Thursday, 24 May 2012

King Scallops on Black Pudding with Peppercorn Cream Sauce

This is a really quick and easy dinner recipe but still manages to look great and taste even better. Although scallops can be fairly expensive, their beautiful texture and flavours make them more than worth their price as an occasional treat. When you do buy scallops, don't make the mistake of removing and discarding the orange coral. Although it is not as tasty as the main white, circular muscle, it is perfectly edible and at the price you are paying, you will want the best value for money you can get.

Ingredients per Person

2 slices of black pudding
2 king scallops
2 tbsp double/heavy cream
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
Pinch of sea salt
1 small spring onion/scallion
Vegetable oil for frying

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Pour a little vegetable oil in to a non-stick frying pan and bring it up to a medium heat. Fry the black pudding slices for five minutes each side. Remove to a heated plate and turn up the heat. Sear the scallops for one minute on each side.

Lightly crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar. Pour the cream in to a small saucepan and season with the crushed peppercorns and a little salt. Put on to a low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for a couple of minutes until the sauce thickens.

Wash, top and tail the spring onion. Slice across the way in to fine discs.

Pour the sauce carefully in to the base of a deep serving plate. Lay the black pudding in the plate as shown and sit the scallops on top. Scatter with the spring onions for a final garnish.

Note: If you think the spring onions are likely to be a little overpowering, try using chopped chives instead.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Hot and Spicy Chilli Chicken Wings

How do you like your chicken wings? Sadly, a great many people will say straight from KFC or any one of a number of other fast food outlets. The reality is, however, that chicken wings are not only incredibly easy to cook at home, they can be prepared in your own kitchen in any number of different ways that you will never see them for sale in a takeaway. If you don't know this already, why not give them a go? They're inexpensive to buy from supermarkets and this is just one idea of how you can serve them up to your family. At the bottom of this post, you will find links to help you with a great many more delicious ways to serve up these succulent and tasty food items.

Ingredients per Person

4 large chicken wings
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp hot chilli powder
Pinch of sea salt
1/2 small white onion
2 tbsp Indian spiced onions
1 10" naan bread
Sprig of mint for garnish


Pour the vegetable oil in to a large glass or stone bowl. Add the chilli powder and a pinch of salt. Stir well to form a smooth paste before adding the chicken wings and sliced onion. Carefully stir in a folding motion to ensure the wings and onions are evenly coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours. (Marinating for this length of time is not absolutely essential but does improve the ultimate flavour.)

Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. Lay the wings and onions on a baking tray and pour over any excess oil. Cook for thirty minutes.

When the wings come out of the oven, check the juices run clear by piercing with a skewer. Leave to rest for ten minutes before adding them to a serving dish.

If you are using a store bought naan, heat it per the instructions on the packet. Lay it on a chopping board and slice in to portions for service.

Spoon the spiced onions in to a small ramekin and garnish with the sprig of mint. Plate alongside the wings and arrange the naan bread slices alongside.

Find Lots More Great Chicken Wings Recipes on the Sites Below!

Different Ways to Cook Chicken Wings

Chicken Wings Recipes

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mixed Bell Peppers and Anchovy Naan Bread Pizza Feast

Naan bread pizza is something which I make quite regularly and have actually featured on this blog in the past. This particular version of naan bread pizza is different however in that not only is it fairly substantial, it contains anchovies, a foodstuff which it often seems everyone either loves or hates without the option of an in between. If you don't like anchovies, simply miss them out or replace them with a different ingredient of your choosing and enjoy a naan bread pizza feast of your own creation. The cheese used is also simple cheddar, with none of the more traditional mozzarella.

Ingredients (Makes Two Pizzas)

2 medium naan breads (9 to 10" long)
3/4 pint homemade pizza sauce
1 each of red, green and yellow bell peppers
2 medium closed cup mushrooms
12 pitted black olives
12 small cherry tomatoes
2oz anchovy fillets
8oz grated cheddar cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Small basil leaves to garnish (optional)


Top and tail the bell peppers and cut out the seeds. Slice to just under 1/2" thickness.

Wipe the mushrooms clean and slice. Cut the tomatoes and olives in half, down through the centre.

Put your oven on to preheat to 450F/220C.

