Food Challenge Recipe 30: Baked Breadcrumb & Herb Chicken Fillets

I’m going to start this recipe with a preface of the fact that I HATED this recipe. So if you’re looking for a tasty chicken goujon recipe, this isn’t it. If you just want to read about how much I hated eating this (or the little of it I actually ate) then please read on…

Gary and I eat chicken goujons a lot. They go with so many meals, and you can put so many sauces on them. And if you know us, you know we basically live for sauce, and finding food to go with it is secondary to the actual condiment.

I found this recipe on a website for a company who do meat subscription boxes. But it’s not a great recipe, and I hadn’t realised that part of the method was missing from it until after I had started.

Anyway, I put the oven to 160c and prepared a tray for the chicken to go on.

In a bowl I mixed 1 tsp paprika, 200g panko breadcrumbs (I actually used a little less than this because I had the end of an open packet – but this was way more than I needed), 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, salt and pepper.

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Then I mixed 1 beaten egg, 20ml of soy milk and 1 tbsp of olive oil. This was the part of the method that was missing. I wasn’t sure where the oil came into the recipe, so I just added it into the egg mixture and hoped for the best….

The chicken was dredged in the wet bowl, and then covered entirely in dry mix before being popped onto the tray.

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I used some skin-off chicken breast fillets (enough for two people).

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These went into the oven for 30 minutes.

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And this was the finished article.

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As you can see, the whole thing looks pretty dry. The breadcrumbs hadn’t absorbed any of the chicken juices and it was all just meh.

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It wasn’t all the recipe’s fault. The quality of the chicken I picked up from Tesco was also pretty nasty. We both ate a little and then decided we didn’t want to eat any more, so just ate the veg I’d served it with.

There was little to no flavour from the seasoning in the breadcrumbs, and there were way too many breadcrumbs to be practical. The overriding flavour was the oregano, which isn’t where I thought the flavour would lie.

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Overall, I give this recipe 1/10.

Food Challenge Recipe 29: Baked Tomato Sauce

This week’s recipe was adapted from one I saw from Smitten Kitchen, after seeing her post about it on instagram. I have one of her books, but this recipe wasn’t in there, so I got it off the website.

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When I saw the ingredients and method, it looked so simple, but I was afraid that the mild watery cherry tomatoes available to me would affect the flavour of the finished sauce. Thankfully, this recipe, and the accompanying ingredients, worked together wonderfully to create a fantastically fresh and beautifully tomatoey sauce, in all the ways you’d want it to be tomatoey!

Here’s what I did for sauce enough for 2 people:

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I took a small punnet of cherry tomatoes (about 250g) and sliced each one across its equator. Then I lay each one out, cut side up, in a baking dish, which had had 1 tbsp of olive oil coated over the bottom. You need to create a single layer of tomatoes.

Next I combined 1/6 cup of panko breadcrumbs, 1/8 cup of vegan parmesan, 1 tbsp of lacto-free mature cheddar cheese that had been grated and 1 crushed garlic clove. I mixed them with a fork to combine.

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Then the whole lot was spread over top of the tomatoes.

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You’ve got to make sure each tomato has a good amount of coating. Then I added a little salt and pepper, and drizzled with 1/2 tbsp of olive oil.

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This was then popped into the oven at 180c (fan) for 20 minutes, until the crumbs are starting to brown and the cheese is all melted.

At this time I put some pasta on to cook, so that it was ready at the same time as the tomatoes.

At the end of their cooking time, I took the baked tomatoes out of the oven and added 1/8 cup fresh chopped basil and lightly mashed the tomatoes with a fork.

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This created the sauce! The recipe then asked for another tbsp of oil to be added, but I didn’t want to add any more oil for dietary reasons. I don’t feel like it needed it.

I then mixed in the pasta, and Bob’s your uncle!

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The finished sauce was fresh, tasty and well seasoned. The tomato flavour wasn’t lost. The breadcrumbs had mushed up, so weren’t crunchy at all, however they had mixed with the cheese to create a savoury, thick, seasoning. The basil was a fantastic addition. It added a fragrant green freshness.

