Thursday 29 July 2010

No sleep and all quiet on the blog front!

The old blog will suffer over the next 10 days or so as I've been delt a drab hand on the old rosta front! Well it's kind of my fault, as I booked off the 7th of Auguast to go to the British Beer festival at Earls court, and as I was off last monday and tuesday, I have a 10 day stint ahead of me! So coffee, cigaretes and lucazade at the ready and search for the light (and beer fest'') at the end of the tunnel!

Monday 26 July 2010

Cooke's Pie and Mash, the real food of London!

Me and my mate Disco Dan took my uncle Frank for a day out to experience the real food of 'London of old', we headed of to Hoxton , to Cooke's pie and mash shop, which is run by the Cooke family and has been for over 120 years, most of the decor remains the same and the pies are still made to the original recipe!
Entering the shop is like stepping back in time, there is saw dust on the floor, spoon and folk is the cutlery, cockney rhyming slang from behind the counter and and friendly banter between the customers. My uncle Frank got talking to a little old lady on the table next to us, Peggy. Peggy has lived in Shordich all of her life, and visits the pie shop every Monday , after dancing (which, she tells us only cost 2 bob!), she tells us how she used to build bombs in the war, 'cos in them days every mucked in, you ad to cos all the men were out fighting'! Then Joe, the owner, who is having a well earned cuppa and a biscuit on a table near bye joins in, and tells us a little history of the area and a bit about his shop, it has been in the family for 120 years, run by his great grandad, then his grandad, then his dad and now him. Joe comes across as a real 'London character', always swearing and laughing, he talks to us as if he has known us for years, which is great, how many boring conversations have you had with a waiter in a posh, expensive restaurant, that you have nothing in common with? I've had loads, ''How was the food sir (as if they give a shit), yes lunches pick up towards the end of the week (as if I give a shit), etc,etc. Anyway, Joe is great,he explains how Pie and mash is the real food of London, fish and chips is for Northerners!He is really passionate about his shop, pies, London and life. We continue drinking tea and having a chin wag with Joe and Peggy for a good hour, then 2 pies, mash, liquor, Eels, fruit pie and a gallon of tea later, it is time to leave, we say our fair wells to Peggy, and Joe sees us out to the front of the restaurant, where he continues his 'history of Hoxton' talk, he was great, and so was Peggy and so is Cooke's pie and mash shop, so if in town head down there and say hello to Joe for me!
Cooke's pie and mash shop,
150 Hoxton Street,

Cooke's Pie and Mash, The Food.

The Food here hasn't changed in over 120 years, Joe tells me that all the recipes are the same today as they were when it opened. We tried it all, Pie and Mash, Eels in liquor and a fruit pie for pud, oh and a mug of builders to wash it all down. As it was my first ''proper pie and mash'' I can't really compare it with anything, but it was bloody good value, and we were all stuffed, you don't often hear that!
The menu is fairly small, ''Meat pies'' (made using Beef chuck), veg pies (not sure), eels (jellied or in liqour), fruit pies (Cherry flavour), tea, coffee and a few fizzy drinks and that's it.
The ''meat'' pies were good, really meaty and tasty, the mash was, well mashed potato, nice that it wasn't full of butter, just plain with salt and white pepper, nice and light and soaked up the liqour. No marks for presentation but that is what makes Cooke's so great, it is what it is and has never changed since it opened its doors, and what with the ''pretend to be poor'' crowd that have moved into trendy Hoxton, lets hope that Cooke's keeps its working class identity for many years to come!

Sweet, Sticky Pork Skewers.

For Karen.............

Here is a recipe that I found for the lovely grilled pork skewers that I ate at the Thai Festival in Battersea park yesterday.

Makes about 20 skewers!

500 grams of Pork loin, sliced into inch long strips
20(ish) bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes to prevent them from burning!
For the marinade,
8(ish) coriander roots, rinsed clean
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 tablespoon of ground white pepper
3 tablespoons of palm sugar
1 tablespoon of dark soy
3 tablespoons of fish sauce
3 tablespoons of vegetable oil

First make the marinade, using pestle and mortar, pound the coriander roots, garlic, pepper and a pinch of salt into a fine paste. mix this with the sugar, soy, fish sauce and oil. Marinade the prepared pork in the marinade overnight in the fridge, or a few hours will do if you are in a rush!
Light a barbecue or a grill, ideally a barbecue!
Then thread the marinated pork onto the soaked bamboo skewers, 3 or 4 pieces per skewer. When the barbecue is white hot and the flames have gone, or the grill medium hot, gently grill the skewers, turning frequently and occasionally brushing with the reserved marinade. Cook through and serve with steamed jasmine rice, shredded iceberg lettuce and a wedge of lime.

Sunday 25 July 2010

The Thai Festival, Battersea Park, London.

I visited The Thai Festival in Battersea Park today with my mate Dobbie, with who I used to work with at Nahm. It was my second visit, although it has been running for 15 years. There is loads to see and do there and more important than that, loads to eat! We tried some grilled sweet pork skewers, Thai spicy pork sausages, Sticky rice and banana grilled in banana leaf and a nahm prik. Although there was loads of other interesting food on offer, pictures to follow! Check out the deep fried chicken feet and the braised duck tongues!

Thursday 22 July 2010

What is Soy Sauce?

Soy sace is another of those ingredients we all use from time to time (in my case all the time) but most of us, including me, don't really know that much about it! So I done a bit of research and here is what I found.

