Loretta’s Kitchen turns Supper Club

I finally succumbed to the pressure. Loretta’s Kitchen is making the transition to become a supper club.

It’s been just over 2 years since I launched the food blog – hosting a supper club hadn’t even entered my mind, I was hoping at the most to maybe get a few recipes published and write a cook book, but I wasn’t in a hurry! I enjoyed writing and soon began to develop a taste for food photography. Most of all I loved receiving the numerous messages and         e-mails from people as far as Australia asking me where to purchase casareep from? LOL it has been a lot of fun.

This is not the end of the food blog. No.

Like with most things I need to be challenged. For example I changed gyms last week and besides feeling pain in a totally different way, my body is responding really way to the and I am seeing the benefits already!

The food blog as interesting as it is – needs some energy injected into it – for my sanity at least. Plus people have been asking me ‘when are you going to let me taste your food? Why don’t you start a supper club?’ As much as I tried to divert the question, I couldn’t avoid the challenge and I soon realised it was the only way to get LLK to a wider audience.

So after attending a few ssupper club to check out the scene, I met a friendly guy called Leslie who runs West African Cooks and who has helped me immensely by providing me with the tools for setting up a supper club. Whilst at these supper clubs, I got to know the cooks some of whom also run street food stalls as well and found myself immersed in this ‘west africa foodie’ community, meeting the likes of Zoe from Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen and Alicia from Chale (Lets Eat).

I met Fat Macy’s through networking.

Meg is the brainchild behind Fat Macy’s – which is a play on the acronym YMCA (MACY). Fat Macy’s was launched in March 2016.

YMCA

Showcasing the culinary efforts of a group of young homeless residents of the YMCA, Fat Macy’s supper clubs provide a pathway for independent living by inviting them to organise, create and curate culinary pop-up events across London.

Fat Macy’s overcomes the cycle of homelessness by using the project’s profits to create a specified housing deposit scheme. With every pop-up event, each chef can make an independent and progressive step in saving securely for their future.

Alongside increasing personal savings, Fat Macy’s resident chefs are trained in vital skills for independent living: understanding food hygiene; cooking; financial planning; running and curating events; and practical work experience.

After participating with Fat Macy’s for seven events, our chefs will be able to afford a deposit for a flat and a clear pathway into independent living.

I am so passionate about this project, it combines all my interests into one event: cooking, sharing, mentoring, hospitality, creativity and youth and social justice (see my other blog: http://www.acottonstateofmind.com)

There are still seats available – so come dine with us on 19 or 26 May 2016 – it would be great to finally meet some of you!

To book – follow the link below:

http://www.edibleexperiences.com/p/2399392055/Fat-Macys/460001/Fat-Macys-x-Lorettas-Kitchen

 

Ethiopian Lentil Stew (Misir Wot)

If you can’t stand the heat, then you better stay out the Ethiopian Kitchen!

It’s not that Ethiopian food doesn’t have a range of mild flavoured dishes, they do, but pepper is so essential to the cuisine that to avoid it is to essentially ban yourself from the whole experience!

Ethiopian Cuisine: I haven’t tasted anything so lip-smackingly delicious in a good long time! I’m gonna be stuck on this for a while!

Ok admittedly the last time I tasted authentic Ethiopian cuisine was about a year ago where I just happened to walk by a small take away 5 minutes walk down Kingsland High Street in Dalston, London. They offer a selection of stews or ‘wots’ with a combination or rice or the infamous Injera bread, all for just £4!!

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Kingland High Street, Dalston, London

Many Ethiopian’s are Orthodox Christians who traditionally eat vegan on Wednesdays and Fridays, as well as other special days,  hence why there is such a wide selection of vegan/vegetarian Ethiopian dishes.

This recipe is adapted from the more classic Misir Wot, which literally means ‘lentil stew’; I have added sweet potato, coconut milk and spinach to this mix.

This is also my first time using my new found Ethiopian spice blend home made brebere which I made virtually a few minutes before assembling this dish. I didn’t taste the stew till the very end, and when I did, let me tell you I almost burnt my mouth going for a second helping, I was surprised! With such a wide range of spices all packed in one blend, I was expecting a bitter, confused taste, instead – pure harmony, I could taste everything, not overpowering at all. So step away scotch bonnet! There’s a new kid in town!

