Sunday, 18 October 2015

Slow Cooker Jerk Pulled Pork with Caribbean Salsa

I can’t remember at all what first prompted me to make this: I suppose I could say that it was while searching for new recipes to try out in the slow cooker but really it would be guesswork. What the hell, we’ll go with that.

There are, if you care to shop for it, many different kinds of jerk seasoning. I’ve used Dunn’s River here but Walkerswood is another well known brand. I will say that the Dunn’s River is pretty damn hot & spicy so if you want less of that do try and find a mild type.

The smell of the pork cooking during the day will honestly be enough to drive you almost to distraction and it will be so, so, difficult not to scoff the lot while shredding it. In short this was unbelievably delicious and I can definitely see myself cooking it again and again.

Slow Cooker Jerk Pulled Pork with Caribbean Salsa
serves 3-4

For the pork
500-600g boneless pork shoulder, fat removed
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp jerk seasoning
pinch of coarse sea salt
juice of ½ lime
¼ cup orange juice
For the Caribbean salsa
½ haas avocado, diced
1 large ripe mango, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1 tbsp coriander, chopped
1-2 tbsp fresh lime juice
sea salt and pepper, to taste

Using a sharp knife stab slits into the pork and then stuff these holes with half of the crushed garlic. Combine the remaining garlic, jerk seasoning, and salt, rub all over pork (it is probably a good idea at this point to wear a pair of marigolds or washed latex gloves).

Place the pork swathed in its marinade in a plastic container, pour over the lime and orange juices and then cover and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight. Turn the pork occasionally in the marinade.

Once the pork has marinated tip it all into the slow cooker and cook on low for 9 hours.

After 9 hours, remove the pork and shred using two forks.

Add the shredded pork back to the slow cooker and taste carefully for seasoning (although I’d be very surprised if it needed it). Let it cook an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile make the Caribbean salsa: combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper then refrigerate.

Serve the salsa alongside the pork and some plain rice with a little chopped coriander sprinkled over.

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Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Heirloom Tomato Galette

The term galette, or more properly Breton galette is of course the name given in most French crêperies to large savoury buckwheat flour pancakes. But the name does also apply in French cuisine to designate various types of rustic free-form tarts or cakes. And that is what we have here.

I took this recipe from here with, I think, no adaptations which is something quite unusual for me. I made a trip to Borough Market avail myself of some heirloom (aka heritage) tomatoes as they are of course so beautiful, but you could use supermarket tomatoes: Tesco do some very tasty Kentish ones in fact. If you use cherry tomatoes as well as medium, simply halve these before roasting in the oven.

You could move away from the “Caprese” theme of this particular tart and use a different cheese too: perhaps a nice goat’s cheese. What is important is that you dry it out a little for ten minutes or so before adding to the tart if it is a quite wet cheese (as of course mozzarella is) else it will be too soggy

Heirloom Tomato & Mozzarella Galette
serves 2-4

1 packet ready rolled puff pastry
1 ball of fresh buffalo mozzarella
4-5 medium heirloom tomatoes, sliced about ¼” thick
6-8 fresh thyme sprigs
10 leaves fresh basil
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
balsamic glaze
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C.

Lay the tomato slices on a baking sheet covered with baking paper, sprinkle over thyme, salt and pepper and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

Take ball of mozzarella and wring it in paper towel to remove some of the moisture. Cut slices of cheese and lay on paper towels for 10 minutes to draw out more moisture.

Roll out the pastry so it is overhanging the sides of a 9″ pie or tart dish by an inch and a half. This is quite a rustic tart so there is no need to be perfect at all.

Place mozzarella slices on the bottom, then the tomato slices in whatever pattern you like.

Fold the dough at the sides back over the top of the galette and then brush the dough with egg wash.

Pop in the oven and bake at 350 for 45 minutes -1 hour.

Leave for a while to cool to room temperature then serve drizzled with balsamic glaze and sprinkled with basil leaves.

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Spicy Tomato Baked Eggs

I’m trying to rein in my carnivorous tendencies at the moment and eat less red meat - obviously that wasn’t the case at the weekend where I was almost caveman like in my red meat choices (raw and rare being the order of the day on Saturday).

So with that in mind yesterday afternoon I dreamt up a vaguely Moroccan spicy tomato concoction into which to throw some eggs and bake.

I pulled a lot of other spices and so forth from the shelves and racks including Spanish sweet paprika, Korean red pepper flakes, ras el hanout and more before deciding on the ingredients below. Originally I was going to use fresh tomatoes (hence those in the photo) but then I remembered a tin of Cherry Tomatoes hidden away in the back of the cupboard which I thought would be perfect in this.

It was really rather good. 

Serves 1

1 tbsp olive oil
1 banana shallot, finely chopped (I wanted to use a red onion but I’d run out)
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped (you can discard seeds if you like)
1 Guindilla pepper (the long pickled light green Spanish chilli peppers in jars like this - optional)
60g mushrooms
Tin cherry tomatoes
Freshly ground salt and pepper
½ tsp demerara sugar
1/4 tsp cumin powder
Worcester sauce
Red wine vinegar
2 tsp Belarazu rose harissa (but any harissa is fine)
2 tsp smoked chilli jelly (optional)
Large handful coriander, chopped
2 eggs
Optional: Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve (only about 1 tbsp)

Heat the oil over a medium heat and cook the onion & chillis until the onions are softened and translucent - about 10 minutes.  Turn down the heat if they start to brown.

Add the garlic and cook for a couple more minutes.

Add the cumin and mushrooms and cook for a few minutes more.

Tip in the tomatoes, harissa, chilli jelly, a good splash of red wine vinegar and a couple of large splashes of worcester sauce, season well with salt & pepper and the sugar. Squash the cherry tomatoes down a bit with the back of a wooden spoon and simmer for 20 minutes before stirring in half the coriander (if the tomato mixture appears to be getting too dry splash in a little water).

While it is simmering, preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4.

Once the sauce is done, pour into an ovenproof dish (I use a small frying pan that I am able to remove the handle from) and make 2 shallows into which you crack an egg each.

Place in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the whites are set and the yolks cooked to how you like them.

Sprinkle is a little grated parmesan, if using and scatter with the remaining coriander.  Serve with warm wholemeal pittas or crusty bread.

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Monday, 12 October 2015

Spicy Prawn & Vegetable Noodle Soup

This is an adaptation of a recipe that I have posted before here but there are enough subtle changes, and the original was posted long enough ago, that I thought it worth posting.

Again I have used a fish stock cube but if you are able to get raw prawns in their shells then make the shells from the prawns to make your own stock (it is a very light stock anyway) or even just use chicken or vegetable stock.

The beauty of this - and other similar soups or broths - is that the world is your oyster really when it comes to what vegetables you add. You can use as many or few as you like and really ring the changes to make it a different proposition each time.

Whatever you go for it will be delicious I am sure.

Spicy Prawn & Vegetable Noodle Soup
serves 2

2 tsp of sesame oil
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 inch knob of ginger, peeled & finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 lemongrass stalk, cut in half and crushed (whack with a rolling pin)
2 birds eye chillies, deseeded, deveined and cut into slivers
700ml weak fish stock (ie use half the amount of stock to water that the instructions suggest)
1 tsp of chilli sauce, Linghams or Sriracha if you have it
1 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp of fish sauce
175g raw prawns
65g babycorn, quartered lengthways
50g mangetout, cut into thin lengths on the diagonal
6 shiitake mushrooms, sliced
1-2 nests of dried noodles (about 75g)
juice of 1 lime and rind of ½
1 spring onion, finely sliced into 3cm lengths
small handful coriander, chopped

Gently heat the sesame oil in a large saucepan then add the garlic, ginger, onions, lemongrass and most of the chillies. Sauté gently for about 5 minutes without letting the contents colour.

Add the stock and bring to the boil, then add the chilli, soy & fish sauces. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.

Add the babycorn, mangetout and mushrooms and simmer for a few minutes more, then gently add the noodles and prawns and simmer until the prawns and noodles are cooked (about four minutes).