Soy sauce, or 'Shoyu' as it is called in Japanese, is an indespensible condiment to every kitchen in Japan. No savoury dish is complete without the addition of Soy sauce in one form or another, and there are a number of different varieties to suit each purpose. Regardless of the variety, the production process is similar. Cracked wheat and steamed soybeans are impregnated with a type of mould, known as 'asperillus oryzae' and left to ferment in wooden kegs for several months. This process breaks down the proteins in both ingredients into amino acids, releasing a wealth of umami-rich glutamate.
As well as being used on its own for dipping and seasoning, soy sauce is also mixed with other umami-providing ingredients to excellent effect. With Dashi and Mirin it creates tsuyu, a versatile sauce which is used for dipping tempura as well as for flavouring Udon, Soba and Somen noodles. It can also be boiled with sugar and mirin to create a 'tare', a dark, sweet and sticky sauce used to baste many types of meat and fish, and with mirin, sake and sugar to create the famous teriyaki sauce.

Recipe for Teriyaki Sauce:

200 mls of dark soy sauce
200 mls of sake
200 mls of mirin
50 grams of sugar

Mix all of the above ingredients in a pan and simmer untill the sugar has disolved. Easy. Allow to cool or use immediatly, teriyaki sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

Recipe for Chicken Teriyaki:

2 chicken legs, boned
400 mls of teriyaki sauce
a pinch of sansho pepper

Pierce the skin of the boned chicken legs with a folk, this allows the sauce to get into the meat and also prevents the skin from shrinking during cooking.
Heat a large pan and brown the boned chicken legs, skin side down, then turn and continue cooking for a further 10 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the pan and temporarily set aside. Add the teriyaki sauce into the same pan that you cooked the chicken legs as the juices left behind will add flavour. Bring the sauce to the boil, after a minute or so it will begin to thicken slightly, add the chicken legs to the now slightly thick sauce and continue cooking, turning the legs several times, for a further 5 minutes.
Remove the teriyaki chicken legs from the pan, slice into about 12 slices each leg, present on a plate sprinkled with the sansho pepper, serve with steamed rice and pickled cucumber.

Tuesday 20 July 2010


Tragedy, my local Cafe closes! Its not the end of the world and worse things could happen, but still its just another reminder of how Londoners just let go of its history. The food there hardly made it a culinary hot spot but eating in Georges Cafe was like stepping back into the late 70's,'' 2 rashers,2 sausages, 2 eggs, black pudding, beans, bubble and 2 fried slices, oh and a mug of rosey lee, please George!'', heart fm on the radio, half filled plastic bottles of watered down red and brown sauce in the middle of the table,builders taking out loud about Chelsea's latest signing, reading the morning papers on a well earned day off just doesn't feel the same in Starbucks! Tragic.

Saturday 17 July 2010

Pimlico Farmers Market.

I never really get Saturdays off, as it is one of the busiest days in the restaurant, but this week I got lucky and landed the whole weekend off! Disco!
So on the rare occasion that I do, I make my way down to Pimlico Farmers market, its just a 15 minute bike ride down Chelsea Embankment from my house and although it is fairly small, only about 15 or so stalls, all the produce on offer is great, fruit and vegetables bang in season, great Cheeses, fresh fish (which is a rare luxury in the big smoke), well looked after meat and loads more. My only problem is that I always buy to much and end up trying to ride home with cabbages hanging out of my rucksack and carrier bags hanging from my handle bars!
I bought some great vegetables, 2 fresh Mackerel (a real brain food and one of my all time favourite fish, great value also @ only £2 each!) a great goats cheese from an independent supplier in Sussex (Nut Knowle Farm, Worlds End, Gun Hill, Horam,East Sussex), real quality, creamy, sweet and crumbly, and some great honey from Kent (Homestall House, Shoreham Lane, St.Michaels, Tenterden, Kent) Which was also quality, you can really taste the effort gone into producing it, I will probably drizzle some of the honey on the Goats cheese and eat it with some bread for my breakfast tomorrow morning!

Whole grilled Mackeral with a green vegetable salad.

This is the dish that I knocked up from all of the amazing produce that I bought from Pimlico Farmers market this morning. The Mackerel had only been caught 12 hours before! Perfect, as mackerel starts to turn after a day, so it needs to be really fresh.


2 Fresh Mackerel, mine were caught off Brighton pier!
4 Baby Artichokes
300 grams of broad beans, podded weight
300 grams of fresh peas, podded weight
1 bulb of fennel
200 grams of purple sprouting broccoli florets
1 large Romano lettuce, outer leaves removed, only use the light, crisp inside leaves
A few drizzles of good quality olive oil
The juice of 1 lemon

Method, Easy this recipe!

-First gut the Mackerel and rinse under cold running water, then set aside in the fridge.
-Then prepare all of the vegetables,
*Pod the beans and peas, blanch then shock into ice water for a few minutes, then drain and set aside.
*Blanch the Broccoli florets then shock into iced water, drain and set aside.
*Trim the Artichoke and simmer in salted water from a cold start, then allow to cool and set aside.
*Shave the fennel with a Japanese Mandolin or slice it very fine, then into iced water in order to keep it nice and crisp.
-Combine all of the cooked, chilled vegetables and dress with the olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and set aside in the fridge.
-Trim and wash the lettuce, using only the young, crisp, tender leaves,
-Rub the Mackerel with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, cook on a pre-heated griddle, or even better a barbecue, on both sides for about 5 minutes each!
-Serve on a large plate garnished with the chilled vegetables and dressed salad leaves.
-And that's it, easy!

What a day off, cooking to Kings of Leon!