Restaurant Review – Buffalo Wings London

Sticky wings chicken

Buffalo wings are not native to England.  I’ve never had a proper buffalo wing in this country which is strange because there’s a chicken shop on every corner.  When an English person asks for a hot wing, they’re expecting fried chicken wings with cayenne mixed in the flour.  No sauce on them, no blue cheese, no carrots, no finger licking.  This has posed quite a challenge for me because Buffalo wings are my favorite food.  OK so it’s my second favorite food.  My most favorite food since I was five years old is Salisbury steak TV dinners…the ones with the mashed potatoes and corn (and remember back in the day when there was the cherry crumble for dessert) but I’m definitely not getting that in England.

Well, no more.  Houston, we’ve got WINGS!

Mike and I discovered Sticky Wings on a whim while walking along Brick Lane.   Now for those of you who have never been to London, Brick Lane is the heart of Indian cuisine in the City. The narrow, partially cobbled street is line with Indian restaurants with curry wafting through every door.  As you walk down the street each restaurant host tells you how lovely you are and offers you a deal on the best curry in London.  As we walked past each restaurant wondering which “award winning” establishment we would grace,  I saw something different.  A sign not touting Bombay’s best but Sticky Wings.  My heart stopped.  Could it be?  Were my eyes deceiving me (because you know I’m getting older and everything else is breaking down)?  Was this a wing shack?  I looked at the menu posted on the glass and to my utter glee, discovered that Sticky Wings is a US style wing joint.

When we go in we’re greeted by Darul, the English owner who spent several years working and eating in the US.  We could see by the Frank’s Red Hot and French’s mustard on the tables that he’d really paid attention.  He even imported old Chili’s tables to make the restaurant even more American. His one-page menu has only a few flavors of wings but that’s the key. A short menu means more time to focus on getting those few dishes right.  On our first visit, we tried the buffalo and the sticky BBQ with fries and a side of deep fried corn on the cob (no that’s not a typo it was deep fried).  We chose the American portion (11 wings) to share between the two of us. The UK portion is a more manageable 6 wings (yes, now that we live in England I can’t handle an American sized portion of anything anymore).  The wings are cooked perfectly and you can tell that the meat is high quality (definitely no arsenic in these chickens).  I’ve eaten Buffalo wings in their birthplace, the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, and these weren’t far off.

The trick to a good naked wing is to fry them (without breading) so that the skin crisps up.  Then you coat them with the sauce just before serving while they’re piping hot so that the skin stays crispy.  Not a lot of people can get the crispy part just right but Darul did it.  No soggy wings here.  The sauces were excellent.  My only complaint was that the sticky BBQ wasn’t sticky enough.  On our second trip later that evening (yes we had a fat day that day and went back a few hours later), we tried the jerk twist which was, quite honestly, one of the best wing sauces I’ve eaten.  I don’t want to give away the twist but it was definitely a pleasant surprise.  We also had the fried mushrooms on our second trip.  I literally couldn’t stop eating them.  When we were down to the last one, we nearly fought.  And back to that deep fried corn on the cob.  Yes, everyone thinks that we Americans deep fry everything so why did I need to come to the UK to try deep fried corn? Pure GENIUS!  The corn isn’t battered or breaded; it’s just dipped in the hot oil to cook.  Darul adds some secret spice to give it some kick and voilà!

As we left the second time, the owner gave us a parting gift.  Two slices of homemade Oreo cheesecake.  I don’t eat cheesecake but Mike’s direct quote as he stared dopey eyed at his empty, chocolate smeared fork “this guy is doin’ something”.  I think he might love Sticky Wings’ Oreo cheesecake at least as much as fried chicken.

So if you happen to come to London head over to Brick Lane and say hi to Darul at Sticky Wings and tell him the Americans sent you.  It’s definitely worth the stop.

