Tag Archives: cooking

Saving bread by making bread 

As part of my plan to not spend unnecessarily in 2017, I’ve been looking for ways to cut down on our food waste too. We have a terrible obsession with bread. We love it in all its assorted and varied forms. But there are only two of us and buying a loaf a week seems to end with a few slices being thrown out each week. Which is wasteful but I really don’t need any more breadcrumbs in my freezer. And those are alongside naan breads and pitta bread and parathas and any other Indian bread you can think of. 

So with a bit of time on my hands this afternoon and a craving for my Sri Lankan curry favorites (Jaffna chicken curry and paripu), I decided to explore how to make my own naan bread. And it’s surprisingly easy. Well, this version is, I didn’t want to buy anything new with which to make these so just used what was in the fridge and store cupboard. So here it is. I may also share my paripu (Sri Lankan dhal, basically) recipe as it’s perfect comfort food, only uses one pot and can be frozen. But that’s my next post.

Easy Naan Bread

  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp Caster sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 130ml milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Then mix the milk and oil in a jug and pour into the well. Stir together until the dough comes together and then knead for approximately 8 mins, till the dough is smooth. Oil the bowl and put the dough back in to it and leave it to rest in a warm place for 30-40 mins. 

Preheat the grill to medium and put a heavy tray to heat at the same time at the top of the grill. Take the dough from the bowl and split into six roughly equal pieces. Roll each one out into tear drop shapes (if you can, as you can see mine are less than perfect!)

Cook on the hot grill tray for a minute or two on each side, till they’ve browned. Remove from the oven and brush with melted butter. 

Serve warm with your favourite curry. 

Cranberry and Orange marscapone sponge cake

Welcome to my Christmas blogging spree. As you’ll have seen from previous posts, I kinda went a little political but I’m back on the food stuff now and frankly, that’s much nicer than being a little bit sad and miserable about the state of the world.

So I had a birthday last month. As you may remember, last year was a big ole birthday, so this year, I decided to keep it low key and went to see a play about the troubles in Sri Lanka at the Arcola. Slight change of pace but lovely fun day. I also indulged in a cronut from the newish Dominique Ansel London. Man, I’m glad that place isn’t too close to home, I could eat one of those every day.

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As part of it not being a big milestone birthday, I didn’t want a normal gift – I’m good at buying myself things and we’ve been complaining for years about how we hate our kitchen/dining room but haven’t been able to afford to do the big works (knocking a wall through). So this year, I told the wino I wanted a nice dining room for my birthday, so we spent a week ripping out cupboards, painting, putting up shelves etc etc. And it’s so very nearly there. I love it very much. But I’ll save that for a future post, when we’ve finished both rooms.

I hosted my inaugural proper Sunday lunch in the dining room last Sunday. We’d had a cheese and wine and drunken dancing party a few weeks before but what happens on a drunken night stays on a drunken night. So I’m just going to talk about the amazing cake I made for the Sunday lunch (in my new fancy cooker).

I love a Victoria sponge but I don’t love double cream that much. Also not a huge fan of butter icing. I may be a little late to the party on this, but I’ve recently discovered the joy of throwing all the icing sugar at a tub of marscapone and adding some orange zest and juice to it and using that as a quick and dirty icing. It’s delicious and simple.

And because it’s Christmas, I’d bought a bag of fresh cranberries and was thinking about making cranberry sauce for gifting (if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen the kitchen clearout unearthed several hundred glass jars – hence the gifting).

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See? Crazy lady jar collection.

But then I had a brainwave. Why not make a cranberry cake? And then I had a second brainwave – why not make a cranberry jam to use in the aforementioned Victoria Sponge cake? So I did. And paired it with an orange marscapone.

My recipe for a sponge cake is well old fashioned but basically, weigh the eggs in their shells, then weigh out the same amount of butter, sugar and flour. And a pinch of salt. I’m a creamer (of butter and sugar) and then an adder but do what you feel best. I’ve just never been able to make the all in one method work for me.

The marscapone is done to taste (god, this is a rubbish recipe, huh?!) But basically, a tub of marscapone, the zest and juice of one orange and a couple of tablespoons of icing sugar – to taste. Mix it all up. Job done.

Now, here’s the cranberry jam recipe. I did it in American units, because I couldn’t be bothered to weight out the ingredients. Is that bad? It might be a bit. Oh well.

