Keep Calm and Cook on – Banoffee Pie

Food, Lifestyle, Opinion, Recipes

Banoffee pie is one of those desserts that can be executed so bloody awful that it puts you off a slice for life. Plasticky squirty cream, Dry pre-made shortcrust pastry bases, and my personal worst nightmare, the deconstructed versions that tend to crop up at “cool” gastropubs. Done right? It’s a gloriously indulgent, American style pud that makes your teeth ache but still has you raiding the fridge for another slice before bed.

In my family, it’s the thing we all gun for at a party, it’s the pudding that we sneak out of the fridge before someone else steals the last slice, but, on one condition, Mam’s got to have made it. Banoffee Pie is admittedly 90% assembly and 10% cooking but ask anyone that has tried my Mam’s Banoffee Pie and they will tell you, it’s the best you’ll ever have. She frequently has to assemble two, because none of us can possibly only have one slice. That is unless Uncle Mark is around. If Mark is around then you have zero chance of a second slice, that is unless you fancy losing a finger.

For me, it’s a dessert that will forever remind me of my family, one that both sides absolutely adore. The sight of tins of boiled condensed milk on the kitchen counter will forever be one of my favourite sights and fighting my brother off to clean the tin of toffee with my Mam shouting at us to get out of the kitchen will forever be one of my favourite (and most dangerous) memories.

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Banoffee Pie

  • Roughly half a pack of digestive biscuits
  • 125g salted butter, melted
  • 1 tin of condensed milk
  • 275ml of double cream
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp of instant coffee
  • 3-4 ripe bananas
  • 1 Dairy Milk Flake

The first bit of this recipe is the best bit, the best option is to do this step the day before you need the dessert, that way the toffee has adequate time to cool. Pop your tin of condensed milk, still sealed in the tin, into a deep pan of cold water making sure the top is covered. Bring to a light boil. Leave it that way for 4 hours,  just checking in between that the tin remains submerged in water. Once the time is up, let the tins sit in the water until cool.

Do not let the pan boil dry. I have fond memories of my Nan and Mum scrubbing toffee of my Auntie Donna’s very pristine, white kitchen walls/ceilings. I don’t suggest it as a decorating technique.

In the meantime, shove the digestives into a sandwich bag and smash them into a fine crumb with the help of a sturdy rolling pin. yes, you could use a food processor but this is much more fun. Empty the biscuit crumb into a bowl before pouring in all of your melted butter. Mix. Your biscuit should be visibly coated in butter but not too wet. Grab a flan tin/cake tin, whatever you have really and pour the biscuit mix in. Press it down to create a level and compact buttery biscuit base. Refrigerate this for at least an hour.

Open up your tin of cooled and now deliciously sticky condensed milk toffee. The result should be a medium/dark golden brown toffee. Scrape the contents out onto the biscuit base and level out. Grab a teaspoon and eat the remnants of toffee straight out of the tin. Chefs prerogative. Pop your cream into a separate bowl along with a tsp of caster sugar and a tsp of coffee granules. Whisk until it forms into stiff peaks.

Chop your bananas into circles around 1cm thick and place onto your toffee layer. Then top with the cream. Finally, crumble the Flake over the top, half of it at least, the other half can be for the Chef.

Finally, refrigerate, half-hour will do.

Best enjoyed quickly and in a secret spot, family members become very aggressive when Bannoffe pie is on the line.

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Keep Calm and Cook On – Mushty Egg Sandwiches

Food, Lifestyle, Opinion, Recipes

In the midst of the global COVID-19 madness, something odd seems to be happening. Ask many of us six months ago what we do in our spare time when at home and the answer would be Netflix and chill or lying on the sofa scrolling through our phones. Then, in what still seems like some kind of awful dream the UK was put into lockdown and many of us stepped away from our usual permanent state of comatose fixation in our devices. Instead, We have picked up mixing bowls, started growing sourdough starters, slow-cooked cheap cuts of meat and took utter pride in sharing photos of our seasonal veg boxes.

