Wednesday 26 March 2008

Recipe - Meatball Hero Sandwich

Yet another posting where I get my inspiration from a classic American recipe. I'm sure I manage to break many rules and agitate lots of Meatball Hero aficionados but this is my blog so what I say goes! ;)

Meatball Hero Sandwiches does what it says on the tin, meatballs in a sandwich. The secret here is a good Marinara sauce that has been reduced properly and taken on the flavours well.

Good luck to the Ice Bats against the Jackalopes tonight!

Marinara Sauce

Olive oil
Onion, diced
Garlic, thinly sliced
Fresh thyme leaves
Carrot, finely shredded
Salt, to taste

Put the oil into a sauce pan with onions and garlic, and cook over medium heat until translucent but not brown (about 10 minutes). Add the thyme and carrot; cook 5 minutes more. Add the passata. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to just bubbling, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes.

Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately or set aside for further use.

Meatball Hero Sandwich

Meatballs, split in half - makes it easier to put them on the bread
Marinara Sauce
Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, sliced
Sliced pickled Jalapenos, if you want to kick it a bit
Bread, small baguettes or panini for example - split in half lenghtwise and slightly toasted

Bring marinara sauce to simmer in heavy large saucepan. Add meatballs to sauce and simmer until the meatballs are heated through.

Gently press center of bottoms of the bread to compact slightly. Spoon meatballs into depression in each roll. Spoon enough sauce over to coat. Put the slices of mozzarella on top of the sauce and balls and put it under the grill until the cheese starts to melt. Season and add the Jalapenos if you want the extra heat. Put the tops back on the bread and serve.


Tuesday 25 March 2008

Recipe - Barbecue Rice using leftover Pulled Pork

Amazingly enough, given the small sized joint I used ;), there was still some leftovers today. Time to create something slightly different.

Cooked rice
Pulled pork
1 can of sweet corn
Peppadew peppers, sliced

Start heating the pork in the frying pan. Add the rice, peppadews and sweet corn and let it heat through/get some color. Once done to your liking - serve with some kind of hot sauce to prevent it from being too dry.


Monday 24 March 2008

Easter Sunday Pulled Pork Barbecue Feast

Yes, it did actually snow yesterday but I didn't let that stop my effort to create a Easter Sunday Pulled Pork Barbecue Feast.

In the end the platter consisted of:

Pulled pork with Alabama White Barbecue Sauce
Maple Baked Barbecue Beans
Homemade Psychedelic Coleslaw

The pork joint stayed on the barbecue for over 8 hours. This must be the perfect antidote to fast food. Damn bit more tasty too!

Some of the stuff has been made before and the recipes can be found here. The ones that are missing will be posted in due time. As a taster though, have a quick recipe for Alabama White Barbecue Sauce.

Alabama White Barbecue Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, finely ground
1 teaspoon hot sauce

Mix well and serve with chicken, turkey, or just about anything. I don't recommend grilling (basting) with this sauce however.

The Four Seasons of the Pork Joint
Clockwise from top left: Rubbed and ready to go onto the barbecue, First rub with the mopping sauce, Starting to get chopped up, Cremated or crispy?

Saturday 22 March 2008

Recipe - Baked Camembert

Clockwise from top left: Mixed chopped raw vegetables, Freshly baked bread,
Out of the oven, Top peeled off to display gooey goodness.

This is a very simple recipe. Pre-heat the oven to about 200c. Take one Camembert per person. Remove them from their little wooden boxes, remove the plastic cover and pop them back into their boxes. Put them in the oven and keep them there until you easily can push a knife into them. You shouldn't really feel any resistance when you poke them with the knife.

Serve with freshly chopped vegetables and bread to dip. I normally go for vegetables like carrot, cucumber, celery, cauliflower and so on. It's quite nice with some chilli jam on the side too. Just Freestyle it to suit your taste.

I've heard rumours that you can bring French people to tears by telling them that you do this to a Camembert. All good! :)


Friday 21 March 2008

How I ended up planning a barbecue when we got a forecast for snow

Some times I wonder if even junkies gets as hooked as us foodies do.

It must have been Tuesday night that I headed in to one of the local super markets here. Stressing through the shop to get the stuff I needed for my Sausage Stroganoff I ran past the meat section. Even at speed I noticed that they had a very good deal on pork joints.

I spent the evening cooking and chilling, all the while I had that pork joint deal in the back of my mind. What can you do with a pork joint? Besides the out right rude, I was thinking along the lines of maybe a traditional Sunday roast.

