Pork with sweet and sour onion sauce

Last night Neil and I were off to the pub so I fancied something quick and easy to cook beforehand. I found this recipe when I was looking for Thursday evening’s meatballs recipe and thought it looked tasty so I gave it a go. It worked well and was easy to do, although the end result was a little watery as I didn’t reduce the cider vinegar quite enough, Other than that it was good. I upped the vegetable content a bit by adding some sliced red pepper and some sugar-snap peas.

Serves 4

600g pork fillet, cut into 4cm-thick slices
2 tablespoons of freshly ground coarse black pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and sliced
150ml of cider vinegar
75ml of maple syrup
A small bunchof parsley, chopped


Sprinkle the sliced meat on all sides with the black pepper and some salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large wok. Sear the meat on both sides until nicely browned.

Remove from the wok and set aside.

Add the remaining oil and the onion to the wok. (along with any other vegetables you might be using.)

Cook for 5 mins, then pour in the vinegar and bubble to reduce for 1 minute or so.

Stir in the maple syrup, then return the pork to the pan and cook for 5 minutes or so, until the pork is cooked through and the sauce has thickened.

Serve the pork and sauce on a bed of rice and garnished with chopped parsley. (I forgot the parsley, which is why there’s none in the picture!)

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Lemon & fennel pork meatballs


On Thursday evening Neil and I decided to watch a film so I said I’d cook some dinner. I footled around on the internet looking for pork based recipes and found this one on the Good Food website. Both Neil and I love a meatball so I decided to go for it and the end result was very tasty. I served it with a mash made of ordinary potatoes and sweet potatoes, with some added Greek yoghurt for a little extra creaminess, and some garlic bread. Tasty.

Serves 2

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
1 lemon, zested and cut into wedges
500g of pork mince
2 teaspoons of fennel seeds (I found it helpful to lightly crush them in a pestle and mortar before using.)
250g of kale
25g of pine nuts, toasted


In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or so, until the onion starts to soften and colour.

Add the tomatoes, along with a splash of water, increase the heat a little and allow to bubble for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lemon zest, mince, fennel seeds and a good pinch of seasoning. Mix well, then shape into walnut-sized balls.

Heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the meatballs and brown for 5 minutes, moving constantly to avoid sticking.

Then add the tomato sauce to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes over a medium heat.

Add the kale, stir in well, cover with a lid and cook for 5 mins more until the kale is wilted.

Season to taste, then scatter over the pine nuts and serve with the lemon wedges and some mash.

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Sticky honey, mustard and lemon chicken with sweet potato wedges

On Tuesday evening I had the lovely Fig over for a spot of post-Pride dinner and Doctor Who. (We opted for Mysterious Planet fact fans!) I flicked around on the BBC website and found two different recipes that I cobbled together to make this, rather tasty, dinner.

Serves 2

For the chicken:

2 bone-in chicken thighs per person
1 tablespoons of black peppercorns
Juice of 2 lemons
1½ tablespoons of runny honey
1 large teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Sea salt, to taste
2 preserved lemons, quartered

For the sweet potato wedges:

2 teaspoons of garlic powder
1½ teaspoons of paprika
A large pinch salt
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Roughly crush the peppercorns in a pestle and mortar, then place in a large bowl with the lemon juice, crushed garlic, honey and mustard and mix well.

Place the chicken thighs in a roasting dish, nestle the quartered preserved lemons around the thighs amd then pour the honey, mustard and lemon juice mixture over and leave to marinate for about half an hour or so.

Once you have cut the sweet potatoes into wedges, mix together the garlic powder, paprika, salt and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the wedges and mix well until all of the wedges are coated in the oil and spice mix.

Lay the coated wedges out on a baking tray.

Pop the chicken in the oven and roast for 45 minutes or so, turning once during cooking to ensure that they are nicely sticky, until cooked through and golden.

Roast the wedges in the oven for 30 minutes or so, until cooked through and tender.

Serve the chicken with a little of the cooking liquid drizzled over.

I served this with a rocket salad and harissa-marinated asparagus.

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Pollo a la cerveza – Chicken in beer

Last night Neil and I had Alberto over for the final two episodes of the recent series of RuPaul’s Drag Race (yes, I know, I know, we’re a bit behind! Still, we were pleased with who won!) and so I flicked around and found this recipe, in a lovely little Spanish cookbook, called, incidentally The Little Spanish Cookbook.

