30 November 2011

Joe's Shredded Pork Salad

I spend quite a lot of time mocking Joe for putting on weight since we met but it's mostly my fault. Not only do I always manage to cook enough food for at least two other people I also hate leftover roast meat, which means I'll make enough for 4 and then have one helping and insist that he finishes the rest. Last weekend we were in Norfolk with the new Mr and Mrs Elliott and I cooked pork belly on Sunday. We ate until we felt ill but there were still a few leftovers which we took back to London and which I tried to persuade Joe to have in a sandwich at work... he refused saying he was going to make a salad that I would like... I doubted it.

I was wrong - I loved it. I still have a thing about cold roast meat that I'm not sure I'm going to get over any time soon, but this was so incredibly tasty that I would definitely have it again. Highly recommended if you don't know what to do with leftover pork.

Joe's Shredded Pork Salad

Serves 2

300g pork leftovers, including crackling
1 red pepper, cored and cut into thin slices
2 spring onions, finely slice into strips
Sugar snap peas, small handful, sliced
Half a cucumber cut into strips
100g bean sprouts
40g watercress

For the dressing
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sweet chili sauce
1/2 tsp sugar

1. Cut the crackling into strips and shred the pork, removing any bone. The easiest way to shred the pork is probably using two forks as you would shred crispy duck.

2. Mix up the dressing ingredients.

3. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a wok and fry the crackling, face down. Put the rest of the pork on top, grate some pepper over and cook for 1 minute without stirring. Then stir fry the pork for two minutes, turning the heat down if necessary.

4. Put the watercress in the bottom of a salad bowl, add the pork and then the rest of the salad ingredients. Toss the salad, pour over the dressing and toss again.


23 November 2011

Sweet Cucumber Pickle

Another recipe from Sarah Raven's Garden Cookbook. Not quite what I wanted but I couldn't find a recipe to match my needs and wanted to get all my pickling out of the way - the house smells like vinegar for some time afterwards... this is yummy.

Sweet Cucumber Pickle

Makes 5 small jars

3 large cucumbers
2 onions
50g salt
600ml white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar
450g granulated sugar
1 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp celery seeds
5 cloves
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

1. Peel the cucumbers and cut lengthways into thinish sticks about 6-7cm long and about 0.5cm deep and 1.5cm wide.

2. Thinly slice the onions into half moons. Put the cucumber and onions into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with salt. Cover this with a weighted plate and leave for 2-3 hours.

3. Rinse the cucumber and onion in cold water, and then let stand to drain. While they are draining, put all the remaining ingredients into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.

4. Add the cucumber and onion, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute.

5. Remove from the heat and lift the cucumber and onion out of the liquid. Put into warm sterilized jars.

6. Return the liquid to the heat and boil rapidly for a least 10 minutes to reduce it. Pour the liquid over the cucumber in the jars and cover. I actually strained my vinegar through a sieve but the recipe doesn't tell you to. Keep in the fridge once open.


21 November 2011

Pickled Onions

This is the second year I've made these using the River Cottage recipe in Preserves: River Cottage Handbook No.2. They are delicious and everyone who I gave a jar to last year ate them up pretty quickly so I recommend making double quantities if you are making as presents for people.

Pickled Onions

Makes about 1 x 900g jar

1 kg small pickling onions
50g fine salt
600ml vinegar (cider, malt or wine)
150g honey or sugar
15g fresh root ginger, lightly bruised
2 tsp allspice berries
2-3 mace blades
2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp black or white peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 dried chilli's (optional)
2 bay leaves

Now I use shallots because I can never find any pickling onions. I also use cider vinegar, sugar not honey, white peppercorns and leave out the chilli's but you can do whatever you want. You don't need a big pan for the vinegar but you do need a shallow dish for the onions to rest in over night and a big mixing bowl to put the onions in when you are preparing them for peeling.Sterilise enough jars before you rinse the onions so they are ready for you when you need them.

1. If you are using pickling onions you can use scissors to snip the rooty tops and bottoms off. If you are using shallots you will probably need a knife. Place them in a large bowl, cover with boiling water and count steadily to 20 (no more). Drain the onions and plunge into cold water - you will now find them really easy to peel.

2. Put the peeled onions in a shallow dish. Sprinkle with the salt, cover and leave overnight.

Salted onions in shallow dishes
3. Meanwhile pour the vinegar into a pan and add the honey or sugar, ginger and spices but not the bay leaves.

