Monthly Archives: July 2011

Calories don’t count on my birthday

Last week was my 24th birthday. I usually think birthdays have a compulsory anticlimactic feeling, and tend to think it was over too quickly, and I didn’t even get to eat much cake/get enough attention/lounge around in my pjs. However this year, I can truly say that my birthday was a brilliant day and I enjoyed every minute of it!

When I woke up, the first thing I thought about was what to have for breakfast; bran flakes, I thought. And then I remembered, calories don’t count on my birthday! So my usual morning calorie mathematics and bowl of bran flakes were out the window and the carb overload began!

The day went like this: onion bagels in the morning, followed by pizza and fried zucchini at lunch, and then foodie heaven for dinner.

I met my family for lunch at l’artista in Golders Green, North London. It is an Italian restaurant, and is truly Italian all the way through. The food is great and the staff are slightly crazy, loud Italians! You cannot miss it if you are in Golders Green, just follow the scent of frying garlic!

I hadn’t been to l’artista for ages, and would usually pick a new restaurant to try out for my birthday. But this year I felt like going back to our classic family-outing restaurant. When my sisters and I were growing up, we loved to go out to eat. However, my parents kept these outings to 5 times a year; once on each of our birthdays. We very rarely broke this cycle, unlike now, when I have to stop myself from eating out more than once a week! So the smell of frying garlic and pizza outside l’artista has always had very sentimental and happy memories for me.

Anyway, we sat down for lunch and gave our orders to the very Italian waiter. My half-Italian dad likes to order in Italian which always makes me very proud! Being my birthday, I can have whatever I want! So I order a Fiorentina pizza (spinach and egg), but clearly the egg yolk is the best bit so I ask to have two eggs! Because I can.

We also order a tricolore salad and some fried courgettes/zucchini to share. ‘Do you remember how we always used to come here?’ I asked my family, smiling.’Why did we always come to the same place?’ My parents thought about it for a minute. ‘Because you three all loved Italian food, and the food is good, decently priced, near home and best of all they do the birthday thing!’ Oh yes! The birthday thing! If it is your birthday all the waiters/waitresses bang on drums and other loud musical instruments and sing you happy birthday! As a child, this is a great moment of pure birthday attention!

As our lunch came to an end, my dad started to get restless about needing to get to work. He started the tapping the leg and following the waiter with your eyes dance, trying to get the bill. ‘Come on’ he muttered. My mum responded with ‘Shh, we haven’t done the birthday thing yet!’ Haha, subtle. I thought they meant they hadn’t even asked for it yet, and I thought about it and about my dad needing to get to work and I said, ‘You know what? I think I’m getting a bit old for that anyway, don’t worry about it’. And just as I finished my sentence, the lights went down, the music came on, the drums came out and the waiters started singing along to the loud ‘happy birthday’ music and clapping, and the whole room turned to look at me and started clapping! I loved it! I’m definitely not too old after all!

After lunch I went shopping and then came home in time for my surprise dinner from my boyfriend, Lewis. I believe that even Gordon Ramsey would have no criticism of this meal. It was so perfectly designed, executed, and presented, I was absolutely in FOODIE HEAVEN.

My favourite dish was home made ravioli with fresh crab and chilli prawn filling covered with courgette and tomato, and tiger prawns. It was delicious.

And then came the weekend which did not disappoint. Especially as my baker sister Danya was  in charge of my birthday cake. And boy did she impress me! She made two types of cupcakes, lemon and mocha and decorated them all beautifully and professionally. Needless to say there is NONE left!

All in all it was a great birthday.

However today is no longer my birthday, and therefore calories do count, and I’m back on the bran flakes…

Advertisements

Making Bloody Marys

On Friday night, after a night out to celebrate my friend’s birthday, a bunch of us ended up in a lovely Greek restaurant in Balham. The owner was lovely and offered us drinks. A French girl, called Sandrine, wanted a bloody mary cocktail, and I got to make it for her. I loved being behind the bar again, I haven’t done that since my waitressing job 4 years ago! There’s something about having control in the kitchen…

Here’s a few pictures and instructions if you’d like to make one yourself!

