Tuesday 15 December 2009

Recipe - Mikey's Lazy Sausage Bake

This is a very simple recipe that still gives you lots back. There's not much prep and it sort of cooks itself.

You can just serve it in the tray you cooked it in and let everyone serve themselves so you don't even have to go for that extra effort.

The point in this recipe that I am a bit ambivalent with is the potatoes. Parboiling them takes a little bit extra time but you won't end up with any hard potato centres that way.

If you want to avoid that problem totally, just serve the sausage bake with some mashed potatoes instead.

As always, I go for a mixture of sausages - sort of a sausage roulette.

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into smaller pieces
3 red onions, finely sliced
4 plum tomatoes, thickly sliced
Peeled garlic cloves, to taste
Olive oil
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Dried oregano
8 pork sausages, well pricked

Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Par-boil the potatoes in some salted water for 2 - 3 minutes. Drain and allow to let some steam off.

Put the potatoes, onions, garlic and tomato slices in a deep baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and mix it up a bit. Scatter with the herbs and season well. Put the sausages on top.

Cook in the oven for about an hour, stirring the veg and rotating the sausages every now and then.


Friday 11 December 2009

Review/Christmas present idea: Interflora Christmas Hampers

When I first was asked if I was interested in sampling and reviewing one of Interfloras Christmas hampers I was a bit hesitant. The reason for that was that it wouldn't be much use if I was to review one of them since I'm allergic to most flowers that are considered to be traditional Christmas flowers.

I did not have to worry though, this nice hamper does not have a flower near it. If you want flowers from them you should have a look at their Christmas flowers instead.

This hamper makes a very nice present, especially for someone you won't be able to see in person over Christmas. They'll get it delivered straigt to home in a very safe and quick fashion.

The hamper I got to sample contains the following:

- Healthy Ideas Luxury Fruit & Nut Mix
- The Old Chapel Bakery Luxury Hand Made Mince Pies
- Maxwell & Franks Iced Fruit Cake
- Franks Luxury Biscuits Choc Chunk & Orange Mini Oat Biscuits
- Elizabeth Shaw Amaretto Flutes
- Kitchen Recipe Hand Made Vanilla Fudge
- Cotes de Luberon Blanc Appellation Luberon Controlee 2008
- Cotes de Luberon Rouge Appellation Luberon Controlee 2008

I haven't tried the white wine yet but since the rest of the stuff tasted really nice, I have no doubts that it will be well tasty too.

So, if you need a tasty Christmas hamper delivered for Christmas you could do much worse than with one of these.

Extra bonus tip: If you want some nice decorations for your table, have a look at thelastdetail.co.uk.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Recipe - Kicked up Meatballs

This recipe is a bit of a twist on the Kicked up Wings one I posted the other week.I guess these ones could be called Buffalo Meatballs.

No smorgasbord worth its salt in Sweden would be without meatballs. Around Christmas time the smorgasbord used to rule, might still do after all I know, the Christmas dinners that companies put on for their employees.

After what I can gather we're apparently getting close to Christmas again so this could be a nice thing to add to your planned buffet of good food. It will also be a nice surprise with the kick it gives you. Just imagine grannys face when she feels all that spicy love you've put into it.

As always when you make Swedish meatballs, try to get a 50/50 ratio of pork and beef mince.

Just a little tip. These little monsters do get quite schhhhticky, as Steve McClaren would say, so it could be a good idea to serve them with toothpicks if you go for a proper buffet way of serving.

Serve them hot or cold, they rock either way.

Ingredients (makes about 30 meatballs)
250g pork mince
250g meat mince
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
Breadcrumbs, if needed

50g butter, melted
1tbsp runny honey
Lots of Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 180c.

Gently mix the mince, garlic, onion and egg together. Season well. If the mixture is a bit too wet, mix in some breadcrumbs.

Roll meatballs of about 2.5 diameter and put them on the grill of a roasting pan.

Cook the meatballs in then oven for about 25 minutes, turning them half way through.

Mix the butter, honey and hot sauce in a bowl. Pour in the meatballs and make sure to coat them all evenly. Either serve them directly, piping hot or let them cool down.


Tuesday 8 December 2009

Recipe - Swedish style Potato Pancake

I'm sure that there are some other nations out there that will claim this as 'theirs' but to me this is a very Swedish dish.

Given the cheap ingredients and the filling nature of it I'd hazard a guess that this is something that was invented by the working classes. It's not a very elegant dish but it's quick to cook and it does fill you up. Perfect peasont food in other words ;)

This time I served it with some smoked salmon and creme fraiche but there is quite a few things that goes nicely with this dish. Why not try it with some thick slices of pan fried bacon and lingonberry jam? You could even just have it on its own.

Just make sure to season the 'batter' well - it needs it.

Ingredients (serves about 4)
4 - 5 potatoes, about 400g
3 eggs
600ml milk
250ml all purpose flour
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
140g smoked streaky bacon
A couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary

Pre-heat the oven to 250c.

Peel and grate the potatoes on the coarsest side of a box-grater. Put the grated potatoes in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Squeeze out the excess liquid. (Wrapping the potatoes in a tea towel and squeezing works very well.)

Whisk together the eggs with half of the milk, add the flour and whisk until you got a lump free batter. Stir in the rest of the milk, the potatoes and season well. Pour the batter into a buttered 30cm x 20cm roasting pan. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Put the sliced tomatoes, bacon slices and rosemary sprigs on top of the pancake. Pop it back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so.

Remove from the oven, cut into portion sizes and serve up.


Thursday 3 December 2009

Recipe - Vietnamese style beef Pho from the slow cooker

This is another slow cooker recipe that I found in some newspaper magazine which has been freestyled and evolved through the years.

I'm sure this is very 'westernized' and don't bear much resemblance with the real deal. I'm afraid that I've never been to Vietnam so I don't have anything to measure it against, but I like it and the people who have tried it liked it too. That is good enough for me.

This dish works extra well right now since the weather outside is generally cold, wet and nasty. It's a proper winter warmer. Best of all, it takes very little preparation and it can be ready for when you get home from work.

I've probably bored you enough now, so time to head over to the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)
500g braising steak, cut into thin strips
1 - 2 red chilies, sliced
1/2 thumb sized fresh root ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp whole cloves
1.3 litres beef stock (as good quality as possible)
4 nests of thin egg noodles
100g bean sprouts
Spring onions, finely sliced
A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
A handful of mint, roughly chopped
Juice from a lime
1 tbsp Nam pla (fish sauce)

Chuck the beef strips into the slow cooker. Cover with the chilies, ginger, garlic, cloves and beef stock. Make sure that no beef is sticking up over the surface. Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours.

When the slow cooker is getting close to the end of the run, prepare the noodles. Once prepared, divide them up between 4 bowls. Pop some bean sprouts, spring onions, coriander and mint into each bowl.

Stir in the lime juice and Nam pla into the slow cooker. Divide beef into the bowls and finish off with some of the hot stock into each bowl.


Wednesday 2 December 2009

Pytt-i-Panna from the leftovers...

I really don't like eating the same dish two days in a row so when I had a pork chop and some potatoes left from the day before I had to come up with something.

Pytt-i-Panna, or hash, was the simplest thing I could think of. Dice up the pork and potatoes as well as some onion. Pop some butter and olive oil in a pan and add the onion once the butter has melted. Fry for a couple of minutes and then add the rest. Season well. Keep frying on a medium to high heat until heated well through and the potatoes starts to crispen up. Serve with a fried egg and some pickled beetroot.


Tuesday 1 December 2009

Recipe - Pork Chops with Jack Daniels and Apple Sauce

This is a recipe that originates in a great little cookbook, Dollars to Donuts, that I more or less found by mistake. I was lazily browsing around Amazon when I spotted it in one of those 'other customers who bought this' listings. Since it was more than fairly priced I decided to get a copy. Something that was a good decision.

The book is full of down to earth and sensible recipes that won't cost you an arm and a leg to cook. Almost all recipes can be freestyled, often with a note on how to cook them differently or different sides that goes well with them.

All in all a book that I highly recommend. You can find it here on Amazon UK and Amazon US. There's a also a site/blog for the book here MyD2D.

When I came across the following recipe, slightly changed in my version, in the book I remembered that I hadn't had pork chops for ages so it had to be tried.

I really liked it and my normal charity case (read: leftover recipient) praised it highly too. Give it a go, and why not see if you can track down a copy of the book too.

I served this with pan fried salad potatoes but I think it would go very well with mashed potatoes too. Creamed spinach on the side would probably raise it yet another level.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
4 pork chops
250 ml apple juice
120ml Jack Daniels (divided 2 x 60 ml)
60 ml cider vinegar
4 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Lemon juice
1 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you want a bigger kick)
Olive oil
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Whisk together the apple juice, 60 ml of JD, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, sage, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the marinade into a measuring jug. Pop the pork chops into a large freezer bag and pour half of the marinade on top, mixing well. Marinade the pork chops in the fridge for at least 30 minutes but preferably over night. Cover the remaining marinade in the measuring jug with some clingfilm and refrigerate until it is time to cook.

Pre-heat the oven to 120c. Remove the pork chops from the plastic bag and pat them dry, you can now get rid of the bag and its liquids. Make two or three vertical cuts in the fat on each pork chop to stop them from curling up when fried.

Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Fry the pork chops for about 3 - 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked all the way through. Put the chops on a oven-safe platter, cover with some tin foil and keep them in the oven until it's time to serve.

In the meantime, add the onion and apple to the pan and cook whilst stirring until they both start to brown, something that will take about 8 minutes or so. Pour in the marinade from the measuring jug and add another 60 ml of JD. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes or until the sauce has reduced a little bit.

Serve the chops with the sauce on top.


Thursday 26 November 2009

Recipe - Kicked up Chicken Wings with Blue Cheese Dip

Before you even start on me, no I'm not sponsored by Frank's RedHot Sauces even though I mention them quite often. I just think they rock. Hard. That sorted, let's get on with the normal business.

I'm quite a big fan of chicken wings. There's a couple of reasons for this. The spicyness, you eat it with your fingers and it is easy to make are just some of them.

Normally I'd cook them in my deep fat fryer but I just couldn't be arsed to change the oil this time. Instead I choose to cook them in oven, something that works fairly well too. The big difference, at least in my book, is that you lose some of the crispiness.

As you can see there are no measurements for this recipe, well besides the creme fraiche. Just freestyle it, use what you think will work and adjust it next time if it didn't.

When it comes to the blue cheese you can go for whatever rocks your boat. I'm quite fond of what the Lesser Swedes (or Danish as some calls them) produces so I quite often use that.

Enough waffling, let's get over to the recipe.

200ml creme fraiche
Blue cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground pepper

Chicken wings, rinsed and patted dry
Frank's RedHot Sauce

Mix the creme fraiche and the blue cheese. Season with pepper. The dip is now done.

Pre-heat the oven to 180c.

Melt the butter in a pan, pour into a large-ish mixing bowl. Pour Frank's RedHot Sauce into the butter to suit your taste. Toss the wings in the butter mixture.

Put the wings on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and season with some salt. Cook in the oven for 30 - 40 minutes or until cooked through and nicely tanned.

Serve with the blue cheese dip and some more Frank's on the side if you so wish.


Tuesday 24 November 2009

Recipe - Pastel de Papas

I bet that quite a large majority of you reading this just went Pastel de what? To be honest, so would I have done up until yesterday.

This is yet another example of me trying to recreate something I've seen on the t'interweb or read about. I was going through the weekends harvest in my RSS reader when I came across a restaurant review from Austin. In this review there was a shot of a dish called Pastel de Papas. That was it, the recipe had to be found and the dish had to be tried.

After some googling and reading I found out some facts about the dish. Apparently it is known as the Argentinean Shepherds Pie. Given the freestyle nature of a normal Shepherds Pie I could not find two recipes that were the same for Pastor de Papas. Something I liked since that gave me a good opportunity to amalgamate the things I liked from the recipes and freestyle it to suit my taste.

As always, freestyle it. If you want to add something - do it. If you want to remove something - do it. I'm pretty sure that I'll get an email from a certain someone going: "It looks really good, if you just removed the eggs" as soon as the recipe has been read. Not a problem, just remove them when you cook it yourself.

I normally make a very creamy mash but for something like this I think I did the right thing by keeping the mash quite firm. As for the serving, I made mine in portion forms but you could make it in one larger oven proof dish. That would make it into more of a family style meal.

While you guys read the recipe I'll be busy planning the next unknown thing I'll try my hand at...

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 - 4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
500g minced beef
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Ground cumin
2 tsp Oregano
60 ml red wine
60 ml raisins, soaking in hot water
2 eggs, hard boiled and sliced or chopped
1 200g can of spicy green olives stuffed with pimento, drained and quartered

Mashed potatoes
6 large potatoes, peeled and cut into same sized chunks
Milk or cream, to taste
Unsalted butter, to taste

Egg stop
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp water

Heat the olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add the onion, pepper and garlic. Let this cook for about a minute and then add the minced beef. Cook whilst stirring for another minute. Stir in the paprika, cumin and oregano. Keep cooking, stirring now and then, until the beef is cooked and almost all liquid has disappeared. Add the wine and cook whilst stirring until the wine has evaporated. Remove from the heat and let it cool.

Bring water to a boil in a large pan. Add the potatoes and let them cook until soft, test with a knife - don't overcook them. Drain and mash (preferably using a ricer). Add in butter and milk/cream until you get a quite nice and firm consistency. Season well.

Heat the oven to 180c.

While you are waiting for the oven it's time to layer up the ingredients. In a ovensafe dish (or 2 - 4 smaller ones) start by putting in the mince. Layer with the raisins, eggs and olives. Top with the mash. Make the egg stop by whisking together the yolk and water. Brush the mash with the egg stop.

Put it into the oven for about 30 - 40 minutes, or until the mash topping is nice and golden.


Thursday 19 November 2009

Recipe - Blackened-ish Chicken Breasts with Pineapple and Ginger Salsa served with Sweet Potato Wedges

I better admit to it straight away. The star of this recipe, the salsa, is a stolen idea. Yes, you read me right - I have stolen someone else idea and used it in one of my own recipes. Shocking, I bet you that doesn't happen often in the world of food blogging/recipe writing. :)

To be fair, I must admit that neither the chicken nor the sweet potato wedges are very original ideas either. Bad Mikey. :(

Last Sunday me and Solo tested a local restaurant, The Fish Restaurant & Bar, in Sutton Courtenay. The entire meal was very competent but the one item that really stood out was this salsa. It was served with the halibut I had and really made the halibut taste extra good.

As soon as I tasted it I started thinking of how to make it and what to serve it with and this is my first attempt. I know that I took the easy option out, if you want extra flavour - core a fresh pineapple.

Ingredients (serves 4)
Pineapple and Ginger Salsa
1 425g can of pineapple rings, drained
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into 3 -4 smaller pieces
Fresh Coriander, torn
A pinch of salt

Sweet potato wedges
4 - 6 sweet potatoes
Olive oil

Blackened-ish chicken
Olive oil
4 skinless chicken breasts
Dry-rub (you could use something like pre-made cajun spice)

Pineapple and Ginger Salsa
Pop the ginger pieces in your food processor and run it for 30 - 45 seconds. Add the pineapple rings and let it run until you got a fairly smooth mix and the ginger has broken down quite completely. Transfer to a bowl, stir in coriander to taste. Add a pinch of salt. Put some cling film on top and let the flavours mix.

If you do this well ahead, let the bowl sit in the fridge. Remove it some time before serving so that the salsa reaches room temperature before serving.

Sweet potato wedges
Preheat the oven to 200c.

Rinse and scrup the wedges well. Cut each potato in half lenghtwise. Cut each half into three equal sized wedges. Put the wedges on a tin foil lined baking tray. Drizzle with the oil and season well.

Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25 - 30 minutes, or until nicely golden.

Blackened-ish chicken
Rub the chicken well with the spices. Let this stand for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium to high heat. Add the chicken breasts and cook for 7 - 9 minutes on each side, or until fully cooked.

Let the chicken rest for 5 - 10 minute until slicing it and serving it with the salsa and sweet potato wedges.


Tuesday 17 November 2009

Recipe - Slow Cooked Sausages in Apple and El Gaitero Sauce with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

If you are a regular reader of this blog I think you've come to understand that I really appreciate my slow cooker. It is really lazy cookery, but the results are quite awesome most of the time. To come home to a ready cooked meal and a flat that smells of foody goodness is worth quite a bit.

This is one of my favourites, I think I found the recipe in one of the supermarkets own food magazines and it has evolved from there.

I always try to get as many different sausages as possible in here, it turns into sort of a sausage roulette.

As my care-package receivers (read: the poor bastards I dump my leftovers on) have noticed, this is a dish that taste almost better the next day. It is also highly recommended for freezing.

For that perfect comfort food feeling, serve it with some really creamy mash and let the sauce mix in well.

I'm not a cider drinker at all so I don't really know which ones are good and which ones are bad. However, I've come to use a specific cider for this one, it's a Spanish cider called El Gaitero. It works beautifully with the pork sausages so I'm sticking with it. I'm fairly sure that you'll get a better result with El Gaitero than with White Lightning. ;)

Enough talk, let's head over to the shop...

Olive oil
8 good quality pork sausages, mix and match
10 - 12 thin rashers of smoked streaky bacon, cut into pieces
2 leeks, cut into 2cm slices
3 Gala apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
1 330ml bottle cider (I recommnend El Gaitero)

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat

Fry the sausages in batches, don't crowd the pan, until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer to the slow cooker.

Fry the bacon pieces in batches, yet again - don't crowd the pan, until it starts to brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the slow cooker.

Finally, fry the leeks in batches, guess what - don't crowd the pan, until a nice brownage starts to appear. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to the slow cooker.

Put the apple pieces on top, pour on the cider and cover with the slow cooker lid.

Cook on low for about 8 hours.

Serve with creamy mash and a good dollop of chilli and whole grain mustard.


Thursday 12 November 2009

Recipe - Kebab platter / Kebabtallrik

I was reading the online version of my old hometown's local paper when I came across a PDF to download. That one contained that weeks lunch menus from local restaurants.

Lunch is treated a bit differently, at least it was while I still was living there, in Sweden than here in the UK. People actually do visit restaurants at lunchtime to have a warm, sit-down, meal instead of a couple of manky sandwiches with a packet of crisps. I remember that there was at least a couple of restaurants in my hometown that only served lunch. They weren't even open for dinner in the evenings.

I do actually miss that to a certain degree but if I had the choice between lunchtime restaurants or pubs in the evening - guess what I'd go for any time? :)

What caught my eye on this list of menus was that one of them had kebab platter (kebabtallrik) one of the days. Reading that triggered some memories which made me have to do some Google Image searching to get inspiration. I guess most (at least European) countries have their slightly localised way of serving kebabs without pita pockets and this is the Swedish way.

As you can see this is quite a trashy dish, but hey - you need a bit of dirty every now and then. In Sweden I used to be able to by sliced ready-made kebab meat from the frozen section but I thought I'd go a bit better than that. If I made my own at least I'd know that I wasn't eating Mr Tinkles.

When you cook something trashy like this there's no way you can justify swapping some of the crap for good stuff. No twice-cooked home cut fries here, the only way forward is nasty crinkle cut low priced oven chips and so on.

Well, I'm getting tired to listening to my own voice in my head so I bet you guys are fed up with reading what I'm writing. Time to head over to the recipe.

450g beef mince
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp water
1 tsp ground cumin

To serve
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Tomatoes, sliced
Cucumber, sliced
Red onion, halved and sliced
Chili and/or garlic sauce
Crinkle cut oven fries, cooked and served hot

Mix the mince well with the garlic, flour and the spices.

Cover your cutting board with some parchment paper and put down a portion of the mince on it, put another piece of parchment paper on top and use a rolling pin to make a thin layer of mince. Cut this thin layer into strips. Repeat until you've run out of mince.

Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and fry the strips in batches, keeping the done ones warm on the side.

Assemble the kebab strips with the other bits and pieces on plates.


Tuesday 10 November 2009

Recipe - Prawns with Spicy Soured Cream and Mustard Sauce

Most of you who read this blog on a regular basis have probably figured out by now that I like prawns. It's just a shame that I'm a tad bit allergic to the little buggers. But hey ho, some things just has to be eaten - no matter what. ;)

This is another variation on one of my favourite lazy meals. Boiled prawns with a dip and some nice white bread. I actually prefer to let the prawns cool down for this one, but if you like yours hot - just skip the cooling step in the cooking instructions.

I like to pre-boil the water with the spices and then let it cool down before I cook the prawns. It's probably just imagination on my side by it seems to give more flavour that way. If you have the time to do it, why not try it?

The dip can be used with more stuff than just prawns and as usual - adapt the spiciness to suit your own taste and pain threshold.

Let's have a look at how we make this then...

1/2 onion, diced
Juice from a lemon
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp whole black peppercorns
2 tsp dried chili flakes
Prawns, shelled and de-veined

170ml soured cream
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dried chili flakes

Bread, to serve

Mix all the ingredients for the sauce in a non-reactive bowl. Cover with clingfilm and let it stand to let the flavours mingle.

Pour water into a pan, enough to let the prawns swim freely later, and add all the spices. Bring this to a boil and then let it cool to room temperature again.

Bring the water back to a boil, add the prawns and let them boil until done. This takes about 2 minutes, depending on their size. Don't let them overcook, rubber ball prawns are not nice. Remove from the heat, drain and plunge straight into ice-cold water to stop the cooking. Once chilled, drain again.

Serve with the dip and white bread.


Thursday 5 November 2009

Recipe - Meatball and Red Cabbage Sandwiches

Swedish? Check. Meatballs? Check.

Ok, if we're done with national stereotyping let's head over to the interesting bits. ;)

The star in this recipe is actually the red cabbage. Yet again it is something that you can freestyle to your hearts content. Add some orange juice or why not some orange peel? Stir in some herbs. Use some golden syrup instead of the honey. The variations are endless.

This time I used it with meatballs but it goes very nice with some roast pork. Try it with your Christmas ham.

I'm not sure when or where I first ate this side but I guess it might actually have been at a smorgasbord around Christmas time back in Sweden. There is no need to just eat this around Christmas though, it is equally nice year round.

As you will notice in the ingredient list, I won't/can't give any exact measurements this is something you cook to your own taste.

Enough talking, over to the workfloor...

Meatballs (homemade or store bought)
Pickled Red cabbage (I used some Gundelsheim Barrel Red Cabbage)
Runny honey
White wine vinegar
Mustard, preferably German style
Bread, to serve

Make/heat your meatballs.

In the meantime put the cabbage in a frying pan on a low to medium heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Taste and adjust the proportions as you go along. Cook until most of the liquid is gone and the cabbage is well heated through.

Divide the cabbage mixture onto bread slices and finish off with halved meatballs.


Tuesday 3 November 2009

Recipe - Blue Cheese and Coriander Beef Burgers served with a creamy sauce and potato wedges

This recipe is one of those that just came to since I needed to use up some stuff that was getting close to its expiry date. Necessity is the mother of invention as they say.

I think the, artery clogging, cream sauce really lifts the dish. When you fry the beef burgers you lose some of the blue cheese into the pan but all of that is rescued when you deglaze the pan during the making of the sauce.

This time I had some leftover coriander (cilantro if you're in the States) but I'd try this with quite a few other herbs, I think that parsley would work a treat.

For serving I choose to go with home made potato wedges, but this with some mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam would rock so loud that your ears would hurt.

Enough waffling, let's get the show on the road...

Ingredients (makes 4 - 6 patties)
500g mince
A good bunch of coriander, torn
Blue cheese, to taste
One egg
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil
250 ml cream (I used double cream)
Soy sauce, to taste

Mix the mince, coriander, crumbled blue cheese, egg, salt and pepper well. Shape into 4 to 6 patties.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and start frying the burgers, don't crowd the pan, until done to your liking. Keep the finished burgers warm while you finish them all off.

Once all the burgers are done, pour the cream into the pan and deglaze well. Season to taste with salt, pepper and soy sauce. Use the soy sauce to get a nice colour for the sauce. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer until it reaches a consistency you like.

Serve the burgers with potatoes, sauce and maybe a green salad.


Friday 30 October 2009

Recipe - Really Lazy Pulled Chicken from the Slow Cooker

Sometimes you need to cut corners and cheat a bit. This recipe is a good indication of what you can get even if you take some shortcuts.

Coming home and having 95% of the cooking done by itself can be a good feeling after a long day at work.

So, without any more babbling - this is how I saved myself some kitchen time today.

500g skinless chicken thighs
1 yellow onion, diced
1 jar Bone Suckin' Sauce Hot Thicker Style

To serve
Bread rolls
Coleslaw (I did make you own this time too, I didn't cheat with everything)

Line the bottom of your slow cooker with the chicken thighs. Spread the onions on top and pour the sauce evenly over it all.

Cook on Low for 5 hours or until the chicken is properly cooked through.

Fish out the chicken pieces and shred them with either your hands or two forks. Put the shredded chicken in a bowl. Once all the chicken pieces have been shredded spoon liquid form the slow cooker over it until it reaches a consistency you like.

Split the rolls, pop some chicken on each bottom half. Top with coleslaw and finish the stack with the tops of the rolls .


Wednesday 28 October 2009

Recipe - Hot Ham, Cheese and Pineapple Rolls

I'm the first one to admit that this might not be the most adventurous recipe or very advanced cookery... However, it does taste very good.

These marinated and oven-cooked pineapple rings doesn't only go well with ham and cheese - try them with barbecued chicken breasts or why not on your burgers? You can of course cook these on your barbie, they taste even better then.

I'm feeling a bit rusty with this blogging malarkey at the moment so I'll head straight over to the recipe now

Ingredients (makes 4 rolls)
4 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 slices of pineapple, with juice
4 bread rolls
4 slices of good ham
4 slices of gruyere cheese
Salad leaves (I used baby spinach leaves)
Mustard (I used French's Bold 'N Spicy Deli Mustard)

Pour the pineapple juice into a bowl/container big enough to put the pineapple slices in a single layer. Mix in the sugar, cinnamon, chili powder and vanilla extract until dissolved. Put in the pineapple slices and make sure to cover them well with the liquid mixture.

Let the pineapple slices marinade for at least half an hour, preferably longer. Turn them a couple of times just to make sure that they get evenly marinated.

Pre-heat the oven to 220c. When the oven is heated, put some tinfoil on a baking tray and lightly oil it. Put the pineapple slices on the tinfoil and pop the tray into the oven.

The pineapple slices need about 10 minutes on each side, or until they start to brown nicely and the marinade has caramelised.

While the pineapple slices are getting tanned you can prepare the rolls. Slice them in half, put a slice of ham and a slice of cheese on each bottom half. When about 15 minutes have passed (you should have turned the pineapple slices around 5 minutes ago) put the rolls into the oven as well so so that they heat up and the cheese starts to melt.

Remove it all from the oven. Put the pineapple slices on top of the ham and cheese and finish it off with some salad leaves. Spread the top halves with some mustard and stack them on top of the bottom halves.


Monday 26 October 2009

Soon back...

Life has been a bit hectic lately and I've had to prioritise the work that actually pays my bills ;)

I'm feeling the urge to blog coming back now though so you should hopefully find some proper new content here soon.

In the meantime, why not have a look at some Weird and Wonderful Restaurants?

Tuesday 18 August 2009

Recipe - Pasta Salad with Poached Chicken

This is a fairly quick and easy dish to make. It's also quite versatile. It could be packed for lunch or picnic, used as a side when you barbecue or just plainly eaten for dinner.

Poaching is probably one of the easiest ways of cooking chicken breasts that I know of. The way I do is it as follows. Chuck the chickens into a large pan, add spices and other flavourings of your choice. Pour on enough water (or stock) to cover the chicken well. Bring this to a boil, let it boil for 3 minutes and then remove it from the heat. Cover the pan and let it stand for 30 minutes. Done.

After that quick poaching lesson, let's head over to the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 portions of pasta
2 chicken breasts
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1 can of sweet corn, drained
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp dried mixed herbs
2 tbsp olive oil

Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the packaging, drain and let it cool.

Cook the chicken breasts as per above, drain, let it cool and then dice the it.

Mix the lemon juice, mixed herbs and olive oil in a small bowl.

In a large bowl mix up all the dry ingredients well and then stir in the dressing.


Friday 14 August 2009

Recipe - Lamb Burgers with Feta and Basil Sauce

These lamb burgers are as good as lamb burgers come but the real star in this recipe is the sauce.

I matched it with lamb burgers this time but it could work with beef burgers, chops or why not as a different condiment for your Sunday roast?

It's dead simple to make and you'll be royally rewarded for your efforts.

Serving lamb burgers in pita pockets feels more right than serving them in buns for some reason so I go with that.

Enough chatting, over to the recipe...

Ingredients (makes about six burgers)
500g lamb mince
1 egg
1 red onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, finely diced
1 tbsp curry powder

Feta and Basil Sauce
200g feta cheese
25g fresh basil leaves
2 tbsp olive oil

To serve
Pita pockets
Mixed salad
Sliced tomatoes

Mix all the ingredients for the lamb burgers in a bowl. Make the mince mixture into six even patties. Fry, grill or barbecue the patties until done to your liking.

In the meantime put the feta, basil leaves and olive oil into a food processor and run until you got a nice even texture.

Serve the patties in pita pockets with the greens and the feta and basil sauce.


Wednesday 12 August 2009

Recipe - Steak Strips with Pasta in a Creamy Wine and Dijon Sauce

This is a fairly quick and easy recipe for a very tasty pasta dish. Season the steak well and let it be offset by the creamyness of the sauce.

You can serve this with a side salad and/or some nice roasted cherry tomatoes.

It's such a quick dish that I think we should head straight over to the recipe...

250g pappardelle pasta
300g - 400g frying steak, thinly sliced into strips
Olive oil
100 ml white wine
200 ml double cream
10 ml dijon mustard
10 ml fresh oregano leaves, roughly torn

Season the steak strips well. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the strips until done. Remove and keep warm.

Add the white wine to the same pan and bring to a simmer, making sure to deglaze the pan well. Once the wine has reduced to about half of its original volume stir in the cream, mustard and oregano. Let this simmer until nice and thick, this should take about 5 - 10 minutes.

In the meantime, boil the pasta per the instructions on the packaging. Drain well, return to the pan and pour on the cream sauce. Mix well.

Plate the pasta and add the strips of steak on top.


Tuesday 11 August 2009

Recipe - Sausagemeat and Pineapple Breakfast Muffins

If you're getting bored of cereal, porridege or whatever you are having for breakfast - try this as an alternative on a weekend morning.

It will take you a little bit longer to whip up than just pouring milk over some cereal, but it will be worth it.

I'm sure you will have seen something like this in one or more of the fast food chains. The added bonus with these is that you don't have to get dressed and get outside to get them. Also, you can have them as late as you want without some pimply faced youth telling you that it's too late in the day for breakfast.

I used a frying ring both to the patties as well as to fry the egg in. That way I got a somewhat uniform size to it all. I tried to make the patties a bit thinner so that would make about 8 muffins, if you go for fatter patties you'll probably end up with 4 or so. The egg is optional but adds some extra goodness to it all.

The sausagemeat already has a bit of seasoning so it doesn't really need any added salt and pepper either.

Ingredients (makes 4 -8 muffins)
4 - 8 English muffins, sliced in half
450g pork sausagemeat
80 - 100g pineapple chunks
Eggs (optional)
Butter (optional)

Drain and finely chop the pineapple. Mix the pineapple and sausagemeat in a bowl.

Make patties out of the sausagemeat mix and fry on a medium heat on both sides until done. Remove from the heat as they're done and keep warm.

If you are using the eggs, fry them to your liking.

Toast the cut sides of the muffins, spread with butter if you want to, and stack on the patties and eggs. Add any condiments you like.


Friday 7 August 2009

Recipe - Gammon Steak with Red Eye Gravy

This is yet another thing I read about in a fictional book that I felt compelled to try. To be honest, when I first read about Red Eye Gravy I wasn't sure if it was food related or if was a really nasty euphemism... ;)

The research I've done tells me that this probably is more of a breakfast/brunch thing but I had it for dinner. I'm such a rebel.

Quite a lot of the recipes and menus I could find it in pairs Red Eye Gravy with grits. Scrambled eggs was my pairing, mostly due to the fact that I didn't have any grits at home.

For those of you who wonders if I liked it or not, yes I did. I had a taste straight out of the frying pan and thought that this was a mistake. Backing down was never an option though so I spooned some of the Red Eye Gravy over the gammon steaks and sat down to eat. Now it worked, and it worked really well. It probably needed some of that smoked gammon as well as eggs to taste good.

Next time you want to freak out your breakfast guests, serve them some coffee sauce.

Oh yeah, if you wonder - that's not Red Eye Gravy on the scrambled eggs. That's hot-sauce.

Ingredients (serves 1 - 2)
1 220g smoked gammon steak, cut into 4
120 ml freshly brewed good quality coffee
1 - 2 portions of scrambled eggs

Fry the gammon pieces in a frying pan for about 4 - 5 minutes, turning half way. Remove and keep warm.

Pour the coffee into the frying pan and let it boil for 2 - 3 minutes. While it's boiling, use a wooden spoon to deglaze the pan.

Plate the gammon and the scrambled eggs and spoon some of the red eye gravy on top.


Thursday 6 August 2009

Recipe - Chicken with Sweetcorn Sauce and Rice

This sweetcorn sauce is the result of some thinking and experimenting I did last night. To be honest, it turned out better than what I could have expected.

As you can see from the recipe I've listed the addition of chili powder and lime juice as an optional step. However, I think the sauce will be lacking a bit of depth if you leave it out.

As for the chicken, I used a barbecue spice mix from Sweden but you can just as well use some home made dry rub or why not a cajun spice mix?

This time I served it all with rice but as I'm writing this I just realised that this sauce could be a hit with some meatloaf and mash.

Let's save that for another time though and head over to the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 skin- and boneless chickenbreasts
Dry rub

Sweetcorn sauce
1 160g can of sweetcorn, drained
250 ml chicken stock
100 ml double cream
1/2 tbsp plain flour
1/2 tbsp water
Chili powder, to taste [OPTIONAL]
Lime juice, to taste [OPTIONAL]

Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Dry the chicken breasts with some kitchen towel then massage in liberal amounts of dry rub into them. Let this sit in the fridge for at least an hour, if you got the time.

Heat a nonstick pan, once hot - fry the chicken breasts for about a minute and a half on each side.

Move the chicken breasts to some tinfoil on a baking tray. Pop this into the oven until they're cooked - about 20 to 25 minutes normally.

In the meantime, bring the sweetcorn and chicken stock to a simmer and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Pour the sweetcorn mixture into a food processor or liquidizer and process until well pulverised.

Put a sieve over a pan and pour the liquidized sweetcorn into the sieve. Use the back of a wooden spoon to force as much liquid through as possible. The more time you take for this and the more thorough you are the better the sauce will get.

Once you're happy with the amount of liquid in the pan, remove the sieve and return the pan to the hob on a low heat.

Whisk the flour and water together well in a small ramekin or similar.

Mix in the cream and flour mix well with the corn liquid. Let this slowly simmer for about 5 minutes or so - until it got a nice and thich consistency that you are happy with. If you feel like it, add the chili and lime juice to taste during this process.

Serve with rice.


Wednesday 5 August 2009

Review - Abel & Cole Free Range Chicken

Some time ago I was asked if I was interested in testing one of Abel & Coles Free Range Chickens and who was I to say no?

I must admit that I was a bit worried about having a chicken delivered and sitting outside until I made it back home from work. Especially since I was getting it delivered during quite some hot weather.

I didn't need to worry. The chicken was delivered in a sturdy insulated box and was packed together with a frozen gel pack. It was still well chilled by the time I got home.

Their whole chickens are reared by a number of growers but I couldn't find any information as to exactly where this specific bird had grown up. Not that I really need to know the exact farm or the name of the farmer.

The chicken came complete with the giblets if you want to use those. I used mine to make some Louisiana Dirty Rice.

There's quite a lot you can do with a whole chicken, most of them illegal in the state of Massachusetts, but I decided that roasting it would be a good way of comparing it to the chickens I normally cook/eat.

I used exactly the same methods and timings as I normally do when I roast a whole chicken, trying to be as fair as possible.

I must say that I was surprised by the end result. The bird itself looked healthy, or as healthy as a dead chicken can look, before I started cooking it but what came out of the oven surpassed my highest expectations.

This was one of the juiciest and most well tasting roast chickens I've ever cooked/eaten. It reminded me of roast chicken dinners I had as a child with chickens from my first cousins farm.

I know that people say that free stuff always taste better but I must say that I will gladly pay for this quality in future. The Abel & Cole Free Range Chickens are a couple of pounds more per kilo than what you pay for normal supermarket chickens but I must say that I think it is well worth it.

I had a very nice roast chicken dinner and then I used the leftovers for chicken sandwiches the next day. Very tasty chicken sandwiches as that.

Mikey says: I highly recommend you trying one of Abel & Cole's Free Range Chickens. I don't think you'll regret it.

Tuesday 4 August 2009

Recipe - Garlic, Chili and Coriander Prawns

Here's another quick and easy prawn dish, this time with quite a kick. As always, freestyle the proportions of chili flakes etc to suit your own taste and preferences.

I served this with egg noodles but you could serve it with rice, in tortillas or just on its own as part of a bigger tapas spread.

As always with prawns, be careful not to overcook them or they'll turn far too chewy, almost like bouncy balls.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
200g raw prawns, peeled and de-veined
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Dried chili flakes, to taste
2 tbsp torn or coarsely chopped coriander

Put the prawns, olive oil, garlic, chili flakes, salt and pepper in a bowl and give it a good stir. Let this marinate in the fridge for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and let the prawns come to room temperature before you start cooking them.

Heat a large frying pan or a wok on a high heat. Once the pan is really hot add the contents from the bowl. Cook, stirring all the time, until the prawns turn pink and are cooked.

Stir in the coriander just before removing them from the heat.


Thursday 30 July 2009

Tuesday 28 July 2009

Recipe - Aussie Hot Dog Sandwich

Anyone who has been to Australia should have sampled the great Aussie Burger. It's a great show of excess and will not fail in making you feel well and truly full.

The thing that categorises a Aussie burger, at least to me, are three main ingredients. Beetroot, pineapple and a fried egg. All the major hamburger chains down under have a Aussie Burger on their menu as well.

If you ever go to Australia, this is one to try.

Since there are literally thousands of Aussie Burger recipes floating around the t'Interweb I thought I'd do something a bit different - The Aussie Hot Dog Sandwich.

Let's just say that it turned out to be quite a monster. Definitively nothing you should try if you are a child, pregnant or generally a sissy.

I'm sure that I would have found a Health & Safety warning sticker somewhere on it if I just had looked properly.

Enough waffling, let's see how to create one of these monsters...

