Thursday, 27 October 2011

Lunch at Yalla Yalla

Yalla Yalla is a very tiny restaurant which opened a few years ago down a seedy little side street in Soho. So tiny in fact that it has been very hard to get a table (they have or had a no-booking policy) and so I have been giving it a miss since my 3 early visits. I was therefore delighted when my friend Daniel, who lives in a block of flats above said seedy little side street, told me that they had opened another, much larger branch in Winsley Street near Oxford Circus. The particular brand of Lebanese street food served in both establishments is earth-shatteringly tasty and so Daniel and I agreed to meet there for a half term treat and a gossip about our peripatetic colleagues.

Drinks come with olives and pickles. Delish. We shared 4 plates of mezzĂ©, fattoush, hummus, chicken livers with pomegranate (sawda djej) and tiny Lebanese sausages (soujoc) which are Daniel's particular favourites. The mezzĂ© was outstanding, truly.

Follow that lot with an enormous mixed grill and some tasty gossip and you will find a pretty much perfect lunch. And of course we had to have baklava for pudding. It would have been rude not to.

Yalla Yalla is an eaterie not to be missed. It's right up there with Wahaca! The lunch bill which included a bottle of Bekaa Valley red came to £70 including service.  I can't wait to go back.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

The recipe for Lulu's chocolate caramel cake

As she wrote it. The recipe uses a Bundt tin.

-N 1-

This is cream caramel ingredient

3 eggs

3 cups powder milk

3 cups water

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 lemon peal

Mix all to gether

-N 2 -

This is choclate cake ingredient

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup Mazolla oil

1 cup flour

1/2 cup milk

little vanilla

2 teaspoons baking powcer

1/4 cup Nescafe

1/2 cup cocoa powder

Mix all to gether as if you are making cake

Grease a tin with a hole in the middle.

In a saucepan put 10 table spoon sugar on the fire until it melt brown colour and put it into the greased tin. The add caramel -N 1 - into the tin thenput -N 2_ choclate cake on it slowly. They will mingle together (Don't worry). Put them in the oven in a pan with hot water.

Put in the fridge one night before. Next morning put on the fire a little bit until the bottom melt then turn it in the dish.


Monday, 17 October 2011

Chocolate Brownie Cake

This cake jumped out at me from my BBC Good Food Binder when I was looking for something a bit different to my usual Sunday Lunch family get-togethers. It is very good being both nutty and sweet. It's not as deep as the picture they show but I put that down to Good Food being vague about the tin size. Mine was 25 cm.

I'm told it was very good and that I must make it again so that's a result. (I am dieting hard at the moment so didn't try it). It was certainly very easy.

I served it cold due to pressure on oven space. They thought it might be better warm.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Dinner at Lulu's

In case you don't know, I have a guilty secret. I belong to a band of dedicated but slightly bonkers women who are early-morning swimmers. At 6.30 every morning you will find me ploughing up and down the middle lane of the LA Fitness pool at Northwood. Well actually I swim backstroke so maybe I plough down and up.

There are about 20 or so of us who have been there for years and, on the whole, I don't mix with socially other than at swim time. In fact I know none of their surnames. Even Lulu's whose feast this was. (Actually I have seen her surname written down and it something like Tamagotchi, which made me laugh).

Lulu and her family fled from Iraq over 25 years ago and have lived in a splendid house in West London ever since. She seems, from her conversation, to entertain every night of the year and is forever being descended upon by Iraqi/Iranian friends and relatives. Lulu is a bit good at cooking and so I was delighted when she invited us swimmers (and a few gymmers) for supper last night.
In truth all I can do is add some photographs and a few comments. It was bloody amazing.

The Persian rice with saffron and nuts tasted even better than it looks. And she makes it in exactly the same Tefal rice cooker that I have. Must get recipe.

I forgot to take a picture of the tabbouleh but it was sensational. There were kibbeh too. And a fantastic bean/chickpea/lentil salad which she had derived, made and multiplied from the ingredients on the side of an individual M&S portion.

The salad at the back left was extraordinary. I've probably missed a vital ingredient but it was cooked aubergines and toasted pitta bread covered with yogurt, pomegranate and tomatoes and was just drop-dead gorgeous.

We also had baked chicken in pomegranate molasses and stuffed vine leaves. Divine.

The desserts too were wonderful. I adored the date and walnut sweetmeats below.

And the baklava which she cooks with an olive oil spray so that there are almost no calories. (Yeah right! Lulu is Twiggy like)!

And then there was this wondrous cake/pudding which translates from the Arabic as something like God's Gift cake. It's one of those bung it all in and it sorts out the colour-scheme for you whilst it's baking. The chocolate dense and the top a kind of creme caramel cheesecake texture. (Yes I know that's vague but I've never had anything like it). Another recipe to pinch. Although I may have to buy a fancy tin.

Just in case Lulu hadn't over catered enough there was also a foreign intruder by the name of Tiramisu (which actually wasn't boozy enough for me) but of course I had to try it. Slimming World can go hang this week.

We all came home with Tupperware or foil bags of leftovers and Lulu will be able to feed her family for a week on the rest. The company was great too. We had a Jewish girl from Sunderland, a South African, a Malayan, a Sicilian, a French lady who was brought up here, an Irish girl and 3 home grown, including myself.

A wonderful evening but I am spoilt now. Oh and the top tip? Don't bother making your own hummus when the M&S version is so good.