Posts Tagged ‘pepper’

Penja White Pepper Is Back

Friday, October 7th, 2016

Steenbergs Penja pepper comes from a family farm in the Penja region of the Cameroon.  Bought in 1970 from a retiring French pineapple farmer, Salamon and then his son René have converted this 70 hectare plantation over the pepper growing during the 1980s when the pineapple market became saturated.  The plantation now only grows black and white pepper.

This Penja white pepper is truly special – clean and light peppery taste, with sharp heat that builds and lingers.  Perfection.

 

 

STEENBERGS SPICE TASTER PANEL

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015

Steenbergs Lemon Chicken Rub & Steenbergs organic Smoky Paella Spice Blend

This time around our spice taster panel was in for a treat, sampling two different, delicious spice blends, created by Axel and hand-blended in the Steenbergs factory near Ripon, North Yorkshire.  Both of them have Mediterranean influences and can be used for specific dishes, but it has been interesting and encouraging to see how diverse and varied the uses have been for these products.

STEENBERGS LEMON CHICKEN RUB

lemon-chicken-rubThis new lemon chicken rub from Steenbergs is one of the few non organic mixes. It has been developed over a number of years to combine all our favourite flavours in a chunky, easy to use rub, packed with flavour.  Although the title suggests a meaty blend, it is, like all other Steenbergs blends, fully vegetarian, just using the term ‘lemon chicken’ for the complementary Mediterranean herbs that make up this flavoursome spice mix.

Ingredients include: black pepper, salt, lemon peel, garlic, fennel seeds, parsley, coriander seed, lemon myrtle, paprika and lemon oil.

Our panel was really pleased with this product, with 77% describing it as ‘fabulous’ or ‘great’.  73% also thought it a very versatile product with possibilities including stirring into hummus, rubbing on fish or meat, sprinkling on roasted vegetables & potatoes, adding to rice or mixing into a salad dressing.

Our tasters were ingenious in their creations: rubbing, stirring, seasoning and savouring as this blend was designed to inspire.  Creations included red lentil dhal, many different chicken dishes including casserole, stew, Kievs and roast; chick peas burgers; roasted vegetables; homemade hummus; rubbed onto whole fish, flavouring savoury rice and in potato salad. One of our panel commented that there are ‘a million and one uses for this product’.

When asked to describe their perfect accompaniment to Lemon Chicken, our panel were definitely thinking healthily with 25% going for green vegetables, 25% for roasted veg (incl. potatoes) and 19% for salad, closely followed by rice (13%).

Do you ‘eat to live’ or ‘live to eat’ though, that is the question.  The majority of our taste testers definitely ‘live to eat’!

As far as the flavour was concerned, many of our team enjoyed the variety of ingredients and intensity of the blend, adding that it is ‘convenient to use for quick meals to add flavour’.  The black pepper was the predominant flavour, with some looking for a bit more lemon, but overall it was seen as a very flavoursome, versatile product.  These are the words that our taster panel used to describe the Lemon Chicken Rub.

Lemon Chicken Rub

Lemon Chicken Rub

STEENBERGS ORGANIC SMOKY PAELLA SPICE MIX

organic-smoky-paella-spice-blend-50g (1)Steenbergs organic Smoky Paella Spice Mix includes the smoky flavour of smoked paprika as well as saffron. The core blend is paprika with a hint of rosemary and loads of luxuriant saffron and garlic. The flavour of the smoked paprika is Axel Steenberg’s way of hinting at the smokiness that you get from making a traditional paella over an open fire.

Steenbergs Smoky Paella Spice seasoning is perfect with a glass of sangria to reminisce about long Spanish, balmy nights. Simply add 1-2 tsp of Steenbergs organic smoky paella spice mix to the stock when cooking paella for 4 people.

The ingredients in the spice mix, which are all organic, include: paprika (pimenton), smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, ground black pepper, rosemary herb, saffron.

Our taster panel really enjoyed this blend with 92% rating it ‘Fabulous’ or ‘Great’, and 92% also saying that they would use it again – many commenting that ‘it means that making paella is so much easier as all the flavours are in one pot’.

Many of our panel used the spice blend to make traditional paella but in different ways: from flavouring the stock to marinating the chicken or prawns, or just adding in at the end.  With 76% having made paella before, lots of people had their own recipe but it is always great to see the wide variety of uses.

