Friday, May 20, 2011

The Classic Crisp Sandwich... and a Tasty Crisp Roll.

Quite a few years ago I got a D3 in honours English in the Leaving Cert which I think makes me perfectly qualified to write an essay on crisp sandwiches.

Invented in Ireland approximately 40 minutes after the crisp itself, the Crisp Sandwich is something of a delicacy. Very simple to make, a bag of cheese and onions crisps... I won't hear of other flavours being used, and a couple of slices of buttered bread.

Now of course everybody has their little preferences of how they like to make their own, some like to crush up the crisps beforehand, most like white bread, some like wholegrain (me) and some people use only one slice of bread with a handful of crisps and do a fold over!
Then there's the debate of what brand of crisp to use, some like Tayto, most swear by King Crisps for use in a sandwich, I on the other hand have, quite controversially, switched to an overseas brand... Walkers... An absolutely delicious crisp which I have nothing but nice things to say about apart from the fact that the Cheese and Onion flavour are packaged in a blue bag which any Irish person brought up on Tayto and King will associate with Salt and Vinegar. Sort it out Walker.
Some people also like to put mayo or ketchup on their crisp sandwiches but there'll be none of that carry on round here.

Crisps can also be used as a very tasty addition to an already completed sandwich, throwing a bag into one of those pre packaged garage sambos really adds a bit of life to them.

What I'm gonna do now is make a very quick and simple roll with a bag crisps in it to give it a bit of a kick.
Something I discovered is quite delicious is a roll with just roast beef and coleslaw, a good sandwich doesn't need a lot of ingredients, you just have to make them count!
One day I had a few crisps with one of these rolls and it really set it off so here's how to make it..

Get yourself a standard roll, the bake at home ones are cheap, last for ages and only take about 10 minutes in the oven. A bit of sliced roast beef out of the deli or get the packet stuff, some coleslaw and a bag of cheese and onion crisps.
Cut the roll in half like above and butter it, chop up the roast beef slices into decent lumps and put on one side, spread a generous layer of coleslaw on top of this, then your crisps, the coleslaw will hold the crisps in place nicely. Put the top of the roll back on, cut in half and there you have it...

A deliciously filling lunch (or dinner, or breakfast...)
Of course this is only one of thousands of great ways to add crisps to a sandwich, something I'm sure I'll revisit many times in the future, any suggestions or anything you'd like me to try out for here as always just let me know.


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Eating Out in New York City... at a place that has surprisingly little to do with owls

This is my first post about eating out, may as well dive in at the deep end so....

I was in New York recently, a trip I make with my friends a little too often for the state of my credit card bill, and as part of the "Let's be slightly more sensible about how we spend the day parts of our holidays" ethos that we've adopted we decided to have a late lunch/early dinner in somewhere that doesn't serve Bigmacs.

So on sensing a little dissent after a few shouts of "well I'm not spending a fucking fortune on food" and "it better be somewhere that serves pints" a member of our group suggested, purely on grounds of the quality of food they serve, that we go a place none of the rest of us had ever heard of before called "Hooters", at least that's what I think it was called.

The only problem was none of us had ever seen one of these places in NYC, so we did the sensible thing and asked a cop. Here's what the good officer of the law had to say to us:

"Hey! You fucking guys Irish?! I fucking love the Irish!!
Hooters?!?!... I fucking love Hooters!!!
Oh I'll get you guys to a Hooters alright!!
Hang on I'll get directions on my phone...
you gotta get to 56th street between 7th and 8th Avenues..
Enjoy your day guys, drink some beers and tip them ladies!!"

Just one more reason for us to love this town.

So we made our way down to this establishment, were greeted by a young lady at the door and shown to our table. Now immediately I noticed two differences between this and other sports bars I've been to in the States. Free refills AND free Wifi... What did you think I was going to say?

Moving swiftly onwards.. menu looked at and important decisions made I went with the "Lotsa Tots" as I think they were called and some Chicken Wings.

First off... The Lotsa Tots:

Based around  "The Tater Tot", a kind of little hash brown/chip nugget thingy, you would have seen them in that Napoleon Dynamite flick, please tell me I'm wrong but I don't think they're available in Ireland.
The were topped off with the amazing combination of cream cheese, cheese whizz (shit but delicious hot cheese sauce), bacon bits and scallions. They were deadly in every sense of the word.