Finally, stir in the the lime juice and the grated rind. Spoon into large bowls and sprinkle over with the chopped coriander, shredded spring onion and the rest of the chilli slivers.

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Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Roasted Artichoke Risotto

I’d eaten a ridiculous amount of red meat in the weeks preceding this, in fact the week before, when the bf was away I think every evening meal I’d had was mince of one description or another. By this point then I was craving vegetables. We started the new week off with the mushroom ragout as previously posted but that wasn’t enough.

So I decided on a risotto. Killing two birds with one stone really: my continued point-proving that actually yes, we eat a reasonable amount of risotto plus it is something that is dead simple to have as part of a meatless meal. You choose your vegetable(s) and how to prepare them then add to a basic risotto bianco.

Couldn’t be easier really.

Roasted Artichoke Risotto
serves 2

500ml chicken (or vegetable) stock (you may not need all of it)
2 tsp olive oil
1 small knob of butter
1 small onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 stick of celery, trimmed and finely chopped
150g risotto rice
85ml of vermouth (or dry white wine)
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
20 g butter
35g Parmesan cheese, grated + extra to serve
1 tin artichoke hearts in brine, rinsed, drained and roughly chopped
zest and juice of ½ lemon
small handful mint, finely chopped
extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Lay the artichoke heart pieces on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil. Toss around to coat the artichokes and then pop in the oven to roast for around 30 minutes until slightly criosp and charred on the outside and creamy in the middle.

Meanwhile put the hot stock in a saucepan on a low heat to keep warm on the hob.

Put 2 teaspoons of olive oil and the butter into a separate pan and add the onion, garlic, celery and a little pinch of salt. Cook over a very low heat, very gently for 15-20 minutes until the vegetables have softened but not coloured.

Turn up the heat and add the rice, stirring around for a couple of minutes until the rice is toasted . Pour in the vermouth which will bubble up madly so keep stirring until it has cooked into the rice.

Add your first ladle of hot stock. Turn the heat down to a simmer and stir occasionally until the stock is absorbed: keep repeating with additional ladlefuls of stock, only adding another when the previous has been absorbed into the rice. You don’t need to stir constantly, but reasonably often as this massages the starch out of the rice and will result in a creamy risotto.

You are done when the rice is soft but with a slight bite: this can take anything from 15 to 30 minutes in my experience. If you run out of stock (which is unlikely) add some boiling water.

Remove from the heat and add half of the artichokes, the butter, lemon juice and Parmesan. Stir well. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minute so that the risotto becomes creamy and oozy.

Toss the remaining artichokes with most of the lemon zest, the chopped mint and a drizzle of olive oil.

Carefully check the risotto seasoning and then divide it between two plates or wide bowls and sprinkle the dressed artichokes on top. Serve sprinkled with a little extra Parmesan and the rest of the lemon zest.

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Saturday, 3 October 2015

Mixed Mushroom Ragoût with Creamy Polenta

Another very autumnal dish here cooked, as it was, at the height of summer. Oh well. This is extremely delicious and if you were to serve it with rice or pasta then pretty quick too.

I served this with a creamy cheddar polenta that I made with 150g polenta, x4 the volume of chicken stock, 20g butter and about 60g grated mature cheddar. If you start this at the same time as leisurely prepping and then cooking the ragout it should all come together quite well about 45- 50 mins later.

Mixed Mushroom Ragoût
serves 2 generously (with perhaps a little leftover for lunch for 1 the next day)

225g mixed shiitake & brown chestnut mushrooms, wiped clean & sliced
225g mixed wild & oyster mushrooms, wiped clean & torn

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp chopped thyme leaves
small pinch cayenne pepper
splash of marsala
1½ tsp tomato paste
2 small ripe tomatoes, chopped
1½ tsp plain flour
500ml porcini or chicken stock
5g butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1½ tbsp chopped parsley

In a wide sauté or frying pan I actually used a paella pan for some reason), warm 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Add onion and celery, season with a little salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add another ½ tablespoon of the oil and turn heat to high. Add brown mushrooms, season lightly and stir-fry until nicely colored, about 3 minutes. Lower heat to medium. Add thyme, cayenne and tomato paste. Add tomatoes, stir well, and cook for 1 minute.

