Sunday 31 August 2008

Recipe - Cuban-esque hot sandwich

This was my first try with my new sandwich press and it turned out quite nice.

The flavours reminded me a bit of the sandwiches I had in Havana. Although they used roasted pork quite a lot. Since I didn't have any leftover pork I used some Parma ham instead. You take what you have and so on.

Hot sandwiches are awesome, you can freestyle them to your hearts content. I'm sure some of my future, and perhaps this one, combinations will make some of you wonder about my sanity and taste. ;)


Good quality Italian or French bread, for example ciabatta
Strong mustard
Parma ham
Smoked ham
Cheese, I used Jarlsberg
Pickled gherkin, thinly sliced
Start by heating the sandwich press/grill.

While the press/grill is heating slice the bread in half, lengthwise.

Spread the upper and lower half of bread with liberal amounts of the mustard. Put the Parma ham on the lower half, top with the smoked ham and the cheese. Finish off with the gherkin slices and the top half of the bread.

When the press/grill is hot enough put in the bread. Be patient and let it be in there until the bread is nicely browned and the cheese have melted.

Remove from the press/grill, slice in half crosswise and put the sandwich on a plate.


Saturday 30 August 2008

The Omnivores 100

You might have seen this list on lots of other blogs, it's originally from the Very Good Taste blog.

If you want to put a copy on your blog, just copy this one from here and put the one's you've eaten in bold.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile-Alligator?
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam Chowder
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole Insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Oh dear, I have some strange eating habits... ;)

Friday 29 August 2008

Recipe - Mustard and Herb crusted Lamb Chops

Here's a little something that I threw together with some lamb chops that I bought during my trip to the Covered Market in Oxford.

There's something special about it when the butcher cuts the chops freshly for you. It sure beats buying something from the supermarket that's been cut and stored for longer than you dare to think of.

I'd normally fry these for about 5 - 7 minutes (tops) on each side. However, if you and/or your guest are a bit sensitive about blood in your food you might want to have the oven on standby at about 200c.

Once you've fried them so they have a nice surface you can put them in the oven until cooked to your liking. That way you protect them from looking cremated while still cooked all the way through.

Lamb chops, about 2 - 3 per person
Dijon mustard
Olive oil
Dried Oregano
Fresh spinach
Garlic, very thinly sliced
Potato mash

Cover both sides of the chops in Dijon mustard and pat in liberal amounts of oregano.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Once the oil is hot, put in the lamb chops. Let them fry for about 5 - 7 minutes on each side. (If you want them less pink read my comments about using the oven above)

In the meantime rinse the spinach thoroughly under the tap and shake it to discard most, but not all, of the water.

When the lamb chops are about done put them to the side to rest for about 5 - 10 minutes

Close to the resting time put the spinach, together with the garlic slices, into a hot pan and cook whilst stirring until wilted to your liking. Season to your liking.

Serve the lamb chops on top of a bed of wilted spinach on warm plates. Serve the mash in bowls on the side.


Thursday 28 August 2008

Recipe - Even quicker dinner using the leftover rice

I had some of the rice and mince mixture left from lunch. Throwing it away was never an option.

You could actually make some kind of 'proper' main dish if you for example add some beans etc, it could become some kind of Mexican Rice.

Leftover 'mincerice'

Heat the 'mincerice' until warm enough. Pour it into a bowl, top off with salsa.


Wednesday 27 August 2008

Recipe - Mince and Rice Burritos

I needed to sort out a quick lunch the other day so I checked what I had in the cupboards/fridge etc and this is what I came up with.

I actually forgot, bad Mikey :(, to add the corn when I cooked this but I added it to the recipe so you can benefit from it. ;)

You can of course add the salsa to the burritos but in this case I choose to serve it on the side. Mainly because Solo got a different tolerance to spicy food than what I do.

Cooked rice, I made 2 cups
Beef mince, I used 500g
Corn, one small can
Olive oil
2 onions, chopped
Chilies, chopped - to taste
Garlic, chopped - to taste
Tortillas or wraps

Start by frying the mince in some olive oil, making sure to season it properly. Once the mince is starting to brown add in the onion, garlic and chilies.

Add in the rice and corn to heat through when the mince is fully cooked through and the onion still has some bite.

