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Grilled oysters with pickled apple and whiskey

I've always been a big fan of oysters and they work so well on the barbecue. When we lived in the Netherlands oysters were a rare purchase, on moving to France they are more readily available and not very expensive. That doesn't mean we are quaffing large quantities, we just get to enjoy them more often chez Kitchen Exile. This is a relatively simple, yet very tasty recipe, the pickled apples adding a sweet and sour kick in contrast to the saltiness of the oysters. The whiskey brings a subtle depth to the finish. 

Grilled Oysters with pickled apple and Whiskey

8 oysters unopened

Half a granny smith apple chopped into small cubes 10ml cider vinegar 20ml Teeling small batch whiskey

Set your barbecue up for direct cooking at 170c
Place the chopped apple into a small bowl and pour over the vinegar
Mix well and leave for at least 1 hour
Place the oysters on the griddle and cook for at least 10 mins until they start to open slightly. You don't want them to open too much otherwise they dry out.
Remove the oysters from the barbecue and place to one side until they have cooled enough to handle
Open the oysters leaving the flesh inside
Place 10 or so cubes of pickled apple into each oyster
Pour 2ml of the whiskey into each oyster
And enjoy!

Corned beef, not as Irish as you think...

 For this dish, you will need to give yourself a week before you get to taste the results. I tend to use cheaper cuts such as brisket for my corned beef. In this article there's a little bit of history before you get your recipe.

Growing up in Ireland, this is one dish we never actually ate. My first experience of it was when I moved to London and came across salt beef bagels in Brick Lane. 

Corned beef is not and never was never an Irish staple, you may be surprised to hear. In the past beef was considered an expensive commodity and therefore pork, which was cheaper, was more commonly salted. It became popular in America with Irish emigrants as beef was cheaper to buy in the states. It was called "corned" because of the salt kernels used in the curing process. 

Corned beef was produced in some areas in Ireland, but only for export, so may have been eaten in those areas, but not so prevalent. So because of emigrant traditions, in America the dish is associated with Ireland and corned beef and cabbage is a traditional American dish for St Patrick's day. In Ireland however, we're still eating boiled bacon or spare ribs and cabbage. 

Enough of the history lesson and now for the recipes!

The brining is relatively simple as you make a 10% solution, which is 100 grams of salt to one litre of water, and add whatever aromatics you'd like to the brine.The amount of meat you wish to brine is up to you. This time I added cloves, peppercorns and bay leaves. Do make sure the brine covers the meat and it is a good idea throughout the week to turn the once a day in the brine.

One the meat has had at least a week in the brine, you have several options for cooking. The cut of meat is up to you what you would like to use. I tend to go for cheaper and tougher cuts such as brisket.

Slow poach
Cooking it in water and adding aromatics such as bay, thyme, rosemary, cloves etc...
I also like to add onions, garlic and carrots along with the aromatics for more flavour
Poach for at least 3 hours on a low heat
Allow to rest before serving.
Serve American style with boiled potatoes and cabbage or allow to cool and serve with mustard in a sandwich.

Or you can make Corn beef hash with fried eggs and beans

300g cooked salt beef  (I used brisket) - cubed
1 onion sliced
1 clove of garlic grated
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cooked potatoes cubed
1 tin baked beans
2  fried eggs
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onion and garlic till soft and remove to a plate
Next brown off the cubed potatoes and remove to the same plate as the onions
Brown the salt beef
Then add the spuds and the onion back into the pan
Add the Worcestershire sauce and stir
Last add the beans and heat through 
Season to taste and serve with fried eggs on top.

Goat shoulder stew with anchovies

As many of you now know goat is one of my favourite meats and so versatile as it suits so many flavour profiles from Mediterranean to Middle Eastern to Caribbean. The flavour can be compared to that of lamb in it's younger stages and mutton in it's later stages. You can check out the many recipes that I have in my Goatober section here on Kitchen Exile. Many butchers and farmers world wide will be showcasing goat meat during the month of October, so be sure to check out your local producers to see what's on offer. 

