Sunday, 9 August 2009

Im still eating

Not sure where this picture is from! If I find the source , I will post it.

I know Ive been away from here for some time. Id like to let you know that I'm still cooking and eating. For some reason Ive actually been doing a lot more , he the mans I think is quite worn out with all our entertaining!!! But there is something nice about cooking for others to enjoy and be sustained. I just havent had the head space to write about it all though, theres just been too many layers of life to sit and type in the evenings on both my blogs.

I am writing gradually about our anniversary trip in April to New York City, so watch this space for my post on our eating experiences there . Ive also been practising my Thai cooking abilities after an evening with David Thompson of Nahm. We watched & listened to this very dry, witty and knowledgeable man from Australia cook up a Thai feast of 5 courses for us in the kitchens at Divertimenti a few weeks back.

Today we're having friends for tea and on the hob is some homemade tom sauce, in the oven is he the man famous banana bread and behind me he is now whipping up eggs for pavlova. A very odd concoction of smells!!

Back in June we went to Taste Of London , this years theme being Thailand. It seems Thai food has featured much this year for us. We had friends over at the beginning of the year and made our own Thai meal , which turned out great , but now after watching authentic Thai food cooked, (by a Thai food hero, no less!!) , it seems we had a way to go in knowing how to make it much more authentic and true to a real Thai taste.

We sampled all sorts of culinary wonderousness at Taste ; my favourite being the most amazing rich, sweet unctuousness of a lamb chop from Kai in Mayfair. I will say no more as I want to save it for another more detailed posting. For now I have to get my house ready for another 4 adults and 3 other children to be welcomed.

Happy Noshing to you

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

New York eaty me uppy!

Ive had a few friends enquiring about blogging my NYC trip with he the mans , so I thought Id do my best and finally finish it, (well part one anyway) , seeing as it was back in April! Its been sitting in my edits section for some time now! We , will I, planned long and hard for our eatery itinerary and even sparked off some very lengthy heated debates on Chowhound , (a very useful foodie forum), about several places in NY.

Most people ask you what you've bought when you go to NYC , but they know with he the mans and I , its all about the food!! So here over the next few paragraphs is a sort of restaurant diary of our 4 days of gluttony , wonderful feasting!

Our first night was spent at the very stylish , star spotting Mercer Kitchen. I had hankered after a very classical NY evening by returning to Keens Steak house , but my Brother & Sister in Law happened to be in NY at the same time staying at The Mercer Hotel & being only round the corner from our Hotel 60 Thompson, we thought it nice to meet up there. Its like bees to honey for the stylish set this place, but it could do with a little bit of a polish on the service front; some food came out cold and the wait for a a new dish was decidely long! The saving grace was the lovely flavours and a few free drinks thrown in.

We didn't go for all out decadent blow out meal here thought, as quite frankly after a whole day of travelling you just want something either light or homely, well I do anyway!

I know Carpaccio is a bit passe now , but this I couldn't miss, as it combined my faves in fish ; raw & citrus . I love a bit of Ceviche Sea bass Carpaccio!!!

After said day, I really wanted some major comforting familiar food and for me a Friday night is all about a Roast chicken meal! So Roast Chicken in butter with mash it was . For those of the Kosher hearted think away now! ( I don't know why , but I have no picture, but how different can a roast chicken breast look!). I have to say, the fact it was roasted with butter made for the most moist flavourful chicken I had ever eaten out. I never ever normally eat chicken out for the very reason of it being bland and tasteless. This was far from it.

Now I know I talk a lot about healthy eating and being mindful over edibles, but sometimes when in Rome , well when in USA , I just have to start the day with a BIG American Breakfast! So Big Daddy's at Union Square it was 1st thing Saturday morning. Nothing exceptional and not even really a traditional NYC experience , but it was fun , in a sort of old fashioned Disney themed diner sort of way!

We had planned to do it the civilised and stylish way and partake of room service breakfast on our balcony , but sadly we were rained out of our Penthouse suite, (surprisingly given as an upgrade for us on the 1st night of this 10th Wedding Anniversary trip).