Cranberry, mint and ginger jam

  • 300g fresh cranberries – washed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • A handful of mint leaves
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, grated finely
  • One stick cinnamon

Put the water, sugar and mint leaves into a saucepan and bring to the boil until the sugar has completely dissolved. Leave to one side for 10 minutes, to let the mint seep in.

Remove the mint leaves and add the cranberries, ginger and cinnamon. Bring back to the boil and then simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring regularly. I’m sure there’s clever things you can do with checking temperatures and things – I didn’t. Cranberries thicken up as they cool so once you’re happy that the majority of the cranberries have popped, give it a quick stir. You want it thick but not jellified. Transfer to a clean bowl and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make the marscapone as above, slice your cake in half and once the jam is cold, spread a layer of marscapone, followed by a few dollops of jam. Then repeat on the next layer (if you have two layers) or on the top (if you only have one middle cut.

Put some mint leaves on top if you’re that way inclined. Slice and enjoy.

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You can see a bit of my new dining room in the background. How awesome is that colour? 

 

Hasselback potatoes and salsa verde

I am a girl who loves me some carbs. Oh yes. Carbs in most formats float my boat but were I to only be allowed one type for the rest of my days, I’d go with bread. And I’d go so far as to say, that potatoes would be my least favourite – I only really like them in mashed form and to be honest, should this one carb totalitarian future I’m envisioning offer instant powdered mash instead of any real actual carbs, I’d probably be totally OK with that.

Is now a good time to announce my overwhelming love for processed cheese too?

However, I’ve been noticing recently a lot of people I stalk on social media posting pictures of some fancy looking potatoes and some googling informs me these are called Hasselback potatoes and they’re a Scandi thing and they look super pretty and super easy (I refer you to my earlier ‘powdered mash’ comment) so I figured, during Chocolate Saturday, I’d give them a go. Not with chocolate though, that’d be grim.

So the joy of hasselback potatoes is you get the crunchy skin of a baked potato, with the creamy inside of a mashed potato and the crispy edges of, well, crisps. And you slice and bake and baste once and they come out all buttery and yummy. I decided to pair this with a roast chicken and some salsa verde, mostly because I’ve been craving it. And some vegetables, because I do actually want to make it to 40. Which I’m still convinced is in 15 years and not two weeks.

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Hasselback potatoes are super simple. Preheat the oven to gas mark 6. I made 6 potatoes for two of us which was far too many – I reckon two per person, max, unless you’re starving in which case, you decide, I’m not your mother. The easiest way to prepare these is a tip from Nigella – put the potato into a wooden spoon and cut slices into it without going all the way to the bottom – you want it to fan out and by putting it in a wooden spoon, it stops you from slicing too deep. The slices should be as thin as possible – I averaged about 3mm but if you can go thinner, well done. And stop showing off. Once your potatoes are prepared, put butter (about 5g per potato) and oil into the roasting tray and put onto the heat – once it is smoking hot, add the potatoes, cut side down first and then turn over and sprinkle salt over them. Baste once and then put into the oven. They’ll take about 45-55 mins to cook (depending on the size of your potatoes). Once cooked, transfer to a warmed dish and serve. With more butter.

My salsa verde was a bit of a mish mash of herbs from my garden and fridge. And I didn’t have any mustard so I didn’t use that. But I’ve since bought some so I’ll see if it makes much of a difference. I liked this one but I love processed cheese so what do I know?

Salsa Verde 

  • 2 large handfuls of fresh parsley leaves
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh coriander (stalks and leaves)
  • 1 large handful of fresh mint (leaves only)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 green chilli
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tsp capers
  • Olive oil (about 3tbsp)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Splash of red wine vinegar (which I also didn’t have, so used the vinegar from the capers)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Peel and chop the garlic and chop the anchovies into tiny pieces and transfer with the capers to a large mortar and pestle. Bash together with a little sea salt until you have a paste.

Chop your herbs together finely and add to the anchovy/caper/garlic mix. Using a lot of elbow grease, pound this togethr until you have a paste and then add the liquids – and give it a stir. Season to taste. Mine was a little bitter so I added a little bit of demerara sugar which helped lift it.

Serve with hasselback potatoes and a roast chicken if you want to be just like me. I’d imagine it will also be delicious on other grilled meats.

