Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ice-cream bread

You know how sometimes someone tells you somehting and you just don't know whether to believe them or not? Well, this is one of those times.

My sister just sent me this link to an article about making bread with ice-cream:

Now thinking about it a little, I guess it is a bit like Irish soda bread really, so maybe it's not quite as nuts as it first seems. It just doesn't seem right and I still want to try it.

Recipe for ice-cream bread

2 cups of ice-cream
1.5 cup self-raising flour

1. Mix the ingredients until combined.
2. Put dough in a loaf tin and bake at 180°C for 45 min.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Norwich delights: The Pigs

I just spent the weekend in Norwich and got taken to a couple of foodie gems.

First up was the most amazing deli: Bakers & Larners.

This place was amazing. It had anything and everything you could think of. High quality local artisan produce aplenty. I just wanted to eat everything there and then. I'm pretty sure if I lived anywhere nearby I would struggle to not spend a lot of money.

That was followed by dinner at renown Norfolk eatery: The Pigs. It did not disappoint.

The Pigs is a countryside pub that place specialises in all things porky. It seemed churlish not to embrace this, so we basically had everything porky on the menu.

We started off with a couple of Iffits which are apparently "the Norfolk version of tapas". Firstly a ham hock scotch egg with piccalilli. It is clear to me that there are few things better than a freshly fried scotch egg. This was a a brilliant example. Beautiful tender hock meat mixed with an occasional cornichon and a soft egg in the middle. All enveloped in a crispy golden breadcrumb coating. Delicious.

To go with the scotch egg we had pigs ears and tartar sauce. What's not to love: crispy bits of pork with a rich yet  pungent dipping sauce. I admit we may have gone a little deep-fried heavy, but, hey, I was on holiday...

We followed these up with a couple more porky iffits (OK so this might have resulted from a slight amount of indecisiveness when ordering as opposed to any great "plan" per se...)

A kilner jar of potted pork was served straight out of the fridge much to its detriment. Once it had warmed a little this was classic rillettes and the accompanying apple chutney was superb: chunky and robust. While we were waiting for the potted pork to warm up we tucked into a plate of honey, marmalade and Colman’s mustard glazed pork ribs. These were excellent, the bones came out clean but the meat still had enough a satisfying bite to it. I wasn't too impressed by the marmalade glaze nevertheless these were good local ribs just don't expect a classic BBQ rib.

By this stage we were getting a little full so decided to share the belly of "Perfick Pork" with smoky bacon beans, apple chutney, black pudding and crackling. This was about as good as pork gets. The belly was perfectly cooked tender and flavoursome. The beans used a mix beans and were absolutely delicious. The black pudding was top-drawer and not too peppery. My only complaint was the cracking - simply not enough of it, only a single crispy shard each.

We didn't have room for pudding despite contemplating it for some time; there was simply no way to fight against the preceding pile of porky protein.

If you're in Norfolk, you should definitely get to The Pigs. I shall be going back for sure.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Waldorf salad soup

What to do with leftover celery is a perennial problem for me. I can't believe I've never thought of using it up in a Waldorf salad. Mind you it's not exactly been salad weather of late, so I thought I'd try out a riff on the flavours using a celery and blue cheese soup as the base with various Waldorf-esque garnishes.

First up was the soup with croutons fried in walnut oil, caramelised apples pieces, celery leaves and extra helpings of blue cheese, drizzled with final flourish of walnut oil.

This was like a meal in a bowl: all kinds of bold flavours and textures built on a creamy base. This is not soup for the feint-hearted. The sweetness of the apple was amazing in the way that it gleamed like tart, fresh, juicy jewels against the celery and blue cheese and acting to bring the whole thing together.

Next came a more refined version heavily garnished with chopped parley and walnut oil with a big blue-cheese croute.

If you don't like blue-cheese, then you sure as hell aren't going to like this. This soup was a symphony in blue-cheese with the parsley helping to not make it so over-powering.

Celery and blue cheese soup

Small onion, chopped
~1lb celery, peeled and chopped
Small potato, peeled and chopped
1oz butter
1dsp walnut oil
1pint vegetable stock
150ml double cream
150g blue cheese
Parsley, chopped
Reserved celery leaves
Croutons fried in walnut oil
Apple pieces fried to give a light caramelised edge
Blue cheese
Walnuts, dry fried and chopped

1. Sweat the celery, onion and potato in the butter and walnut oil in a covered pan without colouring.
2. Add the stock and bring to a light simmer. Cook until all the veg is tender.
3. Add the blue cheese and cream and liquidise.

Garnish according to what you have and what you fancy!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Ox-tail soup

I was visiting the 'rents at the weekend and was delighted to find that a new traditional butchers had just opened: http://www.ianchatfield.co.uk.

Naturally, that gave me the perfect excuse to go in and see what interesting cuts I could get my hand on; the sort of thing supermarkets simply don't stock. I've fancied making ox-tail soup for a while and the rubbish weather meant that such a warming broth is still welcome.

I did a fair amount or research into finding a great recipe for ox-tail soup. I was quite surprised that there was very little variation so I think what I made was pretty "authentic"and I couldn't have been much happier.

The soup was very rich and very meaty but refreshed by the hit of parsley. It had a real depth of complex flavour. The strands of meat were meltingly tender with an occasional crispy jewel. The time invested in making this definitely paid off. It's little wonder that this is a timeless classic.

Ox-tail soup recipe (Serves 4)

1 ox-tail ~900g/2lb
Seasoned flour
Onion, roughly chopped
Celery stalk, roughly chopped
Carrot, roughly chopped
Turnip, roughly chopped
Bay leaf
Thyme, two sprigs
Star anise
7 black peppercorns
1tbsp tomato puree
225ml red wine
1.125l beef stock
1oz butter, softened
1oz flour
Parsley, to garnish

1. Roll the ox-tail pieces in seasoned flour and knock off any excess.
2. Brown the meat over a high-heat in a little hot oil with the star anise. Once darkly caramelised remove the meat from that pan.
3. Turn down the heat, add the vegetable chunks to the pan and fry briefly to add a little colour.
4. Add the tomato purée and fry for a minute. Add the remaining aromats and deglaze the pan with the white wine.
5. Add the meat back to the pan and add the stock. Bring to a very gently simmer and cook for 2.5 - 3 hours, covered, until the meat is very tender.
6. Remove the meat from the stock and allow to cool.
7. Strain the cooking liquor, cool and refrigerate over-night.
8. Remove the hardened layer of set fat from the liquor the next day.and remove the meat from the ox-tail bones and shred.
9. Warm the soup in a large pan. To thicken the soup, mix together the butter and flour and whisk in, if required.
10. To serve, fry the meat to give it a crispy finish, then pile into bowls. Spoon the soup around the meat and garnish with freshly chopped parsley.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Penis cake!

I do hope that I never get given, or have reason to purchase, my own Pecker Cake Pan.

Thankfully if I ever do find myself in a situation where I do have said cake tin sitting idly in the cupboard, one woman has made it her mission to find alternative uses.

I think the Christmas tree cake actually looks pretty good and you'd never guess its origins.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Quick Bailey's cheesecake

A trip back home meant that my sister wanted a quick pud to follow her tuna pasta bake. thus a rapid cheesecake was put together. 

Crushed up plain chocolate digestives, covered with a mix of whipped cram, mascapone and Bailey's, topped with a massive Yorkie man-button. Assembling rather than cooking. Lovely nonetheless! Just goes to show things don't have to be complex to be satisfying.

PS Yorkie man buttons are amazing: 4cm discs of Yorkie. Genius!

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