- NEWS & ACHIEVEMENTS -

2011
Delicious Magazine Recipe Feature Recipes published in Princes Trust Charity 'Trusty' Cookbook Guest panellist on UKTV Food's 'Market Kitchen' Recipes published in 'Come Dine With Me Special Occasions' book Blog named as a "Media Must-Have" in Jan & Feb issue of Olive Magazine

2010
Launch of Sabrina's one-to-one private cookery tuition Guest critic on Gordon Ramsay's 'F-Word' series finale Organised Top Chef Charity Banquet for Haiti raising £70,000 for 'Action Against Hunger' Seasonal Food & Recipe Writer for 'Blue Tomato'

2009
Winner of Channel 4's 'Come Dine With Me' (West London) 'Bronze' winner in professionally judged 'AA Home Cooking Competition 2009' Appointed resident cookery columnist for Foodepedia

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Japanese Rice Risotto with Miso, Lemongrass and Scallops

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Seasonal Penne Mediterraneo

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Persian Split Pea, Dried Lime and Lamb Stew

Monday, 27 July 2009

A LITTLE "JE NE SAIS QUOI" GOES A LONG WAY!!!

I admit i have felt somewhat short of inspiration of late and when asked to booked somewhere exciting for lunch with a friend, i found it to be a struggle to say the least. Browsing through choices, i came across a French restaurant in Spittalfields and being lured by its promise of Charolais and Limousin beef, i made a last minute booking.

Le Bouchon Breton is a tucked away on the first floor of Spittalfields market in the City district of London. On arrival, we were sat on the lovely terrace area, which although not terribly busy, suited my mood perfectly. The staff are immaculately attired in classic black jacket, tie and crisp white shirt combination, a sight that for me personally, seems to have very much disappeared from the modern-day restaurant scene. A quick look at the menu and i decided to throw caution to the wind and treat myself to a starter of summer time classics... A whole lobster, giant prawns and homemade mayonnaise. And so appeared our mini seafood banquet on raised platters resting on a bed of ice... Gloriously decadent, juicy lobster with giant prawns bursting with a meaty sweet texture (none of those flabby watery tiger prawns)... simply dipped in unctuous mayonnaise, expertly whipped up. Perfection. Greedily i chose a salad of Dandelion and walnut with a warm Saint Marcelin cheese croute. Deliciously bitter dandelion leaves, reminiscent of a young chicory leaf, with a heady punch of rich and strong St Marcelin cheese, enrobed in a perfect vinaigrette. Just the ticket to kick-start a meal with the desired level of fabulousness.

The main course was a simple enough decision for us.... Cote du boeuf... or Rib of beef. Nothing (but nothing) could persuade me to choose anything else. As the restaurant themselves say "OUR BEEF IS A CROSS OF SCOTTISH BLACK ANGUS, CHAROLAIS OR LIMOUSIN BREEDS FROM A SINGLE HERD. FED SOLELY ON LUSCIOUS LANCASHIRE GRASS AND HUNG ON THE BONE FOR NO LESS THAN 28 DAYS" When something is put so beautifully as that, is there really any reason to seek alternatives? I think not.

The staff are incredibly friendly and attentive... a rareity in most other French restaurants the world over. We felt very well taken care of, but not overly observed or harassed or smothered. The table next us to were all French (always a good sign!) and all the staff, including waiters and Chefs, took their turn to spend a great deal of time talking with these diners. This is such a similar experience to France itself, as the French like to take their time to enjoy life's little pleasure and if that includes leaving the kitchen to speak to valued diners for 15 minutes, then why ever not? It endeared them to me greatly and reminded me of being in the South of France in the summer, where after lunch the staff would sit and chat endlessly with us over a few glasses of wine.

