Sunday, 9 August 2015

Harissa Humus




There’s not much to say about humus really, a staple of many many parts of the world as wide a mix as there are recipes for the stuff. So why am I posting a recipe then? Well firstly, I really like this one, the harissa adds the right amount of spice and with a good extra virgin olive oil it produces something simple yet extremely more-ish . Secondly and much like yesterday’s post humus if one of those things most people buy in a little pot from the supermarket and again, is much better when it’s made fresh.


I go so far as to say that Humus is even easier to make than pesto also, like the pesto this recipe relies on a food processor. I use canned chickpeas but you can make this even cheaper by buying dried, soaking overnight and then cooking, really don’t have the time for that honestly



Ingredients
1 Can of Chickpeas
1 clove of garlic pressed
2 tablespoons of harissa paste
3 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
A Squeeze of Lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
Sprinkle of Paprika

Put all of the ingredients except the paprika into a food processor and pulse until blended. Next taste, add more seasoning or lemon if it’s not right add more oil if it’s too thick for your preference. Erm that’s it really, dust with paprika and then serve it how you like it, in this case some veg and flatbreads.

Couldn't be simpler eh? No reason not to really !






Saturday, 8 August 2015

Pesto




Pesto is one of those things that can be a bit insipid, perhaps uninspired even and it’s rarely chosen from an Italian menu when much more mouth-watering offerings jostle for attention on the menu. The thing is, a good pesto, whilst really simple can pack a flavour punch to suit the most adventurous of plates.
The readymade stuff is on, but when its home made with fresh basil, well, it just tastes of Italy.
The recipe here, after a bit of research appears to be the norm, what you do with it really is up to you, a myriad of possibilities await.
In this case, simple penne with a few sweet cherry tomatoes, do it justice. I mean come on, Basil and Tomato, everyone knows the two were made for each other, you do know this don’t you? If you don’t you should

The ingredients should not be taken as strict instruction, it really depends on your taste and taste, as ever is important. My advice, try with the measurements shown, then have a little taste and if it’s not quite right try , a little at a time, adding more. What you add more of is again up to you, basil gives it that deep metallic taste, parmesan adds that tangy salty not. You might want it runnier, then add more oil, lacking a bit of zest then add a touch more Lemon.
How you make it is also a choice of preference, purists will tell you only and pestle and mortar will do, I don’t really have the time for that so a food processor works just fine, either a full on multi-function device or one of the smaller hand held ones, just like this one, will suffice.


Oh and whatever you do , don’t use that horrible dried parmesan in a tub, that smells like feet and tastes little better.


Whatever your preferences, if you’ve not made your own pesto before, then try it at least once you might well wonder why you didn’t try it before



2 Handfuls of fresh basil leaves
1 handful of Pine nuts toasted
1 handful of grated parmesan
1 Garlic clove roughly chopped
Squeeze of Lemon juice
Extra Virgin Olive oil
Pinch of salt and a grind or two of pepper



Start by putting all of the ingredients except for the lemon and olive oil into your food processor and pulse until it forms a sort of paste, next pour in a little olive oil and pulse briefly again. If the sauce is not runny enough add a little more oil and repeat. Now add the lemon and after a brief pulse, have a quick taste if it’s not right add little more of what you like. That’s it really simple eh.

Here I just used some penne and when it was cooked, drained the pasta and stirred through a couple of tablespoons of the pesto.










Thursday, 6 August 2015

Smokey Pulled Pork




Pulled pork is pretty much everywhere these days, from On-trend US inspired eateries, restaurants, pubs even fast food joints are doing it, so safe to say it must be pretty tasty right. Too right it is and I love the stuff, I've made it a few times now and over time I have developed this recipe
The great thing is, pork shoulder being a tough old joint, it’s fairly cheap but as with all cheaper cuts, the right cooking method combined with spices and assorted flavourings can be a thing of joy.


This recipe in particular gives you soft, meltingly tender meat, that is, Smokey hot from the chipotle and sweet yet sharp, almost the perfect combination
You can serve it with a salad, potatoes of some sort, or like this in a bun with coleslaw.
I have in the past made coleslaw which goes perfectly but short of time used shop bought.
The buns are important and if bread weren't my nemesis I would have made some, if you don’t want to make bread then the best I've found are M&S ultimate burger buns, any other relish, well that’s up to you really
Finally you’ll need to plan as the best results are found if you apply the rub and leave overnight. Plus the oven time is 7 hours, seems a lot but really once it’s in you don’t need to do much,


Ingredients
1Kg Pork Shoulder
1 Red onion peeled and halved
1 Bay leaf

Rub
2 Chipotle Chillies
2 Teaspoons Cumin Seeds
2 Teaspoons Peppercorns
2 Tablespoons Paprika
2 Tablespoons of caster Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Soft Dark Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon of Salt

Sauce
750 Ml Chicken stock
3 Tablespoons of Tomato Ketchup
About 100ml of Coke
2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar


Large Freezer Bag
Middle sized oven dish with Lid



Right then, the night before you want to eat, take the chillies, cumin seeds and peppercorns and using a pestle and mortar or a grinder if you have one, grind to a powder, then tip into the freezer bag, add to this the sugars, salt and Paprika, grab the bag at the top and shake well, so that all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
Remove any packaging from the pork and with a sharp knife stab all over, then place the meat into the bag. With the bag sealed gently rub the mixture into the meat, place in the fridge overnight
Next day, take the bag from the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature, heat the oven to 120 degrees, place the onion halves cut side down in the base of the oven dish, along with the bayleaf. 




