1. Quiche Lorraine

    I went to my local Kennington Farmer’s Market yesterday, right across from Oval station and open from 10am to 3pm on Saturdays. It is wonderfully intimate while it covers your weekly shop if you need. This market is always stocked with fabulous things, including a crepe stand that I just can’t stop going back to. Among many other delightful items, including some cheese from the Wyfe of Bath stall, I bought some deliciously large yellow onions and local rare breed pork smokey bacon from Marsh Produce- perfect for Quiche Lorraine. Yum!

    I cannot believe it has been nearly a year since I made my last Quiche Lorraine. It is hands down one of the easiest and most wonderful of comfort foods, courtesy of the French. Quiche is also, more generally, a dish that can be made to any one’s taste provided they like eggs and do not shy away from a bit of creme ( do feel sorry for those poor souls who don’t like eggs but I do understand- creme on the other hand is just such a marvelous dairy product I cannot imagine life with out it so I simple cannot understand that. Apologies for being so up front…

    Now, back to the subject of quiche: you can add nearly anything to the base of this recipe- broccoli, goats cheese, shredded carrot, cooked and sliced potatoes, mushrooms, cauliflower, chorizo, spinach, etc.. the only things I would not recommend putting in quiche are- chicken and fish, as it does not match well with the texture of quiche, keep them for your pies and casseroles; large chunks of root vegetables or squash because their flavours tend to be a loss for quiche; and cabbage- because it lets out too much water and makes the quiche soggy, but any other cooking vegetable will do. As I say, these are only my opinions- what I do recommend always is to experiment with cooking- so try anything you fancy regardless of what I say!

    My favourite quiche is definitely Quiche Lorraine. The bacon adds a beautifully salty balance to the sweetness of the onions and it can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner and tastes just as good cold as it does hot. I do cheat a bit- I put in cheese when a true Quiche Lorraine doesn’t ask for it…. but I am a cheese fiend so I just can’t help it.


  2. Pop-up Particulars – Guest Appearance, Seattle

    Seattle is getting a lot of love these days. More people are starting to notice how great a city it is and it’s making Seattlites (as we call ourselves) pretty nervous because as friendly as we are, we like our peace and quite too.

    It rains a lot, which keeps the crowds out, but Seattle is pretty amazing for reasons big and small- normally manifested in big flavours, big shows, big culture and…small crowds. That’s why it always makes the most livable cities list- a lot of big fun but without the trampling.

    As it happens, some incredible pop-up restaurants are growing from small to big on the popularity scale! If you find yourself in Seattle on a Monday you might consider giving a pop-up a try. Let me tell you, I bet you’ll taste something that will change your life- particularly for those poor souls who have never eaten real Mexican food…(London, I’m talking to you).

    For Pop-Up particulars in London- visit http://www.londonpopups.com/

    Pop-up restaurants add an international flavor to Monday night dinners. Pop-up restaurants make a debut every Monday night at some local establishments. These one-night-stand restaurants take the cuisine in a decidedly different direction than what you usually would find at the address.

    By Tan Vinh
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    At top, arrays of colorful Mexican tacos, including these Nopales cactus tacos, are served at Alvaro Candela-Najera’s Monday pop-up restaurant at Sitka & Spruce, where, above, Sandy Ha, left, and Dustin Schulte await dinner.

    You’ve seen these Monday ethnic-themed dinners, right? It’s hard to miss them if you dine out that night. You may find Mexico City food at a restaurant where you usually would be served poached sea cod and New American cuisine; Indian comfort food where Mediterranean fare normally would be presented.

    These are pop-up and pop-up-inspired meals. Most are run by line cooks and sous chefs who rent restaurant space to run a once-a-week eatery. In other cases, it’s the chefs doing it in their own restaurants — comfort or street food that you wouldn’t find on their regular menus.

    Pop-ups usually take place on Monday nights, when restaurants normally would be closed and available to rent out. The plating is less fussy, the cooking more like your grandma’s.

    The concept isn’t new. But in recent months, it has become so popular that the dining rooms for pop-ups often fill up quickly.

