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Street Food Trotts On

I, unlike a few people I know, will try any food that I have not come across before.  The concept of utilising all the parts of any animal that I cook is very important to me.

A dish that has always interested me is from the great chef Pierre Koffman.  His dish of stuffed trotters has inspired many chefs to take on this outer edge of pork!

Also, being of Irish descent, and knowing the pig was an integral part of life was also a trigger to investigate what these porky digits may have in store for me!!Sight_2017_08_05_162024_724

I discovered a dish (or rather finger food) called the crubeen that needed investigating.

crbeen
Crubeen (mmm?)

The traditional Irish “dish” of crubeens  is in fact a snack. They are made by slowly cooking the trotters in a pot of stock with vegetables that were then left to cool then bread crumbed and deep fried. I do feel that it started as what is known as “chefs tips” where parts of the stock pot were utilised by the chef to make a cheap meal. All through the nineteenth century and into the twentieth, crubeens were, apparently, widely sold in Ireland as street food, and also as the quintessential bar food. Publicans would often serve big bowls of them right at the bar; they knew that the yummy, gummy, bacon-y, salty finger food would make the drinkers more thirsty for just one more pint. . In the 20th century, crubeens started to get harder to find in Ireland as people grew more interested in other more exotic or less rustic kinds of snack food (Potato crisps, pork scratchings.)

So I decided I would be foolish enough to try to replicate this dish of old!!!

I had some problems with cooking the trotters for this dish, number one, the look! Oh come on it does not look that wonderful! Secondly when I had cooked the trotters (sous vide) the things had become so tender they had completely fallen apart!Sight_2017_08_05_163641_967

There was no way I could breadcrumb  these!! I could not even pick them up. It all fell apart.

After some ,very quick, research I came across the recipe for  the French dish “Trotter Comesquis” which turns out to be a kind of refined (eat them with a knife and fork) version of crombeens! The final look of the dish is a bit too delicate for the men coming out from watching the local game of “hurling”. Eating them would still result in quite a thirst!!.

I tried this recipe out and wow the look of them was very good, cut into them and and and an unctuous liquid with the ingredient flowed out. The taste for me whilst not disagreeable needed more refinement as it was very “earthy”.

So to the recipe for “Trotter Comesquis”……

  • 4 pig’s trotters
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • 100ml Beef stock
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 2 carrots
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • flour
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 50g of breadcrumbsSight_2017_08_06_121820_576

 

Take the whole trotters and seal in a vacuum packing bag with beef stock, garlic and thyme. Cook in a water bath at 71.5°C for 16 hours

Open the bag and take the trotter out of the bag being careful to reserve the liquor. Remove the trotter skin and slice into Julienne strips

 

Finely dice the carrot and celery, add to the trotter slices in a bowl. Add 150ml of the reserved cooking liquor and season with lemon and salt. Store in a oven dish approx. 20cm square in the fridge. The natural gelatine from the trotters will set the mixture into a wonderful gel.

 

Turn the mixture out onto a board and cut into cubes, roll in flour, dip in egg wash, then into breadcrumbs. Repeat this again then refrigerate uncovered overnight. This double coating will keep all the good stuff inside when deep frying later.

Sight_2017_08_07_204705_882
Prior to deep frying

Remove the cubes from the fridge and deep-fry at 180˚C for 3 minutes or until golden brown.

The final result was unusual, very earthy but beautifully unctuous .

I have to say I would change the use of the trotter skin to some finely diced pork and/or smoked bacon. The reason is I found the trotter skins not to be very pleasant!!

I really don’t think this will be making a comeback in Irelands pubs.

Turning up the heat!!!

shakAll kinds of flavour mixes are in the shops nowadays, from BBQ rubs to seafood twists! One spice mix that has been around for some time now is Cajun spice mix. Flavoursome with a chili kick it can be added to a myriad of food. Cajun fries, Cajun mayo, Cajun chicken etc etc.

There are loads of different blends from supermarkets own to “so called” independent blends  some of which, unfortunately, bare no resemblance to how it should taste.

