Brussel sprouts with leeks and bacon

28 12 2010

When it comes to enjoying brussel sprouts I am normally in the minority,

There is something about sprouts that just seems to put people off; now personally I think a lot of it comes down to two things – how fresh they are and how they are prepared.

There is a huge difference in taste between wonderfully fresh sprouts still on the stalk and those little wizened ones you buy in those nets or even worse frozen.

When really fresh sprouts have a wonderful sweet nuttiness to them that I would defy most people to find unpleasant.

Of course it doesn’t matter how fresh the sprouts are if you are just going to boil the life out of them and serve up a big dish full of soggy, mushy balls with all the taste and goodness boiled out of them.

I like to go off on a bit of a tangent with my brussel sprouts, especially if I am going to be serving them to people that claim not to like them I prepared this dish of sprouts with leeks and bacon to go along with Christmas dinner this year and it was  a huge success, even with non sprout eaters – you know who you are 😉

*If you want to make a vegetarian version of this dish you can leave out the bacon and crumble in a little bit of stilton about a minute  before serving*

Ingredients:

250g fresh Brussel Sprouts

150g Leeks

4/5 rashers of bacon

1/2 of a small onion

garlic salt

black pepper

olive oil

unsalted butter

Method:

Remove the outer leaves from the sprouts and make a small cross shaped incision on the base, this will allow for faster more even cooking

Clean the leeks and split down the centre before chopping into thin slices,peel and finely dice half an onion

Cook the sprouts in boiling water for about 3 1/2 – 4 minutes before refreshing by plunging into cold water. Now cook the leeks for just long enough for them to start to soften before draining and setting to one side.

Chop the bacon into small pieces and place to one side, now take the sprouts and slice them into quarters, if any of the sprouts are particularly large you may want to chop them into more pieces.

Fry the bacon in a little olive oil until it has just started to crisp at this point add in the chopped sprouts and a good knob of butter.

Cook the bacon and sprouts for around 3 minutes stirring regularly, add in the leeks, black pepper and garlic salt, stir through well and continue to heat for another 2 minutes or so until the leeks have warmed through.

Serve immediately.

 

 

Advertisements




12 Worst Foods Ever

15 12 2010

I happened to stumble upon a supposed news item the other day showing what the site in question deemed to be the 12 most unhealthy foods known to man – click here to view

I agree with a couple of their entries but some of them  just didn’t illicit a suitable level of disgust from me.

So here is my very own list; I haven’t limited myself to foods that are merely unhealthy I have also included a few that are just downright vile:

 Pork Scratchings – Well what is there to say about pork scratchings?  This nasty pub snack consists of pork rind and fat deep-fried until it is hard and then seasoned with salt, if you are really unlucky you will find the elusive soft scratching that is literally pure deep-fried pig fat mmm.

This is the sort of awful crap that needs to go the same way as the dinosaurs, there are plenty of other snacks that you can enjoy with your pint that don’t come with a free heart attack.

 

KFC Double Down – When I first heard that KFC had launched something called the Double Down I simply had to find out what it might be.

It transpires that it is a delightful fried chicken sandwich that instead of a bun has 2 fried chicken breasts between which nestles cheese, Colonel sauce (I don’t even want to know) and bacon.

Now forgive me if I am wrong but where I come from chicken breasts are normally found inside a sandwich, not masquerading as the bread.

Luckily they don’t offer this particular delicacy here in the UK but that didn’t stop me finding someone who had been brave enough to give one a go – click here to check  out a video review from Scott Roberts enjoying the mighty Double Down in all its greasy glory.

Cheese Burger in a Can – I have been camping more times than I can remember, whilst camping I have eaten many meals that I would normally turn my nose up at back in civilisation. Be it US military MRE, British Forces Ration Packs or ready prepared meals from a camping store they all have pretty much one thing in common: they are shite.

I have sat shivering in the cold and wet eating my last remaining Biscuits Brown and wished that they were pretty much anything else at all. The one thing that I never wished for was this:

Cheeseburger in a can… Once I get past my initial reaction, which is pretty much to vomit in advance of eating it there by cutting out the middle man, I start to wonder what sort of sick twisted maniac invented such a thing.

Well it turns out we have Swiss company  Katadyn to thank blame for visiting this evil upon the world.

The idea is that you pop the unopened can into boiling water for a couple of minutes and hey presto you have a tasty hamburger to munch on whilst the bears move in for the kill.

As much as the overall idea  offends my stomach I find myself more concerned by the fact that it will stay fresh for over a year without refrigeration – just wtf is it made out of?

