Showing posts with label Supper Club. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Supper Club. Show all posts

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Hen night supper club recipes: lovage and sorrel soup with hay smoked oil


House-made Red gooseberry Cordial with Lemon Balm and Prosecco
Lovage and Sorrel soup with hay-smoked oil

Watermelon, Feta and Mint spears

Croustades with Tomatillo & Jalapeno salsa

Courgette Flower (soo expensive right now) Tempura stuffed with Cream Cheese and Summer Truffle drizzled with Honey

Vine-leaf wrapped Baked Salmon

Potato Salad with Sour Cream and Fennel Pollen flowers

Radicchio with Baby Leaves, Pickled Blackberries and Heritage Radishes

Tiered Pavlova with Violet, Rose and Orange Blossom Meringues, Strawberries and Cream

Lovage and sorrel soup

 Lovage and Sorrel soup with hay-smoked oil

Lovage is an old English herb, reminiscent of celery, sometimes known as 'love parsley'; Sorrel is a lemony leaf. The combination makes a refreshing summer soup. I garnished it with some hay-smoked rapeseed oil I bought in Denmark.
I have lovage and sorrel growing in my garden. I tried to use as much as I could from my kitchen garden for this meal. Julys good weather has meant that the garden seems a little confused about the season; my blackberries, jalapenos and tomatillos are ready early. 

Makes about a litre (enough for 6 people)

500g (2 or 3 cups) lovage
100g (1 cup) sorrel leaves
1 litre (4 cups) vegetable stock
250ml (11/2 cups) creme fraiche
Sea salt to taste
Pepper to taste
A few drops smoked rapeseed oil

Wash the lovage and sorrel, remove the thick stems. Make the stock, and in a powerful blender mix a little of the stock and the herbs together until finely blended. Then add the rest of the stock and the creme fraiche. Blend until smooth. Season and when serving add a little flavoured oil.
If you want a thicker, heartier soup, add half a kilo (4 potatoes) of boiled potatoes to the stock and blend that in.
Lovage and sorrel soup

The next Secret Garden supper club is on September 21st. 
Tickets here:

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Recipe: Chocolate galette with yellow plums

Chocolate galette with yolk like yellow plums

Sides folded over

Laying it out, with grated Tonka bean and chocolate

This pudding is so rich, it was one of the most popular dishes of my South African stone fruit supper club.  When I saw the vibrant buttercup yellow of the plums, I wanted to contrast it with earthy chocolate pastry. Inspired to make a galette, but not the galette des roi that the French traditionally have in January, I constructed this warming, succulent beauty, with pastry so rich and flaky that it's almost brownie-like. I also used the Tonka bean which is often matched with chocolate or used in pastries and stews. It has a flavour and scent reminiscent of vanilla and cinnamon, although can be bitter tasting. In cooking, the Tonka bean endows the dish with an element of the unusual and depth. In some societies it is associated with magic, if you hold the bean, make a wish.

300g plain flour
40g caster sugar
1 tsp of salt
100g of cocoa powder
200g good quality unsalted butter, very cold, diced
100ml of ice cold water
10 yellow plums, halved and stoned
50g of semolina
Half a tonka bean, grated finely (optional)
100g demerara sugar
50g dark chocolate, grated

 Combine the flour, sugar, salt, cocoa powder in a bowl or a food processor Add the cold butter and cut it into your flour mixture, or pulse it briefly in the processor until it ressembles coarse meal.
Then gradually add the cold water, stirring/pulsing the mixture as it pulls together. You want to handle the dough as little as possible so that it doesn't warm up.
Then form the dough into a thick disc, cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for half an hour.
Prepare the plums, I used the South African 'Sunkiss' plums, cut them along the dimple line at the top, then twist and separate. Remove the stone.
Line a baking tray with a silicone mat or parchment paper.
Preheat your oven to 180c.
Remove the dough from the fridge, sprinkle flour, as if you were skimming stones across the water, along your clean countertop. I actually rolled this dessert directly onto a silicone mat, which avoids having to move it once again onto the baking tray. So I floured the silicone mat and also around the edges as the circle I rolled was bigger than the mat.
Roll out a circle of approximately 35 cm diameter.
Then sprinkle the semolina into the middle where the plums will go.
Grate the tonka bean, if using.
Then sprinkle the inside of the circle with demerara sugar and grated dark chocolate.
Place the plums, cut side down, in the centre, making concentric circles. Leave a wide border of 5-7 cms around the rim.
You will fold this border over, so that the fruit is contained.
Lifting the silicone mat onto a baking tray, bake the galette for 15 to 20 minutes. Take a sheet of tinfoil larger than the galette and cut a circle out of the middle, about the size of the plums. After 20 minutes, slide the galette out of the oven on it's shelf, then place the tin foil on top of the galette, so that the bumps on the galette pastry don't burn but the plums still cook.
Cook for another 20 minutes then either serve immediately, using two fish slices to transfer it onto a plate or leave to cool. It can be eaten hot or cold. However if you want to make it earlier in the day, then reheat it in the oven for another ten minutes.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Guy Fawkes supper club/recipe for chocolate and toffee apples