    Every Monday, chef Matt Dillon of Sitka & Spruce turns over his kitchen to his former server, Alvaro Candela-Najera, who does tacos with Mayan-style braised pork and milk-soaked beef belly.

    At the Mediterranean hot spot La Bete on Capitol Hill, chefs Aleks Dimitrijevic and Tyler Moritz used to rent out their space for Monday pop-ups. Now they do their own. Walk through the front door on Mondays and you get whiffs of coriander and cumin, the smokiness from the naan being grilled in the open kitchen.

    In Wallingford, chef David Kong of Perche’No Pasta & Vino normally cooks Italian food, but once a month he pays homage to his homeland and does Monday Malaysian food night.

    Most pop-ups are run by young cooks. Like the food truck, the pop-up is an economical way for aspiring chefs to showcase their talents until they have the money or the following to go the brick-and-mortar route. The concept is most popular on Capitol Hill, where a dozen young cooks are giving it a go.

    David Howe and Kalen Schramke, both from Rover’s, do Korean, Caribbean and other ethnic-theme dinners at Volunteer Park Café on Capitol Hill once a month. By summer, they will add a second pop-up at another location with star bartender Jay Kuehner of Sambar. Irbille Donia debuted his Filipino cuisine at Olivar restaurant on a recent Monday, the same Capitol Hill restaurant where he works as a line cook on other nights doing Spanish cuisine.

    Former Lark sous chef Wiley Frank and his wife, Poncharee Kounpungchart, helped popularize the concept. In fall 2009, the couple started a Thai street pop-up, first at Licorous, then at La Bete. It became a cult hit and led the couple to open a takeout shack, Little Uncle, on East Madison Street earlier this year. The couple miss the frenetic energy of a pop-up and plan to do it again this spring.

    Here are five places to find pop-ups or pop-ups-inspired dinners. Check the restaurants’ Web pages, most have references to their Monday-night dinners. Many pop-ups call it a night after they run out of food. Reservations recommended.

    Judkins Street Café: Skillet line cook Adam Trujillo plans to do one to two Monday dinners a month, specializing in the comfort food of his homeland, Mexico, including a Posole soup from Jalisco. Café owner Michael McGloin plans to fill up the other Mondays with a Southwest- theme dinner, meatless Monday and other pop-ups. 2608 S. Judkins St. judkinsstreetcafe.com

    La Bete: The chef does an “Around the World Dinner Series.” Their Indian-theme dinner was memorable — juicy veal meatballs in a Kashmiri stew, served with stuffed Paratha flatbread; shrimp fritters to dip with the spicy chutney. Next up, an Eastern European-theme dinner with Hungarian goulash and smoked meat. This summer, they head south with an Oaxacan-theme meal. 1802 Bellevue Ave., labeteseattle.com

    Mistral Kitchen: Chef William BelickisWestlake Ave. www.mistral-kitchen.com

    Sitka & Spruce: Candela- Najera, a former server at the restaurant and now bartender at bar ferd’nand, hawks his Mexico City-inspired comfort food. It’s a simple half-page menu of mostly chicharrón and gourmet tacos. 1531 Melrose Ave. www.sitkaandspruce.com

    Skelly and the Bean: Chef and owner Zephyr Paquette runs her restaurant from Wednesday through Sunday and rents the space Monday and Tuesday to young cooks and culinary students. Terra Plata’s cook Shauna Scriver will take over the first two Mondays in April to do tamales, and Kevin Burzell formerly of Ba Bar will do Malaysian comfort food the last two Mondays. The couple behind Little Uncle will do some Monday dinners here soon. 2359 10th Ave. E.skellyandthebean.com

    Restaurants | Pop-up restaurants add an international flavor to Monday night dinners | Seattle Times Newspaper

  3. My Favorite Wine Merchant

    John Avery was a family friend who was an inspiring and light hearted man with a seriously good wine business and a brilliant sense of humour. I highly recommend Avery’s Wine Merchants not only because of the honesty and quality of their product, but because it is so lovely to know when there is a business out there that encourages fulfillment in other parts of life besides everyday work- both for its employees and its customers. In a globalized world, where we as consumers so often feel very detached from the production process of our purchases, it is so special to know that the product you buy that makes you happy was produced by people who were happy to make it, happy to bring it to you, and happy to consume their own product too.