More Ethiopian dishes to come!

 

Ethiopian Lentil Stew (Misir Wot) 

 

INGREDIENTS

2 medium sized sweet potatoes – cut into chunks

1/2 white onion, sliced

2 large garlic cloves – crushed

1 tsp finger chopped fresh ginger

1 tbsp coconut oil – frying

1 1/4 cup green lentils – pre-cooked

1 tbsp Tomato Paste or 2 plum tomatoes (crushed) with a little juice

2 1/2 tsp of Homemade Berbere Spice

1 cup Coconut Milk

2 cups of boiling water

1 chicken or vegetable stock jelly

3-4 Pimento Seeds

1 generous handful of spinach

 

METHOD

  1. In a bowl dissolve the stock jelly in the 2 cups of hot water with the pimento seeds. Set aside.
  2. Soften the onions slowly in a deep pot with the coconut oil for 5-6 minutes
  3. Add the garlic and ginger – 2 minutes
  4. Stir in the berbere spice, take it off the fire to allow it to slowly cook
  5. Return the pot to the fire and add the tomatoes, allow it to reduce for 2 minutes, until the water has evaporated.
  6. Add the sweet potato and stir
  7. Add the lentils, stir (medium heat)
  8. Add the stock liquid, pimento seeds and coconut milk. Cover and allow to simmer for 10-5 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender
  9. Stir the spinach in at the end. Season to taste.
  10. Serve with rice

 

Red Hummus Stuffed Chicken w/ Veg Spaghetti

Sometimes leftovers make the best meals: after making a batch of hummus, I wasn’t sure what else to use it for besides dipping tortilla chips into it. Then there were the left over carrots, aubergine and courgette from a quick vegetable roast I made a few days before. I hunted around for ideas and recipes but couldn’t find anything that really appealed to me: I found many recipes for chicken smothered in hummus, but I felt like that was a bit of a waste and wasn’t convinced the hummus would stick to the chicken while cooking. So in an effort to preserve all the great flavours of the paste and not to lose the vibrant colours and textures from the left over vegetables, I devised what was actually a very tasty dish. It really is less complicated then it looks.  Enjoy!

Red Hummus Stuffed Chicken w/ Veg Spaghetti

INGREDIENTS:
Chicken:
2 chicken breasts (butterflied and marinated)
1/2 handful fresh spinach leaves
String or toothpicks (tie/ seal chicken)
1 cup plain flour
1/4 cup corn starch
1 egg – whisked
salt/ pepper/paprika
oil – frying
Vegetable Spaghetti:
1 Carrot – finely sliced
1/2 Large Aubergine – finely sliced
1 Courgette – finely sliced
1/4 red and yellow sweet pepper – finely sliced
1/2 vegetable stock jelly
1/2 tsp tomato paste
METHOD:
The Chicken
1. At least 4 hours before, clean and marinate the chicken breast: butterfly slice the chicken breast. Then take some cling film and a rolling pin or pan cover the chicken and gently pound the fillet to flatten it and create a larger surface area to fold.
2. Marinate the chicken with fresh thyme, minced onion, garlic and lime juice.
3. Take 3 pieces of string about 10cm each and line up horizontally on a chopping board. You want to then lay one of the fillets on top of the strings.
4. Take a spoon or more of the hummus and place in centre of the fillet, cover with 2-3 spinach leaves. Then bring the sides of the fillet upwards and fold it in to form a parcel. Use the string to seal the chicken into place. Do this for the second fillet also:
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5. Once sealed, roll the chicken in the egg and then dip into the flour until fully covered. 6. Pre-heat a pan of oil (1.5″ oil). Roll the chicken in flour once again and dust off any excess then place in the frying pan at a medium heat with the seal of the chicken facing upwards. 7. Fry on each side for up to 6 minutes. 8. Finish cooking the chicken in the oven if necessary.   Spaghetti: 1. I prefer to use a julienne cutter to get the thin slices. Once cut heat up a little oil in a pan add the tomato paste and vegetable stock to dissolve. 2. Then toss the vegetables in and stir for 3 minutes. Do not overcook. Turn the fire off and keep stirring.