Put some of the mixture on each tortilla and roll it to a burrito
. You can even make them a bit ahead and use tin foil to contain the heat, if needed they can also be heated in the tin foil.

Serve with some salsa. If you have the time/inclination you could also make a salad to serve with them.


Tuesday 26 August 2008

I got myself a new toy...

A man needs his toys and I felt that there was a hole in my kitchen appliance collection. That particular hole was filled with my new sandwich press.

So be aware, there might be a post or two of weird and wonderful things I've managed to press between two slices of bread. ;)

Saturday 23 August 2008

Shopping trip - Oxford Covered Market

Since I live so close to Oxford I thought it could be worth a trip to the Covered Market to see what stuff I could pick up.

One place I'm looking forward to visiting is Palm's delicatessen, they seem to have quite a bit of specialty products. That shop will probably be bad for my wallet.

Haymans Fisheries is also high on the list, it's been a long time since I cooked my fish tacos. It might be time for another batch soon.

I'm in the market for some rabbit/hare so I'll see what the butchers might have in stock.

As always when I'm in Oxford I know that I'll end up in Border's - stocking up on food magazines I can't get in the local shops here.

I'm bound to find some strange and wonderful stuff to cook up and blog. Keep your eyes on this space early next week! ;)

Friday 22 August 2008

No proper post today

There won't be any proper post today. I'm having the day off work, eagerly awaiting the delivery of my new dining table. You can see the beauty below.

There will probably be some effing and blinding involved in the assembly but I should hopefully be able to maintain some kind of equilibrium. ;)

With any luck, my dining chairs should arrive later in the weekend too. I'm already looking forward to my first proper 'sit-down meal' at a proper table. It's been a long time coming in this new flat...

Thursday 21 August 2008

Recipe - Southern Fried Chicken

I thought it was time to get the old deep fat fryer back into action. What better dish for the comeback than some good old Southern Fried Chicken?

I'm sure that this is about as unhealthy as you can get with chicken breasts, but it does taste good so I don't care.

I normally halve the chicken breasts lengthwise to make sure that they are cooked through.

I served it with creamy mash, homemade gravy and crispy, battered, deep-fried matchsticks of courgette.

Skinless chicken breasts
Smoked paprika
Chili powder

Heat the oil in the deep fat fryer to 180c.

Mix the flour and the spices onto a plate.

Beat the egg in a bowl.

Dip the chicken in the egg, letting the excess drip off.

Dip the chicken in the flour, making sure to coat evenly.

Once the chicken pieces are coated, pop them into the oil and let them fry for 12 - 15 minutes, making sure that they're fully cooked before eating.


Wednesday 20 August 2008

Recipe - Chocolate Cupcakes

This is the recipe for the chocolate cupcakes that were served at the party last weekend. I'm not much of a chocolate/sweets type of person but I must say that these were ace!


Cakes (makes 18-24)
6oz self raising flour
6oz caster sugar
6oz margarine
1-2 oz cocoa
3 eggs

Icing (enough to cover 18-24 cakes
1 ½ oz margarine
2 table spoons cocoa
4oz icing sugar
1 ½ table spoons evaporated milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the over to 180 degrees.

Put the caster sugar and margarine into a large bowl and mix together. Add in the eggs, mix again Add the flour and cocoa and mix again.

Put about an ounze of mixture in each cupcake case.

Place in the oven for 10 minutes until they are cooked. (if you gentle press the top it should rise again)

Melt the margarine and cocoa together. Stir in the evaporated milk and vanilla extract. Stir in the sugar. If the the mix is too thick, add a little more evaporated milk.

Put icing on cake with a pallet knife

Note: Wait for the cakes to cool before making the icing as it will set shortly after making it.


Tuesday 19 August 2008

I survived the party...

