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Where’s my pork chop?

Eh?

Brainchild of Dan of Food Urchin and wild garlic distribution fame, where’s my pork chop is a side project, born out of frustration from reading our collective tweets about our dinners, while poor Dan is stuck at work, working late shifts and watching hungrily from the sidelines.

He came up with a solution, and asked if we’d be willing to offer him our leftovers and he’d give us something in return. I thought it sounded great and was only delighted to take part, and that’s how I found myself at Oxford Circus one lunch time, cradling leftover prawn curry. That’s also how I got my free tickets to Taste of London, I’ll blog about that another time. Thanks Dan!

Why prawn curry? It’s one of my favourite dishes, homely and comforting, fruity and fragrant. Light and perfect for summer, with a fruity tomato base, and creamy cocnut overlay, it seemed a good fit for a man stranded in an office, watching life go by on the internet as he slogged away, all the while analysing dinner tweets. 

The truth is, I had wanted to make him chickpea & chorizo stew but Dan of Essex Eating beat me to it. I hadn’t made prawn curry in months, so it was due, and I was quite looking forward to indulging myself also.

I had a few hurdles to cross. Firstly, it was a gorgeous day in London, so after work I met a friend for a glass of wine on the South Bank, which quickly became half a bottle. Oooops. Then I had to go buy prawns, they needed to be as fresh as possible, as they needed to survive two rounds of cooking and still be edible. Having sourced them, I trekked home and put my key in my front door at 10pm. Late. Crap.

Like I said, it had been a long time since I had made these and I was soon to find out how long, as my spices had lost their ooomph. Crap. I was very disappointed. Normally this curry is fragrant and bright, my dull spices would not make this dish sing. However, it was late, and I had no time to buy new spices or line up and alternative so I persevered.

11pm and my curry was done, and having packaged Dan’s portion for the next evening, I sat down in front of Sex & the City and indulged. It was nice, but the spices were dull on the palate and that was a shame. Never mind. Dan enjoyed it and that makes me happy. You can read about it here.

If you’re interested in making it (and I recommend that you do, but with fresh spices), the recipe is here – Prawn Curry.

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Fresh Garlic, Chorizo & Pork Burgers

Fresh Garlic, Pork & Chorizo Burgers

I love the weekend for many reasons. I don’t have to get up early, I don’t have to work, I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I love lie ins, large cafetieres of coffee, indulgent and creative breakfasts and the weekend papers. Within the weekend papers, my first stop is always the magazine, and within this, the food section. I particularly love Yotam Ottolenghi on Saturday in The Guardian and Nigel Slater on Sunday in The Observer.

Recently, Nigel Slater wrote about burgers, gorgeous pork and chicken burgers packed full of spices and fragrance and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about them since. I wanted to make some. And I wanted also to try my hand at making my own. I was determined yesterday, so I meandered home via the deli and the butcher and bought some boisterous cooking chorizo, good quality minced pork and fresh flat leaf parsley. I already had a stockpile of fresh garlic from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm, and I chose one particularly small and juicy one, with a nice long stalk. I adore fresh garlic, the season has started, and runs for about a month, so I bought lots and I plan to make the most of it.

Fresh garlic. Isn’t that the same as green garlic, or wet garlic? Yes, they’re all the same. Fresh and still wet, you can use it as you would a spring onion, it’s bolder but doesn’t yet have the pungency that it will attain as it matures. I shred it finely, and use in the place of shallots. It’s perfect in meatballs and burgers like these.  For this recipe, I used the whole stalk, which was about 8 inches, and half the bulb, removing the outer dry casing, and retaining and using the rest. You may chose to use less or to substitute spring onion. For me, it was a perfect amount, complimentary and not overwhelming, however, the bulbs vary in size, as does individual taste.

Use soft cooking chorizo here, not the dried hard one. Chop it as finely as you can, but it should still be in chunks, don’t puree it or mince it. The recipe could take a bit more, but I didn’t want the chorizo to dominate the lovely porky flavour.

I like this served simply, with some green salad and juicy small tomatoes in pita bread. Khobez or wraps would be lovely too.  This amount made 6 burgers, 2 per person.

