Monday, 31 August 2015

Food - Part 1

Food.  Saying or even typing the word 'food' makes me feel better.  Like most right-minded individuals (not an accurate self-portrait), I spend a vast amount of time thinking about food and a good amount of the remaining time eating it! (I do teach Catering/Food and Nutrition so it's an actual job requirement!).  I pretty much plan everything around food.  When I go on holiday it is the food which excites me much more than the weather or even the scenery.  I go to France every summer and from the moment I get home I am keenly anticipating the next year when I will, once again, spread various types of fat onto the best bread in the world!  Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, and the setting for one of my favourite and earliest food memories, stirring the Christmas cake mix with my Mam and making a wish.  The smell of a Christmas cake baking is comfort itself.  I often find that my recall is linked to food and that I can connect a particular event with what I ate.  I'm sure it frustrates my wife that I can remember just about everything I ate in Barcelona in 2004 yet can't quite manage to remember to order my repeat prescription before I run out of tablets! (50% kidney function, long story).

Here's a look at how this all plays out in my food-warped mind!  It'll probably be rambling and odd, much like myself. ("Rambling and Odd" might have made a good blog name. Can't be worse than "FoodandFrets"!  I don't even write about guitars/music as it turns out.  I was excited about starting a blog and was too impatient to spend time agonising over a name.  Add it to the copious list of my mistakes!)  Anyway, here we go.  Like I said, rambling and odd; have a read if you've made it this far!

Morning has broken:

It begins as soon as I wake up (usually after being rudely awakened by (no, not the dustmen) but by 2 little people), when my thoughts turn to breakfast.  If you are now expecting a list of the wonderfully creative dishes which make up my breakfast repertoire then I'm sorry to disappoint.  With energy levels typically around the 'low battery' level on my phone there's little chance of a gourmet breakfast.  That's not to say that I don't get excited about a bowl of coco pops or some peanut butter on toast because I most certainly do.  There's really only two requirements for my breakfast: quick and with strong coffee.  Once I'm seated at the breakfast table (it's usually around my 5th attempt at sitting; each prior attempt scuppered by a little person making demands or spilling things, terrorists!) I look very much like an extra from The Walking Dead, except too scary for network television and it's then that I start to ponder the food which lies ahead.   What will I have dinner?  For tea?  How is it possible to lose weight when I'm such a greedy bastard?!  And so it goes (that's a Billy Joel song, see there's some mention of music, though no fretwork yet!  Although Tommy Emmanuel does a nice instrumental version, there 'Frets', I did it!).

Sometime around 10am:

There's few things that I wouldn't do for bacon.  In an ideal world, a smoked dry-cured middle bacon, not too thick, not too thin.  Bacon which relinquishes 3/4 of its weight during cooking, floundering in the bilge water with which it's been injected?  Yep, I'll eat that too, though never buy it.  The dirty (not 'dirty' as in trendy burgers in brioche buns, but 'dirty' as in foul) Nordic (as in starts with Dane, ends in Pak) bacon is usually consumed when a work colleague enters my classroom looking pleased with themselves and announces "I've brought bacon and buns for break!".  Fully aware of the standard of the bacon about to be proffered this is, nevertheless, a moment of joy (though not unbridled, let's not lose all standards here!).  What follows is usually a guilt-ridden process which sees me wiping the bilge residue from the pitifully wizened rashers before smothering it in Ketchup and closing the bun as quickly as possible as to hide the Scandinavian scandal from view.  Out of sight, out of mind!

Somebody recently said to me "bacon is bacon", though technically correct, the point she was trying to make is absolute bollocks!  There's quality bacon (properly dry-cured, also Moorhouse Farm does a good smoked back) and then there's the scum of bacon.  So bacon is not bacon, but it is always welcome!

