- 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

Sunday, 22 August 2010

RECIPE: Blueberry Muffins - Easy Like Sunday Morning!!!

Nothing pleases me more on a Sunday morning than baking! Baking and Sundays are a match made in heaven! That comforting cakey scent with a hint of vanilla wafting through the house is enough to whip me into a frenzy, especially as I actually cannot bake for a damn! (**Insert screeching record sound**) Yes folks, that's what I said... I am not great with baking. However that's not to say that I do not bake or have not baked in the past, it's just that my real flair kicks in when I can be creative and chuck in a pinch ful of this or a handful of that into a dish. As you know, there is not always room for this kind of creativity in baking... But I have gotten rather good at making Banana, Dark Chocolate and Nut cake and I make a mean Lemon Drizzle cake too but apart from that and the odd Tarte Tatin, I tend to stay away from baking in general, until I was given this fantastic recipe for feather-light muffins from my dear friends Mo and Kim! The recipe is really lovely, versatile and makes the most fluffy and delicious muffins! Naturally I like to add my own spin to a recipe, so I have tweaked it a little and I just had to share it with you, so here goes!

Brilliant Blueberry Muffins! (Perfect baking for kids too!)

225g of plain flour
3 good teaspoons of baking soda
100g of golden caster sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence (the good stuff please!)
1 medium egg
250ml of milk
50ml melted butter
1/2 teaspoon of maldon sea salt
1 punnet of fresh blueberries

12 muffin cases (which I place in a muffin tray to hold their shape whilst baking)

Preheat your oven to 190 degrees (or 180 if fan assisted).

Mix all your dry ingredients well together, then in a seperate bowl beat the egg, milk and vanilla essence together and add the melted butter to it. (TIP: If the milk is cold, the butter will instantly solidify, in which case microwave the liquid for about 15 seconds to resolve) Then add the liquids into the dry ingredients and stir a few times before adding your blueberries. Incorporate the blueberries by folding them into the batter but DO NOT over mix the batter or try to get it perfectly smooth as this will make heavy muffins and not the lovely light ones we want!

Divide the mixture into your 12 muffin cases and bakes for 20-22 minutes, using a toothpick to poke them in the centre to check if they are cooked... If the toothpick comes out clean of batter, then they are cooked. Allow the muffins to cool for 10 minutes before serving warm! And if you dont want to use blueberries you can add raspberries (with 50g extra sugar) or 1 1/2 chopped bananas, pecans and maple syrup or 100g of chocolate chunks... Its entirely up to you! They are also great warm served with some proper vanilla bean custard!

REVIEW: Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley

Dinner at The Wolseley can be mediocre and lunches are a bit stiff and as yet I have not yet had breakfast there (which is what The Wolseley is famous for) On this occasion, it is afternoon tea with three of my girlfriends that brings me here. Annoyingly it is absolutely packed and the accoustics aren't great as every laugh, shriek or bellow from fellow diners just bounces off the ceiling and dives straight into ones ear. My intolerance of noise, I admit, is simply another sign that I am getting old.

I despise the fact that AA Gill had to go and write a book about how damn fabulous The Wolseley is, which has now sent it rocketing into the orbits of super stardom, but I think afternoon tea should be a down-to-earth affair and priced very reasonably at £19.50, which technically still isnt cheap for a few finger sarnies and a couple of scones – but a damn sight better value than the ludicrous prices of over-hyped afternoon tea at hotels such as The Ritz and Claridges these days.

This particular afternoon on a sunny Sunday seems to have attracted an eclectic mix of patrons from all walks of life… Tourist, chavs and Londoners alike. Luckily, the nauseatingly gobby table of shrill lady-chavs next to us seem to be paying their bill and hopefully will be leaving shortly… and in good time too, as one of my guests is just 4 years old and is better off without the ‘colourful’ language of the soon-to-be-departed neighbouring table.

The tea itself is pretty simple and this is where the price point shows… 2 fat scones, nice and warm and I cannot tell you how fluffy and light they are, really quite remarkable, considering they held their shape so well. The finger sandwiches are classic cucumber, chicken and tarragon, egg mayonnaise and cream cheese and celery with the crusts cut off, of course! A mini coffee eclair, raspberry tartlette and bright yellow macaroon enrobed in dark chocolate finish off the 3-tiered serving platter. My choice of Darjeeling makes the perfect accompaniment to my cakes and sandwiches and I must say, I am quite impressed at the value of the meal and think it offers great value at £19.50. It's not a flashy or elaborate afternoon tea, but for a group of ladies wanting somewhere nice to meet, it does the trick and is great quality at an elegant venue in the centre of town.

