A confession of a habit most strange

It’s all our parents fault. It is. They taught us these strange, strange habits as we were growing up, or, they at least didn’t chastise us enough saying “No child! That’s a terribly odd thing to do. What on earth would make you think of such a terrifying and disgusting creation”. OR. They deprived us so heavily of the things that we craved so furiously that as soon as we got a sweet taste of freedom we clung onto it, embraced it and dived into a whole sea of weird. So yes, it’s our parents fault.

I vividly remember in my first week of Uni feeling young, vulnerable and exhilarated all at once. I’d eaten pizza three nights in a row and couldn’t tell you the last time I saw, let alone consumed a vegetable. I was a rebel without a cause, a whole array of foods open to me that Mother had told me (correctly) would be bad for me. Screw that, I’d eat all the Ricicles I want god dammit! However, I was craving a slice of home, a bit of comfort on my fourth day of determinedly destroying my liver like every good fresher does. So I grabbed one of the teacakes (not bread rolls anyone from Sheffield, as in actual teacakes. With raisins in) my mother had sent me off with, toasted it and grated some cheese onto it. Put it together like a sandwich, ate it…..and realised all my housemates were staring at me like I was a creature from Mars
“You just put…. cheese… on a teacake” one of them stammered
“Yea. Don’t you?” It was then I realised. I’m weird. I’m really really weird and all the food things I thought were normal were lies. For years I’d pronounced hummus wrong, put cheese on teacakes and not eaten a roast on a Sunday and thought this was perfectly normal.

As the years have gone on I’ve learnt to somehow forgive my parents for leading me so astray and developed new food quirks. For example, I have an overwhelming fear of orange pith, eat peanut butter and marmite on the same slice of toast and think hummus on crumpets is a banging idea.
So, I opened it up to the great and good of Facebook to share with me their quirks and by gum they didn’t let me down. Weirdos everywhere stuck their flag in the sand and shared their quirks. One foodie friend bared his soul for all to see in sharing his overwhelming hatred of cucumber and one bloke friend threw his wife under the bus by revealing her rather strange habit of eating frozen peas. Yes love that is a strange thing to do. Sorry.
Here’s a few of the top out-there treats:

  1. Sausage tartar – Who doesn’t love munching on raw pork

  2. The pastry rules – Volovants are totally ok, however samosa pastry is a no no. Choux is also allowed however don’t put a pie in front of this lovely lady, the pastry WILL be left

  3. Choc ‘n’ Cheese – Chocolate milkshake. Check. Chunk of cheddar. Check. Interchange bites of both to complete all your dairy dreams

  4. Crunchy Treat – Who doesn’t love a good bowl of al dente pasta. Infact, why even bother cooking it at all!? Snack away

  5. Cheese gate – I was taught a new way to eat nachos yesterday but one gorgeous girlie. With a knife and fork!!! Who wants to touch all that nasty cheese anyway

  6. Skin on – A standing ovation for the man who openly admits he the skin of a kiwi. Who stayed strong when all around him called him insane and gross and vile and crazy. Keep eating that kiwi skin I say

  7. Banana Bonanza – Bananas are great. Bacon is great. Why not combine the two!? Finishing it off with some sweet chilli sauce. Perfect, right?
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Fear X Loathing: A burger redemption

I am not one for food trends. Definitely not. Silly phrases and normally poorly thought through concepts. Chia seeds, bad. Ice cream stuffed macaroons, bad. Glooping Sriracha on anything that stays still long enough, bad, bad, bad.

With this disdain of having to be ‘on trend’ in mind I must admit I went into Fear X Loathing on West Street with a hint of trepidation. Fear X Loathing specialises in burgers and huge stacked burgers at that. They all rather oddly have the name Juicy in the title and I have to admit I’m not a massive burger fan. It also has the slight added disadvantage of being away from the Division Street Massive and their independent counterparts.