An odd sort of wartime spirit has fought through and food seems to be at the helm of it. It got me thinking about the comfort that food brings, both subconsciously and consciously. The circumstances outside our doors are so uncontrollable right now but that fresh tomato soup on your stove will be comforting and delicious regardless, the big wedge of farmhouse white bread and raspberry jam will remind you of being in your Nan’s kitchen as a child and bring you a moment of solace and, yes, that banana bread WILL make you feel bloody amazing when it comes out of the oven because you baked something and it is absolute perfection to you, regardless of any flaws.

So, I want to share some recipes, and the stories behind them, that bring those tiny moments of bliss to me and hopefully to you. I hope this brings you a little moment of nostalgia in this crazy world and gets you cooking recipes that mean something, even if only to you.

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Egg Sandwiches

Everyone has a sandwich that brings them nothing but pure unadulterated joy. It’s usually something simple; thick slices of cheddar cheese with red onion, tuna straight from the can, mixed with a big blob of mayo, pre-sliced breaded ham stacked so thick you basically use an entire pack to yourself.

Mine is the good old-fashioned egg sandwich. Boiled to be exact, although I am also partial to a fried egg bap. A boiled egg sandwich though, always remind me of my Dad. He fondly calls them “Mushty egg” sandwiches because he boils the egg and then “mushes” them up with salad cream (his choice) or mayo (my choice) then plenty of salt and pepper. They remind me of being at home with him. Admittedly, he does wheel out these sarnies at every family event he can but mainly it reminds me of watching Formula One on a Sunday with him, Mam would be cooking Sunday Lunch but we’d be ‘starving’ by midday so he’d make us sandwiches. Let me add, that is the only ‘cooking’ he has ever done, But, he does it well so I would never complain.

Recipe

Makes 1

  • Slices of medium-thick soft white bread. (Nothing with too hard of a crust)
  • Two room-temperature eggs.
  • Hellman’s mayonnaise (my choice).
  • Salt.
  • Black Pepper.

Use whatever white bread you have. Dad usually would use the white packaged variety and that works just bloody lovely, there is nothing wrong with a slice of Mother’s Pride. Place two room-temperature eggs into a saucepan of cool water. Bring it to a heavy simmer. Once simmering set a timer for 7 minutes. When your timer is up, plunge the eggs into cold water for a minute or two then peel. Pop the eggs into a bowl and mash them into small chunks with a fork (or an egg masher if you’re fancy). Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper and finally a big blob of Hellman’s mayonnaise. Mix to combine lightly. Spread a thin layer of mayo over both pieces of your bread and grind a bit of black pepper onto them. Stuff all of the “mushty egg” onto the bread and assemble your sandwich. Finally cut into two triangle pieces. Everything tastes better in triangles.

Enjoy preferably whilst watching reruns of the 2015 Grand Prix.

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Recipe – Korean Fried Chicken Bao Buns with Pickled Courgette

Food, Recipes

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As a self-confessed bao bun addict, I was beside myself with excitement when M&S started selling their ready-made baos. Just over a minute in the microwave and you have perfect fluffy buns ready to be stuffed with whichever glutinous filling you set your little heart on.

If your creative juices aren’t flowing then this crisp, sticky fried chicken is not only super easy to make, its also incredibly tasty.

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Ingredients

For the chicken
  • 6 chicken thigh fillets (skin removed)
  • 1 thumb size piece of ginger, grated
  • 100g cornflour
  • Vegetable oil
For the sauce
  • 3 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp kimchi paste (Korean chilli paste)
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp finely chopped or grated garlic (roughly 2/3 cloves)
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
For the pickled courgettes
  • 1 medium-sized courgette
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 30ml rice wine vinegar
  • 50ml boiling water
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • Pinch of salt
Extras
  • Pack of 6 bao buns (Follow instructions on the pack to prep)
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced lengthways
  • Half a cucumber, finely sliced lengthways
  • 1 fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce (or a tsp of kimchi paste)
  • Chopped peanuts

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Method

1.Start with your courgette pickle. Peel your courgette into ribbons and place to one side. In a small mixing bowl add the ground turmeric, salt, sugar and boiling water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved completely. Once dissolved add the rice wine vinegar and mix again. Now add the courgette ribbons and stir to cover. Place in the fridge until ready to serve.

2.Grab a small saucepan and place on a medium/low heat. Add all of the ingredients that you need for your sauce and stir until sticky and simmering gently. Take your sauce off the heat and place the pan to one side.

