Hungarian pork stew

Tuesday was horribly wet and cold and so I decided to cook a warming stew for Figgy and I in the evening. I flicked around on the BBC website and eventually found this, which looked lovely and tasty, Quite why it’s an ‘Hungarian stew’ rather than goulash, I’m not sure, however it was certainly tasty, so I’m not going to worry too much about what it is called. Unfortunately Fig was feeling a bit under the weather, so I made it just for me in the end.

I made a couple of adjustments from the listed recipe – I added a little chorizo, and rather than using cornflour to thicken it I simply upped the amount of tomato purée to 2 tablespoons, and cooked it for a little longer/

Serves 4

40g of lard
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2–3 tablespoons of paprika
1.8kg of pork joint, diced (I used a pork shoulder joint and turned the discarded skin into pork scratchings
1 teaspoon of tomato purée (I used two tablespoons and thus obviated the need for cornflour)
1 green pepper, thinly sliced
3 medium tomatoes, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of cornflour

Heat the lard in a lidded, flame-proof saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and fry for five minutes, or until softened.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the paprika, adding more or less to taste. Add the pork and a splash of water. Simmer over a low heat for about 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, add enough boiled water to cover the meat. Bring back to the boil and add the tomato purée, green pepper and tomatoes. (If ,like me, you’re going to add some sliced chorizo, do it here)

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Cover with a lid and simmer over a lowish heat, for an hour and a half, or so, until the pork is tender. Stir occasionally. It should be fine, but if it looks drying out pop in a dash of red wine.

To thicken the sauce, mix the cornflour and two tablespoons of cold water to form a paste, then stir into the stew. Bring to the boil again to thicken. Check the seasoning, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve the stew with creamy mashed potato

P1080099 ed.jpg

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beef and chorizo stew

Friday was a grey and overcast day, and so I decided to do a stew, something nice and warming, with fluffy dumplings. It was also a good opportunity to use my new flameproof casserole dish again.

I found this recipe on the BBC website and I though it looked intriguing as you don’t normally pair chorizo with beef – it’s usually with chicken or pork – so I thought it was worth giving it a go. The end result was very tasty and rich. And the dumplings rose a treat.

I served it with cheesy mash and sautéed kale.

Serves 4

3 tablespoons of olive oil
1kg of shin of beef, cut into bite sized pieces
225g of chorizo, diced
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, cut to the same size as the beef pieces (I actually used little chantenay carrots.)
2 large parsnips, cut to the same size as the beef pieces
2 tablespoons plain flour
300ml of red wine
600ml of beef stock
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dumplings:

225g of self-raising flour
A pinch salt
100g of shredded suet
1-2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 160

Heat the olive oil in a flameproof casserole and brown the beef. (You may need to do this in batches.) Once the beef is browned, lift out the meat with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add the chorizo and onion to the pan and fry until softened and the chorizo released it’s distinctive orange oil.

Add the carrots and parsnips and continue to cook until starting to colour and soften.

Sprinkle over the flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour over the wine and stirring constantly, bring to the boil.

Then stir in the beef stock.

Return the beef to the pan and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Place the lid on and cook in the middle of the oven for two hours, until the meat is tender

To make the dumplings, sift the flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt. Add the suet and rosemary and bind together with enough cold water to form a soft dough.

Using floured hands and working as lightly fingered as possible, divide the mixture into eight and shape into oval dumplings.

After an hour and 40 minutes of cooking time, remove the lid from the casserole and place the dumplings gently on top of the stew and return the casserole dish to the oven.

Cook for a further 20 or so minutes, until the dumplings and risen, fluffy and golden.

P1080091 ed

P1080095 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pork, chorizo and cider stew

I had Alberto over for dinner on Tuesday night, and my lovely friend Heidi had sent me a cast-iron casserole dish that can be used both on the hob and in the oven, and so it seemed like an ideal opportunity to try it out. I cobbled this recipe together myself, and attempted to give it a suitably Spanish flavour and it seemed to go ok. Alberto certainly thought it was tasty!

