Monday, May 30, 2011

Cooking Pho With Tim Hayward For The FT

By Leluu (I am migrating all my posts to my own site, please move with me to
A few months ago, I enjoyed a wonderful grey morning at Tim Hayward's house. Tim  is a food writer and is the Editor of my favourite publication Fire & Knives - not only is it about food but it is written so well, I slot a time in the calendar to enjoy it and only it!

He invited me to pop by his wonderful town house to show him how to cook the delicious and most famous Vietnamese noodle soup, Pho. He wanted to make it from scratch as it was for an article he was writing for The Financial Times.
I was indeed, very honoured! I first met Tim when he came to the supper club in June 2010 when Simon and I worked together. At the time, he was doing a show that featured supper clubs on The Food Programme for BBC Radio 4. He loved the food we served him, his face lit like a beaming sun and thought the combination of the Vietnamese/Spanish menu was "bonkers". It truly was bonkers, as Fernandez & Leluu are!
I demanded Tim pour the Squid Fish Sauce down the sink I bought him Three Crabs Fish Sauce - the only one to use.
I have been cooking pho for quite a while now, frequently for the supper club and cooking classes. It has become one of the signature dishes - it is the staple dish of Vietnam after all. Every pot tastes different depending on the sort of bones, meat you get and the quality, freshness of it. But it also depends on how much you spend nursing and tasting the pot you are making. As Tim says on the article, "its an experience in building and tasting rather than a simple recipe, it will always be astonishing if enough care is applied."
I showed Tim how to do it: you can read it in
Please note, I recommend you should leave the broth for at least 4 hours.
Here is a recipe I wrote a while ago.
(somehow, I forgot to take the money picture of what we made as was too busy enjoying it) here is another bowl I made at home - just to make you drool! Go and make a pot and keep some in the freezer to have anytime you want.
TIP: Remove all the vegetables and spices from the pot after simmer or the broth will go off and you'll be very sad.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Recipe: Patatas a lo Pobre

by Simon Fernandez (@ferdiesfoodlab)

This is a classic dish, I've used sausage meat (and sausages) to give a real winter warmer feel to the flavour. It takes about 40 mins of chopping and stove work to prep it, then it's in to the oven at 180C for 25 mins and then 15 mins more at 220C to crisp up. Cracking served with garlic bread, which you can put in during the last 15 mins so everything is ready at the same time!

The tomato sauce base is tasty and very versatile, I use it in all sorts of things from a delicate oregano macaroni, spiced up with tortilla, simple with parmesan and spaghetti and a little basil.(ooh and don't forget pizzas too)

3 onions chopped,
1 red & 1 green pepper,
8 medium potatoes,
6 cloves garlic,
2 bay leaves,
1 bunch (40g) thyme,
1 bunch (40g) parsley
175g sausage meat
10 slices of salami (pave or a black pepper coated one - chopped)
8 good quality sausages
6 ripe tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
100ml EVO

Pot 1 - The potatoes

Take 8 medium potatoes washed and sliced around 3/4 -1 cm thick. Then boil, skin on. When done check with a knife, smash them. This is adding a little extra virgin olive oil some salt and pepper and rough mixing them around the pan so a light potato fluff forms around them. This will give them a crispy outside when they're fried later which adds a great texture to the final dish.

Pot 2 - The tomato sauce
Put the EVO on high, hot, add 1 of the chopped onions, 1 clove of crushed garlic. After a minute or so add the tomatoes - they'll spit when they go in so be careful. Also add 1/2 a finely chopped chicken stock cube. Simmer for 10mins. Then mash with masher.

Pan 1 - Softening the veg
Slice 2 onions, 3 cloves of garlic add them to the pan, and sweat them off - cook them until the onions go clear (sweat then off) on a medium heat. While the onions cook, chop the peppers into eighths, removing the stalks and seeds. Next peel and slice 5 carrots. Peel them either lengthways or, a little easier first in half then diagonally about 1/2cm thick. Put the lid on and leave them all on a low heat to sweat. In the meantime, back at pan 2, err actually it's our first visit to pan 2!

Pan 2 - The stock and the sausages
Put 1/3 of a pack (around 175g) of sausage meat into the pan with a little oil and squash it flat into the pan with a spatula. Crumble 1 pork stock cube over it.
Chop up the salami and add it to the pan, break up the sausage meat with the spatula and cook through. You can add the sausages around the edge here to brown them off.

When sausage meat is cooked through remove sausages and put to one side. Add what should now be an almost crunchy mix to the veg in pan 1.
Put the potatoes in pan 2 with olive oil and crisp up adding the sausages to brown a little more if required. 

