Category: Beer


Candied Bacon with Pecans (Praline Bacon)

January 23rd, 2012 — 3:23pm

Now you may be thinking, ‘she’s really lost it this time’ but I promise you, this is incredible. I came across the idea on a few American websites, where they call it ‘praline bacon’. It’s basically smoked streaky bacon, candied and topped with toasted, caramelised pecans. This is a new high in the world of candied bacon quite frankly and I think it may have overtaken candied bacon ice cream as the best candied bacon recipe of all time (yes, praline bacon ice cream will be made very soon).

The combination of salty bacon, sweet sugar and those nuts is just…oh my goodness. The sound I made when I bit into it was like a combination of the sounds made when Homer Simpson eats a donut and Greg Wallace puts a big spoonful of profiteroles into his gob, to the power of 10 guilty pleasures. If you think the idea of candying bacon is weird, you’re missing a major trick – check out my post on candied bacon and what to do with it and then go and make some. Preferably this recipe.

Next time I need me some nibbles I’m serving praline bacon but seriously, and this is a warning – do not make these when you’re in the house by yourself because once you’ve had a bite, they own you. All self-control is gone and when they are finished, there will be nothing left in that house apart from you and your guilt.

Praline Bacon

Smoked streaky bacon rashers
Light brown sugar
Finely chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 200C and lay out the bacon rashers on a baking tray. Cook them for about 8 minutes (I found this is the optimum time), until the fat is starting to crisp up. Remove from the oven and sprinkle light brown sugar over each rasher. Follow with chopped pecans, pressing them down on to the bacon slightly. Cook for a further five minutes, watching carefully.

Remove from the oven and carefully place each piece on to a cooling rack. Space them apart so they don’t touch each other and stick together. After 5 minutes they will be cool, hardened and ready to eat. Either chop into sections as nibbles or just eat as is. They’re addictive; don’t say I didn’t warn you.

If you make these in advance for a party as nibbles then you’ll need to warm them up before serving, otherwise they will go soft.

50 comments » | Beer, Canapes, Guilty Pleasures, Meat, Snacks

Chipotle Potato Skins, Blue Cheese Dip & Avocado Salsa

January 2nd, 2012 — 6:46pm

Potato skins, particularly when ‘fully loaded’ can be grim. I’ve come across one too many chewy potato boats harbouring a glob of rubbery cheddar and a smattering of flaccid bacon bits. No, thank you.

I’ve taken a slightly different approach to skins by baking and scooping out the potato flesh as usual, but then brushing them with a paste made from oil, salt and chipotle flakes before re-baking them briefly. This maximises crispness on the outside and leaves them coated in a salty, smoky chipotle crust. The top part has a thin layer of soft potato, which I topped with a blob of blue cheese dip and lime-heavy avocado salsa.

We ate them on New Year’s Eve as nibbles presented like this, but you could of course just make a pile of skins and serve the dip and salsa alongside. They’re like the best crisps ever. They were so addictive I nearly spoiled my appetite for the rest of the meal but then the rest of the meal was rib-eye with Béarnaise followed by chocolate cake so, you know, I struggled on…

Chipotle Potato Skins with Blue Cheese Dip and Avocado Salsa (makes 16)

For the potato skins

4 baking potatoes
Chipotle flakes
Salt
Oil (e.g. vegetable or groundnut)

Prick the potatoes and place directly on the oven shelf at 200c for about 1.5 hours or until cooked through. When they’re cooked, cool a little and then cut in half. Scoop out the flesh from each potato, leaving a thin layer inside each skin. Cut each potato skin in half lengthways.

Mix together 1 tablespoon cooking oil with 1 tablespoon chipotle flakes and about half a tablespoon of salt. Brush this paste onto both sides of each skin. Arrange the skins on a baking tray and put back in the oven at 200C for 15 minutes. When ready, top with the blue cheese dip and salsa.

For the blue cheese dip

150-200g blue cheese
200ml sour cream
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon lemon juice (ish)
1 teaspoon mustard (I used sweet American mustard)
1 tablespoon chives, snipped with scissors

Make sure the garlic is well crushed then mix with all the other ingredients. Add some black pepper. It may need a little salt.

For the Avocado Salsa

1 avocado, finely diced
Small handful coriander leaves, picked and finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime

Mix the spring onions, coriander and avocado together, then squeeze in half the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper then taste and decide if you want more lime juice.