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We chose this pasta shape because I know it holds onto sauce very well. If you make this, I’d recommend that you use a small pasta shape that will hold onto the sauce, too.

I can see me making this pasta sauce regularly. It was simply, quick and so tasty!

I give this recipe 10/10

 

Food Challenge Recipe 28: Sweet & Spicy Baked Cauliflower

I’m trying to get better at tolerating spicy foods. It’s not that I don’t like it, or I’m not willing to try it, it’s just that too much spice in food results in me being unable to taste ANYTHING any more. That’s not the point of food!

But I don’t avoid heat, and at times will deliberately try foods slightly outside my comfort zone in a hope that it’ll ease my tolerance up. I’d wanted to try a baked cauliflower recipe for a while, and so when I saw this one, I thought “why not??”!

You start with 4 cups of cauliflower florets. For me this was a whole small cauliflower head.

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For the next part I grabbed a quart sized Ziplock bag to put the liquid for the marinade into, which made for a quick mix and simple cleanup.

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I added 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Sriracha (the recipe asked for 2 but I was too scared to add that much hot sauce!), 1/2 tablespoon of light soy sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper.

To this I added all the cauliflower, sealed the bag and smooshed and shook the whole lot until it was covered as evenly as I could get it!

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I’d already lined a baking sheet, and had the oven on at 180c (fan). This might have been a little hot, so next time I’ll bake this at 170c.

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I was able to simply pour the whole lot onto the sheet, spread it out evenly so that everything had the chance to bake and crisp up (if the tray is too crowded the veg will steam instead of crisping) and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.

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I took my baking sheet out a couple of minutes early, when I noticed some of the edges were starting to char. I also think that my tray might have been slightly over crowded in areas as the florets were a little too moist in parts. I gave one of the florets a try whilst it was still warm.

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I was glad I hadn’t added too much Sriracha as the bit I tried was really rather spicy! But my intention for this recipe was to allow the cauliflower to cool, and then top a salad with it. So that’s what I did!

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Once it was cool, I found the spiciness had reduced a LOT. In fact, if I make this again, I might add more hot sauce if I intend on eating this cold again. The flavour was really lovely. Spicy but also sweet (like the title suggested!) and the cauliflower flavour still came through nicely.

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I really enjoyed eating this. We had quite a bit left over, and I must admit it did leave the fridge smelling rather pungently of cauliflower, but the flavours were really good even days afterwards.

I give this recipe 7/10

Visiting The Allergy & Free-From Show

Every year The Allergy & Free From Show exhibit at the London Olympia in Kensington. I’d been once before a couple of years back, but thought I’d give it another go this year! Tickets are free and as well as the  Allergy and Free From show, you also get access to the Just V Show (vegetarian and vegan) and Love Natural Love You (natural lifestyle and skincare) areas.

Once we got into the show we picked up our lanyards. This year the show organisers have arranged it so everyone who has bought a ticket gets a lanyard with a barcode and their name on it. Then if you’re interested in finding out more about a brand at any booth, they just scan your barcode and the show organisers will pass on your details to them. I’m sure this is a GDPR move, but it seemed very simple and effective!

The first booth I noticed was Haymax. I worked with them a little while ago, letting you all know about their fantastic natural hay fever remedies! It was great to see them there.

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By the time we had arrived, we were both pretty hungry so my focus was on finding something dairy-free to eat.

We tried a few samples on our way through the booths.

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At Portabello Attic I tried I sample of their vegan Nutty Nutella cheesecake. It was really amazing. Gooey and buttery tasting, but lovely knowing it was totally vegan.

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Then we spotted The White Rabbit Pizza Co who offered some vegan options. I love vegan pizza because the ingredients are usually more exciting than with standard pizza.

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Gary tried this pizza which is due to come out soon, and is on a brand new base style. He said it was amazing!

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I tried this vegan option and it was truly delicious. So flavourful and really yummy!

