Food reviews and recipes

Onion Burger with Homemade Chunky Chips

It’s almost obscene how simple and delicious this recipe is. I probably shouldn’t even be writing about it because a) technically it’s cheating (cause I’m using something packet-based) and  b) I should really be keeping this recipe a secret so I can impress my dinner guests with my culinary wizardry. But there you go.

I used an American brand of powdered soup for this recipe, but you can try and substitute this with any onion soup mix you can find. Having said that, this onion soup mix from Lipton is ABSOLUTELY INCREDIBLE so you should try and get your hands on it if you can. It makes for the juiciest, most flavourful homemade burgers I’ve ever eaten and they’re definitely a crowd pleaser. You can also mix this packet with soured cream to make an incredible dip, too.

One packet of french onion soup mix (I used Lipton's) 600g beef mince 4 large maris piper potatoes Oil Salt, Pepper

One packet of french onion soup mix (I used Lipton’s)
600g beef mince
4 large maris piper potatoes
Oil
Salt, Pepper

Start off with pouring oil into the bottom of a baking tray, and letting it heat up in the oven on a high heat (around 220 degrees celsius). While the oil is heating up, cut the potatoes up into thick chips while keeping the skin on. Put the chips into a saucepan and bring to a boil, then drain.

ChipsBring the hot baking tray out of the oven and carefully tip the boiled chips onto the tray. Make sure each chip is coated in oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Chips: Seasoned

Pop the tray back into the oven, and cook them for 45 minutes. Take the tray out of the oven at 20 minute intervals so each chip crisps up evenly. Once they are done, pop them on a paper towel to get rid of the excess oil before serving.

When the chips have gone in, start making the burgers. Put the mince into a bowl.

Mince

Those who know me well know that this is a pretty dangerous stage for me as I love raw meat. Steak tartar, which is French for ‘raw mince with tabasco in it’ is one of my favourite meals. Anyway, resist the temptation to start eating the raw meat (because you aren’t some crazed animal, as I am) and add the packet of onion soup.

Onion burgers - Lipton

Mix the powder through the meat before adding 1/2 a cup (or 120mls) of water. Leave this to stand for 10 minutes or so – this lets the flavour permeate. Shape the mixture into four patties and pop them in the oven with the chips for 15 minutes. Once the oven is turned off, you can add some cheese to the patties and it will melt into the meat perfectly.

Onion burger with chunky homemadechips

Serve with peas or salad, and enjoy one of the juiciest burgers you’ll ever have! You’re welcome.

The Poor Girl’s Guide to Yakisoba

I cannot wait for February to end.

Mainly because it means that it will be March, and I will be on holiday,  but also because I’ve just looked at my bank account to see that my balance is horribly depleted (mostly due to my frivolous spending). Mercifully, payday is close by, but as I scour the kitchen shelves to feed myself this feeling brought me back to my days as a student, and what I used to cook at university.

My idea of fast food growing up was my mom making me yakisoba, or fried Japanese noodles. I always seem to have the ingredients for my cobbled-together, frugal version of this meal to hand. It is by no means the proper, traditional recipe (so please don’t tell my old-school Japanese grandmother), but it is cheap, healthy and tasty which is fine by me.

The first time I cooked for Mr. A, I attempted to impress him by making yakisoba. Unfortunately it’s not one of those dishes you can just leave on the stove and come back to – it needs constant supervision. At the time, I was too busy paying attention to him instead and all the noodles clumped together to make one super noodle. It was seriously embarrassing and Mr. A referred to it as ‘noodle surprise’. Luckily he lived above a chip shop in Manchester at the time so neither of us were subjected to this monstrosity.

However, I like to think that I have learned many things since my time at university and how to cook noodles properly is one of them. For this recipe, you will need:

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What you’ll need:
Packet of udon or rice noodles
Spring onions
1 tbsp of oil (I used sesame)
4 tbsp soy sauce
Dash of Worcester sauce
Egg
Mayonnaise
Dried seaweed, nori
Peas
Garlic

If you have bought dried noodles, start to boil them in a saucepan. Ready to cook noodles can go in towards the end. Once the pan has come to a boil, strain the noodles and the rinse the noodles with cold water. This will keep them from clumping up (and becoming Super Noodle, or Noodle Surprise). They will be heated through again once they are fried.

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In a frying pan or wok, fry the spring onions and garlic in a wok on a high heat with a dash of pepper until they are lightly toasted. Add the soy and worcester sauce, then turn down the heat.

IMG_7518Pour the noodles into the pan with the sauce and vegetables.

IMG_7521Stir through until each noodle is coated in the sauce, and add the peas. As you would with a carbonara, crack an egg into the noodle mixture and stir it through so that the egg is incorporated into the mixture. (If you are vegan, you can leave the egg out, it will not make much difference). Once the egg has cooked, dish out the noodles.

IMG_7523Once served, add a little mayonnaise and sprinkle the nori seaweed on top. The nori will give it a crunchy texture. I love nori. So much that I named my cat after it.

And there you have it! This dish is pretty versatile – it is easily vegan friendly (just leave out the egg and mayo), and if you’re one of those people who can’t accept a meal without meat in it then this is a great meal to have with bacon. Just use sparingly, if you insist on keeping the mayo in, too.

