Monday, 29 November 2010

Update: The Underground Christmas Market


News update: the first 250 booking online will get a fantastic goodie bag worth £20! A christmas present to you!
Taking place next Sunday on the 5th of December from midday until 6pm, entrance is £5 plus 50p booking fee. Buy tickets here. The first 250 will get goodie bags of Douwe Egberts coffee, Marmite products, chocolate by Trish, porridge by Mornflake, nuts from Hiromi Stone, a copy of FireandKnives magazine, the food quarterly, and flavoured lassis by Madewithjoy. There will be music, an ironing board cocktail bar in the bedroom featuring cocktail mixers by a new company, Juiceology, developed by Saf mixologist Joe McCanta and partner Richard Watson, craft stalls from Etsy sellers and a Dragon's Den taking place in the kitchen at 2pm.
Eight applicants have 5 to 10 minutes each to show their entrepeneurial food idea and get valuable feedback from the panel.
Meantime brewery will have their London Lager taxi in the driveway.
There will also be a food lucky dip by Hubbub, who deliver food to your doorstep from independent and gourmet food companies.

I will be holding a raffle for a cream KitchenAid Mixer (worth £350 and a dream item for the kitchen) which will go to charity.
Of course there will also be live cooking demonstrations in the kitchen:

Midday: Porridge Lady, showing her 'christmas' porridge, just the ticket for the chilly Christmas holiday mornings.

1pm: Virtuous Bread: Jane is an inspirational speaker and demonstrator when it comes to bread. She, like me, believes that social change can occur from small beginnings such as starting a home bakery and encouraging the British to eat and bake better bread. She will demonstrate drop scones on the Aga.
2pm: Dragon's Den
We have a distingished panel of experts: Tim Hayward, Guardian writer/broadcaster and editor of Fire & Knives magazine; The Deli Station food company; the buyer from Harvey Nichols, Aramark and Frosts. MsMarmite will host.

3pm: Rachel McCormack of Catalan Cooking. Rachel spent many years in Barcelona and what she doesn't know about Catalan food and customs isn't worth knowing. The lesson will be delivered in English at high speed with a low Glaswegian/Barcelona rumble. She will demonstrate a Catalan classic christmas dessert: chocolate (by Trish) with chestnuts. Can't wait.
3.40pm: FoodCycle organiser Becca Rothwell will talk about the valuable work that her organisation does in raising consciousness about food waste. Food Cycle run community cafés that only use donated food that would otherwise be chucked away. Criminal.

4.15pm: Kitchen Jezebel: home-made make up demo. Kitchen Jezebel like many of us, suffers from allergies to perfumes. So she makes her own make up which is pure and unadulturated. Fascinating.









4.45pm: Hiromi Stone: Japanese cooking demo. Hiromi will show us how to make Japanese rice. She does cooking lessons for a living so she knows her stuff.
5.30pm: Pauline Ash's pasta demo and Mama Lan's chinese dumplings.

 Stalls 









Scarlett the Heavenly Healer with her vintage label seed packets containing free seed!
Rayburn smoked tomatoes from Squisito
Squisito deli with their home made deli products and a sausage making demo
Rambling Restaurant with cinema snacks and sweets
Juiceology manning the ironing board cocktail bar with their new range of soft drinks
 Bristol vintage with their vintage kitchenware and crockery
Hiromi Stone with her bags of nuts and japanese cooking demo
Ayan Hassan of Spice Caravan with food from the horn of Africa
Marisa and Golnar of Hubbub deliveries: deliveries from artisan food stores
The Deli station with their cheeses and other deli goods
Tan Rosie with caribbean sweets and fudges and hampers
Kitchen Jezebel with gluten free goodies, hand made make up
John the poacher will be selling rabbit stew and or mushroom soup made on the bonfire.
Adam Pinder with home-smoked foods :bacon, confit duck legs, duck rillets, pork rillons, smoked salmon

 Papermash with gorgeous cards, tapes (I bought some lace effect sellotape from her) and wrapping paper
Two Chicks with egg whites in a box
Bake me happy with baked goods
Hand2mouthb with exotic liqueurs and home made baileys
Georgie of Sustain distributing the Jellied eel mag along with Chris of the Real Bread Campaign
Ten Green bottles doing wine tastings
Providence Organics with fair trade coffee
Foodcycle with their stews ect combating food surplus
Avarae 17 with her beautiful bird jewellery
Cherry Pippin with jams, mince pies ect
Terence McSweeney with hand carved wooden bowls and spoons. Richard Corrigan has been using Terence's wares in his latest cookery programme.
Alice Turner 'Afternoon Outings' with her gorgeous christmas cards (handmade)
I've also got Madame de'la cartomancer coming along to read tarot cards.

Food For Think's Indulgent Christmas selling christmas biscuits/hanging decorations and chutneys.
Marcia Vidal silver jewellery
Treflach farm:eggs, pork and beef plus you can order turkeys for Christmas


Me Old China is selling her candles in vintage teacups amongst other wares...
I will be selling mulled wine, chipotle sauce and home-made wine vinegar.









Favours from French Made
Salad dressings from Mrs Monks

Lovely crocheted tree decorations and hats by CandyflossCreated 
Pauline Ash will be selling wine.
Flo and Rebecca will be selling hot chai and crumble with brandy cream.
Urtema Dolphin 'Creation Chocolates' will sell her essence sprays (developed by her with coloidal silver) and raw chocolates.
Jaz & Jul's will be selling organic hot chocolate (we'll need it!)
Ubuntu will be selling their unique chocolate bars (lime and chilli for instance)

We were mentioned in The Independent on Sunday: 

Buy tickets here: 

Friday, 26 November 2010

Thanksgiving night in pictures

 Waitresses 'Mary' and 'Laura'
Grown women leap at the chance to wear a bit of Laura Ashley, a big apron and put their hair in plaits...
 We all agreed that we acted and felt different in our olde worlde feminine clothes, very 'surrendered wives'
With a whole room full of women in aprons, it did become confusing. Another guest went up to this woman and said 'Ooh you must be exhausted after all of that cooking' thinking she was the chef.

Last night the Islington Women's Institute (comprising mostly of the book club*) came over for their christmas do. The theme was Little House on the Prairie/Little Women. I read a passage from 'Little House' whilst on the rocking chair in front of the fire. Grace was said. A quiz was held. Prizes were given for the best answer to 'What character from Little Women would you most like to go to a party with and why?'
Two winners:
'Amy March, because of her innovative non intrusive plastic surgery methods (nose peg!)'
'Aunt March because she had an extensive library'
A group of the women stayed behind and helped me clear up after we all pulled up chairs and gossiped. One lady works in Fenwicks in the toy department. She talked of the many parents who park their pushchairs in the toy department and go shopping elsewhere: an 18 month baby was left while the parents went to Marks & Spencers! Another abandoned toddler painted himself entirely green and drew a green circle around himself. (One way of making sure you won't get kidnapped.) Then the childminder returned from her shopping and complained to the staff.
'



 Salad in jello: lime, blackcurrant and raspberry as recommended by Shelley Von Strunckel, the American astrologer.
The vibrant succotash, a recipe from Stewed! cookbook (although I added more liquid to make it more soup like) with cornbread, which, as my Anson Mills heirloom corn order didn't arrive, was made with finely ground polenta. It had a slight crunch but was very good. Especially with whipped butter and maple syrup.
You can make pumpkin pie from scratch
or with a tin of Libby's pumpkin pie and evaporated milk...

The green bean casserole was possibly the most popular dish. I will post up more pictures later...

*one of whom was in a rival 'low-brow' book club where last month's selection was Cosmopolitan magazine. She doesn't want to be in a book club where they have to read books, she said.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Thanksgiving




November had come; the crops were in, and barn, buttery, and bin were overflowing with the harvest that rewarded the summer's hard work. The big kitchen was a jolly place just now, for in the great fireplace roared a cheerful fire; on the walls hung garlands of dried apples, onions, and corn; up aloft from the beams shone crook-necked squashes, juicy hams, and dried venison--for in those days deer still haunted the deep forests, and hunters flourished. Savory smells were in the air; on the crane hung steaming kettles, and down among the red embers copper saucepans simmered, all suggestive of some approaching feast.
Louisa May Alcott 'An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving'


Many of the dishes on this menu have been culled from The Little House cookbook by Barbara M. Walker. It's one of my favourite cookbooks. Some of the other dishes like the green bean casserole (with a can of mushroom soup and tinned fried onions) and the yams with marshmallows, traditional in Modern America, I've just wanted to try.

