Friday, 30 March 2012

Bottled Lagers - Fosters Gold

On the way home from work today I popped into my local grocer to pick up some beer for the weekend. Last week, Tiger Beer from Singapore was on offer and I was hoping that this deal was still on as Tiger is one of my favourites, however they were out of stock when I turned up.
The bulk of the other beers available were the usual suspects of Budweiser, Stella Artois, Miler Genuine Draft, Carlsberg Export, etc. Is it just me or do most bottled beers taste the same these days? I know that most of the foreign beers and lagers brands are now brewed under license in the UK, but surely that isn't reason enough for them to all taste the same!
After much deliberation, I opted for a six pack of the recently launched Foster's Gold. This premium version of the Australian classic was launched (by owners Heineken) to go head to head with the big players in the bottled beer sector, Stella Artois and Budweiser.
Foster's Gold is being aimed at 18 to 24 male consumers as a beer with a more upmarket image to drink in mixed social groups, (I take it they mean parties), The beer is bottled at 4.8 % ABV and is packed in 300ml clear glass bottles with embossed logos and minimal labelling.
The launch of Foster's Gold has been supported by a huge adverting campaign including TV adverts featuring Holly Valance with Brad and Dan.

I was wary of this new trendy bottled lager, mainly because I'm outside of the target demographic as well as the fact that i was never a big fan of regular Foster's, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth and refreshing Foster's gold was.
Golden amber in colour with a light carbonation, Foster's Gold was very easy to drink. The thick embossed bottle looks very professional and based on looks alone, it could easily win a beauty contest if up against Stella.
Every year new beers appear on the shelves of the local off-license trying to muscle in for a slice of a multi-million pound industry, and now for the first time in quite a while, there is a bottle that could give the big boys a run for their money! Since it's launch last July, it has already secured the spot of 4th most sold bottle beers in the UK, lets see how that changes with the BBQ season just about to start.
Foster's Gold is only going to be available to buy from the off license, currently there are no plans to make Gold available in the pubs yet. This is a bit of a shame as I think it would do very well as competition to the aforementioned lagers that are already available on a night out.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Review - Bordone's Kilmarnock

My wife grew up in the East Ayrshire town of Kilmarnock (many years ago), and although we now live in Clarkston,we still visit Kilmarnock on a fairly regular basis either for Nicola to get to her regular hairdressing appointments or to visit her dad Greg, who still lives there.
More often than not, we will try to grab a spot of lunch while in the town centre. One of our usual haunts is Bordone's on the Foregate. This traditional Italian family run cafe and ice- cream shop has been a fixture of the town centre for many years, serving up fresh coffee and cakes, delicious homemade soups and sandwiches, as well as award winning ice-cream.
When we visited on Saturday just as the lunchtime trade was starting to pick up, we managed to get a table in the back corner. Our order was taken quickly and efficiently by one of the ever smiling waitresses, Nicola opting for her favourite sesame bagel filled with cream cheese and ham, Greg choosing the quiche salad, alongside my choice of pastrami and mozzarella toastie. Saturday was the first day of the good weather and the choice of imported Italian soft drinks helped keep us cool, myself and Nicola sharing a couple of long glasses of San Pellegrino lemonade.
As the almost ever present owner John Bordone prepared our lunch, the cafe slowly filled up with sit in diners as well as a couple of children popping in for the aforementioned ice-cream.
Our food arrived a short time later and as I hadn't had breakfast, I quickly tucked into my well filled toastie. You could never accuse Bordone's of scrimping on portions, both the bagel and my toastie were filled to bursting with thinly sliced meat and cheese, whilst the salad that Greg had ordered looked like someone had been to the all you can eat salad bar, and the homemade cheese and tomato quiche was light and fluffy with a deliciously crisp shortcrust base.
As we quietly eat our lunch, I'll admit to having a little envy towards Greg and his salad. Next time I'm out I think I'll be ordering the quiche too!
When we were finished, Greg ordered a white coffee and I ordered an espresso. They have served Bei & Nannini coffee for a number of years now, one of my favourites with its rich aroma and thick crema.
The coffees rounded off our lunch nicely, then it was time to put the sunglasses back on get back out into the sun. Nicola had plans for me to be busy in the garden later in the day!
We have been visiting Bordone's for many years, always more than satisfied with the fresh food and great value for money that we receive. Next time you're in Kilmarnock, pop in for a bite of lunch, or just a coffee and ice-cream. Either way, you'll be glad you did and be back for more before you know it.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Recipe - Smoked Mackerel Salad