I shall definitely go back for Afternoon Tea again… But I feel I need to go for a nice long breakfast first and really experience the infamous Vienoisserie that this now cult-like famous restaurant is renowned for.

The Wolseley - 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB
Tel: 020 7499 6996
http://www.thewolseley.com/

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Black Lime and Broadway Market - Better than Borough!

I am so over Borough Market and it's unruly crowds, impossible queues, annoying tourists and extreme pricing; there has to be an alternative! Fear not my food loving friends, there is a solution... 'Broadway Market, E8'. The market was established in 1890 and in 2004 the market went through a much needed revival which helped it become what it is today!

A lovely friend of mine named Soli Zardosht runs the UK's first Persian food market stand at Broadway Market called "Black Lime" - referring to the popular ingredient of dried limes used used in Persian cookery - and Soli had been asking me for the best part of a year to come and see the market and for one reason or another I hadn't yet managed to make it to visit her at Broadway until recently. 'Black Lime' serves up both classic and modern flavours of Persian cuisine to the hungry masses. Soli prides herself on serving up delicious, healthy meals involving baking instead of frying and the result is mouth-watering! Her food is becoming increasingly popular in the market and on the day I visited, there were a lot of people waiting in line for her wholesome take on Persian food; and it is well worth the wait!

You can get more information about the wonderful food of 'Black Lime' at:
http://www.blacklimefood.com/

As soon as I entered the market, the noise, colour and intoxicating food smells hit me drawing me in and within 5 minutes, I had spent £20! This kind of market is like crack to me, I can't help myself from stopping at every stand, wanting to taste everything and take everything home with me; Want a taste of Brazil? Then see the whole hog roast and delicious Brazilian snacks like Coxhinas [Co-jin-yas] stuffed with cheese and chicken, Bolinho de Bacalhau [Bo-lin-yoo de Ba-ka-yao] as well as these semi circle pastries stuffed with prawns (the name of which escapes me) and the classic 'Pasteis de Nata' - those delicious bruleed Portuguese custard tarts.

If you are looking to go more exotic than Brazilian food, why not try Ghanaian cuisine and the wonderful 'Spinach and Agushi' stand (also at Portobello Market on Saturdays) where you can get a real taste of Africa with my all-time favourite 'Jollof rice', which is a spicy rice popular in many different African countries, fried plantain, coconut chicken curry, spicy beef curry and of course the classic Ghanaian dish of Agushi - And if you want to know what it is, you will have to go and try it for yourself! There were many different kinds of sausage and both sweet and savoury Pirogies at the Polish stand too which were incredibly tasty and I would highly recommend to those wanting to try something completely different.

Other delights from the market include wonderful artisan breads, salamis and cured meats, pastries and cakes, every kind of food imaginable from Gujerati to Creole and not to mention butchers, fishmongers, restaurants and shops galore. Broadway is also home to the famous F.Cooke pie and mash shop I wrote about recently, so what are you waiting for? Hackney is where the action is and East London is fast becoming the home to some of the countries best and most innovative restaurants.

For more information on this wonderful market, visit their site here at:

http://www.broadwaymarket.co.uk/

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

REVIEW: Goodman, City

Only in Texas do you get meat of this size served up to you, flame-grilled to meaty perfection. Goodman's City branch opened this week and I couldn't resist the chance for a full-on meat fest. The staff are incredibly friendly and welcoming, lets hope that it stay this way because ‘Browns’ next door have never bothered being friendly OR welcoming!

The leather booths have that pleasing ‘new-leather’ smell and we ate seated at one which is beneath a black board list of the available beef cuts of the day. Huge 700-900g Porterhouse steaks along with enormous T-Bones, Ribeyes and Sirloins… Enough to satisfy even the most insatiable carnivores among you! Starters aren't really the main appeal for me here, although very nice, let's face it calamari, smoked salmon and Caesar Salad only pale in comparison to the main attraction… an enormous hunk of charred beef. We shared a 700g Porterhouse which was more than enough meat to keep us very happy indeed. A side of truffled chips (which I still felt lacked the desired ‘truffle’ as I just couldn't taste it) and possibly THE best Bearnaise sauce I have ever had in my life, whipped within an inch of it's life giving it a feather light almost moussey-quality that was sheer perfection.

My only gripe was that they despite seeing Truffled Macaroni Cheese on their web-menu, they didn't have it on the restaurant menu. I was absolutely gutted, but have been reassured that they will shortly be adding it to the menu after being inundated with requests for it. Fabulous.

