Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lunar New Year - Welcoming Tigers

(Sticky Chicken Wings)

Fri 12th / Sat 13th February 2010

-The King's New Year Sticky Rice Cake Slices w/ Pork Belly & Yellow Bean, 
Vietnamese Ham & Pickled Shallots

-Steamed Rice Ho Fun Sheets w/ Cured Ham, Pork Belly & Coriander & 
Sweet Basil - w/ Sweet & Chilli Fish Sauce

-Pork & Prawns Won Ton Soup

-Sticky Pork Loin & Sticky Chicken Wings w/ Pak Choi & Prawn Crackers

-Roll Your Own Baked Talapia In Soy Sauce, Spring Onions 
& Ginger w/ Rice Paper & Herbs

-Duck With Orange & Star Anise W/ Steamed Rice

-Sweet Yellow Bean & Coconut Rice Dumplings w/ Ginger Syrup & Seasame
(Sticky Rice Cakes In Banana Leaf)
(Fried Sticky Rice Cakes)

(Steamed Rice Ho Fun Sheets w/ Cured Ham, Pork Belly & Coriander & Sweet Basil - w/ Sweet & Chilli Fish Sauce)
(Cured Vietnamese Sour Ham)
(Chilli seeds for sauce- Disgard unless you like it hot : ))

(Won Ton Pastry)
(Won Ton Noodle Soup (we didn't serve noodles though)

(Lovely Sticky-ness) 

(Baked Talapia With Onions, Garlic, Lemongrass & Ginger)  

(Duck With Orange & Star Anise W/ Steamed Rice)


Additional Photography By Our Lovely Guest - Elisabet S

It is traditional to wear red on New Year's to bring luck and to eat to your heart's content in celebration with good friends and family to bring good fortune and prosperity.

You must pay off all your debts and spring clean your home to close chapters of your past and welcome new experiences and good luck. Out with the old and in with the new.

Your New Year's Day must be filled with fun and happiness. Whatever you do in this day is believed to reflect your entire year - so don't argue or be sad.

Stepping in dog poo by accident is somehow supposed to be lucky? Don't know why but Simon managed to tread a whole load of oil in from the street and left foot prints all over my carpet on the stairs- will that make us wealthy? Hope so.. : )

Welcoming dogs into your home is also believed to be really lucky.

We had a great time on these supper club nights. Everyone really enjoyed themselves and loved the food. We hope that they will all be very lucky in the year of the Tiger. They will not be hungry - thats for sure.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Girls Night

“We were kings, the suns of those few hours of banqueting, who would determine their futures and describe their horizons…” - Muriel Barbary – ‘The Gourmet’
A Private Party at Fernandez & Leluu
I love my girlfriends. Girlfriends rock – I have two very best friends, - Aggie & Fatima. We met in St Joan Of Arc Primary School in Highbury when we were five, playing hop scotch and trying to get gold stars from Mr Keane.

Since then, we have grown up, eating our way through college, university, countries, careers, memories of love, boyfriends, bad dates, hot dates and marriage proposals that never were. But still standing strong with each other (and new girlfriends made along the way) as solid rocks and embracing the ride to come.

Now in our thirties, arm in arm with careers, responsibilities, living lives in all parts of the world, memories of being in our twenties together (where there were much less things to worry about) are a true treasure.

Not knowing at the time, how wonderful we were, we were smiling and laughing til our checks ached and rocked the house with our grooves, loving youth and bouncing on a lot of enjoyment. I remind myself to never lose our religion of fun no matter how  much older we will get.

Sajida and I have been corresponding since November. When she had heard of us through the grapevine, she immediately booked to have her birthday party in February, choosing our Fish Tales menu.

I felt that Saj has had quite a year of hardship and a lot of work, a great birthday party with all her friends is something to look forward to and to welcome in positive prospects. Although I didn’t know her and had never met her, I knew that this booking would make wonderful memories for her and we were really happy to be a part of it.
Private bookings are entirely different than our usual restaurant nights as people are coming to a dinner party in a party atmosphere. Everybody knows each other and there is more mingling than usual.
There is always one girl who loves to DJ (that’s me usually) and its always the girls who start dancing – the ones who dare to love life and be wild and outrageous in front of their friends.

They are always the ones who will bring the candles and/ or the cake for your birthday, buy you the best gifts. Know your favorite songs or whom you might fancy in the crowd. They know your past, your present and they are part of your future. They just know You.

