profiteroles DO NOT use a coeliac flour mix as they will usually have some gum or other in them. when this hits the boiling water and butter we get a sticky, gummy mess. hurrah, i can feel a headache coming on. so i've re-made the whole lot from fresh.

i've come up with a profiterole/cupcake recipe that i like. it's basically a less sweetened cupcake recipe, made in those little wrappers that you use that i can't remember the name of because my head is about to explode. i bloody hate phone-in programmes. this is the recipe i used. i shall be halving and doing a little scoop to get the creme patissiere in.

3 and half oz SR flour
1teaspoon Baking powder
1 oz sugar
50ml veg oil
150 ml soy milk
1and half teaspoons orgran no egg
a touch of salt

blitz no egg, milk and oil together until thickened then add to other ingredients. spoon into wrapper things and cook at 180 until slightly brown and risen.

they look good, hopefully they will be enjoyed.


Webmaster: Edited highlights are now on our home page, which play automatically when the page loads,  to Wayne's great chagrin! You can press stop.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

drink puppy drink

this is a reference to a song that was popular amongst troops in the 19th century. it is featured in the brilliant flashman novels by george macdonald fraser, a series of books that i would recommend to anyone interested in military history or caddish behaviour. i would also recommend that you sample our new wine and beer. for coeliacs we have added a gluten free ale and gluten free lager from hambleton brewery. this is another step in our desire to have the restaurant as inclusive as possible.  we had also been asked by several of our customers to upgrade the wine list and, because many of our wines had been discontinued, we took the opportunity to do so last week. Now, in addition to our staple house wines, you can enjoy a beautiful white  from italy, a falanghina, as well a chablis premier cru. both are suitable for vegans and are very good value, although more expensive than our other wines.

on the red side we have a very good chilean shiraz, not bank-breaking at 17.95 and if you really want to push the boat out, a saint-emilion grand cru at 25.95 is our most expensive wine.

congrats must go to the webmaster who finds pictures to add to my missives. i shall have to think up ever more ridiculous titles.



Monday, May 18, 2009

my bohemian life

not really but nice surprise, i've just been to see the WNO La Boheme. not sure if it was the first night or not but i think we spotted a critic in the audience; he certainly sped off after the curtain went down. i must say that tonight's performance was the best that i have seen, very good all around. bit of a softy, i had a tear in my eye at the end and i was aware she was going to die from the outset. oh no i've spoilt the ending for you.

after yesterday's drunken bash i paid the price today, prep was a few steps too far, but heyho we buckled down and got some done. i'm quite impressed with my socca pancakes so that might be worth ordering, recipe to come sometime soon.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

oh my, i appear to be drunk.

a lovely sunday was had by all. the weekend, as i've alluded, was a little anti-climactic (correct spelling) but i do enjoy a sunday luch out. it's especially nice when people cook and mrs D did an excellent job, from salads to stuffed mushrooms. i'm afraid i drank a little too much red wine, played football and  a little rugby with the children, and now i'm sporting a bad head. i wonder if i can right it with south park and snoozing this evening.

we've been cogitating about the last main on the next menu and i think we're going to steal an idea from the millenium, san francisco, and do some stuffed chickpea flour pancakes, stuffed with chickpeas. i'm going to try and re-create a ratatouille i had at rich day's wedding several years ago, one that i've failed to approximate every time i've tried it since. funny thing is, i think that this headache may be a a good attempt at re-creating the hangover from said wedding. i'll let you know if i remember, but i probably won't.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Oh what a lovely war

you know we bounce from the sublime to the ridiculous. nights of less than ten become nights when twenty arrive at the same time. we do our best, we're not sat in the kitchen doing nothing but some nights there's nothing that we can do. last night i fear we disappointed a couple of tables. it's a hard act to balance. our starters and desserts are usually chosen for ease of assembly so that they can be produced quickly once ordered. this does not please some people (please see our tea and biscuits review for evidence of that). But is does mean that we can then have longish waits for mains, or sometimes desserts. take last night, a table ordered 2 canneloni, plating time 20seconds, and 2 fattoush, similar time. their mains order was 1 risotto plus 3 others. therein lies the problem for us. the risottos, whilst par-cooked are prepared to order and have to be done in sequence, whereas the other mains are pretty easy to get together. the easy plating of the starters, together with lots of risottos being ordered meant a reasonable wait between courses.

dear listeners what do we do.

a. leave a long wait for starters, even if they are easy to plate, if we know there is going to be a wait between starters and main.

b. just take the wait as a necessary evil.

what would you prefer? answers on a postcard to canteen, cardiff.

the dessert issue is more an issue of timing. the brulees need to be done to order and i have to stand for minutes with the gun, burning the sugar. when we get 20 at once, as we did last night, i just haven't got the time, mains take precedence, and so we took the drinks off the bill.

a plea: try and come on time. we try to stagger our bookings as much as we can but we also try to accommodate. when the 7.30s and 8.00s all turn up at the same time, we're in trouble and sometimes it can feel as though customers are firing shells. we acn only do our best and the best that we can do is when we don't feel the pressure too much. so apologies to those who feel that the wait can be too long but we hope that it is a wait that is justified.