Tuesday 15 December 2009

Recipe - Mikey's Lazy Sausage Bake

This is a very simple recipe that still gives you lots back. There's not much prep and it sort of cooks itself.

You can just serve it in the tray you cooked it in and let everyone serve themselves so you don't even have to go for that extra effort.

The point in this recipe that I am a bit ambivalent with is the potatoes. Parboiling them takes a little bit extra time but you won't end up with any hard potato centres that way.

If you want to avoid that problem totally, just serve the sausage bake with some mashed potatoes instead.

As always, I go for a mixture of sausages - sort of a sausage roulette.

4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into smaller pieces
3 red onions, finely sliced
4 plum tomatoes, thickly sliced
Peeled garlic cloves, to taste
Olive oil
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Dried oregano
8 pork sausages, well pricked

Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

Par-boil the potatoes in some salted water for 2 - 3 minutes. Drain and allow to let some steam off.

Put the potatoes, onions, garlic and tomato slices in a deep baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and mix it up a bit. Scatter with the herbs and season well. Put the sausages on top.

Cook in the oven for about an hour, stirring the veg and rotating the sausages every now and then.


Friday 11 December 2009

Review/Christmas present idea: Interflora Christmas Hampers

When I first was asked if I was interested in sampling and reviewing one of Interfloras Christmas hampers I was a bit hesitant. The reason for that was that it wouldn't be much use if I was to review one of them since I'm allergic to most flowers that are considered to be traditional Christmas flowers.

I did not have to worry though, this nice hamper does not have a flower near it. If you want flowers from them you should have a look at their Christmas flowers instead.

This hamper makes a very nice present, especially for someone you won't be able to see in person over Christmas. They'll get it delivered straigt to home in a very safe and quick fashion.

The hamper I got to sample contains the following:

- Healthy Ideas Luxury Fruit & Nut Mix
- The Old Chapel Bakery Luxury Hand Made Mince Pies
- Maxwell & Franks Iced Fruit Cake
- Franks Luxury Biscuits Choc Chunk & Orange Mini Oat Biscuits
- Elizabeth Shaw Amaretto Flutes
- Kitchen Recipe Hand Made Vanilla Fudge
- Cotes de Luberon Blanc Appellation Luberon Controlee 2008
- Cotes de Luberon Rouge Appellation Luberon Controlee 2008

I haven't tried the white wine yet but since the rest of the stuff tasted really nice, I have no doubts that it will be well tasty too.

So, if you need a tasty Christmas hamper delivered for Christmas you could do much worse than with one of these.

Extra bonus tip: If you want some nice decorations for your table, have a look at thelastdetail.co.uk.

Thursday 10 December 2009

Recipe - Kicked up Meatballs

This recipe is a bit of a twist on the Kicked up Wings one I posted the other week.I guess these ones could be called Buffalo Meatballs.

No smorgasbord worth its salt in Sweden would be without meatballs. Around Christmas time the smorgasbord used to rule, might still do after all I know, the Christmas dinners that companies put on for their employees.

After what I can gather we're apparently getting close to Christmas again so this could be a nice thing to add to your planned buffet of good food. It will also be a nice surprise with the kick it gives you. Just imagine grannys face when she feels all that spicy love you've put into it.

As always when you make Swedish meatballs, try to get a 50/50 ratio of pork and beef mince.

Just a little tip. These little monsters do get quite schhhhticky, as Steve McClaren would say, so it could be a good idea to serve them with toothpicks if you go for a proper buffet way of serving.

Serve them hot or cold, they rock either way.

Ingredients (makes about 30 meatballs)
250g pork mince
250g meat mince
1 garlic clove, minced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
Breadcrumbs, if needed

50g butter, melted
1tbsp runny honey
Lots of Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Pre-heat the oven to 180c.

Gently mix the mince, garlic, onion and egg together. Season well. If the mixture is a bit too wet, mix in some breadcrumbs.

Roll meatballs of about 2.5 diameter and put them on the grill of a roasting pan.

Cook the meatballs in then oven for about 25 minutes, turning them half way through.

Mix the butter, honey and hot sauce in a bowl. Pour in the meatballs and make sure to coat them all evenly. Either serve them directly, piping hot or let them cool down.


Tuesday 8 December 2009

Recipe - Swedish style Potato Pancake

I'm sure that there are some other nations out there that will claim this as 'theirs' but to me this is a very Swedish dish.

Given the cheap ingredients and the filling nature of it I'd hazard a guess that this is something that was invented by the working classes. It's not a very elegant dish but it's quick to cook and it does fill you up. Perfect peasont food in other words ;)

This time I served it with some smoked salmon and creme fraiche but there is quite a few things that goes nicely with this dish. Why not try it with some thick slices of pan fried bacon and lingonberry jam? You could even just have it on its own.

Just make sure to season the 'batter' well - it needs it.

Ingredients (serves about 4)
4 - 5 potatoes, about 400g
3 eggs
600ml milk
250ml all purpose flour
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
140g smoked streaky bacon
A couple of sprigs of fresh rosemary

Pre-heat the oven to 250c.