Our taste testers definitely demonstrated the versatility of this blend with recipes including all of the following: roasted pepper veggie lasagne sauce; pan-cooked chicken; fideua; infusing oil before adding stock; roasted butternut squash risotto; instead of turmeric; to flavour water in which to cook rice; substituting the sweet smoked paprika in Jamie Oliver’s chicken chorizo paella, as a rub on chicken which was then stir fried with peppers & mushrooms; stuffed peppers with rice & veg; used sprinkled on chicken and grilled; with seafood; shakshuka/pipperade style dish – fried onions, peppers & tinned tomatoes with poached egg on top; used in fajitas/enchiladas and on griddled chicken strips with roasted veg; fish stew and slow cooked pork ribs.  Other interesting ideas included: adding to mashed sweet potato; with spinach and feta; sprinkled on chips and on tomato salad.

We loved one of our taste tester’s descriptions of the spice blend: “a ‘flavour’ of Spain with the smoky paprika oozing through – the intensity of flavours of garlic and paprika knocking on the door.”  When asked to give just one word to sum it up, here’s what everyone came up with…

Smoky Paella Spice Mix

Smoky Paella Spice Mix

All in all a truly versatile product!

Do let us know what you think…we’re always keen to hear and will share any top tips on social media.

 

 

Recipe: Potatoes Dauphinoise With Long Pepper and Grains of Paradise

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

With the nights drawing in and the leaves turning a rusty orange colour, I had promised Sophie that I would make Potatoes Dauphinoise, one of her favourites.  This is a tasty, homely dish that is full of the richness from the cream and milk.  I prefer a Maris Piper potato for this, as well as for roasting potatoes in general, so I have used them here.  You can use any potato as long as it does not get too floury and collapse.

For seasoning, I used the classic garlic and onions, but instead of simply pepper and salt, I have gone more exotic and used Indonesian long pepper and Ghanaian grains of paradise, plus some nutmeg.  These are all old, classic spices, but the long pepper and grains of paradise are certainly much less used these days.  Then I sprinkled over some delicious, bright red paprika from Murcia as a final garnish.

Potatoes Dauphinoise is delicious with almost any main course, but I think it goes better with meats than fish, because of its richness.

Steenbergs Recipe For Potatoes Dauphinoise Before Baking

Ready For Baking – Steenbergs Potatoes Dauphinoise With Long Pepper And Grains of Paradise

Steenbergs' Recipe For Potatoes Dauphinoise With Long Pepper And Grains Of Paradise

Potatoes Dauphinoise With Steenbergs Long Pepper And Grains Of Paradise

Recipe for Potatoes Dauphinoise with Long Pepper and Grains of Paradise

900g potatoes, about 4 large Maris Piper potatoes
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 garlic, finely chopped
425ml double cream
150ml milk
15g butter
1 Steenbergs long pepper
½ tsp Steenbergs grains of paradise
½  tsp Steenbergs organic nutmeg or mace powder
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of Steenbergs organic Spanish paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
2. Peel and slice the potatoes thinly, then parboil for about 4 minutes, then drain.
3. While the potatoes are boiling, butter a large ovenproof dish.
4.  In a pestle and mortar, crush the long pepper and grains of paradise until quite fine.  Mix in the nutmeg powder and a pinch of sea salt.  Crush again lightly to break down the salt crystals.
5.  Arrange a layer of the potatoes in the ovenproof dish, then sprinkle over some of the onions and garlic.  Next season with some of the spices mix.
6.  Place a layer of potatoes over the garlic-onions-seasoning.  Repeat the sprinkling over of onions and garlic, then season.
7.  Alternate such that you end with a layer of potatoes.
8.  Mix the milk and cream and pour over the potatoes.  If you need to add some more liquid, simply add  little more milk.  Cover with foil.
9.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes, then remove the foil and bake for another 30 minutes until golden brown.
10. Sprinkle with the paprika before serving.

