Fresh and Smoked Salmon with Creme Fraiche and Cucumber Dressing

30 11 2010

This recipe is for one of my party favourites; a mixture of smoked and fresh lime marinated salmon is combined with a wondering cucumber, creme fraiche and dill dressing that is fantastic on melba toast or with a nice light salad of crisp leaves and some new potatoes.

Ingredients:

500g smoked salmon

500g fresh salmon

300ml creme fraiche

Juice of 3/4 limes

1 cucumber

1tbsp pink peppercorns

2/3 tbsp white wine vinegar

Fresh dill

Method:

First things first you need to remove the skin from your fresh salmon and cut it into small cubes of about 1/2 inch.

Place the fresh salmon into a bowl and squeeze in the juice of 3/4 limes ensuring that you have enough to cover the salmon, as with ceviche the lime juice is going to “cook” the fresh salmon.  Cover the bowl with some cling film and set aside for at least 3 hours.

When the fresh salmon is suitably marinated you can start to prepare the rest of the dish; cut the smoked salmon into the same size cubes as before and place into a clean bowl.

Drain the liquid from your fresh salmon and mix in with the smoked salmon. Set aside in the fridge for the time being.

Cut the cucumber into 4 lengthwise and remove the seeds and discard, cut the flesh of the cucumber into small cubes and place into a bowl with enough white wine vinegar to cover the cucumber and add in a good handful of fresh dill.

Cover the bowl and pop into the fridge for about 30 minutes before draining off the vinegar.

Take the salmon from the fridge, again discarding any liquid that has come off of it and add in the cucumber and dill.

Mix in the creme fraiche and the pink peppercorns, you can also add some more dill for extra colour.

Refridgerate if you are not serving immediately.

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Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

30 11 2010

There are a lot of chocolate stouts available on the market today and I mean a LOT. It is a popular style of beer that people just can’t seem to get enough of.

Because of the sheer range of chocolate stouts available it is quite an achievement to stand out from the crowd; Young’s Double Chocolate manages not just to stand out but to jump up and down whilst waving.

How do they manage such a feat? Well as odd as it might sound most chocolate stouts actually don’t contain any chocolate whatsoever, the name and indeed the taste actually comes from the dark malt that is used. Young’s however throw a small amount of chocolate into the mix and the difference to the taste is immediately apparent.

The main thing you notice from the aroma of the stout is unsurprisingly the chocolate, you also pick up the rich roasted malts and a slight hint of sweetness. If anything I think that the chocolate aroma is a little bit too strong for my liking, if you were blindfold you could be mistaken for think you were being given a cup of cocoa not a beer.

In terms of looks the stout pours very dark, almost black and has a thick rich look to it with a good sized beige head that lasts well throughout think Guinness but even thicker.

So we come to the main attraction, how it tastes.

Luckily the taste is far more balanced than the aroma, I had been concerned that this would just be sweet and like drinking a pint of chocolate, but that’s not the case at all. You get the taste of good dark chocolate coming through along with a dry nuttiness and a hint of coffee from the roasted malts.

In contrast to the rich sweetness of the stout you get a nice kick of hops that comes in midway through and lingers to the finish, there is also a slight aniseed / liquorice that helps to keep things balanced and a hint of alcohol dryness towards the end.

In terms of mouthfeel this is a very smooth creamy stout that is like drinking rich dark velvet, the body is edging towards the heavy end of the scale and it just feels wonderfully luxurious.

All in all I would have to say that Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is one of if not the best examples of chocolate stout that you will find,not only is it great for the slight novelty value of having actual chocolate added to it but it is a superb stout in and of itself.

4.85/5

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Mini Chicken & Beef Satay with Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce

29 11 2010

Continuing on with my selection of top party foods for the festive season I have decided to post my recipe for delicious mini chicken satay.

Obviously the satay marinade can be used with whatever you want but in this case I have chosen bite size pieces of chicken and beef so as to make the skewers easier to hold and eat.

These chicken and beef satay sticks are particularly good served with a spicy peanut dipping sauce for which I have also included my recipe.

I know that a lot of people like to include peanuts or peanut butter in the marinade itself but I prefer not to. Not only is this recipe better in my opinion but it is also safer for people with nut allergies as they can still enjoy the marinated skewers and can avoid the dipping sauce.

