Friday, 2 September 2011

Steamed Salmon, streamed rice with Vietnamese Carrot Salad

I've been cooking low fat, low cal a bit more recently in an effort to reduce the lbs. I love Asian food so this recipe from Good Food website jumped out at me.

Since I have a very handy rice steamer, I decided to steam the rice and cook the salmon above it at the same time. Whilst that was going on I did the carrot salad.

2 limes , 1 juiced and 1 cut into cheeks to serve
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 2 cm chunk root ginger , finely grated
  • 3 large carrots , finely shredded - a mandolin does the job quickly
  • ½ white cabbage , very finely shredded
  • a large bunch mint , chopped
  • a large handful peanuts , toasted and chopped

  • Mix all the wet ingerdients together and add to the cabbage, carrot, mint. Throw in the nuts at the end. It was really delicious and very healthy.

    Broad Bean & Pecorino Tagliatelli

    Ok, so went to Fallon & Byrne at lunchtime recently to browse. Food shopping for me is like shoe shopping for my wife. A cliche I know but true nonetheless. I wanted something seasonal, fresh, quick and healthy.

    I picked up some Rustichella d'Abruzzo Tagliatelli, some fresh broad beans, some Glenilen low fat cream cheese, some pecorino with chilli, fresh parsley and a lemon.

    I blanched the broad beans in salted water till soft, reserved half and put the other half in a blitzer with some of the cream cheese, some grated pecorino, a little fruity extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, a litle water from the blanching and salt/pepper. This made a lovely sauce.

    To assemble, I just cooked the tagliatelli, poured over the sauce and plated up with some grated cheese, parsley and thereamaining broad beans.

    All in all, 20 minutes of easy cooking for a really tasty plate of food.

    Thursday, 1 September 2011

    Northern Bound Part 2 The Salty Dog

    So part 2 of my Northern trip ended with a Saturday night stay at The Salty Dog Hotel and a meal at it's very well reviewed restaurant run by Head Chef Derek Creagh. I won't get into too much of a review of the hotel but it was really nice, good value at £70 for a double room ensuite with breakfast. The breakfast is absolutely delicious, the full Ulster or a selection of pastries. The full Ulster fry came as you would expect with soda bread and fadge (potato bread), locally sourced meats and every element seemed freshly cooked with real care. The coffee, toast and butter were also soo nice. Loved the attention to detail.

    The menu had some really tasty looking dishes.

    My wife went for Fois Gras and Chicken Lever Parfait, Date & Pear Chutney. This was absolutely delicious. Rich and creamy, so tasty, fruity spiced chutney.  A real cracker of a dish.

    I went for Thinly Sliced Rose Veal, Breaded Veal Sweetbreads, Broad Beans, Girolle, Truffle Pecorino, Almond Butter Vinagrette. This was a very accomplished dish and quite delicate and subtle. I really loved it.

    We both had Local Monkfish, Chorizo, Avocado, Olive Cheeks, Langoustine, "Baked Beans" and we got sides of mash potatoes and buttered greens. This dish was also delicious, hearty food. Something you'd expect to see in a really good Spanish restauarant. I liked the fact that it wasn't so 'restauranty'. The mash was top top class. I don't know but I just love the really simple things, or seemingly simple things, done super well and the mash was so smooth, creamy, buttery and perfectly seasoned.

    For dessert I had Creme Brulee with Almonds and Poached Apricot and a glass of Reisling to go with it. I like when I get a dessert wine pairing.

    My wife didn't order dessert but the waiter brought her one anyway because he said we'd been 'neglected' a little becasue he was so busy. We hand't felt neglected at all but I really appreciate these gestures. It's a part of what great service is all about. The waiter told me he'd been working with Derek for a good few years and had followed him from Deane's in Belfast. A good call by Derek I think.

     I can't 100% remember what was in it (honeycomb, olive oil ice cream and a fruit puree I think) was really nice.

    We had a bottle of the house white, a coffee to go with our 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 sides, 2 desserts, a glass of Resiling. The bill was £80. I call that great value.

    There was a discussioon recently between a good few chefs on Twitter about punters complaining about the price of things and not understanding the true concept of value. I really do get value and the Salty Dog (and Harrys) is what it's all about. It's food that by it's concept, quality of ingredients, flavour combinations, skill of preparation and service puts it at a fine dining top restaurant level but at a price that is equivialnt to a local restaurant. In other words, you can see every single cent on the plate and in fact, you wonder how the hell they are doing it for that price.

    Great stuff, I will be back.