Just take a look at this beautiful space.

After this we wandered over to the Union Square farmers market. Walking away from Big Daddy's and on to Union Sq , we stumbled upon a piece of our past, namely City Crab, (visited on our 1st trip together over 12 yrs previously), on the very same corner. Ive written in more depth about all the serendipitous events around this trip on my other blog Gifted Hand if you would like to know the crazy number of synchronistic happenings that took place in our packed 4days! Most particular on this day was the juxtaposition of City Crab, Wholefoods market and the Union Sq farmers market that struck me, having such a rich interest in all things foodie and our past and present all combining.

Its not so much the uniqueness of places like Unions Square Farmers market , as we have Borough market, which is equally bustling and vibrant. This was more about enjoying submerging ourselves in New York food culture & a lovely way to spend a couple of hours.

These ramps seemed very abundant that day, if we' had a kitchen to cook them in we would have bought some.

I loved the way the greens were displayed here ,rough wood trays , but it worked so well.

This stand of macro herbs and shoots was very popular a hive of activity and so beautiful too.

It was at the end of the meander that we saw across the road the famed Wholefoods market and would you believe I have not ever set foot in a whole foods market , this coming from a so called foodie! Everything is layed out so perfectly, almost to perfect, but it is a feast for the eyes. All those wet dripping bright shiny vegetables and lettuces, makes you want to buy the lot!

Ok thats part 1 put out there. Watch this space for the next installment were I natter on about more food and more restaurants, like this lot;

A continuation of our Saturday scoffing with Lunch at Bistro Les Amis, Dinner at Eleven Madison Park, Sunday Breakfast at The Grey Dog, another lunch at a dodgy TGI Friday type place off Time sq with not so great buffalo wings ( so not memorable , we cant even remember what it was!), dinner at Kittichai in 60 Thompson, Monday Breakfast at Southstreet Seaport (nothing fab, just the place next to Abercrombie), and finally Lunch at restaurant Landmarc in the Time Warner Center.

Friday, 8 May 2009

The marvels of tomatoes and other yummies!

We well and truly christened our new kitchen the other night with a 4 course feast for some friends. For 2 weeks he the mans and I sat with our cherished books compiling our 4 course menu. I fell in love with a dish from our French Laundry book and just had to try it. The rest was from Gordon Ramsey's 3 star Chef.

When a very good client of mine bought me the book French Laundry, (client is subsequently now a very good friend), looking through its hallowed pages, I never thought Id ever be able to make anything from it. But 2 yrs on and many a meal been made and experimented with, he the mans and I felt brave enough to give it a go. We have never previously made these dishes until the day of the dinner party! Mad I know, but we managed to pull it off to our complete surprise. Although it didn't come easily , the kitchen was a mass of equipment and non stop processes on every surface. It was true organised chaos! We tried our best to stay calm and in control all day preparing, mixing and sieving to our hearts contents! The girls loved seeing this commotion in the kitchen and little cupcake was especially proud of her contribution to the mixing!

Now I know many people would say we weren't being very creative as we didn't come up with something ourselves, but I feel we were really stretched technically and having mastered - will ok may be not quite mastered !! , but having tried , we're are now in a place to start combining our own things, eventually!

Our very own gourmet tasting menu was as follows :

Scallop with sweetcorn puree and truffles - Gordon Ramsay 3 star Chef page 134 Image page 20

Vine ripe tomato sorbet with tomato tartare and chive oil , served with garlic tuiles - French Laundry page 55-56

Navarine of lamb with buttered vegetables with celeriac puree (we substituted with salsify) & Thyme jus - Gordon Ramsay 3 star Chef page 190

Lemon meringue with marinated strawberries - Gordon Ramsay 3 star Chef page 216 Image page 100

Now with the corn puree I really wasn't sold. I thought sweet, creamy & corny = well ick! But Oh my gawwsh , he the mans has become my puree super hero. It came out so moreish and savoury sweet , I couldn't stop eating it the rest of the weekend!