Ingredients:

500g minced pork
Half a small bulb of fresh garlic, including the stalk
75g cooking chorizo
2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Chopped tomatoes (I used juicy small tomatoes)
Rocket or similar salad leaf
Small pita breads (or a wrap, ciabatta bun or similar)

Method:

Chop the fresh garlic as finely as you can. Include the stalk, it’s delicious.
Take the skin off the chorizo and chop as finely as you can.
Add the garlic, parsley and chorizo to the minced pork and mix thoroughly.
Season with salt and pepper. I had a particulary nice oak smoked sea salt which went really well.
Cook a small amount and check the seasoning, adjust if necessary.
Shape the mixture into 6 patties.
If you have a griddle, heat it until it’s extremely hot. Otherwise use a frying pan.
There’s lots of fat in the pork so you won’t need any oil. Fry on one side for 4/5 minutes and turn. Reduce the heat slightly and allow the burger to cook through. It should take up to 10 minutes. Check by cutting into one, if it’s pink, it’s not ready.
Serve in toasted pita breads (or your bread of choice), with some mayo, rocket and tomatoes.

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Summer Pasta #1 – Crab Linguine

crab linguine

I adore light summer pastas, so I thought that I would do a little series, starting with one of my favourites, crab linguine. Crab is a wonderful delicate meat. Light and fluffy and tasting of the sea. One of my favourite restaurant dishes ever, was a River Cafe starter of crab on toast with a light salad. It was so simple and gorgeous, with stunning fresh ingredients.

Growing up in Ireland, I thought that eating crabs was plain insane. Our elderly neighbour used to catch enormous ones in a bucket at a rocky beach near our house and boiled them up for her alsatian dog. I envy that dog now but at the time I felt it was an act of cruelty. I was also terrified that she would come near me with her bucket of living sideways walking friends. I was afraid of crabs, and really anything living in the sea, I remember standing on an isolated rock shrieking with horror as the crabs ascended. I thought that they would eat me. They didn’t but that’s another story.

You don’t need to go to such enormous lengths for this dish. You can buy perfectly good fresh crabmeat already prepared for you. It seems expensive at roughly £5 for a small tub, but this goes a long way, especially in this dish. If you can, it’s better to get a fresh live crab, then you have the benefit of it’s gorgeous fluffiness and the deeply savoury brown meat. I had mine delivered along with an Abel and Cole veg box, they now do lots of other things, and one of these things is fresh Cornish crab meat, which was delivered very cold surrounded by ice gel packs. Very handy for a busy girl like me. Which brings me back to the recipe, which is also very handy for a busy girl like me, as it’s super quick and tasty. This made enough for three, add more crab meat if you’ve got it.

crab linguine

Ingredients:

300g linguine
the very best unwaxed lemon you can find
flat leaf parsley, a handful, chopped
White crab meat (100g)
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped finely
nice fruity extra virgin olive oil

Method:

Cook your linguine according to packet instructions so that it’s just shy of al dente (it will cook a little when you add it to the crab).
Heat about 2 tablespoons of the oil, add the chilli and stir for about 30 seconds.
Add the crab and stir until it’s nice and hot.
Add the linguine to the crab and chilli, and stir through, ensuring that the pasta is nicely coated, drizzle with some more oil if it’s dry. Add fresh squeezed lemon juice to taste, and some lemon zest with the parsley. Season with fresh ground S&P. Stir through and serve immediately.

It’s a keeper, I think!
Add the cooked linguine

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Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

Complex, you would think? A gorgeous hunk of meat, that is full of flavour and moisture. A HUGE and gorgeous hunk of meat.

Complex? No. All it requires is your time, your patience, your oven, and a good cut of meat supplied by your local friendly butcher. That’s it!

Mine had some extra complexities. That probably won’t surprise you. These were not the fault of the pig, or the oven, the oils, or any attendant spices. The issue my friends, was my accent.

The most complex thing about it was ordering it. I called my butcher in advance and ordered a shoulder of pork, bone in. He had explained previously that I would need to order it in advance, as they rarely have bone in joints on the premises. I wanted the bone in, as it would help retain the moisture over a slow roasting time and would retain much more flavour.

Bone in, my butcher repeated. I had discussed it with them last time I was in the shop, so satisfied that the joint was ordered, I hung up.  I called the next day to check they had it. In fact they had three. Huh? Three? I thought they never had any? They did, he said. I checked, bone in? And he said, no, you asked for bone out. Sigh. So, we started again. I called the next evening but he couldn’t understand me, so I went on faith, in the hope that this time my pork shoulder would be there. That evening I successfully collected 4 kgs of pork shoulder with the bone in, and lugged it home.

