Monday, 17 November 2014

Char Siu Pork Belly

This is such a simple meal that's infinitely improved by a bit of forward planning and allowing the pork belly to marinate for as long as possible; ideally 12 hours. And, because of it's simplicity, get the best ingredients you can afford.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Chicken & Black Bean Noodles

I don't think I've ever met a person that doesn't like Chinese takeaway. I've definitely met those who don't eat it for silly reasons (namely if they're on the d-word... diet... shhh). Obviously, home-cooked Chinese food is better, but it never really tastes the same. But, nevertheless, I endeavoured to cook something that was just a simple stir fry and a massive pile of noodles.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Toulouse Sausages

The last couple of weekends have been quite odd, as Billy has been working night shifts and sleeps through most of the day. So, I've been trying to keep myself entertained. I'm quite lucky to live so close to the coast and on Saturday I went down to the beach to catch a bit of sun and then wandered up to The Bandstand, where live music was put on. 

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Roasted Peppers

Recently, I seem to be cooking with roasted peppers a lot more, particularly when I make rogan josh paste and red pesto. So, when I found a couple of peppers in the bottom draw of my fridge, that weren't looking particularly great, I thought I'd give it go myself rather than throw them away. As well as using them in curry pastes and pesto, these can be enjoyed as part of an antipasti or on top of a pizza.

Did I mention it's stupidly easy to do?

Monday, 23 June 2014

Rillettes du Porc

I don't think I've ever bought a cookbook at it's original sale price; I find it much more satisfying to buy them cheap. Some great places are car boot sales (as low as 10p), charity shops and second hand book shops. Even WH Smiths can have some good offers on. I picked up Small Adventures in Food by James Ramsden for £1.99 from a cheap shop and immediately started reading it on the train home. 

One recipe in particular caught my eye: duck rillettes. There's a French deli literally a couple of doors down the road from our flat, and my favourite things there is pork rillettes. It's like a very course pate, with strands of pork coated in glorious pig fat. 

I've made a few changes to the original recipe. First, and most obvious, is the use of pork belly instead of duck. This is because, well, I just love pork. Secondly, instead of using all goose fat, I use half goose fat and half lard namely because the former is so expensive (£4 for a 300g odd jar). Lastly, I used sherry instead of brandy - simply, it's just what I had in the kitchen.

So, here's my take on rillettes... 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Homemade Pancetta

For a while now I've been listening to a BBC Radio 4 podcast called The Kitchen Cabinet, hosted by Jay Rayner. It's a panel show with a live audience where they travel over the UK and discuss various food topics - food science to food history to current trends. 

My favourite panellist is Tim Hayward - a food writer and broadcaster. Billy recently got me Tim's latest book, Food DIY. And it is amazing. I've never done, or even wanted to do, so many recipes from one book. He covers smoking, curing, pickling, fermenting and homemade takeaways including doner kebab. 

This book particularly makes me happy because I'm so bad at DIY around the flat, and this is something I can actually do.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Tomato & Soft Cheese Pasta

We tend to eat a lot of pasta in our house. It's quick and easy. But, it's too easy to get stuck into having the same thing over and over again. That's why it's good to have a few basic recipes that can each be adapted, depending upon what you have lying around. 

This recipe came about as I had some passata left in the fridge (I use passata as the tomato base on classic pizza and I freeze it in ice cube trays to defrost as required), but could also be made with pureed tinned tomatoes. It is only a basic recipe but could be made into something more by adding chicken, chorizo, green beans, or pancetta.

Before the recipe, a quick apology. I didn't really take much notice of how much ingredients I used so measurements are approximate - but don't worry, a little too much or too little tomato/cheese won't do any harm.

Serves 2

200g penne pasta
4 tbsp passata
2 tbsp soft cheese
2 tbsp curly parsley, chopped

Firstly, cook the pasta as per pack instructions minus a minute or two, so the pasta is slightly under cooked. 

Drain and return to the pan along with the passata and soft cheese. 

Place the pan back on the heat and stir well, the pasta will finish cooking in the sauce. 

Just before serving, sprinkle in the parsley and stir through.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Smoked Bacon and Garlic Pasta

Making meals from odds and sods can be quite satisfying. This recipe was borne from a wanting of carbonara... but, sadly, the refrigerator neglected to supply any eggs. (Yes, I keep my eggs in the fridge. They last longer and, to be honest, I don't think they're ability to absorb neighbouring ingredient's flavours as all too powerful). 

As sad as it sounds, I was particularly looking forward to using the dried chilli. A friend, who owns an allotment, gave me a small bunch of chillies and I had a little dabble in drying them. An hour or so in the oven on a low heat did the trick nicely.

I also used some homemade rosemary flavoured olive oil, which I use in this recipe. Flavoured oils are quite simply to make, but can have such an amazing impact on the dish you are cooking.

Serves 2

200g short dried pasta, such as fusilli or penne, cooked as per packet instructions
2tbsp olive oil, either plain or rosemary flavoured
4 rashers of smoked bacon, cut into 1cm pieces
1 dried chilli
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
50g pecorino cheese, grated
1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

Heat the olive oil in a a frying pan and cook the bacon, until just about to turn crispy. Just before that point, throw in the garlic and chilli and cook long enough for the garlic to brown. Don't let it brown, otherwise it'll turn bitter.

Once your pasta has cooked, drain it and return to its pan. Stir in the contents of the frying pan along with the cheese, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.

Additional cheese on top will never be unappreciated at this point.

Serve and enjoy. 

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Leftover Pulled Pork Curry

Happy New Year and all that. I don't much care for New Year's resolutions or anything like that, so I'm not going to make any promises that will more than likely be broken anyway. Instead, as I've been neglecting my blog a little of recent times, I'm just going to say that I will endeavour to post a little more frequently. 

Last week I bought a joint of pork because it was reduced in price and good value for money. However, when cooking for just two people, it lasted quite a while and we were getting bored of it. So, I decided to put the slightest bit of effort in yesterday and wanted to make something different with it. Billy suggested curry or lasagne, so curry it was (the latter involved too much effort for New Year's Eve).

Because I had slow cooked the pork, I could just shred it into the curry like a pulled pork. What a combination.

Pulled Pork Curry

As this was quickly made out of bits and bobs, the quantities might not be quite right, but can be used as a guide.

2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
1tbsp garam masala
1tsp turmeric
1tsp ground ginger
Pinch of crushed dried chillies
1tbsp tomato puree
2tbsp plain flour
Water or stock (chicken or pork)
200g leftover roast pork, shredded or roughly chopped
Salt and pepper, to season
Rice, to serve

In a pan, gently heat the oil and add the onion and garlic then allow it to sweat for about 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and transparent. 

Add the spices and cook for another minute or so. Do not let them burn, otherwise they'll make the curry bitter.

Add the tomato puree and plain and just cook them out for 30 seconds before adding the water or stock. At first, add just enough liquid to create a bit of sauce. Stir in the pork and add enough liquid to cover it.

The flour helps to thicken the sauce, so I you want a thinner sauce simply add more liquid. 

Season with salt and pepper and serve with rice. (And onion bhajis and naan bread, if you're greedy like us).