Hands up if you have a cookbook?
If the answer is yes, then you my friend are a foodie.
This Easter weekend, I saw the best cookbook ever from my friend Faye. She received an empty scrapbook and the aim was for her to put in all her favourite recipes. There was no need for her to go to one of ten books that I have or others have, instead all are stored in one book. She sees a recipe she likes writes it up or prints it out and puts it in the book.
I saw this genius cookbook as chef Faye was getting ready to cook us a special meal for dinner. With her scrap book, Faye selected the recipe for the evening, which was her Delia inspired Jumbalaya and had everything ready at the tip of her fingertips.
A cookbook which has all of your favourite recipes is a dream come true. Recipes you like to cook and are just what you like. Basically this is the cookbook of your life. It is almost like the red book from 'This is your life', a journey of recipes that define you and make you happy.
My collection of books is below and i use these frequently for inspiration, simple dishes and good ideas.
What gets me from cookbooks to searching online is the practicality and ease of a cookbook. The steps goes as follows:
Find page, keep book open and then return for reference.
The alternative is:
Find a webpage on my phone, tablet or laptop, make sure the page doesn't time out (if it does, then not only do i lose the page, i need to type my password and get the page to load again) and then keep walking over to the laptop.
Basically, I'm too busy cooking to do such a thing.
Thank you Faye for the amazing food and the great idea of your own cookbook.
It didn't even go to a vote. I had to go for Iran for this instalment of Shayan's global cooking challenge.
I = Iran
Iran = Chelow Kebab (Rice with Shish Kebab)
The national dish is something I have made many times before and it is a tasty dish. I love this dish but my parents always make it so much better than I can and especially when it is on the barbecue too. So I took advantage of the Iranian new year celebrations and made this dish with my parents.
Minced meat, onions, salt and pepper and a hint of sumac. All this mixed together on some skewers and over the heat. I was a bit lazy on this one as my Dad did most of the work (all of it), but why mess with the best and ruin food for the family.
Along with this, comes rice, done properly and with some tadeek (cripsy rice) this national dish is one of my most favourite dishes of all time across all cuisines. Simply meat and rice is all we need and want.
I stands for Iran.
Iran stands for I.
An iconic venue in London serving iconic British grub.
The Lexington in Pentonville has a unique history, hosting events and gigs for Londoners. Bands performing here such as Yeasayer and Black Mountain make it a name of note for those in the know.
So when I told friends I was invited to try food at The Lexington there was some puzzled faces. Food? At The Lexington? Yes my dear those are my Friday night plans.
The Lexington is now home to Chef Nathan Perrin, a northern chef who went from the bar to the kitchen. Among his journey he invented the idea of Pie Tapas and turned this thought of different flavours into a special award winning Pie for the faithful. At The Lexington, Perrin has focused his talents and ideas of to a meal of delight with an array of mashes to go with the pies.
A glance at the menu and especially the pies gives you an indication of something fun and exciting and this is perhaps why Nathan has proved popular in this venue. Beef Bourguignon, Jerk Chicken, Rabbit and a breakfast option. These are all the options screaming out from the venue and almost leave you in a daze. Which one to eat and unfortunately, which one to miss out on?
With so much confusion, I did what any man would do. I asked for direction; a recommendation from the chef to be more precise. So the night before at the British Pie awards Chef Perrin received a Bronze Award for his Beef Bourguignon pie, that meant we had to get that one. The second choice was harder and was mine to make alone. I went for the "fiery jerk chicken". The mash we chose were Cheese with whole grain mustard and suede and Carrot Mash for the two pies respectively.
The pies were presented on top of a ring of Mash. Laura had claimed the beef pie and I the chicken.
The beef was definitely the better one. Tasty, hot and full of flavour which the red wine helped to bring out. This with the firm and tasty pastry was a good meal. The combination of well cooked meat and good amount of alcohol was exactly what it said on the tin and together with the mash was a good tie. Laura gave this two thumbs up for sure and is already asking when I will take her back.
The jerk chicken was a lot more subtle. With sweet potato inside and the mash below felt like an over indulgence of root veg for me. This trio of potato, suede and carrot mean that the fiery jerk was mellowed greatly and was lost in the pie.
