Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron & Pea Rice

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron and Pea Rice

This beast of a curry is easy to put together and is a fantastic winter warmer. It’s indulgent and packed-full of a variety of spices that gently compliment each other really well. It’s slow cooked, so chose a casserole steak. If you have a little extra budget (or if you’re feeling fancy) you can use a better quality cut like Sirloin which is what I used.  I asked a local butcher and this is what he recommended. It gave it an amazing ‘melt in your mouth’ sensation… so if you can, go for it.

You can vary the heat by upping the amount of chilli used (fresh or powder) – but I would strongly recommend you don’t, as you will lose the delicate aromas of the ginger, cinnamon, cloves and coconut. The curry is also paired with a super-easy pilaff rice which compliments this perfectly, and will also go well with many other different curries, so you could also try the rice with a different dish if desired.

I serve this with mini garlic and coriander naan breads, which I make the ‘cheats’ way by buying plain mini naan breads from the supermarket and topping with butter, some ‘Very Lazy’ jarred garlic and chopped coriander (stems and leaf) before popping them in the oven and cooking as per the instructions. Easy!

This dish can be knocked together in about 2.5 hours and this recipe serves 5 people. It’s perfect for a weekend dinner party, so if that’s what you’re planning, double the quantities to serve 10 – and you might even have some left over for lunches in the week. All round win-win situation. I really hope you enjoy!

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry with Saffron and Pea Rice

Beef Curry – What you need:

  • 2-3 tablespoon of Sunflower oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon fresh root ginger, grated
  • 1.5 cinnamon sticks, halved
  • 3 cloves
  • 1.5 teaspoon hot chilli powder
  • 1 fresh chilli, left whole (optional)
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1.5 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1.5 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 kg diced casserole steak (or Sirloin as mentioned above)
  • 1 400ml tin of coconut milk
  • 200ml water (if doubling the recipe to serve 10, skip the water and use 3 tins of coconut milk)
  • 50g ground almonds
  • a large bunch of coriander leaves, roughly chopped
  • a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Beef Curry – What to do:

1. Heat the oil in a large heavy based saucepan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, garlic, ginger and cinnamon. Gently fry for about 10-12 minutes until the onions are soft and golden.

2. Mix in the spices and cook for a further 2 minutes, then increase the heat slightly and once the onions are sizzling, add the beef with a pinch of salt and pepper and fry until lightly browned.

3. Next, add the coconut milk and water (or just coconut milk if you are doubling quantities). Also add the fresh red chilli if you want to infuse a little extra heat, and the kaffir lime leaves.  Bring to the boil then reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, to let the beef gently braise and absorb the flavours.

Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry simmering on a low heat
Coconut & Cinnamon Beef Curry simmering on a medium-low heat

4. Stir in the ground almonds and continue to simmer with the lid off (so any excess liquid evaporates) for 30-40 minutes – until it reaches the desired consistency.

5. Before serving, allow the curry to rest for 10 minutes off the heat. Remove the cinnamon sticks, whole chilli and kaffir lime leaves and garnish the curry with plenty of fresh coriander leaves.

6. Serve with the saffron and pea rice (recipe below) and garlic & coriander mini-naan breads for the ultimate taste sensation! 🙂

Garlic & Coriander Mini Naans
Garlic & Coriander Mini Naans

Saffron & Pea rice: What you need:

  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • a pinch of salt
  • dash of boiling water
  • 450ml water
  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 shallots, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • 2 whole peppercorns
  • 250g basmati rice
  • 150g frozen petits pois

Saffron & Pea Rice: What to do:

  1. Grind together the saffron and salt using a pestle and mortar or in a small bowl with the back of a teaspoon, add a dash of boiling water and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium sized, heavy based saucepan and once hot, stir in the shallots. Gently fry for about 8 minutes, or until soft and golden.
  3. Add the bay leaf, clove and peppercorns and gently fry for 2 minutes.
  4. Mix in the rice, stirring until it is well coated in the oil. Fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the frozen petits pois and saffron water mix, followed by a further 450ml water. Cover and bring to the boil over a medium heat. As soon as the rice boils, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. You can stir once half-way through, seasoning with salt to taste.
  6. After cooking for 10 minutes, the water will be absorbed. Turn off the heat and cover the pan with a tea towel. Leave to steam for 10 minutes until serving.