Here's a picture of my dinner:

Want to know what the chicken wings tasted like? They tasted like every chicken wing I've ever had. That's as good as you'll get from me on the subject of chicken wings, they're all the same to me so I'll hand you over momentarily to an expert; Drummer in Band on an island, sufferer of severe hangovers, eater of about 50,000 chicken wings and all around nice guy...

Gary "Whiskey" Wickham.

"After an experience in Hooters most lads leave talking about the woman, well the only thing I cared about was the boneless buffalo wings!! As a man who eats a lot of wings(and looks at a lot of woman) I can say these are definitely the best I've ever had! The buffalo sauce was amazing, spicy enough to give your mouth a good kick, but not too spicy to make it uncomfortable!! The perfect balance that most places miss!!  The chicken is great, very tender and not the fatty chicken that's usually slopped up. If your in America, make sure you get a plate of wings!"

Thanks Gary, so to sum up, Hooters; great food, standard American beer, mots and free Wifi.
And NO. I do not have any other photos from our visit here.


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Lunch at the Connellys

I had a lovely roll for my lunch made by Ciara Connelly and I'll only get in trouble if I don't mention that it was toasted with quite some skill by her brother (and my bandmate) Steve.

White cheddar cheese, Ham, mayo, scallions(you always have to put on some scallions!), mixed leaf lettuce and my first taste of caramelised onion, something I've had a jar of at home for a while but have been unsure about how to aproach.
Absolutely gorgeous, the onion adds a grand bit of zing, zing being something I thought could only be achieved by throwing on a bit of red sauce but that commom muck would only ruin a sandwich of this quality.
You done good Ciara!


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Friday, May 13, 2011

Curry Cheese Chips... as they should be.

The latest phenomenon in the Irish take away arsenal are "Curry Cheese Chips". Where exactly they came from and who invented them is a mystery. They were just kinda there one day. What I do know is that only in Ireland could this combination come into existence and that they are indeed a very good thing.


You see the problem is how they are served, generally speaking chippers in this country put a lot of effort into and are very proud of their chips, which is fine when they're being served in a brown paper bag, but put them into a polystyrene burger box or even worse one of those Chinese take away style metal trays and the chips very quickly turn to shite. Steam from the chips has nowhere to go in these sealed containers except back into the chips making them soggy and downright poxy and without fail this is how they are going to be served when you order them with a topping or sauce.
All of this is immaterial if you are consuming this delicacy there and then on the chipper windosill at 3am but if these containers remain sealed for any length of time the cheese will melt and combine with the grease, steam and curry sauce and turn into a gloopy pile of muck on top of a block of soggy potato.

The Solution is to combine the core ingredients at home yourself.

Get yourself a bag of chips and a tub of curry sauce, I got mine from the good people at Cooks Cabin, and grate up some cheese, I find white mature cheddar works best.

One of these plate/bowl yokes works best for containing the masterpiece, throw your chips in, pour over the curry sauce, and top off with plenty of the grated cheese. Simple and Gorgeous.

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Pancakes, Crispy Bacon and a whole load of Maple Syrup by Karen Reid

This is the first of hopefully many guest posts that will be on this blog, this is by my friend Karen Reid and it really sets the bar high for a good old hangover cure, it looks delicious and I can't wait to try it for myself...
Take it away Karen:

What you need:
270g self raising flour, 4 tablespoons of castor sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt
2 eggs, 240ml milk, 4 tablespoons of real butter, 1 bottle of nice maple syrup(not the cheap stuff!) and 1 large packet of streaky rashers

...Mix flour, sugar and salt. Melt butter & mix with eggs and milk. Then mix everything together with a blender until the consistency is smooth and thick.
Trun on the rashers. The George is best for making them nice and crispy!
I reckon a soup ladle full is enough mix for one on the pan. They take about 3 minutes each to bake on a medium to high heat pan - 1.5 mins on each side.
The above measurements would feed about 6 people. Once baked serve with the crispy rashers and pack on the maple syrup.