Season again with salt and pepper. Splash in a glug of Marsala and when it has reduced sprinkle with the flour, stir to incorporate and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in reserved onions. Add around 200ml of stock and stir until thickened, about 1 minute. Gradually another 200ml stock and let gently simmer for 5-10 minutes. Carefully adjust the seasoning.

Just before serving, put the butter and the remaining ½ tablespoon olive in a wide sauté pan over medium high heat and when the butter begins to brown, add the wild and oyster mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper, and sauté for about 2 minutes, until cooked through and beginning to brown.

Add the garlic and chopped parsley and stir for another minute before adding to the brown mushroom mixture.

Stir the mushrooms together well and then serve over polenta.

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Sunday, 27 September 2015

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon

We’re going back a fair while here: back when I first got a slow cooker. I’d wanted one for ages, but I’d also wanted a pressure cooker and frankly we don’t have room for both. It was a tough call - I had done tons of research on both and I think deep down I kinda wanted a pressure cooker but but in the end plumped for the slow cooker for 2 reasons. The first being that winter was on the way so in theory I would be cooking lots of heart stews and the like (although as I’ve mentioned previously I’m almost as likely to cook a stew at the height of summer if that is what I fancy - the slow cooker will also be helpful then as the kitchen won’t get so hot!) and the second being that in my bun in the oven state at the time I thought it would be handy, closer to D day to knock up lots of one pot meals that we could just defrost and reheat once we were back from the hospital. And I’m happy to state that was exactly what we did.

But back to this - the question was what to do for our first meal? Well in all honesty it wasn’t that much of a competition as, to me, Boeuf Bourguignon seemed a pretty obvious choice. That said, I’d a few other ideas up my sleeve for the coming weeks and months.

Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon
Serves 4

6 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon, sliced into thin strips
1kg beef shin, cut into 1-inch cubes, patted dry & seasoned with salt & pepper
300ml good red wine, divided
2 small/medium onions, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp tomato paste
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
250ml chicken or beef stock, plus more if necessary
300g button mushrooms, thickly sliced (halve very small ones)
parsley, chopped
crusty bread

Warm a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the fat has rendered and the bacon is golden and crispy. Transfer the bacon using a slotted spoon to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain. Pour off all but a tablespoon of bacon fat from the pan, reserving the rest.

Return the pan to the heat and when the bacon fat is shimmering and you see a wisp or two of smoke, add a single layer of beef cubes to the pan to sear — do not crowd the pan; sear the meat in batches: you’ll probably do about 3 in all and add a little extra bacon fat as needed.

Transfer the seared meat to the slow cooker. When all the batches are done deglaze the pan with 50ml of the wine.

Pour the deglazing wine and any scraped up bits over the seared meat in the slow cooker.

Add 1 tablespoon of the leftover bacon fat (or olive oil if needs be) to the pan and reduce the heat to medium lowish. Cook the onions with ⅛ teaspoon of salt until soft and slightly browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots and celery, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until slightly softened.

Add the garlic and tomato paste, and cook until fragrant then transfer the vegetable mixture to the slow cooker.

Wipe the pan clean and warm a little more bacon fat over medium heat (using olive if no more remains). Cook the mushrooms with 1/4 teaspoon salt until they have release all their liquid, the liquid has evaporated, and the mushrooms are golden brown.

Transfer the mushrooms to a clean bowl, rather than the slow cooker, and set aside as they get added later.

Stir the beef and vegetables (excepting mushrooms) together in the slow cooker, tucking the sprigs of thyme and the bay leaf into the mixture. Pour the stock and the remaining wine over - the liquid should come about 3/4 of the way to the surface of the ingredients.

Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. When finished, the beef should fall apart easily with a fork.

Once the meat is cooked, stir in the reserved bacon and mushrooms. Cook with the slow cooker on high until the mushrooms are warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls with crusty bread on the side. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

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