Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The foods of New York

Never fear, we are still here!

We have been quiet recently, that's because we are on our holidays in New York City, which means no new recipes as no way are we cooking with so many great and cheap places to eat in this town. We know all our millions of readers need their Lola-lu's kitchen fix, so here is a list of everything we have eaten so far.

Chicken and beef (on the plane)
Ice coffee with half and half
Bagel with turkey and American cheese
reuben bagel
Slice of pizza bianco
Slice of pizza with chicken and broccoli
Fish tacos
fettuccine with spinach and cream
croque madame
moules mariners
Teriaki chicken burger with caper and wasabi ailoi
corn beef hash with fried eggs
Pancakes with syrup
French toast with bacon and maple syrup
More bagels
More coffee
Lots of alcohol
ice cream

And we have only been here 5 days.... no vegetables! This is like a list from 'you are what you eat' or 'this is why you are fat'.... oh dear...

Off for dinner in Korea town/hen party madness. Will update with photos soon!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Taste Of Mexico

With these burritos ambassador you are really spoiling us
A very sunny Saturday morning, me and Lola cycled through Herbert Park to the Mexican Ambassadors residence. It's Mexican food week, and the Mexican Ambassador has flown in the lovely Margarita Carillo de Salinas, well known Mexican chef, to give lessons and also run the restaurant in the Hilton Hotel for the week.

The group started with an overview of Mexican cooking, chili identification - and a quick run through of the recipes we'd be making later. Then it was across to the gorgeous sun filled kitchen to get stuck in. Though there were quite a few of us there, we all managed to get some hands on experience. Slicing and softening banana leaves over the heat. Cleaning, seeding and soaking chillies. Folding and frying burritos. Tucking marinated chicken legs into their banana leaves and getting them ready for steaming.
What struck me most about the day, was Chef Margarita's obvious enthusiasm and joy in preparing food. Her philosophy about food was refreshing and one that I could really relate to. Her emphasis was to get stuck in and 'Just cook, do it' Making the simple statement that if you're to avoid nasty such as additives and sugar and salt - you should just cook from scratch. That it's easy and simple and a great way of showing love for family and friends. I love you - now eat my food!

Two tips that I'll start using today are

1) Add sea salt during the cooking process and keep table salt for the table - seems sensible enough. She made the point that adding table salt during the cooking process can give the food a bitter taste

2) Always cook your onion a little before cooking the garlic to avoid burning your garlic

The main ingredient in a lot of these recipes was chillies, large dried chillies with seeds removed, cleaned, soaked and then liquidised to make both soup and marinate. I was firstly surprised at the volume of them we used, but then also surprised at the level of spiciness of the food. Don't get me wrong the dishes were pretty hot, but very much edible, or maybe I'd deadened my palette by sampling the various dried chillies earlier in the day.

We left with a greater understanding of Mexican cuisine and a promise that we would never eat in taco bell! The flavours of this food are really different to anything I had ever tasted before and totally different to what you get in most Mexican restaurants I've been to. Huge thanks to the Ambassador and her lovely family who let us into their home and were so welcoming. It really made me want to pay Mexico a visit!

We're hoping to cook these recipes soon, if we can find a place in Ireland that sells those amazing dried chillies that are a staple in Mexico. We may blog them separately then, but included are some pictures of the day and of the finished dishes.

1) Tacos Gobernador
Shrimp and Cheese Tacos

2) Sopa de Tortilla al Chile Pasilla
Tortilla Soup with Pasilla

3) Barboca de Pollo
Steamed cooked chicken in aromatic herbs
Me and Lola with our Mexican Cooking Certificates - sweet!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Raspberry lemon Curd Bakewell Tart

Crispy, buttery, raspberry citrus explosion!

