Tempura

Along with the molecular gastronomy experiment (see previous post), we needed to cook some actual food. We decided to use a recipe from Ottolenghi’s book, ‘Plenty’. While the book is all vegetarian recipes, we used the tempura batter for chicken, prawns, sweet potatoes, aubergine (eggplant), parsnip, carrots and broccoli.

Recipe:
80g cornflour
80g self-raising flour
210g sparkling water
2 tsp rapeseed oil
1/4 tsp salt
Nigella seeds and chilli flakes to taste

Method:
It couldn’t get any easier than this; add all ingredients to a large bowl and whisk to a smooth runny batter.

Put more cornflour on a plate and coat the veg, chicken, prawns (or whatever else you decide to cook) with cornflour before dipping in the batter and then into hot sunflower oil.

This is a light batter and as we don’t have a deep fat fryer, we use our wok to deep fry. I can’t emphasise enough that hot oil is dangerous and should not be left unattended at any time. It is burny to the touch and fingers should never be put into the oil to see if it has reached cooking temperature.

Please be careful and don’t be an idiot.

If you follow the instructions, you should end up with some delicious lightly battered food. We served ours with soy sauce foam but you don’t have to be that fancy (I’d recommend you aren’t). We also cooked some sushi rice which went very well.

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Optional kitchen porn:
Deep fat fryer or wok

Published in: on August 3, 2014 at 1:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Molecular Gastronomy with Jody and Gary

I’m not quite sure where to go with this. We have cooked many things in many different ways. We have tried new things and as the blog says, ‘we’ll cook anything once’. We’ve cooked with Jody and Gary on a few occasions and we always have a good time. The drink and conversation flows freely and we work we’ll together in the kitchen. We will definitely cook with them again.

That said, I think I can honestly say that we won’t be rushing back to molecular gastronomy. My sister bought me a kit over a year ago and it has taken until now to open it. It came with all the required chemicals and pipettes, syringes and slotted spoon. A lovely idea and we were looking forward to the experience.

Usually we will give you the recipes we use so you can try them yourself but unless you have agar-agar, calcium lactate, sodium alginate and soy lecithin in your pantry, it would be completely pointless. If you do, please feel free to get in touch and I’ll happily send you the recipes. Instead, please see pictures of what we made and don’t concern yourself with the unending faffery that went into the end product.

Having said all that, it was great fun and not an experience we will forget. We started with some tomatoes stuffed with red wine vinegar pearls and goats cheese. These were delicious.

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After a complete mojito bubble failure, we made spherical tzatziki. These were not a failure but were slimey and disgusting and ruined some great tzatziki which Jody had made.

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We made tempura and served it with soy sauce foam (I’ll blog this next with the tempura recipe) and then finished off with some yoghurt served with fruit spaghetti. Again, this was delicious but it took us over 15 minutes to make 6 spaghetti strings.

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Overall, an enjoyable time never to be repeated.

Non-optional kitchen porn:
Molecular gastronomy kit

Published in: on August 3, 2014 at 12:49 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Steve’s Chilli & Jack Daniels Marinated Steak

This is so easy, I’m almost embarrassed to post it. It does help that we have a local producer who makes amazing chilli jam but any chilli jam will probably do.

Ingredients
1kg slice rump steak (halved)
1 tbsp chilli jam
50-100ml Jack Daniels (or whatever you have…don’t be fussy)
Lots of fresh ground pepper

Method
Put chilli jam and pepper in a freezer bag. Add alcoholic drink of choice. Mix well so chilli jam is no longer jam like and a smooth marinade is made. If it is still too thick, add more of your alcoholic beverage of choice and repeat. If it is too thin, add more alcoholic beverage of choice and repeat. It can’t be too thin and what harm can it do.

Add steak and mix well so meat is completely covered in marinade. Leave at room temperature for a few hours, turning the steaks at regular intervals. For best results, cook on a barbecue or grill (all meat tastes better cooked outside). Serve with whatever you like. We had asparagus.

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Optional kitchen porn:
Barbecue/grill

Published in: on June 14, 2014 at 7:57 pm  Leave a Comment  
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An Indian cooking lesson with Sheel

