Perfect with an Ice-Cold Beer . . .

There are an absolute plethora of assorted nuts and snacks available these days from any high street shop combining all kinds of flavours. Some of them are very tasty indeed, personal favourite at the moment is the Honey & Jalapeno peanuts available from the Lakeland cookware store.

That said they all have one major flaw ! There cold and nothing goes better with an ice-cold beer or glass of scotch than a bowl full of flavoursome homemade hot nuts to nibble on. Just the thing while watching a movie or reading your favourite book.

I can’t recall where I first saw the original recipe but it was based upon the famous Union Square Cafe in New York who serve these warm at the bar. As always I’ve made the recipe my own with a few variations on the ingredients. These really are so simple and a cut above anything you can purchase in a packet.

Ingredients:

300g Assorted Unsalted Nuts – ( we used Almonds, Peanuts, Brazil’s, Walnuts, Hazelnuts ) – 1 tbsp Melted Butter – 1 tbsp Dark Brown Soft Sugar – 2 tbsp Chopped Fresh Rosemary – 1 tsp Cayenne Pepper – 1 tsp Sea Salt – 1 Pinch Chilli Flakes

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 350 f  / 180 c / Gas 4 and place your nuts onto a baking tray, spread out evenly.

Heat the nuts in the oven for around 10 minutes until slightly browned ( Give the tray a shake every now and then and don’t allow them to burn ) Meanwhile combine the butter, sugar, chopped rosemary, cayenne pepper, chilli flakes and half the salt into a large mixing bowl. Once the nuts are cooked add them to the bowl and thoroughly coat the nuts in the butter mixture. Place the nuts into a serving bowl while still hot / warm and sprinkle on the remaining sea salt. Pop the cap off an ice-cold beer and enjoy !

Note: For those of you that don’t like spicy heat you can omit the chilli flakes and half the amount of cayenne pepper.

Don’t Cry ! It’s Only Soup

Well maybe you’ll cry just a tiny bit just like me when you slice loads of nice big strong onions to make this delicious French Onion Soup. . .

This really is a satisfyingly warming autumnal soup that’ll fill you up and keep you toasty and warm inside. Mrs A Hint of Garlic has come down with a cold due to the change in weather recently so what better way to cheer her up and make her feel better than this classic bubbling hot soup.

Ingredients:

4/5 Large Onions – 1 tbsp Dried Thyme – 1 Knob Butter – 3 tbsp Olive Oil – 2 Cloves Garlic – 1.5 / 2 Ltrs Beef Stock – 1 tsp Marmite – 2 tbsp Cognac (optional but very tasty) – French Baguette – Gruyère Cheese

Method:

Slice your onions and over a very low heat start to soften in the butter and olive oil. The trick to this soup is to be patient and take a good 20 – 30 minutes slowly cooking the onions to allow the natural sweetness and sugars to release from the onions. Once very soft and translucent turn up the heat and while stirring add the crushed garlic and thyme. Continue to stir over a medium heat until the onions are caramelised and sticky.

Once the onions are nicely caramelised add a good quality beef stock ( add the cognac if your using it ) Marmite, season well with salt and pepper and allow to simmer gently for 30 – 40 minutes without a lid or until the liquid has reduced by half. Meanwhile slice a baguette on the bias and lightly toast on both sides. Grate the Gruyère cheese and pile onto the toasted baguette.

Pre-heat a grill onto its hottest setting and ladle the soup into serving bowls before placing the cheesy toasted baguette on top of the soup. Place under the grill until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Serve immediately while still bubbling away, oh and don’t forget to warn your family and friends its very very hot !

 

The good news is Mrs A Hint of Garlic is feeling much better for eating this ( though not quite up to the dishes yet apparently 🙂 ) For me the best part of this soup is eating the cheesy soggy toast at the end . . .

Coming Soon from A Hint of Garlic 

  Ultimate Yorkshire Puddings &  Cheese & Chilli Scones

Thai Inspired Shredded Chicken & Noodle Salad

While the last few days of the summer are still with us why not enjoy a lovely healthy shredded chicken Thai style salad. In our household we always have a strong debate over the amount of chilli peppers that go into most dishes whereas here its easy because the chillies can be served on the side and added as required by the individual.

