A Mathematical Cakethrough

I’m training for a 10k run with a team from my work for which I was shamelessly lured in by the promise of free running shoes tailored to my specific needs as identified following a free consultation that would analyse my gait and stride in the performance centre. I liked the sound of it – it sounded like maths and science combining to make me an elite runner through free new shoes alone. However, I have since made an altogether different mathematical breakthrough, a numerical relationship if you will. And it is this:  the healthiness (h) of the food I consume at home (FCH) is inversely proportional to the day of the week (Dn)

Fig. 1Screen Shot 2014-05-27 at 22.41.54

Put another way, on day 1, Monday, I eat like Olympic running machine super Mo  – all protein and raw/steamed veg – but by day 5 on Friday it’s less like super Mo more like sumo – Patty & Bun burgers, kebabs (not the doner variety mind, local ocakbasi restaurant 19 Numara Bos Cirrik 2 on Stoke Newington High Street does the most incredible Adana kebab – juicy minced lamb shish marinated in Turkish spices and cooked on their charcoals before being wrapped up in a blanket of fresh, soft turkish bread) and of course anything combining pastry with…well anything.

The other week was a case in point. I started the week with a healthy salad for dinner. It contained mixed leaves, celery, radishes, beetroot, runner beans, cous cous, fresh mint, flat leaf parsley and smoked mackerel. Seasoned well and dressed simply with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice. It was delicious and looked like this.

photo 2

Super start to the week Salad

By Wednesday I was adding a load of chorizo to my otherwise healthy home made leftover vegetable soup. Again very tasty but this time I suspect the chorizo and all its meaty, fatty juices were largely responsible.

juicy meaty vegetable soup

Juicy meaty vegetable soup

Come Friday it was a full on fried platter for breakfast – eggs, chorizo (yes again, you know you love it too) halloumi, plantain, beans and toast. A gut-busting way to start my long weekend.

Friday's Fry-up

Fatty Boom-ba Breakfast

Luckily for my trousers there are only 7 days in the week. Back to the greens on Monday.

 

No Pesto Thai Beef Salad

I’ve got this friend called Debs who keeps saying to me: “I tried that dish on your blog the other night but hmmmmm……well……. I didn’t really like it”. This always leads to me suspiciously interrogating how she went about said dish and so far has always revealed that what Debs has actually made is actually a completely different dish – one that is only linked to my recipe by the fact that she looked at the picture and decided for herself what should go into it. Like the salmon pastry parcel for example: “Talk me through how you made it Debs” I ask only for her to start by saying something like, “So I coated the salmon in homemade pesto and then……..”

“Waaaaaiiit a minute. Whoa there! When did I say anything about your homemade pesto?” and therein lies the problem. Debs just likes to freestyle with her homemade pesto. So for this reason alone I am focusing this post squarely on the ingredients and the very simple process.

The Salad: 1/2 bag of baby leaf spinach roughly chopped; 2-3 large carrots grated, 3 spring onions chopped, big bunches of fresh parsley and coriander chopped, 1 sweet romano red pepper sliced, cashew nuts broken and toasted, 2 flat iron steaks seasoned well and cooked in a very hot dry heavy-based large frying pan medium to medium rare.

The Dressing: Olive oil, grated ginger, 2 cloves of garlic, 2 birds eye chillis, dried coriander leaf, salt, pepper, honey, fresh lime juice, nam pla (fish sauce).

Toss the salad ingredients. Mix the dressing ingredients well and pour over the salad. Toss again and serve. Resist the urge to add homemade pesto (Debs). Enjoy.

