Spicy shrimp pasta salad

14 06 2012

 In honour of last weekends double birthday and our recent engagement we decided to throw a bit of a party last Saturday.

Now even though the weather seems to have decided otherwise it is actually Summer here in Ireland and as such that means it is time for me to break out the BBQ.

If there is one thing that every good BBQ needs to really tip it over the edge it is pasta salad…

Yeah, yeah I know what you are thinking how old school and boring can you get but I love pasta salads.

As for being boring my spicy shrimp pasta salad is anything but!

 

Ingredients:

500g fusilli or farfalle pasta

200g shrimp (shells and heads removed)

2 red bell peppers

1 piri piri chilli (you can use a jalapeno if you like)

1 large dill pickle

Good quality full fat mayonnaise (I make my own but you don’t have to)

Heinz tomato ketchup

Juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp cognac/brandy

2tsp Smokey Paprika powder

1tsp Cayenne pepper

Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Cook the pasta, drain and set aside to cool

Cook your shrimp and leave to cool (if you are tight for time this is one of the only times I would advocate those bags of frozen shrimp)

Deseed and chop your bell peppers into 1/4 inch cubes

Finely chop the dill pickle

Combine together equal amounts of ketchup and mayonnaise with the cayenne pepper, paprika, lime juice, chopped chilli and brandy and mix until you have a light pink coloured sauce with a nice smooth consistency.

Add the pickle, bell pepper and shrimp to the pasta and mix together well, then pour over the sauce and make sure everything is well coated.

 

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BBQ pork ribs

12 04 2011


This is a really great recipe for quick and easy  pork ribs in a delicious sweet and smokey BBQ sauce that works great with pretty much anything.

It is really easy to tweak the sauce to suit your own personal tastes, a little more sugar or some honey if you want it sweeter, a little more chilli powder or some dried chili flakes if you want a bit more heat.

If for some bizarre reason you don’t like pork you can just as easily use beef ribs and they will still taste delicious.

Ingredients:

2-3lbs back or spare ribs

1 cup ketchup

1 cup water

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp mustard powder

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp chilli powder

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp smokey paprika

1 cup  onion

1 clove garlic

 

Method:

Mix together all of the ingredients for the bbq sauce in a large saucepan, and simmer 20 minutes.

Allow the sauce to cool and baste the ribs liberally before placing into a low oven, cook for approx 4/5 hours or until the meat is really tender and nearly falling off the bone.

Every hour or so re-baste with a little bit of the sauce to keep the ribs nice and juicy.

Serve with the remaining sauce.





Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted 4.7% Blond Beer

11 10 2010

I wasn’t planning on having a drink last night, but on hobbling (knee injury dont ask) into my local office licence I noticed that he had some new stock in.

Two particular bottles caught my eye; Marstons Old Empire (review to follow shortly) and Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted.

I have never had the oppurtunity to try Bitter and Twisted in it’s bottled form until now and couldn’t say no!

Bitter and Twisted is probably Harviestoun’s best known beer and with good reason it has won a list of awards literally as long as your arm for both it’s bottled and draught variants including World’s Best Ale at the World Beer Awards in 2007.

Not that their other beers are slackers, they also boast a World’s Best Pilsner amongst their ranks from 2008.

There is a lovely zingy citrus nose to Bitter and Twisted along with some slightly spicy and floral hints in the background.

B&T pours to a lovely pale golden colour with a thin white head that leaves a fair amount of lacing on the glass.

You reallynotice the hops in bitter and twisted which is good considering they have gone to the effort of using 3 separate varieties; challenger, styrian golding and Hersbrücker, luckily though at no point does the hopping seem overwhelming, either in terms of bitterness or taste.

There is a nice balance of caramel sweetness from the malt and a grapefruit/citrus sharpness that comes through strongly along with that pleasing spicy note that you can pick up in the aroma.

I usually only see blond beers as something to enjoy in the summer months, ideally in a sunny beer garden however I found Bitter and Twisted to be a blond that I could just as easilly enjoy on frosty autumn evening by the bonfire.

It might not be the world’s best ale but it is certainly up there.

4.85/5





Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

29 09 2010

 So this morning I had a little bit of surprise, I decided to go and visit my favourite little hole in the wall cafe; the food there has always been crap to sum it up politely but they serve tea that looks exactly like wood varnish and is exactly how I like it.

The problem is it’s gone, now where am I going to get tea that the spoon can stand up in?

The simple answer is I will just have to stop being lazy and bring a flask from home. The silver lining to the closing of this grease encrusted grot hole is that it has been replaced by what is to my knowledge the only BBQ joint in West Cork.

It has been opened up by a chap from Arizona by the name of Mike and his Irish wife, he has bought a smoker over from the states with him and is burning applewood that he is obtaining from a local orchard, so far so good.

The menu looks pretty appetizing featuring such BBQ staples as baby back ribs, brisket, home made beans, coleslaw and one of my personal favourites pulled pork.

I fancy myself as a bit of a BBQ aficionado and on seeing that Mike makes and sells his own sauces I got chatting to him, before long the topic turned to the pulled pork (which looked and smelt delicious )

Try as hard as I might I couldn’t get Mike to disclose any of his secrets to me, much like those pesky magicians in that sense, but I can vouch for the pulled pork being delicious, so much so that I bought a pound of it to take home and eat later.

The problem with 1lb of pulled pork is that there is only 1lb of it and try as I might to ration it out it just doesnt last.

The only logical option was to crack out MY recipe for homemade pulled pork and hit the kitchen.

As I don’t possess a smoker of my owner and the weather in Ireland isn’t often the best for having the BBQ out I have devised a different but equally tasty method for preparing my pulled pork.

Ingredients:

4 kg pork shoulder / collar
3 large red onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 red or yellow bell peppers
1 habanero chilli (you can substitute jalapenos or just use less/no chilli if you wish)
smokey paprika
coarse sea salt
black pepper
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 bottle of bbq sauce of your choosing

For this recipe I get roughly 4 kg of pork collar from my local butcher, I get the skin left on and the bone left in and trim everything up at home, if you don’t have the time and inclination ask the butcher to do this for you and just make sure that you remove any tendon/gristle that is left when you get home.

Mix the brown sugar together with enough sea salt, black pepper and paprika to give the meat a good rub, pop it in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least an hour ideally longer.

De-seed the bell peppers and cut into thin strips, you can use green bell peppers if that is all you have to hand but red or yellow work best and look better in the finished dish.

Peel the red onions and chop into quarters, if the onions are particularly large then you can chop them into eighths.

Crush the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife and combine with the chopped habanero and the lemon zest

Take your slow cooker and put roughly half of the chopped peppers and onions on the base of the pot, now place the pork on top and add the remaining peppers and onions around the sides. Add your garlic, chilli and lemon zest and try to make sure that it doesnt all end up in one clump.

Now pour over your bbq sauce; which bbq sauce you use really is down to you and your personal tastes. I normally use a mixture of half a bottle of Levi Roots Reggae Reggae sauce for its rich fruity flavour and warming scotch bonnet kick and half a bottle of something with a bit of a smokey taste to it.

Top the pot up with warm water until the pork is covered, pop on the lid and set the slow cooker onto it’s lowest setting. If you aren’t using a slow cooker then I would pop everything into a mid size casserole dish and set it in the oven at about 100c.

At this point you can just forget all about it for a good long while, I tend to leave mine in the slow cooker for about 12 / 13 hours if I can but you can get away with less time. I certainly wouldn’t leave it for anything less then 6/7 hours though as you want the meat to be really succulent and juicy.

When you are ready to eat take the pork out of the slow cooker and grab yourself a couple of forks, the meat should be so tender that it just shreds up without any effort whatsoever.

Pile the pulled pork onto a platter, add the onions and peppers from the pot and pour over a ladle full of the cooking liquid to help keep everything nice and moist.

Serve with nice fresh rolls or flatbreads, a nice crunchy coleslaw and bbq sauce of your choice to finish it all off nicely.








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