Ingredients:

Rice Noodles – Cooked Chicken Breast – Spring Onions – Granny Smith Apple – Cherry Tomatoes – Fresh Mint Leaves – Red Onion – Fresh Chilli Peppers – Roasted Peanuts – Crispy Fried Shallots – Fish Sauce – Dried Chilli Flakes – Limes – Sugar – Garlic Clove – Rice Vinegar

Method:

First of all make your salad dressing by combining the juice of two limes with a tablespoon of fish sauce a pinch of both dried chilli flakes and sugar. Add a crushed garlic clove and a splash of rice vinegar. Mix together and adjust to taste before setting aside. Next prepare your noodles following the instructions on the packet ( with rice noodles we normally leave them to soak in hot water for about 10 minutes then refresh in cold water ) Shred your cooked chicken breasts by hand which has a better appearance than slicing with a knife for this salad, add to the cold noodles. Slice your apple and spring onions (scallions) into matchsticks before adding to the salad. Half or quarter your cherry tomatoes and very finely slice a small red onion before finely ripping up a handful of fresh mint leaves. Toss the noodle salad with the previously made dressing and serve with the crispy fried shallots, chopped roasted peanuts, sliced fresh chillies and lime wedges on the side.

The Earl of Sandwich would be proud !

There are times when you don’t feel like cooking a meal yet need something more filling than any ordinary snack. So what do you do ?

Well tonight we decided to make a nice thick cut hot sandwich. . .  Therein lay the next dilemma ! What kind of filling ? 

Beef & Horseradish ? Nah, we haven’t got any beef which could be problematic in its assembly 🙂  Wait what about Chicken & Stuffing ? ooops this time neither the chicken or the stuffing available. . .

Ah ha ! Brie Lettuce & Bacon

Now this is a sandwich that hits the spot ! Creamy ripe brie combined with fresh green lettuce and smokey crispy bacon sandwiched between delightfully soft fresh-baked bread.  Bet your feeling hungry for a sandwich now . . .

Well my fellow bloggers, whats your favourite sandwich ?

Whisky Review Lagavulin 16 Year Old Single Malt

Well my fellow whisky drinkers we have something rather special today !

To start with I feel I  should remind you that these are my own untrained thoughts as I am not a whisky expert by any stretch of the imagination.

Ok lets start with what the experts say about this very fine dram;

Lagavulin 16 Bottling Note

A much sought-after single malt with the massive peat-smoke that’s typical of southern Islay – but also offering a dryness that turns it into a truly interesting dram. The 16 year old has become a benchmark Islay dram from the Lagavulin distillery.

Lagavulin 16 Tasting Note

Nose: More like Lapsang Souchong tea than Lapsang Souchong! One of the smokiest noses from Islay. It’s big, very, very concentrated, and redolent of iodine, sweet spices, good, mature sherry and creamy vanilla. Stunning.
Palate: Very thick and rich. A massive mouthful of malt and sherry with good fruity sweetness, but also a wonderful sweetness. Big, powerful peat and oak.
Finish: Long, spicy finish, figs, dates, peat smoke, vanilla.

So the question your all asking is what do i think ??  Well let me set the scene for you. . .

Imagine your sat in a small friendly pub on the Isle of Islay in the middle of a horrendous gale with a view out to the rocky shoreline. You see the waves crashing down on the rocks as the rain lashes against the pub window. And there’s you sat nice and warm by the roaring log fire with a whisky in your glass that is warming every single part of your soul. This my friends is that whisky !

Wow its incredible ! The taste is so rich and peaty with a deep smoke that lingers in the mouth. This is a full flavoured grown up whisky that should be in everyone’s collection.

Hint Of Garlic Rating 19 / 20   ( Yes ! It’s really that good )

Ultimate Victoria Sponge

Do you have family or friends coming to visit?    

We did this Sunday and what better way to show we were pleased to see them than to bake a fabulous fresh cream cake for them to enjoy!

We have titled this post our “Ultimate Victoria Sponge” though you have to bear in mind that this is our version of the classic which would normally have used raspberries and not strawberries and would have been finished with a dusting of icing sugar and no cream. Why call it a Victoria Sponge then? I hear you ask, well the sponge mixture is as traditional as it gets.

Oh one other thing to mention, most recipes you will find seem to use 20cm sandwich tins however our recipe is calculated for 24cm tins. We have just purchased a set of 24cm silicone sandwich tins and wanted to test them out which proved to be a very good purchase indeed.

 

Ingredients:

286g Unsalted Butter (room temperature) – 286g Caster Sugar – 5 Free Range Eggs – 1 tsp Vanilla Extract – 286g Self-Raising Flour (sifted) – 1 tbsp Milk (room temperature) – 400 ml Double Cream – Strawberry Jam – Fresh Strawberries

Method:

First of all its worth us pointing out that we used our trusty KitchenAid stand mixer though this could easily be made using an electric mixer or if you feeling in need of a workout even by hand ( good luck with the hand whisking method 🙂 )

Preheat your oven to 180c / 350f / gas 4 and then add your Butter to the mixer and beat until very smooth and creamy. With the mixer still on gradually add the sugar and once all of it has been added continue to beat the mixture for a further 4-5 minutes. This will turn the mixture very light and fluffy which is one of the secrets to a light airy sponge. ( Dont forget to scrape down the sides of your mixing bowl every now and then to ensure everything gets mixed in ) Break your eggs into a small bowl and add the vanilla extract before beating lightly with a fork. Now very gradually add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar allowing each bit to fully incorporate before adding the next. ( if you think the mixture is going to curdle add a tablespoon of the sifted flour ) Sift your flour for a second time into the butter mixture, add the milk and gently fold the flour into the butter mixture with a metal spoon until fully incorporated and no streaks of flour remain visible. ( Do this as lightly as possible to avoid knocking out the air you have just beaten into the mixture ) Devide the sponge mixture between two 24cm sandwich tins and spread the mixture evenly to the edges. Bake for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until golden brown and the edges are pulling away from the sides of the tins.

Once the sponge have cooled slightly turn out onto a wire rack to fully cool down. Once cooled completely turn one sponge upside down onto a serving plate or cake stand and spread a generous amount of your favourite strawberry jam on top going almost to the edge. ( We used our homemade strawberry jam on this occasion – recipe to follow at a later date ) Now beat your double cream in the mixer until just peaking and spread half of this onto the jam before placing the second sponge on top. Now spread the remaining cream on top of your cake and decorate with fresh strawberries.

Note: For a slight variation you can add a teaspoon of vanilla extract and a teaspoon of caster sugar to the cream before its beaten for a more luxurious flavour.

So next time you have visitors coming go ahead and make this wonderful Ultimate Victoria Sponge . . .

Whisky Review Jim Beam Red Stag

Those of you who know me will be in no doubt that Whisky is my alcoholic drink of choice. Dont get me wrong there is nothing better than an ice-cold beer on a hot summers day to make you feel you have not a care in the world and life just couldn’t get any better. Back to Whisky though, my true love…

I am a total amateur and have no formal knowledge of how to professionally taste whisky and if im honest I can’t always recognise the “woody notes, hint of fresh cut grass, honey finish, cigar smoke” and so on that the professionals refer to in their tasting notes. What I do understand is whether or not I enjoy it !

Todays review is for a very inexpensive everyday Bourbon from Jim Beam with a slight twist.

Now as an everyday alcoholic drink I am very fond of Jim Beam whisky though this offering has a twist in as much as its been infused with the flavour of Black Cherry ! Wow I love black cherries, which incidentally is why it ended up in my shopping basket at the supermarket.

In fact it is not that bad at all. I would class it more of a liqueur though as after one or two measures it becomes too sweet for my palate. The cherry flavour is strong but pleasant and lingers on the palate for sometime. Maybe this needs to be mixed with some cola to bring out its true quality and to disperse that intense sweetness?

A hint of garlic rating  12 / 20

Reviews coming soon;

Isle of Jura Origin 10 year old  –  Lagavulin 16 year old  –  Glenmorangie Original 10 year old

Hasselback Potatoes

Something wonderful about a garlicy, crispy baked potato fresh from the oven !   Hasselback Potatoes are just perfect and so very easy to make.

 Ingredients:

Baking Potatoes – Garlic cloves (1 per potato) – Butter – Sea Salt – Olive Oil – Parmesan Cheese ( Optional )

Method:

Clean the potatoes and slice a slither off the bottom so they sit flat onto the baking tray. Cut into the potato every 3 mm being careful not to cut all the way through the potato. Thinly slice the garlic cloves and add slices of garlic into each of the cuts. Spread a little butter over the top of the potato ensuring that some of the butter goes into the cuts with the garlic. Sprinkle with a generous amount of sea salt before drizzling a small amount of olive oil over the top of the potatoes. If you want a cheesy potato now is the time to sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. Bake the potatoes in an oven for around 45 minutes – 1 hour depending on how crispy you like your potatoes. ( Oven temp 200 c / Gas 6 / 400 f )

Wow, Our Kitchen smells amazing right now, roast lamb and garlic Hasselbacks. Time to pour a large glass of red wine and enjoy. . .

Hurricane Soup

Well the tail end of Hurricane Katia is currently crossing the British Isles and its sure feels fresh outside.  Of course when its cold outside theres nothing better than a steaming hot bowl of homemade soup.

Give this one a try and it will soon become a winter staple in your kitchen.

ROASTED TOMATO SOUP

 Ingredients:

 
1 kg plum tomatoes, halved – 1 large white onion, sliced – 2 cloves of garlic, halved – A handful of basil – 1 litre of chicken stock – 3 sun-dried cherry tomatoes – Olive oil – 1 teaspoon of caster sugar – Salt and black pepper

Method
Preheat oven to 220/gas mark 7. Using a large roasting tin, heat the oil in the oven until very hot. Gently add the tomatoes, onion and garlic and sprinkle with sugar. Season generously and bake for 20-25 minutes. Stir, then add basil near the end of cooking. Blitz in a liquidiser with the hot stock. Serve with a swirl of sour cream or crème fresh.

Question: Whats your favourite winter soup ?