 Hope you enjoy, Scranners! -x-

Lunchtime trip: Chapati Cafe, Chorlton

Fabulous, friendly service
Fabulous, friendly service

If you have an appreciation for good homemade food, Indian/thali cuisine, different flavours, textures and spices all on one platter – this place is a must-try.

It’s laidback cafe style, quick, super-friendly service and value for money are all second-to-none for a lunchtime jaunt or a bite to eat with your buddies. They are open from 11:30am – 7:30pm, so it’s ideal for lunch or an early dinner. This place is awesome.

Their mint and coriander sauce was a highlight for me amongst all their other amazing flavours and textures. It is refreshing and sharp and really works well to cleanse the palate between bites. You can have any combination of tender meat and lovely veg dishes, I went for the one meat 2 veg option, which worked really well. We were in-and-out within about 25 minutes, perfect timing as we were on our lunch break from the office. It is safe to say we all loved it, and at an average price of £5.50 per Thali (steel plate pictured below) we will certainly be back for more!

Here are a few snaps of our visit there a couple of weeks ago:

Spiced lamb curry, bombay potatoes and a dahl (lentil) dish, served with a samosa, chutney, rice & chapati
Lightly spiced minced lamb curry, bombay style potatoes and a tasty dhal (lentil) dish, served with a veggie samosa, pickles, rice & chapati
Authentic, simplistic decor and wall art
Authentic, simplistic decor and wall art really caught my eye. The mismatched tiles on the wall look great, I want them in my kitchen!
If you like to turn up the heat...
If you like to turn up the heat… a handy bowl of freshly chopped chilli on the counter – a nice touch and an easy way for spice lovers to turn it up a notch!
Aimee went for the chick pea veg option, extra pickles and no extra chilli's!
My buddy Aimee went for the chick pea veg option, and the chicken curry instead. Both of which were highly commended by her. She had a cold too, so the she welcomed a bit of spice to help!

For more information, please visit: www.chapaticafe.co.uk and if you’re in the Manchester area, make sure you pay them a visit!

The Great British Cook Book

The Great British Cook Book

Fellow Foodies, listen up! This is big news, and something I have been waiting to share with you all for a few weeks now, but hence my busy work schedule and holiday to Gran Canaria it’s taken me a while for me to get the chance… I hope after reading you’re as excited as I am about this carefully crafted thing of foodie beauty!

I have received some exclusive information about an innovative new cook book, set for release later this month. It’s been years in the making and is aptly named: The Great British Cook Book.  The makers behind the book have undertaken a nationwide search to find 200 different and diverse dishes from the 10 regions of Great Britain. The book is a celebration of our diversified nation and features a variety of Chefs, styles and foods to please any pallet.

The book will include 20 recipes from each of the 10 areas of the Great British Isles, which include London and the South, the North West,  Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. One thing that really caught my attention, is that the book does not purely feature ‘AA Rosette’ or ‘Michelin Star’ restaurants/Chefs but will cover a range of different venues that are passionate about food, use innovative and inspiring recipes with locally-sourced produce.

Another great element to the book is that it has been joined by some real household names such as; Rick Stein, Michael Caines and Nigella Lawson (to name a few). Adam Simmonds (Great British Menu winner 2014) is the books main ambassador, stated;

“When the guys first came to me a few years ago, I knew nothing of this magnitude had been done before and was instantly hooked on the concept, the support from the Chef world has been truly amazing!”

Gary Allen, Project Director for the book also quoted:

“We wanted to combine our love of food and some of the amazing Chefs and food producers we have come across through the years of working in the industry. The book has a real commitment to raising awareness on using local and sustainable produce where possible, just like some of the reader’s favourite chefs and restaurants. All book sales will be donated to Macmillian Cancer support and Hospitality Action.”

