Make Your Perfect Burger with myBURGERbox

A couple of months ago, I was excited to see on Twitter that a new monthly treat box was launching. One that made my mouth water just thinking about it. A gourmet burger treat box called myBURGERbox. I absolutely love burgers. Real burgers, not the cardboard-resembling type sold in certain fast food restaurants. I just had to sign up!

Tara, who is the genius behind the box, has a background in food and cooking and is passionate about supporting and promoting British independent and family businesses. She gets all of the meat she uses from small-scale farmers who put the welfare of their animals first, making sure they are naturally fed and free to roam, so you know that the products she sends are all of excellent quality.

I was really looking forward to receiving the first box in December. I hadn’t imagined how much would actually be included in the box though! Tara really thinks of everything you could possibly need to make the best ever burger! I signed up to the myBURGERbox for 2 people, and this is what I received:

  • 2 x 6oz Aberdeen Angus Prime Beef Burgers
  • 2 x sesame seed topped buns
  • 4 different cheeses – Cropwell Bishop Blue Stilton, Extra Mature Cheddar, Cornish Brie, and Yorkshire Wensleydale with Cranberries
  • Denhay Dry Cured Bacon
  • 3 sauces – The Bay Tree Creamy Classic Mayonnaise, Prairie Fire BBQ Original Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce, and Hawkshead Relish Company Black Garlic Ketchup
  • Pea Shoots and Baby Leaves from Steve’s Leaves in Hampshire
  • Cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • Sliced red onion
  • Sliced mushrooms
  • Extra snack goodies – Get Buzzing Banana Nut Free Flapjack, and 2 packs of Inka Snacks Gourmet Salted Roasted Giant Corn

There were also paper napkins and leaflets explaining where the various ingredients came from, which I thought was a wonderful idea.

The only thing the box doesn’t come with is instructions on how to make your burger. This is because burger preferences are so personal to each individual. Some people like to fry theirs, others grill them. Some like them pink and juicy, others prefer them well done. Some people like the cheese melted, others prefer it left as slices. Some people like the onions fried, others like them raw… it really is all down to your own choice. That applies to the order in which you stack your burger too. You can put it all together however you fancy.

If you’re interested in my preferences though, I cook my burgers and bacon in my George Foreman grill, until the burgers are just very slightly pink inside, and the bacon is crispy. I then top the burger with my cheese of choice, and place it under the grill for a moment to allow the cheese to melt. The first thing I place on my bun is the salad, tomatoes and any vegetables, but not the onion yet. On top of this goes the crispy bacon, and that gets smothered in whichever sauce I prefer. Then it’s the turn of the star of the show, the cheese-topped burger. And finally that gets topped with raw red onions, and of course the top of the bun.

There were more than enough ingredients for 2 burgers, and we even had some left over to use with other meals at a later date. The snacks were scrumptious, and I can honestly say the burger was phenomenal!

I really really love burgers but don’t like ordering them in restaurants as I don’t like eating “messy” food in public. Crazy I know but I get self-conscious eating things that bits might fall off, or which I’d have to take giant bites out of. If I ever do order a burger anywhere, I’ll be the one sat eating it with a knife and fork. Where’s the fun in that!? You need to get a mouthful of all the different parts together to really appreciate the taste, but I miss out on that in restaurants. This makes myBURGERbox extra special for me. I get to enjoy restaurant quality… actually no, BETTER than restaurant quality, burgers in the comfort of my own home, where I can pile them high and it doesn’t matter how much mess I get into. And they are cooked and served EXACTLY the way I like.

December’s box impressed me so much I ordered the next box too, and I can’t imagine I’ll ever stop it. January’s box was again jam-packed with wonderful products:

This one had

  • 2 x 6oz Sussex Limousin Beef Burgers from Conisbee Farm in Surrey
  • 4 rashers of dry cured back bacon, also from Conisbee Farm
  • 3 cheeses – Shropshire Blue from Long Clawson Dairy, Cornish Brie from Cornish Country Larder, and Keen’s Somerset Cheddar
  • 3 sauces – Great British Sauce Co. Proper Tomato Sauce, The Garlic Farm Onion Marmalade with Garlic, and PS Food Products Twisted Chilli Mayonnaise
  • 2 brioche buns
  • A salad box containing mixed leaves, sweet baby peppers, and an assortment of mini tomatoes
  • Sliced red onions
  • Sun-dried tomatoes and olives
  • Cranberry and cashew nut mix
  • 2 x Wildings Snacks Duck Crackling
  • 2 x Cut and Dried vegetable snacks

