Warming Winter Goulash – Chicken and bean

Winter is closing in and that means the yearly escape to Wales is nearly here. I’ve written on here before about the warming beef stew they serve and there are a few other items on the menu that I’ve been dying to try out.

Chicken goulash with chips is one such item on the menu. Succulent chunks of chicken in a rich tomato sauce with lashings of paprika; what’s not to love. Traditional Hungarian versions of the stew are made with beef, but variations exist which are made from chicken, lamb or even beans.

In my version of Goulash I’ve gone for chicken but added in some beans and used three different types of paprika for added warmth. With lots of added veg you could even argue this is a healthy dinner option. The addition of hassleback potatoes and homemade wraps to soak up the sauce make a lovely winter feast.

 

Goulash

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Ingredients

  • 6 Large Chicken thighs
  • 2 Tins chopped tomatoes
  • 3 Large peppers
  • Onions, Carrots, Celery and Garlic
  • Paprika (Smoked, Sweet and Hungarian)
  • Haricot and Cannellini beans
  • Coriander
  • Chilli, Caraway seeds and bay leaves

 

As per usual start by taking a photo of all the ingredients together. I still maintain this is an important part of life, not just for blogging.  I have to move loads of stuff around each time to take it.

Once the photo has been taken you can put all the kitchen back together and start browning the chicken. It’s best to leave the skin on and bone in place, it adds to the flavour and can be removed later.

Once browned, remove from the pan and add in the chopped carrots, onion and celery. This time I have to confess I cheated slightly and used a pack of frozen veg. They come in handy after a long shift.

After the onions have softened, add in the peppers. Again you could use frozen but fresh are better. Once cooked, add in the chopped garlic. Adding it in early risks it burning which creates bitterness, so be careful.

With all the veg cooked out, add in the chopped tomatoes, spices and beans. Bring up to the boil and add back in the chicken. Place the lid back on the Le Cresuet and simmer for an hour.

With the chicken cooked, remove from the Goulash and strip the meat from the bone. This can then be returned to the pan to soak up the tomatoey goodness until the rest of the dish is ready.

Wraps

Ingredients

  • 1lb Strong bread flour
  • 1oz salt
  • 2oz Caster Sugar
  • 5g Fresh yeast
  • 1oz Butter
  • 320ml Water

Wraps are very easy to make as it turns out. Measure all the ingredients out and transfer to the bowel of a mixer with a dough hook. My favourite is a kitchenaid but I’m biased.

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On a medium speed, mix in the water and knead for 5 mins until a smooth dough has been formed. Once done, proof for 2-3 hours. Perfect time for a coffee

With the dough proved, form into balls and then roll out flat. Try to make them look like wraps, but be creative.

Cook in a hot pan with just a small amount of oil, flipping over after 2mins – this should leave you with a lovely brown mottled pattern.

Lets Eat

Right, that’s about it I think.

I like to serve the goulash with some fresh coriander and also a hassleback potato. These are easy to make, just make some cuts almost completely through a potato and then bake in the oven. You can top with some paprika as well to add to the flavour.

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Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed the blog as much as I enjoyed the goulash. But saying that, what’s not to like about chicken, paprika, wraps and crispy potatoes.

 

Beef Brisket Chilli aka Posh Chilli

Along side medicine and the tea room I do some consulting work on drones. Now, this is mostly boring but I do get an office. On the desk alongside the plans, a miniature jet engine and an old slide rule, lies a stethoscope. Now, this is important because recently it came up in an interview when I was asked about the most expensive item in my life……………..

“The stethoscope, for it has cost me my youth”

Doctors spend most of their youth stuck in lectures or commuting to and from placements. This is the reason most medics either have crazy hobbies or love elaborate long winded cooking. The chilli recipe below is a prime example of this, taking 2 days of slow cooking, it makes a great recipe to enjoy with friends. It’s not too spicy either………

 

Ingredients

  • 2kg Beef Brisket
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Onions
  • 1 Head of Celery
  • 3 Peppers
  • 2 Tins Kidney Beans
  • 1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes
  • Spices – Salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, chilli, cinnamon
  • Moonshine
  • Camp coffee
  • Worcestershire sauce

 

Start in the usual fashion, collect the ingredients together in the kitchen and take a pretty photo for social media. If it’s not on facebook it didn’t happen after all.

