Archive for September 2012

Surf & Turf Burger of Shame

September 15th, 2012 — 6:39pm

Shame is, genuinely, my favourite ingredient. I am the queen of the guilty pleasure, the mistress of filth, the dominatrix of ‘so wrong it’s right’. Of course I try to eat the best quality food I can, most of the time. The rest of the time I’m necking Diet Coke, processed cheese, SPAM, instant noodles, SPAM with instant noodles, SPAM on rice with a fried egg on top, fish balls, crab sticks and…McDonald’s.

I love McDonald’s, despite everything that is bad about it, and I don’t care who knows. I’m particularly a fan of what I like to call ‘The Inhalable’ – the 99p cheeseburger which can be eaten in a few bites. I find it hard to pass a Maccy D’s without nabbing one. The fillet o fish is seriously underrated; the sausage and egg McMuffin is a hangover bashing salt fest and the Big Mac is, well, a classic.

If you’re gasping with shock and horror at this point, you’re probably reading the wrong blog.

So the Big Mac ‘special sauce’ is something I’ve been trying to get right for quite a long time. Recipes do exist on the internet, which are supposedly based on the actual recipe released by McD’s but are in fact nothing like the real thing; they also call for ingredients we can’t find easily in the UK. Then, the other day, Mr. Essex Eating published a recipe for something called ‘fry sauce’. This looked very much like Big Mac sauce so I made it the same evening and blow me down if it wasn’t pretty much there and AND I could now put as much of it as I like in my burger.


So a partner in crime was enlisted and some serious burgers got made. Way too much incredible minced chuck was purchased from O’Sheas in Knightsbridge (no point dicking about; I like to mix filth with quality to enhance the feeling of guilt), buns were acquired from the fabulous Kindred Bakery in Herne Hill (they stand up really well to a juicy boiger), prawns were nabbed from the fishmonger….yeah that’s right, surf and turf, baby. You see, the sauce is remarkably similar to that used in a fried shrimp po’ boy; it works with the beef, it works with the prawns, now why not bring them all to that party? I’d ummed and ahhed between prawns or beef, prawns or beef until I was told in no uncertain terms by PiC (partner in crime) that both were going in.

It was glorious. Crunchy spiced cornmeal coated deep fried prawns, medium rare patties of shit hot beef, slappy cheese, iceberg, loads of rip off Big Mac sauce and of course, the magic ingredient, a hefty dollop of shame.

Surf and Turf Burger of Shame

Minced beef for burgers (size depends on your bun; it’s not hard, just form it into a patty, not too thick)
Slappy processed cheese slices
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
Onion, sliced as thinly as possible
Buns, lightly toasted
About 4 raw king prawns per burger
Polenta, for coating the prawns
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (or substitute some celery salt plus paprika)
Oil, for deep frying

Pretty simple, this. Get a plate and cover it with a generous amount of polenta plus the Old Bay Seasoning, a little salt and some pepper.

Heat your oil for deep frying and get your heavy pan on for cooking the burgers so its nice and hot. When the oil is ready, dip each prawn in egg, then in the polenta, then drop into the oil. Do them in small batches so the temperature of the oil doesn’t drop. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.

Cook the burgers to your liking – couple of minutes each side. I turn them a few times as I’ve seen burgery expert people doing. Apparently it’s advisable to turn them as frequently as possible – knock yourself out. Melt the cheese slice on top after the final turn. Then it’s an assembly job. I won’t patronise you. Put the burger together with PLENTY of fry sauce.

Dan’s fry sauce (Dan’s recipe from Essex Eating)

Makes enough for 4 burgers

1 Tbs French’s classic yellow mustard
1 1/2 Tbs Heinz ketchup
2 Heaped Tbs Helmans mayonnaise
1 Tsp Colman’s English mustard
2 Heaped Tbs finely chopped gherkins or cornichons,
2 Dashes Tabasco
Dash Worcester sauce
Grind of Pepper

Mix it all together.

48 comments » | Burgers, Guilty Pleasures, Meat, Sandwiches, Sauces, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads, Seafood, Shellfish

End of Summer Panzanella

September 7th, 2012 — 1:41pm

The best thing about buying fruit and veg in Peckham is that everything is always properly ripe; granted it’s often a bit too so, but since all the shops on Rye Lane sell essentially the same things anyway, it’s just a case of finding the best stuff on the day.

As I was walking past Khan’s the other day I got a waft of ripe tomato scent, something which does not happen very often, let’s face it, unless you’re blessed with a greenhouse or a holiday to Puglia; a tomato at its peak is a wonderful thing. Goodness’ knows where they’d been imported from but frankly, I couldn’t care less. I had half a loaf of excellent E5 Bakehouse sourdough going stale in my kitchen and all I could think of was panzanella.

This is one of my favourite salads but I know that many people don’t dig it, thinking that the bread will surely turn to mush once dressed. Not in a good panzanella. The key is to make sure the bread is about 3 days old and cut into large chunks. The skill then is in adding just the right amount of dressing so that the bread is moistened but never sodden. Think of the joy of mopping up plate juices with a crust and you’ll get the idea of panzanella.

Most recipes recommend dressing the salad, then leaving it overnight before eating. I disagree. Leave it for half an hour to an hour and it’s perfect. The next day it’s passable but past its best, the day after that you’re into mush territory…

Panzanella (serves 4 people)

The quantities here are approximate. I mean, it’s a salad.

15-20 very ripe cherry tomatoes, halved (or larger tomatoes, chopped roughly)
2 of those small cucumbers (or 1 large normal one) de-seeded and sliced
Half a small red onion, thinly sliced
Handful green beans, just cooked then cooled under cold water and cut into inch long pieces
Half a small loaf of stale sourdough bread, cut into large chunks
Small handful capers, rinsed
Small handful basil leaves, torn

For the dressing

1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper

Mix the bread with the vegetables and season with salt and pepper. Mix really well. Mix together the dressing ingredients then add about half to the bowl. Mix really well again and see if you want more dressing. I used all of the dressing in the end. The bread should be moist but not wet and should keep its structure.

Leave for about half an hour to an hour before eating at room temperature.

14 comments » | Bread, Salads

The Best Ever Method for De-Veining Prawns

September 3rd, 2012 — 1:35pm

This is one for the cooks amongst you. I may be the last person in the world to learn this technique for de-veining prawns but judging by the recipes out there, I don’t think that’s the case. You may think this not worth writing about but for a geek like me, it’s gold dust. De-veining prawns used to be one of my most hated kitchen tasks; so fiddly. The technique of slicing down the back and removing the tract which invariably broke into two or more pieces…

Well, forget all that, because I recently heard about THE TOOTHPICK METHOD. Here’s a video of how to do it which I found on Youtube. It’s not the greatest vid in the world but it does show the method quite cleary if you skip to about 38 seconds through. Basically you just insert a toothpick in the right place, press gently upward with your thumb then ease the tract out in its entirety. Not only is it very easy, it is mega, mega satisfying. One of the worst kitchen jobs turned into one of the best; it’s not often one can make such a statement.

15 comments » | Seafood, Shellfish, Techniques

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