Sophie Grigson Cookery Demonstration At The Oak Tree In Helperby

Wednesday, March 28th, 2012
On Monday 26th, we had arranged a cookery demonstration by Sophie Grigson of some recipes from her new cookery book, Spices, followed by some fizz and a book signing session, before lunch. The event was hosted for Steenbergs at The Oak Tree in Helperby, which in a twist of fate celebrates it one year birthday after having been completely refurbished and reopened on 28 March 2011. The Oak Tree is part of Provenance Inns, a small and newish local chain of foodie pubs, run in a partnership between Chris Blundell and Michael Ibbotson (who owns the acclaimed The Durham Ox); they have, also, recently taken over The Punch Bowl in Marton cum Grafton and breathed life back into it and are developing a reputation for turning around pubs that have gone awry. Sophie Grigson’s demonstration was fantastically well supported with all available places being snapped up immediately they went on sale and the sun even came out, bathing us all in unexpected Yorkshire sun, so proving that North Yorkshire not only has excellent local provenance, fantastic food pubs in lovely villages, but also beautiful, sunny weather some of the time.
Axel Steenberg, Sophie Grigson And *

Axel Steenberg, Sophie Grigson And Kate Robey

Sophie Grigson was full of joie de vivre and enthusiasm for spices and as always was very approachable both in the way she explained how to make the recipes and afterwards in chatting with everyone.  She showed some unusual ways to use them, as well as some less well known spices. So we had sumac used to marinade an onion salad, red peppercorns for a prawn, mango & avocado salad, but I was really taken with vanilla chicken with peppers & white wine.   I loved the way vanilla was used for a savoury dish rather than its usual use in baking or sweet puddings, like creme brulee or panna cotta. And it tasted truly fabulous. It was so good that I cobbled something together for our evening meal, knowing that we had some chicken thighs out for defrosting.  It came out really well, especially as I had left her book at work so had to second guess the details, but then this is a really versatile dish and seems to be quite forgiving – now that’s a key factor for great home cooking , so thank you Sophie for this recipe. All in all I felt very excited and enthusiastic afterwards as I am sure everyone else did.
Sophie Grigson Sprinkling Spices Over Vanilla Chicken With Peppers

Sophie Grigson Sprinkling Spices Over Vanilla Chicken With Peppers

Vanilla Chicken With Peppers As Prepared By Sophie Grigson

Vanilla Chicken With Peppers As Prepared By Sophie Grigson

Here’s the recipe for vanilla chicken (but now please buy her book):

Ingredients

1½kg /3¼lb of free-range or organic chicken, jointed
3 red or yellow peppers
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
100ml /3½ fl oz / 0.4 cup dry white wine
A few thyme sprigs

Spice rub

½tsp vanilla paste
½tsp coarse sea salt
½tsp thyme leaves
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
¼tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil

For the spice rub, just mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chicken pieces and turn them in the mixture, massaging them all over. Cover and leave for at least 1 hour, but far better a full 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7/428F. Halve, core and deseed the peppers, then cut into broad strips. Put the peppers and olive oil in a roasting tin or shallow ovenproof dish with a little salt (not too much as some will leach out of the chicken), and turn to coat the peppers lightly in oil.

Add the chicken to the tin, distributing the pieces amongst the peppers. Pour over the wine and scatter the thyme sprigs. Roast for 45 minutes or so, turning over the pieces and stirring around twice, until the chichen is cooked through. Check the seasoning.

Serve with rice.


When I made this in the evening after Sophie Grigson’s demo at The Oak Tree, and as I did not have the correct ingredients, I mixed together 1tbsp vanilla paste, 1tbsp honey, a good pinch of freshly ground pepper (I am using a new Epices Roellinger grinder from Peugeot in cherry red), a smidgeon of my Italian herbs blend, some olive oil and some sea salt. I used chicken thighs and cooked them at 180C in a fan assisted oven for 30 minutes. It seemed to do the trick.

Recipe For A Thoroughly Modern Vegetarian Balti

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

Once in a while, I really need to go without meat of any form and I am going through one of those patches at the moment.  So I have tweaked my Chicken Balti Recipe from earlier this year to be more tofu friendly and so usable as a vegetarian dish. At the same time, I have simplified the spices in the recipe to make the whole thing a bit quicker; if you want to mix the spice blend from scratch, I have put the spices as a note to the whole recipe. Now it is something that you can whizz up quickly at the end of the day and keep the whole family happy – for a short while as well.