4. Cover and bring to boiling point. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse overnight.

5. The next morning strain the vinegar into a measuring jug.

6. Rinse the onions in very cold water, then drain and pack into sterilised jars, adding the bay leaves as you go. Pour over the vinegar (reheating first if you want softer onions) and seal with a vinegar proof lid.

Finished onions - need to leave for six to eight weeks
7. Mature for 6-8 weeks before using. Use within 12 months.

16 November 2011

Steak and Stout Pie

Every year I make a pie for my friend Libby and her husband Ian. For the last two years it has been chicken pot pies, this year I decided to branch out and try Jamie Oliver's Kate and Will's Wedding Pie from his new cook book, Jamie's Great Britain.

It is not a quick recipe, it's easy enough to do but it does cook for two hours even before you put it in the oven for 45 minutes so make sure you have time for that. It was well worth the wait though. Absolutely delicious and one I will be making again.

Jamie Oliver's Kate and Wills's Wedding Pie

Serves 8-10

For the filling:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 knob butter
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
3 fresh bay leaves
3 medium red oinons, peeled
1 kg shin of beef, cut into 2.5cm dice and keep the bone
Sea salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons tomato puree
400ml good local smooth stout
2 heaped tablespoons plain flour
1.5 litres (2 3/4 pints) organic beef or chicken stock
140g pearl barley
3 tsps English mustard
2-3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
100g good quality Cheddar cheese

For the pastry:
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g Atora shredded suet
100g butter
Sea salt
1 large free-range egg, beaten

You will need a large casserole-type pan - I used my large oval le creuset and the liquid was about 1cm from the top so you really need something big for this. You will also need a large pie dish or accept that you are going to have two pies! Get your beef shin from the butcher and ask to keep the bone - they'll dice it for you and you can just put it straight in... perfect. Also put 125ml water in a jug in the fridge to get cold for the pastry before you start.

1. Put the olive oil, butter and herbs into a large casserole on a high heat. Roughly chop and add the onions with the diced meat, the shin bone and a couple of pinches of salt and pepper. Mix well and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Add the tomato puree, stout, flour and stock and stir until everything comes together to a simmer. Turn the heat down low and put the lid on and let it cook for an hour stirring occasionally.

3. When the hour is up, stir in the pearl barley, put the lid back on and simmer for another hour. Then remove the lid and simmer for a further 30 minutes, or until the meat shreds easily and the gravy is thick.

4. Spoon away any oil from the top, then stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and finely grate in the cheese. Season to taste.

5. While the stew is cooking, put the flour, suet and butter into a bowl with a good pinch of salt. Use your thumbs and forefingers to rub the butter into the flour until it resembles cornflake shapes. Lightly stir in 125ml of cold water and then use your hands to gently pat and push it together in a rough dough. Don't overwork it. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and put in the fridge until it's needed.

6. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Discard the shin bone and ladle the hot stew into a pie dish.

7. Use some of the beaten egg to eggwash the edges of the dish then dust a clean surface and rolling pin with flour and roll out the pastry until about 1cm thick and a little bit bigger than your dish.

8. Carefully place on top of your pie and trim the overhanging edges - roll these into a ball for later. Pinch and squash the edges of the pastry to the dish. eggwash the top and then using the excess from the edges cut out a shape for the top if you wish - I used a cutter to cut two cows. Stick these on top of the pie and then eggwash them.

9. Cook the pie in the bottom of the hot oven for about 40-50 minutes until the pastry is golden. Serves with steamed, buttered vegetables.


14 November 2011

Ma's Pressure Cooker Marmalade

I had never made marmalade before and it just seemed like something I should learn how to do, so I persuaded my mum to teach me and it turns out that she uses a pressure cooker to help speed up the process. Now I've never used a pressure cooker either and it turns out they are pretty useful and if I had a bigger kitchen I would definitely be getting one right now!

Her recipe is based on the one that her mother used to use from Farmhouse Kitchen by the wonderfully named Dorothy Sleighthome. She has tweaked it about over the years and based on the appreciative noises coming from Joe as he ate it on toast this morning this marmalade is pretty damn good.

