Category Archives: food and beer matches

Brunch, Done Right – Black Pudding, Mushrooms, Toast

Breakfast. Being honest, not something I eat a lot of. I generally don’t get hungry until I’ve been up an hour or so, and by that time I’m normally on the way to work. On holiday, or when not at work, however, I do try and get something special on the go for ‘Brunch’.

There’s something inherently decadent about most things you would cook for Brunch – noticed that? A personal favourite is Scrambled Eggs on a toasted Bagel, made with cream and butter, stirred through until just-so and then topped with layers of sweet, smoky Salmon. Simple, fortifying and probably incredibly bad for you. Toast. Butter. Black Pudding. Bacon-Bacon. Sausage. All these things are not the cardiologist’s friend. It’s never really going to be health-food. Nope, Brunch is all about fat. Which normally equals, as we all know, flavour.

My tastebuds, however, flick two fingers up at my waistline and heart when Brunch is on the go. So it’s a return to familiar, comforting flavours this lunchtime. A tubby, rotund Cep-like Mushroom, sliced thickly and sauteed in butter; with only the merest lick of Olive Oil to stop burning. Wedges of The Blue Pig’s Black Pudding, now officially my brand of choice. The nuggets of pig-fat that stud it are just meaty, chewy Haribo-pork goodness, and when sauteed in the same pan you get crispy, crunchy exterior – and moist, delicately – spiced interior.

 

Stack them on top of warmed Ciabatta – or Toast – and you’ve got a massive, massive flavour-bomb of a lunch. (We’ve eaten late; it is lunch but just feels like Brunch). A pint of Bowland’s Headless Peg (4.5%abv) joins proceedings; dark-amber with a serious red streak, there’s gentle fudge and toffee-sweetness in the body, with some raisin and black pepper (take note, Pepe Nero!) rounding things off with a hint of earthy spice. A surprisingly flavourful beer, it’s perfect with the rich, subtly herbed notes of the Black Pudding and Mushroom.

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>Feta Burritos and Kelham Island Blonde

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It’s not often that I cook 100% vegetarian dishes – or indeed crave them -but a recent night out in Covent Garden which culminated in a fantastic (and incredibly reasonably-priced) meal at Wahaca ended with me declaring that my eating-buddy’s meal was nicer than mine, Veggie or not. So a few weeks ago I caved and set about recreating something like it; and this is what I ended up with; Makes two large Burritos.
Pre-heat your oven to 175c. Firstly, you need to make your rice filling. Cook some rice according to packet instructions, drain, and set aside. In a large pan, soften one large white Onion in Olive oil and a knob of butter. Add some chopped Chestnut mushrooms, and one sliced Courgette. When the Courgette is soft, one clove of chopped Garlic. Add your rice and blend together. Season with freshly-ground black pepper as well as generous shakes of Smoked Paprika and finish off with mild Chili powder to your liking.

Spoon your filling onto the middle of a wheat Tortilla, and then add crumbled Feta Cheese on top of this. Roll, seal, and then roll inside another tortilla. Lay on a baking tray and repeat until your Burritos are made.

Cook in the oven for about ten minutes – you want the tops just crispy, and warmed through enough for the cheese to melt or soften.

Serve with a dollop of Sour Cream on top, and a fresh Mexican salad; Tomato, red onion and fresh coriander, doused in Lime Juice. If you wanted to ‘meat this up’, you could add chicken or Chorizo to the rice – even left over chili if you have it. To make things hotter, add chopped chillis (jalapenos would be nice and zippy) to the rice. I kept things simple, as for me, this dish is actually more about the melty, oozy cheese mixing with the rice.

I washed this down with a ‘Island’ from Kelham Island. This 4.0%abv Blonde doesn’t look like much on the outside, but this deep Golden ale has a lovely, honey-sweet nose and body, but rounds things off nicely with a flinty, dry finish more reminiscent of a Pilsner than a Golden Ale. It’s a lovely quaffing beer and chills down really well if you want something refreshing but with flavour to douse Mexican heat.

Do go to Wahaca; the food’s lovely.

Stuffed Squid with Amber Lager

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I know that squid divides people, but I can honestly say I’m firmly in rooted the ‘obsessed with it’ camp. Whether it’s enjoying it tenderly stewed for hours on a Greek Island, or flinging some on the barbecue for an altogether more exciting option to burgers and sausages, Squid is a massively evocative food; sunshine, opulence and something new. Here’s something that we did a few weeks ago – by no means original, but if its flavour you’re after – look no further. Simplicity itself.
Firstly, you need to make a quick, basic Paella or Pilaf – if you have none to use as leftover (like we had). Risotto will work too. Anyway – This quick recipe will fill four moderately-sized squid. In a large pan, gently fry one onion and four (yep, four) cloves of Garlic until golden in a generous slug of Olive oil. Remove the garlic, and add one chopped red or green pepper. Again, sweat down until soft. To this, add chopped Chorizo and a little chopped chicken or prawns. I’ve not mentioned quantities because it’s up to you – but do get at least two meats in there. When that lovely red-hued fat has leached from the Chorizo, add about 3 cups or rice – risotto (Aborio) rice will do if you like but its not essential – and coat with all the ingredients. Then slowly add chicken stock and stir until the rice has absorbed it all and is cooked. Season with a little black pepper, and some fresh Oregano, and leave to cool .
At this point, you should clean your Squid. It’s easy – just pull off the head, and most of the insides will follow. Get your fingers in there and remove the plastic-looking sheath known as the Quill, and then run under cold water and scrape all the remaining innards out. Rinse again, and you have your squid tube ready to go.
Pre-heat a griddle pan to hot, and then simply stuff the Squid with your rice. Seal the ends with a cocktail stick , brush sparsely with Olive oil, and then lay on the griddle pan to cook. Turn once – they’ll need about three minutes on each side – and you’re ready to go. Serve with a crisp, fresh salad.