The Lexington has a great and friendly vibe to it and is a place I will revisit for both a drink and a pie. The pie is hearty and welcoming and the fact that you can enjoy it at this iconic venue makes it even better. An award winning pie the boirguignon stands out and with other options such as Rabbit and Cheese pies means that the need to go back is even greater. Thanks Lexington, thanks chef Perrin.
You learn a lot about your friends by the food choices they recommend. This is one of the reasons why I get nervous when people ask me for a restaurant or place to go. If I upset them and my choice is not great, will they judge me?
The more time goes the more confident I am about my food choices and more recently I have had good feedback from friends about my recommendations.
This time I was going on a friend of a friends recommendation and not for a restaurant but a specific dish from a restaurant.
The restaurant and dish that we went for was Bread Street Kitchen and their chicken wings. Bread Street is a restaurant by Gordon Ramsey based in between St Pauls and Bank in New Change. The plan was to go and just try the chicken wings here so I won't go into too much detail on the restaurant.
The chicken wings were coated in a tamarind sauce. The glazed wings were tangy and sweet, the sticky tamarind sauce gave it a nice flavour which added to the fact that it was well cooked, meant that they were juicy and tender pieces of meat. We had 3 each between us and these were a great way to start the night.
The plan was to just have wings and cocktails and for the start of an evening it was misssion accomplished and a success. Not my most favourite wings but a good start to a good evening.
I won't say too much about Ma' Plucker. Not because it was amazing or awful just that there is not much else to say. We got there really late and were told that a few dishes were not available so we had to choose carefully.
What we did have was not that great, chicken wings were coated in buttermilk but had a burnt taste to them. Not so juicy or tasty, more crispy then anything. This was the same with the thighs, although the waffle was tasty. Not the most fluffy but nice enough.
With the rise in chicken joints from last year, this will not rank too highly for me and i will not rush back. Sorry Ma'.
Sleep, wake up, eat breakfast, sleep and then EAT Brunch. That is how Sundays should be.
A day of rest and a day of food. This was the plan for Mothers' Day last week and off to The Modern Pantry the Sacki family went. Dad was at home, watching the beloved Liverpool, whilst the sons took out their mother for some food and giggles.
Brunch menus are always quite tricky, especially if you have already had breakfast as should be the case.
The idea is supposed to be a mix between breakfast and lunch and usually the options tend to favour the breakfast side of things. Therefore, eggs are usually a dominant option at brunch, as is salmon, bacon and sausages and tomatoes all cooked in their various guises.
So what we chose is below with exactly what the restaurant says, more specifically with prices too:
Dhansak spiced veal mince omelette, fried chilli & shallots, puffed wild rice, herbs, toast £9.00
Crispy halloumi, buttered spinach, lemongrass roast vine ripened tomatoes £8.80
Coconut & cassava waffle, cardamom poached rhubarb, Neal’s Yard Dairy crème fraiche £9.00
Kashmiri masala beetroot, carrot, potato & spring onion hash, endive, poached egg, yuzu & moromi miso hollandaise, toasted seeds £8.80 or add tea smoked H.Forman & Son’s salmon £12.50
I have to say the minced veal which i chose was the best and my favourite. The Dansak flavouring was tasty and gave a good kick which was needed with the meat. The shallots and herbs gave good texture and more depth to the dish and was complimented by a light and fluffy omelette which was a good vessel for transporting the meat into my mouth.
The other dishes had their moments. The halloumi had good texture and the lemongrass on the tomatoes gave it a distinct zing.
The waffles were nice, but the rhubarb overpowered the whole dish and unfortunately did not seem like a main dish but instead more of a desert.
The poached egg with salmon and beetroot was a strong dish and would be one i choose next time.
A lovely venue and the staff were friendly and helpful on a special day for the family.
They were able to guide us on the dishes, especially for the desert which had kumquats! What is a kumquat? I didn't know then and i barely know now. Think of a cross between an orange and a tomato. It didn't add too much to my cake (pictured above) but it looked nice.
I am looking forward to going back and trying their a la caret menu and dinner menu too.
See you soon Modern Pantry.