One of the things I miss most about working in a butchery is curing bacon.  It wasn't just the end result, I loved the whole process.  I did it week in, week out but never tired of it. Deboning, pricking the skin, calculating the amount of cure for the weight of the pork, rubbing it in, waiting, turning it, anticipating the moment when it would be ready to be rolled, tied, sliced, cooked then eaten!  When we started out I pushed for us to do rare-breed bacon.  The boss rolled his eyes at my enthusiasm/naivety, "alright then Stephen (Dave always used my Sunday name, never Steve) but I'm telling you, the fatty little bastards won't sell.  Customers don't want to pay for pork where half of it is fat."  I was sure he was wrong and off I went to ring Richard at Blagdon Farm to order a couple of "fatty little bastards".  Dave was hedging his bets and ordering pork from Thompson's in Durham for when I was proved wrong.  Just as well, apparently customers don't want to pay for pork where half of it is fat (he should've said!).

Well, we've made it to sometime around 10am.  Next time we might make it to dinner time, but no promises!  Cheers,

FoodandFrets (Well, I'm stuck with it now!)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

The Staith House: Review

In my infinite wisdom, I decided it would be a good idea to get the ferry from South Shields over to North Shields to have a walk along to the Fish Quay for some dinner (lunch!).  Where's the problem with that?  Here it is: two kids, one parent, no buggy for Sophie (my soon to be 2 year old), plus the biggest problem of all, my woefully inaccurate memory of the distance from the ferry to the Fish Quay!  With the sun beating down on us, I staggered along the road holding Samuel's (aged 4) hand and using the other to carry Sophie (she decided she'd had enough walking well before we'd even reached the Old Wooden Doll!).

I hadn't decided where we were going to eat but I was pretty sure it would be either Irvins (yet to try it) or The Staith House, both conveniently situated at the farthest point from the ferry!  Yep, I'm really nailing this Daddy daycare!  We'd been to the Staith House on its opening weekend and I really enjoyed this game dish.  The service was a bit all over the place, as you would expect for an opening weekend but the food certainly warranted another go.  It had the added advantage of outside seating which helped finalise my decision; not because of the glorious weather but so it would be easier (in theory) to keep the kids happy!

We stopped to read the menu in the window just to check Master Samuel would be happy; he really wanted Sausages but happily settled for Fish and Chips just as long as we didn't have to walk any further!  I just wanted something simple and filling to set me up for the return march back to the ferry!  The pulled pork bun caught my eye, not least because it would be portable should I have to make a sharp exit!

I was interested to see how much the service had improved from the opening weekend and, to be honest, it was much the same experience.  They don't seem to have a good system in place for getting orders from the bar to the kitchen.  There appeared to be only two members of staff, one working the dining room and one manning the bar.  I'm sure it works well enough if guests are ordering and paying from their table.  However, you can also order and pay at the bar before sitting; here lies the problem.  The bartender had the thankless task of trying to take payment for orders, pour drinks, deliver cutlery/high chairs to outside seating areas (can't think which idiot needed those!) which, inevitably, doesn't work.  A case in point: I ordered, paid and went to sit outside.  We had been outside a few minutes when Sophie decided she wanted Sam's drink, so we all traipsed back inside to order another.  My food order still hadn't made it to the kitchen as the bartender hadn't been able to extricate himself from his many duties to communicate the order.  Luckily, the waitress working the dining room came behind the bar and he asked her to relay the order to the kitchen.   

I want to make it very clear that I am criticising the system here, not the members of staff. They were friendly, engaging and very accommodating throughout our entire visit.  They were a credit to the establishment, maintaining the level of service they did under the circumstances was very impressive. The front of house are simply being let down by a system which doesn't work.  In my opinion, they need to either increase staffing, or install an EPOS which enables the orders to be relayed directly from the bar to the kitchen. Anyway, what do I know?  Well, I do know that when the food arrived, it was good, very good!

Pulled Pork is one of those dishes that has become ubiquitous and much maligned.  I have taken its name in vain on many occasions because it is regularly a massive disappointment.  It is the Hatem Ben Arfa of cuisine, promises so much and delivers so little!  Well, this pulled pork is the reason for the ubiquity, it's that goal against Blackburn in the cup, it's the potential reached!  The meat was the definition of tender, the kind of tender which can only be achieved by using quality pork with a healthy fat content.  It was bathed in a glossy, deep jus which suitably softened the dark-crusted piece of sourdough beneath.  The jus had an intensity which accentuated the porkiness of the pulled shoulder, it was, well, you know when you roast a piece of pork and it leaves that almost black residue on the roasting tray?  That, in liquid form!