I enjoyed these ones with a couple of bottles of chilled Dos Equis. Although your instinct may be to go for a lager, summer ale or even a crisp Wheat beer, I find that something with a large dollop of Crystal Malt really brings out the sweetness in Squid. In the past, I’ve enjoyed Brooklyn Lager, Sam Adams Boston Lager, and good ol’ Anchor Steam with grilled squid.

>’Spanish’ Pasties

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Now that Autumn is well and truly here, may I suggest this warming little spanish treat. Loosely based on the Spanish or Portuguese Empanada, these are a typically Yorkshire version; bigger, and with more of everything. They also taste good cold, so bake some up, and take them along to your bonfires next month. I also totally advocate using frozen pastry; the quality is excellent these days – although feel free to make your own, if you like! As usual with me, all measures are approximate – so put more or less in of whatever you like. But here’s what I did.

1. Firstly, take one large potato and chop into chunks. Par-boil the pieces until soft enough to put a skewer through. Drain and set aside to cool.

2. Now, make the filling. In a large frying pan or wok, heat up a large glug of olive oil, and add: your potato chunks, 200g of diced turkey thigh, 100g of Chorizo, chopped into small cubes, one large, diced red onion, and one 1 small diced pepper. Fry gently until the veg is soft and the meat browned. When done, add a little more oil, and about 4 tbspns of Tomato Puree. Mix and coat the mixture. Then add 3 chopped or minced cloves of garlic and two chopped chillies. Add a dash of Tabasco, too – it adds a little sweetness. Add a teaspoon of water, and season the filling mix with salt, pepper, and some dried Rosemary.

3. Leave the mix to cool – very important – and preheat your oven to 200c.
4. Roll out your Puff pastry, and re-knead if frozen (I find this just helps it get more pliable). Roll into sheets and, using a saucer, cut out four circles. You should be able to get two from each sheet.
5. When the mixture has cooled, divide it onto the sheets, and fold over and crimp to make pasties. If the mixture is not cool, your pastry Will fall apart, so don’t jump the gun here.
6. Glaze with oil, butter, egg or milk and bake for about 20 minutes until crispy.
7. Crack one open, and enjoy.

You can make these as hot as you need, but do add the chilli – it makes them what they are. You could also experiment with the fillings, and add fish or pork, if you like. You’ll notice I’ve used Turkey thigh meat rather than chicken or turkey breast – I find that the thigh is not only tastier, but remains moister much longer. These pasties can be frozen, too, as long as all of your meat is fresh the first time around.

To combat the heat, I washed these down with some of William Bull’s Red Angus Pilsener. this chilled Australian offering had a little earthiness in the body, but was certainly crisp enough, and had masses of lemon and lime sherbertiness on the nose and the end of the sip. Very refreshing indeed, and stove off the chillies with no problem at all.
Overall, an interesting beer that I would drink again, if only to give a more serious appraisal. Still a pint of this on a hot day wouldn’t go amiss at all.

>Bacon & Cheese Toasts

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Ahh…BaconCheese…can’t go wrong. Sometimes, you just want something to graze or snack on when enjoying a good pint, rather than a full meal. This easy snack gets rids of those munchies, and really compliments a good, strong bitter.
You will need:
2 large knobs of butter
Bloomer Loaf
Plain flour
Milk
Chopped and fried smoked bacon or ham
Wholegrain Mustard
Cheese of your choice – I would go for smoky or strong tasting cheese. Or more than one kind – the choice is yours!! Manchego is very good with this, as is Lincolnshire Poacher. You want something with bite.

1. Ok – first thing’s first – preheat your grill to about 180c.
2. To make a simple béchamel sauce, melt your butter in a pan, and when melted sprinkle flour over it, slowly, stirring or whisking at the same time. The butter will thicken into a paste. At this point, add milk and whisk; but slowly and a little at a time. You want a thick sauce, so don’t add too much milk.
3. To the sauce add two teaspoons of wholegrain mustard, and the cooked bacon.
4. Stir, and then grate in about 100g of cheese.
5. Leave the sauce to combine whilst you slice some big slices of crusty or bloomer bread.
6. Top the bread with the sauce, top again with more cheese (the more the better!!) and then grill for 5-8 minutes. You want the bread to toast around the edges, and the cheese to bubble and melt on top.

Done. Eat at once, with a good, strong bitter – I enjoyed mine with York’s Yorkshire Terrier – Perfectly robust enough to stand up to all that good smokiness from the bacon and cheese. The addition of mustardy béchamel sets this posh toast -topping apart.

>An Easter Treat

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…A warm Hot Cross Bun, smeared with a generous helping of Tangerine Marmalade, and a Budwieser Budvar Dark. Although you may think it a little thin, the yeastiness of the bread really works with the lager, and the gentle Saaz hoppiness accompanies those citrus fruits in the bun and the marmalade perfectly. Give it a try.
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