Peanut butter pie (And the discovery of Brighton)

During the transitional period from the old blog and my change in circumstances that forced me to have some downtime from writing, I visited Brighton to see my fiancés best friend and her partner in Brighton. Id never been there before and thought it would just be the usual sort of British seaside town brimming with rock shops, amusements and novelty gifts, albeit with a more southern twang in the dialect. I usually despise being wrong but I must say I’m quite happy to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong about Brighton.

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Barring London, I genuinely don’t believe I have been to a better melting pot of modern, youthful culture, foreign flavours, gastronomic innovation and classic heritage. It just boggles the mind as to how diverse Brighton is when it comes to the people, the food and the experiences available to you. You can have fish and chips if your looking for the traditional seaside Heron gull enticing flavours or you can go crazy and have chilli and lime fish with sweet potato fries, a plethora of vegetarian restaurants (which were fantastic!), confectionery you have never even thought of before and vendors that push the boundaries of what you think you can buy from a stall. Not forgetting that this is the spiritual and physical home of choccywoccydoodah. Spell check is going mad at me for that but if you haven’t seen the TV show it’s a business that build the most ridiculous chocolate creations you have ever seen. http://www.choccywoccydoodah.com

When we arrived the weather was, in a word, horrific. I have never heard thunder like it and the rain was hitting the window so hard it was like a swarm of furious birds frantically scratching at the window to get at us as we tried to sleep. However we were blessed to wake up to beautiful blue skies and a heat that had the potential to burn my ridiculously sunshine shy skin to a level that can only be compared to a well-done baked potato. The combination of the amazing food that surrounded me during my trip combined with the crisp, blue sky and crystal clear seas left me with a lot of inspiration to come home with. Summer in Brighton had taken me from someone who had a few ideas to someone who was ravenously clamouring to create….with a sweet tooth to satisfy. This recipe is the perfect fit for someone who wants to give their family a treat for a day or give themselves a treat for a few days!

So we made the following recipe. A peanut butter pie sounds a bit rich and chewy doesn’t it? Don’t worry you don’t just tip a jar of peanut butter into a flan case! See below for the recipe for this funky little number.

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What you’ll need:

For the base –

  • 25 oat based biscuits (Finely crushed) but any plain biscuit will do!
  • 70g melted butter

Tip: Preheat your oven at 170 degrees.

For the filling –

  • 225g peanut butter (We used smooth but nothing wrong with using chunky)
  • 225g cream cheese
  • 175g icing sugar
  • 225g double cream (Well whipped)

Method:

  1. In a food processor blitz the biscuits into a fine sandy texture, add the melted butter and whiz into a lumpy consistency. Ensuring all biscuits and butter and mixed together.
  2. Put the mix into a medium pie dish and cover the base and sides well. Bake for 5-7 minutes in the oven.
  3. Mix the peanut butter and cream cheese together until its smooth. Add the icing sugar and mix well until combined.
  4. Once this is done, add the cream to the peanut butter mix and stir through until again, well combined.
  5. Pour the filling into the base (preferably by now it has cooled) and spread evenly.
  6. Chill for at least an hour before serving.

Note – Always mix the ingredients for the filling separately and not at the same time to achieve the best consistency!

Throwback Thursday: The chilli pepper.

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The Trinidad scorpion pepper, this one is a mean customer

This is an old post from the previous blog that was very popular when I first wrote it. Thought some people might find it useful or interesting… plus its very much in the spirit of ‘#tbt’

So, the chilli pepper. One of my favourite natural ingredients (garlic being another) and usually ends up in my sauces, salads, chopped up in wraps or sandwiches or scattered over the molten cheese of a pizza. I’m getting hungry just writing this! Here’s some interesting facts about the chilli.

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  • The chili has been used in the Americas since around about 7500 BC and one of the first Europeans to experience the fiery kick of a chilli was actually Christopher Columbus.
  • They were used for medicinal purposes in Spain after they were brought back by a member of Columbus’s crew.
  • They were traded with the Portuguese and spread through colonies throughout Asia, including their introduction into Indian cuisine.
  • New variations of chilli are still being created today.