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Goan(ish) Beef Curry

I’m not a very good Hindu, you may have noticed. But what you’ll also know is that it’s rare (pardon the pun) to get beef curries in your local takeaways or restaurants as, well, the cow is holy. But I do love me some holy cow. And as it’s approaching winter (yay!) I decided to break all my non-existent rules and make a beef curry to warm our cold bones. 
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To be fair, I don’t really like beef curries – the ones you get are mostly coconutty from SE Asia and I have a weird aversion to coconut generally. Or contain potatoes, which are probably my least favourite carb. But I figured, the rules of curries must be the same, whatever meat you’re using, so I Googled for a Goan beef curry and this one came up. I know, right? I’m a genius. However, take a look at the recipe on the link – I may be a bit stupid, but dear god it was confusing, so I used the general concept, replacing ingredients and processes at whim.

I should also add that I really didn’t want to go shopping so those things I may have added to make it look prettier but didn’t have in the fridge/cupboard/garden, I didn’t have. So no coriander garnish mostly, which in retrospect, may have made it a little better. So if you get the urge, get coriander. if you don’t, it’s perfectly fine without it.

So here it is, my Goan-ish Beef Curry. We had it with Sri Lankan roast pan which is basically chunky slices of bread. Not that exotic. Probably nice with rice. Couldn’t be bothered to make rice. Autumn makes me lazy.

Goanish Beef Curry

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Half a small cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp hot paprika
  • 3 small red chillies
  • 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1.5 inches of garlic, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 100ml vinegar (I used sherry vinegar, but any will do)
  • 1 red onion sliced thinly
  • 1kg beef, trimmed and cut into 2cm cubes
  • 250ml water

Toast the first five ingredients in a small pan over a low heat for about a minute or until the aromas start to be released. Take off the heat before they burn.

Put the garlic, chillies, ginger, oil in a blender and blend till smooth. Then add the toasted spices and the powdered spices into the blender, with the vinegar and blend to a smooth paste.

Leave to one side whilst you brown the beef in a large casserole, do it in batches so it cooks evenly. Once that’s removed, add some more oil to the pan and gently fry the onions till they’re soft and translucent, then add the spice paste (watch out, it’ll spit at you) and cook that out for a minute or so – it will go from a turmeric-y orange to a dark brown. Once it’s cooked through, add the beef and ensure that you coat it with the spice mix. Put the water into the food processor to get all the remnants of the spice paste and pour it into the pan. Bring it to the boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Cover and continue to simmer for 70-90 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes to ensure it’s not burning. If the water looks like it’s running dry, add a little more. You want the beef to be tender and the longer you can cook it for, the more tender it will be.

Serve with rice, bread or whatever you fancy. Garnish with coriander, if you have it. Or a sliced chilli. I did neither as you’ll see from the picture. It was still delicious.

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Spring salad days

As I’ve mentioned before, I work for myself and this means that most days the biggest distance I walk is down the stairs to my desk. I’ve basically become incredibly sedentary and at the same time I’m reading lots of articles about how being sedentary is basically a big step (not literally) forward to death. So I sit at my desk in a world of panic, and when I panic, I reach for biscuits.

In a nutshell, I’ve convinced myself I’m going to die before I hit 40 if I don’t make some lifestyle changes. I’m also a little dramatic.

Given that the work I do isn’t easy (or likely) to change into something more exercise based the first thing I’ve decided to do is stop eating. Well, stop eating as much crap as I usually put into my body and try and live a little healthier. It’s also that time of year when everyone starts talking about summer and all the clothes in the shops are a little skimpier and quite frankly, me in anything that’s even a little bit less than a kaftan right now would not be a good look.

This is probably the worst time to do this as after the Valentine’s Day disaster (in that Marcel forgot to buy me a card – not really a disaster. I mentioned the flair for the dramatic, right?) my darling husband bought me four Easter eggs. Add that to the four I bought him, plus the couple of others from other people, we have a cupboard filled with chocolate.

Over the last week, I’ve been eating salads. I actually like salads, it’s just they’re not as easy to just grab and go as say, oh, I don’t know, a bag of Cadbury’s mini-eggs. So I’ve started making salads accessories (is that even a thing? I think it must be) and keeping them in the fridge or pantry. Like roasted vegetables and savoury granola and different types of dressing and grains. And because these things do go off, it means I have to eat them so I don’t waste them. Also, there’s so many good looking vegetables in the markets and shops right now, it feels like a treat to eat them simply after months of stodge. And It has actually helped. I feel a little less like I’m running to the grave, now it’s just a slow saunter. Of all the salads I’ve made in the last week, the below is my favourite. Any other salad tips? I do need inspiring if salad and I are going to have a long term relationship.

