Saturday, 27 November 2010

Stuffed Pork Loin with Caramelised Apple

This is my exciting variation of a standard pork chop. The meat is tender and stuffed with melted parmesan and garlic, and these savoury flavours are accompanied by sweet and sticky caramelised apples which work really together! What's more this dish is quick to prepare and cook, so just perfect for a mid week dinner.

Top tip: Why not play around with the stuffing? Try experimenting with different cheeses and herbs to create the ultimate filling!

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

Pork Loin - 2 steaks
Fresh Thyme - 2 sprigs
Garlic Paste - a pea-sized amount
Shaved Parmesan - a small handful
Salted Butter - 30g

For the caramelised apples:

Apple (Braeburn) - 1
Light Brown Soft Sugar - 1tsp
Salted Butter - 20g

1. First prepare the pork loins. Make a pocket inside each steak. This is done using a sharp knife, piercing through the long edge of the pork ensuring the knife does not pass all the way through, and cutting from side to side.

2. Using your finger rub a little garlic paste into the inside of each pocket. Next insert half the parmesan shavings and a small amount of butter. Press lightly on each steak to spread the filling evenly.

3. Slice the apple into segments. Using two non-stick pans, melt the remaining quantities of butter in each.

4. In the larger buttered pan place your stuffed pork loins and add the thyme sprigs. Fry on a medium heat for roughly 3 minutes on each side, until the meat is cooked through.

5. Meanwhile, whilst the pork is cooking, place the apple segments in the smaller buttered pan and sauté in the butter until lightly browned. Sprinkle over the sugar, and sauté until the sugar has caramelised. This takes about the same time as the pork to cook.

Serve with a Pomme Fondante and seasonal vegetables, and the juices from the meat.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Chicken Tikka Massala

It's probably true to say that I come from a background of foodies. A few years ago my uncle Charlie started up a 'family recipe book', and so far this is one of my favourite things to prepare from it. He calls it 'The Fastest Chicken Tikka Massala in the West'! It's all in the name - as quick as using a readymade jar of sauce, but tastes a hundred times better, and more authentic! He's very kindly let me reproduce the recipe here, and I'm sure there'll be more recipes coming soon from the family cookbook!

Top tip: If you're counting calories you can cut some of the oil and butter out, and swap the double cream for 0% fat Greek yoghurt. When I was short of dried mint, I also used 1/2 tsp mint sauce.

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS:

Chicken - 2 breasts
Tinned Tomatoes - 3/4 tin
Garlic - 1tbsp paste, or 2 cloves
Ginger (grated) - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Vegetable Oil - 2 tbsp
Hot Chilli Powder - 1 tsp
Ground Coriander - 1 tsp
Ground Cumin - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
Water - 2 tbsp
Caster Sugar - 2 tsp
Butter (salted) - 70g
Dried Mint - 1/2 tsp
Garam Massala - 1 tsp
Double Cream - 2-3 tbsp to taste

1. In a food processor mix the tinned tomatoes, ginger and garlic until smooth. In a large non-stick frying pan or wok, heat the oil on a medium heat. Add the processed ingredients and sauté for a couple of minutes.

2. Add the chilli, coriander, cumin and turmeric and stir in, and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.

3. Dice the chicken breasts in bite-sized pieces and add to the pan. Pour in the water, and turn the heat up and cook until the sauce thickens and the chicken is cooked through.

4. Add the sugar, and season with salt (and pepper) to taste.

5. Reduce the heat, and add the butter, mint and garam massala, stirring in and cook for a further 3 minutes. Add the cream just before serving.

Serve with boiled rice, naan bread and maybe even a Vegetable Samosa.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Thai Massaman Curry

This is my favourite of the Thai curries. It's really filling, with a creamy and spicy sauce, delicately balanced and infused with all the classic Thai flavours of coconut, peanuts and galangal. Once you've made the curry paste the rest is simple! You can make this with chicken, beef, pork, prawns or even make it vegetarian.

Top tip: If things get too hot and spicy, you can add a little more sugar and/or lime juice to counterbalance.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

Thai Massaman Curry Paste - 4 tsp
Chicken
White Potatoes - 2
Large Onion - 1
Unsalted Peanuts - 4 tbsp
Coconut Milk - 800mls
Caster Sugar - 4 tsp
Salt - 2 tsp
Fish Sauce - 4 tbs

1. The key to this delicious curry is preparation. You'll need all your ingredients chopped and ready before you start. First peel and chop the potatoes into roughly 2cm chunks.

