Look At The Sky

I feel like I should be writing a diary of “Summer Holiday Survival”. Ticking off the days and patting myself on the back for making it through another day with all my kids still alive and unscathed. We may be holidaying in London this summer but to be honest I cannot think of a better place to be. There is always free stuff to do and I think if the weather carries on doing what it is doing, I may enter a BBQ Off competition. Last weeks Bucket BBQ was bloody brilliant. I have never cooked beef ribs before. As they were the only ribs left at the Halal Butchers I thought I would give them a go. I made a dry rub with chilli flakes, garlic powder, sugar, salt and other stuff and rubbed the ribs then stored them in the fridge for 24 hours. They were very much appreciated by the marauding hordes of Mordor (AKA kids).

I can say many, many things about my kids that drive me to distraction and more. Yet the one thing I can always rely on is when in a restaurant, their behaviour is beyond reproach. My god, I have never known kids that are so focused on the task at hand. The menu is scanned, they ask questions about the food, they are not shy about suggesting menu amendments to managers and they never ever leave the table unless absolutely necessary. Why would they? There is food on the table. There is the flurry of excitement after the food has been ordered, then the constant looking for their waiter to see if their food is on its way. When the food arrives the cries of excitement and suitable yum noises and then silence. That wonderful silence, the only time my kids are silent.

We recently visited  Cafe Rouge in Holborn, they were promoting their new kids menu and I noticed their main menu had changed too. Now I haven’t visited The Rouge for many a year. I think the last time was for a brunch when I was preggers with the boy.

Wow we had a wonderful time. I think they have totally revamped their menu. The kids tried a mini portion of snails each and they didn’t hesitate. Lola especially loved mopping up the garlicky butter with her bread. Then the real eating began…..Bouef Bourgignon, sauteed chicken, cheese burgers, steak and chips, mussels, more snails, pasta, ice cream, wine, juice, more wine…..All the dishes were met by gasps and “Oooh” and can I have some more please. The staff were really attentive and friendly. My kids and I give Cafe Rouge a big thumbs up. We loved it so much we went back a couple days later to try the other half of the menu!

Wishing you all a great week, I’m off to get ready for yet another BBQ!

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I Do Believe In Magic It’s Plain To See

My new obsession for the summer is a small blue bucket! Most sunny weekends I can be found sat next to it on London Fields roasting marinated lamb ribs, chicken pieces and marshmallows for schmoores. I have to say my bucket BBQ was the best buy of the summer. I remember a couple of years ago, summer was a giant looming chasm of doom trying to juggle childcare, work and trying to figure out how to entertain the kids as I just could not afford to take a holiday with them. What I love about my kids is that their bar is so low for entertainment. A bucket BBQ and the local paddling pool and thats them sorted for the day!

The bar certainly was not low when Kikkoman invited me to an evening with ex Nobu chef Scott Hallsworth at his restaurant Kurobuta in Chelsea. Oh my god, the food was amazing we had so many small plates of delicately seasoned dishes. Tea smoked lamb, Nigiri and Sashimi, BBQ pork belly and lots more. What was really fascinating to me was the taste test of Kikkoman against another brand. You can really taste the difference. Kikkoman is naturally brewed for 6 months and when you taste it against other brands that process shines through. It has an umami unlike the others. In fact its so delicious we even had cocktails made with soy. The “Bloody Kik in the Pants” was the best Bloody Mary I have ever had! It had wasabi and cucumber and it was so delicious, I have posted the recipe below for you guys to try.

Inspired by my Kikkoman experience and armed with my blue bucket, I created a couple of recipes for lamb ribs and chicken pieces. I did the taste test with the kids who wholeheartedly agreed with me and then mainlined my bottle of Kikkomen in a couple of days Grrr!

I leave you with a few pics of my night and also my recipe for soy and spice rubbed lamb ribs. Oh yeah and thank you Kikkoman William loved the T shirt!

Have a wonderful week!

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Soy and Spice Lamb Ribs

I prefer lamb ribs to pork ribs when barbecuing, they cook faster. Also the fat melts and flavours the ribs and then drips onto the coals and creates a smoking effect. We eat them with a mountain of slaw and BBQ corn on the cob. I am seriously thinking about writing a Bucket BBQ Book! I am totally loving this way of cooking. Anyway I digress. The recipe is thus. Oh and marinate them for at least a couple of hours or overnight if you can be bothered.

