Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

October 30th, 2013 by Pie

Halloween Party Dips

I wonder sometimes if my body is made up of mostly houmous. I eat it by the bucketload and there is usually more than one variety in my fridge just so I have a choice between smooth or course. I count myself very lucky that I live in Haringey where Turkish food is prolific, although that certainly doesn’t help my addiction. I read recently in the Guardian that more than 40% of Britons have a pot of houmous in the fridge and it is now seen as a grocery staple. So that makes me feel much better that I am not alone in my affliction.

It was whilst I was stuffing my face with houmous last night that I considered whether there may be an alternative. Dinner parties at home, Christmas morning, late night board games are always accompanied by a pot of houmous and it’s not that I’m getting bored of it. Never!!! But perhaps those around me might. So, keeping in mind the bunches of parties coming up, I am challenging myself to have a houmous free existence for the next few months so I have had to come up with some different options. After all, dips are still a necessity, aren’t they?

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So, at the end of an afternoon filled with chopping, whizzing, spicing and tasting I actually think I have cracked it. These dips are not only much more attractive than the rather dour chickpea beige but they are also sublimely moreish which is exactly what you want when trying to polish off a bag of kettle chips. Although technically one of the recipes isn’t mine and belongs to the divine Silvena Rowe and don’t worry that one contains tahini, lemon juice and garlic so it’s practically houmous anyway.

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The butternut squash dip is made by roasting the lovely orange flesh with lots of spice which makes it deliciously rich. The chorizo is by no means essential, you can quite happily make a veggie version and you won’t be missing out at all. Or you could pair the butternut squash with some lamb chops to make a wonderful accompaniment as part of a main meal.

I will usually devour dips indefinitely with a packet of Clearspring’s sticky rice crackers assisting me in the task which I think you can get in most supermarkets now. They are a slightly healthier alternative to those kettle chips.

Butternut Squash with Chorizo Dip

60ml olive oil
1 x butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Grated zest of ¼ orange
1 tbsp Fino or other dry sherry
Plenty of salt and pepper
2 x chorizo sausages, diced small

  1. In a large baking dish mix together all the ingredients, bar the chorizo, and place in an oven preheated to 180°C. Roast for 45mins – 1 hour, giving it a good turn over halfway through until the squash is soft. Remove from the oven.
  2. Pulse the butternut squash in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Place the chorizo in a small saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to crisp up.
  4. Serve the butternut squash dip with the chorizo piled on top.

Silvena Rowe’s Avocado and Sumac Whip

2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 small lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tahini
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sumac
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Scrape the avocados from their skins and blend in a food processor with the lemon juice until smooth.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until thick and smooth.
  3. Serve with the sesame seeds scattered on top.
October 25th, 2013 by Pie

Maple Pecan Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato

There is something about the time around Halloween which brings out the American flavours in me. When ginormous pumpkins are beaming at you from their orange mountains within Tesco’s doorway and witches and goblins leer out of every shop window there is something in the air that makes me want to reach across the pond. I imagine myself in a dinky New England town with kids cycling in circles around the pumpkin patch, fathers raking up leaves as moms bake cookies in between sewing incredibly ornate trick or treat outfits for their five year olds. Multiple viewings of The Woman in White when I was a pre-teen might have had something to do with that vision. Now that’s a scary film.

So when I’m itching to incorporate a little bit of Halloween in my meals in the run up to the big day I can’t help but crave toasty pecans paired with maple syrup, the real amber nectar. Apparently I shouldn’t eat sweet things all day long, even though that would be the dream, so I pile them atop tender chicken and serve with a pipingly hot baked sweet potato. Although I completely draw the line at the American tradition of putting any kind of sugary nonsense with my sweet potato. It’s sweet already, it says it in the name.

This recipe has been heavily adapted from one of my favourite and most used cookbooks, the first Ottolenghi book where the chicken was originally paired with saffron, hazelnuts and honey, just in case you were wondering.