Is it true what Harry said to Sally? Can men and women ever be friends? Yes - but no matter what, my girlfriends and I will always be there for each other to the bitter end. Whereas, boys… they come and go.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Easiest Fastest Pizza

OK, here goes! But before I start I'm going to say that this post is about that lazy feeling when you just want to relax and mull over the world with a friend and a glass of wine, and you don't want to spend your time chatting with an eye on the stove, half catching the conversation while everyone else is having a blissfully ignorant (ignorance is bliss!! trust me!) time. Nope this one is about that lazy mid week feeling, pop into the super market and grab a pizza and a bottle of wine and relax with a friend. Thing is you grab a pizza and the chances are you'll get a poor base with a woeful topping and; who picked the cheese? Gutted! Where's my warm lovely pizza feeling? Well, a little consideration of the ingredients can lead you to a sublime sensation! Here it is! My friend Jorge and I used to grab some bits from the supermarket before heading back for a chill and a feed.
Grab a focaccia, some really ripe tomatoes, and some cheese, it's a good start (well it is if it's mozzarella and not cheddar!!) From here on in the world's your oyster! Me, I'm a carnivore, hunt and eat! So this one was a kinda meat feast, some chili oil, various cured meats and embutidos (err, cured sausage init!) but the beauty of this baby is you can layer it with your hearts desire, once you've got your core ingredients (tomato, mozzarella & extra virgin olive oil ), the rest is an oportunity to express yourself and delight your taste buds! - note, its easy to destroy a pizza by putting too much onto it, less is more, it's about flavour combination, the focaccia is pretty forgiving because of its depth, but it's easy to get a sog fest on your hands if you pile on the toppings! Slice your tomatoes onto the bread, add your toppings, some olive oil and some salt and pepper & oregano (or basil). 'Nough said, enjoy! 220C 15mins, a pizza wheel and you're done! Kick back relax and chew the fat with a friend!  

How to make that focaccia is another - very lovely - story!! Simon

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Save Green Onions

Elizabeth Shepard, co-owner of Green Onions Secret Supper Club and I have been corresponding via Twitter about tea, Radio 4, dinner dates and such things like “not liking today” for a couple of months now.

I felt like I had found a fellow human who knew what we were going through with the trials and tribulations of the supper club world. Despite only seeing a tiny Twitter picture of her in yellow and purple and a large hat covering her face, I took an instant liking to her. She looks like lots of fun.
When I had heard on Twitter that there were some cancellations for their event last Friday night, I told Simon about it and we decided to go because our Fish Tales menu for the next day did not require us to work late into the night or to do any prepping the day before. (We like doing Fish Tales)

We cycled in the winter wind along the dark streets of Hackney. It definitely beats driving and one of us not drinking. As we arrived on their street, we found Elizabeth, also known as Claire, wondering around in her apron, trying to locate lost dinner guests.
We were welcomed by Lucy, a hunky blonde with a very husky voice, took our coats and offered us some sparkling something that I could have had a litre of. It was lovely. Claire lives in a council block on the ground floor with a garden that I wish I could have seen (as it was dark – I didn’t).

As I grew up in a 70s council block (in Hackney), I always feel like I somehow belong there. I love the unique warmth that hits your face when you enter the door that you do not get anywhere else. Is it because the ceilings are lower, the people are closer that this special heating occurs? Its not too hot, its just right; comfortable and homely.
Claire’s dinning room is simple but inviting with fairy lights crawling across mirrors and the book case. Flowers on every table. But most importantly, the guests who have already arrived are the welcoming part – saying hello to new arrivals, greeting us with their friendly smiles.

Supper clubs rule when it comes to social interactions. We spoke to our table companions about their weird dates, trips to China and whatever anyone felt like chatting about. It was like meeting some old friends you hadn’t seen in ages and getting to know them all over again.
It was difficult to answer, ‘what do you guys do?’ the inevitable question that always pops up – ‘O - … We also run a supper club.’ It’s the dread of justifying why we were there in the first place. No – not to spy, not to poach customers or even check out the competition. Just to eat and take part in the supper club movement. We answered all their questions and really liked telling them too.

Simon & I spend so much time talking and working on Fernandez & Leluu – we never really get any time to ourselves and not work. Going to a supper club is just better than going to a restaurant because then at least we can talk to other people who occupy the world too.
We were seriously hungry! Claire introduced herself to her dinner guests and announced that sadly this weekend may be Green Onions’ last suppers because – Billy – chef of Green Onions is leaving for Sweden.

A flux of terrible sadness swept all our faces but a sense of happy-go-lucky smirk curled at the edge of our lips to be lucky enough to take part in their incredible journey, after ten months, after hundreds and maybe thousands of mouths fed, comes to a stand still – we could be the last but hopefully just the last at the interim.

Claire announced that they were making what they believed to be their most successful dishes for us tonight. Typical Yorkshire favourites - where they are from.
 We were lucky enough to sit with some vegetarians because two salad bowls came to our table! There was the black pudding salad – which I was totally unsure of but upon entering my mouth and sitting on my tongue for a while, my taste buds were dancing MC Hammer style in unison.

