Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Wild Garlic Quiche

 It is the season of Wild Garlic, a lovely food season where people (like me) can pretend to be scouring the wild for their tea and returning home victorious to a well earned pint after a hard day's searching, foraging and gathering.
I may have exaggerated a little there as I am quite fortunate to know of a good stash of wild garlic a mere 2 minutes walk from the OH's flat, but hey when finding food in the wild (local park) it's something to be slightly pleased about.

Anyway, it's a relatively simple plant to find. It grows like wildfire and it has very nice and edible little white flowers attached to it. It also has a very distinctive strong smell and chances are you will smell it before you see it. There is about a month left of the season so you still have plenty of time to find some.
 As well as obtaining some wild garlic, the kind folks at Barber's 1833 recently sent me some of their excellent cheddar to sample. Matured for at least 2 years, it is a delicious cheese with a rich taste that only comes from decent cheese that has had time to develop its flavour.

Pondering what to make with it (before I ate it all) I did think about making a classic rarebit but with spring in the air and the clocks going forward, I only had one option and I had to make the first quiche of the year.

Using a standard quiche base of eggs cream and milk, I grated a good chunk of cheddar in, alongside sliced up wild garlic leaves. I also added nutmeg to the pastry to liven it up a bit. The end result was delicious, cheesy, creamy quiche with the cheese balancing well with the wild garlic and not getting completely drowned out, a perfect spring time treat.

200g plain flour
100g butter
1 egg yolk
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

100g Chedder Cheese, grated
8-10 leaves of Wild Garlic, rolled into a cigar then finely sliced
150ml double cream
100ml milk
4 eggs
1 tsp nutmeg
Salt and pepper

You will need a 20cm fluted, loose based tart tin

Add the butter to the flour and rub together until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
add the water and stir with a knife to combine, then knead together quickly to combine until a soft dough.Wrap tightly in clingfilm and leave in fridge for at least half n hour.
Get two sheets of cling film, spread one across the work surface, place each mound of dough in the middle and spread the other sheet over the top. Roll out gently in between the two sheets of cling film (this method stops any excess flour being added to the pastry and drying it out). Remove the top layer and using the bottom layer drape the pastry gently into the tin and press gently into all edges. 

With a rolling pin, roll it over the top of the tart tin to take off the edge.  
Prick the base with a fork to stop it from rising in the oven. Return to the fridge. 
Preheat the oven to 180C and place a baking tray in the oven to heat up.

Push up the edges of the pastry slightly to compensate for shrinkage.
Bake blind for 15 minutes then for a further 15 minutes normally to dry out and bake the base.
Once baked, brush the base with egg white to create a seal.
Lower the oven temperature to 150C

In a bowl, mix the eggs, milk, cream and nutmeg until fully combined. Season to taste.
Stir in the cheese and wild garlic and pour into the tart casing.
Bake at 150C for 30 - 40 minutes until slightly golden.
Allow to cool before serving.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Amazing Graze

Yesterday was the start of the second annual music and street food festival held in of all places, a church.
Run by the food heroes of Manjit's Kitchen, Amazing Graze is a collection of great street food, quality beer and an eclectic mix of musical acts, ranging from DJ sets to HipHop to Acapella. It is running today as well so still time to get yourself down there.

We were there for a good few hours merrily drinking and eating away a pleasant Saturday afternoon (with a brief interlude to shout at a certain horse race results). The street food itself, ranged from the usual pulled pork and paella to something a bit more adventurous from the makers of Leeds finest breakfast, The Greedy Pig.

The Pig, having escaped from their usual little cafe, had on a 6 option tapas menu, using all the parts of an animal that usually get neglected.

Naturally I had to try them all and between me and the OH we ordered the lot. The OH went for a terrine, meatballs and Ox heart kebab.
I went for the Ox heart kebab, thick chunks of tender spiced heart, griddled to perfection.
Scotch Quail eggs, quail eggs wrapped in sausage meat and liver and finally one of the finest pieces of offal I have ever tried with the Ox Tongue Taco, thinly sliced spiced tongue with salsa, curd cheese and pumpkin seed.
After a few hours and a few beers, the final tapas arrived with Stu from the cafe in the form of Black Pudding wontons, a product so simple but so good, crispy wonton pastry with a black pudding filling served with sweet and sour onions. Superb.

Having digested a bit, I decided to opt for a relative newcomer to the street food scene, Banh mi Booth, their van is still currently being built but this hasn't affected the food, with them offering an excellent selection of Vietnamese sandwiches (banh mi) and noodle dishes. I went for the pork and received a very large sandwich filled with pork, vegetables, herbs, chillis and a fried egg to put the final nail in the food coma.

After a few more beers, we decided to call it a day and headed back to town but not before getting an ice cream (caramelised banana sorbet (left) and golden syrup (right)) for the road from the always excellent Gingers Comfort Emporium.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Flapjack with Dark Chocolate and Raspberry

 It has been a very busy week at work and is only likely to get busier as it is approaching that delightful time in the academic year known as coursework/exam season. Roll on the 11th June when it will all be over but until then we have to power through. To aid this, I decided to go a bit old school and make a baking classic, a good old flapjack.

Never underestimate the wonder of a well made flapjack, Golden buttery oats that are sweet, crunchy and chewy that can be eaten on the go or lazily with a cup of tea and your feet up, glorious.

A good flapjack should consist of 50% porridge oats with the rest made up of equal quantities of proper butter, sticky golden syrup and golden caster sugar. Various dried fruits can be added but these are strictly optional as is my final ingredient.

Now the flapjack is wonderful on it's own but it's even better with chocolate, but it has to be dark... milk is too sweet and white...well lets not go there.

I picked up a bar of Divine's Dark Chocolate with Raspberries to go on top, it's a delightful chocolate with little tangy bits of raspberry in it which go really well in cutting through sweet flapjack and bitter chocolate.

450g Oats
150g Butter
150g golden caster Sugar
150g Golden syrup

1 bar of Dark chocolate with raspberries (if using)

Line your chosen baking tin, I used a 23cm Pie dish, about an inch deep.
Weigh out the oats into a bowl.
Add the butter, sugar and syrup to a pan and then melt and stir gently until fully combined and a lovely golden liquid is created.
Pour in the oats and stir well until all oats are coated.
Pour into the tray and flatten down and smooth over with the back of a spoon.
Bake for 30 minutes at 150C until golden on top
Allow to cool
Melt the chocolate gently in a bowl over a pan of simmering water then drizzle over the flapjack as you see fit.
Serve and enjoy.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Creme Egg Brownies

I am a broken man this weekend. My very soul has been shattered and my liver has packed its bags and gone on holiday in protest. Yes, I drank a little too much alcohol combined with a lack of food and now I'm suffering for it.
Don't worry though, I am on the mend, assisted by these little beauties, which I made today.
I have been wanting to make creme egg brownies for an age, yes they are all over the place but I worship at the alter of the creme egg and combined with a gooey sticky brownie then its all good my friends.

The recipe I used is adapted from Lorraine Pascale's Oreo brownies which has served me well in the past, obviously this time I omitted the Oreo's in favour of the creme egg.

Creme egg brownies
165g Butter
200g Dark Chocolate, broken up.
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
165g light brown soft sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the chocolate, set aside and allow to melt, stirring occasionally until fully combined.
Whisk the eggs with the vanilla until light and fluffy
add the sugar to the side of the bowl in two goes, whisk between each addition.
Pour in the chocolate and fold in gently.
Fold in the flour, salt and cocoa.
Pour into a lined tin, I used a large pie tin but a standard 20cm square baking tin will suffice.
Slice the creme eggs into halves or quarters and arrange over the top.
Bake in a preheated oven for 25 minutes at 170C (fan)

Allow to cool slightly then use the baking sheet to lift it out to cool completely.
Serve and enjoy.

I can already feel my soul healing... until next weekend.

Thursday, 27 February 2014


Last week Me and the OH went off on one of our food tours across the country, usually our destination is London but instead to break from tradition we headed North to our second favourite city, Edinburgh. Now when we go on holiday or go anywhere in fact, it is all about where we eat and drink, I tend to plan this very far in advance and then read menus up until the day we go. This post is about what we got up to and the excellent things we had to eat
The Hanging Bat

A new find and a lovely craft beer and gin bar. Below is the epic beef po'boy sandwich with mac and cheese and burnt beans and chorizo

The Bow bar/Queens Arms
Two of the finest whisky bars in Edinburgh. Many many whiskies were drunk.

Bramble Bar
Another new place, cracking well priced cocktail bar in a hidden location. If you find the laundrette, you've found it.


Vesper Martini

The Dogs

This place is amazing, simple food done incredibly well without fuss. plenty of offal for the more adventurous but 'safe options if you ain't, also one of the waiters reminds us of Richard o'Brien from Crystal Maze.

Devilled Ox liver, onions bacon and mushrooms

Pork belly with Skirlie (oatmeal, liver and kidney)

The Kitchin
A return visit to arguably Scotland's finest restaurant. This wasn't on the original plan having previously visited, but my dad was joining us for the day and there was no where else I'd rather take him. The lunch menu is a bargain, 3 course plus appetiser and bread for £28. I ordered a second pudding because I'm greedy and like puddings.

Pheasant Jelly with quail egg and Confit pheasant leg

Bouillabaisse with mussel and cod cheeks
Ox Leg with cannelloni of ox tongue and vegetables
1st Pudding - Pistachio Souffle
2nd pudding - Vanilla cheesecake with Yorkshire rhubarb

Circle Cafe
Epic breakfast at Circle Cafe

Under the Stairs
Another 'hidden away bar' serving one of the best meat and cheese boards I've seen.

Castle Terrace
Our final meal in Edinburgh, the sister restaurant to The Kitchin run by Dominic Jack.
We were very impressed with this place and it gave me the dish of the week with the absolutely stunning pork dish below, I've never eaten a pork dish as good. This was again £28 for 3 courses.

Manhattan (not much of a wine drinker, me)

Tartare of Gurnard with Yorkshire rhubarb

Selection of Pork with Apple
The selection: Pork fillet, Pork cheek, Breaded trotter, Pork belly, Bacon, Black pudding and Chorzio. Unbelievable value for a set lunch option. I would have happily paid £28 for this alone.
Creme Brulee

Mini Cheese course
Petit Fours

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Salted Chocolate Lime Mousse

One month I will not leave these blogger challenges to the last minute. I have had this recipe picked out since the start of the month with plenty of free weekends to carry it out in a leisurely manner but instead I end up cooking it right before the deadline, I'll never learn.

This month at Belleau Kitchen HQ our Lord Commander of Random Recipes as teamed up with Choclette over at Chocolate Log Blog with the always excellent We Should Cocoa blogger challenge. So as you can probably figure it out, this months challenge is a random chocolate challenge.

Also, the monthly Tea Time Treats Challenge, hosted by Karen and Janie and in residence this month at Karen's stunning blog; Lavender and Lovage has the theme of Chocolate, so I am entering this recipe to that as well. 3 birds with one stone if you will.

The book I chose is not random but it is a book I have not yet used and it is Our Hugh's River Cottage Fruit Everyday, the follow up to the brilliant Veg Everyday. The recipe I randomly chose was a Salted Chocolate lime mousse.

I was very pleased to land on this for a few reasons. I have never made a mousse before and I am keen to give it ago and the fact that it was salted chocolate was the other reason.

Salted chocolate is not a new thing, it's been around awhile but it is a fascinating piece of food science in which the actual salt does not make it salty (unless you pour it on) but instead suppresses the bitter notes of the chocolate and enhances the sweet notes, good eh?

The recipe itself was very simple but make sure you have three bowls ready as scrambling (not even sorry for that pun) around for a bowl whilst holding an egg yolk is a bit tricky. The end result was a bit unexpected and I think I may have gone wrong at some point, the picture in the book shows a dark chocolate mousse but as you can see, mine looks a bit different. Anybody got any tips?

The mousse, aesthetic qualities aside, was lovely, light and fluffy, very chocolaty combined with tangy lime. Rich but refreshing in a strange way.

The recipe is available here on the Guardian website, about halfway down, if you fancy giving it a go.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties

Last Saturday, the 25th January, was the annual Scottish celebration of the poet and master wordsmith Robert 'Rabbie' Burns. Usually this event passes me and the OH by and we barely make any effort to join in the celebrations. It is a pity really considering the festival itself, whilst being a celebration of a Scottish writer, it mainly revolves around food, namely the noble Haggis.

Now the haggis, has got an interesting reputation, you either love it or you are immediately repulsed by the thought of it, with its use of offal as it's main ingredients. I was once in the latter camp until I tried a bit many years ago now at the Good Food Show and oh was it delicious.

Fast forward to last week and after seeing some lovely posts on blogs I read namely; Belleau Kitchen's Chicken Thighs & Haggis and Janice's at Farmers Girl Kitchen's excellent pie, I was determined to not let it slide by for another year especially as it would get me right in the mood for a trip to Edinburgh in a couple of weeks.

We couldn't attend a couple of Burns Night events that we wanted to at the weekend due to work and a visit to one of our favourite Leeds Supper clubs on the Saturday night.

So on Saturday we had a 'little' toast to Robert Burns in North Bar with an excellent pint of  Pale Ale from the Scottish brewery, Alchemy. We rounded this off with a wee dram of a very peaty Whisky from Adberg Distillery, which the OH practically downed in an effort 'to get it over and done with'.....

...and on Sunday, I cooked my very first haggis and served it up in the traditional way with Neeps (what we call swedes, combined with carrots for colour), Tatties and onion gravy.

A fine way to toast a fine poet if you ask me.