The party went ahead as planned and I dare say that all guests were well fed and happy by the time they left. It was quite an experience to do the food planning, food shopping and cooking of this.
I'd do it again. There will be adjustments to how I do things, but that's what you get from an experience like this. I didn't really want to see mince for a day or two after having made 92 burgers from scratch but things like that pass.
I'd like to thank everyone for being good sports and not complaining too much about the fare. ;)
Sorry about the lack of pictures but to tell the truth, I was busy as hell and I thought I'd rather have everything prepared and ready than cute piccies for my readers. ;)
Here's some facts from the party
- 51 guests in total
- 92 burgers were made and barbecued
- 7.2 kg of pork was slowly barbecued and then turned into pulled pork
- 72 sausages were bought and barbecued/grilled
- 1.2 kg bortolli beans were converted into bbq beans together with some added ingredients
- 4 tin-foil parcels containing salmon, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and red onion were prepared for the fishatarians.
- Mushrooms were sliced and fried for the vegetarians
- 200 burger and sausage buns were bought
- North Carolina Barbecue Sauce was made
- White Alabama Barbecue Sauce was made
- Blue cheese and creme fraiche sauce were made
- Coleslaw was made and dressed in mayo free dressing
- Lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, onions and gherkins were sliced to be used with the burgers and sausages
- 96 cupcakes were baked, iced and eaten
- Sheadloads of ales, lagers, ciders and soft drinks were chilled and enjoyed
- 1 bouncy castle, in a awesome Spiderman theme, were inflated and thoroughly bounced at
- Loud and flashy fireworks were fired

BBQ beans getting ready to go into the oven

The pork is enjoying a rest on the barbie.

Salmon parcelled and ready for the fridge

Trugs full of beverages

People even decided to turn up...

Monday 18 August 2008

Recipe - Pasta with creamy pork sausage sauce

This is an old favorite of mine. I found the original recipe in a magazine years ago and are now cooking it from memory.

It's one of these recipes which you can freestyle quite a bit. Just use what you have available.

Ingredients (serves 2 -4)
Pack of 6 sausages
Creme fraiche, 200g
Dried chilli flakes, to taste
1 lemon, preferably non-waxed
Parmesan, grated - to taste
Frozen peas
Olive oil

Open the sausages and squeese the meat out of them. Heat the oil in a pan and chuck the meat into the frying pan. Fry it, making sure to break it up, until bits and pieces of it turns golden and crispy.

Add grated lemon zest, the juice from the lemon and dried chilli flakes to taste and the creme fraiche. Let this simmer away for about a minute.

In the meantime, cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet. When there's a couple of minutes left to boil, add a handful or two of frozen peas. Drain the pasta, but save some of the cooking water.

Pop the pasta and peas into the pan with the sauce and give it a good stir. If you need to thin the sauce a bit, use the saved cooking water as needed.

Plate and grate parmesan on top. If you want to make it extra purdy - top off with some strips of lemon zest.


Saturday 16 August 2008

Open Sandwiches

Being of Nordic descent I truly believe that open sandwiches is far superior to the closed ones that are preferred here in the UK. Open sandwiches kick closed sandwich butt until the cows come home.

You can't do much with the looks of closed sandwiches, while open ones appeal to all senses. It doesn't take much to make your sandwiches look a bit more interesting, making them taste better by adding to the total impression.

This is two sandwiches I made last Saturday, just as a quick bite for lunch.

Just in case you are having a slow day I'll identify the ingredients. Both were made on nice rye bread with a smidgen of butter on them. The one in the background has got a sliced boiled egg, mayonnaise, prawns and dill with lemon juice drizzled over it. The second one was very simple, just a couple of rolled up slices of German pepper salami coupled with a sliced pickled gherkin.

There might be some more open sandwiches in the pipeline, keep an eye on this space!

Friday 15 August 2008

Recipe - Thai(ish) Steak Salad

This was my first attempt at making a Thai Steak Salad. It could have been better, but it could also have been much worse.

I'm sure my next version of it will be a bit different. I'll probably try to slice the steak a bit thinner, maybe add some more 'soft greens'. But hey ho, it tasted nice and I'm looking forward to the next version already.

Adjust the ingredients to the amount of servings you are planning for. Also, I use individual steaks. That way I can have have it my way and other guests can have theirs cremated if they wish.


80 ml fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp peeled fresh ginger
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 to 2 tsp chile paste with garlic (I used Red Thai Paste)

Olive Oil
1 steak per person (I used sirloin)

Thinly sliced red cabbage
Thinly sliced radish
Red chicory,
Julienne-cut carrot
Finely chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

To make the dressing - put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk until well combined. Put to the side.

