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.

 





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.





Nando’s extra extra hot peri peri sauce

23 02 2011

I was doing the rounds in the shops the other day and was pleasantly surprised to find that my local Spar has started to stock a selection of hot sauces from Nando’s.

For those of you who don’t know Nando’s are a South African chain of restaurants serving up Portuguese inspired cuisine; in particular they serve a lot of chicken dishes –  so much so that in the US they call themselves “Nando’s Chickenland”.

The other distinguishing thing about Nando’s is their use of Peri – Peri / Piri – Piri sauce which takes its name from the key ingredient Peri-Peri Chillies – which translates quite literally as hot hot chillies….mmm chicken and hot sauce.

A number of years back Nando’s decided to cash in on the following they have amassed and started producing their various sauces for retail sale; historically the main range consisted of regular, hot and extra hot versions all with one thing in common: they taste great.

The heat in Nando’s sauces isn’t going to melt your face off but the flavour is to die for – (click here to read Scott Roberts review of the other sauces in the range) and even if you are a hardcore chilli head you will find yourself coming back for more as a result.

So enough waffling let’s get onto the sauce itself….

Ingredients:

Water, Vinegar, salt, lemon, African Bird’s eye Chilli (Peri Peri chilli), Onion, Cayenne Pepper, Vegetable Oil, Dehydrated Green Pepper, Paprika, Garlic, Thickner (Modified food starch), Stabilisers (Xanthan Gum, Propylene Glycol Alginate).

On checking out the ingredients list I was pleased to see that Nando’s took the effort of actually listing the type of chillies used – African Bird’s Eye to be precise.

I say this because Peri-Peri isn’t always used as an exact name and can often be used to cover a whole different range of chillies of varying different levels of heat. In this case the African Bird’s Eye should be somewhere in the region of 50 – 70, 000  SHU although there have been instances of some African Bird’s Eyes hitting as high as 175k  – Just a little bit of difference there…

Appearance:

The sauce is a nice vibrant red/orange colour with a good smattering of seeds and small flecks of chillies running throughout. I think that the consistency of this sauce is pretty much spot on, it is just thin enough to pour without issue but is thick enough to really coat food well.

Aroma:

The aroma is ok but there are certainly more enticing sauces out there; you can pick out the smell of the chillies and some of the spices but mostly you get the smell of the lemons and vinegar making it a little on the tart side.

Taste:

I tried this straight up and had slightly mixed feelings about it to be honest. The core Nando’s taste was there and came through quite clearly which was obviously a plus and you could clear pick out the flavour of the chillies as well which was also good.

Unfortunately though the first flavour that you really get is the lemon and the vinegar and whilst a little bit of citrus is really quite nice this was just way too much to take by itself.

Now I realise that very few people eat hot sauce straight out the bottle and as such most mainstream manufacturers haven’t really got their sights set on pleasing us few weirdos that do, as such it was time to add this bad boy to some food and see how things went together.

Seeing as this is a sauce from Nando’s it would be lunacy not to try this with some chicken and so when I was cooking dinner that evening I kept back a little plain grilled chicken and gave it a good smothering of sauce.

Instant redemption.

The flavours worked perfectly to compliment the food without taking over and that citrus and acidity that had seemed so raw and full on previously now seemed fresh and zingy and really just helped give a nice lift.

Next up I had a little salsa from the local supermarket and decided to try to pep it up with a couple of tablespoons of the extra-extra hot sauce.

Again the sauce handled the job admirably, it added a good bit of zip to what was otherwise a lacklustre mass-produced salsa and imparted just enough heat to give you a bit of warmth without having anyone reaching for the milk.

The level of heat here is pretty good actually; granted it didn’t set my mouth aflame with scorching fury but there was enough of a kick from the chillies to give a bit of warmth that lingered well.

All in all I would recommend Nando’s extra extra hot sauce as being a great choice with chicken and can really see it going well with prawns or maybe some  good meaty fish but there is just a slight lack of balance that stops it from really standing out in my eyes.

Heat – 2.5 /5

Taste – 2/5 straight up

4/5 on food





The Moruga Scorpion

28 01 2011

I wrote recently about one of the handful of contenders to the throne of world’s hottest chilli – the Naga Viper.

