HOW TO PREPARE & COOK ASPARAGUS

Asparagus is a versatile little vegetable that packs a punch. But the window for Asparagus is short so it can be helpful to know exactly how to prepare and cook asparagus so you don’t waste any precious time getting it onto you plate! It can be used a healthy snack, or vessel for something a bit more decadent like poached eggs and shaved truffle.

How to prep asparagus 2.png

It is good enough to be served on it’s own for starters and pairs well with rich sauces, such as hollandaise, sharp cheeses like parmesan and any fish you can think of.

It’s perfect for soups, risottos, & pasta dishes. You name it, there is not much these little stalks can’t turn their hand to.

Asparagus comes in all shapes and sizes. Thin spears tend to have a  more intense flavour, but can be a little bit tough due to the ratio of fibrous skin to softer interior. Fat spears on the other hand are much more tender than small stalks, but can get a little watery if cooked for too long.

Regardless of whether they are thin or fat, I am going to show you how to prepare and cook these little green spears of joy, to perfection!

— Al Brady

CHOCOLATE MOUSSE CAKE

This chocolate mousse cake is one of the most decadent desserts you are ever likely to see. It is a chocolate lovers dream, with chocolate hazelnut brownie base, and rich & light chocolate mousse centre wrapped in a glossy chocolate ribbon, topped with crispy hazelnut dentelles and toasted hazelnuts. It is just an symphony of chocolate flavours and textures.

Hazelnut-Brownies 2.png

The mousse it made in a traditional cremeaux style, enriched with egg yolks and lightened with meringue to give the mousse both body and richness to carry the chocolate but with a cloud like lightness that allows you to have more than one slice!

The Chocolate Mousse Cake itself is actually a very straight forward, the crowning glory of this dessert is the finishing!

The rich, fudgy brownie and luxuriously light chocolate mousse are completely encased in a polished chocolate ring, and the hazelnut dentelle shards are arrange at random to provide texture, height and a huge wallop of visual impact, producing a fantastic landscape to the top of your cake!

Of course if all that feels like a bit too much, you can always top the cake with some grated chocolate or drizzle of melted chocolate instead.

To sum up; this cake is good! Birthdays. Holidays. Or even Thursdays. This Chocolate Mousse Cake is the perfect dessert for any occasion.

— Al Brady

HAZELNUT BROWNIES

These hazelnut brownies have to be one of our ultimate favourites. They are just the right combination of every texture brownies should be. Crisp around the edges, with a moist, almost undercooked fudgy centre, and an explosion of rich chocolate flavour. The addition of little bits of tasted hazelnuts are just an added bonus.

Hazelnut-Brownies.png

These brownies actually have a bit of body behind them, they aren’t thin and mushy like some brownies. They have substance and density when you bite into them, and they boast the ever-elusive and much sought after shiny, glass- like, shatteringly-crisp, thin brownie crust that seems to be the calling card of all amazing brownies.

The crispy, glossy top is achieved by whisking the sugar into the eggs long enough for the sugar to start to dissolve. When that happens, the dissolved sugar rises to the surface of the brownie as it bakes, creating a shiny, shatteringly-crisp surface. This whisking of the eggs and sugar also allows the brownie mixture to become aerated, giving it height and it’s soft texture without the use of any raising agents. So no flat, soft, textureless brownies here!

If you like your brownies rich, dense and fudgy then these are the brownies for you. Make sure to bake these hazelnut brownies until they have a slight wobble and the top is firm to the touch. If you like them a little more cake you won’t have to change a thing in the recipe just cook them for 10 – 15 minutes longer.

Just keep in mind that when cooking brownies with such a high amount of chocolate, it’s easy to over bake the brownies and end up with dry joyless squares, instead of the desired rich fudgy texture.

My advice is err on the side of under-baking: An overcooked brownie is dry and crumbly, while an undercooked brownie is gooey, moist and delicious.

— Al Brady

HAZELNUT DENTELLES

Hazelnut dentelles are a fantastic addition to almost any dessert. Sweet, Crisp & Nutty, they provide a perfect balance of elegance, interest, height and texture to any after dinner treat!