As you can tell from both boxes, only top quality artisan products are used so your burger will be amazingly good. My partner likes burgers, but they are not his meal of choice. He loved December’s though, and he said January’s was the best burger he had ever eaten in his entire life. His previous favourite had been one in America, but he said this beat that. In fact, he said that he would happily eat a burger for every meal for the rest of his life if they were all as good as the myBURGERbox ones. High praise indeed!

You can genuinely taste the quality in all of the ingredients, and it is wonderful to be able to try such a variety of accompaniments.

In case you are wondering how it all arrives on delivery day, Tara and her team make sure it all reaches you in tip-top condition. The meats are packed in boxes with ice packs and insulated sheets to keep them chilled:

They are sent via Royal Mail First Class post so you should receive them the next day after they are sent, but the ingredients will be perfectly fine in the box for up to 48 hours, in case for any reason there is a delay with Royal Mail. On both occasions the ingredients in my boxes were lovely and cold and ready to cook.

The boxes will always contain British burgers including some from rare and heritage breeds. They won’t always be beef though. In future boxes there will be lamb, venison, pork, and chicken, and for more adventurous people you’ll be able to try more unusual meats such as ostrich and goat. Bacon will nearly always be included too as it is so wonderful on burgers. There will always also be a selection of cheeses, sauces, toppings and salad leaves, as well as random extras from British artisan companies. The extra goodies so far have been delicious, and it has been great to discover brands I would not have otherwise heard about.

You can order myBURGERbox for one or two people, and for 1, 3 or 6 months. For one person it is £14.95, and for 2 it is £24.50. Postage is included in the price making these boxes fantastic value, especially when you look at the brands being used. Boxes are always shipped on the Thursday nearest the 11th of the month so you will get it on the Friday ready to enjoy over the weekend. The next box will be delivered on the 9th/10th February, and if you would like to try it you will need to order by the 4th of February. If you order after that date you will receive the March box instead, which will be delivered on the 9th/10th March.

To find out more or to place your order to try this superb box for yourself, CLICK HERE to go to their website. You can even order it as a gift for someone else! What a brilliant idea.

What ingredients would you need for your perfect burger? Let me know in the comments so I can drool over your suggestions too 🙂

Review of ‘Not Guilty’ by Chef Mick Élysée – including his scrumptious recipe for Plantain Pancakes

I was recently lucky enough to be invited to be part of the blog tour helping to promote Chef Mick Élysée’s new book, Not Guilty. I have to admit, until this tour I hadn’t heard of Mick (sorry), but I am so glad I have now been introduced to his recipes!

Before I tell you about the wonderful new book, let me tell you about Chef Mick Élysée, as his story is inspirational.

Mick grew up in the Republic of Congo, where he loved watching his mother cooking, and sneakily pinching food from the pot when she wasn’t looking. Sadly though, his happy life was soon to be turned upside down. In 1993, at the height of the Congolese Civil War, several of his family were killed. This meant that at the age of 14, Mick arrived in France as a refugee and had to adapt to a new life in an unfamiliar culture. He struggled academically, as he was not used to the French school system, but his passion for food shone through and gave him the strength to get through this traumatic time. He devoted his time to learning all about European cuisine, and in 1997 he was accepted into one of France’s most prestigious culinary schools. There, he began his classical training and worked under Michel Toulousi and Jean-Marc Desclaux. At the age of 22, just 8 years after arriving in France, Mick and his business partner opened a restaurant called La Gascogne, which received critical acclaim.

Today, Mick’s roots in the Congo play a huge part in his life. As well as the influence they have in his Afro-Fusion recipes, he is also passionate about giving back to the communities there. He regularly works with orphanages in Brazzaville and Kinshasa, and with a free school for children with physical and mental disabilities. He also provides cookery workshops for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as educational support to equip them with life skills. What a truly amazing man!