Lay the naan breads on a baking tray or two baking trays if need be.

Spread the tomato sauce evenly between the two naans. Leave around a half inch border around the edge to form a crust.

The order in which you add the topping ingredients is entirely up to you. In this instance, the anchovy fillets were laid on first and the tomato and olive halves arranged between them evenly.

The mushrooms were added next, followed by the bell pepper slices, alternating between the colours.

Scatter the cheese on top last of all. It may not seem like a lot of cheese but for health considerations, it is best to limit it to some extent.

Put the tray in to the oven for ten minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Remove the tray from the oven and use a spatula to transfer the naan bread pizza to a serving plate.  Garnish with the basil leaves and season with some more black pepper if required. Remember the presence of the anchovies - so no salt should be required.

Serve in each instance with a glass of chilled white wine.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Sweet Pudding or Savoury Cheeseboard? Diamond Jubilee Armed Forces' Tribute Meal (Part Three)

Which do you prefer as the final course of your meal: a sweet, succulent pudding or a tantalisingly taste-rich cheeseboard? Opinions vary significantly and this was the problem that faced me when I was trying to come up with the third and final principal course for this Armed Forces' tribute meal for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. In the first post relating to this meal, I prepared a starter of pheasant and cider casserole to represent the Royal Air Force. In the second, a seafood platter represented the fruits of the sea and the Royal Navy. Part three is devoted to the fruits of the land and the British Army. Sweet or savoury? I went for both! Enjoy...

Toffee Apple Crumble with Cornish Clotted Cream

This crumble recipe is slightly different from the traditional British apple crumble recipe. The principal difference is that the sugar used in the crumble topping is soft brown sugar rather than the more popular granulated or caster sugar. This gives a toffee-like texture to the underside of the crumble and - hopefully you'll agree - an extra little something special to the dish.

Ingredients (Serves Four)

7oz plain/all purpose flour
4oz unsalted butter
4oz soft brown sugar
3 medium to large Bramley apples
1 and 1/2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
3 tbsp cold water
4 tbsp Cornish clotted cream
4 sprigs of fresh mint to garnish

Put the flour in to a large mixing bowl and cut the butter in to it in fairly small pieces. Use your fingertips to rub the butter in to the flour until you have a mixture which is the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs.

The soft brown sugar should be added to the butter and flour mix and stirred carefully to combine with a wooden spoon.

It is not essential but it is a good idea to slightly cook your apples before assembling the crumble. This simply helps the flavour infusion. Peel and core the apples and chop them to about one inch chunks. Add them to a pot with the water and caster sugar and gently heat for about five minutes, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon.

Carefully spread the apple mixture in the base of an ovenproof dish and scatter over the crumble mix. Put it in to a preheated oven (180C/350F) for half an hour.

When you remove the crumble from the oven, you should be able to see the delicious, sticky toffiness (is there such a word? - there is now!) seeping around the crumble mix. For best results, leave it to rest on a chopping board as in the picture below for ten minutes or so before spooning on to plates and serving with the beautiful clotted cream and mint sprig garnishings.

Simple British Cheeseboard with Spring Onions and Black Olives

Firstly, I apologise for using the black olives - I know they are far from British. The reality is, however, that while some people like grapes and apple with their cheeseboard to add a very defined flavour contrast, I prefer savoury all the way. This is why I have instead used spring onions (scallions) and black olives. Fruit can of course be used if preferred.

Secondly, I have to apologise to Northern Ireland for not being represented in this dish. I did try to get a sample of what I know are the many wonderful Ulster cheeses for this cheeseboard but unfortunately couldn't source one locally. This just proves the point that we all have to prepare a cheeseboard with whatever cheeses we have available to us in our local areas.

Ingredients per Person

2oz Stilton cheese
2oz Cornish brie
2oz Welsh cheddar
3 Scottish oatcakes
1 spring onion/scallion
6 to 8 pitted black olives

Oatcakes are a Scottish creation and are available in many different forms from many different suppliers. I have no hesitation here in recommending what are unquestionably the best oatcakes I have ever tasted, those produced by Stockan's in the Orkney Islands. These oatcakes alone are available in several different varieties from British supermarkets and have to be tasted to believed.

