Sunday, 30 October 2011

A bit of Schmaltz - Chicken Fat Fried Egg in a Basket

Some things need little explanation; fried bread with Schmaltz is one of the best things in life. If you haven’t tried it, you should.

As a by-product of some chicken stock we made yesterday I had just enough of that lovely wibbly fat for breakfast. This is quick, easy and perfect for soaking up booze after a heavy night.

I might even go as far as saying it can cure all but the harshest of hangovers*. Start by cutting a circle out of the bread with a ramekin.

Get your fat hot in a frying pan and throw in your slice. Cook on one side till nice and toasty then turn it over; add the egg and fry till cooked.

It doesn’t get much easier than this really.

Ingredients:
Egg
Bread
Chicken Fat

*may not be based in fact or actually cure hangovers…

Monday, 10 October 2011

Mal Maison - Swinegate, Leeds

Walking into the restaurant at Mal Maison I was struck by how romantic the setting was. The soft lighting, candle lit tables and that tried and tested brasserie style set up would be perfect for couples enjoying a weekend break.

Not so perfect then for a man-date with my old house mate... I’d been invited to stay at the hotel and try out the restaurant but it seemed odd not to stay with a friend when I was in Leeds so I was just here to try the food instead.

We grabbed some beers and were guided through to our table and played footsie, I mean talked about football, while we decided what to order.

The menu is suitably diverse to keep even the fussiest of eaters happy but we eventually settled on the Cider Braised Pork Cheek and the Fritto Misto to start. The Pork Cheek was delicious served with an Apple and Black Pudding Salad.

My old house mate started to wolf it down but I just managed to grab a mouthful before it went. I love Black Pudding with anything but this was well executed and a really good choice.

The Fritto Misto was served with a Tarragon Aioli which went well with the lightly fried Prawns and Squid. It was a good portion size as well for the price and I could have easily eaten this with a salad as a healthy lunch.

For mains though I went for the Spring Lamb Rump with puy lentils, carrots, crisp pancetta and Man-date had the Duck Breast with carrot & orange pure√®, fondant potato and buttered spinach. Both fairly classic but Lamb Rump is one of my favourite things on earth so I couldn’t say no…

I was really pleased when it came out, perfectly cooked pink and juicy with crisp creamy fat. The earthy lentils and pancetta with it were simpy done; this was a delicious dish and highlighted the natural flavours of the constituent parts well.

The Duck again was nice and pink, well cooked and rested but I’m not sure what I thought of the Carrot and Orange Puree. Not overly sweet, not overly savoury it complimented the Duck but it’s not something I’d normally order.

I've got to say though I'm really quite fed up of fondant potatoes. Does anyone actually like them? Give me a nice Rosti any day...

I really enjoyed my meal at Mal Maison; the staff were friendly and the service professional but we didn’t stick around for desserts. The bars and nightlife of Leeds was calling so we said our good byes and left full but ready for a good night!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

This is not Nanny Pat's Sausage Plait

Where’s Nanny Pat when you need her? Despite the rumours that she doesn’t make her own Plait, I think even she could turn out something better than my effort.

Sometimes it really is evident why I call this how not to do a food blog. After a hard day at work you could say my attention to detail is somewhat limited and I develop a more pragmatic approach to my cooking...

With that in mind you might think it foolish when the kind folk of Sainsbury’s asked me to try their new By Sainsbury’s range. It all looked pretty good but I only had eyes for two things though, the Butchers Choice Cumberland Sausages and the Ready Rolled Puff Pastry.

Putting the two together in the form of a tasty sausage plait wasn’t really much of a leap of the imagination. I did however think it’d be a good test of the quality of the produce.

The pastry I have to say is pretty good, very easy to work with and when cooked was buttery and delicious. The sausage itself wasn’t too bad either, like most Cumberland they had a good dose of Black Pepper thrown in and probably would have even been ok without the addition of the onion.

For a quick, tasty and essentially lazy supper you could do a lot worse in my opinion. Start by stripping your Sausages of their skins and putting the meat into a bowl, mix in your chopped spring onions and form into a meat tube in the middle of your pastry.

You’ll want to score the pastry so you can plait the top. If you are using Sainsbury’s Ready Rolled Puff Pastry you’ll need to trim some off the side so you don’t have a huge over lap when you get going.

Don’t use foil when you bake this like I did, I’d run out of baking parchment... Glaze with butter then cook for forty minutes at 200c or till golden brown on top. If you are feeling particularly chavvy serve with baked beans!

Ingredients:
8 Sausages
1 Pack of ready Rolled Puff Pastry
Spring Onions
Butter to glaze