Friday, 22 August 2014

Banana and cinnamon cake

Firstly, I must start with the apologies. Over the last few weeks I've had terrible nightmares of you all sat around, hungry and wondering what the fuck happened to the awesome recipes I used to deliver on a regular basis. I wish I could give you some sort of sordid, debauched excuse but the sad fact is that I just haven't had any time to devote to the site due to securing a new job, moving house, selling my car and then losing the job before I even started. Long story... 

So since I'm once again spending my days trawling through job websites and chilling with the dog on the sofa, I have time to cook and write. This first recipe didn't require much thought as I was hungry for something sweet and, given that I'm trying to save the pennies, decided to resort to making something super easy and super quick. 

This was one of the cakes I used to have to make every Wednesday morning for the 5 months that I was a chalet host in the French Alps (you can read all about it in this fantastic book I wrote - click here). It was a favourite of the guests and, since I had some bananas on the turn, I thought I'd make it today.

How it's done

Nothing cheffy here, we used to bash this one out in a matter of minutes in the chalet and I did the same thing today.

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 175g of self-raising flour
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g softened butter
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg

All you need to do is cream together the butter and sugar before adding the eggs and either going nuts with a hand mixer or using brute force. Then just sift in the flour and spices before folding the mixture. Finally, mash the bananas with a fork or masher and then throw them in and stir. Then all you need to do is pour the mixture into a non-stick or greased cake pan (I seem to have lost my smaller one in the move hence the large, slightly thin cake I've made here and then cut into slices) and stick into the middle of an oven pre-heated to 175C for 25-30 minutes. As usual, check the middle with a skewer or knife to make sure it's cooked. 

Boom. Perfect with a decent cup of tea. 

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Beetroot risotto

I'm intrigued to see how many people click on this post since I know beetroot is a bit of a love it or hate it ingredient. The one thing that the food journey I've been on over the last few years has taught me is to ignore all of those irrational food dislikes that I had as a kid; you know the ones that were based on look, texture or name. I used to hate seafood as a kid and for no reason other than the smell. If I'd carried that into adulthood I would have missed out on so many awesome dishes. 

This turns out to be a stunning looking meal, dressed with crumbled goats cheese, walnuts and rocket - it's a real mixture of vivid colour and texture. I know that all sounds a bit camp but I'm trying to tempt you into making this because, once you put it down in front of her, you'll be glad you did. 

How it's done

This one does require a bit of attention and you will need to be by the pan during the cooking process. Thankfully, though, it involves some red wine with plenty left over for you to drink whilst you're creating your masterpiece.

  • 450g cooked beetroot (the vacuum-packed stuff from the supermarket)
  • 600ml of vegetable stock
  • 50g butter
  • A red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 250g Arborio rice
  • 2 teaspoons of dried thyme
  • 150ml red wine
  • Some roughly chopped walnuts
  • 125g soft goats' cheese
  • Some rocket leaves

Drain the juice from the packet(s) of beetroot into a measuring jug with the vegetable stock. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the finely chopped onion and garlic; cook these until they have softened. Throw in the rice and dried thyme and stir so that the butter coats all of the grains. 

Pour in the red wine and cook until the liquid has been absorbed by the rice, stirring often. Start adding in the stock and beetroot juice one ladle at a time, stirring continuously. Add another ladleful when the liquid from the previous one has been absorbed. Continue doing this for around twenty minutes or until the rice is al dente (i.e. so it is still a little firm).

At this point, chop the beetroot into a small dice and add to the rice along with handful of the chopped walnuts. Cook for a further few minutes, stirring to avoid sticking, before serving on a plate with the rest of the walnuts crumbled over the top along with the goats cheese and some strategically-placed rocket leaves. 

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

White chocolate and raspberry cookies

I've been getting these bad boys from Subway for years and then it twigged on Sunday - I'm an awesome cook, surely I can make them better than the ones I've been having. Turns out, I can. These are soft, crumbly and the perfect combination of white chocolate and raspberry. She'll be eating out of the palm of your hand if you break these out.

How it's done

This recipe actually turns out around 26 cookies so you'll be in the good books for ages until they run out. Don't say I never give you anything.

