Saturday, 15 December 2012

Bratwurst Hotdogs with Caramelised Onions

I've been wanting to do this post for a few weeks now, but getting hold of bratwurst sausages has been a little tough. I was unable to find a single shop in Portsmouth that sold them. Even the Bavarian market didn't sell any. (Well, even though they call it a Bavarian market, there's nothing Bavarian about it). 

Eventually, though, I got hold of some.

The last few years has seen the rise of the gourmet burger, which has come about due to the popularity of high quality street food. Restaurants jumped on to this and the people have become more discerning. 

So, it's about time that hotdogs have followed suit. 

No longer should hotdogs be considered the stuff of over processed "meat" from jars of brine. They should be substantial and (at least) decent quality. And, of course, they should be accompanied by caramelised onions. 

1kg onions, finely sliced
100g butter, unsalted
1tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 bratwurst per person
1 submarine roll per person
American-style yellow mustard, to serve

In a large pan, over a very low heat, gently melt the butter and add the onions. Allow to softly cook for an 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently towards the end. They will drastically reduce in volume and will become prone to sticking to the pan. 5 minutes before the end, add the balsamic vinegar.

Caramelising onions is a long and slow process, and you must be patient. Rushing it will result in either them not cooking for long enough or becoming burnt and bitter. 

Shallow fry or grill the bratwurst to colour them. Assemble the hotdogs by cutting vertically along the rolls, laying down a bed of onions, followed by the bratwurst and mustard.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Piri Piri Flat Iron Steak with Borlotti Beans

Steak and chip has to be in at least my top 5 favourite meals. Also in there would be curry, (I say "curry" as a general term because to pick just one would be an abject choice to make) and pizza.

When I was looking for a steak in the shop, I had the options of fillet (too expensive), ribeye (my favourite), sirloin (overrated) and flat iron steak. I chose the latter, not only because it was the least hurtful to my bank balance, but because I'd never had it before. And Oh My God was it good.

I like to cook my steaks very rare. This leaves them tender and juicy. I realise that it doesn't appeal to everyone, but I implore you: try have your steak a little less done than you usually would. If you like well done, go for medium. If you like medium, go for medium rare. And so on.

There are a few other key notes to bear in mind:

Cook the steak from room temperature. Cooking it straight from the fridge will "shock" the meat make it tough.

After cooking, allow the steak to rest for a few minutes. This allows the meat to relax which means it'll be more tender.

Before serving, slice the steak across the grain. It'll make it easier to eat and looks good for presentation. Check out this video.

Serves 1

2tsp Piri Piri spice mix (see below)
1 flat iron steak
1tbsp olive oil
1/2 tin of borlotti beans in water

For the Piri Piri spice mix:
1 1/2tbsp smoked paprika
1tbsp cumin seeds
1tbsp cardamon pods (about 20)
1tbsp garlic salt
1tbsp dried thyme
1tbsp ground ginger
1/2tbsp cayenne pepper

First make the Piri Piri spice mix by grinding all the spice ingredients together in a mill or pestle and mortar.

Coat the steak in the oil then rub the spice mix in and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the borlotti beans and their water into a small pan, season well with salt and pepper and gently heat through.

Heat a frying pan on a high heat then fry the steak on both sides for 1 minute 30 seconds on each side for very rare (longer if you don't want it as rare, but why wouldn't you?). Allow the steak to rest for 10 minutes before slicing it and serving atop of the beans.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Christmas Cinnamon Shortbread

As I write this I've got the music tv channels on and I'm listening to Christmas songs... as I have been doing for most of the day. Yesterday, I got my first Christmas tree and decorated it. I hung up some fairy lights my parents sent me. And I wrapped up all of Billy's presents. 

I'm so excited for Christmas!

With all the presents bought decorations up, it's time for me to turn my thoughts to the food. There's going to be a few baked goods and, no doubt, shortbread will be amongst them. I chose to add a little cinnamon just because it reminds me of mulled wine and all the inherent Christmas nostalgia that goes along with that. But feel free to try other flavourings such as vanilla.

Makes approximately 15 depending upon size.

130g butter, salted
60g caster sugar,
1tsp ground cinnamon
180g plain flour
Icing sugar for dusting
Caster sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Beat the butter and sugar together until pale. Then add the cinnamon and mix in the flour until it's evenly combined. You'll end up with a dough-type mixture. At this point, the dough can be frozen for use at a later date. Otherwise, on a lightly floured worktop, roll the dough out to 1cm thickness and cut it into whatever shapes you wish to use - just bear in mind that larger shapes will take slightly longer to cook than smaller ones. Transfer them to a baking tray and dust with icing sugar. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, until lightly golden, then transfer to a wire rack, dust with caster sugar and allow to cool. Store in an airtight container once cooled.

I used a stand-mixer to mix the ingredients, but it can also be done in a food processor or by hand.