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.



Wednesday, May 13, 2009

what lovely people

last night we went to clwb ifor bach for a night of live music. i'd heard the flashguns on lastfm, saw that they were supporting an act called hockey in cardiff and thought 'well for 7 pound, what could be better?'

so kate and i went in, saw the flashguns, very good, a little funny when the keyboard player/percussionist nearly knocked his keyboard off the stand, then decide to stay for the main act.
hockey were very good, from portland i think and in wales for the first time. at the end of their set the lead singer announced that they would come back on if they could remember any more of their songs (very laid-back these west coast dudes, actually the hair on the bass player looked exactly like that of my old friend ashley piggins, kind of starsky in extremis) but that they had put some cash behind the bar so that everyone could stay and have a drink and a chat. i nearly fell over so we stayed, i had a guiness, very bad vegetarian me, and we had a chat with the drummer, who came complete with super-cool moustache and was a very nice person.

put me in such a good mood today that i made some beefy seitan and had a crack at the chocolate and cherry base for our white chocolate parfait that is to appear on our next menu. as donkey said, everybody loves parfait.

so a big thank you to hockey, long may they continue to play.

Monday, May 11, 2009

the ethical good food awards?

we'd like to win an award, that's obvious because i've been asking for your votes for the veg soc awards again this year. however who wants to pay for them? rather defeats the point. i've just been speaking to representatives from the thical food awards, apparently our customers had nominated us. (that was sarcastic, apologies to anyone who had really done that) the upshot of the conversation was a 99 pound 'registration fee' for which we would get to put up posters. i'm sorry but that would appear to be a little unethical. it seems a little like journos who solicit free meals for a review. we are not that interested.

i'm a little bit annoyed, 5  minutes of my life wasted on the phone, i could have been watching television.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

beetroot heaven

those of you who dine with us regularly may have realised that we like to put beetroot on the menu. well this menu has hit the jackpot with our casumziei, the beetroot and ricotta ravioli, a venetian dish, that has been the star of the current menu. this is the recipe. some beetroot, preferably roasted and peeled, some ricotta, we use our vegan ricotta and you can get the recipe for that from a blog for mr presley i think, lemon juice, salt and pepper. put the beetroot and ricotta in a food processor and process until roughly smooth, season with the other ingredients.

Pasta dough: wash out bowl of food processor, put in some plain flour, add a little oil and then, with the motor on full and the blade in, add water slowly until breadcrumbs form then continue to process. the dough should come together easily but should not be sticky. roll out on a pasta machine or with a rolling pin, we go to the second thinest and then stretch.

fill the pasta with the beetroot mix to make small ravioli.

the sauce: take butter a place in a saucepan, heat and melt and cook until it foams and starts to go brown. add poppy seeds and drizzle over the pasta.

for those who really like beetroot, it's on the next menu as our salad, with fennel, orange, walnuts and a pinenut remoulade (possibly)

off to stuff some mushrooms for dinner