Ingredients

For the dry rub

  • 1kg of lamb ribs, fat trimmed and scored
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Large pinch of Maldon sea salt

For the sauce

  • 1 tbsp Kikkoman
  • 2 tbsp ketchup

Method 

Put the lamb in a bowl and add all the ingredients for the dry rub. Massage the spices into the lamb and leave for a few hours or overnight if you can.

Add the soy and ketchup and cover the ribs evenly.

Make sure your coals are hot, white and no longer flaming. Add the ribs to the BBQ and turn frequently until they are melty and brown and cooked through. Set aside for a few minutes to rest covered in foil. Oh and  don’t forget to tie the dog up if you have one…Epic fail on my part, upset kids, happy dog!

Bloody Kik in the pants Cocktail

This is so bloody yum and it packs a punch.

  • 50ml vodka
  • 50ml Tomato juice
  • 4 drops of Tabasco
  • Pinch of Shichimi salt
  • 10ml honey
  • 10 ml lime
  • 10ml lemon
  • 5ml Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 4 pieces cucumber 

 Muddle cucumber with the salt and Tabasco, pour rest of ingredients in and shake. Garnish with lemon wedge and the salt to present


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Always In The Back Of My Mind

I’m sitting outside a little cafe in Islington, with the dog asleep at my feet drinking some very lovely Fentiman’s Ginger Beer, trying to figure out where to begin with the last two weeks of work and life. I have been juggling designing wedding flowers, recipes and helping organise and working on ScandiFeast. What a wonderful weekend that was. I will be posting photos very shortly.

From time to time I am invited to foodie events. I try to pick and choose the ones which I feel I have a strong interest in. Also childcare is obviously a factor so if I am going to go out of an evening, it pretty much has to be something that I can justify forking out for childcare.

I was lucky enough to be invited to Cafe Spice Namaste to spend an evening with Cyrus Todiwalla. Now I am not going to turn that down! Cyrus and his wife are wonderful hosts. They always make you feel like you are eating in their home. Cyrus spent the evening demoing and feeding us Lamb dishes. He talked about the small hold farms where he sources the lamb from and we also met an Irish now farming in the midlands sheep farmer and he gave a brilliant talk about the typical day of a sheep farmer. You could tell he totally loved his work.

One of the things I learnt was that lamb sales were lower then chicken, pig and cow. Oh and also its a generation thing. If you are over 40 then you would quite easily make lamb your meat choice but the younger generations don’t know how to cook it! That I found weird. Shoulder of Lamb, rub with olive oil, garlic and rosemary, shove in the oven for a few hours…Dinner!

Cyrus made the most delicious canapés with cuts of the lamb that you wouldn’t necessarily choose. Lamb breast was so tender and delicious. Oh and he made burgers with lamb mince and stuffed a piece of blue cheese inside before frying. He also seasoned the lamb mince and invited us to eat, lamb tartare. I cannot explain how delicious the raw meat was. So sweet and perfectly seasoned. He flash fried in minutes cubes of simply spiced lamb loin. It was tender and pink and blew away any myths that lamb has to be cooked for a long time.

I left stuffed and vowing to quiz my butcher about all the different cuts he can supply.

I leave you with a Cyrus recipe for blue cheese stuffed lamb burger and also a diagram showing you all the different cuts of Lamb and how to cook them. I found it really useful I hope you do too. I’m heading off to get some cuts of Lamb for the BBQ tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

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BLUE CHEESE STUFFED LAMB BURGER

By Cyrus Todiwala

“Burgers might be an American invention or creation but the Kebab or Kavaab is very Indian, Persian, Turkish, Lebanese and so on. In India the burger would be actually a kebab of sorts.

