Sunday, 15 September 2013

Jalapeno Poppers

Sunday and I, we used to not be friends. The last bastion against the dreaded return to work, Sunday used to pop its little head out shortly after midnight on Saturday and then continue to poke and prod me with its annoying little finger, a relentless reminder that the office was beckoning and my fun was coming to an end. Not anymore. Well, not for the next 20 weeks at least, not when the NFL season is in full flow. From today until the 3rd of February I live for 6pm on a Sunday night, when I can churn out some quality eats, crack open a beer or two and sit back to watch my Chicago Bears conspire to send me to an early grave. And if the Bears won't do it, these tasty morsels are sure going to try. You want cheese-stuffed peppers wrapped in bacon? I give you, jalapeno poppers.
Start with about a dozen fresh jalapeno peppers. These are usually a bit more plump than regular green chilies and have a slightly milder heat - something you might be thankful for later when you're biting into a whole one. Chop off the tops and scoop out the seeds and guts.
Anything goes with the filling, so cram it with whatever flavours you fancy. I mixed some cream cheese (full fat, anything else is a sin) with chopped spring onions and coriander, a squeeze of lime and S&P. It can be a tricky business making sure the peppers are completely filled but I found that the small end of a teaspoon worked a treat. You can have that one for free.
Because, bacon. Wrap a rasher around the top of the pepper, making sure to form a seal over the hole so that the filling doesn't melt out. Use a toothpick to secure the bacon in place, otherwise when it cooks it will shrink in size and pop right off. And then everyone laughs at you and your stupid, stupid bacon-less food.
Hot oven for about 20 minutes, job done. Thems are gonna be hot as hell so allow to cool for a couple of minutes before shoving in your mouth. And there you have it; bacon-covered, cheese-filled, spicy jalapeno poppers. Man I LOVE Sundays.

10-12 jalapeno peppers
10-12 rashers smoky bacon
cream cheese
spring onions
lime juice

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Fried Pickles

I'm sitting here racking my brain trying to remember who introduced me to fried pickles, because I owe them a massive thank you. Uncharted territory here in the UK, these delicious snacks are a bit of a staple at bars all over the states and I think it's high time we embraced them with open arms and mouths. Skeptical? In all fairness you probably have a right to be. But cast your doubts aside for a moment and take a chance on these beauties. And while you're making them, I'll go try and explain a deep-fried mars bar to some of my friends from across the pond...
It's a well-known fact that anyone who doesn't like pickles is awful, just totally awful. Not me, I love them, aways have. So much so that when I was a little kid a friend and I, having eaten all of the pickles in the house, decided to quench our thirsts with a big glass each of the watery brine from the jar. Or, as we figured, 'pickle juice'. (We were strange children and that was not a particularly pleasant beverage so if you have the option, I would suggest just eating pickles.)
Slice the pickles, or gherkins if you will, lengthways. Mix up a simple batter that's about 1/2 a cup (70g) of flour, a couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika and cayenne, and a dash of salt and pepper. Slowly add about 175ml of cold water, mixing until you've got a smooth, thick batter that coats the pickles evenly. Bung your pickles in the batter and give it all a good mix before shaking off the excess. Get some vegetable oil nice and hot then deep fry your pickles in batches for about 2 minutes before fishing out with a slotted spoon and draining on kitchen roll. Hot, crispy, tangy.
Pull together a nice little dipping sauce by combining a dash of milk, a few tablespoons of mayonnaise, a teaspoon of horseradish and tomato puree, a hit of cayenne and some salt and pepper. Scatter, grab, dunk, crunch, chew, swallow, repeat. These guys are the bomb.

a handful of dill pickles
70g plain flour
smoked paprika
vegetable oil
3 tbsp mayonnaise
dash milk
tsp horseradish
tsp tomato puree