Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Pan Griddled Steak & Wild Mushrooms

Here's a pretty quick and easy steak dish that requires very little advance preparation. Great served with chips (fries) or a nice green leafy salad and a robust red wine, perhaps a Vin de Pays d'Oc Cabernet Sauvignon. Serves 4

  • 4x good sized steaks (rump, sirloin, rib-eye - whatever you prefer!)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Worcestershire sauce (Interesting factoid: In the UK it's pronounced Wusster, the 'shire' remains unpronounced.)
  • Dark soy sauce
  • Mixed peppercorns (in a pepper mill if possible otherwise a pestle & mortar to crush them)
  • Salt - good chunky sea salt is best
  • Dried thyme and rosemary
  • A selection of mushrooms. I tend to use regular white button mushrooms, chanterelle (girolles), oyster (pleurots) and a few chopped cepes (porcini). You can chop or slice or do what you like with them. If they're small I tend to use them whole or halved.
  • Butter
  • 250ml red wine
(Marinade the steaks for at least 4 hours in the fridge):

1. For lack of better words, glug a good measure of olive oil into a glass bowl, add to it a splash of Balsamic Vinegar and a few drops of Worcestershire and Soy sauce.

2. Beat the liquids together with a small whisk to create a thickish emulsion and add to it a pinch or two of the thyme and rosemary.

3. Place the steaks in a dish and pour the marinade over them (It's difficult to give measurements as it depends on the size of the steaks but they don't want to end up swimming in marinade if that helps).

4. Grind the mixed peppers corns (to suit your taste, I use a lot) over the steaks along with a few crystals of sea salt. Turn the steaks to repeat the seasoning on the other side. Turn the steaks a couple more times to ensure they are coated with the marinade then clingfilm/wrap them and place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.

5. Around half an hour before cooking remove the steaks from the fridge and set them to one side.

6. Heat your griddle pan and rub it over with a little olive oil.

7. Lifting the steaks from the marinade with tongs or a fork, allow the marinade liquid to drain off them and carefully place them in your hot griddle pan (Caution: The marinaded steaks are likely to spit as they're added to the hot pan, so mind your hands!) and cook them to your liking; rare, medium or well done. Once cooked, remove the steaks and keep them warm.

8. Add a knob of butter to the vacated griddle pan and a little extra olive oil if needed to prevent the butter from burning. Throw in the mushrooms and with a couple of wooden spoons keep them tossed around and turning in the butter/meat juices - think stir fry!

9. Once the mushrooms are coated and beginning to cook down add the wine (again watch out for sizzles and spits as it hits the hot pan) and allow it to reduce to a sauce.

10. Serve the steaks immediately with the wild mushroom and wine sauce poured over them.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Lemon & Lime Baked Cheesecake

I don't know about you but I absolutley adore Cheesecake and I have recently discovered the delicious, mouth watering, Goddess of flavour, the baked type of Cheesecake. I say I discovered it but truth be told it was my Mum who started making us these amazing Raspberry baked cheesecakes some time last year.

Recently my folks went away for a few days around Bordeaux in their motor-home so I decided a recipe raid was in order and, having broken into their house, went on a rampage through the kitchen seeking that oh so special recipe... it would be mine... oh yes, it would be mine.

Alas, I couldn't find the recipe anywhere so having hired a team of builders to repair the damage to my folks house I set about Googling for baked cheesecakes.

After a few disasters I set about creating my own hybrid recipe and this is what I'd like to share with you now - when my folks return from their holiday I'll ask Mum to post her recipe on here too but for now....

You'll need the following:

A round baking tin thing (22cm), you know the ones with the pop out bottom - greased. (I had to wash mine and start again after my wife informed me butter would be better than the car axle grease I was using)
An electric whisk - A hand whisk will suffice but please read on....
Plastic or wooden spoon
Couple of glass or plastic bowls
A tall, straight drinking glass (slim Jim) for forming the sides of the biscuit base
A knife or two and an egg whisk
A glass of red wine or your preferred beverage (optional)

  • 250g plain sweet biscuit (crumbed)
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup castor sugar - regular sugar blended in a mini food processor works ok too
  • 3 x 250g packets plain cream cheese, softened.
  • 3 teaspoons grated lemon rind - use a canelle knife if you have one
  • ¼ cup lime juice

1. Lightly grease your 22cm pop out bottom baking tin with some butter - if you want a deeper cheesecake, use a smaller diameter tin though you may have to increase the cooking time to allow for the extra depth, possibly in a slightly cooler oven.

1b. Take a sip of the wine or your chosen beverage.

2. Mix the biscuit crumbs and melted butter together in a bowl using a plastic or wooden spoon. You'll be able to tell when the mixture is combined enough as it will begin to stick together when pressed with the back of the spoon.

3. Add the crumb mix to the baking tin and use the tall drinking glass to press the crumb mixture evenly over the base and up the side of the tin.

4. Refrigerate the biscuit crust for around an hour.

4b. Take a seat and have a read or watch the TV with your wine or chosen beverage. After 45 minutes (15 minutes before your biscuit base is chilled) put your oven on set to around 160-170C and continue to stage 5.

5. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat them together with the sugar with an electric mixer until pale and thick. Hand whisks are OK but this process can take up to 10 minutes...

6. Add the cream cheese, grated lemon rind and lime juice and then continue to whisk the mixture until it is smooth and creamy.

7. Pour the mixture into your chilled and crumb base filled baking tin and bake in the oven for about 45 minutes. Note: You should remove the baking tin/crumb base from the fridge prior to pouring in the mixture and placing in the oven :O)

8. After cooking, allow your cheesecake to cool in oven with door ajar, then refrigerate for several hours or overnight.... overnight? yeah right! I lasted 4 hours.

9. To serve. decorate with cream and fruit if you wish, I used a home made raspberry sauce that I found kicking about in the back of my fridge.

Recipe notes
Low fat cream cheese works just as well and with no apparent loss in flavour.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tequila Lime Chicken

This tasty chicken dish combines the tangy flavour of the tequila and lime marinade with a creamy, south western style dressing and tops it all off with a melted cheese blend. Note: Be sure you don't marinade the chicken longer than 3 to 4 hours or the citric acid in the lime juice may toughen the chicken. You can serve this dish with your choice of rice but personally, I love this dish served with crispy, thin cut chips (French Fries) with maybe a little salsa on the side. Serves 4


For The Chicken Marinade
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce - see our Chicken Teriyaki recipe
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon mesquite liquid smoke flavouring
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 shot (25ml) tequila

4 chicken breast fillets

For The Mexi-Ranch Dressing
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup sour cream/creme fraiche
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 teaspoons minced tomato
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon minced canned jalapeno slices
  • 1 teaspoon minced onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco or a hot pepper sauce
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon chili powder - you can increase this for extra heat
  • pinch garlic powder
  • pinch ground black pepper

For the cheese melt topping and crispy base
1 cup grated Cheddar/Monterey Jack cheese blend (M Jack can be hard to find but to be honest I've made this dish using all sorts of cheeses (as long as they melt).
2 cups crumbled corn chips or fried tortilla strips

1. Prepare marinade by combining marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the chicken to the bowl, cover and chill for 2 to 3 hours.

2. Make the mexi-ranch dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well until smooth, then cover dressing and chill it until needed.

3. When you are ready to prepare the entree, preheat the oven to high broil. Also, preheat your barbecue or indoor grill to high heat. When the grill is hot cook the marinated chicken breasts for 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until they're done.

4. Arrange the cooked chicken in a baking pan. Spread a layer of mexi-ranch dressing over each piece of chicken (you'll have plenty left over), followed by 1/4 cup of the shredded cheese blend. Broil the chicken for 2 to 3 minutes, or just until the cheese has melted.