Sticky Wings

40 Brick Lane

E1 6RF London, United Kingdom

http://www.stickywings.com

Twitter: @StickyWings

Facebook:   StickyWings

TeFal Fresh Express Max – Food Processor Review

As a child I lovingly recall Christmases with my family.  It was tradition for my grandparents to feed all the town’s elderly or handicapped that would have otherwise spent Christmas alone.  My pap and his friends would drive around town making pick-ups all day long.  I would sit on the steps and listen to the laughter and chatter all day long.  These were my favourite Christmases.

My Nanny and my Mom and grandma (aka Nanny) would start cooking days in advance for all of the guests that would come.  Cookies, cakes and nut rolls would be made weeks in advance and frozen.  Turkey, ham, chitterlings (pig’s intestines for those that don’t know), mac and cheese, spinach casserole, greens, candied yams, and the list goes on.  I would sit in the kitchen as they gossiped and prepared the feast. As they worked they would task me with jobs safe enough for little fingers.  Blocks of cheese as long as my six year old arm would be laid in front of me; a box grater placed in my hands; I would be set at the table for what seemed like two rotations of the sun. I would grate and grate and grate.  I would grate until my fingers were cramped and I could no longer feel it when I would grate tiny slivers of finger tip into the bowl.  I grated so much cheese as a child I think it borders on child abuse. And this happened every year of my childhood.  Needless to say, I hate grating cheese.

Fast forward to last week. I picked up my new best kitchen friend at Costco. It’s simply the bee’s knees.  Let me introduce you to the Tefal Fresh Express Max.  We’ll call her TT for short.  My girl slices, she dices, she chops, she grates, she just amazing! I got her for £50 (but the suggested price is £80).  Let me just break down the details for you.

photo (2)

First, what’s in the box?

1 completely useless instruction manual

1 base/motor

5 conical blades with different uses

1 flippy plastic thing that connects to the slicer blade to become the dicer

1 spouty thing that guides the food to the blades

1 plunger to push the food down the spouty thing

1 cap that holds all the pieces together when storing

Getting started:

Ok, so this was a bit tricky.  The instructions were useless.  Imagine IKEA instructions 10 times worse.  There is a written section but it refers to the pictures that don’t make any sense so they’re pointless.  It took two of us about 20 minutes to figure out how to put it together. It’s quite simple once you get it but it’s not intuitive.  To attach the spouty thing, you have to insert it with the spout pointing to 1 o’clock then turn it counter clockwise to click in place.  The blades don’t actually click in place and it seems like they might fall out but they don’t but you have to put it in and jiggle it lightly until it doesn’t fall out. Then you’re pretty much set to go.

The machine has two speeds, slow and turbo, with instructions to indicate which type of cutting with which type of food works best.  Just hold down the on button (which is giant and red on top so you definitely can’t miss it).  Put the food in the spout and use the plunger to push it down and voilà (remember to put a bowl in front to catch everything). I grated 300g of carrots in about 20 seconds. I made two gallon sized bags of coleslaw mix in about a minute.  The thing handled carrots and two types of cabbage easily.  I even chopped pickles to make tartar sauce.  The only thing it didn’t do was chopping tomatoes.  That seemed to perplex little TT.  I ended up with a lot of tomato juice and the flesh of the tomatoes just kept spinning on the outside of the blade. I’ll try slicing tomatoes and let you know.  The best part is that I grated a 6×6 inch block of cheese in about two minutes.  AMAZING.

What could make this even better?  Nothing. This is already so very amazing but TT is even easy to clean. For all of the food (except cheese) I simply ran the blades and the spouty thing under a warm tap for a few seconds and it was completely clean.  The cheese took a bit longer (about a minute) to clean.   The attachments are all dishwasher safe (top rack) but they’re so easy to clean, why put them in there.  Finally, everything stacks nicely and neatly and sits in a corner.

The cons of this I can’t find many but if you force me to say something I’d say it would be nice if I could set the thing to stay on instead of holding it to keep the blade moving. It would also be nice if the contraption came with a matching bowl.  That’s really all I can think of.

The verdict

I love it, I would buy it again.  It cuts my kitchen time by half.  It’s compact but powerful and easy to clean which makes it a great tool in my eyes.  The price at Costco is just right however, at £80 I would have to think more about it (and then purchase it anyway).

