New cookery book coming soon!

14 05 2012

Hey all.

Today seems like a good day to indulge in a little bit of shameless self promotion!

As such I am proud to announce that work on my new cookery book “Some Like it Hot” is very nearly complete… just a few finishing touches to be made and will be launching soon.

More updates and a sneak preview to follow shortly so watch this space!





King’s Arms – Bury St Edmunds

7 05 2012

When I was working in Bury St Edmunds the King’s Arms was our favourite spot to head to for lunch and a few pints on a Friday.

It is a reasonably quiet pub owing to it’s location just off of the main shopping area in town and as such has a nice relaxing vibe that is perfect for winding down after work or chilling out of a weekend.

The pub itself is of a reasonable size and is pretty much what you would expect for a traditional pub in a bustling market town; there is one main bar area with a good amount of seating, a smaller dining area off to one side and a lovely little beer garden which magically seems to always be in full sun….

Food was always good with the usual pub grub that one would expect done to a high standard and served with commendable speed, always a plus when you are on a “working lunch”!

The selection of beers is, or was as the case may now be, excellent. Usual suspects from Greene King, Ruddles and Morland accompanied by a nice choice of two or three guest beers on tap.

All things considered the King’s Arms is well worth a visit if you are passing through this charming little market town.

The King’s Arms, 23 Brentgovel Street, Bury St Edmunds Suffolk
http://gkpubs.co.uk/pubs-in-brentgovel/kingsarms-pub/




Lancashire Cheese & Onion Tart with Black Pudding and Bacon

7 05 2012

 Back when I was at school it was obligatory to study home economics and if I am really honest it was great fun and I really learnt a lot.

One of the recipes that always sticks out in my mind is Lancashire cheese and onion tart, I can remember vividly the excitement at pulling it out of the oven, tucking into a big savoury slice and then taking the rest home to Mum and Dad.

Well that is nearly 20 years ago now and over time I have refined that original recipe quite a bit, the bacon was an obvious addition and sprang from using up leftover rashers, the black pudding however had a little more thought behind it.

Ingredients:

  • 250g plain flour
  • 160g butter
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 egg yolks to glaze
  • 400g black pudding
  • 10 rashers of smoke bacon
  • 2 large onions
  • 350g Lancashire cheese
  • 300ml double cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • Chopped thyme
  • Black pepper

Method:

In a food processor blend the flour, butter and salt until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the water and egg. Mix until it becomes a dough. Wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Roll the pastry into a greased tart ring 28cmx 4cm and blind bake for 20-25 minutes at 180°C . Take out your baking beans and bake for a further 5 minutes for a golden brown base. Brush with egg yolk.

Fry off your bacon until cooked and your onions until softened and lightly brown

 Mix together the cream, milk, eggs, yolk, black pepper,onions, thyme and half of the cheese

Pulse the black pudding in a food processor until you have a paste.

Roll the black pudding paste out between two layers of cling film so that you have a sort of black pudding patty which will cover the base of the tart

Pop your black pudding onto the pastry and cover with a layer of bacon

Spoon over the cream, cheese and onion mixture and sprinkle over the rest of the cheese and add a few slice of tomato if you want to.

Bake in a pre heated oven 180°C for around 40 minutes until set. You can then finish it off for 5 minutes or so under a hot grill to crisp up the cheese.





£95 burger takes the biscuit

25 07 2011

I was trawling the internet during a particularly dull moment in my work day and happened to come across an article highlighting the 4 most expensive burgers in the world (whatever did we do for fun before the internet?)

The holder of this auspicious title is the £95 “Charity Burger” from Burger King.

The meat used in the burger was Australian farmed Wagyu beef mixed with 20% Aberdeen Angus fat due to it’s own very low fat percentage – usually around a mere 2%.

This most exclusive of  patties was complimented with  oven-dried Pata Negra ham, organic mayonnaise, pink Himalayan rock salt,  truffles and 25-year-aged Modena balsamic vinegar. To make up for the fact that therewasn’t a chip in sight the whole thing was stuffed with banana shallots fried in a tempura batter made using Cristal champagne.

The buns used to contain this pinnacle of burger creation were made using white truffle flour and dusted with lashings of rare Iranian saffron.
 Served on proper china and accompanied by a glass of Claret this is a burger that is a far cry from the usual paper wrapped Whopper.

Mark Dowding, the director of product development and innovation for Burger King (“Just call me the Burger King chef”) is very proud of his creation, which he says took six months to “develop”.  All proceeds from the sale of the 100 finished burgers went to an undisclosed charity.