Remove the meat from the bag and spoon out any of the rub onto a small plate or bowl, add 2 tablespoons of the mixture to the stock and stir well. Pour the stock over the onions, place the meat on top. Put the lid on the dish and place in the oven. 


Cook for 7 hours, returning to baste every 30-40 mins, if the liquid looks like its running dry, top up with water from the kettle.
After 7 hours the meat should be cooked, lift out the meat and place on a plate and cover with foil, leave to rest for about 15-20 mins. Meanwhile remove the onion and bayleaf from the sauce that’s left in the pan. Add to the sauce the ketchup, coke and vinegar, if you pan is heat proof place on the stove, if it’s not transfer the contents to a reasonable sized saucepan.


Bring the sauce to the boil. Now for tasting, it should sweet, tangy and hot. If it’s lacking flavour completely, add some more of the mixture you spooned from the bag, if its lacking sweetness try a bit more coke and/or ketchup, if it’s not sharp enough add a little more vinegar, it shouldn't need more salt or pepper. When the sauce is to your liking leave to simmer


Put the pork on a chopping board, use a knife to remove the top, thick layer of fat. Now with two forks begin to pull apart the pork into string like strands, when complete add to the sauce and stir well, leave to very gently simmer. Keep an eye on it and again if its dry add a little water, the flavours already there can take a little extra water
Almost there, prepare whatever accompaniments you want. In this case lightly toast the buns, lather the pork on top with some of the sauce, dollop on the coleslaw, and dig in. Oh and you’ll definitely need a napkin.





Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Goat Ragu in Open Ravioli



Goat meat was, until recently, new to me. If I’m honest it’s not something I’d considered really, I don’t know why, it was just something I didn’t really understand and therefore trust. A sort of UKIP approach to cooking, this of course is not good.
It took in fact, the gift of a goat leg from my daughter’s boyfriend, Will, to get me to try it.
I would like to point out at this juncture that it’s not a local custom for a potential suitor to offer his beloveds father sacrificial offerings to receive his blessing. However it can’t hinder his prospects so far be it from me to dissuade him
Right then goat, now I’ve tried it, it is, taste wise, somewhere between Lamb and Mutton, in fact I had cook it like mutton i.e. slowly to get it meltingly tender.
Using white wine as opposed to red, made the dish lighter and as whole the it was slightly sweeter than my usual beef and pork ragu
I used the open ravioli for aesthetic purposes plus it gave me a chance to improve my pasta making skills. I have had the ragu with spaghetti and it tastes just as good.
The ricotta adds smooth creaminess to the dish that goes very well, its worth though, serving this on the side as you might want experience the true goatyness of the dish first



Ragu
Goat Meat 500g, Trimmed and cut into chunks
One onion diced
3 Cloves of Garlic finely chopped
2 Carrots diced
1 Stick of Celery finely chopped
4 or 5 Stems of Thyme
2 Bay leaves
1 400g tin of tomatoes
1 tbsp of tomato pure
200 ml of dry white wine
260g cubetti di pancetta or unsmoked streaky bacon
750 ml of chicken stock

Ravioli
Pasta Sheets
Ricotta cheese
Butter
A Few sage leaves
A few small thyme leaves


In a large saucepan, heat a small amount of olive oil and fry the pancetta for 5 mins until browned.
Remove the pancetta and fry the goat in batches until brown
Remove all the goat and tip in the onions, fry gently until soft, stirring well to avoid sticking and so that onions pick up all of the meaty flavours
Now add the carrots and celery , and fry for a couple of mins
Make a well in the centre of the veg mix, add the tomato puree and cook it out for about 2 mins
Add the garlic, stir well and cook for another min
Throw in the Thyme and Bay stir again
Add the wine and reduce slightly
Now add the tomatoes and stock, stir and bring to the boil
Add the browned goat and pancetta back to pan, reduce to a simmer, partially cover and simmer for 4 hours or longer if you want. Keep an eye on the simmer make sure its not bubbling too much and monitor the liquid levels.
What you’re looking for is a rich sauce where the meat falls apart

At this point you could just cook up some spaghetti and you’d be good to go


To make the open ravioli cook your pasta sheets as per instruction until they’re soft but not mushy
In the meantime, heat a decent amount of butter with a little olive oil in a large frying pan, then as its bubbling fry the sage leaves until crispy, remove the leaves and reduce the heat to barely a simmer.
When the pasta is cooked, using tongs remove from the water and to the pan with butter, gently cook for a further minute
Plate up alternative layers of buttered pasta, ragu and if you want it dabs of ricotta.

Finish with a top layer of pasta, a drizzle of butter from the pan, thyme leaves, crispy sage leaves and more dabs of ricotta