Archive for July 2011

Bourbon & Rye at The Rye, Peckham

July 28th, 2011 — 12:45pm

Git yerselves down to my local, The Rye pub in Peckham this Sunday for a humdinger of an opening party. The Meatwagon in association with Carnal Chef presents ‘Bourbon and Rye': live music, meatwagon burgers, drinks from Soulshakers plus some serious American ‘que. Bourbon! BBQ! Cornhole! My liver quivers at the memory of Meateasy but my mind and heart say TAKE ME BACK AND HIT ME ONE MORE TIME. Let the fun begin…

The Rye
31 Peckham Rye
SE15 3NX

3 comments » | Barbecue, Bars/Pubs, Street Food

Hot wings

July 25th, 2011 — 8:40am

This isn’t turning into the grilled meat blog, I promise. It’s just, well, it’s summer isn’t it and I’m either having or getting invited to a lot of barbecues. Wings always fit the bill because they’re cheap, cook quickly and have a lot of fat for their size, which means loads of crisp, charred skin. Tick, tick and tick.

Thinking about it, this is probably the unhealthiest of all ways to cook wings without deep frying them first.* They’re hot wings you see, which means they’re bathed in hot sauce cut with a load of melted butter.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. It begins the night before with a marinade made from onion, garlic, thyme, oregano and paprika. Then right before cooking you melt the butter with the hot sauce, dunk the wings in half of it and grill them, reserving the other half for later. When they are charred and cooked through, you dunk each once again in the sauce, leaving a sweet-spicy coating, silken with butter, which stains your fingers and face bright orange.

These went down well at the BBQ but they weren’t hot enough because I ran out of hot sauce. Traditionally you would use Frank’s to make hot wings; I didn’t as I needed to use up my homemade scotch bonnet sauce but I didn’t realise quite how much the butter would tame it. Still, easily remedied in future. I served them, as is traditional, with celery sticks and a blue cheese dip, which make for a cooling interlude between each sticky wing.

* I would very much like to try deep frying them first then charring them on the BBQ. Sick.

If you like this recipe you may also like:

Sticky rum and scotch bonnet chicken wings
Piri piri chicken
Jerk chicken
Cherry beer can duck

Hot wings with blue cheese dip

For the marinade

30 chicken wings
1 tablespoon salt
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 onion
3 teaspoons thyme leaves
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1.5 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika

For the sauce

250g butter
Hot sauce

Sticks of celery and blue cheese dip, to serve.

Process the onion and garlic in a blender with 1 tablespoon water until you have a puree. Put this puree in a bowl with the salt, thyme, oregano, pepper and paprika. Put the chicken wings in a large dish and rub the marinade all over them, giving them a good rub to make sure each wing is well coated. Refrigerate overnight.

When you want to cook the wings, remove them from the fridge to come to room temperature and start your BBQ. When the BBQ is ready, melt the butter in a small pan and stir in hot sauce to taste. You’ll want it nice and spicy. I only had half this kilner jar of sauce and if you’re using a shop bought sauce you’ll need to experiment. Don’t worry though, it’s not exactly rocket science. Split this sauce into two bowls.

Dump the wings in one of the bowls and mix to cover with the sauce. Grill the wings until charred all over and cooked through. When cooked, dip each into the remaining bowl of sauce.

Serve with sticks of celery and the blue cheese dip.


16 comments » | Barbecue, Meat

Ham cooked in coca cola with deep-fried pickles

July 20th, 2011 — 8:03am

As you can probably tell, I’m into American food at the moment; perhaps the pulled pork with Boston baked beans or wedge salad with blue cheese dressing gave it away? Cooking ham in coca cola is one of those ideas that sounds just outrageous but is actually brilliant. I’ve cooked it many times now. The cola imparts, as you would expect, a sweet and subtly spiced flavour to the salty ham and I finished it with a sticky glaze of molasses, mustard and rum, which melted into a glistening varnish.

While pondering how to eat it (it takes 2.5 hours to cook, I pondered a lot), my thoughts inched ever closer to the idea of a towering sandwich; a Man vs. Food style beast topped with deep fried pickles and hot sauce. Yes, deep fried pickles. I first saw this genius idea on Homesick Texan, a blog partly responsible for this American food phase. Pickles? Good. Deep fried stuff? Gooood. Together? BOOM! I decided on a combo of traditonal dill pickled cucumbers (I always use the Krakus brand since my friend’s Polish mother recommended them – so crisp), pickled chillies and those sweet little silverskin pickled onions which are totally under-rated. A crunchy cracker base (base, base, base) mixture surrounds juicy, crisp pickle. They made an excellent snack and a serious sandwich garnish that says I Mean Business.

The ham was easily torn apart with frantic fingers and stuffed, chunk on juicy chunk into a roll. We topped each with a selection of the pickles and sauce made with 50% home-made hot sauce and 50% ketchup. Oh my. This is what Sundays are all about.

