Thursday, 25 September 2014

Bundo-Lust


Bundobust is a collaboration between Bradford based, Great British Restaurant finalists, Prashad and  The Sparrow Bier café craft beer specialists. This amazing mix of authentic and fantastically tasty Indian street food and interesting pale ales and craft beers create a food destination. So much so, that when Tom and I headed home after a mini break 'farm sitting' in Northumberland, we had a super hankering for lunch at this place. It must have been all the fresh air. We were prepared to face thirty minutes circumnavigating the loop around Leeds and a fairly heated argument about lack of parking to make the worthwhile pit stop. This could only mean one thing - 'Bundo-lust'. Open since July 2014 on Leeds’ Mill Hill, we have visited three times and never failed to get our vegetarian Indian street food fix! The location is a super casual up and coming street near other trendy 'Friends of Ham' and 'Tapped' food and drink hubs, satiating around the new Leeds Trinity shopping centre.

Bundobust - refreshingly simple
 A simple décor of chipboard and shared bench seating makes the relaxed atmosphere of street food come to life. Posters of events and beer pairings/music events make you feel part of the food movement. The friendly staff are happy to help and knowledgeable about menu and beers alike. There is a genuine enthusiasm for upcoming menu changes and chef secrets, enough to excite any apathetic eater.

We made the choice to order 5 individual dishes from the menu to share and they each offered a assemblage of flavours, textures and satisfying comfort.




bundolust!!- street food
 From top left to right,

 MASSALA DOSA (gf)
  Mini rice crepe, potato & onion dry fry. Served with lentil soup & coconut chutney.£6.00

 
PAWA BATAKA (v, gf)
Rolled rice with peanuts, potato & mustard seeds. £4.00

 
BHEL PURI (v)
Samosa pastry, puffed rice, turmeric noodles, red onion, tomato & tamarind chutney.

£4.00
 

Bottom left to right
ONION GOBI BHAJI BHAJI (v, gf)
The ultimate bhaji. Onion, cauliflower & spinach.

£4.00
 

 
 BUNDO CHAAT
  Samosa pastry, chickpeas, potato, tamarind chutney, yoghurt & turmeric noodles. £4.00
 
 
Seriously good bhaji bhaji!

Bhel Puri and Bundo Chat -


Masala Dosa

Bundobust is not a self proclaiming restaurant. It is a casual extension of authentic Indian street wares which are so true to life and great to share. Tom and I were literally catapulted to a very memorable lunch on Mumbai, Chowpatty beach. All this washed down with Bundobust Coriander Pilsner, an interesting pint of refreshing tangy liquid at £4.20 a pint.

 
Street food Chowpatty beach, Mumbai


Me and Tom on Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai
 

Authentic Bhel Puri on Chowpatty Beach, Mumbai

 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Purple Heart Wedding Cake that Nightmares are made of!

First attempt at sugar flowers
 As tasty journeys go... this one had a happy ending but lots of sleepless nights in between! I have made a celebration cake before and iced it with rudimentary peach coloured sugar roses for my Dad's wedding. It was a nice way to feel part of the day and a gift I felt showed a level of support for my Dad's happiness on that day.

It was quite a different sense of pressure however, to put myself out there and commit to making a three tier wedding cake for 150 people at a wedding where Tom would be joint best man and at the center of proceedings. We had both agreed that wedding cakes were exceptionally expensive when having a conversation about how the plans were going for our friends, and so Tom had suggested to Rob and Zoe that I made a cake. After all... I had done it before.

I couldn't even find a closeup picture of the cake I made all that time before, and so I thought I had better get some practice in. I created a mood board with Zoe and spent a couple of afternoons messing around with some fondant icing. The results were cute, but no where near what I needed them to be!

So I sought professional help with extra classes at college. With the cake decoration tutor 's assistance, I managed to ice a wooden lump with a level of precision that would rival an elephant. But nonetheless, not a bad attempt. I decided against this technique though as it was not the nicest icing to work with.

First attempt at royal icing
 Then came further help with books and advice from another friend from work, Jenny. We spent a few hours chatting and making individual rose petals in tinted sugar paste which led to some much better results. Confidence was building, I had also settled on the layers of cake. A fruit cake base, a lemon sponge with lemon curd, a chocolate and passion fruit top, but I had promised Zoe a purple heart laid on it's side. Hmm, that should be fine...I'm sure.

Sugar flowers and leaves for wedding cake

Well it was not fine! I took the advice of the lady in the cake shop and wrapped a polystyrene heart in clingfilm, before icing with purple fondant. Disaster and a sleepless night followed! But never fear, there is always a friendly hand and Hannah and her cake whizz mum, Pauline came to rescue me and offer some technique advice to get me back on track. We also made a little dog figure to represent Charlie dog, the farm yard lassie who chases alongside Rob's land-rover on the farm. A firm character and part of the family! This cheered me up and put me back on track!


Purple polystyrene heart, covered with a little help from Pauline and Hannah!


 Then came the icing and doweling which was the least challenging part of the whole thing. Piping tiny dots was relaxing and satisfying.

Piping and icing in full swing

Transporting the cake in sections was the next challenge. Tom's speech recounted a horrendous experience on the farm with Rob, in which a cow had scaled a 6ft wall onto a busy main road, causing a lady to emergency stop and forcing her carefully crafted wedding cake into her footwell! I did not want this to happen to us. With this in mind, each groomsman had a layer safely in their clutches the whole drive to Bolton Abbey. At one point the Groom's button had made an impression on the icing and there were a few dots to be glued back on, but disaster was avoided. Phew!

Smoothing is not as easy as it looks
I dusted the flowers with shimmer and under Pauline's advice, I steamed them to set a sheen on the powder which really brought them to life.

Finished and dusted flowers. Thanks Jenny for the hints and tips.

I swear I was more nervous than the groom when I came to assemble the cake on an insufficiently stable table. Despite Mini-Zoe making a dive from the top, I positioned the perfectly resembled figures she had given me on the top with Charlie dog and arranged the flowers strategically between the layers.


Finished three tier wedding cake with leaning purple heart

Dusted sugar flowers
 All in all, despite the fact I was an utter nervous wreck most of the week, I was really pleased Tom and I could offer Rob and Zoe a piece of cake made with love to celebrate their fabulous wedding day. It was never going to be perfect in my eyes, but it really was a pleasure and despite my fuss, tasted a treat too! Not long until I have it all to come again for Tom's mum's big day. Those cakes are already being fed a hot toddy or two in preparation!

Happy wedding party at Barden Tower, Skipton on the wonderful sunny day!

Monday, 7 July 2014

Gloucester Services and Farm Shop

Airy and light, farm shop services- Gloucester
You may think I have reached a new low. Certainly, spending ten minutes describing an English motorway service station is not something I ever thought would be a great past time. But I was so blown away by the simplicity of the values at this site on the M5 Northbound. I am surprised no one has thought of this before now. The recently opened Gloucester Services are an inspirational change to the overpriced desperation shopping you usually do on a long journey and more like somewhere you might actually drive to, just to do a spot of shopping. The place was a real treat on the journey from Bath to Harrogate. I am always partial to a farm shop and interesting regional delights and clearly this has been noted as a popular trend for a large enough portion of motorway users. Instead of a soggy prepacked sandwich and a cup of rubbish tea in a paper cup, we nibbled on some pork jerky, fresh asparagus spears and a delicious aubergine and lentil salad. It was easy to make healthier choices amongst the delicious produce.
Gloucester Services, (and the cute piggy on the sign) offer the motorway haven we have all been waiting for. On investigation, it seems Gloucester is the younger sibling of the Tebay Services; the grounded and inventive Westmorland family's original venture in Cumbria. The community values of the offering and the feel of a local market make a huge difference to the enjoyment of a long journey home.

Local produce found on the map


Cakes and bakery offerings - Gloucester farm shop services.
 
As we hadn't taken a picnic of regional delights in the car with us, we could not have dreamed of a better spread of genuine produce right when we needed it most. Fresh vegetables, blissfully baked bread, locally grown fruit preserves and handmade sushi are just a sample of the delights on offer in the shop.

Freshly baked artisan breads - Gloucester services

fresh salad bar - Gloucester services

Summer delights, tasty treats- Gloucester services

 You can browse a market style display of cheese and meander past the busy butchers, complete with a hanging meat fridge display.


Grab a butty made with local baked bread.

Deli style crusty bread butties and wholesome homemade dinners can be enjoyed on an outside terrace overlooking a relaxing pool of moving water. Local designs are found on gift ware and an array of kitchenalia ensure you are not tapping your feet impatiently while waiting for your travel pal to return from the loo. I highly recommend stopping to stretch your legs at this amazing and unusual rest spot! I only wish I had thought of it first.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

London- Borough and Maltby Street Markets; A feast for the eyes!

Borough Market entrance
 
Walking towards Borough Market from London Bridge, the new artistic and industrial looking entrance to the well established food haven is quite impressive. It would be equally impressive if you just stumbled across it some how coming through the back streets and missed the entrance entirely but then this entrance and it pretty and organic seating areas, are a signal that this market is truly on the map. And with excellent reason. Even at the grand NEC Good Food Show in Birmingham, I didn't see as many wonderful delights. In fact the exotic offering of cheeses, ethnic preserves and fermented ingredients were far more inspiring than the endless boxy stalls and tasting crackers at the BBC events
.
Railway arches behind Borough Market
 
This felt like a true discovery. I could imagine the Londoners of old coming here and mixing with the most colourful of characters from around the world, selling their wares. It was historically and some may say heroically saved by a group of local vendors in 1755 after Parliament tried to close it down. But the passionate sellers would not let the tradition and local communities suffer. Now it is a hubbub of bizarre and intriguing foods which resonate the current trends and no doubt create new trends in British and world food. 


The maze of stall holders spills out into the streets of Southwalk and the atmosphere is one of excitement. Open for lunch Mondays and Tuesdays and then for the full market Wednesday through to Saturday, you could spend a lot of money here getting fat!

 
Following our discoveries over the south bank, we also visited a fairly new offering in Bermondsey. Maltby Street hosts a narrow and lively foodie market which has very unique and knowledgeable, artistic food vendors and hosts a more bohemian atmosphere.
There are panna cottas to die for (coming from someone who doesn't like jelly).
This market has piggy backed on the nearby Monmouth Coffee roasting shop which previously opened to the public on Saturdays. Now more archways at Spa Terminus SE16 open up to the public to share experimental food and drink. We opted for a bloody Mary from one of the popup café bars hidden amongst a junk filled railway arch. The hotchpotch approach to seating means you have to cosy on up to your neighbour, but the feeling that there was an Alice in Wonderland approach to this claustrophobic huddle of patrons meant I enjoyed it very much.


 
But if you thought this was just a bunch of trendy types jumping on the food bandwagon, you'd be wrong. There were some seriously technical wares on sale. One stall sold the most amazing smoked salmon and the vendor was happy to discuss his processes.


The same applied to a stall selling an exceptional range of charcuteries; I was amazed by the craft of salting, preserving and curing meats while creating imaginative combinations which included flavours such as rabbit, juniper, blueberry and even donkey!



I really enjoyed both markets for their individual offerings and liked both for their diversity and courage in offering. Maltby was a little more fun...there was alcohol involved for one thing, but it felt more like a well kept Saturday morning secret. I have no doubt it is very well known and established to locals, but may lose it's charm the more popular it becomes! 

Monday, 24 February 2014

Beetroot Risotto with Grilled Mackerel

Another educational day at college resulted in a really delicious and vibrant healthy dish I simply had to share. Preparing the fish as shown in the video below, does not need to be messy and is really easy when you know how! Buying whole fish from the supermarket or fish monger means you can use the bones for stock and pay a little less for the privilege of self preparation. Not only does fish provide as much protein as meat, oily fish like mackerel contains vitamins A, D and Omega 3 essential for healthy joints and useful for weight loss.
Quality points include bright, unclouded eyes, bright gills and firm flesh in which pressing impressions disappear. No bruising, abrasions or bad smells should be apparent when choosing your fishy!


Grilled Mackerel and Beetroot Risotto

Ingredients

1 Filleted Mackerel.
60g Risotto rice
20ml White wine
60g Beetroot
10g Parmesan
15g Crème Fraiche
Knob of butter.


Fillet the Mackerel.

Descale the fish with the back of a knife into a sink, scraping from the head to the tail.
Place the knife in the hole under the belly and cut towards the head up to the fins.
Gut the fish using a finger to pull the innards out. Turn the fish onto one side. Go in at a diagonal angle just after the fin towards the head turn the knife and lay flat along the spine. Run the knife along the central bones which are soft. You should have a fillet. Repeat on the other side. Neaten the edges and run under cold water to clean up. Pat dry, cut scores into the skin side and rub with a little oil and seasoning.
For a slightly less fussy approach see the following link. Fin & Flounder

Grill the fish for around 5 mins on an oiled tray, skin side up until the fish has curled and the skin is crispy.

For the Risotto

Dice the beetroot and roast in a hot oven.
Finely dice the onion and fry until translucent but not browned.
Add the rice and fry for one minute until it begins to make a cracking sound. Add the white wine and reduce.
Add the vegetable stock in small quantities and stir continuously until all is absorbed.
Repeat until the rice is cooked but retains some bite.
Add the roasted beetroot, crème fraiche and Parmesan. A knob of butter at this stage lets the grains relax and creates a glossy finish.
The risotto must be moist and should not sit neatly in a shape, but should drop from the spoon and sit in a little risotto heap of deliciousness!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Golden Cinnamon and Flaxseed buns

These sweet treats are a real comfort food on a cold February Sunday. Washed down with a big mug of Yorkshire Tea, one is never enough! Refill anyone?
 

              Cinnamon and Flaxseed Buns
 
Makes 15 buns
 
Ingredients
 
110g butter
225g sugar
1 egg
300g plain flour
200ml milk
1tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp flaxseed
 
Method
 
Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add one beaten egg and combine then stir in the milk and flour.
Add baking powder, lemon, flaxseed and cinnamon. Mix together.
Place a heaped teaspoon of the mixture into bun cases, sprinkle with a little sugar and cinnamon mixed together to finish.
 
Bake @ 180C for 15-20 mins and cool on a rack before serving.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Back to School with a Knife and a Rabbit!

Chef knives
It was like my first day of school, but instead of a pencil case filled with shiny and carefully sharpened pencils, I admired my knife roll and the carefully selected knife purchases. A cooks knife, paring knife, small serrated blade, a boning knife and a speed peeler. I knew this set would grow over time but for now these blades were to be my pride and joy.When I started college back in September, I was apprehensive about the level of skill I would need to commence a Level 3 NVQ in Professional Cookery having not done levels one and two. We were given a ready steady cook challenge after our induction and I had gotten myself all worked up thinking this would be a test of creativity, skill and palette, like a master chef challenge. I knew from watching Greg Wallace's winces that this is not always a pretty experience. The trolley was finally revealed and I have to say my heart sank a mile; chicken, potato, plums, apples, lemons, salt, pepper, butter, cream, peas, eggs and seasoning. Hardly inspiring. Apart from seasoning, there was nothing to put a bit of excitement onto a plate, there was nothing to show flair and creativity. But then I realised this was a simple task, cook something simple, well seasoned and perfectly timed. It was a test of time management, working methods and basic understanding especially for those the tutors had not seen work before.
I made a pan fried butterflied chicken breast, cooked in butter and lemon zest. I served with enriched mashed potato (egg yolk and cream) and some tart plum chutney and crushed peas to garnish.

The feedback was good, well seasoned, well timed, hot plate, mixed textures. All the pressure was lifted. I could do this! Mine was not an epic disaster, it was actually quite good. But I was not expecting that the following week, I would be presented with a glassy eyed rabbit!

One year on from stoic vegetarianism and this little bunny was looking up at me all fluffy and showing the marks of its last moments. Although the initial discomfort was unaided by the funky smell of the innards and the fact I had to decapitate the poor thing, I didn't find the experience as awful as first thought. In fact, it was like an anatomy lesson.
I learnt key quality points to check - no bad smells, head and feet attached, eyes moist and not sunken. If hung, I learnt that hanging meat for so many weeks lets it rest and mature and the head should be removed. The liquid evaporates and the meat shrinks which intensifies the flavour and softens the meat.
The gamey flavour is well matched with fruit sauces for a rich flavour. Elderberries/blackberries/currants/loganberries/bilberries.
A rabbit gives 2/4 portions in which you could serve back legs with half the saddle or maybe half a kidney. Using the whole animal and different parts on one plate creates texture and variation in flavour.


To prepare the rabbit

Using a cooks knife, remove the head, feet at the joints. Pull the fur away at the neck and grip firmly pulling from head to bottom. Pull the skin off by pushing a finger through from neck to front legs and pushing forelegs back and through the skin. You can then pull down the back to remove the skin from the flesh.
Back legs and tail should be easier to push through the skin.
Ensure guts are removed.
Remove sinew tissue as this is fat that wont break down.


To portion

There are 2 main portions - back and front legs and the loin.

Using a boning knife, remove front legs close to the ribcage cutting through shoulder joint. Trim excess bits and neaten.
Dislocate back legs, open out and cut as close to the body as possible and through the hip joint.
The loins are designed to strengthen the back and allow movement and balance. Straighten the rabbit and using a boning knife, start at the top and go into the spine. The loin get thinner as you get further to the hind.


It is important to know the age of your game as it will affect how you cook it. Young game require s quick roasting at a high heat. Older game will be tough and will do better pot roasted or in a casserole.

We decided to use the rabbit in two ways. We produced a Tom Kerridge starter plate of potted rabbit with carrot salad and soda bread.

The potted rabbit requires confit legs which is a kind of braising in submerged fat (usually duck fat). Infused salting for 12 hours before allows moisture to be removed and impregnates the flavour. Juniper berries, star anise, bay leaves, herbs and salt. This is then washed off the legs, which are browned in pan to seal and caramelize the flavour and colour.

