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Archive for the ‘Pork’ Category

As you may have realised by this point if you have read any of my other posts I’m a little christmas-mad. I wasnt always this way and I’m not entirely sure what happened but I think it was something to do with moving from the warm southern hemisphere (where christmas day consists of cold meat, salad and a dunk in the pool to maintain a temperature suitable for the continuation of life), to the cold climate of Scotland. I remember the first time I walked past a holly bush in Edinburgh that actually had holly berries on it and did a little jump-squeak-dance on the spot of excitement which must have really scared my fellow pedestrians. You don’t want to see me when it snows.

My favourite kind of post to read at this time of year is other blogger’s last minute ideas for christmas dishes, drinks and foodie presents just in case I’ve missed out on something I wont be able to continue life without eating/drinking/owning. And I’m equally as eager to share my own santa list and some recipes so that I am returning the favour to those with a similar compulsion.

Food

Here’s a selection  recipes from other blogs and my own with a Christmassy theme which I would recommend or have me interested.

      

Creamy Pea Soup – coconut milk makes this deliciously creamy and sweet and its the perfect cheerful green….   Spaghetti with Marmite (from Nigella) – when you’ve had enough of turkey….    Chocolate & Thyme Mousse – if you’re sick of Christmas pud….    Poached Pears (from Kosher Camembert) – festive and just stunning….   Chilli Glazed Gammon – warm and spicy….   Chestnut Chocolate Pots (from Nigella) – winter in a cup….   Parmesan, Rosemary and Pancetta Grissini – perfect for parties and gifts….   Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes – if Christmas had a smell….

Presents

Stomach sorted, presents next. Some ideas from my own Christmas list and other brilliant foodie gift ideas I’ve seen this year.

Le Creuset Stoneware Mixing Jug, AlmondThe basics – Stoneware Mixing Jug. 

Everyone needs a sturdy mixing bowl . I have a big metal one which is great because its light and good for whipping meringue but sometimes you need a heavy one that wont slide around the counter top while you are mixing. This one has the benefit of a pouring lip and Le Creuset good looks.

McGee on Food and Cooking: An Encyclopedia of Kitchen Science, History and CultureCook Books – McGee on Food & Cooking.

I love cookbooks that either have a narrative with the recipes or teach you about why you have to do things and the science behind culinary techniques so this book is on my wish list this year.

Its not Christmas to me without a good book to read on Christmas day after I’ve eaten so much I’ve lost the power of movement and speech and have to lie down (I know, aren’t I rock and roll).

Landing_page_beansSubscriptions – Kopi Gourmet Coffee.

My Delicious Magazine subscription is still one of my favourite presents but this is a subscription with a twist. If you know anyone who loves good coffee and drinks enough of it to receive a new bag every month then I think this is very clever.

Crafty – Jam making stuff.

I want to start making my own preserves and although I’ve started by making my own fruit mince without the aid of any special equipment its harder to make proper jams and other preserves without decent jars and strainers etc.

I have my eye on these jars  at Lakeland as well as a pile of other preserving related paraphenalia and books on amazon.co.uk

Andrew James Professional Fully Automatic Ice Cream Maker With Built-in Compressor + Free 128 Page Ice Cream Maker Cook BookGadgets – Ice Cream Maker

Every cook loves gadgets. My cupboards are already crammed full but I am dying to make my own ice cream. My head is brimming with recipe ideas but I’ve tried making it without an ice cream machine and it just doesnt come out the same.

I dont have space in my freezer or patience for the kind with a bowl you have to freeze so this one is a well priced version of the proper electric kind.

Christmas Cooking Challenge

And last but not least, don’t forget to join in my Mince Pie Challenge if you are making your own this year. The idea is to reinvent the standard formula with a twist of any kind but if you just want to share your traditional home-made pies you can still send me a link or photo and at the end of the month I’ll post the entries, pick a winner and send the best one a little surprise foodie christmas gift.  Just leave me a comment to let me know you are entering by the end of the Month.

I’ve started by making Nigella’s Rhubarb and Vanilla Mince which turned out to be delicious and I’m using that to try out different mince pie themed pastries and biscuits. Here’s the recipe if you want an alternative to the ordinary suet and citrus peel kind. The vanilla makes it really rich and velvety.

Rhubarb and Vanilla Fruit Mince

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Feast.