Dentelles (French for “Lace”) are really a kind of sugar tuile which get there name from the unique lacey pattern they make when cooked.

Hazelnut-Dentelles.png

I have added some finely chopped toasted hazelnuts to this mix to bring out a deeper, richer flavour in these delicate little dentelles. But if hazelnuts aren’t your thing don’t walk away just yet! The hazelnuts can easily be interchanged with any other nut you prefer, or even chopped cocoa nibs, if you are looking to create a nut-free version.

Whether you prefer a more organic look of broken shards or cutting out neat shapes these Hazelnut dentelles can add, flavour, texture and visual impact to any dessert. Once cooked these little biscuits will last up to 3 days, stored in an air tight container, so are perfect for making in advance and keeping until it is time to plate up.

— Al Brady

HOW TO BREAK DOWN A CHICKEN

It turns out people don’t like to buy whole chickens, most believing that it is too difficult to break down. When in reality, breaking down a whole chicken is actually quite straight forward.

Buying a whole chicken and cutting it into portions is not only easier than you might think, it will also; save you money, give you bones to use for stocks and sauces and make you feel like a butchery boss when it is all over.

First and foremost before you start breaking down a chicken make sure to get yourself a good, sharp boning knife, there is nothing more difficult than trying to break down a chicken with a dull, blunt knife.

It doesn’t have to be super expensive, it just has to be good quality and easy to keep sharp. If you are just staring out and want an affordable, good quality knife; I would recommend the Victorinox Boning Knife.

It’s the perfect place to start before you start investing the mega-bucks into your knife set. To get the most out of your knife: hone it on a steel before, during, and after use, to keep it razor sharp.

How To Break Down A Chicken 2.png

— Al Brady

CHOCOLATE GUINNESS CAKE

You don’t have to be a huge fan of chocolate or Guinness to enjoy this Chocolate Guinness Cake. These two ingredients may seem like an odd pairing at first, but they have a lot of deep, dark, powerful flavour notes in common. Allowing them to combine into one kick-ass cake, that is perfect for grown-up chocolate lovers.

Chocolate Guinness Cake 2.png

Chocolate cakes, more often than not, don’t have the depth of flavour, or richness, that we would desire from our chocolate sponge. But not this cake! The addition of Guinness and “hazelnut” browned butter, gives this cake a deeper, richer, fuller and nuttier flavour. This, along with the brown sugar and soured cream, keep this cake in the perfect balance of “not too” sweet. Of course, if you preferred your cake a little sweeter, you need only replace the brown sugar for caster sugar.

There’s also no need to add syrup to this sponge, as the Guinness helps develop the texture of this cake; making it dense and unbelievably moist, without making it heavy or mushy.

All of this delicious Guinness cake is then topped up with a little Irish Whiskey Mascarpone icing, just to lift that deep, rich sponge. But feel free to top it with a ganache, butter icing, or just leave it naked. It is pretty damn good all on its own.

I would seriously recommend treating yourself to a little cheeky half of your favourite stout or porter beer, when eating this cake! But if that’s not you thing, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a shot of Baileys over the top certainly wouldn’t hurt.

— Al Brady

BUTTERMILK PANCAKES

There are days when you wake up in the morning and a bowl of cereal is just not going to cut it! You want something more substantial and satisfying! After all it’s probably the weekend, you’ve been working hard and putting in the hours. You deserve more that a couple of Weetabix for crying out loud!  What you deserve is pancakes!

Now we are not talking about some flimsy French crepe. We are talking about full on, fluffy, American style, buttermilk pancakes, serve with what ever you fancy. We’re not going to tell you what you can and can’t have with your hard won breakfast!  If you want bacon and eggs, you go for it. If your heart desires blueberries and whipped cream, well start whipping that cream. Maybe you just want to drench the lot in butter and maple syrup, well I’ve cracked open another bottle in case you run out! These buttermilk pancakes aren’t about restraint, they are about satisfying your every breakfast whim and I’m here to help.

