Thursday, 30 December 2010

Seasons Greetings

Here’s hoping you all had an amazing Christmas, this year was spent with the Lady’s folks in deepest Kent and has been the perfect example of seasonal excess.  Normal service will resume in the New Year and I’ve got some offally good stuff planned for you so stay tuned...

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Pork Vindaloo - Anjum Anand's I Love Curry

I love a good cook book; I don’t buy as many as I’d like but there is something fascinating about seeing food from someone else’s perspective.  I love Curry from Anjum Anand’s gives us another chance to look at food through her eyes.

If you’ve been living under a rock Anjum has risen to fame, foodie fame but fame all the same, pushing her healthy take on Indian food.  She’s been on and off the Tele now for years and has been lauded by some as the Indian Nigella...

I love Curry is nicely set out into handy sections allowing you to easily find the different recipes you might be after.  The well photographed food drags you in and the wonderfully easy to follow recipes really make this cook book an actual joy to read.

For me though the test of a cook book is in the recipes and how well they actually transfer from the page to the plate.  I decided to road test the Pork Vindaloo and show you how I fared with Anjum’s recipe: 

1tbsp Cumin Seeds
1 Tbsp Coriander Seeds
5-10 Dried Red Kashmiri Chillies (or 3-6 hotter Dried Red Chillies with the seeds shaken out)
6 Black Peppercorns
3 Green Cardamon Pods
4 Cloves, 2cm Cinnamon Stick
13g Ginger, peeled weight roughly chopped
7 fat garlic cloves
3 tbsp good quality white wine vinegar, or to taste
400g Pork Shoulder with some fat, in 2.5cm cubes
50g Pork Belly, in 2.5cm cubes
Salt, to taste
4tbsp vegetable oil
1 Small onion, finely chopped
 Sugar to taste

Using a spice grinder, grind the whole spices and chillies to a fine powder. (You can imagine this bit in her sexy voice if it helps?)

Make a paste of the ginger garlic and vinegar.  Add this to the pork along with the spices and salt, cover and marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours, if you have time.
Heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan.  Add the onion and fry until golden brown.  Add the pork and marinade and brown gently over a moderate heat for six or seven minutes.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 40 to 50 minutes, or the pork is tender, checking every so often and adding a splash of water from the kettle if the pot looks like it is running dry.

Once the pork is tender, taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.  Some people like to add a little sugar.  I don’t, but I leave it to you to decide. 

Serves 4 (4 what? Children probably as 2 of us demolished this quite easily)

It was amazingly easy to put this all together and as a Sunday night treat really rounded off the weekend quite nicely.  The recipe worked perfectly and next time I would probably only be a little more fierce with the heat and get some more colour into the meat and sauce.

If I was you I wouldn't be thinking to long about getting this book, well worth the investment if you ask me!

Monday, 13 December 2010

Mother Mash - Ganton Street, W1

Cumberland Sausage, Cheesy Mash and Onion Gravy.
I’ll start by saying we walked miles on Sunday.  Christmas shopping in London is a busy old affair to say the least.  Then throw into the equation hunger, a tight budget and looking for some lunch becomes a difficult prospect.  I was with the Lady so McDonalds was out of the question...  I didn’t want to pay £6 for a sandwich at Pret so eventually (after much walking) we settled on Mother Mash.

Hidden away on Ganton Street it’s not the easiest place to find but considering our rather erratic path across London I’m surprised we didn’t find it sooner.  Mother Mash is a tiny little place, one wall of booths and a breakfast bar on the other there isn’t much to say really about the interior other than it’s functional.

At Mother Mash you have a fairly simple list of choices to make but then you can tailor your meal to the Nth degree.  Basically you’ll be happy if you like Pie & Mash or Sausage & Mash.  I went for the Cheesy Mash with Cumberland Sausage and Onion Gravy.  The mash was fantastic, I couldn’t complain!  Perfectly smooth, nicely cheesy with Mature Cheddar and the Sausages were good and meaty.

The Gravy though was lacking Onion and tasted like it came from a packet; but in all honesty I’m not a snob when it comes to that so I didn’t mind too much.  The Lady went for the Lamb and Mint Sausage, which looked less than appealing but she enjoyed it.  Two meals, two cokes came to £20.  Not bad for a quick, filling and actually quite enjoyable lunch.

Mother Mash on Urbanspoon

Monday, 6 December 2010

Bringing home the Christmas Bacon...

Christmas doesn’t need to be a chore; keeping the flavours simple and with a little bit of planning you can breeze through the cooking and actually enjoy a bit of the day as well.  Actually if you are like me the cooking is the fun part so maybe ignore that last bit...

Turkey, no matter how good a cook you think you are, is still a Turkey at the end of the day...  That dull dry white flesh of the average bird just doesn’t stand a chance against the delicious pink flesh and soft white fat of a good bit of pig.  So Bacon or Ham is the only way forward and what you can’t eat on the day just gets better sat in the Fridge.

I’m a boiled ham guy; it’s just what I’ve been brought up with.  I’ve got nothing against those who roast their ham it’s just not going to happen under my roof...

Whether you use Bacon or Ham the rule of thumb remains the same, it will need about 30 minutes of cooking per 500 grams.  If you are not sure just ask your butcher or look on the packaging if you’ve gone to a supermarket.

You’ll need to bring it to the boil from cold, discard the water and then top it up with fresh.  This brings out the extra salt from the meat and while it won’t kill you the scum that forms on top just isn’t pleasant so get rid!

Throw in some stock veg, a bouquet garni and some peppercorns.  Keep topping up the water from time to time to ensure the meat is covered by water.  When you’ve cooked your Ham or Bacon take it out of the water and let rest a minute or two.

It just needs to relax and allow the skin to cool.  Score the skin with a sharp knife and layer on a glaze to make the Skin and fat even more luscious.  I've used some pouring honey so you can see what’s going on.

Simply brush warmed honey on top of the fat and put into the hot oven to make it caramelise.  You can use Brown Sugar or Marmalade, mix in some Mustard or Soya Sauce it all works well with Bacon.

Put the whole thing in a hot oven, top up the glaze every 20 minutes or so... Maybe pull off a little treat for yourself if the temptation gets too much!  Once you’ve got a deeply caramelised, crisp and sticky skin take it out.

I cannot stress this too much, let the meat rest for at least 20 minutes before you start to carve.  Enjoy!