Seville Orange Marmalade

2lbs Seville oranges
2 lemons
4lb sugar

We made this in a pressure cooker as mentioned above so this is a pressure cooker recipe. I'm sure you can prepare the fruit as normal but if you were going to you'd probably want a different recipe. So when it's next Seville orange time I shall try some out. We also used a big preserving pan and had about 9 or 10 jam jars and lids sterilised and warm and ready to go. You will also need a scalded muslin for the pips and a funnel and ladle for putting the marmalade in the jars.

1. Scrub the oranges if you want, we didn't, and cut in half. Remove the pips and put them in scalded muslin.
Pips in muslin - we didn't have muslin so used Daddy's handkerchief

2. Squeeze the juice from the oranges into the pressure cooker and finely slice the orange to the thickness you like your marmalade to be. We like ours quite fine.
Sliced oranges in pressure cooker

3. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into a measuring jug and add water to make it up to 2 pints. Strain through a nylon strainer into the pressure cooker with the oranges.

4. Tie the muslin bag tightly and add to the pressure cooker.

5. Place the lid on and bring to pressure. Place a 10lb valve weight on top or wait until the second red line appears on pressure indicator stem - depending on the age of your cooker - and cook for 10 minutes.

6. Remove from the heat and leave until the pressure is reduced and you are able to remove the lid (this took about 20 mins).

Cooling after cooking

7. Do a pectin test - we used 3 tsp of methylated spirits in a cup. Drop 1 tsp of the orange liquid in, gently shake and leave for 1 minute. If it forms a firm clot then it is ready for the sugar. If it is stringy, bring the contents of the pan to the boil with the lid off and boil for a few minutes and test again.

8. Remove the bag of pips and squeeze the juice from it. Transfer the marmalade to a preserving pan - it's easier to mix in the sugar with the larger preserving pan.

9. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.

10. Put on the heat, bring to a rolling boil, and cook for about 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent any burning on the bottom, and keep an eye out for any stray pips floating to the top.

11. If using a thermometer check for setting point - 220F. Keep boiling until setting point is reached - we tested ours on a cold plate (see my jam's page for method).

Waiting for right temperature to be reached

12. When setting point is reached remove from the heat and leave to cool for 15-20 minutes. Then, using a funnel and a ladle, transfer the marmalade to the warm, sterilised jars.

13. Cover with was discs and leave to cool completely before putting the lids on.

Finished marmalade!

9 November 2011

Fish Pie No 1 - Jamie Oliver

The only time I have ever bought the Daily Mail was a couple of weeks ago and that was just to get the Jamie Oliver recipe pull out. It had 15 recipes from his new Jamie's Great Britain book and I wanted them - the adverts made my tummy rumble. One of the recipes was his Happy Fish Pie. I don't really need a fish pie recipe - my mum and my husband make such good and such different ones that I never have to look at another fish pie recipe again. I thought I'd give Jamie's a try though... just out of interest.

It was very nice, but for me nowhere near as good as Joe's creamy, mash-topped wonder or my mums amazingly decadent cheese-topped soother. This made me decide to put all three recipes on here so you can make your own choice. Jamie's is great because it recommends the more underused varieties of fish which I am all for. However, you can  use these fish in any fish pie (and I will be) but there isn't as much sauce in this as I like, no boiled eggs and the mash is just not smooth enough. Does this appeal to you? I know that there are so many different little preferences for fish pies (and pies in general) and there is no denying that this one is yummy. So here it is...

Jamie Oliver's Happy Fish Pie

Serves 6-8

2 large leeks
2 large carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 knobs of butter
2 rashers of good quality smoked bacon, roughly chopped
sea salt and white pepper
2 sprigs of rosemary leaves finely chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
1kg (2lb 4oz) Maris Piper potatoes
Olive oil
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
1 x 300ml (1/2 pt) of single cream
2 tsp English mustard
2 handfuls of grated Cheddar cheese
1 lemon
1 kg (2lb 4oz) fish fillets, skinned and pin-boned (Jamie recommends gurnard, coley, pouting and trout - I used pouting, trout, sea bass and responsibly sourced smoked haddock).

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas mark 7. You will need a casserole-type pan that's not too high sided (roughly 20 x 30cm / 8 x 12 in). I like to have my fish ready to go - so cut it into 2cm chunks.

1. Strip the tough outer leaves of the leeks back, then halve, wash well and slice the rest. Roughly chop the carrots and celery.

