Posts tagged ‘summerfood’

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!

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November 2, 2010

St. John Nose to Tail Eating: Ex-vegetarian goes the whole hog


Did I tell you that until recently I was a vegetarian? Fully fledged for 19 years … vegan for some of it.

Then one day I turned. I turned to meat.

I was craving it, something that had never happened before. I’d heard ex-vegetarians talk of these cravings turning them but I didn’t really understand.

I thought the cravings would pass.

They didn’t.

They got worse.

I fought them for 2 years.

Finally I relented and tried a little bite of pork as I thought that might sate the craving – I didn’t think I’d like it.

I loved it.

It didn’t stop the craving.

It made it worse. Much worse.

I have now crumbled to the world of carnivorous desire. I am a meat eater and I love it.

Now I have to learn how to cook it, which I’m loving just as much. M knows this and so what did I get for my recent birthday …

Fergus Henderson's Nose to Tail Eating ... now do I start at the nose or the tail?

A few of my friends turned their noses up when I mentioned M had given me this book. Fergus Henderson is known as the British Godfather of offal and ‘alternative meat’ cooking in the UK. M really has set the bar by giving me this book. It’s almost a challenge don’t you think? But you know what, I’m not squeamish about it … if I’m going to eat the animal I’m not going to worry about what part I’m eating …

Saying that, I have yet to venture to Fergus Henderson’s St. John Restaurant but it’s on the cards for after Christmas … as is starting to cook my way through this book. I have to say I am a little scared … but you know what I reckon I’m game.

S.

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 29, 2010

Good Bite In My Lunchbox: Red Rice Salad with Orange & Apricot


Ever since spotting this California inspired red rice salad on Eat.Live.Travel.Write I’ve had a hankering for a wild rice salad. Maybe it’s because it looked so fresh and summery and I’m feeling the need for an antidote to autumn. It came to mind this morning when I was making lunchboxes for M and me but the only ingredient I had was the red rice. I ended up creating my own version … a Red Rice Salad with Orange & Apricot. I’ll  have to go back to Eat.Live.Travel.Write’s version another time.

So here’s what went in our lunchboxes today.

Red Rice Salad with Apricot and Orange

So what do you need?

125g sachet Camargue Rice (Red Rice), boiled but so it retains a little bite

1 Orange (you’ll use juice and rind)

3 Spring Onions, finely chopped

6 Dried Apricots, sliced in strips

Rocket (2 cups or so – up to you)

Lemon Juice (Just a splash)

Handful Shelled Pistachios (Toasted lightly in oven with a little salt)

Salt

So how do you put it together?

In a bowl combine drained and cooled rice, spring onions, apricots, rocket and pistachios.

You have two options for the orange  rind in this salad – you can either grate the rind or else … using a peeler take 4 or 5 strips of rind from the orange. Tidy the strip up into a rectangle with knife and then cut in very thin strips. Add these to your salad.

Now you can cut the orange in half and squeeze all the juice out. Use this and the splash of lemon juice to dress the salad. Season well.

Nutty and Zesty!

Hope you enjoy this good bite in our lunchbox from today … it was delicious!

S.

October 14, 2010

French Fridays with Dorie: Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup


French Fridays with Dorie is  a project involving a seemingly huge number of bloggers cooking their way through  Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours . This week’s recipe is Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup. I couldn’t be happier.

It isn’t what most would imagine to be a French dish to be, but France’s involvement in Vietnam and the resulting influences on both countries cuisine could be said to make it so. This recipe is Dorie’s own mix up of pho ga (a chicken broth based soup) and la sa ga ( a coconut based curry soup). It reminds me of the traditional Pho, found in it’s many varieties across Vietnam.

 

Busy Hannoi ... There must be some pho nearby ...

 

When I traveled  in Vietnam several years back I ate Pho almost every day for breakfast, normally at roadside stalls. If your eyebrows are raised, Pho is Vietnam’s equivalent to cornflakes or toast and over the course of a month I became addicted to it. Back in London I regularly try to make my own version of it. Or else I head to Mien Tay Restaurant for a bowl. It’s got to be the best in London.

 

Pho ... even in the mountains of the North

 

So this recipe by Dorie was right up my street. I couldn’t wait to get started.

 

Spicy Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Soup

 

It’s an easy soup to put together and all the elements can be prepared ahead of time and assembled at the last minute. What I love about this style of soup is that you make the base and then layer all the elements on top. In Vietnam all these extras are normally served alongside the soup and it’s up to the individual to decide how much of each they want – extra herbs, beansprouts, fresh chillies, sauces etc. I’ve had a cold this week so I went crazy on the chili!

