Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Grubworm's Gnocchi

By Leluu
This time last year – life was completely different. We had only started to look at food blogs before we started the supper club and now it is a way of life to read the ones we follow religiously. One of my favourite is The Grubworm: a food blog about food in (mostly) London restuarants and food that The Grubworm himself makes – usually for dinner - for him and his, Mrs Grubworm. It is quite inspirational - very insightful and completely interesting in prose and of course - content! Here is someone who adores cooking, who incorporates food into his life. He lives to eat! He doesn't eat to live.

He got me making gnocchi. I love simple food and tasting small amounts of ingredients, combined together. As soon as I read the post, I targeted the mission. However,  I misread the quantity of eggs – I used 5 eggs instead of half an egg! It was completely wrong! The Grubworm then changed it from
“ .5 egg" to "Half egg” and it worked perfectly - you can easily miss that - dot - which I clearly did. I was very proud on the second run! I thought they were the only things you can buy from the shops or order in the restaurant.

The recipe is on his blog and I have asked him if I can share it here too – it is ever so easy! It took me 20 mins to do and it tasted just wonderful! so here it is:

500g Maris Piper Potato

125g Plain flour
Half an egg, beaten

Salt & Pepper to season

Cook the potatoes in boiling water until soft
Mash it with a masher or rice - do it well and don't leave any lumps or it will show.

Don’t be too lazy and put it in the blender because it will become extremely waxy - (believe me - I;ve tried that route and its the route back to the market to get more potatoes)

Stir about a third of the flour and the egg into the potato to form a light dough.
Put the rest of the flour on a board and tip out the dough on to it. Knead the potato dough into the flour until it forms a pliable dough.
Add more flour if necessary.

Break the dough into small balls and roll out into thin sausages about a centimetre thick. Chop into 2cm long pieces. Drop into boiling water. When they float they’re done.

I never used to like gnocchi very much because I always happened to have ones that make me feel like I have eaten little stones.

After eating the most beautiful gnocchi ever at the Saltoun Supper Club, I was hooked.
I found out by testing them that if you take the gnocchi out as soon as they float to the surface, its very light – whereas if you over cook them – they are like little rocks.

Another tip is to use Maris Piper or King Edwards for a floury and light texture.
I love it with just butter, Parmigiano-Reggiano, fresh basil, salt and pepper.

Thanks to The Grubworm, I can make my own gnocchi in 20 minutes and have a simple yet delicious meal! You should all try it too! Its so great that food bloggers such as The Grubworm can inspire us to try out new things and make us see that things can be so simple sometimes when you give it a chance and try it out.

Friday, September 17, 2010

A day away: Angel Eyes & Hell Boy!

by Simon Fernandez (@ferdiesfoodlab)

pt II here
Well last week was absolutely brutal - mostly because Uyen smacked me in the face, again - and I felt that I needed a little time away from the big smoke, so I organised to see friends in the country. A little afternoon tennis, (working that waistline!!), bit of blogging on the train, test a few menu ideas, bit of chit chat and back in time for bed! Yeay! Or at least that was the plan.

Woke up that day and it was raining for a kick off, and you know how you set yourself something to do, and be it your fault, or not, it always takes twice as long as it should? Specially if you're as ADHD as me.

Well that's what happened. So I'm rushing around like a  thing possessed, last minute ingredients collection and the like, then check that transport website, purveyor of constant bad news - consistent if nothing else - bus service only!! Bollooooooocks!

OK more than one way to skin a cat, I lob all me gear in Aunt Bessie (my beaten up old car) and hop in and look for a podcast to listen to. It's a good hours drive to I decided on the food programme. I fire up the podcast  hitch it up to my tape deck, which is the only bit of the stereo that works. Well that and one speaker!! Does anyone use tapes anymore? I found a bunch of my old tapes in me mums attic, but chucked them because I hadn't had a tape deck in years!! Doh! Anyway think thats a bit of ADHD creeping in there.

So off I went in hunt of some R&R. As I drove I learn't a few more interesting things about seeds, did you know it's illegal to sell seeds in certain places, and illegal to keep your own seed in others! I'll add a link to post when I write it.

Any way I digress meet the family:
Angel Eyes
Hell Boy!
The Ram

I settled in, and we talked about old times, and current affairs, you know chewing the fat.
Err . . .  eh tio! Esto no es paella
Next it was down to business putting together dinner for the five of us. OK here's a tip for anyone thinking about going into the business of cooking for dinners parties in other peoples homes. If you plan to do it professionally or otherwise; if you're using anything other than the most basic utensils probably worth asking if they are available.
It's unreasonable to expect a chinois for example, but no sieve?!! Ahem!!!! I know they say a bad workman blames his tools but you aint cuttin a steak with no finga and you can't carve a chicken with a spoon! Well not very well anyway, it's kind of a massacre, hmmm : / 

Luckily dinner wasn't too much of a massacre, but too busy learning new kitchen to get many snaps. 'Cept for the kids left overs.
So the kids liked it then!
We did the washing up and retired to the lounge! At which point I made mum and dad watch Food Inc which I recommend to everyone interested in where their food comes from. When I watched this documentary which was in the cinema a whole week - and a very select few cinemas at that - my jaw just dropped!
As if the images of CAFO's and automated pig slaughter weren't enough, at one point, what I assume is a biochemist puts his hand through a plug cut in the side of a live cow to pull out contents of it's intestines. The interviewer asks does that hurt the cow? "Oh no." he blithely replies! It was akin the (vile) heart plugs out of Dune. The system that is being built around us is coming scarily close to the dystopian vision in the cracking film Soylent Green.

Needless to say by the time we'd finished watching and discussing the documentary we were all exhausted, so I stayed over for the night.

I woke early the next day to a warm sunny day! Isn't it great when you wake up in good mood feeling productive and it's a cracking day to boot! Lovely!!  I made myself a coffee while the kids watched morning tv, and cracked on knocking out ideas for our next few menus.

The sun reached into the house ever further and after a while every one was up, and buzzing off the sunny day. Hell Boy and Angel Eyes had turned their attention to the garden:
What's this?
"Yeah it looks like carrots to me", my expert - ahem cough - opinion. "How long till you can harvest them?" shouts The Ram, holding back Angel Eyes, who's been waiting what is clearly to him an eternity for the day he could uproot his prize. "60 days, I think, when did you plant them?" I ask. "You mean it! There's only one!"  One? Ferdie marks awarded: must try harder!

The seed had been there couple of months!
Both Hell Boy and Angel Eyes agreed it was and absolute corker. Hell even Spiderman did!
Game of tennis monsieur?
Raquel looking after the mini super heros, and kicking our arses at the same time!

Oh No! Aaaeeeeey...
He he!
I cant watch! Maybe I can!
Good game! Good game!

We wonder back, I know that one of The Rams favourite biscuits is biscotti, and since I'm putting them on this weeks menu, thought it would be fun to make some with the heros of this story.

Turns out "biscotti mix hail storm" is one of their secret supper powers : )

to be continued……. . . . pt II here

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A Day At The BBC With The Hairy Bikers

By Leluu
A couple of weeks ago, the BBC chose us to visit their studios and help the Hairy Bikers make a pilot for their new show coming to your screens in the Autumn. It was really exciting, Simon’s mum – Susan, came down from Hereford. They tested the amazing Paella. Recipe Here. We didn’t want to be televised so this was a great day out to discover what happens behind the scenes of one of Britain’s much loved cookery shows, featuring its much loved Hairy Bikers.
The preceding evening, we went to White City and stayed at The Ramada Hotel (would recommend their dirty breakfast sausages – awesome) because we had to be at the studio at 7am. We couldn’t sleep due to the mega excitement – both of us had ‘Inception’ dreams where we both dreamed we woke up at 1030 and were late!
We had been liaising with the Assistant Producers, Ingrid and Ben  for about two weeks prior, who are incredibly hardworking, friendly and very nice. They even visited us and Susan - all the way in Hereford; they asked us all sorts of questions about our past and present lives, really doing good research into who we are so that the Hairy Bikers and the Producers would know exactly who we were when they would meet us at The BBC.
And so the day started very early, we were transported to the studios. We had not been in there before, and we got to use the Green Room where they used to put Top Of The Pops guests! Imagine that – everyone from The Beatles, to The Rolling Stones, Duran Duran, to Madonna, to Kylie had been in there using the beaten up sofas and drinking tea. OK – probably something stronger…

We were prepped by Ben and Ingrid, with scripts and schedules. We even got our makeup done and someone who followed us all day making sure we were not shinny, our hair in place and our clothes good for continuity. And runners who always made sure we were neither thirsty nor hungry and treated us so nicely.
What I was really looking forward to was the food at the BBC Canteen – famous in many comedians speeches about how bad it is – made me wonder if its anything like our school dinners (which I loved). We got to eat in one called The Foyer. Simon and his mum, Susan, did well choosing the grilled tuna as that is just fried in the pan and done. I chose the lasagne. : ( and some tomato soup! Big mistake! Big! I think my school must have done really nice school dinners!
Nevertheless, it was such a great experience, to see how the Home Economist was at work and how the stage manager and production team dealt with everything.

What was great were those Hairy Bikers, Si and Dave were just fantastic. They are like they appear on TV – so generous in spirit and alive in conversation. We loved them and they loved Simon’s Paella.

We can’t reveal anything about the show or publish our photographs until after the first broadcast in the Autum.
Thank you, Ben Walton & Ingrid O’Reilly and everyone at The BBC and The Wonderful Hairy Bikers.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Suggest a theme!!!

by Simon Fernandez (@ferdiesfoodlab)

I'm looking for some inspiration!! When ever I'm designing a menu it's nice to have a theme, so I thought I'd put it out there and see if I get some funky feedback!!!

Pick 'n' Mix! What the hell is it? Life imitating art...

Our Christmas (Lemon) Tree

These are some of the themes we've already done:
Secret Italian Job,   Vietnamese Night (Pan Asian Menu, Something Eastern),   Lamb Banquet,   Spanish Inquisition, Fish Tails,   White Christmas,   Game On,   Chinese Lunar New Year,   Pick 'n' Mix (all colours of pick n mix sweets),   Spring Sprung(spring menu),  Eyes Wide Shut (ref venu),  Figs And Twigs (ref to star guest), Upside Down Inside Out,   Tip Tope Vietnamese Menu Shark Curry (U),  Croatian Menu.

Prawn Cocktail w/ Green Mayo

As you can see some are based on the season, a national or cultural holiday, some on colour the theme implies, and some are simply inspired by somewhere we've travelled or a national cuisine that we like. We'd love to hear your suggestions and ideas : )

That'll be us then!

You're welcome to comment on this post or you can mail me at: simon@fernandezandleluu.co.uk

hugs and love Simon : )

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Turin Brakes & Me

By Leluu
Fatima and I went to see Turin Brakes at The Brixton Academy at the release of their second album Ether Song back in 2003. We fell in love with them even more than we were already in love with their music - The Optimist LP. We drove home in a high after seeing them perform such an amazing gig – we were so happy and thrilled. For us, it was like touching upon a higher form.

I am not sure what possessed us, but we drove around London, with their music blasting from some muffled car speakers and completely loving life. We were young, and we had the world at our feet. At 4am, we drove back to The Brixton Academy, because we must thank Turin Brakes for just being brilliant! We got there, and of course, no one was there! Heh! What did we think…?
I am a loyal Turin Brakes fan, its like unconditional love; buying everything they release without failure and then absolutely loving what they are making.

Olly Knights, songwriter and lead vocalist of Turin Brakes and I met about thirteen years ago when we both studied Film & Video at Central Saint Martins College Of Art in Long Acre, Covent Garden. It was one of those courses that born a lot of musicians for some reason. There was the infamous Jarvis Cocker a few years before us, then Turin Brakes and the controversial rap artist, M.I.A –and Nima Nourizadeh – ads Director and now Hollywood Director to name but a few.

Olly and I used to share the sound room for recordings. There wasn’t anyone else who was keen on sound as we both were. I remember Olly made really beautiful films, there was one called, “Two Stories” where Olly captured the clouds shadowing a beach like running ghosts as time passed by. For each album cover that is released, I saw roots of where the artwork came from: this wonderful film he made.

I had no idea where Olly was going. I last saw him when we spoke about how scary it was to go out into the big open world. A few months later, he was playing a gig at The Astoria and I carried his music with me all over the world and through all of life’s journeys over the last 10 years.

Looking back, I feel so lucky to be part of this wonderful course where it taught us all to have vocals beyond the conventions and to be ourselves, free to express at will. What an honour it was to have grown roots with those who have blossomed wonderful lives and shared with us their artistry, and those yet to bloom.

I had lost touch with Olly until I found Turin Brakes on Twitter and to my delights, Olly had been returning my tweets. No longer seeing Olly as the boy who shared the sound room with me, Olly is my favourite band of all time. I am completely star strucken!

“@loveLELUU @nimanourizadeh ha! I miss those days, every time I read about MIA I think what crazy lovely lives we all went off and had!”
The new album, ‘Outbursts’ verifies everything I love about Turin Brakes. It is very unpretentious, stripped back to what made them great in the first place with The Optimist LP. What I really like about them is that they do not pretend to be anything other than what they are: which is full of beauty and melodic visions in sound and music.

Every track on the album brings the listener to a different place, an old memory or a new feeling. They have a unique and superior way of story telling with beautiful and simple arrangements, masterfully bought together by Olly’s voice. (It is also great to hear Gale Paridjanian – the other half of Turin Brakes sing too). One song sounds like being in a David Lynch movie on a hot, slow, sizzling summer’s day to being in the place with someone you love with the utmost heart and tear.

Thanks to Twitter, Olly and I are now in touch again and I have invited him to join us at the supper club. He’s looking at the dates so he can “come and stuff my face”.

Yay! : )
“O no! My world is on fire, someone get some water cos I think I 'm gonna burn”

Check Out Turin Brakes' Blog here
& www.turinbrakes.com


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