Tag Archives: spices

Pulled Pork (Serves: 6/8 – Preparation time: +8hrs)

I’m back to cooking low and slow – as I’ve mentioned before it is a very simple way of cooking in terms of effort.  The key is to ensure that you have plenty of time to let the meat gently cook, it should not be rushed and don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process.  By cooking the meat low and for a long period of time the meat will become beautifully tender and become infused by flavours of the herbs and spices.

The dry rub has a slight warmth to it from the combination of chillies used and cayenne pepper however it is not over powering. The smoked paprika and chipotle chilli flakes give the dry rub a wonderful aroma of barbecues and bonfires which adds to the overall flavour of the pork. If you don’t have smoked paprika in your spice cupboard at home I would strongly recommend getting some and giving it a try – it is great in soups, chilli con carne and hummus.

I cooked the pulled pork in my slow cooker on the lowest setting.  If you don’t have a slow cooker then cook it in a heavy casserole (with lid) and cook in the over at 120°C for 6-8 hours.

Serving suggestions:

  • serve as you would fajitas with homemade salsa, grated cheese, sour cream and guacamole.  If you are looking to be slightly healthier then replace the tortilla wraps with lettuce leaves; or
  • serve in brioche buns with barbecue sauce, coleslaw and chips.

dsc_0242-2 Continue reading

Moroccan spiced tomato, spinach and chickpea soup

Ages ago a friend had been telling me about a soup that she had bought for lunch one day that tasted amazing.  Apparently it was a tomato based soup containing both spinach and chickpeas.  Having harvested a large crop of spinach from the garden last week I decided to do my interpretation of the soup as I knew little else other than those three ingredients.

Earlier in the year we froze huge quantities of tomatoes that we had peeled and roughly chopped (having removed the tough core and any blemishes).  So, after raiding the freezer and de-thawing the tomatoes I was able to make the soup.   I found the spinach gave it a slightly earthy taste whereas the chickpeas added a slight bite and texture.   The Moroccan spice mix known as ras-el-hanout (a handy thing to have in your cupboard for flavouring couscous or lamb) gives the soup real warmth and honey stops it becoming too overpowering.

Moroccan spiced tomato, spinach and chickpea soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 onions (diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 200g chickpeas (drained)
  • 200g fresh spinach (washed and torn)
  • 800g – 1kg chopped tomatoes
  • 2tsp ras-el-hanout (spice mix)
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 heaped tbsp honey
  • seasoning
  • oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

1.  Fry off onions, garlic and ras-el-hanout in a little oil.

2.  Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, stock cube and half of the honey and cook for 10 minutes.

3.  Taste the soup and add the rest of the honey (as required) and season well.

4.  Add the spinach, cook for a further 5 minutes.

5.  Remove from the heat and semi-blend the soup using a handheld liquidiser.  Serve hot with a little French bread.

Chilli con carne, jacket potato and coleslaw!

Everyone has their own ‘go to’ comfort food and I think that chilli con carne is in my top five.  What I like about this dish is that the chilli offers warmth and a little bit of spice whilst the coleslaw counteracts some of that spice and provides certain freshness and a pleasant crunch. Finally, a jacket potato with its crispy skin and wonderfully soft middle fills you up and soaks up all the other flavours on the plate.  Perfect comfort food!

I recently entered a competition for comfort food with my lemon drizzle cake with raspberry sauce.  It did quite well and was selected as one of the top 10 recipes. However, sadly it did not win.  Since entering the competition I have been thinking about comfort food and how what food I go to for comfort changes during the course of the year.  For example, in the summer, my preferred comfort food is the aforementioned cake because it is so light and refreshing and gives you a brilliant sugar rush but on the whole doesn’t make you feel that guilty…  Whereas, in the autumn months, chilli con carne and lasagne are two of my favourites, particularly when the cold wet weather and short days are getting me down.

Chilli con carne

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 300g mince
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, drained
  • 1 tin of tomatoes
  • 4-5 sun-dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 2tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp mild chilli powder
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • seasoning
  • oil

Steps:

1.  Place the onion, garlic, sugar and a little oil in a pan – cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.

2.  Add the mince and spices and cook until the meat has browned off.

3.  Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, red wine vinegar and season well, cook on a low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally.

4.  Finally add the kidney beans and cook for a further 10-15 minutes.

Salted Jacket Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • Potatoes (ideally Maris Piper, King Edward or Mona Lisa)
  • Salt

Steps:

1.  Preheat oven to 200C fan

2.  Wash the potatoes well removing any bruises, eyes and bad bits.

3.  Sprinkle salt all over the potatoes.

4.  Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on the size of the potatoes.  To see if the potatoes are cooked either see if a knife goes through easily or, preferably, give the potatoes a squeeze to check if the middle is soft enough.

5.  Serve with a little butter.

Coleslaw

Ingredients:

  • 400g white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 eating apple
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 heaped tbsp mayonnaise

Steps:

1.  Grate the cabbage, onion, apple and carrots using either a manual grater or a food processor.  (Personally I prefer it when the vegetables are coarsely grated).