I mentioned yesterday that chef Simon Rimmer had returned to TV on the new Channel 4 magazine programme Sunday Brunch. As today's weather was surprising pleasant for this time of year, I decided to make one of the dishes that Simon had presented yesterday, Smoked Mackerel Salad.
Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 2 Smoked mackerel fillets
  • 50g butter
  • Juice of half lemon
For the potato salad
  • 1/2 lemon, finely grated zest and juice
  • 65g mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 225g cooked new potatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp freshly chopped mint
  • 1/4 red onion, very finely sliced
Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. For the salad, mix the lemon, mayonnaise and mustard together in a medium sized bowl. Then fold in the spuds, mint, onion and some salt and pepper.
Lay each piece of mackerel in the middle of a piece of foil, top with some butter and lemon juice and wrap up. Place in a baking tray and bake for 6 minutes.
Serve a ring of spuds with the fish on top, and some dressed salad leaves. Finally, pour over the hot lemon butter from the baking foil.


The end result was a delicate balance of flavours that worked incredibly well as a light evening dinner on a warm evening, but it would also make great summer lunchtime snack.


That's not bad, one episode of Sunday Brunch, one dish tried and tested, one new recipe that I'll cook again. Keep up the good work Simon.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sunday Brunch Recipe - Omelette Arnold Bennett

Today seen the first episode of Sunday Brunch on Channel 4. Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer have migrated their successful mix of cooking and topical guests from their long running BBC2 programme Something For The Weekend, the show still has a similar format to the original show with a few new features.
Most weeks, Simon prepares at least one dish that I like to give a try. I will post up the results and recipes over the coming weeks for anything that I do bring to the table.
On the topic of Sunday Brunch, today I prepared a classic egg dish that I have heard about but had never tried. Omelette Arnold Bennett is named after the English novelist, While staying at the Savoy Hotel in London, the chefs perfected an omelette incorporating smoked haddock, Parmesan cheese and cream, which pleased the author so much he insisted on it being prepared wherever he travelled.
The traditional method is quite a complicated process, the recipe below is perhaps a bit of a cheat but still brings a great combination of flavours to the table without too much hassle. This will make enough for two servings.

Ingredients
  • 3 large free range eggs, beaten
  • 100g smoked haddock
  • 50ml creme fraiche
  • 15g Grana Padano, grated
  • Small handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
Method


  1. Add milk to a saucepan with a few peppercorns and a bay leaf. Slowly bring to the boil before adding the haddock. Poach the fish for about 15 minutes, remove from the pan and flake the haddock. Set aside until needed.
  2. Melt some butter in a pan, add a little olive oil to help stop the butter burning. Pour in the beaten eggs and move about with a fork. Whilst the eggs are cooking, mix the creme fraiche, Grana Padano and parsley together.
  3. Once the edges of the omelette are cooked, and the middle is still a little runny, sprinkle the flaked haddock over the eggs before spread the creme fraiche mixture over the top of the omelette.
  4. Place the pan under a hot grill and cook the top for about 5 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
You can serve Omelette Arnold Bennett with a simple side salad, although today I sliced mine into quarters and served with a hot buttered sesame bagel. Delicious!
I cannot believe that I had never eaten this before, Omelette Arnold Bennet has just become my favourite way of eating eggs!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Do You Use Rubber In The Kitchen? .... Silicone Sounds Much Better.