Well even if there had been more than 100 of these available I really don’t think I would ever be able to justify spending the best part of a ton in order to chow down on a burger; especially as I am really not sure it would have been that great.

Wagyu beef is a really specialist product that has a taste and texture all of it’s own, a big part of which is the very leanness that BK have worked so hard to combat….I’m just not convinced that it would work at all as a burger.

Moving on from the burger itself; truffle flour buns with saffron, deep fried, banana shallots, truffles, mayonnaise, parma negra, himalayan rock salt and aged balsamic vinegar. That is a sh*t-load of strong flavours and whilst they may work well together there is a real risk that it would just be completely overwhelming.

My final gripe is based on the “charitable” element of the burger; at £95 each sales of all 100 burgers would generate a mere £9,500. Now far be it from me to criticise ANY charitable donation but for a company the size of Burger King lauding the donation of less than £10k just seems like a bit of a PR stunt.





Yeast free garlic and coriander Naan Bread

8 06 2011

 I love bread…it really is one of my biggest weaknesses as a semi- healthy human although now that I think about it drinking and smoking are probably bigger weaknesses but anyway back to the bread.

 Regular readers will possibly have spotted that as well as having a love of bread I also have a little bit of a thing for Indian food in general and curry in particular.  For me no Indian meal is truly complete without some bread to go with it; be it a chapati or a puri or naan.

 As with most things I have over the years given up completely on finding any shop bought Naan bread that tastes even remotely like food and have just started making my own, not only do these Naan taste better than the shop bought variety they are healthier as well.

If you just want to have a plain naan then you can omit the topping before you bake.

Ingredients:

250g/9oz plain flour

2 tsp sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp baking powder

110-130ml/3½-4½fl oz milk

2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing

For the topping

chopped garlic and fresh coriander

1 tbsp butter, melted, to serve

Method:

For the dough, sift the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a bowl. In another bowl, mix together the milk and oil.

Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the liquid mixture. Slowly mix together the dough by working from the centre and incorporating the flour from the edges of the ‘well’, to make a smooth, soft dough. Knead well for 8-10 minutes, adding a little flour if the dough is too sticky.

Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea-towel and leave in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. Form the dough into five balls.

Preheat the grill to medium and place a heavy baking sheet on the upper shelf of the grill to heat.

Roll the dough balls out quite thinly, ideally in a teardrop shape, but really this is just aesthetic.

Scatter your coriander and garlic (or anything else you fancy) over the top of your naan and press into the surface of the dough.

Place the naans onto the hot baking sheet and grill for just 1-2 minutes, or until lightly browned. Brush with butter and serve hot.





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.





Cheesy Megadeath Wings

3 02 2011

 With my love of all things hot and spicy chicken wings are the perfect vehicle for trying out sauces and just generally making a mess of myself.

 I found a recipe a while back for garlic and cheese wings and really liked the flavour that the parmesan gave, as such next time I was knocking up a batch of hot wings I decided to drop some in…. Let me just say I am never going back to regular hot wings.

It might sound like a  weird combination but try them I guarantee you wont be let down.

If you find Blair’s Megadeath to be a bit hot for your tastes then you can always go with something a little milder, I would stay away from anything with extract though, unless you like your wings to have that odd chemical taste to them.

Ingredients:

4 lbs chicken wings, halved

1 bottle of Blair’s Megadeath

1/4 lb melted butter

250g parmesan cheese

Method:

Deep fry the chicken wings until they are golden and slightly crisp, set aside on a piece of kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.

Melt the butter and mix in the parmesan cheese and the bottle of Megadeath sauce ensuring that everything is well combined.

Coat all of the wings liberally with the cheesy Megadeath sauce and serve on a bed of crisp lettuce with soem blue cheese dressing and a good beer.





World’s Largest Burger

1 02 2011

A few months back I wrote a post listing what I deemed to be the 12 most disgusting foods in the World.

Well of course it is sod’s law that as soon as you commit anything like this to paper, or type as it is in this case, you suddenly come across a whole raft of other goodies that would easily have earnt themselves a place.

This is one of those contenders…

This humongous burger was cooked up by the owners of the Ambrosia on the Spot Cafe in Sydney, Australia.

The patty alone weighs in at an Earth shattering 178lb and took 12 hours to cook through. If  the meat alone wasn’t enough to induce a heart attack in 50 of your nearest and dearest friends the burger also contained 120 eggs, 150 slices of cheese, 1.5 kg of beetroot, 16 tomatoes, 2kg of lettuce and half a kilo of BBQ sauce…oh and 21kg of bread to make the giant buns.

