After a break over the summer, we have resumed Ladies Film Night. Last night I saw a great film called Pride. It’s based on a true story set in the midst of the 1984-85 miners’ strike in Thatcher’s Britain. The film tells the story of a group of LGBT activists who raised funds to help support the striking miners and their families. It’s a lovely story of an unlikely alliance. Oh yes, and the Tampopo next to the cinema does a special meal deal – 25% off the food bill with a cinema ticket. So we filled our boots. We shared a bowl of sweet little edamame beans blanched and served with sea salt (£3.50), then I had a very tasty Thai dish that sounds like a footballer – Ped Makham. It’s made with slices of fried tofu in a zingy tamarind sauce, served with wilted choi sum (Chinese flowering cabbage) and fried onion flakes (£11.75). Tampopo can be a bit mean with their tofu but in this dish, they are very generous. We pushed the boat out and had dessert too, I had Khao Niaow Mamuang a Thai dessert made from fresh ripe mango slices with sticky rice flavoured with coconut cream (£5.50). We shared a bottle of wine and with the cinema deal, the bill for the three of us was £55. I was glad to get into the cinema and flop out in my seat, we didn’t need any popcorn!
I wanted to stop for a quick bite before going to see Lunatic Fringe and Chaos UK play in a pub in North London. I didn’t just want burger and chips though, I fancied something special, so we went to Mildred’s. The tables are placed very close together, don’t expect a lot of privacy, if you want an intimate meal you might be better off going to Manna… However, for a bite with friends or a relaxed meal in company you won’t be disappointed. The mushroom, porcini and ale pie with mushy peas and mash (£10.25) blew my socks off! It was bloody lovely. My partner opted for the burger and chips but it’s not just a regular burger – the burger of the day came in a sourdough bun with relish, red onion, rocket and tomato, with basil mayo (£9.10) and sweet potato fries (£1.50). The service was quick, the food was with us in 10 minutes I reckon. We shared a big bottle of fizzy water and the bill was £25. They don’t take reservations so you may have to wait at the bar with a drink for a table but I saw people drinking Bellinis (£6.50) so not so bad I reckon if you have to wait…
Delicata squash (Cucurbita pepo var. pepo ‘Delicata‘) is a winter squash with characteristic dark green stripes on a yellow skin with sweet yellow flesh. It is also known as the Bohemian squash or sweet potato squash; the flavour and texture is quite similar to that of sweet potato. Delicata squash is most commonly baked in the oven, but can be microwaved, sautéed or steamed. Apparently this squash is not as rich in beta-carotene as other winter squashes, but it is a great source of dietary fibre and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of vitamins C, magnesium and manganese. It has a wonderful texture, is very filling and is a good substitute for more starchy carbohydrates. I bet Gary Oldman likes a Bohemian squash!
Here are the directions how to cook your Delicata squash:
- Pierce the squash several times with a sharp knife then baked it whole in the oven at 180°C for 45-50 minutes until it starts to soften and a thin knife slides through it easily.
- Cut the squash in half lengthwise.
- Remove and discard the seeds.
- Loosely fork some vegan margarine into the flesh and season.
- Add a spoon or two of your favourite sauce or filling (tomato sauce, chilli, vegan cheese, bolognaise etc).
I made a thick tomato, garlic and coriander (cilantro) sauce using the last of the lovely fresh coriander a friend grew in her greenhouse. We had it with corn on the cob and runner beans. Bloody lovely autumn comfort food!
“Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a postchurch ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers. It would promote human happiness in other ways as well. Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”
— William Grimes, At Brunch, the More Bizarre the Better New York Times, 1998.
I love a good brunch after a bit of Saturday night carousing and today I made potato cakes with leftover sweet potato mash and sweetcorn, fried smoked tofu, V-Bites veggie sausages, grilled tomatoes with parsley and baked beans. Half way through I realised I’d left the toast in the toaster… blimey, now I’m on the sofa!
My Mum used to put flowers in salads in the 1970s. I remember her saying we had to eat everything in the bowl. I looked down and saw a greenfly on the rose petals! Vegan tendencies from an early age! I still like to put flowers in food – borage flowers look pretty frozen into ice cubes for drinks. Rose petals go nicely in a fruit salad and you can’t beat peppery nasturtiums in a green salad.
Now the evening are getting cooler and the leaves are changing colour, soon my nasturtiums will die back and that will be the end of nasty salads for this year… Hopefully they will self-seed and pop up again next year!
I made these little mock duck pancakes last night for some friends who are not veggie. They loved them and ate the lot!
- Two tins of faux (veggie) duck
- ½ tsp five spice
- 2 tbsp Hoisin sauce
- A dash of sesame oil
- ½ a cucumber
- 1 bunch of spring onion
- Readymade Chinese pancakes (look in freezer)
Drain the ‘duck’ and cut into strips the size of your little finger. Toss it in five spice then coat the duck with the hoisin sauce then roast in a medium oven until crispy (10-15 mins) in a baking tray greased with toasted sesame oil. While the duck is roasting, chop the cucumber and onions into two inch long chunks then thinly slice – thin as you can! Then briefly steam the pancakes (in a traditional bamboo steamer if you have one). Take the warmed pancakes and roast duck to the table with the shredded vegetables so that your guests can assemble their own crispy duck pancakes – good fun and tasty!
In my lunch hour today, I went to Sky Kong Kong, Bristol’s new organic Korean lunch box café specialising in a daily set menu using tofu, kimchi, soy sauce and miso amongst other tasty delights. There’s a relaxed, informal mood with a hand-painted menu by the door and paint-splattered tables and chairs. The seating is arranged over two long tables, sitting together café style. The tables are dressed with seasonal vegetables and flowers. On the shelves there is an interesting display of mismatched crockery, cookery books and cake stands – one made out of vinyl records (two 7” singles over one 12” LP caught my eye!).
Sky Kong Kong is run by a Korean chef known as Wizzy. She used to work in London restaurants Nobu and Hakkasan and worked with Michelin-starred French chef Michel Bras. There is a set menu that you can eat in (£6.50) or take-out Bento box-style (£5.50). The aim is to provide nutritious, healthy food with a range of different ingredients coming together to create a filling and affordable meal. Sky Kong Kong is not vegan or vegetarian but Wizzy is flexible and understands what vegans do, or more importantly don’t eat. She told me to text her next time I’m planning on going so she can get some tofu in!
Wizzy was able to improvise (as all good chefs can) with the day’s ingredients for me. Instead of the butternut squash tempura (made with egg), I was served a fruit salad in a tea cup – very cute! I had around six large chunks of fresh fruit – all very nice as an appetiser. For my main, I was given wild and white rice (it was a lovely purple hue, I think it had been flirting with some red cabbage maybe, I should have asked), baba ganoush, pickles, wilted bok choy, and some delicious fried butternut squash garnished with fried sage leaves. The squash was cooked perfectly – soft but not mushy. It was a party of flavours all lovingly prepared. I wanted to go into the kitchen to see how it had all been made! There didn’t seem to be much food on my plate, and when I had finished I nearly suggested to my friend that we went up the road to the vegan café Kinos for cake! However, I decided against it and went straight back to work. On the way, the strangest thing happened, I realised I was just perfectly full!