I have already looked and you can buy this brand in my local Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. I’ll be heading there soon to pick one up!

By this point I knew I needed something proper to eat, rather than samples. The only issue with this show, is that unless you want to fill up on samples (which won’t be suitable for every dietary need) or buy something from the standard permanent and over-priced cafes that line the Olympia (which don’t offer anything dairy free) then you’re pretty much stumped for food. There was a lovely looking vegetarian stand with salads and quiche but nothing suitable for me. But then we stumbled over Mahi Vegan Street Food.

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I decided to go for the Mac N’Dawg and Gary got the V-Dawg, both seitan hotdogs with toppings. Gary’s had crispy onions, chopped pickles, mustard and ketchup. Mine had mac n’cheese, chives, crispy onions and ketchup (it was meant to have sriracha but I’m a wuss!) The staff were so nice, and really efficient.

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Neither of us had has seitan before, but we both thoroughly enjoyed our hotdogs. So, So tasty and just what I needed!

But of course after you’ve had your hotdog, you need ice cream right? So off I trotted to Booja-Booja, a brand I’ve known for years but only recently tried their ice creams. The staff were so lovely, and served their deserts from a cute converted Tuk Tuk!

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I went for a scoop of caramel pecan praline, and it was divine!

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Despite it being a warm and busy show, I really enjoyed seeing what was on offer this time around. It’s so good seeing so much being offered generally for people with allergies, intolerances and alternative dietary choices.

Anyway, now I’m off to dream about that hotdog…..

Food Challenge Recipe 27: Home-Made Frappe!

If you haven’t noticed, it’s been rather hot of late. I’m not complaining – I bloody love the heat and can’t get enough of it. I want to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin ALL THE TIME. But sometimes it’s nice to have something icy and cold to eat or drink.

This week I decided I wanted to have a crack at making a blended coffee (or frappe) at home because I blooming love them, and figured it would be something nice to start my day off. On the day I made this, by the time I’d gotten up it was already 24c outside, so it seemed only appropriate!

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If you want to give this a go yourself, you’re going to have to work out the measurements for yourself based on how much coffee and sweetness you want, and also how big your cup is. I was making one blended coffee, I didn’t need it very sweet and I didn’t want a huge amount of caffeine. I was making mine for an average sized cold drink reusable travel cup, with straw.

I made my blended coffee in a BlendActive machine and it was more than capable of blending the ice. I filled the blending bottle 3/4 full with ice cubes.

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I then used light soy milk to fill the cup to almost the height of the ice.

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Next I made some hot coffee with 1.5 tsp of freeze-dried instant coffee, in an espresso cup.

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I added 2 tsp of Monin caramel coffee syrup to this hot coffee and mixed it in. This probably wasn’t enough syrup so add more if you like it sweet.

I tipped the hot coffee and syrup mixture into the blending bottle, on top of the ice and milk. Then I blended it!

It took less than 20 seconds to be blended and ready!

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And here’s the finished article! The ice was slightly more chunky than those you’d get if you bought it in a coffee shop, but crushed enough to go through the straw with no issues.

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This was a very refreshing alternative to my usual hot morning coffee, tasted great and stayed icy for a really long time in this cup, so I was able to take it out and about in the hot morning sun as I ran my errands.

Next time I think I’ll add a little more syrup, but for this occasion it was perfect!

I give this recipe 9/10!

Craft & Cleaver – or Not-So Clever…..

We love visited BBQ restaurants, and frequent Big Easy, Red Dog Saloon and Bodean’s fairly often when we can. So, I got really excited when I heard we were getting a ‘Brooklyn Style BBQ’ restaurant fairly locally to us, in Milton Keynes.

I read some of the opening reviews, which were mixed, but wanted to try for myself since I loved the look of the food.

We visited with friends on a Wednesday lunch time, so it was fairly quiet and it was just a few couples and some office-based traffic coming in.

