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