See you in the next cartoon…

 

First things first, in the words of one of my culinary idols, some parting advice…

5

I’m still here! I just wanted to clear that up. I know it’s been quite some time since I lst posted anything here but I’ve been otherwise occupied with the other great occupation in my life- my family. To cut a long story short- we’re moving…to Canada! Toronto to be precise, in a couple of weeks.

Those of you that know me and have followed my social streams and blog will know that I have a bizarrely preternatural love for Canada. In case you missed it, or have arrived late to the party (hey! hello!..pull up a stool and grab a drink!) here’s my post about the catalytic visit to Toronto.

all-change

So yes! After 14 years in the UK, 1 husband , two kids, an architectural career and a baking business later I’m off to the land of Mounties and Maple Syrup. It may be a while until I get to post something on here again but do keep watch on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages for updates. In the meantime, I’d like to thank all of you for following me on this wonderfully fragrant, tasty and sometimes frenetic journey that has been Mr. Mom’s. Triumphs have lifted me, frustrations have tempered me and failures have winded me but they’ve all paved a long and winding road which now leads into the West. So long for now and see you in the next cartoon…

goodbye

let-me-make-this-easier-than-saying-goodbye-let-me-tell-you-hello-in-advance-for-the-next-time-i-get-to-see-you

Don’t say, We have come now to the end,

White shores are calling,

You and I will meet again.

And all will turn

To silver glass.

A light on the water,

Grey ships pass

Into the West.

 

#Recipe Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Something a little different for you all now, and not a baked good in sight! One of the few pasta dishes I actually enjoy eating, this a perfect comfort food dish in my view. A one-pot wonder dish thats great on so many levels. No fuss no muss and easy to prepare. It’s great if you want something indulgent in front of your favourite TV program or equally as good for al fresco dining with a chilled white wine. Hope you enjoy!

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

Serves 2

Mirepoix vegetable base

1 red pepper, halved

5 sticks celery heart, roughly chopped

200g onions, roughly chopped

Main chicken dish

2 chicken breast fillets, cut in to cubes

2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning, I use Barts

4 cloves garlic, crushed

150g button mushrooms, halved

50g streaky bacon, chopped and fried until crisp

1 litre Chicken stock

125ml Milk, semi-skimmed is fine

50ml Double cream

250g fettuccine pasta

Salt and Pepper, to season

To serve

Parmesan cheese, grated

Mire Poix

To make the “Mirepoix”

  • Blitz the red pepper, chopped celery and chopped onion in food processor until combined and well chopped.
  • Remove and place in a bowl. Cover until needed.*
  • Heat some oil in a large pan, or wok, and add the chicken pieces. Fry until lightly browned.
  • Sprinkle on the Cajun seasoning and fry for another 2 -3 minutes.
  • Add in 4 tablespoons of the mirepoix and the crushed garlic cloves. Saute for another 5 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms and crispy bacon and fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour in the chicken stock, milk and double cream. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Break the fettuccine in half, add to the chicken mixture and stir so that the dried pasta is mixed well into the other ingredients.
  • Cover and simmer over a medium heat for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Remove cover for last 5 mins of cooking. Cook until the sauce has thickened and the pasta cooked until al dente.
  • Remove from the heat and transfer to serving bowls.
  • Sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese and enjoy!

*This make more than enough mirepoix base. I keep mine in the fridge covered and use it whenever I need a quick season base for dishes. I don’t just use it for Cajun or Creole dishes either – it goes rather well in a Bolognese too!

Cajun Chicken Alfredo

#Recipe Brownie Fries w/ Raspberry Ketchup & Yuzu Mayo

So this recipe originally started as an idea to create smaller “bite-size” brownies with a difference. Sadly after a quick Googling (!) I found someone else had beat me in creating the concept. Oh well, imitation is the best form of flattery as they say. Brownie Fries or “Fruffles” (a portmanteau of Fries + Truffles) as they appear to be called in some places Stateside have been around for a while. Usually they’re served with a berry compote “ketchup” and yogurt “mayo” but not one to let a chance for experimentation go by I decided to mix up the flavours a bit.

Berry ketchup and yogurt mayo? Oh no, no- not for me! So all aboard the “Flavour train” for a raspberry dipping sauce with fresh and spicy notes thanks to basil and black pepper, paired with rich, creamy and zingy mascarpone dip. Here’s my take on Brownie “Fries” and they’re deep-dipping, lip-smacking good!