Desserts are pretty straight forward, Creme Brulee, Hot Fudge Sundae, Cheesecake and a good selection of cheeses. The prices aren't cheap, but what else would you expect when the quality of meat is this good? At any rate, this is the City we are talking about… Economising is soooo 2009. City boys are back in full swing and this is only the beginning. For the rest of us non-high flyers, Goodman offers great value on top quality meat and if the City could nominate a dish that best-represent the Square Mile, it would most likely be ‘Steak and Chips’ which for Goodman, can only be a good thing.

Goodman (City)
11 Old Jewry, London EC2R 8DU
http://www.goodmanrestaurants.com/

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Gü-tted about Gü's free-range egg REFUSAL

And so the saga continues... After years of believing that lovely choccy pud company Gü were using only the BEST ingredients in their products, a nasty revelation was revealed to me at a taste forum I was invited to a few weeks ago... That my beloved are shockingly NOT using free range eggs in nearly 90% of their range! Read the detail of this here: http://sabrinaspassions.blogspot.com/2010/07/not-free-range-can-gu-believe-it.html

After a week long battle of e-mail exchange, it seems the lovely folk at are REFUSING to provide me with any further information regarding their distinct lack of free-range egg useage and have now asked me to meet with their Managing Director! Their refusal only makes me more concerned about why they are witholding simple information as to what kind of eggs they DO use. Reasons given for not using free-range eggs in their products? "Some of our puddings don't rise as well with free-range eggs" - A 'crock' of an excuse if I've ever heard one!

Gü FACTS

- There are 29 products in the and Frü range in the UK, 21 products contain some amount of egg, of which 3 use free range eggs (Frü Wonderfully Exotic Mango & Passion Fruit Mini Cheesecakes, Frü Carrot Cakes and Gü-ey Chocolate Rolls).

- In January 2010 Nobel Foods bought a majority steak in In January 2010 another food company bought a majority steak in , valuing at between £30 and £35 million. Nobel Foods specialise in eggs(!!!) and are the largest supplier of eggs and egg products in the UK (http://www.noblefoods.co.uk) and describe themselves as "the progressive face of the UK egg industry".

- puddings are stocked in around 3,000 stores in the UK

If you feel strongly about this issue, whatever your reason, whether animal cruelty or welfare or concern over quality or over concern over transparency of ingredient use from companies who you'd expect to use the BEST ingredients... There are several things you can do...

1) Boycott all Gü products until they use free-range eggs!

2) Write to them and voice your concerns at:

Laura Bowyer - Customer Care Manager at Gü
Gü Chocolate Puds
E-mail: laurab@gupuds.com / Tel: 020 7605 0064

3) Post this article on your own blogs, shout about it on Twitter and Facebook and email me with your tips and advice on what should be said to Gü's Managing Director!

WE CAN DO THIS
if we join forces and band together!!! We can make a difference and force companies like Gü to be more honest and transparent about which ingredients they use so we can make informed decisions about what we purchase and consume!

For now, signing off... More updates coming rapidly!

Pie 'n Mash - The last TRUE London food tradition

Nothing in the world could better represent the good old East End of London then a classic plate of pie 'n mash bathed in liquor with a side of eels. Ok, so admittedly it's not for everyone and if you are anything like me, eels make you squeamish. This aside, I am a great believer in preserving tradition, especially those that seem to be fading fast. Pie 'n Mash is one of the most authentic traditions that is exclusively London-based and it, sadly, is no longer remotely as popular as is used to be which is a great shame.

'F. Cooke' (established in 1900) is the second oldest Pie 'n Mash shop in town. Ironically the oldest (established in 1898) was originally owned by his Grandfather, but sold to another family. Speaking to the man behind the counter, his pride was quick to see when I asked for just a pie with mash and no liquor, it was plated simply with an enormous dollop of gluey old-school mashed potato and when I asked if he had any gravy he replied "No gravy, just liquor". I felt I didn't want to cause him offence and so I placed the pie down at my table and my Mum and I proceeded to tuck in. The meat inside was juicy mince, not so much gravy but a natural juice that flowed glistening and clear when the pie was cut into. The pastry was unlike any I had eaten before but was delicious and really very enjoyable. The ratio of meat filling to pastry was absolutely spot on, but then again we aren't dealing with amateurs here... This is the stuff of 110 years worth of tradition and the very thought that it could soon disappear, is utterly depressing.