It did stop raining, enough to have a bonfire, but we ate indoors anyway. I lit the fire under the candlelit mantelpiece and served mulled wine in enamel cups to my guests as they came in, shaking umbrellas and unfurling scarves.
Mulled wine
Roast tomato soup
Cheese fondue
Pink fir potatoes (from Riverford Organics) baked on a bed of sea salt.
Green salad with mustard vinaigrette and Golden linseeds, pumpkins seed.
Pickles (cornichons, silverskin onions)
Cubed sourdough bread
Toffee and chocolate apples
Roasted chestnuts
3 large cakes that I had tested for my forthcoming Secret Tea book (due next spring)
Wines provided by Hardys
A crisp fruity white to go with the cheese fondue
A weighty spicy red to match the roast tomato soup. 

Conversation ranged from internet dating to why posh people now run the music business. One American lady said she dumped a guy for not being ambitious enough.
 "He wrote lists and never ticked anything off. I want a guy with goals, five year plans" she elaborated.
 So American. Can you imagine a British woman demanding this quality in a man with such clear-eyed precision? We also discussed how Americans date differently from the British.
"British men think that you are 'together' by the third date" said the American lady. "Americans date much more casually. At one point I had six people I was seeing at the same time."
She explained further "You never sleep with them until the third date, that's the rule. And you keep dating other people until a moment when you both have 'the conversation' where you reveal your feelings for the other person and hopefully they reciprocate."
"So if there's this rule, then if you don't sleep with a guy by the third date, he must know you aren't that into him?" I ask. "How do you manage that?"
"It's a skill, sure. You just check out early. You meet early for drinks say and then make your excuses and leave."
I think this sounds exhausting. I'm a person who will sleep with someone on the first date if I like them. I have no game plan, no strategy. I guess that is why I'm single. I have no discipline. I dive in, losing myself, indulging my romantic fantasies. This American lady should give pep talks in schools to all puberty age girls entitled 'How to choose a worthwhile boyfriend'.
You want a potential partner to be like a good toffee apple: so often my experience of toffee apples is this: a vast floury-textured apple with no crunch, no flavour, encased in a thin shell of red shiny cooked sugar. Once you've nibbled around the edges you have to munch your way through the tasteless insides. Most of the time you can't be bothered so you throw it away.
Last night, I made toffee apples with tiny shiny crisp red wicked witch apples delivered that day by Riverford Organics. The apple was amply covered by thick golden caramel toffee and two types of chocolate. There was a good apple to covering ratio. And very importantly, the apple inside was just as delightful to the palate as the outside.

Toffee/Chocolate Apple Recipe:

6 inch Sticks for the toffee apples (I used wooden batons I bought at Hobbycraft and then sawed them in half)
Heat proof silicon mat or silicon paper.

8 to 10 Apples (good crunchy small ones like Spartan from Kent)

400g sugar
100ml water
1 tbsp of vinegar

100g of dark chocolate
50g white chocolate

Wash the apples in hot water to remove any dirt/grease/wax. Plunge the sticks into the core via the stem. The core is also known as the ovary of the apple. Eew.
Make the caramel by putting all the ingredients into a heavy bottomed saucepan and boiling until it reaches 140cº. (Buy that sugar thermometer!) Remove from the heat and put it on a heat-proof mat next to the apples.
Then holding the apple carefully by the end of the stick, dip it into the caramel and twist the apple so it is entirely covered.
Place each toffee covered apple onto the silicon mat/paper to set.
Then microwave both chocolates separately in 30 second bursts until melted. (Be careful not to scorch the chocolate by going for too long). Or melt in a bain-marie.
Dip the apple at an angle into the dark chocolate.
Once this is set, flick the white chocolate over the apple with a fork.
Let this set. (If your kitchen is warm, put them into the fridge).
Then cover the sticks with a pretty ribbon by winding it down the stick and looping the end underneath one of the loops of ribbon. Serve.
Also makes a nice present.