3.Cut the chicken thigh fillets in half and remove any fatty excess. Then season with salt, pepper and the grated ginger. Pour the cornflour onto a plate and one by one toss the chicken thighs in the flour until completely coated. Shake off any excess.

4.Heat about 2-3cm of vegetable oil in a wide-based frying pan. Use a small piece of fat (removed from the chicken) to check when the oil is hot. If the oil starts to bubble up around it then you are ready to cook your chicken. Fry the chicken thighs on each side for around 4 minutes until golden. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan. I recommend frying in batches.

5.Remove the thighs from the oil once cooked and place onto some kitchen paper to cool for a few minutes – Leaving the oil on the heat. Then place the chicken back into the hot oil and fry until extra crisp. Again, removing and placing onto kitchen paper to cool.

6.Reheat the sauce on low until warm and sticky. Add the fried chicken to the sauce and stir gently until evenly coated. Sprinkle a generous tbsp of sesame seeds in the pan and shake to cover.

7.Now time to build your baos! Mix the mayo and tsp of Sriracha together and put a dollop in each bao followed by a few sticks of spring onion and cucumber. Now for the main event, grab a piece of your sticky fried chicken to nestle in there and finally top your bao with toppings of your choice. Chopped peanuts and fresh chilli are my favourites.

8.Serve your beautiful baos with a nice little heap of courgette pickle and a cold beer. Well, that last bit is up to you…

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Recipe – The Ultimate Hangover Cure Sandwich

Recipes

Picture the scene. Hair matted, the ends sticky and tangled with some sort of sugary cocktail, I’m wearing last nights skirt around my waist and a manky old Rolling stones top, there is an untouched glass of water on my bedside table and a crumpled pile of receipts. It’s the hangover from hell. It’s the type of hangover that only a grease fuelled takeaway will solve. Well, that, or my breakfast sandwich. I use the word ‘my’ loosely because I have definitely kind of stole the basis of this idea from Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings recipe book. We are essentially the same person though so it’s fine.

This is the kind of breakfast sandwich that when you bite into it you end up with egg yolk and sriracha sauce all down your My Little Pony pajamas but just don’t give a damn. I guarantee you it will 100% sort your hangover though and you’ll be back to your fine self before you know it.

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Ingredients

For the patties:

  • 500g Pork mince
  • 2 tsp ground sage
  • 2 grated garlic cloves
  • 1½ tsp of sea salt
  • 1½ tsp of ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • ½ grated white onion

For the hashbrowns:

  • 1 large white potato (Think big jacket potato size)
  • Small knob of melted butter (About 50g)
  • ½ tsp of sea salt
  • ½ tsp of ground black pepper
  • Drizzle of vegetable oil for cooking

To finish off the sandwiches:

  • English Muffins x 4
  • American cheese slices
  • A generous squirt of Sriracha (optional)
  • Eggs

Method:

  1. Grab a bowl large enough to make your pork patties in. Add all of the ingredients for your patties and mix until incorporated. Add a drizzle of vegetable oil to help this process along. Once you are happy the ingredients are incorporated form the mix into approx 6-8 patties (depending on how big you want them)
  2. Put your patties to one side and begin grating your potato into a separate bowl. Don’t bother peeling. This is a no-nonsense recipe. Add the melted butter and seasoning to your grated potato and mix.
  3. Heat two frying pans to medium-high and add a touch of oil to each. Once the oil is sizzling, add your patties to one pan and press down slightly. These will take approx 4 minutes on each side to cook. Flip them so that you get that nice golden brown finish. Add your grated potato to the other pan and spread it out slightly so that it covers the bottom of the pan evenly. This is going to take about the same time as the patties, 4 minutes each side.
  4. Whilst everything is cooking, lightly toast your muffins and yes, we want our muffins buttered. Drizzle a bit of sriracha over the bottom of the muffins and add a slice of the American cheese to each.
  5. Remove your patties from the heat and start stacking them on your muffins. Use that same pan to fry up a few eggs, 1 for each sandwich. Whilst your eggs are sizzling away cut a few pieces of your giant hashbrown and layer it on top of your pork patties. Finally, top off with the fried egg and another squirt of sriracha.

Best served with: A large glass of cold water and Sex and the City re-runs. Enjoy hot and swiftly followed by a power nap.