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Tuesday 31 January 2012

Char Siu Sticky Ribs

Ok so a Monday night may not be the best time to do a bit of experimenting in the kitchen but I thought I'd give it a bash. So attempted char siu sticky ribs with my usual home made chips and roasted butternut squash. Rich's mum is some what of an expert at Chinese cooking so this was a little daunting but the out come was delicious. I used really meaty ribs and boiled them for 30-40mins first to tenderise then I marinaded them for over an hour but really to get the best flavour it should have been for a few more hours or over night. Then I baked them in the oven for about 25 mins at 190 degrees.

Char Siu Ribs Recipe
marinading ribs
 Here is what I used, I cannot be sure of exact measurements but these are the closest estimates.

3 tbsps hoisin sauce
2 dessert spoons brandy, rum, or bourbon
2 dessert spoons of clear honey
2 tbsps soy sauce
2 tbsps dark sesame oil
1-2 tablespoons hot sauce, such as sweet chili sauce or any other hot sauce, depending on how much of a kick you want 
2 dessertspoons grated fresh ginger
2 cloves crushed fresh garlic
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
very sticky char siu ribs!


I hope you are now as hungry as I am after posting this. Now I return to thinking hard about a good couple of Bristol restaurants to visit on Valentine's Day and then a week or so later, my Birthday. If you have any recommendations please pass them on. I have a few ideas in mind but would be good to get a second opinion or two.

Monday 30 January 2012

Cookie Testing

So whilst Rich went for his first visit to Za Za Bazaar this weekend, a blog post from him to follow on that shortly, I got back into testing cookie flavours. Last Autumn I discovered the perfect cookie recipe. Having had problems every time I attempted cookies in the past I had almost given up hope of achieving that chewy quality that makes cookies so desirable. Now I have joined the smug group of people who do get a better than shop bought taste in their baking!The best part is that you can substitute the dark chocolate in this recipe for nearly anything, i've tried white chocolate and stem ginger, raisins and mixed spices and yesterday, Toblerone.

My Canadian friend adores Toblerone and cookies, so these were a perfect gift for her on a freezing Sunday evening, I got full marks *smug face* Luckily I am also very generous so here is the recipe I used it is very simple and you can have fresh cookies in 30mins.

You will need:

125g butter
150 plain flour
100g chocolate
½ tsp baking powder
1 egg
100g granulated sugar-it's the two types of sugar that give them the chewy texture
75g soft brown sugar
2 tsp of vanilla extract 
Pinch of salt

Chop the chocolate or ingredients of choice and pre heat the oven to 190 degrees with fan. Weigh out the sugar into a mixing bowl and melt the butter in a saucepan then add the melting butter to the sugar mix then give it a good beating, I like to listen to punk band, The Buzzcocks at this point for extra motivation. Crack the egg into the bowl and add the vanilla extract, salt and baking powder. Weigh the flour and then add gradually to the bowl  mixing each time as you go the mixture will go very stiff, just like the rolls of cookie dough you see teenage American's eating on tv. Add the chocolate/rasins/anything here and mix once more. Get some baking parchment on a baking tray and use teaspoons to separate out your mix into small blobs, do not press down, the oven will do the magic for you.

Finally pop them in the oven for 8-10 mins  no more or else you won't get chewy perfection you will start to see cracks forming along the cookies and the edges will go slightly brown. Let them cool, and cram them into your mouth as soon as you are unable to resist their charms. Enjoy!

 Tonight I am attempting Char Sui pork ribs, wish me luck, there will be a post if I successful.

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Go Nuts for Doughnuts

Cinnamon Doughnuts
Last year I finally found my dream doughnut, at the Bristol Farmer's Market, just outside the entrance to St Nick's, at an unassuming little stall called Pippin Doughnuts. Handmade doughnuts fresh every morning in Swindon, brought to Bristol now every Friday at the mini food market to brighten the dullest meeting at work. Jim and Carol have been making these delicious treats since 2008 and bring between 8 to 10 different flavours to chose from, including seasonal specials such as mulled plum and blackberry, apple and custard for winter plus gooseberry jam, in the summer.

My favourite will always be the cinnamon and brown sugar mainly because I am a cinnamon addict but the butterscotch glazed ring doughnut topped with chopped hazelnuts is a dream as is the vanilla custard, with it's real actual custard flecked with vanilla. All fillings are super generous and actually don't taste greasy or synthetic like a lot of doughnuts out there, I have tried quite a few of the flavours over the year, any one you pick will not be disappointing.

I urge you all to strongly make a visit to Pippin Doughnuts you will not find a better, fresher or more flavoursome doughnut to complete the munchy time between breakfast and lunch. Sweet treats ahoy, mark Friday in your calendar as Pippin Day from now on.