Wash the spring onion and cut in to discs. Cut the cheese in to segments and plate with the oatcakes, before scattering the spring onion over the top and laying the black olives alongside.

In the first post of this series of three, I covered three beers which could very successfully be made to represent the three principal branches of the UK Armed Forces. Although beer may not be the preferred choice with either the apple crumble or a cheeseboard, don't forget to enjoy a Bombardier after your meal!

Thank you for reading these posts dedicated to the British Armed Forces in this, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year. I hope there is something that you will try and that you'll come back soon, to read more posts dedicated to the occasion and of course the more established style posts that have kept this blog going for what is now more than three years, wholly dedicated to food pleasure and enjoyment.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Diamond Jubilee Armed Forces' Tribute Meal (Part Two)

This is part two of the three course meal I have devised to represent the three major branches of the Armed Forces in celebration of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Yesterday's post saw the concept introduced and a starter of pheasant casserole prepared in honour of the Royal Air Force. Today, we move on to the main course, in tribute to the Royal Navy. Despite the obvious temptation to simply prepare a variation of the British classic, fish and chips, I instead prepared this seafood platter thinking along the lines of representing the many different fruits of the sea.

Please remember - although these dishes are published for and dedicated to the occasion of HM Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee, they can be enjoyed by anyone, at any time or on any occasion!

Some of the ingredients for this dish were bought ready to eat and some cooked in advance. This means that the meal is served in the form of a cold salad, suitable for what will hopefully be a beautiful, early summer weekend at the beginning of June when the main Diamond Jubilee celebrations will take place. This also means that most of your preparations are done in advance, earlier in the day, saving you time when it comes to service.

The ingredients you could incorporate in a seafood salad are of course many and if there are certain items you don't fancy in this combination, simply substitute them for others.


1 4oz salmon loin fillet (skin on)
3 whole langoustines
3 large King scallops
6 to 8 fresh, live mussels
Approximately 1/2 pint cold milk
1 medium onion
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried dill leaves
1/2 pint white wine, plus 2 tbsp extra
1 large slice of smoked salmon
1 smoked mackerel fillet
1 rollmop (pickled herring)
2 or 3 small lettuce leaves
1/2 medium tomato
Lemon wedge for garnish


Whether you leave the coral (orange portion) attached to the main muscle of the scallop is entirely up to you. It is entirely edible, though admittedly not as tasty as the white meat of the main part of the scallop. When I am cooking scallops to eat them warm, I like to sear them in a pan but I prefer this method of cooking them when I intend to eat them cooled.

Put the scallops in to a pot and pour in enough cold milk to cover. Put the pot on to a medium heat. As soon as the milk starts to simmer, the scallops are ready. Lift them from the milk with a slotted spoon to a plate and cover.

While you are waiting for the milk to reach a simmer, check the salmon for any remaining pinbones and remove where necessary with tweezers. Lay the fillet in another pot (skin side down) and season with salt, a little pepper and the dill. Pour in the half pint of white wine and enough cold water to ensure the salmon is comfortably covered. Put it on to a high heat until the water just starts to simmer. Turn off the heat, put the lid on the pot and simply leave the salmon to cook in the cooling liquid for a couple of hours. This will see it served deliciously moist and tender.

Peel the onion and cut it in half. Slice one of the halves and add it to a pot, along with the peppercorns and a good half teaspoon of salt. Add cold water to a depth of about three inches and put it on the heat until it reaches a rolling boil. Carefully add the langoustines to the pot and cook for two minutes. Remove them from the water with a slotted spoon and lay on the plate with the scallops.

Note: If you are intending collecting and cooking mussels yourself, ensure that you do follow the many associated and appropriate safety procedures.

Ensure that all the mussels are closed. If not, tap them lightly on a hard surface and discard any that still fail to close. The mussels should be cooked in a minimum of liquid in a large pot. Remember, they are to be steamed, not poached. Slice the remaining onion and add it to the pot with the 2 tablespoons of white wine and three or four tablespoons of cold water. The depth of liquid in the pot should be slightly less than half an inch. Put the pot on a high heat until the liquid boils. Add the mussels and put the lid on the pot. Steam for two to three minutes.