It’s a tasty recipe and went down well with the boys, I enhanced it by adding a fair amount of sliced chorizo. It says to marinate overnight, I wasn’t able to do that, but I did marinate it for at least 4 hours, which seemed to work well.

Serves 4

350ml bottle of beer, preferably Spanish beer
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon of sweet paprika
2 brown onions, diced
2 fat garlic cloves, crushed
1.5kg of chicken, cut into pieces (I used 2 chicken thighs per person and that worked well.)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
70g of chorizo, sliced
440g tin of chopped tomatoes

Combine the beer, mustard, paprika, a pinch of salt, half of the onion and half of the garlic in a bowl. Add the chicken pieces and mix well to ensure that the chicken pieces are well coated.

Cover and marinate in the fridge for as long as possible, preferably overnight.

Preheat the oven to 180.

In a large, flame-proof casserole dish (or a large saucepan if you don’t have a flame-proof casserole dish.) heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the chorizo and fry until starting to become crisp, then add the remaining onion and garlic and both types of diced pepper and cook gently, for 10 minutes or so, until softened.

Stir in the chicken pieces and the marinade. Add the tomatoes, stir well to ensure that everything is well combined and then season with salt and pepper.

Cover and bake in the oven for 60 minutes, until the chicken is tender. (I took the covering foil off after 30 minutes.)

I served it with wasabi mash and sautéed black cabbage.

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Roasted lamb shanks with lemon potatoes

On Sunday evening I made this tasty dish for Neil and I in lieu of a full roast. It comes from the Gino D’Acampo cookbook Buonissimo and is originally for a slow-roasted lamb shoulder, but the shanks were on special offer in Sainsbury’s and I love a good lamb shank, so I adapted.

The original recipe serves 4 with a 1.5kg lamb shoulder. I just used two shanks – one each, and so scaled down the cooking time, and number of potatoes accordingly. I still did waaaaay too many potatoes though.

1 lamb shank per person
1.5kg of waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into 4/5cm chunks
10 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon of dried oregano
2 tablespoons of fresh marjoram leaves
2 tablespoons of fresh rosemary leaves, stripped from the stalks
3 bay leaves
5 tablespoons of olive oil
Juice of 2 large lemons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 190

Place the meat, potatoes, and galic in a large ovenproof casserole dish or roasting dish.

Sprinkle all the herbs over and then pour in the olive oil, lemon juice and 100ml of water.

Season well with salt and pepper, mix well together, nestling the potatoes around the shanks. Cover with a lid or foil.

Bake in the middle of the oven for 2 hours (3 hours for the original, large shoulder. I found that 2 was fine for these shanks though.) I removed the foil for the last 45 minutes of cooking, just to lightly brown the potatoes.

Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.


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Ploughman’s cheese and pickle tart

I saw this recipe in the Radio Times the other week and thought I’d give it a go on Friday afternoon. It’s easy to do and very tasty. (a good, strong cheddar is essential.) It makes a nice snacky alternative to the more usual quiche.

350g of shortcrust pastry
1 tablespoon of paprika
Plain flour for dusting
4 large eggs
150ml of milk
200g of Branston pickle (small chunks version)
250g of mature cheddar, grated

Roll out the pastry a little, sprinkle over the paprika and then knead for a couple of minutes, until the paprika is incorporated into the pastry.

Set the pastry aside in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 180.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 5mm, and large enough to line a quiche or flan tin.

Line the tin with the pastry and roughly trim the excess off from the edge.

Prick the pastry a few times with a fork – this will prevent it from rising whilst baking. Then line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill the dish with baking beads.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and take out the baking beads and greaseproof paper. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Whilst this is cooking whisk the eggs together with the milk and season well with salt and black pepper.

Once the pastry shell is out of the oven spread a layer of the Branston pickle evenly over the base of the shell. Then sprinkle the grated cheese over the pickle, again, ensuring that all of th pickle is evenly covered/

Pour the egg and milk mixture over the cheese and then place the tart in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is golden and just set.


