Big smoke

I am in a very strange process, cooking for a restaurant that doesn’t exist, and all the other things I do in preparation – talking to suppliers, choosing cutlery, looking at glassware, all these things and I don’t even have a place yet. of course, the idea is to have as much done in advance, but I can’t help but wonder if I am just deluded. I suppose only time will tell.

 I am very aware that these flavours and this type of cooking is still foreign to most of my future costumers, assuming there are any, so I know that everything has to be just right, and absolutely tasty. And although I have tried and tested most of the dishes on the menu, there are still a few things that needs polishing.

 This dish is my version of fatoush, a dish which has as many versions as the people making it. All of them feature old bread, tomatoes and herbs and are generously seasoned with olive oil and lemon, the idea is that the bread soaks it all up. It makes good sense to me to add slices of hot seared steak on top of this salad, so that the bread drinks up all these lovely meat juices as well as the salad juices.

For the salad I used onions, sliced and charred till sweet but still crunchy, parsley, mint, and coriander and grapes. Last time I did it with pomegranate seeds but I couldn’t get any today ( for some reason sainsburys Brixton don’t stock any – strange) but I think the grapes did as good a job, if not better, than the pomegranate. Normally I would add a bit of fresh chilli, but I am cooking for my wife who can’t abide it, and I’d hate to spoil a nice day, they are rare enough in this household

I prefer to cook my steak in a pan rather than a grill, I like it to have a crispy, salty, deeply brown crust which you can only get from a flat hot metal surface. The juices that accumulate in the pan are an added bonus and I usually deglaze it to make a sauce so meaty you don’t even need the steak.  I didn’t need a sauce for this salad but I’d hate to waste all this flavour, so I toss some torn flatbread in the pan, to let it soak all the flavour from the juices and then crisp up as well. I ended up with some really nice tasting croutons. Last time a tried it with a naan type bread,  this time I tried with pita, it was nice but not as nice – too crispy and not enough spongy goodness to take all the juices.


by this time the pan has been on high heat for over 15min, and our tiny flat is rapidly filling with smoke. we run around opening every window and closing the bedroom door but we are too late – our wardrobe, its content and the bed already soaked the BBQ aroma, an odor that will follow us for the rest of this week and remind us of this dinner. january winds gushing through the window and a cloud of smoke has settled around the dining table, it is time to plate: Some toasted bread on the plate, salad on top, more bread and the sliced steak. Pour the sauce from the salad on top and eat, if you can breathe through your nose at the same time.


Not bad for dinner at home but requires more work for the restaurant – salad dressing not potent enough, need to get the right bread and the meat was not at all up to scratch – another saisburys brixton let down. on the upside, even with all these failings and the cold smoky dining conditions, it is a very delicious meal, a definite keeper. but I will have to make it again to get it right. Shoot.

Actually, I thought writing about the process would make it feel more real, but  now I feel like I have drifted so far away from reality, that I don’t even realize how far gone I really am.