Sunday, 12 April 2015

Diana Henry's "A Bird in the Hand" - Chicken with anchovies, lemon and rosemary

It is a long story , the one about waiting to get hold of Diana Henry's fabulous cookery book A Bird in the Hand

Three copies the publisher sent to me, three copies disappeared into the black hole that is Royal Mail. But eventually it and I were united, and I was finally a happy chick.

I gave the honours of first choice to Bob, and he homed in on Chicken with anchovies, lemon and rosemary.  It is not dissimilar to my favourite Spezzatina, made with anchovies and vinegar, but this one has onions (should have been shallots, but I didn't have any) and wine, and is topped with lemon and garlic - I added parsley to that mixture, to make a classic Italian gremolata, which I love. 

It came out beautifully. Apart from the little tweaks above (and where would I be if I didn't tweak) I followed the recipe, and it came out just as it should. 

We had roast Italian style potatoes and fresh, lightly blanched spring greens and it was gorgeous. And easy!! Hurray for easy! 

disclaimer: I was sent a review copy, but I did the cooking, the eating and the writing! 

Red Cooked Pork and Carrots - Hong Shao Rou (紅燒肉)

I had a small piece of pork belly in the freezer, nice, but it was really too small to roast. What to do?

How about Chinese style? Red cooked pork is delicious, the fat and skin turn into a soy sauce tinted soft jelly that works wonderfully well with rice. I cooked sushi rice as I wanted something much stickier than basmati - I didn't have any other rice that would be sticky, and it worked excellently. I followed (roughly) this recipe - more for the method than for the quantities.  The blanching of the pork I only did for 10 minutes as I had already cut the pork into cubes and I added star anise and a few slices of ginger to the blanching water.

The rest of the ingredients are as per the recipe, except that I increased (roughly doubled) the amount of dark and light soy sauce, and used dry sherry instead of Shaoxing wine as I didn't have that in stock.  I also added carrots to increase the amount of veggies, (that was a suggestion in my Ken Lo Chinese cookery book) which worked really nicely.

A warning though - when they say that the pork spatters when you are caramelising it with the oil and sugar they are right. Wrap a tea-towel around your hand and tilt the pan away from you when you are stirring the pork, or you will have a blister on your hand like I do.. :(

I didn't take the sauce right down to a sticky coating as I wanted some gravy to go with the rice. I served it with the sticky rice and finely sliced spring greens stir fried with grated ginger,  finely chopped chili (just a little) and oyster sauce and scattered with sliced spring onions.

Delectable and one for the recipe file I think :)

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Fridge picnic... with Yoghurt Crusty Bread

I had made some bread. Easy delicious yoghurt bread, which is my favourite at the moment, and I really couldn't be bothered to have anything difficult alongside it for dinner.

So to the fridge... I found:

2 Peppers
half an aubergine
2 courgettes

A couple of tomatoes and half a cucumber


Half a jar of giardinera pickles

I cut the peppers/aubergine/courgettes in strips and drizzled them with oil, dried oregano and salt and pepper and popped them in a very hot oven for half an hour, then let them cool.

Everything else just went on a plate. Fridge picnic day :)

Monday, 6 April 2015

Pork and bacon meatballs... mmmmmm

Meatballs are so good, whether made of beef, lamb or in this case pork.  I found a pack of pork mince in the Sainsbury's cheaps counter for only 30p so I had to buy it didn't I!

I sauted a finely chopped onion with some chopped streaky bacon and added it to the pork with salt, pepper, fried sage and an egg yolk.  Squished together my hands but not too much,  the mixture should stay fairly loose or the balls will be heavy. Wet your hands before making the meat balls, it stops the mixture from sticking to your fingers. Make balls about the size of a ping pong ball and chill for 10 mins in the fridge.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the meat balls until they are golden all over and then transfer to a baking tray and cook in a medium oven for another 10 minutes or so. They will keep in a low oven for another 10 minutes or so if you need to delay them until the rest is cooked.

They are good with tomato sauce and pasta, or any mixture of roast vegetables, but today I fancied some mashed potatoes.

I made a simple sauce of the meat juices with some chicken stock, capers and grainy mustard, and served with Bramley apple sauce and fresh veg on the side.

Crispy Skinned Salmon with Green Curry broth and steamed veggies

It was fish day of course on Good Friday. Salmon, pan fried in a little olive oil on the skin side until it is really crispy and you can see that the fish is cooked about half way up the side. Then take the pan away from the heat and turn the fish over to rest and finish cooking while the veggies steam.

You can see how the fish is JUST cooked through, but not at all powdery. This is the best way to cook salmon in my opinion, oven baked is hard to judge when the fish is cooked and it is so easy to overcook and ruin it, turning it into pink cotton wool.

I made a laksa type broth of coconut milk and green Thai curry paste with fish sauce, sugar and lime juice. Added two packs of ready to heat Udon noodles (my favourite noodles, thick and toothsome, I love them added to broth or fried, Amoy do them in packets easily available at most supermarkets)

The broth went into bowls, with a mixture of mange touts, broccoli, baby corn and pak choi which I had steamed piled on top and the salmon finally with the skin uppermost to keep it crisp. A scattering of chopped spring onions and coriander and we're done.
I love a 10 minute dinner!!

I love a 10 minute dessert too - we had a quick lemon and sherry syllabub (just lemon juice and sherry, a little sugar and a small pot of double cream mixed together and whipped until softly peaky) mixed with crushed meringue and raspberries, piled into a (bought) meringue nest. Yummy!!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Lentils and eggs

An easy fridge and cupboard meat free day of a little chopping and slicing, and very little cooking.

I used a can of Merchant Gourmet Puy lentils as the base for this salad, and added some julienned raw carrot, finely sliced and blanched flat beans, chopped coriander leaves, hard boiled eggs, sliced avocado, finely chopped red onion, and some halved cherry tomatoes. 

The dressing was simple, olive oil with lime juice and salt. I didn't add any chili this time, but a finely chopped red chili would go beautifully.

And that is it!! all in the 8 minutes it took to cook the eggs.. :)

Chicken and anchovies... mmmmmmm

Chicken and anchovies. Oh so good... I explained how to make it back in 2013, and can't believe it is that long since we had it! Reminding myself of delicious dinners was the main reason that I started this blog, and it is times like this when it proves to be very useful indeed.

Of course, there are problems when you go to the fridge for the jar of anchovies you know are there, and suddenly remember that you ate them the week before.. but ... aha! there is that tube of anchovy paste that you bought last year in case of running out of anchovies in a jar is that time :)

So go read the other recipe, and then sub a worm of anchovy paste about 3 ins long instead of the 5 anchovy fillets, all the rest is the same!