5. Spread a bed of 1/2 cup of the tortilla strips or crumbled corn chips on each of four plates. Slide a chicken breast onto the chips on each plate and serve with your choice of rice and salsa.

Additional info
Crumbling shop bought tortilla chips is the easy way to make the bed of crunchy chips that the tequila lime chicken rests on. But, you can make tortilla strips like those served at the restaurant by cutting a stack of eight 6-inch corn tortillas in half.

Stack the halves on top of each other and slice the tortillas into thin strips. Fry the tortilla strips in 2 cups of oil preheated in a large skillet for 3-5 minutes or until crispy.

Salt lightly and allow to drain and cool on paper towels.

And...... that's it!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Honey BBQ Chicken Wings

This great recipe re-creates a KFC style crispy breading on the chicken wings and a delicious sweet and tangy, honey BBQ sauce.

This makes 2 to 4 servings (20 wings) depending on how hungry you are.


For The Sauce
  • 1 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon Mesquite/Liquid smoke* (see tidbits)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
For The Crispy Coating
  • 6 to 8 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon MSG** (Optional)
  • 20 chicken wing pieces

1. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Stir until the ingredients are well combined and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes to thicken.

2. As your sauce is simmering, heat up 6 to 8 cups of oil in a deep fryer set to 350 degrees.

3. Combine the beaten egg with the milk in a small bowl.

4. In another small bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper and the optional MSG.

5. When the vegetable oil is hot, dip each wing first in the flour mixture, then into the milk and egg mixture, and then back into the flour. Arrange wings on a plate until each one is coated with the flour, milk/egg mixture.

6. Fry the wings for 9 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. If you are using a small fryer or pan, you may wish to fry the wings in smaller batches. After frying the wings, allow them to drain on paper towels or a cooling rack.

7. When the sauce is done, brush the entire surface of each wing with a light coating of sauce. Serve immediately. Note: You may want to ensure a good supply of paper towels/napkins :O)

Additional Info
*Mesquite/Liquid smoke
A flavoring found in many stores near the barbecue sauces and marinades. Use hickory-flavored liquid smoke if you have a choice.

Monosodium Glutamate, the solid form of a natural amino acid found in many vegetables. It can generally be found in oriental food markets and is often labelled as Gourmet Powder flavour enhancer. MSG is very popular in a lot of oriental dishes but it's use has become somewhat controversial. Check out this article from the Guardian newspaper about MSG in food.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cocktails - Mai Tai

The Mai Tai is a well-known alcoholic cocktail purportedly invented at the Trader Vic's "Polynesian-style" restaurant in Oakland, California in 1944. Trader Vic's amicable rival, Don the Beachcomber, claimed to have created it first in 1933 at his own newly opened little bar (later a famous restaurant) in Hollywood. The Beachcomber's recipe is far more complicated than that of the Trader's and tastes quite different.
The Trader Vic story of its invention is that the Trader (Victor J. Bergeron) created it one afternoon for some friends who were visiting from Tahiti. One of them tasted it and cried out: "Maita'i roa!" (Literally "good very!", figuratively "Out of this world!") — hence the name.
Extract taken from Wikipedia.

Serves: 1 (a big one)
  • 2 shots dark rum
  • 2 shots white rum
  • 1 shot cointreau (triple sec or curacao)
  • 1/2 shot amaretto - feel free to add a little more
  • 1 shot lime juice
  • 1 shot grenadine
  • 5 shots pineapple juice
1. Place all the ingredients in your shaker apart from the grenadine along with 10-12 ice cubes and shake it for 20 seconds or so until the outside of the shaker is frosted.

2. Pour into a long glass and sink the grenadine to the bottom to give a red graded effect up the drink.

3. Garnish with lemon and lime pieces and add a couple of black straws.

4. The Mai Tai can be made as a 'build' drink in the glass itself over ice but I prefer to mix the flavours with a shaker.


Japanese Egg Fried Rice - Benihana Styleee

When a 20 year old Rocky Aoki arrived in New York City from Japan in 1959 he was convinced it was the land of opportunity. Just five years later he took the $10,000 he had saved plus another $20,000 that he borrowed and opened a Benihana steakhouse on the West side of Manhattan.

His ground breaking idea to bring the chefs out from the kitchen to prepare the food in front of customers (on specially designed hibachi grills) was an instant hit. The restaurant was such a success that it paid for itself within six months.

Here's a recipe for egg fried rice just like that served at Benihana, prepared by chefs with pre-cooked rice on those open hibachi grills.

Serves: 4
  • 4 cups cooked rice (long grain)
  • 1 cup frozen peas (thawed)
  • 2 tablespoons carrot (grated or chopped)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
1. Cook the rice following the instructions on package. Pour the cooked rice into a large bowl and allow it to cool in the refrigerator.

2. Scramble the eggs in a wok or pan over a medium heat. Separate the scrambled chunks of egg into small, pea-sized bits while cooking.

3. When the rice has cooled to near room temperature, add the peas, carrot, scrambled egg and diced onion to the bowl and gently toss all of the ingredients together.

4. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in a large frying pan over medium/high heat until completely melted and add the bowl of rice and other ingredients into the pan.

5. Add the soy sauce plus the salt and pepper and cook the rice for 6-8 minutes over heat, stirring regularly. Serve.

Serving suggestion.
This rice makes a great meal on it's own but it can also be served as an excellent accompaniment to our delicious Chicken Teriyaki recipe.

Seasoned Ginger Oil

This is really a super quicky recipe but if you're like me you'll find this oil indispensable when cooking Chinese food. It is also very effective when used with my Teriyaki Chicken recipe too.

  • Fresh root ginger (a good, thumb length piece per 250ml oil)
  • Sunflower or vegetable oil (not olive oil!)
1. Peel the ginger and chop it into 10-15mm cubes
2. Add the oil and ginger pieces to a cold pan
3. Begin to heat the oil and when the ginger begins to sizzle turn off the heat and allow the oil to cool
4. Bottle the cooled oil - you can strain or retain the ginger pieces as you like.

Told you it was a quicky :O)

Restaurant Style Teriyaki Chicken

Delicious Chicken Teriyaki in 10 easy to follow steps

Serves: 4

  • 4 Chicken breasts with skin on
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp Sake (rice wine)
  • 4 tbsp Mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 clove garlic (Optional) finely chopped
  • 1 to 2 tbsp vegetable oil (or try our seasoned ginger oil)
Note: If Mirin is not available you can use regular rice wine and increase the amount of sugar to taste.

For The Garnish
Grated ginger - Available from Asian supermarkets but easily prepared using fresh ginger blended with a little water.

1. Pierce the skin on each chicken breast with a fork.

2. Mix the other ingredients together in a bowl.

3. Marinade the chicken in the mixture and place in the refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.

4. Remove the chicken from the marinade mixture and retain the leftover marinade for later use.

5. Heat the vegetable oil (or our seasoned ginger oil if you're using that) in a frying pan and fry the chicken, skin side first over a medium heat until the skin has browned.
6. Turn the chicken pieces over and gently fry the other side over a low heat.

7. Pour the retained marinade mixture over the chicken in the pan and cover, allowing the chicken to steam cook over a low heat until it's cooked through.

8. Remove the cover and allow the sauce to simmer until it becomes thick.
9. Remove the pan from the heat. Slice the chicken breasts diagonally and serve them on a plate.

10. Pour the thickened Terikayi sauce from the pan over the chicken and garnish with the grated ginger (Optional).

Serving suggestion.
Why not try this delicious Chicken Teriyaki with our Benihana style, Japanese Egg Fried Rice or alternatively served cold in a pitta bread pocket with salad.