However. I can accept when I am wrong and this is one of those occasions, I have been wrong about burgers. The incredibly friendly staff were quick to recommend me a burger that whilst sounded like my worst mutant trendy nightmare was actually completely delicious.
They also persuaded me into halloumi bites and as I am a complete cheese fiend (as if fearxloathing4anyone didn’t know that yet) I snaffled them before you could say “what does cheese say to itself when it looks in the mirror”. Deep fried halloumi is always, always going to be a huge success in my book and this was particularly good. They have a range of in house made sauces that come in varying degrees of blow your brains out spicy. The chilli mayo one is so good that I could have licked the pot that they gave me. Crispy, slightly spicy, the halloumi was a win.

Moving on, the main event was…..are you ready for this…….a bacon frazzle burger. Yes. Yes, you read that right dear reader. A chicken patty topped with spinach and sun dried tomato and garlic sauce and yes most importantly bacon frazzles. As in the 90’s retro crisps that taste sod all to do with bacon and a lot to do with E numbers. Who cares though because they taste freaking amazing on a burger. The herb Crème fraîche was gorgeously creamy and it came with sweet potato fries. Fit. They were crispy, crunchy and yet creamy on the inside. The whole thing was absolutely massive so definitely worth the £12.50 price tag. Stop tutting it’s not that much.fearxloathing3

Even better Fear X Loathing do some cracking cocktails. On a high after my frazzletastic lunch I promised I’d be back that evening with Lovely Boy in tow and drink my own weight in cocktails.

Now. Reader. Forgive me. I can’t exactly remember what these cocktails were called due to the number consumed, however, I know I had a zingy lovely gin number which definitely fearxloathing1added to my one glass of wine glow. Lovely Boy had a chilli cocktail (pictured) which was perfectly balanced and had just the right kick you were looking for to keep you awake for a long Friday night.

We both really enjoyed it and it’s always great to have a bartender who knows what he’s talking about. Plus I had the always added advantage of making Lovely Boy jealous due to my frazzlmazing burger.

Must think of some frazzle puns……..

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Fear X Loathing
101 West St, Sheffield S1 4EQ

The Beer Engine. An ode to hummus

We all have that one friend. That one friend who has it together. They have a great job, fantastic house and generally seem quite good at adulting.

I meet my successful adulting friend probably once a month, he laughs at my silly twenty ish year old problems such as: what am I going to do with my life, he despairs when I inform him that my latest date was covered in tattoos and lives in his warehouse and comforts me big brother style when inevitably said romance falls to pieces around my ears. Where as I mercilessly tease him about his latest no carb diet, roll my eyes and lecture him about the environment as he talks about his corporate job and constantly inform him that he is overly middle class and refer to him simply as public school boy.

As he had a rather significant birthday recently (I won’t disclose which as he had the biggest strop about it all in the first place) I decided that I’d return the favour he’d done for me many times and take him out for dinner. He informed me that he was on a no carb diet (cue much gaffawing from me) and so I picked tapas. Who doesn’t love tapas!? Tiny bits of everything and normally many things involving cheese. My tapas place of choice was The Beer Engine. My local from work the Beer Engine is a light an airy pub serving up a great range of craft beer and a weekly changing menu of tapas

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We obviously tried one of everything going, which involved:

Hummus with toasted pitta

Right. Confession time, I’m terrible and I mean TERRIBLE at making hummus. Also at spelling it but that’s beside the point. This may genuinely have been some of the best hummus I’ve ever had, served sprinkled with nigella seeds which added a smokeyness and gorgeous warm pitta I don’t think I stopped eating it. My favourite thing by a mile.

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Spanish sharing plate: mixed olives, marinated anchovies, manchego cheese and membrillo, cured meats

Still got no idea what membrillo is. Don’t care either. Olives – yum, cheese – yum, cured meats – yum but the standout on this plate was the anchovies. They were incredible, especially when

mixed with the hummus and pitta bread

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Sausage, new potato, fennel, watercress and fried egg

I hate fennel. HATE IT. I’m not convinced that there is actually any fennel in this dish as it was delicious and everything is improved with a fried egg. Went fantastically with a dollop of hummus.Beerengine3

South by South West salad: Salad, sweetcorn, beans, cherry tomatoes, spring onion and feta

Slightly confused as to the origins of this salad however can imagine it fitting in super well at a BBQ. Have I mentioned the hummus yet?