And that was the difficult bit completed. Cooking it was easy. I didn’t need to cut the skin with a knife as my butcher had already done it for me. I first poured some boiling water over the skin to help the crackling plump up, just a brief splash, and then dried it with some kitchen paper. I crushed some sea salt and fennel seeds in my pestle and mortar and rubbed it all over the pork and into the grooves between the cut skin, then placed it in a roasting tray in  a hot oven (220 degrees celsius) for half an hour. I then covered the roasting tray with a double layer of foil, and lowered the temperature to 170 degrees celsius for 5 hours, basting occasionally. I then removed the foil and roasted it for a further half hour, to crisp the skin even more. I rested it for half an hour and then we tucked in.

Slow Roast Pork Shoulder

And there you go. Delicious and simple. There’s lots of i’s in that recipe, but that’s how I did it, and it’s a story more than an instructive recipe.

Pork shoulder in khobez flatbreads with salad. I’ll be making it again. Only I’ll make more next tiem so that there’s lots of leftovers!

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And I’m back…

Hola! I went awol there, apologies. An unintended break and longer than expected, life intervened, as it tends to do. I’ve been busy with work, on a particularly demanding project which has just wound up. Work aside, I have been personally busy, lots of events, visitors and unpacking (still ongoing and in the slowest manner possible – I have a mental block with it!).

I am in the process of making some changes here too, but it’s taking a little time so watch this space. I failed to write the last two (was it three?) monthly round ups, this was deliberate because it felt like I wasn’t blogging enough throughout the month to do them, but I will resume next month. It seemed senseless to start summarising so few posts.

This little blog had it’s second blogiversary, which, in the flurry of activity that was last month, went unnoticed. Happy Birthday Blog! I also celebrated my birthday and my first niece was born the day before. I visited an English vineyard, found a new favourite curry house, went to Dine with Dos Hermanos at Casa Brindisa. And that’s just the tip of it.

What a month! Brilliant.

7 hour roast shoulder of pork

My birthday deserves a mention, and only for the food. I roasted a magnificent pork shoulder over 7 hours, and roasted a leg of lamb with anchovy, garlic and rosemary. I’ll blog the details soon. We washed it all down with lots of cremante, prosecco and rhubarb, rose & raspberry bellini’s with a sprinkling of eighties music. Bonnie Tyler, anyone? There’s a story behind that, but I’ll not get into it now. I had planned elderflower bellinis but failed to finish the syrup in time, having started it, oh 3 hours before the party. Doh. I tidied up the weekend with some more rhubarb bellinis in the park the next day with a gorgeous sunny picnic, I love the urban decadence and I plan to fill the summer with such days. I do need to even out the horror of a farmer’s tan that I acquired that day!

roast leg of lamb with anchovy, garlic and rosemary

Roast leg of lamb with anchovy, garlic & rosemary

Roast leg of lamb with anchovy, garlic & rosemary

Lots of other stuff happened. London Food & Drink Bloggers, we now have a group on Ning, do come join us if you aren’t there already. We had a fantastic wine tasting with Catavino at The Westbridge recently, and lots more similar events to come. Gabriella wrote a great post about it here.

Rhubarb & Raspberry Bellini

But, what of the bellini? You’ve been reading for ages now and still no recipe? Apologies, here it is. It’s freeform, but really, it’s easy, I promise. Trust your nose. I experimented lots with the bellini so keep an eye out for more recipes incl. elderflower bellinis. Yum!

Ingredients:

Some rhubarb, chopped into 1 inch chunks (4 or 5 sticks will suffice, but make as much as you like, this is great with yogurt etc. too)
Raspberries, 1 per bellini
Sugar, to taste
Rosewater to taste
Some nice fizzy, prosecco recommended

Method:

Boil the chopped rhubarb with some sugar and water. It will start to come apart after 5 minutes or so. Add sugar to taste.
Allow to cool and add rosewater until you get a hint of fragrance. Depending on how much rhubarb you have, you may need to add a lot. I had to add half a bottle or so!
Add a raspberry to your champagne flute (or wine glass if you’re going to the park like me and don’t want to risk your crystal!), crush with a teaspoon.
Add about twice the amount of rhubarb.
Top up with prosecco, or whatever sparkling wine you are using.
Enjoy the rest of your decadent day with many more bellinis!