Thursday, April 30, 2009


time is a cruel mistress, or maybe it's just the drink and drugs, but my memory isn't what it was. i have to put the recipe for our shortbread on here because if i don't i'm going to lose it and then forget it. it's on a piece of paper by the phone and i've been meaning to put it on something more substantial but somehow i don't have the energy. my life is littered with things that i was going to do but fortunately litter has a tendency to blow away, so reminders are few. so to the recipe, it is delicious and works well with butter and gluten free flour.

6.5 oz flour
4.5 oz hazelnuts, ground, not too fine
6oz vegan marg, we use pure soy stuff
4 oz caster sugar
0.25 teaspoon salt.

put into a food processor and process/pulse until it forms a dough. roll out and cut into any shape you want. bake at 180 until just browning and still slightly soft to the touch, it will harden after.

very addictive



Saturday, April 25, 2009

twitter twit

the webmaster's added us to twitter and i've jsut been on to make my first tweet and, as with most new things, i ended up feeling like a bit of a twit. that got me wondering whether the whole thing isn't just some post-ironic joke set up by biz stone (a comic book name if ever there was one) that does in fact categorise its users as twits. i suppose that if they called it twatter (sorry mam) then the joke would be too obvious. which brings me to the subject of my twit, the one that i couldn't work out how to leave, which was the cake that i've just made at home on account of the fact that our oven has been read its last rites. gas ovens do not do it for me so the cakes are all home-baked at the moment and i've just finished the last torte, so to celebrate here is the (perfected) recipe. i've been adjusting the amount of amaretto since the start and have settled upon 200ml, so you'll need that to start. any biscuit base will do, ours is vegan and coeliac friendly and you'll also need

250ml soy milk
75ml of agave syrup or 100g icing sugar
2 teaspoons orgran no egg
200g dairy free 72% chocolate
1 box of silken tofu

the method could not be easier. line the bottom of a springform pan with the biscuit base and cook. allow to cool and whilst cooling put the amaretto, soy milk, no egg and sugar/agave in a jug and blitz with a hand blender. put the resultant (thicker) mixture into the microwave and mic on high for 2 to 3 minutes. add the chocolate into this and stir to melt and incorporate. once fully mixed add the tofu and blend really well. put this on top of the biscuit base and bake in the oven at 130c until softly set. allow to cool and slice with lots of sharp knives and a dishwasher (my preferred method) or with a sharp knife, lots of hot water, a jug and a tea-towel (too much hassle)

this one is a keeper and the basic recipe (without the amaretto) is a good start for a vegan cheesecake.

cheers and maybe one beer


Monday, April 20, 2009

nice things

people say the nicest things. last saturday someone, i didn't have time to make her acquaintance, said that the wild garlic and nettle malfatti were the nicest thing that she'd ever eaten. i must admit to thinking that they are very nice indeed and whilst the wild garlic is the dominant flavour, the nettle adds a certain soemthing. this is the recipe, which is loosely based on a recipe by paul gayler, a brilliant veggie cook who was at the Lanesborough hotel in london, where, coincidentally, i ate my only afternoon tea whilst picking up a mate, mad-dog dan murray, en route to skiing in tignes. it remains, and will probably continue to do so, the most expensive sandwich and piece of cake that i have ever eaten.

we use quark instead of ricotta, there is little difference in terms of cost but quark is virtually fat free and has good flavour. for one 250g box of quark use one whole egg, mix together, season with salt pepper and numeg, then add the extras. we've done the spinach ones before but wild garlic is still available and does make a good dumpling.

now add some flour, you are looking for something that has a decent chance of staying together when you poach it but is not going to be too gluey. the amount of flour depends on the size and age of the egg, the wetness of the cheese and stuff, so sorry but it's guesswork. you can also add parmesan (vegetarian of course) for that extra indulgence.

let it stand for a couple of minutes, check the consistency again, then poach for a few minutes in lightly bubbling water.

the cheese broth that we do could not be easier. fry an onion 'til translucent then add some stock, let it bubble and add grated veggie parmesan. blitz with a hand blender. keep adding cheese until you get the consistency you want. oh and i forgot about a little slurry of cornflour to help with the consistency.

happy poaching (not stealing animals)


Saturday, April 18, 2009

all that ashak

the most popular dish on this menu, and therefore the one giving me the biggest headache, is the ashak. this is our recipe.

we make a curry paste using onions, chillis (red de-seeded), and ground spices (corinader, cumin, black pepper, fennel, cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon) and then add oil. we dice the sweet potatoes, rub the spice mix over them and roast them in the oven until tender. once cooled add peas and edamame and chopped parsley, coriander and curry leaves.

take two sheets of filo, and brush the first with oil then put the second on top. brush half of the second and fold over the other half to make a rectangle. (you should have started with a rough square) put a goog mound of the mix into the middle and bring up the sides of the filo to make a nice round shape, the oil will help you form the shape. brush with oil and sprinkle with poppy seeds.

the other recipe i'd like to share is the chocolate and amaretto torte. chocolate and amaretto are a match made in heaven, try some with your hot chocolate tonight to see what i mean. the trouble i'm having at the moment is how much amaretto to add, it's going up by 25ml every torte.