The book will feature 50 starters, 100 mains and 50 desserts as well as 10 in-depth features of unique and traditional trades in the UK. Some areas covered are Butchery, Fishmongers, Baking and Home Growing; offering a rare insight into how these traditional trades work in our modern society.

I really feel this book is going to take us fellow foodies on the ultimate food journey, through a culinary array of cooking techniques, flavours and produce origins. The makers of the book have done all the hard work, so readers just need to kick-back and enjoy the detail presented, and hopefully cook and share the recipes for years to come.

Over the course of the next 2 weeks, I will be posting further information about the North West based contributors to the book, before it’s release on the 20th November, so watch this space!

In the meantime, for more information, please visit www.thegreatbritishcookbook.co.uk or follow on Twitter @gbcookbook.

Sophie's Ultimate Fish Pie

Sophie's Ultimate Fish Pie!
Sophie’s Ultimate Fish Pie!

I love fish pie. In my opinion, it’s the ultimate comfort food, because it’s rich, creamy (yet light at the same time), features mashed potato – and seafood is always a bonus.  This recipe involves a light poaching of the fish, a nutmeg & saffron infused mashed potato and a great range of different types of fish. If you tell your local fish monger what you’re making, they will prep and chop the fish for you – saving you time and effort, and minimising the risk of any bones being found in the pie. I also add jumbo king prawns, which I remove from the shell and add whole. Hmmm, yummy.

This dish is great served with a range of sides dishes; here, I serve it will buttered petits pois and green beans, however, it’s also great with baked beans or wilted spinach, depending on the situation or who you’re serving it to. Kids love the baked bean option, with a dash of ketchup, as you can imagine 🙂

This recipe serves 4 and in total takes about 1 hour to prep & cook. If you’re not going to cook the pie straight away, be sure to add 10 minutes to the cooking time below, (as it will have had time to cool if you prep it ahead and cook it later).

what you need;

for the filling

  • 400ml milk
  • 100g cod fillet, diced into chunks
  • 100g smoked haddock, diced into chunks
  • 100g Scottish salmon fillets, diced into chunks
  • 6 raw jumbo king prawns, peeled
Jumbo King Prawns, Scottish Salmon, Cod and Smoked Haddock
Jumbo King Prawns, Scottish Salmon, Cod and Smoked Haddock

for the mash

  • 1 kg (3-4 large) floury potatoes, such as Maris Pipers, peeled chopped into 2cm chunks
  • a splash of milk
  • 2 medium, free-range egg yolks
  • 30g butter, softened
  • pinch of saffron, with a dash of boiling water over it (I do this in an egg-cup)
  • 75g coarsely grated cheese (I use a mild cheddar)

for the herby white sauce

  • 25g butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 250ml veg stock
  • grating of fresh nutmeg
  • small bunch parsley, chopped
  • a bay leaf
  • zest of 1 un-waxed lemon

what to do:

1. First, make the mash potato topping. Place the potatoes in a large pan of cold, salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes until cooked through.

2. Drain the potatoes and mash them finely (or if you have one, use a potato ricer to mince them. Mix in the milk and saffron and stir well, then add the egg yolks, butter and a small grating of nutmeg. Mix well, season to taste and set aside for later.

Using a potato ricer ensures super smooth mash with minimal effort!
Using a potato ricer ensures super smooth mash with minimal effort!
Egg Yolks in the Mash Potato
Egg Yolks in the Mash Potato for added richness

3. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4. Place 400ml milk into a saucepan and bring to a very gentle simmer. Add the chunks of fish (but not the king prawns) and slowly poach for 3 minutes. Then remove the fish from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside, reserve the milk in the pan.

4. To make the herb sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for a minute or so, keeping an eye it doesn’t catch or burn.

5. Add half (200ml) of the reserved poaching milk and whisk well. Stir in the veg stock, a grate of nutmeg, the bay leaf and season to taste with salt and black pepper.

6. Cook the sauce on a low heat until it thickens, then remove from the heat, mix in the parsley and the lemon zest.

7. Gently fold in the poached fish and king prawns, then pour the mixture into a oven-proof baking dish that can comfortably serve 4 people.