What would make me an effective reviewer at this point would be a photograph of the succulent swine in question.  Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond my control (I'm sure you know their names by now!) I didn't manage to take a second photograph once I'd moved the onion rings.


By the way, the onion rings?  Rock n' Roll!  Until now, my award for the best onion rings has gone to The Broad Chare, but these bad boys are at least as good.  I'd need to verify in a controlled environment to establish a definite winner but you get the idea, lush!  Light, golden batter with an audible crunch leading into melty, oniony goodness (I like that spell check doesn't recognise 'melty' or 'oniony', they do the job for me!).   Lurking behind the stack is a well-made apple sauce which I forgot about for the most part as the pork/jus combination combined with the Sam/Sophie combination was more than enough for my senses!  The chips were Armadillo-esque (if you're old enough to remember the Harry Enfield Dime Bar adverts) smooth on the inside, crunchy on the outside (Armadillo!).

There is some top-notch cooking happening in The Staith House kitchen, talented chefs using quality produce and making the most of them.  It's the type of place that I dream, one day, will grace a street in sunny Hebburn (we're on the Tyne too!).  They also do set-menu taster nights which would be a very tempting proposition if I can get a babysitter and a designated driver!  If they can crack the front of house then they will be a model of the perfect gastropub (I know everybody hates the term 'gastropub', but much like 'melty' and 'oniony', it does the job for me!).  Cheers,

FoodandFrets

P.S.
The kids' fish and chips were cracking!  We'd been to Seahouses (Pinnacles) the day before and The Staith House rendition of Fish and Chips is infinitely superior!  Next time you see The Hairy Bikers, be sure to let them know!  


Monday, 16 February 2015

The Elvis - Banana and Peanut Butter Soufflé. A Rock 'n' Roll Dessert, almost!


I'm not sure exactly how this idea came to me.  I know that I was lying in bed but I'm not sure if I was in a half-dream state or just that I was thinking about food as usual!  Anyway, I think I'll let the history books document this as my 'Yesterday' moment, "it came to me in a dream"!  McCartney had his Scrambled Eggs and I have my Banana and Peanut Butter Soufflé.  Unfortunately, this is where the similarity ends!  'Yesterday' is one of the most covered songs of all time and is loved around the world; in contrast my Soufflé could do with a new arrangement!

I'm pretty sure that had I used 4 egg whites instead of 2 it would've been a hit because the flavours of the sweet caramelised banana and the salty peanut butter really worked. Alas, the banana base was too heavy for only 2 egg whites resulting in a soufflé which lacked structural integrity!  However, I'm sure Elvis would have gladly tucked into this whilst going about his business, ahem!

I plan to work on this one to get it spot on but until then here is my flawed interpretation. Feel free to fix it for me (with my current blog post frequency (last post July 5th) the chances are you'll do it before me!).

Banana and Peanut Butter Soufflé

Ingredients

For the Banana Base
25g Salted Butter
40g Light Muscovado Sugar
40g Golden Caster Sugar
250g Banana, sliced.
Squeeze of Lemon Juice
25g Peanut Butter