Following up on that post I want to bring to your attention the Moruga Scorpion which has been developed by Jim Duffy from Refining Fire and is closely related to the Trinidad 7 pot which might I add is already a stupidly hot pepper.

The Moruga is reportedly hitting the scales at a mighty 1.46 million SHU – now that is just mental quite frankly, nearly 50% hotter than the Bhut Jolokia…

Until official tests are carried out and results are announced the Bhut Jolokia is still officially top dog but it will be interesting to see which of its heirs apparent will take the crown.

Now to get an idea of just how hot the Moruga is I have included a quick video of Buddah from I Love it spicy.com tackling one of these fiery little beggars.





Mad Dog Inferno Hot Sauce 1999 reserve edition

10 01 2011

Mad Dog Inferno Hot Sauce 1999 reserve edition

 

“One drop and you’ll wonder what hit you. Raging with fire, this sauce will blow your mind!  Watch out, it bites back. This sauce is very hot, use it at your own risk!”

I have heard good things about this hot sauce from Ashley Food Company for a number of years and have been very impressed by some of their other hotter sauces but I had never gotten  around to actually sampling this for myself,  well that all changed recently; I found the sauce on sale over at scorchio.co.uk and decided to pop it into my cart along with my other purchases.

This sauce was initially produced by Ashley Food Company in 1999 as an extract enhanced version of their Mad Dog Inferno hot sauce, the original sauce had clocked in at around  80,000 Scoville and the new edition took a hefty leap to 150,000 – not too shabby but certainly not up to the ridiculous levels of heat they are hitting in some of their newer sauces –  Mad Dog’s Revenge stands out as one particular example.

Ingredients: Red Wine Vinegar, Unsulphured Molasses, Peppers Extract, Garlic, Jalapeno Peppers, Onion, Habanero Chile Extract, Clove, Herbs and Spices.

Smell:

On opening the bottle up the first thing I did was have a good old sniff to see what we had going on, I could pickup the sweetness from the molasses, a slightly burnt chemical smell from the extract and a whiff of the jalapeno chillies coming through in the background.

Appearance:

The first thing I thought of on looking at the sauce was that it really strongly resembled a thick “brown sauce” (steak sauce for my colonial cousins) with a very smooth consistency. It wasn’t untill I poured the sauce that I realised just how thick this is, I had shaken the sauce quite vigorously before opening it and still had to give the base of the bottle a couple of hefty whacks before I saw any movement.

Taste:

I tried the sauce straight up off of a spoon and was pleasantly surprised, the extract flavour that was quite prominent in the aroma was well hidden in the background and instead the taste of the peppers, spices and molasses came to the fore along with a general richness and a bit of fruitiness, it was actually not dissimilar to a hot Worchestershire sauce and straight away I was considering what foods to try this with.

Seeing as the post had arrived early this particular day I decided to add a good dousing of the sauce to a bacon sandwich for a bit of breakfast

Well I will go out on a limb here and say that this was one of the best bacon sandwiches of my life, I love hot sauce on my butties at the best of times but the Mad Dog Inferno took it to another level, not only was there a nice bit of heat but the fruity spiciness couple with the sweetness of the molasses really cut through the fattiness of the bacon and gave it an extra dimension.

Later on in the day I had a reasonable dollop of sauce on top of some mashed potatoes and ended up with the same grin I had worn that morning, the flavour of the sauce is excellent but at no point was it overwhelming, it accented the food rather than stealing the show all together.

Heat:

There is a nice level of heat to this particular sauce and if I didn’t know that the sauce is supposed to be around the 150,000 SHU mark I would possibly have said it was quite a bit hotter, maybe closer to the 250K mark.

The heat builds up slowly with this sauce, so much so that initially you could be mistaken for thinking you were not eating a hot sauce at all!

When the heat does finally arrive though there is a nice burn at the back of the mouth which continues to intensify for around 30 seconds or so before dropping away to a lingering warmth.

I would say that this had a nice middle of the road level of heat to it,  hardcore chilli fans will be able to handle it with ease whilst still getting a nice bit of warmth but tabasco lovers beware, this will have you reaching for the milk in no time.

Whilst this wont be going down in history as one of my favourite sauces I did like the flavour and would recommend it as a fiery alternative to using brown sauce.

Heat 3/5

Overall 4/5

You can purchase Mad Dog Inferno Hot Sauce 1999 Reserve Edition from www.scorchio.co.uk







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