To check where else Pippin bring their sugary treasures visit their website 

Pippin Doughnuts

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Gratuitous Hunger Inducing Post

As a stand in to keep my fingers busy before the next full post please enjoy this photo of porcini and oyster mushroom risotto, with truffle oil drizzle. This was sent to me via text by a friend of their dinner last night... *drool* I might almost lick the screen it looks so good...for the sake of my work colleagues and my sanity, I won't. Please report or retweet if you are enjoying this blog so far, I like to see high reader stats, yes I am that sad.

Mushroom Risotto Truffle Oil

Here Fishy Fishy....

My friend Joe, who lives up in Ashley Down, is very keen on Barbecue, to say the least. He and his friend are entering the Grillstock festival down at the Harbourside this Summer. He decided to take a break from cooking 8 hour brisket to try out a more healthy option. So without further ado, here are the results...

Last week I received a new Pro Q Hot Smoker /BBQ from our very kind sponsors  My two friends and I have been cooking a lot of meat in our smokers recently as we are getting ready for our first BBQ competition in the summer.  But there’s only so much meat you can cook without wanting to try something a bit different.

So to christen the new smoker I bought some incredibly fresh mackerel, of which I gutted and filleted myself, and some sardines from The Fish Shop on Gloucester Road.

Filleted Sardines
I stuffed the Sardines with fresh bay leaf, garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.  The mackerel fillets were left to marinate in lemon, lime, parsley, a pinch of sweet smoked paprika and olive oil for 15 minutes.

I then built up a large, probably too large, fire of lump-wood charcoal and a few logs of seasoned apple wood.   The fire was incredibly hot so the fish only took about 3 minutes cook, the end result was really quite something.  The fish had a crispy smoky skin with a moist flaky flesh.  I served it with new potatoes and a burnt butter sauce. Meat can take a back seat now, maybe just for the next 2 weeks.
Barbecued Sardines

Barbecued Sardines

 Joe is in the process of setting up a website and blog for their Barbecue team, Social Smokers, will make sure to link up to them once it is ready so we can all follow their process and wish them luck!

Monday 23 January 2012

Sushi I Up!

Sushi is one of my biggest food obsessions, ever since I tasted the cute little rice perfections back five or so years ago I have been hooked. I am fortunate to work about 2 minutes from two sushi restaurants, however the one that holds a special place in my heart is Obento right on the corner of Baldwin Street. They have invented such a gorgeous beast of a maki roll than I can't see how it can be topped. The Dynamite Roll(TM) is filled with salmon, cucumber, avocado, salmon roe and Japanese mayo but the nori has been rolled in tempura batter and flash fried so the outside is all crispy.

So moreish is this roll that my Australian sushi fan, we shall call her Katdog, is counting down the weeks til she moves to the UK again and can sample this delight once more.

Obento does a half price sushi deal on selected items from Sunday-Thursday all day and the Dynamite Roll is one of those items so at £4.40 a pop for 8 pieces it's a delicious bargain that is too much for this sushi addict to resist. I also recommend all their other sushi it is very tasty and well worth the money. Check it out now!

Salmon Sashimi Obento Bristol
Salmon Sashimi

Dynamite Roll Obento Bristol
Be still my beating heart....

Experiments in Pork!

So Sunday we invited our friends round for a roast. I have only ever cooked roast chicken before with a smokey honey gravy that Rich loves. This time though I decided to be brave and branch out into doing a roast with pork belly.

I am one of those cooks who enjoys looking through photos in recipe books and online then takes a few ideas from several recipes and then experiments, mostly it works. So I laid the pieces of pork on top of chopped chunks of shallots, apples, sage and thyme leaves and rubbed oil, salt and pepper into the skin and poured vintage cider in the bottoms. 

Anyway to cut a long story short it was a complete success, crispy crackling all over and because I slow roasted it, tender meat to boot! To make the gravy I blitzed the roasted apple and shallots under the meat and added more cider and some pork stock to give it a zingy appley flavour that complimented the meat nicely. Definitely impressed with how easy I found to cook with this cut and will be trying a Chinese style flavour very shortly to go with some thick udon noodles. I think I may be slightly obsessed with food... :\  Guests were very happy and we are all still full today...I don't think I will eat again...oooh although sushi for lunch sounds tempting...

Half way through the process, looking at this photo is making me drool

yes that is Yorkshire pudding with roast pork, Rich is an obsessive...

Thursday 19 January 2012

B S Ate!

Welcome to our food & drink blog! My boyfriend Rich and I will be posting all the escapades and adventures we have with food and drink in arguably the best city in the UK, Bristol. I am a keen cook and enjoy going out to sample various cuisines, I will try nearly anything so am looking forward to posting photos and reviews of all the tasty successes and joys!

Wish us luck on our first adventure! Recommendations welcome!