Archive for ‘Weekends’

June 10, 2011

A New Favourite: BBQ Lemon Ginger Pork with Sweet Apples and Crushed Potatoes


How lucky we’ve been to have had lots of sunshine over the last months … and we’re only technically 10 days into summer … though technically it is raining and the big cloud looming over London is looking angry. I’m doggedly optimistic that it will blow away by tomorrow because, being the weekend it’s time to BBQ!

Max and I have already been busy barbecuing away on our tiny little terrace so I have a few upcoming entries. But first would you mind if I revisit one of my  favourite BBQ dishes? We originally made this BBQ Lemon Ginger Pork with Sweet Grilled Apples on a bed of Crushed Potatoes back in December when we were in Australia. Seeing it was then British Winter, I reckon it deserves a repost now it’s British Summer. It’s a very simple dish to make and can all be done on the BBQ or grill … even the crushed potato.

So follow the link for the recipe and give it a try … Max and I will certainly be having it again soon.

Sarah x.


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March 7, 2011

Beef Cannelloni on a little Roman Holiday with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck


Those that know me, have known me as a vegetarian for most of my life.  Until a year ago, the last time I’d eaten meat was when I was just eleven years old.  Back then I was seemingly more strong willed than I am today.  I was determined to stick with my new found vegetarianism.  But I knew that there was one dish that might tempt me, beef cannelloni. Ooh my.

As the smell wafted up from the family dinner table, the cannelloni made it’s best efforts to lure me. Somehow I held strong and stuck with my vegetables.

Clearly my determination has wavered in my adulthood and now I’m back on the meat eating side of the fence. So  a couple of weekends ago when M and I decided to have a classic movie night in, it seemed like a great reason to go to a little extra effort in the kitchen and reacquaint myself with the old favourite.

What a brilliant night in. The wine was plentiful and the cannelloni was scrumptious, not too rich as I didn’t make it with a white sauce. Perhaps slightly cheesily we continued the Italian theme in our classic movie selection … the fabulous William Wyler romantic comedy, Roman Holiday, starring Audrey Hepburn and Gregroy Peck.

It had us both in fits of tears and chuckles …  if you haven’t seen it, see it!

Sx.


Beef Cannelloni

Ingredients:

1 box dried cannelloni shells
A couple of handfuls of mushrooms, finely chopped (I used the chesnut variety)
1 small onion, finely chopped
400g lean minced beef
1 egg yolk
Pinch nutmeg (freshly grated if possible)
1/3 cup fresh parsley
2 tablespoons butter / olive oil
Tomato Sauce (see below)
1/2 cup Parmesan
salt and pepper
For the Tomato Sauce
1 small onion, finely chopped
400g tin, chopped tomato
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
salt and pepper

Method:

To make the filling:
Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in pan. Add onion and fry slowly until soft and just translucent. Don’t let it brown.
Add mushrooms and beef and continue cooking until beef is browned, stir occasionally so it won’t stick.
Add a little water to allow a little sauce to form. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.
Remove from heat and leave to cool a little.
Stir through egg yolk and parsley, leaving a little parsley to garnish later.
To make the Tomato Sauce:
Melt butter (or heat olive oil) in pan. Add garlic and onion and fry slowly until soft and just translucent. Don’t let it brown.
Add tomatoes and a little water. Let to simmer about 10 minutes. It’s good for the sauce to be on the runny side as it’s from here than the dried cannelloni will take the moisture to cook.
Season to taste. Add a little red wine vinegar to counter the sweetness of the tomatoes. Do this to taste.
To make the Cannelloni:
Preheat oven to 200ºC.
Place a thin layer of the tomato sauce on the base of your tray to stop the cannelloni from sticking.
Fill the dry cannelloni shells with the filling mixture, you can pack them quite tightly. Pack them close together in the tray.
Cover shells with the tomato sauce.
Place in the oven for about 25 minutes or until the pasta is cooked.
Garnish with lots of Parmesan cheese and the reserved chopped parsley.
Note: If you want to make it a little richer, add a layer of Mozzarella above the tomato sauce.