Now onto the Intermezzo or Amuse Bouche. First you start with some tomato's and wow they were some tomato's! They tasted how tomato's you imagine should taste. He the mans made some time the day before at Borough Market to get them, as that seems to be the best place for real produce. There's then roughly 30+ processes that go into the tomato sorbet dish!


then become this

Then I had to boil and re boil this 3 times, that's orange zest by the way

Then I made one of these

The recipe asked for the use of a Tamis - basically a very wide and extremely fine sieve- to finely sieve the tomato puree. The Tamis retails for around £87 , now I know equipment is important , but at this stage of our cooking lives , I'm not quite in need of such a luxury - YET!!! I did however find this cheaper substitute on Amazon , but alas it wasn't available in time and doesn't seem to be available at all now! So I came up with the next best thing ,very fine muslin tied really tight across a bowl!

So it didn't move when I was pushing the tomato puree through twice , I laid it into another bowl.

This was my invention to allow the puree chive and oil mix to drip through to create the fine chive oil for plating up with the tomato's.

He the mans was amazed I managed to do these tuiles , as was I. It involved spreading a fine paste into circles onto greaseproof paper and baking to create crisp savoury nmm nmmmess !!!

and finally its all plated!!! Quick wheres my wine before the next bit!

I'll have to apologise for this image , we just started eating when I remembered I hadn't taken a shot of it. Again there were reams and reams of processes , but he the mans just pottered around the place bringing it all together! He makes it look so easy! I was too busy with my part of the meal to manage to get shots of his work in progress!

and finally dessert. This was a shared effort , again with some more tuiles , this time with pepper, sugar and sesame seeds. We got in a tizz with the meringue as it really wasn't working. Having tried it several times we had to give in due to time. The flavours were right just not the texture. Meringue is such a fine art and this creation called for a soft chewy slab of it, instead we had a crunchy , chewy, foamy, blob of lemony sweet and sour stuff! The sorbet however came out wonderfully, all zingy sweet smooth.

Ive just asked he the mans if he'd do it all again , he said yes , but not for a while!!!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

A quick word on Agave Nectar or the evils of sugar!

Image from

I must admit Im a bit of sugar fiend and even though I know its not great for me or anyone in high quantities I still like the sweet stuff; sugar in tea, honey in cooking, sweeties, ice cream and so much more! Although strangely as I age, Im finding many confectioneries far to sweet for my palate! I thought with Agave Nectar Id found the product of my dreams , sweet and healthy! What an Oxymoron that's turned out to be!

A paper has been published recently, and you can read it here , the crux of which is ; STAY AWAY FROM AGAVE. Its evils are being compared to the likes of High Fructose corn syrup! The worrying part is the chemical secreted in a reaction to the extraction and heating of the centre of the agave heart. Ive recently found this Volcanic Nectar version , but I still want to look into how different this product is from the others on the market. It sure does make some amazing claims in comparison to other Agave products.

I believe totally in moderation and my diet is testament to the myriad of foods from healthy, raw to gourmet and all the way through to fried junk (Ok so I have a bad thang for bufallo wings shhhhhhhh!!!). So to this end I think I will still use a slug of Agave here & there, but will make sure I try and find other substitutions for sweetness in cooking. I tried a whole papaya in a one pot dish and it did wonders. I just find adding that little sweetness can make some of the flavours really intensify. So if anyone has tried anything natural for sweetening , let me know.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

3 months since the 1st wall came down

and all is great in Kitchen Nosh of Love! When I get round to it ,I will post some snazzy pictures! After 2-3 months of upheaval , dirt and constant people, we are now straight, gleaming and sparkling and ready for some major cooking action. I christened my new hob with a chicken soup fest last week , making nearly 10litres of the homely golden stuff! Im so abnormally excited by the sight of it all potted in the freezer, I can see me turning into a very annoying Nigella type! Its a real pleasure to cook in and finally be able to do some lovely home cooking, as we have lovely new equipment and amazing Anolon Meyer saucepans and pans. They DO make a huge difference in comparison to all my supermarket and cheapo shop bought, (Tescos!), ones Ive had for years, (yes I know, how shameful for a foodie)!!! Its been a great investment if we're to do some intense cooking this summer.