Serves 3

2 tablespoons of olive oil
600g of pork shoulder, trimmed and diced
100-150g of chorizo, sliced
1 large brown onion, peeled and sliced
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 leek, sliced
½ a 240g jar of roasted red peppers (pimientos), drained and sliced
1 x 440g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of tomato purée
140g tin of butterbeans, drained
Leaves from 2-3 stalks of thyme
2 teaspoons of paprika (I went for 1 of normal paprika and one of hot smoked paprika, for a bit of extra depth.)
300ml of dry cider.
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 200.

Pop your flame-proof casserole dish over a medium heat.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the diced pork for 3-4 minutes, until browned all over. Add the chorizo and cook for a further couple of minutes, until the chorizo starts to release its distinctive orange oil.

Add the onion, leek and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring frequently, until the onion starts to soften.

Add the sliced roasted peppers to the pan and then gently pour in the cider, stirring all the time to combine.

Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato purée, then sprinkle over the paprika and add the thyme leaves. Stir well to combine. Season well with salt and pepper, and bring to the boil.

Once boiled, pop the lid on and place the casserole dish in the oven.

Cook for an hour and ten minutes, then remove from the oven, add the butter beans and stir well.

Return to the oven and cook for a further 20-25 minutes.

P1080089 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tizi-n-Test tagine

I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner on Thursday evening and I fancied cooking a tagine for us. I’d spotted this one in my new cookbook Orchards in the Oasis and thought it looked interesting – it’s a bit different from some of my usual tagine recipes, and I don’t often cook with okra, so that made it something a bit different.

It’s easy to do, although did require a bit of juggling between dishes as I wanted to cook it in my tagine, rather than on the hob as suggested, but it all came out alright in the end!

Serves 6

6 medium chicken joints (I used two chicken thighs each.)
1 large red pepper, de-seeded and slices
2-3 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
3cm of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 teaspoons of paprika
50g of butter
900ml of water (approx)
2-3 preserved lemons
350g of fresh okra
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of runny honey
½ a teaspoon of chilli powder
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180 if you want to cook it in the oven, like I did, rather than on the hob.

Remove the skin from the chicken joints and discard. (I kept the chicken on, as I do like a bit of chicken skin!) Place the chicken in a large, heavy-based saucepan.

Add the sliced garlic, ginger and pepper to the saucepan and sprinkle over the cinnamon and paprika. Add the butter, season well with salt and pepper.

Pour in the water to just cover the chicken. Put the lid on the pan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently for 40-50 minutes or so.

(At this point, after boiling the liquid, I transferred everything to my tagine and stuck it in the oven for 50 minutes.)

Using a slotted spoon remove the chicken, ginger, garlic and pepper strips from the saucepan/tagine and place in a warmed serving dish, leaving the liquid in the pan/tagine.

Quarter the preserved lemons, discarding any pips, and scatter them over the chicken pieces. Cover the dish loosely and keep warm in a low oven.

Trim the tops from the okra and boil them for 3-4 minutes, in a pan of boiling salted water. Drain, and add to the chicken and preserved lemons in the dish in the oven.

Add the lemon juice and honey to the reserved cooking liquid in the pan. (Or, if, like me, you cooked the dish in a tagine in the oven, return the liquid to the original saucepan and add the lemon juice and honey.)

Bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the honey, then boil fiercely, without stirring, for 10 minutes or so, until the sauce is well reduced and has become syrupy.

Remove from the heat and stir in the chilli powder.

Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve immediately.

P1080080 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pork gyoza

I love a tasty little gyoza and so, on my day off on Wednesday I decided to try and make some myself. Whilst they weren’t a complete success – the folding and pleating is extremely fiddly and my gyoza wrappers were a little bit brittle – the end results were tasty and well worth doing again.

The recipe I’m listing here makes loads. You could scale it down a bit if you don’t want that many.

To make them I bought ready-made, frozen gyoza wrappers from a local Oriental supermarket. The pack was quite cheap and contained loads of wrappers – I only used a fraction of the ones in the pack. The trouble is, because they’re frozen, I wasn’t sure about re-freezing them, so once they’re defrosted it’s either use ‘em or lose ‘em. Also I forgot to get them out of the freezer in the morning so I defrosted them in the microwave, which might explain their brittleness.