A Classic Style Beef Cannelloni
By Good Bite In
Published: March 7, 2011
Prep time: 25 min
Cook time: 25 min
Total time: 50 min

February 16, 2011

Picnicing in Oxford: Sausage Rolls by the River Thames


On Saturday night we had a party to go to in Oxford and seeing the weather was unusually sunny we decided to make a bit more of an adventure out of it. So early Saturday morning we headed out of London for Oxford and for a 10 mile walk along the Thames Path. The Thames Path actually runs the whole length of the River Thames, 184 miles in total. If you fancy walking a bit of it yourself, details can be found here. We started in Oxford City Centre and headed north.

The Thames Path ... headed North from Oxford

The walk was beautiful. Though being that it was the first day of sunshine after a lot of rain we got very muddy! Luckily we had a picnic to make us forget our muddiness…

Time for a break

Delicious Sausage Rolls, but the quick and easy kind made with sausages rolled up in home-made salt and pepper shortcrust pastry. They were certainly very hearty and good fuel for the return mileage back to Oxford.

Past Sail Boats, Ruins and a rather old houseboat

The party that night was great fun and was actually the real reason I’d made the sausage rolls. We’d all been asked to bring some nibbles along so I’d cut a whole bunch of the sausage rolls up into much smaller bite size sausage rolls (before baking) … I forgot to take a photo of those though, oops!

On the Sunday, after a hearty breakfast in Oxford we headed back to London. Lucky me, I got a pre-Valentines surprise from M on the way home!

sarahx.

A surprise on the way home!


Recipe: Quick Sausage Rolls with Salt and Pepper Pastry Recipe

Ingredients

Salt and Pepper Shortcrust Pastry (see below for recipe or else you could always buy plain shortcrust ready made)

Sausages

Egg, beaten

Sesame Seeds

Method

– Roll out shortcrust pastry and trim to long rectangle shape.

– Lay sausages end to end along the middle of your pastry rectangle (lengthwise). Gently bring one side of pastry around and over the sausages so they are completely covered, and tuck under.

– Brush remaining pastry ‘flap’ with the egg. and then roll the sausage roll towards it.

– With the join sitting on the bottom, squeeze together to allow it to be closed.

– Using a sharp knife, slice into desired size.

– Place on greased tray and brush tops with egg. Sprinkly with sesame seeds.

– Bake 180 degrees Celsius, about 40minutes, though the time will depend on the size you’ve cut your sausage rolls to.

– Can be eaten cold or hot.

Note: You can use Puff Pastry for these if you like but I like using Shortcrust as it makes them a bit more sturdy and they also stay nice a bit longer without going soggy like puff.

Very simple to make

Perfect Salt and Pepper Shortcrust Pastry Recipe (1 kg)

Ingredients

500g Plain Flour (and some extra for rolling out)

200g butter cut into cubes

Sea Salt

Pepper

2 Eggs

Dash of Milk

A couple of tablespoons of cheese, I used cream cheese but only because I didn’t have any cheddar.

Method

– Before you start, remember that pastry works best when kept cold so all stages should be done with minimum amount of handling.

– In a food processor place flour, butter, salt and pepper. If you are using a hard cheese, grate it and add it now. Blitz on the pulse setting until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

– Add eggs and the soft cheese if that’s what you’re using. Add a small dash of milk and pulse for a few secconds until the mixture starts to form a dough.

– Check the consistency. If it’s too dry and crumbly add a little more milk, but you want to do this gradually as the worst thing is a claggy pastry. If you add too much, just add a little flour.

– When you’re happy with the texture bring it into two separate balls. Flatten them a little and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let them rest in fridge for at least an hour.When it comes to rolling it out just dust your surface lightly with flour, but if you’ve got the right texture it shouldn’t really stick. Remember it’s best to work with pastry while it’s cold, so if youre going to be a while you can always just take small amounts of pastry out of the fridge at a time. It’ll stick less when it’s cold too.