For the Soufflé
2 Egg Whites
Squeeze of Lemon Juice
25g Golden Caster Sugar


Method

1.  For the Banana base, melt the butter in a frying pan, add the sugars and stir until a dark caramel.  Add banana stirring to coat in the caramel.  Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.
2.  Place mixture in a blender, add the peanut butter and blitz.  Place in a bowl, cover and set aside until cooled, then chill until needed.
3.  Butter 2 ramekins and coat with caster sugar.  Place in fridge to chill.
4.  For the Soufflé,  place a baking tray in the oven and preheat oven to 190C.  Place 2 Egg Whites into a clean, dry bowl and add a couple of drops of lemon juice.  Whisk until approaching soft peaks; gradually add the 25g of caster sugar until just at stiff peaks.
5.  Vigorously beat a third of the egg white mixture into the banana base to loosen, then gently fold in the remaining two thirds.
6.  Half fill your ramekins with the soufflé mixture and then bang the base of the ramekin on a folded tea towel to ensure the mixture is totally filling the base of the ramekin.  Fill up with remaining mixture until they are slightly over-full.
7.  Using a palette knife, level the excess mixture from the top of the ramekin.  Run your thumb around the outside of the ramekin to ensure the mixture doesn't stick to the edge.  Clean the outside of the ramekin.
8.  Place ramekins on the pre-heated baking tray and cook for 18-20 minutes until the soufflé is golden brown and risen.
9.  Remove from the oven, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.

It's good to be back blogging even if my return is not quite as successful as I'd hoped! Sometimes the failures are more important than the successes!  That's my story anyway and I'm sticking to it!

Cheers,

FoodandFrets


Saturday, 5 July 2014

Gaufres de Bruxelles (Waffles!) with Choc Cherry Beer Ice Cream, WCFC 2014: Belgium


This was the first dish I thought of doing when I realised that I had Belgium as one of my teams for the World Cup Food Challenge (well, apart from the ice cream!).  I have avoided doing them for a couple of reasons:
I don't own a waffle iron and I don't want to get mired in the waffle argument!  Oh well, too late for that now!  I borrowed a waffle iron from a friend (completely the wrong shape for a Brussels waffle) and got stuck into the great waffle debate.

The main problem seems to be the Americans, i'm sure this was one of the reasons Belgium had to make sure they beat the USA in the last round!  The Americans have something called the 'Belgian Waffle' which contains baking powder (call the waffle cops!), traditional waffles contain yeast.  However, before the Belgians get too indignant (scoffing aplenty found in my research!) they should remember that this type of waffle was introduced to America via (wait for it) a Belgian!  Maurice Vermersch of Brussels sold something called a 'Bel-Gem' waffle in the late 1950's-early 1960's in America, most influentially at the World Fair in New York in 1964.  Rumour has it that Vermersch used this name for his adapted Brussels waffle because most Americans couldn't identify Brussels as the capitol of Belgium (no comment!). 

Waffles made with baking powder have found their way back to Belgium and are sold in the various waffle chain restaurants mainly due to the simplified and quicker manufacturing process.  The waffle recipe I have used is a traditional yeast waffle.  Having established that yeast was the authentic route, I then had to decide between a Gaufre de Liege or a Gaufre de Bruxelles!  I loved the look of both of them, however, there was one deciding factor.  For the Liege waffle you need pearl sugar in the batter which caramelises during the cooking process and gives a wonderful dark colour to the waffle.  I went shopping to try and buy some but had no luck so the Brussels version won by default!

I found so many variations for 'authentic' Brussels waffles but in the end decided to go with this recipe from 'The Hungry Belgian' blog.  What clinched it for me?  After the title of the recipe are these magical words 'from grandma's handwritten recipe booklet'!  It doesn't get better than that!  I'm not going to publish the recipe here because I followed it exactly, including the sparkling water to give extra boost to the batter!  However, I've just realised that this recipe includes self-raising flour so may inadvertently contain baking powder!  I told you I didn't want to get embroiled in the great waffle debate!  Oh well, follow the link above for the recipe as they were delicious!  Fingers crossed on the authenticity!

Now, the ice cream!  I had a bottle of cherry beer leftover from the Eggs Gambrinus recipe and thought it would be nice to create an ice cream using it to go with these waffles.  I also wanted an opportunity to use some good quality Belgian chocolate (if they go out tonight and I haven't used Belgian chocolate it just wouldn't be right!).  So here we have my recipe for a belter of an ice cream; chocolate, cherry and beer!  If you can find the part to attach the paddle of your ice cream maker to the maker itself then you'll get an even better texture to your ice cream!