31 comments » | Beer, Canapes, Dips, Nibbles, Snacks

Sausage rolls with apricots and whisky-caramelised onions

December 13th, 2011 — 9:10am

Last year, I was all about the quick and easy sausage rolls. This year, I have about a third of the spare time and yet I’m spending it caramelising onions with whisky. Such is the power of procrastination. Still, they’re no bother once you get them on and I’m definitely going to make a massive batch next time, to add to pies, sandwiches and, ooh! HOTDOGS!

Anyway, they’re incredible in these sausage rolls too, together with re-plumped dried apricots and a good pinch of chipotle chilli flakes to play off that smoky thing going on with the whisky. At first I was worried the rolls might be a little on the sweet side with the onions and fruit but god damn if they weren’t just plain sexy. So sexy in fact that we ate all 12 between the two of us in the space of a few hours and the boyfriend claimed they were the best sausage rolls he’s ever eaten. High praise indeed.

Sausage Rolls with Whisky-caramelised Onions and Apricots (makes about 12)

3 regular, brown-skinned onions, chopped in half and sliced
500g good quality plain sausage meat
A good slosh of whisky (I mean generous)
12 dried apricots
320g pack ready-rolled puff pastry
1 generous teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
A generous pinch of chipotle flakes
1 egg, beaten
Butter, for caramelising the onions

First, make the onions. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onions plus a good pinch of salt, tossing them around to coat them evenly. Set the pan to the lowest heat and put a lid on, leaving a small gap at one side. Let the onions cook down for at least an hour but preferably longer, stirring occasionally. They’re ready when they’re very soft, golden and not too wet. At this stage, turn up the heat and add a really good slosh of whisky (the amount you add obviously depends on how much you want them to taste of whisky) and let it bubble down until there’s almost no liquid left. The onions are now ready, so set them aside on a plate to cool completely (this happens faster if you spread them out in a thin layer).

Soak the apricots in warm water for 20 minutes or so, then dice them. When you’re ready to make the sausage rolls and the onions are cool, preheat the oven to 200C. Give the onions a quick chop then add them to the sausagemeat mix, along with the thyme leaves, chipotle flakes, the apricots and a good seasoning of salt and pepper. Preheat a frying pan and make a tiny patty from the sausage meat mixture; fry it in the oil and taste it for seasoning. You may want to add more salt or chilli, depending on how it tastes.

When you’re satisfied with the mix, unwrap the pastry and lay it out on a lightly floured surface. It should be almost the right size, but I like to roll it out just a tiny bit thinner, making it easier to wrap around the meat. Cut the rectangle into two, lengthways, then make two long sausages with the meat down the centre of each strip of pastry. Brush one side of each pastry strip with the beaten egg, then fold each one over to make two long sausage rolls. Cut into two inch pieces and snip each twice in the stop, using scissors. Brush each with more beaten egg and cook on a baking tray for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.

26 comments » | Beer, Christmas, Meat, Pastry, Snacks

Smoky Aubergine and Lamb Pide

October 10th, 2011 — 8:09am

I’ve got a new oven. This is brilliant for 2 reasons. Firstly, it’s all clean and shiny; I mean, how often does your oven look clean and shiny on the inside? Not very often I think you’ll find. Not if you’re a slovenly layabout like me anyway. Second, my old oven was, quite frankly, a piece of shit. It had no numbers on the temperature dial and no symbols for the oven settings and it cooked unevenly so that everything had to be turned around halfway through or it would burn on one side – not exactly ideal.

So, I cooked pide in my swanky new oven; I made nice, evenly cooked pide and I knew exactly what temperature I was cooking them at by means of the lovely little digital display (imagine my panic when I saw the temp dial had no numbers around the outside). That’s 15 minutes at 220C, in case you’re wondering.

Pide are rather similar to lamacun* and are apparently sold on every street corner in their homeland. I topped mine with aubergine (which I blackened on the gas hob before scooping out the smoky flesh); lamb, minced; spices like coriander, cumin and cinnamon; onion, garlic and a little tomato. At one point I was feeling particularly rock and roll and recklessly squeezed in some incredible  Le Phare du Cap Bon harissa (from The Good Fork - they have some great stuff, like sardine spread, which is impossible to stop eating). Very spicy indeed. You could also use the fiery red pepper paste found in Middle Eastern shops or failing that just a decent amount of chopped red chilli.

I garnished the finished pide with diced Persian pickles (dill pickles would make a nice substitute), a sprinkle of lemon juice and some parsley. These things are essential for distracting from the richness of the lamb. The dough is a piece of piddle too. Well, it is if you have an electric mixer, anyway. It was thin, yet soft – extremely easy to demolish.

The end result is a bit like a banana shaped pizza. A delicious, meat-smeared boat of soft, spicy flatbread. Very evenly cooked.