Spice Up Your Rice – Simple Rice Recipe for Every Day

Close-up of grains of jasmine rice

Close-up of grains of jasmine rice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it weird that I love plain white rice?  When I say plain, I mean rice boiled – that’s it.  I like the taste of good quality rice.  I’m not talking about Uncle Ben’s boil in bag, I’m talking a good basmati or Thai jasmine rice. When it’s cooked well, they’ve got a very unique flavour that is amazing. I know that rice nutrition is next to zero but I would eat it every day if I could.  My husband thinks it’s weird that when I finish a meal at a Chinese restaurant, I actually take a spoon and eat the remaining rice from the bowl.  If there’s no more rice left, I’ll order a bowl of plain rice just for me to eat.  OK, I recognize this is a bit weird but hey, that’s me.

Rice, although it seems simple, is notoriously hard to get right.  My friend Gail, who is the queen of microwave cooking once taught me how to make rice in the microwave (yeah you can actually do that).  She made it seem absolutely simple until I actually tried it.  The one step she neglected to share with me was that you’ve got to turn the microwave to 50% power (really important step).  When I opened the microwave, I had a bowl of hard, black, glassy goo.  Not only did I discover that it is possible to char food in the microwave, but I also learned that burnt rice really stinks and the smell doesn’t go away for months.  Needless to say, I never tried that again and I perfected making rice on the stove.

So here are a few ways with rice because, although I love plain rice and can eat it everyday, I’m probably the only non-Asian person that can say that.

Plain Rice

Serves 4

Preparation: 1 minute

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup white rice

2 cups water

Method

Rinse rice under cold running water until the water is no longer cloudy.  Add rice and water in pot and place on high heat.  Once rice is boiling, stir, cover pot tightly with lid and reduce heat to low. Do not remove the lid and allow to cook for 15 minutes (this is a good time to get other parts of your meal started).  At 15 minutes check to see if the rice is cooked and water is absorbed.  If the rice appears wet, place the cover back on pot and continue to cook for 5 mints more.  At this point, if there is still water waiting to be absorbed, remove the pot from the heat and remove lid and let stand.  The rice will continue to absorb the water and any excess will begin evaporating.

Beans and Rice

Serves 4

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup white rice (rinsed)

1 10oz can of beans (kidney beans, black beans, gungoa peas are good options)

¼ cup diced onion

2 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1/8 tsp dry)

1 cup chicken broth

1 clove chopped garlic

1 – 2 tsp butter (or 1-2 tsp olive oil)

Method

Drain the beans over a measuring cup that can hold at least 2 cups of liquid. In this same measuring cup, add chicken broth until the total liquid measures 2 cups (if you’re a little short, add additional chicken broth or just plain water). Set the liquid and beans to the side for a moment.

Heat the butter on medium high heat in a small pot (with a lid).  Once the butter is melted, add onions and garlic and cook until onion is clear and shiny (being careful not to burn the garlic).   Add rice to the pan and stir to coat with butter/onion mix.  Add beans and liquid to the pot, stir and drop thyme sprigs on top.  Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 without removing the lid. If the rice appears wet, place the cover back on pot and continue to cook for 5 mints more.

Cilantro/Coriander Rice

Serves 4

Preparation: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients

1 cup white rice (rinsed)

¼ cup diced onion

2 handfuls (about 1 cup) chopped cilantro/coriander

2 cup vegetable broth

1 clove chopped garlic

1 – 2 tsp butter (or 1-2 tsp olive oil)

Method

Heat the butter on medium high heat in a small pot (with a lid).  Once the butter is melted, add onions and garlic and cook until onion is clear and shiny (being careful not to burn the garlic).   Add rice to the pan and stir to coat with butter/onion mix.  Add the vegetable broth.  Increase heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil.  Once boiling, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 15 without removing the lid. Remove lid and add the coriander/cilantro to the pan and stir.  If the rice is still wet, cover and continue to cook.  If the rice is the right consistency, cover the pan and remove from the heat for 5 minutes.

Serve.