I seen this arcticle in the Easter edition of Good Food Magazine and thought that it was worth sharing. I have been using silicone cooking utensils for a good number of years now, in the early years probably because I liked the bright colours, but more recently because I feel much more in control when I'm using my rubber.
The Benefits of Silicone
• It’s heat-resistant, non-stick and
flexible. You don’t need to grease
most bakeware, which lowers the fat
content, while bakes should slip out
easily – so there’s no need to line
first or coax out with a knife!
• There’s no risk of melting, so
spatulas and tongs should last a
lifetime.
• Silicone does not absorb or give off
flavours from your food.
• Items are very easy to clean, and
there’s no staining or rusting.
• It’s great for kids, as it cools quickly,
there are no sharp edges, and no
risk of shattering.
• The bright colours instantly liven up
a tired utensil jar.
What about baking?

We think that silicone works best for
small cakes and tricky moulds such
as shaped alphabet trays. However,
we’ve found that silicone does not
heat up in the same way as a
traditional cake tin, so we would
always use metal for bigger bakes to
make sure the centre of the bake is
always fully cooked.
Still not convinced?

‘I love using old kitchenalia, like my
mum’s trusty baking tins and wooden
spoons, so I confess that I was slow
to try silicone. But now I’m a convert
– it’s not all style over substance.
‘However, large cakes don’t work for
me as I don’t think the heat
conduction and distribution is the
same. But if you’ve ever baked a
batch of mini madeleines and spent
an hour trying to get them out of the
tins, I urge you to convert, too!’
Sarah Cook, Deputy food editor


Give rubber a go, you might just like it.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Facejacker's Favourite TV Chefs

I posted my own thoughts on 'Celebrity Chefs' a few weeks ago. During the week, I read an article in Shortlist Magazine where Kayvan Novak, the man behind 'Facejacker', talked about his top five TV chefs. I agree with everything that he says about each of the chefs mentioned so thought that I would share his thoughts here.


Keith Floyd


I grew up on the late Keith Floyd cooking shows. He's an amazing character and an inspiration to me. Anyone who can hold a camera in a single take for as long as he did, with no script, is an actual genius. One of a kind.


Nigel Slater


his recipes are tasty and his prose is equally delicious. Who else could sound as if they were having an orgasm when eating porridge and make it sound so normal? He has ultimately proved that cookery shows are all in the delivery. Unconventionally mainstream.


Marco Pierre White


He cemented his reputation by being fiery, but what a chef. Sure, he sells stockcubes now but he's been there and done it when he was younger, winning Michelin stars. Imagine young Marco meeting today's Marco. You'd wonder what they'd make of one another.


Nigella Lawson


I enjoy watching her go to the fridge in the middle of the night. She likes tasty food and nothing satisfies her appetite. She's one of those posh chefs you can't help but watch and listen to the smooth sounds of.


Raymond Blanc


He's bumbling, with an intriguing personality, and although he's a head chef in charge of lots of people, he leads in a very cuddly, amiable way - the antithesis of Gordon Ramsay, who does it with lots of swearing.




Who is your favourite TV Chef?


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Recipe - Flapjacks

First of all, I have no idea who Flapjack & Knuckles are but I thought that Flapjack looked like a cool kinda guy!

Anyway, I was given a recipe for easy flapjacks last week and promised that if they were tasty that I would post the recipe up here for everyone else to give a go. The recipe suggested that one the flapjacks are baked, they benefit from being left overnight to cool. Based in this little tip, I prepared the flapjacks on Saturday evening and resisted the temptation to tuck in before they had cooled.

I was up early on Sunday morning to watch the Australian Grand Prix, armed with a cafetiere of strong coffee and a few squares of the flapjack I settled down on the sofa to enjoy the race. Soft, sweet, syrupy flapjacks and strong caffiene worked very well together , the flapjacks were very tasty. Therefore, as promised here is the recipe, courtesy of Paul Wilson.

Ingredient

750g butter (preferably unsalted)
450g golden syrup
500g soft brown sugar
1kg porridge oats
Feel free to add dried fruit if you wish, or cherries

Prep: 20 mins | Cook: 35 mins | Extra time: 8 hours, setting

Method

1.In a large pan, on a low heat, melt butter, sugar and syrup till runny. Mix in the oats really well, making sure none are left uncoated by the butter-sugar mix.