I simply had to devise a burger with spices. It is simple to put together and just shows what you can do if you think just a little bit differently. So be brave and create – perhaps you will make many more combinations and bring out the best in the lamb you buy. Enjoy!”
Makes 6 burgers
Ingredients:

  • 675g lamb mince
  • 1 finely chopped medium onion
  • 2-3 cloves minced garlic                                                                                                                                                                                                1 x 2inch piece minced fresh ginger
  • 1 slender type minced green chilli (seeds included)
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin powder
  • 1½ tbsp ground coriander powder
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 3 heaped tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala powder
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper

 

For the Stuffing:

  • 150g Blue cheese, crumbled
  • 2 finely chopped green chillies
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander
  • 2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
  • Rolls or bread, to serve

Method:

  • In a large bowl gently mix all the burger ingredients together. Divide into 6 evenly–sized burgers.
  • In a small bowl blend the stuffing ingredients together and shape into equal-sized balls to stuff the burgers.
  • Make an indentation in the centre of each burger with your thumb and fill with a ball of the cheese. Make sure the cheese is completely encased when you form the burger.
  • Cook on a prepared grill or barbecue for 6-8 minutes on each side or until any meat juices run clear.
  • Serve with your favourite bread or rolls with some sliced tomatoes, onion and lettuce and some relish.

 

By Cyrus Todiwala 2015 for www.tastyeasylamb.co.uk


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Building Up The Fire

Yeah Summer is on its way! I am looking forward to lots of picnics in London Fields with the kids and I’m hoping we get away for a week or so too. Summer officially begins on June 20th and I can’t think of a better way to start the season then the 2 day festival of all things Scandinavian, Scandi Feast. My lovely friend and colleague Chloe Avery is the creator and host. She has organised for the best of the best of Scandinavian chefs, cooks and bakers. Talent such as Niklas Ekstedt, his Stockholm restaurant utilises only fire to cook their dishes. No gas burners or electric ovens, everything is cooked over birch and flames and smoke and soot. He will be demoing such techniques. We also have the “Delia of Scandinavian baking”   Trine Hahnemann taking us through our feast menu and demoing some Scandi treats. Valentine Warner  will be making Sild (pickled herring) and other delicious Scandi delights. We cannot have a feast without booze. Lovely Joe Wadsack will be showing us how to make some Scandinavian cocktails and no doubt we will be trying out some schnapps too.

I am going to be demoing how to make a Scandinavian floral head wreath, making florals for the feast table and will also be part of the food team cooking the feast for the evening. I cant wait!

As I have been immersed in all things Scandi for weeks now I thought I would share with you my recipe for Skagen Sild. I can pretend its authentic, I’m not Danish but I know how to pickle a fish!  I remember a few friends when I was in my 20’s who totally loved rollmops. You know those rolled up bits of fish in a jar with vinegar and stuff. I never tried them and never wanted to. Over the years though I have come to love making my own pickles and also making ceviche dressings for all kinds of fish and seafood. It one of my favourite ways to prepare and eat seafood. Herring is delicious prepared this way. Those Scandinavians know a thing or two about fish!

I leave you with my recipe and a few pics of the Chefs involved in Scandi Feast.

Have a great week!

 

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SkagenSild

Skagen Sild – Pickled Herring with Sour Cream Dill and Apple

Herring is not a fish I buy regularly. I think most of us Brits think of it as a fish in a tin or in a jar. My fishmonger is shut on a Monday so off I went to Ridley Road Market to the Medeterrainian Fishmonger. He had some and filleted it for me. The most annoying thing about this fish is the bloody bones. I didn’t really feel I had a right to tell him to pin bone the fillets better. If you have a good fishmonger your pin boning time should be cut down dramatically.

I don’t really care that much about the bones but my kids are really annoying when it comes to tiny bones. Especially the boy. Its worth my time to do such a dull chore just to negate the whinging later.

Anyway I digress. This recipe is simple and quick and once you have pickled the fish you can do what I did and cool it down and shove it in the fridge in its pickle juices for up to a couple of days. Or serve it hot from the stove with a cold potato salad and some rye bread. Apparently so I have been told by an expert in Danish tradition and Sild you ‘have to serve it with schnapps” Not that horrid Archers stuff but real Danish Schnapps…Ok well if you can do that then great otherwise a glass of your favourite white wine will do.

Ingredients

For the Sild

  • 4 – 6 Herring fillets
  • 200ml water
  • 200ml white wine
  • 100ml white wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
  • Large pinch or two of Maldon Sea Salt
  • about 25 white peppercorns
  • tablespoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 red onion sliced

Put everything except the fish in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat to a gentle simmer and add the herring placing the lid on the saucepan cook for 12 mins.