Mick’s long-awaited book Not Guilty was published just a few weeks ago. It features healthy African recipes including starters, snacks, main meals and desserts, as well as stocks to use as bases for other dishes. Every recipe has a beautiful vibrant photograph of the end result as well as step-by-step instructions on how to make them. The photographs are mouth-wateringly tempting, and I’m looking forward to making lots more of them in the near future. The book has encouraged me to look at ingredients I have never used before, and that really excites me. Exotic fruit and vegetables, and meats I have never eaten let alone cooked, this book takes you on a wonderful taste adventure.

I was tempted by lots of the recipes but decided to make the Plantain Pancakes for this review. This is the photograph in the book:

I had never eaten plantain until making these, and the recipe requires 1 very ripe plantain. As I was unfamiliar with cooking with plantain I did a bit of research so I could tell when one was ready to use. I had presumed they would be like bananas as they look so similar, but I was wrong! Plantains are used in both sweet and savoury cooking. Many savoury recipes require them to be very hard and not too ripe. In those cases it would be best to use plantains when the skin is still green. The riper the plantain, the sweeter it becomes. The shop where I bought mine sold them when they looked yellow. These are ripe, but not quite enough. I discovered that they can take weeks to fully ripen, unlike bananas which take a few days. I didn’t have weeks after I had bought mine so I read that you can ripen them quicker by placing them in a paper bag with an apple. The apple produces a gas which aids the process. I did this with one of the ones I bought, and it worked! The one in my main picture is nowhere near ripe enough, even though it is looking a bit blackened. A perfectly ripened plantain has a black skin which looks very slightly wrinkled. Imagine the look of a banana when it is too far gone to even use in recipes… that is how a very ripe plantain looks, and that is how it needs to be for this recipe. I used one like this in the pancake recipe.

To get the fruit out of the skin, simply slice each end off with a sharp knife and cut a slit from one end to the other. You can then easily peel the skin off in one go. Very ripe plantain is soft and a lovely yellowy-peachy colour inside. This means it is really easy to blend in recipes. And speaking of recipes, here is the pancake one for you to try too.

 

PLANTAIN PANCAKES

1 very ripe plantain

2 fresh eggs

1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

2 tbsps semi-skimmed, or almond, or coconut milk

1/2 vanilla pod

150g strawberries, cut into chunks

2 tbsps honey

coconut oil, for frying (1 tsp per pancake + 1 tbsp for the topping)

 

  • Split the vanilla pod in half lengthwise, and then use the tip of a knife to scrape the seeds out. Combine the plantain, eggs, cinnamon, milk and vanilla seeds, and blend together until you get a creamy paste. (I did this in a food processor by blending the plantain first until it was lump-free and creamy, then beating in the rest of the ingredients with a spoon).
  • Place a frying pan over a low heat, add 1 teaspoon of coconut oil, and fry one pancake until the bottom is golden brown. Flip it over and cook until that side is golden too. Repeat until the mixture is all used up, using 1 teaspoon of coconut oil for each pancake.
  • Using the same frying pan, heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil. Add the strawberries, stir quickly to coat them in the oil, then add the honey. Cook for 1 minute until the juice reduces slightly, then remove from the heat.
  • Place the pancakes on a serving plate, spoon the strawberries on top, and then finish with the honey sauce.

 

So what did I think of my very first plantain experience? I loved it! The coconut oil adds a wonderful flavour, and the strawberry honey sauce adds an extra hit of sweetness which is just divine. My honey sauce took on the colour of the strawberries and went a lovely shade of red, so it didn’t look like the photograph in the book but it still tasted amazing! I am looking forward to making more of Chef Mick Élysée’s delicious recipes very soon. His Jollof Quinoa and Roast Chicken, and his Papaya Tart recipes are next on my agenda from this book. Yum!

If you would like to find out more about Chef Mick Élysée and his new book, including where to buy it, you can find his website HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate and Baileys Cheesecake

I know we’re 9 days into 2018, but as this is my first post of the year I’ll take this chance to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

The year started badly for me, with all 3 of us getting flu. I’ve had bad colds before but this was my very first time getting flu. Not bad for 43 years, but it is definitely something I wouldn’t want again thank you very much! When I started to feel a bit better I decided to make my favourite CHOCOLATE AND BAILEYS MOUSSE to cheer myself up. It looked yummy as always, but sadly I quickly discovered my taste buds had gone so I didn’t enjoy it. Yesterday I finally got my taste back so thought I would make it again as I missed out before, but when I went to my cupboard I realised I didn’t have enough gelatine. Not to be put off, I made a no-bake cheesecake based on it instead. Oh my word, it was soooo scrumptious! I absolutely love the mousse, but think the cheesecake is even better!