Fish Pie filling, with creamy herb sauce
Fish Pie filling, with creamy herb sauce

8. Dollop the mash potato on top and use a fork to make a criss-cross pattern, then sprinkle over the grated cheese.

9. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown and piping hot. (Remember, if you’re not cooking the pie straight-away and are allowing to cool first, add 10 minutes to the cooking time).

Sophie's Ultimate Fish Pie Served with Buttered Greens
Sophie’s Ultimate Fish Pie Served with Buttered Greens

bon appetit, scranners! -x-

Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli & Garlic Tarka

It’s that time of year again when I usually switch from salads to soups as my main go-to for lunches at work. Most supermarkets offer great soups in a wide range of flavours, which are ideal if you’re pushed for time. However, they can end up costing more, and sometimes contain stabilizers and other random ingredients that you don’t really want – so I highly recommend making your own. If you do a batch, it’s freezable so you can stock-up for the winter months. No brainer!

As you know, I love spice, so I wanted a soup that was warming, healthy and super-tasty. This soup has loads of carrots, so is high in vitamin-A and low in saturated fat; making it perfect for a little health-boost (always welcomed at this time of year!)

I’ve been trying out a few different recipes recently, but none are as good as this one from Sainsbury’s Magazine. Hats off to cook Tamsin Burnett-Hall (twitter: @cooksewgrow) who created this recipe, it truly is delicious and has been perfectly crafted for full-on flavour without overloading on calories. The soup topping, tarka, is a mix of spices fried in oil until fragrant, then added just before serving. It’s what makes this soup extra special, perfect for lunch in the week (just take the tarka in a little separate tub), or ideal for a starter if you have people round for dinner.

The original recipe makes 8 portions, but my casserole dish only has room for 6, so I have adapted the recipe slightly to make 6 hearty portions instead. In total it takes around 50 minutes to make from start to finish.

what you need:

for the soup

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 650g carrots
  • 350g parsnips
  • 1 tsp grated root ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala
  • 1 litre good quality veg stock

for the tarka

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp shredded root ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1-2 red chillies, de-seeded and finely sliced
  • 1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6 tbsp low-fat natural yogurt
  • handful of freshly chopped coriander

what to do:

1. For the soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish, add the onion and cook for about 8 minutes until softened but still pale. Meanwhile, scrub (no need to peel), trim and chop the carrots and parsnips into 2 cm chunks.

2. Add the ginger and spices to the onion and cook for 1 minute until fragrant, then add the carrots and parsnips and mix to coat them in the spices.

3. Pour in the veg stock, season and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli and Yogurt Topper
Let the spiced veggies simmer in the pot until tender, ready to be liquidised.

4. Blend the soup in a liquidiser or using a hand blender until smooth.

5. For the tarka, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat and fry the ginger, garlic, chilli and mustard seeds for 1-2 minutes, until the seeds start popping and the garlic begins to change colour.

6. Ladle the soup into cups or bowls and swirl in a spoonful of natural yogurt and a few bits of coriander. Sprinkle over the chilli and garlic topper just before serving and enjoy -x-

Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli and Yogurt Topper
Spiced Carrot & Parsnip Soup with Chilli and Garlic Tarka

Bistro 1847, Manchester

Bistro 1847, Manchester: Amazing food, super-cool decor, warm & intimate atmosphere
Bistro 1847, Manchester: Amazing food, super-cool decor, warm & intimate atmosphere

To sum it up, Bistro 1847 is a true delight. It’s modern, yet warm, friendly, intimate… and the menu pretty much speaks for itself – culinary vegetarian innovation served in an ambient, super-cool setting. I even took away some decor tips for my new house!