What can I do with them though?

Everybody knows you can cut them up and put them in chilli’s or curries, that’s a great application for them as they have become a staple in the countries of those dishes origin. But how about getting a little more creative with it? Try these quick little ideas sometime or simply use them to inspire your own creations. these are just a few of my favourites.

Devils grilled cheese on toast

ingredients:

  • 2 thick slices of good quality bread. (bloomer/tiger bread is good cut into slices around 2cm thick)
  • 60g strong cheddar cheese
  • 60g red Leicester cheese
  • 2 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon Worcester sauce
  • 1 tea spoon of mild chilli powder
  • 2 jalapeno chilli peppers, finely chopped (keep the seeds!)
  1. Preheat the grill at a medium to high heat.
  2. Mix the tomato puree, Worcester sauce and the chilli powder well.
  3. put the bread under the grill until it starts to brown on the one side.
  4. remove the bread from the grill and evenly spread the spicy puree evenly over both slices
  5. scatter all the cheese and chopped peppers over the untoasted side of the bread, return to grill and toast until melted, then remove and enjoy!.

Habanero hot sauce

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup white rice vinegar
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 habanero peppers, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • Pinch of white pepper
  1. Add the water and vinegar to a saucepan and bring to the boil on a medium heat.
  2. Add the sugar, garlic, peppers, ginger, paprika, white pepper and ketchup.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Strain into a serving dish to serve.

This works great for a BBQ or even a dip for a Saturday night in watching a movie or some really bad TV. Very warming on a winters eve but equally inviting in the heat of summer. perfect.

Are they good for me?

Red chilies contain large amounts of vitamin C and small amounts of carotene. Yellow and especially green chilies (which are essentially unripe fruit) contain a lower amount of both. In addition, peppers are a good source of most B vitamins. So in short, yes. they are. They are also said to kick start your metabolic rate, which could help fat burning.

Hottest chilli out there?

They’re measured by something called the scoville scale. check it out below

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Now that’s a little snippet of what the chilli is all about and how you can use it, next time you get chance jump in your kitchen and use it in something new. Throw them in an omelette or through some noodles or salad. They’re really versatile, and add a third dimension to many a dish. Don’t be scared, get cooking!

Phil

Changing of the seasons

It has been a while since my last proper article and I am very sorry!. Preparation for the trip to London took over my schedule in between work.

Normal service will now be resumed with plenty of things in store in the coming weeks to get your taste buds squeaking with excitement and your empty belly impatiently grumbling for your next feed. Today had a very Autumnal nip to the air and it really started to hit home that summer is fizzling out quicker than anybody would like to admit. The abrupt change in the weather shifts my focus from the bright and colourful al fresco lunches in the garden to hearty, warming soups and huge roasts with beautiful crisp root vegetables and thick, rich gravy. The conkers are preparing to drop and the leaves are slowly making the transformation from their emerald green to their rustic, golden brown and that means a change in direction for everybody interested in seasonal culinary adventure. Put the kettle on and dust off your casserole dishes. Its going to be good!.

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Autumn is a great time to break out your crock pots or slow cooker. As I always say, never be afraid to try new things, and now is as good a time as any to make a change. A great suggestion for a seasonal alternative to the norm is rabbit. There are over 40 million rabbits in United Kingdom and we seldom use them in our modern day cooking, Which is a shame as now is the perfect time to get them. It’s just after mating season has passed giving them chance to feed and recharge so they are back in prime condition around now. Don’t let the image of them being a pet put you off, they were once a staple in this country and usually at under £5 for a whole rabbit, it can really save you some money too. Ill be developing a rabbit stew recipe for you very soon.

What’s new?

This coming month (October) will be Burger month on Gecko, celebrating my amazing experience with the www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk battle of the burgers competition where, even though I didn’t win, I felt I did myself and the blog justice in showing the passion I have for cooking and food in general. It was an amazing experience where I met some incredible people and also learned a few things too from some talented cooks. I will be writing a full run down in the next 24 hours about my experience but thank you to everybody who made my presence there possible and supported me along the way.