Remove the lid from the pot containing the mussels. Any mussels which have not opened should not be eaten. Remove the rest to a plate with a slotted spoon.

When the salmon poaching liquid is cool, remove the fillet. The skin can now carefully be peeled free and the cooking for your seafood platter is complete.

The smoked salmon and smoked mackerel are commonly purchased in vacuum packs but the rollmops will be in brine, usually in a plastic tub with onion and other spices. Remove a rollmop from the tub and carefully pat dry with kitchen paper. A little bit of the onion is good to serve with the herring.

The seafood is plated on a traditional plate at the top of this post but the image above shows just one alternative way of plating, depending upon preference. Begin by laying the shredded lettuce leaves, tomato and lemon on the plate and simply build the seafood around them as desired. Don't forget to pour your Victory Ale, if desired, the beer which marks Admiral Lord Nelson's victory at the Battle of Waterloo and one of the Royal Navy's greatest triumphs.

Hopefully, you are a seafood lover and this meal idea appeals to your taste. The third and final part of this post, representing the British Army and the meal pudding, will be published in the next couple of days and I hope you'll come back again to see what I came up with.

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Friday, 4 May 2012

3 Course Diamond Jubilee Meal Tribute to the British Armed Forces (Part One)

This is my second post dedicated to celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II with appropriate food and meal creations. Given that Her Majesty is Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, I felt it was essential to come up with something to pay tribute to the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force on this extra special occasion. I thought long and hard about how to achieve this and decided to create a three course meal, each course representing a major branch of the services. I very much hope you like what I finally came up with and prepared. This first part of the meal is the starter, dedicated to the Royal Air Force, and today's post is the first in a mini-series of three.

Not in the UK? No problem! Why not adapt these ideas to include food items native to and popular in your own country to toast your nation's Armed Forces on a special day in the calendar? It's also a great way of finding innovative new ideas for the family table!

It may be that you normally enjoy a glass of wine with a special meal. If you are a beer drinker, however, and enjoy a beer with your dinner, below are three ideas you may wish to consider. Failing that, you could of course enjoy the beers before or after your meal...?

These beers are Spitfire Ale (symbolic of the RAF), Victory Ale (symbolic of the Royal Navy) and Bombardier Ale (symbolic of the Army). They are all widely available in supermarkets in the UK.

It was fairly obvious to me that this course had to centre around something which flies. I finally settled on pheasant, which had to be purchased online in frozen form, due to it being out of shooting season. I considered a number of pheasant recipes but finally prepared a simple pheasant, vegetable and cider casserole.

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 whole prepared pheasant (fully thawed, if applicable)
2oz unsalted butter
1 stick of celery
1 medium carrot
1 Granny Smith apple
1/2 small white onion
1 large clove of garlic
1 pint fresh chicken stock
1/2 pint apple cider
Sea salt and black pepper
Torn basil leaves to garnish (optional)


The pheasant should be portioned by firstly cutting off the leg portions then halfing the carcass horizontally to separate the breasts from the backbone. The breast portion should then be halfed down through the central bone. Alternatively, you may wish to remove the two breast fillets from the bone. The back of the pheasant can be used to make stock.

Melt the butter in a large pot and season, brown and seal the breast and leg portions. Remove them to a plate with cooking tongs or a large slotted spoon.

Peel, core and chop the apple. Wash, dry and chop the celery stick. The carrot should be topped, tailed, scraped and chopped, while the peeled onion half should be finely sliced. The garlic clove should be peeled and finely chopped.

Add the vegetables to the pot from which the pheasant pieces were removed and sweat them off in the juices for a minute or two, stirring with a wooden spoon.

Re-add the pheasant portions to the pot and pour in the stock and cider. Bring to a simmer, cover and leave for twenty minutes to gently cook.

Remove the pheasant pieces from the pot and test with a skewer for tenderness.

If you are going to be enjoying a beer with this course, now is the time to get it poured.

A soup ladle is best used to lay some stock and vegetables in the bottom of two serving plates.

Lay a leg and breast portion in the centre of each plate and garnish (if desired) with the basil leaves.

I hope you like the look of this starter idea and it has whetted your appetite for the main course and pudding. Parts two and three of this meal will both be published in the next few days and I hope you will come back again to see the creations for yourself.