Writing about food on here when all we existed on was takeaways and simple fare didn't seem that interesting to report on, but now were all a flutter planning our very first dinner party in months next weekend ! Were seeking inspiration from the 3 star Chef recipe book from Gordon Ramsey & Thomas Keller of French Laundry, (which makes me think of the amazing Carol Blymire who has cooked her way through the whole book & blogged about it and I must see what her outcome was with what I fancy doing!), I wont say here what as one of our guests reads this and we want it to stay secret for now! How Im going to top Melon soup with basil oil, I dont know! I will report on it all after!

We're also going to great lengths to make our 10 yr wedding anniversary trip to New York in May an unforgettable foodie experience! At the moment we are so overwhelmed with choice we've only booked one night out of the 3! This being the very elegant and modern progressive food restaurant Eleven Madison Park , I will be sure to report back when we return, that's if he the mans doest get all humphy about me photographing everything in sight! Like London we can choose any style , atmosphere and type of food and Im so boggled with it all we've gone into inertia stage for now! I am however using the ever informative Chowhound (Manhattan Board), for real serious talk on where to go and have some experts pointing me in the right directions.

Yesterday I made my rich and dark warm spice beef hot pot and my little cupcake declared it the best thing I had ever made! Praise indeed from my extremely fussy eater! Its the recipe I first started this blog with , so its befitting of a new start in my new space! Its so amazing what a change of environment can do. Although it uses Agave nectar and Ive recently read some worrying news on that too good to be true ingredient. I will follow up with more on that very soon.
Tonight for the 1st time in weeks and weeks we are dining out together and trying a little restaurant in Islington called Sabor and from the menu it looks extremely promising.He the mans can have his favoured caipirinhas and I can hopefully be in ceviche heaven if its on the menu! Im actually getting fed up with eating the same style of food out, (modern British, Italian, French Brasserie...) and to have some new flavours from Brazil & Latin America will be a great change. It might even inspire some new menu ideas of our own.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Kitchen that was!

This will be my new office in a few weeks, currently the store room come kitchen!

This is were it all used to be housed, well that and 12 other cabinets!!

If you read my Reiki life blog Gifted hand , you may have realised I have no kitchen right now, so cooking and eating great food has been a challenge. As from yesterday we are down to only a microwave! Its so cold right now its hard to exist only on salads and sandwiches. We've been trying our hardest not to eat continuous takeaways, as in my mind I'm thinking 6weeks of that ain't so good for you! Think Super Size Me!

Preparing food in cramped conditions being the challenge it is we thought the next best thing was lots of cheese platters, cold meats and quince. I tried Manchego this week and found it to be quite moreish , it has a particularly tangy, scrape roof off mouth pungent taste which I love in cheese and was even better had with a lovely bit of sweet grainy quince or in Spain Cano's Membrillo.

I was talking with a close relative today about diabetes, as Id had a message in my development class this week from someone, that a family member was possible enjoying the good stuff a little too much and it was affecting their sugar levels, (and yep I was able to corroborate who that was today) ! Ive been reading, through a contact on twitter known as RawHealer , from links on her feed, that there's much interest right now in the raw diet being great for diabetics and reducing the need for medication . I know my relative is on medication right now and I suppose would rather not be,but as yet is not yet sold on the raw diet idea. We started talking about the kitchen and preparation in this dirt bowl of a home! We got into how I'm really interested in eating more raw foods myself and making it a regular part of my weekly diet. Despite her reluctance to go the whole hog, (a bit like myself), was willing, if prepared for her, (and I'm loathe to push anything on anyone unsolicited, more a gentle nudging influence!) , to sample a great raw foods meal, when my kitchen is done of course!