Ingredients (makes one ginormous sandwich)
1 ciabatta, cut to the length of the hot dogs
Yellow mustard, preferably French's
Sliced beetroot
2 hot dogs, cooked and sliced in half
2 pineapple rings
2 slices of tomato
2 fried eggs
4 rashers of streaky bacon, cooked
Grated, or slices of, cheese

Slice the ciabatta lengthways. Put generous amounts of mustard on the bottom half of ciabatta. Then layer in the following order: Beetroot, hot dogs, pineapple rings, tomatoes, fried eggs and bacon. Finish off with the grated cheese.

Put the sandwich under the grill (broiler) until the cheese has melted and are starting to get brown.

Put the top half of the ciabatta on top of it all.


Monday 27 July 2009

Recipe - Tomato and Chipotle Prawns

This is a fairly quick and easy way to get a tasty prawn dish on the table. There isn't much work involved but the end result is quite awesome.

I served it with rice but you could also serve it in tortillas/tacos or on its own as part of a tapas or buffet spread.

Adjust the hotness to your own liking but this is a dish that begs for a bit of a kick.

Save some of the coriander so you can use that for decoration when you plate the dish(es)

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
1 dried chipotle chili
Olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, finely diced
500g passata
200g raw prawns, peeled and de-veined
4 tbsp coriander (cilantro), torn or chopped
Hot sauce to taste

Stem the chipotle and rehydrate it in warm water as per the instructions on the packaging. Once re hydrated, dice the chili.

Heat the olive oil on a low heat. Add the chili, onion and garlic and let that sweat on low heat for 5 - 10 minutes. Stir in the passata and bring it to a simmer. Let this simmer for another 5 - 10 minutes or until reduced to your liking.

Add hot sauce and seasoning to taste and then stir in the coriander. Stir in the prawns and let them cook for 2 - 3 minutes, or until cooked.


Friday 24 July 2009

Recipe - Decadent Rock-n-Roll Sandwich

Yup, I know - this is wrong. So very wrong. Wrong on so many levels. But still, it had to be tried. If it was good enough for The King...

I honestly can't say what made me try this but being curious, stupid and in total contempt of my calorie intake is probably high up the list.

This was allegedly one of Elvis Presley's favourite sandwiches although I understand that his was made with a slight bit difference. I think that even his banana slices were fried in butter. It wouldn't surprise me if he had the entire sandwich battered and deep-fried too.

I used a Swedish spice mix called Grillkrydda (literally barbecue spice) as a dry rub for my chicken breast but you could use cajun spice or something similar instead.

Ok, let's head over and see how to clog our arteries in a true rock and roll way...

Ingredients (makes one sandwich)
1 bread roll, sub roll, baguette or similar
4 slices of smoked streaky bacon
1 boneless chicken breast
Dry rub (grillkrydda, cajun spice mix or similar)
1 ripe but still firm banana
Peanut butter, crunchy or smooth is up to you

Fry the bacon until crispy, leave to cool on some kitchen towel. Dry rub the chicken breast and pan fry until done, alternatively pan fry to seal it and finish it off in the oven. Let the chicken rest until cool enough to handle. Once cool enough, slice it up.

Slice the bread lengthways, spread with a good layer of peanut butter. Top firstly with banana, then bacon and finally finish off with the sliced chicken.


Thursday 23 July 2009

Recipe - Pork Mince Tostada

Continuing down the route of maybe-not-so-authentic-but-quite-tasty Mexican dishes I stopped to make Tostadas. After what I can understand you can use most types of meat, and beans, to make Tostadas. Since I already had some pork mince in the fridge my choice was easy.

You could serve this dish already plated, or you could do it Taco style and have all the ingredients on in bowls etc the table and let people assemble your own.

If you do it a bit more stylish than what I did last night you could almost make mini-Tostadas to serve as starters for a Mexican themed dinner etc.

This is a dish you really can freestyle...

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
Olive oil
500g pork mince
1 large onion
300g - 500g jar of salsa (or homemade if you wish)

To serve (all optional)
Corn tortillas
Grated cheese
Sour Cream
Sliced pickled jalapenos
Lettuce, shredded
Spring onions, sliced

Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.

Add the mince and the onion and fry until cooked through and all the liquids have disappeared. Add the salsa, bring to a simmer and let simmer until most (or all) of the liquids have disappeared and the mixture has a texture you like.

Either quickly heat the tortillas in a frying pan or in a oven. Pile some mince mixture on each one then top with the toppings of your choice.


Wednesday 22 July 2009

Recipe - Ham and Refried Beans Torta

Here I go again, cooking something I've never tasted. What I did was read some book a while ago. I think it was either a Lansdale or a Burke, where the protagonists ate some tortas. That made me interested enough to Google some pictures and recipes so this is really a hotchpotch of a number of sources.

The risk with this is that although I really liked it, it might not be what I should expect when I get to try it 'for real'. The real thing might be disgusting and I might just have gotten lucky as well as tailoring it to my own taste and preferences. Never mind, I guess I'll find out one day.

Hopefully I didn't screw it up too badly, otherwise I'll end up being chased by the Council of Torta Makers or something like that.

Enough waffling, let's make some tortas...

Ingredients (makes 2 rolls)
2 bread rolls, I used ciabatta rolls
200g - 300g refried beans
2 slices of good quality smoked ham, torn or sliced
1 tomato sliced
Pickled sliced green jalapenos to taste, drained
2 slices Monterey Jack cheese
2 tbsp coriander (cilantro), roughly torn
2 tbsp sour cream
Shredded romaine lettuce

Pre-heat the oven to 190c.

Slice the bread rolls lengthwise and hollow out both the top and bottom bit. Divide the refried beans between the two bottom halfs. Top with the ham, then the tomato slices. Add the jalapenos, top with cheese and then finish off with the coriander.

Put the tops on the bread rolls and wrap the tortas with aluminium foil. Pop them on a baking tray and hoik them into the oven for 10 minutes or until well warmed through.

Remove from the oven, carefully remove the aluminium foil. Take the tops off, add the sour cream and lettuce. Tops back on.


Tuesday 21 July 2009

Recipe - Crispy Soy and Honey Pork Mince with Egg Noodles

This is another one of those recipes that I don't really know where it comes from but I keep cooking. It might be something I've found in cookbook or a magazine, or even something I've tried to recreate from restaurant meal somewhere. Never mind, it's nice and I like it.

As you can see there are not many ingredients to it and I prefer to keep it that way. If you want to freestyle it, go ahead - adding stuff like green peas etc would work really well.

It doesn't have any real spice added so use some nice chili sauce like Sriracha to kick it once you got it in front of you.

As the title says, it's supposed to be a bit crispy. Looking at the packaging for the pork mince I bought I saw that the recommended cooking method and time was to pan fry it for 40 minutes. Yes, you read that right. 40 minutes. They must be a) on drugs, b) mental, c) very afraid of lawsuits or d) all of the above.

