Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Wednesday, 28 May 2014


Recently, you may have seen I have started drying and smoking my own chillies. This is a great way of getting a longer shelf life out of an abundance of chillies whilst simultaneously adding flavour and holding in the spice. This has resulted in our kitchen being filled with a multitude of dried crispy nuggets of heat.

I decided to use these chunks of hotstuff to make some homemade sauces. A touch of tangy, spicy Harissa is perfect for so many dishes and really livens everything up - whether cooked out for a tagine, used as a marinade on a pork chop or a piece of steak, or simply added to couscous as part of a salad with a splash of oil and vinegar, it is an extremely versatile sauce.
Delicious fresh Scotch Bonnets

I made two different varieties: one that is hot yet sweet, and another which is hot yet hotter.

Sweet Hot Harissa
2 red peppers
1 fresh Scotch bonnet
2 dried Scotch bonnets
2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seed
Lemon juice
Olive oil

Hot Hottest Harissa
5 fresh Scotch bonnets
3 dried Scotch bonnets
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon cumin seed
Lemon juice
Olive oil

The method for both sauces is the same, with the only difference being leaving out the red peppers and adding more Scotch bonnets to make the hotter variety.

Clockwise: Roasting, Steaming, Peeling, Chopping
To start the sweet Harissa, the red peppers need to be prepared. Over a gas flame, chargrill the outer skin of the peppers until blackened and softened. Place the peppers in a polythene bag for a couple of minutes, and they will steam slightly, which will allow the skin to be removed more easily. The peppers will now have become sweet and tender: chop them roughly and place them into a blender. Simply miss out this stage if you want to make the searingly hot version.

Now focus on the chillies. Soak the dried chillies in a little boiling water to soften them a little. Remove the stalk from the fresh Scotch bonnets and then boil in water for 2/3 minutes... this will take a slight bitterness off the chillies. Remove them from the water and add to the blender, along with the garlic. If you want to soften the heat then remove the seeds from the chilli before blanching (you might want to wear plastic gloves). Then blend with the strained dried chillies (keep the water behind for later).

The finished product with a gratuitous chilli oil.
Toast off the whole spices until you get a small smoke off them, then add the spices to the blended chillies. Add the juice of a lemon to mix with a pinch of salt if needed. If the mix looks a little thick, add some of the water used to soak the dried chillies and a splash of olive oil.

The sauce will keep for two weeks in a sterilised container in the fridge, and will last even longer if you take care to keep a layer of oil covering the sauce, preventing any air getting into the spiced joy below.



Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Favourite pubs: Lebowskis Edinburgh

The Big Lebowski is one of our all-time favourite films, so during a trip to the beautiful city of Edinburgh, we couldn't miss out on a trip to Lebowskis bar. This place has a great relaxed atmosphere, friendly staff, and plenty of Dude-themed decor (although sadly the playlist doesn't come from the film soundtrack!) Food wise, some awesome American bar food is on offer, from gourmet burgers to mac 'n' cheese, and ribs to hot dogs. Everything is made using fresh Scottish produce, and prepared in an open fronted kitchen, which as well as allowing you to see your dinner being created, fills the whole place with a mouth-wateringly good smell. We both went for burgers, and they were MASSIVE.

But delicious though our meal was, the drinks selection is much more exciting. A speciality menu is on offer, consisting solely of White Russians. Delights include the 'Jackie Treehorn', a cocktail made from Bolivian coca leaf liqueur, Kahlua and a 50/50 mix of milk and cream. In keeping with the theme, this was served with a line of sherbert "cocaine". As well as this one, Jim also sampled the variations on the classic which contained Absinthe and Buckfast. Sensible man.
The Jackie Treehorn: "The wave of the future, Dude"
One concoction caused a particular stir for Laura... a mint chocolate White Russian known as 'The Toe'. The addition of Creme de Menthe and chocolate syrup to the usual base precipitated an 8 month quest for the emerald nectar, so we can recreate the creamy delight at home. You will all be relieved I am sure to hear that we did eventually source this, from a humble Morrisons of all places, after a search which had even involved a trip to Calais.
Inspired to recreate them at home! The Toe is on the right
The general gist of the place, which we brought away with us, is add Kahlua to it and pretty much anything will taste great in a milkshake.

The Dude abides, and so should you.



Sunday, 18 May 2014

World Whisky Day 2014: A round-up

May 17th 2014 was chosen as World Whisky Day, a day for dram lovers all over the globe to raise a glass and celebrate the amber nectar. We chose to partake both from our personal collection at home, and with the fine fellows at The Broadfield. It was great to chat to other whisky lovers - as well as at the pub, social media really got behind the event and we were invited to discuss our drams with folks from around the world.

Here is our day in photos...
From left to right:
Glen Scotia 16, Aberlour 10 (top), Ardbeg Corryvreckan (bottom) and Lagavulin 16
All in all a delicious combination of drams were shared, and it was great to take part in something that the entire international whisky community can get behind.