So on that tip I was inspired today, having planned a duvet day sans kiddlies, to make a salad in the style of the raw movement (Not fully fledged as I just am not ready to not eat meat, I like it too much). Id already bought these ingredients this week in preparation but hadn't yet thought what to do :

box of seeded pomegranate
1/2 bag pea shoots
1/2 avocado
1/2 papaya
1 pre cooked chicken breast (yes I know I cheated a tad and it sorta isnt the raw foods point. I also kinda cancel the healthy as many supermarkets cook in sugar, but hey just look at were I'm doing this above! You also can’t put a good carnivore down!)
juice of a lime
soft lettuce

It wasn't the most elegantly prepared dish, but it was delicious and fresh: In a large bowl, shred the soft lettuce, add the pea shoots, grate the turnip straight into the bowl, spoon in scoops of avocado , do the same with the papaya, tear up the cooked chicken, throw in half the pomegranate. Pour over a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze all the lime, a dash of agave and a few turns of some sea salt and ready to scoff!

If I'd had more time , I would have looked into a more flavoursome dressing , but this turned out to compliment the combination of ingredients quite well as a quick solution.

I'm really looking forward to doing some more research into the raw textures and flavours I can mix up together , chopping away in my new kitchen for everyone. Ive been waiting for our re -build to be done to find some more books on the subject, (I do have a thang about Chad sarno food though) and add to our ever growing collection. This shall make for a good start to our new environment at home and welcome in the spring.

So any rawists out there, what could have dressed my salad today to give it a more intense layered flavour, I'd love to know your ideas!?

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Land of plenty or Big it up USA style!

Well I returned a few weeks back from the capital of big food and now I cant seem to eat any of the usual things Ive been satisfied with. I will share with you some of the things we ate and things we made in our 14 days jaunt around the East coast of Florida. The main crazy unforeseen mania - and one I should really keep quieter for all my obsessions with healthier fair- was for Buffalo wings! My little cup cake even grew a great fancy for them, even at their spiciest!

The thing most notable is the portion sizes ; Id forgotten how big they were, & big = good in USA!! With one of the largest obesity problems in the world, (& interestingly the West coast faring better than the East), I'm glad there's some headway for a new culture driven towards more healthy eating & away from serving big, greasy and overloaded, bring on the raw is all I can say! Due to such an inbred relationship to fast food in American culture, its like steering a large ship on a new baring! In the end all we could order from menus was some starters to share with extra sides of vegetables and salads, as we just couldn't stomach seeing that much food in front of us. Granted as we were with the girls most of the time, we frequented the more touristy old USA type haunts, so we were bound to come upon the more traditional, old school food ways!

Take The Cheesecake Factory for example, walking through I noticed people tucking into creamy cheesy salads served in dishes that would feed at least 5-6 people, but the upside was that they had a section on the menu for weight management with calories listed, so that's alrighty then!

Now after all that can you believe, I for some reason was compelled to order one of their famous cheesecake slices (well I did have to, didn't I?) and oh my gawsh I had two mouthfuls and that was it, I was done in . I'm hoping they expect you to share something that's the size of an air brick or do some of you guys really eat the whole lot!?

I wouldn't say this was a trip planned around fine dining , well not with 2 mini me's in tow. I wasn't prepared to munch in lovely romantic candlelit surroundings with my 2, err not so quiet ones! We did however get one evening to ourselves and had a booking at China Grill in Miami. The meal started with such promise, with a beautiful and delicate sushi amous bouche type dish . The the portions , even though it was stated at the beginning would be smaller as it was the"tasting menu" , (not the eat everything menu!) , got bigger and bigger, more clunky and heavy, until quite frankly we just didn't really want to eat any more. By the 6th dish and accompaniments, we just felt bloated! Which was a shame as the flavours were good and the combinations really packed a punch in your mouth. We just felt some delicacy and pairing down would have gone a long way to increase enjoyment of the meal rather than the pile it high & sell it not so cheap!

Dim sum in a savoury sour quite moreish sauce

lobster pancakes -stir fried with wild mushrooms, red chili, scallions & coconut milk

Halfway through I needed to cleanse my palet , of course with a strawberry lychee daiquiri! It was at this point we got served a variation on a Cesar & oriental salads , atop a rectangular plate in 3 huge mounds!

Large shrimp with black ink pasta & smoky cream sauce.