  • 1kg rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 5mm slices
  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 200g raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • 225g currants
  • 2 tbsp cherry brand

Put the sliced rhubarb with the sugar into a large pan. Cut the vanilla pod in halves length ways and scrape out the seeds, then cut each half into pieces, adding seeds and pod slices to the pan. Add the mixed spice and cook for about 5 mins.

Add the dried fruits and simmer for about 30 mins. Stir in the brandy and take off the heat. When it’s cool enough to handle, bottle in jars.

Makes 1.25 litres.

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I’ve learnt in the last weeks that the constant urge to write often stops you writing at all.

If I’m not cooking something I’m thinking about writing about cooking something and yet the fear of turning into the blogging equivalent of those people that tweet/facebook every time they brush their teeth, often prevents me from writing anything at all until I feel like I have something to share thats worth someone pausing to swap their usual comfort recipes for something different.

I was just circling my laptop and avoiding the inevitable writer’s block whilst determining to spend this weekend in the kitchen producing something new and innovative when I read a post from Jeanne of Cooksister and realised I already had something tucked away that for some reason I hadn’t to put to paper (or rather keyboard) until now.

Its not strictly new and innovative but if you know your boerewors from your biltong its a South African classic, and it will be new to those who didnt grow up standing bare foot next to the braai in their back garden so I think its worth breaking my blogging silence for.

The post that provided the inspiration is Jeanne’s rather cleverly titled Braai the beloved Country, which invites everyone to share their favourite  recipes, and the delicacy in question which I am submitting is the humble but delicious Sosatie, accompanied by Roosterbrood rolls.

At this point I should share a few South African culinary definitions for those of you wondering what the last two paragraphs were all about.

Braai – the afrikaans word for barbeque used by all South Africans when referring to this sacred cooking method. This is straying slightly into personal opinion but you’re not a proper Saffa if you cant light a proper charcoal fire and cook on it. Gas is for the weak.

Boerewors – Boer means farmer and wors means sausage in afrikaans. Its a South African sausage formed in a continuous spiral instead of links. Its usually made with a mixture of pork and beef and spiced with coriander, cloves and nutmeg amongst other spices. Have braai…must have boerewors (unless you have Sosaties).

Sosaties – lamb or mutton skewers with apricots and a spicy marinade. It comes from the words sate, for skewered meat and saus, for spicy sauce (I had to look that one up). It sounds a little odd to the uninitiated but trust me, its good.

Roosterbrood – bread dough roasted on a braai and served with the meat, slathered in butter or even drizzled with syrup. Warm, smoky bread. Need I say more.

Biltong – cured strips of meat which are marinated in vinegar and spices before being dried and eaten as a snack. Bil means rump and tong means strip. You need this to eat while the fire gets going and the Sosaties are cooking. I’ve found a recipe to make my own… but that’s another post.

Right, now that I’ve translated I’ll get on with the recipes. You’ll notice this post only has one picture of the finished article and that’s because this isn’t the sort of food you mess around taking endless artistic shots of. Its rustic and eat-with-your-hands-as-soon-as-it-comes-off-the-braai food. There also isn’t much time to fiddle with a camera while you are turning and shifting things to keep them cooking without burning over the hot coals. But then that’s half the fun of braaing.

Sosaties

  • 800g lamb meat, cut into large cubes
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp red wine
  • 220g  dried apricots soaked in 1/2 cup sherry (optional)

Season the lamb and place in a container. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the onions and fry gently for 5-6min, then add the curry powder and garlic and fry for another minute. Add the sugar, tamarind and jam and stir. Add the cornstarch mixture and stir until it thickens. Leave to cool, then add to the meat and leave to marinade for 1-3 days. Thread the meat, quartered onion slivers and dried apricots if using onto skewers and cook over the fire.

Roosterbrood

Makes 8 to 10 rolls.

  • 500g bread flour
  • 7g packet of instant yeast
  • 2 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp butter

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl. Heat the water, milk and butter in a pan until warm and add to the dry mixture. Mix and knead the dough until smooth and elastic. Cover with a cloth and leave to rise somewhere warm for about 2 hours, until doubled in size. Knock back down and divide into 8-10 balls. Flatten slightly, sprinkle with flour and cover and leave to rise to double again. Place on a grill above the fire (preferrably not to close or too hot – note my rough and ready method of raising the grill with bricks) and keep turning until golden on all sides and cooked through.

