Tuesday, October 31, 2006

News Round

Tues 31 Oct 2006

As you may have noticed, there has been something of a hiatus here at Eating Leeds ... that's because we've been on holiday! After two weeks of eating and drinking there's plenty of material, which is a good thing, because now we're pretending to undo all the good work we did on holiday (that means eat and drink a bit less!).

However, before moving on to all of that (stay tuned for Korean airline food, Japanese BBQ in Sydney and fusion in Adelaide, along with a good helping of home cooking) it's time for something of a round-up, even if it's cursory at best.

John Longden has just visited the new Cafe Guru in Brewery Wharf, and describes the restaurant as modern and funky with a white, minimalist interior. He says the food is excellent, and the menu consists of traditional dishes with a modern twist with spice and flavour combinations which work well. Just importantly, he says that the service is excellent and the prices are reasonable.

Stockton's Sidebar is a new blog that's busy drinking its way around Leeds - check it out for some further views on Leeds' drinking holes!

And check us out tomorrow for the start of our gastronomical holiday adventures!

1. Cafe Guru, 6 Brewery Pl, Leeds LS10 1NE, phone: 0113 2442255.

Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!

Sunday, October 08, 2006

A Long Time Between Curries

Sat 30 Sept 2006

It seems like a long break between homemade curries and even my recent purchase of Curry, and the fact that it contained a recipe for dahl makhni, wasn't enough to spur us into action.

A bit of spare time meant that we finally got around to hunting for urad (black) dahl ... however the fact we couldn't find any in the city centre put us on the back foot ... but only briefly. And soon we were in the kitchen, cookbook carefully away from any suspect splashes, and embarking on a Bengal curry - pork chop bhooni (Masala pork chops), with potatoes and dahl.

Taking the pork chops, coat them with salt and chilli powder, rubbing it in well. Heat some oil in a pan and quickly sear the chops before setting them aside. Add some more oil if necessary and quickly fry off about 1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds. As they begin to brown add a few curry leaves and a good pile of finely sliced onions. Cook until the onions are golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the masala. In a mortar, mix 1 1/2 tbsp of mild chilli powder with 1 tsp turmeric, a good inch of ginger (peeled and chopped), a couple of cloves of garlic, 3 tomatoes finely chopped, and 1/2 tsp of fenugreek seeds. Grind to a paste. Add some tomato paste to redden it up a bit. Add this mix to the onions and fry for a few minutes.

Return the chops to the pan and ensure they are coated evenly with the spice mix. Reduce the heat and add some water (for two chops, just a good splash). Cover and simmer for around 15 minutes until the chops are cooked through and tender. You may need to remove the cover and increase the heat at the end to reduce the sauce. It should be good and thick. Finish by stirring through 1 tsp of garam masala.

For the potatoes, peel and cut them into wedges and boil them with salt and turmeric until they are tender but still firm. Heat oil in a pan and fry the potatoes until crisp and golden.

We served this with dry moong dahl, taken from Camellia Panjabi's 50 Great Curries of India. Take 150 g of yellow moong dahl and add it to 200 mL of boiling water. Return to the boil, add a pinch of salt and cook until all the water is absorbed. When ready to serve, sprinkle with a pinch of turmeric, 1/4 tsp ground coriander, 1/4 tsp ground cumin and 1/4 tsp chilli powder. Finally, pour over a 1/4 tsp of hot oil or melted butter. Delicious and simple!

Although you do end up using quite a few pots and pans (especially as we used a griddle for the chops and potatoes!) this is well worth it. It was delicious and it's a great way of doing something a bit different with both pork chops and potatoes. With both the dahl and potatoes we didn't bother with rice ... but a naan or paratha probably wouldn't have gone astray!

tagged with: ,
Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Chocolate and Red Wine Cake

Fri 29 Sept 2006

Yes, you read that right. You can imagine my excitement when I spotted this recipe in the latest issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller. Chocolate AND red wine in a cake? Oh, happy, happy union!

The recipe is in amongst those supplied by Tobie Puttock, who is heading up Fifteen in Melbourne. Now, I am pretty underwhelmed by Jamie Oliver - the accent, the hair, the endless 'lovely-jubblies' (no Jamie, you're not a Cockney), and the whole attitude of 'let's just chuck all this food together and it will be really simple'. This is not to say I have a problem with simplicity in cooking - cooking needn't be complicated, but I do think it should ALWAYS be considered. I read once that Raymond Blanc said that Oliver doesn't respect food. I kind of agree.

Here in the UK Oliver is more or less St Jamie, so I realise the above might be heresy. I do, however, appreciate that Oliver has probably managed to encourage a lot of people into the kitchen, and his crusade against dodgy school dinners has been a lot more effective than any political posturing - although I'm not entirely sure about his recent criticisms of parents who do feed their children crap.

Anyway - I digress. Tobie Puttock is heading up Fifteen in Melbourne. Like Oliver, he's also ex-River Cafe, so he's got a strong Italian influence, and in the Gourmet article talks about simple, Melbourne-oriented food (probably all nicked from South Australia then?!).

