Whale steak…It’s what’s for dinner

14 06 2013
mmmm blubber

mmmm blubber

 

This WWI era advert for affordable, delicious Whale steaks in a can sure got my tastebuds tingling.

Or was that the feeling of 1000s of specialised nerve endings trying to expel themselves from my mouth?





Fast food nightmares

20 07 2012

Long time readers will know that food is one of my favourite subjects to write about, in particular I have a sick fascination with crappy fast food.

If it has more fat than a pig, enough calories to stop 1,000 hearts and will clog not just your arteries but your toilet as well then I want to know about it. Not eat it, just marvel in it’s awfulness.

Recently I have stumbled across enough crimes against gastronomy that I decided it was time for another round up:

Chili’s Awesome Blossom

How the hell do you manage to turn a harmless little onion into such a festering piece of crap?

Well somehow the good folks at Chili’s managed it. Kudos guys, kudos.

I have actually eaten an Awesome Blossom and let me tell you the only thing awesome about it was the mess that a visit to Chili’s made in the bathroom when we got home.

We shared this monstrosity between 5 of us and not a single person enjoyed it.
Crunchy deep fried crap over some slimey, gooey onion all dipped in a tub of bright pink, tepid goo…what’s not to love?

KFC Mashed Potato Bowl

Correct me if I’m wrong but this looks suspisciously like someone vomited in a bowler hat and then took a dump atop the whole vile mess.

According to KFC this is not an item of milinery filled with vomit and turds but is actually a tub filled with mashed potatoes, layered with sweet corn, and “loaded” with pieces of fried chicken. To really tip this over the edge they then top it off with gravy and cheese.

Mmmmm, doesn’t tht sound good. You are right it doesn’t.

I will admit to being surprised at KFC, I didn’t think they could dream up anything worse than the Double Down. But somehow they pulled it off, this looks like you could place it directly in the toilet and just cut out the tedious business of eating this crap.

Chocolate Thunder from Down Under

That’s right someone actually called a food substance “Chocolate Thunder from Down Under”, if that doesn’t set warning bells rining in your ears I don’t know what would!

The name brings to mind an immediate, urgent need to evacuate ones bowels. Possibly in a rather messy fashion.

Luckily for punters at Outback their version is just a desert

“An extra generous pecan brownie is topped with rich vanilla ice cream, drizzled with our warm chocolate sauce and finished with chocolate shavings and whipped cream.”

Now I know what you are thinking, that doesn’t sound too bad, what is he on about?

Well for starters there is that name, I just don’t trust it. Secondly this thing is pretty much death on a plate:

Nutrition Facts

Amount per Serving
Calories 1,220
Calories from Fat 702.0
 
That is half  of a full grown man’s calorific intake and over 120% of the recommended daily intake of fat. From desert, that’s food you eat after you have had your food.
 
Thirdly I just don’t dig the Aussie theme. When I think of the great cuisines of the World Australia just never crosses my mind, after all this is the country that gave us the meat pie floater.
 
Aussie Cheese Fries
 
Just to get you headed in the right direction for your Chocolate Thunder from Down Under what better side dish to tuck into than a big, dirty plate of Aussie Cheese fries….
 
 
 Mmmm doesn’t that just look like a treat?
 Well actually it doesn’t, it just looks like a mess. How the hell can a “restaurant” serve this crap?
 
Topping the scales at a whopping 2,900 calories the Aussie fries are liberally smoothered in bacon and a radioactive looking orange gloop laughably referred to as cheese.
 
I wouldn’t serve this shit to a mortal enemy, let alone charge money for it.
 
On the Border Grande Taco Salad with Taco Beef
 
Hmm a salad, sounds good hey? Wrong!
 
This “Taco Beef” salad some served in an edible bowl made of deef tried tortilas…mmmh well that is guaranteed to help you drop that dress size




Chilli and lime coconut ice cream

10 07 2012

I know it may sound a little odd to have chilli as one of the key flavours in an ice cream but trust me it is really subtle and really,really good.

The chilli, lime and coconut blend together wonderfully to give a real tropical / South-East Asian vibe.

Enjoy,

Ingredients.

800ml  coconut cream or coconut milk
250g caster sugar
4 red chillies, deseeded and chopped
8-10 limes
250ml double cream
1 litre ready-made vanilla custard

Method:

Juice your limes and set to one side for later

Pour the coconut milk/ cream into a pan and bring to the boil. As soon as reaches boiling point remove from the heat and add 250grams of caster sugar and the lime juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely

At this point add your chopped chillies and the zest of two limes and leave to infuse in the mixture until it is cool.

Once the mixture has cooled add in the 250ml of double cream and the litre of ready-made vanilla custard.

Pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze. Stir your ice cream once an hour for the first 3 or 4 hours it is in the freezer to break stop any large ice crystals from forming.