Enough bitching about stupid labelling, let's have a look at the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 nests of medium egg noodles
Olive oil
500g pork mince
1 - 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 spring onions, sliced (save some for decoration)
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 - 3 tbs runny honey
Fried crispy onions, optional for decoration

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan on a medium to high heat. Add the mince and fry until it starts to change colour, add the garlic and spring onions. Keep frying until all liquid has evaporated and the mince starts to brown up.

Add the soy sauce and honey and keep frying whilst stirring all the time. Let the liquids cook in and allow the mince to crisp up properly.

In the meantime, cook the noodles according to the packaging.

Once the mince is crispy enough for your liking, serve it on top of the noodles. Top with some spring onions slices and crispy onions.


Monday 20 July 2009

Recipe - Rose Petal Couscous Salad

Eating flowers? Am I crazy? Yes, a little bit I guess - but not in this case. There is a large number of flowers that you can eat the whole flower or parts of it.

Roses have a long tradition of being used in foods. Today you can find it in rose harissa and rose water for example.

If you are going to try this recipe, make sure that you wash the petals very carefully. Various roses have different strength of flavour so try a petal to try and judge how many you'll need in your salad.

This dish works just as well as a standalone salad served indvidually as it does as a larger shared salad at a barbecue for example. It compliments barbecued lamb really well.

Many thanks to Mrs T. for letting me use some of her beloved roses in the making of this dish. Update: I have been told that this particular rose is called Warm Welcome.

Let's hit the recipe and see how to cook this.

Ingredients (serves 4 - 6)
Couscous for 4
Vegetable stock
1 tbsp dried mint
1 can of chickpeas, drained and heated as per the tin
10 cm piece of cucumber - halved, deseeded and diced
4 medium tomatoes, deseeded and diced
6 dried apricots, diced
Rose petals, to taste
Rose bulbs, to decorate (optional)

Cook the couscous as per the instructions of the packaging, replacing water with the vegetable stock and adding the dried mint.

Once the couscous is cooked, fluff it up with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir it all up well.

Serve in individual bowls or on a large communal plate. If you want to, decorate with some rose bulbs.


Friday 17 July 2009

Funky Padron Peppers - Part 2

These little peppers really did taste nice, with the odd one out having a bit of a kick.

For once I didn't freestyle it, I actually followed the instructions on the packaging. Fry in olive oil for 3 minutes or so, until the skin on the peppers starts to blister. Hoik them into a bowl and sprinkle some salt over them. Job done.

Just peppers on their own would have been a bit too one-dimensional so I decided to add in some other small bits and pieces.

I ended up with a little platter consisting of the following: Padron peppers, chili stuffed olives, manchego cheese, Salchichon Ibérico, Chorizon Ibérico and Lomo Ibérico.

If you add some nice bread to that you'll find yourself with a nice (almost) non-cook dinner that you can enjoy in a nice and slow tempo.

I know for a fact that you can find these Padron Peppers in Waitrose but I'm sure there are some other shops around that stock them too.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Funky Padron Peppers

I found these funky looking Padron Peppers in my local supermarket. I've never seen or heard about them before, that's probably just me being ignorant as usual, so I had to grab a bag of them.

It says "1 in 30 has a kick!" on the packaging so I guess I'll have to verify that. I'll also verify if said kick is enough to warrant the image of a angry kicking bull on the front or if it should have been a slightly agitated wax worm instead.

The packaging says to fry them in olive oil for about 3 minutes or until the skin starts to blister, hopefully on the peppers. Once that's done, pop them into a bowl and sprinkle some salt over them.

I'll see if I can find any alternative ways of cooking them or if that is it. Once cooked and tried I'll post my findings up here.

In the meantime if anyone reading this knows anything about these little peppers, drop me a comment and let me know!

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Recipe - Bourbon Glazed Pork Tenderloin

A very good friend of mine had some business down here in 'The Don' the other day so he checked if he could crash at mine. That was of course no problem.

After being told that Hotel Mikey operates strictly on a BYO basis he turned up with a mattress, duvet and a very nice bottle of wine. Good lad!

Since I knew that the risk of us going down the pub was off the scale I figured that we needed something to line our stomachs with. Bourbon glazed pork tenderloin sounded like a good idea in theory. Thankfully it turned out just that way in reality too.

I served it with some sweet potato mash and a mayo-free coleslaw, a combination that worked out really well.

Just a couple of pointers on this recipe. Using a silicone brush and lining the baking tray with tinfoil is a must. The glaze is stickier than Russel Brand's bedsheets.

After that nasty mental image, over to the recipe...

Ingredients (serves 2)
500g pork tenderloin (pork fillet), trimmed and cut in two
3 tbsp bourbon (JD preferably)
3 tbsp ketchup
3 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp smoked paprika

Pre-heat the oven to 220c.

Combine everything besides the tenderloin in a pan. Bring this to a simmer and let it simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring, until nice and thick.

Put the tenderloin on tinfoil on a baking sheet. Brush liberally with the glaze and put it all into the oven.

Cook for 25 - 30 minutes or until done. About half way through the cooking, remove the baking sheet from the oven and brush the tenderloins with some more glaze before returning them to the oven.

Once done, remove from the oven and let the tenderloins rest for 5 - 10 minutes before slicing them.


Monday 13 July 2009

Recipe - Sausage Pasta Bake

Time for a recipe that uses some leftovers again...

I ended up having some nice pork sausages left in my fridge and needed to come up with some way of using them. I was in the mood for some pasta as well so that set the parameters.

I guess I could have just have fried them as they were and had them with some pasta and ketchup. That would have been a tad bit boring though, so this is what I did instead...

Ingredients (serves 2)
3 good quality pork sausages
2 portions cooked macaroni (or any other pasta you fancy)
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
1.5 tbsp plain flour
250 ml milk
200 ml grated cheese
Baby plum tomatoes, halved lenghtways

Pre-heat the oven to 225c.

Pour the macaroni into the bottom of a oven safe dish and top with 1/3 of the cheese.

Open the sausage casings and squeeze out the contents into a hot non-stick frying pan. Add in the onion and fry until the sausage no longer is pink and starts to get browned. Make sure to stir well and get the sausage split up into small pieces. Pour this mixture on top of the macaroni and top with another 1/3 of the cheese.

Melt the butter in a pot, stir in the flour and pour in the milk. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Let it simmer for about 5 minutes. Season to taste.

Pour the sauce on top of the macaroni and sausages, add in the tomatoes - cut side down. Finish off with the last 1/3 of cheese.

Put this in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and piping hot all the way through.