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Smoked mackerel and lemon mushroom salad (serves 2) 

  • 300g mushrooms (I used a mix of mushrooms as there’s some lovely varieties in season right now)
  • 300g smoked mackerel, skinned and flaked
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 x red pepper chopped into small chunks
  • 1 x bag of mixed leaves (I used rocket and baby lettuce)
  • Half a cantaloupe melon cut into small chunks (this is a little weird, but trust me, it works)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Juice of half a lemon

Chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan with a little olive oil over a low heat and when it’s melted, throw in the mushrooms. Keep stirring so they don’t catch and when they start to release some of the lovely flavour, add the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and a little black pepper. Keep cooking till the mushrooms are glossy and shiny and smelling delicious. Towards the end of the cooking time, squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. Like a teaspoon of lemon juice. Remove from the heat and leave to one side.

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Whilst they’re cooking, assemble the rest of your salad by simply putting everything into a big bowl apart from the lemon juice. Throw in the mushrooms, give it a squeeze of lemon and toss everything together. Season to taste – remember the smoked fish is quite salty so be sure to taste it before you season it. We served this with crusty bread and Marcel added olives to his but that was too much salt for me. The cantaloupe, which both of us thought was a little weird, was actually AMAZING. Cut through that smoky salty fish and worked a treat. So don’t be afraid of using fruit in your salads. You’ll see from the photo that I totally wimped out of putting it in at the beginning and served it on the side. But don’t be a wimp like me, throw it right in.

Tonight’s salad is going to be something with quinoa and roasted peppers. Probably just quinoa and roasted peppers. So there’s your recipe for that right there.

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Simple suppers and sick cats

This week has been a little hectic not least because it kicked off with a Monday morning visit to the vet. Our cat’s been an utter nightmare for a couple of weeks, for lots of reasons but mostly because she’s been bullied by a naughty neighbourhood tom who managed to sneak in through the cat flap and help himself to her food. Naturally, this has made her incredibly stressed so she’s been leaving hugely unpleasant cat reminders all over our home to make sure we know about it. We’ve now filled our home with Feliways to make her feel calmer and it seems to be working – she’s still a little insane but there’s no poop in the dining room so fingers crossed she’s feeling calmer. I mean, she doesn’t exactly look stressed anymore, huh?

She looks much happier now.

With all that and everything else happening this week, I’ve not really had a chance to go to the supermarket so have been relying on the darkest corners of the fridge, freezer and pantry to make supper. And because it finally feels like Spring is here, I’ve been trying to watch what I eat a little more. So this week has mostly been about soups and simple stews. And I can’t stop buying daffodils to spring up the house. They’re so pretty.

Spring on my window

After the supperclub, I froze a leftover pork loin. It had been marinaded in coriander, garlic and cumin, then roasted for about 12 minutes, till the internal temperature reached 68C. I defrosted it, sliced it thinly and decided to make a pork, mushroom and cabbage soup. I fried some ginger, chilli and garlic till all soft, then added a couple of pints of water, with a little fish sauce, soy sauce, a tsp of sugar and salt, and let that simmer for about 6-7 minutes so all the flavours infused the stock. I then threw in half a finely shredded savoy cabbage and a handful of sliced mushrooms, before adding the pork (remember it was already cooked so didn’t need long) and cooking the whole lot for about 10 minutes.Finished it with a handful of fresh coriander. I was going to add noodles to the mix but I forgot. Don’t think we needed it though – was lovely, light and the whole thing took less than 20 minutes to make. I forgot to take a photo but trust me, it was good shit.

Then on Wednesday night, my wino had been away for a couple of nights so I made a meal that he’d like and that I was a bit meh about. That’s love, that is.

I decided to make a fake ratatouille as we had a lot of leftover tomatoes and a couple of courgettes that were a couple of days from being thrown away. I don’t really like courgettes (or tomatoes) but I do hate waste. I served it with fennel and thyme pan fried cod. Ratatouille recipe below.