The Sunday roast idea quite quickly waned, not Freestyle enough I'm afraid.

So what to do? The idea of all those pork joints being turned into a normal, or even dull, meal by housewives really grated on me. At least one of these pork joints should end up being given the full Freestyle treatment.

In the end I had to fall back to my trusty old friend, the barbecue. Why not get the smoker going and slow cook it on the barbecue? Get myself a small, handy, pork joint and just make myself a couple of simple pulled pork sandwiches.

Did it stop there? Did it hell...

So, come Sunday I will be barbecuing my 3.5kg/7.7lb pork joint. What was supposed to be a couple of simple pulled pork sandwiches have now turned into a fully blown barbecue with at least two sides to go with the sandwiches. If everything goes to plan there will even be home baked biscuits, of the American South variety - not the sweet variety. It was just supposed to be some simple grub for myself, but now I'm having people add their interest in helping me. That is helping me eat the end product. Posting this might give me a couple of extra calls and texts from people inviting themselves.

To make things even more ridiculous, the bloody thing will have to spend 6 - 8 hours or so on the barbecue. The weather forecast for here ranges between cold and rainy to cold and snowy. Perfect weather to run in and out of the house basting a pork joint.

But sod all that, I get to make myself some good food and hopefully feed some friends and hangarounds.

Since it's barbecue time I will be wearing a barbecue approved Hawaiian shirt, even if I have to wear it outside my coat! A mans gotta do and all that...

Y'all got my contact details if you want some pork! ;)

Thursday 20 March 2008

Wanted: Contact with people from Austin, TX

Are any of you readers out there from or around Austin, Tx? If so, could you please drop a comment or something so that I could contact you in regards to a small project that I'm working on.

If you're not from there but knows someone from there maybe you could help me get in contact with them?

Thanks in advance, Mike

Wednesday 19 March 2008

Book Review - Digital Food Photography

I bought Digital Food Photography quite a while ago and thought that I'd finally put a review up here.

The book is divided up into the following chapters:

Chapter 1 - The Key Ingredient: Pixels
Chapter 2 - Digital Photography: The Necessities
Chapter 3 - Who’s Digesting It: Advertising, Packaging, Public Relations, and the Media
Chapter 4 - Who’s Doing the Cooking: Working with Food Stylists
Chapter 5 - Prop Styling: Who’s Doing the Shopping?
Chapter 6 - Grabbing Your Attention: Composition
Chapter 7 - The Recipe for Light
Chapter 8 - The Digital Spice: Retouching
Chapter 9 - Get Cooking and Make Some Money: Getting into the Business

This book covers quite a few subjects as you can see from the chapter listing. You'll pick up some tricks of the trade like how they use glue instead of milk when shooting corn flakes. There's also lengthy advise in regards on lighting on different budgets etc.

The photos in it are very appetising and the examples are good. I like this book and don't regret buying it but there's still something wrong about it that I can't really put my finger on. There's something lacking, but I just can't pinpoint exactly what it is. I'm sure to be using the lighting chapter a lot more once I got my new lighting setup.

All in all I must say that it's worth buying if you are into food photography/blogging.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Recipe - Sausage Stroganoff

This is another dish that uses falukorv, or the equivalent/replacement that I managed to find at Lidl the other week.

It's like Beef Stroganoff but using sausage instead. Hence the very inventive name of Sausage Stroganoff. ;)

Falukorv, cut into strips
Onion, chopped
Soured cream, 300ml
Chili sauce, to taste (you can use tomato paste instead)
Smoked paprika, to taste
Butter, to fry in
Parsley, chopped
Rice, boiled

Fry the falukorv in the butter for a little while, then add the onion and fry until the onion starts to get translucent. Add the soured cream and chili sauce (or tomato paste) to add flavor and color. Season. Heat through properly and then add the chopped parsley.

Serve with rice. If you are that inclined you can serve it with a tomato and onion salad or similar.


Left: The sausage in its casing. Right: The sausage chopped up.

Sunday 16 March 2008

Recipe - Chilli Dogs

Ahh, the classic Chilli Dog. How I wish we had those when I was growing up...

I don't know where I got my fascination for chilli dogs from but it's deeply rooted. They're really nothing special, a hot dog with chilli on top of it. Not really rocket science, is it? But still damned good.