Makes: loads!

500g of pork mince
6 spring onions
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 large leaves of cabbage (I used savoy.)
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
2 teaspoons of oyster sauce
2 teaspoons of mirin or rice cooking wine

A pack of frozen gyoza wrappers

Cut the central stalk out of the cabbage leaves and finely chop them. Slice the spring onions and peel and finely slice the garlic. Peel and slice the ginger.

Put the spring onions, cabbage, ginger and garlic in a food processor, and blend to a fine mix

Add the soy sauce, oyster sauce, mirin, sesame oil and a pinch of salt, and blend again.

Tip the ingredients into a large bowl and add the pork mince. Mix by hand until well combined. Chill until ready to use.

Have a glass of water to hand.

To assemble the gyoza, hold the gyoza wrapper in the palm of your left hand (if you’re right handed.) and put a heaped teaspoon of the filling onto the centre of the skin.

Dip your finger in the water and wipe around the edge of the skin – this will moisten it and help the edges stick together.

Bring the edges of the skin together and pinch pleats along one side. Then press each pleat against the opposite flat side of the skin.

This is, to be honest, the really tricky bit and I wasn’t entirely happy with the shape, and pleating, of any of my gyoza. They just didn’t look right. Mind you, they tasted ok, which is, I guess, what matters in the end!

This description of how to pleat the gyoza comes from another website: ‘Fold the wrapper in half over the filling and pinch it in the center with your fingers (but don’t seal yet!). Using your thumb and index finger, start making a pleat about once every ¼“ on the top part of the wrapper from the center toward the right. As you fold each pleat, press the folded pleat tightly against the back part of wrapper using your other thumb and index finger. Make 3-4 pleats. When you’ve pleated the top part of the wrapper press it hard against the other side and pinch to seal it.

As I say, tricky, but I guess it’ll get easier with practice.

Repeat until all the pork mixture is used.

Once your gyoza are assembled they are ready for cooking.

The best way to cook gyoza is by first frying and then steaming. That means that the parcel is soft , and slightly chewy, but with a pleasantly crispy base. The recipe I was following suggests steaming them in the frying pan, by adding some water to the hot pan, and then covering it and allowing them to steam for 5 minutes. I tried this for the first batch, but the frying pan spat so much, (I don’t have a lidded frying pan and had to cover it loosely with tin foil.) that for the second batch I just steamed the fried gyoza in a steamer – much easier!

In a large frying pan heat a tablespoon of olive oil. Place the gyoza in the hot oil and cook, on one side only, do not turn, for about 2 minutes, until crisp and golden.

Once they have fried on the base, steam the gyoza for 5 minutes, until cooked though. (either by adding water to the pan, or by transferring to a steamer.)

Serve hot with a soy sauce dip!

P1080078 ed

P1080079 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chickens in the orchard

I had the lovely Figgy over for dinner and Doctor Who on Tuesday, (The Visitation in honour of my meeting Matthew ‘Adric’ Waterhouse on the previous Saturday.) and so I had another flick through the Joscelyn Dimbleby book Orchards in the Oasis, and found this lovely chicken pie recipe. It’s tasty and easy to do and certainly went down well with Fig. I mean, you could argue that it should be completely encased in pastry to count as a pie, and that this is really a stew in a pastry hat, but hey – it worked for me!

Serves 4 (or three if you’re greedy!)

10 skinless and boneless chicken thighs
25g of butter
1 tablespoon of plain flour
300ml of dry cider
2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
A handful of tarragon
75g of chestnut mushrooms (As I hate mushrooms I used an orange pepper instead.)
1 leek, trimmed and sliced (my own addition, this isn’t in the original recipe)
1 dessert apple
150ml of double cream
1 medium egg
375g pack of puff pastry
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

NB: The recipe says to cook the pie filling in a casserole dish in the oven, and then assemble the pie. As I don’t have an flameproof casserole that would have allowed me to start the recipe off on the hob and then transfer it to the oven, I cooked the whole thing in a large saucepan on the hob. It seemed to work fine. I’ll write up the recipe here as per the original with annotations where I changed it.

Heat the oven to 180.