Now to the featured mix “Slap Ya Mama”. This stuff blew me away! An amazing belt of heat that follows its unique flavour must be tried.

The Walker family of Ville Platte, Louisiana, USA started it all from their deli when they wanted to stock a spice blend but could find any that did not contain a high salt content. So Anthony Walker decided to create his own blend.

Why  the name “Slap Ya Mamma” ? Its all from when people came into the deli to get some of his blend Anthony would proclaim:

“When you use this seasoning, the food tastes so good, you’ll receive a loving slap on the back and a kiss on the cheek for creating such a great tasting Cajun dish.”

 

It is seriously good and at £5 for 8oz a bargain as a little goes a mighty long way!

 

slap3

Try using it in the featured recipe of Jambalaya!!!

JAMBALAYA

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs (cut in 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 pound shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 1 pound Andouille sausage (sliced 1/4-inch rounds) Or uncooked chorizo
  • 1 red onion (peeled, finely chopped)
  • 2 green bell pepper (finely chopped)
  • 3 sticks celery (finely chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 2 jalapenos chilies (sliced)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 750 ml chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce
  • Bunch of spring onions (sliced plus more for garnish)
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • Slap Ya Mama seasoning or if you cant get it try this mix
  • 1tsp hot smoked paprika
  • cayenne
  • 1tsp dried thyme
  • 1tsp oregano
  • 1tsp basil
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • In a heavy saucepan add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Season chicken and shrimp with a good shake of Slap Ya Mama seasoning (about 2 tsp). Set shrimp aside. Add Andouille sausage and chicken in batches and cook until browned, remove and set aside.
  • Add onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic and jalapenos and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add remaining spice mixture, bay leaves, rice and stir to toast then add stock, and hot sauce. Add the sausage and chicken back to the pan, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Add shrimp and spring onions to the pot, stir in and cover again and allow to cook for 5-10 minutes, until shrimp are tender, using the remaining heat. Remove bay leaves. Fluff rice and serve.

Add more “Slap ya Mama” if you need that extra burn!!

jambalaya

goodtimes

 

Gadgetmania !!!

So here we go after a bit of an absence, thank you all for your patience whilst myself and Debs went through a really tough 6 months. The fantastic news is that we are now proud guardians of two of our grandchildren.

Onto this posts subject  which is”gadgets”.

I just have to mention the word kitchen gadget and my wife goes pale and shaky! Yep you guessed it, I am a gadget freak. However, the gadgets I buy and most importantly use, are always considered purchases. That is, does it perform a kitchen task equally or better than I can do with what I have in my kitchen.

What is a kitchen gadget though? Any product that does a specific task easily and efficiently. That is a very wide brief however. In any high street you can find quite wonderful shops selling all kinds of kitchenalia, and their range covers the whole spectrum of gadgets . From a simple paring knife to indoor BBQs. I could devote the existence of this blog just to that subject matter. So what I will do is show you what I have in MY kitchen.

