Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Guinness Beef Stew

Stew and soup are one of the few things that are on my favourites list of food to make. However DH absolutely loves them so from time to time I indulge him and make him something. I wanted to make something that resembled something for St. Patricks day although I totally get that this is definitely something that really only Americans indulge in. What I've learned from living in the UK, is that there are the four countries within the United Kingdom that celebrate their own patron saint on different days of the year. In England there is St George on April 23. In Scotland it is St. Andrew on November 30, and in Wales there's St David on March 1. The only one that that anyone actually remembers, myself included is March 17, which is St. Patricks day which everyone remembers from having to wear a bit of green at school or else you were pinched. That is probably such an American tradition that has fallen on deaf eyes/ears here in the UK. While I'm sure there are some Irish festivities going on, I barely hear a peep.

With that said and enough of my really crap history lesson, I'm going to get on with my recipe that just happens to use Guinness in my weak attempt to pay my homage to the Saint. Like I said, I don't really like stew, but I do like a bit of Guinness, and there's nothing more Irish than Guinness and beef. This was incredibly easy as I cooked it in a slow cooker so it does all the work for you. There's a little bit of prep but once that is finished there's not much left to do other than sit and leave it to cook. You could absolutely do this in a cast iron cassarole dish and set it in the oven to forget but I'd much rather forget it in the slow cooker, I'm pretty sure it uses less electricity. I fully recommend getting yourself a higher welfare piece of meat. In my opinion it's just not worth it to eat meat unless you're giving the animal a piece of what it deserves, a better life and a better slaughter. Ok off my soap box. And to the recipe...this recipe will serve at least 6 and stretched to 8 if you have some extra sides and more bread.

OH THE BREAD.. I almost forgot. So I decided to use a traditional BBC Recipe for soda bread by James Martin, but I wanted to add some roasted garlic and rosemary to just give it some extra flavour. The recipe is as follows exactly from the BBC Website with my additions. Enjoy!
Guinness Irish Stew with Beef
Perfect for dippin' some bread in!
Ingredients for the Stew:
1kg slow cooking beef, like brisket or hind quarter
1 large carrot
1 parsnip
1-2 onions
2-3 cloves garlic
1 200g turnip
400g potatoes
100g flour (in half)
1 pint of Guinness
500ml of beef stock
2 tsp. Sunflower oil
salt and pepper

To Start:
Cut the meat in large chunks if not already, toss in salt pepper, and then in half of the flour to coat completely.
In a large skillet heat the oil and then toss in the meat to brown on each side.
Begin to peel the carrots, turnip and parsnip and cut up the onion in chunks.
Add all of the vegetables including garlic to the browning meat, and turn up the fire to full wack.
Add in the can of Guinness and bring to a rolling boil for 5 minutes.
Next add in the stock and bring to a boil.
Transfer to a crock pot on high heat for about 4hrs.
At the end of four hours, go ahead and add the remaining 50g of flour with a little stock or water until it forms a thick paste, trickle in teaspoon at a time until the desired consistancy of stew is achieved.

**Note: In the photo of ingredients, there's wine and pearl barley. I opted not to use these…

For the Soda Bread:
170g self raising wholemeal flour
170g plain flour
½ tsp. Salt
½ tsp. Bicarbonate soda
290ml buttermilk
½ head roasted garlic
1 tsp. Fresh chopped roasemary
Irish soda bread with roasted garlic and rosemary

For the Garlic:
roast a whole head of garlic chopped in half drizzled with olive oil wrapped in tin foil for about 45 minutes at 200C.
Chop your rosemary.

When you're ready for the bread heat the oven to 200C.
Stir together flours, salt and bicarb soda in a large mixing bowl and mix well.
Next squeeze out the roasted garlic which is like a paste into the flour as well as the rosemary.
Next pour in all the buttermilk and mixuntil a soft dough is formed.
Shape into a round ball and cut a cross on top and place on a lightly floured surface and bake for about 30 minutes or until hollow sound inside.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

American Style Spicy Italian Sausage

One of the things I miss the most from the states is American style Italian sausage. It might seem like such a oxymoron “American/Italian” sausage...but it's legit trust me. Thet hing is, this sausage is pretty much stricty an American thing, and I'm guessing it's adapted from the huge Italian culture in the north eastern United States. Either way, it's darn good and it's everywhere. It's fantastic because they put it in casings and you can grill it, or squeeze it out in your marinara, or lasagne. Really nice stuff. The point is they have nothing like it here in the UK and I've been missing out on it.