My mum bought me a gorgeous new blue glass cake stand and I wanted to make something to put on it. 'Wouldn't a lovely bakewell tart be nice', I thought. At the same time, Lu expressed her hankering for some lemon-curd related dessert, during a workday email. I did some research on my favorite food related spotting site (not to be named as in seldom takes our photos! Grr!) and it seems that the raspberry-lemon combination is a classic and has been used many a time before my fevered and hungry imagination dreamed it up.

I think the pastry was the real winner of this concoction. The whole thing was delish... but.... The pastry... *sigh*... crunchy and crispy and almondy.... definite pastry win!

Raspberry and lemon curd bakewell tart

For the pastry:
125 g plain flour
75g unsalted butter
25g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon almond essence

For the Lemon Curd:
2 eggs
2 1/2 oz caster sugar
1 1/2 oz unsalted butter cut into cubes
juice and zest of 1 lemon

For the topping:
150g unsalted butter, at room temperature
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
120g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon almond essence

1 handful flaked almonds
1 small punnet fresh raspberries

Start by making the pastry. Using your finger tips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and mix it about. Then add the egg yolk and the almond essence and bring the whole lot together using your hands. If its too dry, add a tablespoon of cold water, but I didn't find this necessary. Chill the pastry for an hour if you have time. Roll the pastry out on a floured surface and press it into a greased circular spring-form tin. Line this with some greaseproof paper and fill it with baking beans. bake in a preheated over at about 160c for 15 mins or so. Be careful as the edges can burn quite easily. Take it out and remove the beans and the paper, brush the pastry with egg white ( you will have one left over from making the pastry) and bake for a further 5 mins or until it is cooked. You are not aiming for it to be totally brown and done, just for the pastry to go opaque and crumbly all over.

While this is happening make your lemon curd.

Lemon Curd:
Combine the eggs, sugar and butter together in a heavy bottomed sauce pan. Turn on the stove to the lowest possible heat and stir until the butter is melted. The aim here is to make sure the eggs don't cook and scramble, so keep the heat as low as possible, and even remove the pan from the heat at intervals. When the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved, add the lemon juice and zest. The mixture will turn opaque. Keep on the heat and continue stirring until the sauce goes nice and thick, so that it coats the spoon in a nice spreading consistency. This should take about 10 mins. Transfer the curd to a bowl and chill until needed ( you can make double this amount and use the extra for whatever else you like)

When the pastry shell is cooked, take it out of the oven and leave it to cool. Spread the lemon curd all over the base of the pastry shell.

Now make the topping:
Cream together the butter and caster sugar with an electric whisk until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy. Fold in the eggs one at a time, sprinkling in a tablespoon of ground almond after each addition, to keep the mixture from curdling. Now gently fold in the rest of the almond and the almond essence.

Pour this mixture over the lemon curd in the pastry shell. The curd might rise up the edges of the shell a bit so make sure that the curd is 'sealed in' by completely covering it with the topping, right to the edges. Then arrange the raspberries in a circular pattern on top, pushing them in to the mixture so that only half of each berry is visible.

Bake in your preheated oven at 160c. After about 20 minutes, take it out and sprinkle the almonds over the top. Then bake for a further 20 minutes until the tart is set in the middle and firm to touch.

Absolutely delicious! God, I wish I had some right now!

PS: if you want to make a delicious lemon tart, make the same pastry without the almond essence, and make twice the amount of lemon curd. bake the pastry shell as above, add the prepared lemon curd, and bake the whole thing at about 180c for 20 mins or so, until the lemon filling is set. this is also absolutely wonderful and a bit less work! i might have to make one soon!

Spicy Bean Quesadilla

The Happy Mexican

There’s no accounting for cravings now is there? Mushed up kidneys beans, yeah that’s pretty much what I want right now, oh yes. So I decided upon a Mexican quesadilla with a nice spicy bean mixture in. It satisfied my craving nicely - even if it refused to photograph well - so I went photoshop crazy on it - sorry the photos are a state - but I didn't want to do them twice

Recently I have been using fresh tomatoes in sauces when I can, instead of tinned, which really gives the flavour a nice edge. They cook down faster than you think. Cooking tomatoes actually increases their anti-oxidant levels unlike most veg, which is great news. Lycopene the anti-oxidant found in tomatoes, is specifically known for decreasing the risk of heart-disease, happy Mexicans.

