Archive for September 2011


Spaghetti with ‘Nduja

September 30th, 2011 — 12:12pm

‘Nduja is a spicy, spreadable, Calabrian sausage up there with the trendiest of ingredients. For months I’ve resisted its porky charms, the only reason being that my only other experience with a (different) spreadable sausage (at a very popular East London restaurant) ended in 3 days of food poisoning hell. The very idea of spreadable meat made me queasy, until I came across a ‘nduja stall in Borough Market last week. The giant red lobes glistened seductively in the sunlight, I approached cautiously for a taste, then promptly kicked myself for being such a wuss and missing out on what is one of the most delicious pork products I’ve tasted in a very long time.

It is made mostly from bits of the head, super-charged with outrageous quantities of fiery red Calabrian chilli pepper (at least 60% according to some websites) which gives it the most intensely savoury umami addictive quality. You can just taste the sun in the bitter-sweet intensity of those red peppers. I can’t get enough.

It’s wonderful melted and scrambled into eggs, or used as a dip for bread (as the Calabrians apparently eat it). Tim Hayward likes it with crab. My favourite way to eat it is melted into pasta sauce, with or without tomato. Its power to enrich a basic tomato pasta sauce is second to none but now I prefer it stirred into just a little onion and butter; the sausage melts away to a hundred flecks of scarlet pepper swirling in heavenly porcine oil. Mixed through spaghetti, with just a squeeze of lemon, this may be one of the most perfect pasta sauces of all time.

Spaghetti with Nduja (some people say this amount of pasta should serve 2 people; I can eat the lot no problem)

200g spaghetti
1 generous heaped tablespoon nduja sausage (it will keep for months in the fridge, too)
Half a small white onion, finely chopped
A knob of butter
A squeeze of lemon juice
A few leaves of parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water. Meanwhile, melt the butter and soften the onions it. When they are translucent, melt in the nduja. Add a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper.

When the spaghetti is cooked, spoon 2 tablespoons of the cooking water into the sauce, then drain the pasta. Mix the sauce with the spaghetti and serve, scattered with the parsley.

33 comments » | Main Dishes, Meat, Pasta

Brockley Market

September 26th, 2011 — 10:00am

SE Londoners, listen up: a new food market has opened in Brockley. It will open every Saturday morning in the car park next to Lewisham College and I imagine it will fill a gap for local people, as that stretch seems a bit of a wasteland when it comes to food shopping. The market was really busy on the first day, with over 2000 people visiting. Here’s a little taste of what to expect:

Bacon sarnies from The Red Herring, a smoke house in Hackney. Thick-cut bacon, not over-smoked, inside sturdy yet light bread. The rind on the bacon did make it a little difficult to eat but I bravely struggled through.

The Brockley beekeepers were selling pots of their honey and had brought along a big box of bees. I assume this is part of the hive (I know nothing about bees). It reminded me of a museum I used to visit when I was a little girl; mum and I would spend ages trying to spot the queen who could be identified by the white dot on her back.

Stalls popped with verdant leaves and unusual varieties of vegetables; yellow tomatoes, cobnuts, tubs of edible flowers, unusual fungi and knobbly cukes that looked like The BFG’s snozzcumbers. Interesting salad leaves were sold loose so you could mix them up; young, tender, baby ‘neon chard’, rocket, land cress and sorrel so fresh (picked the day before) that it packed some serious citrus.

There were a few meat and cheese stalls and one guy selling fish; it looked very fresh but also pretty expensive – he was selling a kg of mussels for £6, almost double what I paid for these at the famous Soper’s in Nunhead recently (about the same price in Moxon’s on Lordship Lane too I think).

My favourite was probably the chilli stall, studded with rainbow spikes. Amongst the many varieties of chilli plant were unusual herbs I’d not come across before like ‘chocolate mint’ (it smells like chocolate and mint!) and pineapple sage (it really smells like pineapple!)

I did a little hop of joy when I spotted the naga chilli plant, complete with ripe fruits; I’ve become fixated on them after tasting The Rib Man’s‘ HOLY FUCK HOT SAUCE’. I’m going to harness me some of that special flavour. The chilli man himself was very helpful with tips and multiple warnings: “for a vindaloo heat, use no more than 1/8th of the chilli”. Yikes. He told me to “treat the plant mean” by letting it wilt, then reviving it with a little water; this keeps the heat in the plant as “water dilutes the chilli”.

And there she is, my very own naga. It’s time to take hot sauce to the next level.

I always wonder where all the young and yummy parents suddenly spring from. It’s like Peckham farmers market on a Sunday; I never see them shopping in Khan’s but the slightest whiff of an arabica coffee bean and they spring from the bushes in middle class ambush. There’s plenty of room for everyone here though and I can’t wait to see the market expand with even more stalls, as they are genuinely interesting. Not a painted plate in sight.

Brockley Market
Lewisham College Car Park, Lewisham Way, SE4 1UT
Every Saturday 10-2pm
http://www.brockleymarket.com/

Most of the produce comes from Kent or even closer (e.g. Brockley honey)

13 comments » | Markets

The Rib Man

September 24th, 2011 — 8:24am

I’d been meaning to visit Mark Gevaux, a.k.a The Rib Man for ages since a friend told me about him and then yesterday I happened upon him by chance on the South Bank. What a beautiful little bit of luck that was. He sells slow-cooked baby-back rib sandwiches, and we’ve had much discussion on Twitter about his reputedly spectacular ‘HOLY FUCK HOT SAUCE’. “You’re really speeding up”, my friend said as we approached the stall. Damn right – I’m getting me some tender rib meat in a bun. We’d eaten a bratwurst about 10 minutes earlier but I choose my friends wisely and she was more than up for round two.

Mark has been trading on Brick Lane for about 3 years now, since an accident cut his career as a butcher short. He was apparently a “speed boner” (don’t laugh) but circumstance forced him to think about his options and his ribs had always gone down well with colleagues. He started out just selling racks, but people were finding it a bit tricky to eat a rack of ribs on the go and kept asking for bread; eventually he decided to shred the meat off the bone and put it into a sandwich.

The spiced, melty (so melty) meat has the texture of classic pulled pork and he stuffs that bun to bursting with it (“some people say my rolls are too big…I’m not one of them”). You can choose from either BBQ sauce, regular hot sauce or HOLY FUCK HOT SAUCE. I tried the latter, obviously and oh my goodness me if it wasn’t the best damn hot sauce I’ve ever tasted. He uses my favourite Scotch Bonnets but also a small amount of Naga; one of the hottest chillies in the world. The sauce was, of course, hot but genuinely not too hot; just the right amount of tingle, hum and numb and the flavour, oh my goodness…incredible. One of the fruitiest chilli flavours I’ve ever tasted and something you don’t often get without knife-like heat. He could bottle that stuff and make a million.

I feel like the hot sauce is over-shadowing the ribs but they are at one with each other, trust me. The meat is just so juicy, with wibbly strands of fat preserved. For me, this is a rib meat sandwich stall rather than a rack of ribs stall as the name might suggest but what’s not to like? It’s a fantastic sandwich and as I’m sure I’ve mentioned about a hundred times, I’m very, very fond of a good sandwich.

The Rib Man is on the South Bank (next to the South Bank Centre until the 25th  and otherwise at Brick Lane on Sundays. See His Website for details. 

The Rib Man on Eat. St

 

22 comments » | Street Food

Figs, Feta and Hazelnuts with Pomegranate Molasses

September 22nd, 2011 — 8:07am

I saw this recipe by Stevie Parle in The Telegraph back in July and fell in love with the idea of combining figs, hazelnuts and pomegranate molasses. It’s just beautiful, in case you haven’t tried it. I’ve ramped up the sweet/sharp thing already going on with the pom syrup and figs by adding a little feta and some pomegranate seeds, for fleshy pops of juice. I also did away with the edible flowers because, unsurprisingly, they’re not that easy to find at 7pm on a Wednesday evening.