As the terrace grew busier with diners, a large group's main courses arrived, beef tartare, expertly made at the table by the head waiter with perfectly chopped fillet of beef dressed with the usual raw egg yolk, mustard, capers, shallots and what not. Like having your own personal culinary theatre at your table. The theatrics continue as the trolley is wheeled forward "Cote du boeuf!! Cote du boeuf!!" bellows the waiter. The beautiful piece of beef paraded as the magnificent beast it is, carved into juicy thick slices and served on a wooden board at your table with a simple accompaniment of a superbly made Bearnaise sauce, that is so good it should have its own billing on the menu and a deliciously rich, gravy-like peppercorn sauce as a second alternative. Classic, thinly cut French fries or 'Frites' and a simply mixed salad are also served. The whole experience was simple in content, but with an incredible impact, the likes of which i havent felt for the longest of times. "Vraiment delicieux!"

Only a fool would be able to eat another bite after such a banquet of seafood and a beast of a Cote du boeuf, as we'd had... But i, my friends, am such a fool. I prefer to be labelled a fool having satisfied the devil in me, rather than be sensible and end the meal without dessert. I literally could not help myself from ordering something sweet to round off my wonderful meal... I opted for the Mousse au Chocolat et Langue de chat, which translated is Chocolate Mousse with Cats Tongue. Ok they dont really eat cat's tongues in France... It is merely a term for a delicate little biscuit that is long in length with a delicate curvature at each end, reminiscent of a cat's tongue. I must admit, their was nothing 'Moussey' about this Mousse. It was a very dense and heavy dessert, but for chocolate lovers like myself, it was absolutely heavenly... I spread the chocolate dessert onto the little biscuits and devoured them at the speed of light. Who said i didnt have room for dessert?

You know, i really needed a pick-me-up... Faced with a 17 hour working day on Sunday, i wanted to enjoy every single second of my freedom on the Saturday... I arrived in Spittalfields but dined in France! With the best food, the greatest of service and a feeling that i could only liken to the freedom that only comes when you are on holiday... and the kind of holiday where you can leave your watch behind, because time is of no consequence! Overall it was a surprisingly good find and a truly outstanding experience. Very much the culinary lift and inspiration that i needed to get me through the weekend and more importantly get me writing again! And dont be surprised by the excellence of this restaurant, because on careful studying of their website, i discovered it is the brain child of one multi-Michelin starred Chef, none other than the heir of the Roux family empire, Chef Michel Roux Jnr or Le Gavroche. So if you want a slice of Roux culinary excellence, at a fraction of the price then visit Le Bouchon Breton or Le Bouchon Bordelais (in Clapham). Their website is: http://www.lebouchon.co.uk/ Vive La France!

Monday, 20 July 2009

IRAQI "KIBBEH HALAB" (BEYOND BAGHDAD, BEYOND DELICIOUS)

As a kid i was very fortunate to be exposed to food from many different cultures and i especially remember the family link to Iraq. Historically, despite being neighbours, Iran and Iraq havent always had the best relations (10 years of fighting beginning in the 80's) but we never really hated each other... and now that the rest of the world seems to have pigeon-holed the entire Middle East as terrorists, our unity has become tighter than ever! My Grandmas sister married an Iraqi over 65 years ago and she always did copious amounts of cooking at home, which was the complete opposite to my own Grandmother. I loved sitting in my Aunt's kitchen, watching her cook for the family (she had 5 children, who in turn had many more children) and the it was always a full house with people waiting to be fed at any time of the day!

Remembering the times spent sitting in her kitchen, perched like a hungry munchkin on a kitchen chair, I was just a little girl aged around 5 or 6 years old. A lot of the food she used to make, initially looked incredibly foreign to me. Exotic and strange dishes like Mussels stuffed with garlic butter and breadcrumbs as well as regular family favourites of Spaghetti Bolognese and of course lots of wonderful Persian dishes cooked to perfection. I loved her cooking, it was on a whole different level than that served at my own home. I remember every couple of weeks, a whole day would be devoted to making very certain special little dishes, which i later found out were Iraqi specialities. Some dishes stood out for me more than other... such as spicy "Shammi" kebabs, which from what i recall were little patties made with pureed chick peas, lamb mince which was blended together and dotted with tiny pieces of feta cheese, with an overall lethal kick of chilli. So delicious i cant even begin to tell you.