Pan Roasted Cod

Courgettes, peppers, chickpeas in a tomato and herb sauce

  • 15 ripe cherry tomatoes (or 5 normal sized ones)
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 5 mushrooms
  • 1 tin of chickpeas
  • A couple of sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 red chilli (I used the big fat ones as I didn’t want it to be hot)

Method

  • Usually I wouldn’t do this but I had time to kill so if you don’t want tomato skins in your final dish, cut a cross in the bottom of each tomato and place cross side up in a high sided dish or baking tin. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, leave for 20 seconds, then drain away the hot water and plunge into a bowl of cold water then peel them. If you don’t have the time or inclination, just slice them in half (or quarters if they’re normal sized) and leave them to one side
  • Slice the courgettes thickly (about 1.5-2cm), put in a colander and sprinkle salt over them – this takes away some of the moisture and helps them retain their shape in a stew-y dish. Leave aside for at least 45 mins then rinse the salt off
  • Roughly chop the rest of your veg
  • Using a deep casserole dish (I used a Le Crueset) fry the onions, chilli and garlic in olive oil over a medium heat till they soften then remove from the pan
  • Add a little more olive oil and lightly fry the courgette slices until they’re browned
  • Return the onions, garlic, chilli to the pan, then add the peppers and mushrooms, tomatoes and season. Give the whole thing a stir – if it feels a little dry, add a small amount of water – remember, there’s a lot of water in the tomatoes so don’t put too much in unless you want a really watery stew.
  • Bring to the boil, then turn down to a low simmer, add the sprigs of thyme and cover. Leave like this for at least 20 mins, giving it a stir every few minutes
  • After 20 mins, take off the lid and throw in the chickpeas. Leave this, with the lid off (so it reduces a little) for another 8-12 minutes
  • During this final stage prepare your fish – sprinkle salt, pepper and a tsp of fennel seeds (I put some thyme on too as I had a lot of thyme in the fridge!)
  • Heat a frying pan and once the oil is hot, add the fish, leaving it too cook on one side for a couple of minutes, till you can see the colour start to change then flip over
  • Throw a knob of butter into the pan at this stage and use it to baste the fish
  • Should only take about 4 minutes to cook the fish

To serve, spoon the ratatouille into bowls, sprinkle over some thyme leaves, place the fish on top and serve with crusty bread

My first attempt at a supperclub (of sorts)

I’ve always loved cooking for people – be it a gift of brownies or a jar of granola or a full on Christmas dinner, making and giving food is a true sign of love. I blame my mother entirely.

Over the last ten days, I’ve had two very significant meals – one that I arranged myself in order to kick start my positive 2015, and one that may actually change my life.  More on the former below, the latter will come when I can talk about it more!

In a nutshell, we moved to suburbia and felt a little like we’d retired. It’s so lovely and quiet but quite the shock from being in zone two to zone four. It’s taken us a while but I think we’re finally approaching a level of comfort with it and what’s been particularly nice is having people come and visit and stay with us, now we have the space. And it means we can do significant entertaining which is also nice. So we’ve hosted a lot of dinner parties and Sharknado fests and Avengers evenings in onesies and quiet cocktails do that ended at 4am (and weren’t actually that quiet – sorry neighbours) which have been awesome.

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However, for ages we’ve been toying with the idea of hosting an actual supperclub, one where we plan a menu (three courses and all from scratch) and budget it and cook it all to a timed fashion and where the wino matches wines from his shop. So back in January, to kick start my year with a few changes, we decided to invite a bunch of our nearest and dearest to partake in our food and booze and tell us what they thought. And to decide if this is something we want to do semi-regularly.

Firstly, I am super impressed with the established supperclub owners who do this monthly, weekly or more often than that. My feet STILL hurt from being on them all night long. I’m totally wiped out. I had a week of panic dreams in advance about the sorbet and people getting food poisoning and serving raw meat. But my god, it was fun.

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So the menu – what we’ve realised is most supperclubs have a theme, be it regional foods or comfort food or seasonal or something. So, I went with spice – I love spices in all courses, particularly puddings. I think people are scared of trying things they don’t know so stick to basic spices and herbs but it’s so fun to try new things and combinations. A few years ago, I came up with an idea for the Periodic Table of Herbs & Spices with my then client, Bart Ingredients. It’s a great way to understand what flavours work together and how to replace one spice with another if you don’t have something in your cupboard.