Vegetarian Tofu Balti

Vegetarian Tofu Balti

Stage 1: the smooth Balti tomato sauce

3tbsp sunflower oil
1 medium onion (125g / 4½oz), roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2cm fresh ginger, grated finely
2tsp Steenbergs Balti curry powder
150g / 4½oz chopped tomatoes

Firstly, we need to make the base balti sauce. Add the sunflower oil to a heavy bottomed pan and heat to sizzling hot. Add, then stir fry the onion and garlic until translucent which will take about 3 – 4 minutes. Add the fresh ginger and stir once. Add the Steenbergs Balti Curry Powder and stir in, turning for about half a minute, making sure it does not stick to the pan. Finally add the chopped tomatoes and simmer gently for about 5 minutes.

Blitz the sauce either with a hand held blender or take out and pulse in a Magimix until smooth. Set aside until later.

Stage 2: the Balti stir fry

3tbsp sunflower oil
500g / 1lb 2oz Quorn or tofu, cut into 2cm x 2cm cubes
1 red pepper, deseeded and chopped into 1cm x 1cm pieces
150g / 5oz onion, finely chopped
150g / 5oz button mushrooms, chopped in half or quarters
3tsp Steenbergs vegetable curry powder
2tbsp chopped tomatoes
1tsp Steenbergs garam masala
100ml / 3½ fl oz / ½ cup water
Handful chopped fresh coriander leaves

Heat the oven to 100C / 212F. Add half of the sunflower oil to a wok and heat until smoking hot. Stir fry the Quorn or tofu in batches until lightly browned. Put the cooked Quorn and tofu into the warmed oven. When complete, clean the wok.

Add the remainder of the sunflower oil to the wok and heat until hot and smoking. Add the green peppers, chilli and button mushrooms and stir fry for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring constantly, making sure it does not burn and is fried well. Tip in the vegetable curry powder and stir through twice, then add the smooth balti tomato sauce and mix in plus the 2 tablespoons of chopped tomatoes. Heat until simmering, then add the water and reheat to a simmer, mixing all together. Cook on a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the cooked Quorn or tofu pieces and mix together. Add the garam masala. Cook for a further 10 minutes. About 2 minutes before the end add the chopped fresh coriander and stir through.

Serve hot with naan, plus we like dhal with it.

Spice blends for those doing the spices from scratch:

Spice mix for Balti sauce (1)

½tsp cumin seeds
½tsp coriander seeds
¼tsp fennel seeds
½tsp chilli powder
½tsp Fairtrade turmeric

For these, mix together then either grind iun an electric coffee grinder or break up in mortar and pastle.  Alternatively you could use powders rather than whole seeds.

Spice mix for Balti stir fry (2), instead of vegetable curry powder

½tsp cumin powder
1tsp paprika
¼tsp fenugreek powder
1tsp turmeric
¼tsp cinnamon powder
¼tsp cardamom powder

Lamb Stew With Rosemary & Lemon

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

I was pottering around the shops the other day and their was some good looking shoulder of lamb.  They called out to me “Cook me, take me”, so I asked the butcher for them and popped them in the basket.  Back at home, I found some lemons that need using up, picked some rosemary from the garden, then set to it. 

The key on this versatile stew is to cook long and slow, which gives time for the collagen and tougher bits on these cuts of lamb to break down, while the fat keeps the meat deliciously moist.  It  tastes even better if you cook it slowly one day, then come back to it the next night, when the flavours really do infuse throughout the meat.  The other thing is the temperature of 160C, since as the lamb gets to this temperature the collagen liquifies into gelatin, giving the meat that “melt-in-the-mouth” tenderness, as well as killing off any bugs that might be in the meat.

Lamb Stew With Rosemary & Lemon

2kg / 4½lb stewing lamb, ideally on the bone – shoulder is good
6tbsp olive oil
Juice of 3 lemons
1 glass of dry white wine
2tbsp fresh rosemary, roughly chopped
2 cinnamon quills
Salt & pepper

Prepare the lamb if it is shoulder by cutting off most of the meat and chopping into 2cm x 2cm (1 inch x 1 inch) cubes.  Keep some of the meat on the bone as this will become easy to cut off after cooking.  Put the meat pieces and bones into a large pot.

Add the olive oil, juice of the lemons and glass of white wine to the meat.

Add the cinnamon quills, chopped rosemary, one or two grinds of black pepper and a pinch of salt.  Give it all a stir around.

