Monday, 26 June 2017

Pineapple Jam

Pineapple is quintessentially tropical. When pineapples are readily available in the UK (May-September) turn a couple of these prickly fruits into this sweet, sticky and sublime pineapple jam. I like to spread this on toasted harddough bread or Jamaican bun, but a slice of sourdough, or sandwiched between a sponge cake would be equally delicious; the possibilities are endless.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hr – 1 hr 15 minutes.
Makes 3 x 250 ml jars
You will need a large saucepan,  potato masher, side plate and thermometer if using.

1 large Whole Fresh Pineapple or 2 small pineapples (around 1 kg)
1.5 litres water
600g granulated sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp cinnamon

Place a side plate in the freezer. Peel the pineapple skin and discard the stem so that it resembles bite size chunks.

Place the pineapple pieces in a large pan and using a potato masher, mash half the pineapple pieces so you have a combination of pieces and some that are mushy. Add the sugar, cinnamon and water and stir off the heat. Put a side plate in the freezer. Heat the saucepan on a medium heat (the mixture should be softly bubbling away) and bring the marmalade to the boil – this will take around 30 minutes, lower the heat and leave to simmer, cook for a further 30 – 45 minutes until the mixture is syrupy and thick, place in the sterilised jars and enjoy.  

To check whether the marmalade has set, remove the plate on the side plate, dollop a couple of tablespoon on the side plate from the freezer. Using your fingers, push the marmalade surface the outer edges should wrinkle and not be too runny. If the marmalade has not set, continue to boil for another 3 minutes then re-test. Alternatively using a thermometer, check whether the pineapple has reached 105C.


Friday, 16 June 2017

The Ultimate Greek Salad

Summer is here. Summer to me is synonymous with barbecues, picnics, Summer fruit, outdoor eating and long evenings. I'm not the biggest fan of salads, but during the Summer months, I love nothing more than having a hearty salad served either on it's own with crispy bread and olives, or served with meat and fish. I really enjoy all the flavours in a traditional Greek salad: salty feta, cooling cucumber and moreish olives. Most people who enjoy food would have several Greek salad recipes. This recipe comes from the queen of cooking, Nigella Lawson. Her recipe for Ultimate Greek Salad is from the very appropriately titled "Forever Summer". The recipe, although great, omits cucumber, but I had to add this as for me it's not really an ultimate Greek Salad without  cucumber.

Recipe for Ultimate Greek Salad
1 red onion
1 tablespoon dried oregano
black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
5 good tomatoes
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 bulb fennel
4 ounces pitted black olives
14 ounces feta cheese
juice of half a lemon
(I used 1/2 cucumber, sliced and quartered)

Peel and finely slice the red onion then sprinkle over the oregano and grind over  some pepper. Pour in the vinegar and oil and toss well, cover with plastic wrap and leave to steep for a good 2 hours; longer's fine. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, then cut each quarter into quarters (always lengthwise), again so that you have a collection of very fine segments. Sprinkle the sugar and pinch of salt over them and leave whiles you get on with the rest. Wash the lettuce, tear into big pieces and put into a large, wide salad bowl. Slice the fennel, and add that, then, the olives and the feta, cut or crumbled into rough chunks, and toss well. Now add the tomatoes, the red onion and cucumber.


Sunday, 11 June 2017

Review of Wagamama's New Summer Menu

A few weeks back, I was invited to check out the new Summer menu at Wagamama, Bull Ring. I'll be honest, although Wagamama is a very popular chain restaurant, I have never visited. I had a rough idea about the sort of cuisine that is offered here: Far Eastern fusion cuisine. I visited with an open mind and was looking forward to trying new and exciting dishes. Centrally located at Birmingham's Bull Ring, opposite St Martin's Church, the restaurant is light and airy and there is an open plan chef kitchen where you can watch the hard working chefs prepare  delicious meals.  The restaurant seating has long tables instead of usual circular tables, which gives it more of a social feel.

There were quite a few bloggers who attended and sampled the new Summer menu.  There was an emphasis on pairing alcohol to the new Summer dishes, which I found exciting, as again this was something new to me.  All our dishes were shared between my fellow bloggers so we could sample all the new dishes but not be overly stuffed. One thing I really liked about Wagamama is that all the dishes have nutritional information, which is quite a rare thing for restaurants, so you can enjoy your meal, whether you are watching your waist line as you have the opportunity to make wise choices. First up was the Repair Juice, which consisted of Kale, Apple, Lime and Pear at 186 calories. The juice was fresh and to be honest, I didn't know that Kale could taste so good. The Repair Juice was a palette cleanser which set up my palette for a wonderful range of fusion dishes.

Next up was the Beef Tataki, which is described as "lightly seared, marinated steak, thinly sliced and served chilled. Dressed with citrus ponzu and Japanese mayonnaise and served with a side of pickled beetroot and coriander. This is the first time I've ever ate uncooked beef, I was a little unsure what it would taste like. As the beef was thinly sliced and marinated in citrus, this made the dish safe to eat. The beef was tender, melted in my mouth and the dressing complimented beef.