Thai Beef Salad with Brown Coconut Rice

Thai Beef Salad with Brown Coconut & Coriander Rice

 

 

Crumbs on The Table

Every year my favourite auntie bakes me a cake for Christmas as my present. It’s my favourite present for many reasons – one of which being that it’s the only gift I receive where I know I definitely won’t require Leo Di’o’s acting skills to hide my inner disappointment when I unwrap it (as I do with the novelty Christmas items bought from the crap end of Oxford Street that I often receive). But of course the main reason is that it is absolutely delicious. I’m not sure of exactly what’s even in it (have you noticed the recent trend of bus-travelling teens unnecessarily using and emphasising the word ‘even’ when it doesn’t ‘even’ need to be there e.g. What even is that? I know I sound old saying that but I’m feeling old at the moment as I just turned 39 and the spectre of 40 is a little distressing). Anyway I digress, I don’t know what’s in it but it’s dark, rich, moist and satisfyingly dense. A fruit cake seemingly with no actual fruit in it because in traditional Jamaican style the fruit has been soaked in Red Label Wine (Red Label Jamaican Aperitif if you’re looking in Tesco) and then blended to leave no trace but the taste before who knows what spices and extracts are added to the cake mix.

This year I decided to up-booze, so fed the cake with some Gosling’s Black Seal rum and left it for a few days. Black Seal is a relatively new discovery for me. Not a fine sipping rum like Angostura 1824 or Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva but a great rum for a Dark & Stormy – on of the Kitchen’s favourite rum cocktails – and an amazing rum it turns out to add to my Auntie’s Christmas Cake. Suffice to say I will be doing this every year from now on as it has taken the cake to the next level. I’ve pretty much wolfed down the whole thing in record time and have just 2 slices left. If i manage to get the recipe I’ll be sure to share it but for now you’ll have to make do with a picture.

Crumbs On The Table just like D-Nice once said.

Crumbs On The Table just like D-Nice once said.

Whoops – I’d been scoffing it down as I was typing this so only crumbs on the table to show you. Tasty!

Happy New Year Food Junkies

The exile is over. I’d like to apologise for my very shabby/sporadic blogging behaviour but I have good reason. Not long after my last post I disappeared to New York to visit my pal Bash, have a look around (it was 10 years since I was last there), buy some stuff (mainly clothes from European brands that I didn’t really need) and check out some of the NY food scene. I was particularly keen to go to Williamsburg, Brooklyn much to the annoyance of my lazy host who barely leaves Hoboken and was adamant that the 40 min PATH/6 journey was too much of a ball ache for a Sunday morning. He was also fearful that the chosen brunch venue would require queuing up: “I’m not queuing up for 2 hours for a pancake” [expletives removed]. So I set off alone and immediately found a queue to join outside Pies n Thighs, a little chicken and biscuits place on the corner of Driggs and S. 4th Street just over the Williamsburg Bridge. 20 minutes later I was sat at a table sandwiched between a pair of very attractive cousins and a trio of septuagenarians – both parties really interesting, very friendly and consisting of one local who had enthusiastically brought their guest(s) to taste the best chicken and waffles in town . The waitress, which I swear was  Big Bang Theory’s Penny, insisted that I try the Rob Evans – a buttermilk biscuit with two scrambled eggs, cheese and generously covered with sausage gravy. It was ridiculously flavoursome and suprisingly filling leaving me no room to finish the Pecan Butter Crunch Donut the Alicia Keys lookalike next to me had insisted that I try.

Rob Evans w/ Biscuit at Pies & Thighs

Good Evans! Pies n Thighs signature dish

I highly recommend you line up for 20 minutes if you get the chance and the experience punctuated a trip that took in all sorts of foodie delights from the best mexican street food I’ve ever tasted – Calexico’s SoHo lunch truck on Prince Street & Wooster Street does the most incredible chipotle pork carnitas – to the very touristy but must-visit Katz Deli who’s gut-busting brisket sandwich contains more meat in it than Smithfield Market.

Katz Deli's Brisket Sandwich

Half of Katz Deli’s Brisket Sandwich

Oh and it comes with a load of chips and a pickle on the side.

As you can probably tell I returned eager to tell you all about my gastronomic discoveries but a couple of days later I started a new job working on the launch of London Live, an exciting new channel for Londoners launching this forthcoming March. To say I hit the ground running would be like describing Usain Bolt as fairly quick. Like many of the team I’m not sure I have ever been busier. But the good news for you is that the new year has inspired Bernie’s Kitchen to post more frequently and the even better news if you live in London is that one of the first shows we’ve commissioned is a brand new noisy food series called Food Junkies that will uncover the best of London’s foodie secrets and the interesting characters that have contributed to London’s status as a global culinary capital on a par with cities like New York . Happy New Year peeps and make sure you check it out.