Lamb Stew Before Cooking

Lamb Stew Before Cooking

Put the oven on to 160C / 320F.  Put the lid onto the pot, then heat the meat over a gentle heat on the hob, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Open the lid, give the stew a stir, then replace the lid and put into the oven.  Cook for 2 – 3 hours.

Lamb Stew With Lemon And Rosemary

Lamb Stew With Lemon And Rosemary

Either eat straight away or the next day.  Serve with rice (we had saffron rice) and vegetables, then use some freshly baked bread to soak up any of the dripping on your plate.

Gorgeous and so, so very simple.

How To Prepare The Meat For Your Burger

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

But the key to the recipe is the meat. You should not just get the nearest pack of mince that you can find, but should go to a proper butcher and get the mince made for you using the right types of meat.  The best beef for a burger comes from the top, so you are looking for neck, chuck & blade (in the US, this is chuck), rump (in the US, this is sirloin), silverside and topside (in the US, this is top round, i.e. from the top of the hind leg rather than towards the base); for UK cuts, you can see the attached website or in the US.  Each cut has different characteristics and pricing, but they are all great for burgers.   If you are going to buy your meat from the supermarket or preminced, try and get minced steak rather than minced beef, and organic or free range beef over factory farmed, so you are more likely to get a better quality cut and more ageing.  However, good mince and braising steak often comes straight from chuck so you could just go straight for these, then mince the braising steak yourself, but check with your butcher if you can. 

What you are looking for is a beef from the top of the cattle with a good level of marbling of 15% – 20% of the total meat.  A good level of marbling (the little veins of fat running through the beef) is vital as it melts as you cook, helping the beef to baste itself while cooking, so keeping the beef succulent and flavoursome.  Then you are looking for muscles that are worked and so have good flavour as in the hind leg or neck, rather than the soft, but less flavoursome cuts from the ribcage area, which are forerib and sirloin in the UK and rib and short loin in the US, however on the other side you do not want the overly tough meat from the lower round or brisket.  Then you are after an aged beef as this overcomes any possible issues from extra collagen from being worked hard.

As for breeds, the best beef comes from hardy Border and Scottish breeds, like the Aberdeen Angus and Galloway lines or Blue Grey, which is a Whitebred Shorthorn crossed with a Galloway.  Then for global beef afficionadoes there is Wagyu beef from the Japanese Wagyu cattle, which has intense marbling.  One thing I feel is that the best beef comes from hardy cattle that have been farmed in tough conditions where the beef has been grown properly rather than becoming flaccid and dull from easy living.

Heston Blumenthal goes into some detail and consideration of the types of beef to use in the perfect burger.  He uses a mix of chuck, aged short rib and brisket in a ratio of 1:2:1, with a 6 hour presalting of the chuck before grinding.  Personally, I think this is too complex, but agree that a mix of chuck and short rib (or rib eye) or rump, using 21+ day aged beef if you can get it, is a great idea, but you must still look for the right fat:meat ratio, i.e. marbling.  The idea of presalting the beef at this stage is interesting, but does not actually make any difference as I always suggest that you season the minced beef for at least an hour before you grill the burgers, so you draw the moisture out at that stage.  Some blog views on his burger can be found at http://www.mrmenu.net/discus/messages/18/61023.html and http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2008/05/the-blumenburger-the-most-laborintensive-hamburger-in-the-world.html.

Cutting through all this, I go for a 1:1 ratio of chuck steak to either ribeye steak or rump steak, with the picanha cut being a great rump cut to use.

Chuck Steak (left) And Rib Eye Steak (right)

Chuck Steak (left) And Rib Eye Steak (right)

No 8 Stainless Steel Hand Mincer

No 8 Stainless Steel Hand Mincer

The next thing to consider is the grind size for the beef.  The best way is to get your butcher to do this as they have the right equipment and good hygiene.  You should ask for the beef to be minced through a medium (4.5mm; 3/16 inch) setting, not finer like industrial pre-ground mince.  At home, I grind the meat once with the 4.5mm blade then again either with the same blade or a 6mm blade, as I find the double mince creates a smoother and less tough beef.  If you are going to do this at home, you must ensure that all the equipment is really, really clean and should scald the blades in boiling water to kill all the bacteria or use food grade cleaners and rinse off afterwards thoroughly; then refrigerate the equipment for 30 minutes to help to prevent the meat from sticking to it.  Once again, I would recommend Weschenfelder for a manual mincer and would plump for either the No 8 or No 10 stainless steel mincers on their site.  Heston Blumenthal suggests that you grind the meat then align the strands in parallel, but this is not worth the effort and also means that the burger has much less bindability and can easily fall apart.  The key is the quality of the meat, not in being overtly particular to align the strands of minced beef this way, i.e. don’t bother as it is a pain in the butt.

