ABT :: The Ultimate Party Snack

Everytime I have (or am attending) a house party I always make up a batch of these. They’re a wee bit footery, but  they’re ridiculously simple and the happy faces of your guests will more than make up for the time you’ve spent fiddling in the kitchen. Every time I make them I usually estimate how many I will need, then double that. There is never any left over usually, as people go utterly gaga for these. If there are some leftover, they’re just as tasty when they’re cold.

They’re pretty popular on the American BBQ circuit, where they’re known as ABT’s or (Atomic Buffalo Turds. Pleasant!) I like to think of them as a manlier version of kilted sausages (or pigs in blankets).

Aside from that, it’s basically the same but here’s what you need.

Cast of Characters
  • Mixed chillis: I usually just pick up a few packets from the supermarket
  • Soft/cream cheese
  • Smoked bacon

That’s it. I tried fiddling with the recipe a few times. Once I made two batches, one with cheddar mixed in with the soft cheese and one without and it made no difference. Another time I used garlic and herb cream cheese, but again it made no discernable difference. The other flavours are happy to take the lead.

One thing that surprises people is that they’re generally not actually that spicy. There is a bit of a tingle to them, but they won’t have you running for a glass of milk like the Kismot Killer or coughing like you’ve taken a spoonful of Papa Djabs Hot Sauce. Unless you accidentally buy hot ones instead of mild.

First take your chillis and lie them on a chopping board. Big chillis are best for this, so try to avoid choosing small ones or long, thin ones. Jalapenos would be perfect but fresh ones can be difficult to come by here in Edinburgh.

Cut them in half lengthways, so that they resemble little canoes.

Sliiiiice

Once you’ve cut them, take a teaspoon and remove the seeds and membranes. This would be a good time to wear gloves: especially if you have contact lenses to take out later, or if it’s your time of the month. Touching sensitive body parts with chilli fingers is no fun.

Keep an empty plastic bag handy for all of the bits. As well as being spicy buggers, chilli seeds are a nightmare to clean up.

Next, take your cream cheese and smear it inside the chilli. You can spread it in til it’s flush, but I like to keep going so that it’s overflowing a bit. The cream cheese will cool the heat of the chilli so the more cheese the better as far as I’m concerned.

Cheesy Chillis

When they’re all bursting at the seams with creamy goodness, take another board and lay a slice of bacon on it. Flatten it out with the blunt side of your knife: this will make it a bit thinner and easier to wrap. Then cut it into 4 pieces.

Lay your chilli cream cheese side down on a piece of bacon, and wrap it round so that the seam is at the bottom. Basically the opposite of this picture. You can seal it with a toothpick if you’re fancy, or if you’re me just place it seam side down (cheese side up) on a baking tray.

About to Wrap it Up

Pop them in the oven at 200 degrees for around 20 minutes, or until your bacon is crispy. I usually like to blast them under the grill for the last few minutes to crisp them up a bit.

Put them on a plate, and watch them disappear. Serve with a glass of cava and good company.

Bon Appetit

Happy New Year!

 

REVIEW :: The Compass

44 Queen Charlotte Street, Leith Edinburgh, EH6 7EX
0131 554 1979

Sandwiched between two great dining establishments (E:S:I and Leith Lynx) it’s easy to overlook The Compass simply as a place to meet friends and drink nice whisky, with food acting as a distraction point. However once you step inside you realise that their true focus lies on food, and it’s not really a pub-grub-pub at all. In fact, it’s a positively posh-nosh pub. The menus are handwritten and updated daily, the staff are friendly and attentive, and the dark wood interior gives you the impression that you’re sitting in a tavern from days of yore.

The Compass used to be a favourite of mine, and my friends, when I worked down The Shore. We’d pop in a few times a month and were always very satisfied with the fare. A particular favourite of mine was the fish medley: three types of fried fish on one plate, served with chips. Perfect as I could never quite decide between the three catches of the day that they offered on their fish and chip specials board.

That option disappeared at some point over a year ago, and then my new favourite became the vegetarian haggis burger. Spicy veggie haggis formed into a pattie and topped with melty cheddar cheese. I remember popping in with 4 hungry boys, and although only two of our party were vegetarian, we all ordered this tasty burger.

That hasn’t been on the menu for a while now, either.

But The Compass still holds a dear place in my heart, so when I met up with singer-songwriter Colin Asquith for lunch and The King’s Wark didn’t have any tables, off round the corner we meandered to see if The Compass has still got it.

