Thursday, 20 November 2014

Chinese style pork

This may not be the healthiest or best looking plate but oh my it was melt in the mouth and delicious.  I cooked it in the afternoon and reheated when I cooked the veg and noodles later in the evening.  Worked a treat and although the ingredients are a little vague I think you could use your own tastes to adjust them. I don't see why you couldn't use spare rib chops  or shoulder of pork.  You need a fatty cut for the melt in the mouth quality. Only other thing I would add is your pan needs to be big enough to have the meat in one layer and have a lid. Or you could cover tightly with foil maybe?

4 slices pork belly cubed

3 garlic cloves sliced
Knob ginger shredded
Cinnamon stick ( 3 inch bit)
Star anise 2 small
2 slices orange peel
Shasong wine big big slug
Dark soy sauce ( around 3 tablespoons  think)
one pack of chestnut mushrooms 250g smallish cut in half or if big quarters 

Heat oil and put in pork ginger and garlic. Stir briefly until coloured. Pour in wine and few tablespoons of soy sauce. Add in all apart from mushrooms. Put on lowest heat and leave to simmer for 40 minutes. Turn over and lay mushrooms on top. Lid on 20 minutes then lid off and simmer until liquids reduce to saucy consistency. 

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Sweet vanilla popcorn

Something I tend to keep in my cupboard is a jar of vanilla sugar.  I rarely buy vanilla pods but when I do I tend to make the most of them and keep the used and dried pods in a jar of caster sugar.  After a few weeks I have a lovely jar of vanilla flavoured and scented sugar.  It's great for using in baking or anywhere you use sugar,  even just in your coffee.  I did go through a phase of having none as kids kept eating it but they are over that phase now luckily.  When the jar gets any used I just top up the sugar and give it a shake and put back in cupboard ready for the next time.

I was asked for popcorn today to eat while watching a DVD.  i wasn't in the mood for doing a caramel popcorn and went simple.  And it turned out great.

2 tablespoons oil, vegetable or sunflower is fine
100grams popcorn kernels
65 grams vanilla sugar

This turned out to leave a fair bit of the sugar in bottom of the bowl so next time will try just 50 grams 

Heat a large saucepan that ha a good fitting lid over a medium heat.Then add the popcorn kernels in one layer and put the lid on.  When the popping starts shake the pan every few seconds so none of the popcorn burn.  

When the popping slows down to one pop every couple of seconds or so we need to work a bit fast  and tip the popcorn into a large bowl and sprinkle on and stir through the sugar while it is all still warm as it will help the sugar stick to the popcorn.  

Then just sit down and enjoy it.  My youngest says the sugar in bottom of the bowl reminds him of doughnuts. 

From starting weighing things out to walking the bowl into the boys watching a DVD this took less then 5 or 6 minutes.  Would have taken me a lot longer to walk to shops to buy some and cost me  a lot more to buy than make.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Welsh Rarebit

Today apparently is Welsh Rarebit day. I can't remember where I read that fact but it was enough for me to start dreaming of it.  I don't think I have ever had it since my Nanny Kate made it for me when I stayed with her last. Must of been a good 20 years ago.  So a bit of research and adjusting to what I had I came up with this. Not maybe true to form but it was luxurious and sinful poshed up cheese on toast that should not be forgotten for another 20 years.

20g butter
20 g plain flour
100ml warm milk
150g mature cheddar, grated
1 scant teaspoon English mustard

150 ml ale, I used a local one
1/2 scant teaspoon marmite ( run out of Worcestershire sauce)

Start by making a REALLY thick white sauce by gently melting the butter over a low heat and then stirring in the plain flour and gradually add in the milk stirring the whole time until you have a thick white gloopy lump almost.  Stir in the mustard and grated cheese well to combine and take it off the heat.  Mine still looked a bit lumpy as cheese hadn't quite melted 

Then heat your chosen ale in a pan until it's reduced by half.  I then stirred the marmite through this until it had dissolved and took it off the heat to cool very slightly

Stir and beat the ale mix through the cheese mix and you are left with a lovely thick shiny mix.

In our case we toasted 3 slices of bread, although the mix would of done 4, on one side.  Turned the bread over and spread the Rarebit mixture over the bread and placed back under the grill until brown in places and bubbling.

I think I might of slightly overdone the cheese topping here. We used bread from an uncut loaf and not the 'plastic' slices of bread which seem to support the topping better. 

