Monday, 24 October 2011

Hummust Try This!

Sorry, I just can't help myself sometimes, cheesy headlines make me happy!

Anyway, I popped a picture of this home-made hummus on Twitter last night and there was a very positive response, so I thought I'd pop it on the blog for you.

Here we go!

Harissa-Spiked Hummus
Equipment needed:
Small frying pan
Pestle & mortar
Food processor
Flexible spatula
Measuring spoons
Micro whisk/fork
Chopstick
Serving bowl
Large plate

Ingredients:
One can of chickpeas
Good, grassy olive oil
Tahini (sesame paste)
2 tbsp Cider vinegar (or you could use pomegranate molasses and dispense with sugar/nectar below)
2tbsp cumin seeds, freshly toasted & ground
Juice of a lime
Garlic (preferably roasted but not necessary)
1tsp Sugar/agave nectar
Salt & & freshly-ground pepper

For topping:
A few reserved chickpeas
Harissa paste let down with some olive oil
Toasted sesame seeds
Bit of green herb or some micro herbs or something pretty!

To serve:
A large, thin flatbread
Crudités

Method:

  1. Drain and rinse your chickpeas
  2. Pop in food processor with the garlic clove and a splash of water
  3. Start blitzing for 30 seconds or so
  4. Then add cumin, lime juice, sugar/nectar and tahini - blitz a bit more
  5. Start adding olive oil very slowly so it emulsifies & becomes smooth
  6. Taste for seasoning & acidity, add vinegar and salt as needed, it generally takes quite a bit of salt
  7. Once you've blitzed in your balancing flavours, use your flexible spatula to scrape hummus out into serving bowl and smooth the top
  8. Using your chopstick, drag a quite deep swirl pattern in the top of the the hummus
  9. Whisk together your harissa with a splash of olive oil and carefully pour into the swirl pattern
  10. Place chickpeas on top, garnish with whatever you're using and then sprinkle from a height with the sesame seeds
  11. Crumple your flat bread and place on a plate then pop hummus in the middle of it and serve crudités on the side or sprinkled on the bread
Suggested beer match:

I actually was drinking a lovely NZ Villa Maria Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2010 to toast the Kiwi team's world cup win. With its huge gooseberry and elderflower notes it really reminded me of Oakham Citra, so that's my recommendation! Cheers and enjoy.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Something a Bit Silly!


I don't care if this is true or not, it's an entertaining thought! 
If you had purchased £1,000 of shares in Delta Airlines one year ago, you would have £49.00 today. 

If you had purchased £1,000 of shares in AIG one year ago, you would have £33.00 today.

If you had purchased £1,000 of shares in Lehman Brothers one year ago, you would have £0.00 today.

But, if you had purchased £1,000 worth of beer one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the aluminium cans for recycling refund, you would have received a £214.00.

Based on the above, the best current investment plan is to drink heavily & recycle.

A recent study found that the average Briton walks about 900 miles a year.
Another study found that Britons drink, on average, 22 gallons of alcohol a year. That means that, on average, Britons get about 41 miles to the gallon!

Makes you proud to be British, doesn't it?

(thanks to Howard Winn for emailing this to me)

Friday, 14 October 2011

Battle of the Sexes - Bring It On!

The lovely John Keeling
Tonight I am facing off against John Keeling, head brewer at Fuller's in a battle of the sexes - not really it's just going to be me and John picking beers for a menu set by the lovely Angus, licensee of the Red Lion.

I'll also have just 10 of my books, which I managed to beg, borrow and steal from the publishers to be signed, I did my first signing at Ilkley Literary Festival last week but I haven't had a chance to blog about that yet, it's all coming along with news from across the pond at GABF as well.

Anyway, here is what I'm putting up against the might of the narky Manc! I really hope given the breadth of choice I had available to me that I do justice to Angus's lovely food.