2. Pour into a 20x30cm tray lined with baking parchment. Level out the mix with a spatula. Bake in a preheated oven at 160 C / Gas 3 for 25-35 minutes. (These should look seriously under-baked, that's the point. When they are done, if you grip the pan and give it a little wobble, it will look uncooked. This is perfect.)

3. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave for a whole day or overnight till completely cold. If you try and turn them out before, they will be ruined. When they are completely cold, turn them out and cut into squares. Wrapped in cling film or foil these will last a week at least. They freeze well too!

This is the recipe that Paul followed.

He added 1 tub of glace cherries but 2 would be better, whole or halved your choice.

Paul cooked for 25 mins and it was fine, but left it overnight rather than 8 hours.

As the gorgeous Nicola is a bit of a purist when it comes to flapjacks, I left the cherries out.



Anyone who knows Paul Wilson will know that sometimes the only time you know that he is in your house is when you hear the biscuit barrel being broken into. As someone with the occasional sweet tooth, I wonder what Paul would make of my plans to improve on this already delicious snack?

 

Monday, 19 March 2012

Perfection in Pizza.....Maybe

Tonight my gorgeous wife is in Wolverhampton for work so I didn't need to worry about getting home to prepare dinner. Instead, I thought back to a review that I posted on CC's Wood Fired Pizza in Netherlee, and decided that as I had to pass on the way home that I might as well pop in for another delicious pizza.

Monday nights arent the busiest nights for any takeaway so I was able t introduce myself as the voice behind Gerry's Kitchen, as well as have a nice chat with the owner. After thanking me for my kind words on the previous review, we had a chat about how things have been in the first year of trading at Netherlee, as well as some exciting future plans for this popular south side takeaway. Watch this Space!

There are a few more exotic pizzas on the CC's menu, however I am a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to pizza toppings, so opted for the 12" Chorizo - fresh tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, oregano and chorizo, finished with a drizzled of olive oil.

I could easily wax lyrical about thedelicious hot pizza that I took home with me, but to sum up, I will simply state once again that CC's are fast becoming my favourite pizza parlour.

If you haven't had the chance to order for CC's yet, what are you waiting for?  I honestly believe that once you try them once, you will find it hard to go back to the big franchise pizza shop!

As their slogan says, "You can really taste the difference". Go on, see if you agree!


Sunday, 18 March 2012

Review - The Living Room, Glasgow


Saturday afternoon seen Nicola and me in Glasgow as my beautiful wife was booked in for a bit of R&R with the girls at Origins at John Lewis. By the time she was finished looking gorgeous, time was getting on and as I still had some vouchers for The Living Room, we decided to head over for a spot of lunch.
We arrived around 12:30pm and were seated promptly. At this time of the day, the restaurant is still waking up. Our waiter efficiently ran through the specials and took our drink order. We had already decided that we would be having the Tapas plate to share, so that put me in the mood for one of my favourite beers, Estrella Damm from Barcelona, whilst Nicola ordered a white wine spritzer.

Our drinks arrived almost straight away, we ordered our Tapas board and a side of tomato hummus, and while we waited on our food to arrive we reminisced about our previous travels to the Catalan capital. We only had to wait a short time before our food arrived and we could set our eyes on a smorgasbord of spanish treats.



The tomato hummus with ciabatta toasts was delicious. A nice chunky blend of chick peas and sun-dried tomato, seasoned with a subtle kick of chili oil and spices. Although had I known just how well loaded the tapas board would be, I don't think we would have ordered the hummus.
The tapas board offered up a great range of flavours and textures. Some of the tapas were more to my liking than Nicola's, but at least Nicola can add anchovies onto a list of things she's tried!
  • Albondigas, tasty meatballs in a rich tomato sauce
  • tomato bread, a firm favourite of mine, packed with garlic
  • chilli and lime chicken wings, a twist on traditional allitas de pollo
  • olive and oregano empanadas, these little deep fried pockets of goats cheese and tapenade were lovely
  • paprika baby squid, one of Nicola's favourite tapas dishes
  • white anchovies, soaked in mild olive oil, firm with the fresh taste of the sea
  • And finally, pickled green chillies, these innocent looking comedy peppers packed a powerful punch
Each of the tapas had their own distinctive and individual flavours, helping transport us temporarily from city centre Glasgow to Barri Gotic in Barcelona, at least for a short while. We managed to clear our plates, although it was probably a 60/40 effort of my part - what can I say?, I love to snack!
The only criticism that I can make is that the batter on the deep fried baby squid was a little limp. The squid was delicious and fresh, but I think the oil used for deep frying was a just little too cool!