2.  Place the grated fruit and vegetables into a bowl, add the mayonnaise and mix well.  Serve.

A Mexican Inspired Supper…

One of my great friends lives in Mexico and I always think of her when I am cooking a Mexican inspired supper.  I love this style of food as it can taste so fresh due to the sharpness of the lemon juice in the salsa.

I personally get a lot of enjoyment watching people eat this type of food as everyone has their own way of making up their wrap and their own way to ‘prevent’ the juices running out of the bottom of it.  I think it is a real skill to manage to eat a wrap and not leave any mess on your plate.

The recipe below is for a mild spice mix, I personally prefer a kick of spice when I eat Mexican food so I tend to add fresh chilli as a garnish or to the meat filling at the end of cooking provided my friends can handle the heat…  I first started making the flatbreads as part of a starter with a Moroccan style hummus however, when I used them as a wrap for this dish I was really happy with how they worked out, so now make them every time I eat this supper.

I made my own onion and garlic powder for the seasoning mix, you can buy it, but it is incredibly easy to make so it may be worth a try.  Just cut an onion and some garlic cloves into fine slices, lay them out on a baking tray and place in the oven at 100C fan for around 30-60 minutes, turning them over once or twice as they dry out (If they are browning too quickly turn down the oven slightly).  Once the garlic and onions are dried, crush them into a fine powder using a pestle and mortar – job done – homemade onion and garlic powder.

 

 

Minced Beef with Mexican Seasoning Mix

Ingredients:

Mexican Seasoning Mix (Mild):

  • 1tbsp mild chilli powder (if you prefer a hot seasoning use hot chilli powder instead or add some fresh chilli to the recipe)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Other ingredients:

  • 300g minced beef
  • 1 onion (finely sliced)
  • ½ red pepper (sliced)
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • oil (for cooking with)

Steps:

1.  Combine the spices for the Mexican seasoning mix in a bowl.

2.  Place the onions in a saucepan with a little oil and cook till soft.

3.  Add the beef, pepper, stock cube and Mexican seasoning mix, cook for 7-10 minutes.

4.  Serve with fresh salsa, flat bread wraps, crème fraiche, grated cheese and lettuce and cucumber salad.

 

 

Fresh Salsa

Ingredients:

  • 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes (diced)
  • 1/3 of a red onion (diced)
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • Seasoning
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 chive stalks (chopped)
  • 2tsp fresh coriander (chopped)

Step(s):

1.   Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix together well, taste and add more seasoning as needed.

 

Flat Bread Wraps

Ingredients: (makes 9)

  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 175ml water
  • 2-3tbsp olive oil

Steps:

1.   Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix together well.  Leave to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

2.  Divide the dough into 9 balls, then roll out the dough as thin as you can on a well-floured surface.  (If you are concerned the dough is too wet just add a little bit more flour to the mixture before you divide it up).


3. Cook in a hot frying pan for roughly 2-3 minutes on each side. (You do not need oil in the pan when you are cooking them).

4.  Keep the wraps warm by wrapping them in a tea towel whilst you are cooking the rest.

Curry Night – A rich tomato based lamb curry

You can’t beat a good curry!  If I was getting a takeaway 90% of the time I would go for a curry.   When I was younger I used to really enjoy the coconut based curries like Korma, however over the years I have started prefer slightly spicier tomato based curries.  The curry I probably order the most is a Rogan Josh closely followed by a Bhuna.  It is fairly hard to come by a good curry out in France so I have had to try to make my own.  I am not a huge fan of shop bought sauces because quite a few of them leave an aniseed after-taste in your mouth.  That being said, they are very useful when you are in a rush and want to have a curry quickly.

By contrast, the type of curry I have been making is a very slow cooked lamb curry, whilst it uses a lot of spices it is very simple to make.  The joy of this curry is that once it is cooked the meat falls of the bone and is beautifully tender.  The spices I use give the curry a gentle warmth and would probably be best described as a medium spiced curry.  For my friends who struggle with its heat I serve a yoghurt dip (a combination of yoghurt, lemon zest and cucumber) and sliced banana which counters all of the spice.  Whilst I prefer this curry to be made with lamb I have in the past made it with rabbit and chicken which worked equally as well.

Below is a picture of my spice line up –

 

A rich tomato based lamb curry

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 10 cardamom pods (shells removed)
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  •  2 onions (sliced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 3 heap tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 can tinned tomatoes
  • ½ pint stock
  • 750g – 1kg lamb (cut into chunks)
  • 2tbsp vegetable oil

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.
  2. Place spices in a pestle and mortar and grind together.
  3. Place the garlic, onions, spices and oil in a large casserole pot (with a lid) and leave to cook on a low heat until the onions are soft.
  4. Add the lamb and leave to brown for roughly 5 minutes.
  5. Then add the rest of the ingredients to the casserole pot, give it a good stir before covering with the lid and placing in the oven for 2 – 2 ½ hours.
  6. Serve with rice and mango chutney.