Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Wahaca

Went to Wahaca for a pre-theatre meal with my family tonight. The growing restaurant chain was set up by Thomasina Miers, former MasterChef champion. It specialises in authentic Mexican street food using locally sourced, sustainable, British ingredients. Although it's in a basement the dining room is surprisingly airy and expansive. It's also ridiculously good value. You can eat, and drink, like a king for £20.

The food is best experienced as a Mexican take on tapas. The dishes are uniformly delicious, vibrant in both appearance and taste, fresh and (just about) seasonal. However, they can be a little heavy on the chilli in some cases. If you don't finish your meal with the chocolate and churros then you are missing out on a sublime treat.

There are outlets in Covent Garden, Westfield in Shepherd's Bush and apparently one will be opening in Canary Wharf soon. I'm looking forward to some lunchtime treats!

Wahaca on Urbanspoon

ICCHFC - Week 7: Orange marshmallow cake

For Week 7 Hannah produced an orange marshmallow cake. I'm pretty sure that people voted because no-one could conceive how marshmallows and orange could come together in a cake form (well that's why I voted anyway!)

The cake itself was light but didn't have a strong taste of orange. It turns out that marshmallow icing is AMAZING. It is definitely something I shall think about using myself in the future.

Hannah's Orange Marshmallow Cake - taken from Fast Cakes by Mary Berry

Ingredients:
100g margarine
100g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
1 level tsp baking powder
2 eggs
grated rind 1 orange
Topping:
75g marshmallows
175g icing sugar, sieved
approx, 3 tbsp warm orange juice

Method:
1. Heat the oven to 180C; grease and line an 8" loose-bottomed tin.
2. Put all the cake ingredients in a bowl and mix for 2-3 minutes, then pour into the tin.
3. Bake for 50 minutes or until risen and golden-brown.
4. While the cake is cooking, cut the marshmallows in half horizontally with scissors.
5. As soon as the cake is cooked, put the marshmallows on top of the cake, cut side down. Leave in the tin until cold.
6. Blend the icing sugar and orange juice.
7. Remove the cake from the tin. Pour the icing over the top - it will run into the cracks in the marshmallow and slightly down the sides.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Jaffa cake - pimped!

The idea for the pimp came during a team bonding weekend for EMU mixed ultimate frisbee club. www.pimpthatsnack.com was discussed and the countless pimps formed the start of a Saturday’s evening entertainment. As jaffa cakes form the basis of many a frisbee player’s inter-game diet during a tournament, what could be better than a massive jaffa cake to bring the team together at the start of the European Club Championships?

In proper geek fashion, the first stage was to analyse a jaffa cake, so that it could be scaled up for the pimp.

The cake base of a jaffa cake was measured at 54 mm in diameter. The flan case for the pimp was 240 mm in diameter. This meant that the scaled up pimp version was going to be 4.4 times larger than the original jaffa cake, thus the pimp jelly needed to be 154 mm in diameter and 13.3 mm deep.

Ingredients:
1 packet orange jelly cut into squares
375 ml orange juice
275g plain chocolate pieces
350ml double cream
25cm sponge flan case

Method:
1. Put orange jelly into bowl and add 150ml boiling orange juice. Stir until dissolved and then add rest of the orange juice. Pour into 154mm shallow round cake tin, lined with clingfilm and chill, to a depth of 13.3mm.
2. Put chocolate and half the cream into a bowl and melt over simmering water. Remove and leave to cool. Whip the rest of the cream into peaks. Fold into melted chocolate. Mix and chill for a few minutes to a spreading consistency but do not let it set.
3. Turn jelly out of clingfilm and sit in the sponge flan case, spread with topping making sure the jelly is completely covered.
4. Leave in fridge to set for at least 30 minutes before serving.
NOTE: If I was making this as a pudding for guests, I would have added fresh orange or mandarin segments and maybe some kind of extra orange flavour. I'd probably decorate the top with something too, maybe white chocolate or an orange cream.

The pimp was finished with a the team’s emblem, a red EMU, made from fondant icing. There were a few transportation issues with getting the jaffa cakes (I made two for a squad of 22) across London using the Tube. I may have been slightly lacklustre in my packing and there was some slight damaging to the icing.

It didn’t last long once the team got their chops around it, so unfortunately there’s no cross-section for comparison!