Mincing Beef Steak At Home

Mincing Beef Steak At Home

Maldon Sea Salt

Maldon Sea Salt

Having minced the meat, you should season it right through.  To do this, grind the salt to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle as you want this to be all the way through the beef.  You must use a sea salt for this and not an industrial salt.  For this, I would suggest either our fleur de sel, or be more British about it and use one of the wonderful crystal salts from Anglesey, Cornwall or Maldon.  The salt draws out some of the moisture in the beef creating a greater succulence and binding the beef together more, while subtly enhancing the umami tones within great beef.  Next get some coarsely ground good quality black peppercorns, which you can either do with your grinder on a coarse setting or buy a cracked black pepper (called crushed black pepper in the US and butcher’s cut in Germany).  This brings the characteristic warm, piperine flavour that wonderfully offsets the richness of the beef.  I think that you want bursts of flavour in this case rather than an even heat throughout, which would come from a ground pepper, essentially the opposite flavouring style to the sea salt.  I think our Steenbergs TGSEB from Kerala is the best pepper you could want, so that is what I use.  Finally, I add a small amount of fried grated onion, which is really my own personal preference – it is only a small amount and complements the meat nicely with a hint of sweetness.  For really good beef, you can, and I often do, drop this and rely on the salt and pepper, but I do like a little bit of fried onion in the burger mix, but this is optional.

Put the minced beef into a stainless steel bowl.  Having prepared the fine ground sea salt, the coarse ground black pepper and the grated onion, you should sprinkle these then mix through the ground beef as well as you can.  Use your hands here, making sure they are scrupulously clean.  Then cover the stainless steel bowl with a clingfilm and leave in refrigerator for at least one hour.

To make the patties, you should either shape them with clean hands or use a burger press like the ones I suggested from Weschenfelder or Scobies in East Kilbride.  If doing them by hand, shape them to 10-12cm (4 – 5 inches) in diameter and 4cm high (1½ inches), which is roughly palm-sized and about two fingers thick.  Place these burgers into the fridge until you are ready to fry or grill them.

Shaping The Ground Beef In A Burger Press

Shaping The Ground Beef In A Burger Press

Having explained the basics for making a burger and some of the kit to use, I will review some possible sources for where you can get great meat for making your burger at home, both through the supermarkets, local to the North East, some online speciality stores and a few other great places that are worth tracking down if you have the time and money to reach for greatness.  From there, we will go to ideas for sauces, burger buns and so on.

Starting Out – The Basics For A Simple Homemade Burger

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Some time ago, I started a quest for a great burger, then stopped that search as things at Steenbergs gave me less time than I had needed.  But I think I am ready to start that hunt again.

In the meantime, I have not been completely idle..well, a little perhaps…and have tweaked my core simple burger recipe, reducing the seasoning to let the flavour of the meat come through more.  However, it is completely a matter of taste as to how much seasoning you want to complement the beef flavours, plus an element of how good the meat itself is, where the better the flavours in the meat, the less seasoning you should be adding.

So here is my amended Simple Burger recipe:

450g / 1lb ground chuck, rib eye, rump, silverside or topside beef
1tbsp grated or minced onion (optional especially for top notch 21+ days’ beef, but ideal for shop bought mince), lightly fried then cooled
½tsp sea salt
¼tsp cracked black pepper

If doing the onion, fry gently in ½tbsp of sunflower oil until clear, then cool until chilled in the fridge. 

Next, clean your hands.  Then, in a clean stainless steel bowl, mix together all the ingredients using your hands, making sure all the ingredients are spread evenly through the mix.  Leave in the fridge for at least an hour and ideally overnight (or 6 hours).  Form the burger mix into patties that are 2cm (¾ inch) thick with your hands or in a burger press.

