Sunday, 19 June 2011
Friday, 7 January 2011
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Monday, 11 October 2010
Sunday, 5 September 2010
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
Sunday, 6 September 2009
This is my favourite dessert recipe in the whole wide world. And just to forewarn you, this pudding is so good that whoever you serve it to will fall madly and deeply in love with you, so just watch who you give it to...
I’ve had this recipe written since January and just haven’t got around to posting it, but the time has come to unleash this dessert and change the world by pairing it with some awesome beers.
The chocolate pudding is feather-light on the outside, hot, rich and gooey in the middle and it’s enough to melt even an iron heart. Pair this with the right beer and it turns all magical and supernatural. But what beer? Some would go straight for the cherry beer, and this is wise, no doubt, but there are better beers to pour with this. Personally, I’m thinking a big coffee stout. Here’s why: coffee stouts and chocolate are killer combos. It’s all about the lustful coming together of sweet chocolate and roasty-bitter coffee beer: it just works. But you need a big coffee beer, something full-bodied, imperial, rich and strong enough to leave you wired. It’s a real pick-me-up pairing, like a do-it-yourself tiramisu (I have to make tiramisu with coffee stout in the base one day…) where the chocolate soothes and the coffee kicks.
The pudding recipe has never failed me and it’s incredible. The pudding coats the tongue in the way that only good chocolate can and then the beer glides in and lifts it all away, making you want more and more and more… But there are careful steps needed to get that oh-so-important gooey centre. First, I add grated chocolate to the mix. Second, I add a little contingency square of chocolate in the centre. Third, make the mix a few hours before you need it (this is helpful anyway) and then chill it. Fourth, bake it for exactly 10 minutes at 220C – no more, no less.
Gooey Chocolate Puddings
This makes 6 puddings.
- 200g dark chocolate (or part and part with milk chocolate)
- 150g butter, plus some for lining the dishes
- Pinch sea salt
- 3 whole eggs and 3 yolks
- 50g caster sugar
- 20g plain flour
- Cocoa powder for dusting
Line the ramekins with butter and sprinkle cocoa into each so it all sticks to the butter. Melt 150g of the chocolate with the butter (in a glass bowl over a pan of bubbling water) and add a pinch of sea salt. While that’s melting whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar until they are pale and creamy. When the chocolate is done take it off the heat for a minute, in that minute grate a few chunks of chocolate (leaving six squares behind) into the egg/sugar mix then add the melted chocolate and butter and stir through gently. Next add the flour and stir into a pudding mix. Pour into the ramekins and pop a square of chocolate into the middle of each one. Chill until you need it.
To cook the puddings the oven must be preheated to 220C – exactly 220C. Add the ramekins and watch the clock very closely. As soon as ten minutes are up take them out, run a knife around the edge and turn them out onto a plate.
I like this served with ice cream. The first time I tried it I had it with a coffee ice cream and that was super but I personally think a more subtle ice cream would be best, and something like the RipTide Stout Ice Cream would be spot on. Another excellent choice would be a banana ice cream (coffee, chocolate and banana is a truly great combo). Or just go for a good vanilla ice cream.
As for the beer, I’d jump straight to Mikkeller and grab the Beer Geek Breakfast, or even better, the Beer Geek Brunch Weasel (I wrote about that here). I’ve had the puddings with BrewDog’s Coffee Imperial Stout, as the picture shows, and that was fantastic. You could try the Meantime Coffee but I think it might struggle to deal with the awesomeness of the dessert. If you can’t do a coffee beer then go for a straight up imperial stout - Thornbridge’s Bracia would kick serious pudding-fattened ass, Stone’s Imperial Russian Stout or a sublime De Struise Black Albert. The dessert deserves good beer, the dessert demands good beer. But remember the cautionary words at the beginning: whoever you serve this to will fall wildly in love with you.
Thursday, 30 July 2009
It took me a while to ‘get’ Orval. The first few bottles, spread over a few fledgling beer drinker years, did nothing for me, perhaps being too esoteric, perhaps just being out of my ‘5% dark ale’ comfort zone. Then, on a hot day, I poured myself one and sat in the garden with a book and all of a sudden it was entirely clear to me. It’s elegant and light but it’s mysterious and intriguing. It’s the swathe of opaque orange, the simplicity of the malt, the mouth-filling body; then it’s the big peppery hops, that bitterness and then that burst of brett with its almost-impossible-to-describe, ever-evolving lift.