5 fresh tomatoes

4 spring onions

1 onion
2 cloves of garlic

Fresh thyme

1 tin of kidney beans drained
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 peppers roasted/grilled and skinned see here for instructions
Grated Cheese

Flour tortillas

Fry up your onion and garlic in a little oil until translucent. Add in your thyme and cayenne pepper, stir for about 1 min before adding in the chopped tomatoes and beans, stir until the tomatoes begin to cook down a little. Season. Turn down, cover and leave to cook for a 10 minutes or so.
It’s done when the tomatoes are cooked down nice - it’ll be pretty thick, because you want a nice paste texture. Squish down the beans with the back of the spoon.

In a clean frying pan place one tortilla, add on top a layer of beany mush, a few roasted peppers, spring onions and some grated cheese. Top with another tortilla and give it a bit of a squash down. Place over a medium head - cook for 2/3 minutes, turn over (carefully) and give the next side 2/3 mins. Keep your eye on it or it’ll burn (not looking at anyone in particular here!)
Serve with sour cream with chives or guacamole (neither of which I had sadly) but it was still really good.

This would be great to use up some leftover chicken, or chili. Throw in whatever beans you like or have to hand, some courgette and corn would also work well. Fresh chilli's would also be great in the sauce or de-seeded as a topping

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Linguine with Chorizo and Shallots

Chef's secret

Lola had recently been reading 'Kitchen confidential' by Anthony Bourdain. In it he reveals the secret of delicious restaurant food, so wait for it - drumroll please........

It's Butter and shallots, so to put this to the test we devised this simple pasta dish - and by all accounts it was very, very tasty indeed. Maybe not the healthiest advice to follow everyday, but every once in a while, sure what's the harm.
4 shalots, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
about 10 slices of chorizo, chopped into squares
olive oil
2 tbsps creme fraiche
lots of grated Parmesan
S & P

Cook the linguine the way you like it. Meanwhile, saute the chopped shallot and garlic in a frying pan with a big dollop of butter until soft & translucent. Add the chorizo and cook until it has released some of its red oils into the pan. Add the cooked linguine to the pan with the shallot/chorizo. Stir in the creme fraiche, and another glug of olive oil and half the Parmesan. With a spoon and a fork, toss everything about until evenly coated. Season, and serve topped with the extra Parmesan.We're off to the Electric Picnic tomorrow morning, we may well be heading here for a few snacks during the weekend - looks great. If we're together enough we may even try to review some of the food.....we'll see

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Like they do in NY diners
Well truth be told - they probably only have potatoes and onions in common, but that's what sprang to mind when I was making them so that's what they're called. This is just another way to enjoy a big bowl of potatoes - and sure lash in whatever you fancy - meat, herbs, spices, cheese...

6/8 boiled new potatoes cubed
1 onion chopped in large chunks

3 cloves of galic sliced thinly
1/2 teaspoon of Cumin Seeds
1 teaspoon Poppy seeds

1 teaspoon of grainy mustard

1 teaspoon of honey
salt and pepper
grated cheese - optional

A few sprigs of fresh Rosemary

Olive Oil

Heat up you oil in a frying pan, then fry your cumin seeds and rosemary for 30 seconds before adding in the onion and garlic. Cook this until it starts to become translucent.
Then add in the potatoes and poppy seeds. Cook for a few minutes to heat through the potatoes. Then stir in the mustard, honey and seasoning. Cook this until the edges of your potatoes and onion start to blacken slightly. Top with cheese to melt it just before serving. This would be great with some nice red peppers, cauliflower or some roasted squash. Also would be nice to fry some chorizo at the start so that the spicy red oil could get into it all. Great as a main, or a nice side.