Recipes

Recipe: Crock-Pot Pulled Pork Sandwiches

As a child, I was picky with my food. Veggies were out, anything with chunks, anything green – I wouldn’t eat. So when my mother insisted on making a healthy meal of Cabbage Rolls in her Crock-Pot at around age 8, I immediately turned my nose up. Stews and vegetable soup? No frickin’ way was I going near it. From about that time, I always associated her oh-so-80s Crock-Pot  with limp, overcooked vegetables and chunky soups – and even though I quite like chunky soups now, I was a little dubious about the slow-cooking machine.

As I understand it, the Crock-Pot was more of an American thing – and while they’re trying to make a comeback over there, they’re trying make somewhat of a debit over here.

Their PR team got in touch with me ages ago to try a Crock-Pot review. They sent a lovely box of veggies, which I immediately knew I probably wasn’t going to use. I had a Eureka moment instead. What better way to bring the Crock-Pot to the UK than to slow-cook a delicious American classic: Pulled Pork.

I was inspired from a few different recipes online, but for the most part, this concoction was all mine. Most of you know that I’m far from an expert in the kitchen (having things cooked for you can be so much more reliable!), but I have to say this one is a winner.

Please note, that as an American, I still have my American measuring cups. I love them, and I still think that way, so most of this recipe (bar the pork) reflects that.

Ingredients:

  • 500g pork shoulder cubes
  • 1 medium white onion, minced
  • 1/3 cup smokey whiskey (Note: MAGIC INGREDIENT. I used Jura)
  • 1/3 cup quality maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup  ketchup
  • 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (do yourself a favour and don’t use Tabasco. Go Original Cholula or Frank’s)
  • 1 tablespoon spicy mustard
  • 1 teaspoon corse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • As many twists of ground black pepper you want
  • Fresh from the bakery onions rolls (or baps, if you will)

Method:

Add all ingredients into the pot. Turn on  the lowest setting, wait 8 hours and then shred the pork with a fork. That’s it.

Before:

And after (served with chips made from my beloved Acti-Fry):

I can not tell you how delicious and easy to make this was.  Spicy, sweet and fantastically tender. The only downside is that next time I make them, I’ll have to wait another 8 hours to eat them.

Welcome back, Crock-Pot, I imagine you will go far.

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Recipe: Slow-cooked Welsh Lamb Tagine

I’ve always been a bit apprehensive of cooking red meat.  I like it a certain way, and because it can be rather expensive, I’d rather not give myself the chance to mess it up. Steaks, lamb and duck have been off-limits in my kitchen – until yesterday.

I was given the opportunity by the people at EatWelshLamb to try my hand at preparing a dish of my choice. While they encouraged me to be creative using a whole load of ingredients they sent me, I preferred to keep it simple by trying one of the many many recipes on the East Welsh Lamb website.

This easy recipe for a Moroccan-style tagine takes about an hour and a half to cook, with a good 20 minutes of prep time.  I took a couple liberties with it by adding tomatoes and dried apricots to the mix, but you certainly don’t have to.

The result was an absolutely gorgeous dish of very tender and rich slow-cooked lamb with savoury spices, a hint of sweetness and enough spice to tantalise your taste buds. I served mine over couscous.

The Welsh lamb was delicious, obviously high quality, and something I would cook again. It’s definitely helped me not be so scared of cooking red meat. Now if someone would just teach me how to do a decent pork belly…

Ingredients:

  • 450g (1lb) lean Welsh lamb cubes
  • 1 onion, cut into wedges
  • 15ml (1tbsp) ground cumin
  • 2.5ml (½tsp) ground cinnamon
  • 2.5ml (½tsp) ground ginger
  • 400g (approx) can chickpeas, drained
  • 300ml (½pt) lamb stock
  • 150ml (¼pt) orange and mango juice
  • 1 tin peeled tomatoes
  • Chopped dried apricots
  • 1 tsp harissa paste (or more if you like a kick)
  • 1 lemon, zest removed
  • Seasoning
  • 30ml (2tbsp) fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 225g (8oz) couscous
  • Zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 30ml (2tbsp) fresh mint, roughly chopped

Temperature: Gas Mark 3, 170°C, 325°F

Place lean lamb cubes, onion, cumin, cinnamon, ginger, chick peas, stock, juice, tomatoes, apricots and zest into a large casserole dish. Cover and cook for 1-1½ hours until the meat is tender.

Remove lid and sprinkle on the couscous, lemon and seasoning.

Replace lid and return to oven for about 20 minutes until liquid has absorbed (add a little more stock if a little too dry).

Serve the tagine sprinkled with mint.

Recipe: Homemade Lemon and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli

A few months ago, I saw a recipe in Stylist I knew I just had to try out: Lemon and Goat’s Cheese Ravioli.  Having had an unused pasta machine in my flat for the past year, I had had enough – I was ready to try my hand at making pasta from scratch, and this was the recipe to do it with.