Turn off the heat and wait for everything to cool a bit so you can handle it. You have a choice now, you can serve it warm from the pan with potato salad or some bread and butter. Or turn the whole lot out into a kilner jar and store in the fridge for up to two days. You can make a delicious dressing for an open rye bread sandwich.

For the Sandwich topping

(Serves 2)

  • 1 pickled herring fillet (with some of the onion)
  • Half an apple cubed not peeled
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream
  • pinch Maldon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped dill
  • 2 pieces of rye bread

Mix everything together.  Place on a couple of slices of rye bread. Eat!


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I Guess We’ll Just Have To Adjust

I can only apologise for my absence in the last few weeks. I have no excuse for my excuse really. Work has been mental, I have been organising the sale of a property and spending days painting and digging up my, totally ignored by tenants, garden trying to make it pretty again. I had a 2 day warning for a trip to New York for work and I actually have no idea where the month has gone.

Then half term just arrived without any warning at all. They get two weeks off! I mean what the hell is that about? Two weeks! After pulling myself together I sat them down and told them we would be holidaying in Hackney. Tilda told me that we are the worse “holidayers” ever and that she would be organising her trip to Disneyland without me.

I managed to ensconce the little darlings into the local adventure playground for the majority of the Easter holidays therefore allowing me to organise the Easter festivities. Which really means, I had time to cook up a storm.

Easter for me usually consists of slow roast shoulder of lamb, a ton of sides and a chocolate easter egg cake. This year I decided to go rogue. I cooked an Indian feast. I made a simple lamb curry which involves ground almonds and yogurt and all the usual suspects, cumin, coriander, garam masala to season at the end. I also made a chana daal and a sag paneer (cheese and spinach) dish.

No indian feast would be complete without raita and I also made a really simple onion chutney. Thinly sliced red onion and in a saucepan I placed equal measurements of vinegar and sugar and gently heated it until the sugar dissolved. I then added the onions and a few cardamon pods and also some dried sliced orange peel. I was going to make naan bread but the Turkish Supermarket near to me do such delicious home made naan, I brought a load and smothered them in garlic and butter!

I leave you with a few pics and also my recipe for chana daal and raita dip.

Have a lovely week!

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Chana Daal

(serves 6-8)

I’m not sure if this is authentic or not. All I know is that it is delicious and creamy and when I make it there is never any leftovers. I use a lot of ginger mainly because I love ginger, you don’t have to be quite so enamoured if you choose.

Ingredients

500g chana dahl

5 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
5cm piece of root ginger peeled and thinly sliced into matchsticks

1 inch piece of root ginger sliced in half
1 tbsp turmeric
4 small green chillies chopped
2 tbsp ghee or butter
1 red onion, finely sliced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp coriander powder
1 stick of cinnamon
Fresh coriander, chopped to garnish

Method

Place the daal in a saucepan and cover with water about an inch over the surface of the daal. Add a couple of the cloves of garlic and the 1 inch piece of root ginger and the cinnamon stick. You can add some vegetable bouillon or a stock if you wish, if not then season with some Maldon sea salt. Bring the saucepan to a boil then turn down the heat to a gentle simmer for 30-40mins. Keep an eye on it, stir occasionally and if it looks like the water is drying out then add a little it should be the consistency of lumpy porridge.

While the daal is cooking, gently fry the onions in the ghee or butter until soft and then add the rest of your garlic and ginger and the chilli and all the spices. When the daal is cooked remove it from the heat and take out the piece of ginger and cinnamon stick. Pour on the buttery onion mix and stir gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be. I sometimes add another knob of butter at the last minute and then garnish with the coriander. Serve with your feast or on its own with naan bread. Yum!

Mint and Cucumber Raita

(Serves 6-8)

Fresh light and delicious. I could spread this on toast!

Ingredients

300ml of low fat plain yogurt
Half a cucumber – sliced in half lengthwise and the seeds scraped out with a spoon. Roughly chopped
6 sprigs of fresh mint – chopped
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
Pinch Maldon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon of garam masala

Method

Pour the yogurt into a bowl add all the ingredients except the garam masala. Stir and adjust seasoning if need be. Garnish with the garam masala. Serve.