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REVIEW :: Khublai Khan’s

43 Assembly Street, Leith,  Edinburgh
0131 555 0005

Edinburgh residents in the know will know that the only place to really celebrate your birthday like a Mongolian Warlord is Khublai Khan’s. There’s even one in Glasgow, for those who want to conquest new territories. Since Sam is the most warlord like of our friends (when she’s in full on KDY mode, anyway) it only made sense that we should pop along to celebrate her birthday.

When Sam isn’t rampaging through Leith leaving a trail of destruction in her wake, she’s actually a rather shy and retiring individual. So when we were shown to our long table with a throne at one end, she suddenly went pale.

“I don’t have to sit on the throne, do I?”

“Yes!” we all replied, “and you have to wear the Mongolian King costume too!”

All traces of reluctance were soon dispersed by a shot of ice cold vodka, and Samghis Khan was born!

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REVIEW :: Calistoga

70 Rose Street Lane North,  Edinburgh, EH2 3DX
0131 225 1233

Am I the only one here who though Hurricane Bawbag was just a load of old wind?

There I was, sitting in my office as the window panes rattled, wondering if going to a Yelp bourbon tasting event was really the best idea considering the global furore that our nasty weather was causing. As colleagues evacuated the office at 3pm,  and various business Tweeted pleading with us all to “stay safe”, I stayed strong.

Bracing myself to face the worst that Scottish weather has to offer, I wrapped myself up tightly and stepped out of the office doors into…

As I made my way along Rose Street a couple of powerful gusts rocked the Christmas lights, but I honestly think we had worse weather at the start of the year. I suppose this year we don’t have snow, and it wouldn’t be a Scottish winter without a couple of severe weather warnings.

The bourbon tasting event wasn’t due to start until 7pm, so I arranged to meet James inside Calistoga. Realising the weather wasn’t that bad, we just kind of hung around outside until we bumped into each other.

As our host took our coats, I made a comment about how Hurricane Bawbag had been blown out of all proportions.

“Ha, tell that to the sixty guests who have cancelled on me today!”

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REVIEW :: Sprio

39 Saint Stephen Street,  Edinburgh, EH3 5AH
0131 226 7533

Stockbridge is definitely a contender for my favourite part of Edinburgh. From the fabulous Stockbridge Market, to the romantic scenery along the Water of Leith walkway to the Dean Village, Stockbridge steals my heart every time. It’s also only a brisk ten minute walk away from my office.

My other half had a meeting with Flavours Holidays just before lunch, so he texted me to see if I’d like to meet him for a quick sandwich before heading back to the office.

Stockbridge has no shortage of little delis and cafés. Our original plan was to pop into the famous Bell’s Diner for a big dirty burger, but sadly they don’t open during the week at lunchtimes. Boo! However, as a sort of happy accident, we stumbled upon quirky Italian deli Sprio just along the street.

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REVIEW :: The Dogs

110 Hanover Street,  Edinburgh, Midlothian, EH2 1DR
0131 220 1208

The Dogs pride themselves on selling great quality comfort food and have definitely made a name for themselves in Edinburgh in the past few years.

If you’re at all active on the Edinburgh dining scene, it’s unlikely that you haven’t come across The Dogs in some shape or form. They have three restaurants (fishy Seadogs, Italian-American Amore Dogs, and British grub The Dogs) and one pub (Underdogs) and this year were awarded a Bib Gourmande by Michelin.

I was invited to Amore Dogs for a friends birthday last year, but had to pull out. So quite surprisingly, Sunday was my first experience of The Dogs.

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REVIEW :: Indaba

3 Lochrin Terrace  Edinburgh EH3 9QJ
0131 221 1554

After tasting some very nice vintage cava and champagne (and a rather disappointing prosecco) at wine tasting class, James and I were feeling rather peckish. I’ve spoken before about how difficult it can be to find somewhere to eat after 9pm, so it was with great joy that we noticed that Indaba was open until “tennish”.

James has wanted to visit for ages; I think he was intrigued by the idea of the mixture of Spanish, South American, and South African tapas. I hadn’t heard of it before, but after reading the specials board outside I was definitely intrigued.

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Edinburgh’s Christmas Market

Princes St at Christmas

Every Winter when the German Market rolls into town, I try to pop along at least once to drink my weight in Gluhwein and sit wide eyed and terrified on the big wheel. This year I decided to starve myself at lunch time so that I could gorge myself on some yummy food and report back to you all on here.

Unfortunately for all of us, it was freezing cold andI didn’t want to take my hands out of my pockets nevermind faff around photographing stuff with my iPhone, so this post is light on the pictures I’m afraid.

Upon arrival we wanted a bratwurst,  but were disappointed to find a very long queue. We wandered over to the less German side of the market to check out the hog roast stall.  My friends all asked for a hog roll, which looked amazing, but mugsy here went for the pork and apple burger as I thought it would have apple sauce on it. It was nice but  I had serious food envy when I saw the juicy shredded pork and crackling on the rolls. To add insult to injury, I didn’t notice the big pump of apple sauce by the counter and ended up going without.

We then sampled a few of the whisky cocktails; one thing that I found baffling was when I ordered 3 cocktails at £5 each I got charged £16. When I was at school 3 x 5 was £15 but I suppose no-one ever told the purveyor of the whisky stall that.  I didn’t want to argue with the stall owner so I suppose I’ll never find out what that extra £1 was for. If you’re thinking of paying a visit, make sure you don’t get conned like I did!

And three fives are...?

James was going on about potato noodles, so after wandering around the stalls we went on the hunt for them. Apparently the kasespatzl at the market wasn’t what he was thinking of, and he suggested sharing a portion rather than getting one each. I looked at him as if he was mad, and we all got one each.

Cheesy Pasta: German Style

After the first few bites, we agreed that it was nice and the boys even had a bit of a foodgasm.

Links and James having a foodgasm as usual

But after the initial joy of eating something hot, squidy and cheesy wore off we realised that the noodles were basically Cheesy Pasta. Links was enjoying the crispy onions until I told them that they’re probably out of a tub and you can buy them in Tesco, then he seemed quite put off.

Luckily for us, Sam’s from Fife just like Gary Tank Commander so she was probably happy.

We had a quick wander around the fair, clutching our mulled wine, before wandering up the hill to the cosy confines of The Jolly Judge. If anyone else can name a great pub with a log fire in Edinburgh you get a brownie point (and will probably bump into me there, warming my toes).

All in all the German Market should be experienced every year. It’s not exactly value for money, especially when you get ripped off for £1, but if you put all that to the back of your mind and enjoy the atmosphere you’ll probably have a good time. Sadly this year I didn’t make it onto the wheel because Sam doesn’t like rides, but it’s pretty much my favourite thing to do at Christmas.

Papa Djabs Hot Sauce :: Local, Lethal, and Lovely

Papa Djabs!

Regular readers will know that I’m a massive wuss when it comes to spicy food, and that I’m taking baby steps towards eating hotter food. Recently I’ve become more passionate about supporting local business,  particularly in the face of the many chains opening up in Edinburgh (as James said, I’ve read one chapter of Dave Gorman’s “America Unchained” and suddenly I’m a Mom & Pop Champion).

When local hot sauce purveyors Papa Djab’s got in touch via Twitter and asked if I wanted to try their very very very hot sauce, there was no way I could say no.

Papa Djab’s website is really good, with lots of tasty recipes (I’m definitely going to be trying a few!) but aside from that there isn’t much about Papa Djab’s on t’internet.

It was super cool of Papa Djabs to offer me a whole bottle to try; I was only expecting a little sachet. Although I don’t normally eat spicy food, I decided to bite the bullet, take one for the team, and try the damn sauce!

And I’m damn glad I did, because the stuff is damn good.

Now, a blog post with me describing the nuances of spicy hot sauce isn’t particularly interesting. So I made a video.

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REVIEW :: NawRoz

26–30 Potterow Edinburgh, EH8 9BT
0131 667 2299

I still think Tuesdays are one of the most boring days of the week. The back to work doldrums have begun to set in, the weekend seems like a distant dream, and there are still a few days to get through til the next one. When I saw Scottish Opera tweeting about a cabaret concerto in The Caves- Death’s Cabaret– I was definitely interested. Well, who wouldn’t be with a description like this?

” Cabaret Concerto is a unique and thrilling marriage of the 19th-century concerto form with the grime and sensuality of cabaret – both an innovation and a re-invention of an ancient tradition. Dangerous, intimate, raw and virtuosic, it promises to be an unforgettable night. Let the performance of a lifetime begin!”

Doesn’t that sound intriguing?

The event didn’t start until 8pm so James and I had a couple of hours to kill after work, which could mean only one thing: dinner. On a previous visit to the Red Box Noodle Bar I noticed a new Kurdish/Middle Eastern restaurant on the site of what used to be Koi.  I suggested it to James, he seemed enthusiastic, so we took ourselves up to the University Ghetto to give it a whirl.

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