Ham cooked in coca cola with a molasses glaze

1 x 2kg ham. Mine was was just over this weight (I used a boneless one; a bone will add more flavour but you need to account for the weight)
1 x 2 litre bottle full-sugar coca cola
1 white onion, peeled and cut in half

For the glaze

100ml molasses
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dark rum (or whisky)

Put the ham in a large pan, skin side down. Cover it with the cola and add the onion. Bring to the boil then reduce to a good simmer. Put a lid on, but not tightly; rest it so you have a teeny gap at one side. Cook for 2.5 hours (or just under if your ham is exactly 2kg).

When the ham is nearly finished cooking, preheat the oven to gas 7/210C

When the cooking time is up, drain the ham, put it in a dish then remove the skin so that you are left with a thin layer of fat. Score the fat into a criss-cross diamond pattern. Mix the glaze ingredients together well and brush the glaze all over the ham. Push a clove into the points of each diamond. Cook it for 5 minutes, then brush again with the remaining glaze. Cook for a further 5 minutes then remove the ham from the oven and allow it to cool.

Deep-fried pickles

5 good sized Krakus brand pickled cucumbers, cut into inch-thick slices
6 pickled chillies
6 silverskin pickled onions

1 egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 pack Matzo crackers (about 75g. Matzo are very similar to the ‘Saltines’ that Homesick Texan uses)
1 scant teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper

Vegetable or groundnut oil, for deep-frying

Preheat the oven to Gas1/140C

Cover a plate with flour and sprinkle with pepper and paprika. In a bowl, mix the egg and buttermilk. Put the crackers in a food processor and pulse to crumbs; spread this mixture on another plate. Dip each pickle first in the flour, then the egg, then toss about in the crackers. Set aside. Heat your oil for deep frying in a sturdy pan until it shimmers. You can test if it is ready but putting a little piece of bread in – if that starts to properly sizzle and fry, you’re good to go.

Fry the pickles in small batches; do not crowd the pan. Put the cooked pickles on a plate lined with a couple of sheets of kitchen paper and put in the oven to keep warm while you cook the rest.

27 comments » | Beer, Meat, Pickles, Sandwiches


July 16th, 2011 — 4:37pm

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t spend all my time eating jerk pork and barbecuing things in the rain. I do other stuff, okay? No really. Here’s some things I cooked, ate and felt happy about in the past couple of weeks.

Firstly, a little tooting on my own trumpet as I point you in the direction of The Independent’s ’50 Best Food Websites’ article. They said nice things about Food Stories and 49 other sites, including blogs, online suppliers and all-round giants like Chowhound. I’m flattered to be included.

And while we’re talking about ME, I’ll take a moment to point you once again, this time in the direction of my recipe column at AoL Lifestyle. The latest recipe is a very easy smoked mackerel ‘pâté’.

I’ve been out on the town too, as per. Sometimes a woman has to step outside of Peckham you know. Last weekend I made what was frankly a humongous schlep up to the wild wilderness of Seven Sisters to the Akhaya Cookery School, for a Nigerian cookery class. What with Peckham being ‘little Africa’ and all, I wanted to find out more about the ingredients I see in local shops every day. During the 3 hour class we made egusi (a soup thickened with melon seeds), jollof rice (rice cooked in a spicy tomato stew) and akara (black eye bean fritters). The akara were my favourite; very light, savoury fritters, which are incredibly easy to make. I’ll be experimenting with those so expect a recipe soon. The classes cost £75 per person, you cook 3 dishes per class and take home more than enough food for 2 people. Here are some pics:

The bright and airy classroom.


 Very familiar ingredients for the Peckhamite; dried shrimp; chilli flakes; black eye beans; palm oil.

Egusi soup. The white stuff is the egusi (ground melon seeds), mixed to a paste with water then added to the soup. The green dried stuff is afang (a dried leaf which is a little like Spinach). 

Fried plantain chips. You can’t hear a thing when you’re eating them – that crunchy.

I’ve been eating out too. Last night I perched very happily for several hours around the bar of the Maille Mustard Pop-Up in Spitalfields Market. They kindly invited me down to try the ‘mustard menu’ cooked by Kerstin Marmite Loving Rodgers. I had rather too much fun; the market was buzzing, the wine was flowing and the food was great. It’s on tonight and Sunday too. Here’s the lowdown in pics:

If it’s mustard you’re after…

A ‘Mustardy Mary’  = the best ever bloody Mary. I can’t ever drink one again unless it has wholegrain mustard in it. A brilliant idea.

Steamed artichoke with mustard mayonnaise.

Smoked haddock with mustard and cheese and Asian mustard greens. The fish was umami-packed and delicious. The name of the yellow flower in the middle escapes me but Kerstin picked them from her garden; they surprised everyone by tasting incredibly sweet and delicious. A flower actually worth eating.

Amazing cheese board featuring Langres, Moustardier, Charollais and Comté surrounded by palmiers.

Mostarda tutti frutti ice cream with berries, mint sugar and mustard candy floss. Kerstin and I are both of the opinion that tutti frutti ice cream should be BROUGHT BACK IMMEDIATELY.

And in between all that, I’ve been rapidly expanding outwards due to my extremely close proximity to The Rye pub, which is serving Meatwagon food for the summer. In addition to my favourite chilli burger I’ve been packing away the following, at least 3 times a week.

Smoked pork sandwich

Pulled pork sandwich

Baby back ribs with slaw and deep fried okra. I will be deep frying okra very, very soon.

Smoked buffalo wings with blue cheese dip.

What can I say, get yourself down there.

The Rye
31 Peckham Rye
SE15 3NX

So there we go. Ooof. I think I need to go and exercise now.


17 comments » | African food, Cookery Classes, Food Classes, Food Events, Food From The Rye, Peckham, Pop-up Restaurants, Press, Round-ups, Sandwiches, Sandwiches and The City, Street Food

Smoked pepper and scotch bonnet hot sauce

July 15th, 2011 — 7:07am

There’s only so many times a woman can hear her boyfriend say, “I’m going to make my own hot sauce” before she just gets on and does it herself. I mean, if he’s going to bang on about it all the time then I’m going to be thinking about it all the time and before I know it the mother of all cravings has crept up behind me and planted its claws right into my brain.

So I made the hot sauce while he helped by way of forming words with his mouth and speaking them at me from the sofa.

Basically the idea was that we would cook red peppers and scotch bonnet chillies in the BBQ to really get a smoke flavour going on in the sauce. That worked. The rest is tomatoes, garlic, onion and the usual saucy suspects: vinegar, sugar and salt. The red peppers I think add an essential sweetness, dodging the unpleasant saccharine gloop you get from too much regular sugar. Obviously it’s also fruity-hot; I put 3 scotch bonnets in there for goodness’ sake. De-seed or don’t it’s up to you.

We ate the sauce with jerk chicken and rice n peas. I made the boyfriend go and get it. Ha.

Smoked pepper and scotch bonnet hot sauce

550g tomatoes
6 scotch bonnet chillies
3 red peppers
1 large white onion
4 cloves garlic
250ml white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Heat your BBQ. Lightly oil the peppers. Crush a piece of foil with oil and place the scotch bonnets in it. Fold the foil into a parcel and use a skewer to make a few holes in it so the smoke can penetrate. Put the peppers and chilli
parcel on the BBQ once hot. Put the lid on the BBQ to keep the smoke in (open the top and bottom air vents). Turn the peppers every so often until soft and charred all over. Turn the chilli parcel once half way through cooking the peppers. Once cooked set both aside to cool.

Cut a cross in the base of each tomato then place them in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and leave for a few minutes until the skins loosen and can be peeled away easily. Dice the tomatoes and set aside.

In a saucepan fry the onion gently in a little oil until soft. Try not to colour the onion too much. Roughly chop the peppers, discarding the stalk, seeds and any charred pieces of skin and add to the pan with the chillies, garlic, vinegar, tomatoes, salt and sugar. Let the mixture simmer for about 30-45 minutes until the tomatoes have started to break down into a pulp. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve then blend it. Set aside to cool.

21 comments » | Food From The Rye, Peckham, Sauces, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads

Wedge salad with blue cheese dressing & candied bacon

July 11th, 2011 — 8:12pm

I just love how the Americans cut a big wedge of iceberg, drench it in blue cheese dressing and then call it a salad. Respect.

I’m rather fond of the poor old iceberg. It doesn’t have any flavour to speak of but as a big ol’ wedge of crunch, no lettuce does it better. So, you take a quarter of the lettuce and drench it; yes, drench it, in a blue cheese and sour cream dressing. Dribble. You’ll need something to offset all that richness and tang though, so why not sprinkle on a handful of sweet ‘n salty pig-candy pieces? Oh yes indeedy. Picture this: kerrrunch down through that wedge; creamy, salty; nuggets of blue cheese sneaking into every layer but then, hang on what’s this? Chewy shards of sticky, streaky candied bacon, that’s what. Salad garnish crack.

Caramelised walnuts would make a lovely alternative to the bacon but I wasn’t allowed to make those because that would have taken up time I could have been using to make more candied bacon.

Wedge salad with blue cheese dressing and candied bacon (serves 4)

1 iceberg lettuce (try to get a nice round one so your wedges look good)
150g blue cheese (I used Roquefort)
200ml sour cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice (plus extra just in case; I found I wanted a little more)
1 teaspoon mustard (I used Dijon)
1 tablespoon chives, snipped with scissors

For the candied bacon

8 rashers streaky bacon
1-2 teaspoons of sugar per bacon rasher, depending on size

First candy the bacon by laying the rashers out on a baking tray and sprinkling the sugar evenly over them. Whack them under a hot grill until crisp and caramelised. Wipe the rashers around in the stick juices that have accumulated in the tray, turn them over and cook the other side. Watch them like a hawk once you’ve turned them as they will caramelise extremely fast. Once cooked, remove and let cool on a wire rack. Don’t let the pieces touch each other as they will stick together.

Crush the garlic with a teeny pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar until creamy. Blend the garlic with all the other dressing ingredients together in a bowl. You can do this with a blender if you like but I like my blue cheese dressing quite chunky so I mash it in a bowl to achieve the right consistency; it’s nice to get the odd nugget of cheese. Taste and add salt and pepper if you like; the cheese will already be quite salty. Taste again and add a little more lemon juice if you think it needs it.

Remove any manky outer leaves from your iceberg and quarter it. Wash it. Arrange each wedge on a plate, dollop on the blue cheese dressing. Cut the bacon into pieces and sprinkle over. Serve.

26 comments » | Barbecue, Dressings, Salads, Side Dishes, Starters, Vegetables

BBQ brats simmered with beer and sauerkraut

July 6th, 2011 — 8:21am

The first time I tried making these it was a disaster. I came across the idea in a book about American BBQ and decided to bust it out at a mate’s shindig last weekend having given the recipe next to no thought whatsoever; pretty much the opposite of the way I usually approach things. This, combined with the fact we were extremely full from ploughing through a plate of summer rolls, a pile of razor clams and two gigantic bone in rib eyes meant my poor dawgs didn’t stand a chance. We didn’t even get around to tackling my tub of Boston baked beans. Criminal.

I never give up on a recipe though unless I know it’s a total dud. This could never be a dud because THE SAUSAGES ARE SIMMERED IN BEER. Last night, I decided, was the night to conquer the wurst so I went out, bought 2 kinds of sausage, hooked up my umbrella over the BBQ and started paying some damn good attention to detail.

The first time, I’d used bratwurst from LIDL (recommendation from Twitter) and, although I’m no stranger to the delights of Mystery Meat, I think it’s fair to say they weren’t for me. I decided to settle on a comparison of a different bratwurst (Sainsbury’s, still mysterious but somehow tastier) and traditional hot dog – the wurst emerging as clear winner for it’s ability to suck up much more beer. A standard hot dog tastes the same no matter what you do to it, apparently. It needs to be dark beer, by the way, no lager or cider; the latter I tried the first time, with rubbish results. I used Newcastle Brown as that’s all they had in the local shop; you don’t need to go using Brewdog Tokyo or anything, but it would be fun to experiment.

Sauerkraut and onions flavour the sausage and are then strained and caramelised, themselves sticky and saturated with booze. The snap of the wurst is followed by their delicious sweet and sharp balance. A bobbing scotch bonnet left a tantalising tingle on the lips; the Peckham influence. An artful squeeze of mild French’s mustard to finish. Unless you want to add ketchup too of course – I did and I highly recommend it.

BBQ brats simmered with beer and sauerkraut

4 bratwurst (I found the ones available in Sainsbury’s to be perfectly acceptable but I’m sure there’s a whole world of wurst waiting to be discovered)
1 onion, sliced in half moons
6-8 tablespoons sauerkraut
3 tablespoons brown sugar
A splash of white wine vinegar or other vinegar
1 bottle dark beer of your choice (I used Newcastle Brown Ale but be as adventurous as you like)

To serve

Hot dog buns
French’s mild and sweet or similar American-style mustard

You will need a disposable foil tray to cook the brats on the BBQ; these are available in supermarkets or hardware shops.

Get your BBQ hot. When the flames have died down and the coals are grey, it’s time to cook your brats. Prick them several times to allow the beer to penetrate. Put them in the tray with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, the sauerkraut, onion and beer. Put the tray on the BBQ then put the lid on and let cook for 15 minutes, turning them halfway through if not completely submerged in the beer mixture.

After this time, remove the brats from the liquid and put them directly on the BBQ grill to get some char. While they are charring, carefully remove the tray and strain the liquid into a bowl. At this point I tried to caramelise the onions and sauerkraut back in the tray on the BBQ but then gave up as it took too long (and it was raining). I chucked them in a saucepan with the remaining tablespoon of sugar and the vinegar and let them sizzle while I toasted the buns. I got the boyfriend to watch the brats on the BBQ. Makes them feel useful, innit.

To serve, dollop a heap of sauerkraut and onions into each bun, followed by a brat. Squeeze mustard and ketchup on top. Stuff into face.

19 comments » | Barbecue, Meat

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