300g goat shoulder cubed
10g fresh rosemary sprigs finely chopped
5g fresh thyme chopped
5g chives finely chopped
2 cloves garlic grated
5g fresh parsley chopped
5g fresh mint finely chopped
5g fresh oregano finely chopped
40g anchovies in olive oil finely chopped
2g freshly ground black pepper
150ml white wine
100ml lamb or chicken stock
2 tomatoes finely chopped
20g black olives finely chopped

Mix the goat shoulder with the herbs, garlic, pepper and anchovies and marinate overnight in the fridge
Preheat your oven or set your barbecue up for indirect cooking at 140c
Whizz the tomatoes up to form a smooth paste
Place all the ingredients in a cast iron pan and cook for 3 hours
I like to serve this with either rice, couscous or tabbouleh

Thai hot and sour soup

I've always had love affair with Thai food, simple fresh, tasty, what more could you want. The great thing about Thai food is its simplicity, but the trick is getting the flavours right. Where the recipes may require quite a few ingredients and the method isn't difficult, the complexity lies within getting the right mix of hot, sour, salty and sweet.

I was lucky enough after my year at Leiths School of Food and Wine to travel to Thailand and experience the food first hand. It was one of the countries that I'd always wanted to visit just for the food and I wasn't disappointed. I also spent a day at the Chiang Mai cookery school and got to meet Sompon Nambian who runs the school and whose TV program I used to follow religiously on a UK TV food channel.

I don't think I can convey enough how much I love Thai food. I'm quite happy to spend a fortune on ingredients to make the paste from scratch (and yes it makes all the difference). I like to make the pastes in a mortar and pestle. A little tip when dealing with fibrous ingredients such as ginger, galangal and lemongrass is to grate them using a fine grater as it means you don't have as many fibres in your paste or curry.
As well as Thai green or red curry I love to make Hot and Sour soup and also a variation with coconut milk. I love this soup and its my go-to when I don't don't feel like strenuous cooking. It is a case of throwing the ingredients in a pot of water and giving it a bit of time and minimal effort to come out with something tasty and rewarding. I usually make the broth the day before and leave all the aromatics in overnight, it makes for a more flavoursome soup.

To make the broth
2 sticks lemongrass, crushed
15g ginger unpeeled
2 cloves garlic crushed
30g coriander stems or roots
2 shallots, quartered
1 tomato quartered
5 Lime leaves
4 mushrooms quartered
2 chillies (red or green)
1 litre of water, chicken stock or fish stock

Place all ingredients into a pan
Add the water or (flavoured if using stock) and bring to the boil and then simmer for an hour on a low heat
Let the broth sit for a few hours with a lid on, or even better overnight, before straining

For the soup
4 Lime leaves
20g coriander chopped
1 Tomato cut into eighths
5 mushrooms thinly sliced
Juice of one lime
10ml Fish sauce
1 red chilli finely chopped
5ml soy sauce
5g palm sugar
Mange tout julienned
1 medium carrot julienned
100ml coconut milk (optional)

You can then add the following dependent on if you are going to make a fish or meat soup

10 uncooked prawns 
Leftover roast chicken breast or thigh (chopped)

Bring the stock to a simmer
Add the tomato, mushrooms, chilli and lime leaves and simmer for 5 mins
Season with the soy, fish sauce, sugar and lime juice (you are looking for hot, sour, salty and sweet so add more of any of the seasoning to get the flavour you want)
Add the prawns or chicken and cook for another 5 mins
If adding coconut milk, then pour it in now and stir through, adjust the seasoning if necessary
Garnish with the coriander

Leftover lamb with curried rice

I love to do a slow cooked leg of lamb on my barbecue, because of the size you have to buy and with there only being two people in our house, there's always leftovers. I do enjoy slow cooking and love the results it yields. Especially with something like lamb, as it will normally come right off the bone with no effort needed to carve. Now I could have gone for the leftover staple of Shepherds pie, but I like my curries and have plenty of spices to play with in my ingredients drawer. Monday's dinner became an improvised "Biryani" with the leftover lamb, the leftover spuds and some rice.

Leftover lamb meat and whatever leftover spuds you may have and chop into chunks
1 onion finely chopped
1 red chilli finely chopped
100g cooked basmati rice
15g garam masala 
Heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
Heaped teaspoon black mustard seeds
Juice half a lemon
Coriander leaves for garnish
oil for frying 
Salt and pepper to season

Sauté the onion and chilli until they are soft and glossy, 
Add the mustard and cumin seeds and cook for one minute
Add the garam masala and about 30ml of water to help cook out the spices and prevent the spices from burning, cook for about 5 minutes
Next add the lamb and cook for about 2 minutes
Then add the potatoes and rice and cook for a further 5 minutes (you could also add some frozen peas at this stage too)
Finally switch off the heat and add the lemon juice, salt and pepper and stir through
Garnish with the coriander

Absinthe mustard grilled chicken thighs

I used to make a lemon and tarragon marinade for chicken when I first started barbecuing many years ago. It was one dish that was always popular with my friends. I decided to visit that recipe again, but wanted to take it a stage further.  While I'm not the biggest fan of absinthe per se, I do like the combination of aniseed flavours with chicken. I came across the absinthe mustard in a local French traiteur and thought it would be interesting to try. There's a lot going on flavour wise with these chicken thighs but they do work well together. The mustard, honey and tarragon provide a great background flavour while the lemon zest just lifts it further. Add some wonderful smoky flavour from the barbecue and you're set!

4 chicken thighs flattened to ensure even cooking (you can use a rolling pin to do this)

10g Absinthe mustard or 10g dijon mustard mixed with 5ml absinthe or pastis
10ml olive oil
2g dried oregano
2 cloves garlic grated
5ml honey
Zest from half a lemon
2g dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together bar the salt and pepper
Place the chicken thighs in a dish and pour over the marinade, ensure they are well covered on both sides
Place in the fridge for 6 hours 
Set your barbecue up for direct cooking at 220c
Cook the thighs for 2 minutes each side
Allow to rest in a warm place before serving, season to taste

Slow roast tomato and red pepper soup

Another one of my oldie but a goodie recipes. I first made this for a picnic years ago. This wasn't just any old picnic but one at Glyndebourne, so the picnic was during the interval of an opera in the grounds of a stately home. It was a formal back tie affair and I was kinda nervous as I was cooking for my other half's family for the first time, so no pressure then! So if you want something that works well both as a warm or chilled soup, then this will earn you brownie points. This recipe works well being prepped on the BBQ as the coals give the tomatoes that smoky edge and a little extra sweetness. 

12 tomatoes
2 red peppers
1 red onion
4 cloves of garlic
10 sprigs of thyme
1.5l vegetable stock
Olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato purée
100ml crème fraiche
Juice half a lemon
Salt, pepper and sugar to taste

For those of you who like their soup a tad spicier, you can add a red chilli (or 3) to the roasting pan with the veg.

Half the tomatoes, quarter the pepper and onion and place in a roasting tin along with the peeled cloves of garlic
Lightly drizzle with oil and sprinkle the thyme over
Roast in a low oven or BBQ (indirect) for 2 hours at 120c
Remove the thyme sprigs before placing the contents in a pan
Add the vegetable stock and tomato purée and stir
Bring the soup to the boil, and then simmer for 10 minutes
Once cool, blend the soup until smooth
At this stage you can sieve it to give a smoother soup, or leave as is for a rustic soup
Add the crème fraiche and whisk in
Stir through the lemon juice and sugar and season to taste with the salt and pepper