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Just Rolling Down This Road

Ok, so I have no idea what happened to January! Christmas is a blur of friends and family. I had 15 people over for Christmas dinner. Totally packed them in like sardines. It was a blast. Kids, dogs, friends of friends I have never met. It was the perfect mix of familiar and new. I cooked enough to feed 30 people and my neighbour Will cooked the about the same amount so we were eating Christmas dinner for days afterwards, as it should be.

My title is very apt for January my god I feel like my blood has been replaced by goose fat! So boringly and as usual and it only lasts about a week or two I am trying my best to be super healthy. I am not in anyway aspiring to be a vegan but I can definitely dip my toe in.  In a way I like the discipline of less ingredients. Not that there isn’t a gazillion different veg that are a available at this time of year. In fact January is wonderfully full of green stuff. Brassicas and all things hardy and dark green.

I have a couple of recipes to share with you this week. So simple and healthy and filling. I made whole roast cauliflower with a spice rub alongside a chana (chickpea) daal and sautéed kale, spinach with fennel. The vegan contingency were happy!

I leave you with a recipe and a few pics. Oh and Rufus got a new skateboard and insisted I showed everyone!

Have a lovely end of the month!

 

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Roast Fennel and Rocket Salad

I made this today because a Ridley Road Market stall was selling 3 fennel bulbs for £1. Its a delicious winter salad, you can add some shavings of parmesan or any sharp cheese. I think it will also work with a good goats cheese too.

Ingredients

  • 1 fennel bulb – sliced lenthwise
  • bag of wild rocket
  • handful of mixed seeds
  • handful of dried berries
  • splash of olive oil
  • a capful of red wine vinegar
  • Maldon sea salt and black pepper

Method

Turn on the oven to 200C and place the sliced fennel bulb in a shallow dish, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over then roast for 20 minutes. Until the fennel is golden and soft.

On a plate toss the rocket, berries and mixed seeds then place the warm fennel on top and drizzle with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

 


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I Still Dream of Organon

I’m not sure why but in the last couple of weeks I have been on a bit of a vegan tip. I guess it was a perfect storm of friends over for dinner who are thus inclined and me rising to a challenge. The challenge for me isn’t the non meat bit. If I really think about it, I am mostly veggie inclined. Almost everyday I consume a bag of rocket and snack on raw tomatoes or seeds. Although I do love to throw a bit of goats cheese in with my rocket much to my children’s disgust.

Of all of the things I have prepared over the 9 years my kids have been with me, for some reason goats cheese seems to send them into utter panic.  The smallest hint of something that might look like said cheese either in, on or near a plate of their food, they all look suspiciously at me. “Is that goats cheese?” “Did you see that? It looks like goats cheese!” “Its goats cheese, it is I swear it is..No I’m not eating that!”. It has its upside though. I tell them we are moving to France to raise goats and make cheese when the most severe of threats is needed. Works every time.

Anyway I digress…I was saying that not eating meat is not a problem for me. But dairy, cheese and butter! Thats where I start to trip. How do you bake with no eggs or butter? Ok so you can substitute butter with oils but eggs? I would love to know what to use instead?

Also I just couldn’t live without cheese. Its one of the few food stuffs that literally makes me happy. I could walk away from cakes and biscuits and chocolate and all things sweet but a piece of Manchego or Brie or Cheddar or Roquefort……

Right so I think we are all clear. I am a rubbish vegan. I did however manage to create a vegan pie this week. I was pretty pleased with myself because the pastry was an inspiration that just came to me. It worked really well. The proper vegan approved and thats all that counts really.

Have a great week and I leave you with some pics of said pie and also some photos of very non vegan scones that the kids from Somerfield Playground in Tottenham made with me. More to come from those fab kids next week!

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Mushroom and Aubergine Pie (v)

(Serves 4)

This is delicious and filling and creamy and the pastry is something that I will use now even if I am making a non vegan pie.