Long time readers of this blog will know that I was a political activist for a decade before starting my supper club. This morning I was wondering whether I should have been at the Million Mask March last night.
Russell Brand was photographed attending while wearing the V is for Vendetta 'Guy Fawkes' mask which has become linked with Anonymous. I wish Russell Brand would get off his arse and actually do something but I do agree with him. Voting is pointless. It's the only power we have within our current version of democracy. But I have no one to vote for. Nobody.
I could never vote Tory but I've always felt that the best conservative is somebody very pragmatic, not swayed by idealism. Since Thatcher, the Conservative party is run by idealists. One of the worst things they have done is to nationalise natural monopolies which is a) unpatriotic b) impractical. We have sold our water to the French. And now nuclear power to the Chinese? Who has the time or inclination to spend their time shopping around private energy companies, looking for the best deal?
I'm old enough to remember the three day week. I agree that the Unions had gotten out of hand. But this is madness. There must have been a better solution.
I struggle to vote Labour because, while the Conservatives want nothing to be run by the government, Labour wants everything to be run by the government.
But both parties treat the poor and disadvantaged as if they are stupid.
I voted Liberal Democrat in the last election, Labour were tired, Gordon Brown was a lame duck and my local LibDem councillors are very good, very efficient plus I come from a LibDem family. I disagree with them on Europe but didn't know who else to vote for. But in the next election, I will not vote for a party that has enabled the Tories to continue, without an electoral mandate, on their rampage of destruction on all that is good within British society; or for a party who reneged on their manifesto pledges. Two more years of this crappy government and then what? Something's got to change. Time for a British 'Arab spring'?

What are the options for change?
a) Violent revolution: I'm beginning to think the unthinkable, that violence is the answer, it's the only way to get the establishment to listen. Peaceful demonstrations certainly aren't working. We saw that with Iraq.
b) Consumer power. This would require self-disciplined mass action. Don't buy from corporations that don't pay tax, or a living wage. Don't click on the Daily Mail. Go off-grid for energy.
c) Cyber activism/terrorism. This is why I support Wikileaks and Anonymous. Julian Assange may be a dick with women but he's directly challenging the establishment, along with Edward Snowden. Look how Snowden has changed the conversation. The man is a hero.

Friday, 12 April 2013

It's a wrap menu and recipe for home-made 'After Ates' mints

Saturday's supper club will feature all kinds of foods wrapped up. (Note: this is a follow up theme to the previous ultra-silly supper club called 'On a stick'.) Nature has meant that some foods come with their own wrapping: eggs, bananas, oranges. Other foods are delicious when cooked in some kind of wrapping: banana leaves, vine leaves, pastry, dough or salt. I'm a big fan of the al cartoccio method: spaghetti or say, potatoes, cooked in a bag. I'm going to be exploring some of these within the menu:

Vietnamese fresh spring rolls
Tofu pockets
Fish in banana leaves with a veggie option
Vegetables wrapped in lettuce
Potatoes in a bag
Deep fried icecream in filo pastry
Grilled caramelised bananas
Physallis fruit

We will also play food 'pass the parcel': winner gets the prize when the music stops. (We'll play the version where there is a small gift in every layer).
Guess what music will be on in the background? Rap! 

A food that comes in it's own little packets is always a joy, particularly After Eight's. Is there a kid that hasn't descended in the morning after the parent's dinner party to rifle through the dark satiny envelopes  to see if there are any chocolates left?
So I've made my own After Eights, during the process of which I had a revelation. The name After Eight doesn't just refer to the hour after which they can be eaten, it's also a wordplay 'After ate'. After you've eaten...geddit?

