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Crab n’ Prawn Cakes with Bath Ales Wild Hare

It’s amazing really; the alchemy that goes on when you throw a few ingredients together , roll them up into a cute ball and deep-fry the whole lot. Fishcakes – and these variants on the theme – are so easy to make, provided you follow the golden rule; Chill the beasts. Seriously. If you don’t have time to chill the cakes, don’t bother making them – unless you just want a pan of mushy, oily goo. Also, make the salsa ahead of time – the longer it sits in the pan, the better it gets.

For Four decent-sized cakes, begin by making some mashed potato – go easy on the butter and cream or milk, though. Do enough for two people.  Whilst the mash is cooling, chop up two Spring Onions, and a whole chilli pepper. Stick those in a bowl, and to that add one tin of Crab meat (fresh, if you have it, would be ace).  Take some cooked Prawns and chop those up into small chunks. Add the prawns to the bowl too.

Dump in the mash and work it all together. To season, just add some salt and chopped fresh Coriander. Cover, and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. Go watch some Pearl Jam on YouTube with a beer, if you like.

Shape your chilled filling into cakes – not too deep, or they won’t cook –  and cover again and chill for 20 minutes. When ready, take a plate and put some flour on it. Flour each side of the cakes, and the edges, a couple of times. When coated, shallow fry in hot oil – not Olive Oil though. Sunflower or Vegetable are fine.

Try to only turn them once, when browned on one side. One other thing I like to do is give them five minutes in hot oven before serving; it seems to just drive off a little of the oil and ensure a decent crunch. Serve with a leaf salad and a cheeky, zippy Salsa – made by just softening some Red Bell Pepper, a couple of Tomatoes, another chopped Chilli and a couple of cloves of Garlic. Add a little Balsamic Vinegar, a dollop of Olive Oil, and chopped Coriander. Finally, just add a touch of sugar; a must for tangy tomato sauces – it just takes the bitter edge off.

If you have the time, this makes a good starter for a weekend meal – but I eat these the most for weekend lunch. Beer-wise, I’d recommend Bath Ales’s excellent Wild Hare (5%abv).

Pale-gold in colour, it’s a Lemon & Lime-sherbert-fest in the nose, with a surprisingly robust digestive-biscuit body. It’s light, finishes clean, grassy and ever-so-slightly-flinty and refreshes perfectly. A great beer, and one I’d recommend for any light seafood dishes like this. It’s organic, too – huzzah!

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Burger Week on TGS – The Bacon-Cheese BagelBurger

Well –  you all know that I like doing themed weeks,and I think it’s about time the humble Burger got some love on here. Actually, I take that back –  The Burger is not humble; it’s awesome. Perfect in the way that great hand-food tends to be – a blank canvas, jack of all trades and master of them all; a moveable feast. Fast food, good food, tasty food. You can literally have your burger your way anytime you make one; all you need do is have a little imagination with the things you can change – the topping, and the bread itself. And, of course, the beer you enjoy alongside it. All are tasty little wingmen to your meaty (or not, if you’re Veggie) filling.

There are, of course, a few simple rules that I would suggest before embarking on a Burger Odyssey. As with most things, Quality is key. Good – Quality Burgers are a must, whether it be from online suppliers, Farmer’s Markets, Farm Shops, or Butchers. If making your own, I strongly suggest buying your meat close to when you are going to make them; in my opinion frozen beef mince just doesn’t form right. I didn’t make my own for this recipe (I bought mine from the Farm Shop next to the Hunter’s Inn in Pool), but if you want to make your own, my recipe is simply as follows:

Good Beef or Steak Mince, micro-fine diced Red Onion, a dash of Tomato Ketchup, a Dash of Tomato Puree, Salt, Pepper. 

I’m sure there are loads of recipes out there, however, if you don’t like the sound of that. If this is a little dry I sometimes add an Egg Yolk to bind it all; but I know some purists will scoff at that. You can add anything you want to them. Chilli, Herbs, BBQ Sauce, Mustard Powder, Soy Sauce, Oyster Sauce – anything. It’s your Burger. Just don’t add breadcrumbs, for god’s sake – otherwise, you have a meatball.

We might not have the deep psychological bond that our American Cousins have. We have great ingredients over here but we tend to put all that on a pedestal – Burgers should be for everyone. ‘Gourmet‘ Burgers and terms like that turn my stomach – there’s nothing ‘Gourmet’ about good food. It’s as simple as that; Good Burgers and Bad Burgers. Let’s not patronise the little patty any further; Burgers are great and we all love them.

Two's Up

So, first up, here’s my go-to Burger: The Bacon-Cheese BagelBurger. As with all the upcoming recipes, the only way to go is with a hot (really hot) Cast-Iron Griddle Pan. Just brush the burger with a little oil, and cook  – turning once – to your liking. I like mine a little pink but I know that this turns some folk off when it comes to minced meat. Whilst this badboy is sizzling away, lay smoked, streaky bacon next to it and let them crisp up.

Lightly toast your Bagel, and set aside. Lay slices of Smoked Cheese (I use Wensleydale’s Oak Smoked, which is awesome) and melt that on top of the burger. Make your burger up and top with a couple of sliced Cornichons or Dill Pickles, and a couple of slices of Tomato. I like the creamy-sweet combo of Tomato Ketchup and Mayo with this burger.

There you have  it – the classic; the bagel makes it a little sweeter, the smoked bacon gives saltiness and richness, the smoked Wensleydale giving more deep smoke but with a little tangy hit to round things off.

To drink? Meantime’s Union is a fantastic Burger beer. An uncomplicated but classy beer, there’s masses of sweet toffee going on in the body, with a bready nose and an ever-so-slightly peppery finish. It does a wonderful job of cutting through the meat and sauce without overloading your palate with sweetness or hops. If you can’t get this; I’d suggest any sweetish Amber Ale, such as Bath Ale’s Gem, Ilkley’s Best, Brooklyn Lager, or Anchor Steam.

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