Ingredients

For the Pastry

  • 100g white flour
  • 100g spelt flour
  • Handful of mixed seeds
  • Generous pinch of maldon sea salt
  • 50g coconut oil
  • Cold water to mix

For the Filling

  • 1 large aubergine (cut into chunks)
  • 450g mushrooms (chopped roughly)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (roughly chopped)
  • Juice of half lemon
  • Handful of crushed walnuts
  • Pinch of chilli flakes
  • 250mil soy cream
  • 2-4 tbsp Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Few sprigs of thyme

Method

Turn the oven to 180c. Make the pastry first. Mix your flours seeds and salt and then add the coconut oil. Rub with your fingertips until the coconut oil is mixed thoroughly and you get the usual breadcrumb texture. Then add a little cold water (about 3 tblsp) and mix with a knife,  You want the pastry to come together add a little cold water at a time to make this happen. Pat into a ball cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

In a large frying pan add the olive oil. Fry off the aubergine in batches if need be until soft and browning. It will take take about 10mins. Decant onto kitchen paper and then add a little more oil and add the mushrooms. The trick with mushrooms is to leave them alone, let them cook gently and release their water. Add a little salt and pepper halfway through the cooking time (about 5 mins) and then turn and cook for a further 5 minutes until they are soft. Then add the aubergine and the garlic and thyme. Stir gently and add the soy cream and the chili flakes then squeeze on the lemon juice. One last stir and take off the heat.

I used a ceramic pie dish (one I think traditionally used for crumbles). It needs to be deep and around 6 inches wide. Really it doesn’t matter. You could use a large pudding bowl if you wanted. Decant the pie mixture into the dish of your choice.

Roll out the pastry to around 3mil thick and wide enough to cover the dish. Place on top of the filling and either cut or roll the edges to seal the pie filling in.

I used a little of the soy cream which was in the pot mixed with a bit of water to wash the top of the pastry.

Place in the oven for 25 to 30mins until the pie mixture is bubbling and the pastry is turning a golden brown. Serve with greens or a lovely autumn salad.


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I Can Read You Like A Magazine

My favourite time of year has arrived. Autumn rocks! Squash, Chard, Game, Pumpkins, Mushrooms, so many fab ingredients available and when you are feeding a bunch of hungry kids on a shoestring. All cheap and filling and versatile. Well ok all game isn’t that cheap, but rabbit is. I often chuck a bunny in a pot with red wine and baby onions and carrots. Served with mash and some kale sautéed with a few fennel seeds and some crushed garlic.

Halloween arrived and I spent the weekend at The Eastern Curve Garden in Dalston. It’s a 3 minute walk from my apartment and the kids love it there. Lola often takes herself up there when her brother and sister are driving her mad and she “needs some space away from these kids”. She is nine!

The Garden organised a pumpkin carving extravaganza. The kids carved their own pumpkin, I drank a couple of glasses of wine and chatted to my friend Chloe about her new venture next summer that I am totally excited to be part of. She is organising a midsummer Scandi Feast check out her website and come and join us for a weekend of wonderful food and cooking demos hosted by some fabulous chefs. Perfect. We then returned for the grand lighting of the pumpkins the next night. Unfortunately Rufus dropped his pumpkin which resulted in him having a total meltdown. He refused to adopt another one and we all had to leave before they lit them all up.

Rufus recovered from the trauma in time for us to bake some enormous muffin sized cupcakes for our lovely friend and manager at The Pub on The Park. It was his birthday party and leaving do. We made double chocolate cupcakes with salt caramel icing. They turned out perfect. I was happy too because my last bake for TPOTP was a disaster. Less said about that the better.

I leave you today with my recipe for Eggplant Parmesan. It’s an American Italian dish which takes a bit of time to prepare but it is worth the work. I made it this weekend at my lovely friend Sam’s house with her brood. We walked the kids for a couple of hours and assembled this delicious combination of breadcrumbed eggplant and freshly made baked tomato passata and a nutmeggy roux. It takes about an hour to prepare, half an hour in the oven and 7 minutes to be consumed by the plague of locusts that are our children. I leave you with a few pics including my neighbour Will’s fabulous game stew. Apologies for lack of photos of the Eggplant dish.  I had to get it in the oven before one of the kids started chewing on my leg.

Have a wonderful week.

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Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 6

This recipe takes some time to assemble, yet it is worth it. A great alternative to the usual Sunday roast. You don’t have to make your own passata, we just had lots of tomatoes hanging around.

Ingredients

For the eggplant bit

  • 6 aubergines – sliced lengthwise around 3mm thick
  • 500g breadcrumbs
  • 150g parmesan cheese
  • 400g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • Big slug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the passata

A shop brought one is totally fine too.