Otherwise , lunch was great. The portion size represents great value, we both left feeling that we had eaten a lot but not too much to ruin the rest of our afternoon.
We have eaten at The Living Room Glasgow on a number of occasion, both for lunch and dinner, and have yet to have a meal that we would not order again. The location on St Vincent Street might make The Living Room a little removed from the main shopping drags of Sauchihall Street and Buchanan Street but trust me, it is definitely worth making the slight detour to try their varied menu.

Friday, 16 March 2012

The Best Man Knows Best......

When a guy gets married, he expects that his best man will be able to carry out a few important tasks;

  1. Make sure that the stag night causes no damage or embarrassment to the groom to be.
  2. On the night before the wedding, make sure the groom doesn't end up too inebriated.
  3. On the day of the wedding, get the groom to the venue on time.
  4. Take care to have the rings, marriage schedule, and assorted monies safe to hand.
  5. Deliver a speech that people will remember, but doesn't give the groom too hard a time.

I have to say that my best man done a great job on most of those things listed above, and now he is offering up recipes that I can try out and review.

 

Tonight I have tried a recipe for flapjacks that Paul has sent to me. He tried them last week and informed me that they were easy and delicious. Hopefully mine turn out well and I can post up a little review and the recipe tomorrow.

 

 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Recipe - Melting Middle Chocolate Pudding


Earlier in the week I gave a sneak preview of the scrumptious dessert that I prepared for my father-in-law's birthday dinner. If you or anyone you know is a huge chocolate fan then this recipe is definitely worth a go. The quantities below will make 4 delicious servings.
Ingredients
  • 45g butter, softened (plus extra for greasing)
  • 250g good quality dark chocolate, I use Green & Black's Organic
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 45g plain flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
Method


  1. Generously butter the sides and bottom of 4 pudding moulds. Cut a piece of greaseproof Paper and place in the bottom of each mould then butter again. Set aside. Preheat your oven to 200C.
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces and put in a microwaveable bowl. Heat in the microwave for 30 second blasts, removing and stirring between bursts. The chocolate should be silky smooth in just over one minute. Set aside.
  3. Using an electric whisk, beat the butt and auger together until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, always making sure the egg is well blended before adding the next. Add the vanilla extract and stir. Sift the flour and salt together and gently stir in, then stir in the melted chocolate. Divide the mixture between the 4 moulds. The mixture won't fill the moulds.
  4. Put the moulds on a baking tray and place in the oven for 12-14 minutes, or until the sides are set and the centres are soft when lightly touched with your fingertips.
Carefully turn out onto a dessert plate or bowl. Serve hot with whipped cream or creme fraiche and raspberries.

If you manage to perfect this tasty chocolately treat, you will be expected to bring it to the table on a regular basis.
Give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Childhood Memories with a Grown-Up Twist

As you may know from previous posts, I often work late on a Tuesday evening, which means that dinner is a simple affair.

Tonight I has a dinner reminded me of one of the regular dinners that I would have when staying at my cousin Brian's house. Fish Fingers, potato waffles and Heinz beans, which tasted just as good as they did all those years ago.

Brian was never the most adventurous with food and it was often a running joke that dinner at Brian's would either be;

  • Beef burger, beans and chips
  • Pizza, beans and chips, or
  • Fish fingers, beans and chips

It seems strange that as children we would make jokes at Brian's delicate palette, especially now considering that I really enjoy these 'kids meals' as a quick dinner when the time calls for them.