2. Next slice the onion into quarters, then carefully pull apart the layers of each onion quarter to give you lovely curved pieces of onion.

3. Dice your meat into bite-sized chunks.

4. Now you're ready to start! You'll need a large pan or wok. On a high heat pour in 200mls of the coconut oil, and constantly stir until it turns oily. This takes only a couple of minutes. Once it's oily, add the curry paste, turn down the heat to medium and fry the paste for 3-4 minutes in the reduced coconut oil.

5. Add in the meat, and stir fry in the sauce until all the meat is covered and cooked through.

6. Once the meat is cooked, pour in the rest of the coconut milk and add in the onions, peanuts and potatoes and stir to cover.

7. Add in the salt, sugar and fish sauce to season and continue to cook through until the potatoes are softened (roughly 15 minutes).

8. You can add a little coconut milk or water whilst it's cooking to make up your desired consistency.

Serve with boiled or sticky rice.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Thai Massaman Curry Paste

It's strange to think that this time a year ago I was on a cooking course on Koh Lanta in Thailand! This recipe is for a traditional Thai curry paste, the name of which is derived from the word 'Muslim'. It is packed with exotic flavours, all delicately balanced together. You can make a large batch, as it keeps in the fridge for ages.

Top tip: Many of the ingredients are fairly hard to find in the UK. Try local deli's for things like Galangal and Shrimp Paste.

Makes enough paste for a curry for 4.

INGREDIENTS:

Dried Red Chilli Skins - 2
Shallots - 2
Garlic - 2 cloves
Lemon Grass - 2 inches
Galangal - 1cm slice of the root
Turmeric - 2 tsp
Kaffir Lime Skin - 2 slices (you can use normal limes too!)
Small Dried Chilli (with seeds) - 1
Coriander Seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 2 tsp
Cardamon Seeds - 2
Cloves - 2
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Black Pepper Seeds - 14
Mace - 2 tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Shrimp Paste - 1/2 tsp

1. For the dried chilli skins, chop two large red chilies in half and de-seed them. Place on a radiator overnight. Once dried, finely chop.

2. Peel and finely dice the shallots and garlic cloves. Peel the skin off the limes, and save 2 large slices.

3. Once you have collected all your ingredients (no mean feat!), place them in a pestle & mortar, and proceed to grind until a paste is formed. This takes a while, and a strong hand. Alternatively you can process the ingredients in a blender, but you'll need to make sure it's a fine blender as you don't want a grainy texture.

You can store the paste in a jar in the fridge until needed.
Use this paste to make a Beef, Vegetable or Chicken Massaman Curry.

Monday, 15 November 2010

Coriander & Parmesan Chicken Kievs

Picture the scene: it's a standard Monday night, I'm late home from work and been out to the gym and would love to just throw something in the oven. However, I've forgotten to go to the shops and my sister's staying over - I definitely dont want to let down her expectations! This is a classic dish that's actually very simple to make, and with a bit of flare can taste so much better than the supermarket version. What's more it only takes 10 minutes to prepare and 25 in the oven.

Top tip: There's lots of areas to experiment with your taste buds here. Maybe try a sprinkle of paprika in the bread crumbs, or even a cream cheese instead of the butter!

Makes 4 kievs

INGREDIENTS:

Chicken Breasts - 4
Butter - 50g
Garlic - 3-4 cloves
Coriander - 1 handful
Grated Parmesan - 2 heaped tbsp
Brown Bread - 4 slices
Egg - 3 large
Hickory Smoked Salt (optional) - 1.5 tsp
Vegetable Oil - 2 tbsp
Chicken Oxo cube - 1

1. First prepare the breadcrumbs. Slice off the crusts from the sliced brown bread, and in small batches tear and place in a food processor. Mix until you have a breadcrumb texture.

2. Add the parmesan and smokey salt, and crumble in the chicken oxo cube to the breadcrumbs and mix well.

3. Now prepare the garlic and coriander filling. On a plate mash the peeled and crushed garlic cloves into the butter using a fork. Chop the coriander and fold it in.