Cut each thigh into three pieces.

Melt the butter in a flameproof casserole then remove from the heat and add the chicken pieces, stirring well to coat them in the melted butter. Stir in the flour and then gradually add the cider. Stir well to combine.

(I browned the chicken pieces in the butter, over the heat, then added the leek, and fried it gently for a couple of minutes, before adding the flour and cider.)

Put the casserole back on the heat and heat, stirring, until the liquid bubbles and thickens.

Add the mustard and season well with salt and pepper. Cover the casserole and cook in the centre of the oven for 1 hour.

(I covered the saucepan and simmered on the hob for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and keeping an eye on it to check that the liquid wasn’t thickening too much or in danger of drying out.)

Roughly chop the tarragon leaves. Thinly slice the mushrooms. (or pepper in my case) Peel and core the apple and cut it into small chunks.

Once the filling has finished cooking stir in the cream, tarragon, mushrooms (pepper) and apple. Place the mixture in a suitably sized pie dish or other over-proof dish.

Cut off a long, thin slice of pastry. Brush the rim of the dish with the beaten egg and place the strip of pastry all around the rim, and press down.

Roll out the pastry to form a pie lid and place it on top of the dish, pressing down onto the pastry strip.

You can use any left-over pastry for decoration if you like. Make a couple of small holes in the top with the tip of a knife to allow steam to escape.

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Brush the pie lid with beaten egg

Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden. Then reduce the heat to 150 and bake for another 25 minutes. (I didn’t see the point of this, so I cooked it for 25-30 minutes on 200.)


P1080075 ed

P1080076 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chicken and butternut squash tagine

Neil and I had Alberto over for dinner on Monday evening, and so I cooked this for Alberto and I (Neil was having pasta.) as I fancied something with a Moroccan influence. And, if I’m going to be honest, I had some butternut squash that needed using! Tasty, easy to do and full of flavour. As ever, I started it off in a large saucepan on the hob and then transferred it to a tagine in the oven.

Serves 2

4 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
2 tablespoons of olive oil
100g of shallots, peeled
2 garlic cloves, sliced
4cm piece of ginger, grated
8 large, pitted green olives, halved
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, lightly crushed
2 small cinnamon sticks
A large pinch of saffron threads
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
A pinch of crushed dried chilli
375g of peeled butternut squash, cut into chunks
500ml of chicken stock
1 rounded tablespoon of clear honey
2 tablespoons of roughly chopped coriander
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 180

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook for 3 minutes, turn and cook for a further 3 minutes until browned well all over.

Remove from the pan and set aside.

Lower heat slightly, add the whole shallots to the pan and cook until golden brown all over. Add the garlic and grated ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Then add all the spices and cooking for 1 minute more.

Add the butternut squash to the pan and stir to coat in the spices. Add the stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Then remove from the heat and transfer the contents of the pan to the tagine.

Arrange the chicken, skin side up, on top of the shallots and squash – at least half of the chicken should be submerged in the liquid. Drizzle the honey over the dish.

Pop the lid on the tagine and transfer to the oven. Cook for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes remove from the oven, add the halved olives to the tagine and stir in. Pop the lid back on, return the tagine to the oven and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Once cooked garnish with chopped coriander and serve with lemon couscous, and maybe some garlic flatbread.

P1080072 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pera Palas Pie

Neil and I had Martin over for dinner and boardgames on Saturday evening, and so I had a riffle through the new cookbook that Vanessa bought me down the other weekend. The book is called Orchards in the Oasis by Josceline Dimbleby. (wife of one of the Dimblebys – Jonathan I think.) It’s a lovely book, part recipe book, part travel memoir, with loads of dishes from the Middle East and beyond. She describes this dish as being ‘a sort of Turkish Shepherd’s Pie.’

It’s certainly a bit sloppier than the usual shepherd’s pie though, and so I’m afraid it looks a bit messy in the photos – difficult to serve up neatly – it was very tasty though.

I was a bit flummoxed by curd cheese initially, but ended up finding Quark in Sainsbury’s which worked well. I also added some grated mozzarella to the topping too.