Season your steak(s) to your liking and then fry them until done your way. Put to the side to let the meat rest. Once rested slice into slices, thin or thick - your choice.

To prepare the salad, combine all the ingredients, keeping some of the peanuts for later, in a large bowl. Pour about half the dressing into the bowl. Toss well.

To serve, plate up the salad. Put the steak on top in a nice fashion. Sprinkle with some more of the peanuts. Drizzle the last of the dressing evenly over the steaks.


Thursday 14 August 2008

Have knives, will travel! ;)

I'm off for a massive shopping spree this evening, getting ingredients for a big birthday bash on Saturday.

It's projected to be 60+ guests and I'm supposed to be in charge of feeding them all. It could turn very interesting.

I got tomorrow off work, just so I can do most of the prep work without too much of a rush and then basically assemble and finish off the cooking on Saturday night.

All going well, I should be able to post some pictures of the preparations, cooking, feeding and partying early next week.

The menu? A well guarded secret until Saturday evening.

I've made sure to request lots of Chef Oil, gotta keep myself lubricated :)

Recipe - Oven Baked Egg and Ham nests

[Please note: I've cut one of the 'nests' in half in this picture. Just to demonstrate what it looks like inside.]

This is one of my favorite things to cook and eat for breakfast, although you can cook it for lunch or dinner if you feel like it. Make it purdy enough and you could serve it as a starter.

It takes almost no time to prepare and it cooks itself in the oven while you do other stuff. The perfect breakfast dish.

Yet again, this is something that's easy to freestyle. You can add and subtract things, just go for what feels right.

I've used muffin trays of various sizes and shapes for this, use what you got. There's no right or wrong. This time I used my silicone muffin tray, which doesn't need to be oiled or anything and makes it really easy to turn out the little egg and ham nests.

Ingredients (per serving)
1 egg
Parma ham, to line with
Double cream
Parmesan, grated

Heat the oven to 200c.

Line the muffin tray 'holes' with parma ham. Crack one egg into each hole. Pour in tabasco to taste. Add a glug of cream and finish off with some grated parmesan.

Put the muffin tray into the oven and let the eggs bake until done to your liking.


Wednesday 13 August 2008

Recipe - Polenta with mushrooms and sage

I had never cooked with polenta before, but what the heck...

You could make this dish seriously sexy by using some nice mushrooms like chanterelles and so on. This time I had to do with some normal sliced closed cup mushrooms but next time, oh yeah!

Make sure to season the polenta quite a lot since it doesn't have that much of a flavour in itself. It calls for quite a lot of parmesan, at least if you like parmesan as much as I do. Don't forget to season the polenta some more.

I haven't included any measurements, besides the butter, in this recipe, basically just freestyle it to suit the amount of people you cook for. I cooked this as dinner for myself but with some nice mushrooms and maybe a bit prettier presentation you could probably serve it as a starter.

Last but not least, season the polenta a bit more!

Instant polenta
Parmesan, grated - to taste (some shavings too if you want too)
Butter (approx 50g per serving + a good dollop for the frying)
Mushrooms - halved, quartered or sliced.
Sage, shredded - to taste

Cook the polenta according to the instructions on the package. Then beat in the cheese and butter and season liberally. Make sure that the polenta is quite soft and sumptous.

Melt butter in a pan and cook the mushrooms until golden, if you use a mushroom that can turn golden. Turn in the sage and stir.

Serve the polenta with the mushrooms and sage on top. Add some extra parmesan shavings if you want to make it a bit more purdy.


Tuesday 12 August 2008

Recipe - Roast Pork Belly

I've always wanted to try and cook some pork belly. When we were at the Didcot Farmers Market I spotted what looked like a very nice piece of it. Not much to do, I had to buy it.

Not really knowing how to cook it I had a look in a couple of cookbooks, trying to gauge what temperature was needed and how long it needed to be in the oven for. Needless to say I couldn't find two recipes that said the same. What to do? It was easy, time to freestyle. I took some of the advice and then I decided to go for what felt right.

I freestyled the rub quite a bit. Just take what you think/feel will work nicely, mix it up and work it into the skin and pray you choose the right ingredients and proportions.