Beef and Green Olive Tagine

5 07 2012

We’ve some people coming over for dinner on Saturday night and whilst it might only be midday on Thursday I can already feel myself being completely lazy.

I know shocking isn’t it!

Seeing as how I am suffering from premature laziness I have decided it is time to break out some good old fashioned one pot cooking. In this case a lovely, healthy beef and green olive tagine – yum.

Just a quick aside before I launch into things. A tagine is actually the name of the special conical pot which is used for cooking, not the name of the sauce, just wanted to clear that up as one of my colleagues has spent the past 15 minutes arguing pointlessly about it.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds stewing steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp  cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp tomato puree
4 shallots
1 large potato
2 large carrots
1 can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
Salt
1/2 jar of pitted green olives
Olive oil

Method:

Mix together the paprika, cayenne, cinnamon, ginger, and garlic in two tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl. Add the beef and toss to coat. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

Heat the  about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bottom of the tagine and fry the chopped shallots, potatoes, and carrots until they begin to color and soften. Remove and set aside for later.

Add the beef and brown on all sides. Return the vegetables to the tagine along with the chopped tomatoes and any remaining marinade. Cover and cook over a low heat for 3 to 4 hours or until the beef is tender.

Add the parsley, season with salt, and stir in the olives. Continue cooking for 15 minutes.





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.





Danny Cash’s Radical Heat Red Habanero Hot Sauce

17 05 2012

Two words describe this little gem: awesome sauce

Quite literally.

The flavour of the habaneros is great and comes through strongly, really fresh and fruity. The heat is pleasant, more than enough to notice but not enough to destroy your taste buds for days.

The sauce is a little thicker than Tabasco but still quite thin with just a few flakes of pepper and seeds

To say I really, really like this sauce would be an understatement of epic proportions.  If I had to pick just one table sauce, this would be it. Kudos Danny Cash!

Great sauce 5/5 in my not so humble opinion.





The most expensive ingredients in the World

14 05 2012

After my recent move into the new house some people have started to wonder whether I haven’t developed ideas above my station.

Well just to cast aside all doubt here is a quick round-up of some of the most expensive ingredients in the World…

Saffron – $1,000/lb

A classic contender for World’s most expensive ingredient. Saffron is the dried stigma of the cunningly named “Saffron Crocus” or Crocus sativus to give it’s proper name.

For anyone who is wondering why some dried pieces of a flower are so expensive have a look below at what wikipedia has to say…

“To glean an amount of dry saffron weighing 1 lb (450 g) is to harvest 50,000–75,000 flowers, the equivalent of an association football pitch‘s area of cultivation; 110,000–170,000 flowers or two football fields are needed to gross one kilogram. Forty hours of labour are needed to pick 150,000 flowers. Stigmas are dried quickly upon extraction and (preferably) sealed in airtight containers.

Saffron prices at wholesale and retail rates range from US$500 to US$5,000 per pound, or US$1,100–11,000/kg, equivalent to £2,500/€3,500 per pound or £5,500/€7,500 per kilogram. The price in Canada recently rose to CAD 18,000 per kilogram. In Western countries, the average retail price is $1,000/£500/€700 per pound, or US$2,200/£1,100/€1,550 per kilogram. A pound contains between 70,000 and 200,000 threads.”

White Truffles: $ 14,000/kg

Another long time heavy weight of the culinary World, white truffles have long been sought after by discerning gourmets for their earthy taste and pungent fragrance.

Native to the Piedmont region of Northern Italy although they can also be found in parts of Croatia. White truffles are the rarest and most costly of all the various species of truffle and as such carry the biggest price tag, the highest price ever paid for a single truffle was set in December 2007, when Macau casino owner Stanley Ho paid 330,000 USD (£165,000) for a specimen weighing 1.5 kilograms (3.3 lb), discovered by Luciano Savini and his dog Rocco.

Bit different from paying 99 pence for a kilo of button mushrooms in Tesco!

Edible gold: $90-100/gram

Though gold has no nutritional value, 24k gold is perfectly edible and adds a luxurious and beautiful decoration to dishes and drinks.

Edible gold leaf is popular in cake decorating and for adding a bit of flair to certain cocktails. The metal apparently passes directly through the body unaltered, not sure I would want to try and retrieve it though!

 Ass (Donkey) Cheese $700/lb.

Home to 100 Balkan donkeys, the Zasavica Special Nature Reserve along the Zasavica River produces a smoked donkey’s milk cheese that they call “Pule.”

They justify the obscene price of the cheese by quoting the rarity and  value of the milk used…Not sure I would want ass milk either to be quite honest!

 

 Hop Shoots $1300/lb

Hop shoots are funnily enough the young shoots of the hop bine, yes bine not vine.

Hop shoots are only available between January and mid April. Because of the short period of availability, labour intensive cultivation and low yields hop shoots often rank as the most expensive vegetable in the World!

 

 





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.








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