Monday, 30 April 2012

Poncey Pork and Cider Beans

This french/west-country coalition, has taken a couple of efforts for me to get right, and there have been a few near disasters, but i feel last night it was finally nailed. Do not be fearful of it though, the final product is simple, impressive, and bloody tasty.

 Therefore i give you:- Roquefort stuffed pork fillet, wrapped in pancetta on butter beans leeks and cider.

The butter bean recipe can be adapted and used as an accompaniment for any meat really or as a vegetarian option of its own.

For the Pork
1 pork tenderloin fillet (this is the cut that looks suspiciously like Red Rum's pride and joy).
Roquefort (or dolcelatte cheese)
Pancetta (or smoked streaky bacon)
Sage (you shouldn't need to much as it has a very strong flavour)

Take the pork fillet, and remove the small bit of connective tissue (this is just the long white strand that will shrink when the pork cooks, so removing it will stop the fillet shrivelling up). 
With a small sharp knife make a slice down the length of the fillet and open up the fillet. Crumble a small amount of the blue cheese into the opened fillet. Lay on a couple of sage leaves (you could also use spinach) and reclose. 

Lay out the bacon on a chopping board so it covers the board. Close the pork fillet back up and roll it up in the bacon. Seal off the bacon covered fillet in a hot pan and place in an oven at about 180 for 10-15 mins.
Allow 2-3 minute to rest.

For the Beans
1 tin of butter beans (will do 2 people)
1 diced leek
1 clove of garlic diced
1 glass of dry cider or white wine.
Creme fraiche
Some diced pancetta (optional)

In a frying pan or sauce pan, soften off the leeks garlic and pancetta and plenty of black pepper. Once soft drain half the liquid from the butter beans then add them and the rest of the liquid. Add the alcohol and let it all cook down for about 10 mins on a medium heat. When the butter beans are nice and soft, and just before serving add a couple of tablespoons of the creme fraiche. The beans should have a decent amount of sauce to go with the pork so a separate sauce is not really needed.

Slice the whole pork fillet at an angle and place on top of the beans to serve.

N.B Be careful when seasoning this meal as there are some fairly salty ingredients (cheese/bacon) so season near the end.

Enjoy, and as always any picture of your inventions are most welcome. 
Once i have a decent camera on a phone that is able to do more than text, call and play Snake i will provide you with some pictures of my own (however much i hate amateur food porn).

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

A hungry man's burger

After reading the wonderfully composed review of Byron and their burgers, I wanted to give you some lovely burger recipes to have a go at yourself.

I have always been a fan of the versatility of mince, and making great home made burgers is an easy, cheap, and fun alternative to the usual chilli con carne or spag bol.

In this post i will show you my own basic burger recipe, and then also some little variations i like to do occasionally to really mix things up.

500g of beef mince (normally a large pack) the better the meat, the better the burger.
Half an Onion - as finely chopped as possible
1 clove of finely chopped or garlic
1 egg
1 tablespoon of mustard
Lots of salt and black pepper

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until the mixture is combined. To taste fry a small amount of the mixture in a hot pan. Adjust if needed, and then make the remaining mixture into burgers. I like quite thick burgers to get a slightly pink centre, but if you don't like that then make the patties a bit thinner. This will allow full cooking without burning the outside. If you have enough time, try and leave them in the fridge for an hour or so before cooking.
Cook on a BBQ/griddle/dry pan. Make sure these are all smoking hot before putting the burgers on to ensure the caramelisation of the meat. They will probably take about 5 mins on each side (for a thick burger).

Ahungryman's Burger Variations 

  1. Italian Burgers:
    1. Add some sliced and diced olives and sun-dried tomatoes a drop of olive oil and some freshly chopped basil to the mixture.
    2. It is possible to take a small bit of mozzarella and stuff it into the middle of the burger so you end up with a burger with a melting middle.
  2. Thai Burger
    1. Add a couple of teaspoons of thai green curry paste, and some chopped coriander to the mix.
  3. Moroccan Burger
    1. Substitute the beef mince for lamb.
    2. Throw in a handful of finely chopped mint and a tablespoon of cumin 

To be fair though the best thing about making burgers for me is the freedom to do whatever you want with them. Try ingredients that you like, leave out ones that you don't.
Can you create the ultimate burger? Challenge on.

If you think you have created the perfect burger send in a recipe and/or a picture to share the meaty love.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Byron Burger (various outlets) Review

"Pleasure is a sin, and sometimes sin is a pleasure."

