Sunday 24 August 2008

oohy gooey.

Look at this

I am in love. Chocolate mousse cake with black cherry. It was so moist it made a gooey noise when I put my spoon into it. Of course it was so rich that it needed to be eaten with cream. Well done Delizique.

A perfect tapas supper.

You know I love Barcelona. You know I love tapas. It is, to me, the perfect way of eating. Small plates, fingers, wine. What more do you need.

So, having received my first order (hurrah!!) of Pimentos de Padron from Delicioso

I set to. How very easy it is. A hot pan, a little EV olive oil. In they go, five mins later out they come. Little green bundles of joy. And yes, as they say every one in ten is a hot little bugger.

I will have to watch my wallet as I could see this becoming a weekly weekend ritual.

I then made some pan amb tomate.

I used day old bread from Mellis which I toasted under the grill, the more toasted the better as when you rub the garlic cloves on, they essentially disintegrate into the bread, then once the cut surface of a plum vine tomato is rubbed on followed by a drizzle of EV olive oil, and a sprinkle of Maldon you have the perfect accompaniment for

Manchego, Jamon De Iberico both from Mellis and some Aceitunas from Lupe.

Beautiful light IV

Saturday 23 August 2008

Cool frontage

I think we should go back to the old style shop fronts, they look cool.

Thursday 21 August 2008

Fancy smancy, in your pantsy ice-cream

I had been full of excitement when I spied these unusually flavoured ice-creams in Lupe. I thought they would go well after our spicy Chinese food. However, I think that I still prefer Cream of Galloway. I found the cardammon was way too intense and it's not a spice I like too much of anyway, the chili was just odd and the vanilla was like many other vanillas, just too sweet. Apparently the chili ice-cream has found a niche as an ingredient in the cooking of savoury dishes..odd I say!

Ah well..they still look pretty.

Wednesday 20 August 2008

Tuesday 19 August 2008

La Cucina

Bad cannoli. I am afraid to say. Eusebi wins hands down, or should that be "Hands up".

The shell was a bit soggy as if a day old and the filling was not the light sweet fluffy ricotta of the Eusebi cannoli, but some sort of white stuff that had the texture of icing sugar. It was all a bit disappointing especially as I had extolled their virtues to Choiti and Chris. Next time I should eat before I talk.

Monday 18 August 2008

Thai Siam II

I had met up with Chris and Choiti for a quick drink in Firebird before deciding where to go for something to eat. We all fancied Asia Style but it would seem that the two C's are jinxed when it comes to that place- this would prove to be the third time they would attempt to eat there only to find themselves denied. Where else then to satisfy that hot and savoury craving but Thai Siam.

We started with the good prawn crakers
followed by rather a lot of very tasty food.

My fav's the somtam closest and the chicken larb-very fiery hot!!

Then the mixed platter with chicken in pandanus leaves, chicken satay, spring rolls

The amazing tamarind king prawns big spicy gooey, definitely one to get your fingers messy with.

and then a whole lot of other very tasty stuff the names of which I can't remember the names of, as was a bit squiffy by then. From the looks of it, a chicken, chili and cashew stir-fry, a duck curry and a red curry. We ordered way too much and there were enough left overs for us all to take some home for lunch the next day.

Saturday 16 August 2008

Kung Phao and Vietnamese salad

Feeling very guilty the day after the cold sesame noodles I tried to even out the balance by making a healthy accompaniment to the Kung Phao, of which I made a fresh batch. Vietnamese stylee salad fitted the bill.

I don't know how authentic this is as it's not from any recipe in particular but conjured up from that odd place, my brain. It's quite easy to make, even more so know I have one of those Julienne things from Lakeland. Hurrah!

For the dressing I put

juice of 1 lime
1 long red chili sliced
fish sauce
chopped spring onions
Chinese rice vinegar the clear stuff
and some soy sauce.

I usually muck about with the quantities to suit my taste, I know some folk add some sugar but I can't tell the difference, I prefer quite sour, hot dressings..

The salad itself can be whatever you have but I like red onion, cucumber, carrot bean sprouts all sliced into strips. To this I add some fresh Thai basil leaves and some crushed up peanuts if there are any in the house.

Salt & Pepper prawns

Feeling a bit jaded with regards to the eating opportunities to be had in Glasgow, I feel the cooking urge to be strong in me, so continuing on the Asian theme I thought I would try my hand at Salt and Pepper prawns.