The reason for heating the oven to the max in the beginning is to try and maximise the effect on the crackling. Just make sure not to open the oven after the first 10 minutes. Just turn it down to 170 and let it stay closed for another hour.

Next time I cook this I might add something more to the roasting tray, maybe something like apples or fennel. I'm sure I could make some awesome gravy and serve it with some mash.

This time I had it quite plain. The only extra was a generous pouring of Jardine's Buckin' Berry Raspberry Chipotle Sauce. It worked a treat, if you can find it - buy it! I think I'll have to cut down a bit on the spice rub next time too, I had to scrape some off before serving. Next time I might go very basic, just some Maldon salt and olive oil. Either that, or I might go for something very elaborate. Who knows...

Spice rub
Ground cumin
Star anise
Chili pepper

Pork belly, bone in (mine weighed in at about 900g)
Two onions, cut into wedges

Pre-heat the oven to the max.

Start by scoring the skin on the pork belly. Then create your rub, using a blender to pulverise the star anise, and mix it well. Rub the spices into the skin, making sure to get it well in between the score lines.

Put the onion wedges into a roasting pan and put the pork on top of them. Let this sit until the oven is warm enough.

Pop the pork into the oven, letting 10 minutes pass. When 10 minutes are up, turn the heat down to 170. Let an hour pass. Take the pork out of the oven and pour out any excess fat that's in the pan. Put it in for another hour. Take it out, pour off the excess fat.

Raise the heat in the oven to 190 and let the pork stay in for about half an hour more. Once done, let it rest for about 15 minutes before cutting it up.


Monday 11 August 2008

Didcot Farmers Market

This Saturday gone I ventured over to Didcot Farmers Market together with Solo and Mumsy. The Market is at The Orchard Centre every second Saturday of the month. It starts at 08:30 and finishes at 13:30.

Given the fairly early starting time we got up well early. The sacrifices I make for good food at times, eh? ;) We arrived a bit early and the vendors were still setting up their stalls.

There wasn't an astonishing amount of stalls but the produce was, at least to our eyes, of very high quality. There was purveyors of meat, cheese, seafood, fruit, herbs and more. There was also stalls specialising in a narrower field, like quince and apple juice.

Everyone there was very friendly and helpful. If you wanted to sample something for taste? No problem, have a taster.

We left with quite a variety of goods. Raspberries, hot quince jelly, pork belly, blackberries, Crazy cheddar and faggot. I'm sure I've left something out. There were some other stuff that really tempted me, like dressed crabs but that will have to wait until next time. It's always good to have something to look forward to.

I tend to visit quite a lot of farmers markets, farm shops and so on so I'm getting more and more critical of them. Didcot Farmers Market was good though. Maybe not as big as some other markets but what was there was generally of a high quality. For example, Reading Farmers Market probably has more stalls but I never get the same feeling of high quality when it comes to the products there. That market also lacks one very important ingredient, atmosphere. Something which Didcot Farmers Market had.

All in all, if you don't mind a fairly early start, do head over to Didcot Farmers Market on the second Saturday of the month. It's well worth a visit.

Friday 8 August 2008

Recipe - Stuffed Peppers

Well, this is what I came up with for my leftover mince and rice. It turned out quite nice actually.

It sort of got a bit of a Moroccan flavour, I guess that's thanks to the harissa paste.

I've always just taken the top off the peppers and stuffed them that way. The drawback to that has been that it has been a total bitch to try and get them to balance nicely. Cutting them lengthwise made that bit much easier. Just use a small knife to trim away the white membranes and you should be set.

As always, freestyle this recipe to your hearts content. Add and subtract ingredients according to your own taste and what you have available at home.

Olive oil
Pork mince
Boiled rice, cold
Red onion, finely chopped
Harissa paste, to taste
Peppers, halved lengthways and seeds and membranes removed
Cheddar, grated

Heat the oven to about 200C/400F/Gas mark 6.

Put the pepper halves into a ovensafe dish which you have poured a little bit of olive oil into. Make sure that the entire dish is coated.

Heat the oil in the frying pan. Start frying off the mince. Season with salt and pepper. When the mince have started to brown add the onion. Let this fry for a bit, then add the harissa paste to taste.

