Monday, October 25, 2010

Charity Dinner For Action Against Hunger With Unearthed

Back in the day of long sizzling summer, when our toes were hungry for ultra violet and our knees became a shade darker- we had mega picnics, one at Henley Royal Regatta and secret garden parties with champagne on tap. To top it off, we won a holiday to Croatia! It has been great.

One morning, we were sent a whole box of Unearthed goodies because we had tweeted how wonderful their Parma and Serrano ham tastes. For foodies, something like this is like being in seventh heaven. We got to play around with the ingredients and simply just enjoyed them too.

One thing lead to another and we were asked to host a special charity dinner party by Unearthed, using Unearthed products (any way we see fit) to raise money and awareness for the humanitarian organization - Action Against Hunger. (wow – what an honour).

Heidi Drummond, Head of Events at Action Against Hunger, comments:  “Based on our long-standing relationship with the foodie industry, we were keen to offer an eat-in option to our annual restaurants campaign, encouraging foodies to host a dinner party and invite their friends to make a donation in return for the delicious meal. Hosts simply have to pick a menu, invite their guests and get cooking. We have prepared lots of helpful tips and materials including invites and recipes for people to download; it’s an easy, fun way to make a difference.”

Back in September, culinary luminaries such as Raymond Blanc, Marcus Wareing, Francesco Mazzei, Giorgio Locatelli, Vivek Singh, Cyrus Todiwala, Jun Tanaka, Mickael Weiss, Oliver Rowe and Tristan Welch came together to launch Fight Hunger Eat Out - the UK’s biggest foodie fundraising campaign - to help fight child hunger in some of the world’s poorest countries.

To raise awareness for Action Against Hunger, we have invited foodies of London town for a one off dinner party event at home, at our supper club – It will be hosted by Simon Day – the founder of Unearthed®

Simon Day is such an inspiring figure, he travels the world and brings back the most flavoursome ingredients for his selection. There is Chorizo from Catalunya, Duck Mousse from Brittany, Rillettes from Le Mans, Prosciutto from Como and Feta from Volos, olives from Palestine amongst many others–

"while unearthed was born out of the enjoyment of food and flavours we’re also aware that for many people in this world, food remains a worry and a necessity in short supply, rather than a joy. We share Action Against Hunger's vision of a world without hunger and are proud to be the first National Ambassador Brand of their latest foodie initiative. The charity's work has begun to inspire our team already and we look forward to making food less of a concern and more of a pleasure for others in future."

Our Menu will be something like this:

Sweet Corn Veloute w/ Chorizo Film

Potato Omelette and Picante Sauce w/ Duck Mousse, 
Oyster Mushrooms and Garlic Bread

Serrano Ham w/ Champaign Poached Pears and 
Watercress Mixed Green Leaf


Pork Meatballs in Chipotle Sauce w/ Russian Salad

Baked Rice

Dessert: TBC

As usual, we are spinning with excitement! The cold is starting to kick in and its time for more dinner parties – we hope that many of our friends, readers, followers and guests will be inspired to host their own dinners to raise money and create awareness for Action Against Hunger to help build, maintain communities and health care in places like Zambia where Unearthed are supporting long term solutions to hunger.

We will be reporting back. If you have any questions you would like to ask Unearthed or Action Against Hunger, please use the comment form and we will be sure to ask them for you.

Thank you to Wild Card PR for the opportunity to do something very worth while and meaningful.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vietnamese Dessert Recipe: Re-Hydrated Logans, Lotus Seed, & Wakame Seaweed In Pandan Infusion

‘Che Nhan Nhuc’
By Leluu
The Vietnamese love dessert (che) which is enjoyed throughout the day as a healthy and refreshing snack to keep up your energy levels. Vietnamese food is already quite sweet as the main philosophy of this cuisine is the fine balance between salty, sweet and sour. However, most desserts are not usually liked to be very sweet – and there is also a fine balance to making the perfect (not too) sweet dessert.

The Vietnamese believe firmly that food is medicine and always draw natural ingredients such as herbs, fruits, vegetables, beans and seaweed together to create a delicious yet very nutritious dish, using natural flavours instead of processed sugar, salt etc.

In Che Nhan Nhuc – dried logans are rehydrated in a cool pandan leaves infusion, that had been slowly boiled for about half an hour. The sweetness in the dried fruit adds sweetness to the infused water.  Lotus seeds for the nutty texture and finely sliced seaweed for the crunch. We also usually make our own jelly out of seaweed agar – a natural (vegan) source of gelatin for the refreshing touch.