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Pork ribs in a mango and tequila sauce

Public school boy attempted to convince me that mango is a carb. Shut up. Whilst I’m not overly keen on ribs the sauce was incredible. Sweet, sticky, smoky and slightly spicy it’s everything that you want from a BBQ sauce without being overly thick and gelatinous. Still not hummus though.

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Macaroni Cheese Balls

Deep fried Mac ‘n Cheese, that’s all that needs to be said about that. Probably the only thing I didn’t cover in hummus.Beerengine6

Calamari with lime and coriander mayonnaise

I would like a vat of that sauce, and the hummus, the batter was light and fluffy as all good batter is, calamari doesn’t go fantastically with hummus though

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Chef’s potato salad

Not hummus but still really good. Slightly spicy which I appreciated and topped with coriander which is always a win in my book

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So overall the food is good with great value for money as the portions are definitely not tapas size, they’re like…..actual people size.

Please give me the hummus recipe?????

Battle of the BBQ

Reader, I have a confession. I am a competitive person. It’s something that’s taken me years to accept about myself. I spent so long saying “No, no, don’t be silly I’m not a competitive person”. The word competitive for me had connotations of playing monopoly with my family and it ending in earth shattering arguments due to both Father and Brother being overtly determined to win.

However, since I’ve grown older and supposedly wiser I’ve accepted that a bit of competitiveness is no bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I won’t be throwing the tiny monopoly dog at my fellow players anytime soon but a healthy level of wanting to be good can be useful.

So. Lovely Boy made his first mistake this week. He challenged me to a BBQ off. Silly, silly boy. I told friends that he was attempting to do this and all of their faces crumpled in a mixture of pity and fear for him, nearly always followed by a “Ooooooo that’s a mistake”.  However, he’d sparked the competitive streak in me and even though I knew his lovely blue eyes would be staring at me forlornly when I won and there was a distinct possibility that due to me being a bossy madam I was about to ruin something that had only just begun. I didn’t care.

It’s a truth universally known that it isn’t Christmas in the Lawlor household without a BBQ’d Turkey. It’s become the stuff of legend. Our family regularly reminisce about that first fateful Christmas my Father threw his toys out of the pram and decided our RAF oven was just too small so was going to BBQ it, Mother retreated to the kitchen, bottle of Verve Clique in hand, Uncles gathered round in awe to watch man light fire and cook, both of the Granny’s were proclaiming to the heavens that they’d never get fed. They did. We’ve never looked back since. Therefore, I have no fear of BBQ’s, I know that meat, fish and veg can all be treated to the BBQ way and taste great.
We drew our lines in the sand and took each other on in an epic battle of a who’s who of BBQ’s. I chose a garam masala chicken and a coriander lemon mackerel and he chose a marinated rosemary lamb.

Friends bought so much food that our table was groaning underneath the load (a highlight being the Venezuelan Arepas) and I’ve been eating BBQ leftovers for the last week.

Here’s a few of my favourite BBQ related recipes.

Oh, and who won the battle of the BBQ? I think we can safely say we drew and he didn’t run for the hills when he saw my competitive face. Next time though…..

Garam Masala Chicken:

12 chicken drumsticks- skin on

3/4 pot of natural yoghurt

3 tablespoons of garam masala

Large bunch of coriander, torn, stalks and leaves

2 tablespoons of dried mint

2 table spoons of paprika

1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper

1 table spoon of chilli flakes (optional, depends if you can handle the heat)