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Singapore noodles

Last night I fancied some sort of tir-fry and so I flicked through my Big Book of Wok and Stir-Fry cookbook and found this tasty dish. It’s a nice recipe with plenty of flavour and you can vary the levels of spiciness by changing the curry paste that you use, and if you want it really spicy by bunging in more bird’s-eye chillies. The recipe calls for prawns, which I’m not that keen on, so I bought a couple of scallops from the fish counter in Sainsbury’s, roughly chopped them and used them instead.

Serves 4

200g of find rice noodles
1 tablespoon of curry paste, mild, medium or hot, to taste. (I used a Balti paste as that’s what I had to hand.)
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
6 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
85g of tenderstem broccoli, cut into small florets
85g of fine green beams, cut into 1-inch lengths
100g of pork fillet, cut into thin strips
85g of cooked, peeled prawns
55g of Chinese leaves, or romaine lettuce, thinly shredded
2 spring onions, white parts only, thinly shredded
1 fresh bird’s eye chill, deseeded and thinly sliced
Sprig of coriander to garnish

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the curry paste, turmeric and 4 tablespoons of water, then set aside/

Heat a wok over a high heat and then add the oil. Add the onions and garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes, until the onion starts to soften.

Add the broccoli, beans and remaining 2 tablespoons of water to the wok and continue to stir-fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

Add the pork slices and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the prawns, Chinese leaves and chillies and continute to stir-fry for a further 2 minutes until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables and tender but still slightly al dente. Remove the meat and vegetables from the wok and keep warm.

Add the spring onions, curry paste mixture and noodles to the wok. Use two forks to mix the noodles and onions well together and cook for 2 minutes untile the noodles are hot and a dark golden colour. Returm the meat and vegetables to th wok, stir well to combine and cook for a further minute.

Serve immediately, garnished with a sprig of coriander.

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Navarin of Lamb with flageolet beans

On Saturday evening I had the lovely Phil Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who, (we watched the series finale for the current season and then followed up with the special, feature-length edition of the Arthurian-themed Sylvester McCoy story Battlefield.) and so I flicked through the Rick Stein cookbook, Long Weekends, and found this tasty recipe. It takes about an hour and a half to cook, so it takes a while, but once it’s simmering in the pan you don’t need to do much to it, apart from the occasional stir to prevent sticking, until you have to add the potatoes and beans near the end.

I used tinned flageolet beans rather than dried, so they only had to be added near the end, and didn’t need the two hours pre-soaking.

Serves 4

225g of dried flageolet beans, or a 400g tin of beans
1kg of lamb shoulder, cut into 3-4cm cubes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
50g of butter
2 onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 carrots, cut into thick slices
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
2 tablespoons of plain flour
600ml of chicken stock
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1½ teaspoons of fine salt
6 turns of black pepper
12 small new potatoes, scrubbed
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, to serve

If using dried flageolet beans then soak them in cold water overnight. Then, before cooking place in a saucepan of water, bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then simmer for a further 30, before draining and setting aside.

In a large saucepan heat the oil and butter and brown the lamb pieces. (You may need to do this in batches, if so, use a little of the oil and butter for each batch. Also, you may need to deglaze the pan, with a little water or red wine, between batches. If so retain the deglazing liquid for use in the cooking.) Once all of the lamb is browned, remove it from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add any remaining oil and butter to the pan and fry the onions until soft and golden. Then add the garlic, carrots, tomato purée and flour, stir well to combine and fry for another minute.

Return the lamb, and any deglazing liquid, to the pan and add the chicken stock. If using dried flageolet beans then add them now.

Add the thyme and rosemary and season well with the salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook gently, for an hour and a quarter, stirring occasionally.

Whilst the dish is cooking, boil the new potatoes for about 5 minutes or so, and then drain and set aside.

After 1¼ hours and the potatoes . If you are using tinned flageolet beans then add them now. Stir well to combine and cook for a further 15 minutes, until the potatoes, lamb and beans are all tender.

Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs scatter with the choped parsley and serve.

I served this with wilted spinach.

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Duck legs with orange and mustard

Last night I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner and a plethora of Doctor Who (the latest new series episode, the final episode of The Romans and the first three episodes of The Web Planet) and so I had a qick flick through y recipe books to see what I could find. Nothing really took my fancy, so I decided to cobble this recipe together myself. Nd very well it came out too!