Coat the top of the glass with salt and pepper. Add ice and a shot of vodka.

Add tomato juice, celery salt, a few drops of tobasco, worcestershire sauce, a squeeze of lemon and a celery stick. Stir well, et voila!

It’s a good sign if your customer (in this case Sandrine!) wants you to teach her to make another one!

Daddy or Chips?

You know those jokes that are only funny between you and your family?….and everyone else thinks you’re weird?! Well this 80s McCains advert was one of those moments for me and my two sisters. When we were kids, we used to laugh hysterically (ok, we still do) at this advert, and go around saying, ‘daddy or chips? daddy or chips?’ constantly! Don’t ask me why we found it so funny, there doesn’t need to be a reason!

Of course, Sophie, the little girl in this advert chooses chips in the end. Over her daddy!

Is it a fair choice? Well that depends entirely on the type of chip! I certainly would not opt for the microwave chip box! But there are some chips that you just can’t resist.

Here are my top 3 ways to eat chips:

1. Posh chips
Chunky, skin-on, sometimes made from sweet potato. Commonly found in gastro pubs. Must be eaten with chilli ketchup.

2. Skinny Fries
Extra salty, oily, often crispy. Commonly found in Mcdonalds, Burger King and on the continent. Must be eaten with mayo and ketchup.

3. Drunken binge chips
Either of the above and anything vaguely resembling a fried potato stick will do!

Mmm I really fancy some chips now. And here’s a little secret for you…I’m not proud of it, but as a child I used to eat chips straight from the freezer! Gross I know!

So, let me know what your favourite chips are on my poll below. Or maybe you would rather scrap the chips and just choose daddy!

Sweet Potato Chicken Pie

One of my favourite things to cook is chicken pie. You can add whatever vegetables and herbs you like and make it different every time. It’s cheap to make, and, although a bit time consuming, not very difficult.

Tonight I am making my chicken pie with leek and sweet potato. For a kosher version, simply use margerine instead of butter, glaze with an egg, and exclude the cream. Use dairy free pastry or make your own. Puff or shortcrust. It works just as well.

Although I’m uploading my recipe, I’d like you to read it with a pinch of salt! I’m not the sort of person that follows recipes strictly, and so I tend to make things up as I’m cooking. I consider recipes to be inspiration rather than instructions. Therefore I’d like you to feel free to do the same. Don’t like tarragon? Don’t add it. Don’t like leek? Change it to mushroom. You get the picture…

Chicken Pie with Leek and Sweet Potato

Start to finish time:  1 hr 30 mins
Serves: 3 people

25g cooking butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 skinless chicken breasts
1 large or 2 medium white onions
1/2 red onion
2 large garlic cloves
1 large leek
1 large sweet potato
200ml chicken stock
1 tsp dried parsley or a bunch of fresh parsley
1/4 tsp paprika
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried tarragon
1 tsp dried thyme or a fresh bunch
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 glass of white wine
100ml cream
Ready rolled puff pastry
2 tablespoons of plain/cornflour
salt & pepper
milk/egg to glaze

Preheat the oven to 180.

Thinly slice all the onion and garlic. Heat a pan with the oil and butter and when hot, add the onion, then a few minutes later the garlic.  Gently fry on a low heat for a few minutes. In the meantime, wash and slice the leeks. Rings are fine as they cook away anyway. Stir in the leek and cook it all until soft. Keep stirring. If you want to add other vegetables such as mushroom now is the time.

Cut the chicken to evenly sized cubes and add to the pot. Give it a stir and then add all the herbs, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the wine and stock or 200ml water and 1 chicken stock cube. I like Kallo organic stock cubes.