I've submitted this to www.pimpthatsnack.com. Hopefully it'll get published.

Monday, 28 September 2009

The Man Who Ate Everything - Jeffrey Steingarten

I've just finished reading this, The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten.

The book is a collection of essays from American food journalist Steingarten. The essays are grouped into five parts which cover the author's obsessive pursuit of the "perfect" recipes, detailed investigations into food issues and the author's foodie experiences.

I found the book very easy to read and in places very funny. However, some of the investigation really are in a great deal of detail, that actually makes them difficult to read and not that interesting (unless you have a passion for the subject of the essay)

Although this was published in 1997, it's still relevant and a compelling read. I would recommend it. Apparently there's a sequel which I'll add to my Amazon Wish list.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

ICCHFC - Week 6: Apple and blackberry mini muffins

Week 6 and Johnny brought in a selection of apple and blackberry mini muffins which just about made the journey in. John cycled in yesterday and didn't realise he route was quite so bumpy. John's top tip is:

do not cycle in when it's your turn to bake

Nevertheless (love that word; it's a threefer) the muffins made it in mostly intact. They were very light and moist. Clearly bigger muffins were required!

John's apple and blackberry muffins - the recipe (taken from http://www.muffinrecipes.co.uk/)

Ingredients:
2 eggs
240ml milk
120ml vegetable oil
200g granulated sugar
375g plain flour
4tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
300g blackberries
3 apples
Topping:
50g plain flour
30g granulated sugar
30g butter

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
2. Place the eggs, oil, sugar and milk in a large mixing bowl and beat together
3. Add the flour, salt, baking powder and cinnamon, and stir in thoroughly.
4. Peel and core the apples, then cut them into small pieces. Gently stir the apples and blackberries into the mixture.
5. Fill a muffin tray with paper muffin cases, and then fill each case to about two thirds full with the muffin mixture.
6. Rub together the extra flour, extra sugar and butter, until the mix resembles bread crumbs. 7. Sprinkle over the top of each muffin. Alternatively simply sprinkle sugar over the tops of the muffins.
8. Bake the muffins for 20-25 minutes

Crispy courgettes

Had a courgette left over (no idea what from) so made this recipe from Marco Pierre White's feature in the August edition of delicious magazine. Lovely they were too.

Crispy courgettes

Ingredients:
1 courgette
(Vegetable) oil for deep fat frying
50ml milk
75g seasoned plain flour
Parsley, to garnish

Method:
1. Heat oil to 180°C.
2. Cut courgette into 5cm long batons.
3. Dip courgette in milk and then dust in seasoned flour.
4. Fry until crisp.
5. Serve, scattered with parsley and salt.

Just remembered what the courgette was left over from - my courgette cake!

Lower East Liquor Bar and Bistro

Went to the Lower East Liquor Bar and Bistro in Canary Wharf using their 50% discount lunch offer on Friday.

The steak burger and lobster BLT were both competent affairs with excellent fries on the side (served in mini deep fat fryer baskets - brilliant!). The high light of the meal was an excellent banana milkshake.

Overall a reasonable experience but nothing to write home about. Certainly value for money with the 50% discount, not sure I'd go back if I had to pay full price.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Elaine's leaving "do": Cheese biscuits with goat's cheese pâté, Ricotta and spinach malfatti and Baileys cheesecake

This is the what the Edwards siblings had to send off Elaine to uni in Liverpool:

Cheese biscuits with goat's cheese pâté
Ricotta and spinach malfatti2/8/10 Newsflash - Just found out that these are also called gnudi and can be coated in semolina before boiling!

Baileys cheesecake
RECIPES:

Starter: Cheese biscuits with goat's cheese pâté

Cheese biscuits (adapted from a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe)
Ingredients:
100g /3½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
150g /5¼oz mature cheddar cheese
100g /3½oz plain flour
cayenne pepper
freshly ground black pepper
1 free-range egg yolk