Amuse Bouche
Live oyster, steeped in Cantillon lambic & raspberry puree 
Matched with Aspall's Cyder (I'm cheating straight away!)

To Start
Charcuterie board
“Pickled” smoked duck breast in Kriek w/ cherry compote 
Matched with Anchor Liberty

Oxsprings English Air Dried Ham & fresh fig 
Matched with Harviestoun Bitter & Twisted

Brandade of Salt Cod, on rye 
Matched with St Austell Clouded Yellow

Devils on Horseback (pancetta/mango chutney /English mustard) 
Matched with Chimay Blue

Main Courses
Sweet potato & Yam Fatt Putt w/ Chinese slow roast Belly Pork in Plum Sauce w/ Asian Slaw (mouli/carrot/spring onion/mint/toasted sesame & lime dressing) 
Matched with Thornbridge Kipling

Lahmacun (greek lamb pizza-type thing) Pickled cucumber salad & Greek Yoghurt 
Matched with Williams Bros Grozet

Dessert 
Pear Tart Tatin w/ Fuller’s Double Stout Devon Ice Cream 
Matched with Dark Star Espresso Stout

Chilli Salted Caramel tartlet 
Matched with O'Hanlon's Brewer's Reserve

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Really darling? Beer? How... quaint!

Beer, but isn't that so very... blue collar?!
I've only just had time to properly digest this column from Susy Atkins at the Telegraph and the more I read it the more it irritates me immensely!


Opening with comments about the beer community being 'very pushy indeed' - you can almost hear her sighing her annoyance at the little people.


It's as if she's writing this piece to stop these annoying beer flies buzzing around so that she, and the rest of the grown ups, can all get back to the serious business of wine.


Yes, she throws a few crumbs out there about beer and food working, but it's always backed up by a little snipe 'wine's more versatile' that totally undermines any credibility or belief the casual reader should have in the piece or the assertion that beer and food match.


So, I've got a question for you Susy... Why is it so pushy to ask for a fair shout for our national drink, nay the world's favourite alcoholic beverage, on our national broadcaster? And why is it currently so roundly ignored? 


I appreciate you've got professional territory to protect, you are employed by Saturday Kitchen to offer wine matches and no beer lover is suggesting you chuck a portion of your income out the window, just for beer to be allowed a fair showing - is that too much to ask?


Also, 'brew and stew'? Really? That's the best you can come up with? Why not go all out and call it 'pie & pint'? Or, when you use phrases like that, you might as well just say 'the commoner's drink'.


The inference that beer is somehow a crude tool when matched to food is simply nonsense.


I've worked with chefs to pair everything from seared foie gras to the finest Vacherin and delicate scallop sashimi to the most ephemeral chocolate soufflé, that's how versatile beer is and I can back up that statement - I notice you've not bothered to justify yours to any of the people who have politely asked you about it in the comments section.


Just last night I was working with a chef who was, when I met him, a self-confessed lager boy; a few menu planning sessions later and now he can't get enough of Brasserie Pietra's Colomba, loves Goose Island IPA, went mad for Aspall's Peronelle's Blush and is seriously in love with trying new brews when he goes out now (can't get him to like anything dark yet mind you, but I'm working on it!).


And it's not just chefs, every sommelier I've ever known has always said that cheese and chocolate are two of the biggest challenges they face when it comes to wine matches and, more and more, they are turning to beers like Rochefort 10, Harviestoun Ola Dubh, Dark Island Reserve, Fuller's Vintage, Sharp's Chalky's Bite, Otley O8, Marble Ginger and Brooklyn Chocolate Stout as the perfect alternatives!


So perhaps, Ms Atkins, rather than dismissing something you're clearly either threatened or underwhelmed by, you should stick to writing about wine and be honest with your commissioning editors and ask them to get someone else to do the beer writing.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Home Sweet Home!


Finally! My blog has been dequarantined by Google, thank god, and I've got a lot to catch up on, not least my adventures in the US at the ever-awesome GABF, on which I'll be doing a separate post in the next few days.

