What’s the best way to keep warm this winter? Introduce fresh chillies into your food of course! Our chefs at The Merchant Hotel love the challenge of incorporating this intense yet fresh ingredient into their dishes to create the most amazing and lively combination of flavours. We use a range of chillies in our dishes, especially in The Cloth Ear Curry Club, so we understand the value this ingredient can offer a recipe. With over 50 varieties, differing dramatically in taste, it can be difficult to choose which type of chilli to use in your recipes. Here is an easy to follow recipe using Bird's-eye chillies that make a rich curry with a medium heat.
For Curry Paste:
· 5 garlic cloves, peeled
· 4-5 Bird's-eye chillies, trimmed
· 2 lemongrass stalks, trimmed and sliced
· 5 cm piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and chopped
· 4 shallots, peeled and chopped
· 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
· 2 tablespoons oil
· 800 g chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
· 1 tablespoon oil
· 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
· 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
· 4 kaffir lime leaves
· 1 cinnamon stick
· 3 star anise
· 400 ml light coconut milk
· 100 ml chicken stock
· 1 teaspoon palm sugar (or soft brown sugar)
· 2 tablespoons light soy sauce
· 2 tablespoons fish sauce
· 400 g green beans, trimmed
· Salt and pepper
· Coriander leaves, roughly torn
1. To make the curry paste. Put the garlic, chillies, lemongrass, ginger and shallots in a food processor to form a paste. (Or you can use a pestle and mortar).
2. Next, heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan. Tip in the curry paste with 1 tsp ground turmeric and stir over a medium heat for a few minutes. Add the onions and cook, stirring for 5 minutes.
3. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and add to the pan, stirring to coat in the paste. Add the lime leaves, cinnamon stick, star anise, coconut milk, stock, sugar, soy and fish sauces and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook gently for half an hour to an hour until the chicken is tender.
4. Skim off any excess oil on the surface of the curry. Taste, add salt and pepper if you think it’s needed. Add the beans and cover for another few minutes until the beans are tender.
5. To serve, scatter the coriander leaves over the curry and serve with rice and Naan bread.
Every Wednesday enjoy a curry, side and glass of wine/beer for only £10 all day at The Cloth Ear Curry Club, please contact us on 028 9026 2719 to make a booking.
At The Merchant Hotel we strive for excellence in every area of service and there is a thought process behind all that we offer to our valued customers. Needless to say our food and beverage choices are always carefully considered and we take delight in introducing our wines of the season; The Domaine Gayda, Viognier and Domaine Sainte Rose, La Garrigue. Both wines enhance the delectable dishes served in The Great Room this Autumn.
Domaine Gayda, Viognier
A wine made from the heart with creativity and respect of the natural environment, bringing together tradition and innovation, a characteristic represented strongly by The Merchant Hotel itself. This wine represents the diversity of this magnificent region blessed with an incredible variety of soils and climates that gives some of the most exciting wines in the world. Pale, lemon, gold with an explosive nose; the elegant flavours of apricot, peach and acacia blossom give way to a freshness, balancing perfectly the richness of the grape. We recommend pairing this wine with any of our seasonal fish dishes this Autumn.
Domaine Sainte Rose, La Garrigue
A wine that is deep, dark and ruby red in colour, it’s fragrance surprises you with a delicate mix of Mediterranean flora. The flavours and aromas of this wine are reminiscent of the Garrigue in the South of France. It boasts a special blend of Syrah and Grenache, which are the local indigenous grape varieties grown on the Domaine and where the vines are up to 50 years old. We believe this wine is enjoyed to it’s full value at this time of year offering warm, generous aromatic tones through the red fruits and spicy, black pepper. We recommend pairing this wine with any of our red meat dishes this Autumn.
Not only do we allow our ingredients to be dictated by the time of year, we also ensure optimum quality is always present by sourcing within localised areas. This season we champion Islander Rathlin Kelp and our chefs have incorporated this ingredient into the Autumn menu at The Cloth Ear.
This is a new range of kelp products produced on Rathlin Island where the kelp is home grown, harvested, processed and exported to specialist food retailers, distributors and restaurants around the world. Only in the perfect conditions of the cool clear waters off Rathlin will you get a premium sea vegetable of this quality. The island is situated off the north east coast of Ireland, and is the only inhabited offshore island in Northern Ireland.
Kelp boasts culinary value and can be used in salad dressings, puddings, cakes and dairy products. It is also a natural source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, as well as minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium. In fact, it contains the highest natural concentration of calcium of any food - 10 times more than milk.
The question you may be asking is how to include kelp in your diet and what is the best way to enjoy this sea vegetable. We have done the hard work for you and have created a simple and satisfying recipe to enjoy with friends and family. Alternatively you can order this dish from our new Vegan Menu in The Cloth Ear.
Tempura Fried Kelp
· 160 g kelp
· 50 g plain flour
· 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
· 5 ml sparkling water
· Rapeseed oil for frying
1. If your seaweed is in wide strips, slice them into thin ribbons. Clean the seaweed with running water and drain it well. Set aside.
2. Stir together the flour, a pinch of salt and the sesame seeds in a medium bowl.
3. Gradually pour in the sparkling water, whisking constantly. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large, deep pot over a medium flame, to about 150 degrees celsius. In the meantime, add the seaweed to the batter and stir to combine.
4. Carefully drop the seaweed into the hot oil by 1/2 tablespoonfuls.
5. Fry until lightly golden, turning over once during cooking, and then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels while you fry the rest of the seaweed. (If the clumps of seaweed sink and stick to the bottom of the pot, don't worry - after a minute or two you should be able to use the spoon to gently ease them from the bottom of the pot.)
