Friday, June 15, 2012

teething problems and nutty issues

first night of the new menu and the usual problems; i hadn't made at least two parts of the menu, the koftas are a little bland and it's a nutty menu. the first problem is easily resolved, apologise and hope for the best. the koftas are a perennial problem, it's very difficult to get the seasoning right on the first night but i didn't mind the slightly bland flavour because the rest of the dish had loads of flavour; i'll bump up the seasoning tonight. the more involved issue is nuts, or rather the amount of them on the menu. we had three new diners in last night, one of whom had a serious nut allergy. the problem with mexican food is that lots of the moles are thickened with nuts so that nuts are used in the kitchen very frequently. we are as vigilant as possible when it comes to nuts, different boards/knives, but could i guarantee that everything has no traces of nuts? no and so a new diner left whose allergy was severe whereas another diner with a less severe allergy ate and everything was cool. nuts

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

a kiss but no tongues

we very much enjoyed saturday night. the menu came together nicely, not bad for three weeks in, and service was nice and busy. one table came in and left without eating and we had a no-show but to counter we also had a few new diners and one comment struck home. we've always made the meat dish as flavourful as we could but it has also been the poor relation. historically many of our dishes were one pot dishes, tagines, curries etc but as we developed the menus the vegetarian dishes tended to become more complex whereas the meat dish stayed the same. chatting to one of the new customers on saturday and they asked why we have the meat dish on. as i have explained many times to many people, in my social circle i am the only vegetarian and i wanted to provide this dish as a welcome to everyone; tony would have been happy to go 100% veggie. on the whole it has worked, although it is mostly interpreted as a gimmick. on the current menu the meat is a stew and rice whereas the veggie equivalentish dish (ethiopian wat etc.) has a beetroot raita, dhal and a chutney. the lack of the accompaniments was described as a kiss but no tongues. here are the recipes for the tongues. beetroot raita. fry onion in oil until lightly browned, turn up heat and add black cumin seeds and brown or slightly blacken. allow to cool. for the best result roast fresh beetroot in foil in 180C oven for one hour, to cheat use vacuum packaged but you will lose the colour. finely chop the beetroot. place a pot of yoghurt (we use yofu, but greek would work very well) chop some dill and add together with the beetroot, onion mix to the yoghurt. season with lime juice and salt and pepper. chutney finely chop an onion and lightly fry. add a teaspoon of black cumin and panch pooram (a mix of whole indian spices) and a sprinkle of chilli flakes. shred or grate some carrots and add to the onions. throw in a tin of chick peas and add 100ml of rice vinegar and 150g of caster sugar. cook until syrupy. season to taste. my brulee recipe this is different to any that i have seen but the results are pretty decent and it takes significantly lees time. makes 10 four egg yolks and two whole eggs in a two litre jug. add two teaspoons of vanilla sugar or a teaspoon of extract and 150g of caster sugar. add 200ml of milk and 800ml of double cream. there should be 1200ml of liquid, add more cream if there is less. use a hand blender to bring everything together and pour in to ramekins. (you can put anything in the bottom of the ramekins, at the moment we have a mix of stewed rhubarb and blitzed stem ginger). place in a deep oven tray and fill tray with boiling water to 2/3 of the way up the ramekin and place in an oven at 130C. cook until there is only the slightest wobble left in the middle of the brulee. place in the fridge for 3 hours minimum. to serve sprinkle sugar on the top and brulee with a kitchen torch. cheers wayne