I also sampled the Seared Nuoc Cham Tuna, which alongside the Beef Tataki the tuna was rare. I normally like my meat and fish cooked medium, I asked how long this was cooked for. Our attentive chef advised me that the tuna was cooked on a high heat for 30 seconds and then left to cool so the heat can be evenly distributed inside the tuna. The seared nuoc cham tuna steak was served on a bed of quiona with stir-fried kale, sweet potato and edamame beans, red onion and peppers, garnished with coriander. I found the dish to be very light and refreshing.

The above two dishes were paired with the New Zealand Yealands Estate Land Made which was crisp and zingy and complimented the fish courses well.

The following dish that I sampled was the Grilled Beam Donburi, fillets of sea bream dressed in a spicy white rice and teriyaki sauce. This dish also had carrots, pea shoots, spring onion and coriander with a side of kimichi. Our chef advised us to add the kimichi to the Grilled Beam Donburi which added a tangy flavour to it.

In between the courses there was beers to  compliment the grilled beam donburi. I love fiery and flavoursome curries and the next dishes to sample were the Chicken Samlay curry and Yasai Samla Curry. The samla curry consisted of a fragrant, spicy lemongrass and coconut curry with chicken, peppers, shiitake mushrooms and baby plum tomatoes. This was served with white rice and garnished with spring onion, chilli and coriander.

Our last savoury offering was the Sticky Pork Belly. The sticky pork belly was glazed with citrus and teriyaki and served with grilled miso aubergine,  spring onions, ginger and chilli. I absolutely adored the pork belly, it had a sweet tang to it and the pork belly in this dish was moreish. In fact, this was my favourite dish of the whole meal. I really enjoyed the pairing with aubergine - a pairing which I've never considered before.

After the feast of the savoury dishes was a trio of desserts inspired by the Far East. The first dessert sampled was the Lemongrass and Lime sorbet. Sharp, sweet and a palette cleanser, this dessert was refreshing and ideal if you fancied a lighter dessert.

Following the sorbet was the Chocolate Layer Cake, which was gluten free. The chocolate layer cake reminded me of Ferrero Rocher. Surprisingly, I found the cake to be light and the vanilla ice-cream complimented the chocolate layer cake.

Our final dessert was the Yuzu and Lemon Tart which was served with a raspberry compote. In case you are not aware (which I wasn't) Yusu is a Japenesse citrus fruit. This dish reminded me of a lemon custard tart. The pastry was crisp, the filling well set and I enjoyed the combination of the yuzu with the raspberry compote.

Disclaimer: I was invited to Wagamama to sample the new Summer menu. All opinions are my own.



Wednesday, 7 June 2017

May 17 Monthly Eatings

It's been such a long time since I wrote about my Monthly Eatings. In fact the last time I wrote about the monthly escapades was November 2016. It's not as though I have not been eating out, of course I have, but I just haven't had chance to write about it here, but as always, I've been happily post this on my social media. Anyway, in May I ate at all new restaurants, some have been on my list to check out, others have been a bit more spontaneous. This month's monthly eatings is from Wolverhampton, Bath and Newport and includes everything from a gastropubs, to burger joints and afternoon tea.

Gourmet Burger Kitchen - Newport

Kaspas - Newport

The Crown Wolverhampton  

Tredegar House

Hilton Bath

All meals were paid for myself. I'm looking forward to this month's restaurant eatings.

Friday, 2 June 2017

A simple Italian salad with Prosciutto di San Daniele & Grana Padano

I'm always interest to learn about products that have been around for centuries,  including this wonderful Prosciutto di San Daniele and Grana Padano cheese which was sent to me. I love Italian ingredients and welcome any opportunity to in-coperate this into every day ingredients. I normally eat proscuitto, the seasoned cured Italian ham with figs, with creamy pasta and topped with a hearty soup. Italian cheese is normally shaved over a loaded bowl of pasta.

I sampled the Prosciutto di San Daniele, pretty to look at, I found it had a mild delicate and sweet flavour. There are lots of different brands of Prosciutto, but the Prosciutto di San Daniele is produced only in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy. It's has protected status. The Prosciutto does not have any additives or preservatives.

The Grana Padano cheese is one of the oldest cheeses in the world having been around for 900 years.  There are 3 ageing process which helps it achieve it's distinctive flavour:

  • Grana Padano (9 to 16 months): texture still creamy, only slightly grainy.
  • Grana Padano (over 16 months): crumblier texture, more pronounced taste.
  • Grana Padano Riserva (over 20 months): grainy, crumbly and full flavoured.

The Grana Padano cheese was very similar to Parmesan cheese, creamy and rich. I in-coperated the procuitto and grana padano cheese into a light and refreshing summer salad with additional ingredients of salad leaves, tomatoes and dates. 

Disclaimer: I received the samples for review purposes.
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