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.





Texas Creek Products Pure Evil 16 Million SHU Capsaicin Drops

15 05 2012

As you may or may not know I like spicy foods, hot sauces and pretty much all things chile related. In fact there are very, very few products in the realm of firey foods that do not have me salivating.

However even thinking about Pure Evil 16 Million SHU Capsaicin Drops from Texas Creek Products has me breaking out in a sweat!

I have tried a number of pure capsaicin products/extracts in the past and have never really been that much of a fan, there just seems to be way too much pain in relation to the amount of pleasure.

That said when someone is kind enough to send me such a thoughtful gift it would simply be rude not to give it a try….

According to my Fedex tracking details my very own bottle of liquid pain is about 3 days away from touch down. Guess I should started stocking up on milk and toilet paper.

Just so you can get a complete overview of just how hot this sauce is have a look at this video review from Scott Roberts

 





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!

 

 





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/







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