Thursday, 12 March 2015

Oat Milk Waffles with Chocolate and Tahini



We should all try and be more like Leslie Knope, and a good place to start is by upping your waffle consumption.  It's all very well going to one of the American Diner type places that have cropped up in every nook and cranny large enough to fit a replica jukebox, but for around the same price as four waffles from one of them, you could buy an entire waffle iron for yourself.  You know what they say: "Give a man a waffle and he'll eat breakfast for a day, but give him a waffle iron and he'll Instagram his brunch for years"

The other good thing about DIY waffles is that you get to call the shots when it comes to the batter.  Milk is amazing, but it's pretty much poison to some people, and altogether not really that great for everybody else, so try replacing it with non-dairy equivalents.  This recipe uses Oat Milk which gives the waffles a slight oaty taste (go figure), and a more noticeable contrast of crispy outside and fluffy inside than with regular cow-milk.

This sauce makes an unusual but brilliant substitute for the usual Maple Syrup when you've got the chance to spend a bit of time on your brunch (Hint: Mothers' Day is this weekend, a Moonpig card isn't going to cut again this year) - use a 70% cocoa bar of chocolate to give it a really rich taste, and Tahini to complement the nutty flavour of the Oat Milk waffles.  Some of the more unusual ingredients like Tahini and Coconut Oil might sound difficult to come across but I managed to find them in my local Coop, so give them a try.

If you're not ready to make the commitment of buying a waffle iron (go on), then you can use the same recipe to make American-style pancakes.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Salt Beef & Chorizo Hash Recipe


Sometimes there's nothing more appealing than a recipe which gives you an excuse to waltz around the market squeezing seasonal produce and talking to butchers about the provenance of their locally-reared pork, before getting all of the ingredients home and spending hours crafting them into a delicate meal - if you're lucky, some songbirds might fly through the kitchen window, tie your apron strings with their beaks and provide musical accompaniment.

Other times you just want to quarantine yourself at home and follow a recipe that requires you to chuck anything edible into a pan and then bung it in the oven - including but not limited to potatoes, fresh/frozen veg, chilled/cured meats, and any songbirds foolish enough to step to you on a day like this.

For the headliners I used Salt Beef and Chorizo because that's what I had lying around, but in a pinch you can use Corned Beef, Spam, Bacon, Black Pudding - anything you'd expect to find in a nuclear bunker.  See it as a vehicle to use up whatever vegetables you've got in your fridge as well, and then supplement them with some frozen peas and peppers to brighten things up a bit.

Recipe and Photos:

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Review: Get Baked Presents The Joint, Leeds



I laughed when my friend suggested it as a brunch destination – not because it was a funny joke, but because I knew he was 80% serious.  “Dude imagine if it turns out to be ace: you’ll be that guy who surprises everybody and gives it a good review despite what everybody else says”

He had a point, I do like being “that guy”, and there’s been an eerie silence surrounding The Joint since it opened.  The only press I’ve seen it receive has been from “Everybody’s a winner just for taking part!” publications who would write a positive review of the influenza virus if it meant the subsequent social media shares bolstered the price they charge advertisers.  With Get Baked/The Joint boasting an impressive sixty thousand Facebook sycophants, a couple of shares of a glowing review could bring enough extra traffic to take down a site completely.

Spoiler alert!  You’re reading this on a screen rather than from a crumpled piece of paper in a dystopian future where CousCousBangBang.co.uk lies in tatters; ransacked by the sudden rush of traffic from Get Baked’s Facebook page.  Obviously this isn’t the glowing review you’re looking for – but it’s not all bad.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Disney's "Feast" wins Oscar for Best Animated Short



Bound to be the most charming thing you watch this afternoon, here's Disney's Oscar-winning short film Feast, which tells the story of a couple's relationship through the medium of food rather than using hackneyed devices like dialogue and that.

If you're struggling to picture what that looks like and you don't have 6 minutes spare to watch it (Sure, like anybody reading this is short of time to kill) just imagine the first ten minutes of Up, but with more meatballs and fewer moments of intense, hopeless anguish.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Review: Ecco Pizzeria, Leeds


Trying to review pizza seems like a pretty futile exercise; like Woody Allen says, "Pizza is a lot like sex - when it's good it's really good, when it's bad, it's still pretty good" (he stops short of mentioning the merits of "eating pizza" with your own step-daughter) and a lot of places seem happy to operate using that as their unspoken mantra.  

The fact that it's pretty much delicious-by-design makes it harder to tell the difference between the pretty good and the really good - asking somebody whether they prefer one geometric lump of hot dough, cheese and sauce to another is like asking a Labrador to explain which of his ears he'd rather you scratched behind.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Jalapeño-infused Tequila & Jalapeño Cocktails


I've been pretty hot for the idea of booze-infusions since hitting Rubi Bar in Barcelona last year, trying some of their 100 flavoured gins, and nagging the owner to tell me how it's done.

It appeals to me on so many levels; I actually get chance to use some of the kilner jars I've accumulated; I feel like a 1920s bootlegger without the risk of a Still exploding in my basement (or syphillis exploding in my boy-basement); I get to quote the Beer Baron episode of The Simpsons in my head - specifically "You forgot one thing chief...I filled the balls with a funnel" - and then I get to turn up.

The mechanics of infusing is pretty straight-forward - you put something, anything in with some spirits and the high alcoholic content preserves it for long enough for the flavour to come out and taint the liquor.  Think of it as reverse-pickling - you know when you finish a jar of pickled onions and the vinegar you've got left is the good shit?  Imagine if the vinegar was liquor, and it had been pickling fruit or spices or charcuterie instead of old onions.

If you're really going to get into it then Niki Segnet's Flavour Thesaurus is a really useful resource for infusing - as it is for many other things - in that it lets you pick out individual notes and flavours from a drink (Juniper in Gin, for example) and then find ingredients which complement or contrast with it, letting you make educated experiments rather than expensive misfires.

First-timers could do a lot worse than Jalapeño Tequila, a face-palmingly simple combination of Mexican flavours which is good for sipping on its own, or versatile enough to be used in a few cocktails.  (In true meat-head bootlegger spirit, make sure you spell Jalapeño completely wrong on the label...)

Spoiler alert: The secret ingredient is jalapeños...

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Review: My Thai, Leeds

Rather than stifling my feelings towards My Thai until making a grand reveal, I'm going to say right off the bat that I love it.  Claiming "OMG I could eat there every day and not get bored" could probably be dismissed as hyperbole, but after my first visit I actually did just that.  Fair enough it was technically only every day for three days, but that's enough to make it a statement rather than a coincidence.

Popping up at the end of last year with little fanfare, My Thai's marketing strategy relied on little more than word of mouth, good faith carried over from the reputation of its' Bradford restaurant, and photographs of its folksy interior popping up on Instagram - which they did in abundance.  

They could have flipped the Thai-restaurant-decor coin and gone for a) Post Office ambience and laminated menus or b) "Exotic Palace" themed room in a sex-hotel and been done with it, but instead they went for a unique look which dictates the atmosphere well.  Wooden panelling covers the walls, decorated with campy, vintage Thai cinema posters and strewn with fairy lights - on a hunch I reckon this is what a Full Moon Party beach-hut looks like, but I can't say for sure - My attention span lasts no longer than 3 seconds whenever anybody begins sharing their "litchrally unreal" travel anecdotes.