This took a few minutes to assemble and although it’s not filling enough on its own as a main meal, it is one of the most perfectly delicious ways to begin; a total triumph in the contrasts department.

Figs, Feta and Hazelnuts with Pomegranate Molasses (serves 1) (adapted from Stevie Parle’s recipe for The Telegraph)

3 ripe figs
1/2 a pomegranate
A little feta
Small handful blanched hazelnuts
A few leaves of lambs lettuce
1 scant teaspoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon light olive oil

Mix the pom molasses and oil together in a small bowl. Arrange the lambs lettuce on a plate. Halve the figs and add them also. Break the hazelnuts slightly in a pestle and mortar and scatter over the figs, along with the feta. Hold the pomegranate half over a bowl and bash the skin with a wooden spoon until all the seeds fall out (remove any white bits that fall in). Sprinkle a few seeds over the salad and eat the rest. Spoon over the dressing. Serve.

16 comments » | Cheese, Fruit, Gluten-free, Healthy, Salads

Mussels with Bacon and Punk IPA

September 15th, 2011 — 8:37am

Clack, clackity clack; I love the sound of mussels being stirred in a pan. It’s one of the best kitchen sounds in my opinion, up there with The Sizzle and The Plop. In fact, I don’t know why I’m not eating more mussels when they’re cheap (£3.50 per kilo from Soper’s in Nunhead) and they cook really fast.

I’m also drawn to them because they just love to be cooked with a bit of booze. I like that in my ingredients. A splash of white wine of course is essential in moules marinières but I wanted something different and one of my favourite beers immediately sprang to mind: Punk IPA by Brewdog. It’s an astonishing beer, really. The first time you drink it your eyes go wide with shock at just how different it is from all the others; at once bitter and sweet, it has a floral flavour that really works well with the mussels.

A big bowl of mussels is of course extremely good fun to pick through, made all the better by the knowledge that you’ve got a loaf of good bread to sop up those juices.

The very best thing about this recipe though, is that Punk IPA cans come in packs of 4, so you can drink the other 3.

Mussels with Bacon and Punk IPA

1kg fresh mussels
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 rashers thick cut smoked bacon, diced (get some nice bits of fat in there)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 can Brewdog Punk IPA (you can buy it from Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Utobeer in Borough Market for the Londoners. Also, online in bottles).
1/2 lemon
Small handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Crusty bread, to serve

Put your mussels in a colander and scrub them under cold running water to remove any dirt from the outside. Knock off any barnacles you can and remove any gritty beards by pulling them. Discard any mussels which do not close when you give them a sharp tap on a hard surface and also any that have broken shells.

Heat a little oil in a pan large enough to hold the mussels and add the bacon, onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring until the bacon is beginning to crisp up. Add the beer and some black pepper and bring to the boil, then add the mussels. Put the lid on and cook on a high heat for about 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake now and then, until the mussels have steamed open. Discard any mussels that don’t open.

Sprinkle with the parsley, squeeze over the lemon, and serve with the bread.

16 comments » | Beer, Seafood, Shellfish, Uncategorized

The eat.st Collective at The Thames Festival

September 10th, 2011 — 9:54am

Not sure what to do this weekend, Londoners? Get yourselves down to The Mayor’s Thames Festival, because the food is going to be special. The eat.st Collective will be there, hawking their wares all along the banks. In fact, I’d suggest skipping breakfast because there’s a ridiculous amount of amazing street food to be had, all in one stretch. So, the details from eat.st founder Petra Barran:

“The eat.st collective will be occupying two areas – one by Tate Modern and a smaller ‘splinter group’ by the Lord Mayor’s Office (More London).

eat.st has been recognised by the Festival organisers for its wide array of amazing food, as well as its dedication to the collective spirit of street food trading in the city. We aim to help transform the outside dining experience of London by promoting more interesting and personality-driven food on its streets.