That aside, it’s the menu options that truly are a breath of fresh air. You can either choose a ‘Taste of 1847′ – the perfect introduction to Bistro’s most popular and distinctive dishes, offered as a set menu (there is a 5 course and a 7 course option). This menu showcases the chefs’ pinnacle dishes, and effectively means the ‘foodies’ of Bistro 1847 have done the hard work for you, making this menu choice a ‘tricky decision‘-free dining experience. The most difficult choice you’ll have to make is which scrumptious cocktail to start with 🙂

The second menu option is to ‘Graze, Share and Explore’ – pretty much what it says on the tin. This menu features a range of smaller tapas-style dishes, which are all ordered at once, and arrive when they are ready. In my experience, this is similar to the ‘wagamama’ style of dining, it’s more informal; dishes arrive when ready, so not necessarily all at the same time. I love the element of surprise behind this modern style of dining, and these guys really do it well. I’d say this is the perfect option for a group of friends, who want to wine, dine and chatter – whilst sharing a varied feast of delicious small plates. Just one tip: order extra beer-battered halloumi, as you may not be as inclined to share this one!

His & Hers Cocktails - the Maple & Orange 'Old Fashioned' and the 'Bistro Bastillia'
His & Hers Cocktails – the Maple & Orange ‘Old Fashioned’ and the ‘Bistro Bastillia’

I am a big believer that we eat with our eyes, as well as our taste-buds, and these guys have both presentation and taste down to a fine art. I took some foodie snaps of our dishes from their ‘Taste of 1847’ menu, for you to feast your eyes upon:

Perfectly bite-sized spelt & rye crispbread, baba ghanoush (aubergine dip) with pomegranate seeds
Spelt & rye crisp bread, baba ghanoush with pomegranate seeds

Baba Ghanoush is an aubergine based ‘dip,’ which is served here on perfectly bite-sized pieces of crisp bread. It was nice to start with informal ‘finger-food,’ which tastes amazing and looks great too.

Beer-battered halloumi, seashore herbs & plants, mushy pea emulsion, smoked lemon curd & gin pickled shallots
Beer-battered halloumi, seashore herbs & plants, mushy pea emulsion, smoked
lemon curd & gin pickled shallots

This was the second course, I was told by Manager Rebecca that this is one of their most popular dishes, and I can see why. I have never tasted halloumi like it. Often dubbed ‘the squeaky cheese’ for its rubbery texture (as so many people over-cook it), this version was spongy, yet firm and almost had a meaty-texture to it. I wouldn’t hesitate to say it was cooked to perfection, and accompaniments compliment it so well. Hats off to the chef!

Heritage carrot, farmhouse curds, pearl barley, wilted cavolo nero, herbs, flowers & carrot top oil
Heritage carrot, farmhouse curds, pearl barley, wilted cavolo nero, herbs,
flowers & carrot top oil

This is a risotto style dish using barley instead of rice, which makes it lighter, fitting well with the two different menu options. The flavours are delicate and the presentation super-pretty, a highly seasonal dish using locally sourced heritage carrots. Yummy.

Chocolate, lime & sea salt brownie drizzled with coconut cream
Chocolate, lime & sea salt brownie drizzled with coconut cream

I think this photo speaks volumes to be honest. Chocolate brownie is the ultimate pud, and this one was nothing-short of heavenly.  Tasty, delicate hints of additional flavours from the sea salt, lime and coconut cream give this pud an elegant, more ‘grown-up’ feel, which I liked a lot.

Petit fours and tea or coffee's to finish (these ones were vegan chocolate truffles!)
Petit fours and tea or coffee’s to finish (these ones were vegan chocolate truffles!)

To finish, a choice of tea or coffee with petit fours. A great way to finish this wonderful, distinctive dining experience. I shall definitely be back for more, hopefully next time to Graze & Share with a few close friends, both veggies and non-veggies! If you’re even slightly curious, I urge you to try it as I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. Featured here is just a snippet of their wonderful menu, a full copy of which is here: bistro1847.com/menus/ManchesterAutumn.pdf

If you want to find out more about Bistro 1847, their website is: bistro1847.com, and they are located:

58 Mosley Street
(Entrance on Booth St)
Manchester
M2 3HZ

0161 236 1811
bdm@bistro1847.co.uk

Bolly Good Sauce & Easy Egg-Fried Pilau Rice

Chilli Drops 'Bolly Good' Sauce with Egg Fried Pilau Rice
Chilli Drops ‘Bolly Good’ Sauce with Egg Fried Pilau Rice

You know those kind of Saturday afternoons… not much going on, rainy and horrible outside… you can get a little, well, bored. In my world, boredem is pretty much synonymous with ‘peckish’. As I found myself in this situation last week, I thought a great way to spice-up this otherwise-boring afternoon, is to get a little creative in the kitchen. So here’s what I came up with… Egg Fried Pilau Rice with some super tasty hot-sauce from the wonderful Chilli Drops!

Chilli Drops sauce is just one of the 8 artisan goodies in my Artisan Selection box from Compare Your Artisan. If you’re a foodie like me and you fancy picking up an Artisan Selection box for yourself, visit their website for all the details (you wont be disappointed, as the service is fantastic): compareyourartisan.com.

This meal is a super-easy throw together, a kind of ‘cheats’ recipe if you like. It would be a great accompaniment to almost any Indian curry, or as a meal for one when you’re in a rush and are just looking to use up random items in the fridge. For a veggie option – just skip the ham.

Serves 1 as a whole meal, or 2 as a side dish. Takes about 10 minutes.

what you need:

  • a generous dollop of Chilli Drops, ‘Bolly Good’ hot sauce: www.chillidrops.co.uk
  • 1 pack of Veetee’s Heat & Eat Pilau Rice: www.veetee.com (available in most super-markets)
  • 1 free range egg (any size will do), gently beaten
  • 2 handfuls of frozen petits pois or garden peas
  • splash of ground-nut oil (or any other flavourless cooking oil)
  • splash of light soy sauce
  • handful of ham, chopped into small chunks
  • half an orange pepper, diced into small cubes
  • 1 shallot, diced into small cubes

what to do:

    1. heat the oil in a frying pan or wok over a medium heat, add the shallots and stir for about 1 minute.
    2. whilst the shallots are cooking, heat the rice in the microwave as per the packet instructions (but for 1 minute only, because we will cook it for the remaining minute later in the wok).
    3. add the diced pepper to the shallots, and continue stirring for about another minute.
    4. add the half-cooked rice, peas and strips of ham to the wok and give it all a good stir, season well with black pepper and add a dash of soy sauce, keep stirring to ensure everything heats up.
    5. after 2 minutes or so, use a wooden spatula to move all of the rice mixture to one side of the wok (this is to make room for the egg).
    6. tip the beaten egg into the space in the wok, and allow this to gently cook for a minute or so.
    7. as the egg begins to cook, use your spatula to break it up into pieces, then gradually combine it with the rice mixture.
    8. add a little extra soy-sauce to taste, and  little more black pepper if needed.
    9. serve in a warm bowl and with a generous dollop of Bolly Good chili sauce, to really give it an extra kick. YUMMY!

Egg Fried Rice

Bradley's Beef & Black Pud Burgers

Brad's Beef & Black Pudding Burgers
Brad’s Beef & Black Pudding Burgers

Inspired by the random spout of glorious sunshine on this lazy Sunday afternoon, we thought a spot of al-fesco dining was appropriate, to make the most of the summery-vibes.

Brad took to the fridge, and gathered ingredients for a big, bad-ass burger, and hence: Bradley’s Beef & Black Pud Burgers’s were born!

There are loads of variations you could do to tweak this recipe (i.e. if you don’t like Black Pudding, you can skip it – however, I would recommend trying it, as it does add an amazing depth of flavour). Brad also used Mr Vikki’s King Naga chilli conserve to add a little kick, but if you don’t like spice (you must be crazy!) you can easily skip this, or substitute it with some garlic paste for an equally scrummy taste sensation.

We cooked our burgers on the BBQ, but they can easily be done on a hot griddle pan or a thick -based frying pan on the hob.

This recipe makes 2 large beef burgers, and therefore serves 2 hungry burger-loving foodies. It takes about 25 mins from start to finish. GO TRY!

what you need:

  • 300g good-quality, lean minced beef
  • 60g (or one average slice) bury black pudding, diced into small cubes
  • 30g cheddar cheese, chopped into small cubes
  • small handful of breadcrumbs (optional)
  • 1/2 a sweet red pepper, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 artisan seeded crusty rolls
  • green salad leaves, to garnish
  • a tablespoon of plain, organic humous
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • mayonnaise, to serve

what to do:

1.  using your hands, work the minced beef so it forms (in Bradley’s words) a ‘beef paste.’ You just need to ensure all strands of the mince are combined, the more you ‘work it’, the better the burgers will stay together.

2. next, add the black pudding cubes to the minced beef, combining gently (keep some of the cubes whole, which will add texture to your beefy-burgs).

3. then, add the cheddar cheese cubes to the patty. Don’t worry if the cubes of cheese aren’t completely combined, as this will ensure little boulders of molten cheese remain inside the burger when cooking – essential gooey goodness.

4.  halve the mixture into two equal parts, and mold into a patty shape using your hands.

5.  coat the burgers in a light layer of breadcrumbs (from a packet is fine) – see picture below.

The burgers are lightly coated in breadcrumbs, to given them a nice char-grilled outside whilst cooking
The burgers are lightly coated in breadcrumbs, to give a nice char-grilled colour whilst cooking

6.  heat your BBQ or griddle pan to a high heat. Once heated, cook your burgers for 10-12 minutes, turning occasionally.

Cheese oozing from the char-grilled burgers on the BBQ
Cheese oozing from the char-grilled burgers on the BBQ

7.  leave the burgers to rest for 3 mins, whilst you prep the buns…

8.  half your crusty rolls and spread the bottom half with the humous, then top with the pieces of sweet red pepper.

Humous & sweet peppers on the buns, and Mr Vikki's King Naga conserve
Humous & sweet peppers on the artisan crusty rolls, and don’t forget Mr Vikki’s King Naga conserve!

9.  spread your mayonnaise on the top half of the bun, and top with green salad leaves – see picture below.

Brad's Beef & Black Pudding Burgers

10.  once your burgers have rested, assemble them between the rolls, and serve straight away, whilst the cheese is still gooey.

Brad's Beef & Black Pudding Burgers

Enjoy, scranners! -x-

My Artisan Selection box has arrived!

My Artisan Selection Box from http://compareyourartisan.com/
My Artisan Selection Box from compareyourartisan.com #artisanselection

My beautiful #ArtisanSelection box from compareyourartisan.com has arrived, and first off I must say the delivery service was super-prompt. I can get a little impatient when it comes to food (because I love it so much, duhhh), so it was great they didn’t keep me waiting long at all!

I went for “The Foodie” – 8 assorted foodie-friendly Artisan selection items from their lovely range, and I let them surprise me, so had no idea what it was going to contain. It was as if they knew about my obsession with obscure and specialty teas (stemmed from a visit to Nepal in 2011) so I was delighted to see a box of wild, organic, hand-picked Mountain Tea from Greece… I have never seen anything like it, super intrigued… Cannot wait to try it. It also seemed a bit like magic that the box featured a chilli sauce – if you know me, you know I am obsessed with spice. These guys really do know their buyers & suppliers well, and I’m impressed already.

The box features a range of wonderful products, some local to the UK and some from as far afield as Italy & Greece! Details listed below:

~ Riverside Lifestyle Strawberry & Lavender Jam: riversidelifestyle.co.uk

~ Chilli Drops ‘BollyGood’ chilli sauce: chillidrops.co.uk

~ Urbangrains Organic Mountain Tea: urbangrains.net

~ Hasting’s Ketchup Company Lemon Ketchup: hastingsketchup.co.uk

~ Via Emilia Crema per Crostini di Olive Nere (Black Olive Crostini Spread): viaemilia.net

~ Agnes Rose Raspberry Vinegar: agnesrose.co.uk

~ Bonilla a la Vista Patatas Fritas: bonillaalavista.com

~ Breckland Orchard Cherry & Plum Posh Pop: brecklandorchard.co.uk

I will be trying each item in turn, keeping you posted on what each one tastes like. I’m excited already. In fact, I think I fancy croissants with Strawberry & Lavender Jam for breakfast. Yum.

If you guys have any ideas or recommendations, please use the comments below to post them.

In the meantime, follow CompareYourSupplier (@UK_CYS) on Twitter for updates & information on their artisan selection boxes.

Love, Sophie -x-

 

Jodie's Chicken, Mustard & Mushroom Pie

Jodie's Chicken & Mushroom Pie served with cheesy mash, sweet potato mash, buttered mange-tout and pickled red cabbage. YUM!
Jodie’s Chicken & Mushroom Pie served with cheesy mash, sweet potato mash, buttered mange-tout and pickled red cabbage. YUM!

This is the ultimate easy-peasy pie to impress your mates with on a cold autumn weekend evening, with a few glasses of wine and a good-old catch up. Or even better, you could give your Mum a break from the usual Sunday-roast grind by rustling this up for her in no time, just tell her to put her feet up and you can have this little bad-boy ready within the hour.

A couple of week’s a go on a girls holiday to Sherwood Forest, where we stayed in a luxury log cabin for a week, my good friend Jodie House got to work in the kitchen, whilst the rest of us frolicked in the hot-tub sipping fine wine. She said she didn’t need a hand – ‘she got this’. So, we left her to it, and within the hour a feast was served, KUDOS Jodie – just what we needed after a long afternoon foraging in the woodlands at Go-Ape. Just perfect.

You can serve the pie with a number of options, but by request, Jodie went for a cheesy mash potato, a sweet potato mash, stir-fried buttered mange-tout and pickled red cabbage. Trust me, it was a taste sensation, so please, please try it!

Overall time to make this is about 1 hour, and this recipe serves 6 hungry log-loving forest ramblers. Warning: copious compliments guaranteed – so be ready!

what you need:

  • 4 chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper, diced into 2cm chunks
  • knob of butter
  • olive oil
  • bunch of spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 200g button mushrooms, (any big ones halved)
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tsp English mustard
  • 2 heaped tbsp creme fraiche
  • 300ml good chicken stock
  • bunch of fresh thyme, leaves removed and stalks discarded
  • 1/3 nutmeg, for grating
  • 1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 free-range egg

what to do:

  1. pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6
  2. heat the butter and a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, and cook the chicken for about 3 minutes
  3. add the spring onions, mushrooms and 1 heaped tbsp of flour and stir
  4. add the English mustard, creme fraiche and chicken stock into the pan and stir well
  5. add the thyme leaves and a good grating of nutmeg and leave the creamy chicken mixture to simmer whilst you prep the pastry…
  6. lightly dust a flat surface with flour and roll out the pastry so it’s large enough to cover the inside diameter of your pie dish (we didn’t have a rolling pin so had to think outside the box – see image below)
  7. use a knife to gently score (be careful not to cut-through) the pastry – get creative, criss crosses look nice but any pattern would work, just be gentle!
  8. after 5-10 mins of simmering, remove the chicken mixture from the heat, and transfer to your pie dish (this must be an oven-proof baking dish, and large enough to serve 6)
  9. cover the filling mixture with the sheet of pastry, tucking in the edges
  10. beat the egg and brush it over the pie – we didn’t have an egg brush, so we used a few sprigs of thyme stalks with the leaves on to coat the pie (see image below), which also added a nice flavour!
  11. place the pie on the top shelf of the oven, and cook until golden and crisp (about 15-20 mins max)
  12. serve in the middle of the table with your chosen accompaniments (as recommended above) and watch your mates dig in with sheer delight!

Enjoy, scranners!

If you don't have a rolling pin to hand, an empty wine bottle works just as well - and we happened to have plenty of those to-hand!
If you don’t have a rolling pin to hand, an empty wine bottle works just as well – and we happened to have plenty of those to-hand…
Chicken, mustard & mushroom pie filling before the pastry is placed on top.
Chicken, mustard & mushroom pie filling before the pastry is placed on top.
Chicken Pie filling taste test - always check your seasoning!
Chicken Pie filling taste test – always check your seasoning!
Brush with beaten free-range egg for the ultimate shiny glaze to your pie. Using the thyme stalks added extra scrumptious flavour!
Brush with beaten free-range egg for the ultimate shiny glaze to your pie. Using the thyme stalks added extra scrumptious flavour.