Saturday, 26 November 2016

Manchester Smokehouse and cellar - A review

I am a self confessed BBQ fanatic not in the sense of a back garden burnt sausage variety but the US style of low and slow like brisket smoked for hours until juicily tender, ribs and chicken tasty with rubs and smoked with love and attention. I am an enthusiastic amateur and bow down to the skill of the Pitmasters (and Mistresses) who know exactly how to control the fire and smoke necessary for great BBQ and so was very excited to have the chance to visit the new Manchester Smokehouse and cellar during a recent visit to see my daughter who is now living in the city.

The Smokehouse is housed in the city centre and was easy to find, My daughter was rather taken with the cow outside the premises as you can see and then on going inside found it to be a great space, A large light and airy room with a warm lighting which felt welcoming and cosy on a wet night.

The waiter was really friendly and we sat at the back of room near the door so had a good look at the whole room which was pleasantly busy on a Thursday night. We ordered a variety of items and we were spoilt for choice there was so much good sounding items on the menu. We had brisket and burnt ends for us to share and then my husband ordered beef rib, I ordered baby backs and my daughter wanted the prawns which unfortunately weren't available that day but the waiter recommended the monkfish skewer and we also had sweet potato fries, smothered fries and onion rings.

O-M-G it was incredible the brisket and burnt ends were so tender it was unbelievable the flavour was so good I give up on ever being able to produce anything like that at home. They were served with traditional  light crunchy pickled vegetables which were the perfect accompaniment for the rich meat.  The baby back ribs were everything I hoped they would be gorgeously tender and just coming away from the bone with a tasty rub they were so good. My husbands beef rib was delicious, tender and full of flavour. You could tell the quality of the meat as well as the care that had been taken to cook it I know from smoking meats myself how hard it is to get it just right. The side dishes were really amazing too the smothered fries, sweet potato fries were fab and you can see from the pic the size of the onion rings (where do they get their enormous onions from??) My daughter really enjoyed the monkfish skewer she said it was perfectly cooked really fresh and light.

We were way to full for dessert but did manage to fit in a few cocktails which were lovely I had the espresso martini and have to say one of the best I have ever had it was not too sweet which is always good and my daughter loved her porn star martini and her 'apple of my eye' cocktail (You can tell Mum was paying for dinner!)

I was able to talk to Jason Latham the Pitmaster of the Smokehouse while we were there I have 'spoken' online to him previously and he was so friendly in person, He explained they had only been open for 9 weeks and he has big plans to extend the space even more which gives me a even better reason to visit again. You can tell he is a perfectionist and wants everything to be just right and was saying about the quality of the meat he uses and when he said  the hours he has put in to make the place work it's clear the man really has the passion for BBQ.

I really enjoyed our time there and will definitely be back and if you are ever in Manchester make sure you pay the place a visit.

Tandoori chicken (Slimming World friendly)

This is a really tasty and easy recipe to make. I used 'East End' tandoori spice powder which is syn free but do check which Tandoori spice you use as they are not all syn free. I bought mine in a small shop in Cardiff but I have seen that brand on sale in Morrisons.

This recipe is another great after work dinner as you marinade the meat in the morning and just cook it in the evening. The yogurt and lemon juice make the chicken really tender, I used chicken thighs as I think they have more flavour but you can use chicken breast if you prefer.

Tandoori Chicken

8 chicken thighs (boneless, skinless and trimmed of all visible fat) OR 4 chicken breasts
2 tbsp tandoori spice powder
4-6 tbsp fat free natural yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice

Place the Tandoori powder, yogurt and lemon juice into a bowl and mix well. Put the chicken into a dish and make shallow cuts into the meat to allow the marinade to penetrate, pour over the marinade and mix well so all the chicken is thoroughly coated. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours but as said I like to do this in the morning to cook in the evening.

Line a roasting pan with foil (saves on the washing up) and place the chicken in the pan along with any leftover marinade. Cook at Gas 6/200/400 for 30-40 minutes or longer if necessary until the chicken is cooked and browned.

You can also cook it under the grill if you prefer just ensure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Syn free on extra easy and serves 4

Monday, 14 November 2016

Diet Coke Chicken (Slimming World friendly)

Now to some of you this might sound odd but believe me it is delicious, Its another super quick dinner. The vegetables give it colour and freshness , Once the sauce has reduced it makes a lovely sticky syrupy BBQ tasting sauce but you have to persevere and simmer it right down it doesn't make a lot of sauce but it coats everything so its tasty. I served it with spring greens and rice but it's good with noodles and stir fry veg too..

Diet coke chicken

2 large chicken breasts (or 6 chicken thighs skinned and boned trimmed of fat)
2 peppers (red, green yellow whatever colour you like) bell peppers for my US friends
6oz mushrooms (quartered)
1 large onion (sliced )
1 can diet coke
4 tbsp passata (sieved tomatoes )
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
spray oil

Place a wok or large deep frying pan or wok over a high heat and spray with oil, Add the chicken,  onions and peppers and stir fry until the vegetables are soft and the chicken id cooked . Add the mushrooms and stir fry for another couple of minutes.

Pour over the can of diet coke, the passata and add the worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce is reduced, thick and syrupy , You really need to have patience because just as you think its not going to happen it will :  )

Syn free on slimming world....  enjoy!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Slow cooker chicken stew (Slimming World friendly)

This has got to be the easiest recipe to make and it's also a good one for clearing out your veg drawer in the fridge. You simply put everything in the slow cooker, turn it on and when you get in from work it's ready to eat. The amounts I have given make loads it served six of us last night but you can make as much or as little as you like.

 Increase more of the veg you like or don't use meat at all and make it vegetarian. It''s also a good one to prep the veg and chicken the night before and just put it all in the slow cooker in the morning. Simple and delicious.

NOTE: I have a HUGE Swan slow cooker please halve this recipe if you only have a smaller slow cooker Xx

Slow cooker chicken stew

8 chicken thighs (skinned, boned and trimmed of fat) cut into large chunks
4 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
1 large onion (chopped)
4 sticks of celery (peeled and chopped)
2 large leeks ( sliced)
1 bag (2kg) new potatoes (cut into 4 or 6 pieces)
1 pint chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Put everything in the slow cooker, Mix well and cook on low for 6-8 hours but it can happily stay there a bit longer if you need it to.

Syn free

Monday, 31 October 2016

Halloween meringue ghosts (Slimming World friendly)

I just made these for my Halloween party in my Slimming World class tonight, I have tried to make meringues with sweetener before and it just doesn't work well so I did use sugar but less than usual to make these (hence 1 syn each) but it's not too bad as a sweet treat just try not to eat them all!

Halloween Meringue Ghosts

4 large free range egg whites
8 tbsp caster sugar
pinch salt
tsp lemon juice

When making meringues you have to ensure everything is spotlessly clean as any speck of grease will stop the egg whites from whisking firmly. Place the egg whites and a pinch of salt  in a large bowl and whisk until the are forming stiff peaks, Gradually add the caster sugar a spoonful at a time and keep whisking until all the sugar is added then add the lemon juice and whisk for a couple more minutes.

I used a plastic bag with the corner cut off as a piping bag, Just fill the bag with the meringue and just pipe little swirls of meringue onto a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

Bake in a very low oven gas 1/2/100/200 for about an hour then turn the oven off and leave them to cool completely in the oven.

I had some black icing so just put two little dots as the ghosts eyes once the meringues were cooled.

Makes about 28 and work out 1 syn each.

Happy Halloween!!

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Thai green chicken curry (Slimming World friendly)

I LOVE Thai green curry (or is it green thai curry? I can never remember) but the usual recipes are not slimming world friendly the coconut milk and curry paste make it too high in syns usually but this version gives you all the delicious flavours but is much lower in fat and syns.

The coconut milk I use is a lower fat version and as the recipe only call for 100ml and the can is 400ml I freeze the rest in 100ml portions in small plastic containers so its pretty economical too.

Unfortunately you can't make this veggie as there is fish sauce in the curry paste but I always add loads of veg to this recipe this version uses green beans, spinach, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots  but you can add any other veg you fancy (and leave out any you don't!)  beansprouts, mushrooms whatever you like.

The sauce is supposed to be like a broth so don't panic if you think its supposed to be thick the lightness of the sauce makes it even more tasty to serve over rice as its absorbs all the flavours.

Thai Green Curry

8 chicken thighs (skinned, boned and trimmed of fat) cut into small pieces
100ml low fat coconut milk
2 tbsp thai green  curry paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
400ml chicken stock (from a cube is fine)
pack of fine green beans (trimmed and cut into pieces) 
can of beansprouts (drained)
can of water chestnuts (sliced and drained)
1/2 bag of washed spinach.
fresh coriander leaves (chopped)

Place chicken in a wok or large deep frying pan and stir fry over a medium heat until browned then add the curry paste and stir fry for a few more minutes.

Add the stock, coconut milk, soy sauce and green beans and simmer for 20 minutes and then add the water chestnuts and bamboo shoots and simmer for another five minutes, Finally add the spinach and stir in until wilted.

Sprinkle the chopped coriander on each bowl before serving.

Serves 4 at 2 syns per portion

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Boulangere potatoes (Slimming World friendly)

   This is a really easy recipe but looks impressive when dishing it up for dinner. It makes a nice change on a Sunday instead of roast potatoes and even though it takes a while to cook it is easy to prepare you just leave it in the oven to do it's own thing. If you aren't keen on garlic you can leave it out it still tastes good. I like thyme as a herb in this but you can vary the herbs as you like rosemary is nice with lamb or even a few dried mixed herbs. Best of all it's syn free :)

Boulangere Potatoes

4 large potatoes (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 large onion (peeled and thinly sliced)
1 pint vegetable stock (from a cube is fine)
1 tsp thyme
2 cloves crushed garlic
low calorie spray oil

Spray a frying pan with spray oil and fry the onions until soft, Spray a large casserole dish or roasting tin with spray oil and layer the onion and potatoes with a little thyme, garlic and pepper between each layer finishing with a layer of potato.

Pour in enough stock until the potatoes are scarcely covered, you might not need it all, Then spray the top with oil and bake for 2 hours on gas 4 / 180/350 until brown and crispy,

Serve 4-6

syn free