 

The reason that i started thinking along this train of thought is down to the fact that i like to add some flavour to my beans. There's nothing wrong with good old fashioned grub, but they do tast ebetter with a little twist. One of my favourite additions to a tin of hienz baked beans is a good splash of Levi Roots Reggae Reggae Sauce, the Jamaican Jerk sauce is a wonderfully spicy accompaniment to chicken, meat and not forgetting fishfingers. I always make sure to have a bottle of Reggae Reggae sauce in the cupboard because you never know when you might need to add a little something different to an old fashioned favourite.

I wonder how much Brian's taste has changed over the years?

Has he managed to progress from the basics, or is all this talk a little too avant garde?

 

Monday, 12 March 2012

Recipe - Polenta Chips

On Saturday night I served polenta chips as an accompaniment to our delicious fillets steak.

Polenta is something that is used to across Europe in a wide variety of ways, however in the UK it doesn't seem to have the same appeal. This recipe is a simple way of adding flavour and texture to any meal. You should be able to find dried polenta in the whole grain isle of your local supermarket or in any good deli.
Ingredients
  • 10g butter
  • 125g instant polenta, plus extra for coating
  • 50g Grana Padano, grated
  • 40g plain flour
  • 1tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Method


  1. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Put the butter and 750ml of water in a large pan and bring up to the simmer. Don't let the water boil as the polenta will go lumpy if added to boiling water. Slowly pour in the polenta and stir well, it will start to thicken immediately. Cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring continuously. When the polenta begins to come away from the side of the pan it is ready. Remove the pan from the heat then add half of the Grana Padano and the chopped parsley. Stir well and season.
  2. Pour the polenta onto the baking tray, smooth with the back of a spatula. It should be about 2cm thick. Allow the polenta to cool completely, this could take up to an hour. Once cooled, turn the polenta out onto a chopping board. Gently peel away the baking paper from the polenta then cut into 5cm x 2cm strips.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep fryer or heavy bottomed saucepan to 180C. Don't fill the saucepan over the quarter level. Combine the flour, the extra polenta, before adding the polenta strips and lightly coat. Cook in batches in the hot oil for 2-3 minutes, or until golden brown. Drain on paper towel then place in a large bowl.
  4. Toss the cooked chips with the remaining Grana Padano and season with salt and pepper. Serve with steaks and Dijon mustard.
This was the first time I have prepared these chips but I will definitely be putting them on the menu again, sooner rather than later.

Give them a try, even just to try them. I'm sure they'll make a nice little supper snack one night!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Recipe - Goats Cheese & Tomato Tarlet

So last night I prepared a fantastic three course meal for my father-in-law's birthday dinner. We started with a delicious, light goats cheese tartlet, followed by fillet steak with dauphinoise potatoes, before finishing with rich chocolate puddings. The recipe below will make two servings. There is a little bit of preparation prior to cooking, but it's worth the wait.
Ingredients
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  • 160g goats cheese
  • 4 baby plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced thinly
Method


  1. Slice the goats cheese and place in a bowl. Drizzle over some olive oil and the sliced garlic. Give a good stir, cover with cling film and marinate for at least one hour.
  2. Half the tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds. Place in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and soon with salt and pepper. Again, cover with cling film and set aside for one hour.
  3. Once the hour has passed, roll out the puff pastry to about the width of a £1 coin. Cut out two pieces and line two 10cm pastry tins. Prick the pastry with a fork, then split the marinated cheese and tomatoes between the two tarts.
  4. Place in the middle of a preheated oven at 180C. Cook for 14-16 minutes or until the pastry is golden in colour.

This makes a great starter but can also be served as a light summer lunch. Just be careful when you serve this up as the cheese will be very hot!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

A Resounding Success!


So that's me just sitting down after serving up what was a delicious three course meal for Greg's birthday. I will post post the recipes over the next day or two, but at this time I would like to blow my own trumpet (much like a young Miles Davies) because the melting middle chocolate fondants were amazing!!


Keep an eye on this easy recipe in the next couple of days and make sure you give it a go!

Friday, 9 March 2012

Last Minute Change Of Plan - Where's my Ostrich?

Earlier in the week I had posted that my father-in-law was keen on having ostrich as his birthday celebration meal. That suited me very well as I haven't had ostrich in some time.

As I gave thought to the three courses that I was going to put together, I started making calls to my ostrich supplier to make sure that I had the meat delivered in time for the weekend. However, due to an outbreak of bird flu in South Africa the EU have currently placed a ban on importing ostrich meat. Of course this puts a spanner in the works for my menu, but let's not forget the many workers who have been affected whilst the ostrich farms are closed down until the virus is eradicated.
It is expected that the ban on the production of ostrich will be lifted in the next couple of months, however it could still take upto four years before the industry is back to where it was pre-bird flu.
After this blow, I started making some calls to ostrich farmer in the UK to see if I might be able to source a few steaks direct from the farmers. Unfortunately, this seemed to be an impossible task. As the EU import has seen the volume of ostrich meat drop, the UK producers have been almost exclusively supplying the restaurant trade.
Ultimately I am left with no choice but to change my menu. I had previously mentioned that ostrich was like a very good fillet steak, therefore the obvious replacement on the menu has to be very good fillet steak!
I will post up the recipes for the Greg's celebration meal in due course, but just to whet your appetite, tomorrow I will be serving up;
Starter - Tartlet of Goats Cheese & Tomato
Main - Fillet of Beef, Dauphinois Potato, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, & Polenta Chips
Dessert - Chocolate Fondant with Clotted Cream

Keep an eye on posts over the next couple of days where I will let you know how the birthday meal worked out, as well as putting up recipes that you can have a go at yourselves.
Until then, hope you all have a great weekend.



Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Recipe - Lamb Steaks with Lentils & Herbs

It's that time of year again when new spring lamb is just around the corner, and as lamb is one of my favourite meats to eat, this recipe is a great way to bring our cuddly friend to the table. As you probably know by now, I like to cook things that can be put together quickly after a hard day at work. This dish can be ready in 20-25 minutes so no excuses for not trying it one night through the week.
I will admit that when I first seen this recipe a few months ago, I wasn't sure how the combined flavours would work. However, as most of the ingredients are items that I would normally have in the fridge or cupboard, I decided to give it a go. I'm so glad that I put my fears to one side as the results were delicious and I have cooked it a few times over the winter months.
Ingredients
  • 2 lamb steaks, I usually use lamb leg steaks
  • 440g tin green lentils, rinsed & drained
  • 1 red chili, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 100g spring greens, or savoy cabbage, shredded
  • 50g fresh coriander, shredded
  • 100g Feta, cubed
  • 2tbsp soured cream
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
Method
  1. Heat a griddle pan until smoking, drizzle a little olive oil over the lamb and season with salt & pepper, before placing onto the griddle. Cook for about five minutes on one side before turning. Depending on how you like your lamb, keep an eye on the second side to ensure you don't overcook it. While the lamb is cooking, you can prepare the rest of the dish. Once your lamb is cooked to your liking, remove from the pan and leave to rest.
  2. Put the spring greens into a pan of boiling, salted water and cook for a few minutes. Once cooked, drain then put back in the pan with a tight lid. Set aside until a needed.
  3. Heat some olive oil in a deep sided frying pan, add the garlic and fry for until just turning a golden colour. At this point, add the lentils and chili and cook five minutes.
  4. Once the lentils are warmed through, add half of the shredded coriander and the cooked spring greens. Stir through and cook for a further two minutes.
  5. Remove the lentils from the heat, add the cubed feta and the soured cream. The residual heat should quickly heat the soured cream and start to melt the feta. squeeze a little lemon juice into the mixture and stir everything together.
To serve, spoon the lentil mixture onto two plates, slice your lamb steaks into thin slices before placing on top of the lentils. Scatter the remaining coriander over the top before taking to the table.

The combination of lamb, feta and coriander is a perfect balance. This is a truly hearty meal, packed with flavour, and a dish that I know that I'll be making for many years to come.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Seasonal Recipe - Purple Sprouting Broccoli with chorizo & almonds

I have always been a big fan of regular broccoli. When purple sprouting broccoli arrives in March, I always make sure to make the most of it while it's around. This recipe, courtesy of John Torode, is easy to prepare and should be on the table in 20 minutes.
Ingredients
  • 200g purple sprouting broccoli
  • 60g chorizo, cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli, sliced
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 sprig oregano, leaves stripped
For the almond breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, whole
  • Handful of ciabatta, torn into small chunks
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds

Method
  1. To make the almond breadcrumbs, heat the olive oil in a frying pan. Bash the garlic to split clove, but don't peel. Add the bread to oil, turning until golden and toasted. Scoop out the garlic, then add to the pan. Cook the almonds for a few minutes, tossing together with the ciabatta.
  2. Cook the broccoli until tender, then drain well. In a separate frying pan, fry the chorizo in a little olive oil until crisp. Add the garlic, chilli, vinegar, oregano and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the cooked broccoli and toss until heated through.
To serve, spoon over two plates then scatter with the almond breadcrumbs.

This makes a great lunchtime treat for two, even better when served with a light side salad and crisp glass of Torres Vina Sol.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Simple Dessert - Figs with Mascarpone & Honey.

When it comes to cooking, I much prefer preparing savoury starters and fancy main meals. I enjoy eating pudding but there's so much more involved in preparing a tasty dessert.
This easy, sweet dessert is great to serve up alongside the coffees. If it wasn't for the copious amounts of full fat mascarpone, this dessert might actually be good for you.
Ingredients
  • 100g mascarpone soft cheese
  • 6 dried figs, quartered
  • 2tbsp runny honey
Method
  1. Spoon the mascarpone into two bowls.
  2. Scatter the quartered figs over the soft cheese.
  3. Drizzle the runny honey over the top.

I told you it was easy!
In Greek mythology, the god Apollo sends a crow to collect water from a stream for him. The crow sees a fig tree and waits for the figs to ripen, tempted by the fruit. The crow knows that he is late and that his tardiness will be punished, so he gets a snake from the stream and collects the water. He presents Apollo with the water and uses the snake as an excuse. Apollo sees through the crow's lie and throws the crow, goblet, and snake into the sky where they form the constellations Hydra, Crater, and Corvus.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Exotic Meats - Ostrich


Next Saturday I will be cooking a meal to celebrate my father-in-law's birthday. I asked Greg to think of all of the things that I had cooked for him in the past and pick something that he would like as a celebration meal. Now Greg has a different view on food to myself, more a fan of big flavours and rustic meals than nouvelle cuisine, so I was surprised when he asked me if we could have............ Ostrich again.


Ostrich meat is a "red meat" similar in colour and taste to beef. However, it is lower in fat grams per serving compared to chicken and turkey, and much lower in fat and cholesterol than beef. Most of the meat from an ostrich comes from the leg, thigh, and back. An ostrich has NO breast meat like the chicken and turkey.


Even though Ostrich meat tastes like beef, the Ostrich does not have fat marbling in the meat like beef. Ostriches have fat, but it collects outside the muscles and is easily removed during processing. Therefore, the cuts of meat are very lean with very low fat content. Ideal for weight watchers who love red meat!


In actual fact, you could serve ostrich to most people without telling them what they are eating and they will assume that they have just eaten a well cooked piece of fillet steak!


I buy my ostrich from Kezie Foods, who are based in Duns in Berwickshire. Not only do they supply top quality ostrich meat, they have an almost endless list of weird and wonderful meats available to buy.

I used to be able to buy my ostrich from the Glasgow Farmers Market, although I'm not sure if Kezie still attend the markets. Tomorrow the market is at Queens Park in Glasgow, I'll be heading down to check if anyone else sells ostrich. If not, it's no big problem as i'll be able to order direcly from Kezie Foods and they deliver to anywhere in the UK.

I'll let you know how I get on next week with the birthday boy's dinner, as well as posting up the recipes for the three course meal that I will be preparing. If you get the chance, give ostrich a try. If you can tell the difference between our feathered friend and it's bovine cousin, then your a better man than me!