Home-made After Eight Chocolates

1 egg white
300g (2 cups) icing sugar
Juice of half a lemon
A handful of fresh mint(1 cup) chopped finely
A few drops of peppermint essence
4 bars or 400g of dark chocolate

Whisk the egg white until it is stiff. Add and mix the icing sugar, lemon, mint and peppermint essence together with the egg white.
Using a spatula, spread the fondant thinly (2mm) over a silicon mat (silpat) or a sheet of baking parchment.
Melt 2 bars of the chocolate either in a bain marie (over a water bath) or, even easier, in 30 second blasts in the microwave. Normally 2 blasts are fine. Do not be tempted to press for longer than 30 seconds or your chocolate might seize up and become unusable. Do it slowly and check it time.
Once the top of the fondant is dry, pour the chocolate, smoothing with a rubber spatula, over the fondant.
Wait for it to dry for a couple of hours.
Then carefully flip over the silpat/baking parchment and carefully peel it off. Leave to dry until the top is touch dry.
Melt the last two bars of chocolate and smooth it over the top.
Leave to dry.
Cut it into After Eight size sections.
You can use old After Eight envelopes or serve as is. Garnish with mint leaves.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Foraging supper club next weekend

John's notebook and wild tinctures: feel free to bring your camera or iphone to take 'sunprints' like these

John Rensten and I appeared on The Discovery Channel last summer when they filmed us on a foraging walk around Clissold Park . I was impressed by his knowledge and infectious enthusiasm. John Rensten runs Forage London, which specialises in foraging in an urban environment. I find it fascinating to discover how much is edible or useful in London. 
Next weekend, on Sunday, I am thrilled to present a combination wild walk and supper club. John show us what to eat in the hedgerows of North West London. He will lead a walk around Kilburn and Willesden and then I will cook a foraged supper. Tickets are £60 for the walk and supper. Concessions are £40. 
You will be given a 'foraged' cocktail in a jar to talk on your walk but BYO for the meal. 
It'll be interesting to see what is available right now considering the weather: examples are wild garlic, nettles, St George's mushrooms, mallow, alexander buds. 
I'll be playing around with fusions such as Indian and foragey food: nettle aloo? 

Book here:
Filming with The Discovery Channel

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Polenta party vegan supper club with Terry Hope Romero

Polenta board
Portrait of the cook, tweeting. 
 I met Terry Hope Romero in Amsterdam at the Dutch Cookbook Awards. She's probably one of the most well known vegan cookbook authors, with Vegan eats World, Veganomicon and the Vegan cupcakes take over the world series under her belt, the latter with co-author Isa Chandra Moscovitz.
Terry let me know she was visiting London 'Lets hang!', to do a talk at the Vitality show, which caters to a Gwyneth Paltrow style clientele, all kale smoothies and pastel yoga gear as day-wear. The Vitality show is as much about not eating as eating healthily, for there has always been a fuzzy line between food disorder and speciality diets.
Lets do a supper club? I suggested, but I was concerned as it was rather late notice. No need to worry, tickets sold out within a day. There are many neglected vegans out there, although it was interesting to see that on the night, half our guests weren't vegan but vegan-curious meat-eaters.
Cooking was both fun and informative with Terry. Firstly, our transatlantic differences caused many a giggle. She says tomayto I say tomahto, she says baysil I say basil, she says pecahn, I say peecanne, she says eggplant I say aubergine. I use grams and a digital scale, she employs cups, really uses them all the time, for tasting, for measuring, for ladling. Left to scavenge around my kitchen while I was off shopping, I returned to find Terry using my laundry soap powder scoop.
Determined to give her a truly English cooking experience, I put on my usual background noise of Radio 4. The Archers in particular sounded surreal to a girl from Queens, New York.
Hers n hers iPads, Terry and I cook with iPads in the kitchen
I learnt new techniques from Terry: how to soak cashews, then grind them in water to make a thick rich animal-free cream. The Vitamix came in useful for that. Nutritional yeast flakes, mixed with walnuts or pecans are delicious as a vegan Parmesan. They do actually taste cheesy.
Almost by accident, our menu turned out to be gluten-free barring the farro in the soup. Our main course was polenta: Terry had recently had a polenta based meal in Italy and I remembered a fantastic 'polenta party' post on TheKitchn. It's all the rage darling!
Chase elderflower vodka with blackberry cordial cocktails
Socca lentil crepe triangles with roasted carrot butter and babaghanoush
Cannelini and farro soup from Vegan eats World, with an avocado and tomato garnish.
Pecan 'parmesan' topping
Polenta boards topped with artichokes, caramelised onions and cepe mushrooms in sherry and cashew cream, plus aragula/rocket salad
Marinated blood oranges slices in bay leaf liqueur with flourless chocolate cake (from Vegan eats World) and Coyo coconut yoghurt. 