The menu was still being thrashed out at 9pm on Friday night whilst we were moving our dining table into our front living room but the final menu was this:

Starter

Fennel, chilli, honey roasted beetroot and garlic, thyme, sage roasted tomato tart with goat’s cheese, served with a fennel and blood orange salad and a savoury granola

Thanks to lovely Neil for this photo
Thanks to lovely Neil for this photo

I made the beetroot and tomatoes in advance and kept them in the fridge – made life on the day so much easier. The tomatoes particularly were great – I sliced the base of each tomato and put a sliver of garlic into it, then sprinkled fresh thyme, ripped up sage leaves, olive oil and salt and pepper on top of that, roasted in a low oven for about 45 minutes till they went all squishy.

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I spread the base of the tart with a combination of cream cheese and mint, layered finely sliced beetroot on top of that, piled the tomatoes on top of that and finished with slices of goat’s cheese and a twist of freshly ground black pepper. Then baked in the oven for 15 minutes, till the cheese got a nice golden colour.

Tarts pre cheese
Tarts pre cheese

The granola had been made a week prior to that as it keeps fresh for ages and was sprinkled over the fennel and blood orange salad before serving. For savoury granola, use egg white instead of honey or syrup to get it to stick together – makes for lovely clumps of granola. The granola was mildly spiced but I think it could have used more.

Main

Cumin and coriander crusted pork loin served with roasted garlic chickpea mash and chilli tenderstem broccoli.

The pescetarians got fennel crusted cod

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I marinaded the pork loins (which were pre-prepared by the butcher) in the roasted and ground cumin and coriander seeds, with a little bit of olive oil and a few finely minced cloves of garlic overnight then pan fried for a couple of minutes on each side, then roasted on a bed of apples until the core temperature reached 68-70C. Use a meat thermometer. I have learned that life is too short to soak your own chickpeas but it really helps with managing the budget. For a couple of quid, I made enough mash to serve everyone twice over. Roasted garlic is the best thing ever. We served the pork on the mash with a topping of quick fried coriander. Our guests raved about the broccoli – just blanched for a minute then heat some olive oil with chilli flakes, add the broccoli and pan fry for a few minutes.

Again, thanks Neil :-)   @neilejohnson
Again, thanks Neil 🙂 @neilejohnson

The fennel crusted cod was also marinaded overnight in fennel seeds, olive oil and black pepper then pan fried.

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Dessert

Gingerbread with cinnamon chocolate brownie bites and soil, served with pomegranate and blood orange sorbets and a orange cream 

Guess who? See more of his lovely pictures at Instagram @neilejohnson
Guess who? See more of his lovely pictures at Instagram @neilejohnson

I made two each of trays of gingerbread and brownies which was far too much but lucky I did as I had burnt corners on every tin! The gingerbread was Mary Berry’s recipe, my own brownie recipe (not the cow pat one) but removed the chillis and upped the amount of cinnamon. The sorbets could have been a nightmare – the pomegranate one was a delicious magazine recipe but so confusing. Basically, you need to whip egg whites to soft peaks, make a sugar syrup with cinnamon, leave it to cool, add the pomegranate juice then fold in the egg whites. But egg whites don’t fold into liquids and I don’t have an ice cream maker so after a LOT of panicking, the wino suggested I put the whole lightly frozen layered thing into a blender and blend it all together. So I did. He’s a clever fella. It did separate in the freezer, but I churned it every two hours (dedication) and it came out really well. I made the blood orange sorbet and the orange cream as back ups but because it was all so good, I served it all. And then brought out the burned bits of brownie and the remains of the sorbets and everything got eaten. Safe to say, dessert was the best course.

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Luckily a lot of this could be made in advance so the only actual cooking during the evening was the tart, the pork loin and the cod. But it did mean that I was cooking for a few days in advance, working out what to cook when and how to keep it best fresh.

All in all, I really enjoyed doing it – as you can see from the pictures, I really need to learn to plate up properly, so I’m going to focus on doing that better in the future. If you’re thinking about doing your own in the future, its worth considering having an extra pair of hands on the night because it’s a lot of hard work on your own. My wino was amazing though but I’d even consider one other person just to help washing up etc. I reckon if we do this again, it’ll be in a few months, to allow my feet to recover. Let me know in the comments if you want more info when we do our next Stories and Bon Bons Spice Saturday! Thank you to these beautiful people for being my first run guinea pigs and for the beautiful flowers that now fill my home (I sincerely hope you enjoyed it… and don’t have food poisioning!)

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