Wednesday 30 November 2011

Recipe - Pierogies stuffed with mince, gherkin and onion

I know that I quite often get accused of being a food snob but there are some really nasty skeletons in my culinary wardrobe.

One of the nastier skeletons is some mass produced pierogies that went under the name of Gorby's. I guess the tenous link behind that name was that pierogies have a Russian connection and Gorbachev was in the limelight back then.

These little abominations against what I now know as decent food was sold frozen (they might just had been chilled - can't really remember) and you either nuked them or heated them in the oven if you had the extra time. I'm sad to say that due to what only can be described as financial circumstances and lack of sense I ate more than one of these back in the day.

I live in the hope that these things have disappeared from the shops but I honestly don't know if they have or not. If you want to see what one looks like, have a look at a picture of a Gorby's here.

Having gotten that off my chest I can now move on to a slightly more proper version of a pierogie. This one is made from scratch and even if I say so myself, it plays in a completely different league than the Gorby's. I'm not sure how authentic it is, there might be an angry Russian outside my door one day but this is my version of it.

Regular readers know that I actively encourage freestyling of my recipes and this one is no exception to that. Don't like pickled gherkins? Replace with some diced pickled beetroot for example. Don't feel like replacing, add the beetroot as well. Add in the fact that you can spice the mince to your hearts content and the possibilities are almost endless.

I know that it might seem a tad bit faffy to have to make the pastry the day before, but give it a go. The effort is well worth it. The quantity of ingredients in this recipe is enough for four large-ish ones but if you want to you could always make them a bit daintier and serve them as nibbles.

Let's head over to the recipe before I admit to more crimes against the culinary gods. ;)

Ingredients (makes 4 large-ish ones or more smaller ones)
500ml plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
115g cold butter, cut into pieces
115g cream cheese

300g minced beef, cooked - spice it your own way
1 pickled gherkin, very finely diced or minced - to taste (about 2 tbsp or so)
1/2 onion, very finely diced or minced - to taste
1 tbsp ketchup

50g butter, melted

Pop the flour, salt, butter and cream cheese into a food processor. Process until a firm dough is formed. Pat into a ball, cover with cling film and put it in the fridge over night.


Pre-heat the oven to 200c.

To make the pierogies take out the dough from the fridge and remove the cling film. Split it into four equal pieces.

Mix together all the ingredients for the filling and season to taste.

Roll each bit out on a lightly floured surface until it is about 3mm thick. Spoon equal amounts of the filling onto each one and fold together.

Put the pierogies on a baking tray that you have lined with parchment paper.

Brush each pierogie with melted butter, sprinkle with some flaky sea salt and pop the baking tray into the oven.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until nicely golden to your taste.


Monday 28 November 2011

Recipe - Pimped up Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts will probably never win any popularity contests but if you like them, they are good.

I know people who'll only eat one sprout a year, and that is just as to please their mother on Christmas. (Hi Mark! ;) )

Personally I quite like them but this is a recipe that is tried and tested to make non-believers at least try them. Some of them have survived and lived to tell the tale of sprouts that were at least tolerable.

The seasonal box I received from Knorr recently didn't just contain that mahoosive turkey, it also contained some (Christmas) seasonal vegetables as well. Brussels sprouts were of course part of this so I cooked them up in this way.

Maybe this could be something to try on the sprout haters in your circle of friends and family? Because let's face it - everything gets better with a bit of bacon added.

With all that having been said, let's move on over to the recipe.

Brussels Sprouts
Balsamic vinegar

Bring some well salted water to a rolling boil. Chuck in the brussels sprouts and let them boil for 4 minutes or so. Drain and dump them into some ice cold water to refresh. Let them sit there for a minute or two and drain again. Slice them in half and put to the side.

Heat a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. Once heated add in the lardons and let them fry for a bit. If they don't release all that much fat - add in a splash of olive oil too.

Once the lardons start to crispen up - add in the brussel sprouts and a dash or five of balsamic vinegar.

Let this fry away until the lardons have crisped up nicely and the sprouts have started to caramelise. Season to taste.


Tuesday 22 November 2011

Recipe - Peppadew Chicken

This is a quick and easy recipe that I picked up when I was attending a South African cookery course at the WI.

Yep - you read that right. I went for a course at the WI. As a matter of fact, I've attended a number of courses there over the last couple of years - cat among the pigeons anyone? ;) The kitchens you use and all the equipment are all top class. The tutors I've had so far have all been really good as well.

I know that the WI have a bit of a reputation, but I've always enjoyed myself there and have come home with a fair amount of new skills and knowledge. Ok, I do get stared at a bit but that's just something you'll have to live with as a bloke on one of their courses. ;)

For a look at what courses they currently offer, have a look at the Denman College website.

Enough about my lovely ladies at the WI, let's talk a bit about this recipe. The recipe just states 'chutney' but for the authentic touch, try and chase down some of Mrs H.S. Balls Original Recipe Chutney.

Also - there's no need to adjust your television sets - the rice is supposed to be yellow. I chucked in some turmeric with the rice and water in the rice cooker to get the (allegedly) proper colour for this dish.

Moving swiftly on....

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 chicken breasts
1 small onion, roughly chopped
6 peppadews, or to taste
120 ml yoghurt
60 ml chutney

Pre-heat the oven to 190c.

Put the chicken breasts in a oven-proof dish that is large enough to house them all without being crowded. Season.

Put all the other ingredients in a food processor (or use a hand-held mixer) and blend together.

Pour the sauce over the chicken and pop the dish into the oven. Cook for 20 - 30 minutes or until cooked.