The Atmosphere

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We had a friendly welcome, and the smell inside was just right. BBQ and wood! The decor was lovely and I’m always comforted by the sight of squeezy sauce bottles on the table!

We were welcomed and seated, and had a look at the menu.

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There’s a dedicated lunch menu, but we all chose from the main part of the menu as we were all quite hungry.

The Food & Drink

Two of us ordered the chargrilled lemonade which was home-made lemonade with a slight bbq taste to it. It was very tart at first sip but as the ice melted it became refreshing. I chose to have an Arnold Palmer (which is 50/50 iced tea and lemonade) It tasted fizzy to start with but then that went away. It shouldn’t be fizzy so that threw me to start with!

Two of us ordered burgers, one ordered a salad and another ordered a half rack of ribs.

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My order was a Naked and Proud burger, which came with 50/50 fries (half sweet potato and half potato), coleslaw and pickles.

The burger was two patties with mustard and tomato relish. The burgers were nice, however there wasn’t enough sauce paired with the amount of meat, and as such you couldn’t taste the relish or mustard. The fries were very nice, with a tasty seasoning on them. I don’t usually enjoy sweet potato but these were lovely. The coleslaw didn’t have much flavour and the pickles were odd. I was expecting gherkins or cucumbers but I got two bits of celery and two small chunks of carrot. They didn’t taste vinegary, but had an asian flavour to them which I couldn’t pinpoint and I don’t think went with the rest of the food.

I tried some of the BBQ sauce from the table. It was a very mild sauce, almost watery with a more tomato flavour than I expected, but it wasn’t bad.

I was told the ribs were dry and the salad barely had any dressing on it.

Having paid quite a lot for this food, we expected a little more.

This was were the trouble happened. We paid for the whole bill on one card, and the waitress hadn’t noticed there was no paper in the card machine. Not knowing how these machines work, we didn’t realise we had already been charged once when we were asked to put our payment through again, since she thought it hadn’t worked the first time. When the receipt didn’t print the second time, the waitress realised and told us we might have been charged twice.

She spoke with her manager and asked to take out details. We were to then check our account and if the amount had come out twice, come back to get a refund. We were told the manager was stressed, and so she couldn’t deal with it herself. We had noticed the managed wandering around looking stressed already, throughout our visit.

We checked, it had come out twice, and so we returned. On our return a couple of days later, our original waitress recognised us, apologised for the inconvenience and got her manager. The manager, and who I now assumed was the assistant manager who we’d seen walking around previously, stood for some time at the till point. We had shown them a text from our bank showing the two full amounts coming out of the account (including tip) and also shown them the recipt we were given for the second transaction. For some reason they decided to refund us in cash, even though our original transaction had been on card, so they had to split the refund between two tills, since I don’t think they had enough float to give a cash refund at that time. We were stood around for about 10 minutes waiting, whilst the waitress made small talk with us.

When we were handed our refund, we pointed out that we had also paid a tip on both transactions (and not a small one) and that they hadn’t refunded that. The manager told us point-blank there was nothing she could do. At no point did she apologise, or offer us any other kind of compensation for the original error, for us having to come back to get our refund, for the wait, or for us not getting our tip back. We were obviously an inconvenience to her day, and she clearly just wanted the issue dealt with and gone. I was FUMING.

I have since complained to Craft and Cleaver and they have confirmed our service should have been refunded and offered to refund it or give us some credit towards drinks on a future visit. We declined both. Needless to say this was a sour experience, and we won’t be returning. They also said they had taken steps to properly train their staff on refunds going forward which is a step in the right direction.

Incidentally, completely unprovoked, a friend told me about her bad experience there for her birthday dinner. Wrong orders cooked, inconsistent portion sizes, too little food for the cost, and plastic found in the food with no apology and no compensation.

It’s such a shame, that something that could have been so good ended up being pretty darn bad.

Food Challenge Recipe 26: Easy Baked Churros

And just like that, we’re over half way through the challenge! I must say, so far, I’ve not had a huge amount of trouble finding a new recipe each week. I think because foods are seasonal (obviously) and I’m picking things that I know I’d love to eat, it’s made this an enjoyable challenge!

