Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Pulled Pork and Crackling

Mmm..tender roast pork with all the trimmings (including crackling). What could be better?

Well, another 4 leftover meals from a roast that only cost £3.50 in the first place sounds pretty fine to me.

So, our Easter Monday roast made filled rolls, Peking Pancakes, Puffy Porky Pies and Pork Chow Mein.

Sorry, but there wasn't any leftover crackling.

If you have a slow cooker, Pulled Pork is the easiest roast in the world to make.
Cut the skin and fat off your meat- this is going to make the crackling- and put the joint in your slow cooker with a glass of red wine, a glass of water, 1 tsp salt, two bay leaves, some small peeled onions, two tsp of brown sugar and 2 tsp of paprika.
Leave to cook on Low for 6-7 hours, according to the power settings of your cooker.

The meat is cooked when it can be pulled apart with a fork ( or probably a spoon!). Drain off the juice, wrap the pork in foil and leave to rest whilst you thicken the gravy.

Pulled Pork ready for resting
For the last hour of cooking time, make your accompaniments- roast potatoes, parsnips, veg- whatever you can cram into a hot oven whilst you make the crackling.
Heat the oven to 210 degrees.
Take the pork skin, scald it with boiling water and dry thoroughly. Score the surface with a sharp knife and lay in a baking tray. 
Rub vegetable oil over the surface and sprinkle with rock salt.
Bake for 20 minutes or so, until crispy enough to cut into strips to serve with your roast.

Crispy crackling
Still lots of meat left over of course.

Loads of leftover pork
I divided it up into 4. The first batch went into Puffy Porky Pies ( with lashings of leftover gravy).

I try to keep trimmings of pastry in the freezer, ready for defrosting and rolling out to make pie tops but here is a quick method of making some puffish pastry.

Pulse 180 g of flour and 90g of butter together in a food processor.

Blitz flour and butter
Add 180g of cream cheese or petits suisses

Add in the cream cheese
Pulse to a soft dough. It will be very soft- so needs to be wrapped and refrigerated for an hour before rolling out as thinly as you can on a well floured board.

Wrap and chill your dough
Meanwhile mix the portion of leftover pork with gravy and place in a pie dish. Top with your pastry. Trim and bake at 180 degrees until golden brown.

Puffy Porky Pie
You could put the next lot of leftover meat into sandwiches, baguettes or rolls- with just some brown sauce to accompany it. Yum!
Or be a little more adventurous by wrapping it in steamed Chinese pancakes with spring onions, sliced cucumber and hoisin sauce to  make Peking Pork Pancakes:

Peking Pork Pancakes

Or a healthier version, wrapped in lettuce leaves to make Asian Pork Parcels with a dipping sauce:

Asian Pork Parcels
I made a Pork Chow Mein. Equally simple.

Cook and drain some egg noodles ( and dress with some sesame oil if you have it).

Egg noodles cooked, drained and dressed
Then stir fry some spring onions, green beans or mangetout and mushrooms:

Stir fry some veg
Add the pork:
Pork in the wok
Add 2 tsp of Chinese 5 spice, 2 tbsp each of soy sauce and chilli sauce:
Add your flavourings
Add some beansprouts, the noodles and a splash of water or rice wine:

Noodles and beansprouts in
Et voilà:
Pork Chow Mein
Any leftovers go well with some miso paste and hot water to make a Miso Soup:
Miso Noodle Soup
Or make little saucer-sized pancakes with a pinch of turmeric for colour and fill with your leftover Chow Mein to make Ban Khoai:

Ban Khoai
Phew! A veritable pork pilgrimage. I hope there's something here to appeal to everyone.

Image result for piggy snout
Well, perhaps not everyone.

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Spaghetti Squash Ideas

Image result for spaghetti squash
A friend kndly gave me a couple of beautiful Spaghetti Squash the other day- and I was determined to do them justice.
If you've never cooked this intriguing vegetable, I do recommend it. Though they look ordinary from the outside, they are anything but.
Read on to see what I did with mine.

First of all, you need to roast the beast. You can try slicing it first- but I only achieved this by placing it in a woodworking vice and sawing it with a hacksaw!
It's easier to roast it whole in a hot oven for 40 minutes or so, until you can get a knife into it easily.

Roasted until ready to be sliced
Now observe the magic. Slice in half:
Slice in half and scrape out the seeds
Scrape out the seeds ( and save them for re-planting ) and then take a fork and scrape away at the flesh. It will come away in spaghetti-like fronds:
Pull away the 'spaghetti' with a fork
You then have the basis of many different dishes- I chose first a Bolognaise Gratin.

Butter a gratin dish and mix your squash with a Bolognaise Ragout ( you don't need me to tell you how to make a Bol sauce, I'm sure)
Squash and Bolognaise Sauce
Sprinkle the top with grated cheese:
Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake
Bake at 170 degrees until brown and bubbling.
Squash Bolognaise Gratin
The leftovers went well in my Use-it-up Minestrone Soup- with the addition of some more tomato stock, some peas, green onions and orzo pasta.
Add onions, peas, pasta and tomato stock for a
Minestrone Soup
Or fry with some beaten eggs, tomato and cheese for a Bol Frittata:
Squash Bol Frittata
Next bowl of 'spaghetti' went into a Veggie Pad Thai:


half a spaghetti squash - pulled into fronds
1 egg
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 block of egg noodles
3 spring onions
1 tbsp crunchy veg eg. radishes, peppers, baby corn
Pad Thai sauce- made from 3 tbsp peanut butter, 1 finely sliced chilli, 1 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp mirin ( or sherry )
Chopped cashew nuts for garnish

