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.