  • Knives I have probably 25-30. From a tiny paring knifes to the most lethal fish blade (actually supposed for use on a commercial fishing craft) back to a simple but totally effective swivel peeler that seems to be in constant use.
  • Food processor. I recently purchased a new machine as I wore the old one out. My last machine was a 2000 watt Kenwood device which lasted nearly 8 years so it seem right that I stuck with the Kenwood make. This time I slightly down graded my choice as I looked at all the attachments with my previous device, many of which I never used, and selected a 1000 watt device that did some simple operations (chop, grate, whisk and mix) This selection of functions saved me £30.kenwood_fpp225_si_03_l
  • Stand mixer This I purchased from Lidl,whose electrical items come under the Silver Crest brand name. Moving dough has never been easier and the finished results are of a professional level. It comes with three mixer attachments (paddle, dough hook and balloon whisk) and a liquidated that attaches to the top of the unit.mixer
  • Ice-cream machine. My first machine was a simple pre-freeze bowl unit. This cost £5 reduced though from Wicks department store (-10% from my students union discount card) this was great until I had no space in my freezer. No more luscious ice cream!! I put up with this for a while until I came across an advert, via Google search, for a Gaggia stand alone machine. This freezes the bowl in which the ice cream is mixed in less that 5 minutes and takes about 20 minutes to mix and create the most delicious ices. These machines cost in the region of £300!!! However I found mine, as I said earlier, on-line and was totally amazed at the price £99.99 a saving of £200. Oh happy days!! (And happy birthday to me!!)my machine
  • Vacuum sealer. I actually have two. The first I acquired when I was only just starting to get interested in sous vide cooking . The first was a nice cheap unit that did the job, albeit a little slow.sealer s-l500The second is a Silvercrest brand which again was around £30. Beware the same model with different branding can cost upto £60!!! Really fast to remove the air from the bags containing whichever foods I am using. These are not just for sous vide though, they can keep your foods fresher for up to 5 times longer!! Save your food rather than binning it!!
  • Sous vide machine. This is the daddy of my kitchen! This is used many times a week as it gives the best results of all. sousvideThis machine is a true professional bit of kit and costs up to £400. I got mine via ebay for £65 for an ex-demo (after a bit of trouble with a previous machine that went wrong). This is so simple to use, set the temperature (a lot lower than other  cooking methods ) wait for the beep and drop your vac packed foods in for a couple of hours and bosh! Lovely food every time!
  • Induction hob. works using magnetism!  Steel pans must be used to cook with. This heats the food really fast but uses a fraction of the energy!s-l225 (2) Again the cost can vary from £30 upwards. I use a single hob unit and this gets used almost every day. Set temperatures from 60º to 220º. I really don’t know why but the pans are easier to clean!!??

That is pretty much all my gadgets,well apart from the two cold smokers, sausage machine, the hot smoker, microplane, slow cooker, immersion blender (two) …..oh maybe I do have too many!!!  NEVER!!!

Been away for some time!!!

New posts are coming , not just recipes but ingredient reviews, techniques and gadgets tests will be on the menu. I know so many of you have been checking into the site and I cannot wait to bring you all the new and exciting news!! The availability of new ingredients and cut price equipment will be heading up the next big post!!

I am hoping you are all enjoying this early summer and I hope I can enhance your summer with some great food offerings fruit

Smoke Signals

Well things at home are a little crazy right now as we are caring for my two grandsons, aged 2 and 1, so my culinary skills have been put to good use, just in smaller quantities.
This has caused me to start smoking. Not those horrible stinky cigarettes, but luscious tasty treats. Yep, you guessed it. I bought another gadget, this time a cold smoker. As my wife Debs pointed out to me when I was buying it “You already have a smoker!” , “Ah” me says “That’s a HOT smoker whereas this is a COLD smoker!” . Assuming this would be enough to calm her frustrations with me, I went and bought one. A simple cardboard box construction with metal shelves and an ingenious smoke producer.

But what is a cold smoker exactly?
Temperatures for cold smoking are typically done between 20 to 30 °C (68 to 86 °F). In this temperature range, foods take on a smoked flavour, but remain relatively moist but most importantly uncooked. Meats must be fully cured before cold smoking. Cold smoking can be used as a flavour enhancer for items such as chicken breasts, beef, pork chops, salmon, scallops, and steak. After a cure has been applied he item is hung first to develop a pellicle ( a thin sticky surface film), then can be cold smoked for just long enough to give some flavour. Some cold smoked foods, such as bacon or hams, are baked, grilled, steamed, roasted, or sautéed before eating. Fish, I think is one of the best things to smoke.
Smoked Salmon is first cured in a mix of salt, sugar and aromatics such as dill, star anise for up to 12 hours. Curing with salt is an essential step in making the salmon safe to eat without further cooking. Removal of the salt is done by rinsing the salmon fillet under cold running water. Patted dry and placed in an uncovered dish. Refrigerated for 24 hours until the pellicle (a thin sticky surface film) has formed. The salmon is now ready for the magic to occur!