Super Salad for a Not So Super Tuesday

Today was a little bit rough. My sister suffers from depression and the last seven days have seen her feeling really low and struggling to cope with the everyday activities and chores that we all take for granted. One of those being taking the time to prepare and sitting down to eat a decent meal at least once a day. So having spent a very emotional day with her she has come to stay with me for a couple of days and I wanted to cheer her up this evening with my version of a superfood salad we both opted for the other week at The Riding House Cafe on Great Titchfield Street – a top notch joint a brief canter away from Oxford Circus for great lunch, brunch or in fact any kind of munch.

As Yotem will tell you, being a salad it’s a doddle to knock up and only uses one pan so easy to wash up afterwards too. Chicken breast fillets cut into strips seasoned and marinated in olive oil, tarragon and garlic for 10 minutes then chucked straight into a very hot griddle pan to which squash (cubed), zucchini (strips), cherry toms (halved) were all added in that order. The whole lot was tossed into a bed of watercress, baby spinach rocket, spring onion, chopped parsley and cous cous all liberally drizzled with olive oil. Finished with an extra pinch of rock salt and a l’il twist of black pepper. I’m pleased to say that the day has finished better than it started and my sister really enjoyed sitting down to tuck into a decent (and healthy) home-cooked meal for the first time in a while. I hope it cheers you up as much as it did us.

Superfood salad (bad shot the blame of fatigue)

Super close shot of super salad

Curry Weekender

So yesterday whilst at some friends’ house I had a Goan Salmon Curry from their North London take-away favourite The Tiffin Tin. As  a new menu item described as the ‘chef’s speciality’ it was highly recommended by the kitchen and true to its claim, it was damn tasty and so is now recommended by Bernie’s Kitchen too! The memory of this delicious salmon made it all the more depressing when on the cycle round to my mate Adam’s flat this afternoon he announced that he’d made a curry. Hmmm. It’s not that back to back curries is a problem (just like buses…you wait for ages and then two korma-long at the same time – weh hey!), but more the fact that the last time I tried one of Adam’s curries it tasted like something Uncle Ben would have sent back. However, the invitation was accompanied by boasts of having “finally mastered authentic Indian curries” so I thought what the heck – in for a paneer in for a pound (boom!). Here it is….

adamscurry

Adam’s Basic Chicken Curry with Bombay Aloo

…Oh and it was amazing. Despite the underwhelming name ‘basic chicken curry’ he gave it when I asked him what it was, it was probably the most authentic-tasting curry I’ve tasted at anyone who isn’t Indian’s house. Loads of flavour, the perfect heat and delicious bombay aloo to go with it alongside the dash of yoghurt and fresh coriander garnish. Take that Uncle Ben.

 

Pastry & Everything is Good

Yes indeed, pastry and pretty much everything is good with me. Meat and pastry is the king  (I’m known for scoffing M&S sausage rolls on the train ride home – if 2 of 6 make it to my fridge they are very lucky indeed), but generally you can’t go wrong with anything and pastry – vegetables, fruits (especially, apples, pears and cherries), custard.

A recent favourite is pastry and salmon. It’s really easy to prepare and compelled my dinner guest into trying to pass me with a clunky two-handed backhand of a compliment –  “I’ve noticed you’ve got much better at cooking over the last 2 years” – which was his way of saying “your cooking used to be pretty….. well…. meh!” Thanks Chris but I still remember your inedible curry at Uni.

Anyway, I add lemon zest to the seasoned salmon fillet and then cover it with baby leaf spinach before wrapping it in pastry, egg-washing (sounds like a euphemism) and baking for 25 mins. I served it with a salad of baby new potatoes, radish, spring onion, fennel, gem lettuce leaves and tomatoes with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, honey and mustard powder.

salmonparcel

Salmon & Spinach Parcel