Roasted Sweet Potato w/ Tahini Garlic Sauce

The best part of making this dish was pulling out the tray of sizzling fresh herbs and olive oil, from out of the oven; it was like being hit in the face with a bunch of Sage and Thyme. It was with great excitement really, because I didn’t know what to expect: I had never combined these potatoes with this sauce before; this isn’t some glorified version of chips with fake garlic sauce from Mr Chippy on the High Street, oh no. All fresh. All real tasty.

I tried the Tahini Garlic Sauce in salads during the week, and it worked very well. I think it should also work with other roasted vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower. The sauce can stay fresh for 2-3 days only, in fact the garlic will become more pungent over time. Let me know what combinations you have tried recently (a photo would be nice!)

Roasted Sweet Potato w/ Tahini Garlic Sauce

 

Ingredients:

For the Potatoes

2 – 3 Sweet Potatoes

Mixed Fresh Herbs, finely chopped (Sage, Thyme, Rosemary)

2-3 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

 

For the Tahini Garlic Sauce

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

Salt to taste

1/3 Cup Sesame Tahini

2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (more to taste)

1/3 cup water

 

Method:

For the Sweet Potatoes:

Pre-heat the oven on to gas Mark 8.

Peel and chop the potatoes into 1 inch squares, soak them in a bowl of water while you prepare the other ingredients.

Take a roasting tin and drizzle in 1/4 olive oil and toss in the chopped fresh herbs. Place the pan in the oven for 3 minutes to allow the oil and herbs to infuse.

While the oil is in the oven, drain the potatoes and pat them dry with a damp cloth. Then remove the roasting pan from the oven and place on top of the cooking hob while you transfer the potato to the pan, stirring it into the oil. Return the pan to the oven for another 10 minutes or until the potato has cooked.

For the Tahini Garlic Sauce:

In a mortar and pestle mash the garlic cloves to a purée with a pinch of salt.

Transfer the garlic to a bowl and mix in the sesame paste. Then mix in the lemon juice, at which stage the mixture will stiffen up. Gradually whisk in the water, until the sauce has the consistency of thick cream. Season to taste.

Allow the potatoes to cool slightly before pouring over the garlic sauce. Garnish with Rocket/ Pomegranate seeds.

Guyanese: Pepperpot

If there was ever a dish which made me immensely proud of my Guyanese heritage, it would be this one. Pepperpot, the National dish of Guyana. Simply the bitter-sweetest, warmest, stickiest pot of stew you will ever taste. It has a taste like none other, and its all down to one main ingredient: Cassareep.

Cassareep was not as accessible in the 80’s when I was growing up as it is now; and even here, only certain West Indian shops sell it. I don’t know where we found the thick black molasses mixture when I was a child, but it was cherished like liquid black gold in our home: It would sit at the back of the cupboard, in a used Pepsi Bottle silently, waiting for the 25 December. I recall it being sealed with masking tape around its mouth and neck, as if smuggled out of the country, put on a boat destined for the Motherland…only to sit at the back of someone’s cupboard for 11 1/2 months of the year.

“Cass-a-reep” I was told by my mother as she would stir the pot of generous dark meat, was invented by the Native Amerindian’s of Guyana. They would extract the juice from bitter Cassava root which is in itself poisonous to eat if not cooked properly, and then boil, and boil and boil the juice down until eventually what remained was a thick black syrup. For more information on how Cassareep is made, follow this link.

“It always tastes better the next day…” she would add smiling.  Music to my ears. Because the Amerindian’s had no refrigeration,  Cassareep’s  natural preserving properties kept the dish going for days on end (that is why pepperpot can be left on the stove, re-heated daily for days and not spoil).

Pepperpot is traditionally eaten with thick, white home-made bread and made with several types of meat. For this recipe, I limited myself to Ox-tail, but feel free to combine it with Mutton if you wish.

If you would like this recipe – just drop me an e-mail: lovelorettaskitchen@gmail.com