Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fajita Seasoning

I used to make fajitas all the time when I lived with N & E in our student days. I can't even remember what we did back then for fajita seasoning - I think it was circa the era in London where Old El Paso box sets were the only way to get taco shells and tortillas, so they probaby also came with a seasoning pack. Thank goodness things have moved along since then (though not to worry, those silly box sets are still available). 

Anyway. I did not buy a box set this time, so was lacking something to season the chicken with. The internet to the rescue, as usual - so here's a nifty little recipe that I adapted to fit what I already had in the house.

Fajita Seasoning
Adapted from Kathy at Food.com
Makes about 4 tablespoons


1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon crushed chicken bouillon cube (I used one cube)
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder (I used one clove of fresh garlic instead)
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Original recipe also called for onion powder, but I just cooked some onions to go with the fajitas, and cayenne pepper, which I just didn't have.


Mix all ingredients together in a mortar and pestle, crushing the stock cube and garlic clove as you go.

Use in fajita recipes whereever it calls for seasoning (I think 1 tablespoon per 400-500g of meat is probably about right).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hackney Picturehouse - The Kitchen

270 Mare Street

E8 1HE

The Hackney Picturehouse is my favorite movie theater in London. The seats are all stadium so you always get a good view, they're super comfy and recline a bit for an even more relaxing experience, and it's actually reasonably priced (for London). After seeing Alpha Papa there, T, A-M, P, A and I all decided to stick around for dinner. The Kitchen is right in the lobby of the movie theater and serves a menu of specials - the night we were there I had the salmon fishcakes. What came out was three giant hockey-puck sized fishcakes full of flaky pink salmon, with very little filler. They were tasty but actually too filling for me, so I had to share them around (don't worry, none of them went to waste!) The crispy fries were great as well - fluffy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Is it possible to love the Hackney Picturehouse even more? If so I do.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mamounia Lounge - Mayfair

37a Curzon Street


When Mamounia Lounge invited me to review their newly refurbished restaurant in Mayfair, I said yes - I had gone to their Knightsbridge location and thought the cooking was excellent so was excited to see if the kitchen in Mayfair was equally as accomplished. I'm not sure if we ordered better dishes this time or if the chef is even more skilled - but we had a meal with some astonishingly good flavors and textures.

We kicked off with a classic gin martini that A really enjoyed, and the Sheik Royal for me - elderflower vodka and champagne. To compare Mayfair to the Knightsbridge location, we ordered the same starters as last time. Hommus Shawarma - Creamy Chickpea puree served with a centre of marinated Lamb Shawarma, and Calamari – Fried & Served on a Mixed Leaf Salad with a Sweet Chili, and Lemon Dip. The hommus was as creamy and rich as we remembered, with crisp smoky grilled shawarma piled on top - I could eat endless piles of this with the fresh pita bread provided. The calamari was crunchy with just the lightest coating of batter, though not as tender as last time.

For mains, I ordered the Seafood Tagine – Seabass, King Prawns, Mussels & Calamari served in a Charmoula, Coriander and Spicy Tomato Sauce. The portion of seafood was incredibly generous and the sauce kept me dipping my fork in for more. I'm glad I ordered couscous to soak it up. Eat quickly, as the residual heat in the tagine will continue cooking the seafood - the last few bites of prawns were getting increasingly rubbery even though it arrived perfectly cooked. 

A's order of Meshoui - Traditional Shoulder of Lamb, slowly roasted for 8 hours, marinated in Moroccan Spices and served with fresh Dates, Orange and Apricots, was one of the best lamb dishes we've ever eaten. He couldn't stop raving about how tender the lamb was - a mere push of a fork and it would fall apart. We'll be keeping an eye out for this dish in the future, but if you want a wonderful example of it, I would highly recommend this one.

We were stuffed at this point so just managed some Moroccan tea (mint tea with sugar in it) and a mango platter - but Mamounia Lounge clearly knows how to source mangoes as I've never tasted mangoes so good in the UK. We polished off the entire platter despite our fullness - it was just impossible to not finish every slice.

Mamounia Lounge is very lively on a Saturday night - musicians and belly dancing make it feel more like a club/lounge than restaurant, so if you want a quieter meal, I'd go on a non-weekend night. The food is top notch, so just pick your preferred atmosphere - either way you'll get a great meal.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


197 Richmond Road
E8 3NJ
Before seeing Blue Jasmine, F, C, A and I all wanted to get some brunch. I'd heard about a couple of new-ish places on Richmond Road, including Lardo, but seeing as how A and I had just returned from our Italian holiday the night before, it seemed like a good idea to go with a non-Italian option. I was pleased to see Unpackaged had opened up a bigger shop that includes a cafe (and I was also trying to hunt down caraway seeds) so it seemed like an ideal place to meet. I went with the simple grilled mushrooms on toast, which was so incredibly rich that I could barely finish it. There must be a ton of butter/cream/fat in those mushrooms, but that also explains why it was SO GOOD. A and C liked their pancakes, and F was happy with his bacon and eggs, but if I may say so myself, those mushrooms kicked the ass of all those other dishes.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Ireland Day 6

So the best breakfast of the whole trip was the one we made for ourselves in Kinvara with local ingredients. The grocery store in Kinvara is chock full of fresh, wonderful treats, so we picked up Kinvara smoked salmon, Irish granola and buttermilk soda bread. After stuffing ourselves, we packed up all our things for the last time this trip.

We headed off to Galway, our last stop before Dublin airport. There was a nice river walk.

But just when we thought Galway was too quiet, we stumbled across a cute pedestrian area. This is what happens when you don't do any research beforehand - but thankfully central Galway is small enough that we managed to find the interesting bit even without any guidance. Despite our enormous breakfast, we still managed to find room for a light lunch at The Quay Street Kitchen. The potted crab was excellent - fennel and chili made it so much more interesting than your average potted crab, and it was packed full of fresh crab meat. A had some battered hake since we somehow didn't manage to have fish and chips during the trip before this. I think P had some carrot soup while C stuck to a cappucino.

Soon it was time to head back to Dublin airport - so we got ready for a three hour drive through some more beautiful countryside and then said a fond farewell to Ireland. The company, the food, the music, and the sights made for a wonderful holiday.