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Chop the carrots, onions and celery roughly and place into the bottom of a large roasting dish, something like a Le Creuset is perfect. Then combine the spices in a pestle and mortar. The amount of each spice will depend on personal preference, but a tiny amount of cinnamon goes a long way.

Rub the beef in the spices mix and place into the pan on top of the veg. If you can’t be bothered to make a spice mix of your own you can always buy a packet………I won’t judge, I promise.

We haven’t quite got to the oven part yet I’m afraid. I told you, medics like long-winded cooking. My favourite chilli from my time in America was at this smoke pit near Reno where they used burnt ends to add smokey depth. Now, I’ve resisted the urge to build a smoker and instead added some moonshine, camp coffee and a dash of Worcestershire sauce instead.

Cook in a low oven  (the bottom of an Aga) overnight.

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Feeling well rested from a long night dreaming of homemade chilli, retrieve your beef from the oven and set aside. From the stock remove and finely dice the veg, these can be added back to the chilli later.

Roughly chop 3 peppers and gently soften in some oil on a low heat, then when cooked add in the veg from before. To this veg mix, add the kidney beans and a tin of chopped tomatoes.

Now the fun begins. Remove the butchers string from your beef brisket and cut into chunks along the grain of the meat. Then take out all the stress in your life….using forks or your fingers shred the beef.

Return the shredded beef to the Le Creuset along with more herbs and spices. As you can tell I’ve cheated and used a Colemans mix. Now add the stock and combine all together.

Then it’s back to the oven. Again its an overnight job, but then it will finally be done. I promise.

Time to eat

 

Right, after 2 days of slow cooking you should have made the decision of what you are going to have your chilli with……..I’ve gone simple with a jacket potato and a bit of cheese. I contemplated chilli cheese fries, but……………

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Anyway, well done if you make this at home, it takes a long time but is definitely worth the wait. I’m tempted to add it to the tea room menu, what do you think?

 

Homemade Mince Pies

Merry Christmas everyone.

I love Christmas, not because of the presents or the fact my birthday is close, but because it brings the family together. The hall is decorated with holly, a massive 9ft tree covered in vintage glass baubles stands in the corner and the house is filled with the smells of delicious food. Of course in the weeks before christmas, the hall is used to host friends for a glass of mulled wine and one of Grans famous mince pies. One year it even hosted a choir, but thats a different tale………

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The key to a good mince-pie is thin crisp pastry, lots of filling and a generous amount of brandy butter. I don’t think its worth making your own mincemeat. Robertsons makes probably the best, but adding more fruit, spices and lots of alcohol take it to the next level.

 

Grandma Reynold’s Mince Pies

Ingredients

  • 9oz Plain Flour
  • 6oz Butter
  • 2oz Caster Sugar
  • 2 Egg Yolks
  • Whole Milk
  • 1 Large Jar Robertsons Mincemeat
  • 6oz Sultanas
  • Christmas Spirits
  • Cinnamon, Nutmeg and ground ginger

Start by making the pastry. You can use a mixer with a K beater or just use your hands.

Start by weighting out the flour, butter and sugar and rubbing together. If you have cold hands then fantastic, aim to keep the butter as cold as possible. Overworking the butter will cause it to melt and leave you with chewy, not flaky pastry.

When the mix resembles breadcrumbs, add the egg yolks and milk a tablespoon at a time  until the pastry comes together.

Then wrap in cling film and chill for an hour.

