Tuesday 30 November 2010

November 2010 - Middle Eastern Chicken with chickpea, herb & feta salad

On to the last issue for the month with Valli Little's divine looking Three-tier Brown Sugar Pavlova. Slathered with cream and covered with oozing berries it looks so good, almost good enough to eat right off the cover. However, having already experimented with several different ice creams and sorbets and also having made the fruit salad dessert I didn't think that I needed another dessert for this month.   

I was going to make Valli's Greek Lamb Meatball Salad. I had every intention of making it right up until I decided that I didn't have everything I needed to make it and made something else. I am planning making it on the weekend for lunch though. Although who knows if I will actually get it made. I seem to have said that I will go back to a lot of recipes. I will admit that I have gone back and made a couple but not nearly enough of them. Although perhaps when I am not sticking so strictly to an order I will make more of here and there next year.
I ended up making the Middle Eastern Chicken with chickpea, herb & feta salad. I was worried that it was a bit light on vegetables so I added some deseeded and sliced cucumber and some chunks of tomato. It was nice, although I am not sure that you can combine sumac, lemon juice and oil and call it Middle Eastern. I think that some chilli or some cumin or something would have been nice to pep it up a bit. It was fine as it was but I might play around with it a bit if I make it again. 

Middle Eastern Chicken with chickpea, herb & feta salad

Serves 4
  • 2 tsp sumac
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) olive oil 
  • 1 lemon, sliced, plus juice of 1 lemon
  • 4 x 200g chicken breast fillets 
  • 40 g unsalted butter
  • 1 round Lebanese bread, cut into wedges
  • 400g can chickpeas, rinsed & drained
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped 
  • 1 red onion, sliced 
  • 75g  Persian feta, drained
  • Combine sumac, 1 tbsp oil, lemon slices & lemon juice, reserve 1 tbsp for dressing. Add chicken and turn to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. 
  • Pre-heat oven to 180 C. 
  • Heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil to large oven proof fry pan over medium heat. 
  • Cook chicken (I also added lemon slices) for 3 minutes each side and then place in the oven for 8 minutes or until cooked.
  • Loosely cover with foil and let rest at least 2 minutes. 
  • Melt butter and 2 tsp oil in another fry pan over medium heat. 
  • Season bread (I didn't do this) and cook for 4 - 5 minutes turning regularly until crisp. Remove and keep warm. 
  • Add chickpeas to pan and warm through.
  • Slice chicken and toss with chickpeas, bread, parsley, onion, feta and drizzle with reserved marinade. 

November 2009 - Mojito Fruit Salad

Well, this is cutting it a lot finer than I had wanted. I had planned on doing this post this morning in between my doctor's appointment and going to work. However my doctor was running 30 minutes late (for her 2nd appointment of the day) and all I had time to do was race home and get changed and head back to the office. Then tonight I was off to my grandparents again as my uncle is leaving to go back home again early tomorrow morning. I was so good to see him. I hope that it is not another 2 years between visits. I guess I will just have to go up there. 

I fully intended on making Valli Little's Basil ice cream, well more of a basil frozen yoghurt. I was absolutely fascinated by this combination of the basil and the sweet frozen yoghurt. I really do want to make this. I recently purchased some seedlings of lemon basil so I might try making this ice cream with that once it has grown enough so that I can pick it. Although I suppose that I should also try it with the common sweet basil to see what it is like. 

Another recipe that I tossed around was making David Thompson's Black sticky rice with custard apple. David Thompson is the god of Thai cooking. He is an amazing chef. He books are wonderful, full of knowledge and, I think, absolutely necessary for any one wanting to make Thai food. I had recently purchased some black glutinous rice on a whim and it is sitting in the cupboard not being used. I will definitely have to try this recipe. I have only ever had custard apple once and I recall that I wasn't overly keen on it but I will give it a go for this recipe. 

I ended up making Jamie Oliver's Mojito fruit salad. This was a lovely light fruit salad that has the kick of the rum added to it. I actually divided my fruit mixture in half. Half I added the rum to and half I didn't. This was so that I could use the fruit on my muesli at breakfast. I really enjoyed this one a lot and as the summer months warm up I think that this will be made more than once. 

