Monday, 31 December 2012

2013 Preview

Farewell 2012. It has been a good year.

As well as the advent of the FishFingerSandwich blog, 2012 has seen the arrival of peddlers of fine filth such as Honest Burgers and Wishbone. Pizza Hut's Cheesburger Pizza hit the headlines. Cadbury had the laughably stupid idea of launching a chocolate bar for women. And I ate lots of Gelupo's mince-pie-and-mulled-wine ice cream. 

So what can we look forward to in 2013?

The London burger war is about to intensify, when US chain Shake Shack come to London, going head-to-head with the likes of MeatLiquor. The FishFingerSandwich blog recently went on a reconnaissance mission to Shake Shack in NY, and after tasting their charred-yet-juicy burgers between the squishy buns, and the so-rich-it-hurts peanut butter milkshake, I can only assume that they are going to be a force to be reckoned with.

There are also new flavours of
Ben & Jerry's ice cream to look forward to, which have apparently already gone into production, yet are still a closely guarded secret...

And of course every chocolate lover will be looking forward to Easter, but if you live in Doncaster, you might just be in for a special treat.

And right here on the FishFingerSandwich blog, we'll be looking at the best ways to use those Christmas left-overs, assembling some absurd sandwiches, doing some unusual things with beer, and combining things that really shouldn't go together.

See you on the other side.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Filthy Xmas pt2 - Deep Fried Christmas Pudding

I had a medical the other day. As if almost feinting during the blood test wasn't bad enough, I received an email shortly afterwards - "Dear Mr Fishbiscuits, the results show that you have raised cholesterol". I'm sure this will come as no more of a surprise to you than it did to me, given some of the stuff I shove into my gob. But Christmas is not the time of year to be worrying about weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. It is a time for indulgence, a time to spoil yourself after another year at the grindstone. Salads, gym, and the general abstinence from pleasure can wait until January.

So, concentrating firmly on the present, no dish embodies Christmas indulgence quite like the Christmas pudding does. Thick, dense, rich, sweet, spicy, fatty, reeking of alcohol, and containing half* of our normal daily calories in a single slice, it is regarded throughout the rest of the world as an eccentric (and even unpleasant) British oddity... a medieval legacy that has somehow survived into modern times. It is frankly remarkable that we can squeeze it in after a full roast with all the trimmings. But I love Christmas pudding. And it is the perfect candidate for my final deep-fried installation of 2012.

The traditional home made Fishbiscuit family pudding is a wondrous thing, but unable to procure one, I had to settle for a shop bought version. It smelled OK, but not boozy enough. I looked at the packet again... disaster! I had bought an "alcohol free" pudding! So I poured some brandy (Tesco own brand... nice) and Cointreau over the top, and stabbed it repeatedly with a skewer to allow the booze to soak in.

After a few minutes, I fashioned two large balls of pudding. I had limited success with an ice cream scoop, so I ended up rolling them between my hands, until I had two balls. Big. Sticky. Smelly. Balls.

The batter is my tried-and-tested recipe of self raising flour, cornflour, milk, and beer. Cheap lager would be fine, but I used Hoegaarden, because I thought it might be nice to drink the remainder. I rolled the balls-o-pudding in flour, before dunking into the batter.

I'm pretty sure this stuff comes already cooked, but nevertheless, these are pretty big chunks of pudding which take a while to heat through. So unlike my previous high-temperate frying exploits, these needed to be fried at a moderate temperature for a longer duration.

The batter did not puff up that much, and I am assuming that this was because of the lower temperature. But even so, the batter formed a satisfyingly crunchy crust around the pudding.

Obviously you have to have brandy butter (or "hard sauce", as our American friends call it for some strange reason) with Christmas pudding. So I whipped up some butter with a glug of brandy and some icing sugar. And if the doctor doesn't like it, she can shove it!

The Samuel Smiths cherry beer went reasonably well with the pudding, and felt somehow appropriate and Christmassy. Then I started wondering how a cherry beer batter would turn out... maybe next time...



*probably not accurate... I'm not a dietitian, OK?

Friday, 14 December 2012

Filthy Xmas pt1 - Ultimate Turkey Sandwich (Fuzzy's Grub)

Finding out that there was a branch of Fuzzy's Grub just a five minute walk from my office was one of the best early Christmas presents I could wish for.

I used to be a regular customer, and I was a big fan of their absurd roast-dinner-in-a-sandwich concept. It was just about the most filling, satisfying, messy, and utterly ludicrous lunch option available. But the chain hit financial trouble, and most of the stores closed a few years ago. So I'm sure that you (my dear readers) can imagine my pure joy at finding a branch alive and well in a tiny alley in the middle of the City.