I love these. These are one of my favourite things to eat at Asia Style. They are big, perfectly cooked, slightly crunchy with a lot of heat and of course salt. Yum Yum. So, hoping that I could even replicate half the taste I searched for a method and this one for Gastronomy Domine seems to result in what I am looking for. I headed to the fishmongers on Byres road to be astounded by their prices £29 per kilo for king prawns shell and head on, £49! for the same prawns head and shell off. No thanks, thought I and promptly headed off to

which is where all the proper foodies by their fish. I was reassured by the long queue I had to join and tried to take a photo of the still wriggling langoustine but felt too self conscious! They have everything, fresh in that morning- mussels, queen scallops, crayfish, langoustine, not to mention lots of fresh fish including two huge turbot were situated in front of me. I got similar prawns to the other place for £15 per kilo.

Now these are prawns. Pepe would be proud. Or would he? I suppose I am talking about eating his relatives... oh well.

Once home I then needed to peel and de-vein the prawns, a task which I am ashamed to say I had not done before. However, I found this handy video on youtube which explains a rather nifty way of doing it which means you don't end up butterflying -or massacaring the prawns to bits. The veins:

Initially I thought I was doing it wrong but then on my third prawn out came the thin black sand vein, I reckon the first two had empty veins which is why couldn't see them.
Once peeled and de-veined you give em a wash

then toss them in the riceflour/salt/pepper mix.

Then into a hot pan.

I found that it was possible to cook the prawns and get them crispy without using too much oil. Bonus! Once the little beauties are done you then fry off the tasty mixture of garlic, spring onions and red chilies.

When the onions are soft you then sprinkle the fiery savoury mix on top of the prawns and stand back in admiration.

I didn't stand back for long before diving in with both hands, they were good. Finger licking good, and worth all that fannying about with the sand veins.

What I did find was that the white pepper I used has quite a distinctive taste so next time I might use equal parts of white and black pepper. I also has smashed up my Schezuan peppercorns before toasting them and this allowed for little nuggets of heat to stick to the prawns. I also put some chili flakes in and would add more next time as both HI and I though they would be even better, hotter.

Friday 15 August 2008

Cold sesame noodles and Kung Phao chicken

I don't know if it was our trip to Ho Wong last week or that fact I watched "Chinese food made easy" but I felt like cooking something Asian tonight. I thought "Chinese food made easy" was not that bad, but it seems to have annoyed a lot of people on various food boards. It would seem that a smiley photogenic woman cooking "chinese" food for the masses is worse, than no programmes on the topic at all.

Anyway, I sifted through my recipe box (filled with recipes torn out from magazines and newspapers) and got HI to pick one dish whilst I, the other. For some bizarro reason I felt the urge to make cold sesame noodles, believing that HI deserved some carbs. Later on I was to discover that his love of carbs was fickle, but by then the damage had been done!

Back to the recipes. I found a recipe for cold sesame noodles from the New York Times and one from Epicurious. The main difference being that in the latter the ingredients are cooked,

in the former, raw

As you can see just by looking at them there is not much of a difference.

When I taste tested both I thought that the cooked one had a better, more multi-dimensional taste but when mixed with the noodles there was not a discernible difference. I finished the noodles off with some spring onions and chopped cucumber.

HI picked a Kung Pao recipe from the Observer Chinese food special a while back, but I felt the one I found on Rasamalaysia to be more authentic.
So off I trooped to Chung Ying one of the five Chinese supermarkets in Glasgow and the one that I prefer. I ended up spending £20 on some cupboard staples.
Dark soy
Light soy
Black vinegar
Sesame oil
Palm sugar
Sesame paste
Chili and garlic paste
Chinese rice vinegar

and some combustibles- Chinese chives and Tsingtsao.

Thus armed I set to.
It became apparent that the sesame noodles whilst being 'oh so good', also had the potential for being 'oh so bad' for you. Oil, peanut butter and sesame paste are all things I normally avoid but here I was asked to use all three, not in teaspoons but tablespoons! I have to admit that this was like making creme brulee: once you know what goes into it, the eating of it is not so much fun.

I persevered however, only to be told by HI that he actually is not that big of a noodle fan and prefers rice! Bah. Ungrateful swine. I do however have to agree with him..

Anyway, he did like the Kung Pao although he noticed the absence of bamboo shoots and water chestnuts which were in the Observer version but not the Rasamalaysia one. No pleasing some people. This was pretty easy to make and relatively healthy. I think it is one, to perfect.

You chop chicken into cubes and marinade in

1 tablespoon corn starch
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 teaspoon oil

you then fry in a hot wok until half cooked.

Remove from the wok then add in the ginger and garlic, give it a quick stir then add in the chilies. Once the chilies give off a chili smell add in the partially cooked chicken. Give it another stir, then add in some crushed peanuts, after another stir add in the sauce

1 1/2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon corn starch

I added some Chinese chives which I had found,

but you can add spring onions.