Buttermilk Pancakes.png

These light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes can be made and ready to eat in as little as 15 minutes. The trick to these almost ethereally light buttermilk pancakes is the addition of baking powder to the pancake batter and folding in whisked egg whites at the very end. This really lightens the batter and makes the pancakes incredibly fluffy.

For that even, golden brown tan across the top of your buttermilk pancakes, you need to invest in a good quality non-stick pan or electric skillet and resist all urges to put oil into that pan. By spooning the pancake batter into a dry non-stick pan you can ensure a smooth top with even colouring all over. The added bonus being you won’t make your pancake soggy with oil, instead they will be firm, crisp and light as air.

So arm yourself with a whisk and a pan, because the time for wanting is over! Now is the time for having… some delicious buttermilk pancakes!

— Al Brady

CRÊPES - FRENCH PANCAKES

Pancake Day is upon us and we couldn’t let it pass without making a selection of mouth-watering crepes (thin French pancakes) to satisfy our pancake needs.

Crepes are a French pancake, notably thinner than their American cousins. If you are looking for a thicker American style pancake you might want to go here instead.

Homemade crepes are easy & inexpensive to make, plus they are delicious to eat (sweet or savoury) at any time. Have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Crepes.png

As easy as this crepe recipe is to prepare there is one important step to remember when making your pancakes; that is the resting. Resting the batter will help improve your crepes no end, even if it’s just for an hour, but over night is better.

Don’t believe us? Well maybe you would trust the word of someone with a few more credentials than us, someone like Harold McGee. Harold McGee is the author of On Food & Cooking: The Science & Lore of the Kitchen” and an expert on all things science when it come to the kitchen. Lets see what he has to say on resting batters.

“When you rest batters, you’ll notice that the batter gets thicker. This is a sign that the dry ingredients are continuing to soak up water from the wet ingredients. Just as pre-soaking beans cuts their cooking time way down, soaking the tiny flour particles means that they will cook through more fully and evenly in the couple of minutes that a crepe or pancake has on the griddle, so the texture is finer.”

So it’s settled…. or not! You’ll probably do what you want anyway! But don’t say we never told you!

Once your pancakes are made you have to go through the agony of trying to decide how your going to fill them. Well fear not we have some suggestions for you right here.

So grab your whisk and get that pan on the heat, it’s time to make some pancakes!


— Al Brady

NUTELLA STUFFED BRIOCHE BUNS

These Nutella Stuffed Brioche Buns are so decadent and so deliciously bad for you, that you might as well not bother having one and might want to opt for some celery instead!

I am kicking myself a bit, because I can’t believe I let World Nutella Day pass me by without getting this recipe out in time. But really is there ever a bad day for a Nutella recipe?

Nutella Stuffed Brioche Buns 2.png

Well depending on who you ask there might be plenty of bad days ahead for Nutella recipes!

Nutella has been having a bit of a tough time recently. It seems some people have only just discovered that a jar of hazelnut spread, that boasts a staggering 13% hazelnuts, might not be as healthy as they thought! They cry out; “This delicious sweet spread, served next to the jam and Reese’s spread is basically just sugar? I am shocked and appalled!”

Let’s keep it real shall we? We are not trying to kid ourselves, we know Nutella is not good for us, but in moderation it can most certainly be enjoyed for the treat that it is! A balanced breakfast it is not, but these Nutella Stuffed Brioche Buns are an absolute winner when it comes to naughty food treats!

My light, tender, buttery brioche recipe works amazingly well with the rich, gooey, chocolatey Nutella and together they make one hell of a bun!

You’ll need to plan ahead, if you want to enjoy these buns in all their glory, as the brioche has to be made the day before and left to chill overnight. Not sure how to make brioche? Well why not check out my Brioche Bread recipe before you go any further. There may be no turning back for you after this point!

So enjoy these for the treat that they are, don’t bother convincing yourself that it could be a healthy snack and perhaps have a salad or something later, to counteract all the delicious badness that these Nutella stuffed brioche buns contain!

— Al Brady