Sunday 21 December 2014

Cheater’s Steak and Chips with Garlic Broccoli

Ever have one of those moments in the supermarket where you just decide… Hey, I deserve a steak! I’ll be damned if I know what the heck I think I did to deserve it, but it was on special so you can be sure I bought it.

Steak and chips holds a special place close to my heart. Namely my stomach. It’s the kind of thing that just naturally feels like you’re celebrating something. Like the universe has just said “Here you go champ. Have a slab of meat for your troubles”.

And for anyone who grew up with a parent trying their best to instil good eating habits, chips were always a treat.

Why I love broccoli so much… that might take a bit more imagination. But basically it all comes down to a little movie called The Land Before Time. If you’ve seen it, you might already know where I’m going with this. There’s a scene where a small grove of trees, full of leaves, is discovered by our hungry, herbivorous heroes. In moments, they see it descended upon by Long-Necks, who strip it bare before their eyes.

So, I, uhh… Liked to pretend that I was a gigantic Jurassic beast, and the broccoli was a hapless tree. And, I, uhh… Maybe still do from time to time.

Anyway! Put all those things together, (and add garlic, because of course you add garlic) and you get one of my favourite comfort meals. The only problem is, good chips take a bit of effort. As awesome as these fries are, chipping, soaking, drying, blanching, then deep-frying are not always what you’re in the mood for at the end of a long day. Even if you just go for those vaguely disappointing oven chips, they still always seem to take about half an hour to cook.

So I found a better way to do it, for when you just can’t wait to sink your teeth into a plateful of juicy steak and thick chips. And even better, the whole thing is done in just one pan! Minimal effort, minimal clean-up, and tasty as hell. Heck yes.

I can’t wait to get that meat in my mouth!

Thursday 11 December 2014

Brandy and Chilli Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ho-ly butt monkeys. Let me tell you, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I decided to make my own cookie recipe. Pfft, cookies? They have, what, 4 ingredients? Butter, sugar, flour and egg. How hard could it be to make the perfect cookie? Turns out, there’s like twenty variables. Butter temp, sugar colour, sugar crystal size, flour type, ratio of egg white to yolk, fridge time, oven temp, cooking time… you name it, it makes a freakin’ difference. Now I haven’t double checked my calculations on this one (or done any in the first place), but I’m fairly confident that there ends up being, like, a billion different possible combinations.

So, long story short, I may have just given myself diabetes this weekend.

But ’twas all for a good cause, for now I can present to thee… Fire Cookies! Sink your mind-teeth into these bad boys. They shouldn’t even be legal, because these sugary snacks are packin' heat! Plus, they’re like, totally not fit to drive. Brandy and chilli flakes, mixed with salted chocolate chips and toasty almond flakes. Slightly crispy edges, with a soft, chewy inside. Heck. Yes. Get festive on their asses eat those baked goods UP!

Seriously, the melty chocolate with the hint of chilli makes these the definition of perfection for cold winter evenings. There’s just enough heat in them to leave a tingle in your mouth, which has the magical effect of making you actually feel warmer. Plus the brandy makes them taste of Christmas.

But the best part? You can make them in the same amount of time as it takes to heat up the oven. No laborious creaming of butter, no chilling for hours in the fridge. Just mix, scoop and bake. That’s like, 20 minutes between the point that you realise you could really go for some cookies, and actually stuffing your face with them. Well, 25 minutes. Gotta let them cool first. Which, by the way, is honest to god the hardest part of the whole process…

You can call me Mister Cookie Monster.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Winter Warmers 3: Seafood, Asparagus and Fried Mushroom Risotto

This is the third in a series of three meals which are perfect for the cold winter months. The first two (Chicken Paprikás and Moules Frites) feed into this one by providing the ultimate stock, so you can try making all three in one week to get the most out of them. You can of course cook this dish with commercial stock, but where’s the fun in that?

You know how you cook rice by sticking the little grains in hot water, so they absorb it and get all fat? Risotto is basically the result of some genius saying “Hey, what if instead of absorbing water, they absorbed something that tastes a little less of absolutely nothing?”.

Today, we salute that genius by cooking rice in something that tastes of absolutely everything. Wine, vegetables, chicken, cream and seafood. Sound good?

Let’s make ‘em proud.

Monday 1 December 2014

Winter Warmers 2: Moules Frites - Creamy Mussels with the Crispiest French Fries

This is the second in a series of three meals which are perfect for the cold winter months. The first two feed into the third (this sexy Seafood Risotto) by providing the ultimate stock, so you can try making all three in one week to get the most out of them. The first recipe, Chicken Paprikás, is here.

This is like Fish ’n’ Chips taken to the nth degree. Shellfish ’n’ Chips! Now, you might associate a meal like this with lazy summer evenings by the seafront, but here’s three reasons why it makes a perfect winter dish.

One! There aren’t many things as enticing on a chilly day as a big, visibly steaming bowl of mussels. Two! Molluscs spend the warmer seasons, ahem… “gettin’ jiggy wit it” (for serious), so they’re all worn out from the exertion. In winter, they get fat and extra delicious. Three! Well… it’s tasty, innit? Comfort grub, like.

Unimpeachable logic. I’m sold!