A bacon burger without the burger

Sometimes I have a craving for a real nice burger. The kind of burger that seems too big to be able to bite into. The kind of burger that leaves you with meat juices and ketchup running down your hands. The kind of burger that makes your mouth fill with saliva just by looking at it. I don’t always have fresh minced meat at home or the typical sesame burger buns. So I cheat. I use bacon instead of ground meat. The rest really remains the same, a nice roll (in this case ciabatta), mayo, mustard, ketchup, fresh onions, tomatoes and gherkins.

Bacon burger without the bacon

Advertisements

Pulled lamb shoulder with sticky pomegranate glaze

I came across this recipe in an old magazine at my Doctor’s surgery and thanks to 21st century technology I didn’t have to sit there and carefully try to rip out that page without making any noise but I could simply search for it on my iPhone!

I decided to make this yesterday and luckily I looked up the recipe on Saturday morning and saw that I had to marinate the lamb for 24 hours! The recipe is really easy and takes no effort whatsoever and it turns out beautifully sticky, moist, tender and oh so delicious!

Pulled-Lamb-Shoulder-with-Sticky-Pomegranate-Glaze-440x262

The only thing I changed was I added chilli flakes into the glaze and extra stock as we like sauce on our meat. And next time I make this again, I will add fresh chilli peppers into the marinade and add more cumin and cinnamon, it can do with a bit more flavour. Not that there wasn’t enough, it was just a bit on the quiet side I thought.

Overall a fantastic recipe. I made potato wedges with it, green beans and of course the yogurt dip as mentioned in the recipe. Go and make this recipe, I can totally recommend it.

And aren’t I lucky? I get to eat this again tonight as there was enough leftover!

Roasted Tomato Salsa

Based on recipe by Thomasina Miers from her programme “Mexican Food Made Simple” this tomato salsa is incredibly easy to make and tastes absolutely delicious. So fresh, I can’t over how fresh it tastes! Anyway, the only thing I didn’t have was a chilli (of all things), even though I could have sworn I had some in the fridge… never mind, that gave me a chance to try out some chipotle chillis that I had bought on a whim but without any knowledge on how to use it.

I used fresh parsley instead of coriander because I simply don’t like coriander. And I added a teaspoon of chilli flakes as it wasn’t hot enough for my taste.  I’ve never really been much into Mexican food but watching Thomasina Miers cook these easy and delicious dishes made me change my mind about Mexican food. I’ve decided I’m going to buy her book and start cooking Mexican!

Lazy days in the sunshine …

… and being on my own have prevented me from baking and cooking. We did have a few BBQs over the last week, after all, we had to make the most of this glorious weather; who knows IF we will have summery days again this summer in Britain!  But I forgot to take any pictures of our food… if you want to know, we had boneless chicken thigh filets which I lightly oiled, then sprinkled with Masala Curry, Fenugreek powder and chilli flakes. They were delicious. Juicy and spicy and just the right amount of heat! Served with a cucumber, dill and sour cream salad as well as a greek salad with feta etc.

What I wanted to share today was actually this post from Brightnest about uses for toothpicks and fun with finger food. Listed are 16 ideas for finger food and they all look absolutely delicious. I especially like the Italian Lollipops:

Thai Meatball Coconut Curry

I tried out this recipe from the delicious magazine website for a thai meatball coconut curry and while I will make this again I also have to say not without the addition of several things. I followed the recipe (for half the amount) and I found it bland. The taste was overwhelmingly coconut and it was very mild, there were hardly any flavours left of the spices that went in. So I spiced it up with several more chillis, more of the curry paste and I also added tamarind chutney. The red peppers were paired up with a bok choi as I felt there was a green missing. The meatballs however were amazing. The lime zest made all the difference. I used half pork half beef mince for the meatballs, simply because I had some minced beef in the fridge that needed to be used up. The meatballs tasted light and fresh, so different to the meatballs that go with pasta.

There is a lot of chopping going on, it takes a while to prepare all the ingredients but that’s by no means a criticism. Quite the opposite, I find the methodical approach calms me down and chills me out.

Creamed lentils

This is one of those dishes I had no idea it would turn out that way… I fancied lentils for dinner; not as a soup but rather as a side dish. Mainly because I didn’t have any fresh vegetables in the house to go with my sausages. I found one carrot in the vegetable drawer, a bunch of spring onions, a red chilli and a handful of mushrooms that also needed to go.

I finely chopped the carrot, spring onions and chilli and quartered the mushrooms and put them into a sauce pan with some olive oil and butter and gently fried them until they were soft. Then I added a tin of puy lentils, some chicken stock and seasoned well with freshly ground pepper, garlic salt and fresh thyme. I also added fresh parsley (the few sprigs that survived the recent snow) and when I tasted it I realised that the red chilli was hotter than I expected. So I added some double cream. Not quite happy yet with how the lentils tasted I added some tomato paste, a bit of ketchup, some Worcestershire sauce and a spoonful of Unami paste. The creamed lentils turned out rather tasty.

I love when things come together like that; when I can use up leftover vegetables that would not be enough to serve on their own but are plenty when combined with other things.