Choc Cherry Beer Ice Cream

Ingredients

375ml bottle of Belgian Cherry Beer (I used Bacchus Kriekenbier)
100g Belgian Chocolate
300ml Double Cream
397g tin of Condensed Milk


Method

1.  Pour beer into a pan and place on a high heat.  Boil until it reduces from 375ml to 150ml.  Set aside to cool.
2.  In a separate pan, place the double cream and chocolate and gently heat until the chocolate melts into the cream.  Remove from heat.
3.  Add the condensed milk and cooled beer to the chocolate cream and stir or whisk together until thoroughly combined.
4.  Pour mixture into ice cream machine or place in freezer, going back to stir occasionally until frozen. 

This ice cream is delicious; the beer lends not just a pleasing cherry hit but also a slight bitter note to contrast with the sweet condensed milk.  The chocolate is rich and decadent making this an ice cream which ticks all the boxes!

The waffles were delicious but not entirely correct due to the waffle machine.  It didn't get as hot as is needed for the perfect waffle so they are not as deep a colour as I wanted. The indentations were also too shallow for the perfect Brussels waffles so they are a bit thinner than is ideal.  Having said that, I'd happily eat them all day!  I think I'll have to invest in a good quality waffle iron as the Silvercrest one my mate bought from Aldi didn't really cut it!

If the Belgians lose to Argentina tonight then this will be my last recipe for the challenge.  I have learned so much from taking part in this and had great fun.  There are still issues I need to clarify (including the authentic Brussels waffle recipe!) but I think it is sometimes too easy to get caught up in the authenticity/food snobbery type debates when all we should really be asking is 'does it taste any good?'!  This tastes bloody delicious so I think i'll leave it at that!  Cheers,

FoodandFrets 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Aardappel Taart (Belgian Potato Tart), WCFC 2014: Belgium


Despite a valiant effort from Algeria last night they succumbed to the mighty Germans! That leaves Belgium as my final team in the World Cup Food Challenge 2014.  They play the USA tonight and are strongly fancied to win so I might have to get researching pretty quickly after this Potato Tart recipe. (The USA have been really impressive though so who knows!)

I absolutely love potato dishes especially ones with large quantities of fat!  Potatoes and fat were meant to be together whether in a dauphinoise, a chip, mashed potato, the magnificent roasty or in this potato tart recipe.

When I read about this dish I knew straight away that I needed to make it!  Pastry, potatoes, leeks and ham mixed with double cream pretty much ticks all of the comfort food boxes!  I discovered a recipe from the Hairy Bikers which looked great but I wanted to be more confident of the authenticity of the recipe so I went searching again.  I discovered this site which seems to be a collection of family recipes from a range of contributors on the cuisine of Belgium.  It was slightly different to the other recipes I had found in that it had a pastry lattice on the top which sounded more appealing, the more pastry the better!

So the recipe below is pretty much the recipe as written by Peg Coucke and posted to the above site, with a few alterations along the way.  One of the major changes was that I couldn't find any decent quality smoked ham so I have substituted it for smoked pancetta. I'd encourage you take a look at the site as it has a good range of dishes from a variety of contributors and I can assure you that this recipe is a winner!

Aardappel Taart

Ingredients

20g Butter
100g Smoked Pancetta or Smoked Ham, cubed
1 Leek, chopped
400g Potatoes, peeled and diced
150ml Double Cream
Whole Nutmeg for grating

For the pastry:

1 batch of Soured Cream Pastry

Method

1.  Preheat oven to 180C.  Roll out pastry and line a loose-bottomed flan tin, making sure the pastry is pressed right into the edges.  Place in fridge.  Cut the excess pastry into strips to be used for the lattice, chill.
2.  Melt the butter in a pan and fry the pancetta until golden.  Add the leeks and fry until soft.
3.  Stir in the potatoes and fry for a further 6-8 minutes.  Season with salt, black pepper and nutmeg.
4.  Remove lined tin from the fridge and add the pancetta, leek and potato mixture, spreading out evenly.  Pour over the double cream until just below the top of the tin and add a final grating of nutmeg.
5.  Gently lay over strips of shortcrust pastry in a lattice pattern.  Brush the lattice with beaten egg yolk and  bake on a preheated baking tray for 50 mins-1 hour at 170C until the pastry is golden brown and the potatoes are cooked.  (You can check the potatoes with a skewer.)