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Whilst the pastry chills, make the mincemeat filling. Combine the jar, fruit, spices and alcohol . Don’t add too much, the fruit will soak up some alcohol but not a whole bottle. Again, leave to steep for an hour whilst the pastry chills. It’s about the perfect length of time to put the lights up on the tree.

Once the pastry as rested, roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin on a well floured board. Remember to roll away from yourself and turn the pastry a 1/4 turn each time.

Using 2 cutters, stamp out the base and lid to each mince-pie. The pastry will make around 30 in total. I sometimes make a double batch and give them away as gifts. However as the tea room is open, they will be sold this time. Cheers Mum.

Grease a mince pie tin liberally with butter or Stork. The one I’m using is a vintage tray I bought Gran for Christmas when I was 8 from a long closed Antique shop. Its got a patterned base which makes a pretty mice pie.

Press the base pastry disc into the tin and add a healthy dessertspoonful of mincemeat into the case. Then add the lid, I tend to paint the edge of the pastry with a little water to help it stick. Press the lid into the base to produce a good seal and then glaze with egg wash.

Cook in a hot Aga (or conventional oven at 200) for 15mins, turning half way through the bake time.

When the mince-pies are golden brown, take out the oven and rest on a cooling rack till completely cooled. Don’t be tempted to remove before they have cooled though, they will just break apart.

 

Lets Eat

Grab a glass of mulled wine or a spiced Latte, open the brandy butter and slightly warm a mince-pie in the Aga. Then all that’s left to do is get the family together and enjoy the festive spirit. It seems like a good occasion to use some Emma Bridgewater pottery as well – Thats if the Polar Bear will give up any mince pies at all though……….

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Bonfire Toffee

I have a soft place in my heart for bonfires; I find the soft glow, the wood smoke and the occasional crackle of the fire romantic. Now, the foods of bonfire nights are rather varied, each year I vary what I make for my party. In FY1 it was pulled pork and mini Mac & Cheese, for CT1 it was hotdogs. This year I’ve been making corndogs, just because………but each year there is always one item on the menu, bonfire toffee.

Bonfire toffee is a bit of a Halloween and bonfire night tradition. It’s a hard candy made with black treacle, golden syrup and sugar. Usually served in small grease proof bags, it needs to be eaten on the day. If you can’t be bothered to make it, shame on you………… shop bought bonfire toffee tends to bitter, homemade is far better. Plus, unlike my normal blog posts, this only takes about an hour to make.

Bonfire Toffee

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Ingredients

  • 8oz Dark brown Sugar
  • 65ml Water
  • 2oz Black treacle
  • 2oz Golden Syrup 
  • Sprinkle of cream of tartar

As usual, start by collecting all the ingredients together and taking a pretty picture – add a kitten into the background if required.

Weigh out the sugar and add to a large pan, combine with the water and melt together on a gentle heat. Try to resist the urge to stir the sugar, it will cause it to precipitate out and you will have a horrible grainy mess.

Whilst the sugar melts, measure out the Golden syrup and Black treacle. This will produce a wonderfully sticky mess which then needs pouring into the sugar mix. Then, the temperature needs turning up……

Add the cream of tartar and heat. You can occasionally swirl the pan to get an even heating, the temperature that you are aiming for is 140C. This takes around 30mins to achieve.

When 140C has been reached you want to hold the toffee mix at the temperature for a few minutes. Whilst the toffee boils, quickly oil a large tin, this will allow the toffee to be  turned out easily when cold.

Pour the boiling toffee mix into the prepared tin and leave to cool completely.

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Lets eat

All that remains is to turn the toffee out of the tin. Hit the base a few times to break it up.

Then retire to the bonfire with a few pieces, a pretty girl and enjoy the fireworks.

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Cuban Burgers, D-types and the Mille

“She held my hand and told me to be kind and gentle”

These sadly weren’t the words of a lover to me, but a close friends advice in my final year at Medschool. You see, during that year I had become a bit of a dictator; I had rewrote the curriculum, won a major Wellcome trust grant, deposed the head of the Academic Society. This was alongside becoming a favourite of the Urology team, getting a job offer and a myth about a Jag.