I sent guests home with samples of Coyo coconut yoghurt which I highly recommend, being rich, creamy, dairy free, gluten free, but not taste-free.
Marinated blood oranges, flourless chocolate cake, CoYo yoghurt

The supper club went really well, with guests such as fat gay vegan and everybody enjoyed it. Terry is particularly impressed with British vegan 'cheeses' which taste real to her compared to the synthetic American ones.
Her last day in London I took her to Pogo cafe in Clarence Rd in Hackney. Clarence Rd is an experience in itself, a whole different kind of London from where Terry was staying in Sloane Square. Pogo is a fascinating place, a co-op anarchist animal rights restaurant. I have many happy memories of cheffing there, even though I was accused of being somewhat 'hierarchical'  in the kitchen. I wasn't doing things on a consensus basis.
Scenes from Pogos

Polenta recipe:

1 kilo of polenta (I chose fine as opposed to coarse)
(For quick cook use 1.5 litres  of water for 500g)
4.5 litres of water
2 tablespoons of salt
75ml of olive oil or 50g of butter

Choose between the following toppings which you can buy or make homemade:

Napolitana sauce
Fried onions with garlic
Artichokes in oil
Mushrooms in cream
Grilled aubergines
Lots of butter and shaved parmesan
Braised endives, leeks, cardoons
Grilled fennel slices

Get a large good quality saucepan (you don't want a thin bottom, the polenta might burn or stick) and add the water either boiled or heat until boiling. Add the salt. Add the polenta. Keep stirring. Polenta is rather similar to grits, that Southern United States speciality. Good grits, as we learnt from My Cousin Vinny, take a while to cook. Same with polenta.With the slow cook, it can take 90 minutes. The quick cook takes about 2 minutes. What is the difference? The slow cook is a little more 'corny', a little grittier and possibly better for a dinner party in that it stay soft for longer. You want a nice thick soupy polenta which you can spread onto a wooden board. Not too thick but not so thin it runs off the board. I used bread boards but you can buy a dedicated polenta board which I must admit I'm slightly lusting after now.
Add the warm toppings in stripes across the top of your bread boards, line them down the centre of the table and give everyone a spoon to serve themselves. Fun and interactive!

Grilled Polenta Recipe:
Got leftovers? Then pour the polenta into a loaf tin, cut it into slices and grill it. Serve with diced jalapeno, tomatos, onion, and coriander salsa with plenty of lime juice and have it for breakfast the next day.
Clarence Rd, another tragic teen death from a gang, postcode wars,  a London that tourists rarely see. Right: Terry Hope Romero instagramming at Pogos cafe.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Liquorice/chocolate meringue mushrooms recipe

I've been wanting to make meringue mushrooms ever since I made a Christmas log cake. I'm not crazy about Christmas cake or Christmas pudding so I tend to go continental at Christmas and make the log instead. Now what goes on a log? Mushrooms of course. It seemed also a good idea to surround the gingerbread houses I made for the Ocado Scandinavian supper club with some fantasy edible mushrooms. The North Pole myths of flying reindeers derives from the fly agaric mushrooms they eat. 
I tested a couple of recipes but recommend Joy of Baking's recipe (she really is brilliant and so dependable) but I added a couple of tweaks: liquorice and chocolate. Just like Scandinavians, I love liquorice, especially the salty kind. 
I played around with liquorice meringue recipes, melting liquorice and using essence of Liquorice but all I got was ugly brown meringues. Eventually I figured out the best method is to get some hard liquorice candy and grate it onto the meringue tops. The flavour is delicious.
Get some disposable piping bags as you are going to be doing alot of piping. I've doubled the recipe, so if you screw up a bunch then you have plenty more.

60 g of egg whites, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
100 g of white caster sugar
A large pinch of salt
A stick of hard liquorice candy (available from Fox's Spices Tel: 01789-266420)
Option: some cocoa powder.
A bar of good dark chocolate

Some red food colouring (if you want to make magic toadstools). (Food colouring pastes are the most intense).