This dish is often a side dish in Belgium and is traditionally served with sausage. However, I think it is good enough to be the main attraction especially when accompanied by your favourite Belgian lager!  This is yet another big hitter in the calorie stakes so I am well on my way to my Gambrinus physique!  I might have give the Gaufres a miss if Belgium do beat the USA so I can still fit into my suit!  Cheers,

FoodandFrets

Monday, 30 June 2014

Sahlab, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: Algeria



I was delighted when Algeria qualified for the group stages because I've really enjoyed researching the vast range of dishes prominent in their cuisine.  I was tempted to go down the french-inspired repertoire this time but thought that I'd get more out of staying away from my comfort zone, so I've gone with a dish/drink which is hugely popular across the North of Africa and the Middle East called Sahlab.

Sahlab can be served as a drink or a dessert.  It is a sweetened milk which takes its name from the traditional ingredient used to thicken it, sahlab.  Sahlab is the ground root of a variety of Orchid and my research suggests that it lends a distinctive, slightly floral flavour to the end product.  Cornflour is now widely used in place of sahlab due to the endangered nature of the rare Orchid.  Unfortunately, the cornflour will not imbue the mythical aphrodisiacal properties of the true sahlab!

In an attempt to recreate the flavour of this untested ingredient I had planned on adding some rosewater and a small amount of orange zest.  I have no clue if this would suggest the flavours of the authentic sahlab but I do know that both rose and orange are popular flavourings in Algeria so I thought I'd get away with it!  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find rosewater whilst out shopping so this version just had the zest of a clementine to suggest an orange blossom flavour!

Sahlab can be topped with a variety of ingredients which always includes cinnamon; I've also gone with pistachios and coconut to add a different textural note to the sweet milk.

Sahlab

Ingredients

60g Cornflour mixed with 125ml Water
500 ml Milk
125g Sugar
Zest of a Clementine, grated using a microplane
Desiccated Coconut, Pistachios, chopped, and Cinnamon to garnish.

Method

1.  Combine the milk and sugar in a pan and heat, stirring regularly, over a medium heat until simmering, stir in clementine zest.
2.  Whisk in the cornflour mixture and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth, thickened and bubbling.
3.  Pour into mugs or bowls and top with the coconut and pistachios.  Dust with cinnamon and serve.

This recipe couldn't be easier and it is a really comforting dessert.  It's very reminiscent of a good rice pudding, just without the rice!  It could be such a versatile dish as well; the amount of cornflour can be reduced to serve it as a warming drink, or you could add any other flavours you fancy.  I think i'll try one with cardamom and possibly reduce the sugar content and add some honey.

Just a word of warning, the mixture itself isn't the most aesthetically pleasing dessert you'll ever see!  My wife arrived home and I (enthusiastically) asked her if she wanted to try an Algerian dessert; she took one look at it and declined the offer!  I finally convinced her to have a try and she absolutely loved it so don't be deterred, this really is delicious!

I fear this will be my last Algerian recipe as the mighty Germans are tough competition! However, this certainly won't be my last foray into Algerian cuisine as they've got some cracking recipes!  Hope you enjoy this one.  Cheers,

FoodandFrets

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Eggs Gambrinus, World Cup Food Challenge 2014: Belgium


You've got to give it to the Belgians; not only have they got a pretty decent football team these days but they've got the folklore nailed as well!  No men in green tights to be seen; instead we have Gambrinus.  There are several different versions of this mythical character (usually the case with these folklore types!) but one thing they all have in common is 'beer', hats off!  You can keep your bows and arrows just give me the beer!  In some accounts he is the inventor of beer, in others just a guy who could handle a lot of it (again, I doff my hat!).  He's usually pictured as a happy fatty with a tankard in his hand, he just gets better!

