Simple Pork in Cream Sauce

This is loosely based on Cotes de Porc Sauce Nenette, from Julia Child. It’s very forgiving, and usually needs very little shopping. Extras freeze well, and you can double up the sauce without a problem.

You want pork shoulder steak, or thick chops – something that isn’t too tender like a medallion, or too fatty like belly. If you ask the butcher (or look on the packet) for something that would take 15-20 minutes to grill, you’re on the right track.

For the sauce, you need garlic, tomato paste, wholegrain mustard, and creme fraiche.

Brown the meat in a little bit of oil in a heavy pan, on both sides. When it’s seared, tip in a chopped clove of garlic, 2 teaspoons of tomato paste, and 3 of wholegrain mustard. Stir it around well, and add 250ml of creme fraiche (a whole small tub). Stir again and get it up to a lively simmer, leave it for about 20 minutes (with the lid off).

The sauce should thicken and concentrate. Taste it near the end and add salt if you think it needs it. If it gets too thick, a bit of chicken stock of water will loosen it up. If it’s not thick enough when you want to serve it, take the meat out and keep it warm while you boil the sauce down.

This amount of sauce will do for about 3 big chops or four small steaks. You could also get cubed casserole meat (leg or collar), start if the same way and then stew it slowly in the oven for a few hours.

If you like added veggies, you can put chopped red and yellow peppers, or onions, or mushrooms, in while the meat is browning. And you can increase the garlic to taste.

I sometimes put chopped fresh herbs in at the very end – basil if I’ve used peppers, parsley with mushrooms, tarragon or chives if it’s plain.

It’s good with plain rice, potatoes, pasta, seasonal veggies or a crisp bitter salad.

Advertisements

There IS life after Easter

After an incredibly busy Easter, and the almost inevitable lurgy aftermath, the kitchen is getting back on track.

Celebrating tonight with venison sausages in onion and cherry gravy and steamed cauliflower. Although I could cheerfully have just had the other vegetable dish – celery braised with shallots and garlic in chicken stock, finished with fino sherry and creme fraiche, thickened with ground almonds.

Like a Georgian celery and almond soup, before you puree it.

Best kedgeree ever

I never thought of kedgeree as a budget supper dish before, but the astonishing cheapness of smoked hoki the other day persuaded me otherwise.

  • Cooked white rice
  • Smoked fish (boneless skinless smoked hoki fillet)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Leftover peas from a roast dinner
  • Leftover kashmiri veggie curry (sweet and creamy with bananas – about half a takeaway portion)

I used a wok. Cut the fish into bite size pieces, and stir fried. Add the rice and peas, stir fry again until hot through. Add curry (or mild curry paste and sour cream if no spare leftover curry), some pepper, no salt as the fish and curry are salty enough. Stir in chopped hard boiled eggs. I would have put in a load of fresh chopped parsley, but John doesn't like it.

It was gorgeous. One fillet and three eggs made about four servings, and it was creamy, rich and very moreish. Didn't need any side dishes or extras, and you could stretch it easily with more rice and green veg.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Smoothie, Lassi, Whatever

Forty years ago, one of our great treats was my Dad's homemade milk shake. Milk, ice-cream if we had it, and a splash out of one of those sticky bottles of brightly coloured syrup. Especially once we got a blender, and you could make it go all bubbly without having to whisk it by hand.

Thirty years ago, we had a popular hangover drink of natural yoghourt mixed with grapefruit juice, with a dash of Tabasco for the hardier souls. Then as we started hanging out at the corner caff end of the Indian restaurant market, we discovered lassi – diluted yoghourt drink, sometimes salt, sometimes sweet with palm sugar and fruit juices and purees. Mango, lime, orange. In time, lassi got more well known, and it's on most restaurant menus now. You can get it ready-mixed in some supermarkets, even. And the smoothie has reared its head, full of your five-a-day and active superfoods and general gubbins. Sugar, mostly. Some of them are just thick fruit juices, but some have the dairy component as well.

I made a Thing at home the other day – a ripe banana, some organic greek thick yoghourt, some oldish blueberries and some mango chunks out of the freezer. Whizz whizz, two half pint glasses full, really rich and heavy, bursting with fruity oopmh, cold from the mango. It would have made a quick meal, and was much much more than a drink.

You can go all the way from thin drink (juice, or squash at a pinch, cheap thin yoghourt, lots of ice and some lime and salt to sharpen it up) to something more like a fool, with purees and yoghourt and soft ice-cream. Waitrose has a recipe card for a mango lassi fool, which is mango puree mixed with yoghourt and whipped cream, lime juice, honey and cardamom, and decorated with strips of dried mango. Last time we were in Amsterdam I had a saffron yoghourt, a cross between a drink and a dessert, sweet and thick and darkly yellow.

I've never been sure about spices in Drink Things, they tend to turn gritty or taste raw. They certainly have their place in Indian spiced tea, where they've had a chance to infuse. Maybe I need to look at making home-made yoghourt again, adding cardamom pods and cinnamon and cloves and fennel to the warm milk at the start.