smoker
First light the smoke generator, I use my chefs’ blowtorch, or even a tealight until the dust starts to smoke. I then put the generator into the base of the smoker and wait until wisps of smoke can be seen coming out of the top. I then open the top and either hang or just place the salmon on the rack. I always try to find other things to smoke alongside the salmon. Cheese, garlic and salt have been tried alongside the salmon so far with great success.
The wood that is used imparts different flavours according to the type of tree it came from. Oak is commonly used for salmon and this is the only type of sawdust I have used on salmon so far. I have also smoked my own bacon (cured with maple syrup) with maple wood with great success. There are many types of smoking dust, Apple, maple, beech and hickory to name but a few.
The salmon is ready to be sliced at this point which is best carried out with a long straight edged blade. If it is not possible to find such a knife, a good alternative is a fillet knife.
Now to the most wonderful foodstuff in the world, BACON !!
Here is the start of my current makin’ bacon project!
I have a piece of, close on to two pounds, pork loin which is currently in a container with black treacle, salt and sugar cure mix.
Yep! dark sticky black treacle! I first came across this cure for pork when I was running a hotel in Suffolk. (My commis chef was asked to clean the meat fridge and promptly threw out a huge piece of Suffolk cured bacon as it was black and he thought it was off!!)
This piece of meat will be in this mix for about a week. I will then put it into the smoker and use oak wood chips ( it is almost sawdust to be honest!) to smoke the bacon. I will smoke this bacon for a minimum of 30 hours. I will post the pictures and taste notes when this is done!!

Well time has taken its course and here is the the bacon.This is the loin of pork (not bacon yet)treaclecure

After the fifth day the cure is washed off the bacon (its bacon now!) then it is dried and left in the fridge for the pellicle  to be formed. I set up the smoker and filled the burner with oak sawdust and lit it. The bacon is now ready to be smoked, it is placed in the smoker along with two bulbs of garlic, a piece of cheese, some sea salt and a single red chili. The hazy picture indicates how quickly the smoker works.

presmoke

The end result is really pleasing. The bacon has an inviting deep colour with a quite complex taste. A bitter sweet flavour that makes the mouth water. The final flavour is an oaky saltiness. But its best and advisable for the reader to try this themselves.

finalcut

As they say smoking is a habit hard to beat!

smokeboard2

The oak smoked cheese is heavenly to eat. A  simple run of the mill supermarket chunk of cheddar is completely transformed (something that the supermarkets would charge a premium price!)

garlicheese

One of the best and most surprising, and a big new foodie item, is the smoked salt! All that is needed is a tray with salt (I use Cornish or Maldon sea salt) spread out on a tray with the salt a few millimetres deep. I usually put it into the smoker and forget about it until I have finished smoking a lump of bacon.

The salt takes on a slight colouration but the flavour is a revelation. Sprinkled on chips it is fantastic! Smoked salt is best used as a condiment rather than used during cooking as the flavour may be lost.
Now for the good bit!! Simply email me  at marknagle57@yahoo.co.uk with your postal address for the chance to obtain a sample of my smoked salt!! The first 10 emails will get a sample pack of the wonder salt!!! (I will not pass your details to anyone. If I feel the uptake for this salt and hopefully the comments from my readers, I may consider producing this on a small commercial scale .)

Oh if you want to make this bacon here is my recipe.

Black Treacle Cured Bacon

 

300g rock or sea salt

230g sugar (Demerara is good)

60g molasses (only a guideline is its tricky to weigh this stuff!

2 tablespoons coarse ground black pepper

500g pork loin

Directions

In a small bowl, combine salt and sugar. Spread black treacle evenly over pork and massage into it , then coat with the pepper. Spread the salt and sugar mixture generously over the pork. Put it into an airtight plastic container and pop it in the fridge. Every day drain the excess liquid and turn over rubbing some of the remaining cure over it.

After 5 or six days take it from the box and wash it under running cold water and dry with a clean tea towel or good quality kitchen roll. I put this back in the fridge for a day uncovered to form a pellicle. Lay the pork in the cold smoker and smoke for anything up to 24 hours. Take it out of the smoker and let it sit at room temperature before slicing and enjoying. It will keep for3 weeks in the fridge.

Place the strips of bacon onto a sheet pan fitted with a rack and place into a cold oven. Turn the oven to 400 degrees and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, depending on how crispy you like your bacon. Remove from rack and drain on paper towels. Enjoy.

 

Busy times!!

Firstly to all my followers and all my new readers my apologies for not making any new posts. Both myself and my wife Debra have now taken on the care of two little boys and as you can imagine they are running us ragged!!

 

I will be making usual posts once the crazy world settles down

bonappetit

 

What to do with my legs?!

Happy New Year!!

Duck legs that is!!

I purchased a nice English duck so that I could cook the breasts for a special meal as it is my wife’s favourite choice for a Sunday roast. I always try and find something good to do with the legs and any other “spare” bits that come free with it. I try to acquire as much fat from the bird as I can for wonderful roast potatoes, mmmm.

What to do with the legs?

The most obvious solution is duck confit, after curing overnight (this entails salting the meat along with spices and some herbs. This is washed off the following day) the leg is then slowly cooked in its own fat until it becomes meltingly tender. And then I was met with the next challenge what to do with the duck confit?

canconfit

Cassoulet, the most French dish one can imagine, is a wonderful tribute to the duck confit. A peasant dish long ago, it has moved up in the world of culinary excesses. The dish is lovely comfort food but I wanted to introduce my granddaughters to the flavours of duck and I believed that dish is a little rich for a first timer to this fowl.

I am subscribed to a website called “Great British Chefs” and discovered a recipe utilising duck leg confit. Also the technique of how to confit duck legs in the traditional manner are included in the recipe. As you, the reader, hopefully are aware I am an avid user and promoter of the cooking technique of sous vide so here is how I “confit” the duck legs.

First take the duck legs and rub a mixture of salt and thyme all over them. Put them into vacuum bags and seal. Leave for a minimum of 6 hours. (12 is best!). Remove from the bags and wash off the cure. Put the legs into new bags (I put a couple of star anise with them) and add a tablespoon of duck fat. Seal and place into preheated 75 °C water bath for a further 12 hours.

Now we move to the dish which the grandchildren demolished with great zeal.

Confit duck leg with penne, spinach and tomato

pasta1

 

The recipe is from Chef Galton Blackistone

Confit duck legs

  • 6 duck legs
  • 1.5l duck fat, or goose fat

Marinade

  • 1 tbsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder, Cantonese
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

Oven-baked tomatoes

  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 55ml of sunflower oil
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • 1 pinch of brown sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

Sauce

  • 500ml of dark chicken stock, as needed
  • 2 tbsp of double cream
  • 1 dash of Marsala wine
  • 1 dash of rapeseed oil
  • 75g of girolles, finely sliced
  • 75g of ceps, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp of tarragon, chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Penne pasta

  • 600g of penne pasta
  • salt

Sautéed spinach with spring onions (pousse epinard)

  • 50g of salted butter
  • 1 1/4 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 525g of baby spinach, washed
  • salt
  • pepper

 

1

To begin, mix all of the marinade ingredients together and rub all over the duck legs. Place in a dish, cover with cling film and place in the fridge to marinate overnight, or for at least 6 hours

  • 1 tbsp of sea salt
  • 1 tsp peppercorns, cracked
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder, Cantonese
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • 6 duck legs

2

Preheat the oven to 120°C/gas mark 1/2

3

To prepare the tomatoes, mix all of the ingredients together, then spread them evenly over a large baking tray

  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 55ml of sunflower oil
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp of vinegar
  • 1 pinch of brown sugar
  • salt
  • pepper

4

Place in the preheated oven and cook for about 1 hour, by which time the moisture will have evaporated and the tomatoes will have started to dry out a little and intensify in colour. Set aside until ready to prepare the pasta bake

5

After the legs have finished curing, remove from the marinade and carefully dry off with kitchen paper

6

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2

7

Heat a dry frying pan until hot, press the duck legs into it skin-side down. Fry until the skin is well coloured, then turn the legs over and quickly brown the other side

8

Place the browned duck legs in a roasting tin large enough to hold them in one layer. Cover completely with the duck or goose fat – it is essential that the legs are fully submerged in the fat

  • 5l duck fat, or goose fat

9

Bring the fat to trembling point on the hob, cover with foil and very carefully place into the preheated oven

10

Slowly cook the duck legs for about 2 hours until tender. You can test this by carefully lifting one out with a slotted spoon – the meat should easily start to fall away when you press it

11

When the legs are cooked, leave to cool in the fat for 20–30 minutes and very carefully remove and set on a trivet or wire rack in a roasting tin to drain. As soon as the duck legs are cool enough to handle, ‘pull’ the meat from the bone and set aside somewhere warm

12

Strain the cooled duck fat through a fine sieve and keep for another dish; it is especially good for roasting potatoes or making more confit

13

To make the sauce, reduce the chicken stock by half before stirring in the cream and Marsala. Set aside

  • 1 dash of Marsala wine
  • 2 tbsp of double cream
  • 500ml of dark chicken stock, as needed

14

When ready to serve the dish, preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6

15

Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the penne and cook for a few minutes less than is indicated on the box – it will finish cooking in the oven. Drain thoroughly

  • salt
  • 600g of penne pasta

16

Meanwhile, finish the sauce. Heat a frying pan over a high heat, add a splash of rapeseed oil and add the mushrooms. Very quickly fry and add these to the sauce, making sure everything is heated right through. Add the chopped tarragon and check the seasoning

  • 75g of girolles, finely sliced
  • 1 dash of rapeseed oil
  • 75g of ceps, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp of tarragon, chopped
  • salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

17

To make the spinach, heat the saucepan until very hot and add the butter, it should foam immediately. At this point, add the spring onions, then the spinach, and season well. Treat the spinach as if you were stir-frying it and cook until it just starts to wilt. Remove from the heat and serve immediately

  • 525g of baby spinach, washed
  • 50g of salted butter
  • 1 1/4 bunch of spring onions, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • pepper

18

Spread the sautéed spinach over the base of a suitable large serving dish. Combine the ‘pulled’ duck meat with the cooked pasta and the sauce and spread over the top of the spinach

19

Dot the tomatoes over the pasta and place in the preheated oven, cooking until everything is heated right through. Serve immediately

bonappetit

 

Crabby over some Gumbo!

I bought a lovely crab from the fishmonger (Jonas Fresh Fish) at the farmers market. One of the styles of food I love is from the deep south of the US of A. Cajun and creole cuisines encompass wonderful flavours and combinations of such. The roux at the beginning is one such flavour found only in this recipe. This is a good warming stew now that the winter is here.wp_20161201_18_32_55_pro1

 

Louisiana style gumbo

40g bacon fat, lard or vegetable oil
40g plain flour
75gAndouille sausage (or chorizo sausage) chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 large celery stick, sliced
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
225gokra, thickly sliced
451 green jalapeno chilli, thinly sliced
1 large sprig of thyme
2 bayleaves
225g skinned boneless chicken, cut into 5cm pieces
12 large raw peeled prawns
225g fresh white crab meat
1 tbsp chopped parsley
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 pints of stock vegetable, chicken or fish.

To serve,  cooked long grain rice.wp_20161201_20_10_55_pro1
Heat the fat in a large pan, add the flour and cook over a gentle heat (making a roux), stirring continuously, until it has turned a golden biscuit brown.
Add the sausage and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Now add the onion, celery and green pepper, plus the okra, jalapeno chili, thyme and bay leaves. Gradually add the stock, stirring as you do. Leave everything to simmer for 25 minutes, stiring occasionally as it may stick to the bottom of the pan.
The vegetables need to be very well cooked, almost blending into the now beautifully flavoured sauce. Add the chicken after 20 minutes. Add the prawns by just laying them on the top but don’t stir if. Finally, stir in the crab meat ( I saved some to sprinkle over the dish at the end!), parley. Add salt and some freshly ground black pepper to taste
Serve ladled over some cooked long grain rice.

Some times a hug isn’t enough

Through the summer having the grandchildren to stay and this has meant I have been doing overtime in the kitchen! On Sundays our roast dinners have been enjoyed by up to 10 guests and although very hard work it has been worthwhile due to the comments from the grandchildren (and some adults too !) We have also had one little person to stay with us for 2 months and being a surrogate parent has meant this blog has taken a break. But now normal service has resumed!

Apart from the normal cooking of meals I have also been making other goodies to keep the little ones happy. So here are some great child pleasers for you to try.

First is ice cream and second is marshmallow. There is a link between them in that when making the ice cream I had left over egg whites and I remembered seeing a River Cottage recipe that uses them to make marshmallows.

 

 

Chocolate Orange Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 100 g 50% (or higher percentage) cocoa dark chocolate , broken into pieces
  • 300 ml full-fat milk
  • 85 g sugar
  • 5 free-range egg yolks
  • 300 ml whipping cream
  • Orange essence
  • Grated zest if 1 orange

What to do with all those bits….

  1. Put the chocolate pieces and milk in a heavy-based saucepan. Add a few drops of orange essence to taste and also pop the orange zest into this. Heat gently whilst stirring until smooth, then remove from the heat to cool.
  2. Beat the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl until pale and thick. Stir in the cooled chocolate milk mixture onto the egg and sugar mix (this is now called a custard). Cook the custard in the bowl over a pan of simmering water (cheffy term is a bain marie), stirring all the time, until it thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. Don’t allow the mixture boil or it will curdle. Pour into a bowl and leave to cool, stirring occasionally.
  3. Whip the cream into soft peaks, and then fold into the cooled chocolate mixture. Churn in an ice-cream machine, according to the manufacturer’s instructions (usually about 20-25 mins), until it’s frozen.

But then……..

If you are lucky enough to own a sous vide machine I found the ultimate fail proof method that gives you the most smooth ice cream with very little effort. So here we go! ….

Heat the machine to 80°C to start the process. Carry out the instructions above up to the end of number 2. Next add the cream but do not whip the cream but simply stir it gently into the chocolate mixture. Pour this mixture into a sous vide pouch. Remove as much air as possible and seal. Place the pouch into the machine and allow to cook for 1 hour. Occasionally give the pouch a small massage to give the mix. After an hour remove the pouch and immediately  place into a bowl of iced water (or place it under a tap of running cold water). When cooled pour into ice cream machine and churn for about twenty minutes.  Put into a container and place in your freezer. Remove half an hour before serving. Enjoy!

Marshmallow

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 2tbsp icing sugar
  • 2tbsp cornflour
  • 2 egg whites
  • 450g of caster sugar
  • 200ml of water
  • Vanilla essence to taste
  • 2 sachets of powdered glucose 

     

Oil a 20cm x  20cm baking tray. Mix together the icing sugar and cornflour together and use to dust the tray and tip out the excess but save for later use.

Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside. Put the sugar and water into a heavy based sauce pan and

Over a pan of simmering water place a bowl with 125ml of water and dissolve the gelatine in it.

.Place the sugar and water to a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to the boil. Keep cooking until the mixture hits 125°C,  add the gelatine (be careful as it may splutter a bit!)  and pour into a heatproof jug.

Turn the mixer back on and gently pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites whilst whisking continuously. Add a few drops of vanilla essence. Continue to whisk to allow the mixture to cool.

Pour the marshmallow into the tray and allow the mixture to level. Set aside in a cool place to set, BUT NOT IN THE FRIDGE !

Once set, dust a cutting board with the the icing and cornflour mix and cut with a knife into squares. You may need more sugar/flour mix to coat the cut edges. Put into an airtight container. Enjoy !!