It was very good. If I do say so myself.

Thursday 14 August 2008

Steamed pork in aromatic broth

Steamed pork in aromatic broth as lovingly described by Nige.

"This is not an easy piece to carve. I just do the best I can, cutting the soft meat away in pieces and laying them in a shallow bowl or deep plate. Then ladle the thin, aromatic broth around it. Serves 4.

2kg pork knuckle or spare rib chops, on the bone

10 spring onions

75g lump of ginger

4 cloves of garlic

2 tbsp groundnut oil

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp rice wine

1 tsp salt

3 whole star anise

1 tsp five spice powder

1 tsp crushed, dried chillies

a stick of cinnamon

a litre of stock

Fill a large pan with water, add the pork and bring it to the boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes, then lift out the pork, set aside and discard the hot water.

While the meat is simmering, trim the onions: remove the darkest part of the green stalks and discard, and chop the rest. Peel the ginger and cut the flesh into 'matchsticks'. Peel and finely slice the garlic.

Put the pan back on the heat, then add the oil. Warm it over a moderate heat then add the spring onions, ginger and garlic, and leave to soften, stirring so they do not colour. Lower in the piece of pork. Add the sugar, soy sauce and wine, salt, star anise, five spice powder, crushed chillies, cinnamon stick and then the stock.

Bring to the boil.

Once the stock is boiling, turn the heat down so that the cooking continues at a comfortable simmer, then cover with a lid. Leave to cook gently for an hour, checking occasionally that there is plenty of liquid left in the pan.

Turn the meat over, so that the other half is now under the broth, cover, and let it continue cooking for a further hour."

As you can see you meat fell off the bone and was left in a hot light broth that went well with fresh boiled rice and a cold beer. Healthy and tasty.


I have often pondered on the Michelin rating system. Wondered if it is possible for the same dish to be discernibly different from a 1 star place to a 2, and so on.

Part of my cynicism is that having been to one 2 star, and a couple of 3 star restaurants and I have left these places wondering if I missed something. I think fellow foodie's refer to it as the emperor's clothes effect. All hype no substance.
However, I have come up with my own barometer to try and make sense of the guide from across the water, and this is how I think it goes. (*indicates 1 star already)

One star to me would be
La Trompette*
Michael Caines at Abode
Hotel Du Vin
No 1 at Balmoral*

And controversially, Alkimia* (which has one star), would not even make my list, purely for that fact I did not like the meal as a whole and have not desire to return, whilst in no way doubting the technical skill and imagination that was shown in the execution of said meal.

Glenapp sits somewhere between these two.

Two stars to me would include
Martin Wishart*
The Square* both of which currently have one but aiming for two.

The exception here is Andrew Fairlie** at Gleneagles which actually has two stars. We went last year and I left feeling that the Chef was not in the kitchen, if you know what I mean.

So then what would be my 3 stars?

Those that actually have 3 star ala Michelin include RHR***, Per Se***, Le Bernardin*** and Can Fabes***

At all but Le Bernardin we have had the tasting menu, and at all but Le Bernardin I have left a little underwhelmed. Yes even Per Se. Is Le Bernardin then my 3 star benchmark? I dunno, but no where else at that price has made me want to go back. No where else can make me drool at the thought of a starter like the Le Bernardin Kanpachi Tartare Topped with Wasabi Tobiko; Ginger-Coriander Emulsion..Yum Yum

The food is exquisite at Le Bernardin, and for an entirely fish orientated meal still remains one of my favourites in New York. So much so, that it is the only place that has made the list three years in a row, and this year a fourth. But it is also maybe due to fact we sit at the bar, despite having a table, and have struck up a relationship with the friendly barman who makes great cocktails. Some people criticise it for being seafood orientated, other people have criticise it for being staid, maybe they too should sit at the bar. Maybe it means even more, that, without all the pomp and circumstance, without the fleet of waitstaff, the food stands out to me on it's own merits.

So, thus far no 3 star has seemed worth it, bar Le Bernardin, but would it if we did the tasting menu? I am unlikely to find out as what we do there, already hits the spot. Maybe it is that I am just a 2 star kind girl or maybe it is that food can only be so good and that what you pay for in a 3 star is the service, the location and the hype. Maybe it is that food, the eating of it and pleasure experienced is a very subjective one, and that guides such as the Michelin are not for everyone and maybe not for me.

Tuesday 12 August 2008


Was the first local bar to succumb to the seemingly vogue penchant of being named after fictional characters, the other being Lebowski's round the corner.
I like Chinaski's for the mere fact they have a good rum selection and sell 1919 with fresh lime. They also do a not bad burger whose only fault was that it too had been sauced without my permission! Still it was tasty.