Method:
1. Heat oven to 220°C. Lightly grease a large baking sheet with butter and cover it with a piece of baking parchment.
2. Finely grate the cheese into a mixing bowl. Sift in the flour and add a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. Add some freshly ground black pepper and mix.
3. Cut the butter into little cubes and rub them into the mixture. When the butter has almost disappeared into the flour and you have a crumbly mixture, stir in the egg yolk with a butter knife.
4. Gather the pastry into a ball of dough (it should come together very easily). Dust the work surface with plenty of flour. Carefully roll out the cheese dough into a rough square. It should be about 5mm thick. Neaten the edges with the side of your hand.
5. With a sharp knife, cut the square into strips, then each strip into fingers. Gently lift them on to the lined baking sheet, leaving a little space between each one.
[6. Grate Parmesan over biscuits before baking - OPTIONAL]
7. Bake for about eight minutes, but check after five or six minutes. The cheese straws should be a very pale golden brown. They are fragile when they come out of the oven, so leave them to sit for five minutes before you try to move them. Then carefully lift up the baking parchment and transfer everything to a wire rack to cool for a few more minutes.

Goat's cheese pâté
Ingredients:
150g soft French mild goat’s cheese
1 tbsp Greek yogurt / cream / crème frâiche
5g finely chopped fresh chives, plus extra whole chives to serve
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Method:
1. Put the goat’s cheese into a bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Stir in the Greek yoghurt
/ cream / crème frâiche to make a smooth consistency
3. Add the chives and parsley. Stir to combine.

Main: Ricotta & spinach malfatti
(taken from The Cook's Book)

Ingredients:
½oz butter
½ finely chopped onion
4oz spinach
12oz ricotta
2oz grated Parmesan
1 egg + 1 egg yolk, beaten
Nutmeg
½tsp grated lemon zest
4tbsp plain flour
Tomato sauce:
2lb tomatoes, chopped roughly
½ finely chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1tbsp finely chopped basil
1tsp granulated sugar

Method:

1. For the tomato sauce fry the onion until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic.
2. Add the tomatoes and sugar. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 30 mins.
3. Liquidise and pass sauce through a sieve. Return to pan and adjust seasoning and add more sugar as required. Set the sauce aside.
4. Fry the onion until softened but not coloured in butter and olive oil.Add the spinach and stir until wilted.
5. Drain and then finely chop the spinach when cooled.
6. Combine the ricotta, Parmesan, eggs, nutmeg and lemon zest. Mix until completely smooth. Add the spinach.
7. Stir in the flour until the mixture is from and dry but not stiff.
8. Use dessert spoons to form dumplings from the ricotta mix. Place the dumplings on a floured baking tray and refrigerate for at least two hours.
9. To cook the malfatti bring a big pan of salted water to the boil. Cook the dumplings in the water for 6-7 minutes (they will float to the surface when ready). Remove from the water and drain on a tea-towel.
10. In the meantime, re-heat the tomato sauce. Serve the malfatti on the sauce and garnish with fresh basil and Parmesan.

Dessert: Bailey's cheese cake with coffee sauce

Ingredients:
6oz dark chocolate digestives
1oz butter, melted
1dtsp honey
Tub of mascapone cheese
200ml double cream, whipped stiffly
100g soft cheese
Bailey's - to taste(!)
2oz of white chocolate
2oz dark chocolate
Coffee sauce:
2oz caster sugar
1 tbsp instant coffee
3 tbsp golden syrup/honey
50ml water
125ml evaporated milk
1tsp cornflour (slaked with a little water)

Method:
1. With a food processor grind the biscuits to fine bread crumbs
2. Mix with the honey and melted butter. Turn into an 8" loose-based cake tin and gently compact with the back of a spoon. Chill
3. Beat the soft cheese and mascapone together. Mix in the cream and Bailey's (to taste). Ensure the consistency remains quite stiff.
4. Pour the filling over the base. Smooth and chill.
5. Once the cheesecake has set decorate with the melted chocolates
6. For the sauce, put all the ingredients in a pan (except the cornflour) and mix over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Stir in the cornflour.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Is Steady eating this?


Apparently this is "Tagliatelle in a cheese sauce served with mashed potato" available from a hospital in Leicester.

This photo is taken from the Hospital Food. A site all about the delicious food given to hospital patients around the world.

Hmmm, makes me feel healthy just looking at the pictures...

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Keith Floyd R.I.P.

I was sad to learn that the unique Keith Floyd passed away today after suffering a heart attack.

The timing seem somewhat inopportune given the debut of "Keith on Keith" broadcast on Channel 4 last night. Keith Floyd gave his first interview for years to Keith Allen. It was a brilliant programme that captured Floyd's irascible nature.