So I hope everybody is still enjoying the last of their summer creations and prepared for all of the delights that the transformation into easily my second favourite season of the year.

Phil

Summer collection (MKT repost)

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What an amazing few weeks were having here in the UK. The sun is beaming down with such intensity I cannot go inside for fear of missing out, but even then cant go from under the shade due to me burning like a rose petal in a furnace with the slightest lick of a UV ray!. It even smells summery in the garden most days with the humidity and the flowers, the only draw back being the mammoth sized bee’s flying around the flower beds, but I can deal with that.

I have a few things I have done this week to post all together in what I am calling the Gecko summer collection. Both super easy, One is for my friends at ‘forever’ and the other one is just purely indulgent on my part. Lovely, full flavoured beauties that can compliment your barbecue or give you something to pick at after you have finished watching the rugby highlights, Wimbledon or the German F1.

First up, for the ‘Forever together’ detoxers and healthy people among us:

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My ‘Sunshine salad’ Approx 400 calories per serving give or take

3 eggs, boiled.

3 Basil leaves

Big handful of mixed leaves of your choice.

3 spring onions

1 Medium sized red chili

4-5 sundried tomatoes

6 thin slices of cucumber

Vinaigrette of your choice. (I used a raspberry one that I picked up at the food festival last week)

Method:

1) Put your handful of leaves in a large bowl, tear up any big ones roughly. keep it comfortably bit sized throughout!

2) chop the chili, basil, spring onion, cucumber and sundried tomatoes and add to the bowl.

3) Lightly drizzle with your vinaigrette and gently toss .

4) Place the salad onto a plate and slice to eggs in nice thin sections.

5) Scatter the egg around the salad and top with a slight, waist friendly hint of cheese to add an alternative texture to the dish.

…Now I don’t care where in the world you are, you shouldn’t resist at least trying this!. Its super easy but very satisfying when the modd doesnt allow you the motivation to make something too taxing. Salads are a quintessential part of summer eating and this is a fresh, tasty way to spend lunch in your garden.

Number two, Another fairly healthy one but this one will make your mouth feel as hot as it is outside.

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My ‘Oriental noodles with grilled salmon and firecracker sauce’.

To serve 2 you’ll need:

4 small Pak choi

handful of button mushrooms

4 baby corns

1x dried noodles. (usually flat packed in packs of four)

mixed peppers, sliced length ways.

4 spring onions

2 decently sized pieces of salmon fillet

Pinch sea salt

for the Firecracker sauce:

1 cup vegetable stock

2 tablespoons red cooking wine

1.5 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 teaspoon garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

2 long chili’s (I used 1 green and one red)

1 tablespoon of honey.

This is a beautifully aromatic sauce that smells amazing and provides intense taste while providing a real punch. If you aren’t a fan of the spice just leave the fresh chili’s out and add a touch of mild powder or none at all even.

Method for the sauce:

1) Add the stock and wine and bring to a gentle simmer. Chop the chili’s finely.

2) Once at a simmer add the honey, garlic, ginger and chili’s (including the seeds!)

3) Now leave on a medium heat for around 15 minutes until it reduces a little, then take it completely off the heat.

Method for the noodles:

Preheat your grill at a medium to high heat. (mines goes from 1-4 I put it on 3)

1) Add the salt to some water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Then add the noodles and leave for approximately 5 minutes on a high heat.

2) Pat dry then add a little salt and pepper to one side of each salmon fillet and place under the grill. grill for around 4-5 minutes each side. the flesh should release a milky, mayonnaise sort of looking fat into the grill pan and will flake really easily once cooked. (Keep an eye on it and don’t over cook it as it really is key to the dish to have that lovely salmon on top!)

3) Chop the corn into thirds, the mushrooms into halves and the Pak choi into quarts.

4) When the noodles start to loosen and separate in the pan, add the corn and leave for 3 minutes to simmer on a medium to high heat.