I decided to look through many recipes. Back home they have a sweet and a spicy kind and I opted to make mine the spicy kind. If you want to make it sweeter just add 1 tsp. Of brown sugar to the spice blend and get to mixin'. I used 500g of lean minced pork meat, which is about 1lb. You can double this easily too. I decided to make some meatballs for mine to go in a calzone (recipe to come), and then I froze the rest for later. The recipe makes about 10 meatballs, or would make a perfect bolognese for 4. Enjoy.

½ tbsp. Dried basil
1 tsp. Dried oregano
1 tsp. Paprika
½ tbsp. Garlic powder
1 tsp. Salt
½ tbsp. Ground pepper
1 tsp. Fennel seeds
¼ tsp. Caraway seeds
½ tbsp. Dried parsley
1 ½ tsp. Dried red chilli flakes
1 ½ tbsp. red wine vinegar

To Make:
Mix all the spices and red wine vinegar with the pork mince and mix thoroughly with your clean hands for about 10 minutes until thoroughly combined.
Split into two packages and freeze immediately, or use now. I don't care! :)

Friday, 27 February 2015

Easy Bacon Jam

Bacon jam. It doesn't really need much explaining. It's sweet and savoury and all things you could expect from two really wonderful things that you can put on bread. I found this especially delicious as an addition to cheese on toast, and just toast.

Before I made the recipe fit my own standards I did a lot of looking at a lot of different recipes. I used what I had and what flavour profile I wanted to get out of it. I just happened to have a bottle of wild blueberry maple syrup so I decided to use that. I really think that anyone could get by without this and just use regular maple syrup and be just fine. I also decided at first that this would be a slow cooker recipe, but it just didn't transpire in translation when I actually went to make it. I made the first few parts or so in a pan, and then transferred. I was very impatient and did not want to leave this to boil away for 8 hrs!! Even though I gave it a go, but it was too slow!! So I just took it out, transferred it to a small pan and boiled the crap out of it until it was a sticky slimey yummy ooey gooey jam! The ingredients for this makes a small jar full, or about 10 servings (I use about a tablespoon per slice of toast). You could easily double it, and it would be a fantastic artisan gift! Enjoy!
bacon jam
Particularly good with cheese! :)

400g smoked streaky bacon 1cm pices
¼ c. dark muscovado sugar (regular brown sugar is fine)
½ c. Jack Daniels Honey (regular Jack Daniels is fine too)
¼ c. blueberry maple syrup
½ c. espresso or coffee
200g onions diced
¼ c. apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic

Cut up all the bacon into small strips of 1cm.
Dice the onion and garlic.
Get a pan roaring hot.
Start to render the fat on the bacon by placing them in the hot pan and stirring constantly.
When your bacon is crispy and golden drain off all the fat either by spooning it out or using a lot of paper towels. Make sure you've got most of the fat out.

Next add in the onions and garlic and stir fry for about 5-10 minutes on medium heat.
Next add the muscovado sugar and stir through until you have coated the onions and it's starting to look sticky.
Crank up the heat and add in the Jack Daniel's until reduced by half, then add in the maple syrup, coffee and vinegar.ink
Bring up to a rolling boil and then turn down and simmer stirring frequently for about 1hr or unti all of the liquid is gone and you just are left with jam.

*****Note: did not use a slow cooker a
fter all, even though it shows one in the photo

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Easy Chicken Mexican Pizza

Ok, so there's nothing gourmet about this dish. It's just a simple craving that I had and I know that this isn't even close to the real thing. Sometimes you just want junk on a Friday don't you? Back hom we have 'Taco Bell', I have't really been there in probably 10 years or so but sometimes I get a hankering for the idea of things. For this it was their 'Mexican Pizza', simply put a few tortillas with beans, grouned beef, some spices and cheese. I'm sure that this is utter garbage and will make your stomach churn with discomfort at the thought of the calories and nutrirtional value but I decided to do my own take on it. Obviously taking inspirations from all places sometimes leads to really good ideas!