Season With Mince With Salt & Pepper

Season With Mince With Salt & Pepper

Shape The Burgers In A Pattie Press Or By Hand

Shape The Burgers In A Pattie Press Or By Hand

Homemade Burger Patties

Burger Patties Made At Home

Lightly brush with sunflower oil on each side, then either grill them over a barbecue or in a good cast-iron frying pan over a medium-high heat to the desired degree of doneness – around 4 – 5 minutes per side for medium rare; 5 – 6 minutes for medium.  However, the degree of doneness is not an exact science and depends a lot on the actual temperatures used and the meat, so be flexible rather than rigid in these guides.

Burger Press From Weschenfelder

Burger Press From Weschenfelder

To shape the burgers, I just use my hands.  However, Lakeland have a burger press that would do the job if you do not like the feel of meat, or you could try Twenga where there seem to be loads of alternatives over a wide price bracket.  Better still there is a range of burger presses from £7 – £300 at one of my favourite web secrets, Weschenfelder.

If you find that your burgers are falling apart, you may find that the meat you are using is not moist enough.  Alternatively, you could add some breadcrumbs, which will help to bind the meat together more.  In my homemade burger recipe via the main Steenbergs website, I use these in a more involved burger recipe.  The other possibility is that the burger is being turned too much or you are pressing it down, so releasing the juices that would bind the meat together, as below.

If you wish to barbecue them, a charcoal fire is much better rather than a gas grill, but obviously comes with more of a hassle factor.  Here are some basic burger cooking rules:

  1. Turn the burger only once – flipping might make the burger fall apart, while turning it back and forth will dry it out without letting the burger cook through.
  2. Don’t squash down the burger while it is cooking.  It does not speed up the cooking time much and squeezes out the juices, so ensuring your burger will become dry and solid rather than succulent & delicious.
  3. Finally, make sure your frying pan or grill is hot before you start cooking, but you don’t want a mega hot flame that chars the burgers to a crisp, cinder, better to be white hot charcoals than big flickering flames.  Impatience will not help the best flavours to develop.

But the key to any burger recipe is the meat.

A Journey Back To True Korma Recipes (Part 2) – Banquet Style Korma

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Since my blog the other week, I have looked further into the concept and style of traditional korma recipes and have found them a fascinating social history and felt that a korma would be ideal for Diwali.  They seem to be a fusion recipe in the first place, so when Islam swept through Northern India and the Mughal Emperors became rulers of much of India with many smaller Princely States also being Islamic, they turned Westwards to Shiraz and the Royal Courts of Persia for inspiration in the arts and cuisine.  So korma morphed from a Persian style of food into an Indian cuisine, influenced by the nuances, tastes and flavours of the local culture and palates.

It is a showy style of food, which includes the more exclusive and so expensive spices and dried fruits and nuts.  We may not think of these as rich foods, but (at this time of year) think of Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and mincemeat – they are heavily spiced and full of dried fruits and nuts, all of which were expensive and exclusive ingredients for a feast day.  So it felt just ideal to make this korma for Diwali, Axel’s Diwali Korma, followed by a party-style Tea Infused Indian Rice Pudding, which will follow in a later blog.

So I took two recipes that read well and gave me the feeling that they would be good, then I adjusted the seasonings from grams to teaspoons and lowered the salt level, coming up with my own version of a true Imperial korma recipe.  My version is very light on chilli heat as I cook for our family, but you can tweak and adjust the level of heat to whatever you wish, but remember this is not a hot curry but a spiced and rich meal, so better to have a small bowl with fresh chillis in it for everyone to increase the heat themselves to suit their tastes rather than change the balance of the spice blend.  The key is adding saffron water at the end to add more liquid to the largely dried out yoghurt as well as to give my korma a rich intensity.

Adapted from Korma Asafjahi from Nizam of Hyderabad and Korma Shirazi from”Cooking delights Of The Maharajas” by Digvijaya Singh.

500g /1 lb lamb, chopped into 2cm / ½ inch dice
70g / 2½ oz ghee, sunflower or vegetable oil
25g / 1 oz flaked almonds
25g / 1 oz dried apricots, chopped into raisin sized pieces
12g / ½ oz raisins, soaked in water
5 cloves garlic, chopped finely
½ medium onion, chopped finely
2cm/ ½ inch  fresh ginger, grated
2 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
1½ tsp paprika
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp ground green cardamom
1½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
1 green chilli, finely chopped and without seeds (optional, plus more if you want more heat)
Pinch of saffron, diluted in water*
300g / ½ lb thick yoghurt
4 eggs, hard boiled then cut into halves (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C / 350F.  Meaures out the spices and mix them together.