5) Add the Pak choi, mushrooms, spring onions and the peppers and cook for a further 3 minutes. I prefer my veg a little crunchy so cook for a little while longer if you need to.

Serve a decent grasp of the veggie noodles onto a plate, top with the grilled salmon and serve the sauce on the side to top as much as your brave enough too!

Now my advice is to get in the kitchen real quick while somebody else grabs the garden furniture, run outside with this pair of fabulous summer platters, and smash it with a nice cold glass of ginger beer or elderflower cordial before it starts to rain again!

Phil

Roasted guinea fowl

As promised on the Facebook page last week, somewhat belatedly ill admit, here is my recipe for roast guinea fowl. I enjoyed this more than most of the dishes I usually cook due to the simple fact its a different experience to the norm, its a gamier and more adventurous alternative to chicken. Its something that if you haven’t tried it, you should. Mine came from Waitrose and was a grand total of £8.75. one average bird feeds 4 (2x breast, 2x legs)

So, now to the fun part. making it.

what you’ll need:

1x Guinea fowl. (No giblets)

1 sweet potato, sliced.

6-7 good size shallots

4 garlic cloves

1/2 cup chicken stock

red wine (for cooking)

handful of Chesnutt mushrooms

olive oil

pinch sea salt.

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Directions:

prep) Preheat oven to 180 degrees (electic oven) 160 degrees (fan assisted) or gas mark 4

1) Lay the bird in a roasting tray. Give it a teaspoon of olive oil and spread over the guinea fowl.

2) Lay the mushrooms, sweet potato, peeled garlic cloves and shallots in the tray with the bird.

3) Add the stock evenly and distribute around 2 tablespoons of the wine, Pinch of sea salt.

4) Roast the guinea fowl for around one hour twenty minutes, or until the juices run clear.

5) Leave to rest for a few minutes and serve with your choice of veg or alternatively with a spicy rice or couscous. Drizzle with the cooking juices in the tray, its amazing. You could also turn this into a gravy with a small amount of flour/ thickening, putting it back on the heat until its at your desired thickness, ready to lay a velvety blanket over your roast.

Try it!! Phil

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Strawberry and vanilla ice cream cake

Firstly happy saturday to you all, and today I’m going to give you a sweet treat to serve after your imminent barbecue or to nibble on yourself gradually, doing away with the whole thing without realising it. Its your cake so its your choice after all, either way its refreshing, sweet and a tint bit naughty.

First off you’ll need the following:

A cake tin
1 box of soft scoop vanilla ice cream, melted
1 pack of oaty biscuits
150g melted butter
Clear honey to drizzle
100g of finely chopped strawberries
Mint leaf to finish.

Method:

1) Crush the biscuits in a bowl until your left with a rough powder (the odd chink doesn’t matter) and add the butter.

2) Mix well until bonded and the butter is evenly spread, roll around the bowl leaving no crumbs behind!

3) Spread the mixture onto the base of a greased cake tin and press down. Making sure it is even and tightly packed. Chill for 20 minutes.

4) Remove from fridge and add a swirl of honey on top of the base. Scatter the strawberries (sort of) evenly.

5) Cover with the melted ice cream to the top of the tin and freeze (make sure its even or it will freeze at an angle!) for 3 hours.

7) Remove from freezer 4-5 minutes before serving, cut into triangles and serve with a single mint leaf, a slice of warm brioche and a small drizzle of honey. Winner.

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New beginnings…

Hello everyone and welcome to a new incarnation of my journey into the centre of the culinary universe. Unfortunately I had to close my last site due to the name clashing with a book series on the same subject, as you can see this time we have gone with a much more fresh and unique way of presenting content, hopefully you enjoy scrolling through the pages when they start to really roll out again.

 

To get us started I’m going to be transferring all the MKT posts over here in due course to get all the content back up to scratch and then I have plenty of new articles and recipes on the way for you guys.

 

Have a great day and you’ll be seeing a lot more of us very soon.

 

Phil