But, before that, I just wanted to share something I made for dinner this evening that was not only healthy but like a hug in a bowl.

You see I really needed something comforting and cuddly, I've had jetlag like hell today but after a week and a bit of serious overindulgence, I needed something that would nurture my body a bit as well as lift my spirits and soothe my travel-weary soul - which this most certainly did.

The beer match I would suggest for the below would be something like a Vienna-style lager or even a crystal wheat or Belgian-style but nothing too dark and heavy or, conversely, very bitter as there is some very subtle and pretty spice notes in the dish that I feel would be overwhelmed

So, here goes my Oxymoronic One Pot Wonder (or slightly bastardised tagine recipe if you like!)

Serves 4 (with quite a good bit of bulgur wheat and veg left over for salads)

Sorry picture isn't great, I was hungry!
Toasted spice mix:
Half a cinnamon stick
3 tbsp Ras-el-Hanout (Moroccan spice mix)
2tbsp cumin seeds
1tbsp coriander seeds
1/2tsp chilli flakes


Dressing & Sprinkly Bits!
Finely chopped mint leaves
Two garlic cloves
Salt
Lime - juice & rind (juice of two if it's not very juicy)
Half an inch ginger very finely grated
Small pot of natural yoghurt
Pomegranate seeds
Pomegranate molasses
Toasted sesame seeds & chopped pistachios


Main ingredients:
8 x chicken thighs
1 x medium butternut squash chopped into inch cubes
1 x large aubergine chopped into inch cubes
4 x large garlic cloves smashed
1 x onion finely chopped
1tsp harissa
600gms bulgur wheat
Ready-to-eat prunes & dried apricots
Chai tea bags (optional to replace with a spiced Winter Ale, porter or mild)
1 x tin of chickpeas
1tbsp Harissa (or a slightly smokey not super-hot chilli paste)
1x bottle spicy ginger beer (I used Wychwood Ginger Beard, see brief review at end)
Small splash of groundnut oil
Seasoning

  1. Soak your dried fruit *childish snigger* in the chai tea or one of the mentioned beers
  2. Pop a dry pan on the hob to heat up
  3. Whilst it's doing that, pop salt & garlic in a pestle & mortar and pulp
  4. Add lime rind & juice + mint leaves & ginger - leave to macerate
  5. By now pan should be nice and hot, add spices from spice mix list, turn heat down and toast spices carefully, don't burn and then set aside
  6. Heat a large pot or hob-friendly tagine (I can't recommend Emile Henry highly enough)
  7. Add oil and quickly brown chicken thighs, add half the toasted spices, then add onions and cook until they go translucent then add aubergines & butternut squash for four or five minutes, then the chickpeas and then add garlic, some seasoning & harissa, then add rest of spices
  8. A minute after the garlic is added deglaze with a bit of water before adding any beer you're using
  9. Add the bulgur wheat and stir everything together carefully, keep an eye on the liquid levels every five minutes, it's not an exact science
  10. Whilst it's cooking add your mushed garlic, mint, lime etc. into your natural yoghurt
  11. Then just give your spice pan a wipe & toast the sesame seeds & pistachios in that
  12. To serve: test for seasoning then pile into bowls, drizzle over yoghurt and a bit of pomegranate molasses and sprinkle with some more chopped mint, sesame seeds, pistachios and pomegranate seeds - serve!
  13. Drink beer with it! 
Wychwood Ginger Beard
A name I've seen before in a Firkin pub but a very different beer Ginger Beard is initially a little sweet but ends off with a decent fiery Ginger Kick. Personally, I find this kind of ginger beer a little one-dimensional but that's probably because I came to ginger as a flavour a little later in life, the OH who loves Old Jamaica in the summer declared it would be 'really nice ice cold in summer as a thirst quencher' - so what do I know?! : )