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When it rains it pours! I’ve just got so busy at work that I didnt get around to writing at all last week. I barely had time to cook and eat anything, never mind contemplate pausing long enough to take a picture and say something intelligent about my food. So as penance for my radio silence I leave you with two recipes this week.

Both have a common theme of cheese, which goes against my current pre-wedding theme of healthy eating (which come to think of it isn’t much of a theme since I spend as much time breaking it as sticking to it), but when the going gets tough…the tough sometimes have to indulge in a little cheese…

Cheese Muffins 3 ways

I have made cheese muffins on this blog before but I just got a new book called Ratio by Michael Ruhlman, which I was prompted to buy after reading this post by Chocswirl and I was dying to put some of the lessons on basic baking ratios  into practice (looking back at the recipe I used before I now know why these turned out better – butter!)… plus we needed something for lunch on Saturday.

This, combined with an inability to choose between making several different flavour combinations that Dawn and I had found in other recipes, resulted in this recipe for 6 of each. If you want to try the Ruhlman ratio out yourself then use this recipe for flavour inspiration only and go with the ratio for a basic muffin batter – 2 flour : 2 liquid : 1 egg : 1 fat – to make whatever quantity you need (the ratio is by weight not volume).

Basic batter (makes 18 muffins)

  • 375g plain flour
  • 375g milk
  • 187g melted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Pizza Muffins

  • small handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 50g grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

Parmesan and Herb muffins

  • 50g grated parmesan (we actually made these with cheddar as we didnt have any parmesan so you can use either)
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • few sprigs chopped thyme
  • 1 sprig finely chopped rosemary

Feta and Caramelised Onion Muffins

  • 50g crumbled feta
  • half an onion, finely chopped and fried until golden and soft
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped and fried with the onion
  • 1/2 sprig finely chopped rosemary

Prepare all the flavourings in 3 separate bowls and preheat the oven to 180°C. Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a large bowl and set aside. Combine the cooled melted butter with the milk and eggs and beat until combined. The butter will start to solidify if the milk is too cold but it doesn’t effect the end result so don’t worry. Divide the batter into 3 equal portions and the flavourings to each one. Spoon into silicone cups or a lightly greased muffin tray and bake for 25min until golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack and cool slightly before serving (yummy with a lathering of garlic and herb cream cheese!).

Grilled Pork Loins with Caramelised Red Onion, Apple and Smoked Applewood Cheese

I owe Dawn for this recipe too. At some point during the muffin making proceedings she mentioned making pork loins topped with apple and cheese  like this and I immediately started thinking about how good that would be, especially made with Smoked Applewood cheese.  So by last night I was thinking about nothing else and had to make it today to get it out of my system. The sweet apple is perfectly balanced with the smoky cheese and caramelised onion, just served with a simple mash. I don’t know why I didn’t think to try this before.  Thanks D!

  • 2 pork loin steaks
  • 1 eating apple, peeled, cored and grated
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 50g grated Smoked Applewood Cheese
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 large potatoes, boiled and mashed, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and fry the onions until browned. Add the garlic and grated apple and fry a few minutes more until the mixture is softened and caramelised (don’t fry too long or the apples will get mushy).

Take off the heat, season with the thyme, salt and pepper and set aside. Heat another splash of oil over a high heat and fry the pork loins briefly on each side to sear the outsides. Place them on a baking sheet and top with the apple and onion mixture. Add the grated cheese and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes until the steaks are cooked through and the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Serve on a portion of mash (drizzle over the juices from the baking tray or gravy as optional).

Hope that makes up for last week’s absence and gives you something to perk up your week. Happing cooking! ♥

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Anyone who knows me wont be surprised that my Christmas tree has been up for a week already. I haven’t always been this obsessed with Christmas. I think it started when I moved to Scotland because in South Africa its usually too hot to contemplate the effort required to wiggle your lilo over to the edge of the swimming pool for another drink, never mind trying to eat a tableful of turkey and all the trimmings.