Mojito Fruit Salad

Serves 4-6
  • bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
  • finely grated zest and juice of 3 limes
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • white rum, to taste
  • 1/4 large watermelon, peeled, cut into chunks
  • 2 ripe mangoes, stoned, flesh cut into chunks 
  • 1 ripe pineapple. peeled, cored, cut into chunks
  • In a very clean pestle and mortar, bash most of the mint leaves with the finely grated lime zest.  
  • Add the sugar, a good glug of rum and the lime juice, then mix again gently.  
  • Toss the fruit together in a bowl with a little of the mojito mixture. 
  • Leave for 30 minutes for flavours to combine. 

Monday 29 November 2010

November 2008 - Strawberry Sorbet with aged balsamic vinegar

Back to work, the boss is back on deck and it is busy, busy, busy again but if I am going to get these posts in this month there is no time to waste being tired after work. Although I have promised myself that I will get an early night tonight to try and catch up on some of the sleep that I missed out on over the weekend. 

There was really only one recipe that I was going to make out of this issue. This is because I was recently given the ice cream attachment for the KitchenAid mixer by a wonderful friend over at Taste forums. I was over the moon as I had been looking at purchasing an ice cream machine or attachment. Initially I had thought that I would be able to get the attachment from Amazon.com for a lot less then they cost here but apparently the ice cream attachment for the US machine is not compatible with ours. I am not sure why exactly though. I have used it several times now and I am so, so please with how it works. It makes wonderful ice cream and terrific sorbets. 

My first foray into ice cream making using the KitchenAid attachment was this Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Oh my, was it ever so rich and sweet but it was oh so good too. It was relatively easy to make, although once the cream was added to the caramel it took ages for it to all combine together as the caramel solidified slightly and it took ages for it to all melt again. It was a great ice cream to make once but it probably wont be a regular that I make since it was so incredibly rich and too sweet for my liking. Perhaps I could reduce the sugar/caramel in it. 

I made this extremely easy Eggless Summer Berry ice cream, with some frozen mixed berries that I had had in the freezer for ages. It was nice, and I liked that it wasn't nearly as sweet as the salted caramel ice cream. Although the sheer amount of cream in it again made for something very rich. I also think that I may have heated the cream too long. It just didn't taste quite right too me. I will admit that I did prefer the custard based ice cream rather than the straight cream. Although I know that there is also a condensed milk ice cream that I would be interested in trying. For some reason I did not take a picture of this one. 

As well as the ice creams I have attempted two different sorbets. Both of which are based around the same recipe from this issue. Skye Gyngell's Strawberry sorbet with aged balsamic. I love the combination of strawberry and balsamic. Valli Little has a lovely Strawberry & Balsamic ice cream that I had made a couple of times last summer when I had a large amount of strawberries to use so I was very keen to try this sorbet recipe. I also made a Raspberry Sorbet based on Skye's recipe, although without the balsamic and using frozen raspberries and slightly more sugar, but I did this by taste. In the strawberry sorbet recipe the balsamic was just used to drizzle over the top when serving but instead I used it in the actual recipe in place of the lemon juice. I think that was better to put it in the sorbet rather than just drizzling over. This was such an easy recipe to make and was such lovely refreshing dessert. I am sure that I will be making this over and over again. 

Strawberry Sorbet with aged balsamic vinegar

  • 500 g ripe strawberries, hulled
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • Zest & juice of 1 lemon 
  • Aged balsamic, to drizzle 
  • Almond biscotti, to serve
  • Place 400 g berries in food processor with sugar & lemon zest & juice (I used 1 tbsp of balsamic instead)
  • Process until smooth. 
  • Taste & add more sugar if necessary. 
  • Place mixture in a shallow plastic container and freeze for about 2 hours or until frozen at edges. 
  • Beat with an electric beater, then return to the freezer. Repeat this process 2 - 3 times or until frozen. 
  • Whiz the sorbet in a food processor once before serving. 
  • (Alternately, churn the mixture in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.) 
  • Halve or quarter remaining berries, then place in serving glasses with scoops of sorbet. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and serve with biscotti. (I didn't)
Strawberry sorbet: 

Raspberry sorbet: 

Sunday 28 November 2010

November 2007 - Cucumber, spring onion & goat's cheese salad

Woo Hoo! Two posts in two days, so glad to be getting these done. Although I will have to do two tomorrow so that I can get them all in before the end of the month. I have had  a bit of a lazy day today and probably should have had this done before now, but better late than never I guess. 

