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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The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings

24 05 2012

Hi Chums,

It has been rather a while since I last recommended a book to the World at large ,that would be you lot by the way.

In the main this is because I have been far too busy working on my own cookery book which will be launching rather soon. Hint Hint…

As such it is rather fitting that the book I am all in a lather about is one that dovetails nicely with my own.
The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings 

The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices, & Flavorings

Here is what those nice chaps over at Amazon have to say about it:

“An illustrated sourcebook to these all-important cooking ingredients includes information on more than two hundred herbs, spices, essences, edible flowers and leaves, aromatics, vinegars, oils, teas, and coffees”

I on the other hand will stick to simply issuing an instruction –

IF YOU COOK  AND DON’T OWN A COPY GO AND BUY ONE. NOW.

Not quite Wordsworth but hopefully the point comes across. I very rarely encounter anything that I look at and think wow this is something which everyone should own. However on this occasion I really am that impressed.

Not only are they lots of high quality pictures, excellent descriptions of various herbs, spices and flavourings and their uses but there are also over 200 recipes so you can leap straight in and start applying all this new-found knowledge.





Pleasure and Pain – Divine Torture Hot Sauce

1 07 2011

It has been a while since  I have last been excited about a new hot sauce being released…the very fact that I find hot sauce releases to be exciting suggests that I may possibly have a diseased mind but moving swiftly on.

Divine Torture is the first super hot sauce from Pleasure and Pain and is being produced in small batches of just 50 bottles a time…how is that for exclusivity!

The manufacturers blurb sounds quite interesting –

” Developing our own super hot sauce has been no easy task and quite frankly the tasting sessions alone have almost killed us, but the result is something we are all very proud of. Foxy has devoted the last 12 months to creating, quite literally, lava in a bottle. Using Scotch Bonnet and Naga chillies and two different varieties of chilli extract to intensify both the immediate and secondary burn this is something not to be trifled with. “

At less than a tenner a bottle my order has already been placed…expect to see a review coming as soon as the postman can deliver.





Cottage Delight – Very Hot Cajun Sauce

22 05 2011

Cottage Delight are a UK-based speciality foods company manufacturing a range of snacks, preserves and sauces including several different hot sauces. Our local supermarket is stocking 4 of their hot sauces at the moment but as I have quite a few sauces on the go and even more on order I decided to limit myself to just one.

The sauce that I have sat in front of me is their Very Hot Cajun Sauce which is a scotch bonnet and habanero based concoction, according to Cottage Delight’s website this is the second hottest sauce that they manufacture; second only to their Seriously Hot Carribean Sauce.

I have never tried any of Cottage Delight’s products before and I will be interested to see what exactly about this sauce makes it in any way Cajun.

The sauce is a really attractive yellow/orange colour with a liberal smattering of bright red flecks of chilli, some chilli seeds and a few specks of spice. There is a really good medium consistency that allows ease of pouring yet is still thick enough to coat food well.

The aroma of the sauce is really appealing, there is a really a great fruity kick from the Habaneros and Scotch Bonnets, there is a slight hint of spice and a nice tartness that just balances everything out…my attention has been well and truly grabbed!

In terms of the level of heat I would have to say it is actually pretty good. Sure for most chile heads it wont be Earth shattering but there is more than enough kick to make you sit up and take notice.

In comparison to most other sauces that you would find in your local supermarket this is a real cracker, great taste and a decent heat level that will leave you wanting more.

4/5





Jamaican Jerk Marinade

22 05 2011

Well it has been far too long since I last posted a recipe so I thought I would get back into the saddle with something nice and simple.

 Jerk is a style of cooking that originated in Jamaican and involves the use of a delicious hot and spicy rub or marinade to give a really great flavour to meat, fish and chicken, it is also equally good vegetables, Tofu or even just poured over some plain white rice (a favourite snack of mine)

Now I know not everyone enjoys a lot of heat in their food but I would argue that making any sort of Jerk sauce or rub without using Scotch Bonnet peppers is like trying to drive a car with no suspension, sure you can do it but it just isn’t any good. You really need the delicious fruity taste of the scotch bonnets to make the marinade stand out.

If you are concerned about the level of heat in the peppers then make sure that you remove all of the seeds and the little ribs off the inside and maybe use a mix of half scotch bonnet and half jalapeno but trust me you will be missing out if you don’t add any

Most supermarkets will sell you a jar of jerk sauce or little packets of jerk seasoning but as I have said loudly and often unless you are able to pop into a specialist food shop or deli and pick up something truly authentic then don’t bother, the mass-produced products are inferior in literally every sense

Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks spring onion
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Jamaican pimento (allspice)
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ tsp  cinnamon
  • 4 scotch bonnet peppers
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider or white vinegar

Method:
Put all of the ingredients into a food processor with a steel blade attached and blitz until you have the correct consistency – a slightly thick paste
Store leftover marinade in the refrigerator in a tightly closed jar for about a month.





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.





Prawn and coriander wanton rolls with sweet chilli sauce

29 03 2011

These prawn and coriander wanton rolls are deceptively simple to make but your guests will think you have been slaving in the kitchen for hours on end.

The trick to keeping this simple is to buy the wanton wrappers as opposed to struggling along making your own, there are very few things that really aren’t worth the effort of making myself but these pretty much top that list.

This recipe works best if you get decent sized prawns such as king prawns or tiger prawns but if you can only find the tiny ones than you can always mince them and mix the coriander into the mixture.

 

Ingredients:

1 pack of wanton wrappers

1lb king pranws/tiger prawns

Bunch of coriander

1 red bell pepper

2 eggs

Salt and pepper

Method:

Shell and clean the prawns before butterflying them down the centre, place the prawns to one side and season with a small pinch of salt and black pepper

Beat together the 2 eggs with about 1 tsp of milk to form an egg wash

Place 1 piece of prawn and 1 coriander leaf onto the center of each wanton wrapper, I like to add a slice of chilli to each wrapper as well but this is completely optional.

Brush the edges of the wanton wrapper with the egg wash and either roll up or fold into little triangles.

Fry in hot oil until the wanton wrappers are golden brown and crispy -about 2 or 3 minutes, drain on kitchen paper and serve whilst piping hot.

 

Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce:

There are plenty of good quality sweet chilli sauces that you can buy from the supermarket these days however I still prefer to make my own.

Ingredients:

4 serrano chillies, minced

4 Thai (birds eye) chillies, finely chopped

1 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Water

1/2 cup Rice vinegar

2 tablespoons Finely Minced Garlic

1/2 teaspoon Sweet paprika

1 teaspoon Salt

1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce

1 tablespoon Fresh lime or lemon juice

Method:
Remove stems from peppers and prepare as specified either mincing or chopping

In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the chillies, sugar, water, vinegar, garlic, paprika and salt. Bring to a rolling boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and reduce the heat to low.

Simmer until the liquid reduces slightly and thickens to a light syrup. Remove from the heat and stir in the fish sauce and lime or lemon juice. If you want a thicker sauce still you can stir in a 1/2 teaspoon of flour mixed in with some water towards the end of the simmer. Cool to room temperature before serving. Transfer the cooled sauce to a tightly sealed jar and store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.








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