Tomato and roasted red pepper soup

As I am not allowed to eat solid food at the moment I thought this is a good time to try out some of the soup recipes that I have torn out of magazines over the last years and never once made! I took stock of what I had in my cupboard… chickpeas, lentils, white beans, chopped tomatoes, bamboo shoots… lentil soup? I opened the fridge and saw a lonely red romano pepper right next to a pot of thick double cream and knew I had to make a tomato and red pepper soup. Such an easy quick soup to make … a rich, velvety, wonderfully red soup!

Ingredients:
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A handful of fresh cocktail tomatoes or two normal sized tomatoes, without the skin and chopped
1 small onion finely chopped
1 tsp butter
1 tsp olive oil
1 red romano pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp thick double cream
1 tsp unami paste
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh parmesan shavings
Fresh basil leaves

Turn on your grill. Take the red pepper, rub some olive oil on it and place it on a baking tray. Put under the grill and keep turning it so that all sides roast evenly.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and on a medium heat fry for five minutes or until translucent.

Take the skin off the red pepper, deseed it and chop it into small pieces.

Add the red pepper and the chopped tomatoes to the onions. Fry for a few minutes then add the puree, unami paste, salt, sugar, black pepper and the cream. Stir and continue to cook on low heat for a further five minutes.

Blend into a smooth soup, I use a handheld blender.

Garnish with parmesan shavings and some basil leaves, freshly ground pepper and drizzle with a little bit of double cream.

Quick and easy sausage rolls

In 1946 George Orwell described the bar food in his ideal pub in the essay, The Moon Under Water: “You cannot get dinner at the Moon Under Water, but there is always the snack counter where you can get liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels (a speciality of the house), cheese, pickles and those large biscuits with caraway seeds in them which only seem to exist in public-houses.”

I’m not offering mussels to my local pub but I seem to be doing well with my other savoury snacks… like the pork pies or scotch eggs I made a few weeks ago and the sausage rolls that I baked last Saturday.

They are really easy to make and take hardly any time:

You will need:

ready rolled puff pastry sheet
Cumberland chipolatas
fresh thyme leaves, salt and black pepper
beaten egg yolks

How many of the above you’ll need depends entirely on how many sausage rolls you want to make. One sheet of puff pastry is enough for 10 rolls.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
Unroll the sheet and put on a floured surface. Slightly roll the pastry with a rolling pin into a bigger rectangle. Cut it once in the middle lengthwise, then cut both smaller rectangles into five equal sections. You now have 10 rectangles in total. Brush one end of each rectangle with a little of the beaten egg, lay a sausage at the other end, then season the sausage with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with thyme leaves.
Roll the sausage up in the pastry to enclose and repeat with all the sausages.
Put the sausage rolls in the fridge for 20 minutes for the pastry to harden. Once the pastry is hard, remove the sausage rolls from the fridge and score the tops with a sharp knife for decoration. Brush well all over with the the beaten egg yolks and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden-brown and looks crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving.

Cheese and Onion Bread

This is a recipe by Ruth Clemens, from the Pink Whisk. I got to know Ruth from the Great British Bake Off, which I loved watching. They are now doing a second series and for a split second I thought about applying to partake but then I thought I am nowhere near as good as any of the great bakers who featured in the last series so I left it!

The Cheese and Onion Bread is really easy to make and while it takes a while (the dough needs to rise and then rise again) it is totally worth doing!

Ingredients:

1 onion, diced
25g butter (1 knob)
450g strong white plain flour
200g mature cheese, grated
1tsp salt
1tsp caster sugar
1tsp fast acting dried yeast
200ml milk
100ml water
25g butter, melted
Cayenne pepper

Sautee the chopped onion gently in a pan with the butter until soft. Place the cooked onion in a bowl to cool to room temperature. Grate the cheese and split in half. To a large bowl add the flour, salt, and sugar.

Measure out the liquids, it needs to be tepid so if you use milk straight from the fridge top up with water from a boiled kettle. In a small bowl place the dried yeast, add a couple of tablespoons of liquid from the jug and mix them together. This gets the yeast activated. To the flour mixture add 100g of the cheese and the cooled onion. Give it a good stir. Make a well in the centre and add the liquid and the yeast. The easiest way to work it all together and forming a rough dough is by using your hands. Of course, you can use a machine as well but I haven’t got one (yet).

Knead the dough for a few minutes. You shouldn’t need any extra flour on the work surface, the dough may seem a little sticky to begin with but as you work it together it will stop sticking to you and form a smooth dough. After kneading the dough will be much smoother and elastic.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for an hour or until doubled in size. It will need to be somewhere fairly warm otherwise it will take longer than an hour.
After it has doubled in size tip the dough out onto your work surface and knock it back. A quick pummel with your fists and fingers does the job nicely and you will feel the air puff out of it. Knead the bread for a couple of minutes. Then split the dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball. Take a square shallow baking tray, approx 9″ square is ideal, and grease well. Place all the balls of dough into the tray.

Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise again somewhere warm for an hour or until the balls are nice and puffed up. Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. Melt 25g of butter and brush liberally over the dough.

Sprinkle with the remaining 100g of grated cheese and sprinkle some cayenne pepper over it.
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until beautifully golden brown and cooked through.