4. Using a long, sharp, thin knife pierce a hole in each breast. Start at the fatter end of the breast, and pass the knife through horizontally, being careful not to pierce all the way through, as you don't want all the filling to spill out when you cook them!

5. Using your finger, widen each hole, and then stuff a little of the filling at a time into each breast, so that it reaches down into the cavity that you've made.

6. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs lightly together. Dip each breast in the eggs to cover, and then roll in your seasoned breadcrumbs. Each breast should be fully covered.

7. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan on a high heat and shallow fry each breast on both sides for a couple of minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

8. Transfer the fried breasts into a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C for 25 minutes, making sure the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with the juices drizzled on top and some simple seasonal vegetables.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Deep Fried Talipia with a Thai Chilli Salad

This website has been seriously lacking in fish mainly because I'm not a fish-eater by any means. In fact, I haven't had some in close to 20 years... but I have to say this dish that our friend Sam prepared went down so well, and he's very kindly said I could post his recipe! This dish is light, but packed with flavours, and it doesn't take long to prepare.

Top tip: Sam used a fish called Talipia, a non-oily, white fish which comes from the Caribbean. You can buy it in the UK, but if you can't find it, then try using something similar like hake or skate. Avoid oily fish, as they tend to crumble when deep fried.

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

Vegetable Oil - enough to deep fry
White Fish - 4 fillets
Garlic - 4 cloves
Spring Onions - small bunch
Red Chilli - 3 or 4 small
Cornflour - 2 tbsp
Soy Sauce - 1 tbsp
Fish Sauce - 1 tbsp
Water - 2 tbsp
Basil - small handful
Fresh Coriander - small handful
Caster Sugar - 1 tbsp

For the Thai salad:

Radishes - 4 small
Bean-sprouts - 200g
Carrots - 2
Spring Onions - 2

1. First, prepare your Thai salad. Thinly slice the radishes, and cut the carrots and spring onion lengthways into thin strips. Toss with the bean-sprouts in a  salad bowl and set to one side.

2. The next step is making the sauce to go with the fish. Chop the garlic, de-seeded chillies and spring onions. Heat a little oil in a wok, and quickly stir fry the chopped ingredients for about 2-3 minutes, being careful not to let them brown.

3. Stir in the soy and fish sauces, and mix in the sugar. Tear up the basil and coriander and stir in on a low heat for a further minute or two. Add the water at the end to thin down slightly. Pour into a serving beaker.

4. On a dry plate, roll the fillets in the cornflour until lightly covered. Each fillet should have a thin layer of the flour, with no clumps.

5. Using a large pan or deep fat fryer, heat your oil, but avoid bubbling. (If you are using a pan, have a wet cloth nearby to throw on the pan in case things go wrong!) Deep fry each fillet for about 3 minutes until golden brown and lightly crispy. Place on some kitchen towel to drain before plating up and pouring the sauce over each fillet.

Serve immediately with some cold baby new potatoes.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Venison & Plum Pie

November is mid-venison season which means it's becoming increasingly easy to find this rich meat - perfect for a cold weather appetite. This dish takes a little time (2 1/2 hours at least), but your efforts are rewarded with melt-in-the-mouth chunks of gamey venison in a deep, sweet plum sauce.

Top tip: This dish can come out very sweet if you don't time the stewing of the plums correctly. For a sweeter pie, leave the plums to stew for longer, and add a teaspoon of redcurrant jelly.

Makes a deep-filled 12 inch pie

INGREDIENTS:

Red Onion - 2 small
Leek - 1
Carrot - 1
Chestnut Mushrooms - 100g
Plums - 5
Thyme - 6 sprigs
Garlic - 1 clove
Coriander Seeds - 1 tsp
Butter - 50g
Diced Venison - 450g
Plain Flour - 50g
Chicken Stock - 1 litre
Port - 150 mls
Balsamic Vinegar - 2 tbsp
Brown Sugar - 1tsp
Shortcrust Pastry - 1 pack

1. Slice the leek and dice the carrot into small cubes. Slice the mushrooms, and dice one red onion.

2. Roll the diced venison in the plain flour to lightly coat.

3. In a large frying pan, melt half the butter. Add the diced onion and garlic, and sauté until softened.

4. Add the venison and fry on a medium heat until just browned all over.

5. Transfer the contents of the pan to an oven-proof casserole dish. Add the leek, carrot, mushrooms, chicken stock, and port. Crush the coriander seeds using a pestle and mortar, and add these to the casserole dish.