 

Brownie Fries (2)

Brownie “Fries”

185g unsalted butter, cubed

185g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces

eggs 3

275g caster sugar

85g plain flour

1 tbsp Espresso powder

50g dark chocolate chips

50g milk chocolate chips

100g pecans, lightly roasted and roughly chopped

To decorate

125g 70% cocoa dark chocolate, broken into pieces

125g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

Coarse sea salt to sprinkle

Freshly ground vanilla (Dr. Oetker do a wonderful grater/grinder)

Raspberry “Ketchup”

75g fresh raspberries

Handful fresh basil leaves, torn

½ tsp black peppercorns

Yuzu “Mayo”

250g Mascarpone cheese

100ml single cream

1 tsp agave syrup

2 tbsp Yuzu juice

  •  Set your oven to 180C/gas mark 4 and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment, or 9” x9” brownie tray (with short dividers removed).
  • Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  • Beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy, then, in a separate bowl, combine the flour and Espresso powder. Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together until just uniform in color.
  • Fold in the chocolate chips and chopped pecans until fully incorporated.
  • Pour your mixture into the lined tray, or brownie pan, and gently spread to level the surface. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the tin before removing.
  • Start by cutting the brownie slab in to 3” wide strips. If you’re using a brownie pan the long dividers will already have done this for you. Next, rotate the strips 90 degrees and cut strips approximately ¾ inch wide. Arrange on a sheet of baking paper with about 1 inch space between.
  • To finish, melt the dark and milk chocolates in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat and allow to cool. When cool enough to handle, pour the melted chocolate into a piping bag and snip a small piece from the end to make a fine nozzle.
  • Pipe the melted chocolate over your brownie fries so that it drips down over the sides, forming the “batter coating” to your “fries”.
  • Leave to cool for about 15 mins then sprinkle lightly with seas salt and grind over fresh vanilla.
  • Leave to finally set.

To make the Raspberry “Ketchup”

  • In a bowl combine the fresh raspberries, basil leaves, and black peppercorns.
  • Using a hand blender, blitz until a fine pulp.
  • Pass through a sieve to a bowl below.
  • Set aside until serving.

To make the Yuzu “Mayo”

  • In a bowl combine the mascarpone cheese, cream, agave syrup and yuzu juice.
  • Beat until fully combined.
  • Spoon in to a bowl for serving.

To serve

  • Arrange the brownie fries alongside the ketchup and yuzu mayo.
  • Now dip away to your heart’s content!

Brownie Fries (5)

Orlando 12/06/16

I know I usually post baking related topics and recipes but this post is different. Given the recent tragic event in Orlando there are a few things I wanted to write about. If this isn’t to your liking, don’t worry – normal baking service will resume soon enough.

We have a good life. My husband works hard in a well paid job, I work hard trying to run my own business. We have two wonderful children, full of bubbling life and precocious joy. We all live in a nice house, eat well and are healthy. According to all the stats we’re pretty much the text-book perfect gay family.

But what happened on June 12th at Pulse nightclub in Orlando shook us.

You can say that this is a baking blog and as such real-life events, or those of a moral slant, have no place here. But what I will say is that before the buttercream, brownies and weird flavoured bakes I am a gay man, a father and member of the LGBTQ community. And the homophobic attack in Orlando has effected me.

Sunday morning I came down to breakfast to see a worried look on my husband’s face. “Have you seen the news? Look at it”, he said. That’s how it started. We watched throughout the day as developments unfolded.

Last evening my husband and I were faced with a hard decision- do we tell out kids about what happened or do we leave it go without comment and dull all mention of the horrible event within our four walls? We had an unspoken debate looking at each other, painfully weighing up the course of action. We opted to tell them. Now I’m sure there are those of you that maybe disagree with this and have the opinion that there was no need for this course of action. And that’s fine- it’s your opinion. But we want to raise our children as strong, proud and caring individuals. Strong in the face of adversity when they meet it in the world. To think that the world is an easy place and there will not be trying times or people is just plain foolish- and we sure as hell aren’t teaching our kids to be fools! To be proud of who they are, that they have two dads, that they are loved and the place this love comes from. Compassionate towards others who may be victims of any adversity or tragedy, and understand that not everyone may be able to cope with hard times.

Heaven forbid that such a travesty ever occur again but I would like to think that our children would be in that line up to give blood. Or standing in that vigil. Or donating to that cause. We are trying to raise our children to have the pride and strength to stand shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity and love when needed. Sometimes doing this is not easy.