Sunday 20 November 2011

Making Bacon - Part I

Like most people I know I really enjoy bacon. For example, there's few things that are easier to make and nicer to eat than a bacon buttie, with some ketchup.

Being me I need to push the envelope a bit and this time I'm trying to make my own bacon. After lurking around on the Bradley Smoker Forum I found enough evangelistic posts to realise that this is something that could turn out very nice indeed.

The only thing that might stop normal people is the part where you smoke it for a couple of hours during the cooking. However, as I've been told far too many times - I'm not normal. Since a little while back I'm the proud owner of a six-rack digital Bradley smoker ( UK / US ).

Making my own bacon seems to be a good way of getting some mileage into the smoker.

For my first try I've decided to follow this recipe, found on another Bradley smoker forum.

This morning I picked up my 5lb/2.3kg pork belly that my local butcher, R G Park Butchers, kindly had ready and waiting for me.

Pork belly, before anything happened to it.

Once home I prepared the cure as follows:

The ingredients for the cure.
  • 2 oz. Kosher salt (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 tsp. Cure #1 (aka pink salt, InstaCure #1, Prague Powder #1)
  • 1/4 C. Maple sugar or packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 C. Maple syrup

The finished cure.

When the cure was properly mixed it was massaged into the pork belly and then it was all transferred into a very large ziploc bag and it is now doing its magic in our fridge.

The pork belly again, now with cure massaged into it.

The curing should take 5 - 7 days and it will be flipped over once a day. I will post updates as I (and the pork belly) progress....

In the bag, just before going into the fridge.

Monday 14 November 2011

Recipe - MPW's Christmas Turkey Curry

This post is quite unusual for this blog. To start with it's a recipe aimed at Christmas and the recipe I post is not written by me. A bit of an explanation is probably in place.

As readers of this blog probably haven't missed I was invited up to London quite some time ago for some cooking, and lunch, with Marco Pierre White. This was all arranged by the nice people at Knorr.

Since then they've kept in touch and I have been provided with a couple of real nice goodie boxes with meat, vegetables and other produce together with some recipe ideas create by MPW.

Since we're getting close to the dreaded lovely time of Christmas the box contained, among lots of other good stuff, one mahoosive turkey from Forman & Field. The recipe that follows will show one way of using up some of your leftover turkey.

I must admit that I'm not the biggest friend of turkey meat. I think it stems from some rather awful Christmas dinners at my paternal grandmothers place. All I can say is that you had to be careful eating those turkeys. I'm not exactly saying that the meat was dry, however - if you manage to rub two pieces of meat together you would not be surprised if you had managed to make fire.

If you're like me and a bit less than turkey happy - why not use chicken or even go a bit freaky and go for a vegetable curry?

As I mentioned in the beginning, this recipe is written by Marco Pierre White and for once I've just copied the recipe straight across. You might notice that there are some steps that I normally would not do, much less even think of, but I quite enjoyed these 'cheffy' steps.

It is not every day that I brown flour in the oven or sieve my curries but I guess that's what separates the happy amateurs thinking from that of someone who managed to gain 3 Michelin stars. ;)

If you have you made it this far you are either a masochist or you might actually enjoy my ramblings. Before I head over to the recipe I just wanted to say that I'm now well settled in the new house and that the blog posts will hopefully start to come in more and more regularly from now on. Hopefully some posts in relation to my latest kitchen toy, a six-rack digital Bradley smoker.

Well, I think I've rambled enough - let's have a look at what Marco Pierre White thinks that you can do with some leftover Turkey.

Ingredients (serves 10)
25g plain flour
2 Knorr Chicken Stock Pots
25g unsalted butter
1/2 a large pineapple, peeled and chopped into chunks (including core)
2 Cox apples (approx 250g), unpeeled, roughly chopped
1 banana
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 tbsps mild or medium curry powder
25g unsweetened desiccated coconut
75ml double cream (optional)
1kg leftover cold roast turkey, taken off the bone and chopped into chunks (you can also add in chunks of cooked ham or leftover veg like roast potatoes, parsnips or carrots, chopped into chunks)

Pre-heat the oven to 220˚C/ 425˚F/ Gas Mark 7. Sprinkle the flour in an even layer in an ovenproof frying pan and place it in the oven for 12–15 minutes until lightly browned.

Meanwhile, as the flour browns, begin cooking the curry. First, take the 2 Knorr Chicken Stock Pots and mix them with a litre of boiling water, stirring until thoroughly dissolved. Set aside.

Now, heat a large, heavy-based casserole dish on the hob. Add in the butter. Once melted, add in the pineapple and sliced apple. Peel and slice in the banana. Add in the chopped onion.

Fry stirring with a spatula over a low heat for around 10 minutes until the fruit begins to break down.

Add in the curry powder, mixing it in well. Cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes over a low heat. Add in the desiccated coconut and mix in.

Remove the lightly browned flour from the oven and add it into the curry paste mixture, mixing it in thoroughly.

Pour in 250ml of the Knorr Chicken Stock, stirring it so that the paste dissolves into the stock.

Gradually add in the remaining stock, 250ml at a time, stirring in thoroughly after each addition to make sure the sauce is free from any lumps.

Bring to the boil, simmer for 8–10 minutes, stir in the double cream if using.

Using the back of a ladle to press it down, pass the curry sauce through a fine sieve if you wish or liquidise until smooth.

Return the sieved or liquidised curry sauce to the casserole dish. Add in the cooked turkey chunks, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the turkey is heated through.

Garnish with toasted flaked almonds and fresh coriander leaves and serve at once.