Slow and low Guinness and beef stew with honey-maple roast carrots and creamy bacon topped mash

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While the first day of autumn is fast approaching I can’t help the feeling of excitement building for the changing leaves and cooler temps. Now that we are living in a more tropical climate I’m not really sure how that’s going to pan out but the temperature seems to have dropped (in the night and morning at least) and it’s raining a lot so I’m definitely feeling more at home and in the mood for some hearty scran. Any excuse really. I love this time of year. Over the last few years, we’ve had some great family holidays with my parents around this time of year in the Lake District, in London and in Scotland so there are lots of recent happy memories to feed off. This year we’ll be in New York with Gaby’s parents right at the “official” start of autumn so that is proper exciting. I’m sure the leaves turning in Central park will be worth the trip alone. I’ve only been once before and I can safely say it immediately climbed to the top of my favourite places list. I’m sure it won’t disappoint the second time around. However, let’s see how we get on navigating the city with two kids (and one in the oven 😃) We’ll be fine, right?

Anyhow, I digress, let’s get into this autumn/winter warmer. The triumph that is, Slow and low Guinness and beef stew with honey-maple roast carrots and creamy bacon topped mash. What can I say, it’s a winner. Melt in the mouth tummy hugging joy. A classic and a must. If you can make the stew the day before or early on the day of it will only get better with time and it frees up the oven for your carrots when it comes to it. On top of that it’s a much more stress-free approach doing the beef in advance and then simply focussing on the potatoes, carrots and re-heating the beef to finish. With all slow cooked dishes, one of the main attractions (second only to the joyous result) is banging everything together and letting the oven do all the work leaving you to get out the house of kick back with a beverage. So, what that in mind I’d highly recommend you opt for this approach. Enjoy!

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Yorkshire puddings with hot smoked salmon paté

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This is an adaption of a Jamie Oliver recipe from his “Jamie’s Great Britain” book. JO goes for hot smoked trout with horseradish pate and given that I’m not fan of the old horse’s radish and, getting your hands on hot smoked trout in Xalapa, Mexico is a tad far fetched I opted for this lemon and chive creamy hot smoked salmon and I’m not afraid to say it’s an absolute winner! What a combo! The yorkie’s have found a new partner in crime. Saying that this is no call for divorce. The Sunday roast will forever be the true companion; sturdy, reliable, hearty, comforting and warm, however, for an occasional and a harmless walk on the more playful side of life this is the perfect match. Here the humble Yorkshire pudding proudly comes to the fore, as the Noel to the Salmon’s Liam if you will, and quietly provides the perfect backing on which the Salmon doth shine. What a treat.

I guess I’ll always say “give it a go” when I deem a recipe worth sharing but with this one I really mean it. It’s the perfect starter to a holiday feast or the perfect welcome nibble at a dinner party. Be sure to serve with a delicious glass of white or if you’re feeling fly some bubbles. Give a go and trust me, all your dreams WILL be made.

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Crispy rainbow trout, crushed potatoes and quick dill pickled cucumbers

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As will become apparent as time goes on, I absolutely love salmon, trout and oily fish in general. Smoked, baked, seared, steamed or sashimi I love it all! I could have made this dish with salmon and I dare say I will in the not too distant future but I wanted to try the local rainbow trout “trucha asalmonada” and I was not disappointed. I got the inspiration for this recipe from a Gordon Ramsey video on youtube where he does crispy salmon with crushed new potatoes mixed with spring onions and white crab meat (I’ll definitely be trying that at some point, proper lush!) and some overnight oven dried tomatoes. Both versions are super light and absolutely delicious. Super quick, light and very healthy to boot. To accompany, I didn’t this time around but if you have the foresight please enjoy this with an ice cold glass of white. If I’d to pick one off the top of my head I’d probably say a Macon-Villages would do just nicely. What a treat!