This was the last of the three issues that I was missing when I first started going through my collection. I think it was also the first issue that I managed to pick up on ebay. While I had looked through it when I first got it, I didn't really read through it as much as I would have had I had it when it was first released. It is a lovely issue with some great food in it. 

Valli's Tequilla chicken with pink grapefruit salad looked so wonderful and I am sure it would have been terrific. I have a recipe for marinating steak in a tequila, lime, chilli and olive oil which is just fantastic. There were two reasons that I didn't make this one, first is that tequila is really expensive, especially the nicer stuff that you would want to use in these dishes. There is no point using the cheap stuff, I drank plenty of it when I was younger, and it is just rocket fuel. It really wouldn't be very nice in the dish. The other reason is that I cannot have grapefruit as it interferes with medication that I take. 

Nigella's Anglo-Asian Lamb salad also looked terrific. A lovely combination of Thai and English ingredients. The redcurrant jelly would add a lovely hint of sweetness but still tart at the same time. It seems a great addition in place of probably palm sugar. I think that the addition of some pomegranate to the salad with some sprouts, snow or sugar snap peas, capsicum, cucumber and some halved cherry tomatoes would fill out the salad a bit. I don't think I could come at it as the recipe reads as a main meal you really could add anything you wanted to fill it out though. 

I, instead, made another side salad to go with the Chive & Beetroot Couscous and curried honey chicken. I ended up making Patricia Wells' Cucumber, spring onion & goat's cheese salad. It was okay. Nice and refreshing but I am finding that I prefer goat's cheese in a cooked dish or with stronger flavours. I found it just a bit over powering for the delicate cucumber flavour. I replaced the cream in the dressing with natural yoghurt to lower the fat a bit but also because that is what I had on hand. It is probably not one that I would make regularly. 

Cucumber, spring onion & goat's cheese salad
Serves 4

  • 1 telegraph cucumber
  • 3 spring onions with bulbs, trimmed 
  • Goat's cheese 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cup light thickened cream (I used about 1/2 c. natural yoghurt)
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped chives 
  • Peel sections of the cucumber, but leave some peel for decoration, cut in half and deseed and slice into half moons. 
  • Finely slice onions. 
  • Combine all ingredients for dressing. 
  • Toss cucumber, onions and 3 - 4 tbsp of dressing. 
  • Serve with goat's cheese. 

Saturday 27 November 2010

November 2006 - Roasted white fish wrapped in smoked bacon

Argh, even less time to get these all these posts done. I do have an excuse though. I was out last night. Only to a family bbq but out all the same. It was very good. My uncle is home, it has been a couple of years since he has been here so it is good to see him. I don't have a lot of family nearby so it is always good to see those that live away. I had planned on doing a post when I got home but it was late and I just didn't seem to get it done. 

There are some lovely recipes in this 5th birthday issue. There are two that I make regularly, Chicken Breasts with goat's feta, semi-dried tomato & basil stuffing and Peas and Beans with Pistachio Pesto both are fantastic recipes and go very well together. The Baby Spinach, Orange & Macadamia salad is also very nice but I make the other two recipes regularly. The pea dish is the perfect side dish and I have made it with a variety of main meals. The chicken is a very popular (and easy) dish for entertaining. 

Another dish which I think would be perfect for entertaining is the one I chose to make from this issue. There were a few things that appealed to me but my eye was particularly drawn to Jamie Oliver's Roasted white fish wrapped in smoked bacon with lemon mayonnaise and asparagus. I didn't have smoked bacon but used prosciutto instead. Nor did I have have the thick fillets that Jamie used in the recipe so I used 2 small fillets and reduced the cooking time as needed. I also substituted the rosemary in the dish with dill as I find that rosemary can be very overpowering. I really enjoyed this meal. I didn't make my own mayonnaise but I did have some of Neil Perry's signature mayo in the fridge so I added the lemon juice to some of that. It was really nice and definitely suited the asparagus. I also served some sautéed potatoes with it. This is one fish dish that is definitely going to go into rotation, although next time I will not be so liberal with the mayo. 