But for me, nothing reminds me more of my Great Aunts house than Iraqi Kibbeh. They are so good, i found myself having to turn to petty crime in order to feed my habit. As a kid, i used to sneak into the kitchen, after my Aunt has just cooked a fresh batch and used to gorge as many as i could stuff into my greedy little mouth, without getting busted by my Aunt! To anger my Aunt was a HUGE mistake! She never raised her voice, but just shot you a look that made you freeze on the spot from fear! So i really didnt want to tick her off by getting caught red-handed skimming Kibbeh off her laboriously accumulated pile. But man oh man, i was never one to be able to resist temptation and Kibbeh to this day is one of my absolute favourite Middle Eastern treats!

Many different countries in the Middle East have their own version of Kibbeh... But essentially they are all rounded little dumplings, almost egg shaped, but each corner ending in a pointy finish. The casings vary as do the stuffings, for example the most common Kibbeh found here will be the Lebanese version which is cracked bulgar wheat, mixed with lamb mince and the inside contains a mixure of more fried lamb mince with parsley and pine nuts, all delicately spiced with cinnamon and other such exotica. These, however, are my least favourite ones to be perfectly honest with them, as they lack the fabulous qualities i so very much adore of the Iraqi "Kibbeh Halab" version.

Crispy, crunchy, perfectly formed golden ocre-coloured little balls of perfection! The outer case made with delicately moulded cooked rice (sometimes tinted with saffron) shaped and then generously stuffed with a simple meaty filling. Pure heaven for yours truly and much lighter than their Lebanese counterparts! Literally every single time i make them, despite them needing to be deep fried at volcanic temperatures... as soon as they come out of the oil, a quick drain on kitchen towel and within seconds i inhale the whole lot as if they were never there. First one, then another, then suddenly the whole pile are gone.... Just like when i was a kid. They are insanely good and i still havent learn the knack of controlling myself.

I will be perfectly honest with you and admit that i am still very scared of attempting to make them, as i have always had a firm belief that some recipes should be left to the experts. However, should you wish to make these, you will need to search high and low for an accurate recipe, because Google has only managed to afford me the recipe of the more commonly known Lebanese bulgar wheat kibbeh... Alternatively you could head to your local Arabic supermarket and ask them if they have Kibbeh Halab (Iraqi rice kibbeh). This is exactly what i do when im craving them. You will find them in the freezer section and they simply need to be deep fried straight from frozen and thats all there is to do, except enjoy them!

To help you in your quest, here are the two places i buy these fabulous little treats from:

Green Valley Market - 36 Upper Berkeley Street, London, W1H 5QF / Tel: 020 7402 7385

~ OR ~

Archie Food Store - 14 Moscow Road, London W2 4BT / Tel: 020 7229 2275

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

CINNAMON SEDUCTION

My favourite thing about being in shopping malls in America, was always the intoxicatingly seductive scent of Cinnamon goodness that hypnotises you from the minute you walk through the doors. You cannot help but be drawn to it, hunt it down, seek it out... like a rabid dog chasing its prey... you have to have it. As soon as i see the sign, my heart rate increases and what started as walking, quickly becomes running. And there it is, 'Cinnabon'... with its cinnamon-laden bounty, teasing you from a distance. A closer look reveals assorted buns (similar in appearance to the British Chelsea bun) available in both large buns and mini buns (or mini-bons to be precise) glistening with sticky sweet goodness in plain cinnamon, chocolate-cinammon or maple pecan flavour. Other goodies available include home-bake bun packs, as well as cinnamon twists and lashings of cream cheese frosting in little tubs.

