Tuesday, March 31, 2009


the nice thing about being your own boss is that you can contradict yourself and no-one is going to come down on you like 1016 kilograms of bricks, give or take a few grams. the truth of the matter is that i'm all gnocchied out. they are terrors to make, take up about 20% of my time on this menu and i'm not sure that the overall dish is worth it. it is a nice dish and it looks stunning but ... So i'm going to contradict the last blog, please still vote for us (category best unregistered restaurant, i'm a little too lazy to sort out the registration, i'll do it this year for certain), and the menu is to finish at the appointed time. i'm a big fan of the laksa which will definitely return and we'll be keeping it to a degree by having a thai green curry on the next menu, there will also be an afghan dish, ashak, and maybe an aubergine charlotte a la imam bayeldi. there is likely to be a lot of rice, so sorry to those who dislike rice. there will be a gnocchi of sorts, a nettle and wild garlic malfatti, and tru to my word there will be no soup. (unless he changes his mind again, ed.)

recipes for the current menu to follow soon, in the meantime here is the gnocchi. the recipe is inexact to the point of ridiculousness because it all depends how watery your potato is. we use maris piper which are lovely and dry.

start with mashed potato and add beetroot puree. because ours are vegan i add a teaspoon of no egg, potato starch (1T) and tapioca starch (1T) (for coeliacs i up this and don't add plain flour) and plain flour. mix in the bowl with a fork, pressing the fork through the mix to incorporate the flour mix into the beet/potato mix. you should find that it goes to a slightly tacky breadcrumb consistency. once that is achieved, on a floured surface, roll the gnocchi into sausages, cut and flour again and indent on a fork or just indent with your thumb and index finger.

allow to cool in the fridge for an hour then poach. once they rise they can be eaten but i prefer to allow them to cool again and then fry gently in oil or butter. i'm aware that a recipe with no measurements is idiotic but i've followed recipes for gnocchi that have simply been awful. if you'd really like get in touch and the next time they are (in an earlier version i wrote their and i have been beating myself for an hour) on i'll show you how. i'm afraid that alot of it is in the touch.



Sunday, March 22, 2009

rugby & recipe

well we watched the rugby last night prior to service and for the second time the night went off like a damp squib. nothing to do with the food, which is good on this menu, but elation and its concomitant adrenaline, followed by dejection are not conducive to an "up there" service. the food, as i said is good and i shall be sharing recipes for the beetroot gnocchi and the tea-smoked almond pesto again. for now i would like to put up the recipe for an old favourite, one that has appeared on a few menu and may be making a comeback some time soon. it's the indonesian stir-fry with peanut sauce. the key to this recipe is the sauce and the final cooking and i'll not bore you with the chopping of the different veg. the sauce is made from a red thai curry paste, we make our from red chillis, garlic, shallots, lemon grass, ginger, coriander leaf, tamarind paste, jaggery, lime leaves, lime zest and lime juice. oh and oil. blitz it up in a blender for a really good consistency, a food processor produces a mix which is ok but a little bit bitty. anyway back to the sauce,

fry an onion in a little oil until translu(s)cent (does this have an s or not?) then add some curry paste, say a couple of heaped tablespoons. fry for a couple of minutes then add some unsalted skinned peanuts(say 200g), peanut butter will not do unless its a very good one with no sugar added and even then its not as good. let the peanuts have a couple of minutes, stirring frequently, then add a tin of coconut milk and cook for another couple of minutes. allow to cool then blend until smooth. to cook, fry your veg then add your noodles (we use udon noodles because they are simple) and a splash of rice wine veineagr and soy sauce. this is very important because these add a depth to the finished flavour. allow this to reduce a little then add as much peanut sauce as you want. hey presto, dinner is served.



Wednesday, March 18, 2009


It has been many days since the last transmission. Some good news on the web front, the webmaster has granted me access to the web site and I will now be ensuring that the menus are changed at the correct time. The bad news is that my technophobia is likely to result in a catastrophic accident that will endanger the whole thing, swings and roundabouts.

This year we appear to be missing all the name days; burns’ night was on a Sunday, St paddy’s day is today I think, so I’m not naming this menu. Whereas last year we had stout and stuff, this year there is nothing irish, maybe I’m being cautious because of the rugby on Saturday. That said, we’re not taking bookings until 7-15 on Saturday because we’ll be watching the game. (question to all the English o level (GCSE for the young) passers, was that a non-sequitor (is that spelt (spelled?) correctly?)?)

Anyway enough drivel. The last menu was quite a good one, the pancakes, more later, were well-received and the duck rolls as popular as ever. You still refuse to eat our soups even though they are easily the best in Cardiff (yours excepted). This menu we’ve got a play on carrot and coriander without the carrot, it’s sweet potato instead. It is delicious, I will advise you to try it and you may not. This will be the last soup for a while. With the advent of spring and all things delicious we will be offering an interesting salad on each menu, in addition to our usual ravioli etc. I’ll be stealing a lot of these from the millennium restaurant in san Francisco. On the subject of theft, two of the dishes on the current menu were inspired by my reading the ‘cook vegetarian’ magazine and lifting two of simon rimmer’s recipes. Mr rimmer was also responsible, in part, for the duck rolls on the last menu and the chilli pancakes from a long time ago. We’ve taken the beetroot gnocchi and the laksa this time. The recipes are of course our own because although he owns a veggie restaurant (greens in Manchester, I’ve eaten and it’s good but expensive) he doesn’t do too many vegan dishes; ours usually are.

The menu in full is

Sweet Potato and coriander soup (v, co)
Potato and mint ravioli with red pepper sauce (v, co)
Mexican Torte with avocado salsa (v)

Main Course (£8.95)
Vegetable, Mushroom and Tofu Laksa (v, co)
Chicken Laksa (co)
Beetroot Gnocchi with smoked almond and parsley pesto and green olive tapenade (vo, co)
Wild garlic risotto with marinated artichokes(c, vo)

Sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and ice cream (v, co)
Rhubarb Napoleon with vanilla cream (vo)
White Chocolate cheesecake with warm berries (vo, co)

There is plenty of wild garlic around and it is delicious and contrary to popular belief it doesn’t make you stink of garlic. You ignored he soup last time so this time it’s in the risotto. We had some for lunch on Monday and it was stunning, leanne’s favourite, although that is usually whatever risotto is current.

For the first time I shall be making a vegan cheesecake with the white chocolate I had imported from the US. I tasted the chips yesterday and they are lacking a little sugar, so I’ll sweeten them and add to silken tofu, some cream scheese and vegan cream. Fingers crossed.

Monday, March 9, 2009

some nutty stuff for mr presley

i was asked by one of our regular vegan customers for the recipes for the vegan cheeses that we have done. i have to give credit to bryanna clark grogan for the inspiration and would advise anyone interested in vegan cookery to seek out her site online. three nut recipes that we have used recently are the pine nut and horseradish cream (for the beetroot and walnut risotto), the vegan feta (currently in the fatayer) and the vegan ricotta (in the crespelle). to make these nut cheeses is pretty easy, so long as you have a decent food processor or blender.

pine nut cream

toast the pine nuts then add water lemon juice and salt and blend using a powerful hand blender. add the water (could be soy milk) little by little until you have the consistency of whipped cream. we then used some white wine vinegar(a little), mustard ( a little) and freshly grated horseradish (quite a lot) to make the finished product.

tofu-cashew ricotta: process the cashews to a fine crumb. process the tofu and add lemon juice and salt. mix with the nuts, add a little oil and some water and process with a hand blender. for the crespelle we add parsley, pine nuts, lemon zest and juice and capers. for anyone looking for a boursin type feel add some garlic.

the feta simply takes the base for the ricotta, omitting the lemon juice and adds agar agar powder. mix the agar agar with your mix, probably about 1 tsp per 300g of mix, and heat in a microwave (stirring regularly) or in a pan. once the agar has been activated (you'll know when it has because the outside wil look as if it's already setting) then you can add lemon juice to taste. if you add the lemon juice first it affects the setting property of the agar agar.
place in a box or on a tray and let it set. once it has set make up a brine of salt and water and cut the feta into cubes. let it sit for a week or so then store in oil with herbs and garlic and chillis and anything else you want. great in sandwiches.