Peel and grate the potatoes on the coarsest side of a box-grater. Put the grated potatoes in a colander and rinse well with cold water. Squeeze out the excess liquid. (Wrapping the potatoes in a tea towel and squeezing works very well.)

Whisk together the eggs with half of the milk, add the flour and whisk until you got a lump free batter. Stir in the rest of the milk, the potatoes and season well. Pour the batter into a buttered 30cm x 20cm roasting pan. Cook in the oven for about 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Put the sliced tomatoes, bacon slices and rosemary sprigs on top of the pancake. Pop it back into the oven for another 10 minutes or so.

Remove from the oven, cut into portion sizes and serve up.


Thursday 3 December 2009

Recipe - Vietnamese style beef Pho from the slow cooker

This is another slow cooker recipe that I found in some newspaper magazine which has been freestyled and evolved through the years.

I'm sure this is very 'westernized' and don't bear much resemblance with the real deal. I'm afraid that I've never been to Vietnam so I don't have anything to measure it against, but I like it and the people who have tried it liked it too. That is good enough for me.

This dish works extra well right now since the weather outside is generally cold, wet and nasty. It's a proper winter warmer. Best of all, it takes very little preparation and it can be ready for when you get home from work.

I've probably bored you enough now, so time to head over to the recipe.

Ingredients (serves 4)
500g braising steak, cut into thin strips
1 - 2 red chilies, sliced
1/2 thumb sized fresh root ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp whole cloves
1.3 litres beef stock (as good quality as possible)
4 nests of thin egg noodles
100g bean sprouts
Spring onions, finely sliced
A handful of coriander, roughly chopped
A handful of mint, roughly chopped
Juice from a lime
1 tbsp Nam pla (fish sauce)

Chuck the beef strips into the slow cooker. Cover with the chilies, ginger, garlic, cloves and beef stock. Make sure that no beef is sticking up over the surface. Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours.

When the slow cooker is getting close to the end of the run, prepare the noodles. Once prepared, divide them up between 4 bowls. Pop some bean sprouts, spring onions, coriander and mint into each bowl.

Stir in the lime juice and Nam pla into the slow cooker. Divide beef into the bowls and finish off with some of the hot stock into each bowl.


Wednesday 2 December 2009

Pytt-i-Panna from the leftovers...

I really don't like eating the same dish two days in a row so when I had a pork chop and some potatoes left from the day before I had to come up with something.

Pytt-i-Panna, or hash, was the simplest thing I could think of. Dice up the pork and potatoes as well as some onion. Pop some butter and olive oil in a pan and add the onion once the butter has melted. Fry for a couple of minutes and then add the rest. Season well. Keep frying on a medium to high heat until heated well through and the potatoes starts to crispen up. Serve with a fried egg and some pickled beetroot.


Tuesday 1 December 2009

Recipe - Pork Chops with Jack Daniels and Apple Sauce

This is a recipe that originates in a great little cookbook, Dollars to Donuts, that I more or less found by mistake. I was lazily browsing around Amazon when I spotted it in one of those 'other customers who bought this' listings. Since it was more than fairly priced I decided to get a copy. Something that was a good decision.

The book is full of down to earth and sensible recipes that won't cost you an arm and a leg to cook. Almost all recipes can be freestyled, often with a note on how to cook them differently or different sides that goes well with them.

All in all a book that I highly recommend. You can find it here on Amazon UK and Amazon US. There's a also a site/blog for the book here MyD2D.

When I came across the following recipe, slightly changed in my version, in the book I remembered that I hadn't had pork chops for ages so it had to be tried.

I really liked it and my normal charity case (read: leftover recipient) praised it highly too. Give it a go, and why not see if you can track down a copy of the book too.

I served this with pan fried salad potatoes but I think it would go very well with mashed potatoes too. Creamed spinach on the side would probably raise it yet another level.

Ingredients (serves 2 - 4)
4 pork chops
250 ml apple juice
120ml Jack Daniels (divided 2 x 60 ml)
60 ml cider vinegar
4 tsp Dijon Mustard
2 tsp Lemon juice
1 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you want a bigger kick)
Olive oil
1 Granny Smith apple, cored, halved and thinly sliced
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced

Whisk together the apple juice, 60 ml of JD, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, sage, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper in a bowl. Pour the marinade into a measuring jug. Pop the pork chops into a large freezer bag and pour half of the marinade on top, mixing well. Marinade the pork chops in the fridge for at least 30 minutes but preferably over night. Cover the remaining marinade in the measuring jug with some clingfilm and refrigerate until it is time to cook.

Pre-heat the oven to 120c. Remove the pork chops from the plastic bag and pat them dry, you can now get rid of the bag and its liquids. Make two or three vertical cuts in the fat on each pork chop to stop them from curling up when fried.

Heat the oil in a pan on medium heat. Fry the pork chops for about 3 - 4 minutes on each side, until golden brown and cooked all the way through. Put the chops on a oven-safe platter, cover with some tin foil and keep them in the oven until it's time to serve.

In the meantime, add the onion and apple to the pan and cook whilst stirring until they both start to brown, something that will take about 8 minutes or so. Pour in the marinade from the measuring jug and add another 60 ml of JD. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 3 - 4 minutes or until the sauce has reduced a little bit.

Serve the chops with the sauce on top.