The good news is that they are absolutely heavenly. The bad news is that the large buns are over 1,500 calories each and they are completely addictive. More bad news is that they are now here in London! The first branch popped up in Oxford Circus, followed by the Trocadero centre in Piccadilly and - to my sheer delight - another branch has appeared in Queensway which is much closer to me (and thus, incredibly dangerous). I generally think when anything contains almost the same amount of calories as a women's recommended daily intake, its probably not a good idea to go near it. But ignore this advice for one day and starve yourself if you have to, because they are fabulous little buns of pure cinnamon joy! Get yours today! For more information, visit: http://www.cinnaworld.co.uk/

Then - no doubt - curse me repeatedly for introducing you to these devillishly delicious cinammon treats. I know you will.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

"L'ETRANGER" - CREDIT CRUNCH CRIMINAL

£24.50 for a tablespoon of Risotto with few small chunks of King crab claw???? Somebody call the police, because i've been robbed!
Its not often that i leave a restaurant with the feeling that i have been ripped-off, but lunch today was nothing short of daylight robbery. L'Etranger in Gloucester Road, opened its doors in 2002 and despite it literally being a 10 minute walk from my house, i never felt obliged to make the short journey to eat there. However over the past year, the name L'Etranger has been cropping up on TV shows, in magazines and winning recognition and awards, so i felt it was time to pay them a visit with my good friend Stony in tow.

I vetted the menu online in advance and it really did look superb. French-Oriental fusion, boasting everything from your classic French beef tartare, using the finest Charolais beef to the more fusion Eastern dish of tuna tartare with a lightly spiced soya dressing. The list of starters (or Entrees if you're feeling French) were packed with delicious and exciting sounding dishes, that i couldn't wait to try. The main courses all sounded great, especially with a special section listing their house specialities and signature dishes, i was very much looking forward to sinking my teeth in to them.

I arrive at the restaurant, staff are curteous and seat me at my preferred corner table on the plush banquette, adjacent to a beautiful cellar room where a group are dining. We open the menu and to my great disappointment, the menu is just a fraction of its online listing and i fear we have fallen victim to the dreaded "Reduced A La Carte" menu, that literally gives you a few choices in each section. We chose the tuna tartare, crispy chilli squid and the oysters. All three dishes were as you'd expect... perfectly good, but not anything extraordinary. I was more than satisfied, but wished that we were able to choose from the full menu, to have perhaps had the chance to try something more exciting.
The main course is really where my disappointment came. My friend ordered 'Pyrenees Confit Shoulder of Lamb with Grilled Aubergine & Onion Chutney' and i chose the exotic sounding 'Roast King Crab, Yozu Kosho Butter with Crab & Chive Risotto'. I balked at the plate when it was placed in front of me... I couldn't believe how tiny the portion was, especially as my dish cost a hefty £8 more than my friends, so to see literally a few mouthfuls on my plate, disturbed me. £24.50 for 4 mouthfuls and not a dollop of Beluga caviar or white truffle in sight? Well its just wrong isnt it??!!! What i found quite hilarious was that the dipping sauce container, despite being just 2 inches squared, almost dwarfed the actual food entirely! Ok, so the risotto was good, there is no doubting that, but the crab was fiddly and i had to keep spitting shell and other inedible bits out, which really put me off and could have also been quite dangerous had i been less careful. For £24.50, you'd think they pay extra special attention to ensuring you don't choke on your food!
My friend said that his lamb dish was somewhat unspecial and that he had eaten better lamb in Morocco for just a couple of quid. I tried it for myself and whilst certainly more generous than my own portion, it was disappointing. The lamb lacked lustre and definitely needed some type of seasoning or marinade to uplift it. The aubergines consisted of two tiny baby aubergine halves that were each the size of your little finger. The onion marmalade (which had a bizarrely plastic neon yellow look about them) seemed to be the only thing that my friend actually thought special.