And it’s an almost perfect food beer. It’s got the spritzy tart finish, it’s got boozy strength to stand up to big flavours, it’s got a savoury peppery quality and it’s got palate-sweeping fizz. Fish, check. Cheese, check. Salads, check. Battered cod and chips, check. Curry, check. Hell, I reckon it’d probably even be awesome with the king of dinners: sausage, chips and beans.
This Food and Beer Pairing of the Week! is Orval and paella. For me paella is a ray of sunshine. It’s a memory of the summer, of a sea-breeze, of sitting outside in Barcelona by the water side, the smell of cooking, of the sea, of the warm air, the feeling of warm skin, of a beer or two already drunk, of being chilled out. I cook paella when I want to recreate that feeling; it’s a burst of summer warmth. And why Orval? Why not just some Spanish cerveza? San Miguel, Cruzcampo, Estrella Damm? Well, paella is salty and rich and fishy and it comes with lemons to cut some acidity through it, but why use lemons when you can use a beer to do that job? The just-sharp finish of Orval picks up everything, glides through it and rounds it all off, while that hop bite matches the chorizo and loves the fish and rice. Add to this the primal, summer breeze-like aroma of the beer and it’s a totally awesome match. And what could be more summery than that? Forgo the lager on this one, pour the beer into a fancy glass and enjoy.
Tuesday, 28 April 2009
Just thinking about this lunch now makes me smile. Simply and far-from revolutionary, it’s fresh, new season asparagus fried in butter and oil (with a whole fat clove of garlic and salt and pepper to flavour everything, plus a squeeze of lemon at the end to make it sparkle), a poached egg or two on top, loads of Lincolnshire Poacher cheese is grated over and this all stretches and oozes over of a slice of bread which sucks up all the salty-lemony-buttery-yolky juices. It really is just a little moment of perfection how everything works together – the charred crunch of earthy-sweet asparagus, the slick rich yolk, the salty bite of the cheese, the soft chewyness of the bread… This is my food heaven.
And would you believe it, it’s also great with beer! Try pairing a wine with this and you’ll get yourself in all kinds of bother. Instead, pop the crown off a bottle of English-style IPA - Meantime’s IPA, Downton’s Chimera, Thornbridge’s Halcyon and Worthington’s White Shield would all be totally awesome. Their grassy, earthy notes along with the sweet malt backbone and the dry, lingering hops just have a wild fling with the richness of the yolk and cheese while the fresh spears of asparagus are enhanced by everything the beer can throw at it.
What could be better? And it’s all just so bloody gloriously English that it makes me proud.
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
I’ve been on a bit on an IPA bender of late. The last few weekends have just been all about the hops and I can’t get enough. Last weekend I was drinking it all day and bought as many bottles from Utobeer as I could carry, so it looks like my IPA-a-thon will continue unabated. Right in the middle of all this fun I had the big dog.
And I finally did it, I finally found something to go with Stone’s Ruination IPA. I think. (I've written about bitterness and this beer here)
I wanted to open this beer on that fateful night whatever happened and drinking it would’ve coincided with dinner so I thought I’d try again to put them together. The thought process was something like this: the food has to be BIG and rich and fatty and meaty and spicy and sweet and earthy. So the choice was obvious. Spicy belly pork with chilli and garlic roasted butternut squash. That’s it.
I roasted the belly pork with chilli, paprika, loads of pepper and cayenne pepper and a touch of five spice. Then the squash was just cut into wedges, oiled and seasoned, smothered in crushed garlic and chilli and smoked paprika and roasted until soft. The result was surprising good: the crunchy crackling starts it all off, then the layer of mouth-coating fat, then the juicy meat and peppery spice (that’s a lot going on, flavour- and texture-wise) and the beer pours in and glides over the fat, it pulls the sweetness from the meat and the spice and tingles the heat of the chilli, blending it all with the huge caramel base of the beer. The fragrant squash is a buffer of earthy sweetness to soak up the hops and give a delicious fruitiness while still retaining all of that palate cleansing/stripping bitterness. It had me eating then drinking then back for more pork then more beer in a sexy and vicious circle of spice, meat and hops. I had a ball.