2. Get your casserole-type pan and add a knob of butter and the chopped bacon and put on a medium heat. When the bacon starts looking crisp and golden, add all the herbs and prepared vegetables to the pan. Season, then put the lid on, turn the heat down a bit and cook for around 15 minutes, stirring every now and again until sweet and tender.

3. While the vegetables cook, peel the potatoes, cut into 2cm (3/4 in) chunks and boil in salted water for around 12-15 minutes or until just cooked. Drain, then leave them to steam dry a few minutes before returning them to the empty pan. Mash with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous knob of butter. Jamie doesn't like to mash to much because it can make the potato gluey rather than light and crisp. Season with care and add a nice grating of nutmeg.

4. When the leeks are ready, add the cream and mustard, simmer for a few seconds, then turn the heat off and sprinkle in half the grated cheese.

5. Stir and season to taste, then grate in a good few swipes of lemon zest, squeeze in the juice and stir again.

6. Cut the fish into 2cm chunks and dot them evenly around the sauce so the fish gets slightly submerged in the beautiful thick sauce. Sprinkle the rest of the cheddar on top.

7. Put forkfuls of mash all over until the surface of the pie is evenly covered. Use a fork to pat, poof and rough it up, leaving a few little gaps for the sauce to bubble through. 

8. Put the dish on the top of the oven for 30 minutes, or until golden, crisp and bubbling. Serve with peas, beans or spinach.

If you want to make this ahead allow everything to cool before assembling then keep in the fridge until you are ready to cook it - then bake for 45 minutes at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.


3 November 2011

Camilla Costello

It's pretty hard to keep your cream sofa's looking nice when you have a naughty Jack Russell who spends most of the time running around in the flower beds and friends with happy toddling children, but I have refused to succumb to the horrible Ikea throws and something needed to be done. That's when I found Camilla Costello - she brings beautiful throws, pillow cases and jackets back from India and the colours are just spectacular and they sort of become a feature in themselves rather than being something which you just have because you have to. I absolutely love the big tropical prints I got for our sofas and think I will definitely be returning for a jacket soon. To make it all even easier she is just lovely and incredibly patient and helpful with the decision making process. Check out her site here.

1 November 2011

Lemon Tart

I've never made lemon tart before. I don't really know why as it's a very good pudding for making ahead and it's not really very difficult apart from all the lemon squeezing. I did find that not only did i not roll the pastry out thin enough I also just have to face facts and admit that i don't have enough baking beans... there is nothing for it, I shall have to go to Lakeland!

Anyway, this is another recipe from Short and Sweet by Dan Lepard. It was easy to follow and went down a storm!

Lemon Tart

Serves about 6

For the pastry:
125g plain flour
25g icing sugar
a pinch of salt
125g unsalted butter, cold but pliable
1 egg yolk
about 1/2 tbsp ice-cold water

For the filling:
4 large eggs
200g caster sugar
200ml lemon juice (the juice of about 3-4 large lemons)
zest of 3 unwaxed lemons
125g double cream or creme fraiche
a little icing sugar to serve

Make the pastry first - spoon the flour, sugar and salt into a bowl. Break the butter into small pieces and rub this through the flour until it's all gone. Stir the eggs yolks with the water and mix with the flour to form a soft and smooth paste. Pat into a flat block, wrap well and chill for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Then pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4, put a little jug of water in the fridge with some ice in it so it's ice cold for later.

1. Roll out the pastry thinly and line an 18cm tart case with it, leaving a few scraps over. I find it easiest to roll the pastry out inbetween two large bits of clingfilm as then you don't have to add any extra flour from a floured surface.

2. Line with baking paper and fill with baking beans and bake blind for 25 minutes, then remove the paper and the beans and bake the case a little more at 170C/335F/Gas Mark 3 until the base turns a crisp golden brown - about 10 minutes I think but keep an eye on it!

3. Whisk the filling ingredients together and leave to stand for 30 minutes, then skim off any froth. Heat the filling in a pan over a low heat until very warm but not thickened, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, then strain into a jug.

4. Remove the pastry from the oven - use any left over raw pastry to patch any holes or cracks. Pour the filling into the case and bake on a tray at 170C/335F/Gas Mark 3 for 15-20 minutes until barely set.

5. Leave to cool and then put in the fridge. Serve cold wtih a dusting of icing sugar.

Not as beautiful as in the book - but just as yummy... hopefully
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