There must have been some pesto dressing on the sliced black pudding with fried bread as croutons and watercress. We shared the vegi-option of Jerusalem Artichoke – it was really one of the best salads I have had.
 As the chit-chat continued and the wine flowing, we were served two pies- one with chicken and one with mushrooms. They were both huge pies sitting on our table for six when it should have been for 10. We were very lucky. They tasted delicious. The generous filling of chicken was ever so succulent and full. The crust is buttery, crunchy, crispy and everything you could expect from a great pie!

This was served with kale which they cooked to perfection, with perfect seasoning. We loved it. We ate it all – pinching off the poor vegetarian’s pie who were fighting over their fabulous mushroom pie full of the perfect balance of mushroom and cream. Exquisite!
Claire, Billy & Lucy got the food, the service spot on. They left adequate time in between courses and they changed our plates and cutlery (more than what we do sometimes he he). After ten months, they were like clock work.

For dessert, we all got a generous amount of Yorkshire Parkin with Rhubarb. Simon nor I are fans of rhubarb so left it but the parkin was great. It was not a good idea for of mine to eat everything! I really pushed myself over the edge that night. Was so stuffed and kept pouring cream over my dessert like it was good for my waistline.
Claire joined us for tea and coffee, it was really the first time we met. We gave each other a big hug. For three seconds, some weight had been lifted off Claire’s shoulders. She looked ever so tired and exhausted as she has to work all week at her ‘day job’ then do three nights in a row in the evening.
“I feel gutted.” Claire answers in response to it maybe being the last weekend, looking down at the edge of the table. We are gutted too.

Guests began to disperse and we were the last ones sharing our experiences, getting to know Billy and Lucy.

We were really lucky to have been to Green Onions. They sell out within minutes of putting their dates on Facebook. Although I would curse those who cancelled in the first place – it meant that we went.

It was a true supper club experience – whatever that is. What I really like about Green Onions is that this is just what they do, and they are good at it. There isn’t any gimmick, pretentiousness or press hyperactivity with their place and them. And they are ever so nice.
What a brilliant night!

Please join their Facebook group and rally for more supper club dates. We need Green Onions!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Lemon Grass Beef & Vermicelli Herb Salad

One of my favourite Vietnamese dishes is beef with lemongrass and garlic, fried to perfection and placed over some vermicelli. Underneath the noodles is a bed of salad with a mixture of herbs such as mint, sweet basil and/or corriander! On top of the beef, lay some crushed peanuts coating the glazed beef, spring onion blanched in oil to give it colour and texture to the noodles and pickled carrots. Then a splashing of fish sauce that is mixed with some coconut juice, apple vinegar and chilli.

A perfect marriage of sweet, sour and salt.


Vermicelli Herb Salad
-Vermicelli Noodles - (Put into large bowl, pour boiling water over it and watch until it is soft but al dente  then drain)
-Lettuce Leaves - Cut finely
-Herbs: Corriander/ Sweet Basil/ Mint - have all or at least one of - Cut or tear into small pieces removing stalks.

Place lettuce and herbs into a bowl
Once the vermicelli is cold, place over the salad

Pickled Carrots
(make as much as you require - you will only need a heap spoonful per person)
-Julienne the carrots
-Apple Vinegar

-Make a mixture using the above ingredients to a required balance of sweet and sour. If too sweet add more lime, if too sour add more sugar.

Spring Onion In Oil
-Cut Spring Onions as finely as you possibly can
-Blanche in hot olive oil for a few seconds and remove from heat.

Crush/ Blend

Fish Sauce
Please judge with your own taste buds
- about 60% coconut juice
-10% fish sauce
-30% hot water
-blend garlic and chilli together 1:1 - add to your mixture

-Sirloin/ Rump/ Fillet - Slice into strips
-Lemongrass - chop off the head and the tail and remove the outer layer. You will need enough to cover every bit of the meat. Say about 5 stalks for 4 steaks.
-Peel half bulb of garlic (for 4 steaks) and put it with the lemongrass stalks into the blender and get it quite fine.
-Marinate the beef strips with the blend of garlic and lemongrass.
-Add about a 4 tbs of terriyaki sauce.
-A sprinkle of sugar
-Leave in fridge for at least 30 mins.

Before frying the beef
-Red Onions or best - Shallots - slice and add apple vinegar to the onion mixture
-Slightly brown the onion mixture
-Fry the lemongrass beef with the onions until brown - nice if pink in the middle.

Place beef on noodles, sprinkle peanuts, a teaspoon of spring onion oil and pickled carrots on the side.
Add some fish sauce.
This is a salad - great for those sunny days. Its so good that it must be bad for you but on the contrary. It is really cooling and refreshing and all the favours compliment each other. As a person who hardly eats her five a day, there is salad in this, carrots and plenty of herbs so I would be happy to eat this every day. 

This is usually eaten for breakfast or lunch in Vietnam in a big bowl. When you get it, you mix it all up, soaking all the noodles with fish sauce and spring onions. A great delight!


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