Thursday 25 November 2010

November 2005 - Chive & Beetroot Couscous

Oops, I just realised how close to the end of the month it is and I still have a bunch of posts to get done. I seem to keep putting them off. I guess because I had made a recipe from each issue, except 2010, within the first 10 days of the month and I was making sure that I didn't post them all really quickly and now here I am having to stuff them all into the end of the month again...doh. 

The first recipe that really caught my eye was Rick Stein's Calamari & Chorizo salad with garlic & chickpeas. Now I have admitted several times on here that I am not the biggest seafood fan but this recipe really appealed. I have eaten and enjoyed calamari in the past, and not just the crumbed and deep-fried stuff from the fish & chip shop, lovely fresh stuff cooked properly. I always seem to forget when the seafood truck comes to town and I really didn't want to make this with calamari from the supermarket so I decided I would leave this one until I was able to pick up some nice stuff. I am sure that it will be very good when I do eventually make it. 

I then looked at making either of Valli's Stir-fry Chicken with Pesto or Chef's Salad which were part of the Tuesday Night Cooking section of this issue. Both are quick easy recipes. The stir-fry being full of flavour with the pesto and vegetables, although I wasn't too keen on the cream in it. The chef's salad would have been a good light meal for a hot, lazy night. However, those hot, lazy, don't-want-to-cook nights have been few and far between so far which is very unusual for this time of year and when making the final decision on what to make from this issue I was actually looking for a side dish, which neither of these recipes are so I moved on to something else. 

I was actually looking for a side dish to go along side a recipe from another issue and I chose Jill Dupleix's Chive & Beetroot couscous. This is a fantastic side dish which I will make over and over again. I could also be changed up using a variety of different herbs, I think that dill would work well in it with the chives and perhaps some parsley. I just love beetroot and the couscous just soaked up the fabulous colour of the beetroot. I had planned on making this to go with a lamb dish, but lamb was way too expensive when I went to buy it so I served it with curried honey chicken. It went together okay but it would have been better paired with the lamb. 

Chive & Beetroot Couscous

Serves 4 as a salad

  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) couscous
  • 300 ml boiling vegetable stock (or boiling water) 
  • 1 large (250g) cooked beetroot, finely diced 
  • 1 tomato, finely diced
  • 3 bunches chives, snipped
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 100g soft goat's cheese
  • Combine couscous & boiling stock in a bowl and cover and let cool. 
  • Whisk together oil and lemon juice and season to taste. 
  • Combine couscous, beetroot, tomato, chives and pour over dressing and toss to combine. 
  • Let sit for at least 30 minutes so that the couscous will take on the colour. 
  • Serve topped with goat's cheese & chives.

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Cake Decorating - The Purse Cake with shoes

I did my first paid cake this past weekend. Yay! I was given carte blanche with it too which made it even better. It was for the 21st birthday of a lovely young woman that I know through work. I don't know her very well but know her enough to know that she loves shoes, bags, make up and the like so I decided to do a purse cake with a pair of shoes and some make up for decoration. I had wanted to make a pair of sunglasses too, but I couldn't find a template to use.

I purchased some midnight black fondant online, since it is so hard to colour your own black. I had a large amount of pink fondant left over from the carousel cake so I added some violet colour paste to turn it a lovely shade of purple. I added gum tragacanth to some of the black and purple fondant so that I could make the decorations. After waiting 24 hours for it to start to work I spent a lovely afternoon making a pair of shoes, mascara, lipstick, eye shadow palette, buckle & handle for the purse and flowers for decoration. 