When the mince look about done, stir in the rice and let it warm through. To avoid the mixture becoming too dry, add some water during this period. Be careful though, you just want it to be a bit moist. Soup is not what we're cooking today.

Let the mixture cool down a bit. Spoon it into the pepper halves, top with grated cheddar. Try to avoid making silly plane noises as you put the dish into the oven.

Consider it done when the cheese has melted and is starting to show a nice colour.


Thursday 7 August 2008

Recipe - Exotic Pork

Ok, I admit it. This might not be the most exotic dish out there. I think that the thought of putting bananas into their dinner is a bit exotic to quite a lot of people though.

I had half a pork fillet (tenderloin) left after my Jerk Pork Fillet earlier in the week. This is what I used it for. There might be better uses for it, but there are some much worse uses too.

Now I'm stuck with some mince from yesterdays meatballs and some rice from today. Time to put on the thinking hat, brew some coffee and figure out what to cook tomorrow.

Ingredients (served me)
Pork fillet (tenderloin), about 200g
Red onion, thinly sliced - to taste
Banana, sliced - to taste
Curry powder - to taste
Creme Fraiche, 300 ml
Peanuts, to taste
Olive oil
Fresh parsley
Boiled rice

Start by cleaning the pork fillet, getting rid of the white membrane and any fat. Slice the tenderloin into about 1 cm wide slices. Heat the oil in the frying pan and pop in the pork slices. Season to your liking. Let them get some colour, then add the onions. After yet a little while, add some curry powder and let it fry for a bit.

Once you like the look and feel of the pork slices, chuck in the Creme Fraiche and give it a good stir. Taste. Add more curry powder if needed. Let this mixture simmer away for a while until it starts to look reduced enough.

Towards the end, put in the banana slices and the peanuts and let them warm through.

Serve on rice and garnish with some fresh parsley.


Wednesday 6 August 2008

Recipe - Meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce with tagliatelle

This is a recipe for homemade meatballs simmered in a tomato sauce, served over some tagliatelle.

As (almost) always this recipe is very easy to freestyle, add and subtract ingredients as you wish.

I might upset some pasta aficionados and/or Italians by my next sentence, but hey - it's been some time since I last upset someone. After I've drained the pasta I normally put it back in the pan and take a couple of spoons of the pasta sauce and swirl around in the pan. Sort of coating the pasta with the sauce. Not sure if that's the proper thing to do, but I do it.

The reason I went for chicken stock? I had some. ;) Besides, it gives the meal some symmetry. Beef, pork and fowl. It doesn't get much better for a meatatarian like me ;)

Ingredients (made 22 meatballs)
250g pork mince
250g low fat beef mince
Parmesan, grated - to taste
Shallots, finely chopped - to taste
Garlic, finely chopped - to taste
One medium egg
Olive oil
Stock, approximatively 200ml
Crushed Tomatoes
Red onion, sliced
Roasted peppers, skin removed, chopped into large chunks
Chili Flakes, to taste
Fresh Basil, torn
Parsley, finely chopped

Mix the mince, parmesan, shallots, garlic, egg and season. Let it set for a bit and then roll the meatballs, wet your hands and it's easier.

Once the meatballs are done you can heat up the olive oil in the frying pan and fry off the meatballs. When they start to get a bit of colour you can add the onion and keep frying for a bit.

Add the tomatoes (I blitzed mine to get rid of the 'lumps'), stock, roasted peppers, chili flakes and the torn basil.

Let this simmer away on a low heat.

Did you forget about the tagliatelle? Crap. Time to get some salted water boiling and have a look at the packaging to see how long the tagliatelle needs to boil for.

Let the tomato sauce simmer further.

Once the pasta is done and the sauce has reduced nicely, drain the pasta. Put it back in its pan and add a couple of spoonfuls of the pasta sauce and mix it up.

Put tagliatelle, meatballs and tomato sauce onto your plate. Finish off with some fresh chopped parsley.


Tuesday 5 August 2008

Recipe - Spicy Jerk Pork Fillet

For once, it's not me being the jerk ;)

This dish is something I thought up whilst trying to figure out a problem a customer had. I love getting paid for thinking about food.

You can vary the heat in this dish to suit your own taste and preference but please don't sissify it too much. It should clear your sinuses and make wimps whimper.