Serves 2

2 duck legs
1 duck breast (skin on), cut into thin strips
4 shallots, peeled and quartered
3 preserved lemons, quartered
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
100ml of white wine
1 teaspoon of English mustard
Juice and zest of half an orange.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sprigs of thyme

Place the duck legs, and strips of breast, in an ovenproof dish and scatter over the shallots, preserved lemons, garlic and thyme sprigs.

Mix together the wine, mustard, orange juice and orange zest and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Pour the mixture over the duck, shallots and lemons and leave to marinte for at least half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Roast the duck in the oven for 45 minutes.

When cooked, serve immediately with the breast strips, shallots, garlic and lemons and with the remains of the marinade drizzled over.


I served this with a rocket and pomegranate salad and golden potatoes

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Drunken chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Herb Roast Potatoes and Boureki

Yesterday Neil and I had our friend David over for dinner and a film. (A View To A Kill, fact fans!) Rather than a heavy Sunday roast on what was the hottest day of the year so far, I flicked through my The Islands of Greece cookbook and found three tasty recipes that complimented each other well. The recipes are all light, flavoursome and summery. They work well together, although, I must say, all three recipes contain quite a bit of garlic, so I left the garlic out of the Boureki.

The Boureki, which is listed in the book as being ‘Chania style’ as the recipe comes from Chania in Crete, contains potatoes and, as I was already cooking a potato dish, I decided to substitute aubergine instead and that worked rather well. It’s more Boureki Neil Style

For the chicken:

Serves 3

3 chicken leg portions
2 tablespoons of ouzo or other aniseed liquor (I used Pastis as the lovely Vanessa had brought me some the last time she came to visit for just such an eventuality)
60ml of olive oil
60ml of white wine
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
½ a teaspoon of clear honey
6 round shallots, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
Chopped parsley to serve

Place all the ingredients, except for the parsley, in an ovenproof baking dish, mix well and leave to marinate for an hour, stiring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 200.

Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 45 minutes, basing once during the cooking time. (If the dish is in danger of drying out add a couple of tablespoons of water.)

Once cooked allow to rest, in the pan, for 5 minutes, and then serve the chicken and shallots with a little of the pan juices and scattered with the parsley.

For the potatoes:

Serves 4

800g of roasting potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
1 whole head of garlic, cloves divided and peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of dried oregano, preferably Greek
½ a teaspoon of salt
½ a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
90ml of olive oil
150ml of chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 200.

Place the potato chunks and garlic in a large baking tray in a single layer.

Add the lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss to ensure that all the potatoes are well coated and seasoned.

Pour the stock into the tray and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. (Keep an eye on the garlic – you don’t want it to burn. If the cloves look like they’re going to brown too much remove them and set them aside. You can re-add them later.)

After 45 minutes turn the potatoes, gently so that they don’t fall apart, and then cook for another 10-15 minutes. (If you removed the garlic earlier then return it to the pan now.)

Once they are golden all over and crisp on the underside, serve immediately.

For the Boureki:

Serves 4 as a main, or 6 as a side (I scaled it down a bit for just the three of us.)

500g of courgettes, sliced 3mm thick
500g of potatoes, sliced 3mm thick (I used a large aubergine, sliced similarly.)
75g of plain flour
100g of ricotta
300g of crumbled feta
90ml of olive oil
½ a teaspoon of dried mint
2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180

Place the courgette and potato (or aubergine) slices in a large bowl and sprinkle over the flour, tossing to ensure that everythingh is well coated.

Mix together the two cheese in a bowl and then divide the mixture into three.

Pour a quarter of the oil into an ovenproof baking dish and completely coat the base.

Arrange one third of the courgettes and potatoes/aubergines over the base of the dish, pressing the slices down firmly. Scatter over one third of the cheese mixture.

Add half of the dried and fresh mint and half the garlic, then drizzle over another third of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Repeat the layering for a second layer of courgettes and potato/aubergine, cheese and mint, drizle with olive oil.

Finally, add the last layer of courgettes, top with cheese and season.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour (slightly less if using aubergines instead of potato)

Once cooked through, allow to rest for five minutes, and then serve.

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