Note: You can make the pastry the day before if you like. It also freezes well. I often separate it into several smaller balls and wrap them all separately and freeze them. That way they are easily to hand when I need some pastry and you’re not making them from scratch each time.

December 19, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Beef Daube Fights the Cold


Bit of a change of plan with French Fridays this week. Having just got back to UK from Australia we’ve been given a cold shock by the snow that’s engulfing London. Being that those of us cooking along to Dorie’s latest book have the choice of when to cook each dish this month I was thinking the Speculoos would have to be first. They are after all, one of my favourite Christmas treats. But as the snow prevailed and our central heating struggled, we made a switch to Dorie’s Go-to Beef Daube.

Beef Daube is a classic beef stew, slow cooked with lashings of red wine and Cognac. Due to our rather bare post-travel cupboards, we had to sub in extra carrots for parsnips, and extra onions for shallots. However, any hesitations about this were dismissed as soon as we opened the oven door; the smell was intense … the only problem was waiting the two and a half hours in needed in the oven.

Dorie's Go-to Beef Daube

We ate it with a crusty baguette, warmed in the oven and broken into thick hunks. The garlic, wine and cognac that belt out of this dish make it super warming and rich. The slow cooking gives the beef no choice but to melt in your mouth.

Beef Daube fights the cold

As we polished it off using the crusty bread to mop up the sauce, the snow started to fall once more.

Need I say more?

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday is ‘Speculoos’, really I am making them this time.  French Fridays with Dorie is a collection of people cooking along to Dorie Greenspan’s latest book. Feel like joining in, or making Beef Daube for yourself, then check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

December 14, 2010

On the Barbeque: Lemon Ginger Pork, Sweet Apples and Crushed Potato


It’s been a blazing hot day. M and I are down at my parent’s holiday home and after a day leisurely meandering along the coast and eating ice-cream it’s time to unwind for the evening. But after a few nights being treated to some of the old family favourites by my wonderful Mum, it’s my turn to cook. It needs to be simple as the suns setting and there’s beer to be drinking.  We’re definitely barbecuing tonight!

Being that there’s no shops to pop to, dinners coming from what’s in the fridge. When I pop my head inside it’s pork chops, potatoes and apples that I come out with.  A quick marinade of lots of lemon juice, lots of fresh ginger, lots of honey and a little dash of soy and I leave the chops to marinate while the sun goes down with M, the family and beers in hand.

Of course as soon as it’s set, everyone is suddenly hungry so the barbie’s fired up …

not long later …

Lemon Ginger Pork, Crushed Tats and Grilled Green Apple

It is easier than it looks.  The potatoes are done on the barbie in a foil packet to be quickly turned into a crushed potato with a fork and a little parsley and butter. The pork, basted in the warming depth of lemon, honey and ginger, cooks quickly and simply. And the sweet, lemony apples which top off the warmth and richness of the rest of the dish, are simply grilled on the side of the BBQ.

A Delicious BBQ Stack

Sat under the stars, our bellies full, a wee tot of the Whiskey we’ve brought from home is all we need for the night to come to a perfect end.

S.


So what do you need BBQ it like this?

Pork Chops

Potatoes

Green Apples

Honey

Lemon Juice

Fresh Ginger

Soy Sauce

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Parsley

Butter – just a knob

Tin foil

First do all your prep ….

Pork Chops marinated in mixture of a good few squeezes of lemon juice, lots of fresh ginger, a big spoon of honey and little dash of soy sauce. Make the marinade to taste – I think it’s good to make lots of it so that you can use it to baste the chops while they cook. It’s up to you how strong you make the individual flavours but don’t be afraid to try to make them big.

Potatoes peeled, roughly sliced then placed on large sheet of tin foil. Toss in a little oil and salt and pepper then seal foil around potatoes so it forms a package with no openings.

Thinly Sliced Green Apples tossed in a mixture of Honey and Lemon. Don’t peel or core the apples, just slice them as they are and push out the seeds with a skewer or a finger, that way you keep the nice star shape.