Famous Teriyaki steak

From a distance this looked like a frozen box of some berry fruit - that would have been really wow- , but it was actually a large Brandy snap , full of chopped bananas & cream ! Nice as it was , I wouldn't say it really sold me on their patisserie abilities! Hehehe Im difficult to please with food aren't I!!

In Key Biscayne , we tried Peruvian El Gran Inka ,a wonderfully different flavour experience to the normal American menu. We started with a beautifully tasting (although not as nice on the eye), ceviche , but even then the corn was larged up here too (I believe its a speciality in Peru)!! The rest of our meal was a combo of spiced grilled fishes and sweet potato dishes. Unfortunately I didn't get a chance to photograph the rest , but it was all very well put together.
On our way into Duck key , we stopped at the Hungry tarpon for a quick snack and tried the Key's famous Conch chowder,a spicy tomatoey thick gloop full of bits of , well conch! It was like stepping back into old time USA, a bit grungy, with staff a bit niceish/snarky and food a sorta sloppy Joe style. Quite tasty though it was!

Whilst in our Villa on Duck key we made some time to go to Publix & got ourselves some great ingredients. He the mans as you know is rather partial to a Rib eye , so we got a lovely nice juicy one, & yes BIG one , to share that is!

Back in Miami we did make a rather special purchase of Demi Glace beef from William Sonoma and used this, (along with Rose wine as this was all we had, for De glazing the cooking pan) , to make an unctuous brown jus to pour all over it! To serve with it, inspired by a similar salad eaten at Toms Harbour Hawks Cay , I dry roasted some chopped pecans in sugared Cinnamon to add a spicy crunchy to my watermelon side salad.

We still managed to sniff out some really good sushi & went to Kaiyo in Islomarada. The flavours although not traditional , were very much enjoyed . We had a feast of fruity spare ribs , sashimi platter, miso soup, crispy dim sum & a lovely simple citrus salad. I also had to have my favourite Ikura , I cant have my sushi without it!

In the hotel in Duck Key we also enjoyed a kind of Latin tapas at Alma of soup, plantain chips & fish cakes and somewhere on he the mans Blackberry are our photographs from that night. When I eventually get round to working out how to download them, I will show them on here & tell you more of what I thought of that meal.

Our last meal was a lovely end to our trip , shared with our girls, sat on a veranda at the Butterfly cafe at the Hotel Tranquility Bay . My gals and I had a lovely sweet and savoury Cuban Grilled Pork Chop, served with pineapple & plaintain crema.

I finished off with a chocolate fondant creation as a little indulgence for the last night. It was rich velvety and very sweet and like with all these desserts I order I can never finish them , most friends think that's strange, I call it sensible!

Overall we had a good experience , gained some new thoughts on food i.e that I don't need to eat that much to be satisfied and also got some new ideas on how to combine flavours & textures to create a more layered taste .

I don't think I noticed this as an issue with food as a child when I was lucky enough to see Florida back in the 80's or even as a teen , it was much more a novelty seeing food in such abundance compared to the UK, but now most of the modern world pretty much is the same , yet USA still is up there on food as fanfare and size being the main point.
Ive always been fascinated with American culture and being fanatical about food, it makes for a lot of good combined mulling over: Do you think there's less value in food if it isn't abundant on your plate? Is it always expected ?Would it not feel right if it wasn't served this way? Even many of the servers agreed with us on portions and advised us to not over order, so why the perpetuation of largess? Its a huge dichotomy in total loggerheads with the medical problems of over eating : On the one hand you go out , have served to you enormous plates of food, (its very tempting and very easy to do). You then go home and see umpteen diet adverts , work out systems, pills and equipment to buy , that removes it all!

I never knew I had these passionate feelings about it all , till this holiday and it just blew us away, so Ive gone on a bit of a soapbox here!

Anyone reading this Id love to know your thoughts?

Oh and don't get me wrong , I still had a lot of fun eating out ! Ive been to all sorts of places with my relationship to food and I'm sort of swinging just in the middle of the pendulum right now. Its just that sometimes, we got surprised and almost disappointed faces when half the plate went back! "Did you not enjoy it?"