The total weight of the burger once cooked – 95 kg!! That’s the same amount that I weigh, in fact it’s actually 1 kilo more than I weigh and I’m not a small guy.

The Guinness book of records have confirmed that this is indeed the World’s largest burger and that it has soundly smashed the previous holder which weighed in at a positively wimpy 84kg.

The owners of the cafe had to create special equipment to hold the burger during the marathon 12 hours that it took for it to cook through and it took four men in order to flip it over.

The burger was created solely to break the world record and to act as a publicity stunt however in order to meet the requirements laid down by Guinnes this monstrosity has to be on the menu at the cafe for at least a year.

Anyone wishing to tackle this mountain of meat will need to give at least 24 hours notice and will have to stump up a mighty A$1,500 (€1,100) for the pleasure.

Oh and they should probably have their affairs in order





ABC Sambal Extra Pedas

1 02 2011

A friend from work came back from Holland this week and knowing that I am a sucker for all things hot and spicy grabbed a bottle of hot sauce for me on her way back.

The sauce in question is from ABC, an Indonesian company who manufacture a range of different sauces;  this particular offering is their Sambal Extra Pedas which simply means extra hot.

Sambal being a Southern Asian sauce is often lumped in alongside Thai sauces such as Sriracha, now I cannot stand Sriracha and not just because of all the hype surrounding it at the moment, there is just a flavour to most store bought varieties that doesn’t appeal to me. Luckily for me though I have always quite enjoyed Sambal and I am keen to see how this particular brand measures up.

Ingredients: chile, sugar, water, salt, garlic, starch, acetic acid, sodium benzoate

Smell:

Upon opening the bottle I was hit straight away with a good big hit of chillies and garlic with just the slightest hint of sugary sweetness and vinegar coming through in the background.

Appearance:

This sambal looks an awful look like an orange slightly translucent tomato ketchup, it is completely smooth with not the slightest shred of seed or skin and has a medium viscosity that means you might have to give the bottle a bit of a whack to get things moving initially.

Taste:

I had a sneaking suspicion that I might like this sauce; it looked good it smelt good and I am known to enjoy sambal, even so I was really really pleasantly surprised by just how good this sauce was.

The main flavours that come through straight away are the chillies and the garlic, the vinegar is there but you really have to be looking for it to find it and the sweetness seems just right. There is enough to offset the chillies and the garlic but not so much that it seems overly sweet or cloying.

Since opening the bottle I have tried this sauce on a whole bunch of different foods; sausages, prawns, cod, egg fried rice, wanton rolls…. the list is really quite exhaustive.

The foods have all been really quite different but one thing has been static across the board – the sambal has worked well with pretty much all of them!

Obviously it has faired best with the more Asian items like the fried rice and the wanton rolls but that delicious mix of chillies, garlic and sweetness also worked brillantly with the seafood. The prawns were lifted to another dimension and it really worked well with the big meaty cod steaks.

Heat:

There is a decent bit of heat to this sauce, whilst it wont be breaking any records it is certainly hotter than a lot of other “sweet chilli sauces” that you would typically find in a supermarket which often are just sickly sweet concoctions with just enough chilli for you to notice it.

The burn, such as it is, stays very forward in your mouth and builds nicely whilst never really threatening to overwhelm.  If you think that tap water has a kick to it then I would steer clear but otherwise you shouldn’t be in for any shocks.

Heat 2/5

Overall 3.5/5





Homemade Shortcrust Pastry

12 01 2011

Shop bought pastry is a little bit of a Godsend, especially for the really time-consuming pastries such as filo or puff pastry.

There are some times though when shop bought pastry just wont cut it, shortcrust pastry is one of these exceptions. Not only is shortcrust pastry quick and easy to make but the difference in cost and quality is really quite noticeable.

I prefer to make my pastry well in advance, often the day before, and leave it in the fridge to set. It just ends up being so much better both in terms of taste and texture.

The trick to making great shortcrust pastry is to keep it cold and to try to handle it as little as possible. A marble board is great for working with pastry, you can help keep it cooler for longer and there is less chance of the dough sticking to the board.

Ingredients:

200g Plain flour

100g unsalted butter – cubed

1/2 tsp salt

1 mid-sized egg

 

Method:

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl and rub the butter in with your fingertips until you have a crumb-like consistency.

Slowly add in half of the beaten egg and continue to mix by hand until it comes together, you can add more egg if need be.

Once the pastry has come together flatten it out into disc about an inch thick, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

 








%d bloggers like this: