Sunday, 12 May 2013

Great Mexican food in London...

For a long time I was lamenting the fact that it's hard to find good Mexican food in London.  My favorite places so far had been Wahaca (excellent), and Tortilla (decent imitation of a San Francisco burrito place).

But my new favorite is Mestizo.  We've been there a couple times and I must say it's very authentic, great food and drinks, nice atmosphere and good service.  What's not to like?

Best Full English Breakfast in the UK...

In 4 years of living in the UK I've never tasted anything like it.  The Lamb Inn, in Wartling, has by far the best full English I've ever had.

We stayed at this pub for some friends' wedding and it also has lovely accommodations.

Highly recommended!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

South of the Border...

Here's a little menu I whipped up the other night for my dear wife and me...

Ay que linda es mi esposa... 

The main course I got from a great cookbook called The South American Table ... it's a Chilean dish called "Pechugas de Pollo al Cilantro" (i.e., Chicken Breasts with Cilantro Sauce).  Cilantro is also known as Coriander in the U.K. and elsewhere.  Anyway this dish is super tasty.  

I'll let you buy the book for the details, but the gist of it is...

Put the chicken in some plastic wrap and pound it with a meat hammer; then marinate it with lemon, salt & pepper & stick it in the fridge for an hour.  Then dry the breasts with paper towels & fry 'em in oil, 3 mins per side.  Set aside.

Fry onions, scallions, garlic, oregano and cumin in a skillet for about 5 minutes.

Throw the veggies in a blender with some chicken stock and a bunch of cilantro.  Liquefy.

Then cook the breasts in the sauce for another 10 minutes until cooked through.  Toss in some chile powder, salt & pepper to taste.

I served that with some, as they say over here, "rice with bits," that I got out of the Rick Bayless book, "Mexico One Plate at a Time", which he calls "Arroz Mexicano a la Mexicana", i.e., Mexican Rice cooked the Mexican way.  He goes for some elaborate steps but it seems a fairly standard approach where you essentially fry the rice in oil, then set aside, then fry onions and garlic in the oil, then throw it all back in together and cover it with chicken stock, and cook it down.  The whole thing takes around 20 minutes.  I vary it by frying some bell pepper and fresh chiles with the onion & garlic.

Then, the piéce de resistance is the salad, which I learned from mi amigo querido Quique Cruz, who in addition to being a multi-talented musician / composer, is also a fantastic cook.  But as I recall he told me, like the pollo al cilantro above, this is a fairly typical Chilean dish.  What I love about it is that it's so incredibly simple.  I guess you'd call it "Ojas Romanas al Limón y Ajo en Aceite de Oliva" or something like that... i.e., "Romaine Leaves with Lemon Juice and Garlic Fried in Olive Oil".  Which is exactly that.  Wash leaves of Romaine Lettuce.  Chop some garlic and fry it in olive oil, until just brown and slightly crunchy.  Squeeze lemon juice on and pour the garlic with olive oil over eat.  Salt to taste.  Pop the leaves into your mouth, eating them with your hands like a snack.

Goes nicely with some Mexican beer!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Rinoko's Corn Bread

Our friend Rinoko Asami made this delicious corn bread for us on New Years Eve.  You can make it with meat or skip the meat and make it vegetarian.

I don't know where she got this recipe but if I find out, I'll give credit where credit is due.

Corn potato cheese (and meat) bread

1 large onion, diced
4 sprigs of spring onion, chopped
A pinch of salt 1 tbsp olive oil
★A packet (175 g) of Smash (instant mashed potato flakes)
★200 g cornmeal
★100 g plain flour
★20 g baking powder

●4 medium to large eggs, 5 if small
●4 heaped tbsp yoghurt
●3 heaped tbsp mayo
●100 mil olive oil
●300mil milk
●2 tbsp vege bouillon powder (Marigold Swiss Vegetable bouillon Powder)
●1/2 tsp black pepper
●1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 350g cheese (eg. cheddar, Gruyere, Emmental, whatever)

 1. Sauté onion and spring onion, with a pinch of salt, in a frying pan over a medium – low heat for about15 min, and set aside to cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix ★ well using a whisk. In other bowl or a jug, mix ● well using a whisk.

3. Grate cheese. Heat oven to 190 C or 170 C if heat assist oven.

4. Stir in cooled onion/spring onion into the bowl of ★ using a wooden spatula. Then, pour in the content of other bowl and mix well using wooden spatula. As mashed potato flakes absorb liquid quickly, try and mix as quickly as you can here.

 5. Transfer the mixture into 2 non-stick loaf tins or a 20cmx30cm baking dish (as in picture) and bake for 40 min.

Add bacon or skinned sausage meat or Turkish sausage or cooked ham when you sauté onion/spring onion. Make sure to mop up the excessive oil from meat using kitchen paper before adding. It will keep in the fridge for about a week.