Monday, March 22, 2010

wild garlic soup and cabbage and lentils

as those of you who get the newsletter may know, my son is doing pica training on the computer at home which means that about 20 of the 26 keys are now covered in stickers. i've been typing two-fingered for twenty years, so know where most of the keys are, but am always in danger of smashing the screen up as i type rgrtr, instead of there. so i'll be putting a few more recipes up here and less in the newsletter until i find the spare keyboard which has been stored out of existence. i've been asked for the wild garlic soup recipe, on the next menu, so here it is.

this is a simple potato soup base.

an onion
some celery (not that necessary)
some cubed potato, about 3 or 4 decent sized.

sweat the onion and celery in olive oil until softened. add the potato and sweat on a low heat. i usually like to make my soupd this way, softening the veg by sweating rather than boiling as i feel that it helps with the final flavour. be careful that it doesn't catch, although the nicest leek and potato soup that i have ever eaten was one that had caught and was cooked by my mother-in-law. i tried to re-create it but can never quite burn/brown to the right degree, i always back out too soon and cannot get the smoky flavour i'm after.

anyway back to this recipe. once sweated add veg stock and washed wild garlic and blend. season to taste.

braised red cabbage.

this is an easy version. you can add other spices, star anise, cloves but the cinnamon works well on its own.

two onions, sliced
one large red cabbage
one decent stick of cinnamon
250 ml red wine
red wine vinegar and sugar to taste

sweat the onion and cinnamon in olive oil for a couple of minutes. add the cabbage and the wine and cook for five minutes to burn off the alcohol. add a good slosh of vinegar and some sugar and cover and cook for a couple of hours, tasting frequently. add more vinegar/sugar until you achieve your desired taste. i like mine on the tarter side of sweet.

braised puy lentils (can be chickpeas or any other legume that won't just break down)

sweat finely chopped onion, carrot and celery in olive oil with a teaspoon of cumin seeds and some chopped fresh rosemary and lemon thyme. once softened add 500 ml of red wine and cook off alcohol. add the lentils (500g) and some chopped apricots, raisins, and sun dried tomatoes, preferably in oil. in fact use the oil instead of the olive oil at the start. add stock to cover by about an inch and cook until the lentils are softened, anything between 30 mins and an hour, checking the liquid and stirring frequently. make a slurry of water and cornflour (10g say) and cook this out to thicken the sauce.

serve with anything. we've done it with koftas, pancakes and pies.



Sunday, March 14, 2010

red pepper ketchup and some no shows

the bane of every restaurant is the no-show. it's irksome when you can't fill the restaurant but more so when you've had to turn down 5 tables the same night. the issue that we face is, what do you do? ring the number that made the booking, that always brings to mind david foster wallace, who suggested that we try to see what the issue could be from the other side. god forbid an emergency of some sort, followed by a restaurant pursuing a booking. that said, the four cars that overtook me in a a 300 mph zone in saint nicholas at about 4.30 yesterday, it couldn't all have been an emergency, so you're most probably all a***holes. sorry mister wallace.

to the recipe. last week i gave the recipe for the polenta, so this week the ketchup. this will make quite alot.

1 jar of roasted peppers in vinegar, i like the lidl variety.
1 large onion
a couple of cloves of garlic
250g tomatoes
some ground ginger, cumin and coriander to taste
sugar to taste.

the nice thing about this is that the vinegar is already there, you create with this as your canvas, so to speak (ludicrously).

sweat the onion and garlic in some oil, add the tomatoes and cook out a little. add the peppers and vinegar and the seasonings, tasting as you do. cook until everything has broken down and reduced. you should have a mix, that when blended, will be thick, like a ketchup. blend and bottle while still hot.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

menu review and polenta recipe

sometimes the best of times are also the worst of times. that would certainly hold true for this menu. after a few menus of minimal stress, we decided on one that would set the adrenaline free. we certainly did that. the menu started, as always with a stressful thursday, made more so by a crash and the sight of the chinese strainer dropping from its hook, comically catching the chocolate sauce and catapulting said sauce over the ravioli that i had just completed. several deep breaths and i blood was back to something approaching normal temperature. i had also planned on printing the menus at the restaurant but that was thwarted by a broken printer cartridge; it was now, 19:10 and customers, so happily those we can count as friends, were already seated. M then redeemed herself by writing them, old-style, and photocopying them in the internet cafe, for it was by her hand that the strainer did fall. there then followed a rather hectic two hours, during which L made fun of the speed of service.

Friday was comparatively mundane, although we were very busy and there was a possibility of implosion. i really enjoyed it because when it doesn't go tits up, if you'll forgive the vernacular, you do get that sense of fulfillment. By saturday we had relented and agreed that we would write the orders down. it went like clockwork.

the feed back on this menu has been pretty good. we've spiced up the oxtail and thickened the sauce on the back of feedback but that is pretty much it. the ash-e-reshteh has been popular and also well reviewed but we follow the menu that is pretty much all over the web, so you can get that yourselves, the recipe that i have been asked for is the polenta fries, so here it is.

you need

polenta, quick cook is easiest but the end product is probably not quite as good.
veg stock
lots of soft herbs, parsley, coriander, basil, mint etc.

cool the polenta, as per instructions, with the stock. the stronger the stock, the stronger the taste. season with salt and lots of pepper. once the polenta is cooked add the herbs then quickly spread out on a baking pan. allow to cool and set.

once it is properly set, cut into fries and shallow fry, or into wedges and griddle. serve with red pepper ketchup. (recipe in next newsletter) you can de-veganise the dish by cheesing up the mix during the cooking of the polenta, something strong works best.