World Whisky Day is held on the third Saturday of every May, so save the date for next year! And if you raised a glass this year, let us know what you imbibed!



Thursday, 15 May 2014

Single Cask Whisky Tasting at the Broadfield

As you may have read, we have been to a few of Ed's (@WhiskyCurator) whisky tastings at the Broadfield. This time, it was the turn of the cask strength whisky, all of which were bottlings from Master of Malt (although this was more coincidental than intentional). The theme of the evening was delightfully titled "Single cask treats and homemade sweets", with lovingly prepared sweeties to accompany the drams.

Glentauchers 15 year kicked off the evening, the weakest of the night at a mere 55.1% ABV. On both the nose and the palate it was zesty and fresh, yet gaining body as the flavour developed, invoking the chew of apricot and peach with custard. This was paired with a soft, chocolate coated pistachio nougat.

The second dram was a Miltonduff 18 year old sherry cask whisky, with an ABV of 59.6%. The woody scent of this whisky flowed through, and onto the palate were pear drops and fruity hints, meaning it tasted a bit like Christmas. This was quite possibly the most exciting drink of the evening, with intriguing nuances of flavour true to it's single cask nature, which makes it such a shame that most of this makes its way into blends. Ed's invention for this one - Irn Bru gummy worms. Improbable, slippery, and fantastically weird. We loved them.

Glen Garioch 20 year, at 58.8%, came next. This highland malt had a delightfully soft, toffee vanilla-ness with a background of brewery malt on the nose, then somewhere between the smell and actually drinking it, it's as though some secretive soul has surreptitiously swapped the contents of the Glencairn for a peppery and altogether more oaky drink. The palate continued to expand with a porridgy apple that lingered, and ended with a custardy finish that took the dram full circle. An apple candy brought the first half of the tasting to an end. 

(Accidentally ate most of the nougat pre-photo!)
Ledaig 7 year was next - an absolute stonker of a dram at 61.9%. Rather poetically, this whisky is made on the island of Mull in the beautiful stills of Tobermory, before being transferred the 35 miles to Islay where the barrels are stored for a deliciously short time. The peated lightly coloured liquid swims with a saltiness that comes only with ageing in the middle of the North Atlantic. This nasal saltiness is then beaten to submission by what tastes like the Honey Monster smoking a pipe. With a finish that sticks to the tongue for a remarkable length of time, this could easily be mistaken for a much older whisky. This came matched with a wonderful pairing of cinder toffee.

Glenburgie 21 year old, from Speyside, was the final dram of the night and it was simply spectacular: a veritable delight of fruits and sweet spice that just glowed across the tongue and up the nose, and even at 56.9% was still beautifully quaffable without the heat that one may expect. The rich and demerara sugary palate glistened with cinnamon and bundles of vanilla ice cream, and overall the rounded flavour was exceptional. To go with this, we were presented with what soon became our favourite sweet of the night, a delicately flavoured and sumptuously squishy earl grey marshmallow.

Another great night in what is becoming quite a tradition for the team at Mashtun and Meow - we will be back on June 3rd for a night of American whiskeys and cocktails!



Sunday, 11 May 2014

Salt Beef Soft Shell Tacos

We are always looking for new ways to use salt beef... it is one of our favourite pieces of meat and I never get tired of brining and eating a good brisket. Recently we got hold of some dried chilies of ranging heats and flavours so we've become a little obsessed with Mexican food, so it seemed only right that we blend these two passions, and what better way than with tacos.

I love making flat breads, whether its naans and rotis to eat with a curry, or pittas for greek salads and dips. They are always simple to make, don't need time to rise and can be cooked using just a hot frying pan. So, unlike a crunchy taco shell, that will inevitably collapse, resulting in guacamole over the entire face and a sour cream covered shirt, we went for soft tacos, which are more manoeuvrable and durable, and will hold all the delicious filling you can cram in.

To accompany the salt beef we had a homemade guacamole, and pico de gallo (tomato salsa), as well as chimichurri, an Argentinian salsa verde. This vibrant fresh herb sauce is incredible with everything from salad, to steak, to fish and can even be used as a BBQ marinade. Traditionally made with parsley, fresh oregano, garlic and chilli, to work with the salt beef I added dill and gherkins with cider vinegar.

Recipe serves 3-4 (don't be put off by the number of items in the list - most of them are the kinds of things you will have in the fridge or cupboards)

For the tacos
200g plain flour
2 egg yolks
25g lard/butter
100ml water
A pinch of salt

For the chimichurri (to add to 400g salt beef)
Half a bunch parsley
Half a bunch oregano
Half a bunch dill
1 chilli (or more if you fancy)
3 midsize gherkins
A glug of cider vinegar
A pinch of salt

An avocado
Half a red onion
Juice of 1 lime
Half a chilli

Pico de Gallo
10 cherry tomatoes
2 spring onions
Half a chilli
A splash of balsamic vinegar
A good pinch of salt
A pinch of sugar


Start with the Pico de Gallo, as that will continue improving in flavour until its ready to eat (this can be prepared the day before and kept in the fridge). Chop the tomatoes in half and the onions as finely as you can and place in a bowl. Chop the chilli as big as you fancy and add it to the malaise. To this add the vinegar, salt and sugar: while the sugar may seem out of place, it will help to soften the onions' strength and frankly it's brill with tomatoes.

The guacamole is best done on the day as the avocado can have a tendency to blacken which isn't too great to eat. First, halve and de-stone the avocado: to do this, slice directly down to the stone and cut all the way round. Next, grab the avocado so you can see the cut between your thumbs and simply twist in opposite directions and pull apart. Then firmly strike the stone with a sharp knife and twist the stone, it will stay with the knife and be freed from the fleshy avocado joy.

Once the avocado is in half with the stone removed, use a spoon to scoop out the 70s bathroom coloured innards leaving behind the skin. Then chop as finely as desired. I like my guacamole quite coarsely chopped, but if you like your guac smooth then simply mash with a fork. To this, add some finely chopped red onion, chilli and the juice of a lime (the acid will help stop the discolouration).

The bread is a simple case of putting all the ingredients in a bowl and bringing together until a dough is formed. Knead on a floured surface until the dough is smooth, leave to rest for about 20 minutes, then knead again and split into 8 equal pieces before rolling into thin circles. Cook in a dry hot frying pan, turning occasionally to keep them from burning. When the breads have puffed up slightly and coloured to a golden brown put to one side in a warm oven.

The chimichurri is not particularly graceful to make - simply chuck everything into a blender until smooth. Again this is a personal choice: if you fancy a more coarse sauce then just chop them together until you've got a consistency to your liking.

The last step is to heat the meat. As the salt beef is already cooked, it is just a re-heat jobby, so on a medium heat in a lightly oiled pan, place thinly sliced meat to warm through. Turn once and then add the chimichurri atop the meat. Heat in the pan for another minute and then you're ready to construct the best taco you'll have today! Pop everything into a warm taco, and serve with a dollop of sour cream, grated cheese and a side of salad.



Monday, 5 May 2014

A Smokey Bank Holiday Weekend

Having had a keen interest in smoking my own meat for ages, and with my wife getting fed up of smoky clothes from my earlier method of putting a smoking tray of chips in the oven (don't try this at home, kids), I decided to build a cold smoking unit which could be kept outdoors. For weeks I had almost finished the construction, and a sunny bank holiday weekend finally provided the opportunity to get the door affixed and the first smoke going.

The first things to go in the smoker were small pieces of steak strips, simply marinaded in salt, sugar and black pepper to begin to draw the water out of the meat. They were hung in the smoker over charring whisky oak dust for an hour. To accompany them were bulbs of garlic and a handful of chillies (although they were to spend another four hours bathed in smoke the following day). The smoked beef became our Sunday brunch after hanging overnight, fried and served with bagels, scrambled egg and beans.
Buoyed by the success of the beef, the next day witnessed a longer smoke of chicken wings and turkey breast. The wings were marinaded again in salt, sugar and pepper, but this time with the addition of cumin, coriander powder, and paprika. The turkey was coated in a dry rub of garam masala, turmeric and salt.

The wings, baked until crispy, were served with salad and chilli bread croutons, and the turkey became a risotto with courgettes and spring onions. 

Not only were we enjoying the bank holiday with smoked food, we also booked a return trip with some friends to the wonderful island of Islay, so a more liquid celebration was in order. Meaning I got to open this lovely thing...


Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Whisky Review: Ardmore

The Ardmore traditional cask is one of our favourite whiskies: an all round wonderful whisky that sings with peaty notes. As it is a whisky without an age statement, it will likely put off some of the 'purists', but it has been aged in quarter casks, thus tasting older and more refined than it possibly should do. For a whisky of 46% you get a boldness in body that frankly stands above its cost in terms of value for money.

It has a sticky, almost honey nose with a rich oaky sweetness akin to apple crumble, which is followed through with strong peaty notes as the dram opens up. The lovely caramel eye sparkles through the glass.

The taste is initially oaty, with a chew of barley, and the stewed apple aroma remains present in the flavour too. It continues to grow in bold peatedness throughout the mouth, which develops on the palate with spice and hints of cinnamon and vanilla towards the end.
Ardmore Heel Slain 

The finish is not particularly long but does linger for a while, with the spice continuing and the smoke pleasantly holding its own.

Not overly complex, it's a good one to reach for when you're not sure what kind of whisky you fancy. We always try and have a bottle of this whisky in and due to its cost (around £30) it is easy to keep a supply running.