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Maple Pecan Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato

2 x sweet potatoes
2 x chicken supremes
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
50g pecan nuts
1 tbsp maple syrup

  1. Wrap each sweet potato tightly in foil and place in the centre of an oven pre-heated to 180°C. The potatoes should take between 75-90 mins to bake depending on the size of your potato
  2. Mix together the cinnamon, ginger and olive oil then rub it all over each piece of chicken. Marinate for at least half an hour before adding to the oven to bake alongside the potatoes. The chicken should take between 30-40 mins to cook thoroughly depending on the size of your chicken supremes.
  3. Meanwhile spread the pecan nuts in a shallow baking tray and add to oven to bake for 10 mins. Remove, chop roughly then mix in with the maple syrup.
  4. 10 mins before the chicken is ready, remove from the oven the spoon oven the pecan nuts, pressing tightly against the top of the chicken. Put back in the oven for the remaining 10 mins.
  5. Serve the chicken with the sweet potato, peeled out of it’s foil and a knob of butter.
October 22nd, 2013 by Pie

Halloween Chilli with Cornbread Muffins

I might have to rein myself in. It is coming up to my favourite time of year, Christmas lights, parties and food- and the run up to Halloween is what kicks it all off. You can never be too old for Halloween, at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m squabbling with the ten year old child in Sainsburys over the last witch’s broom in their seasonal section. This is the time of year for sharing, I explain to her. Actually it’s more like the time of year for us all to explode out of our boxes, be daring and fun in the way that only dressing up like a bozo will let you. You can finally break out that twerk that’s been building up in your behind, you can show how down with the pre-schoolers you are by rocking the Despicable Me Minion look or reveal your drug lord tendencies by Walter Whiting your night. Anything goes, it’s Halloween.

And that’s why I’m going to go absolutely crazy and… make a chilli. Yeah, that’s right, I’m doing it, I’m living wild and free. You had better watch out, who knows what freaky business I will get up to next. If it helps I’m making the chilli with my tongue sticking out of my mouth and stirring it with a foam finger. Cornbread muffins in the shape of diddy pumpkins and skeletons though, now that’s rock and roll, just in case you were wondering.

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A vat of hot comforting chilli is just what you need as a standby for pre or post Halloween parties and the cornbread muffins are as quick as a flash to knock up. You are more than welcome to make them in simple 12 hole muffin trays, but let me warn you, they don’t taste the same.

Halloween Chilli with Cornbread Muffins

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
700g beef mince
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sweet hot paprika
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry fried and bashed
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
3 whole dried chillies
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
70g coriander including stalks, finely chopped
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 bottle passata
300g tin of kidney beans
Salt and Pepper – season gently after every step
Sour Cream to serve

Cornbread Muffins
Makes 12

250g cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
500ml buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, when hot add the onions. Cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes before adding the celery. Continue cooking until the onion starts to caramelise. This should take about 20 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots, red pepper and garlic and stir for about 5 mins until they slightly soften.
  3. Mix the mince into the pan and after about 4 minutes of stirring add all the spices.
  4. Take the tops off the chillies and shake out the seeds and discard. Place the chillies in warm water for about 5 minutes to soften, then remove and chop finely. Add to the pan.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. Fill the empty passata jar halfway with water, put the lid on and give it a good shake so you get all the tomato juice. Add to the pan. Put the lid on the pan and cook on a gentle simmer for about half an hour.
  6. Add the kidney beans and carry on cooking for about 15 minutes.
  7. Once the kidney beans are added you can make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter a muffin tin.
  8. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and combine thoroughly.
  9. Pour the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 12-15mins.
  10. Remove the muffins from the oven and while they are cooling for a few mins in their tin you can make the glaze. Melt the butter then stir in the agave nectar or honey until they form a syrup.
  11. Remove the muffins from the tin and then over the top of each one pour over the glaze so that it sinks into the warm muffins.
  12. Serve the chilli in deep bowls with a scattering of chopped coriander leaves, a swirl of sour cream and the warm muffins.