Literally anyone can make this, it is that easy, and no stage of it can go wrong, so you are guaranteed a delicious creamy dessert. The actual preparation is very quick too but it does need a few hours to firm up in the fridge. It can be made the day before you need it, in fact it is perfect if left in the fridge overnight. I had a slice of mine today as a mid-morning treat and it was even nicer than yesterday (and it was amazing yesterday)!

I like a thick biscuit layer on my cheesecakes, but if you prefer a thinner base just use reduce the ingredient quantities that I used. Or, rather than just pressing them on the bottom of the pan like I did, spread them up the sides too and press firmly into place. The advantage of the thick biscuit layer though (don’t judge me for this, I’m only human hehe) is that you can eat a piece of it on the go! Most of the time I am civilised and eat cheesecake with a spoon or dessert fork, but sometimes, just sometimes, I really really want some but am in a rush or busy with a million things to do. So it is perfect to be able to cut a piece and pick it up to eat it just like a piece of cake! Ok I’m a savage, but I’m ok with that 🙂

 

CHOCOLATE AND BAILEYS CHEESECAKE

FOR THE BASE

250 g digestive biscuits (which is 17 McVities ones)

110 g unsalted butter, melted

 

FOR THE CHEESECAKE TOPPING

460 g full-fat cream cheese

75 g icing sugar, sifted

220 ml double cream

3 tbsps Baileys

3 Cadbury Flake bars

 

FOR THE DECORATION

150 ml double cream

1 tbsp Baileys

1 Cadbury Flake bar

 

  • BISCUIT BASE: Line a 20cm cake pan (springform is best for cheesecakes for easy removal) with foil. Completely cover the inside of the pan, pressing the foil down well to get rid of large creases.
  • Place the digestive biscuits in a food processor and blitz until the biscuits have turned into small crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, place the biscuits in a ziplock bag, press the bag to remove any air before closing, and bash them with something like a rolling pin until you have small crumbs.
  • Add the melted butter to the biscuit crumbs and mix well. Tip the crumb mixture into the foil-lined pan, spread the crumbs to cover the base, and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. Make sure you go right up to the edges. Place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • CHEESECAKE TOPPING: Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and beat until it is smooth and creamy. Add the icing sugar and mix well.
  • In another bowl, whisk the 220 ml double cream until it is quite firm and thick.
  • Add the whisked cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold them together, using a spatula or large spoon.
  • Add the Baileys and continue folding the mixture until it is well combined and smooth. (It will be lovely and thick but with no lumps).
  • While the Flake bars are still in their packets, use your fingers to roughly crush them up. You want to make a mix of sizes of chunks so don’t overdo it. Tip the chocolate into the cheesecake mixture and fold in gently until evenly distributed.
  • Spoon the cheesecake mixture on to the chilled biscuit base and use a small spatula or the back of a spoon to spread it evenly up to the edges. Place the cheesecake in the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours (preferably more or overnight).
  • DECORATION: Remove the cheesecake from the pan using the foil to lift it out, then carefully peel the foil off the cheesecake, and place the cheesecake on to a serving plate.
  • Place the 150 ml double cream and the 1 tbsp Baileys into a small bowl and whisk until it reaches soft peak stage. The cream will be thick but still creamy and when you lift your whisk out, small peaks will form but the tips of the peaks will fold back over.
  • Spoon the cream mixture into a piping bag fitted with your choice of nozzle, and pipe the cream on the top around the edge. I piped 16 rosettes on mine (hold the piping bag vertically with the nozzle just above the cheesecake and squeeze the bag slowly until the cream mixture makes a pretty shape on the top… repeat all the way round).
  • Take the Flake bar out of it’s wrapper and carefully cut it into pieces. Place one piece on to alternating cream rosettes, and crush up the remaining chocolate. Sprinkle this all over the cream decorations.
  • Serve and enjoy! Or return it to the fridge until it is needed.

This cheesecake will keep well in the fridge for a few days, as long as the cream and cream cheese would still be in date. I hope you love this as much as I do!