The recipe, as below, wasn’t particularly difficult. You only need a few ingredients – ones that you’re likely to have around the house anyway – and it’s all very straightforward.  I changed a few things from the original recipe – mainly the addition of chorizo (because it’s chorizo. It’s gorgeous). But you know what? I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.

Don’t get me wrong, it was fantastic – everyone should put lemon zest in their pasta. But holy moly, if it didn’t take bloody ages.  My PR/marketing side of me keeps wondering if the return (yumminess) was worth my investment (time). I’m not sure. Still, if you have time and want to put that unused pasta machine to good use, definitely try it out!

(Click to enlarge)

ravioli recipe

If anyone is wondering, I made the recipe graphic with Beeclip – a sort of canvas-maker.  Full disclosure: They let me know about their service, but had no other involvement in the post.

Qype: Angela Malik Cookery School – Acton Central

Here are some things I like:

  • Dim sum
  • Cooking
  • Qype

Here are some thing I don’t like:

  • Being late
  • Travelling over an hour to get somewhere
  • Torrential downpours that cause my trousers to be soaking from the knee-down

And as you may have guessed, all of these things to be within the space of about 2 hours last Thursday. I’m still recovering.

Angela Malik

Angela Malik

Here’s how it happened: I was invited to a Qype-sponsored mini dim sum cooking class at the Angela Malik cookery school in Acton. It started at 6pm, and the end of my work day is 5:30pm – if I leave 100% on time.  Very soon, I realised that there was no way that I was going to get from Goodge Street Station to Acton Central Overground Station in a half hour. I would have to travel to East Acton and take a bus. Minimum 45 minutes. But when I got to East Acton, it was pouring rain, the bus that I needed was nowhere to be found and – shocker – there were no cabs anywhere.  I ended up having to walk.

Long story short, I walked in an embarrassingly 45 minutes late, soaked to the bone and STARVING. Anglea has already started the class, but her assistants are quick to get me sorted with an apron, a recipe packet and more importantly, a glass of wine.

We spent the next couple minutes learning about the different tastes and complementary flavours for sweet, spicy, salty, bitter and sour.  Anglea stressed that making a curry shouldn’t set you back £30 in ingredients because if you don’t have one thing (for example, vinegar) you can use something else from the same taste group (like anything citrus).

Before we got to cooking, we watched Angela’s sous chefGeoff prepare some pork with a special Indian pesto that she’s made (and sells, naturally). He put a bit of rapeseed oil on the fatty side, spread a good heaping cup of pesto on the pork, and put it in the over for 45 minutes.  When it came out, we got to try some. It was AMAZING. We got a container of the pesto in our goodie bags, and I’m really excited to try cooking with it

Angela's Indian Pesto and Pork

From there, we got straight into the dim sum cooking, starting with pork buns. This recipe makes about 50 yummy morsels:

  • 2 spring onions finely chopped
  • 1 can water chestnuts finely chopped
  • 1 kg minced pork
  • Handful of coriander stalks
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp shao hsing rice wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • Pinch of caster sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • 50, 7.5cm wonton wrappers

To make the stuffing, add all the ingredients into a bowl and mash well with your hand. Place a heaping teaspoon onto each wrapper and fold up.  I found the easiest method was to use the edge of a spoon on the corners until all the edges are folded up. You could also twist the edges up.

Some examples of our lovely work:

Dim sum before their steam bath

Line the steamer with grease proof paper and steam the dumplings for 12-15 minutes.  The pork should just about be turning white when they’re done.

Serve with a dipping sauce of choice and coriander leaf.  We actually dressed them in Angela’s pesto and a drizzle sweet soy reduction sauce as well, which was delicious.  The finished product:

Yum!

We also made some chicken gyoza through a similar method.  I can send on the recipe if anyone is interested.

Geoff cooking gyoza

What I learned is that dim sum is certainly not as complicated as I originally thought.  I also learned that I really don’t want to go to Ping Pong anymore – even if it is just ‘easier’. The food we all made was infinitely better, and I had a lot more fun with it.

My only issue with the cooking school is that it really is so far away.  It was great, and I highly recommend it, but if I had to go through what I went through to get there, and I was paying (her cooking classes are not cheap!), I’d be a little frustrated. However, if you’re in Acton or anywhere on the Overground, definitely check her out.

She also got an absolutely brilliant review from Toby Young in the Independent when she cooked for his private dinner party.

Recipe: Bengali Squash Soup

A little background for this one…

There once was a girl named Melanie Seasons who procrastinated more than anyone in the world. Back in November, a nice man named Lewis asked if she would like to try out some Indian recipes in conjunction with National Curry Week and a promotion that Cobra beer had on. He even picked her up in a zany Karma Cab and brought her to work to explain all about it.

Fast forward two months, and she’s just now getting around to writing about it. She is a rubbish blogger friend, clearly.

That, I believe, brings us up to speed.