    Please visit Avery’s website, you will love them, I promise, and you will definitely love their wine.


  4. The Breakfast Club Cafe, Angel

    Sitting on a bright corner along the Camden Passage in Angel are two stacks of the most wonderful pancakes you have ever seen. Each stack with four perfect pancakes and a wonderful stiff custard cream cloud floating above them, carrying sliced strawberries and plump blueberries, and accompanied with syrup. I feel like I’m floating on my very own cloud as I munch them down in the sunshine with my friend. I would post a photo, but it would cause a stampede…. (actually I forgot to take one as I was in a pancake trance, so you will just have to trust me.)

    The Breakfast Club is busy, busy, busy and the staff behave a bit like friendly bees, bumbling around quickly and efficiently the whole time but without hovering too much so as to make you feel they might land on your plate. You go inside to get your menus and once you’ve picked -which is hard because everything looks AMAZING- you go back inside, past the ‘Sex, Drugs, and Bacon Rolls’ sign, to the till to order. Your coffee comes out so quickly you can’t believe you were ever without it and the food comes out nearly as fast but not so fast as to make you think you’re in a fast food joint. This is definitely not fast food, it’s so delicious it practically stops time.

    The decor is definitely shabby chic, but it seems to have progressed naturally rather than being purpose built and bought- everything is as bright and cheerful as the staff. It feels like a community has made it, which is why I think it lives up to its name as Breakfast Club. All I know is, I want to be a member.

    I am enjoying another enormous bite when our waitress comes out and shouts in excitement ‘Look what I found!!’, holding up the centre piece of the old seat I am using- an old iron cafe chair painted bright blue- and quickly jams it in, replacing the pillow under me before I can sit down again. She smiles a huge, bright smile and I say thank you as she pulls a bottle of syrup out of her apron, ‘AND more syrup for you too, just in case…’. There is joy here, and even though we paid the bill at the beginning, my friend and I agree we could sit here all day… and come back again tomorrow.

    Love from Maggie
    After the Market

    The Breakfast Club Cafe, Angel
    31 Camden Passage N1 8EA


  5. Kick-Ass Cookies

    Sunday was Mothering Sunday. I hope everyone remember to call, send flowers too, or think about their mum and how amazing mothers are generally.

    My beautiful, loving, liberal mother has taught me a lot of things. She has taught me how to tie my shoes, spell b-a-n-a-n-a, eat a banana, walk, and make chicken cacciatore- a few among many examples of course. My mother also taught me about protecting myself, about seeing signs of danger- but that didn’t stop me being chased down an ally-way aged 21… details aside it was pretty scary, fortunately I got away without a scratch.

    Now, I generally don’t get all dark and dreary about much- but street harassment, harassment in general, is a real bugbear of mine- partially because I have experienced it before, too many times, and sometimes it has been scary. This week is International Anti-Street Harassment Week and not many people know about it- so, I’m spreading the word about as thick as I spread butter on homemade bread.

    Catcalls, sexist comments, flashing, groping, stalking, and assault. During International Anti-Street Harassment Week, people worldwide will collectively speak out about gender-based street harassment and work toward solutions.”

    I may be a woman and I may bake a lot of cupcakes- that doesn’t mean I’m weak, and neither should any other woman think they are, or man for that matter and NO ONE should feel they aught to put up with unwanted attention or threat. Gender-based harassment, mainly toward women and girls, is a huge problem internationally. It happens all the time. Let’s do something to help stop it happening where we walk- let’s take back the street.

    visit- http://www.meetusonthestreet.org/– for more information on how you can help the cause. 

    Now, I’m off to make some kick-ass cookies…. I’ll be thinking of you, Mom. See the recipe on my Cooking Page.

    Made by Maggie
    After the Market