Lord Byron said that. I'm sure you food fiends agree. However, now, nowadays, I find pleasure to be underrated, often undercooked, and sin to be overrated, overdone, perhaps. That's an unnatural balance. For, with lessening personal pleasure, a life of sin leads to others being the beneficiaries of your sinful pleasures. You're left with the shell, the wrapper, the guilt, the sin. How was your dinner out last night? It was ok. Ok but was it worth it? I suppose, yes. Yes but did you really enjoy it? I know who did: the celebrity chef whose name adorns the foot of your foot long receipt. Fair play to them. It’s your loss.

A typical "top end" London dining experience is filled with sin; primarily envy, greed and gluttony. The dish your partner ordered that you’d rather, an eye wateringly extortionate half-pound steak, the butter-duck-drip-fat-sugar-salt-fat-fat spoonfuls you shovel in to and around your sweating mouth: eating out in London is often a sin. And, like all sinful acts, it will likely leave you disappointed, self loathing, repentant. Sinning whilst dining isn't winning.

So, it is with some relish, that one occasionally discovers a dining experience that manages to successfully walk the taut rope between sin and pleasure. For if a sin retains its pleasure it is easier for it to be forgiven. With pleasure, one can repent. Forgive me. It was worth it.

Byron is one such experience. It is simple, clean, fun, friendly value. It is healthy (for human beings who like to eat food). It is almost everything that eating out should be. It is not many things that eating out often is. It is always good.

Vitally, for what is a burger vendor at heart, it is also versatile. I hungrily happened upon the Earl's Court branch in a hurry one Wednesday evening pre sport match. Twenty minutes and pounds later I was firmly fed and well watered. I've slothed away Sunday afternoon milkshaking in a Byron booth on High Street Ken. I've got on it before going out-out in South Ken with cold Peroni in colder plastic pitchers being endured/ enjoyed post burger. Whatever you want, whatever you like, take your choice, pay your money and Byron brings it. 

I have the Byron Burger but all the meat burgers are excellent and I'd recommend the quality Scottish sourced red meats over the leaner, drier chicken. The formula is simple with quality potato sides, the macaroni is decent and the salads are salads. You have to have a milkshake and Peroni is preferentially priced if it's that sort of siduation. If it's date night, drink good value wine for it does what wine should. Burgers and wine; she's feeling fine...

Happily, I have always been serviced by the friendliest of professionals. Think pre-brainwash prettier Pret people. It can be fast food or slow food. If you want it quick, they give it you quick with no fuss. If you want it slow, they'll happily take their time for you. Just ask, smile, they smile back and get on with it. Service isn’t included so tip tidily at the till.

Therefore, with pleasure, my Byron vibe is positively positive. Byron seems to want to be good at what it does. It wants to please, to provide, for all sorts of happy, hungry customers. They also show an interest and promotion for charitable activity around their operation. In this vice fuelled, sin ridden world that is no bad thing. Being good whilst eating good is good.

A concern would be that as the successful chain continues to expand the quality of their product inversely heads south. When I see evidence of this I’ll let you know. Until then, the point is moot. For now, I’ll continue to enjoy guilt free, great value Byron burgers. If eating out at Byron is a sin I will continue, with pleasure, to repent. Amen.


Monday, 16 April 2012

No-rice chorizo and pea risotto with crispy leeks

I am afraid you are going to have to trust me, but this is a cracking recipe and pretty impressive looking as well.

So this is made just like you would make a risotto but instead of rice, i use finely diced potatoes.

This will serve at least four more if you doing it as a starter.

Chorizo - diced in to1cm cubed squares
2 Leeks - both finely sliced
Glass of white wine
8 potatoes - peeled and diced into 1 cm cubes
Saucepan of good chicken/vegatable stock
1 clove of garlic - finely chopped
1 mug of frozen peas
1/4 of a mug of cream
Olive oil

Take the chorizo and fry until crispy in some olive oil. Remove the chorizo from the pan keeping as much as the oil as possible. Let the oil cool down a little bit before placing back on a medium heat and soften half the leeks and the garlic and either of the herbs (choose which-ever you prefer).

Once soft add the potatoes and stir. Cook for about 7 minutes until slightly translucent. Add the glass of wine. Now treat it just like a risotto add warm stock gradually until the potatoes are soft but still holding their shape) and the consistency is silky (this will take 20-30 mins). Add the chorizo, peas, and then when the peas are ready, just before serving add the cream and a knob of butter and stir in. Taste and season,

For the crispy leeks - take the rest of the finely sliced leeks. Place in a bowl and cover with cornflour and some salt (plain flour would work as well). Heat up a decent amount of vegetable oil in a frying pan and when hot add the leeks. (you can tell if its hot by adding one and seeing if it fizzles). Once they are crispy remove the leeks and place on a piece of kitchen towel.

Sprinkle the crispy leeks over the no-sotto and tuck in.

Zilometer - 9/10

Monday, 9 April 2012


Good day readers,
I have been asked by a certain “hungry man” to be a guest fish writer in this blog (because the primary author has allergies to all the best things in life; fish and shellfish).
After a rather hearty Easter, filled with Spring lamb, beef on the bone and robust wine, I thought it might be nice to take things down a notch or two and celebrate the “fruits de mer”. Thus I present a recipe for your culinary pleasure- my take on French mussels.
Many people fear buying mussels in the shops for two reasons- 1. The preparation is extensive compared to other meats. 2. Everyone is concerned about feeding people bad mussels. However if you follow a few simple rules, you cannot go wrong.

1) Preparation- The tools you require are running cold water (never soak your mussels in water- they will lose their lovely sea-salty flavour and then eventually die) and a blunt knife.
2) Tip all mussels into a bowl/colander and immediately discard any with broken shells. Keep any tightly closed mussels. Any mussels that are open, give them a firm tap on the work top; if they close they are keepers. Any mussels that remain open must be thrown away.

3) To de-beard the mussels you should grip the beard between thumb and blunt edge of the knife and pull gently but firmly away from the mussels hinge. If they have barnacles, do not scrape them with the knife (this will result in a black jus later on) instead just brush them with a soft sponge. If they don’t come off with a sponge, they won’t come off when you cook them.
4) Mussels do not keep! Aim to cook them on the day you buy them.
5) Everyone prepares their mussels in different ways, find the way you find most efficient and stick to it.
French mussels-(starter)
1 knob of Butter
Garlic 2 finely chopped cloves
2 glasses white wine (Never cook with a wine you wouldn’t drink, I like chardonnay for this recipe)
Mussels for 4 people
4 shallots
1 bundle of 4 bay leaves and 6 sprigs of thyme. (you don’t have to bundle them, I just find it easier to extract them for presentation)

3 to 4 tbsps of fresh chopped parsley (traditionally flat leaf but curly leaf would work too).
3 to 4 tbspns of whipping cream/double cream (single cream is too thin and will split)
Some good stiff French baguette bread

Heat a saucepan, and pour in the white wine and boil off the alcohol (only needs 45 seconds). Heat up a large saucepan and add the large knob of butter, shallots, garlic and the bundle of herbs. Stir until shallots are soft. Add wine and cover with the lid. When it looks to be getting all hot and steamy in there, it’s time to add the prepared mussels, recover with the lid and cook for 3 minutes only (any longer and the mussels will be rubbery and unappealing). Next add the cream and chopped parsley together, replace the lid, and give the pan a jolly good shake up, to make sure all the mussels are covered in the sauce.

This is a great way to impress friends and family as many people fear making mussels, when actually it’s not hard at all.
For variations, try mixing up ingredients from different continents. Let your instincts guide you and soon shallots can become lemon grass, pepper can become chilli, parsley can become coriander, double cream can become coconut milk.
Every seaside fishing town across the world has its own version of this very basic recipe, so come on, the world is your oyst........ mussel.

Next up... I got sole, but I'm not a soldier.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

I am a big fan of soup. They are easy to prepare, and you can make bucket loads and freeze it. This one is slightly more time consuming than some simpler soups but still easy enough. It should have an lovely silky texture.

1 Butternut squash halved vertically
1 Onion - chopped
1 clove of Garlic - smashed
Chilli flakes - 1 tablespoon
Cumin - 1 teaspoon
Chicken (or vegetable) stock
Milk or cream

Having halved the squash in its skin, remove the pips and score the squash. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the chilli flakes and cumin over each half and drizzle with oil. Place on a baking tray and put in the oven for about 45 mins at 180 degrees. (Make sure the squash is soft before taking it out).

The squash should now be easy to peel so just pull of the skin.

In a large saucepan gently fry the onion and garlic in a mix of butter and oil (the oil stops the butter burning) until soft. Add the squash to the pan and stir so the squash soaks up the goodness. Add enough stock so that it just covers the squash. Leave for a few minutes and then using some form of blender blend the soup. Add a small amount of cream or milk about a shot glass. Season and serve. Boom

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Slow Roast North African Lamb

This is a dish i tried the other day having seen lots of slow roasts recently. It seems a very 'in' thing to do these days, as the days of having all meat blood red seem to be fading. It does require time in the oven but the prep time is nothing. The recipe is the spices i used but this is just a basis, it is up to you to choose what spices you like.
I used a leg of lamb for this but i actually think a shoulder would be as good if not better.

Lamb joint (with bone in) - 1kg will feed about 4 big eaters.
Mix of spices: cumin (seed or power), cinnamon, garam masala, cayenne pepper, dried chilli flakes - 2 teaspoons of each should be fine (as i said you can try any mix)
Lime - juice and zest
Tomato puree -  1 table spoon
Olive oil - 3 tablespoons
Garlic - Sliced
Salt and pepper

Mix all the ingredients into a bowl (apart from the lamb). Stab the lamb with a knife in a few places and push some slices of garlic into each hole. Rub the mix over the lamb (getting in real deep boy), and, if possible leave for about 30 mins.

Place the lamb in a roasting tray, cover in foil and place in the oven for at least 3 hours at 140 degrees. Check about every 30 mins and if it begins to look dry baste and put some oil/water/wine over the meat. After 3 hrs take the foil off and cook for another 1hr.

After cooking remove the lamb from the oven and leave covered in foil for about 15 mins to rest. The joint shouldn't need carving just tearing with a couple of forks. Cover in chopped coriander and squeeze a lime over the top.

You can serve this with anything but some simple couscous and some yoghurt is perfect.

Zilometer - 8/10

Sunday, 1 April 2012

French Meal for 2 for under 20 quid

Well this is my first request on this blog, and a great challenge it is too. A french meal for 2 with wine and cheese for under 20 quid.
I am going to assume a few "store-cuboard" staples (*) so i apologise if you do not have these items in the house. 

OK so a Brief overview of the Menu - I will provide a link to a Tesco shop i have done to show the cost of this meal.

Caramelised red onion and goats cheese tart

Slow roast duck legs with dauphinoise potatoes

Poached Pears with Chantilly Cream


2 red onions  - Finely sliced
2 Cloves of garlic - Smashed*
3-5 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar*
2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar*
Salt and pepper*
Ready rolled puff pastry
Decent knob of butter*
Goats cheese

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onions and the garlic and gently soften the onions for about 10-15 minutes. Once they are soft add the sugar to the onions and then the balsamic vinegar and thyme and let cook until sharp and sticky. Season and taste, if you think the onions need more sweetness or vinegar then add a little extra. Remove the garlic.

Lay out the pastry and give it 5 minutes in the oven at 180 degrees. After 5 mins remove from the oven and put the onions on the pastry, crumble the goats cheese over the top and place back in the oven for 15-20 mins until the pastry is puffy and crispy.

n.b, The pastry onions and goats cheese can all be pre-pared then popped in the oven 15 mins before serving.

I hate it when people tell you how to serve things so i will let you be the judge of that.


Duck and Sauce
2 Duck legs - skin on
1 Orange
Beef/lamb stock
1 clove of Garlic - smashed

Double cream - 250ml
Milk* - 250ml

Take your duck legs and season them with salt and pepper, place them in a roasting tray and cover with foil and place in the oven at about 140 degrees for 1hr 30 mins. Remove the foil and any excess fat, turn up the oven to 220 and cook for another 25 mins. The meat should fall of the bone and the skin should be lovely and crispy. 

For the potatoes - peel them and then slice them as finely as possible (like a crisp) sometimes the long slot on the grater works well. Rub garlic over an ovenproof dish (individual ramekins are nice too) and place a layer of potatoes on the bottom. Having mixed the cream and milk poor over the potatoes continue to do this layering techniques until the dish is full. Place in the oven at 180-200 for at least an hour. See if a knife goes through the potatoes easily and if not place back in the oven. Different thickness of potatoes will take different amounts of time to cook.

For the Sauce - Take a smashed clove of garlic and soften in the pan. Add a glass of red wine and the juice of an orange with half the zest and a couple of twigs of thyme, add 100 mls of stock and let it reduce down to a sticky sauce.

Poached Pears With Chantilly Cream

A lovely light dessert after a relatively heavy first 2 courses.

2 Pears peeled but whole - (comice are probably the best)
Water - 1L
Caster Sugar* - 300g
Cinnamon Sitck*
Knob of ginger

Whipping Cream 
Icing Sugar*

In a sauce pan boil the water and sugar until the sugar has dissolved, add the spices and pears and cook for 30 minutes, or until the pears are soft and cooked through.
Let the pears cool in the liquid.

Chantilly cream - Whip up some cream add icing sugar until it is sweet enough for your taste, add vanilla extract/pod if you have any in.

Recommended Wine
Wine on a budget means only 1 thing for me. AUSTRALIAN SHIRAZ. Any will do it has big flavours (and big alcohol content) and should stand up well with all these courses. I have included a McGuigan GOLD Shiraz at 7.99 which is very nice and will certainly do the trick. But to be honest with Shiraz you don't even have to pay this much.

And that will go perfectly with any remaining Goats cheese you have left.

Total Price: 18.39

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