Once the BBQ is fired up …

Put the packet of potatoes on first, not too hot as you want the steam that’s created inside the packet to cook the potatoes. Turn packet halfway through cooking. They are done when they are light and fluffy – you can just press down on the packet with the tongs and see if they feel soft, if you’re not sure open it up. If they are finished too long before the chops and apples it doesn’t matter, just leave them in the foil as they’ll stay hot.  When the chops and apples are almost done you can do the ‘crushing’. Empty the package into a bowl and with a fork, stir through a knob of butter, and parsley. As you do this break up the potato roughly so it has a crushed texture. Season to taste.

The chops can go straight from the marinade onto the BBQ. Don’t overturn them and you’ll get nice sear marks on them. Make sure you baste them with the left over marinade while they’re cooking.

The apples will take the least time and just need to be placed on the grill or griddle and let to colour and soften a little … don’t let them cook too much or they’ll fall through the grills. You want to turn them half way through so you get the nice grill marks on both sides.

Elements complete … all you need to do is make your stacks!

December 13, 2010

Good Bite In Australia: Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice


Back in Australia and M is about to share in one of our family traditions. I realise it might sound silly but a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice holds an important place in our family.

Orange Tradition

Growing up it was Mum, my stepdad A, my two sisters and me. Each week when Mum and A went to the farmers market they’d cart home a massive 8kg bag of oranges. Each week without fail.

A sack full of Juice

And each morning without fail A would make us all a glass of orange juice using his old depression glass orange squeezer. Five glasses a day no matter what the season or how sweet or sour the oranges. Thick and gloopy with pulp it would be there waiting for us every morning before school.

The Daily Squeeze

I’m sure at some point he worked out how many oranges he squeezed over the course of a year …. it was a lot.

Freshly Squeezed

With all of us grown up and moved out there’s no longer the need to buy that 8kg sack however whenever we’re home we’re likely to get a juice or two squeezed by A with the good old green glass orange squeezer.

Just like the old days

And this time is no different. So M, welcome to the tradition! And thanks A for all those glasses of juice.

S.

December 13, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Chicken the Lazy Way


Watching S cooking up a storm for the last few weeks and posting the results, I was beginning to get kitchen withdrawal. Ok, and the slightest bit of envy that her fledgling blogging was taking off more than mine. What can I say? I’m male and as much as I would claim not to be competitive I really am. So it was time for me to get in the kitchen, pull on the Cath Kidston apron and attempt French Fridays with Dorie.

Roast Chicken Les Paresseux is essentially Chicken the Lazy Way, which suits me fine. My approach to the kitchen is one pot cooking as who wants to spend their evenings scouring pans? This dish is perfect for this as once the chicken is cooking you can prep the veg, taking the chicken from the oven midway and laying the veg around. You then place it back to finish cooking.

Lazy way does it just fine

My other kitchen trait is to cook by instinct, recipes being a useful guide which I’ll often disregard  half way through. This wasn’t  an option with S popping her head into the kitchen to remind me that it’s French Friday with Dorie…. Not M!

What I love about the recipe, apart from the simplicity is Dorie’s chefs treat. This is the bread which the chicken is elevated on. The chicken benefits from not wallowing in the fat which is absorbed by the bread. It becomes crisp on contact with the roasting tray and can be crisped up with a little extra oven time while the chicken rests. We have cooked this dish twice now, first devouring the bread fresh from the oven and secondly served to guests as a quick starter with  gooseberry relish S had hidden in the fridge.

A couple of slices of good bread slipped under the chicken right at the start.

This is a great dish whether serving to friends; or just the two of us, using the leftovers for the next days lunch… if there’s any left!

Simplicity does it

M.

Coming Up next time on French Friday is ‘Speculoos’, the best of spicy biscuits you can find.  French Fridays with Dorie is a collection of people cooking along to Dorie Greenspan’s latest book. Feel like joining in, or making Roast Chicken Les Paresseux for yourself, then check out Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours. As requested by Dorie recipes for this group are not republished online.

