Monday, 31 October 2011

Video: How to cook on salt bricks via

Yes I'm cooking on horse licks! The written recipe and links of where to buy them can be found on the site.

Don't forget to book for The Underground Farmers' and Craft Market this weekend! £5 entry, come hungry and with lots of cash.


Saturday: includes the Dragon's Den foodie talent show with Sheila Dillon of Radio 4's The Food Programme, Petra Barran of Eat St., graphic designer Maria Grist  and Jo of The Deli Station.

Address will be given on purchase of the tickets. 

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Diva Dinners: Frida Kahlo Night & Tamale recipe

One of Frida's paintings 

It took all day to peel 66 peppers. I tried to get hold of poblanos but impossible.
Zia Mays and I grew these tomatillos as part of the Secret Garden Club (go to this link for gardening lessons and tea at The Underground Restaurant)
Making tamales from scratch

Home made hibiscus syrup with South African Fizz
Steamed Tamales stuffed with masa and vegetables with home grown tomatillo salsa
Chile en nogada with new season fresh walnuts and goat's cheese
Seared Tuna steak with Brokeback Beans and Guacamole
Flan or creme caramel
My graphic designer Maria Grist, me and my mum

Guests brought self-portraits
How to make tamales:
Makes 35-40

From a Mexican specialist site such as buy:
1 packet of Corn husks (contains about 40)
4 cups of Maseca or Masa Harina maize flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of vegetable shortening such as Crisco 
500ml of vegetable stock

I used cheese and pumpkin but you can experiment.

1 butternut squash, diced
Mole, a Oaxacan paste that I brought back from Mexico, a few scoops
Olive oil, to toss the vegetables in
1 tablespoon of Mexican oregano
Salt to season
1 pack feta cheese or queso fresco, diced
Fresh coriander.

Soak the husks overnight.
After seasoning your diced vegetables on a baking tray, roast them until tender in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes. Add the cheese.
Mix the masa, the salt and the shortening together. You can also use fresh corn oil but experts say shortening (or lard if you eat meat) makes the masa fluffier and lighter.
Gradually mix in the hot vegetable stock until you have a light flexible dough.
On the smoother side of the corn husk, spread some of the masa. 
Then add some of the filling inside. 
Fold and tie your tamal.
There are two techniques: 
1) You fold over the husk lengthways then tuck over the pointy end and secure with a thin section of husk. (Keep one or two of your soaked husks for tying). You then steam them pointy side down, open section up.
2) Fold over both ends with two ties like a package.

Steam in a bamboo or metal steamer for 1 1/2 hours.

Serve with salsa, such as the tomatillo salsa in my book.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Avocado Week: recipes

Tonight I'm hosting a dinner for an ominous sounding outfit called the Avocado Brotherhood. Every year they have a secret summit in which they worship the Hass Avocado from Chile.
Here are a few pictures from today's prep:

Hass Sour Cocktail
Serves 3 or just 1 (I find you need 3 cocktails for it to touch the sides properly)
75ml pisco
25ml sugar syrup
25ml fresh lime juice
1/4 avocado, blended
Ice cubes, a handful
1 egg white
Put all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until frothy. Put in the egg white and blend till even more frothy. Serve in a glass rimmed with salt.
I've been trying to sprout several avocado stones...
After five weeks only two had roots...
A bathroom installation: Avocado Suite. I should be in the Tate Modern me.
Avocado Fabergé egg. Covered in pistachios, pink peppercorns, black sesame seeds and cornflowers, filled with mango salsa and Japanese sesame dressing.
Served on a bed of salt strewn with petals
South American Cheese and Potato Soup.
50g of unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon achiote seeds (a Mexican spice)
550ml of cold water
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 kilo of boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
300ml of sour cream or full fat creme fraiche
2 cobs of fresh sweet corn, shorn.
150g of feta cheese
Slices of avocado to garnish with
A handful of fresh coriander leaves

I serve the cheese and potato in a larger bowl and the avocado soup 'crema de Aguacate' in a shot glass or smaller bowl. You can use the avocado soup as a garnish or as a chaser.

Potato/cheese soup method.
In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium heat.
 Add the onion, paprika and achiote seeds and sauté until the onion is softened, about 4 to 5 minutes.
 Add the water, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.
 Add the potatoes. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until potatoes are tender, for about 25 minutes.
Stir in the creme fraiche or sour cream and the sweetcorn and cook until the corn is tender. 
Stir in the feta cheese and leave until 'poached'. 
Halve, peel and pit the avocados. Slice crosswise. Place avocado pieces in soup bowls, garnish with fresh coriander and serve.