So what happened? Well over the years all the workers and communities from the East End that used to eat pie, liquor and eels have since moved. Property prices rocketed, jobs we lost or created elsewhere and times changed. The East End is no longer a shady part of town where the Krays used to rule, where Pearly Kings and Queens would entertain and communities were tight-knit and largely English. It has instead become a real melting-pot of multi-culturalism, expensive houses favoured by city high-flyers and a multitude of chic restaurants and bars that are among some of the top destinations in London. No wonder more humble food cannot compete and beyond competing, it the lack of demand that is the real problem. Does anyone want to eat pie ‘n mash anymore?

Whilst not everyone likes a double portion of carbs with jellied eels and a bizarre green sauce, but this is part of our culture and it is important to preserve what little food culture London has. People have switched to eating fast food, convenience food and food, well, that can’t really even be described as food. Granted most of us are foodies that are smart enough to know the difference between good food and bad, but somewhere along the line, the people that were the key supporters of pie ‘n mash, seem to have migrated elsewhere and I feel we should make every effort to recruit new followers. If a shop has been around for 110 years then surely that tells you something about it’s demand? The owner, who is the Grandson of the original proprietor, Mr F Cooke, says that the demand is nowhere near what it used to be.

I asked the owner what kind of people eat here and he said it was mainly locals and Brits that came here. I also asked if he had many tourists come by, believing that perhaps Americans and Japanese come to pay homage to what is essentially an institution and surprisingly he said they didn’t. He said “A few Italians, the odd Spaniard and that’s about it really…” He was a lovely man and friendly too. I told him we were Iranian and he joked if we were related to the Shah, which made me laugh. I told him I would definitely be back again and bring more friends with me and he smiled and thanked us. Just as we were leaving, a German family came in and placed their ordering asking “’Zis is all homemade, ya???” to which the owner replied “Of course it is! Everything is home made 100%” – and there you have it, if that is not argument enough for us to support places like F.Cooke more than we do, then I don’t know what is.

F.Cooke historic Pie ‘n Mash shop is located in Broadway Market and I would thoroughly recommend you visit the shop. Where else in London could you get a full plate of homemade food for as little as £3.60??? “Rule Britannia!” I say… There is plenty of tradition left in London, all we have to do is nurture it and do everything we can to preserve it, because whether or not you are English or Iranian like me, England is our home and it’s traditions are OUR traditions and we should work hard to maintain them as best we can.

Friday, 6 August 2010

REVIEW: Galvin Bistrot de Luxe

As expected, Galvin Bistrot proved to be another fine culinary offering from brothers Jeff and Chris Galvin. The restaurant immediately reminds me of high-end Parisian eateries, with the classic dark green leather banquette seating paired with dark wood panelling and starched immaculate white table cloths.

The menu is not enormous, but just the perfect size so as not to overwhelm. Between the two of us, we couldn't resist the temptation of ordering 3 starters of huge garlic butter and bread crumb-stuffed Escargot, meltingly tender and bathed in buttery garlicky goodness. Decadent yet simple Terrine of Foie Gras with toast and gaining a special mention, a first class Lasagne of Dorset Crab with a perfect pairing of beurre Nantais sauce. The lasagne is truly spectacular in it's towered glory, bound with eggs to give it an almost feather-light weightless texture and packed with the beautifully sweet crab meat.

Main course of scallops with Provencale tomatoes and also surpreme of ‘Landaise’ chicken with girolles and delicately creamy fettucine are both beyond sublime. I would just like to say that i NEVER order chicken at a restaurant as I find it terribly disappointing most of the time, but the skilled hands at Galvin restaurants manage to execute flawless cooking of chicken, retaining succulence at the centre and crisp skin on top. Heavenly.

A simple vanilla creme brulee may amount to the most perfect creme brulee I have had to date. The perfect amount of sugar, bruleed to perfect. A creamy rich creme peppered with vanilla seeds and not remotely scrambled or unpleasant like the offenders at so many other restaurants these days. My guest went for the Tarte Tatin which arrived as a enormous portion topped with caramelised apples that were virtually glowing with appeal and soft and made a delicious and sweet topping for the perfect pastry beneath them.

Looking around, the people that ate there seemed to be regulars as the wait staff engaged in conversations with them, addressing them by name. A very dapper elderley gentleman sat on the table next to us and without a word, a glass of champagne was served to him “And what will you be having today Sir?” He orders some oysters and then proceeds to have a salad. Various staff greet him throughout his meal, another patron even stops to visit him claiming “Hello! How are you? My God you are so loyal here, no?” This is the mark of a good establishment. Good food, good service and attention to detail, taking care of people… If only more restaurants in London were a little more like this, we would all be a lot happier!