 

Halloween Chilli and cornbread muffins

 

October 18th, 2013 by Pie

Jerk chicken with kohlrabi and fennel remoulade

There are a handful of restaurants, pubs and cafes which I go to frequently. You might even say I was a valued regular if you forget for a moment that we live in London where all you would get if you were recognised by the staff would be a knowing smirk. One of my ‘regular’ places until earlier this year was a Caribbean restaurant in Crouch End called Rhythm. It wasn’t the most happening place it’s fair to say. In fact most of Crouch End steered away in droves and went to the lively restaurant next door. Ha, I thought, more fool them, queuing for hours, eating their free popcorn. I can just turn up here at the drop of a hat, I never have to book and the food is ten times better. I was very smug about the whole thing. Until Rhythm closed as no one went there except me.

Rhythm had a limited but faultless menu. I should know, I tried everything on there, dozens of times. But the one dish that truly had me in their thrall was their jerk chicken. It gave a wonderful amount of heat but it was also packed with a truckload of flavour. The heavy blackened skin was the highlight, hot with sweet aromatic spice. Underneath, the leg meat, so juicy from hours of marinating and slow cooking, would fall off the bone, only for you to gather it up with the thick sauce pooling on your plate ready to knock your socks off again.

When Rhythm closed I was bereft, where would I get my jerk chicken fix now?  I mournfully tried other local places but their jerk marinades were either not spicy enough or too spicy with no flavour coming through.  Then under a beam of heavenly light I remembered something.  I had a kitchen.  And a tonne of cookbooks.  And the internet.  So I toiled mercilessly for days, weeks, months until I had tweaked the recipe into perfection – well, one lazy Sunday- and produced actual jerk chicken myself.  In my own kitchen.  It was a revelation.  I wonder how many other restaurants I don’t need to go to now I know I can cook these things myself.  I may never need to go out again.  Except for tonight.  It’s Friday – treat night!

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The only way to have jerk chicken is with a bucketful of cooling slaw to temper the firework of spices exploding in your mouth.  I love this kohlrabi and fennel remoulade as it doesn’t try to compete with the jerk, it is just happy to sit back and do backing vocals.  The kohlrabi also gives it a wonderful creamy texture instead of the sometimes too crunchy results that you can get with homemade coleslaw.  Also, kohlrabi is such a gorgeous colour, see it below getting chummy with the purple cauliflower.

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Jerk Chicken with Kohlrabi and fennel remoulade

Serves 4

Jerk Chicken

8 chicken thighs
Small handful of parsley, including stalks
Small handful of coriander, including stalks
1 scotch bonnet chilli
1 onion
2 tbsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed chillies
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp agave nectar/ honey / molasses
2 tbsp muscavado sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp soy sauce
100ml dark rum
Good glug of olive oil

  1. Blitz all ingredients for the jerk marinade in the food processor then rub the marinade all over the chicken thighs.
  2. Place in an ovenproof dish and leave to marinate for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge if you can.
  3. Place the dish in oven preheated to 180°C and cook for 50 mins until chicken is cooked.

Kohlrabi remoulade

1 kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 fennel bulb, core removed, sliced into matchsticks
1 garlic clove
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg yolk
75ml olive oil
75ml sunflower oil
Squeeze of fresh lemon

  1. Crush the garlic clove with a large pinch of salt and bash up.
  2. Put the crushed garlic in a bowl with the mustard, vinegar, sugar salt and egg yolk and whisk together.
  3. Mix the oils together in a jug then trickle in a steady steam into the egg mixture, mixing constantly to emulsify.
  4. Once all the oil has been added and the mixture is thick and glossy squeeze in some lemon juice and add more salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix in the kohlrabi and the fennel to coat thoroughly.
October 15th, 2013 by Pie

Madeira Braised Steak with Celeriac Mash

It is definitely stew season.  The days are now noticeably shorter as we are getting up and coming home from work in a much dimmer light.  The chill to the air is prompting us to reach for the extra layer and I have even had the excitement of plucking my winter coat out of hibernation for a quick trip into town.  I went on the tube, was far too hot and regretted it instantly.  Still, the thought was there.

So if you haven’t yet succumbed to the lure of your winter coat then you are going to need something warm when you get home and a lovely rich stew with steak melting to the touch of the fork is ideal edible central heating.

This is a very simple braising recipe and I cook it in a wide bottomed saucepan rather than a casserole dish as the liquid is there only to help the meat to break down.  There is little gravy from braising the steak in this way but it is so intensely flavoured from the madeira and mustard that you only need a small portion.  What you will need is a mash to soak up all those wonderful juices.

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I am often substituting different kinds of vegetables for potato in a mash.  It lessens carb intake but also can add another dimension to the whole dish rather than being a way to fill out a meal.  I am certainly not one to shirk away from a good pommes puree but so many delicious vegetables can be used instead.  I use celeriac here as it produces a very light mash so is a perfect accompaniment to the robust flavours of your steak.  It is an ugly looking vegetable it is true but once you strim away all the hairy tubers, the clean colour of the flesh reflects its bright lively taste.  No mash is complete without lashings of salt and butter and how much butter you add is up to you, but to be honest you can probably never have enough.

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Madeira Braised Steak with Celeriac Mash

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
800g stewing steak, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 litre good fresh stock
2 celery sticks, diced
1 onion, diced
½ bulb fennel diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
50ml madeira
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 x Celeriac
Plenty of salted butter
Handful of parsley, roughly chopped

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a casserole dish on the hob and then when smoking, add the cubed steak and plenty of pepper.
  2. Once browned, remove the steak with a slotted spoon and if there is excess water in your casserole, raise the heat to reduce.
  3. After all the water is reduced, all that should be left are the beef bits. Add the second tbsp of olive oil then the diced celery, onion and fennel. Keep on a low heat and cook gently until the veg is soft.
  4. Pour in the madeira and stir in for 1 minute until the alcohol is burnt off.
  5. Add the garlic, herbs, Dijon mustard and season well.
  6. Put the beef back in and add the stock.
  7. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 3 hours until the beef is tender.
  8. For the celeriac mash, peel and chop the celeriac into large chunks.  Boil in a large saucepan of salted water for around 30 mins.  Drain, then mash with plenty of salted butter and season to taste.
  9. Serve the braised steak with the celeriac mash, sprinkling with parsley.
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October 14th, 2013 by Pie

Roast Chicken with all the Sunday Trimmings

I read a very worrying headline in the Daily Mail yesterday, ‘A family dinner? We’d rather eat in front of the telly: How just one in 50 families enjoy once-traditional weekend meal.’ Foregoing my usual scoff at the insular sensationalism typically offered by the Daily Mail, this time I felt a pang of recognition at the topic at hand. Last minute conversations before the working day in our house are often desperately trying to organise how we’ll be able to eat dinner together. Work events, long hours and the occasional quick drink with friends can severely compromise the two of us sitting down at a table at a reasonable hour for dinner. Supper on the sofa happens all too frequently.

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The one meal we can always rely upon as a family to both cook together and eat together is our Sunday Lunch. It is absolutely sacrosanct. If we don’t have it at home then we will have it out and we are constantly grading our pubs and nearby eateries with whether they do a decent Sunday Lunch. The conversation always ends the same way though as they might do an okay one, but it is never as good as at home. Roast potatoes can be hard, gravy can be too thin and Yorkshire puddings merely crisp clouds, nice to look at but lacking the necessary pudding.

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This Sunday we had something extra special to celebrate as we have a new furry sidekick in our midst. A little bundle of trouble whom after only a few hours of being in our family had already joined in, nestling down between our feet as we ate at the dining table. At least he didn’t jump onto the table and insist on sleeping between the cabbage and potatoes like Alarm Clock 2.

 

Unlike the meals we have in the working week, we take pleasure in making lunch on a Sunday centre stage. Today it was the turn of the chicken which I think of as the easiest roast. There are only two things to remember when cooking a chicken; if it’s a small bird it takes 1 hour 15 mins, if it’s a large one it takes 1 hour 30 mins. Any further information is just fancy talk. But I do like to talk fancy. For our classic roast chicken we stuff the cavity with half a lemon, a handful of parsley stalks, a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary and a couple of garlic cloves still in their skins. We rain down salt and pepper like a heavy thunderstorm and finally drench it in olive oil.

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A roast dinner in our house is not complete without carrot and swede mash. I grew up with my grandmother insisting on calling it carrot and turnip probably to annoy my father who was constantly correcting her but I knew what I was getting and now I would never think to let the week end without it. It is one of my top five foods of all time. I give you a few weeks before you discover the rest of that list. It won’t be difficult, the things I like, I tend to have immoderately. Carrot and Swede mash just requires you to peel, then chop the swede into large cubes, chuck it in a large saucepan with the same volume of carrots, peeled and chopped into large circles. The veg is brought to a boil then turned down to a simmer for at least 45 mins. Any less and it just doesn’t mash the same. This is no time for al dente, save that for your baby veg. As soon as a knife can fall through a cube of swede like butter then you can add copious amounts of… butter… and nutmeg and salt and pepper. Jazz it up. The time will come soon when I will beckon you to add crème fraiche but not today, today the butter will be all the dairy you need.

Carrot and Swede Mash

Roast Potatoes! Peel, chop in half, par-boil for 10 mins, drain, bash around in the colander, then throw into a baking tray with hot olive oil, garlic cloves and rosemary and roast in the oven for 45 mins at 180°C. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before.

The gravy, though. Oh, the gravy. Please please tell me you don’t use Bisto? This is the one part that I’m afraid I can’t take any shortcuts on. I think of the gravy for my next roast the moment I am clearing away the one before. The essential ingredient is fresh stock and the sticky bits from today. Since I like all the components of my roast to be ready at the same time, I save the sticky bits from the bottom of the meat, put it in Tupperware and save for the next roast. The same goes for my stock, which is always simmering away on a Sunday night during Downton Abbey whilst we are gorging on pud.  This means today all I had to do was remove my sticky bits from the freezer, heat in a saucepan, add flour, a glug of Marsala, then the stock, a bay leaf and some thyme. If I start cooking this halfway through my chicken time then the gravy is rich and flavoursome by the time the chicken is taken out of the oven. This is never something I regard as a faff because as I said, in my household the Sunday Lunch is absolutely sacrosanct.

October 10th, 2013 by Pie

Tex Mex Salad

I have a confession to make. I might be slightly addicted to this salad. I have had it three lunchtimes in a row. So I think it is only fair that I get you addicted too.

This has always been one of my favourite quick bites in town and I can often be seen lurking around Freebird Burrito, who have stalls throughout London. Their burritos are the best in the city I think and I have given it a jolly good go to try most of them. However, the salad is the buzz as the greenery makes you feel like you are doing your body a favour even though it’s disguised under a mass of creamy avocado and cheese. Their salad comes loaded with rice and beans as well which although scrummy I didn’t feel was necessary here as there’s so much going on already.

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The best salads are quick to throw together, involve fridge staples so you don’t have to make a special trip to the shop and have lots of different flavours to keep you interested. You can say what you like but this salad is never boring. I used leftover pork from the roast I made a couple of days ago and tossed together with new spices it was completely rejuvenated. However, this is so delicious that I would happily fry off a bit of chicken especially to make it as well. Whatever gets you that tex mex fix.

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I love this chipotles in adobo which is from the Cool Chile Co., it really adds a bit of smoky Mexican authenticity to the dish. I use it all the time, it keeps for ages in the fridge and can be added to absolutely anything. It peps up tomato sauces, is an absolute staple when you are making chilli and features heavily in the bacon jam recipe which will be making an appearance on my blog very soon.