  • 12 medium tomatoes
  • 1 head of garlic, split into separate cloves unpeeled
  • Large slug of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the Roux

  • Big nob of butter – about 2 tablespoons
  • Plain flour – same quantity as the butter
  • 300 mils whole milk – give or take more or less
  • A grating of fresh nutmeg

Method

It’s a bit of a factory line to begin with but the repetitiveness is somehow comforting. I had to stop Sam from eating the breadcrumbed aubergine as they were disappearing faster then I was frying them.

If you are making the passata, then first throw all the ingredients into a roasting dish and cook for half an hour at 180C until the garlic is soft and the tomatoes are bursting at the seams. While that is roasting you can get on with frying off the slices of aubergine.

In 3 separate dishes place the flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Grate a little parmesan into the bread crumbs and season with salt and pepper. Season the flour too.  Throw some olive oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat. Using one hand only (or you will gloop up both hands and it all turns into a mess) take a slice of aubergine, dip in the flour shaking off the excess, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs. Repeat with all the aubergine and fry a batch at a time turning when each side is golden.  Then set the slices aside on a large plate covered with kitchen towel. You may have to wipe out the pan half way through with kitchen towel and add a bit more olive oil as the aubergines tend to suck up the oil.

Next take your roasted tomatoes and place in a food processor with the blade.  Squeeze out the garlic from its paper. Add those too the processor as well and whizz. Then check for seasoning and place in a saucepan and heat gently. If you feel you need a bit more quantity then add a tin or half a tin of tomatoes but make sure you cook the passata for 15mins or so to cook out he rawness of the added tomatoes.

Finally make the roux. Add the flour and butter to a saucepan over a medium heat. Stir thoroughly until it all comes together in a lump. Then slowly pour in a little milk. Stir until absorbed then repeat until all the milk has been incorporated  and you get a mixture the thickness of custard, stir over the heat for a further 5 mins to cook the rawness of the  flour. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.

Right now you have all your elements ready you can assemble the dish. This is much like assembling a lasagne, just using the aubergine slices instead of pasta sheets.

In a large deep roasting dish. Add a ladleful of passata, then a layer of aubergine, then a ladleful of passata and a ladleful of roux, then grate some parmesan on the roux and add a layer of aubergine and repeat the process. Make sure the top layer finishes with the roux on top. Then give a really generous grating of parmesan. Place in the oven for half an hour at 180C until the top is golden and bubbly. Serve with a big salad. Heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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The Fault In Our Stars

I think this is the longest I have left it between posts! Its not my fault honestly. I have just been running around like a loon juggling loads of work stuff and I just landed the most brilliant job ever! Yet I can’t talk about it having signed a confidentiality agreement which is sooooo frustrating. I will be writing about it and tweeting and all that stuff once things are up and running. I can’t wait to share the new recipes I have been developing. Anyway I should stop talking about it or I will give the game away.

Other then my current new thingy, I have been busy with work and all things kids. I have been cooking up a storm for work, did a TV promo with a new up and coming TV chef called Alex Head. She runs a cafe and a catering business. Lovely lady. Look out for her on TV soon. I also spent a wonderful afternoon with my lovely friend Graziella who was back from Brazil for a week or so. Fifty or so friends with 3 BBQs took up a corner of London Fields. The kids tried lots of fab food and there favourite were chicken hearts skewered like a kebab and barbecued. They loved them so much I brought some the following weekend and pan fried them with butter, garlic, cayenne pepper and served them on toasted ciabatta. Yum.

I also took another trip to Brussels and landed a job (the one I can’t talk about). I love Brussels, It is a beautiful city. The beer is divine. I have decided its the only beer I will drink now. What is the point of that watery other stuff you get here. I tried a peach beer, wonderful on a hot summers day and also a black cherry beer, lovely but the peach was my favourite. So started the afternoon with summery fruity beer and ended the day with a beer that was so drinkable I had um well I think 3 but I can’t actually remember the exact number probably because it is 9.5% proof. Westmalle a trappitst beer one only a handful of abbeys that still brew and sell their own beer. I want to stay in their guest house and drink their beer. Oh and also eat their cheese.

Talking about cheese, I made while I was there, with my pasta machine. Ok yes I brought a pasta machine, but thats only because I brought 6 Clonakilty  black puddings with me. Look don’t ask its perfectly normal. Although as usual alarm bells go off as I go through security. Its a pasta machine for gods sake! As all of my bag is emptied and scanned for IUDs the nice security lady says. “thats a lot of black pudding you have there….