Overall a big disappointment, especially with the state of the economy, i think it is just wrong to charge people such astronomical prices, if only to offer food that is nothing more than mediocre at best. Even worse is when you pay a decent amount of money for your food and you leave the restaurant feeling hungry! Needless to say i skipped dessert and headed straight to my favourite ice cream parlour for some much needed creamy-dreamy-consoling of the chocolate and pistachio variety. I got home a couple of hours later and feeling hungry, i attacked some salami Felino and a pesto pasta salad i had in the fridge. "Damn you L'Etranger, for not feeding me properly the first time!"
Perhaps L'Entranger is best suited to the waif-like 'Yummy-Mummies' of the surrounding Kensington and Chelsea neighbourhood, but personally i'm not quite ready to be put forced to diet just yet! Especially not when i get a bill of £50 per head for the pleasure. I'm a real woman, curves and all... and my body is a temple. A temple constructed of indulgence (and OVER-indulgence) of plenty of good produce, exciting ingredients and fine food of the gourmet variety! Starvation is definitely not on the menu for a girl like me!!! Besides, Nouvelle Cuisine is sooooo 1980's and i don't see a revival on the cards in my lifetime. Not if i can help it!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

PERSIAN PLEASURES


Growing up, i always believed Persian food was either what you ate at other people's houses or what you ate in a restaurant. The reason behind this was largely due to the fact that my Mother (bless her) is no culinary whizz, and although she is the person who single-handedly fuelled my passion for cookery... it was more through her lack of capability, rather than the usual "Mother-teaches-Daughter" cooking tradition, that i learned to cook. My Grandmother, being the glamorous lady-of-leisure that she was, also wasn't exactly the old fashioned hearty-food-preparing domestic type either. She was (and still is to this very day) immaculately groomed with coiffured hair and perfectly painted red nails... so getting messy in the kitchen was never high on the list of priorities for her. But my Grandmother usually spent the whole day cooking, one Sunday of every month, making several different dishes which would be sent straight to the freezer for future use. Funnily enough, i remember helping her make jars of various different pickles too, which considering she wasnt such a willing cook, was quite a feat, even by today's standards.

Perhaps as a result of my childhood memories, i have always been a little apprehensive when it comes to making Persian food. My memory of it was always of how incredibly labour-intensive and lengthy the process was. Chopping of herbs, peeling of broad beans, stemming of cherries and barberries.... I was always roped in to do the menial tasks, from as young as 6 or 7 years old. I was my Grandma's Commis Chef, doing all the boring but necessary tasks... and funnily enough i remember coming home from school on several occasions with different friends and Grandma even wouldn't hesitate to put them to work! Child labour of the unpaid variety! I think my friends were all so scared of her, that they just got on with the task at hand, without question. Looking back, perhaps i now understand why some of them never came back to the house! How the memories of my childhood have stoked the flames of nostalgia... I guess i never realised just how much my experiences have moulded me into the confident cook that i am today. Its so funny because reflecting on those times, i was expertly handling herbs, spices, pickles, meat and so much more, starting from the tender age of just 6!

I guess we don't really have a national dish, so to speak, but if i had to choose one... it would definitely be "Chelo Kebab" which literally means rice and kebab. Not the kind of grease-laden, gritty flab that some kebab houses try to pass off as meat. The Persian kebab, is a very sophisticated affair by comparison and a completely different breed and class entirely! Quality meat, marinated with minced onion and sometimes Saffron, which ensures that you will find it shockingly devoid of that repellent fatty lamb smell that puts so many people off eating lamb. My mother hates lamb for that precise reason, but loves our kebab. Traditionally it is served with basmati rice, which is cooked to perfection, nestling in a heap of beautifully single grains., accompanied by a whole flame grilled tomato. Superb. Sumak seasoning is liberally sprinkled over the dish (some people sprinkle it on to the kebab & some directly onto the meat - your preference should be personal to you) and you can opt to have a small pat of butter to bury into your rice, along with some raw onion which i cannot survive without. Heaven. It is to Iranians, what Sunday roast is to the British.