 

Extra Chilli and Chilli Oil on top

 

M couldn’t wait for me to take the photo, he had to get stuck in.

 


Stuck in ... more chilli please

 

We loved this … full of flavour and our favourite so far for French Fridays. Thanks Dorie!

S.

Coming Up next time on French Friday  is Hachis Parmentier … comfort food if ever there was some …. Feel like joining in or making these for yourself 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.

October 14, 2010

Good Bite in my Lunchbox: Beetroot, Green Beans, Feta and Toasted Pistachios


M and I both take a packed lunch to work whenever we can and generally take turns to prepare them. But day in day out packed lunches can easily slip into being monotonous. So a couple of times a week we try to mix it up a little. Not with anything that takes a ridiculous amount of time to prepare,  just something different from normal. So today I’m starting recording these with what I’m calling Good Bite in my Lunchbox. First up is today’s lunch, a salad of Beetroot, Green Beans, Feta and Toasted Pistachios.

 

Salad of Beetroot, Green Beans, Feta and Toasted Pistachios

 

So what do you need:

Trimmed green beans, lightly steamed so they retain their colour and crunch, then rinsed under water until cold. (I love them raw too – but that’s up to you)

Cooked and peeled beetroot (use pre-cooked packaged beetroot if you like, just not the vinegar kind … or if you have any left over roast beetroot use this)

Greek Feta

Pistachio nuts, shelled and toasted lightly in a 170 degree Celsius oven with a little sea salt (You can buy them pre-shelled and most Asian supermarkets)

Handful fresh mint leaves

Splash lemon juice

Splash Olive Oil (Optional)

Honey – about half tspn per person

Salt and Pepper (nuts and feta are both salty so you won’t need much)

Note on quantities: Now I am loath to dictate exactly how much you should put of this or that as I believe you should make it according to how you like it balanced – and also how much you want to make. If you have a glut of beans, put loads in … likewise with beetroot. Just be careful not to go overboard on the feta and pistachios – both are very salty and you don’t want to make the salad too rich.

So how do you do it:

In a cup, whisk together the lemon juice, honey and oil. Place beans in the bowl / lunchbox and give a light with dressing. Add a touch of salt and pepper. Lightly toss to mix through. You do this now as once you start adding the beetroot it will transfer colour to everything. Layer on quartered segments of beetroot, crumbled greek feta,  pistachio nuts and mint leaves. Lid on – ready to go.

 


Good Bite in my Lunchbox Number 1

 

Looking forward to lunch now!

S.

NB: If a salad isn’t quite enough for your lunchbox, this would go well with some ryebread / ryecrackers or sourdough on the side … or even a piece of grilled chicken. Also if you don’t have pistachios then walnuts, hazelnuts or almonds would all make good substitutes.

October 12, 2010

Good Bite In 15 Minutes: Haddock and Minty Pea Salad


I mentioned before that things have been a bit hectic and sparing time to cook hasn’t been easy.  It’s periods like this that I usually resort to those easy to whip up dishes … the kind I think we all have to fall back on when need be. This is one of mine that I usually make summertime but yesterday when London decided to have a last ditch effort at pre-winter sunshine it seemed the perfect thing to whip up.

 

Haddock and Minty Pea Salad

 

It really is dead simple:

You need:

1 tray and 1 bowl

A couple of fillets of white fish eg. Haddock (I usually use a fillet per person)

1 red onion

2 cups peas (feel free to use fresh or frozen)

A handful of mint to taste

A few splashes of lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon of lemon grass minced (Optional but give it a bit of something extra)

Salt and Pepper

Then:

– Place fish on a tray lined with foil for easy cleaning. Drizzle with a little lemon juice and a touch of salt and pepper. Place under a medium grill. Depending on your grill it should take about 10 minutes to cook, while it cooks you can prepare the salad.

– Steam your peas but only so much as they soften but still remain their colour.

– Meanwhile, slice the onion into as fine rings as you can.

– Place peas and onions in bowl. Tear up mint into pieces and add them in. Add lemongrass and lemon juice. Toss together.

– Fish should be ready by now. If you’re not sure if it’s done check that the flesh lightly flakes off when prodded with a fork.

– Either serve fish whole with salad on the side or else flake the fish up and stir through the salad. It’s nice both ways.

S.

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