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"... there’s no despair in a seed. There’s only life, waiting for the right conditions – sun and water, warmth and soil – to be set free. Every day millions upon millions of seeds lift their two green wings."

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Thursday
Apr072011

Middle Eastern mezze no.3: Hugh Foster's spicy lamb mince

 

Hugh Foster is often credited with having introduced Sydneysiders to Morrocan and Middle Eastern food in the 1990s with his trendy Darlinghurst restaurant, the Fez. The Fez is now closed, but he continues the theme with Café Mint in Surry Hills which has been open since the early noughties and still draws a large crowd, a testament to his ability to keep up with the times.

Café Mint’s takes the successful Sydney café model – communal tables, sleek furnishings and interior, good coffee, all day breakfasts which merge into lunch and dinner – but adds a twist, North African cuisine. Alongside the usual breakfast offerings of sourdough toast, bircher muesli, and scrambled eggs, you have breakfast cous cous with yoghurt, merguez sausage with chakchouka, and baked eggs with beans and sucuk.

My Dad did a stint working at Café Mint after he closed his own restaurant. It was probably around this time that Middle Eastern mezze became a regular part of our weeknight dinner menu. One of my favourite of these recipes is Hugh’s spicy lamb mince with pine nuts, which has made appearances on Cafe Mint’s breakfast, lunch and dinner menu over the years.

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Sunday
Apr032011

Middle Eastern mezze no.2: Falafel

Updated on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 at 7:51PM by Registered CommenterVix

Falafel is one of those foods which you either love or hate.

Or is it?

I think the people who hate it just haven’t had the good stuff.  

When falafel is bad, it is really bad – bland and dry, you might as well be eating cardboard. It is a pity that this is many people’s only experience of falafel, because the problem is so easily remedied; add more! More spices, more herbs, more garlic, more salt. This may seem obvious, but in practice more people turn out bland falafels, than aromatic and fragrant ones, so it is worth driving the point home.

At first glance, 4 tablespoons of cumin, 3 bunches of herbs, 6 cloves of garlic and 3 tablespoons of salt may seem excessive, but bear in mind that this falafel mixture makes 20 to 30 balls. You can test your falafel mix by frying a small bit of the mixture to check the seasoning; if it doesn’t taste right, add more!

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Friday
Apr012011

Middle Eastern mezze no.1: hummous

 

One of my favourite of Dad’s meals from when I was younger was his Middle Eastern mezze selection – spicy lamb mince with pine nuts, falafel, tabbouli, hummous, babaganoush, tzatziki, olives and feta served with flatbread for making DIY wraps or just mopping up the juices.

This Middle Eastern medley is now a regular part of my own dinner time repertoire, mainly because I like taking the leftovers to work for lunch. I often break it out for parties too because the mezze style is great for picking and dipping, mixing and matching, forking or wrapping.

Over the next week or two I am going to share all of the above recipes with you so you can create your own mezze selection, and where better to begin than with what is arguably the most well-known and ubiquitous of Middle Eastern mezze – hummous.  

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Friday
Mar252011

Beef and Guinness pie

 

Fellow blogger, Jo Romero, has dedicated her little corner of the web to one of my favourite things – comfort food. So when she asked me to do a guest post for her blog, comfort bites, I jumped at the chance.

Comfort bites for me means hearty and warming foods like pies, stews and casseroles; those things best eaten when it is cold and miserable outside. And if I had to choose it would be a pie every time – stew with an added bonus, pastry. As you know, I am a big fan of pastry!

Most traditional English fare is very comforting indeed, hardly surprising given the weather we have to put up with. So for my guest post I chose an old British staple, the Beef and Guinness pie.

You can read my guest post here, and while you are at it have a look round Jo’s blog, there are lots of delicious recipes to try.

For those who prefer to cut to the chase, I have provided the recipe below. Makes four individual pies or one large pie for four.

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Saturday
Mar122011

Fernandez and Leluu supper club

Updated on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 12:30PM by Registered CommenterVix

The boyfriend doesn’t take well to surprises. He had been in a strange mood all day. I had put it down to a silly squabble we had had in the morning, but it turns out that he was anxious. I should have taken the hints; he had been desperately trying to gather more information on where I was taking him that evening.

I wasn’t letting on much, but he had managed to ascertain the following: 

  • It was not The Streets concert in Brixton (disappointing)
  • We were heading East
  • There would be food involved
  • He could wear trainers (he didn’t)
  • He needn’t wear a shirt (he did)

But it wasn’t enough. When I stopped the cab a mile too far down the road without explanation it all became too much.

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