Happy Welsh Rarebit Day 

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Chicken kebab

We are on a lifestyle change, eating more healthy with better portions.  But I love the chicken kebabs from the kebab house that delivers to my house.  Although I don't like green peppers I also love their green peppers, mushrooms and onions so I needed to find a good substitute for these or I was going to crave what I was deprived off.  So I tried to do this at home and this version was received well by all.

For the chicken I chopped 2 chicken breasts for 3 skewers in bite size pieces and put in a bowl with a marinade of
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons white vinegar ( white wine, cider or rice wine is fine)
2 cloves garlic crushed or finely grated
1 teaspoon cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 pepper

stir to mix, cover and put in the fridge for 2 hours plus.

when you are ready to cook thread the chicken onto skewers and either cook in a preheated griddle pan or frying pan until charred on all sides and cooked all the way through. It took about 8-10 minutes I think turning so all sides were cooked.  I've done similar to this just stir frying in a pan to

meanwhile I chopped an onion, green pepper and some chestnut mushrooms up so there is roughly a third of each

while the chicken was cooking I heated a little vegetable oil and stir fried these in a frying pan over a high heat with a little seasoning and a good sprinkling of oregano.  the pepper should be slightly charred, onion should of lost its rawness and well cooked. 

I warmed through a pack of pitta, Gave everyone a skewer of chicken and put salad and the pepper mix on the table.  It all vanished.  Even the not liking green pepper kid ate his share with enthusiasm. 

Will in the future invest in a jar of pickled chillis.  I am only one who likes them ;o) And maybe do a low fat yogurt dressing to.  But for now it's good as it is. 

Friday, 3 January 2014

Mixy mixy mix muffins

Mincemeat and cranberry muffins 

Not a brilliant first photo but the light was strange at this point due to the weather.  With school out and my daughter at work I was pleased to have my son Luke home and Granddaughter Ever round to play.  I mentioned baking and Ever was in the kitchen and had oven gloves at the ready 

I started to get things out and the wash basket was flipped over and Ever was in there quick as lightening and pushing everyone out the way to be in charge of the dry ingredients bowl.

In the dry ingredients bowl we measured out
250g self raising flour
150 g caster sugar
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
50 grams dried cranberries
2 teaspoons of mixed spice

These were stirred together well with a wooden spoon while Ever was chanting and singing mixy mixy mixy mix

I preheated the oven to gas mark 6 and then we put out 12 muffin cases in a tray and Luke was in charge of the dry ingredients, he whisked together
200ml semi skimmed milk
85 ml vegetable oil
2 eggs 

Happily still mixing Luke then added the wet to the dry mix and it was kind of mixed between the pair of them, Luckily being muffins not being totally combined is fine. we added 
125g of mincemeat left over from Christmas mince pie making and folded through.

I just about convinced the kids to let me put it in the cases and we got 11 out of the mix, baked for 18 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.

we dived in while still only just warm.  A cup of tea with them would of been perfect. 

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Garlic Bread is the future

Until about 6 months ago I hadn't even heard of the Garlic bread sketch by Peter Kay,  now you can't mention Garlic Bread without someone happily squawking out the whole scene. But as good and loved garlic bread is all that butter is not a good thing.  I found a Paul Hollywood recipe that used roasted garlic and cooked that within the bread dough itself. It works beautifully. 

The white bread dough was just normal white bread dough mix with a little added butter to the mix, you could use olive oil to I think. Once the dough had been kneaded and was left proving I was left to peel 3 bulbs worth of garlic. Went fairly fast watching TV. the garlic was sprinkled with 1 tsp caster sugar and a tbsp of olive oil and roasted for 20 minutes at gas mark 5 until golden and soft.  Mine was a touch over in places.  Then left to cool

The garlic was simply then kneaded through the proven dough and then divided in 2 and stretched into rough rectangles, then placed on a silicone paper or oiled tin and left to double in size again

then a simple drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of dried oregano and we were ready to bake for 25-30 minutes at gas mark 6 

The garlic did go a bit dark and it added to the pungency although a few were a bit to dark.  We left it to cool before trying it, rare in our house it's usually cut into while still warm.

Cutting through I thought the garlic looked very sparse, but it did permeate the bread with  lovely garlic flavour, then very now and then you got a more pungent, slightly chewy gorgeousness. Definitely a make again and play with recipe