I made 2 x 23 cm square chocolate cakes using my perfect decorating cake. I trimmed each cake and cut them in half (to make 4 loaf-sized cakes) and stacked them filling each layer with ganache. I then trimmed the whole thing again creating an angle on the front. This was then covered with ganache and left to set overnight. Finally it was covered with fondant, black on the front with purple on the sides back and creating a flap on the front. Unfortunately, the handle that I made had not dried for long enough and collapsed when I placed it on the cake so I made a new one. At first I tried to drape it, but it started stretching so I just sat it on top of the bag. The flower decorations were stuck on the shoes and bag. An embossing tool was used to get the stitching detail. 

It was such a fun thing to do. I just loved the whole process right from planning and searching flickr for ideas to the making and decorating. The birthday girl just loved the cake too however she did not cut it at her party on Saturday night but waiting until her actual birthday yesterday. It has also given me another possible 21st cake to do for an Enchanted Forest themed party...I hope I get the job. 

Friday 19 November 2010

November 2004 - Chorizo, quince paste & manchego salad

Well, today wasn't nearly as busy as I thought that it was going to be. There was still quite a bit to do but at least the phone wasn't ringing off the hook as well. I hope that doesn't mean that everyone will right next week when my boss is away. Murphy's Law says that they will. I have also been busy tonight cake decorating, but that is for another post. I also have to get up early in the morning to take one of my cats to the vet for her annual check up but I just had to get another post done before heading off to bed. 

Bill Granger's Schnitzel roll with fennel coleslaw on the front over looks really nice. Made with some lovely Parmesan veal schnitzel including finely chopped parsley and thyme in with the breadcrumbs. The fennel coleslaw sounds like a nice alternative to regular coleslaw and would go nicely with the schnitzel. However I had looked for fennel not long ago only the week before and all I could  find  was gigantic fennel bulbs, which I tend to find can be a bit woody when they are big. So I decided to make something else.

Ben O'Donoghue's Vietnamese prawn salad was another recipe that I considered even though I am not overly keen on seafood, I am trying to get myself to eat more of it as I know that it is very good for you. Serving the prawns with the strong Vietnamese flavours in this lovely salad would be one way to start introducing them. I prefer to buy peeled prawn as I am not keen on the whole peeling thing. The only peeled prawns that I could get on shopping day were imported and I will not buy imported prawns. I will wait until the seafood man is in town and will get some nice ones off him and make this lovely salad. 

I instead decided to make Jill Dupleix's Chorizo, Quince Paste and Manchego salad. I was surprised not long ago when I was looking in the special cheeses section of on of the local supermarkets to find manchego cheese, which is a sheep's milk hard cheese. They also have Maggie Beer's lovely quince paste. I couldn't get any radicchio so I used a handful of wild salad leaves. I really don't like green olives, although I did have some really nice ones at a lovely restaurant in Sydney (I wish I could buy those ones), so I put in some small marinated kalamatas. I also couldn't get Spanish almonds so used some blanched almond. It was very good and I would make it again as a lovely lunch meal. 

Chorizo, quince paste & manchego  salad 

Serves 4 

  • 2 mild or hot chorizo sausages, sliced on the diagonal
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 head radicchio, trimmed (I used wild salad leaves) 
  • 100 - 150 g quince paste, cut into small cubes 
  • 100 - 150 g manchego cheese shaved 
  • 12 Spanish green olives
  • 2 tbsp Spanish almonds, toasted
  • 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Heat oil in pan and fry chorizo until starting to crisp up. Serve 1 tbsp of chorizo juices for dressing. 
  • Mix, vinegar, oil & chorizo juices for dressing.
  • Toss all ingredients together with the dressing, except for the cheese.
  • Divide mixture between plates and top with shaved cheese. 

Thursday 18 November 2010

November 2003 - Mushroom Burgers

This has been a long week and there is still one day to go. It has been raining lots over the past few days so my foot is aching like crazy. I guess that is something that I am just going to have to put up with for a while longer, if not for life. :-( Things have been very busy and stressful at work, but next week will be bliss with my boss away. However it will mean another very busy day tomorrow getting everything done before he goes.
I am so very tired tonight, and I was very tired when I was deciding what to make from this issue. In the end I broke my rules and made Valli Little's Mushroom Burgers, which I have made regularly since this issue came out. Over the years I have tweaked the recipe and am still making changes. I like to add in roasted capsicum, olives and capers to the onions with the semi-dried tomatoes. It is really, really good. I have been known to leave off the prosciutto when I am wanting a vegetarian meal. I have also served the stuffed roasted mushroom with salad and not worried about the hamburger buns. It is something that is really easy to make and very tasty and nutritious when you are tired. (Although I would love to try the Little Provencal tarts with tapenade and creme fraiche on the front cover.) 

Monday 15 November 2010

November 2002 - Moorish Crunch Salad

How cute is the baby pav with the sparkler in it on the front cover? I really love it, I think it would be cute for someone's birthday. Plus the gorgeous rivulets of red berry sauce running over the glossy white of the pav and the cream is a fantastic contrast. The light blue cover makes it pop too. It almost makes you want to get up and make it straight away. However, I was recently given a KitchenAid ice cream attachment by a wonderful friend and I made myself some terrific, but very sweet and rich, salted caramel ice cream. The indulging in sweet and salty ice cream means that I really shouldn't be making any other desserts this month.

I considered making Stewart Wallace's Yoghurt and Garlic Marinated Spring Lamb. It looked really good and full of herbs and spices. However I really wanted to get making early on in the month and since I was already doing a roast from the first issue I didn't want two in a row. Being on my own there is always a lot of left overs and it would mean two roasts in one week. That would just be too many left overs for me to get through before they went bad. Looking at the recipe again now, I think that it is something that my grandparents would like so I might make it the next time I have them around for dinner.

Valli Little's Lemon Saltimbocca was also considered. I quite like saltimbocca. The combination of chicken, prosciutto and sage is fantastic. I also love lemon, especially in savoury dishes so the combination of the chicken, prosciutto and lemon slices would just be terrific. It would be something quick and easy to make after work plus it would be very easy to make for one. I didn't end up making it as I was looking for something for lunch one day and didn't want anything meaty.

I ultimately decided to make Jamie Oliver's Moorish Crunch Salad. This was fabulous for a wonderful light but tasty lunch. It was nice and crunchy, although I did grate the carrot rather than cut into matchsticks and I just don't have the patience to matchstick carrots. I keep meaning to get myself a julienne peeler but it is something that I can live without so I haven't bought one yet. I do have a v-slicer, however I find it hard to use for things like carrots as I am not sure how to use the holder with long veg, the prongs don't seem to stick out far enough. Although if I really tried I am sure I could work it out. I really enjoyed this as a light lunch and it is definitely another lunch time salad that is worth keeping. I am sure it would be good as a side dish also. 

Wednesday 10 November 2010

November 2001 - Launch Issue - Crispy Pork Belly with Spiced Lentils

I have finally arrived at the launch issue of Delicious magazine. Delicious arrived on the magazine landscape when there was little else in the way of cooking magazines. At least I don't remember there being much. I think that Vogue Entertaining and Living was around and probably Gourmet Traveller but there wasn't much in the mid-range of magazines. that had meals that could easily be made after work with ingredients that could, mostly, be found locally. There do seem to be more recipes now that require ingredients that I cannot get then there used to be.  I fell in love with the magazine right from this first issue and I have never really lost that passion for it. I did go through a small period in 2007 when I lost a bit of interest but I quickly regained my interest. I am so pleased that I did and that I have had the opportunity to go through each of the back issues and discover new and wonderful things. I cannot believe that I only have a few issues to go.

I have been busy making a lot of recipes from the November issues but it has taken me a while to get this first post done as I needed a weekend to do the recipe from this issue. I really wanted to make something special out of here since it was the launch issue and all. There were some recipes out of Jamie Oliver's Happy Days book, it would have to be one of my favourite of Jamie's books. Although that is being tested by his new one, Jamie Does..., which I love. I had already made most of the recipes featured so I moved on. 

There was a lovely recipe for Hummus with Ground Lamb and Pinenuts from Moro: The Cookbook which looked incredible. I love hummus and the addition of a spiced ground lamb on top sounded fabulous. I am not overly keen on pinenuts although I think that is because they are such a volatile nut and they go rancid so quickly. You really need to be able to get them fresh if possible unfortunately I can only get them from the supermarket here. I would really like to try this dish at some stage, perhaps with some flaked almonds instead of the pinenuts. I think that it would make a really good lunch dish as part of a tapas.