If you don't want to make your own marinade, use a good store bought one. I quite like Walkerswood's version of it. I actually used some of their Escoveitch pickle sauce for the garnish you can see in the picture.

Ingredients (served me)
Pork fillet (I used about 200g, which is about half of a pork fillet)
Slightly moist Jerk Marinade
Olive oil
200 ml vegetable stock
Couscous (I used about 50g)
Lemon and/or lime juice
Coriander, finely chopped
Red onion, finely chopped
Escoveitch pickle sauce

Start by marinating the pork fillet in a plastic bag, making sure to massage in the Jerk marinade well. Leave it for as long as you can, preferably overnight, but at least for an hour or two.

Heat the olive oil in a very hot pan. In the meantime scrape off most of the marinade from the pork and reserve the marinade. When the oil is really hot put the pork into the pan. Fry for 8 - 10 minutes or until done to your liking. Make sure to rotate the pork so that you get a nice and even brown colour to it. Once done put it to the side to rest.

While you are doing this you can prepare the couscous with the citrus juice(s) and coriander according to the instructions on the couscous package.

Once the meat is resting it's time for the sauce. Pour in the reserved marinade into the pan together with the stock and let this boil away at a high heat. Let it reduce until you like the consistency. Strain the sauce through a sieve into a bowl or similar.

To serve, slice up the meat into 1 - 1.5 cm wide slices. If you want to make it look a bit special use a food ring to layer the couscous and red onion in the middle of the plate, garnish with some Escoveitch pickles on top. Put the pork slices in a circle around the couscous and spoon some of the sauce onto the meat.


Monday 4 August 2008

Recipe - Sticky orange and ginger marmalade chicken

This is something you can create in a flash. I'm sure you can use different types of marmalade. I mostly see fine-cut marmalade being recommended for recipes like this but I think it worked just as well without.

I served this on a bed of mashed sweet potato (with a hint of nutmeg added) and some roasted veg. Rice and a green salad could work just as well. If you want to freestyle it a bit more, you could always add some chilli flakes or why not some grated zest and/or juice from a orange.

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 skinless chicken breasts
300 ml chicken stock
4 tbsp orange and ginger marmalade
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves (double if you use fresh)

Season the chicken to your liking then fry it in the oil for 8 - 10 minutes. Try to only turn once, as well as getting a nice and golden surface.

Add the stock, marmalade and thyme. Simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the chicken. Now boil the fluids at high heat until it becomes syrupy sauce, stirring now and then to avoid it sticking.

Plate the chicken, pour the sauce over the chicken.


Friday 1 August 2008

Recipe - Spaghetti with bacon, garlic and shallots

Yup, this is my first proper effort in my new kitchen. I'm afraid that it's not very exciting, I didn't really push the boat out this time. Trust me though, the boat will soon be pushed out so far that you won't see land for weeks! ;)

Some times simple is good - and this time simple was damned good. If I dare say so myself!

Just remember, good ingredients can make the simplest food taste great. Bad ingredients can make the nicest sounding recipe ending up tasting like something you get in a Toby Carvery. Take parmesan for example, pre-grated parmesan taste like what your old gym shoes used to smell like. Freshly grated, good quality, parmesan though... It's like night and day...

Ingredients (served me)
Shallots, chopped - to taste
Garlic, finely sliced - to taste
Smoked streaky bacon, cut into small pieces - to taste, I used about 6 rashers
Olive oil
Fresh Basil leafs, cut into strips - Chiffonade

Start by boiling up some water with salt. Then proceed to boil the spaghetti as per the instructions on the packet. I normally go for al dente, and mine tasted good so why don't you go for the same?

In the meantime, drop some olive oil into a frying pan and slowly fry the shallot and garlic just until going golden. Take them out of the pan and save for later.

Turn the heat down a notch and slowly fry the bacon pieces, you don't really want it to go crispy this time.

Once the spaghetti are done to your liking, drain thoroughly.

Put the spaghetti in together with the bacon and add shallots and garlic. Saute for a little while, adding most of the basil towards the end.

Plate up, garnish with some freshly ground black pepper, the rest of the basil and a liberal amount of freshly grated parmesan.