This week we picked another theme park food. It will probably be our last since I can’t think of any more that we love and we haven’t tried yet! We decided to make Churros – but bake them in the oven!

I’m not a fan of fried foods and the idea of deep-frying anything at home gives me hot sweats, so I found a decent looking recipe on Pinterest and away we went.

You start off with a preheated oven 160c (fan) and a couple of lined baking sheets.

Then you add 1/2 cup of unsalted butter (I used Vitalite), 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp granulated sugar and 1 cup of water to a medium saucepan.

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You pop this on the hob on a medium heat until the butter has melted and the water has started to boil.

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Then you add 1 cup of white flour all in one go, still on the heat, and beat it fast to make a dough. Once the dough has formed you keep beating for another 30 seconds, so the flour all cooks out.

You then remove this from the heat and add 3 large eggs, one at a time. You have to work fast mixing each egg into the dough, to ensure the eggs don’t scramble!

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It was at this stage I realised I was making choux pastry. Yes, I know I’m slow on the uptake, but I didn’t realise that was what churros were made of!

I then added 1 tsp of vanilla extract and mixed this through, then added the mixture to a piping bag with the largest star tip I owned. Which wasn’t big enough so I had to pipe two strips on top of each other for each churro but it worked!

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I began piping and left 1 inch between each churro. Then I piped on top again with what was left. I had way too much mixture for two trays but I made it work!

These then went into the oven for 22 minutes.

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You know they’re done when they’re golden and crispy. I left these on the cooling rack to completely cool.

Then I melted 1 tbsp of Vitalite in a pan. I added 1/4 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon to a ziplock and shook the mixture together. Then, in batches of two, I brushed the churros with the melted butter and popped them into the bag, shook them around and made sure they were all coated with sugar.

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The result was this lovely looking pile of goodies!

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The verdict:

The churros were baked so were a lot lighter than the fried equivalent I’m used to. They were light and airy in the middle, and I kept thinking they needed something inside them like cream or chocolate.

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They were very Eclair like, which makes sense since it’s the same pastry, however they had a very eggy flavour to them which I didn’t expect.

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On trying them straight away they were lovely. I packed some in a tin to take to a friend’s house and they were eaten again about 2 hours later. By this point they’d lost their crispness and were starting to go a little soggy, which was a shame. They were still all eaten though!

I think these were a nice little treat. They take a little effort, and would need to be eaten right away. They would be lovely dipped in caramel or chocolate sauce, and were a nice light equivalent to the fried version.

I give this recipe 7.5/10

 

Food Challenge Recipe 25: Oven-Baked Quesadillas and BBQ Seasoned Rice

This week I really fancied something Mexican but didn’t know what. I actually gained some inspiration from a Gousto box recipe on their website. I didn’t feel the value in buying the box for the recipe, and I could pretty much work out what to do from their description so I went for it!

Because I basically made this whole thing up, I didn’t really measure anything. I’m awful for doing that, but a lot of it is adding ingredients to personal taste anyway, so you’ll see you can wing it too! This recipe was for 2 people, but can easily be sized up for more.

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I started off by putting the oven to 180c (fan) and brushed a little olive oil over a baking sheet. I then took a 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed them and then mashed them in a bowl, with a potato masher. I mashed it so it was 75% mashed with a few chunkier bits.

I then added in about 1/2 cup of grated mature cheddar (adjust to taste) and some Wahaca Chipotle sauce. I mashed this all together too until I had a very rough paste. I then tasted, added a little more sauce and some salt, until I was happy with the flavour.

I placed a single soft tortilla on the baking sheet and then spread the paste over the top.

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As you can see, I didn’t spread it to the edges. I then topped it with a second soft tortilla and drizzled a little olive oil on the top. I sprinkled with sea salt flakes and then popped it into the oven for 15 minutes.