6. Pop the lid on and place in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees C for 1.5 - 2 hours. You'll know it's ready when the venison falls apart in your mouth, and isn't tough.

7. Whilst the casserole is stewing, caramelise your plums. Start by peeling and de-stoning the plums, and then roughly chopping them into quarters. Dice the remaining onion. 

8. Melt the remaining butter in a large frying pan. Add the onion and sauté until softened. Add the thyme and plums, and heat for another minute. Add the brown sugar, and 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar. Stir constantly and heat through until the plums are slightly sticky.

9. Add the mixture to the casserole after the first hour, and return to the oven.

10. Just before the casserole is ready, start to roll out the shortcrust pastry. Butter a pie dish, and line with a layer of thin pastry. Weigh down the pastry with baking beans, and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until not quite cooked. You'll be finishing it off in a bit!

11. Roll out another sheet of pastry, large enough to cover the pie.

12. Remove the pie tin and casserole from the oven, and allow to cool slightly. At this point check the casserole for seasoning and sweetness. Add salt, pepper and additional balsamic vinegar to taste.

13. Remove the lid, stand on the hob and reduce the sauce to thicken it up. (If the flavours are already intense enough just cheat and add a little cornflour).

14. Pour the filling into the partly cooked pastry tin, then cover with the pastry topping. Prick and decorate before placing in the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the topping is golden and crispy. (For a professional sheen, brush with a little milk before baking.)

Serve piping hot with seasonal vegetables, or my Cheddar & Mustard Mash and Caramelised Carrots.

Perfect with a glass of deep red wine!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Lamb Cutlets with Pomme Fondant

I love a good slow roasted lamb, or melt-in-your-mouth lamb curry; however lamb doesn't need to be that time consuming or laborious. The beauty of this dish lies in it's simplicity - there's only three things on the plate, each one absolutely delicious in it's own right, and utterly complementary with the other ingredients.

Top tip: Great on it's own, or use a little red wine to de-glaze the pan and use the juices as a sauce.

Serves 3

INGREDIENTS:

Rack of lamb - 6 cutlets
Thyme - 4 sprigs
Garlic - 4 cloves
Salted Butter - 30g

For the Pomme Fondant:

Large Floury Potatoes - 3
Chicken Stock - 300mls
Salted Butter - 30g
Garlic - 4 cloves

1. Wash and peel the potatoes, then using a small circular cutter (I used a cookie cutter!) approx 3cm in diameter carefully slice out cylinders from the potatoes. Each one should be equal, and about 4-5cm in length.

2. Heat the butter in a frying pan till just melted. Remove from the heat and roll each potato cylinder in the butter until coated. Stand each potato on it's end in an oven-proof dish and pour in the chicken stock, so the liquid surrounds the cylinders but doesn't cover them.

3. Peel 4 garlic cloves and crush using the side of a knife. Add to the chicken stock.

4. Place in a pre-heated oven at 250 degrees C for 45 minutes, turning over once, until golden brown.
A perfect pomme fondant is crispy on the outside and melts like butter on the inside.

5. 10 minutes before the pomme fondants are ready prepare your lamb. If you bought a rack of lamb ensure the exposed bones are thoroughly cleaned, by scraping excess gristle off each one with a sharp knife. Remove any excess fat. Cut the rack inbetween the bones into individual cutlets.

6. In a non-stick frying pan melt the butter, and add crushed garlic and thyme. Add the cutlets and fry on each side for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a oven-proof pan and place in the oven for 2-3 minutes. The timing depends on how you prefer the lamb to be cooked.

7. After removing the cutlets you can de-glaze the frying pan by pouring in a splash of red wine. Stir well, to infuse the wine with the lamb juices. Drain off the garlic and thyme, and pour the juices into a gravy boat.

8. Remove the lamb and potatoes from the oven and serve immediately.

Serve with my Caramelised Carrots and a quenelle of Mustard Mash Potato.