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Creamy chicken, bacon & leek pie

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This is a solid family favourite, a versatile little number that works as well on a rainy weekday as it does for a grand Sunday lunch. It’s also our go to boxing day leftover dish, just replace the chicken with leftover turkey and the bacon with leftover ham and you’re in business. I must admit, as with any good hearty pie, it works best in winter but given that Hurricane Franklin has just past through the state bringing temperatures down and treating us to an unprecedented torrent of rain I jumped at the chance to whip this up for a mid week feast and we were not disappointed. I recommend you do the same whenever the opportunity arises!

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Refrigerador Dill Pickles

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I’m not sure where my obsession with Dill Pickles came from, but what I can say is that it’s real and it’s here to stay. It’s very possible that the most excellent (exactly as Bill and Ted intended) song “Dill Pickle” by Glasgow, Scotland’s finest How to Swim has something to do with it! Perhaps we’ll never know. In the meantime, why not wrap your listening gear around that very song here (track 5) while reading this and in precisely the same way as if you make the pickles, you won’t be disappointed.

I have (so far) only found one place in Xalapa to buy pickling cucumbers and that is in Mercado Jauregui in the centre. It’s a bustling market full of fresh fruit and veg, tonnes of tacos, meat, fish and the creme de la creme of antojitos in all Xalapa. Possibly even the world! It’s a great place to shop and eat and a great way to get into the real heart of Mexico, the market place. The pic below was taken seconds before I (in my head) gave the guy a knowing fist bump while discussing my love for his cracking wee cukes, by the lovely @fabulouspoufs while she was wrestling with our two little ones. Nice work. I will hopefully be growing my own in the not too distant future, but for now, the ones here will do nicely.

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Back to the pickles! The ease at which these are made is a brilliant motivation for giving it a go and once you’ve given it a go you’ll never buy pickles again from the shops. Although, in the end, it’s not the ease that will persuade you, it’s all about the taste. They’re crunchy, tangy, sweet and outrageously moreish, which is a fair bit more than I can say for shop bought soggers. Although saying that, I never had any issue with shop bought pickles until I gave these a go and I truly couldn’t believe the difference.

Give them a go and enjoy!

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Cheeky beer can chicken

Move over Nando’s, a cheeky beer can chicken is where it’s at! 

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The weekend may be over but Summer is still here so, why not liven up those long and sunny weekday nights with the great spectacle that is beer can chicken. It’s much easier than it looks and let’s be honest, do you really need an excuse to get in a few cans regardless of the day of the week? Nope, didn’t think so.

Best smoked on the bbq but equally as awesome, and a lot less effort, in the oven. Simply marinate the chicken over night, open a can, take a few swigs, insert some fresh herbs, place the chicken on top and bang into the oven for an hour and a half max. Easy! With the beer steaming from the inside and the oven searing and crisping the skin on the outside you’re left with moist and juicy meat encased in sticky, spicy and crunchy skin. You might go as far to say it’s the ultimate roast chicken. You just might.

Served with a simple creamy sweet potato mash along with some Mexican style corn on the cob (elote) smothered in mayo and chili this is a low fuss summer smack down that is as impressive as it is delicious. If you want to be left grinning ear to ear while you lick your lips then look no further, you’re in for a treat.

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Summer chickpea and sweet potato burgers with avocado and mango yogurt

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It’s the height of summer so what better for a summer weekend feast than some healthy and delicious chickpea and sweet potato burgers.

Served with a delicious avocado and mango yogurt, zucchini fries and a tomato and fennel salad this really is a great weekend spread for all the family. I must admit it’s a bit of work getting everything prepped, but with a toddler and a one-year-old to feed it’s a great way of serving up a host of healthy goodness in a fun and colourful way. So, in the end, it’s absolutely worth it.

To streamline the operation simply replace the zucchini fries with frozen skinny fries in the oven. Jobs a good’n. These burgers, unsurprising, went down a right treat and why wouldn’t they, they’re delicious. Enjoy!

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