I love myths, this one related to a crashed D-type somewhere in Cuba. Well, I say myth, it’s currently on its way to my workshop. During my trip to rescue her, I stumbled upon a little bar by the beach. Here I had my first Cuban burger. These are a heady mix of lean beef, spicy chorizo, chillis and served in a soft Cuban roll with a side of skinny fries and topped with pulled pork if you’re feeling hungry

Now, I’m just finishing another long run of night shifts on the assessment unit, so fancy a treat. Time to make a few Cubanos and get some food.

Fennel Pulled Pork

As you can tell from the previous blogs, I like pulled pork. Whilst on the trail of my mythical Jag I kind of fell in love with an aromatically flavored Fennel Pork. It again is cooked overnight in a low oven, so those with Agas are at a distinct advantage.

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Ingredients

  • Pork Shoulder
  • Fennel seeds
  • Mustard seeds
  • Coriander Seads
  • Onions, Celery and Carrots
  • Course sea salt and pepper
  • Caster Sugar
  • Thornbrudge Jaipur IPA (or a good pale ale)

 

Start by making your dry rub. Combine the fennel, mustard, coriander, salt, sugar and celery salt in a pestle and motor and grind to a coarse powder. This relieves some of the pent up stress of finding parts of a Jag race engine.

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Next it’s time for a bit of chopping. Layer the bottom of a large Le Cresuet with onion, carrot, celery and a bit of bay leaf if you have any. On top of this place the shoulder of pork.

Massage the dry rub into the Pork and then add a hearty glug of Worcester sauce and a pint of a good quality beer.
As you can tell I’ve been drinking a lot of Juipur recently and it made sense finish the Keg off.

Cook in the bottom Aga (approx 100) for around 12-18hrs depending on the Pork – if you stick a fork in and it falls apart it’s done.

Cuban bread

Having first had this in a little bakery in Havana and falling in love, I persuaded the owner to teach me how to bake them. She used an old enamel cup to weigh the flour out so I’m being true to this. They are sort of an enriched dough, but lack the eggs of a brioche style. Soft and slightly buttery, you can see why they make a fantastic sandwich.

Ingredients 

  • 2cups strong white flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tea spoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Start by weighing out the ingredients and then combine in the bowl of the mixer.
Using the doughook slowly add the water till a soft dough has formed. Then keep kneading at a medium pace for around 5mins.


The same principle can be used to hand knead the dough, it will help with any bingo wings which are starting to form as well. 
Let the dough rest in an oiled bowl for around 1hr or until doubled in size. In the mean time I would suggest fixing yourself a rum based drink or working out where to get more Jag parts from.


After an hour, your dough should be nicely proved. Knock the dough back and turn out onto a well floured surface.
Divide the dough into 4 and shape into balls, taking care to tuck the bottoms under to aid in the rise.


Prove again for around an hour until doubled in size -more Rum would be my suggestion here.


Cut a cross into the top of the rolls and bake at 190C till brown and delicious -around 15mins. In the last 5 mins you can sprinkle with flour for effect.

Cuban Burger

Basically a burger, but so so much more

Ingredients

  • 1lb. 70/30 lean beef coarsely ground
  • 1 small onion
  • 4oz Chorizo
  • 1 small chilli
  • Parsley, sage and a sprig of thyme

 

I’m not going to lie, I don’t know if the Cuban burger is one which originated in Cuba, or was a bit of an American import during the roaring 30’s. Either way it’s delicious. A mix of smokey chorizo, good quality beef and a kick of chilli.

You can either mince the beef yourself, using something like chuck/brisket or get your butcher to grind it for you as I have. Start by dicing the chorizo into small pieces, approximately the size of a pea.

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After this, finely chop the chilli, onion and herbs. You can leave this coarse, if you prefer a chunkier nature to your burger.

Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and, using your hands, mix together and divide into 4 balls. This gives you burgers somewhere a smudge over 1/4lb………….

Although I have a burger press, the rustic nature of the burgers at the bar on the beach would be disrespected if I were to use it. Therefore using the palm of your hand, flatten into discs.

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All that’s left to do is cook them in a hot pan with a dash of oil. Flip over after around 5mins when a good char has been achieved.

Lets Eat

All that remains is to assemble the burger. I find that it’s best to toast the rolls to give them some structural integrity. Then just add a good smear of mayo, the burger, some cheese, the Pulled Pork and the bbq sauce. Serve with a side of crispy potatoes, coleslaw and obviously a token salad leaf…………….

 

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Oh, I nearly forgot. The car, well I promised the friend who gave me the advice that I would run the Mille Miglia with her when we both became consultants. Should have the D’ restored by then……..

Pretzels and Beer – any excuse will do……… aka Happy 4th July

“Mike, I’m making a special beer for the 4th of July” – News such as this calls for a special kind of bar snack I thought to myself.

I’ve been over to America few times now, mainly on business but once I went just for a long weekend to test fly a jet. That was a couple of years ago, but whilst I was there I was fortunate enough to stumble across a little brewery that served cold beer and fresh soft pretzels. They really are the perfect evening snack.
Fast forward to 2017 and my old music teacher/famous Jazz mucisan Greg dropped the bomb shell: – a 4th July party and beer launch – well there was only one obvious food to go with it………..

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Soft Pretzels

Finally, I have my own wot-not to display pretty Emma Bridgewater in the background of shots.

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Ingredients

  • 1lb strong white flour
  • 1tsp dry yeast
  • 2tsp salt
  • 2oz molten butter
  • approx. 4oz sourdough
  • 300ml warm water
  • 1lt boiling water + 7g Bicarbonate of Soda for bathing
  • Butter, salt, sugar, cinnamon and poppy seeds to finish

Start by weighing out the flour, salt and yeast – I’ve finally gone back to dried as I’m laying off Carbs atm so don’t make as much bread. FYI- The scales are from my grandma and at least twice as old as me……

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Combine in the kitchen aid with the sough dough starter and gently incorporate.

Now its time to add the water. You might not need it all, depending on your starter – but you are aiming for a soft, but not wet dough.

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Once all together, knead with the dough hook for 10mins until a shiny, elastic dough is formed.

Place this in a well oiled bowel and cover with cling film. You can now fetch the first of your beers to celebrate July 4th whilst it proved…………..

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Ideally it should be left overnight in a cool area (fridge) or if impatient/short on time then at room temperature until doubled.

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Now comes the fun part. Divide the dough into 16 equal balls. This will make the perfect sized bar pretzels. (Divide into 8 if you want big ones – greedy)

Taking 1 ball of dough, pretend you are back in pre-school and making play dough sausages – using the palms of your hands roll the dough into a long cylinder.

Then, taking the 2 ends up into the air and producing a U – spin the base around itself to produce a twist at the top end and lay the dough back down, pressing the ends into the base of the U.

Alternatively you can use cross them over whilst its flat on the work surface – a lot easier and more reliable………….

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To get the lovely deep drown appearance normally found on Pretzels, the next step is important. After making each Pretzel, dip it into boiling water mixed with Bicarb. You can then sprinkle on either salt, poppy seeds etc to finish.

Once you have made a whole tray, transfer to an oven at 200C for 10 mins or until golden brown.

Lastly, whilst still hot out the oven, glaze with a little melted butter…….

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Or butter, cinnamon and sugar if you are feeling like dessert.

Let’s Eat

All that remains is to grab a pint, tell Swifty that you’ve stollen her jazz pianist but will give him back later and enjoy the 4th in style.

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P.s I never did tell TS…… wonder if that’s why she cancelled her part. Anyway, I’d like to thank Greg, Pat and the Draycott Brewing team for a fantastic 4th of July x