How the Galvins manage to run 3 incredibly successful restaurants that all serve such wonderful food, consistent both in flavour and high quality, is beyond me. Galvin Bistrot de Luxe is often viewed as the less glamorous venue of the 3 restaurants owned by the Galvins, but having dined there over the weekend I can quite confidently say that if it is real French food (with a few subtle influences from other countries) than you would be hard-pushed to eat anywhere better than Galvin Bistrot de Luxe.

Galvin Bistrot de Luxe
66 Baker Street, London W1U 7DJ
www.galvinrestaurants.com

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Delicious Summer Salads!

Chargrilled Baby Aubergines with Feta, Aduki Beans, Rocket & Pickled Chillies
Summer isn’t over yet and with plenty of days left to spend eating Al Fresco in the garden, this is another perfect accompaniment for all that delicious grilled meat and fish or even a meal in itself brimming with goodness and bursting with a variety of mouth-watering flavours. I found pickled piri-piri chillies whilst browsing the aisles at Tesco and had to use them for something and they are perfect in this salad and as they are pickled, they aren’t remotely as fiery as usual, so be generous with them. Serves 4

Ingredients

2 packs of baby aubergines
200g of feta cheese
1 bag of rocket leaves
1 tin of Aduki beans, drained and rinsed til water runs clear
6-8 chillies in brine (Tesco stock piri-piri chillies in brine and Sainsburys do green chillies)
1 medium white (or red) onion thinly sliced into half moons
6 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
Cooking oil

Method

Preheat a griddle pan (or regular frying pan if you prefer) on a high heat (or medium high on gas), slice your baby aubergines lengthways in half an rub the flesh side well with cooking oil and give the skin side a good coating of oil too. Then cook the aubergines flesh side down for about 8 minutes before turning over, adding a little oil to the pan and cooking again for a further 5 minutes. Once cooked, remove from pan and set aside.

Finely chop your chillies and tossed them into a large bowl along with Aduki beans, aubergines, rocket leaves and onions. Then pour over your olive oil and vinegar and lastly crumble your feta cheese in to the bowl and using your hands (because there is no better way) toss the ingredients together until they all get an even coating of the dressing and are well mixed. Then enjoy with some grilled chicken, lamb or just by itself.

Warm Salad of Grilled Peach, Pancetta & Halloumi

The sun is shining and salads are a great way to have a hearty meal that is still light and healthy. Salad is a word many people fear, but limp lettuce and soggy tomatoes needn’t be your only option. You can combine cheese, meat and fish with both vegetables and fruit and come up with something splendid to suit your own tastes. When you are cooking for yourself, there really is no right or wrong, just do what feels right for you.

Fruit is sweet and plentiful during the summer months and being the kind of ying and yang person that I am, wherever there is sweet, I tend to crave salt to go with it. This week’s recipe is a perfect example of bringing salt and sweet together through a simple fusion of fruit, cheese and smoked pancetta. Serves 2

Ingredients

2 large ripe peaches, washed and stoned then halved and cut into 6 equal segments
8 thin slices of pancetta (or smoked streaky bacon if you prefer)
1 block of halloumi cheese, sliced lengthways into 6 slices
1 bag of your favourite salad leaves
Top quality balsamic vinegar (vintage is best, but whatever you are happy with is fine)
Olive oil

Method

If you have a griddle pan, then great but if not, use 2 heavy bottomed frying pans instead. Preheat the first pan over a high heat (electric) or medium-high heat (gas) preheat and rub your peach slices with a little olive oil and sear each side for about 5 minutes at a time, then set the slices aside. In the other pan on the highest heat possible, lay your pancetta slices down and fry them until crisp and brown on both sides (this happens pretty quickly, so be warned!) Then in the pan you used to sear your peaches, add a little olive oil and brown your halloumi slices for about 6-8 minutes each side until they are nicely browned, but not burnt.
Remove all ingredients from pans and set aside.

In a large bowl, place your washed salad leaves and drizzle a little olive oil onto them along with a good drizzle of balsamic vinegar and using your hands give it a quick and gentle mix. Serve a generous portion of leaves on each plate and take 2 slices of pancetta and crumble onto the leaves, add your peaches, halloumi and then top with the remaining slices of crispy pancetta. Drizzle a little extra olive balsamic vinegar on top if desired! A simple summer supper that can’t be beat! If you don’t like halloumi, you can also just tear some buffalo mozzarella into the salad instead and avoid having to cook any cheese at all. It goes just as well!