Satay:

12 skinless chicken thighs  or breasts cut into bite size cubes

1kg  flank steak cut into bite size cubes or thin strips

 Marinade:

250g lemongrass

2 shallots or 2 small onions

6 cloves garlic

4/5  fresh red chilies

4 inch piece of fresh ginger

2 tsp turmeric

4 Tbsp ground coriander

4 tsp cumin seeds

6 Tbsp dark soy sauce

8 Tbsp fish sauce

4 Tbsp sunflower or rapeseed oil

10  Tbsp brown sugar

Method:

Soak the wooden skewers in water over night so that they don’t burn, if using metal skewers this step is not needed.

Cut the chicken and beef into pieces and place into 2 separate bowls

Peel the onion/shallots,the garlic cloves and remove the woody section from the lemongrass.

Place all of the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor and blitz until everything is combined together and you have a suitable consistency for a marinade.

Try a little of the marinade to make sure that it tastes ok,  the main tastes you are looking for are salty and sweet with the chilli in the background. Adjust accordingly.

Pour equal amounts of the marinade over both the chicken and beef ensuring that all of the pieces are well coated.  Cover the bowls and leave to marinate for at least 1 hour ideally a whole day.

When you are ready to cook thread the meat onto the skewers ensuring that you leave space at the bottom of the skewer for them to be picked up.

Cook the meat under a hot grill or ideally on a BBQ.  Depending on the thickness of the meat used you will need to cook for between 10 and 20 minutes turning every 5 minutes or so.

If you have any left over marinade at the bottom of the bowls you can baste the skewers each time you turn them.

Serve immediately with the spicy peanut dipping sauce.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce:

225g sugar free smooth peanut butter

60ml rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp ponzu sauce / lime juice

1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp hot chilli sauce (or to taste)

1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

60ml sesame oil

2tbsp water

Handful of peanuts to garnish

Method:

Place all ingredients into a food processor and blitz for a few seconds until you a sauce with a nice thick consistency.

Crush the whole peanuts and scatter over the sauce as a garnish along with a few red chilli flakes





American to Metric Conversion

29 11 2010

Due to living here in Europe I tend to use Metric measures in most if not all of my recipes.

This is fine most of the time but I realise that for my North American readers (if any) it can be a bit of a pain having to go away and convert things from grams and mililitres into cups.

To make life a little easier I have found a handy conversion table that can be used at a glance, click here to view





Mr Naga Hot Pepper Pickle

28 11 2010

 I first came across Mr Naga Hot Pepper Pickle in the UK about 2 years ago.

Now I love hot sauces, pickles and indeed anything that is heavy on the chillies. In particular I am a huge fan of the dreaded Naga which holds the rather awesome title of world’s hottest chilli pepper. So on seeing that they feature as the main star of the show in this pickle I had to have a try.

 Just to give you an idea of what we are dealnig with here is the list of ingredients that those crazy Bangladeshis have blended together:

Hot Pepper – Naga Morich 70%, Salt, Vinegar, Vegetable Oil, Paprika, Mixed Spices.

Yup that’s right 70% Naga Morich that’s a lot of heat however you look at it!

Whilst this is very obviously not a beer I have decided to treat it the same way as my drink of choice and will be looking at roughly the same qualities of aroma, appearance, taste and mouthfeel.

So let’s get started on the aroma that you get upon opening the jar; you could be forgiven for opening this jar at arms length with a grimace on your face expecting to have the full atomic nature of the Naga Morich melt your nose clean off your face. Luckily you would be wrong.

You can certainly notice that the Nagas are lurking in there somewhere but the most prominent smell is that of a slightly sweet curry well rounded curry with a hint of fruitiness. Rather enticing really.

In terms of looks Mr Naga is not going to be winning any beauty pagents, it has a brown sludgy colour to it but the large amount of seeds on view should hint at some form of chilli being present (just in case you hadn’t guessed from the name and label). In terms of texture it is not dissimilar to homemade harissa if you were to leave the seeds in the chillies (I always leave the seeds in).  All in all not that attractive but at the sametime we are eating it not marrying it.

In terms of taste and flavour this stuff is the mutts nutts. The spicing isn’t overwhelming and the strong vingear taste you get in a lot of pickles doesn’t really come through until the finish. The star of the show is exactly what it should be – the chillies, you really get the fruitiness of the Naga Morich shining through strong.

Ok and now for the fun part; the heat.