  • 250g unsalted butter (soft, at room temperature)
  • 130g light brown sugar
  • 130g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Teaspoon of bi-carbonate of soda
  • 340g plain flour
  • 100g white chocolate chunks
  • Some fresh raspberries

First things first. Cube up the butter and stick in a bowl with the two sugars. Use a hand mixer, table top mixer or just your brute strength to combine until creamy. Add the egg and egg yolk (if you've never separated a yolk from the white, the easiest way I find is to break an egg gently into your hand over the sink and then just spread your fingers a little to let the white run through them). Beat this together before adding the flour, salt and bi-carb. At this point it will start to get tougher to mix which is what you want - the mixture is turning into a cookie dough. Slice some fresh raspberries in half (not too many otherwise the mixture will end up too wet), and add them with the chocolate chunks. Mix this together before covering and sticking in the fridge for 45 minutes to chill.

Get the oven on to 180C or 160C if it's a fancy fan one. Lay some baking powder out on some baking trays (if you have none like me, just use some butter to grease the trays first). Then just take a tablespoon of mixture and roll into a ball. Place onto the tray and just push it down a little to flatten it a bit. Make sure you leave enough room around each one as they expand during cooking - you may have to do a number of batches to get through the whole mixture. That's it, just get them into the oven for 12 minutes or until they start to brown around the edges. When you get them out of the oven, leave them to cool on the tray for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Now surprise her with a cup of tea and one of these bad boys and just watch the reaction....

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Mexican banquet

Since the posts have been a little infrequent recently, I decided to go balls deep and do a mammouth one with three (yes three!) recipes. I've been wanting to try fish tacos for a while so I figured now was the perfect time. The other two are a pair of awesome accompaniments in the form of a super fresh pico de gallo and a chunky guacaomle. This may sound and look like a lot of effort but trust me, gringo, it really isn't. 

The fish tacos were complete guess work but came out far better than I had planned and, when teamed with the pico de gallo and guacamole, were the perfect mix of a bit of heat and freshness. The lucky recipient of this meal could barely contain her excitement throughout the whole thing so I knew it was a job well done. 

How it's done

The key thing about this banquet is how fresh everything looks and smells. It really is a feast for the eyes and nose, and then the mouth. I know you're probably looking at the photo and thinking, 'That's a shit load of washing up there, Chef!'. Well yes, it is but hopefully your guest will get stuck into it when she's finished devouring this feast. 

You can get the pico de gallo and guacamole out of the way and in the fridge early doors if the idea of making all three things at the same time stresses you out. Let's start with them...

Pico de gallo

  • 6 tomatoes
  • Half a red chilli
  • Half a red onion
  • Chopped coriander stems
  • White wine vinegar

This is really straight forward. Get your tomatoes and quarter them. We don't want all of the seeds and juice and shit so cut them out to leave just the flesh, which you then just dice up into small chunks. Throw them in a bowl with the deseeded and diced chilli and the diced red onion. Chuck in the chopped coriander stems (about a tablespoon's worth). Throw in a splash of white wine vinegar and mix. Done.

Chunky guacamole
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • A tomato
  • Half a red chilli
  • Half a red onion
  • A lime
  • Coriander
Also very easy. Grab the tomato and chop it in half. Next, lay it flat on the chopping board and squash it using the side of a large knife and your pure, masculine brute strength. Once it's squashed, roughly dice it up and throw it into a bowl (juice, seeds and all). Half and stone the avocados (keeping a stone back for later). Scoop the avocado flesh into the bowl with the tomato and then add the chilli, onion and some coriander stalks and leaves after you've finely diced them. Squeeze in the juice of the lime and season with a generous amount of salt and pepper. Grab a potato masher and go to town until it resembles the photo. If you're prepping this in advance, grab the avocado stone you've reserved and stick it in the middle of the guacamole before covering with clingfilm and keeping in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Fish tacos
  • Skinned and boned white fish fillet (I used river cobbler as it's cheap and awesome)
  • 2 eggs
  • Plain flour
  • Cumin
  • Smoked paprika
  • Dried breadcrumbs
  • Sunflower oil
  • Mini tortillas
Time for the main event. Get three bowls set up in a line. In the first throw a cup of plain flour along with a teaspoon each of cumin and paprike and mix. In the next bowl, break and lightly beat the two eggs. In the final bowl tip out the breadcrumbs. Grab your fish and cut into strips. This is a very simple process; take a piece of fish and coat in the flour and spice mix before moving it into the egg bowl and then finally covering it in breadcrumbs. Do this for all of the fish and then stick into the fridge to chill for about 15 minutes.

While the fish is chilling, fill a small pan to the three quarter mark with the sunflower oil and get it onto the hob, and get the oven on to 150C. When the oil is hot, fry four pieces of fish for a 1 minute at a time. When the minute is up, use a slotted spoon to get the fish out of the oil and get it onto a baking tray in the oven to keep warm whilst you do the rest of the frying. At this point get the tortillas in the oven to warm. 

That's pretty much it, just set everything out on the table and let people dig in! My table has the pico de gallo, guacamole, fired fish, tortillas, a cajun sauce, some soured cream with a bit of paprika and grated cheese. There's also some corn that I've just charred in a griddle pan (no oil or butter, just stick in the pan on the heat and keep turning to get colour) Enjoy, dudes.

Monday, 30 June 2014

Prawn and rocket pasta

So first I need to apologise for my recent absence. This has been for a number of reasons (World Cup, hangovers, changing jobs etc), none of which will interest you. I did intend to post a carrot cake yesterday but, in a rare moment of non-awesomeness, I fucked it up. Yes that's right, even us great chefs can stuff up sometimes. Will go back to the drawing board and bring that one to you another time. This, however, is unfuckupable and takes hardly any time to make. Winner.

This dish is really damn tasty and looks pretty nice too. Low effort for maximum reward, and that is exactly the sort of grub we like here at Food For Fellas. Plus the recipe calls for wine which is always a good thing.

How it's done

Just a few simple ingredients and no stressy techniques here, so it's one for even the most novice of chefs. 

  • Wholewheat spaghetti
  • 250g uncooked and peeled king prawns
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • A red chilli
  • White wine
  • Sun-dried tomato pesto
  • A lemon
  • A bag of baby rocket

First job is to get the spaghetti into some boiling water with a lug of olive oil to stop it from sticking together. Next up you need to finely chop the garlic and de-seeded chilli. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after doing this (and definitely don't scratch your nether regions without cleaning your hands first - seriously, trust me on this one...). Get the garlic and chilli into a large frying pan or wok with a decent amount of olive oil and fry off until the garlic begins to colour.

Next throw in the prawns which you have butterflied (see the Ebi Raisukaree recipe for this technique) and cook for a couple of minutes until they have coloured and opened up. Now throw in a small glass of white wine (I am currently really enjoying the Glenridge Point Sauvignon Blanc from Sainsbury - it's currently on offer too) and two tablespoons of the sun-dried tomato pesto, and leave all that to simmer for a few minutes. 

Drain the pasta and then put it back into the pan before adding all of the sauce along with the juice of half of the lemon and a handful of the rocket. Season it and then toss it to mix everything together before getting it onto a plate and throwing on some more rocket and some parmesan. Sorted. 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Leftover chipolata, squash and chickpea stew

This one was another result of needing to do something with a random ingredient, in this case it was six cooked chipolatas that were donated by my housemate. We are on a bit of an economy drive at the moment so I decided to raid the fridge/cupboards and see what I could do with it. I then remembered this cheeky little recipe passed on from a friend and thought I'd adapt it. Voila, this awesome concoction was born.

Feel free to use larger cooked sausages for this, it just so happens that my housemate is a fan of the smaller ones - so many jokes, not enough time. This one does take a bit longer than the normal recipes I post, but it is damn nice so it's worth the wait for sure. Also, if you're in the arms of a hairy vegetarian, leave out the sausages and you will be on a fast track to pound town my friend. 

How it's done

This one is pretty much made up from cupboard staples like chopped tomatoes, stock cubes, chickpeas... 'Wait, did he just say chickpeas?!' I hear you scream. Well yes, I did. Stop being a little bitch about everything and make sure you ALWAYS have a can of these bad boys in the cupboard because they are an awesome utility ingredient for all sorts of things, including a fantastic little curry recipe I have coming up for you.

  • Cooked sausages
  • A butternut squash
  • Garlic clove
  • Dried thyme
  • An onion
  • Some fresh coriander
  • 20g sultanas (these aren't a complete necessity but add great flavour)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • A small red chilli
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can of chickpeas
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 160g cous cous
  • Fat free yoghurt

This is all very straight forward, if a little time consuming. Peel and chop up the squash (I can't be arsed with the fat end that has all the pips and shit, I just use the top part), you want it in small chunks around 2cm. Throw the squash into a roasting tin with a good amount of olive oil, the dried thyme and a clove of garlic that you've crushed with your bare hands. No seriously, just get a garlic clove (don't worry about taking the skin off) and put it on the counter before slamming your fist down on to it just to crack it so all the awesome flavours will come out. Get this into an oven on 200C for about 40 minutes. 

Peel the onion and finely dice it up before putting it into a reasonably large pan with some olive oil, the sultanas (if you want them), the de-seeded and chopped chilli, the cinnamon and the roughly chopped stalks of the coriander. Stick a lid on top and cook this for around 20 minutes, stirring every now and then, along with adding some boiling water here and there to keep it moist and stop it burning. 

Then add the roasted squash, can of tomatoes and chickpeas (drain half of the juice out of the can but be sure to add some to the pan). Pour in 300ml of boiling water and crumble in the stock cube. Leave this simmering for around 30-40 minutes on a medium heat with the lid off, until the liquid reduces and the stew thickens.

When the stew has about 15 minutes to go, stick the cous cous into a large bowl and just enough boiling water to cover it. Get a plate on top and leave it to soak up the water. Just before the stew is done, fluff up the cous cous with a fork and season well. 

That's it, all done. Put the cous cous on the plates and then get the stew on top. Lob on a bit of the yoghurt and sprinkle the whole thing with chopped coriander leaves

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Double chocolate apology muffins

So, since I figure there's a lot of dudes out who will be needing to apologise over the next few weeks - whether it's for hogging the TV or being delivered home by the constabulary after drowning their sorrows following England defeats (I'm only going on what happened last night here) - I decided it would be a good idea for us all to have a chocolate recipe to hand. The perfect way to say sorry.

These muffins contain a secret surprise in the form of a delicious dark chocolate ganache piped into the middle. You can, of course, leave that out if you can't be arsed but it might be the tipping point that gets the object of your desires into the bedroom for the first time, or the Mrs to indulge a fantasy that she has so far resisted. It could be that neither of these things as a result of adding the ganache happen but are you able to live with not knowing?

How it's done

The one downside to this recipe is that you do need to go and buy something called tulip cases from the supermarket. Pick your cashier wisely when going through the checkout with these, since you don't want to damage your reputation. 

  • 165g butter (at room temperature)
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 70g self raising flour
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda
  • 70g cocoa powder
  • 222ml milk
  • 25ml malt vinegar
  • Large bar of milk chocolate
Get the oven on to 160C if it's a fancy fan one, otherwise it's 180C, and put 12 tulip cases into a muffin tin. Measure out the milk into a jug, add the vinegar, stir and put to one side. 

Next, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl - you can do this with a mixer or by hand if you want to maintain a shred of masculinity. Once they're mixed together, add the eggs and vanilla extract and stir. Now add all the dry ingredients (the flour, bi-carb and coca powder, you bell). They don't need to be sifted, who's got time for that anyways? Finally, add the milk and vinegar mixture into the bowl and mix everything together to make an awesome, chocolate batter. 

Grab a couple of normal dessert spoons and use those to fill each tulip case to about 2/3 full. When that's done, take your chocolate bar and chop it up into chunks before throwing a few on to the top of each muffin. Get these into the middle of the oven for around 25-30 minutes.

If you are going the whole hog and want to get the ganache in there too, you will also need to buy 150ml of double cream and 150g dark chocolate (it's quicker and easier to just buy a bag of dark chocolate chips). Get the cream into a pan and bring it to the boil. When it starts to bubble, turn off the heat and throw in the chocolate chips. After a couple of minutes, stir it to make a nice, smooth ganache. Leave this to cool for around 15 minutes.

When the muffins have been out of the oven a few minutes, get a sharp knife and run it down through one of the cracks in the top. Wiggle it around inside the muffin to create the hole for the ganache. Take the cooled ganache and stick it into a piping bag with a thin nozzle. Put the nozzle into the hole you've created and pipe ganache in until the muffin plumps up. Now just leave the muffins somewhere to cool completely.

There you are, you're done and clear to watch the rest of the World Cup in peace!