 

Tex Mex Salad
Serves 2

Leftover Pork / Chicken / Beef / Whatever
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
½ red pepper, sliced thinly
½ green pepper, sliced thinly
1 tsp chipotle in adobo
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 avocado
1 tbsp sour cream
Grated cheese
Coriander, chopped roughly
½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
Juice of ½ lime
Olive oil to dress

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and stir fry for about 5-10 mins until they start to soften.
  2. Add your leftover meat, the chipotle, garlic powder, cumin, paprika and seasoning and stir together until the meat is completely heated through. Remove from the heat and set aside whilst you assemble the salad.
  3. Peel and de-stone your avocado. Mash the flesh through with a fork and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir in the sour cream.
  4. Now you just need to assemble. Start with the bed of romaine lettuce, then the meat, then a large dollop of avocado and then the cheese. Finish off with a squeeze of lime and olive oil.
October 8th, 2013 by Pie

Autumn Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Squash and Hazelnuts

This week I am so excited by autumn cooking having been inspired by a visit to the farmers’ market at the weekend. The stalls were laden with rainbows of differently coloured squash. This is when the farmers market makes food shopping so much fun as the big supermarkets rarely stray far from butternuts, marrows or pumpkins. At Alexandra Palace on a Sunday morning ugly brutes are piled hugger mugger with smaller flowery varieties, all of them glistening tantalisingly in the bright sunshine.

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I never know exactly what I’m buying and instead rely on my eyes to be drawn to the most unusual but all squash can be prepared in similar ways. The firmer sweeter varieties can be leant out to soups but the reliable roast is an excellent way to experiment on the stranger looking ones. Every variety tastes slightly different so it’s always a delightful surprise when you take your first bite.

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I had to team my squash with a roast loin of pork which I have been craving for weeks and stuffed it to bursting with autumnal apples and spices. I can practically sense the evenings drawing in and the hot toddies beckoning just by taking an indulgent whiff of cinnamon. If you can get hold of unsweetened apple sauce then it is preferred as the tang of the apples complement really well with the earthy spices. The sweetened variety makes it all…well…sweeter.

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Autumn Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Squash and Hazelnuts

Serves 4

1.5kg pork loin
4 tbsp apple sauce (unsweetened if you can get it)
¼ tsp crushed chilies
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds, bashed
1 garlic clove, crushed
250ml apple cider
2 squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into fat chunks
Handful of hazelnuts, chopped roughly

  1. Remove the pork loin from its packaging and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Place in the fridge for at least an hour without anything covering it so the skin can dry out.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  3. Mix together the ingredients for the stuffing, the apple sauce, all the spices and garlic and set aside.
  4. Toss your squash together with olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper in a large baking tray and set aside.
  5. Remove the pork from the fridge and if tied together with string, remove the string and unroll the loin. Score the pork skin with a sharp knife. Turn the pork over and spread the stuffing onto the flesh side of the pork and then re-roll, making sure not too much of the stuffing oozes out. Tie up with more string and season the skin liberally with salt. Place in the oven.
  6. After 20 mins take the pork out and pour the cider into the pan, don’t pour over the pork though or it will affect the crackle of the skin later on. Turn the heat down to 160°C.
  7. Place the squash in the oven along with the pork.
  8. After 1 hour and 20mins, remove the pork from the oven to rest.  Turn the oven up to 180°C.  Add the chopped hazelnuts to the squash and roast for a further 15mins or until the squash is tender.
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October 2nd, 2013 by Pie

Chipotle Salmon with Black Kale Rice

What’s green, has a fantastic bite and currently taking over my kitchen at an alarming rate.  No, not Audrey II, although a lot of the time this house does feel like a scene from Little Shop of Horrors but perhaps that’s because I like to sing a wonky version of Suddenly Seymour whilst making my dinner.

No, the answer I was looking for was kale, which you would so know the answer to if you had been reading an earlier post.  Perhaps if I resisted from buying it every time I go to the grocer then it wouldn’t be springing up at every other mealtime but it’s perfectly in season and darn it it’s so hot right now.  Did you know you can even get kale crisps, they are super delicious and healthy so do seek them out.