So here we have a Christmas dinner sandwich. Roast turkey, stuffing, carrots, roast potatoes(!), cranberry sauce, and gravy(!). All squashed between two very thick slices of white bread, resulting in a monstrous sandwich that I could only just fit into my mouth.

They have several other roast meats available, along with all the usual condiments, yorkshire pudding, crackling, peas, mash, parsnips, mashed potatoes... even sausages and bacon. My tip - whatever you go for, make sure you order yours with gravy and salt & pepper.

Now I know what I'll be eating on boxing day.




Monday, 10 December 2012

Pot Luck Curry Pies

I've only ever been to one football match. It was in Berlin, and the game itself bored the hell out of me, but I did enjoy the bratwurst and currywurst, washed down with a nice German bier (foreign languages are a talent of mine). I understand that here in the UK, one of the most popular snacks at football stadiums is the chicken balti pie. I'd never tried one, but a loyal member of my fan club recently suggested that I tried to create one. It was an intriguing prospect.

A few weeks earlier, another event had occurred which also fired my imagination. I was in a Chinese restaurant enjoying some dim sum, and picked up what I thought was a char siu sou (mini pastry filled with roast pork and hoisin sauce). But no, we had been tricked... it was actually filled with curried lamb! It wasn't the best thing I've ever eaten, but I loved the idea of expecting one thing but tasting something completely different.

Then I had a vision. A vision of a big plate of individual pies, identical in appearance, but with different fillings. But not just any fillings... different types of curry. Ranging from mild and sweet, to hot and fiery. I imagined the expression on people's faces as they nervously nibbled the edge of the pie... followed by either obvious relief or contorted agony.

So, I took three curries... a creamy vegetable korma (home made), a chicken balti (left over takeaway), and an extra hot lamb vindaloo (bought from Sainbury's and spiked with extra chillies, hot sauce, and black pepper). I made sure that everything was cut up nice and small.

I greased a muffin tin, rolled out some puff pastry, and cut it into discs to make the bottom of the pies. I waited for the curries to cool before spooning the mixture into the pies.

I put a further disc of pastry on each pie, brushed them with a mixture of egg yolk and melted butter, and put them in the oven at 200 degrees. I was getting hungry, but luckily there was quite a lot of leftover curry for me to eat while these bad boys were cooking.

Considering that I don't really bake, these looked pretty tempting! And after a couple of minutes of cooling, they were ready to eat. Not only did they look good, they tasted good. Damn good.

Yum, yum, and thrice yum.

There are lots of variations you could make on these. Some alternative ideas might be apple / cherry / durian. Or maybe veggie / halal chicken / pork. *

I look forward to hearing some of your own ideas!



*disclaimer - The Fish Finger Sandwich blog does not condone tricking people into contravening any dietary restrictions, self-imposed or otherwise.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Baked Bean Curry

No food in the house. Can't be bothered to go to the shop. No cash for a takeaway.

But if you have a can of beans, an onion, and a basic selection of spices, then a baked bean curry is the answer. As well as being quick, tasty, and very cheap, it is pretty much guaranteed to create plenty of under-the-duvet farts to keep you and your partner warm in these cold winter months.

Fry an onion until brown, then add spices. I used curry powder, dried chillies, and cumin... whatever you have in the cupboard, really. Add the beans and simmer until thick and gloopy.

Serve with toast or bread. Or, if like me, you're in the mood for a little bourgeois faux-ethnic luxury - chapattis.



Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Chili Dog

A visit to Coney Island on a wet and windy day proved to be something of a disappointment. The scruffy boardwalk was deserted, half of the amusement park was closed, and the few people who had braved the elements seemed to be taking refuge in the local "Nathan's Famous" restaurant.

It's the original restaurant in the Nathan's chain, and host of the legendary annual hot dog eating contest. So seemed like a good place to get a hot dog. But the chili on my chili-cheese dog was runny and nowhere near spicy enough, and the cheese was flavourless. A heartbreaking end to a disappointing afternoon.

It certainly wasn't a patch on my home made version. Topped with left-over chili spiked with extra hot sauce, and plenty of grated extra mature cheddar, you could never accuse this dog of lacking in flavour.

I put the whole thing in the microwave for 20 seconds to melt the cheese and soften up the bun, and then topped it with fried onions.

If you want a job done right, sometimes you've just got to do it yourself.