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.