Menu:

Mulled Apple Cider



Popcorn with chipotle sauce
Cornbread
Yams with marshmallows
Green bean casserole
Fried apples n onions
Tomatoes with cream and sugar
Parched corn if my order from Anson mills arrives
Succotash
Creole salmon steaks w cranberry relish ( a modern twist)

Salad in jello



Pumpkin pie
Pecan pie
Blueberry pie
Coffee by Douwe Egberts, but served American style

Thanksgiving reminds me of Little Women and Laura Ingalls Wilder, the writer of the Little House on the Prairie books. The stories are borne from hard experience as homesteaders occupied a sometimes hostile and deserted America. Far from the slightly saccharine TV series that Michael Landon produced and starred in, the first book tells you how to build a log cabin, how to stave off wolves, how to survive winter with little food where a few crystals of sugar carefully kept in a wrap of paper is a treat.
Of course, not being a meat eater, I'm not doing turkey, but how likely was it that the pilgrims at the very first Thanksgiving had turkey to eat? 

Monday, 22 November 2010

News! Lots of it!


Last week was very exciting: I was thrilled to be named as one of London's 1000 most influential people by the Evening Standard. I got the thickest stiffest invitation I'd ever received, with my name in beautiful italic script, inviting me to the party at Millbank.

Just before leaving I realised that my pink tights* had multiple holes, I quickly darned them, hoping the sewing lines would not be noticed in the dark. I felt like a character in Little Women attempting to cover her shabby clothing at the ball.
Outside there was a short section of red carpet (they have to keep it short as Westminster won't allow it on their pavement).  I could see some photographers. I strode proudly into the middle of the carpet and waited. Quickly chastened by the complete absence of flash bulbs, I crept into the building where a door lady attempted to confiscate my invitation. After a few tugs which I resisted, I said "Please can I keep it? It's the poshest one I've ever got"
Upstairs, we were led into a glossy floor by British Airways ladies. I stood there, knowing nobody. In the corner I spotted Andrew Lloyd Weber, by the window Jeffrey Archer chatted to some suits. Gulping back two glasses of champagne rather quickly, I gathered my courage and thought 'Right I'm going to network'. I bounded up to Sir Philip Green and his daughter Chloe. I asked 'Are you Philip Greene?' in my nervousness leaving off his title. 
"No" he retorted.
I blathered on for a bit "I thought I'd say hello because we are all here to network aren't we?" to which he looked dubious, then even more inanely I spluttered "Is this your daughter, I've got a daughter" finally forcing my card upon him. I tried to shake his hand but it was kept firmly behind his back. Eventually I managed to grab hold of it and shake his hand. 
Morris from the Evening Standard, a beautifully dressed man who does the fashion, and therefore invited all the thin people to the event, declared just afterwards "I enjoyed watching that!".
I met the lovely Gizzie Erskine in the flesh: she's very tall with huge wings tattooed upon her shoulders. We had our picture taken, I quipped that she was 'cook yourself thin' and I was 'cook yourself fat'. She was off to the Boy George photography photography vernissage. She showed me his photo of her styled like Siouxie Sioux, it was brilliant.
Towards the end Boris Johnson and his sister Rachel turned up. The flashbulbs were pinging away especially when Karren Brady of The Apprentice joined them. I managed to hand my card to Boris and got my picture taken with him...wish I had a copy. I don't know who the photographer was.

Next: a cool new foodie site lovefood.com (wit, humour, recipes, interviews, food) named me blog of the week which was very gratifying.

Then, Thursday evening, I get yet another letter from Transport for London lawyers asking me to shut down because they have patented the word 'underground'. However they said I could use the name 'Kilburn Underground'. Surely that would lead to confusion? I'd get people turning up with their Oyster cards and expecting to be transported somewhere. Plus I'm open at weekends and as we all know, the Jubilee line has been shut most weekends for the last two years and it's expected to carry on for another six months. Good God, I seem to be jail bait for lawyers, after Warner Brothers warned me about putting on a Harry Potter night last year.

The Evening Standard have covered this latest story:

My book  Supper Club: recipes and notes from The Underground Restaurant is now available for preorder on Amazon.co.uk. It will be out at the end of March 2011.
The cover is really beautiful:

I have more stallholders coming to the Underground Christmas Market on December 5th. Please book tickets here.
Favours from French Made
Salad dressings from Mrs Monks
And finally, currently working on my Little House on the Prairie Thanksgiving meal which I shall blog about in detail later in the week.


*One of my few pairs that stay up. Really, the person that invents tights that don't roll down your tummy will be a millionaire.