I wanted to make something a bit special and there was really only one recipe that fit the bill for me. It was Jacques Reymond's Crispy Pork Belly with Spiced Lentils. Since using pork belly for the first time earlier this year I have now used it quite a lot. It is a relatively cheap cut of meat to buy and is lovely to do a nice slow roast with. It is certainly becoming quite popular now but back in 2001 it would have been pretty unusual. This is a fantastic recipe and I really enjoyed making it. The lentils are the perfect accompaniment to the rich full-flavoured pork dish. There was only one thing I did that wasn't in the recipe, I made a gravy from the cooking liquid in the pan, which I had strained into a small saucepan and thickened slightly with a flour and water slurry. The crackling was fantastic. I wasn't sure that it was going to crisp up but it did wonderfully. I highly recommend making this one and I plan on making it again for friends soon.

Crispy Pork Belly with Spiced Lentils

Serves 4

  • 1 kg fresh pork belly on the bone 
  • 1 tbsp Maldon sea salt 
  • 1 tbsp honey 
  • 2 star anise 
  • 5 juniper berries 
  • 4 cloves 
  • 12 whole black peppercorns 
  • 45 g butter 
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 1 carrot, diced 
  • 2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
  • 100 ml white wine
  • 3 fresh bay leaves, 2 sprigs fresh thyme and parsley stems tied with kitchen twine (bouquet garni) 
  •  Pre-heat oven to 160 C.
  • Pat skin of pork with paper towel to make sure it is dry, rub with the salt. 
  • Heat a large oven-proof saucepan or casserole dish over medium heat. (I used my 28 cm Swiss Diamond sauté pan)
  • Add honey and spices and caramelise slightly. Add 30 g of the butter and the pork belly, skin side down, to the pan. Cook over a low heat for 8 - 10 minutes or until crisp and golden. 
  • Transfer pork to a plate, add vegetables to pan with rest of the butter. Place pork on top skin side up.
  • Pour vinegar over the top and cook until completely absorbed. Add the wine and bouquet garni. Reduce liquid by half and then add water, up to 1/3 thickness of the pork. 
  • Cover and roast in the oven for 3 hours adding extra water as necessary. (I uncovered it for the last hour)
  • Slice and serve with the lentils. 

Jacques' Spiced Lentils 

  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 5 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 2 small red chillies, deseeded (I left the seeds in one of them)
  • 4 curry leaves 
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 250 g green lentils (I used "French-style" lentils) 
  • Zest of 1 orange 
  • 400 ml chicken stock
  • Heat oil in saucepan and add garlic, celery, chillies, curry leaves and cinnamon. Stir to allow the flavours to develop. 
  • Add lentils, orange zest and stock. Season with salt & pepper and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes or until lentils are soft. 
  • Can be served hot or cold. 

    Tuesday 2 November 2010

    Cake Decorating - The Carousel Cake

    I thought that I would share my latest cake with you all. My best friend's daughter turned 6 last week and we had a lovely party on the weekend. She is horse crazy so this year I made a carousel cake for her. They cake is my standard chocolate cake which I have posted about before here. The horses are made from sugar cookies from over at Joy of Baking which were then covered with fondant. The mane, tail and hooves are done with Kopykate decorating pens. The flowers, hearts and dots were all made with gumpaste in a FMM Sugercraft mould and then painted. I purchased some pre-coloured pink fondant, however it was a bit bright so I mixed it out with some white fondant to tone it down a bit. I bought way too much so have a lot of pink fondant left over. I was unable to find the right cookie cutters here in Australia so got a set of horse cutters from the UK. The top layer is a foam dummy covered in fondant but everything else (excluding the ribbon) is edible. I placed the cake on lazy susan, which I got cheaply from Spotlight and I am sure that it will come in handy in the future, so that it could be turned. I had so much fun making it all the decorations and putting it altogether. The birthday girl was very excited and every one else loved it too. I hope to get some decorating work out of it.