Whisk your egg whites (I hope you have an electric beater) until they form soft peaks. Add the cream of tartar and the salt. Then add the sugar, slowly, while continuing to whisk on high speed. Eventually it should look glossy and stiff. 
Using a tall jug or glass to hold your piping bag (folded back so you can get the mixture into the pointy bit), scoop half of the mixture into it). Cut a point off the end. Not too big. Remember it'll get bigger as you pipe. 
Put a quarter of the rest of the mixture into another bowl and mix it with some strong red food colouring. 
Save the rest of the meringue mixture for sticking the tops and bottoms of the mushroom meringues together. Keep this in an air tight container or another piping bag.
Lay out as many flat baking sheets as you possess, covered with non stick parchment or, (I keep telling you to buy these and I hope you have), even better, silpats
Pipe the stems: holding the bag upright over the baking sheet, making sure it's CLOSE to the paper, pipe a sort of cone shape. With a wet finger, slightly flatten the top, you need it flat so it fits onto the cap of the mushroom. Some of the stems will fall over so pipe plenty. You want them straight and upright.
Pipe the caps: this is easier. Pipe circular rounds until it's about 2 cms high and 5 cms in diametre. Again smooth the top with a wet finger. 
Then grate the liquorice candy on top of the cap. 
For the toadstools, pipe the same cap in red. 

Bake the caps and stems on a low heat oven (around 100-140ºC) for about an hour. Make sure they don't go brown.

For the toadstools, make a teensy hole at the end of your piping bag and pipe little white spots onto the top of the red caps. Put back in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Now the white caps: once they've cooled you will notice that the bottoms of many of the caps are 'dipped' just like real mushrooms. 
Melt your chocolate. (30 second bursts in the microwave are the easiest way to do this. Do it for any longer than 30 seconds though and you'll have a disgusting burnt ball of chocolate). 
Using a pastry brush, paint the dipped underside of your white mushroom caps with chocolate. Then stick the stem onto the underside. Leave to dry.
Handle with care or they'll break.

With the toadstools, using the leftover white meringue mixture, stick the stems the red caps. Cap side down, place back in the oven for 15 minutes until they are dry.

It took me a couple of goes to get it right but very satisfying and magical. Let me know how you get on.
I will definitely serve these at my Hobbit meals at the Highgate yurt on the 15th of December. I think anything woodland is hobbitty don't you? 

Coming up:

Hobbits have 7 meals a day: 15th of December. Highgate yurt. (Elevenses still has tickets)
Secret Garden Club: growing citrus (with citrussy supper). 16th of December.  Book here.

That Food Stories about to demolish my gingerbread house/forest 
Served with blueberry soup and blueberry icecream for the Ocado Scandinavia meal.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

135 degrees longitude: Japanese food at Global Feast

Yuki Gomi
Yuki, in common with our other Asian nights, arrived well prepared, prep list in hand, ingredients ordered and delivered. She runs a Japanese supper club in Crystal Palace in London called Yuki's Kitchen, she also gives Japanese cookery classes and has a book coming out with Penguin next spring. As soon as I asked her to guest chef at our Japanese night she didn't hesitate, for her British husband is an architect. He took one look at Alex Haw's amazing table and told Yuki that she must say yes.
Yuki's menu:

Beer by TsingTao
Many ingredients sponsored by Clearspring foods.

Marinated mackerel with shisho bo sushi
Authentic Japanese sushi selection

Matsukaze chicken: baked chicken with miso
Sea vegetable and cucumber salad with mustard sesame sauce (the sauce was delicious, you combine English mustard and tahini)

Akauo (Red fish) marinated in Malted Sake "sake kasu"
Green beans with black sesame sauce (moan of pleasure)

Tokyo mess: A Japanese Eton mess. Green tea mascarpone with seasonal fruits.

The fish, it must be admitted was a courageous dish to serve. It's made with a specially imported ingredient from Japan, malted sake. It's almost like a Japanese marmite: using the top fermentation of sake rice wine. I loved it, but some guests thought it made the fish too strange, too pungent, almost 'off'.
We also had Japanese dancers leading a karaoke dance... side, side, forward, clap, knees, knees, L-shape, L-shape, sleeeve, sleeeve, clap, wave your hands to the side, then the other side, dip and bend. The whole table entered into the spirit of it! (Especially, bien sur, the food bloggin' posse comprised of the gayest man on Twitter Mr Hugh Wright and his latest protegé, fashion illustrator Joseph Larkowsky, Hollow Legs, Food Stories.)
The Worldscape table is almost finished and needs a home after August 13th. Contact Alex Haw on +44(0)7815 040 619 if you have a gallery or space that can house it.