Whilst popular, this is not the most popular dish of Iran. In fact, there is one dish that has acquired a global cult status and even has many Facebook groups devoted to its worship and that is a stew called 'Ghormeh Sabzi'. So famous is this dish, that we even have a saying in Persian that makes reference to it. Personally i am completely and utterly addicted to it and only a few years ago did i vow to learn how to make it and to this day i still use a cheat-sheet as an 'aide-memoire'. Simply put, it is a stew made of a base of chopped herbs (Parsley, chives, coriander and fenugreek) often, although not always, with the addition of spinach ... with diced lamb, onions, turmeric and some dried 'Omani' limes, which when pricked, release a smoky lime flavour that is a classic characteristic of this stew. The final ingredients are kidney beans, but across Iran, this will always cause a great debate, because the variety of bean you use very much depends on which part of Iran you are from and also what your family traditions are. We use red kidney beans, but my Dad's family also used black eyed beans or borlotti beans. I love them all, but my family always used kidney beans, so thats what i always use.

The process is incredibly laborious, especially as i defy all the shortcuts and choose to use fresh herbs and hand chop them all the way. Given the choice, most Iranians will ALWAYS take the easy options and either use freeze dried herbs, frozen ready chopped herbs or fresh herbs blizted in a processer. Being the purist that i am, i choose the long way round of painstakingly hand chopping the herbs, which i feel create a more rustic and real texture which resembles the dish before the convenience of gadgetry and frozen foods were introduced.

The finished dish is a deep forest-green stew, dotted with slow cooked tender chunks of lamb and studded with kidney beans that glisten like ruby gemstones in a sea of green. The aroma is very unique... dominated by the wonderfully pungent fenugreek with background notes of other herbs. Served with basmati rice, it really is such an incredibly special pleasure that i very much regard as the "Creme de la creme" of Persian cuisine. Its simplicity, adaptability and complexity are what make it so revered in my culture. To conclude, there really is only one way to enjoy this dish and that is.... IN VERY LARGE QUANTITIES!!! Just make sure that whatever you wear when eating this dish, has an elasticated waistband, cause god knows you will need it!

Sunday, 5 July 2009

IT MUST BE LOVE (LOVE, LOVE)

I've been naughty... very (very) naughty.... Abandoning weight watchers in favour of gorging myself this weekend. It all started last Christmas, when i received an ice cream maker. Since unwrapping the damn thing, i had only used it once before to make a wonderful Chocolate Sorbet, which was absolutely too good to be true. Despite this successful first attempt, the machine has stayed very much untouched ever since.

For the 4th of July i decided to honour our American cousins by rustling up a feast of all things American... Sticky BBQ ribs, corn on the cob, chargrilled steak and hot dogs. I wondered what the most American dessert i could think of was and in a flash of brilliance, it hit me... Cheesecake! But, im not one for baking, i will be perfectly honest and with the weather being so hot, i felt ice cream would be a better solution. Every time i go to L.A. i have to stop off at my favourite ice cream parlour, called "Cold Stone Creamery". The concept is simple enough... A giant slab of metal that remains at a frozen temperature, is used to create something very special and individual for each customer. You choose your favourite flavour of ice cream, followed by as many 'Mix-ins' as you like (Mix-ins are anything from chocolate chips, nuts or smarties to fresh raspberries and all kinds of cookies) Using two metal paddles, they skillfully blend your mix-ins into your ice cream and voila! Delicious, bespoke and entirely yours! So in a nod to my favourite flavour and mix-in at Coldstone Creamery, i decided to make a Cheesecake ice cream with fresh raspberries mixed in!

Sometimes good things need to be kept secret... but i'm a firm believer that GREAT things need to be shared and so if you are already drooling at the very thought of savouring the delectably creamy first mouthful of this indulgent iced dream, then look no further. Here's is just what you will need to make the magical mixture... Beware, its not for the faint-hearted, calorie counters or anyone with cholesterol problems. This recipe is 'Indulgence central' and if you are worried about any of the afforementioned side effects, then look away now!

Ensure you freeze the mixing bowl of your ice cream maker in the freezer the night before... Then you will need 150g full fat cream cheese, 250g of double cream, 200g of full fat Creme Fraiche, 3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of best quality vanilla essence, a pinch of salt and 200g caster sugar and finally 200g of fresh raspberries. Put raspberries to one side and using a whisk, mix all the other ingredients in a bowl until the mixture is as smooth as you can get it. Whatever you do, do not overbeat the mixture as the cream will stiffen. Once done, wash the raspberries and shake excess water of and using your hands just crush them lightly and add them into the bowl and mix it through. Pour the mixture into your ice cream maker, switch it on and allow to churn for 30-35 minutes and you are done.