November 2, 2010

Pumpkin Pizza with Crispy Sage … Where’s the beer?


Piping hot, puffed up round the sides, nice and crispy base … homemade pizza joy in our flat last night! As it’s still round Halloween time I thought a Pumpkin Pizza was in order .. only I actually used butternut squash as there seemed to be a pumpkin shortage in South London … I guess that’s me being late for Halloween.

Pumpkin, Chicken, Feta and Crispy Sage ... mmmm

It might seem like a faff but pizza is such a great last minute dinner … it’s so simple yet it feels like such a treat. The brilliant thing about making your own pizza dough is that once you’ve made it you can freeze the dough in individual portions and then just pull them out of the freezer whenever you fancy.  The recipe below makes up to 8 pizzas. That’s a lot of last minute dinners!  Once it’s defrosted all you need to do is roll it out and choose your toppings. That’s what I did last night … ten minutes in the oven, some creepy Halloween tunes on the stereo, all we needed to go with it was a beer! I reckon the best thing about this topping combo was the sage which went all crispy and was like heaven next to the creamy feta.

Pumpkin Pizza ... where's the beer?

So what do you need to top it like this?

Use the dough and cooking instructions below and top with the following ingredients. Top in the order they are listed.

Tomato Sauce (Leftover homemade sauce or else a ready made tomato paste)

Roasted Pumpkin / Butternut Squash Chunks (or steamed for a healthier version)

Grilled Breast of Chicken cut into strips

Crumbled Feta Cheese

Fresh Sage leaves cut in half lengthwise

A drizzling of olive oil

Ten minutes in your oven  … drizzle with a little chilli oil and Bobs your uncle! If you haven’t tried making your own pizza before, it’s seriously worthwhile giving it a go.

Autumn Days ... last of the blue skies .. a little distraction midway through the recipe!

Basic Pizza Recipe:

So what do you need for the dough?

1kg strong white bread flour (or type 00 if you can get it – it’s much finer so gives you a good texture)
1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
2 x sachets dried yeast (14g total)
1 tblspn caster sugar
4 tblspns olive oil
650ml jug of lukewarm water (make sure it’s not too hot or you’ll kill yeast)

(If you have it, it’s also nice to replace maybe 200g of the flour with semolina flour – not necessary, but nice)

Put it all together like this:.

A lot of people make pizza dough straight onto the worktop. This is great if you have a vast kitchen but mine is tiny. When I tried this I ended up with a pizza avalanche running down the side of my worktop. So the method I now use is to make it using a large round low edged, flat bottomed ceramic dish. It allows a large enough work area but has the advantage of having sides so it isn’t messy!

So … into your dish / work surface sift your flour. Bring it all together and make a deep well in the centre.

In your jug of water place your yeast, sugar and oil. Mix and then leave to settle for a few minutes. Pour the mix carefully into the well.

Using a fork, gradually bring the flour from the outside into the liquid. You should be gently drawing it in and swirling each little bit into the liquid as you go.  Keep doing this until you have drawn all the flour in and the mix has come together.

Now, get your hands dirty. You need to knead the dough with flour dusted hands but there’s a knack to it. My grandmother used to always tell me off as a child when I got it wrong … I can almost hear her now, telling me I’ve got to be more gentle with the dough, to feel it, to sense it! It’s true though you do need to sense it. You should be kneading it and stretching it at the same time. With each knead gently pulling the dough away from itself, stretching it, working it into a smooth elasticey springy ball of dough. Be careful not to be too rough or hard with it or you’ll knock the life out of it.

Place the dough into a large flour dusted bowl and sprinkle a little more flour over the top. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour or until it’s doubled in size. The time it needs will vary greatly according to the temperature of the room.

Now to knock back the dough. Place the dough on a flour dusted surface and knead around a bit to push the air out and you’ll see it deflate a little.