Salt

Pepper

  1. Grab a massive metal bowl
    I mean massive. Big enough to fit all your chicken in and maybe the kitchen sink
  2. Tip yoghurt into bowl, add garam masala, mint, paprika, salt and pepper, stir until all incorporated and goes a lovely orangey colour
  3. Add in dried mint and coriander
  4. Place chicken in bowl and using your hands smoosh everything all together
    Aren’t you glad you followed my tip and used a massive metal bowl
  5. Cover with cling film and leave overnight to infuse
    Try not to wrap yourself in cling film at the same time. Happens worryingly often to me
  6. Uncover in time for BBQ, wipe off some of the excess yoghurt from the drumsticks (not all of it, but enough so that it’s not completely soaked in yoghurt or it’ll burn and that’s proper annoying to clean), sprinkle with cayenne pepper, some more salt, pepper and chilli flakes if you like it extra spicy and BBQ until cooked through
    Or this is what I normally do. However, Lovely Boy decided to take my chicken out and BBQ it without consulting me. Mistake.
  7. Serve with raita and some more coriander sprinkled on top.

Coriander Mackerel:

2 whole mackerel, gutted but still with skin, head, eyes and all

Large bunch of coriander

2 garlic cloves

1 whole lemon

Glug of olive oil

Salt flakes
Pepper

  1. Chop large bunch of coriander finely, stalks and all
    The stalks actually have the best flavour
  2. Chop garlic cloves finely (or if you can’t be bothered Very Lazy Garlic is pretty darn good)
    I can very rarely be bothered
  3. In a medium bowl mix coriander, garlic, olive oil, some of the salt flakes and pepper
  4. Slice lemon into rings then chop rings in half
  5. Take mackerel and stuff in the centre with the coriander mixture and the half rings of lemon
    Scare all your guests by wiggling then mackerel at them. People love it when fish still have heads
  6. Wrap tightly in kitchen foil
    Don’t let a guest who’s had one too many beers help. It will not be tight enough
  7. Place directly into slightly cooled coals, it shouldn’t take long at all. You’ll know it’s ready as the fish with flake away easily from the bone
  8. Serve with some sea salt flakes sprinkled over and some more fresh chopped coriander
    If it makes it that far

Marinated Lamb

8 Lamb Cutlets

Olive Oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 bunch of mint

4 springs of rosemary, leaves finely chopping

Walt and Pepper to season (Yes I know it’s spelt wrong, however I’m just repeating the exact recipe on the channel 4   website)

  1. Simply chop the mint and place all ingredients in a dish to leave to marinade over night
    I’m not being funny right but my recipes are way harder, therefore I should have won
  2. BBQ for around 5 minutes on each side and leave to rest before eating
    Or just eat straight off the BBQ because you can’t wait

 

Yorkshire Blue Potato Salad:

Bag of Jersey Royal Potatoes

Mayonnaise (Personally I use Hellmanns)
White wine vinegar

Olive Oil (extra virgin if you have it)

Fresh chives

Bulb of Smoked Garlic

Yorkshire Blue Cheese

1 red onion

  1. Pre heat oven to 200. Boil Kettle. Chop Jersey Royals into halves or quarters (depends how chunky you like your salad) and part boil for around 5-8 minutes
  2. Drain off potato cubes and tip into a roasting tin, section off the smoked garlic into cloves and scatter over roasting tin, skin still on. Cover everything in the tin with a healthy glug of oil, season and roast until potatoes are slightly crispy and the garlic is squishy
    Don’t eat all the potatoes however tempting they look
  3. Leave the potatoes to cool until room temp. De skin garlic, place in a food blender and blend until a smooth garlic paste is formed
  4. In a large bowl whisk mayo, white wine vinegar and oil. Measurements for this is tricky as it’s all down to personal taste, if you prefer it more vinegary or mayo-y. At first it will look like the mixture has split and you’ll think I’m insane however just keep whisking and maybe add a tiny bit more mayo and it will form a silky sauce
    Vinegary-Mayo-y I’m so technical I know

  5. Chop red onion incredibly finely
    Have an argument with sous chef about what ‘finely’ means
  6. Snip fresh chives into the mayo mixture and add red onion, stir until combined
  7. Add in roasted potatoes, stir gently so as not to break the potatoes and to finish crumble Yorkshire Blue Cheese over the top
    If you haven’t eaten all the blue cheese already