Anyways, back to the recipe. For me, I decided to go with chicken on this one, and decided to take inspiration from my mom's chicken tacos, which I remember as a kid and really miss the flavour. I'm sure I can't recreate it near as good as I'm lacking in most of the spices, but you boil the chicken until well done, let it cool, debone it and then refry it with a bit of the water it poached in and some spices. Probably not the easiest dish I've ever made on a Friday as it was a bit time consuming with the chicken but if you wanted to do something else that's easier, like mince beef, or even precooked chicken that you buy, anything will work. I also mashed my own beans which makes a bit more work but I enjoy it anyways. So here's my Mexican Pizza as inspiration for a plethora of any other ideas you might have. This recipe serves two but could easily be made to suit your needs.
Chicken Mexican Pizza
Oh, I forgot the sour cream in the photo! MMM

200-300g cooked chicken meat (from about 500g boned meat)
1 400g black beans
2 onions
4 tortillas
1-2 cloves garlic
1-2 tbsp chilli powder
1 tsp. Cumin
salsa to taste
150g shredded/grated cheddar
chopped scallions, lettuce and tomatoes for garnish
Guacamole and sour cream to serve

To Start:
I started by boiling the chicken for about 45 minutes with onions, garlic salt and lots of pepper.
Take it out and cool it for about 30 minutes before deboning.
While all this is going on, open a tin of beans and drain until almost all the liquid is out.
Place in a small sauce pan and turn the heat on high and mash with a masher, adding the cumin and 1 tbsp of chilli powder.
You can add small spoonfuls of the chicken stock water if it gets too dry. If there is too much liquid just continue to slowly boil it off.
Cook these until a nice creamy consistancy and then turn off the heat.
For the chicken, when deboned place in a pan with a little bit of the broth, a freshly chopped onion and garlic and 1 tbsp of chilli powder.
Boil on high for about 10 minutes continuously adding the broth to keep the chicken hydrated.

To Assemble:
Fire up the grill to full blast and line a baking tray with foil.
Place the tortillas under the grill for a few seconds to get heated through.
Spread the bean mixture over the tortillas.
Next pile on the chicken and cheese and put under the grill for a few minutes or until cheese is melted.
Top with the other tortilla and spread salsa and more cheese and put under the grill again to melt
Finish with scallions, salad, guacamole and sour cream.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Authentic Tex-Mex Salsa

So the thing with salsa is, everyone and their mom has their own recipe to calltheir own. I am no different from this. In fact, almost every time I make salsa, it ends up being a different variation of this recipe. Simply because salsa is something you make with what you have. Sometimes you might not have fresh coriander, or sometimes you're out of fresh tomatoes and want to use a tin. I don't care what way I make it as long as I have some on my breakfast tacos. Oh yea, breakfast tacos, that's something that Brits will never get. Breakfast tacos are a thing, call it a wrap, call it a burrito, but get on this. It will change your life after you scramble up some eggs with bacon or potato and throw it in a tortilla and shove it in your gob, with some salsa of course. The possibilities are endless with salsa. Anyways, I love salsa. Lets get on to the recipe.

*Disclaimer –I can not verify these chips. They're Doritos lightly salted, which back home would be an absolute travesty to use with chips and salsa, but being in the UK Doesn't afford me much luxuries in the corn tortilla department. This is also something we need to get on as a nation. #soapbox over.

Anyways, lets get to it.
authentic tex-mex salsa
Delicious with chips and a margarita!
400 ripe tomatoes
½ green pepper
1-2 chillies
3 cloves garlic
1-2 onions
A couple of handfuls of coriander (cilantro)
Pinch of cumin (optional)
1 tsp. Ground pepper
1 tsp. Salt (or to taste)

First chop up the chillies, pepper, garlic, onions and half the coriander.
Put in a saucepan to boil with about 300ml of water.
Add some salt and the pepper.
Bring to a boil and boil vigorously until the pepper has faded from bright green to dark green or the water is evaporated by more than half.

To Finish:
Chop up the tomatoes into big chunks and boil them for about 5 minutes until soft.
Then set aside, to cool for about 20 minutes.
Use a hand blender to blend it up into a nice runny consistancy.
You can leave it chunky but for purposes of being authentic we want a nice watery texture.
Check for seasoning and serve with some chips and drink my pineapple cocktail!

