Sunday, 27 February 2011

Seafood in Tenerife

Eating fresh fish while overlooking the sea has to be one of the best things life, and it's what I've been looking forward to a lot before this holiday - sitting in the sun, sipping wine, feeling the sea breeze, and trying all the lovely local fish. In Spain, it's always a mixed platter, so this is what we ordered in Los Abrigos, Tenerife. It's a fishing village that was recommened to us by a local, and we found it just in time. We entered it from the wrong side at first and ended up coming across a moron who thought it was funny to kick a kitten under our car, which is enough to put anyone is a bad mood, and as we had a touch of cabin fever anyway from being in the car too long (well, I did anyway),  this was a disastrous turn of events that would have ruined the whole day had we not found the beautiful bay and tasty food. If you ever want to come here, you need to come off at the roundabout towards "Playa de Los Abrigos", park around there, then walk back into the bay

There's literally one fish restaurant on top of another round here, we chose the one down there, so that's the one I'll recommend. At first, they take you inside to show you everything so that you can choose and order straight away. We thought a platter for four people would be way too big, but it was all so delicious that we ate every last morsel
The kitten was fine, by the way, because we managed to break, and give the moron all the appropriate gestures. I don't know if the kitten even knew what was going on, but I like to think that it has learnt a valuable lesson to stop being friends with morons. We've all been there, as my friend Hannah would say

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Indonesian fried rice

My friend, Dan, cooked a lovely dinner for me on Sunday night. It was an Indonesian dish, which he said is called something like "Cow Pat" - nice. I said that if it was good, it would feature on my blog, so being the competitive boy that he is, he did an amazing job, and so here we are...


350g long grain rice, soaked in water for 30min and drained
2 tsp salt
650ml water
50ml vegetable oil
2 medium onions chopped very finely
2 red chillies
1 tsp blachan (dried shrimp paste)
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
175g cooked prawns, shelled
175g cooked lamb or beef, sliced
2 tsp soft brown sugar mixed with 1 tbsp treacle and 2 tbsp soya sauce

Cook the rice in the water with some salt. Cook the onions in some oil until they are golden. Dan said that the main thing about this dish was slicing the onions very finely, and to keep stirring them when they are frying, everything apart from that is pretty straight forward. Add the chillies, garlic, coriander and blachan. Blachan might sound like it's hard to find, but you can find various versions of it in asian food stores - just ask for dried shrimp paste. Stir in the prawns and meat and fry for a further couple of minutes. Stir in the rice, soya mixture, more salt. Turn the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. It can be eaten like this or with a fried egg or omelette on top. This recipe makes a massive pan, about 6-7 servings at a guess, so great for having mates round for a chilled night in

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Ackee and Saltfish

I've never cooked West Indian food before. I don't know why that is, because I do love it a lot. So when a guy at work suggested I try to make ackee and saltfish, I took it up as a bit of a challenge. I think I did pretty well - he said I did anyway, but maybe he was just grateful for the snack... I researched a few recipes beforehand and questioned him about his mum's special ingredients, because every mum has some tricks up her sleeve and that's where all the most important cook's secrets are kept (it's 'season all' by the way). The recipe down there serves 4


1 tin of ackee
350g good quality saltfish
Small onion
1 scotch bonnet pepper
1 red pepper
3 tomatoes
1 tbsp all purpose seasoning
Vegetable oil

To serve:
Boiled rice
Fried plantain

Soak the fish overnight in cold water, then flake, taking out any stray bones. Fry the chopped onion and scotch bonnet pepper in some oil - I wouldn't use more than 1 pepper, it was pretty spicy (luckily, that's how I like it). If you want a milder dish, start with a half - they're fiery little things! Add the 'season all' and the flaked fish. Stir. Next, the red pepper, and after a couple of minutes, tomatoes, followed by the drained ackee. Simmer all together, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20min. Finally, season with black pepper and serve on top of boiled rice. I had some fried plantain on the side dipped in (ridiculously) hot pepper sauce. Unsurprisingly, the whole thing ended up so spicy that I was crying and could barely breathe. My brother was like "What on earth are you doing to yourself?!". What can I say? I think I may be a masochist

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Mamuska in Elephant and Castle

There's a few things that I want to write about, but as this is where I went to eat tonight and it's fresh in my mind, I'll start right here. Mamuska is a canteen-style place, where you order at the counter and come pick your food up when they shout. It feels a bit like being back in communist Poland - in the homely, friendly, nostalgic way, rather than the paranoid, cold, empty-shelved way...

I've been to most of the Polish restaurants in London and Mamuska is definitely one of the better ones. It  doesn't serve the wide variety of Polish food that I wish was represented in the UK, but it's cool and cheap with tasty food. Of course, you can't compare it to somewhere like Baltic (in Southwark), which is infinitely more varied, slicker and way more expensive. But if you put it next to Daquise (in South Kensington), then it compares favourably - the food is the same rustic, simple, traditional fare, and although there may be less choice here, the atmosphere is more interesting, and it's much better value for money

The borsht is homemade, which is rare nowadays, and I would recommend it, served with the croquette, as a starter. The "golabki", or stuffed cabbage leaves were delicious in themselves, but served in a sauce that seemed to be a blend of Heinz tomato soup and ketchup, which I found a little odd, but not unpleasant. The best thing, however, was the desert up there - pancakes stuffed with a sweet cheese mixture - something a bit like mascapone. It's one of my favourites, and was executed brilliantly. Well worth breaking my "no sugar" rule for!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Sugar-free maple flapjacks

I've been trying, and failing miserably, to give up processed sugar in January. I feel that I'm addicted to it, and I've come to point in my life where I'd rather not be addicted to anything. Being in my 30s has made me rather sensible it seems. Well, by comparison anyway. However, I've realized that life's a little sad without something sweet to nibble on with your tea, so I decided to experiment with some sugar alternatives last weekend

I made almond cakes with agave syrup and flapjacks with maple syrup. The almond cakes were tasty, and the agave syrup worked well, but they just seemed...(search fruitlessly for the appropriate adjective) a bit "meh" next to the incredible maple flapjacks. I clearly need to perfect that recipe. The flapjacks, on the other hand, they were something else - completely, unexpectedly glorious. I'm not just bigging myself up here, everyone that tried the maple treats has been enamoured with them and I had to promise I'd bring some more into work tomorrow. In fact, just a day after I made them, I've hardly got any left to bring, as my brother came over for dinner and took some away too. In short, a big success and I hope you try them! As usual with flapjacks, they're brilliantly easy to make


200g butter
1 cup maple syrup
3 cups oats
1 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup chopped dates

First, make sure you toast the sesame seeds on a frying pan on a very low heat, stirring regularly, in order to bring out their lovely flavour. When that's done, melt the butter in another pan, and pour in the maple syrup. Add all the dry ingredients and mix well. Transfer to a buttered baking dish. Bake at around 180 degrees C until golden - about 20min. Score while still hot, it will make things easier later. Happy February!