It’s a very strange state of feeling. I didn’t know anyone at the attack. By all accounts I should be unaffected- read the news reports with sympathetic acknowledgment and carry on with my daily routine. But I find myself unable to read or watch anything about the Pulse shooting without welling up. I feel extreme sadness there that such a mindless action can utterly decimate innocent lives. An occasion of laughter and joy ripped asunder and left in ruins set to the soundtrack of fearful mobile phones and sirens.

I find myself frustrated. Angry that some people are trying to pass it off (with the aim of political point-scoring) as a topical “Terrorist Attack” rather than the blatant homophobic strike that it was. That the powers in charge appear not to be able to see the wood for the trees. This was also problem with gun-laws not bureaucratical borders. It will remain as such until the US government acts to change these said laws.

I am afraid too. Afraid that what has happened in Orlando will inspire some deluded, hateful individual closer to home and that London will be next. That the news reports could involve  me, or my husband or our friends. I worry about my kids. Would someone target them because they have gay dads. Will they grow up to be targets of someone’s insane, incomprehensible hate. Can we ever really prepare them for world in which such actions can happen?

Like I said a very strange state of feeling.

However, in the face of the tragedy there has also been an igniting and tempering of human spirit within the LGBTQ community. Numerous vigils held around the world portrayed not the love that dare not speak its name, but one that stood together side by side and sang it in glorious technicolor. Streets full to bursting point with not a foot of pavement to be seen. Age, race, color, creed, and sex all pushed aside, rendered irrelevant in the face of unifying support between lesbians, gay men, trans and straight allies.  The various news reports in the aftermath showed people holding signs with slogans that didn’t call for revenge or retribution. “Love is Love”; “Love Wins”; “We stand with Orlando” were just a few of the ones I remember seeing. Testaments to the global, unconditional love between strangers and friends alike.

I am in no way drawing comparison between my feelings and those of the people involved in the Pulse shooting, or their loved ones. Their grief is their own and no one can take that away, nor have the audacity to think so. Mine is but one more voice to add to the chorus of support that has risen around the world. As I mentioned- I had a few things I wanted to say and if you can relate, well…you’re not alone in feeling so.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

This post is dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the Pulse shooting on June 12th 2016, the survivors, their families and friends.

“All that remained in the box was Hope. It fluttered from the box like a beautiful dragonfly, touching the wounds created by the evil creatures, and healing them. Even though Pandora had released pain and suffering upon the world, she had also allowed Hope to follow them.”

#Recipe Chilli Chocolate Panna Cotta with Sriracha Cinder Toffee, Fenugreek Clusters & Raspberries

Panna Cotta 3

This is pretty much my most ambitious recipe yet with a number of components to make and finally assemble into the completed dish. It came about as a result of a number of hankerings of mine:

The use of fruit vinegar in a dessert. I’d tasted Wormersley fruit vinegars at a food show and was utterly blown away by them. Fruity, tart and utterly delicious these vinegars are well deserved of their awards and of a place in anyone’s pantry. I’d always envisioned using them in some kind of brownie dish with the cheek-puckeringly beauty of the vinegar serving to foil the richness of the brownie. But on developing this recipe I knew the panna cotta would provide a great canvas on which to highlight the vinegar’s pudding pimping properties.

The use of a smoking gun. My latest kitchen toy that I was itching to be use and this was more than a convenient excuse. I had never used one before and was intrigued as to how well actual smoke would work with a sweet dish. Suffice to say I was not disappointed.  Whilst it’s not necessary to the overall dish it does lend an extra “Wow factor” and an interesting talking point. A word to the wise though. It only needs a short space of time for smoking (2-3 mins) and if you do decide to use it make sure you turn your smoke alarm off! I learned this the hard way – #RookieFail. As small as the amount of smoking chips used are, they still produce a heck of a LOT of smoke from the gun. Use it sparingly and near an open window is my advice.

The use of Sriracha hot sauce. Yes the very same condiment that seems to set Buzzfeed alight had been my carving for a long time. I’d just about used it in every savory application from dim sum to fries, to cold cuts and bacon- the one thing that had alluded me had been a sweet use. To be perfectly I can’t explain why but in my head the pairing of sweet cinder toffee (otherwise known as honeycomb or hokey pokey) and tongue-tingling heat of the sauce made sense. By now you probably know there’s nothing I like better than taking two extreme, opposite flavours and “smashing” them together to see what results from the gustatory debris. Here is another perfect example.

