Friday, 30 May 2014

The Joy of Alfresco

There is something I have been meaning to bring to your attention for a while. Thats if you haven't already seen them.

Its an organisation called Kerb and they are here to bring you the best in street food.

They set up in different locations and the street food vans that they have on their books rotate through the venues. 

It makes such a difference to lunch rather than munching down on that boring old sandwich you've had ever day from Pret. No offence to Pret, I love their sandwiches, but really its not a patch on the amazing and varied grub you can get from these guys. 

For example...

Thai green chicken meatballs from The Bowler...

Or belly pork buns from Yum Bun...

Even the classic and awesome burger from Bleecker St. Burger!

They have several different venues and each venue has a rotation of the vans. 

So for example you can find a selection of 5 vans under the Gherkin every Thursday from 12-2pm.

It really makes such a nice change from the boring lunches.  If I'm free I have a long standing date with the lovely Siena as she works next to this little patch of food heaven in the corporate world and we sit outside in the sun and gossip on her lunch hour. I often see that one person who's been sent out from the office to pick up supplies for everyone!

They are also at Southbank and Granary Square, Kings Cross and UCLU 

Head to the website to see the full list of sites and traders 

They quite often do food festivals which we popped down one weekend to at the Southbank Centre. 

 It was also just another reason to try lots of little bits like these incredible pork buns from Bao 

and Annie Mae's Mac and Cheese 

There were so many other things on offer that its just not humanly possible to try everything, even though we gave it a good go.

So have a look on the website. If you have twitter follow them @KERB_ for finding out what vans are going to be where and what events they are holding. 

I urge you to go out, hit the sunshine when it arrives and have a little al fresco meal at least once a week. Fresh air is good for the brain, no?

On the 19th of July they have the British Street Food awards in Granary Square and I highly intend to be there to eat everything. 

Who's with me?

The Breakfast Club

If there is one thing I take very seriously, and I may have already mentioned perviously in my blog, it's brunch.

After a night of revelry Tilly Arione and I decided to head out to one place that could really cure us of all affliction and never fails to me a let down.

The Breakfast Club.

We pulled ourselves together and wandered through a sunny but ghostly quiet city to their Spitalfield branch, hidden on Artillery lane just opposite Liverpool Street station, and jumped in the queue with other brunch enthusiasts.

You can't book at any of their places but I can 100% assure you that the wait is worth it. 

The following photos are here to convince you. 

Our wait was up and we gladly threw ourselves into our pew and had a good snoop around the buzzy little place. It also harbours a few secrets.

At night there is a secret bar, hidden away through that Smeg fridge you can see. It leads to visiting the Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town and underground secret speakeasy bar, but thats a story for another time. 

Back to brunch and anything you could ever want for is here. Its almost a tough choice. 

So naturally I went for 2 options. 

First things first and that was ordered up some of their life enriching Bloody Mary's 

A virgin mojito for Tilly who couldn't quite handle more booze just yet. 

After a debate Tilly opted for the Huevos Al Benny

A mexican eggs Benedict with avocado, chorizo topped with the poached egg and a paprika hollandaise. 

Arione kept it classic and went for Eggs Benedict 

After ummming and ahhhhing over everything I went for the french toast with cinnamon stewed apples but only...

If Tilly shared a small side of the monster stack of pancakes and bacon with me. Which luckily she happily did. 

Look at that beauty.

With lashing of extra maple syrup too of course.

Look at those 2 little hungry hands tucking in.

I'd say these 2 faces are ones of happy customers, fully rebooted by the brunch, glorious brunch.

Honestly the Breakfast Club never fails to come out on top. Yes the queue is slightly annoying especially with a hangover but its just so worth it once you get inside.  

My one complaint was that when we came to leave, it took us about 20 mins to be able to pay, which is just plain frustrating. 

Square Meal

Dinner Party Impress

Cam has been dying to come round for dinner and I felt a great pressure to whip something up that he would be suitably impressed by.

So I turned to my favourite lady to help me out. The fantastic Angela Hartnett. (Who is currently on in the background judging The Great British Menu)

All of you need to get your hands on this recipe book. My copy is so used and she has every sort of idea from the more decadent to simple and delicious bowls of pasta. Totally my sort of cooking, no fuss, no overly complicated recipes, just really good food.

 Ive also had the pleasure of eating in her newest restaurant Hartnett Holder and Co in Limewood House, Hampshire. Before you ask, yes, it was as awesome as I expected it. 

 So anyway, back to the food. Like I said Cam needed to be impressed so I embarked on a recipe I hadn't actually used from this book, but I had no fear. I have actually tweaked it a touch though. Sorry Ange. I promise that it is really easy with a great outcome, though you will need a magi mix or some sort of blender for it. 
I also doubled the original recipe to feed 5 of us, plus leftovers and Im pretty sure they were chunkier fishcakes than she expected, so if this is for 2 half the quantities.  

You will need: 
1kg of white fish, I used haddock 
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce 
2 tbsp red curry paste 
4 tbsp chopped coriander 
4 spring onions 
2 eggs 
Good large pinch of dried chilli
Juice and zest of 2 limes
Panko (Japanese) Breadcrumbs 
A bit of plain flour 
Some more eggs to coat fishcakes 

For the dipping sauce:
 4 tbsp honey 
2 tbsp white wine vinegar 
1 and a half small onions, finely diced
4 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp chopped mint

 Start by making the dip. I wasn't going to but Im so glad I did. The bowl practically got licked clean it was so good, a sort of sweet chilli. Never doubt Angela.

Put the honey in the a small pan with the vinegar, finely diced onion and ketchup, bring to the boil then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Add the fresh herbs just as you want to serve it. DONE. See easy as pie. 

Turn your attention to the fishcakes. Put all the ingredients into the magimix, bar the breadcrumbs and flour.

I just chopped up the fish to make it a bit easier for the machine.

Use the pulse setting to get a thoroughly mixed yet chunky mixture that looks a bit like this.

Not hugely attractive I will admit.

Thats it. All you now have to do is make the actual fishcakes.
Before you start pop your oven on to 180 degrees.

Now make the patties 

Now this is where I deviated slightly from the recipe, I made hearty chunk fish cakes and then breadcrumbed them to give them a nice crunchy exterior.

To do this first coat the fishcakes in flour, don't go mad! More like a light dusting. The pop them in the egg, and finally coat them in the breadcrumbs. 

Et voila. If you find the fish cakes are a bit wet and you are worried about them falling apart, just pop them in the fridge for a bit or even the freezer to firm up. If you were doing this in advance you could always just stop at this point.

Now fry them gently to get that lovely golden colour. 

And then finish them off in the oven for about 5 mins. 

I served these little babies up with some buttery minty new potatoes and salad.

Fruit bowl - optional 

They went down a storm! Plus they look really great too. 

We munched and drank our way through another successful dinner. 

These are the perfect things to make, as you could do them in 3 steps and well in advanced too. Prefect for the busy working person to wow people after work! 

They would also work very well as a starter, just serving one on a bed of watercress with a swish of sauce round the side. 

Pud came in the form of white chic chunk fudge brownies and ice cream. 

I mean we had salad with mains! We had to bulk to out somewhere! 

Many more dishes to be tried and tested Cam, when are you next free?