Tip: Prepare before you go out the night before, so you’ll have everything ready to throw on the next morning. Best served when hungover and  it goes lovely with a cup of fancy coffee(not instant) or nice orange juice! Trust me.
Karen Reid

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

My first attempt at a "Philly Cheese Steak" Sandwich

I've had a few mixed experiences with the famous Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich, my first being about 3 years ago in a restaurant in Pennsylvania.. A bland combination of cheap cheese (which I usually have nothing but love for) mixed with minced beef left me disappointed and the Cheese Steak was put to the back of my mind for over 2 years. I say the back of my mind and not 'out' of my mind because I always felt that there was more to this sandwich... But it only got worse, I'm not in the business of naming and shaming but my next experience was in an Irish sandwich bar who under the guidance of a celebrity chef who I pressume never got within 10 miles of a genuine cheese steak were advertising a "Gourmet"(the French for "poxy" I think) Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich as their sandwich of the week. Lets just say it was atrocious and inedible and leave it at that. But for some reason this bad buzz of a sambo reignited my desire(Desire, really Booze?) to find out what they should really taste like...
To make a long story slightly shorter, on a recent trip to the U.S I sampled 2 of the nicest meat and cheese filled rolls I've ever had, the love affair was on, and I set about recreating it at home in my kitchen...

So one Sunday evening I went to the local supermarket, picked up some maize sub rolls, 2 types of cheddar cheese; white and orange(I refuse to call it red), a small onion and some cooked and sliced deli roast beef. I fried up half the onion, cut the beef into thin strips, very lightly toasted the sub roll, spread some mayo on it and grated and mixed together the 2 cheeses.

Assembly of the sandwich was as follows: Cheese(plenty of), the beef, the onion and then topped off with a little more cheese, I put the sambo onto a tray and put it into the oven for about 5 minutes.  (I had a photo of it in the oven but it didn't turn out well so you'll just have to use your imagination)

 after I took it out of the oven the cheese was melted and the beef and roll were nice n hot, I closed the sandwich over, cut it in half and...

Proceded to demolish every last crumb. An absolute complete success. Hole in one. One Hundred and Eighty!!!
The taste of just 3 very simple ingredients... the melted cheese, the beef and the fried onions somehow did a Captain Planet and combined into one of the nicest tastes I've ever put together.

Try this.. It's quick, simple and perfect eating for the evening after a few Shandy's
Until the next sandwich... B.S x

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Breakfast time. Anytime.

I'm a big fan of breakfast food, what I'm not a big fan of is eating that or any other shite first thing in the morning. Which is inconvenient. Beacuse that's about the only time you can get it. So one evening last week I got a craving for a breakfast muffin with some ham n cheese n egg and decided I was gonna make that bad lad happen.

Here's what you need:

A breakfast muffin, surprisingly hard to find in Ireland, Marks and Spencers were the only place I could find them (a few vouchers will be grand for that plug lads), a slice of light cheddar cheese, 3 slices of cooked honey roast ham and an egg. Toast the muffin, in a toaster ideally, poach the egg if you can, I generally make a mess of this 90% of the time so figure out how to poach an egg yourself, if not just fry the bastard. 

Now what you want to do is heat up the rest of the stuff, get a frying pan going and throw on the ham, let it heat up for minute then make a little ham and cheese sambo like above to the cheese melts just a little, keep a close eye on this or you'll make a burnt cheese mess. Butter the muffin, put on the single slice of ham, your hopefully not exploded in the microwave because you're too unskilled to poach  it properly egg and top with the cheese and ham sambo combo, the close the muffin.

Delicious, any time of the day, take the hint various international fastfood restaurants.

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a tasty little bagel to get this ball rolling...

So one night last year I got bored and decided to take a few pictures of a sandwich I enjoy making and eating and stick it up on Facebook, this is that sandwich. Try it. You'll love it. Any ideas, suggestions, tips or constructive criticism can be left in a comment and I promise to either reply to or ignore all of these.

     The shit that you'll require is:
   Bagels (Sesame seed if you've any cop on), chicken, cheddar cheese, rocket leaves, mayo and pepper. Oh and you'll need a panini press thing like a George Foreman grill
 (don't be afraid to send me a few bob for that Georgie).
Heat up aul Georgie good and hot, cut the bagel in half and mayonnaise the shit out of both sides.
 Put a rough cirlce of cheese around the bagel, avoiding the middle.

Throw on a slice of chicken, I've cut it down to size a little, then I like to put a little super extra bonus cheese over the top of the chicken like shown in the beautifully presented photo above. Now put the bagel lid back on and throw the whole lot into your grill thingy. After about 5 minutes the bagel will be golden brown and crispy on the outside and the cheese slighty melted on this inside.

The final step!:

Take out the bagel, open it, spread some more mayo on the chicken, pepper the jaysus out of it and add your rocket leaves.

Close and slice, Done!
I've served it up with a iced up glass of Ginger Ale, a drink which since the date of making I've taken to, on the odd weekend, mixing with whiskey and can no longer consume midweek with a nice sandwich.


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