Archive for August, 2009

Away From Kitchen

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Erika and I recently moved flat.

Not only are we still surrounded by a vast array of boxes, but we don’t have any internet access at the moment. Evenings previously spent cooking have been taken up with finding a home for our sizeable collection of kitchenware. I never realised how much we had until it was all packed away!

Rest assured that normal service will resume shortly


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Maple and Mustard Pork Chop with Champ Mash

Another meal using up things from the freezer – this time, a pork chop. I’d had the idea of pork chop with mustard mash but wanted to do something with the meat as I find that pork chops can be a bit tasteless sometimes.

Sticking with the mustard theme I found some maple syrup in the fridge and mixed about a tablespoon of that with a tsp of wholegrain mustard to make a simple sauce. After trimming the fat off the pork chop and bashing it a bit with a rolling pin to thin it out, I brushed half the sauce on top and then cooked it under a preheated grill until done, turning and basting with the remaining sauce halfway through.

Next up, the mash. There were some spring onions hiding in the depths of the fridge so I decided to make Irish champ. Champ is simply spring onions, mashed potato and butter, and is a tasty alternative to normal mash. The onions give a nice alternative flavour and texture to the silky smooth mashed potato. To make it, slice the onions, then soften them slowly in a pan with a big knob of butter for 5 or 6 minutes. After mashing the potatoes (with a bit more butter, some milk and plenty of salt and pepper), simply stir the softened onion through and serve.

There were a few things wrong with this dish. Firstly my timing meant that the pork was overcooked (it was on for over 15 minutes) so ended up a bit tougher than I’d have liked. Having said that, the mix of mustard and maple syrup was yummy so I’d try it again, perhaps cooking on the griddle or barbeque instead of under the grill. The mash tasted great but it didn’t seem to accompany the pork very well – I’m sure champ and pork are a good match but I think the maple syrup changed the flavours a bit. There was also a distinct lack of sauce so I poured over a couple of tablespoons of gravy which was good for soaking into the mash but it didn’t go too well with the sweet maple syrup!

This is the kind of thing that reminds me of some of the dishes from Masterchef – the components of the meal were great by themselves but didn’t quite work together.

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Pan Fried Lemon Sole

Pan-fried lemon sole

Erika and I are moving flat soon so when planning food for this week we’ve tried to use up things we already had in the fridge and cupboards. Sadly it means a bit less variety than we’d want, so please bear with us.

There’s a fishmonger who occasionally visits our corner of London, selling fresh fish from Hastings. He’s only ever there in the mornings and Erika and I find it difficult to get up, showered and breakfasted in time. Weekends are meant to be lazy! This Saturday we were up with the lark for some reason so paid a visit. He recommended some lemon sole which we had filleted, and suggested lightly dusting it in seasoned flour and pan frying in a little olive oil. Our last fishmonger inspired dish (granted from a different shop) was divine, so who were we to disagree? We picked up some wonderfully fresh new potatoes and a head of broccoli to accompany.

We got bored midway through sorting out yet more stuff, so headed to the kitchen and in the space of 20 minutes had cooked dinner. The fish itself was lovely – delicate and perfectly cooked. I think it can be easily overpowered so we made a good choice serving with the vegetables which we simply boiled. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and a chilled glass of a light white wine.

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Balsamic roasted pepper chicken

The recipe for tonight’s dinner comes courtesy of Karina’s Kitchen: finely sliced peppers and onions, dressed in a mixture of balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, olive oil, garlic and various herbs, piled high onto butterflied chicken breasts and then roasted in the oven. It’s an easy recipe to follow and can be prepared in advance.

The first time I made this, I was a little skeptical about the ingredients for the sauce, but I’d definitely recommend that you just have a little faith with this one – it comes out tasting great in the end as well as looking gorgeously summery and Mediterranean. We served it simply with some boiled new potatoes.

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Homemade piri piri chicken

Piri piri is the name that Angolans use to describe the bird’s eye chilli. The spicy marinade has been made famous over here due in no small part to the Nando’s chain of restaurants, where they serve up chicken, fries and coleslaw to thousands of hungry people every day.

You don’t have to go to Nando’s to have piri piri chicken. Indeed, it only takes a few seconds to make the marinade and you can prepare it in advance as it’s even better after a few days in the fridge. This stuff is perhaps less authentic than real piri piri as it uses red chillis instead of bird’s eye, but it still tastes great.

Both Erika and I much prefer this version to anything you can get from Nando’s. It’s a spicy, flavoursome sauce which tastes divine. Use chicken thighs instead of breasts as they’re cheaper and far far jucier and tastier. Pour the sauce over the chicken a good 12 hours before you want to start cooking as you want the meat to absorb as much of the fire as possible! We served ours with some coleslaw and corn.

Piri Piri Marinade
Makes enough for 2 large chicken legs
Prep time: 30 seconds

1 whole red chilli (including seeds), halved
1tsp oregano
1tsp paprika
good pinch of salt
clove of garlic
4tbsp olive oil

Put the chilli, oregano, salt, garlic and olive oil in a blender and whizz for a few seconds until you have a marinade. Leave it in the fridge until you need it – it improves with age and will be good for a few days.

Pour over chicken at least 12 hours before you need it then grill, griddle, fry or barbeque until cooked, basting with the leftover sauce regularly.

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