This pickle is pretty damn hot, but surprisingly isn’t completely overwhelming. You know it is there and you can feel the burn at the back of your mouth and on your lips but you need to have quite a bit before you find yourself sobbing like a baby.

I really enjoyed this pickle a lot, it is hot but not so crazy as to mean that you can’t enjoy it with food. I found this pickle to be pretty much my favourite accompaniment to cheese of all things!

If you like fire and flavour pick this up, two jars if you can!





Pigs in blankets

26 11 2010

Pigs in blankets are  great, they make a perfect accompaniment to your turkey on Christmas day, they are great as a starter and make an excellent festive finger food.

I understand that in North America pigs in blankets are little Vienna sausages in pastry not dissimilar to a sausage roll, well these aren’t them.

In the UK pigs in blankets are a chipolata sausage wrapped in a piece of bacon and roasted in the oven and typically most people would have them only at Christmas time.

The trick to serving great pigs in blankets is to make sure you use the best meat that you can afford, there is nothing worse than pigs in blankets made from the cheapest nastiest frozen sausages wrapped in watery bacon full of preservatives.

In recent years I have started using olive oil infused with sage, rosemary and garlic when I cook my pigs in a blanket, all three flavours go great with pork and just really help to lift it to another level.

To make 24 pigs in blankets you will need:

24 good quality pork chipolatas

24 rashers of good quality bacon, I prefer to use maple smoked bacon but it is up to you.

500ml of extra virgin olive oil

24 rosemary stalks with leaves till attached (optional)

12 sage leaves

2 garlic cloves

a handful of rosemary leaves

Method

The first thing you need to do is infuse your olive oil with the rosemary, sage and garlic flavours, I tend to do this well in advance so that you really get the flavour of the herbs coming through in the oil, ideally 2 weeks to 3 weeks minimum.

Bruise the herbs so as to help release their essential oils and drop them into your bottle of olive oil along with the garlic which should be roughly crushed.

I tend to remove approximately half of the oil from the bottle before doing this both to allow for displacement and also so as to have oil to hand to help dislodge any stray herbs that get stuck to the neck of the bottle.

Refill to the top with oil and place in a cool dark place for as long as possible.

Wrap each chipolata in a rasher of bacon, you might want to flatten the bacon out with the flat of a knife

when each pig is safely in it’s blanket I like to secure them, you can use a couple of cocktail sticks but  I like to be a bit fancy and use a woddy stalk from some rosemary sharpened into a skewer.

Lay your pigs in blankets into an oven proof dish and drizzle with the infused oil, if you have any sage leave left over I like to scatter these over before popping the dish into a preheated oven at 185 c for about 35 minutes.





Devilled Eggs

25 11 2010

Love it or hate  it the festive season is fast approaching.

One of the biggest headaches in the run up to Christmas and New Year (I refuse to say “The Holidays”) is what foods to serve guests, particularly if you are hosting a party.

Big heavy sit down dinners are all very well and good on Christmas day itself but for more laid back occasions it is often nicer to serve a selection of delicious finger foods – not to mention easier! As such over the coming days I am going to be publishing a selection of my favourite recipes for easy and delicious party food that everyone is going to love.

Devilled Eggs are surprisingly simple to make and cost very little money, not only that you don’t need cutlery to eat them and your vegetarian guests can enjoy them too (vegans not so much)

To make 24 servings you will need the following:

12 medium or large eggs

4 tbsp mayonnaise

4tbsp dijon mustard

1 spring onion

2 tsp cayenne pepper

Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Paprika

Some chives

Method:

First you need to hard boil your eggs,  when boiling eggs make sure that you take the eggs out of the fridge in advance and let them reach room temperature before adding them to the water.

Once the eggs are hard boiled and cool enough to handle you need to peel off the shell and cut the eggs in half lengthways.

Using a teaspoon remove the egg yolks and place to one side in a bowl.

Add the mayonnaise and dijon mustard to the egg yolks and mix until you have reached a smooth creamy consistency.

Very finely chop you spring onion and mix into your egg yolk mixture along with the cayenne pepper ensuring that it is well distributed throughout your mixture.

Season your mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

At this point you need to add your mixture to the egg whites; to do this you can either use a piping bag or you can fill them with a spoon.

To stop your eggs from sliding around on the plate you can place them on some fresh crisp lettuce leaves.

Using a sugar sifter sprinkle over a little of the paprika and finely chop some chives and scatter over as a garnish








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