Sunday, July 18, 2010

dog turds and to dos

this was a welcome busy weekend, following on from some very quiet, world cup evenings that saw us with minimum staffing. it was also an indication of how, when something is no longer there, you can miss something. dylan had gone, the bookings were back and tony and i had never attempted the menu, in its entirety, on our ownsome. the only night that we ahd done was the first saturday and that was very quiet. so thursday came around and we were left to our own devices on th pepperonata, the caponata and the sweet risotto. it was a little like a juggling act and that was made worse when a community-minded soul had let their dog defecate outside the door. as you may remember, it rained heavily and what was at first a dog turd became a slurry and alot of that came into the restaurant via the shoes of the customers. leanne was flapping, buckets were being filled, mops being dispatched and then discarded and orders never stopped coming. thursday night, sahttered and with the lingering smell of, well enough of that.

friday was also busy and was marred by one table. we try very hard to accommodate and if it was just about the money, we'd have shut long ago, so it usually spoils the night for us when we have one table in that is a little rude to the guys serving. if they don't like the food, i'll take that on the chin but rudeness is unacceptable and because it spoilt the night, and this was one table amongst a good few, and everyone else was really nice, i'll be exercising my right to refuse service in the future.

i was going to do a recipe but that's got me down again.

PS saturday was really nice

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Goodbye to Dylan and melanzane parmigiana

So this week we say goodbye to our first work experience student. The guy in question was Dylan Robson, after whom we named the menu, and who was a real help in the kitchen. He’s also a vegan, which, given that most of this menu is vegan, meant that he was a real help, understanding the need for vigilance in the kitchen. Unfortunately you have to be kitchen fit for this job and I think the toll started to be taken on Friday. Tuesday is our prep day, and that went well, but Thursday is when the hammer really goes down, 11 hours pretty much on your feet the whole time. I forget that I used to struggle with foot and calf issues when we first started and at first interpreted the leg-lifting as a new dance, but it was fatigue. So, world cup still having an effect on bookings, we gave him the night off on Saturday. To say thank you, here is the recipe for melanzane parmigiana.

Tomato sauce.

Sweat an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic in plenty of olive oil. Once softened turn up the heat and when bubbling add a slosh of red wine vinegar and a couple of teaspoons of sugar (they should be about the same in volume). This is a gastrique and is normally cooked separately and then added, but who wants to wash all those pans. Once this has reduced but left the slight sweet-sour taste, add a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes or some passata. Cook out for a minimum of twenty minutes.

Aubergines: slice to about 0.75 cm and brush both sides with oil. Season and place in the oven at 190C on a rack to brown. If you want both sides brown, you’ll need to turn them over. If you feel very cooky today, then instead of roasting you can pat with flour, then cover with egg and fry in a little oil. Either way, allow to cool.

Mozzarella, vegan or otherwise, sliced, and plenty of it. Parmesan, vegan or otherwise, grated and plenty of it. My favourite herb for this is dried basil, but you can use fresh. (vegan parmesan, equal quantities of ground sesame seeds and nutritional yeast flakes)


In a nice oven proof dish, place a layer of tomato sauce in the bottom, cover with slices of aubergine (you can do this with courgette as well, especially if you’ve let a couple get too big), season, herb and then cover with mozzarella and parmesan. Keep layering until you’ve filled your dish, finishing with a layer of tomato and covered in cheese. Bake in the oven at about 170C until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted and coloured.
Dylan very kindly also brought us some vegan cheesecake to eat, which I am currently taking with my tea.

Cheers Dylan, thanks for your help and we hope you had fun and maybe learned a thing or two.