Here is Yuki's stunning recipe for Green beans with black sesame sauce.
200g of green beans, trimmed and cut in half
100g Black sesame seeds, ground with a pestle and mortar
20g of brown sugar
40g of brown miso
30ml of Mirin,
20ml of soy sauce

Boil the beans for 5 minutes maximum, they must stay crunchy.
Grind the black sesame seeds into a paste, add the other ingredients.
Mix with the green beans.
Serve warm or cold.

Another highlight of the evening for me, was that I got to handle an actual Olympic medal. Athletes are coming into the bar after the meal, this time a Canadian lady rower who had won silver. The medal is massive and rather heavy. "Now I know why I got up at 5am every day to practice rowing" she said, her face shiny with happiness. Her boyfriend, an Olympic swimmer, was also there, she met him at the Beijing Olympics. She confirmed that the Olympic village is a hot-bed of virile healthy super-humanly fit people, pumped up with adrenalin, fucking like rabbits.
During the day I emerged for the first time from the thick-walled (no phone signal) turret of Stratford Old Town and walked to Stratford station and Westfield shopping centre. There are thousands of folk, all good-humoured, from all nations of the earth. Groups of people are shouting the benefits of, variously, Islam, The Bible and Veganism. Stratford has, for a couple of weeks, evolved into a thronging market place for all humanity. Yes, the specially commissioned leaf sculptures look like fish and are even called 'shoal' but Stratford, on the meridian, zero degrees longitude, is where it's at right now.
Come down for the last few nights of Global Feast: spaces left for North American night and Caribbean night. Don't miss out, we'll be closed after Monday. Book here. 

Monday, 28 March 2011

The Underground Restaurant on the road: Camp Bestival/Bestival

Some of you that have read my blog from the early days know that I've always loved festivals and cooking at them.
We are thrilled to announce that we are taking The Underground Restaurant on the Camp Bestival and Bestival, winners of the Best Major festival at the Uk Festival awards. Tickets for lunch, early dinner or midnight feast can be prebooked. Adults £37. Children are welcome for lunch and early dinner at £20 for the children's menu.
More details here.
Those of you that are going or who live near to Dorset or the Isle of Wight, I hope I'll see you there! Dress up!
I will also be signing copies of my book Supper Club: recipes and notes from the Underground Restaurant at The Underground Night Market on May 6th and at Bestival!

MsMarmite in the Independent on Sunday

Kerstin Rodgers: 'All those no-salt cooks – have you tasted their food? Dreary'

Interview by Hugh Montgomery
Sunday, 27 March 2011
Rodgers says: My dream dining companion would be Julian Assange - it would be fascinating to get all the secrets straight from the horse's mouth'
Rodgers says: My dream dining companion would be Julian Assange - it would be fascinating to get all the secrets straight from the horse's mouth'
My earliest food memory... Suddenly having this thing about fried eggs when I was about four, and getting my mum to cook me one, which I loved so much. But then after that she made me a couple more fried eggs and I tried them and said, "I don't like them any more." I was quite a fussy kid! My mum was a good cook but also quite experimental, and it didn't always work out – she had a phase of making Japanese soup which tasted like dishwater.
My store-cupboard essentials... Marmite, obviously! I'm a Marmite baby and was brought up on the stuff. Also, good-quality pasta; Normandy sea-salt butter – I love it so much I could eat it on its own; ponzu, which is a kind of soy sauce flavoured with yuzu, which is a Japanese citrus fruit – if you put it on rice, it transforms it; and chestnut purée: if you don't know what to do for a pudding, mix some with crème fraîche or cream or yoghurt and it's delicious.
My culinary tip... Remember to salt to taste as you're cooking. I'm a great believer in salt, and I hate this government anti-salt thing: a decent sea salt contains lots of good minerals such as magnesium and zinc, which women are often lacking in, and if you talk to a doctor who actually knows their stuff, there is no definite relation between high blood pressure and salt. And all those no-salt cooks... have you ever tasted their cooking? It's dreary.
My favourite food shop... Quite a lot of Polish supermarkets have appeared near my home in Kilburn and they're great for discovering new foods such as green pickled tomatoes, which sound vile but are delicious. Eastern European food has a bad reputation, probably because of the Soviet years, but thanks to the Polish immigrants who have come over, there are a lot of goodies and gems we're only just discovering.
My top table... Koya, a brilliant Japanese noodle place in Soho. The other ones I love are Tayyabs [a curry house in east London], which is so cheap but amazing, and Polpetto [in Soho], which is all tapas-style plates. Sometimes with tapas restaurants, you end up paying a fortune and you're still hungry afterwards, but there they give you really generous portions and they also do really lovely flatbreads.
My dream dining companion... Julian Assange – it would be fascinating to get all the secrets straight from the horse's mouth. Also, Madonna: I like some of her music, but I'm mainly a fan of her career strategy. She's an amazing over-achiever, and it would be a bit like meeting the Queen. I'd have them round to my Underground Restaurant, because they're more likely to be relaxed and open there.
My desert-Island dish... Spaghetti with my own tomato sauce and lots of garlic. It's my favourite comfort food, because it's got loads of carbs in it. I hate the anti-carbs movement: in fact, I want to start a restaurant just called Carbs.
My pet hates... Meat-eaters on public transport: people who eat a lot of fried chicken as a diet really sweat and smell, especially when its hot weather and you're crammed under their armpit. Also, okra – texture is important to me in food, and I don't like things which are slimy.
My tipple of choice... A margarita. I've never had a decent one in this country, but I was recently talking to a mixologist and he was saying the reason was that the limes you get here are not the right ones: they're not the same as you get in the States. The key is getting the right balance of sour and sweet: the margaritas I make at home might be too sour for most British people, but I like food and drink that makes you wince a bit.
Kerstin Rodgers, aka MsMarmiteLover, is chef-patronne of The Underground Restaurant, based at her house in Kilburn, north London, and one of the country's most popular food bloggers (marmitelover. Her first recipe book, 'Supper Club' (Collins, £25), is released on Thursday