Cook with the lid on for about 15 minutes and stir every so often.

In the meantime prepare the pasty. If you have ready rolled puff pastry all you need to do is put the dish over it and cut around it. If you have roll it yourself pastry then flour your clean worktop and rolling pin, and roll it out to about 8mm thick. Then shape it on the dish.

I definitely do not have time to make my own pastry.

If you prefer the kind of pie with pastry all around, buy ready rolled shortcrust pastry. Butter the dish first, and then put pastry on the bottom and around the sides. Then blind bake it for about 15 mins, or while the pot is simmering.

Add the sweet potato, evenly cubed 2x2cm. Stir in and cook for a few minutes.

Lastly, slowly add the cream and stir in. Make sure it is on a low heat. If the mixture is too runny, add about 2 tablespoons of flour making sure to add a little at a time and mix it in to avoid lumps.

The mixture is almost ready. Taste it! If it tastes good but something is missing, you can add a teaspoon of white wine vinegar, and more salt/pepper/stock. Remove the bay leaves and thyme stalks.

When it is the right thickness, add the mixture to your pot and drape the pastry on top. If you have any leftover pastry, cut out leaf shapes and place on top. Glaze the pastry with milk or egg, and pop it in the middle of the oven.


Open a bottle of wine and sit back for 30 minutes or until the pastry is perfectly puffed and golden.

Enjoy!

If you try my recipe I’d love to hear from you about how it went! Also feel free to ask questions if something isn’t clear.

A food blog is born

I love everything about food. I love cooking it, I love talking about it, and above all I love eating it! I’m obsessed with all things food; and that’s what my blog is about.

My name is Vered, and I’m a 24 year old female living in London. I’m an amateur cook and my love of food was heavily influenced by my parents. Food has always been a big thing in my family. I’m Jewish, (and you know we love to eat!) and Indian/Israeli from my mother’s side and Italian/English from my father’s side. I am the middle of three sisters, or ‘the best bit of the sandwich’ as my mother used to say. My parents cooked a homemade meal every night as we grew up, and we would eat together around the table without fail.

My mother’s cooking is mainly Indian and Israeli style food, a lot of vegetable curries and the best dahl in the world…and of course, chicken soup! My father’s cooking is more influenced by his Italian mother and his hippy days, when he and his friends would teach each other recipes from their travels around the world. He cooks delicious simple pasta sauces, but my favourite of all his dishes has to be his kleftiko! If I can steal some recipes I promise you can expect to see them on here at some point!

So, as you can imagine the food was always good in my house. Which is why I am obsessed with food and probably why my younger sister Danya-Zohar has turned her love for food into her career and is now entering her third year of her Bakery and Management BSc degree. She’s worked at Hummingbird bakery, had private cake orders and she’s won a trip this year to train in Bologna, Italy! You can read all about it in her food blog.

My taste in food is very mixed, but I think Indian and Italian are the best foods in the world! (Perhaps I’m biased!?) I love cooking for my boyfriend, friends and family. I also love being cooked for! I like to browse recipe books for inspiration, however I don’t follow recipes strictly and will often add my own twist!

I will always try to make the most authentic version of whatever I am cooking, and I don’t like bad imitations! However, I’m not prepared to pay through the roof for the freshest fish in the country and so I try to find the happy medium.

So what is Eat Now Talk Later about?

Well, I spend a huge amount of time cooking and experimenting with food.  I’ll be uploading my photos and recipes, and sharing my thoughts with you.

I also eat out at restaurants far too much, and I like to think of myself as a bit of a food critic. So I shall be giving you my two peas worth on local restaurants.

And, through stories and photographs, I may reminisce about some of my travels through South East Asia and holidays in Europe.

So here it is: My food diary! I hope you enjoy it. And if you do, please pass it on to someone else who might like it.

Please feel free to leave comments and let me know if there’s anything in particular you’d like a second helping of!

Bon Appetito! / Be Te’Avon!