 Balut A whole fertilised chicken or duck egg allowed to reach between 17 and 21 days of incubation before being boiled and the whole disgusting mess being eaten, foetus and all.

I’m not sure there is much more that I or anybody else need to say about that…

Deep Fried Mars Bar – Ah Scotland, was there ever a nation so easy to pick on when it comes to dodgy food?

 To be fair to 99% of Scottish produce is outstanding but that is all pushed aside by that final 1%.

 In this case I am focusing in on Scotland’s most famous culinary disaster; The Deep Fried Mars Bar and trust me it deserves the capitals. This gastronomic turd gets bad press all the time but it really does take some beating in the crap food stakes.

Not only is it the idea that is shocking it is the food itself; first we take a Mars Bar, hardly the healthiest starting point. We chill the Mars to stop it melting and then coat it in the sort of thick fattening batter normally reserved for frying fish or sausages then of course we fry it.

Sadly the next step is to eat the bloody thing, followed promptly by throwing up a hot sugary mess all over the pavement.

I once ate a deep-fried mars bar for a dare; at first it was almost nice, there was a bit of a crunch followed by gooey sweet chocolate. Unfortunately the next stage of the eating process was reality kicking in. There realy is no overcoming the greasy taste of the batter and that mixed with the cloying sweetness of the chocolate actually makes you start to gag. I’m not proud of the fact that rather than finish this horrific morsel I pinned one of my mates down and made them eat it,I think he still has nightmares about it til this day.

Having sampled this most heinous of crimes against food I have no conclusion but to seriously worry about the sanity of our cousins north of the border….

 Deep Fried Haggis – I’m not squeamish when it comes to food and actually like most offal but there is something about deep-fried haggis that just turns my stomach.

I know that just plain old haggis is enough to have some people reaching for a bucket as it is but to deep fry it, has the World gone mad?

For anyone that was ever wondering what a sheep’s stomach stuffed with oats,onion and “Sheep’s Pluck”(heart, liver and lungs) looks like when deep-fried then prepare to vomit:

 Poutine – I was first introduced to this Canadian staple by a friend about a year ago. granted it isn’t as unhealthy as some of the foods that grace this list but to my mind it is one of the most revolting.

 For those of you lucky enough to have never encountered Poutine before it is French fries coated with gravy and topped off with cheese curds and just when you thought that couldn’t be made any more delicious the fries are supposed to be cooked in lard -mmm.

Poutine is not completely horrible for the first couple of bites whilst it is still very hot but as soon as it starts to cool it just becomes one big congealing mess of brown muck and you can’t help but face the stark reality that you are effectively signing your own death warrant.

 Snickers Pie – 1 packet puff pastry, 140g mascarpone, 110g soft cheese, 50g caster sugar, 3 eggs, 5 Snickers bars and milk.

 Does sound to you like the recipe for something ok for a child? Probably not. However bearded dwarf and celebrity chef  Antony Worrall-Thompson says that it is fine and he should know as he wrote it.

Last time I happened to look around a lot of children seemed to be quite fat and appear to my untrained eye to be getting ever fatter, I’m not trying to be unkind I am just pointing out the obvious. Now I might be wrong but I’m not totally convinced that a celebrity chef advocating this sort of “treat” is really going to go a long way towards changing this trend anytime soon…

This sugar and fat laden delight is so void of nutritional value that the Food Commision condemned it as being “one of the most unhealthy recipes ever published”. Each slice weighs in at a heavyweight 1,250 calories, 22 teaspoons of sugar and 11 teaspoons of fat.

I look forward to serving it at a children’s tea party in the near future, I fully anticipate that the children will be hyperactive due to the ridiculous sugar content and yet unable to move due to being completely spherical.

 Quadruple C Burger – I came across the Quadruple C Burger on one of my many wasted afternoons trawling the internet, it certainly made an impression on me and I’m sorry to say it wasn’t a good one.

One of the signature menu items at Dangerous Dan’s Diner in Toronto, the Quad C is one of a new generation of fat burgers whose aim is to  stare the health food movement in the eye and stick two fingers up in its face. Now I am all for people having freedom of choice and that includes the right to eat yourself into an early grave but this burger almost makes me want to call up the food police.

The more enquiring minds out there in cyberspace might be wondering what the four Cs stand for so here we have it, drum-roll please:

“The Colossal Colon Clogger Combo.” 

This meaty mountain is the Quadruple C in all it’s colossal colon clogging cancer causing glory, either impressive or sickening depending on how you choose to look at it.