Remove sausages and halve them, add the potatoes to pan 1 and mix through. Add a dash of white wine to pan 2 to deglaze the sausage flavours and pour this into pan 1 too.
Spread the tomato sauce on the bottom of a baking dsh and add sticks of thyme liberally
(every inch) on top, pour pan 1 in, spreading it over the top and add halved sausages.
Bake 180C for 25mins then full 220C for another 15mins (add a garlic bread or 2 now!)

Tip 1 - The tomato sauce base made here is very coarse but it doesn't matter since it's going to sit at the base of the dish and get thicker adding flavour and texture to the dish. For a smoother sauce add about 1/3 of the volume again of boiling water once the tomatoes are soft blitz it with a stick blender, then sieve.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Coq Au Vin Recipe By La Petite Boo

By Leluu & Cate Darlison
This week, I have been to two Naked Wines events. They have launched a market place for selling wine on their website - basically, you can come a long, put your wine up on their site and people will bid for it. Its a new revolution in wine selling where customer reviews are what makes your wine sell.

We went to eat at The Hoxton Grill - food was very nice and drank a lot of Naked Wines. Then I was also invited  to Fifteen where Jamie Oliver has his private kitchen and studio for more Naked Wine tastings and food made by Cate Darlison. Cate is a private chef and cooks for many Jamie supper clubs.

It was so utterly delicious! Silky soft chicken with wine and herbs, melting in the mouth!  We are hugely lucky because Cate has written up the recipe to share as a guest on this blog: 
Coq Au Vin Recipe By Cate Darlison from Supper Club- La Petite Boo

Like with all of my recipes I have started with a key ingredient and built my dish around that.  To mark London Wine Week I have chosen to start with a fine wine to be the star of my twist on coq au vin.

I have chosen this full bodied syrah as it can take the hit of the heat from the chilli and the gusto of the garlic, whilst still complimenting the more subtle flavours from the carpaccio of fennel and courgette salad and the light spring flavours from the pistou.

Like with a traditional coq au vin I have marinated the chicken over night but to make it a more economical dish and easier to augment for a gathering I have chosen to use chicken thighs.

It is for this reason that this is the kind of dish that is great for two or in the case of our wine tasting evening can be stretched for a crowd, it is lovely served with crusty French bread to mop all of the tasty juices or to make it more substantial meal, a dauphoioise or seasonal new potatoes would be lovely too.

Bon appetite

Love Petite Boo x

    •    A good knob of  butter

    •    8 fat cloves of  garlic  crushed
    •    1 red chilli very finely chopped

    •    300 g  shallots, peeled roughly chopped into chunks

    •    250g chorizo roughly cut into chunks
    •     Couple of handfuls of fresh basil, 3 bay leaves, 2 generous handful flat leaf parsley
    •    350g/12½oz button mushrooms
    •    1lb fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped
    •    1 tin haricot beans
    •    500ml/16½fl oz good  and gutsy red wine (we used syrah)
    •    500 ml fresh chicken stock
    •    2 tbsp white balsamic
    •    6- 8 chicken thighs or one whole jointed chicken (skin on)
    •    salt and fresh black pepper corn

Preparation/ Method
     1.    The night before slash the chicken thighs, spike with pieces of 4 of the cloves of garlic, pushing the garlic into the pockets, rub with the olive oil and salt and pepper and transfer to a large dish.  Cover with the wine and soft herbs, shaking the dish to allow all flavours to disperse.  Tear a large piece of cling film and sit on top of the chicken to seal the flavours in, before covering the dish entirely with cling film.  Chill over night.
    2.    Heat a thick-bottomed casserole dish on the stove, add almost all the butter (reserving a knob of the butter) and the shallots. Cook until just browned; then stir in the garlic and chilli. Add the chorizo and some more fresh basil and cook for 2-3 minutes.
    3.    Add the mushrooms until golden brown add the diced tomatoes and turn up the heat and add the red wine, chicken stock and vinegar. Add the chicken pieces, bring the sauce to the boil and then simmer gently for about 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender and cooked through.  Ten minutes before the end of cooking time add the haricot beans.
    4.     Depending on how "soupy" you want the sauce you can either serve as it is with drizzled pistou or for a thicker consistency, you can break the beans down a little and turn up the heat (having removed the chicken and keeping warm)  Cook the sauce over a high heat until it has reduced by half and return the chicken to the pan.  For a lovely glossy sauce add your remaining butter and the rest of the fresh herbs salt and plenty of fresh black pepper.
    5.    Serve with a dressed green salad, (I knocked up a fennel and carpaccio of courgette salad, and a warm puy lentil and feta salad) and olive oil mash or crusty bread.