Avocado Chocolate Butterfly Cakes.
 The room awaiting the 'brotherhood'
Here they are, including TVchef Sophie Michell (left)

The Menu:
Hass sour
Avocado and Padron pepper tempura with ponzu and wasabi

Cheese and potato soup in pumpkins with crema de aguacate chaser

Seared beech smoked tuna with brokeback beans and guacamole
Fabergé egg avocados with mango salsa

Avocado creme brulée (not liked by many)
Avocado chocolate butterfly cakes
Avocado and raspberry cloud cake (a big hit)
Avocado and lime sorbet ( also a big hit)
Avocado chocolate truffles

Monday, 24 October 2011

Scottish supper clubs: Edinburgh

"It seems like a city built on precipices, a perilous city. Great roads rush down hill like rivers in spate. Great buildings rush up like rockets." GK Chesterton, 1905
"In Scottish English phrases such as good food are pronounced with vowels of equal length." British Library, accents and dialects of the UK.
"I took my aunt for a meal in Stirling. It was a restaurant that specialised in Scottish ingredients, lots of game. We all ordered, grouse, rabbit, hare, deer. The waiter came to my aunt, pencil poised, she looked up and asked "Have you got anything else on the menu other than all this vermin?"' Supper club guest.
"Do you know about 'writer's block'? It's the area in Morningside where all the writers, JK Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, live. JK Rowling went into the local supermarket. She bought a chicken. When she arrived at the till, the cashier, an older lady, said 'Chickens are two for the price of one!'. JK murmurered that it was fine, one was enough. The cashier's voice rose in pitch and volume 'Twooo for one, hen!'. JK desisted, saying that one was really enough. 'Gooo get one! If you don't want the free chicken, give it to someone else!'. In the end the richest woman in the UK, after The Queen, accepted her free chicken."  Supper club guest.

I've been to Edinburgh several times before: for the millenium Hogmanay, which was a disappointing ticket only event, where every restaurant shut at 6pm and we starved; to photograph musician Paul Haig for a record company; to protest in 2005 at the anti-poverty march, staying and running a bario kitchen at the anti-G8 camp in Stirling. Each time I felt shut out of the city, I met no one from here, I learnt nothing. 
I was invited by Aoife Behan who runs My Home supper club. I'd noticed her stylish photography and writing on blog posts on Find a supper club, become a fan. Her typical Edinburgh flat and her great taste in home ware, much of it 'utility china', are beautiful. 
I am right about supper clubs. You meet the locals. I've learnt more in one weekend by attending three supper clubs than on all the other visits. 

Here is Aoife's menu from Saturday night:

Hibiscus Fizz
Dhokla and Green Coconut Chutney
Pani Puri
Ms Marmite Lover’s Twitter curry
Kahdi Okra and Potato
Jewelled Basmati Rice
Chickpea Raita
Kissing Chutney
Chai Pannacotta with Mango Sorbet & Pistachio 

It was very interesting to eat my own recipes from my book, some of which Aoife had fact it was a relief as it showed that they worked!
Meena (right) of Chai Lounge supper club, just starting in Edinburgh. Meena helped Aoife to prepare the meal.
Hibiscus Fizz in 'Eternal Beau' glass. My mum had the whole set from the 1980s, I'm sure it's going to be a modern classic. Going to start looking for the glasses myself. Aoife is a bit of an Ebay queen, and a supper club is great excuse.
Loved the little yellow Dhokla.... Aoife gave me the recipe:
Dhokla -  steamed savoury semolina cake

250ml coarse semolina
250ml plain yoghurt
20ml oil
1ml bicard
5ml crushed green chillies
5ml crushed ginger 
5ml salt
1ml tumeric
5ml enos(effervescent fruit salt)

10ml oil
5ml mustard seeds
5ml sesame seeds
finely chopped corriander (optional)
desicated coconut (optional)

Mix all ingredients together besides Enos and leave for min. Boil water in steamer. Add Enos to mix and mix throughly. Steam for 20min on medium heat. Make topping by heating oil in a pan, add mustard seeds and sesame seeds. pour over dhokla and finely chop the corriander and sprinkle on top together with coconut.

Kahdi was poured over the jewelled rice, a sweet and sour warm yoghurt sauce that I've not had before. 

