Saturday, 31 August 2013

Hang Fire Smokehouse - review

The food buzz in Cardiff at the moment is BBQ/smoked meat. Everywhere is trying it, even the Park Plaza bar has a pulled pork roll on the menu (strangely paired with Asian style slaw) although it's really not that great in terms of what pulled pork should be like, points for trying though.

Without a doubt the place that people are raving about at the moment is Hang Fire Smokehouse based at The Canadian pub on Fridays and Saturdays and now in Porters on Sundays. For those who have not yet heard of the Hang Fire Smokehouse, it started off after Samantha and Shauna travelled around America on a road trip in order to find out what American BBQ is. After learning how to 'cue and smoke they headed back to the UK with a vision of recreating authentic BBQ. 

The rave reviews that they're getting are worth it, as I found out last night. Finally, after much nagging on my behalf Matt and I ventured to Splott eagerly anticipating meat, lots and lots of meat. When we got there it was already packed, and it was only 6.30pm. Thankfully my brother and his girlfriend had arrived ahead of us and grabbed a table, although apparently my brother hadn't warned his girlfriend what kind of food Hang Fire serve and she didn't like a single thing on the menu. Maybe BBQ isn't a big thing in Germany? After they left we moved to another table to allow four people who had been waiting to have our table.

After browsing the menu Matt went for the Hang Fire Plate, consisting of pulled pork, wings and ribs. I went for the BBQ Pork Rib Plate, both of us decided to order the beans and fries on the side. A short while later our food arrived. And what food!

A picture of Hang Fire Smokehouse ribs

My ribs. Look at them people, just look. I can't even describe how they smelled, but "freaking amazing" would probably be about right. I snapped one photo of them before chowing down. I started on the beans, a wonderful mix of smoky, meaty, beany goodness. I've never had BBQ chili beans before so I have nothing to compare them to but I could easily have eaten a whole bowl of them with some saltines.

Onto the ribs, the highlight of my week night. The meat was perfect, so tender that it was falling off the bone, and there was a lot of it too. When I think about the ribs I've eaten and enjoyed in the past it makes me cringe, these guys were the real thing. Be prepared to get messy if you order the them though, they are sticky and covered in a good amount of sauce, thankfully wet wipes are provided. Never again will I order ribs from a chain restaurant.

A picture of the Hang Fire Smokehouse plate

This was Matt's plate, which he wasn't prepared to wait until I'd taken the photo before tucking into it. After eating his first bite of pulled pork he exclaimed "Now this is pulled pork!" He compared the Hang Fire pulled pork to the offerings from another well known Cardiff smokehouse that we visited in July that he really didn't like, noting that the Hang Fire pulled pork actually looks like it's been pulled, with big chunks of pork in a light amount of sauce. Too many places make the mistake of drowning their meat in sauce but Hang Fire get it right in my opinion, if you want more sauce they have three different types on each table.

A picture of Hang Fire Smokehouse sauces
Naturally we both went for the Kansas City BBQ Sauce, what with Matt being a Kansas boy

Matt quickly wolfed down everything and was finished long before me, I asked him a couple of times how each meat was but all I was getting in response was the occasional grunt and nod before he bit into more meat. 

After we had both finished our food we had a breather and discussed the other items on the menu, both of us want to try the brisket and I wouldn't mind trying out the hot links. A trip to Hang Fire's Sunday venture at Porters is definitely on the cards. 

Good luck to Samantha and Shauna, they know what they're doing and they're doing it well.


Sunday, 18 August 2013

Breakfast burritos

- - - - This post was updated on 31 August 2014 - - - -

Before I visited the States in 2011 I did a bit of research on what ridiculously unhealthy places I could eat at and on the top of my list came Sonic. The concept was quite brilliant, you pull up to a menu/speaker in your car, order and pay for your food without having to get out and then someone brings out your food - sometimes on roller skates. The novelty!

The main reason I wanted to go to Sonic was because I wanted to try a breakfast burrito. If there's one thing that America knows how to do well, it's breakfast. Man, they kick ass at breakfast. One of those babies may contain 500 calories but it was love at first bite. 

Sadly, we don't have Sonic or anywhere that does breakfast burritos (that I know of) in South Wales so I have to make my own and freeze them in batches like I did with my bean and cheese burritos. The ones I made today were meat free but they are great with sausage or bacon in them. 

First up, assemble your cast. 

Free range eggs (I used six)
Hash browns
'Plastic' cheese - obviously use whichever cheese you like

Look how lovely they all look.

According to the instructions on the pack, hash browns are meant to be grilled or oven cooked. I did neither. I own one of those fancy fryers that use half the oil of a normal fryer, it just happens to cook hash browns to perfection so I put them in there for seven minutes. Feel free to cook yours how you like.

While the hash browns are cooking crack on with getting the eggs ready...see what I did there?

Add a little salt and give 'em a stir.

Add a dash of milk. Milky, milky goodness.

When I went to the fridge to put the milk back, I realised I'd forgotten a key ingredient...

Got to spice it up a bit.

I decided to chop them up a bit but they'd be good kept whole and put on top of everything before you wrap the burrito.

Once the hash browns are done it's time to cook the eggs. Here you can see how rubbish I am at keeping my frying pan clean on the outside. 

I'd put a bit of butter in the pan before pouring the eggs in. I also added a really small amount of the chopped chillis to the eggs.

Once the eggs are in the pan, add your cheese and keep the eggs moving. Don't let them sit still for too long otherwise they'll catch and no one wants over done eggs. Cook the eggs until they're done to your liking and then remove from the heat.

With the eggs off the heat chop up the hash browns and then begin to assemble your burritos.

It's a beautiful thing.

It just wanted to be photographed. Fairly sure my mouth is watering from just looking at that photo...

Eight burritos later and you're all done.

Wrap them up and pop them into a labelled ziploc bag. 

To heat them up place them in the microwave with a piece of kitchen towel beneath it and on top for 2-3 minutes. Serve with a massive mug of tea and some salsa. 

If you decide to make these, I hope you enjoy them!


Monday, 12 August 2013

Frozen bean and cheese burritos

- - - - This post was updated on 31 August 2014 - - - -

I'm kind of torn about posting this because it's just so simple to do that those of you with kids could probably get them to do it whilst you watch on, but I thought I'd post it to give an idea of how simple it is to make a quick snack like this.

I'm a huge fan of not very authentic Mexican food, it's my go to food when I can't be bothered to cook anything else. I always have refried beans and tortillas/wraps in the house. The idea behind this method is that you spend a short amount of time making a batch of burritos before chucking them in the freezer and forgetting about them until someone wants a snack in a hurry.

This is all you'll need.

Now, I'll start off by warning you that no matter how hard you try, you'll never get a good shot of refried beans. They look and smell like cat food in the tin and they don't look much better in the saucepan.

No really, look.

How can something that look like that taste so good?

Anyway, back to it.

Empty two cans of refried beans into a saucepan and slowly begin to heat.

Add some grated cheese.

At this point you can add spices if you want to heat up the beans. In this case I left them plain.

Give everything a good stir. Keep stiring so the beans don't stick to the bottom of the pan.

Get your clingfilm ready. Whatever you choose to use make sure it's microwave safe.

The next step is optional.

Get the brownie you've been baking out of the oven.

Next up are your wraps. I used these pretty small Tesco wraps because that's all they had other than Mission (which I don't like), normally I would have used a larger variety.

Again, this won't be attractive...

Add cheese.

At this point you can also add picante sauce/salsa, pickled or fresh chillis etc.

Wrap em up!

Wrap the burritos individually in the clingfilm.

Write on your Ziploc bag, I usually tend to stick with what's in the bag and when I made them. It's also a good idea to write re-heating instructions on the bag.

Pop them in the freezer and you're done.

To heat them, tear off one sheet of kitchen towel and place on the bottom of your microwave, put one burrito on the towel. Heat for 1-3 minutes depending on the wattage of your microwave. 

It feels like such a con to even blog about something just so simple but freezing snacks and meals became something I really got into when we moved into this house, for a few months I had a bunch of breakfast burritos (post coming about those soon) in the freezer that I could just grab when I was in a rush or fancied something a bit different in the morning. There's really not a lot that you can't cook in large batches to freeze.

Oh, those brownies? Turned out like this.


Sunday, 4 August 2013

Living room before and after

Nearly ten months after moving into this house we've finally started decorating the living room. I've been scouring the high street and online for the perfect wallpaper for what feels like months, after popping into Laura Ashley a few weeks ago with my mum and coming out armed with about five different wallpaper samples I picked this.

As soon as I put the sample on the wall I loved it, it was just what I wanted for the living room. 

This afternoon my lovely father came over to put it up for us (Matt's not so good with putting up wallpaper), my living room went from this:

To this:

Yes, that is Gilmore Girls on the TV both times. I'm obsessed, what can you do?

Now all I need to do is finish everything off with new cushions (grey and dusky pink), throws and maybe a rug. I still can't decide on the rug. Oh! And a fireplace, as long as we have a fireplace by Christmas I'll be very happy. Next are providing pretty much all my inspiration at the moment.

All from Next
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