That’s the dough made. Using a sharp knife divide it into balls according to how many pizza you want to make. It will make 8 standard size pizzas or else you could make a whole load of mini ones – up to you. You can either make your pizzas straight away or wrap the individual balls in cling film and place in the freezer, ready to defrost when you fancy a pizza!

Making the Pizza:

(Note: If you can roll out the dough ten minutes or so before you’re going to top and cook – not to worry if you can’t)

Place your tray, pizza stone or a unglazed terracotta tile (this is a cheap but perfectly good pizza stone alternative!) in the oven.

Preheat your oven as hot as it goes – mine goes to 300 Celsius.

Now, lightly dust your workspace with flour and roll the dough out – flipping and turning every so often so you get a nice even pizza. You want it as thin as you can get it. Once I’ve done the basic rolling I sometimes just get it in my hands and kind of stretch and turn it between my hands. The weight of it dropping between your hands stretches it and helps you to get that nice thin base.

Once you’re ready, top the pizzas – either using the suggestion above or else whatever you fancy (be careful not to overload on topping or else you’ll have trouble transferring it to oven in a moment)

Slide the pizza onto your tray of choice that has been heating up in the oven.

All it needs is ten minutes in the oven and you’ve got yourself a pizza!

S.

October 30, 2010

Heaven on Toast: Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & Capers on Sourdough


Heaven on Toast this certainly must be …

Smoked Salmon, Cream Cheese & Capers on Sourdough

… and when I’m in the mood for decadence at the breakfast table this is what does it for me. A thick slice of Gail’s Potato and Rosemary Sourdough (after a tip off from friend O), lightly toasted and topped with a thick smear of cream cheese. A couple of lightly placed layers of Smoked Salmon, a sprinkling of salt packed capers and a squeeze of lemon.

Just a squeeze of lemon

It was my birthday breakfast after all …

S.

October 16, 2010

Saturday Coffee: Let’s hear you say crema …


The sun is rising, Frank’s playing on the radio and the alarm hasn’t gone off. It can only be the weekend.

Don’t even bother to utter the word instant, I’d prefer to go thirsty.  Thick, black  with the perfect crema … nothing beats a properly made brew to kick off the weekend.

I admit to owning my fair share of coffee brewing paraphernalia, collected the world over. And, I admit to living by oath of allegiance to Monmouth Coffee. Thus considered, I like to think I make a fairly decent cuppa.

Stick your nose to the bag and inhale deeply ...

My favourite method at home is using a Bosnian coffee pot. It’s a little purpose made narrow topped pot that you fill with water and a few spoons of coffee. Then as it heats on the hob, a thick foam forms rises from the surface. Just when you think it’s going to overflow you lift it from the heat, let the foam drop and then return it to the heat. Ritual dictates you repeat this process three times over. Whether that’s technique or superstition I don’t know, but you do get a beautiful thick black coffee at the end of it. Served in tiny cups the coffee sediment drops to the bottom and it gives you a wake up call to remember. In Bosnia they add sugar to this type of coffee but I prefer to take it as it comes. My only problem with it is that it doesn’t produce that classic crema. Nor, I’m ashamed to admit, do any of my other coffee gadgets.

Sip the Morretti Crema @ Rosies Brixton

If I’m really craving the good stuff I head to Rosie’s Deli in Brixton. I’m convinced it’s the best coffee in South London.

For home though, in my crema dreams  I sometimes wonder about an espresso machine. The New York Times recently announced the $20,000 cup of coffee but sitting here in our little flat, in our tiny little kitchen that would I suspect be a tad over the top. I have to admit to perusing machines on Ebay this week … and drooling over the video of the new Miele Compact Barista counter top machine.

Hmmmmm … how many coins are in the bottom of my purse? I think Ebay might win my vote.

S.

PS.Promise to add a Bosnian Coffee Pot Pic to this post soon!

PPS. If you are looking for something tasty to go with your coffee this weekend check out these Pear, Hazelnut and Brown Butter Cakes at Cannelle Et Vanille. I haven’t made them yet but I will soon!


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