So - chocolate and red wine cake. How does it stand up? Would I pay for it in a cafe or restaurant? Let us see ...

Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and baseline a 20cm spring form tin.

Take 150g of dark chocolate and, using the food processor, break it down into gravel sized pieces. Put to one side.

Take 200 g butter and mix with 250 g caster sugar and beat until pale. Add four eggs, one at a time, and 250 g of plain flour, mixed with 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 25 g of cocoa. When well combined add 100 mL of red wine (I'd try to avoid the incredibly nasty Como Sur Pinot Noir I used) and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Very last of all, add the gravelly chocolate and tip the mix into the pan. Bake for an hour (more like 1 hour 20 minutes in my case) until a skewer comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the pan. Dust with icing sugar and serve with lashings of cream, creme fraiche, custard, icecream ... what you will.

The cake looked very impressive - it rose beautifully and was HUGE! As you can tell from the above, it was also very simple to put together.

I was, however, rather underwhelmed by it. I don't think the red wine added anything (erstwhile housemate suggested I make it again without the wine to see what we thought). I did really like the addition of the real chocolate bits. But the cake itself was just a, well, quick and dirty chocolate cake. Andy thought I sold it a bit short and said he really enjoyed it.

Would I be happy if I paid for it in a restaurant? No. Cafe - probably less of a problem. I'll make it again (and steal the gravelly chocolate for other cakes!) because it is quick and simple, and I suspect it would make pretty nifty cupcakes. More lamington drive or BBQ than dinner party!

tagged with: , , ,
Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Plum Crumble

Tues 26 Sept 2006

Still behind with the entries but trying valiantly to catch up. After my delicious plum cake, and including plums in my lunches, I still had some left to use up. I was lacking a bit of inspiration but opened the newspaper and came across a Nigel Slater recipe for a damson almond crumble. That was good enough for me ... and plus, a crumble has the advantage of being ludicrously simple.

I spent a little time picking over my remaining plums, washing them and stoning them, before throwing them in a pan with a good solid sprinkling of sugar. Because I'd been washing the plums I didn't bother adding any water, and just cooked the plums for a bit before putting them, and their juices, into a buttered baking dish.

I have to confess to being lazy and while making the crumble by hand would undoubtedly be therapeutic it was mid week and that put the mighty Magimix into service. 100g of cold unsalted butter were whizzied up with 150g of plain flour to (fine) breadcrumb consistency. To this, I added 75g of sugar (a combination of caster sugar and golden granulated) and 50g of ground almonds. If you use a food processor the crumble is going to be quite fine - but I really liked Nigel Slater's idea of raking some water through the mixture to make it clump together a bit (although, I confess to only thinking of this after the crumble had gone on top of the plums!).

Tip the crumble over the plum mixture and bake in an oven preheated to 200C until done, which will be around half an hour or so ... but you'll know as the topping will be browning and the fruit juices will be bubbling up from underneath. Serve with whatever is to hand - even yoghurt was good!

tagged with ,
Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Sun 24 Sept 2006

Normally I am not a huge fan of chain anythings ... restaurants, bars, pubs ... some kind of nasty, mass produced, homogenous, money sucking entities ... but I do also appreciate that chains need not be like that. Sometimes they can be individual and take pride in their product. Just sometimes.

So, what would a Malaysian chain restaurant be like? Incongruous, I grant you. But that concept is nowhere near as quirky as you get ... Georgetown Leeds lives in the lovely Dyson clock building which itself lives down the less glamorous end of Briggate.

The intent of the building has been absolutely preserved and the Georgetown restaurant is, in a word, beautiful. They've gone for a colonial Malaysian feel and they've hit it, bang on. The room is opulent and the service is formal and reserved. The tables are all properly set, with proper linen (yes, that would be a cloth napkin!). You can probably guess I enjoy feeling that a meal is a bit special!

We were at Georgetown for Sunday lunch and the restaurant was quite quiet. The room plays home to a grand piano but with no pianist in residence background music was some quiet recorded classical that was completely unobtrusive.

So we sat back and I enjoyed a glass of cava and Andy a beer and we inspected the lunch menu. While the lunch menu is brief it also manages to be comprehensive: most people would be able to find something to eat. After a bit of negotiation Andy opted for the Selangor vegetarian samosa to start, followed by Roti dan Kambing - lamb and potato curry. I started with Ikan Goreng - a piece of fried fish Malaysian style with a deceptively hot and sweet chilli sauce. For main course I chose Chettinad Koli - pieces of fried chicken with rice and curry sauce.

On the starter front the consensus was that I had won. While the samosa was generously proportioned with good chunks of vegetable, the delicately spiced fish with the chilli sauce (a welcome change from Thai sweet) snuck in front for being different and interesting.

The main courses, in my case accompanied by a glass of garnacha, were a bit more neck and neck. Andy's roti was absolutely delicious - flaky, a tiny bit greasy, and his lamb was absolutely falling apart, but my pieces of chicken, prettily arranged around the plate, were accompanied by a coconutty curry sauce with potatoes and rice.

What really impressed both of us was the care that had gone into presentation. Too often in restaurants, south-east Asian food lends itself to being thrown on a plate with little attention given to how it looks. But at Georgetown the dishes are constructed and you can tell that pride and effort goes into the finished dish.