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Twelfth Night: galette des rois

January 6th is the real Christmas or 'Epiphany', the manifestation of God according to Eastern Orthodox Christianity.  This date celebrates the arrival of the three kings, Magi, Wise men or, in some translations from the original Aramaic of the bible, astrologers. In Britain this is historically known as Twelfth night, and probably the date of the first performance of  the eponymous Shakespeare play.
In several cultures there are 'King Cakes'; here, traditionally but scarcely known, a fruit cake known as 'twelfth cake' is baked or an Epiphany jam tart in a star shape with different coloured jams.
Every January in France however, patisseries will sell a 'galette des rois', cake of kings. Children love these almond croissant style pies for, if you find the little china figurine of a king in your slice, you get to wear the crown and become king for the day. In some versions of this epiphany dessert, you will find a bean instead. I, lacking a bean ("I haven't got a bean") and a figurine used a walnut instead. I didn't have a crown either so made one out of a scrap of gold paper.
Some countries have pushed the King Cake forward to February during Mardi Gras, I will post about this New Orleans dessert later.
Here is the recipe:

Serves 6 to 8
140g of sugar
125g of butter, softened
100g of ground almonds
2 eggs and one yolk
1 swig of Grand Marnier
500g of butter puff pastry
I dry bean, figurine or walnut

Blend the butter with the sugar then add the almonds. Make sure it's well mixed. Add in the 2 eggs one at a time, then add the Grand Marnier. Save the yolk for glazing.
Divide the puff pastry into two. You can make your own, or buy very good butter puff pastry. I used some home made butter puff pastry made by one of the stallholders at my Underground Christmas Market: Cherry Pippin who supplies chefs with her fabulous pastry.
Make two circles about 15 cm's each in diameter.
Lay one circle on a silicone mat on a baking tray and fill with the almond cream leaving a 3 cm border around the edge. Paint the border with the egg.
Then lay the other circle on top, sealing the edges with a fork. You could then carve designs into the top, taking care not to pierce the pastry. Make a little slit in the middle to let steam escape then brush the top with the egg yolk.
Chill for half an hour or so in the fridge.
Bake in your Aga roasting oven with the plain shelf, the top of your baking oven if you have a three oven Aga or at 200C/400F until golden brown. You can serve warm or cold.

To make the crown cut a strip of gold or silver paper, enough to fit the circumference of the average head. I pleated the strip of paper and drew the shape of one of the points on a crown. I then cut out the shape. Unravel and glue the short edges either end together.
If you want to be a prince or princess for a night, however, do book for my Royal Wedding Banquet on the 29th of April.