He changed the face of British TV and lead a life dedicated to enjoying food and drink to its fullest.

BBC News story

ICCHFC - Week 5: Parkin

Marianne produced Parkin for week five's cake.

I've never had Parkin but do know that it is a traditional British cake. I was lovely and light and perfectly moist. I must admit I was not expecting the ginger flavour (I'm not a big fan) nor a tray bake.

Marianne's Parkin - The Recipe

Ingredients:
350g (12oz) wholemeal flour
175g (6oz) dark muscovado sugar
4 level teaspoons ground ginger
2 level teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
250g (8oz) butter
3 level tablespoons black treacle
3 level tablespoons golden syrup
300ml (½ pint) milk
26 x 16.5cm (10¼ x 6½in) oblong tin, lined with baking parchment

Method:
1. Set the oven to Gas Mark 4/180°C.
2. Place the flour, sugar and ginger into a large bowl and stir to mix it well. Make a well in the centre and add the bircarbonate of soda.
3. Place the butter, treacle and golden syrup into a saucepan and warm over a low heat until the butter melts. Add the milk to the pan and heat until the mixture is almost at boiling point, then pour it into the well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Stir the mixture until smooth, then pour it into the lined tin and bake it in the centre of the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until just firm to the touch in the centre.
4. Remove the parkin from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Remove it from the tin, peel away the lining paper and leave it to cool. Place the butter, treacle and golden syrup into a saucepan and warm over a low heat until the butter melts. Add the milk to the pan and heat until the mixture is almost at boiling point, then pour it into the well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Stir the mixture until smooth, then pour it into the lined tin and bake it in the centre of the oven for 45-50 minutes, or until just firm to the touch in the centre.
5. Remove the parkin from the oven and leave it to cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Remove it from the tin, peel away the lining paper and leave it to cool.

Sibling leaving "do"

So my youngest sister is finally leaving for Uni this weekend, so we're having a sibling get together on Tuesday night.

Elaine is a self confessed cheese addict and after I couldn't fulfil her request for crème brûlée (I have no ramekins and couldn't find a shop selling any in Canary Wharf), I decided it had to be a full on cheese-fest. So the menu looks like this:

Cheese straws/biscuits with goat's cheese pâté
***
Ricotta and Spinach Malfatti
***
Baileys Cheesecake

So the first course is all done. The malfatti have been formed, they can be cooked tomorrow night whilst I make the tomato sauce. The baileys cheesecake is 90% done. The base (dark chocolate digestives) and body are setting in the fridge, but I need to decide what to put on top. Dark chocolate shavings, some sort of coffee maybe? That's the mission for tomorrow lunch time.

Will post pictures and the recipes later this week. And there's Week 5 of the ICCHFC to update you on too.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Rick Stein


Managed to get a signed copy of Rick Stein's latest book "Far Eastern Odyssey" at lunch time today.

Louisa, fan of Rick and founder member of the ICCHFC, invited me along. It's the first book signing I've ever been to. We queued for nearly an hour!

Rick was quite genial, but it was not a life changing experience!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Rubik's food

It would seem that replicating a Rubik's Cube in food is quite a popular feat.

There's the Cubewich:
Many cakes including some efforts which are better than others. This one is amazing, the full story is on the Dream County blog.
This one from My Life as a Reluctant Housewife deserves an honourable mention. If only it hadn't got damaged in transit:
Then the National Watermelon Promotion Board got in on the act with their (surprise, surprise) watermelon version:
Then there are salt and pepper mills for your table:

I wonder what everyday objects or toys I can reproduce in food...

Amazing eating challenges website

Just found this blog called I bet you won't all about food challenges

"Are you a fan of eating large quantities of food in an attempt to get said food for free? If so then you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to give you the low down on where you can find the best food challenges around the United States. Ever wanted to eat a 7 pound cheeseburger in an hour? Or chomp down on a 76 oz. steak? Or maybe a 40″ pizza is more your style. If any of these things interest you then welcome to heaven."

I love the fact that all the challenges are categorised into food groups.

I wonder if anybody has done this sort of thing for the UK...