Whilst it may take some time to make and finally assemble, the completed dish is definitely a show-stopper and one that I’m indeed very proud of. There’s a wonderful array of textures and flavours at play in this dish- sweet, sharp, smooth and crispy. It’s wonderful example of just how much I like flavour experimenation in the kitchen and for me takes my “Falvour Maths” to the next level.

Makes 5

Panna Cotta

Sunflower or Corn oil for greasing

200g Green and Blacks dark chocolate

2 leaves of gelatine

190ml fl oz whole milk

250ml oz double cream

100g caster sugar

1 tablespoon Nielsen Massey vanilla extract

1 large dried Ancho chilli 

Sriracha Cinder Toffee

200g caster sugar

4 tablespoon golden syrup

1 tablespoon sriracha sauce

2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Fenugreek Oat Clusters

200g Jumbo rolled oats

250g quick oats

375g chopped roasted nuts

3 tablespoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

175g dark brown sugar

8 tablespoon honey

125g butter

8 tablespoon maple syrup

100ml water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To finish

Fresh Raspberries

Womersely Raspberry Vinegar

5 teaspoons bee pollen

Smoking gun with wood-chips (optional)

Equipment of Note

5 ramekin dishes (150ml apx capacity)

20cm square Silicone baking tray

Lipped baking tray

Food Smoking Gun (optional)

To make the panna cotta

  • Lightly oil five ramekin dishes (appx 150ml capacity) with the sunflower or corn oil.
  • Roughly chop the chocolate, and place in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, don’t let the base of the bowel touch the water.
  • Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat and set aside until needed.
  • Soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.
  • Place the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla extract and Ancho chilli in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and leave to infuse.
  • After 5 minutes pass the liquid through a sieve and squeeze the soaked chilli on to the melted chocolate. Stir well to combine.
  • Squeeze the gelatine to remove the excess water and add to the mixture, stirring as you do so. Make sure all the gelatin has been dissolved.
  • Pour into the oiled ramekins and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

To make the cinder toffee

  • Mix the caster sugar, syrup and sriracha sauce deep saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has melted. Don’t let the mixture bubble until the sugar grains have disappeared.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, turn up the heat a little and simmer until you have a deep amber coloured caramel.
  • Turn of the hat and tip in the bicarbonate and beat in with a wooden spoon until it has all disappeared and the mixture is foaming.
  • Scrape into the silicone immediately but be careful as the mixture will be very hot and may still be bubbling.
  • Leave the mixture in a safe place to rest about 1 hr- 1 hr 30mins, by which time the cinder toffee will be hard and ready to break into pieces.
  • (This recipe makes more than need for this dish but the finished cinder toffee can be kept in an airtight container and used for dessert/ cake decoration or even as a treat!

To make the fenugreek clusters

  • Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.
  • In a large bowl, combine the jumbo oats, quick oats, nuts, cinnamon and fenugreek seeds.
  • In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar, honey, butter, maple syrup and water and heat until the mixture starts to bubble. Stir in the salt and vanilla extract.
  • Leave to stand for 15 minutes.
  • Spread the mixture onto a baking sheet oiled with sunflower oil and press it down.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven, let cool, then using a spoon or spatula break up the oat mixture into clumps. Return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on the tray then break it up into clusters.
  • (Again this recipe  makes more than needed for this recipe but the finished clusters can be stored in an airtight container and used as a granola substitute.)

To assemble and complete the dish

  • To serve, place the ramekins into warm water )just up to the top) for 1 minute then quickly remove and invert out on to chilled plates. If the panna cotta doesn’t come out return to the warm water for a few seconds and repeat.
  • Top the each panna cotta with fresh raspberries and sprinkle a teaspoon of bee pollen over each.
  • Drizzle around each panna cotta with raspberry vinegar, and sprinkle around with a mixture of cinder toffee pieces and fenugreek clusters.
  • Serve and enjoy!
  • Optional: For a final touch before just before serving, place the complete dish underneath a bell cloche and insert the hose of a smoke gun. Ignite the smoke gun and inject flavoured smoke to fill the chamber, leave for 2-3 mins, remove dish and serve. (PLEASE NOTE: DO NOT USE IN AREAS WITH A SMOKE ALARM!)

Panna Cotta 1