Once, in Boston, I even risked life, limb and a relationship to have a chilli dog before calling home to tell that I was ok and that the flight was just fine. Silly, but worth it. ;)

There are so many variations on the hot dog theme that you really can't run out of ways of eating them. Today, after re-reading The Great American Hot Dog Book, I tried deep frying the hot dog instead of frying/grilling it. That worked just fine, Glaswegian Cuisine at its finest. :)


Onion, chopped
Chilies, sliced (with or without the seeds - depending on how hot you want it)
Chopped Tomatoes
Hot Sauce
Chipotle Paste

Hot Dog
Hot Dog, cooked
Hot Dog Bun
Pickled Gherkins, sliced


Start by browning the mince. Add the onion and chilies and keep frying. Season and add the hot stuff. Once the mince is nice and browned just add in the tomatoes and let it simmer until reduced to the required consistency.

When the mince is done you can build your hot dog the normal way, adding whatever condiments you like/crave, I was going to add cheese to mine too but I forgot in the heat of battle. Then just top off with enough chilli to suit your preference.

Photo update - Inside Out Burgers

Inside Out Burgers and Twice Cooked Fries. Tasty!

One of my most talked about and requested recipes is the one for Inside Out Burgers. Whenever I throw a barbie I have to defend these puppies with my life - otherwise I won't get any myself. Since the original post didn't have any pictures I thought I'd better add some. Since it was such a nice day here in the UK I thought it was a good idea to fire up the old barbecue. It was perfect UK barbie weather, gales and rain. Doesn't get much better here. ;)

A stack of toasted burger bun tops.

Fries resting after their first dip in the fryer. Half way there to becoming twice cooked fries.

This is how I build the inside out burgers. I put half of the mince for one pattie in a frying ring. Then I add in the filling. As you can see I used blue cheese in todays offering. To finish off I top it with the second half of the mince and then gently pat them to make sure that the filling is properly closed in.

Friday 14 March 2008

Mini teaser for the weekend

There is a big possibility of some photos of one of my biggest hits and most requested dishes arriving on this site on Sunday. Weather permitting...

Tomorrow there should be a posting consisting of some sort of attempt of emulating a classic American game day staple.

If I can find the photos, I might have deleted them by mistake :(, there might be a recipe later tonight for Chimichangas.

Hang loose!

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Recipe - Meatball Pasta al'arrabiata

Simply put, pasta and meatballs in a tomato sauce with a kick.

Al'Arrabiata is Italian for "angry style". At least according to Wikipedia.

You can adjust the heat a bit by choosing to keep the seeds in or not when you slice the chilies.

This is a very freestyle recipe, just add the ingredients in the amounts that feels ok to you. ;)

Pasta, cooked according to the instructions
Meatballs, cooked, homemade or bought
Onion, chopped
Garlic, chopped
Chilies, sliced - keep the seeds in to kick it a bit more
Fresh basil, torn

Start by sweating the onion and garlic for a little while in the frying pan. Add the chilies and fry for a little bit longer. Pour in the passata and start reducing it away. Season with salt and pepper. Taste it and add some sugar if it's a bit too tarty. Once it's started to reduce quite a bit add in the meatballs and let them heat up properly. When things are starting to look done it's time to stir in the torn basil leaves.

When the sauce is done pour it into the pot with the pasta and mix vigorously to coat all the pasta. Plate.


Have some basil food-porn ;)

Monday 10 March 2008

Recipe - Swedish Ice hockey Burgers

Apparently this is something that is eaten instead of burgers or hot dogs when you watch ice hockey matches in Sweden. Something I've never heard of but I guess they must have managed to invent something new since I departed the old homeland. ;)

Falukorv is a classic Swedish sausage but you can use Smoked Pork Sausage from Lidl as a good substitute. You can, as most of what I cook, freestyle this dish as much as you want and use whatever toppings you want.

Falukorv, sliced
Hamburger buns
Onions, chopped
Pickled gherkins, sliced
Tomato, sliced
Hot sauce, to taste

Fry the sausage slices until nicely browned, in the meantime put the sliced buns under the grill until slightly roasted. Assemble as you would do with a burger.


Sunday 9 March 2008

Farm shops are evil...

It's always dangerous to when I get to a farm shop. I do tend buy far too many and far too silly things. As you can see from these pictures, I'm a sucker for anything hot and spicy.

Me and a friend managed to visit three farm shops this weekend. Two of which were awesome and one that I'd call the equivalent of a 'gastro pub out of a box'. We didn't just get my silly stuff, we also got some bacon, sausages etc for a fry up.

Sitting at the table this morning munching away on some of the bacon I couldn't help but reflect on the difference between the normal bacon and this. If you have a proper farm shop nearby, visit it. Buy something just to make sure that they don't go out of business. I have no problem buying the bulk of my stuff from the big chains, but I like to have the choice of getting some 'proper' stuff from a farm shop now and then. I realise that I must support them to have them there, and I hope you do too!