*If you like the look of this, you’ll probably also like the look of my similar, Peckham Pizza.

Smoky Aubergine and Lamb Pide (makes 4)

For the topping:

1 large-ish aubergine
250g minced lamb
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Pinch ground cinnamon
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tomatoes
A squeeze of tomato puree
2 red chillies (or a squeeze of very good quality, hot harissa)

To garnish:

Chopped pickled cucumbers, chopped parsley and lemon juice

Place the aubergine on the ring of a gas hob on a low heat (or under the grill), turning often, until completely blackened and collapsed. I think the hob gets a more smoky flavour but it sure as hell makes a mess. Once cool enough, scrape out the flesh, taking care to avoid any pieces of black skin. Finely chop the flesh. Set aside and discard the skins.

Skin the tomatoes by scoring a cross in the bottom and covering with boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain, peel away the skin and chop finely. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry pan over a low heat, moving them around; when they start to smell fragrant, tip them into a pestle and mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder.

Sauté the onions in a little oil and when soft, add the chilli and garlic and continue cooking for 30 seconds or so, stirring. Add the spices and stir again for another 30 seconds. Add the lamb and cook, breaking up the meat with a spoon, until it is all brown and cooked through. Add the tomatoes and aubergine flesh and cook for about 10-15 minutes, until any excess liquid has cooked out. Taste and season with salt and pepper. The topping is now ready so allow it to cool.

For the dough:

For the dough I used a recipe I found online which I now can’t locate for the life of me. If it’s your recipe, I’m sorry! I’ll reproduce it here anyway.

1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
150ml warm water
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
2.5 tablespoons olive oil + more for brushing

Mix the yeast and sugar with the warm water. You want warm water, not hot, as it will kill the yeast. Leave it to one side to activate. When it’s ready (in about 5 minutes), it should be very frothy on top. If not, your water wasn’t warm enough or it was too hot – start again.

Sift the flour and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer or large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture and oil. If using a mixer, set it on low speed for 10 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic dough. If mixing my hand, you’re going to have to knead it until you have the same result.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Let it rise for about half an hour, or until doubled in size. Knock back the dough then cut into 4 pieces. Roll each piece out into a rectangle with tapered ends (much easier than it sounds – they don’t need to be neat at all).

Preheat the oven to 220C

Put each rectangle onto a baking tray lined with baking paper and then smear the topping over each, spreading it evenly. Fold up the sides of each pide and crimp at the ends. Brush the edges with olive oil and bake for 15 minutes. Brush the crust with olive oil once more when cooked. Sprinkle with the garnish and serve.

25 comments » | Beer, Bread, Main Dishes, Meat, Pickles, Pizza, Sandwiches, Snacks, Street Food

Mussels with Bacon and Punk IPA

September 15th, 2011 — 8:37am

Clack, clackity clack; I love the sound of mussels being stirred in a pan. It’s one of the best kitchen sounds in my opinion, up there with The Sizzle and The Plop. In fact, I don’t know why I’m not eating more mussels when they’re cheap (£3.50 per kilo from Soper’s in Nunhead) and they cook really fast.

I’m also drawn to them because they just love to be cooked with a bit of booze. I like that in my ingredients. A splash of white wine of course is essential in moules marinières but I wanted something different and one of my favourite beers immediately sprang to mind: Punk IPA by Brewdog. It’s an astonishing beer, really. The first time you drink it your eyes go wide with shock at just how different it is from all the others; at once bitter and sweet, it has a floral flavour that really works well with the mussels.

A big bowl of mussels is of course extremely good fun to pick through, made all the better by the knowledge that you’ve got a loaf of good bread to sop up those juices.

The very best thing about this recipe though, is that Punk IPA cans come in packs of 4, so you can drink the other 3.

Mussels with Bacon and Punk IPA

1kg fresh mussels
1 stick celery, finely chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 rashers thick cut smoked bacon, diced (get some nice bits of fat in there)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 can Brewdog Punk IPA (you can buy it from Sainsbury’s, Morrison’s and Utobeer in Borough Market for the Londoners. Also, online in bottles).
1/2 lemon
Small handful parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Crusty bread, to serve

Put your mussels in a colander and scrub them under cold running water to remove any dirt from the outside. Knock off any barnacles you can and remove any gritty beards by pulling them. Discard any mussels which do not close when you give them a sharp tap on a hard surface and also any that have broken shells.

Heat a little oil in a pan large enough to hold the mussels and add the bacon, onion, celery and garlic and cook, stirring until the bacon is beginning to crisp up. Add the beer and some black pepper and bring to the boil, then add the mussels. Put the lid on and cook on a high heat for about 5 minutes, giving the pan a shake now and then, until the mussels have steamed open. Discard any mussels that don’t open.

Sprinkle with the parsley, squeeze over the lemon, and serve with the bread.

16 comments » | Beer, Seafood, Shellfish, Uncategorized

Hickory smoked hot wings with sour cream slaw

August 8th, 2011 — 11:34am

The first time I made hot wings they were good, but not hot enough. I wanted try again using the authentic, not very secret ingredient, Frank’s Original Hot Sauce. I also wanted to try my hand at smoking them so I sensed the opportunity for an Amazon binge and bought: 3 bottles of Frank’s, a tub of Old Bay Seasoning, a Weber chimney starter and a pack of hickory wood chips.

I would encourage anyone who owns a half decent BBQ with a lid to buy some wood chips for smoking immediately, if you haven’t already. There were almost tears of joy when we lifted the lid to find a rack of wings turned orange with hickory smoke; I was amazed at the results you can achieve with just a regular home kettle BBQ.

I’d marinated the wings overnight in herbs and seasonings, then smoked them for 25 minutes a side over indirect heat with the hickory chips thrown in. They emerged crisp and burnished brown, ready for a good plunge into a combo of Frank’s Original and melted butter before going back on the grill, over direct heat for another 20 minutes. To finish, a final lick of that sauce and straight onto the plate.

The smoking, together with the sweet, vinegar-chilli punch of Frank’s (it’s like a thick Tabasco) cut with velvety butter, makes the flavour incredibly intense – not to mention sticky. A mound of discarded kitchen paper stained orange with sauce rose before us as we worked our way, just the 2 of us, through 24 wings.

It seemed appropriate to cut the heat and umami with something a little sharp, a little creamy; a cool, crunchy pit stop between wings. Slaw. This is a classic mix of carrot, white cabbage and red onion; the sauce a mix of sour cream, natural yoghurt, a smidge of American mustard and my secret ingredient – a slosh of juice from a jar of dill cucumbers, which adds a lovely spiced-sweet pickled note.

Later on, we deep-fried more pickles and shoved them into a sandwich with shredded wing meat and slaw. So gluttonous. So unhealthy. So. Good.

Hickory Smoked Hot Wings

26-30 chicken wings

For the marinade

2 cloves garlic
1 white onion
3 teaspoons thyme leaves
3 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1.5 teaspoons ground black pepper

For the sauce

1 bottle plus 2 tablespoons Frank’s Original Hot Sauce (that’s about 12 tablespoons in total)
125g butter

You will also need hickory chips for smoking the meat.

Begin the day before by marinating the wings. Put the onion in a blender with the garlic and 1-2 tablespoons water and blend to a paste. Put into a large bowl (the one you will use to hold the wings) and add all the other marinade ingredients. Mix well. Add the wings and mix really well to make sure they are all evenly coated. Refrigerate overnight.

When you’re ready to cook the wings, remove them from the fridge to bring the temperature up and set up your BBQ for indirect cooking; this means lighting the coals to one side (you will cook the meat on the other side). Take a couple of handfuls of hickory chips and soak them in cold water for at least 30 minutes.

When the BBQ is ready, sprinkle a handful of chips directly onto the coals and put your wings on the other side in a single layer (you may need to do 2 batches as I did). Put the lid on (leave the holes half open) and smoke for 25 minutes. After this time, turn the wings and sprinkle on a few more chips.

Melt the butter and hot sauce together in a pan (don’t be alarmed at the strength of it, this will be tamed somewhat once on the wings). Remove half of it to a bowl and dunk the wings in it, then return to the grill, this time directly over the coals for about 10 minutes each side, until well charred. Dunk again in the sauce before serving. Get the kitchen paper ready.

Sour cream slaw

1/4 white cabbage, very finely shredded
1 medium sized carrot, grated, julienned or shredded in a processor
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
3 heaped tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons natural yoghurt
1 teaspoon American mustard
1 tablespoon snipped chives
2 tablespoons juice from a jar of dill pickled cucumbers
Salt and pepper

If you can use a food processor to finely shred the vegetables, do. I used a julienne peeler for the carrot and just finely sliced the onion and cabbage by hand. Put the veg in a large bowl. In another bowl, make the dressing by mixing together all the remaining ingredients. Mix this well with the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper.

42 comments » | Barbecue, Beer, Meat, Pickles, Salads, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads, Side Dishes, Snacks, Starters, Street Food

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)
Cloves

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
Flour

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

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