I’m sure the novelty will eventually wear off but until it does I’ll spend every November and December getting slightly over excited about tree decorations, wrapping presents and most importantly, delicious food with a festive theme. I am making Christmas lunch this year for the family and for the first time so I’m a little more maniacal than usual, trying out different elements before the day to make sure they work (so far there don’t seem to be any complaints from Ross who is ‘forced’ to eat them all).

To celebrate the start of Christmas in our house I cooked this chilli glazed gammon with braised red cabbage and crunchy roast potatoes and it turned out to be a recipe worth sharing. Since you probably arent as over eager as I am in the tree department you can still probably use it to celebrate the occasion as well if the flavours appeal to your taste buds. Otherwise its a nice twist on the classic Christmas gammon if you havent chosen your menu yet.

The chilli is chilli jam rather than fresh chilli and it gives a lovely sweet hot flavour to the glaze and a bit of kick to the red cabbage without clashing or overpowering. You could make any veg you feel like to go with it but the cabbage goes perfectly and is suitably festive in colour and the crunch of the roast potatoes balances the other softer textures. Hope you like it.

P.s. I am planning to make another gammon this week because I’ve gone a bit gammon crazy at the moment so if you have any different ideas for a glaze or side dishes please let me know!

Chilli Glazed Gammon

Serves 4.

  • 900g unsmoked gammon
  • 2-3 strips of orange skin
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp whole peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick (you can re-use this for the cabbage as well)
  • 1 onion halved (I used 2 shallots instead because I had some left over)
  • 1 bay leaf

Glaze

  • 2 tbsp chilli jam
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp english mustard powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 20 cloves (or enough to stud the gammon)

Put the gammon into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, drain and rinse under the tap (this is to remove the saltiness, alternatively you can soak overnight but this is much quicker).

Put the gammon back in the saucepan and cover with cold water again. Add all the other ingredients, bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. If your gammon is smaller or bigger, calculate the cooking time as 20 min per 450g plus 20 min and half this for the boiling time. When ready, drain the ham and cool enough to handle. You can keep the stock for making soup instead of throwing it away.

Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place the gammon in a roasting pan lined with foil, slice off the top layer of fat, score with a knife in a diamond pattern and stud with cloves. Put the glaze ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer until you have a sticky glaze that is thick enough not to slide straight off into the pan. Drizzle this over the gammon, covering the fat and place in the oven for 30 min (or the other half of your cooking time) to crisp up the fat and heat through.  If you have cooked a larger gammon and/or let it cool completely then you may need to start on a lower heat and cook for longer. Just turn up the oven for the last 30 min if you do to crisp the fat.

Festive Braised Red Cabbage

  • 1 red cabbage, core removed and shredded
  • 75g butter
  • 275 ml red wine or 200ml chicken stock
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp all spice
  • 2 tbsp cherry jam
  • 3 tbsp chilli jam
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the cabbage and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the red wine or stock, bring to the boil and then simmer until the liquid has reduced slightly. Add the other ingredients, bring back to a simmer, cover and cook for 40-50min until tender.

Remove the lid and cook for 5-10 min over a high heat until the liquid has evapourated.

 

Crispy Roast Potatoes

  • 5 roasting potatoes
  • vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp semolina

Preheat the ovewn to 250°C. Pour about 1 cm of vegetable oil into a roasting pan and place it in the oven to heat up for at least 10 min. In the meantime, par boil the potatoes for 5 min, drain and bash around in the pan to break up the edges. Sprinkle over the semolina, toss to coat and place carefully into the roasting pan. Turn to coat with oil and place in the oven for 40-50 min, turning over half way through. When ready, remove from the oven onto kitchen towel to absorb the oil and then serve. Keep in the oven until you are ready to serve to keep them crispy.

If you are making these dishes together then carry out the steps in this order:

  • prepare the gammon and then boil it with the infusing ingredients
  • prepare it for the oven and set aside
  • prepare the cabbage and put it on to simmer for 45 min (pre heat the oven for the potatoes)
  • par boil the potatoes and put them in the oven for 50min
  • with 30min to go, turn the oven down to 220°C and put the gammon in
  • if you turn down the heat on the cabbage after 40min it will bubble away fine for another 10 min if the gammon and potatoes are still in the ovwn and you will just have less juices to cook off at the end
  • Finally cook off the cabbage juices while you get the gammon out of the oven
  • Let the gammon rest for 5-10 min while you are getting the potatoes out and then carve into slices and serve everything

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