6. Sprinkle the fried seaweed with salt and serve with chips or salad while still warm.
To make a booking at The Cloth Ear please contact us on 028 9026 2719
Chutneys are the perfect condiment this season and we have created an easy to follow recipe championing the stoned fruit of the season, plums. Not only does chutney make a delightful accompaniment to a cheese board or a cold meat selection, it makes a fantastic gift idea for Christmas and because they really improve with age you can make this weeks in advance.
Our chefs pair this chutney beautifully with chicken liver parfait in Bert’s Jazz Bar at The Merchant.
· 700 g of plums, halved and stoned
· 3 shallots finely chopped
· 5 garlic cloves, crushed
· 1 thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled and grated
· 150 ml Port
· 150 ml red wine
· 2 limes, zest and juice
· 200 g caster sugar
· 1 medium hot chilli, finely chopped
· 150 ml red wine vinegar
· Salt and pepper
1. Combine all ingredients (apart from the sugar) into a large pot.
2. Cover with a lid and cook on a medium to low temperature.
3. Once plums have broken down take off lid and cook until reduced slightly then add sugar and continue to cook until thickened up.
4. Taste for seasoning.
Merchant Top Tip: To test if the chutney is ready, run a spoon gently across the top of the chutney. The spoon should leave a trail and no excess vinegar should run into it - if vinegar quickly fills the trail then it's not quite ready.
To make a booking at Bert’s Jazz Bar please contact us on 028 90234911
We have all heard of the term “Superfood” but do we really know what this means? In simple terms, Superfoods are food sources which will help fight disease, preserve energy levels and contribute to the maintenance of a healthy weight. There are many foods today which have or even claim to have these nutrient properties and it can be overwhelming to choose which foods to include in your diet. We have created two simple recipes combining these fundamental ingredients to offer a natural energy boost, just what you may need to get you through the long winter days.
Chai and Protein Smoothie
This is a great way to set you up for a busy day or after a workout as it also aids muscle recovery. This smoothie includes protein which is an excellent source of amino acids, which are said to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants and low in calories. They are also a good source of fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. Chai seeds and flax seeds are very high in Omega-3 fatty acids. All of these ingredients combined make the perfect superfood smoothie!
· 450 ml unsweetened almond milk
· 30 g vanilla whey protein
· 20 g blueberries
· 1 tablespoon chai seeds
· 1 teaspoon stevia to sweeten
1. Add all ingredients into a blender and combine until smooth.
Merchant Top Tip: Make the night before to cut down preparation time and remember to shake well before comsuming.
Blueberry and Flax Seed Flapjack
Flapjacks are another excellent source of energy but often supermarket bought ones contain more calories than a chocolate bar and more butter and sugar than oats. Our personal trainers at The Gymnasium at The Merchant Hotel have created a recipe which help aids healthy digestion, preserves energy levels and maintains a healthy weight but not forgetting taste- it’s packed full of flavour too!
· 300g of rolled oats
· 25g dried cranberries
· 25g dried blueberries
· 3 tablespoons of Manuka honey
· 2 tablespoons of skin off crushed hazelnuts
· 1 tablespoon of flax seeds
1. Place oats, cranberries, blueberries and hazelnuts on a baking tray to roast until golden brown and allow to cool.
2. Add all ingredients into a blender add the honey and flax seeds to form a dough like consistency allowing you to shape the mix into cookies.
3. Refrigerate for 2 hours to set
To find out more about our gym membership and personal training please contact us on 02890234888 email email@example.com
At the Merchant Hotel we let the season dictate what vegetables we use as our chefs only aim for optimum quality and flavour in their dishes. We have chosen this Autumn’s finest produce to highlight and a simple recipe to follow so you too can make the most of these local ingredients.
Halloween may have past us but pumpkins are still in the supermarket so here’s how to make good use of them. Pumpkins are rich in potassium, have a great natural sweetness and can be used in a variety of dishes. Try this tasty yet low calorie dip recipe, the perfect accompaniment to a cheese board.
· One medium pumpkin
· 150g low fat cream cheese
· Teaspoon cinnamon
· Salt and pepper
1. Remove pumpkin seeds and roast the medium pumpkin at 140c until soft.
2. Peel the skin off then blend with a little low fat cream cheese just enough to make the pumpkin smooth while keeping the nice orange colour.
3. Add a pinch of cinnamon and season to taste.
What a great time of the year for the family to get together for picking some wild berries. These are high in vitamin C to help strengthen the immune system in the cold months and they make a fantastic jam.
Ingredients for Blackberry Jam
- 500 g fresh blackberries
- 400 g caster sugar
- 2 star anise
- 2 cloves
- Zest of one medium orange
- 1 apple, grated
- Pinch salt
1. Place the sugar and blackberries into a bowl. Mix until all of the berries are coated in sugar.
2. Leave for 1 hour then place into a medium pot on low heat until the juice starts to develop then place all other ingredients into the pot and cook slowly until the mixture is a thick consistence.
3. To preserve the jam, place into glass jam jar that have been rinsed with boiling water.
4. Keep in a cool and dry place and enjoy for up to six months.
Cauliflower is a highly versatile vegetable that can be made into a soup, puree or curry. This season our chefs have used this vegetable to create a spiced cauliflower puree, which makes the perfect accompaniment with our monkfish and pork belly dishes in The Great Room.
Ingredients for Cauliflower Puree
· 2 medium cauliflower, sliced and washed
· 1 litre single cream
· 1 teaspoon mixed spices
· Pinch curry powder
· 30 g crème fraiche
· 20 g grated parmesan
1. Place the sliced cauliflower into a medium pot and cover slightly with the single cream and the spices.
2. Slowly cook until the cauliflower is soft and the cream has reduced. Place into a food processer and blend until smooth then add the parmesan and crème fraiche. Serve warm.
To make a booking in The Great Room please contact 028 902 34888