We cooked the legs for 1 hour 30 mins in a preheated 130 oven, sunken into the fat and covered with foil to prevent evaporation. The cooled confit legs were picked, put into a small portion sized pot and the confit fat is reheated, sieved and  poured over to cover. Not a healthy dish but rich in flavour.

We baked home made soda bread and served with a pickled carrot and dandelion salad.

Soda Bread

Makes one loaf

125g flour mixed with a pinch of salt. Add 1/2 tsp bicarb and 100ml milk.
Combine to a softened dough. turn onto a surface and knead for one minute. Cook in a dry flat pan with a damp cloth over let it brown and expand then turn once. Bake in a 200c oven for 15-20mins to finish. Tap the bottom and if it sounds hollow it is cooked. Cool on a rack.


And secondly we produced

Pan fried rabbit loin with blanched kale, swede puree and espagnole sauce with a pancetta crisp.

1 rabbit Serves 2



*Cook in the following order to make the most effective use of your time.

Espagnole sauce

30g four, 30g oil to create a brown roux. We used oil to get a higher temperature than with butter without burning. Keep it moving in the pan to cook out until darkened brown. Add 1tbps tomato puree and cook out again to remove bitterness. Too much makes the sauce red and you want the dark roux to shine through. Add blacked carrots, onions and leeks cooked in a skillet until literally black.
Add 500ml beef stock a little at a time to avoid lumps, simmer to reduce stock.
sieve through a fine muslin or sieve to remove impurities.

Dried Pancetta

Place between two heavy trays and cook for 8 mins 180c.

Swede Puree

Cut the swede into small even sized pieces and poach in milk. Cook by eye until softened. Add a little water to the milk so the proteins do not boil over. Add seasoning, thyme sprig and cover with a cartouche. Puree in a blender and season.

For the loins

We cut the loins in half and wrapped in pancetta. We pan fried for 3-5mins on a high heat to colour and leave a pink colour when sliced.

Blanch your Kale plate and serve.

Friday, 31 January 2014

The Royal Crescent Hotel - A Day to remember


 The day your older sister gets married has to be one of the biggest turning points in a girls life. Not only is your sister now a real grown up, but it means that time is ticking for you, too! As Jennifer is only a couple of years my elder, I have some food for thought going into my 29th year. A joyous day to remember was had in the most historic and glamorous town for rest and relaxation and in true Bath style, everything looked grand. Mr and Mrs Milligan decided that instead of spending a little bit of money on a large group of family and friends they would prefer to spoil the most important people in their lives and a close group of 11 of us headed down to meet the couple the night before the big day. Full of excitement for our wedding duties the following morning, the Ellory clan celebrated the last night of Jennifer's single status; gathered together in a fab apartment where we ate a huge Thai takeaway.

Mr and Mrs Milligan, Guildhall Wedding, Bath
After the ceremony, we were whisked off to the beautiful Royal Crescent,where we experienced an eight course taster menu reception at The Royal Crescent Hotel.

Bridesmaids, Guildhall, Bath

So this is the part where we were spoilt rotten. Not only was the food from the Dower House Restaurant imaginative and delicate in presentation, it was simply delicious and an amazing experience all at once. We were seated in the private Library room which of course offered us a different atmosphere and boasted a finely decorated fireplace and Georgian theme. Each course was discussed between the bride and groom and the Head Chef David Campbell who came through towards the end of the dinner and passed on his thanks for our compliments.

The courses were detailed on a special menu and announced with explanation on service. The combinations on offer were fresh and modern and made with local ingredients.


Apple, Parsnip, Smoked Eel, Coriander
Foie Gras, Pear, Gingerbread, Red Wine

Mackerel, Cucumber, Horseradish, Cavier

Menu and wedding favours

Lamb, Wet Polenta, Alliums, Sheeps Milk Gel

Not Bakewell Tart

Chocolate, Popcorn, Toffee
We were then served a mighty cheese board offering, which included a selection of local cheeses and quince jelly. Pausing for a breather between crackers, we also watched the cutting of the cake which was then bagged into sweet shop stripy bags for later!


Beautiful two tier fruit cake hand decorated by the Groom's Mum

Coffee and Petit Fours: Poppy and Lemon cake, Pistachio Macaroons

The Georgian Library Room, Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath
The most stand out course for me was the lamb which included braised lamb neck so soft and tender and sticky with rich gravy. It was even better served with lamb bon bon and fillet. The Not Bakewell Tart was an interesting twist on the usual stodgy cake with fresh fruity flavours.

I was overwhelmed with the day and will remember the dining experience for a long time to come. In particular, the service was impeccable and the intentions of the Bride and Groom to spoil and surprise were exemplified in their choice of reception.

A massive thank you to the Milligans and many congratulations to you both!!