Traders representing for eat.st will be:

Tate Modern
Luardos – Mexican burritos
Jamon Jamon – Spanish paella
Anna Mae’s – Deep South pulled pork and pimped up mac ‘n cheese
Churros Bros – churros
Buen Provecho – Mexican street food
Big Apple Hot Dogs – gourmet hot dogs
Bean and Gone Coffee – Monmouth coffee
Hardcore Prawn – new kid on the block doing amazing crab bisque, tom yum, char-grilled skewers

More London
Bhangra Burger – Indian spiced burgers with homemade pickles
Creperie Nicholas – Breton gallettes
Tongue ‘n Cheek – Italian street food using ‘under-rated’ cuts of meat (with salsa verde/mostarda in Wild Caper sourdough rolls)
YumBun – soft, pillowy steamed Chinese buns with Blythburgh pork”

The festival takes place on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September, 11am-11pm. Map of locations HERE.

Eat. st on Twitter and Facebook

5 comments » | Food Events, Street Food

Kofta Curry

September 6th, 2011 — 8:37am

I ended up making this curry because I woke myself up the other night shouting “MEATBALLS!” I am just as fixated on food during slumber, it seems. As a child, I’d often wake up clawing at the air above my head, trying to grab whatever cake/sandwich/biscuit/ice cream treat had been accompanying me in my sleep. That’s a cruel moment when you wake up and realise Dream Dessert only existed in your greedy imagination, I can tell you.

Anyway, this is a very nice little lamb meatball, or kofta curry. I based the spicing on a Madhur Jaffrey Curry Bible recipe but added more meatballs, swapped in some fresh green chillies, omitted a few things I couldn’t care less for and garnished with crispy onions. To make the meatballs really light, I took the apparently inauthentic approach of adding bread soaked in water; this is a trick I use with all meatballs you see, because it makes them LIGHTER THAN AIR, put simply. You can happily shovel away a dozen without feeling like you’ve eaten a bag of protein pebbles for your dinner.

If you make this, do try to get hold of the fat, wrinkled, black cardamom pods; they add an unmatchable smoky undertone to the curry. We ate this wrapped in parathas with a Gujarati carrot salad, raita and a fresh mango chutney.

Lamb Kofta Curry

450g minced lamb
3 small slices crappy, ready-sliced white bread, crusts removed
1 small onion, very finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 green chilli, finely chopped
A small handful coriander leaves, chopped

For the sauce

1 onion, finely chopped
A thumb of ginger, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
2 green chillies, finely chopped
2 tomatoes, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon tomato puree
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Pinch turmeric
1 pint veg stock
1 cinammon stick
2 black cardamom pods
2 green cardamom pods
5 black peppercorns

Put the slices of bread into a small bowl and cover with a couple of tablespoons of water until soaked through. Squeeze out the moisture using your hands until you have a little wet ball of bread. In a large bowl, mix all the meatball ingredients together (including the bread), using your hands. Season with salt and pepper.

Wet your hands and fashion your meatballs; the size is up to you but I like mine fairly small and I got 38 from this mixture. Refrigerate the meatballs for an hour, or as long as you can. The longer they rest, the better they will taste.

Put the garlic, chillies, ginger and 3 tablespoons water in a blender and blend to a paste.

Heat a couple of tablespoons groundnut or other frying oil in a heavy-based pan. When hot, put in the onions. Fry them for about 5 minutes until they are starting to colour. Add the paste from the blender and fry briefly. Add the tomatoes and fry until they are starting to break down a bit and thicken the mixture. Add the tomato purée and cook out briefly. Add the coriander, turmeric and salt. Stir for 30 seconds then add the stock and bring to the boil.

Add the whole spices to the sauce, reduce the heat and gently add the meatballs. Cover and let simmer very gently for 40 minutes, turning the meatballs around every now and then.

Garnish with crispy onions (if you wish) and fresh coriander (essential).

23 comments » | Curry, Main Dishes, Meat

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