ICCHFC - Week 4: Courgette cake

So, finally my turn to bake and amazingly 4 out of 6 went for my Gamble Gateaux:
"Gamble Gateaux - For all you risk takers. In a sealed envelope on my desk is the third option. Will it be something traditional, maybe it'll be a cake from left-field, maybe a "classic". Who knows? Take a spin on the cakey wheel of fortune to find out"

Jo was ridiculously excited to open the Gamble envelope and reveal that the cake chosen was a Courgette Cake. It's a cake I've wanted to make for ages but never got to. The idea of courgettes in a cake just doesn't seem to make sense.

The other two votes were for blondies. Rather surprisingly, nobody voted for the final option of passion cake.

The cake was pretty easy to make, bearing in mind I was baking late at night after spending 12 hours driving across France! Most of it went for elevenses and the overwhelming response was that it was very moist, which it was. I love the green flecks through the body of the cake (due to not peeling the courgettes)

The picture show the remains of the cake on elevenses on day three. Still moist and very tasty. All in all a bit of a triumph.

The Recipe for Courgette Cake

Ingredients:
1 small courgette
75g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
75g runny honey
75g caster sugar
Seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod
2 medium eggs
Juice of 1/2 lemon
190g self-raising flour
40g roasted almonds, finely chopped
2 tbsp low-fat natural yoghurt
For the cream cheese icing:
25g butter, very soft
100g cream cheese
100g icing sugar
Some grated lime zest, plus
1 tbsp lime juice

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/ gas 4. Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.
2. Grate the courgette into a sieve and leave for 5 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture and set aside.
3. Beat the butter, honey, sugar, vanilla and eggs until smooth. Fold in the lemon juice – it will curdle, but don't worry. Combine the flour with the courgette and almonds. Fold in the butter mixture and the yogurt. If the batter is stiff, add a spoonful more of yogurt. Pour into the tin and bake for 50 minutes, or until golden. Insert a skewer – if it comes out clean, it's done; if not, cook for a further 10-15 minutes. Cool in the tin.
4. Meanwhile, make the icing. Beat the butter and cheese, then beat in the sugar and lime juice. Chill.
5. Turn out the cooled cake, slice in half horizontally and spread with the icing. Sprinkle the icing with some lime zest.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

French trip

Just got back from a four day trip to Grenoble in France for the Monkey Foo frisbee tournament.

Enjoyed many croissants and pain au chocolats for breakfast, some lovely cheeses (dinner on Saturday night actually had a cheese course; how impressive is that for over 200 people?), and some "interesting" sausage action in Luxembourg. Got my hands on a packet of Prince biscuits (why can't you get those in the UK?).

However, managed to miss out on many foodie delights. Despite driving past Bresse on the way up, didn't manage to stop for any chicken. No foie gras. No Milka chocolate. No confit duck. No crepes. No brasserie experiences (that's the problem of travelling in a big group: getting consensus on where to eat!).

Nutella jarAlso having stopped at a service station on the way up and seen a 5kg jar of Nutella we didn't see another. How I wish I'd bought it. It was literally a normal jar of Nutella scaled up to 5kg - AMAZING! Even Carrefour didn't have one that big.


However, did get a good griddle pan from the Carrefour just near the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais.


All in all a good trip but I wanted to stay longer just to eat more!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Keepin' it crispy!

This is a good way to seal a crisp bag:

video

Gourmet Odyssey

I found out about the London Restaurant Festival today which takes place 8-13 October. One of the most exciting events is the Gourmet Odyssey. You get shipped around London in a classic routemaster bus for a three course meal with each course at a different one of London's fine dining eateries. Sounds like my idea of heaven. Only issue is that it's £135.

The official blog says that the official press launch is on 9th September and all the tickets will go on sale. Gotta find someone to go with before then.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Big Breakfast

This sounds like a cracking start to the day.

Mario's Cafe in Warren Street, London, do a big breakfast for £10. Eat it all in 20 mins with no drink to wash it down with and you get it free. The breakfast is:
  • 10 eggs
  • 10 bacon
  • 10 sausage
  • 10 toast
  • 5 black puddings
  • tomatoes
  • beans
  • mushrooms

The breakfast packs in 5,000 calories - nearly twice the recommended daily intake for an average man. A spokesman for the British Heart Foundation said "Eating this amount in one sitting is not a good idea."

I do love an eating challenge...which reminds me I am yet to conquer the Krispy Kreme Challenge.
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