Dinner last night was my organic black kale’s last hurrah and boy did she go out with a bang.  Her robust earthy leaves teamed heroically with the tender flakes of salmon, their full flavours allowing me to add a gentle kick of chipotle to the proceedings.  If you don’t have chipotle powder then it’s not the end of the world, it does have more of a distinctive flavor than generic chili powder, but please work with what you have.  I didn’t want this to be a risotto as I wanted the grains of rice to stand on their own so I used basmati which also meant I didn’t have to stand around stirring it the whole time and I could really give Suddenly Seymour my full attention.

Chipotle Salmon with Black Kale Rice

Serves 2

1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, cut into fine rings
100g black kale, or any kale, shredded
180g rice
250ml good chicken stock
2 x salmon fillets
1 tsp chipotle or any chili powder
1 knob butter

  1. Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a wide bottomed pan then add the leeks.  Stir for 5 mins until they are just starting to soften.
  2. Add the rice and stir to coat it in the oil and mix in with the leek.  Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil.  Add the kale.  Give everything a good mix then put the lid on, stirring occasionally.
  4. Rub the flesh side of each salmon filet with ½ tsp each of chili powder then place skin side down under a preheated grill.  The salmon is ready when the flesh starts to turn golden which should take about 10 mins.
  5. By this time the rice should have absorbed all of the stock but retained a slight bite.  If not, give it a few more minutes.
  6. Stir in a small knob of butter to the rice and kale and serve with the salmon.

This may have been the black kale’s last stand but there are plenty more varieties jostling for space in my veg basket so kale world domination is not over yet.

October 1st, 2013 by Pie

Lemon and Fennel Pork Chop with Buttered Leeks

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A pork chop is a glorious thing.  The mainstay of the weekday dinner and champion of my heart.  I do not apologise for proclaiming this humble ingredient as one of my top ten ever ever ever.  It really doesn’t get enough credit for being quite so reliable.  Perhaps sometimes it has the unfortunate reputation of being a little dry but like most things that just means it isn’t being cooked right.  It doesn’t matter what menu it appears on I will order it.  In one wonderful restaurant in Andalucía I ordered pork chop and they gave me three.  It was a blessed day.

Pork chops are best cooked under the grill hard and fast so that the rind crisps quickly under the hot glare.  The meat remains juicy and giving with the pink only having just departed.  The best way to achieve this is to heat the grill up first to its highest setting, blast the chop on one side just before the rind starts to blacken then turn over and wait for the same indicator.  The chop should take around 12 minutes maximum, if it’s overcooked that’s when it dries out.

This weekday treat works wonderfully with buttery caramelized leeks.  The sweet soft flesh complimenting the thick salty meat.  I like to prepare my leeks cut in half then halved lengthways again.  This makes it easy for cleaning out all the residual soil and means the leeks keep a firm but melted body when cooked.

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The recipe for the lemon and fennel marinade for the pork has been knocking around my kitchen for an age.  I use it for either chicken or pork and I credit it to Jamie Oliver’s The Return of the Naked Chef and my husband for buying me the cookbook on our first Christmas together.

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Lemon and Fennel Pork Chops with Buttered Leeks

Serves 2 (obv as there are 2 pork chops.  Ahh, Andalucía you seem so long ago)

For the chops
2 Pork Chops
1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed in a pestle and mortar
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil

For the leeks
3 leeks, halved then halved lengthways
30g butter

  1. Take the pork chops and pat dry with a kitchen towel, then score the rind with a very sharp knife, being careful not to cut into the meat itself.
  2. Mix together all the marinade ingredients with plenty of salt and pepper then rub all over the meat.  Leave to marinate whilst you begin preparing the leeks.
  3. Melt the butter in a wide bottomed saucepan over a medium heat.  Add the leeks, generously seasoning with salt and pepper.  Stir it all up then put a lid on.  The leeks should take around 15-20 mins to soften and caramelise but do keep stirring every so often.
  4. Meanwhile transfer the chops to your very hot grill, the first side should take around 8-10 mins then the second side should only take about 3-4 mins.  Serve with plenty of the leeks.