Monday, 30 January 2012

Passion Fruit Melting Moments - The Other Half bakes...

After a hard day's work winding up year 7's I looked forward to getting home, making a coffee, putting my feet up and basically chilling with a bit of trashy early evening TV. Instead I get home to find chaos, absolute carnage raging in my kitchen. The Other Half baked. Imagine a sort of baking Vietnam. Flour coating every conceivable surface, a hand print of egg white smeared down the window, the oven emitting flames and vast clouds of smoke and in the midst of it all, in the centre of the floor, rocking back and forth, head between knees, cursing the very existence of baked goods was the Other Half.

OK it didn't happen quite like that but I'm sure it did while I wasn't there.

For the days baking, the Other Half decided to delve into Dan Lepard's Short and Sweet, you know that elusive baking book that only a few people of heard of. She opted for the tasty sounding Passion Fruit Melting Moments

Recipe available here:

The book describes these as custard creams from Down Under and they are very good indeed. Buttery shortbread type biscuit with a sweet but slightly tangy filling with the odd crunch from the passion fruit seeds. Yum


Monday, 23 January 2012

Chicken Tikka - A Random Recipe

This months random recipe challenge from Dom at Belleau Kitchen  was to use a cookbook that we had been given for Christmas. I received a couple of excellent books for Christmas including Masterchef at Home and the River Cottage Meat and Fish books.

I opted for the Meat book, a truly excellent meaty tome covering every type of meat in great detail and well worth adding to your collection. I flicked through but for once I stopped near the back instead of somewhere randomly in the middle. At the back of this book are a variety of mini recipes for meat marinades, accompaniments, trimmings etc..

I randomly landed on a page and immediately the recipe for a Tikka Marinade sprang out at me. The recipe was purely for the marinade and didn't given any recommendations for which cut of meat. So in honour of our fearless random recipe leader, I opted for Chicken Thighs, although I imagine it would be rather good on other cuts.

Chicken Tikka
6 chicken thighs
1 tsp Salt
3 Tbsp Natural Yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp garam masala
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp ground fenugreek
golf ball sized bit of fresh ginger (grated)
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and squished
1-2 tbsp sunflower oil
2-4 chillies, depending on size and heat, finely chopped

Mix all ingredients into a large bowl
Slash the chicken thighs
Add to the bowl and mix around with the marinade until well covered.
Leave for a few hours or overnight

Now in an ideal world I would have a Tandoor in the middle of my kitchen for such moments like this, however an oven at 200C for about 20 minutes will do fine, or use a barbecue if it's in the summer time and the weather is high and you can chase right up and touch the sky....ahem....I'll stop now.

Remove from the oven, drizzle a little lemon juice over them and serve however you like.

Good God, I must have picked some nuclear strength chillies in making this. Beside the searing heat, these are so so good, tender juicy chicken, delicious blend of spices and I will definitely be making these again. next time I'll tone down the chili and marinade overnight. Now if you will excuse me, I need to find milk.


Saturday, 7 January 2012

Slow Roasted Pork Belly with a Chorizo Ragu

As part of making my own bacon, I had to trim down the bellies to make them fit, this left me with a nice chunk of pork belly to do something with (it's a hard life ain't it).
So I decided to cook it very slowly using a few things in my fridge and cupboards including (wahey) cooking chorizo.

As I live alone I cooked this for one but it can be easily scaled up to suit various numbers

Slow Roasted Pork belly with a Chorizo Ragu
1 decent sized piece of pork belly
50g cooking chorizo, cut into small pieces
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced into small pieces
1 leek, thinly sliced
half a tin of tomatoes
Ground black pepper and salt

Score the skin of the belly and season with salt and pepper, set aside.
Fry the onion and chorizo for a minute or two
Add the rest of the veg and fry for 5 minutes or so to slightly soften
Mix in the tomatoes.
Pour into a casserole dish and lay the bellies on top.
Cover with foil and roast in a preheated oven 180-200C for an hour n half.
Remove from the oven and serve with some spuds if you like.


Thursday, 5 January 2012

Bacon, In the Beginning

 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth, the sky and the seas and man and beast. In his infinite wisdom he gave man the skill and the creativity to turn a small part of one of those beasts into something something surely sent by the angels themselves.

Right that's enough of religion lets get to the good stuff.

Bacon, surely one of the pig's greatest gifts, whether thrown into a sandwich as part of one of humanities great weapons in fending off the impending doom of last nights excesses or slipped into holy matrimony with the egg maybe with  Italian pecorino and pasta to create a superb Carbonara or the ultimate wake up call of a Full English Breakfast.

However our porcine friends don't give up this fine specimen of food easily. It takes time and patience to create and cure pig into bacon and that's what I'm currently attempting to do thanks to the River Cottage Meat Book I received for Christmas...

Here's what I've done so far

Dry Cure Mix
400g soft brown sugar
about 750g course salt
20 juniper berries, lightly crushed
25g course ground pepper
few bay leaves, finely chopped

Mix all the ingredients together and set aside in a non metallic container.

The recipe in the book states to use a whole pork belly, about a metre in length divided into 3 even pieces of about 30 cm or 3 fat belly pieces of a kilo each.

I went to the butcher (DO NOT BUY FROM A SUPERMARKET) and asked for a kilo of pork belly because I don't have the room to cure 3 kilos of pork. The kilo piece I got was huge however and it had the rib bones in which I didn't realise until the next day.

I nearly took it back to the butcher and asked him to take them out for me but as I'm all about trying new things, I thought I could cope with a bit of amateur butchery... it didn't turn out bad in the end and now I have lots of pork ribs to marinade and roast, result!

Now you have got your pork and cure ready, stick the pork on a board and take a good handful of the cure.
Rub gently all over the belly until lightly evenly salted.

Place in non metallic container, stack them if you have more than one piece and cover and leave for 24 hours in a cool place.

After 24 hours, drain off the water that has leeched off and rub another handful or so of cure into the bellies, alternate the bellies between top and bottom each time.

I plan to repeat the last stage every day for the next 5-6 days, I'll let you know how it turns out.

To be continued.....