Food By Me

Profile: Nikki Albertyn.

A newspaper that recently asked me for a recipe and a few pieces of advice on lesser-fancied cuts, decided not to use the recipe I submitted. I was pretty bummed about that. Forget the fact that they asked me for input and then ignored it. Forget that. They had their reasons, I suppose. I was more bummed because the talented photographer that shot the dish never got her pic in a national newspaper. And she deserved it.

Nikki Albertyn is one to watch. As a stylist and a photographer her star is on the rise and I’m tipping her for big things. With a killer eye, Nikki has that exciting skill set where the lines between design and cooking blur. Photographer, stylist, cook. Triple threat.  You could say she likes all things aesthetically superior. You could also say she likes nice stuff.

Check out her pic below for my sherry-vinegar braised lamb neck risotto. (I’ve thrown in the recipe too). You might also want to check out this link for an event she’s hosting in Stellenbosch.

Nikki Albertyn. Remember that name, people.

Lamb neck risotto:

Recipe (serves 4):

 Ingredients
  • olive oil
  • 2 whole lamb necks (leave whole if your pot is big enough, otherwise get your butcher to slice them into discs)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots, or small onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped leeks
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 litre homemade vegetable or chicken stock; more as needed (alternatively, just add water if you need)
  • 1/2 cup capers, to garnish
  • A few high-quality anchovies, to garnish
  • One lemon, peeled, to garnish
  • Parmesan, grated, to garnish.

Heat the oven to 140 Degrees Celsius. In a deep pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Season the lamb neck with salt and pepper. Working in batches, brown the meat on all sides; transfer to a plate. Pour off all but a few tablespoons of fat from the pan.

Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, leeks, celery and carrots to the pan. Cook until the vegetables are tender and  just starting to brown. Stir in the garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook one minute more. Add the vinegar and simmer until it reduces to about half a cup.

Return the meat to the pot, and add enough stock to barely cover. (Use the water if you need to). Bring to a gentle simmer on the stovetop, then transfer the pot, uncovered, to the oven.

Braise in the oven, basting and turning the meat occasionally for 4 – 4 1/2 hours. The lamb is done when they’re tender enough to cut with a fork and the meat easily comes away from the bone.

Transfer the lamb to a plate, let the liquid cool, and spoon off any fat. (Meanwhile, strain the liquid and return to the pot.) Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Shred the meat from the bones and roughly chop.

When ready to serve, warm the meat in the sauce, basting frequently.

Make the risotto as per normal. When it is the right consistency, stir in the lamb and sauce. (You can use some of the braising liquid to make the risotto) To serve, spoon lamb risotto into bowls. Garnish with anchovies, lemon rind and sprigs of thyme.  Finally, finish with cracked black pepper and sea salt.
Go forth and eat,
Andy

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Pot Luck Club x Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants

At FFMM we’ve been flattered to have received a few proposals from chefs looking to collaborate with pop-up style restaurants/concepts in our store. Naturally, we’ve been hesitant. Who runs the thing? Who staffs it? Where do we prep? How is point of sale organised? What is a fair split of profits? Blah blah blah. On top of that, we love our brand and are fiercely protective about who we would want to let in our doors. In short, we’ve come up with quite a few reasons NOT to do a pop-up.

But when Luke Dale-Roberts called us up to chat about a joint venture with Pot Luck Club I forgot about technicalities. He described a night of “bohemian madness” with no reservations, no pre-bought tickets and a first-come, first-served menu. Three dishes, 30 kg of meat and some barrel drums full of flames. That’s it.

Wesley Randles will be the man in charge and will be bringing some of his team to help out. With a loose theme of organised chaos expected, Simon Widdison will hopefully be bringing his calming influence to the party, as we hit the street for some fun times. The Baby-faced Dane and The Foodie have come up with some good wine pairings for the night and you can bet your ass we’ll have some cold beer too.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

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Nose-to-tail class at Chef’s Warehouse

 

Liam Tomlin used to scare the shit out of me. Maybe it was because I have been a huge fan of his for years and have tracked his career through his various accolades and cookbooks. Maybe it was because of those damn blue eyes and that fiery Irish accent. Maybe it was because when I did finally meet him he was busy shooting a portrait picture which involved:

a. Liam

b. A cleaver

c. A lot of chicken blood

For whatever reason, I found Mr. Tomlin extremely intimidating. Which is why it has been a revelation to get to know him. In fact, it’s been a privilege. You see, it turns out Liam Tomlin is not only one of the most talented chefs I’ve ever met; he’s also one of the coolest. With his Chef’s Warehouse facility, he has built a food nirvana and has had some of the biggest local names through his doors to host workshops and classes.

So why am I telling you all of this? Because I find it pretty hilarious (read terrifying) that I will be following in their footsteps. Yup. On the 14th of March, Liam and I will be hosting a nose-to-tail course. With some of the ingredients being slightly…unusual…all I ask is that you come with an open mind and an empty stomach.