The result is a gooey thick and creamy pink mixture, flecked with little scarlet clusters of crushed raspberries. So now all you need to do is take a spoon and dig in and lift spoon to mouth to experience the ultimate naughty pleasure. Its pointless decanting the mixture into a bowl, because i very much doubt you will be able to wait that long before you attack the bowl. From the very first spoonful you will find yourself fall head over heels in love with its rich, dense and deliciously sweet character. Every mouthful a velvety raspberry explosion in your mouth with a creamy finish that can only be likened to the smoothness of pure silk. Ahhhhh.... Sorry to harp on, but why take my word for it? See for yourself. Enjoy people.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

ARGENTINIAN CHIMICHURRI MARINATED STEAK


It would just be too perfect if i professed that every single meal i cooked turned out perfectly... Last night i decided to tackle classic Argentian cuisine in the form of "Chimichurri" marinaded steak with a few accompaniments on the side and also some of that 'green rice' i made as part of my Mexican meal a few days back (See recipe in previous article) Now whilst i've never made this dish before, unfamiliarity has never done much to deter me from doing things before. I'm that rare breed of idiot that leaps in head first and sadly not always to a good effect.
Technically i didnt actually ruin the Chimichurri steak itself, it was actually the mad panic to get everything together which resulted in me adding a whole extra jug of water into the rice, assuming it was the correct measure. Of course when i checked the pot later, it looked more like green rice soup, rather than the fluffy emerald-tinged grains that i was expecting. I panicked! Rice is one of those things i have always struggled with in my life and being Iranian, its kind of expected of you to know how to cook it, as its a staple that is part of our heritage.
After the panic temporarily subsided, i quickly drained the excess liquid from the rice and washed it a little under cold water and returned it to the hob on a low heat to steam a bit. You know what? It wasnt that bad! But i am my own worst enemy, judge and jury, before my guests even had a chance to say anything i belted out "This green mush is supposed to be rice, but i ruined it!" - They laughed a bit but everyone cleared their plates and then some! In the morning, i received thank you emails and text messages, so clearly it wasnt that bad! I came home and looked at the leftovers just now, and you know what? The rice looked good, so my panic was unfounded after all! I guess sometimes we just push ourselves too hard and can be a bit too severe when we end up with a less-than-perfect outcome. Relaxation is the key to cooking a good meal. Pressure does nothing but ruin the meal.

So what is Chimichurri? Its simple really... Its a marinade (and often used as a sauce condiment also) usually for steak, which has an infamous affinity to Argentina, of course. The ingredients are a whole large bunch of chopped parsley (stalks and all) a whole bulb of garlic (minced or chopped), one large onion finely chopped onion, 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 6 tablespoons of olive oil and as many chilli pepper flakes as you can stand... and some people add thyme or oregano plus smoked paprika or other spices to suit their personal preference. Dont worry about all the high level of garlic content, as its only a marinade, you wont get the full effect only a subtle aroma and flavour of garlic....Think of it as a salad-dressing-style-marinade for meat. Vinegar is an excellent marinade as its acidity breaks down the fibres of the meat, which in turn tenderises it and enables the marinade to really penetrate the meat, making it tender. Marinating the beef for a few hours if you can and when its time to eat it, chargrilled medium rare beef is really how it should be served.

I served the steaks in strips, with a homemade guacamole, salsa, sour cream and some tortilla wraps and of course the 'green rice' too!! Try it, its absolutely perfect for cooking on the BBQ or just fry it in a scorching pan until blackened on the outside and rare on the inside. Any cut of steak works here, but because of the marination, you can really use the cheaper cuts like rump steak, onglet and my favourite skirt steak, which are superb and definitely the most authentic for this recipe. No wonder Gauchos love their jobs, all that beef and BBQ'ing under the stars... Its a wonderful treat any night of the year.