Korma Spices Measured Out

Korma Spices Measured Out

Onions, Ginger And Garlic

Onions, Ginger And Garlic

In a frying pan, heat half the ghee until hot, add the lamb pieces and fry quickly on a high heat until fully sealed.  Take off the heat and keep to the side.

Seal The Lamb By Frying In Ghee

Seal The Lamb By Frying In Ghee

In a separate casserole pot, heat the remaining ghee.  Fry the almonds and raisins separately to a golden colour and then set aside.  In the same ghee, fry the chopped onions, garlic and fresh ginger until golden brown, then add the spices and sugar and fry for 1 minute; add 2 tablespoons of water and cook until the water has dried up. 

Lightly Fried Almonds, Apricots and Raisins

Lightly Fried Almonds, Apricots and Raisins

Fry The Onions, Then Add The Spices And Fry Together

Fry The Onions, Then Add The Spices And Fry Together

Add the lamb to the onion-spice mix and stir.  Now add the yoghurt, stir well and cook until simmering, then place into oven for 1 hour, or (if cooking on hob) reduce the heat and cook for 1 hour, stirring occassionally to ensure the mix does not stick on the base of the pan.

Cook The Lamb In The Korma Sauce

Cook The Lamb In The Korma Sauce

When the meat is tender, add the almonds, apricots and raisins and stir quickly and cook for 1 minute at medium heat.  Finally, add the saffron infused water and coriander leaves, stir and cook for another 4 minutes on a low heat.

Lamb Korma

Lamb Korma

Imperial Style Korma Curry

Imperial Style Korma Curry

Serve immediately, decorated with the sliced eggs.  We ate ours with chana masala and homemade naan bread, which I am still experimenting with – this version was a bit heavy and thick, but was a much better recipe than the last which was way too yeasty.

* For an Imperial and more Arabian style flavour, infuse the saffron in 30ml of rose water.  Our kids do not like the flavour of rose water in their meat so we skip that added flavour.

Pepper Review – Kampot Pepper Notes

Friday, October 29th, 2010
Kampot Peppercorns - White, Black And Red

Kampot Peppercorns - White, Black And Red

I have been spending some time recently reviewing our pepper range at Steenbergs, including going through the recipes for Steenbergs’ pepper-based blends.  The result is a few tweaks in some of the non-core blends and a few new ones to be added over the next few weeks, as well as the addition over the last year of several interesting and different pepper varieties. 

Selim Pepper

Selim Pepper

So at Steenbergs, we now have pepper from Penja in the Cameroon, Tasmanian Mountain pepper, a wild mountain pepper from Madagascar, all of which add subtle twists to the idea of pepper.  To this, I have just added Selim Pepper or Moor Pepper earlier this week.  The Selim Pepper has a really woody texture so you have to grind it down, then its taste is initially a musty resinous taste that has a smoky tea-like flavour; after a few seconds a bitter chemical warmth (not heat) comes through reminiscent of burnt tyres which lingers in the throat.

This week I have also had some samples of some fine pepper from a NGO in the Kampot region of Cambodia.  The black and red pepper were really fruity and had a milder piperine taste than you normally get.  I reckon that they will be worth adding to range when I can get some stock.  Here are my tasting notes:

Black Pepper: 3 – 4mm, deep brown, wrinkled.  Characteristic musty, resinous warming aroma. Taste: mild, fruity but nice, soft warmth building after 20 seconds which is not overpowering but lingers at back of throat.  No sharpness.  Really good.

White Pepper: 2 – 4mm, off white/tan with shape reminiscent of coriander with base to corn and then striations from base to tip.  No smell of sweaty socks, really clean and well made with almost no aroma.  Taste: hard bite, no fruitiness, immediate intense heat with slight mustiness coming through.  Good but too direct and no particular character.

Red pepper: a real red pepper from Piper nigrum; 5mm, faint redness but browning.  Fruity aroma with a little piperine and a hint of chocolate.  Taste: very special → lots of fruit, followed by mild piperine coming through; warming but not intense.  Glorious, perhaps the best I have tasted.

Kampot Black Peppercorns

Kampot Black Peppercorns

Kampot White Peppercorns

Kampot White Peppercorns

Kampot Red Peppercorns

Kampot Red Peppercorns