Check out the menu below:

  • Fat-washed, Grey Goose Bloody Mary with chorizo popcorn
  • Devilled lamb kidney bruschetta
  • Confit’d and deep-fried pig’s ears with dipping sauce (paired with Everson’s Apple Cider)
  • Seared duck hearts on wet polenta
  • Panna cotta with candied guanciale and pear (paired with Everson’s Pear Cider)

The above meat-feast will set you back R500. At worst you get a bit lot of booze and a few lot of laughs. Come on down. It should be cool.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

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Spaghetti Carbonara

 

Spaghetti Carbonara is a classic. And, because it’s a classic, there are various things that spark a bit of debate when it comes to making the best version of the dish. I’ll say this: I won’t call this “The Ultimate Carbonara”. In fact, I don’t feel anybody has the right to call their version of  a truly classic dish the ultimate anything, unless they invented it themselves.

Below are some points that you might want to consider.

The pasta:

This might seem like a stupid place to start. If you’re pointing excitedly at the opening word of this post (ready to tell me what an idiot I am) hear me out. I’m not an idiot. You see, penne has made a bit of a recent surge as an alternative. So much so that London’s widely esteemed The River Cafe uses that shape. Now you won’t hear me saying this often, but I think they’ve got it wrong. For me penne is a cop out. For me you should be able to slurp up a long strand of pasta coated in your sauce alone. For me that is the simplicity and the beauty of this dish. So let’s stick to spaghetti.

The sauce:

I have touched on it above. The hero of this bowl of food is unquestionably the sauce. The pasta is just the best way to get it in your mouth. And what’s the point of having beautiful, tarred roads without a kick-arse car to drive? You’re left with three options here. 1)Eggs and cream, 2) eggs and butter, 3) Just eggs  . The first two are just way too much for me. Overpowering, overbearing, over-everything really. If you get the best eggs you can find, you’ll be fine. Trust me.

The eggs:

Wait, there’s more? I’m afraid so. Once you’ve settled on just eggs you need to decide on whole eggs, egg yolks or a combo. I fear this article is starting to get dangerously close to boring, so let’s just say my version is a combination of whole hen eggs and one quail egg yolk per person.

The pork:

Bacon will work. Pancetta, cubed, is infinitely better. This one is not up for debate. You need the rendered fat for the sauce.

The cheese:

Parmesan is preferred in some regions, Pecorino in others. In my particular region (my stomach) I prefer equal amounts of both.

The rest:

You may have broken out into some kind of cold sweat by now, waiting anxiously for the addition of garlic. Well, there is none. Deal with that. The sooner you accept it, the sooner we can move on. And we need to move on, because I am here to tell you there’s no pretty, snipped green herb in here either. Nowhere.

Okay, finally.

Here it is:

Spaghetti Carbonara (enough for 2)

What to use:

A slick of olive oil
About 80g Richard Bosman pancetta, cubed
250g dried spaghetti (the best you can get)
2 hen eggs and 1 egg yolk
25g pecorino, finely grated
25g parmesan, finely grated
Freshly cracked (not ground) black pepper – the amount is up to you but use more than you think for this dish.
2 quail egg yolks, to serve 

1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat, then add the pancetta and cook until golden. You want it cooked to the point where it is beginning to crisp.

2. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling, salted water.

3. In a bowl, beat together the eggs and the extra yolk and then stir in the the pecorino and most of the parmesan, reserving a little for garnish. Throw in plenty of black pepper.

4. Scoop out a small cupful of the pasta cooking water, and then drain the pasta well. Tip it into the frying pan and toss to coat with the rendered pancetta fat.

4. Take the pan off the heat and tip in the egg mixture, tossing the pasta very quickly. Once it begins to thicken, add a splash of cooking water to loosen the sauce. Toss again, spoon into deep bowls and add the remaining parmesan. As a final touch place one quail egg yolk in each dish.

There is no Carbonara dogma. The above is my method, but one that respects the authenticity of the dish. That’s a fancy way of covering my arse. If you know something I have missed, let me know. But I will say this: cook it as per the recipe above and you’ll love it.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

 

 

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The Moscow Mule

I’m lucky enough to have the best mixologist I know as one of my best mates. The dude has spent 10 years perfecting his craft and I’m always amazed at his knowledge when it comes to flavour profiles. He has one of the most developed palates I’ve ever seen and when you invite him over for drinks he always brings a little leather bag full of the latest tools and ingredients picked up on his travels.

He’s gone a long way to shifting my perception of cocktails. In this country we often associate the word with bright pink drinks and umbrellas but the world of cocktails is seriously exciting. The trend nowadays is towards making as many of the ingredients as possible at home and something as simple as bitters has endless possibilities when you start experimenting. These pages will be filled with plenty of the classics as we move along, but with Saturday’s weather coming to the party there was only one option. The Moscow Mule. This is a killer drink for Summer and it’s easy to make. Like cooking, the quality of the drink is directly proportionate to the quality of ingredients. Don’t skimp.

Recipe
————
2 shots Grey Goose vodka (or whatever is your favourite)
½ shot  freshly squeezed lime juice
3 dash  Angostura aromatic bitters
Ginger beer (Frankie’s or good ‘ol Stoney are good bets)

Method
————
SHAKE first 3 ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled glass. Top with ginger beer and stir.

Garnish
————
Lime wedge & mint sprig

Some extra tips here. Little details make a big difference with cocktails, especially with presentation. Something I’ve started doing is buying a whole block of ice and using a pick to chip off chunks. The end result in the glass is very, very cool. Also, give the mint a good slap in the palm of your hand to release the oils.

Go forth and eat,

Andy

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