Today we spent the whole afternoon cooking an Indian meal with the beautiful, talented, Sheel Patel. I couldn’t possibly put the recipes up in full for two different reasons. One, the recipes include secret ingredients for garam masala which even Sheel doesn’t have access to (it was mixed in India and brought back by Sheel’s mum). Second, nothing is measured and everything is done by look and then taste. We made three different dishes, all of which included a home made adhu murju (combination of chilli, garlic and ginger). 20140531-203707-74227194.jpg Lamb kebabs were first. This was made with lamb mince, adhu murju, salt, cumin, coriander and a small onion (blitzed), garam masala, red chilli powder, an egg and turmeric. Mixed together, rolled into kebabs and cooked on the barbecue. Served with raita. 20140531-204424-74664401.jpg 20140531-204424-74664244.jpg We then made jeera chicken. Jeera is Indian for cumin. We used 8 chicken drumsticks (slashed) with 2 chicken breasts (in small cubes) which was marinaded for a few hours in a mixture of adhu murju, black peppercorns, cumin seeds, cumin powder, salt, small onion, rapeseed oil and lemon juice added at the end. After marinating, this was cooked in a wok over a fairly low heat, moving it continuously until the chicken was cooked. Served over rice cooked with a small bit of butter and cumin seeds. 20140531-205133-75093029.jpg 20140531-205133-75093191.jpg 20140531-205133-75093352.jpg The last dish was dahl. This is Indian lentils (which according to Sheel are actually mung beans), onion, tomato, adhu murju, curry leaves, cumin seeds and turmeric. The lentils were cooked in a lot of water with a sprinkling of turmeric for about 40-45 minutes until they split. Then, in a separate pan, the onions were fried, then the adhu murju, curry leaves, tomatoes and cumin seeds were added and cooked for a couple of minutes. This mix was then stirred into the cooked lentil and water mix. Served in a bowl (like a thick soup) as a side dish. 20140531-210324-75804583.jpg Optional kitchen porn: Sheel bought us a spice tin (dabbau) which is very cool. 20140531-210441-75881279.jpg

Published in: on May 31, 2014 at 9:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Golden Chicken and Ginger in a Brick

Our latest kitchen porn is a chicken brick and we christened it tonight. Having never heard of a chicken brick until a few months ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Having made this recipe, I would recommend everyone gets one. A full meal cooked in one pot with very little preparation and an extremely moist, tender chicken at the end of it. Brilliant.

Recipe:
2kg chicken
1 x small butternut squash
450g new potatoes
2 x large carrots
1 x large onion
2.5cm piece of fresh ginger
2 x sticks of cinnamon
3 x cloves of garlic
3tbsp runny honey
1 x orange

Method:
Soak the chicken brick in a sink of water for 15 minutes.
Peel and roughly chop the onion. Peel and cut the carrots and butternut squash into large chunks.
Zest half the orange.
Peel and chop the ginger then pound the ginger and honey to a paste in a pestle and mortar.
Put the cloves of garlic, cinnamon sticks and orange zest in the cavity of the chicken, rub the honey and ginger paste over the chicken and grind over a little black pepper.
When your chicken brick has soaked, put the chopped onions in the base, the chicken on top of them and scatter the vegetables around the edge.
Put the lid on, place in a cold oven and turn the temperature to 230C/450F/gasmark 8. Cook for 2 hours.
Pour off the juices for gravy and serve. If you want an even crispier chicken skin you can remove the lid and vegetables for the last 15 minutes of cooking time.

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Kitchen porn (not optional):
Chicken brick

Published in: on March 23, 2014 at 9:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Banana Ketchup

There isn’t much to say about this. We picked a bottle up in St. Lucia last year. Try it. It’s really good.

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Published in: on March 4, 2014 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chocolate Hedgehog

It’s quite amazing what you can do when you’ve one good chocolate cake recipe. This is another one from my youth (too many years ago to mention) and although similar to the igloo, this one made many birthday appearances instead of Christmases.

Why did I make this? In a previous employment role, four people had birthdays within 5 days. To celebrate every year, even though we don’t work together any more, we get together for a baked potato party. We cook the potatoes and everyone brings a filling (chilli, cheese, tuna, etc). This year, as the party falls on our good friend Jemma’s (see Spicery blog with Jemma) actual birthday, I said I would make her a cake. I’m nice like that (and a sucker for punishment). :-)

Recipe:
6oz margarine
6oz caster sugar
4 eggs
6oz self raising flour
3oz Cadbury’s drinking chocolate
Cadbury’s chocolate buttons
Smarties

Icing:
12oz Cadbury’s drinking chocolate
4 tbsp boiling water
12oz icing sugar
4oz butter

Method:
Cream marg and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each one. Add the flour and drinking chocolate and mix slowly. Add to a greased and lined oven proof bowl and hollow out centre slightly. Bake at 170C, 325F, gas 3 for approx 1 1/2 hours. Keep checking with skewer after 1 1/4 hours until cooked. Turn out onto cooling rack and leave to cool.

When cool, cut in half, place icing in middle to make a sandwich and place off centre on plate. Cover the whole cake with icing and add extra icing to one side to make snout. Mark the snout gently with a fork. Stick chocolate buttons all over cake in lines. Use Smarties for nose and eyes.

Happy Birthday Jemma. X Hope you like it.

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Optional kitchen porn:
Kitchenaid mixer

Published in: on February 1, 2014 at 9:02 pm  Comments (1)  
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Honey-roasted chicken

I know it’s Burns’ night but we did not cook haggis, neeps and tatties. Sorry! This is the first recipe we’ve tried from our latest cookbook, The Incredible Spice Men. We loved the TV series and this recipe didn’t disappoint. I’ve lost count of the number of roast chicken recipes we’ve blogged (feel free to go back and count them all) but who doesn’t like roast chicken (apart from vegetarians, vegans and weird people)? :-)

This recipe is really easy and doesn’t take much longer than a normal roast chicken.