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At this point I began making the rice. I put some olive oil into my frying pan, heated it and added some chopped onion and peppers. I used the frozen ones I had in my freezer. I’d say it was about one pepper worth and half an onion I used, but you use however much you wish.

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Once these were softened (and defrosted!), I added some sweetcorn, from a can. You can use fresh or frozen if you wish.

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I tossed these about in the pan for a few minutes. Meanwhile I microwaved one pack of basmati rice. I can’t cook raw rice, it always burns, so I buy the microwave packets.

Once the rice was hot, I added it to the frying pan, and then I sprinkled about 2 tsp of BBQ seasoning. You can feel free to use fajita, cajun, peri peri or bbq seasoning. We used BBQ because it fit with the flavours we like. I added a little of the powder, stirred around, tasted and then added a little more until I was happy.

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I like to spread the rice across the whole pan, and leave it, in the hope it’ll create a little additional texture in the rice.

I cooked this until the quesadilla was done.

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When it came out of the oven it looked a little unappealing and dry. But I knew what was inside was yummy so it didn’t matter!

I cut this into 6 triangles and served out the rice.

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I left a little space on the plate for condiments. You can have soured cream, garlic mayo, ketchup, salsa, quac – whatever you want! I had garlic mayo, but to be honest, despite it looking a little dry, it didn’t need sauces.

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Inside, the quesadilla was seasoned well, tasty with the cheese and beans and a slight chipotle kick. The top was crunchy and salty and the bottom was warm and unctuous.

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The rice was also delicious. The seasoning had added a lovely warm, sweetness to the rice and the vegetables were lovely and fresh. A perfect accompaniment!

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All in all I think this recipe was a success all round. I’ll definitely be making this again, and probably very soon!

I give this recipe 10/10!

Food Challenge Recipe 24: Succotash

This week’s recipe is Succotash, which I’ve only ever know as a Sylvester phrase ‘Sufferin’ Succotash’ or a lyric from Groove Is In the Heart by Deee-Lite. I never really knew what it was until I stumbled across the recipe in my trusty America: The Cookbook.

As huge fans of sweetcorn, I was Deee-Lited (geddit) to find out that succotash is a skillet corn side dish, and interested to learn that the word succotash actually comes from the Native American word for boiled corn. This is a West Virginian recipe, and is so simple to make. We made enough for 3-4 people as a side.

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You start off with 1 1/2 cups of fresh sweet corn kernels. I used this natty little corn stripping device I picked up off Amazon for G-Man’s birthday. It’s fairly effective, but feel free to use a sharp knife to trim your corn cobs. I used two, which gave us a little more than we needed but we used it all anyhow.

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I like to buy our corn cobs from Costco because you get these lovely colour variations in the kernels, and therefore variations of flavour. I can’t buy anything like this locally, and I wish I could because I know there are so many different types and colours of corn, I’d love to try.

Anyway, I digress. I chopped a small shallot and added this to a large frying pan (the recipe calls for a cast-iron skillet but I don’t have one of those) which already had warm olive oil in it.

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These were fried over a medium heat until translucent, for about five minutes. Then I added the corn, and cooked for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently.

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Next I added 3/4 cup of halved cherry tomatoes, a small can of drained butter beans (1 cup) – on this note I’ll mention this should be lima beans but I can’t find those anyway, and I’m assured that butter beans are the equivalent and though they don’t have the same green colour, should work as an alternative – and 90ml of hot chicken stock (use vegetable if you want to keep this vegetarian).

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All stirred up, I left this to simmer for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. At this point the tomatoes should be starting to break down.

I then removed the pan from the heat, and this is where the magic happened.

I stirred in 1.5 tbsp of butter (I used dairy-free Vitalite), 1/2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice and salt and pepper (the recipe calls for a heaped tbsp of fresh chopped parsley, but I detest the stuff so left this out). I added the butter and lemon and tasted so I could compare flavour for the seasoning. The dish tasted nice, but didn’t wow me. But as soon as I’d added the seasoning and tasted again – pow! What an amazing flavour! It once again points out the importance of correctly seasoning your food!