Anyway I met my lovely bloke. Have I mentioned him before, probably not but anyway he is Irish and its nigh on impossible to get his favourite black pudding in Brussels so I came armed with enough to keep him going for a couple of days. I made for lunch a ravioli stuffed with black pudding and blue cheese. It was bloody delicious. I also pan fried some with blue cheese and prawns. It sounds odd I know but the sweetness of the prawns goes so well with the pudding.

I leave you with a few photos. My favourite of which is Tilda who did a deliberate face plant into an entire chocolate cake at the Brazilian Barbecue!

Recipe next week promise!

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Coming Up Easy

The summer holidays have begun. Pav, the kids nanny left for her vacation. I resisted the urge to cling to her legs screaming don’t go don’t leave me pleaaseeee. I am actually surprised that my children didn’t do exactly that. After the five stages of grief passed, denial, anger, bargaining, depression and then acceptance. I decided to pull myself together and plan the next few weeks around the kids and summer and work and all that stuff. Luckily for me my dance card is getting quite full with invitations to fun things to do with the kids. My lovely friend Uju Mother and Shaker was hosting a bloggers network event at  The National Portrait Gallery. It was a wonderful evening getting to meet fellow bloggers and have a chilled glass of wine in the Late Shift Bar a cool relief from the temperatures outside. I had a glass of wine and chatted to Claire our NPG host while the kids never ceased to find travelling up to the first floor on the imposing escalator and then running down the stairs to have another go, entertaining. Claire filled me in on the summer family friendly activities which sound fab. The kids and I did a family trail finding paintings and then the kids decided that they needed a second dinner! They would not be convinced otherwise.

I am going back, I want to see the Virginia Woolf Exhibition and take a bit more time to see the wonderful BP Portrait Award exhibit.

We left and jumped on the 38 Bus, the kids were demanding Lahmacun. Its a cross between a flatbread and a pizza. Ok its a flatbread pizza, but without the tomato sauce. Right just Imagine a giant fluffy flatbread smothered in minced lamb and spices and then topped with shredded lettuce and saladness then rolled up.  The kids love it, you can buy it in Hackney for less then £2 and its a full meal in itself. Me being me, said ok but I’m not buying it. I want to make it. Big giant protests ensued. Rufus said my lahmacun would be “rubbish” Lola and Tilda tried to make some money from my “challenge” I told them if its not better then Tad’s I will give them donuts for breakfast for a week. Then realised maybe I have shot myself in the foot with that statement!

So I leave you with a few pics and a recipe for Lahmacun. Enjoy!

Visit National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery is at St Martin’s Place, off Trafalgar Square, WC2H 0NE (Charing Cross tube)

BP Portrait Award runs until September 21, 2014, admission FREE

Virginia Woolf exhibition  runs until October 24, 2014

Late Shift Events  run every Thursday and Friday until 9pm

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Lahmacun

This is not a traditional recipe at all. I totally made this recipe up. It’s somewhere in the ball park I am sure and it’s delicious and thats what really counts. I am lucky to live 5 minutes away from a fabulous Turkish supermarket, so I buy packs of 3 freshly made fluffy flatbreads for 99p. If you can’t find authentic turkish bread then just us flour tortillas, no big deal.

Serves 4 

Ingredients

  • 4 flatbreads (or flour tortillas)
  • 300g mince lamb
  • Half red onion (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • Stick of cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp (or more if you like heat) of chilli flakes or cayenne pepper
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • A squirt of tomato ketchup
  • Salt and pepper

Garnish with shredded lettuce, or any green you would like, coriander, mint, basil, spring onions…etc

Method

Take you flat breads and if you wish you can warm them up in a very low oven while you make the lamb mixture. In a glug of olive oil, fry your onions over a medium heat until soft. Add the salt and pepper while you are frying the onions. Then add the garlic, stir and add the cinnamon, sumac, coriander, cumin, chilli  and the lamb. Cook and stir until the lamb is no longer raw. Add the tomatoes and ketchup then turn down the heat and cover for 10 mins.  Taste for seasoning and then turn off the heat. Leave it for 10 mins to cool a little. Then spread the lamb mixture equally over the tortillas and sprinkle the garnish of your choice. Roll up and apply to face.

 

 


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