We didn't try out the puddings, but instead finished our meal with an amaretto and a coffee.

Georgetown Leeds has different dining options to suit all budgets and occasions. There is a £40 a head 4 course "Georgetown Experience" which we're both keen to try but will probably save up for an occasion when we entertain some visitors.

To say we were happy with our lunch is an understatement. And yes, we will be going back!

Georgetown, 24-26 Briggate, Leeds, LS1 6EP, phone 0870 755 7753
Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

York Festival of Food and Drink

Sat 23 Sept 2006

While the York Festival of Food and Drink has drawn to a close for another (its 10th!) year we headed along last weekend, at the starting end of the festival.

First stop was the selection of markets at Parliament Street, a short walk from the station. We hadn't quite prepared ourselves for just how busy this would be ... and we weren't quite up to battering our way through crowds without having had breakfast. So that meant we more or less had to start with a double sausage butty from Debbie and Andrew. We then made our way down Parliament Street to St Sampson's Square. Parliament Street was playing host to two markets which meant that first of all there was a hefty range of regional English goodies, followed by the European market, culminating in the Deliciously Yorkshire market in St Sampson's Square.

Given the rather large number of people crammed into a relatively small space there were probably too many stalls to make the walk a comfortable browse. We were kept properly occupied battling pushchairs, groups of people and those who suddenly stop - so properly occupied that we weren't that inspired to stop, taste and buy.

We made it down to the Deliciously Yorkshire market, which was a little quieter. We bought a bag of pork scratchings and a pork pie to share and had a bit more of a wander. The Deliciously Yorkshire market had a good selection of meats, breads and cakes. And it also started to get busy, so we decided it was time to indulge in a relaxing beer.

The organisers of the York Festival of Food and Drink kindly produce a Real Ale trail. If you are particularly keen, you can get a card stamped at each of the 15 pubs on the trail and receive a t shirt. This is probably fine if you live in York, but 15 pints in an afternoon is probably just one or two too many for me to manage ... especially as Andy is my resident lager drinker, and so no help at all.

We started at the Yorkshire Terrier on Stonegate. This is the newest of the York Brewery's pubs and is probably one of the smallest pubs I've been into for a long time. They had a very impressive range of beers on offer - around 9 hand pulls and both Bitburger and Grolsch for the 'discerning' lager drinker (I think they also offered Carling for the 'less discerning'!). Most excitingly, they offered a 'tasting tray' - four thirds of a pint, presented in a little wooden carry tray, for the princely sum of £3. I first experienced tasting trays while in America quite a long time ago. My experience of American beers was not entirely positive until I started visiting the pubs attached to microbreweries around Annapolis, Maryland, where I was able to purchase an array of small serves of beer. It's something you don't see a lot of in the UK. Anyway, vaguely over excited and unable to choose which beers I wanted to taste, I let the barman do the hard work and ended up with a good, all-round selection.

In order to make sure I drank my beers in the right order I carefully tasted them all first and then drank from 'nicest' to 'not so nice' ...

This meant that I started with York Brewery's Centurion's Ghost - a dark beer which was light in the mouth, with a lovely bitter flavour and a soft finish ... mmm. Next up I finished off my Guzzler, which, aside from being a brilliant name for a beer, was a gorgeous, savoury pale gold beer. With its hint of coriander it was a great drink. Moving right along to the Terrier, which was a light, sweet and floral golden beer, I then finished off with the Hampshire Rose, which, although a dark amber colour was rather nondescript. Of the four beers, it's the only one I wouldn't bother ordering.

We dragged ourselves out of the pub to have a wander through York's normal, daily market. Although there was quite a bit of produce available here, there was also a lot of non-food related ... stuff. So, not quite as impressive but by this point it was time to investigate the Yorkshire Cream Tea tasting. The tasting would have cost £3 but what we hadn't realised is that it was being held at one of the stalls in the Parliament Street market and we just weren't cut out to deal with the crowds (in my case, irrespective of how much cream was on offer!). There was nothing for it but to head off to the Tap and Spile on Monkgate - home of a pork pie tasting. While we had missed out on tickets (poor planning!) we did hope to pick up some in the pub. My god! We could hardly move! In fact, the pub (which is quite generous in proportion) was packed to the rafters, so we scarpered and headed to the Brigadier Gerard, also on Monkgate. This is a Sam Smith's pub and while I'm a reasonably enthusiastic Sam Smith's drinker I was disappointed at the condition of the Alpine Lager, although the bitter was good.

Next stop was the Golden Slipper on Goodramgate, for a read of the newspapers, before heading back to the market and purchasing some bacon and venison salami, and polishing off some more pork scratchings!

A quick drink at the Golden Fleece (the most haunted pub in York) was followed by a final couple of drinks at the Last Drop Inn on Colliergate.

And that more or less concluded something like 8 hours at the York Festival of Food and Drink. Last year, we regretted not having a cooler bag. Well, this year we had one and next year ... we'll book event tickets in advance!

Stumble Upon ToolbarStumble It!