End of rant! ;)

Friday 7 March 2008

Recipe - Mince Rice

This is a dish that I normally whip together when I'm low on time and/or money. ;) You can basically freestyle it as much as you want using whatever ingredients you like and/or have to hand. You can add things like peas, sweet corn and so on.

Ingredients (serves 4 or so)
3 - 4 cups (600 - 800 ml) boiled rice
700 g mince
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
1 yellow pepper, diced
Garlic to taste, minced
Hot sauce to taste

Start by frying the mince. Once it's starting to brown nicely add in the onions, peppers and garlic and let it fry. When it looks done add the boiled rice and stir briskly to mix it all up. Season and serve with the hot sauce.


Monday 3 March 2008

Review - Big Easy

[Disclaimer: I know that the pictures accompanying this post isn't all that sharp when you click on them and zoom in. I had to pap them in the restaurant so the quality and sharpness is lacking a bit but they do give you a bit of an idea of what the dishes looked like.]

Yesterday I tried out Big Easy on Kings Road in London. Here's my review...

The exterior

I was tasked with finding a nice restaurant to chill in after some shopping. Once I found the site for Big Easy I knew I had to try it.

Since it was mothers day I thought it might be a good idea to book a table. Normally I don't bother booking but this time it was needed. When we turned up the place was packed. We had to wait for our table, which wasn't that much of a hardship since we sat in the bar.

Once our table was cleared and re-plated we sat down and started study the menu. Since I like to be prepared I had already downloaded it from their site and was pretty clear over what I wanted. My dining companion had soon decided too.

Detail from the interior

I couldn't make my mind up over which of two starters I wanted the most so I decided to go for both. My first choice was half a dozen of fresh shucked Pacific oysters. They came served on an iced platter with shallot vinaigrette and Tabasco. As oysters go, these were up there with the best I've had. The vinaigrette had a nice bite and the Tabasco added some heat.

The second starter was Florida Jonah Crab Claws. They were steamed and was served chilled with a house made honey mustard dipping sauce. It was the first time I tried really chilled crab and I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised. The subtle flavors of the crab set off very nicely against the dipping sauce.

Crab claws

My companion selected the Voodoo Chicken Wings that came with aged blue cheese dip. We both agreed that these were probably among the best, if not the best, chicken wings we've ever tried. They were cooked until crispy and with a nice hot bite to them. The blue cheese dip worked beautifully to accentuate the flavors.

Voodoo Chicken Wings

It was tough to decide between the different mains but in the end we had to make a decision. My poor cohort went for the 8oz/225g Wagyu Rump Steak with creamed mashed & whipped potatoes. The meat was so tender that you could just put your fork on it and it slowly cut through the meat. It both looked and tasted excellent. The mashed potatoes was another highlight. I think the quote from my friend was: "If I could eat this off myself I would do it". Smutty? Perhaps, but honest and true. ;)

Wagyu Steak

I found the Double Thick Cut T-Bone Porterhouse on the menu and just had to go for it. The fact that it weighed in at 32oz/900g was a bit scary, but fear is good at times! As usual I was a bit worried how much the kitchen could screw up a order of blue steak. No need to worry, the steak was perfectly cooked. Or not cooked since it was perfectly blue. The steak wasn't as beautifully tender as the Waguy steak of my dining partners but it had a very 'steaky' flavor. A manly steak if I ever seen or tasted one. It was hard work but I managed to finish it, together with the basket of fries that I ordered with it. The fries was crisp and flavorsome so there was nothing to complain about with them either.

32oz/900g of the steakiest steak you can imagine

Both steaks came with lettuce and onion rings. The lettuce was crisp and had been dressed with a vinegar based dressing that wasn't bad nor anything special. Normally I get disappointed with onion rings but these were cooked to almost perfection. They had a nice crispy coating and the onion itself was also crispy.

Drinks? They had a nice selection of cocktails for the women or the limp wristed. They had a respectable list of bottled beers, of which I went for an old favorite - Dos Equis.

By now you might have figured out that I really enjoyed this restaurant. It was quite cramped, very busy and a bit chaotic at times. Something that made me like it even more. The food was amongst the best I've ever had in England and the overall experience was of the highest class. The only thing I must warn you about is that it is located on Kings Road in Chelsea and that is reflected a bit in the prices. But as a special treat? It's well worth it!

Mikey's verdict: Go there and try it, you won't regret that decision!