But I said that I think it works. Even now I’m not certain that it actually did work as a brilliant match. Maybe I got something which just dulled the bitterness stopping a monsterous palate pile-up but not actually giving a great match-up, or maybe my bottle was a bit old and had lost some of its kick. I don’t know. For me it worked a treat and I’d pair it again happily. Plus, belly pork is a favourite food of mine and Ruination is a favourite beer, so…
Anyone had anything great this week? Or has anyone had any luck trying to pair a dish with any extremely bitter beers?
Thursday, 26 March 2009
FAB POW! the call of the gay superhero and the Food and Beer Pairing of the Week!
Curious Brew are the beer side of Chapel Down wines and they make three great beers which I’ve written about here. The Brut is brewed with champagne yeast and it’s a super little beer, spritzy and lively and light and elegant. It calls out for delicate seafood so what better to put with it than fish fingers?!
Fish fingers rock. Simple as that. I love them. Fish fingers, chips and baked beans is a winning dinner every time and don’t even get me started on the fish finger sandwich! It’s one of the greatest things this world has to offer. I love them.
This match is a little bit of cheeky with a little bit of classy. That’s a good fun pairing. And it’d be even better if you’ve got a Deus Brut des Flandres to open...
What good FAB combos have you had this week?!
Sunday, 7 December 2008
Did you know that over 1 million fish fingers are eaten daily in Britain? And over 100 packs are sold in the UK each minute? In a poll in 1993, Captain Bird’s Eye came second in a list of the most recognised captains. Captain Cook was first. I don’t know which captain I would name first, but I know which one is my favourite, for without him we wouldn’t have fish fingers, potato waffles and chicken dippers, plus some other captain would’ve found the rest of the world eventually anyway.
Whether it is day or night, if I am happy or sad, alone or with friends, drunk or sober – these are when I want a fish finger sandwich. It is just the simplest thing to make, but the combination in textures between the fluffy bread, crunchy golden crumb and soft, hot fish is unbeatable.
A fish finger sandwich technically only needs bread and the fingers (at least 4 per 2 slices of bread) to qualify it as such. The bread can, of course, be brown or white, freshly baked or shop bought. The fish finger can be any brand you like, and you could even make your own but this feels completely frivilous. At university, my housemate and I used to marvel at the supermarket value options because each finger cost just 2p, although the actual ‘fish’ content is a little hazy and the texture a little cardboardy, so look towards the big name brands – don’t spare any expense here! The choice of condiment is yours too: Red, brown, spicy, sweet, creamy, anything you like. And the addition of some ‘green stuff’ is discretionary (adding cucumber would be a crime, but some crisp iceberg lettuce is fine). And a slice of plastic cheese is often very welcome.
My perfect fish finger sandwich goes a little something like this…
· 2 thick slices of white bread
· 4 fish fingers, at least
· Butter, for the bread
· Ketchup, mayonnaise and sweet chilli sauce, a little of each
· Optional extras, depending on how I/you feel – crisp iceberg lettuce and a slice of cheese (burger cheese of course)
Grill the fish fingers until crispy and golden and the sweet juices begin to leak through the crumbed shell. Butter the bread and spread with as much of whatever condiment-combo you want. When the fingers are cooked, and still piping hot, place them lovingly on the bread, but be careful not to burn your fingers in greedy anticipation. Lay the other slice of bread on top, and press it together. This press is almost essential and I would state (without scientific backing) that it makes everything taste better – incidentally, this 'pressing rule' applies to any and all sandwiches. Cut in half and eat immediately, so that the butter melts and mixes with the sauce, driping out naughtily.
Should you want dessert, I suggest a Twix or 3 or 4 Jaffa Cakes.
With food that is eaten with the fingers, you need beer from the bottle. Your favourite bottled variety is best, something light and crisp. There really is no ‘ideal’ beer to go with a fish finger sandwich and to be honest it may be a little unnecessary drinking booze with a child-like dinner, but I would expressly suggest Anchor’s Liberty Ale or their Steam Beer. Or look towards some British beers, Meantime’s Pilsner is a winner, as is Whitstable Bay’s Pilsner or BrewDog's Physics. A glass of orange squash might be the most appropriate drink.