Recipe:
1.2kg (2lb 10oz) chicken
6 tbsp honey
50g fresh root ginger (chopped)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
3 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil
Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method:
Mix all the ingredients, except the chicken, in a blender or mini food processor to make the marinade. Place the chicken in a dish and pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub the marinade over the chicken and leave in the fridge for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 180C, 350F, gas mark 4.
Put the chicken in a roasting tin and pour over the marinade or baste (the thickness of the marinade will depend in the thickness of your honey).
Cook the chicken for 1 hour, basting every 10 minutes. If your marinade is quite thick, you might need to cover the chicken with foil to stop the honey burning but ours was a very runny marinade so basting worked a treat.
The book has a roast potato accompaniment which looked amazing but after the last weeks extravagances (see previous two posts), we served with a roast beetroot and butternut squash couscous salad. Delicious.

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Published in: on January 25, 2014 at 9:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bread and Butter pudding

I’ll quote from last night’s Facebook post, “I want to see what you do with a bread and butter pudding…” After agreeing on a social media site that I would cook a bread and butter pudding, our friend Ciaran Hanway (yes I’m naming and shaming) who had stated the above, then proceeded to send me the private message link to his own blog (http://www.hanway.co.uk/bread-and-butter-pudding-a-lorange/) with a family favourite recipe of his and stated, “if you can beat that, I’d love the recipe”. So no pressure then! :-)
I’m not one to shirk a challenge so I’m using a recipe which was given to me by a family friend, Auntie Lesley (not a biological auntie but part of our family since before I was born). I hope she will be proud of this attempt.

Try both recipes and see which you prefer. This might not be quite what Ciaran was expecting.

Recipe:
9 slices white bread (crusts removed)
5oz dark chocolate
3 eggs
15fl oz (425ml) whipping cream
4oz caster sugar
3oz butter
4 tsp rum (recipe says optional but who are we kidding)
Good pinch cinnamon

Method:
Cut bread into triangles. Melt chocolate, sugar, cream, rum, butter and cinnamon in bowl over saucepan of boiling water. Whisk eggs, then pour the chocolate mixture over and whisk again.
Spoon 1/2 inch layer of mixture into dish. Add 1/2 the bread (that’s 4 1/2 slices worth). Add 1/4 of the chocolate mixture. Arrange the rest of the bread and pour the remaining chocolate over. Press in with a fork. Cover and stand for 2 hours.
Bake for 30-35 minutes at 180C, 350F, gas mark 4. Stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 2:11 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Beef Wellington with garlic fries

I asked a question on our Facebook page last night about what to cook Liz as I had the whole day off. Scallops and Beef Wellington was the popular choice but unfortunately I was unable to source fresh scallops. As I was cooking bread and butter pudding for dessert (see next post), I figured we’d skip the starter and go straight to the main course.
Another suggestion was garlic fries and tobacco onions. I refuse to cook tobacco onions as they should only ever be cooked and served at the Harbour Bar, Portrush (in my opinion) but I thought I’d give the garlic fries a go.

Beef Wellington
Liz does not like pâté so I had to adapt the recipe considerably because as we all know, pâté is a fairly essential ingredient for Beef Wellington. As I was adapting a recipe for 8 to feed 2 people, I won’t add any quantities as I just eyeballed it. So let’s call this the half-assed version and here’s how it worked!

Recipe:
Fillet steak (as much as you need but remember it’s very expensive)
Brandy
Onion (finely chopped)
Orange capsicum (finely chopped)
Mushrooms (finely chopped)
Dijon mustard
Puff pastry (I bought pre-rolled but feel free to make your own)
Butter
Salt and pepper

Method:
Brush the meat with brandy and season with black pepper. Melt butter in a frying pan and brown the meat on all sides. Remove the meat from the pan and place on a baking tray. Put in the oven at 200 degrees C, 400F, gas mark 6 for 15 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.
Add the onions and peppers to the same frying pan (after removing the meat) and fry for about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry for a further 5 minutes or until most of the water has boiled off. Season. If using pâté, allow this mixture to cool at this stage and add to the pate when cold. As I replaced the pâté with mustard (which is wetter) I added the mustard and fried it with the mixture before cooling it.
Roll out the puff pastry (place pre-rolled sheet) on a flat surface. Spoon have the onion mixture into the middle of the pastry and place the meat on top. Spoon the rest of the onion mixture on top of the meat. Carefully fold the puff pastry around the beef and seal the edges with some beaten egg. Decorate with the rest of the pastry (if you want to be fancy) and then brush the top with the rest of the beaten egg.
Cook at the same temperature as before for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. You can make a sauce but as I’m serving it with garlic fries, I didn’t think it was necessary.

Garlic fries
Recipe:
2 x potatoes
75g butter
Olive oil (to fry)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped)

Method:
Peel and dice the potatoes. Dry and then deep fry for 4 minutes. (We don’t have a deep fat fryer so I used a wok). Remove and drain on kitchen roll and allow to cool. Put back into oil until cooked. Remove and dry well with kitchen roll.
Melt butter in a frying pan and add garlic. Immediately add your diced potatoes and toss until coated in butter. Use slotted spoon to remove fries and then pour the remaining garlic butter over the top. Serve immediately.

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Published in: on January 21, 2014 at 1:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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