 

Restaurant Review: The Bear Inn, Stock

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As much as I love London, there are times you need to get away for a bit to clear your head. It makes me appreciate it more when I’m back. This weekend I went to stay with family and I re-visited one of my favourite gastropubs – The Bear Inn, in Stock.

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The Bear is really cosy on the inside, with beautiful exposed beams and decorated with eccentric trinkets throughout. The owners, Richard and Brenda, have really done it up beautifully, but what always gets me coming back is the amazing food.

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I started off my meal with a trio of pan-fried scallops, which topped a grilled tomato and pea puree. Scallops can be a bit hit-or-miss: but even looking at the picture of my starter is making my mouth water again!

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I ended up having the Bear burger (unfortunately not actually made of bear), which came with red onion salsa, coleslaw and french fries. The burger was perfect and the salsa to die for. This is the type of English food I missed so much when I was abroad! It all washed down well with my glass of Chilean merlot. I ended up opting out of having a dessert, but when I was surrounded by amazingly presented banoffee pies and creme brulees I got food envy all over again. A mistake I won’t be making next time!

If you’re ever in the neighbourhood I suggest you check it out – you won’t regret it.

Wasabi and White Chocolate Cupcakes

A few years ago a woman named Naomi Moriyama published a cookbook called ‘Japanese Women Don’t Get Old or Fat: Secrets of my Mother’s Kitchen’.

I have absolutely no need for this book because as a Japanese woman I know the secret – copious amounts of sake and binge-watching Studio Ghibli films, clearly. All jokes aside, a lot of Japanese cuisine is very healthy, practical as well as flavourful – a theme I hope to explore more within this blog. Take wasabi, for instance. Wasabi is a type of Japanese horseradish, often served in the form of a paste. Historically, wasabi played an important role in the development of Japanese cuisine. The anti-microbial properties of wasabi were really important before domestic refrigeration was a common thing. This is part of the reason why it was served with sushi (top tip: nothing comes close to toro, a type of fatty tuna sashimi with some soy sauce and wasabi).

Wasabi has a hotness to it – if you have too much, you can feel it in your nose. It’s not the same heat you feel with chilli, and is more similar to mustard. It’s great for if you have blocked up sinuses, and they have even developed fire alarms for deaf people using wasabi. How practical is that?

Going back to Naomi Moriyama’s book here for a second – I have never read it. Only because I know that Japanese women do get old, just not like the rest of us. Check out this diagram below:

average_asian_woman_aging

Source

See? And in order not to perpetuate this stereotype further I’ve got a recipe here that’ll make them fat, too!

Wasabi and white chocolate cupcakes copy

I had a lot of fun making these white chocolate and wasabi cupcakes. Check out the link at Baking Mad for the full recipe! I ended up having to make my own paste from powder, something I’ve never done before – but it was so simple and actually quite relaxing. It felt unnerving and unnatural to put wasabi into a cake recipe – I’m so used to snacking on savoury wasabi treats like peas but the flavour went really well with the buttercream, which I find can be a little too sweet sometimes.

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Mmm. Spicy, sweet buttery goodness.

Poker Night Buffalo Wings

Last weekend I hosted a poker night at my house. I say hosted, as I didn’t end up participating – I don’t know how to play poker (at 22? how embarrassing, I know). This was somewhat of a surprise to my friend Nancy and her boyfriend, who felt that I had lured them there under somewhat false pretenses. So my Saturday night consisted of a group of neuroscientists, an engineer and a former paleontologist around my dining table, several pizzas and countless gin and tonics. It was a great success, something I’d partially like to attribute to my excellent buffalo wings.

The history of the buffalo wing is a bit unclear, but most people agree that it originates from Buffalo, New York. There was another American in attendance that evening, and I knew he’d appreciate a buffalo wing to go with all the San Miguels we’d bought for the night ahead. Buffalo wings are a great accompaniment for beer, and are easy to make in batches, making them the perfect bar food.

What You'll Need: 200g plain flour (or rice flour for gf) 1 tsp cajun spice 1 tsp chilli powder 1 tsp cayenne pepper pepper salt 150ml hot sauce (I used Frank's Red Hot) 50g salted butter plastic bag

What You’ll Need:
200g plain flour (or rice flour for gf)
1 tsp cajun spice
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
150ml hot sauce (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
50g salted butter
plastic bag
16 chicken wings

Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees, and grease a baking tray, then set to one side. In a saucepan, start melting the butter on a low heat. In a bowl, combine the flour, cajun spice, chilli powder and cayenne pepper, and pour into a plastic bag. Put the chicken wings inside the plastic bag, seal the top and shake until each wing is coated in the flour mixture. Some folks like to put the floured chicken into the fridge to marinade for half an hour or so, but I skipped this step as tensions surrounding the game were already high – no need for extra stress!

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Once the butter has melted in the pan, stir in the hot sauce and let simmer before taking it off the heat.

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Once the sauce has cooled slightly, dip each wing in the pan until it is covered in the liquid, then place on the baking tray. Once completed, pop the wings in the oven for 45 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, turn each wing over so each side crisps up evenly.

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And there you have it! Serve with a cold beer while watching your favourite team win at the Olympics (or, more realistically, whilst looking perplexed at all the sports you didn’t even know existed).