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Despite it looking very ‘yellow’ toned, and this being due to the lack of real lima beans and parsley, to add some green colour, the flavour of this dish was incredible.

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It’s a bit like stew, but without the sloppiness but also had a grilled or charredness to it. The flavours all marry wonderfully and the tomatoes added some needed freshness. Everyone knows butter and corn goes wonderfully, but the shallots added some savoury notes which just worked so well.

I didn’t know what to serve this with. Ideally it would have been nice with a roasted chicken, I think, but I served it with breaded chicken steaks and roasted potatoes. This was mainly because I had been craving roasties and I’m pretty sure I would have had them with whatever I was cooking on this day…… Not the greatest combo. The succotash was definitely the star of the show.

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I’m certain this would have been the perfect accompaniment to a BBQ, so if you’re invited to one and need to take a dish, maybe consider this?

What’s perfect about this was that it was crazy easy to make, used some great ingredients, and packed an amazing flavour punch. I’ll definitely be making this again!

I give this recipe 10/10

Food Challenge Recipe 23: Barbecue Spaghetti

Today’s recipe is called Barbecue Spaghetti, though I have decided to rename it Buddy the Elf’s Spaghetti. If you can’t guess why, you’ll see soon enough….

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First of all, let me introduce you to my new friend, America: The Cookbook. This tome is home (ooh that rhymed) to an epic amount of regional recipes spanning the length and breadth of the American states. It’s almost 800 pages long, contains very few pictures and a hosts a whole lot of yummy goodness. I’ve already been through it and tabbed all the recipes I want to try. So expect to see a fair few dishes from this book, in the coming weeks.

I decided to try something simple for this week’s recipe, and barbecue spaghetti fit the bill – I had all the ingredients already and it looked easy and quick.

This recipe hails from Memphis, Tennessee and usually has pulled pork added to it, but as semi-vegetarians we decided to skip the meat.

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I started off by gathering my dry ingredients. 25g sugar (!), 1 tsp chilli powder, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp onion powder, 1/2 paprika, 1/2 dried oregano.

Then I started my linguine (we don’t like spaghetti so we went with linguine, which I’d snapped in half before boiling, so it’s easier to eat) by adding it to a large pot of well-salted boiling water. You need to cook this according to the instructions on the packet.

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In a large frying pan I heated some olive oil and added 80g chopped frozen onions (I had these frozen ones left over from a previous recipe) and 75g sliced frozen peppers (again left over from a previous recipe) and cooked these down until tender.

I then added 1 cup (125ml) of barbecue sauce – now here’s where you need to choose your sauce wisely. I happen to live in a house which holds at least five or six different types of barbecue sauce in the pantry at any one time, so I was able to make a choice. Since this recipe already has chilli powder in it, I didn’t want a sauce that was too spicy, but this left only one sauce, which was already quite sweet. I would suggest going for something with mild spice (unless you like things very hot) and one that’s more on the vinegary side. This sauce was not, and I could tell we were basically cooking dessert at this stage….

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Nevertheless, I added the sauce along with the spices and sugar (eek!) and, after mixing, I left this to simmer and reduce for 10-12 minutes. I tasted this towards the end of the cooking time, and decided to add some more seasoning and more oregano to try to create a further savoury lift to the sauce.

At this stage you would add your pulled pork. I think adding some meat would have helped us along with the savoury notes it needed, but alas we skipped this step.

I added the cooked linguine and stirred it all up.

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In the photo it looks nice and almost Bolognese, but in reality it was spicy dessert. It was so sweet I needed to brush my teeth afterwards. The peppers and chilli did help a little, but still. I couldn’t even finish it all, which is very unlike me!

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Even if you have a very sweet tooth, you might still find this too much. Although, feel free to add some pulled pork to this and let me know otherwise. Or if you’re a Memphis native and love this dish, please let me know where I went wrong (other than leaving out the meat!).

I give this recipe 3/10