Thursday, 11 September 2014

New York Kitchen Adventures, and announcing...The Last BBQ!

Leftover beef rendang on flat sopes with pickled cucumbers and chillies for brunch the next day

I owe you all an update.

Red Hot Chilli Padi went amazingly. We went all out for it– cycling all around the city to gather ingredients, both for our tests and the actual dinner. My thighs hated the trips over the bridges (oh with such passion I tell you), and I'm still not sure I was fully appeased even after cups of fresh apple cider at the Greenmarket. This farmers' market at Union Square was ridiculous– so huge and with such a massive variety compared to the little one I used to manage here (I still love my little Pimlico market though). Spoilt with choice,  I did what any sane person with limited time to shop for a dinner party of 24 would do– buy and eat 6 different kinds of chillies to test the best for sauce; make tater tots with heritage purple potatoes just to see if it's better to stick to the original plan of sweet potater tots; and test out different batters for courgette fries at midnight.

We even took an hour's ferry ride out to see if we could nick some ingredients from The Homestead at Seven Arrows, a farm run by Mike's friend, Meg Paska. Meg was a Brooklyn homesteader (she's amazing, she has a book and you should buy) who decided 2 years back she wanted to leave the city behind to grow vegetables and raise turkeys, chickens, goats, bees, and rabbits. It is currently a one-woman job, which is completely crazy. That day, we helped her prepare new beds for planting, harvest beans and tomatoes, and can peaches, and in return I had one of the best lunches on the trip– homegrown chard, homemade cheese from her goats, golden eggs from the chickens running around my feet, and the best peach pie ever, straight from the oven. It was simple food but the flavours were stunning, a result of the love I could see her pouring into her (not so) little 20 acre plot of land.

Thursday was madness. In addition to my signature shit-hot sambal, we did a green version of a sweet chilli sauce using green jalapeƱos and mint from Meg, and also some homemade mayonnaise with sriracha stirred in. I'd already knocked his flatmate out with a teaspoon of the chilli sauces, which was a good sign. The rendang had been simmering for 8 hours from the night before, with some fantastic grassfed short ribs from The Meat Hook. Mike had built a castle of 70 or so sweetcorn and bacon mancakes and was now on to building (yes from scratch) the extra table. Killer Kaya cocktails downed, we were ready to go.

And it was brilliant. The place was just swinging! I love the sounds of a busy kitchen– plates clattering, oil sizzling– mixed with the comforting sounds of people laughing and munching. To top it all off, we had (the first ever?) Red Hot Chilli Peppers jazz covers from Kyle and his wonderful jazz band. I met people who had come because they read this lil old blog of mine and it made me swell up with pride and amazement that people from across the world read my ramblings. The night ended with giant coconut icecream & peach waffle sandwiches – in other words, in the best way possible.

And so, I thought I'd do something crazy like this all over again back in London.

I've teamed up with the pair from Barry's Hug to host The Last BBQ before the sun says goodbye. One half is Sean, the forager/ gardener that took me on a wild weed adventure at Hampstead Heath. 3/4 of the year, he also works as a chef (currently at 8 Hoxton Square, and he oversees the grill section so you can rest assured that he knows his barbecues). The remaining 1/4 of the year, he spends all the money he's saved in the first 3/4 eating and gallivanting around Southeast Asia. The other half is Ed– or perhaps if I say Ed Laurie and Straw Dog I might get a few more hits from rock fans on this post. After a pretty intense night of menu testing, we've come up with this:

It's going to be a really fun night: a smokin' hot menu (literally) and rockin' music. There will be no fancy dinner napkins and lots of finger licking. See you there, I hope!


Related recipes
Mint sweet chilli sauce (variation using green jalapeƱo chillies)
Shit-hot sambal tumis belachan
Ox cheek and venison rendang (variation with simply beef shin)
Kohl-slaw with sweet tamarind mint dressing

Related reads
Red Hot Chilli Padi menu (we changed it a bit to suit the produce)
Meg, her farm, her book 

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