So what goes into making one of these bad boys: one 24 ounce beef patty, half a pound of bacon, half a pound of cheese and to complete the combo in gut busting style a large shake and a serving of an another Canadian entrant from this list; poutine.

Luckily this burger is only available in Canada so your resultant trip to the emergency room will at least be free.

 Bacon Explosion – The Bacon Explosion has to be one of the most disgusting food items I have come across in a long time; the sheer volume of meat is quite simply worrying and just the thought of it is making my digestive system recoil in horror even as I type.

 So what is a Bacon Explosion, well it turns out that it is not as the name suggests a pig packed full of dynamite, so here is a quick run down:

Multiple strips of bacon are lovingly woven into a fatty, greasy mesh, onto which ground sausage meat is dumped before more cooked and crumbled bacon is sprinkled on top and the whole thing is rolled up into a big cigar full of porky goodness.

As always I have saved the best until last this bacon behemoth comes in at over 5,000 calories and more than 500 grams of fat – delicious.

Pizza Hut Double roll

According to a friend who has tried it in Tokyo the main selling point of this insult to Italian cuisine was that it had pigs in a blanket baked into the crust on half of the pizza.

If that isn’t enough to tempt you into trying the Double roll then read on….

The other half has cheese rolls for a crust and is liberally topped with mini hamburgers, Italian sausage, ham, bacon, bacon bits, sliced tomato, mushroom, onion, peppers, garlic slices, basil, black pepper and of course marinara sauce.

As if that wasn’t enough culinary goodness for you I am reliably informed that the whole thing can be flavored with maple syrup and ketchup by request.

I don’t know what would make me puke first, the maple syrup and ketchup flavouring or the entire buffet cart they have stuffed into the crust and topped it with.

 Windows 7 whopper – The Windows 7 Whopper was the brainchild of Burger King Japan; it was sold to mark the launch of the newest version of the Windows operating system and featured – yes you guessed it, 7 whopper patties – 7!!! That makes the heart stopping excess of the Quad Stacker seem like a light snack.

 The Japanese have long been held up as being paradigms of healthy living and we in the west have been implored to be more like them in terms of diet; obviously the nutritionists didn’t see this particular meat monstrosity.

 Thankfully for the world at large this particularly terrifying crap stack was only available for a short space of time following the launch of Windows 7 but I get the feeling that there is more to come from our friends in the east.





Pigs in blankets

26 11 2010

Pigs in blankets are  great, they make a perfect accompaniment to your turkey on Christmas day, they are great as a starter and make an excellent festive finger food.

I understand that in North America pigs in blankets are little Vienna sausages in pastry not dissimilar to a sausage roll, well these aren’t them.

In the UK pigs in blankets are a chipolata sausage wrapped in a piece of bacon and roasted in the oven and typically most people would have them only at Christmas time.

The trick to serving great pigs in blankets is to make sure you use the best meat that you can afford, there is nothing worse than pigs in blankets made from the cheapest nastiest frozen sausages wrapped in watery bacon full of preservatives.

In recent years I have started using olive oil infused with sage, rosemary and garlic when I cook my pigs in a blanket, all three flavours go great with pork and just really help to lift it to another level.

To make 24 pigs in blankets you will need:

24 good quality pork chipolatas

24 rashers of good quality bacon, I prefer to use maple smoked bacon but it is up to you.

500ml of extra virgin olive oil

24 rosemary stalks with leaves till attached (optional)

12 sage leaves

2 garlic cloves

a handful of rosemary leaves

Method

The first thing you need to do is infuse your olive oil with the rosemary, sage and garlic flavours, I tend to do this well in advance so that you really get the flavour of the herbs coming through in the oil, ideally 2 weeks to 3 weeks minimum.

Bruise the herbs so as to help release their essential oils and drop them into your bottle of olive oil along with the garlic which should be roughly crushed.

I tend to remove approximately half of the oil from the bottle before doing this both to allow for displacement and also so as to have oil to hand to help dislodge any stray herbs that get stuck to the neck of the bottle.

Refill to the top with oil and place in a cool dark place for as long as possible.

Wrap each chipolata in a rasher of bacon, you might want to flatten the bacon out with the flat of a knife

when each pig is safely in it’s blanket I like to secure them, you can use a couple of cocktail sticks but  I like to be a bit fancy and use a woddy stalk from some rosemary sharpened into a skewer.

Lay your pigs in blankets into an oven proof dish and drizzle with the infused oil, if you have any sage leave left over I like to scatter these over before popping the dish into a preheated oven at 185 c for about 35 minutes.








%d bloggers like this: