Beef Burgers

April 11, 2011

How glorious was the weather this weekend?

Here in Bristol it was amazing, truly as hot as July! All my freckles have come out and I even caught the sun on my legs a little.

Friday I was sat outside the Arnofini all night, until the sun went down with friends drinking cider, you know summer is here when the whole of Bristol is dangling their legs over the water there.

Then I spent Saturday at various parks in the city, visiting friends that had settled in each one, it was great catching up with so many people. But all I could smell was BBQ, everywhere I went.

So Sunday the Boy and I decided we would have one of our own. We invited a few friends over, hung out some bunting and made a fire in our slightly still wild from winter garden…

Our friends came over at 3pm so I spent the day making things to eat, and reading the papers in the sun with a glass of wine whilst the Boy made fire… it was a good day.

Here is the recipe I used to make some really good burgers.

This made 6 smallish but plenty big enough burgers, or you could make 4 massive ones!

You need:
500g mince (go to your butcher it will be so much better!)
1 small red onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

They did start to fall apart a little so you could also add an egg at the mixing stage. Also some chopped chilli or tabasco sauce would be good too, if you like things hot!

1. Mix the mince, onion, garlic, mustard, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce together and season well. To check the seasoning you can do as they do on TV and fry off a little ball of the mix to taste.

2. Shape the mixture into 6 burger patties. Place them on a plate, cover and chill for half an hour, you can freeze them at this stage as I did with 2 of them.

3. After chilling they should cook in 10-20 minutes on the BBQ, depending on how hot yours is… just watch them!

Add some relish, mayo, smoked applewood cheddar and you have THE BEST burger! We used our tomato and onion jam (always need this in the fridge)

We also made a fruity salad to have with some bbq’d halloumi; a must try!

I also made the white rolls, so easy I will share that recipe with you tomorrow.

I hope you all had an equally sunny weekend! Did you BBQ?

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Sausage Rolls…

January 10, 2011

Over the holiday season the Boy and I had our first party at our house, not the kind we would have had a few years ago, but a proper grown up open house party… it was amazing!

I wanted to share this recipe for sausage rolls because they were so very popular and everyone loves a good sausage roll, I will plan all future parties around having these on the table!

I got the recipe from the Guardian from their Word of Mouth blog… Link they handily did a taste test of a few recipes and then recommended their favourite, which is the one I followed…

You need;
Makes about 25 small rolls
For the pastry:
225g plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 tsp English mustard powder
175g very cold butter
1 egg, beaten with a little water and salt
For the filling:
300g pork belly, skin removed, minced or finely chopped
300g pork shoulder, minced (this can often be bought ready minced if you don’t have a good butcher)
200g smoked streaky bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Nutmeg, to grate
2 tbsp roughly chopped thyme leaves
8 sage leaves, roughly chopped

I have to say I couldn’t get any pork belly so we just used shoulder (much more widely available) and they were still great.

First make your pastry, you can do this in advance;
1. Sift the flour, salt and mustard powder into a mixing bowl, and grate in the butter.
Stir them together with a knife, so the butter is well-coated with flour, and resembles a rough crumble mixture.
Pour in enough ice-cold water to turn the mixture into a dough that comes away cleanly from the bowl – be cautious, it shouldn’t be sticky – and bring together into a ball.
Wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge for half an hour.

2. Put the meats into a large bowl and mix well with your hands.
Tip in the rest of the ingredients and combine, seasoning well with black pepper and a little salt (remember the bacon will be salty, so don’t go overboard).
Pre-heat the oven to 220C.

I had to get the Boy to do this bit, I am still very squeamish with touching meat, not a great foodie attribute!

Here we did the little chef’s trick of frying off a little pattie of meat to taste the seasoning, is a great tip as we definitely needed a little something (more pepper) at this stage…

3. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to about a thickness of about ½ cm, and cut into 3 lengthways.
Divide the meat into 3 sausages, as long as your pastry, and place one slightly off-centre on each strip.

4. Brush one edge of the pastry strip with beaten egg and then fold the other side over to enclose the sausage meat.
Press down to seal, and then go along the edge with the back of a fork if you like, to make a pattern. Brush with more eggwash, cut to the desired size, and prick each with a fork.
Repeat with the rest of the pastry and meat.

5. Put the rolls on a baking tray, and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden. Cool on a rack, and serve warm.

Then I added them to my otherwise simple buffet, I do love a buffet! The Boy and I made everything from scratch (mince pies, cheese biscuits, chutneys) but had lots of bits that didn’t need any prep, dips and crudities, a huge cheese board and lots of crisps!

The first two batches of rolls went so quickly, and I must have been stingy with the meat as I still had lots left, so I dug out a packet of ready made puff pastry (the horror!) and made some more, which went equally fast… my tip made double what you think you’ll need!

Recently I had my school friend Hannah and her boyfriend Tim over to my house for the first time ever, it was another cold day so we decided to make proper comfort food… the Boy made an amazing stew which I will blog soon if he gives me his recipe!

And I made bread and butter pudding…

I had never even eaten bread and butter pudding before this (really!) let alone made it… 

A big pan of custardy bread? I have to say I don’t get it! 

 It did look good though!

I used a Jamie Oliver recipe

You need;
for the flavoured butter
100g unsalted butter, softened
large pinch of ground nutmeg
large pinch of ground cinnamon
zest of 1 large orange
pudding
8 x 1cm slices of good-quality bread
9 large free-range or organic eggs
140g caster sugar
500ml whole milk
565ml double cream
1 vanilla pod, scored lengthways and seeds removed
4 tablespoons good-quality fine-cut marmalade

Preheat the oven to 180ºC.
First make your flavoured butter by mixing the butter with the nutmeg, cinnamon and orange zest.
Use a little of it to butter a medium-sized shallow, ovenproof dish.

Butter the bread using the flavoured butter, then cut each slice in half diagonally.
Put the slices in your buttered dish.
Now separate the eggs, reserving all 9 yolks but just 1 egg white.
Whisk together the egg yolks and egg white with the sugar, then gently heat the milk and cream in a saucepan with the vanilla seeds and pod.
Pour into the eggs, stirring all the time.

Remove the vanilla pod then pour the mixture over the bread and leave to soak for at least 20 minutes.
Put the dish in a roasting tray and pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the side of the dish.
Then put it in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes until the custard has just set.
Meanwhile, gently warm the marmalade in a saucepan, then remove the dish from the oven and brush the marmalade over the top of the bread.
Pop the dish back into the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes. Allow it to cool and firm up slightly before serving…

Now I know lots of you will love this dish… I know the Boy does, and I don’t know if it was just this version, maybe too much bread? But I do not get it! Bread? For pudding? Not for me!

However I might well try making with brioche or crossiant and then decide :)

The Boy knocked this stew up for his parents visit, we wanted to cook them a meal as this was the first time we were having them to stay properly in our house…

As it has been lately, a very cold evening, and with no where to go we settled in, opened some red wine and tucked in, a very comforting stew this is too… cannot wait to have it again.

I didn’t really do anything (except help make the Chicory Salad) but I think the Boy will agree that this is what made it, and is our new favourite ingredient.

He cooked in a tagine dish on the hob.

Very healthy it looks too, look at all that veg!

But keeping the skin on and chucking chorizo in made it naughty!

You need;
8 tsp smoked paprika
4 tsp chilli powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 chicken thigh, bone removed
8 tbsp olive oil
2 onion, finely sliced
8 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 large chorizo sausage, chopped
200-400ml/3½fl oz red wine
200g broad beans, skins removed
4 tbsp chopped fresh chives
chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

In a bowl, combine the smoked paprika, chilli powder, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Open out the chicken thigh so that it’s flat and roll in the spice mixture to coat.

Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in an ovenproof frying pan and fry the chicken until golden-brown on all sides. Transfer to the oven and roast for 10-12 minutes, or until completely cooked through.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a pan and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Add the chopped chorizo and fry gently until the chorizo starts to crisp slightly, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the red wine to the pan and simmer for five minutes, or until slightly reduced. Add the broad beans and stir.

Remove the chicken from the oven and cut into strips. Add the chicken and chopped chives to the pan and stir to combine.

To serve, pour the chicken mixture into a shallow dish and garnish with fresh parsley.

So two of my friends got married last month, in a really cool, very personal, very unique wedding.
I had to share partly because I made the wedding pudding, but also because it really was inspirational…

All the flowers down to the button holes were kind of rustic posies… my favourite! (From Bella & Fifi)

The boy’s had a bit of trouble…

They got there in the end… and they all looked great stood together in their navy blue suits… As you can see the streets are wet, that’s because right up until it was time to leave for the ceremony it was raining cats and dogs…

But as we got in the taxi to leave the sun broke through and by the time we got to the registry office…

They tied the knot in the old council house on Corn St which is BEAUTIFUL! Outside and in…

Really ornate with lots of old paintings and a lovely feel to the room… the ceiling is so pretty…

So we have seen the boys… what about the girls? I LOVE that each bridesmaid had her very own dress design… and different shoes… each showing their own style, great not just for originality but meaning that each bridesmaid felt not only comfortable but (I’m guessing) gorgeous!

And the bride… a 50’s style day-gown, a shorter style, showing off her lovely shoes and strapless with some detailing on the bust… this dress was made by Gilly Woo, a Bristol based dress/corsetry maker, Kate highly recommends her… Gilly Woo

Finished off with a matching facinator and short veil…

And a fur stole, although I doubt it helped much with the cold, although she now has a hubbie on her arm for that…


The sun was really low in the sky when we came out…

We caught the bride and groom having a little moment…

Then we all jumped into cabs and got ourselves over to the venue for the reception… Kate and Jeff had a proper London Cab…

which is a beautiful old church, that is now, mostly, a circus school! Weddings on the side…

More of the gorgeous flowers in that muted pallet…

As usual I adored the personal details with this wedding, the bride and groom are sociable people and like a party, so their tables were named after raves, festivals and parties they have enjoyed…

And on the back, lots of old photos of them and their friends…

Very funny :)

We were served canapes and Champagne whilst we looked around the venue…

Rosemary infused bruschetta with Parma ham and parmesan shavings

Creamy, peppery mackerel pate on crusty bread bites with a twist of lime

And the best one… Smoked camembert in a box with shattered glass breadsticks

And the tables were laid with vintage plates, each one different, the cutest place settings ever, with hand stamped tags with our names on…

Now a fun detail, which I think should be at every wedding was that everyone had a little piece of a disguise to wear, which made for some great photographs later on…

Masks…

Moustaches…

And red noses! Loved this, the photos are brilliant!

Then as if they hadn’t wowed us enough…

They had some of the students from the circus school perform!

This was brilliant, they are so talented… photographs do not do this justice! One on the ropes…

And then after dinner one on silk…

Now to dinner… now as you can see so far, this is not the standard wedding… and neither was dinner…

Yep, Pie! And Mash! Annnnd mushy peas… with gravy or “groovy” … a maze ing!

We had a choice between Chicken of Aragon or Matador pies…

if you don’t know about the Bristol based company Pie Minister you need to get to know… check them out here they did all the catering on the day.

So the dessert… I will add the recipe and I can do it without referring to books/pieces of paper etc because after making 28 meringues… you know it well! I can also add that it is a very easy dessert that looks so good Kate and Jeff had it for their wedding pudding!

This is the finished dessert for the top table, a triple layer Pavlova!

But there were a lot more tables to feed… every other table got a double layer… this is about half of the wedding!

They were so delicate but we just about made it without them collapsing under the weight of all the cream!

I was so chuffed to have been asked, and so proud that I had done it that I almost wanted to plonk them on the tables myself and say I made that! … but I was too shy!

Still I think everyone liked them… People always make fun of me for taking photographs of my food but I saw plenty of guests doing so with my dessert… best thing ever!

And then the first dance… not your usual soppy slow dance with Kate and Jeff, no no!

Kate donned her brand new trainers… (cute!)

And off they went… hands in the air!

They had the Rinky Dinks play… and they dressed for the occasion…

Such a great day guys, thanks for inviting me and for letting me blog this! But mostly for trusting me to make your cake!

The meringue recipe… I think I got this from a magazine ages ago and is a recipe I have used many times before this too.

You need;
4 large egg whites
pinch salt
230g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour (not completely necessary but makes a better meringue)
1 tsp white wine vinegar (again as above but makes for a goey middle)

to serve;
300ml double cream
Fruit… I used strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, I would add cherries unless you’re making lots as they need to be de-stoned!

Preheat the oven to 140°C
Line a baking sheet with non-baking paper , you can mark a circle if you would like a guide.
In a large bowl, using electric beaters, whisk the egg whites and salt together, until soft peaks form.

Gradually add the sugar, whisking after each addition, until the mixture is thick and shiny and forms firm peaks when the beaters are lifted out.
You should be able to turn the bowl right over without the mixture falling out.
Sift the cornflour over the mixture and fold in with two turns, using a large metal spoon.
Don’t beat again.
Gently fold in the vinegar.

Spoon the mixture to go just over the circle line on the paper and pile up around the edge, leaving a slight dip in the middle.
Immediately turn down the oven to 110°C in order to keep the meringues pale.
Cook for 1 ¼ hours.
Turn the oven off, leaving the meringue to cool in the oven. (I couldn’t do this because of the time it would have taken and they turned out great)

When cold, either peel off the paper and serve piled with whipped cream and your fruit (I left it all whole except some of the bigger strawberries as I think this looks more rustic and pleases me!

 This recipe made 1 large one and two little ones, or one medium one… or one massive one!

A few weekends ago I was staying with friends in Hampstead and have blogged our breakfast already, but have only just got around to blogging this dinner after a busy few weeks, I am very behind!

We had driven from Bristol that night and after battling with the horrendous London traffic for a good few hours decided to head out rather than staying in to cook.

Ducking into the nearest place we could find that we all agreed on, on a horrible drizzly night…

We lucked out… all the food was great and the 5 spice squid was the talk of our weekend… mmmmmmm I could eat that squid right now!

Dim t is a small chain of Asian and Oriental food and actually have a number of restaurants across London.

I apologise for the quality of the photographs, it was quite dark… but I still wanted to share because I really enjoyed all of the food that night.

The obligatory crackers you eat whilst looking at the menu only made us hungrier… there’s a reason you shouldn’t go to a restaurant TOO hungry…

So we all nibbled on grilled vegetable gyoza dumplings, prawn toasts, edamame beans, and THAT squid… so tender and melty…

Just in case I hadn’t got the point across about how good the squid was… we ate this is 1 minute flat… and so had to order another plate, and I know for a fact if our mains hadn’t had arrived so soon after that, that we would have ordered another.

See what I mean, 4 very hungry (and a little tipsy) people) means you order A LOT of food…

We still had mains to come… Piggys!

Sarah had some Japanese noodles, rice noodles with lemongrass, roasted coconut, and a ton of vegetables in a spicy Thai style sauce…

The Boy had Laska… with prawns, at first missing but then found again right at the bottom soaking up all the yummy liquid. Made with Vermicelli noodles, prawns and squid with pak choi in the laska broth…

Aand Jim had Thai (battered) fish… which I reeeally wanted but had a craving for something else so resisted, was almost glad I did until I saw how big it was… gutted. This was served with Pak Choi and sweet chilli sauce…

My craving was for bang bang chicken, ever since I had dinner with work-c0lleagues and someone had the most amazing bang bang (a spicy peanut dressing) I have tasted… this was a salad version dressing with sesame and soy sauce and but was great, and defianately filling enough…

We cleaned our plates!

My only complaint is that although we were given dessert menus when we tried to order  (a couple to share… honest) I was told that the kitchen had closed…

I think thats really bad, not only were people still in the restaurant, we had actually been given menus… naughty.

Probably a good thing though, we had all eaten enough.

We did, however get the most depressing fortune cookies ever… you want some inspiration after dinner not depression!

All in all I think it’s a great restaurant and wish we had one in Bristol. 

These are my staple dinner party pudding, firstly because you can make them up to a day in advance therefore a no hassle pud on the night, plus they only take about 15 minutes in total to prepare anyway… so good!

Plus they are ultra impressive and goey.

 Serves 4-6 depending on the ramekin size

you need;
200g fine dark chocolate
60g butter
100g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 lightly heaped tablespoons nutella
Set the oven @ 200c and lightly butter ramekins

break the chocolate into rough pieces and melt in the microwave, also melt the butter (strictly the recipe says to do this with a water bath but Nigella uses this way and it works, and is far less messy)

put the sugar in a mixing bowl, separate the eggs and add the yolks beat until thick and creamy

whisk the egg whites until airy and almost stiff

stir the butter into the chocolate then add the nutella then fold the mixture into the egg and sugar then carefully fold in the egg whites with a metal spoon

be calm, don’t overmix…

bake for 10-12 minutes

You really don’t need to serve anything with them as they are all goey and lovely inside, but I served some berries and creme fraiche just to lighten them up a bit, as they are quite rich

Enjoy… don’t just save them for when friends are visiting either, they’re too easy make some for you, for tonight!