Serves 6 (allegedly – the whole thing did the three of us quite nicely, with some sautéed black cabbage.)

1 large aubergine (350g approx)
Lemon juice
3 tablespoons of olive oil
30g of pine nut kernels
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
500g of lamb mince
2 teaspoons of paprika
A good handful of dill, finely chopped
50g of plain flour
600ml of whole milk
250g of curd cheese
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Slice the aubergine into slices roughly 1cm thick. Place in a colander and sprinkle with lemon juice and sea salt and leave to drain for roughly half an hour.

Rinse the aubergine slices under cold running water to remove the salt and dry well with kitchen paper. Cut into small cubes.

Heat two tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat and fry the aubergine cubes until soft and browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Reserve 1 tablespoon of the pine nuts and then pop the rest into the pan and fry for a minute or two, until browned. Remove them from the pan and set them aside with the aubergines.

Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add the lamb mince. Fry for a few minutes, breaking up any lumps with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and any liquid has evaporated. Add the garlic and paprika and stir well to combine and then remove the pan from the heat.

Stir in the chopped dill and season well with salt and pepper. Add the meat mixture to a wide, shallow ovenproof dish.

Preheat the oven to 190

To make the topping, add the flour to a cold saucepan and stir in 2-3 tablespoons of the milk to make a smooth paste. Stir in the remaining milk and then heat the pan over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.

Let it bubble for 2-3 minutes, still stirring.

Remove from the heat and stir in the curd cheese, whisking until thoroughly blended into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Stir the fried aubergines and pine nuts into the sauce and pour over the lamb in the dish.

Scatter the tablespoon of reserved pine nuts over the top. (I also added some grated mozzarella)

Bake in the over for 25-30 minutes or so, until the top is golden.

P1080068 ed

P1080071 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pork and leek pie with cider and wholegrain mustard

I made this for myself on Wednesday morning to have when I finished work late on Wednesday evening. It’s fairly straightforward and in one of my lovely little pie dishes, just the right size for one.

Serves 1

2 pork shoulder steaks, trimmed and diced
1 fat leek, trimmed and sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
½ a carrot, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of plain flour
300ml of dry cider
1-2 teaspoons of wholegrain mustard
Leaves from 2-3 sprigs of thyme
200g of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
A little milk for brushing

In a large, deep frying pan or saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat. Add the diced pork and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned all over and cooked through.

Add the leek, garlic and carrot and cook for a further couple of minutes, until the leek is starting to soften.

Sprinkle over the flour, to absorb some of the juices, and stir well to combine. Cook for a further minute.

Slowly pour in the cider, stirring continually. Then stir in the mustard and add the thyme leaves. Stir well to combine, turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes or so. During this time, the sauce should thicken a bit. If it starts to thicken too much though, simply add a little more cider.

Whilst the filling is simmering, line a pie dish with pastry.

Once the filling is cooked, leave it to cool a little, say five minutes or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Place the filling in the pastry pie case, and then make a lid from the remaining pastry.

Brush the edges of the pie case with a little milk, place the lid on top and then use a fork to seal the edges. Make a couple of steam holes in the lid with the tip of a sharp knife and lightly brush the lid with some more milk.

Cook in the oven for 25 minutes or so, until golden.

P1080066 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Apple cake

I also made this last Wednesday, to take into work for my tea. I love an apple cake – lovely and autumnal, with a hefty dose of cinnamon in there as well. It went down well with my team too!

I made it in a square cake tin and cut it into squares. I took most of it in to work but kept a few squares at home for me and Neil to enjoy.
225g of self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
115g butter, diced and chilled, plus extra for greasing
115g light brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1-2 tablespoons of ginger wine
225g of apple, peeled, cored and diced into small cubes (I favour a pink lady)
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar (optional)
Heat the oven to 180. Grease and line a square 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.

Mix the flour, baking powder, ground ginger and cinnamon together in a large bowl.

In a food mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, a bit at a time. Follow each addition of egg with some of the flour until both of each are used up. Stir in the ginger wine. The mixture should be fairly liquidy, but not too sloppy.

Stir in the diced apple and mix well to combine.

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden and a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean.

P1080062 ed

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment