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Going out on a limb here. I don't rate Mary Berry very highly. I've watched a few episodes of the Bake Off thing and while I Iove Paul Hollywood, now there's a man who knows his bread, Mary Berry seems to me... well average. I'm sorry but I don't understand why everyone thinks she's such a fabulous baker. Baking margarine and putting all ingredients in the mixer all at once with added baking powder! Really? It's like calling someone who uses a bread machine a master baker. That's not to say I never use the all-in-one method; some cakes call for it but to do it for every cake it seems like a bit of a cop out to me. And I'm pretty sure that most people who do bake cakes as well as those who really like to eat homemade cakes can tell the difference between an all-in-the-mixer-together cake and a one that's made by creaming butter and sugar together, adding the eggs and beating until thoroughly combined before folding in the dry ingredients. I can. The first one tends to have a denser crumb and can sometimes be a bit doughy.

I know I probably sound like a purist here but to me, putting everything in a mixer is only one step removed from using a packet cake mix and I'm sure you all know how I feel about that. Equally, I'm the first to admit that there is a place for both - all in one and packet mixes that is - but really, Mary Berry a cake baker who judges others' efforts! Am I missing something?
 
 
After a successful night at the Cat on 26 October (see here for a review by Local Secrets on the evening's event) the Urban Street Kings held another delightful and tasty event at the Cat last night. As before the food was innovative, delicious and artistically served. I like this stretching the boundaries with food, it takes a certain courage and conviction to carry it through. It's always tempting to take the easy route and play safe - I do it myself. I like experimenting with different flavours and combinations of flavours but I don't really do anything to make it stand out. I guess it's about keeping expectations low so the diner with be wonderfully surprised when they actually taste the food but if they aren't, then they're not going to be disappointed because their expections weren't raised.

Well, I know what I mean.

The Urban Street Kings next pop up will be 21st and 22nd November. You can follow them on twitter if you want to find out more @food_urbansk .

In the meantime, I look forward to organising the next Psychic Supper as the last one was such a resounding success. It will be on 23 November at the Cat. As numbers have to be restricted, this is a ticket only event. Click here for more information and the booking form.
 
 
I can't believe it's been so long since I've written anything here but then I've got caught up in organising events and supervising the Cat's later opening hours on Friday and Saturday evenings. In the last month or so, we've hosted a couple of events at The Cat and Urban Street Kings held a Pop up serving some amazing fabulous food.

One of most popular events proved to be the Psychic Supper followed by the Murder Mystery Evening. I've held mediumship evenings at the Cat before but this was the first time it was held as an event with a 3 course meal. Guests brought their wine. Medium Clairvoyant Leo Bonomo sat at a side table to give private one-to-one readings to each guest while the others tucked into the feast, chattered amongst themselves and made friends.

Our next Psychic Supper with Medium Lindsay Duncan will be on 23 November - you can book for this on our supperclub page.

As it was All Hallows or Samhain, the food served reflected the time of year with autumnal seasonal food. The first course was

Cream of Watercress soup - serves 6
50g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1tbsp flour
250ml vegetable stock

400ml whole milk
500g watercress, washed and roughly chopped
75ml double cream

  1. Prepare a large bowl of iced water. Bring a pan of water to the boil, add the watercress. Leave until it has wilted which should take no more than a couple of minutes. Drain off the hot liquid and sit the pan into the bowl of cold water and leave to go cold. This stops it overcooking.
  2. Heat the butter in a large pan over a medium-low heat and add the onion. Season and cook gently until soft, but not coloured. Stir in the flour and cook for a minute. Gradually stir in the milk and 250ml vegetable stock. Bring to just below the boil, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Squeeze the cooled watercress out and add to the pan. Using a stick blender, puree the mixture, then add the cream and season to taste.
Served with crusty homemade organic bread.

Picture
Next Course: Slow Roasted Spiced Leg of Lamb - serves 6

1 large leg of lamb (approx 2kg)
1 head of garlic, sliced in half horizontally
1 red onion, peeled and sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper




Marinade

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup red wine
4 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp brown sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

  1. Using a sharp knife, make a few small incisions in the fattiest parts of the lamb. Mix all the marinade ingredients and rub over the lamb, making sure you push it into the incisions. Leave to marinate in the fridge for 12–18 hours or overnight.
  2. Remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hour before cooking, and preheat the oven to 220C.
  3. Place the sliced head of garlic and onion in the base of a large roasting tin.
  4. Make sure there is no chopped garlic on the surface of the lamb otherwise it will burn while the lamb is cooking.
  5. Rub a little olive oil and salt onto the meat, then place the lamb on top of the vegetables and put in the oven, uncovered. Cook for 5 minutes then turn down the oven temperature down to 150°C (300°F)
  6. After 40 minutes, pour 2 cups of hot water over the meat and return to the oven for 3–4 hours, basting the whole joint with the cooking liquid every half hour or so.
  7. When the lamb starts falling off the bone, remove from the oven and leave in a warmish place to rest for 15 minutes while you make the sauce.
Sauce
Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and skim off the excess fat.
Boil rapidly over a high heat until the sauce has reduced to your desired consistency, adding a little more sugar, cumin and seasoning.

Serve with Vegetables roasted with wholegrain mustard and lemon (recipe later!)