*Note - depending on your ingredients, this salsa will come out more red or more green, or sometimes if you use tinned tomatoes it will be a lot thicker.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Super Easy Thai Style Meatballs

I really like meatballs. They're super easy to make and really good to take to a party for appetisers and best of all they're really cheap. You can throw just about anything into some mince meat and come up with some pretty fantastic combinations! I happened to have some pork mince and some Thai style ingredients leftover from a green curry that I made and I wanted to experiment!

I also put together a little BBQ style sticky glaze to go on top which was really yummy and tasty. I glazed the meatballs at the last five minutes of cooking and then used the rest as a dipping sauce and it was really delicious.

It's really easy to make meatballs in the oven in muffin tins. Just spray a bit of nonstick spray and toss em in! It's a nice trick instead of frying them in a pan with lots of oil. Just let them cool completely before you scrape them out! The glaze that I made to go over them would go with a wide variety of things including chicken wings and BBQ ribs with an Asian flare. This recipe makes about 15 meatballs, but obviously can be doubled and trippled! Enjoy!
Thai style pork meatballs with sticky glaze
Time to party!
Ingredients for the Balls:
250g lean pork mince
1 tsp. Bart lemon grass paste
2 tbsp. Chopped green onions
1 egg
1 tsp. Grated ginger
1 tbsp. Chopped coriander
¼ tsp. Korean red c hilli flakes (optional)
½ red chilli (depending on how spicy you want it)
1 garlic cloved minced
½ tsp. Salt
1 rice cake (I used this for binding, you can use a slice of bread)

For the Sticky Glaze:
¼ c. hoisin sauce
3 tbsp. Brown sugar
¼ c. sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp. Soy sauce
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp. Freshly grated ginger

For the Balls:
Preheat your oven to 200C
Get your ginger grated, chop the coriander, chilli, green onions and garlic.
Mix the pork with all of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray, and roll the mixture into balls and place in there.
Cook for 15 minutes.
Then glaze and cook an additional 5 minutes.

To make the Glaze:
While the balls are cooking in the oven, mix all of the ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
Turn down and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Next turn off heat and use for the glaze or dipping.
They make great party food!

Friday, 13 February 2015

White Chocolate w/ Basil and Milk Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

For as long as I can remember, I have always gotten chocolate dipped strawberries around Valentine's day at my neighbourhood HEB store back in Texas. Who needs a holiday to like chocolate dipped strawberries? I sure don't! I decided I would try my hand at them just for funsies because I know a lot of other people want to do special things for their loved one on this particular time of year. I just want to eat them all, and I think I will try them again when strawberries are at their best and in season. I had such a fun time making these, I really got dirty and got to lick all of the chocolate off my fingers, it was great.

I decided to use milk chocolate and white chocolate, and for added fun I chopped up some fresh basil finely and sprinkled it on top of the white chocolate dipped strawberries. What a nice treat! It is a nice compliment together but you could use things like mint or taraggon. So many times we think of herbs as savoury and only mint gets used in sweet things. Well not today folks! Go on then give em a try!
White Chocolate and Milk Chocolate dipped Strawberries

1k fresh strawberries washed and dried thoroughly
100g Green & Black's white chocolate
100g Green & Black's milk chocolate
A few basil leaves
2 medium heat proof pyrex dishes

To Start:
Chop up your basil.
Set up a double boiler by getting a small saucepan with about 1 inch of water on the hob to simmer.
Bash up all your chocolate – I used milk first.
When the water has just started to simmer, turn it down to low and put the glass bowl on top and add in your chocolate.
To get it melted it will take about 5-10 minutes.
When it's all melted take off the heat and set aside to rest for about 3-5 minutes.
You can then put the white chocolate in a pan the same and get it melting.

To Dip:
If your strawberries have stubborn stems, you can use toothpicks to poke in them to hold the strawberry while dipping.
Don't for get about your white chocolate, keep on stirring until smooth.
Take a spatula and scrape all the chocolate to one side of the bowl.
Take the strawberry and gently press it into the hot chocolate and twirl it around until it's covered.
Let it drain off a bit and then put it on a rack or someplace that it can get cool.
Repeat until you have the desired amount of milk chocolate strawberries you want.
While your white chocolate comes to perfect melting repeat the same for the strawberries and sprinkle some with basil if you like.
Also for decoration you can take your spoon and dip it into the white chocolate and drizzle on top of the milk chocolate ones.
And also you can drizzle the milk chocolate onto the white ones.
Chill in the freezer for 30 minutes before eating. Or refridgerate for 1hr.