1. Cook the noodles and drain
2. Stir fry the spring onions and other veg (including the squash) in a wok

Stir fry the veg quickly
3. Mix the egg with the soy sauce 

Whisk the egg and soy sauce in a cup
4. Pour in the egg mixture and cook quickly together with the veg

Add the egg mixture and cook
5. Add the noodles and the Pad Thai sauce

Add the noodles and sauce
6. Wok cook quickly, and serve with chopped cashew nuts on top

Squash Pad Thai
The leftovers made a yummy noodle salad the next day:

Noodle salad
So, we've been to Italy with our Spag Bol Squash, and Thailand with our Pad Thai. Time for a quick trip to India to make Spaghetti Squash Bhajias.

Mix 3 tbsp spaghetti squash fronds with 1 chopped onion, 2 tsp turmeric, a tsp salt and 1 tbsp garam masala ( or curry powder ):

Mix up onion rings, squash and spices
Add 1 tbsp of gram or rice flour ( or plain flour if that's what you have in the store cupboard):
Mix in a tablespoon of flour
Add enough water to make a soft dough:

Dough ready for shaping
Shape into walnut-sized balls:
Dough shaped and ready for frying
Fry in hot oil  ( or you can bake them in the oven for a healthier version) until brown all over:

Fry ( or bake) in hot oil
Serve to accompany your curry, salad or dhal:
Spaghetti Squash Bhajias
Oh..and remember those seeds I scraped out at the beginning? I've washed them, dried them and will be planting them as soon as I can, so as I can grow my own lovely Spaghetti Squash.

'Spaghetti' Seeds for planting
I'll let you know how they do.

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Spring has Sprung!

Related image
and the grass has riz...*

Time for a celebration 'printanière'- a selection of spring time recipes for you.

The first is a Spring Risotto - and four ways with the leftovers.

And I finish it off with some  leftover Hot Cross Bun ideas. Yum!

First, for the Spring Risotto. Use whatever spring veg you have left in your garden or is seasonal in the shops. I had spring onions, leeks, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes ( and frozen peas).

For two people, you need 1 large mug of risotto rice, some olive oil for frying, 1 litre of hot chicken or vegetable stock, 1 glass of white wine, 1 tbsp Boursin or cream cheese with herbs and garlic and a knob of butter. Begin by stir-frying your veg (except the peas) and risotto rice in the olive oil. Add the white wine.

Stir fry your risotto rice and veg until coated
Then add the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring as it absorbs.
Stir in the stock a ladleful at a time
When the rice is nearly tender, and all the stock more or less used up, add the peas ( they will keep their green colour if you add them last).

Add the peas
Finally, mix in the Boursin and a knob of butter to make the risotto extra creamy.

Stir in the Boursin and butter
Serve hot in bowls.
Creamy Spring Risotto
The leftovers lend themselves to all kinds of dishes- hot or cold.

You can form the rice into little balls, coat in egg and breadcrumbs and fry in hot oil ( or bake for a healthier version) to make Arancini. 

Arancini with spicy chilli sauce
Or mix with a little curried mayonnaise and some chopped tomato or sweetcorn for a risotto salad.

Risotto salad

Or use to make Stuffed Beef Tomatoes. Just hollow out some large beef tomatoes with a teaspoon and mix the chopped flesh with the leftover risotto before spooning it back into the tomatoes and baking in a hot oven, topped with grated cheese.
(Suggestive olive decoration not compulsory!)

Stuffed Beef Tomatoes with Cheese ( and humorous olives)

And do something similar with Bell peppers- stuff with risotto mixed with some cubed feta or halloumi cheese and lardons and bake in a hot oven.

Risotto Stuffed Peppers

And now for those Hot Cross Buns. Who doesn't love them? Toasted with butter and jam or honey, they can't be beaten.
One a penny, two a cross buns
Or can they?

You might like to try digging out your old sandwich toastie machine to try these next two ideas.

Try spreading the bun with caramel or fudge sauce and chopped banana, 
Spread the bun with caramel and sliced banana
Then toast until the outside is crispy in a toastie machine ( or fry on both sides in  pan) to make a Banoffanini:

Banoffanini- yum!

Or use the same method but spread the bun with Nutella or chocolate sauce and sprnkle with raspberries or fruits of the forest and toast to make a Chock Berry Toastie.

Chock Berry Toastie and ice cream
Finally- how about a Hot Cross Bun Baked Alaska?

Beaten egg whites at the stiff peak stage
Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees. Whip up two egg whites with some caster sugar until at the stiff peak stage. (The egg yolks go into scrambled eggs for tomorrow's lunch).

Split and lightly toast the buns. Allow to cool completely before topping each with a scoop of ice cream of your choice. Then quickly spread the egg whites all over using a palette knife ( or piping bag if you are flash) making sure that the ice cream is completely covered right down to the base of the bun as the tiniest hole can allow the ice cream to melt and leak out.

Bake in the hot oven for 4 minutes until golden all over. (You can add some finishing touches with a cook's blow torch if you have one.)
Hot Cross Bun Baked Alaska

* Poem often attributed to Ogden Nash 'Spring is sprung and the grass is riz- I wonder where dem flowers is?'