In the early days, we had to chop fresh mangoes or buy mango nectar, which was oversweet and overpriced. But Waitrose now kindly provide me with fresh peeled cubed mango, or the same thing frozen, which is cheaper. And if you look among the tinned fruit, there are plastic pots with tropical fruit mixes in juice, including one with mango slices. There are frozen blueberries, raspberries, papaya, all sorts. And you could freeze your own fruits from the pick-your-own for the winter, and reduce those icky food miles.

Summer will bring strawberries, and beneath the mango lassi fool card, I found one for stawberries baked in foil parcels on the barbie, with Pimms and sugar, served with clotted cream. Now, that would make a WARM smoothie to ease the chills on a late summer night …

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Wicked Chicken Korma

I made this on the fly for dinner the other night, and didn't write it down at the time, but it went something like this:

  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 thumb-size piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • Butter and oil, or ghee
  • 4 small boneless chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
  • 2 handfuls raw shelled pistachios
  • 1 handful vanilla-soaked dried apricots (or organic apricots and a teaspoon of vanilla extract, or half a bean)
  • 2 tablespoons ground cardamom
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 small tin coconut milk
  • Chicken stock
  • Small tub creme fraiche
  • Ground almonds
  • 2 hard bananas
  • More butter
  • A tub of dry crispy fried onions

In a big heavy pan, melt the garlic, ginger and onion in the fat, slowly. Soften but not colour. Add the chicken, nuts, apricots, and spices. Stew gently and stir until the chicken is coated in the spices and cooked on the outside. Add the coconut milk and enough chicken stock to cover. Cover and simmer gently for up to a couple of hours, if you can, but at least half an hour. Take the lid off and mash the apricots into the sauce. Simmer again for at least another half an hour, longer if possible. Top up with water if necessary. When you're getting close to serving time, add the creme fraiche and stir in. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of ground almonds on the top and stir in well. This will thicken the sauce, let the first lot swell and do its work before adding more if you want thicker sauce. Watch it as the thicker it gets, the quicker it's likely to catch and scorch. While that's happening, chop the bananas into chunks and fry quickly in butter until golden.

Serve the chicken with the bananas on top, a sprinkling of fried onions, and some plain rice or naan bread to soak up the sauce. We had it with lamb stewed for hours in a low oven with tomatoes and hotter spices, and an aubergine and red pepper madras.

If you can't find the onions in your regular ethnic stores, try the IKEA food shop, or make your own by finely shredding shallots, frying in light hot oil until crisp, and draining well. Dry on paper towels. Or don't bother – a bit of crunch adds a nice texture but it isn't necessary.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Parmesan Gelato on Red Wine Toast with Balsamic Glaze

I'm trying to focus on more healthy food at the moment, but this was just too weird to pass on. It's a party dish, quantities are for 25 – 30 canape portions. I don't think you'd want to eat a lot of this … and it would take up a lot of space in the fridge to prepare. From delicious magazine, January 2004, recipe by Valli Little.

  • 150 gms grated Parmesan
  • 375 ml double cream
  • pinch of paprika
  • 250 ml balsamic vinegar
  • 1 baguette, sliced
  • 125 ml red wine
  • olive oil
  • 1 -2 garlic cloves, peeled

Put the cheese, cream and paprika in a bowl of simmering water, stir until the Parmesan has melted, season. Strain through a fine sieve, pressing through with a spoon. Cool and refrigerate overnight.

Simmer the balsamic vinegar until reduced by half. Cool. (Or you can buy ready-made glaze, I've got some somewhere.)

Using a small ice-cream scoop, place scoops of the cheese gelato on a lined tray and return to the fridge.

Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4. Drizzle the bread slices with the red wine, brush with oil, lay out on a baking tray and cook 6 – 8 minutes until golden. Rub with the garlic while still warm. Cool.

To assemble – put a scoop of gelato onto each toast, drizzle with glaze.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend

Bog-standard Trifle

I've got a wonderful trifle dish, which is actually the glass bowl bit out of a dead washing machine. I'm making a standard trifle in it today, which is:

 

  • 1 bought Madeira cake
  • Raspberry jam / conserve
  • Madeira or cream sherry
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 dessertspoon caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornflour
  • 2 pints double cream
  • Fresh raspberries

Slice the madeira cake and sandwich the slices back together with raspberry jam, in whatever shape is convenient for your bowl. Sprinkle with plenty of booze to soak well in. Today we're using ordinary raspberry jam, but soaking in Blandy's Avada 5 year old sweet Madeira.

Make a custard – in a bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour. Heat one of the pints of cream to nearly boiling, pour over the egg mixture in a stream, whisking as you go. Put back in the pan, and heat gently until well thick. Pour it over the sponges, banging it up and down a couple of times to make sure it settles well around the sponges. Leave to cool and set.

When it's cool, whip the second pint of cream, with booze and flavourings if you like, and spread over the top. If you're using a bowl shaped like mine, that's wider at the top than the bottom, you may need more cream to get a decent layer.

Decorate the top with fresh raspberries.

This is actually better the next day, but if you're leaving it for a while you might want to wait on the raspberries.

Variants – blueberries (jam and fresh for the top), cranberries ditto – but sweetened dried for the top, fresh is too tart, chopped nuts on top, some people put fruit in amongst the sponge, but I'm a bit of a purist about that, you can put vanilla in the custard if you must.

Read and post comments | Send to a friend