I decided, in accordance with January soup detox month, to try to make an Indian inspired soup.  There aren’t too many Indian soups, according to Anjum Anand who is the host of the BBC’s Indian Food Made Easy and author of my newest cookbook, so I had to improvise.

I took a recipe for a side dish of butternut squash and chickpeas. For the recipe, you’ll need:

Bengali Squash soup

  • 2 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 red chillies
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tbs turmeric
  • 3 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 rounded tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp crushed fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 litres of veg stock
  • 500 g butternut squash, peeled and deseeded
  • 175 g of canned chickpeas
  • 1 tbs garam masala

Heat the oil in a large pot, and add in the bay leaf, chillies and crushed fennel seeds, and cook over low heat for about a minute. Add in the onion and cook for about 3 minutes or until the onions are slightly translucent. Stir in the turmeric, cumin, coriander, salt, sugar, cinnamon and ginger paste. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the veg stock and the squash and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the squash is fully cooked.

Stir in the chickpeas and garam masala. Simmer for another 5 minutes, and then blend until smooth.  Voila!

My only word of advice is that you might have to tweak the spices to taste. I ended up having to add in a lot more to really give it some pop. Once I got the right combination though, this soup really shined. It was easy to make, and I’ve since experimented with a couple of the other recipes in the book (mini corn cakes with coriander mint chutney and Punjabi chicken curry), and they really were a lot easier than I thought Indian food could ever be to cook.

Thumbs up.

Recipe: Roasted Pumpkin and Prosciutto

roasted pumpkin

One of the things I loved at Polpo in Soho was the Roasted Pumpkin dish.  So much so, that I decided to try and make it at home.

I hesitate to call this a recipe because it was so easy, so just pretend I laboured for hours over it.

You’ll need:

  • 1 small pumpkin
  • Vegetable oil
  • Brown sugar
  • Kosher sea salt
  • Ground pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • 1 small shallot
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • A hard mature cheese (I used Manchego, which was a bit too mild. I think it would have been better with Parmesan or Pecorino)
  • A few slices of prosciutto
  • Some greens

Assembly is super easy.

First, peel and gut the pumpkin and cut into small wedges about a 1/2 inch thick. Place in a greased roasting pan with sliced shallot and diced garlic and toss everything in a mixture (to taste) of salt, pepper, sugar and cinnamon.

Roast at 250C for about 10 minutes, turn over sprinkle a pinch of brown sugar over and roast at 175C for about 20 minutes. Repeat that process, and roast for an additional 10 minutes.  While it shouldn’t be mushy, you should be able to cut through the pumpkin easily when it’s done.

Plate the pumpkin first and top with about 3 or 4 slices of room-temperature prosciutto. Top with greens and shaves of your preferred cheese.  A bit of cracked pepper on top, and you’re all set.

It’s seriously good eats, I have a lot of leftovers and I think the whole thing cost me about £6.

Recipe: Tomato and Gordon’s Gin Soup


I’ve never been much of a fan of gin, I’ll admit. So when the lovely people of Gordon’s asked if I wanted to participate in their latest blogger outreach campaign*, my first instinct was to say that it wasn’t for me.

(The pitch was that you can enjoy Gordon’s on Friday nights with friends, etc. Feel free to read about it here, though I suspect that if you like gin, any night of the week is good for drinking it. Ha.)

But I digress. Anyway, I thought, ‘Who’s to say I couldn’t find a way to like gin? I wonder if people cook with it?’

The answer is YES. A thousand times YES.

I Google ‘gin recipe’ and came across mostly a version of Tomato Soup. I decided to try this one I found on Running with Tweezers who found it on For The Love of Food. The original recipe is on both of those sites, but I did a little tweaking, which is what you’ll find below.

Tomato and Gordon’s Gin Soup – serves 4

  • 1 kg (2 Lbs)Tomatoes, diced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon basil, dried
  • 1 tablespoon oregano, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, dried and ground
  • 750ml (3 Cups) of beef stock
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 200ml Gordon’s gin
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons fresh goat cheese
  • 4 teaspoons basil pesto
  • Fresh basil (garnish)

1. In a large pot sauté the onions and garlic in the vegetable oil until the onions are soft
2. Add the tomatoes and all the dried spices and cook in the pot for 15 minutes with the lid on

3. Then pour in the beef stock and let cook for another 5 minutes
4. Take off the heat and put entire soup into a food processor or blender and purée. I used a hand blender which worked just as well (and less mess!)

5. Return pot to medium heat and add the tomato paste and the gin. Stir until completely mixed in
6. Garnish with a teaspoon of goat cheese, fresh basil and a dollop of pesto

This is seriously some of the best soup I’ve ever had in my life. It was so easy to make too. I highly recommend you give it a whirl.  And at least I now know what to do with the rest of the gin!

*And full disclosure and all – I wasn’t paid for this post (not my style), but I did receive that bottle of gin pictured at the top, as well as a Gordon (get it?) Ramsey cookbook, which I’ve yet to try.