we use ground up dove's farm hazelnut cookies for the base. they are vegan and gluten free so they tick all our boxes. simply melt some butter or vegan marg and mix with the crumbs to form a base. spread in the bottom of a springform pan and cook in a pre-heated (180c) oven for ten minutes or so.

make the choc mix: take 250 ml of soya milk, add 100 ml of amaretto and two teaspoons of orgran no egg. using a hand blender blitz and the mixture will thicken. place in the microwave for a couple of minutes until the mixture is hot enough to melt 200g of vegan chocolate. it will stiffen but don't worry just chuck in the chocolate and stir. depending on how sweet you want it add agave nectar to taste. one you have a nice mix, take one block of silken tofu and blitz this into the mix, making sure it is well incorporated so that no silken tofu is visible. poor onto the biscuit base and cook in a preheated (140c) oven for about 20 mins. it should be quite softly set. if you want to avoid the oven you can let it set up in the fridge overnight. it will be a softer torte (not so easy for us, it is more difficult to cut for service so we now bake.)

hope you enjoy



Wednesday, April 15, 2009

bitten lips

so going to gigs got me thinking about the best gigs that i'd attended and a few came to mind and since i'm talking to myself and two people who came in from the US hoping for something else when they saw the title, i reckon i can ramble. most of the great gigs happened about twenty or so years ago so forgive my memory. one that stands out involved the band that wrote bitten lips, the band of holy joy, that i attended with my brother at the university in cardiff. they were the support act to james, who feature in another great, when i saw them perform as the support to the smiths in 1984. like i said my memory may be letting me down but i'm sure that was the gig with the veggie sausage but it may not have been. the band of holy joy appear again at the university of warwick, 1989ish. we'd gone in (professor martin conyon and myself, look him up) to see the sundays and the band of holy joy was a completely unexpected support; one moment sitting in the bar, the strains of "what the moon saw" and then rapture. another that sticks for the wrong reason is the man from del monte, supporting the primitives at leeds uni. i'd spent most of the previous summer listening to the other orange juice (ha ha) in my jaunt around europe and so went to the primitives concert specifically for the support act. the problem was that we spent too long drinking and playing pool in the bar and missed half the support. on a similar note the lightning seeds had their amp blow halfway through their set when supporting the beautiful south at the cia. they in turn were then cut short by a power problem and did no encore.

back to the best of; many of these were when i used to help set up the bands at north staffs poly, '85-'87. the housemartins, the woodentops stand out but the best of the best, the boothill footappers, christmas 1985. the friendliest gig ever, everyone was drunk (it was christmas and the bar was the second cheapest in the uk) but when you fell you were helped by all. the music, folky bluegrass, meant that everyone danced. i walked home convinced that i had broken my leg because my right leg was dragging along the floor the whole way. it was only in the morning that i discovered that the heel had broken off my beloved winklepickers.

we play most of the bands that i mentioned but maybe not enough. i'm currently putting lots of my lps onto the computer so look out eardrums, here come the band of holy joy.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

official secrets act and vegan forum

i've made the point here before that, as far as popular music was concerned, i hibernated for the period 1991-2007. the restaurant and its need for music has re-awakened my interest in new bands. the online radio, last fm, has proved vital in this quest because it allows you to edit out all the crap. (i could never listen to radio 1 (any show) in 1981 so to do so now would probably lead to my cutting out my eardrums with a veg peeler) So it was with a degree of excitement and a massive limp that i went to see official secrets act at Barfly last night. the support act, oui merci, were good, the second act instantly forgettable (sorry) but the headliners were excellent. they had been likened to early orange juice but, as with all music, teh sound was so much more intense than it was in 1981. anyway i bought the album so they'll be on the playlist this weekend. the main down about the gig was the seemingly unchanging fact that cardiff is a really bad place to see a band. of the 40 or so who turned up at leasty half the audience were more interested in pissing around than listening to the music. hey ho, we enjoyed it though.

on a different note, we've joined a vegan recipe forum hosted by renowned vegan chef bryanna clark grogan. anyone interested in vegan cookery should try this out as, ourselves excepted, the contributors are likely to be among the best vegan cooks on the planet.

cheers and too many beers (last night)


Sunday, April 12, 2009

bad legs, birthdays and girls on buses

many years ago, i was a mere slip of a lad, i was on a bus from bridgend to llanharry. we stopped in pencoed and there was a very attractive girl standing (hanging around) by the bus stop, we exchanged glances over a few seconds and she waved. i never waved back and there was a simple reason why. there was a question in my head that i have never quite managed to throw off, was she being sincere or was i the subject of some elaborate joke of which i could never be part. maybe she is wondering why that boy never waved back. i share this with you because i have the same feelings of insecurity about our food. i must apologise to all of you who i have quizzed about the food over the last eighteen months, whose nights i must have ruined by my incessant questioning. i am not looking for applause but i am genuinely concerned that people do not have a good time when they come to the restaurant. every menu this seems to get worse, my current 'most anxious' dish is the ashak, so if you rather not speak order something else. it is also my birthday today and i got kicked in five-a-side. i'm now feeling very sorry for myself because my right calf is now tighter than a snare happywayne