I'm not entirely certain of the current prominence of this recipe in Belgian cuisine as internet searches only result in one recipe.  The recipe is from the 1982 book 'A Taste of the Belgian Provinces' by Enid Gordon and Midge Shirley.  Although slightly worried about not being able to find any other references to the recipe, this book does seem like the real deal so I think I'm in safe hands.

Unsurprisingly, beer features heavily in this recipe; kriek or cherry beer to be precise.  We poach the eggs in it and then use the poaching liquor to make a roux based sauce, it's a bit rarebit meets eggs Benedict.  In further good news, the eggs are then served on fried bread, outstanding!  Gambrinus can come around to mine anytime and I might even knock him a batch of these up!

Eggs Gambrinus (Adapted from 'A Taste of the Belgian Provinces')

Having said that I was in safe hands in terms of the authenticity of the recipe book; the recipe itself is actually very vague in terms of cooking technique and quantities!  It tells us to poach the eggs in 'half a bottle' of kriek, thanks for that (I knew that size mattered!),  I also struggled to work out how it was possible to poach 4 eggs in half a bottle of beer; it's either a huge bottle or the Belgians poach eggs differently to me!  There are also lines like 'fry in the remaining butter', what remaining butter?!

My main dilemma (other than quantities e.g. googling what the hell a 'dl' is, decilitre in case you're wondering although I should've known!) was how to poach the eggs.  Even with a whole bottle of beer it isn't the amount of liquid needed to poach eggs in!  So I decided to abandon my usual technique of poaching in a large saucepan and switched to my smallest saucepan so the beer would be as deep as possible.  The pan needs to be non-stick when using such a small amount of liquid as the egg will hit the bottom on entry! These weren't my prettiest poached eggs but they did the job and I didn't have to spend a fortune emptying bottle after bottle into a large pan!  So, the version you see here is the result of me scratching my head and trying to work out exactly what to do!  Gotta love 80's recipes!  I hope I got it right!

Ingredients

375ml Kriek or other Cherry Beer ( I used Bacchus Kriekenbier)
4 Eggs
1 Tbsp Butter
1 Tbsp Plain Flour
1/2 Tsp Sugar
100ml Double Cream
Chopped Parsley to garnish

Method

1.  Pour the beer into a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.  Poach the eggs in the beer one at a time by cracking the eggs into a ramekin and then gently pouring into the beer.  Poach until just set, around 3 minutes (they will continue to cook as they rest whilst you make the sauce so it is important not to overcook at this point.  Don't worry about them going cold; we'll warm them up later!).  Remove eggs to kitchen roll when ready.  Remove saucepan from the heat and place to one side.
2.  In a separate pan, melt the butter and heat until bubbling.  Tip in the flour and stir thoroughly, fry for a minute to cook out the flour; gradually strain in around half of the reserved beer (bit by bit, stirring all the time) until the sauce is smooth and thick.  Add the sugar and stir in the cream.  Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
3.  Reheat the poaching liquor until simmering and gently place the eggs back in, place a lid on and gently cook for around 1 minute until reheated.  Remove to eggs to kitchen roll.
4.  Serve on bread (crusts removed and cut into an oval) that has been either fried in butter or toasted and buttered.  Top each slice with a poached egg and then spoon over the sauce and garnish with parsley.  Enjoy!

I seem to be inadvertently stumbling across breakfast/brunch dishes during this challenge; Syrniki, Chakchouka and now Eggs Gambrinus!  Weekends are going to be fun and fattening in my household over the coming weeks!  I really enjoyed the sweet and deep sauce with the rich egg yolks.  It's a really decadent sauce which certainly packs a calorific punch!

This is my last recipe from the group stages of the World Cup so now I'm just waiting to see who qualifies from Group H.  I'll be posting recipes from the two countries which progress on the days they play for as long as they last in the tournament.

Search for #wcfc2014 on Twitter to see all the recipes and give @EwanMitchell a follow for creating this great challenge which will have me sporting a Gambrinus-style physique in no time! Cheers,

The Brewer King!  Image taken from this entertaining tale of Gambrinus!


FoodandFrets