Here are some of the wine we tried:
Croix Du Chêne - The Rhone Valley, South Of France.
Reserve Pierre 2007 - The Rhone Valley, South Of France
Closerie Saint Hilaire 2008
Domaine O'Vineyards, Trah Lah Lah, South Of France 2005
Domaine O'Vineyards O'Syrah 2008
Reserva 2008, Lagar De Bezana, Chille
Grand Reserve 2008, Lagar De Bezana, Chille

Ryan from Domaine O'Vineyards
Some views from Jamie Oliver's private kitchen & Cate Darlison.
 Thank you to Danny McCubbin for the invitation. All photos are by Leluu.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hotel Recommendation: Romana, Mui Ne, Vietnam

By Leluu
Some people keep going back to the same places year after year and these days, I’ve become one of those people. Sometimes, it is just so nice to stay in a beautiful place and do nothing but lay in the sun reading, swimming, mediating, getting massages and drink cocktails by the pool side. Pure indulgence.

Every year or so, I arrive to Mui Ne, a town near Phan Thiet in Southern Vietnam, slightly surprised that I am still alive after a 5 hours ride of death on a singing, mosquito ridden, shy of seatbelts private bus, the ones that only seat 12 but carry 25, (Vietnamese people are tiny after all).

I go the Romana Resort & Spa, its one that is fartheset away from all the budding resorts that have sprung in between the sand and the palm trees of this once desolate place. There was absolutely just palm trees and sand the first time I passed in 2000.
It stands alone in between the mountains and the sea along a small cove. Here is where you come to be alone and find peace and quiet. The resort is stunning with lovely gardens maintained to perfect tweezer conditions daily by gardeners. There’s a tennis court, a panoramic swimming pool, lots of ponds with lotus blooming, a gorgeous bar and restaurant.
You can either stay in rooms or villas from $75 per night for a double room or from $135 for a villa with your own pool, a beautiful outside inside bathroom. The price includes breakfast for 2, which is a huge buffet of Vietnamese delights as well as a continental selection. You can actually fill yourself up for the entire day on fruits, made on the premises bakeries, noodle soups and all sorts of dumplings to guava juice, overlooking a fantastic view of the sea.
In the mornings, you can fly kites down at the solitary beach where its just you and the wind; then sunbathe all day with a fantastic book. I have read some wonderful fiction such as The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle and The History Of Love on these sun lounges, occasionally dipping into the pool, floating towards the sky, watching yellow butterflies batter by in hundreds and thousands or dragonflies like spitfires on V-Day.
The sun starts to set at 4:30pm which is depressing but we are at the equator after all. Before dinner, you can take a 3 hour – “me-time” at the spa. For $90, you can get a full body massage, from Swedish to Vietnamese – you chose, a facial, a body scrub and a trip to the sauna. I have never felt so clean, rejuvenated and renewed after one of these. You can also get a manicure and pedicure and a hair-cut too if you fancy the full pampering works. I spread them out with the length of my stay. The staff are friendly and amazing!
If you chose to have dinner here, sometimes they have a dinner buffet or a BBQ at the pool. I haven’t been but it sounds amazing! I met up with the chef, Trung, who really makes good pizzas. That’s right, I order pizzas here because they are so nice with a bottle of Saigon beer! He learns many continental recipes and experiments in the kitchen constantly, making croissants from scratch. Boy, I wish I can give to him the ready made puff pastry.

Drinks are rather expensive, they are London prices if you want wine and cocktails (as its imported) but who can resist.

I often ride out to civilization in the evenings to Mui Ne or Phan Thiet, eating street food and hanging with anyone I can. At night, girls who were covered up against the sun, in socks, gloves, big hats and masks are in hot pants and skimpy tops.

You are only beautiful when you are pale and white. If you are tanned, you are seen as poor and ugly. They don’t understand foreigners coming and baking til they are lobster red in the full monstrosity of the evil sun. The waiter (pictured above) says to me, ‘everyone who arrives looks so nice and healthy, but when they leave, they are all red and burnt and they think its nice! Its so wrong!!”

The Vietnamese are not too fond of quiet time. They like a lot of sound. This place is very quiet and often you hear the locals talk about this place being haunted. If you experience seeing ghosts during your stay, do let me know!

More stories of my trip to Vietnam and foodie finds coming soon...

Highly recommended
Romana Hotel & Resort, Phan Thiet/ Mui Ne, Vietnam


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