Logans are like lychees but much more succulent and sweeter and really resemble eye balls with its black seed in the middle and are meant to be very good for relaxation in Chinese medicine. Dried logans are thought to be very good for your memory and concentration with a high concentration in iron and fibre – and are also ate to alleviate stomach aches and insomia. However, it is high in heat and is known as a ‘hot’ food which is good for when your body is too ‘cold’
(more on this soon)

In order for this dessert to work , you should balance the ‘hot’ logans (if you eat too much, you can get a sore throat or pimples (says my mum)) with the ‘cool’ lotus seeds which is the refreshing, cleansing element.

Lotus seeds are classified as astringents, they benefit the spleen, kidney, and heart and are usually eaten at the Lunar New Year in celebration – so it is very special and is used through Chinese medicine for all types of cures.

As for pandan leaves they are used for all types of things because they consist of essential oils and has major health benefits that aid against headaches, fevers, chest pains, arthritis and all sorts.
Ingredients & Method
Pandan Leaves – infuse about 10 leaves in gentle boiling water for about half hour
Lotus Seed – soak over night til soft
Dried Logans – soak in pandan infusion
Wakame Seaweed – soak and wash well as its very slimy and slice thinly

Combine and sweeten if necessary to your desire. Should be enjoyed at room temperature or slightly colder but not ice cold. This is an ideal dessert for a dinner party because you can prepare this well in advance. When the time comes just ladle into a glass or a bowl and serve.

I’ve got so much to learn! What a great way to a healthy lifestyle: eating deliciously and well and reaping all the benefits – of natural ingredients.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Celebrating With Banh Xeo (Recipe)

By Leluu
We had one of the most spectacular thing happen to us last week and we are so gutted we can’t say what it is just yet. We had a very special guest at the house and we actually opened the supper club especially for this person, some of our dear friends and my mother’s friends on a one off, very secret event.

It was one of those days where we will remember for the rest of our lives, it was totally unexpected and it was just what dreams are made of. My mum is ever so proud and she is still smiling to this day with all her friends, showing off … : )
Anyway, the next day, she invited her friends around my house to finish off the left overs and they had a right giggle – a celebration where they all even drank wine (Vietnamese women do not usually drink any alcohol) and held a toast to Simon and I. It was really lovely.
Banh Xeo (pronounce Banh C-eo)– ‘banh' means cake or crepe and ‘xeo’ means sizzling.

Banh Xeo is a Vietnamese crepe with pork and prawns with beansprouts, eaten with plenty of salad leaves as a wrap with all sorts of herbs such as coriander, fish mint, sweet basil and so on. You dip it in a lovely sweet, chilli fish sauce dip and celebrate!

For 15 - 20 x 20cm pancakes

400g Rice Flour - (you can buy Banh Xeo mixture in a packet - its 400g of rice flour and 10g Tamarind)
10g Turmeric Powder
1 Large can Coconut Milk (check label - should have over 80% coconut milk)
1 can of Coconut Juice
Bottle of Beer
Spring Onions
2 tsp Pork Flavouring Granules
A pinch of sugar
A pinch of salt

King/ Tiger Prawns
Pork – (marinade is optional - red wine, pepper, fish sauce, sugar, garlic )

Sweet Basil

Dipping Sauce:

3 Crabs Fish Sauce
Chilli, Garlic – blend together or chop very finely
Cider Vinegar
Hot Water


Marinade the pork slices in some red wine, fish sauce, garlic, pepper and sugar and after about half an hour – fry it off in a pan. Leave to the side.

Peel the prawns and perhaps slice it up if you are on a budget so that there are little chunks of of prawns all over. If you are cooking for many people, it’s a good idea to pre fry the prawns just til they are about done and leave to the side

Mix all the batter ingredients together – the batter should be very runny and light then add the spring onions once its all combined.

Its ready.
Sometimes its good to leave for a few hours to let the beer sink into the ingredients – apparently, my mum, whose made Banh Xeo since she was 8 years old says to even leave it over night and the crepe will be even crispier and lighter.

Once you are ready and have all your ingredients ready by the stove.

Heat your good non stick pan til you can feel it warm/ hot as you wave your hand over it. Then turn your hob down a notch so that you don't over heat and burn everything.

Pour in half a ladle of batter
Add the prawns
Add the pork
Add the beansprouts

Put a lid over it – this will cook the filling -

After about a minute or two you can check that the batter has crisped up and browned at the bottom – (if you haven't precooked the prawns then watch that its all pink and opaque - then its done). At this point you can turn the pancake over and its ready to serve.

Serve with plenty of salad leaves, herbs and a bowl of dipping sauce for every person.
If you are clever like my mum, you can do them 4 at once on the stove – practice makes perfect! We would love to one day do these at the supper club but there is an issue of them being cooked there and then and many mouths to feed so we hesitate because you’d have to wait a while for them.

Perfect for dinner parties of 6-8

When you finish one, someone goes and makes another (usually the host – he he) – its great if you had one of those portable stoves on the table and people can do them as you go.

Ferdie learns Vietnamese - Beef in Vine Leaves

by Simon Fernandez (@ferdiesfoodlab)

Serves 8 -  6 rolls per person

500g lean minced beef
35g sesame seeds
35g peanuts, blended
1 chilli
2 tsp caster sugar
1.5tbsp fish sauce
1 lemon grass finely blended (circle slice then blend)
2 tsp honey
1 tsp pork granules (roll, fry, and test)
1 bag fresh vine leaves - (loot / la-lop cha plu)
sesame oil
lettuce to serve

Water (half),
Fish Sauce (half),
Sugar (to taste),
Lime, Garlic,
Chilli - blend together

Mix all ingredients together into paste.
Roll little finger size bit of mix into a leaf, no need to tuck ends in.
Stack them closely in the tray  - so they don't unroll - drizzle with sesame oil.

180C/12m (2 trays put both in, after 12m take 1st out move 2nd up to top shelf and leave 6m more)

Serve on a bed of lettuce served with a shot glass of classic viet dipping sauce.

Hints and Tips:
This is a great menu option because it has all the elements you want from a course.
First and foremost everyone loves it! You can make it before hand, and put it in the oven when it's needed and it's ready quickly - 12 minutes - and simple to serve cracking!

Rolling them is intensely boring! Anyone who's done them for rather tries to avoid doing it again!! That shouldn't matter if you're doing it for 8!!

Mix Paste


Ground nut oil, rub in.

Bake 180C/12min

Plate, serve
Done! Sequence captions are all a bit Ramsay. No Micheline stars here! Just honest food, he he ; ) Love and hugs! Sx

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ferdie learns Vietnamese: Basics, Herbs, Roots & Bits - Part 1 of 3

by Simon Fernandez (@ferdiesfoodlab)

Well I don't know about you folks but walking into a Vietnamese shop if you're not Vietnamese (and you've never been in) it's a little bit daunting. Specially if all that's going to happen is you walk with a bag of funny shaped vegetables of unknown tastes and textures!!! Yikes! I'm outta here.

Anyway I'm pretty at home with most of the occidental bits and pieces but further east hmm, not so sure. ('cept Japan that is) What the hell is a Mooli anyway? I mean it looks suspiciously like Daikon to me!! ; )

So here goes green things first!

Thai Sweet Basil  (Rau Hue)
This in all sorts of dishes, either sliced up or as a garnish, we use this in pho, summer rolls, has a distinctive aniseed, relatively strong flavour specially compared to regular basil. (that we use in our pea soup, one favourite dished post coming soon I promise!)
Now you'd be forgiven when you get to shop for saying which mint was I after again?
Reminds me of Resevoir Dogs, I could never remember which was which, or how many there were!!

; ) You've got to be careful though because Fish mint will give you a slap, whereas Cockscombe mint will aromatise you - yes that is a real word! (honest)

Mint (Normal Mint!)
Yep! Get it at any supermarket or good vegetable shop. I love to freshen up our summer rolls with a good wedge of this, balances out the pork belly and the other meats and when combined with the dipping sauce wowza!
Cockscomb Mint (Kinh Gioi) This a light aromatic mint with delicate lemon zestyness about it, Le (Uyens mum) made a Bun Bo Hue (hot and spicy beef noodle soup) for me one night. The key flavours are that of the lemon grass in the broth, and the Cockscomb mint in the garnish. It has delicate lemony flavour which is quite simply a stunning combination. We've since put it on the menu.

Hot mint (Rau Ram) or aka Vietnamese Mint aka Vietnamese Corriander
Quite a strong flavour minty yet meaty.
Looks nothing like normal coriander, larger leaves will have a slightly purple tinge around the edge slightly bitter, pungent flavour. We grow this in our back yard with no problems, we got it from a herb seller in Columbia Rd market (where we got our lemon grass actually).
We use this in our summer rolls, and chicken salad.
Hot Mint aka Vietnamese Corriander

And at this point thing get really confusing because this bad boy has quite a few aliases. It's known as Vietnanese Corriander (took me a while to realise this), also known as Laksa leaf, and Cambodian Mint!!! What the hell have you been up to to have so many aliases, hmmm? Late breaking news easiest just to call it 'Rau Rum'.

Fish Mint (Dap Ca)
This is rather an acquired taste and when I first took a bite I did wonder what on earth it could be good for, but used sparingly it can add a depth and a little je ne sias quoi to the flavour! Err . . . gone all Dell boy there scuse me!
Fish Mint
Vietnamese Spring Onion (Hanh La)
I've sat these next to a bunch of european spring onions for comparison, they taste nothing like each other despite their similarity to chives, you find them in Vietnamese pancakes which are lovely!!
In fact had some of those on Tuesday night. Tried them in Vietnamese stall for that authentic understanding of what to aim at.
 Lemon Grass (Xa Cay)
A fantastic fragrant flavour, can be used as bruised or sliced sticks to infuse into a broth, or finely chopped to add to meat pastes, salads or sauces  
We use this in: bun bo hue, pho, beef in vine leaves, prawn name but a few.

Lemon Grass Leaves
We have lemon grass in the garden, and it's leaves also have similar but more delicate flavour and can be used in salads and to make infusions. It does have quits course strands running through though and needs to be finely chopped or you end up chewing on a big ball fibber like a ruminating cow!! Probably why it's not gone main stream!!! ; ) Smells lovely!! (sorry no photo note to self)

Well where would be be without it I say, this has a gorgeously refreshing, but like a lot of things opinion is divided on this one some people find is flavour a little too strong for them!! They is crazy brother!

Vietnamese Parsley
Tastes like a crunchy coriander but more potent. Used sliced up in in noodle soups like Pho as a garnish.
Vietnamese Parsley
Pandan (La Dua)
Long leaf looks like a pond leaf but it actually comes from a tree. It's a sweet leaf used to make tea and for  for desserts - blended into cakes and jellies. This ones a new one to me, bumped into it in a Dried Logan Berry and Lotus Seed dessert.
Pandan Tree Leaf

Stir Fry and Garnish Vegetables
Pak Choi (also known as Bok Choi or Peking Cabbage), Choi Sum, similar but greener and with a longer stem, make nice additions to a stir
Flowering Pak Choi
Pak Choi
As you can probably tell from that rather brief coverage of the choi family, I think a cor blimey, I'm exhausted is due! But there's no garlic or fish sauce on this list!!?
to be continued . . .

Monday, October 4, 2010

Some Guests Of Honour

A few weeks ago, we had some top guests at the supper club - people whom we admire and look up to.
The Food Urchin came to help in the kitchen!
 And so did Stuff Ya Face - whose become part of the furniture these days - we love having him around the place and bringing his smiles and positive energy to our home.
 Then we had The London Foodie bring a Brazilian TV crew round to film a documentary about the London food scene and about him, himself, Luiz Hara, Brazilian born, great foodie and cook and having great influence on how and where we should eat.
 It was a mad evening, people were everywhere, plus the crew and all their equipment. There is always something rocking in this house - we loved it!
Luiz Hara always smiles like this whereever he goes - it always brings a smile to our faces to see him like this.
Leonid, aka, Bob from Bob Bob Ricard also came with Mrs Bob to dinner! Imagine that! its Bob in the dinning room - OMG - we love his restaurant and him and how he is wonderful at making his guests feel very welcome in his beautiful place.
We also met Rachel McGormack from Catalan Cooking. Its always a bit scary and nerve wracking to have guests such as these mega foodies. Hope she enjoyed the night.
 This is Anna - she comes to the supper club all the time, he he, love to you and Vinnie
We had the beautiful Ute from Hungry In London and Vicky and H from Ephemerette
The Brazilian Crew and Luiz singing and dancing away as the Director plays the paino!
And finally, lovely Mimi from Meemalee's Kitchen came with her husband, Mr Mimi. We met her at our picnic in Henley Regatta and was lovely to have her in our home.
Supper clubbing has been so special. It is wonderful to be able to fill the house with so many wonderful guests and people who love food equally, if not more than us. It is a true honour, to cook and to serve to people who really appreciate being there and loving the whole experience. Its why we do it, over and over and over and people keep coming back again and again... Thank you for coming, its been a year since we started.
Sweet Corn Veloute w/ Chorizo Film
Bacon Swirls w/ Invisible Tomato
Seafood Lollipops 
Carrot, Coriander & Chicken Salad
Pulled Lamb w/ Vanilla Lime Mash and Jus
Lemon Biscotti & Coconut Sorbet


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