McCausland is a name synonymous with taxis in Belfast, but now one member of the famous Value Cabs family has found success with a hobby not traditionally associated with dialling 90 80 90 80.
Paul McCausland has been the sales and marketing manager for Value Cabs for the past eight years, but in the past three months he’s carved out a reputation for himself as one of Belfast’s top food bloggers.
He explained how swankfood.com came about: “It was something I have been considering for a couple of months as the majority of the meals I cook I post on Instagram which were very well received,” said Paul.
“Most of the time when I’m invited to dinner parties I was usually commandeered to take over cooking duties, something I was more than happy to do! With my passion for cooking and using my marketing experience I am keen to try and develop swankfood into a brand that people recognise and visit for recipes ideas or just some inspiration.
“I usually begin by deciding on what cuisine I would like to cook and build it from there. Most dishes do have a main ingredient from which I would build the dish around but I also love finding new ingredients and experimenting of plan with different flavours. I recently cooked as Kid Goat curry which in my opinion is one of the nicest dishes on the site.”
Check out some of Paul’s dishes below…
He added: “Working for Value Cabs has taught me a lot about increasing exposure and brand awareness in a highly competitive market something I am attempting to do with Swankfood (albeit at the bottom end of the budgetary spectrum!)”
Of his future prospects Paul said: “I suppose doing something that you are passionate about is every person’s dream but working in a professional kitchen never really appealed to me. I immensely enjoy the creative side of cooking and describing the cooking process in such a way that anyone with little or no experience can get satisfaction from cooking a meal from scratch and showing off to their friends.
“I would love to provide content to media outlets in the form of recipes or instructional videos showing how cooking great tasting, simple food really is! Eventually I would like to venture out and offer in house dining for small parties who want to entertain friends at home without having the stress of creating, preparing and entertaining all at the same time.”
Paul, who has recently set up a strategic partnership with Mash Direct – one of NI’s largest food producers, explained where his love of food stems from: “My father is a bit of a foodie and I grew up eating out at least two times a week. I think this along with my creativity of putting dishes together (and loving to eat!) led me to do something constructive with my passion!”
He added: “Much to my wife’s dismay I’m very much a fan of TV cookery programmes. Being 32, Jamie Oliver was probably the first TV Chef of my generation who introduced a style of cooking who was able to articulate and demonstrate recipes in a non-chefy, easy to understand way. Having said this my favourite food programme would be anything with Rick Stein as his producer is the same guy who worked with Keith Floyd throughout his career albeit with a little less ‘slugging’ of wine!”
To whet your appetite in the meantime Paul has shared the following recipe…
Bang Bang Chicken
Apparently bang bang chicken’s name is derived from the method of tenderising the meat but in my eyes it means the chilli bangs you twice in the mouth. First from the coating of spices and secondly from the chilli it’s garnished with. The coating for the chicken is made predominantly with corn flour and hot chilli powder. It is finished with freshly chopped jalapeños, dried chilli flakes and just to give your palate a bit of respite, a refreshing lime and garlic mayo
Be warned, this is not a dish for people with a weak disposition for chilli.
7 mini chicken fillets
Corn flour 5 tablespoons
Smoked Paprika 1 teaspoon
Cayenne Chilli Pepper 3 teaspoons
Chinese 5 spice 1 teaspoon
Chilli flakes 3 teaspoons
Sesame oil 1/2 teaspoon
1/2 spring onion
Sesame seeds 1 teaspoon
Butter 1 tablespoon
Olive oil 3 tablespoons
Pinch of salt
For the lime Mayo
5 tablespoons Mayo
Juice of 2 limes
3 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
First make the coating for the chicken by adding the flour, smoked paprika, Chinese 5 spice, hot chilli powder and 1 teaspoon of the chilli flakes to a bowl and mix well. It is important not to add any salt to the coating as it will draw the moisture from the chicken which will prevent it from turning crisp.
Once mixed add the chicken and coat with the spices and flour. Set aside and preheat an oven to 200c along with an oven proof dish. While the oven is coming up to temp make the lime and garlic mayo by simply placing all the ingrediens into a bowl and combining.
When the oven has reached 200c remove the dish and add the butter and olive oil and place back in the oven for 3 minutes. This stage is critical as you need to ensure you are adding the chicken to hot oil/butter or the coating will absorb the fat and become soggy. Set the timer to 10 mins.
After 10 remove the chicken, turn and put back in the oven. At this stage you want to crank the heat up to 220c so the chicken crisps. If you were to set the oven to this temp from the beginning the butter would burn and the chicken would come out black. Cook for a further 10 minutes, remove and place on kitchen roll to absorb the excess oil.
Plate the chicken and garnish with the jalapeños, chilli flakes, Spring onion, sesame seeds and a pinch of salt. I also drizzled with the slightest amount of sesame oil to add another dimension to the dish. Finish by adding the lime/garlic mayo either on the side or drizzled on top. Serve with what ever you desire!