Pastel Utility China from 1930s until the present. A favourite at cafes and seaside b n b's.
Chai pannacotta and mango sorbet garnished with Pistachios. Delicious!
 My home Supper club, an elegant room.
 Morning sunlight in Aoife's gorgeous Edinburgh flat. We spent most of the weekend drinking tea and chatting. My favourite occupation!
On Friday night I visited Karen also known as Honey Wild. She has a supper club in Innerleithan on the Scottish Borders. She cooks everything from scratch and seats up to 30 people. Her son and neighbours help her. 
Supper clubs in Edinburgh are very concerned by Health and Safety. It seems that the local council are not promoting small businesses but making life rather difficult. The major concern was getting a separate hand washing sink. Although Karen already has two sinks she has to get a third and resorted to drilling a whole in her countertop for another. Ridiculous. In times of recession, Environmental health Officers need to get a perspective and not hamper start up businesses. Every supper club I've visited has much better hygiene than most restaurants.

Classic Edinburgh architecture: it's a stone city of a multitude of greys flecked with yellow and amber
 On Sunday we visited Crescent Dining for Sunday lunch. Callum the chef is the son of food stylist Lesley Evans and food photographer Laurie Evans. He has good genes!
Son on the left, dad on the right.
 Lesley on the right is a Miss Jean Brodie style hostess, looking after her 'creme de la creme' guests.
My smoked salmon mousse with cucumber pickle and home made crispbreads.
A colourful and seasonal stuffed squash was the vegetarian main.
Lesley had some nice art: on the right is a limited edition piece by Rachel Whiteread.
I paid in Scottish pounds. Still, once a guest paid me in Brixton pounds.
Callum's steamed stem ginger pudding:

For the syrup:
 2 chunks of stem ginger cut into thin slivers
5 tablespoons stem ginger syrup from the jar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
For the pudding: 
150g golden caster sugar
150g unsalted butter
3 eggs 
200g self raising flour 
75ml milk (whole or semi skimmed)
3 chunks stem ginger, chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground ginger
How to make: - Generously butter a 1.5 litre pudding basin.
- Place the slivers of stem ginger into the basin.
- Mix together the stem ginger syrup with the golden syrup. Pour over the stem ginger slivers in the pudding basin.
- In your steamer, ensure that you have enough boiling water to come halfway up the basin. However, I used a steamer basket, so my sponge didn’t sit in the water. Both ways work just as well.
- Now make the pudding: cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. - Beat in the eggs one at a time, alternating with the flour.
- Pour in the milk and beat until smooth.
- Stir in the chopped stem ginger and the ground ginger.
- Spoon into the pudding basin. The basin will not be full as the pudding needs room to rise. - Cover the top of the basin with a centrally pleated piece of baking paper, and another of foil.
- Secure with string and steam for approximately 1 ½ hours. A little more won’t cause any harm.
- Remove the foil and paper and run a knife around the edge of the pudding before turning out.
- Turn the pudding out onto a lipped plate, in order to ensure that you don’t lose any of the syrup.
- Serve straight away with hot custard.
On Saturday morning I visited the farmer's market with warm and friendly Edinburgh supper club hostess Wendy, @insideoutchef. It's such a hive of enthusiastic food talent, reminds me of the second phase of supper clubs in London. Here this girl is making Scotch pancakes as tasting beds for her jams.
Edinburgh Gin
I bought Peter Pan style lace collars, so cheap between £2 and £4 at Herman Brown.
Old Town charm.
Samples of whisky which ideally should drunk with water sold at The Whisky Shop. Buying whisky is a great investment.

I took the Caledonian sleeper home. I love sleepers. It felt like I was on the Hogwarts Express returning to muggle land. JK Rowling wrote  Harry Potter at a cafe in Edinburgh while she was a poor single mother on benefits.
Dawn: I thought it was going to Kings X, but went to Euston instead. I was a bit confused. 

"Edinburgh is 'tight'. It's hard to get to know anybody from here. They go to school together, to university together, then they join the same law firms. That's why supper clubs are great, we can meet people" Supper club guest.
"They used to say, If you see a table and chairs in the street in Edinburgh, it's an eviction. Things have changed. Now we can drink on Sundays. The Church no longer rules." Supper club guest. 
"There aren't any Scottish people in Edinburgh. I'm a scouser, and I've worked with whisky for 20 years. I ask people their surnames here, it's things like 'White' and 'Brown'. They aren't Scottish. The real Scotsmen have orange beards and are running around in the heather in the highlands up north." Supper club guest.
"Becoming a capital has given us confidence." Supper club host.
“I‘ve never been to Edinburgh before – I didn’t realise it was so beautiful. I love that whole mountain in the middle of the city thing.” Dido

Aoife's blog post on the weekend.
Honey Wild's blog post on her supper club.
Crescent Supper Club's post.