Pan-fried Pork Shoulder Steaks with Mushy Peas and Lime – a.k.a. I bought a hand blender!

For so long I’ve wanted to own my own hand blender that I never actually got around to seeing how much one would cost, for example. So when my boyfriend invited me to the magical world of Argos and I discovered that such a device can be purchased for the low price of £7, I couldn’t resist the temptation.
So in celebration of my new hand blender, I made mushy peas; a traditional English dish made to taste nothing like the traditional English dish. I mean, the peas you get with your battered fish in pubs is usually 90% water and 10% actual peas – so I decided to change that, and gave the old dish a bit of zing with a squeeze of lime. The outcome was magical. Naturally, due to an unfortunate placement decision, by the end of the process there were peas everywhere from the wall to my ankles – but even the cleaning up couldn’t take away my fantastic victory over the pea consistency. I felt like a demi-god.
shouldersteaks-mushypeas (4)
The best about this good looking dish (the peas really do look like a Metapod) is that it costs virtually nothing – the pork chops, I bought for around £4 and the peas, well, you get 1 kg frozen of them for a pound. So here’s how to transform these lovely ingredients into something even better.
2 pork chops, seasoned on both sides
A generous portion of frozen peas
A large cube of butter
A dash of water
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil, for frying and finish
Pinch of rosemary (I used the dried version)

So in order to make your chops deliciously moist, here’s the method I’ve learned from various cooking shows: heat the oil in the pan until almost smoking. Throw in two cloves of garlic, unpeeled (smashed with a knife a little) and fry for a minute to infuse the oil. Lay the pork chops into it, dressing them with your herbs. Fry for a generous 2 minutes, or until seriously coloured.  At this point, add half your butter (a large nob) and turn your chops. Take a small teaspoon and baste the meat with the butter. Just keep spooning the butter over them on occasions until they are cooked through and nicely coloured on both sides. Remove them from the pan and let them rest until you finish your peas.

For the peas, nothing could be easier. It is okay to over-cook your peas (in fact it’s probably even good); makes them easier to mush. Drain them, reserving a dash of the (salted!) cooking water and pop them back in the same pan. Add the water – honestly, not too much. It may seem like just a glass of water, but this will determine your consistency by far. Add the other half of your butter for glossiness; season generously with salt and pepper. Use half a lime to give zing; squeeze all that amazingness into the mix. Now take your awesome hand blender and just chop them until you reach the consistency you want. Taste for seasoning (most likely it will be under-seasoned), and you are ready!

Now look at that. Doesn’t it look delicious?

shouldersteaks-mushypeas (3)

 

Posted in Blog, Main meals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Tamarind-glazed Chicken – Experiments

I’ve had a chronic fear of chicken thighs for about two years now. The reason for this is two years ago I bought a pack of fresh chicken thigs from a butcher – it was the first time I’ve bought fresh meat, and the first experiments with cooking too. So obviously, I was over-confident and an absolute amateur.
The experiment ended in me having chicken thighs for dinner which were still leaking blood from the inside, the sight of which made me so sick I threw up. It was disgusting. So when I say it was a big step that I tried to cook thighs again, I really do mean it.
tamarindchicken (1)
They turned out really fine though, thank Heavens – there was no blood, just tasty chicken and crispy skin, a consistency which provides me with ultimate pleasure. In fact, when my Mom used to make chicken with crispy skin, I used to just steal the skin and left the meat behind. (Who am I kidding, I’d still do it if I didn’t feel bad about it.)
Now, I know that you’ve been seeing roast potatoes on my blog for the last I don’t even know how many posts, and that’s an issue. But my creativity is stuck. It’s like a chef’s block or something. I can’t think of any good and interesting side dishes. Suggestions, anyone? (Not that I don’t live crispy skinned, soft on the inside potatoes, but one can’t just have potatoes forever…)
The glaze on my chicken was an Asian-style glaze I actually came up with, so I was quite proud it turned out delicious. Here’s what was in the glaze (a dash/spoonful of each):
Soy sauce
Fish sauce
Tamarind paste
Sugar
Black pepper
Olive oil
Tiny dash of sesame seed oil
Minced garlic
I rubbed this paste all over the thighs and let them sit in it for about an hour until they turned brownish all over. After the marinade, it’s the usual stuff: I gave the thighs a little colour in a pan first, and then roasted them in the oven with some cut up potatoes for about an hour and fifteen minutes until the meat was soft and juicy, and the potatoes were soft.
Before the cooking, I was scared that the paste tastes too sour, too sticky, not so good – but after the cooking, the mixture turned sweeter, stickier and genuinely delicious (not bragging). Also, thanks to the high water content in the marinade, the mixture kept the chicken moist in the oven without drying out, and so it wasn’t the kind of chicken thighs you get bored of halfway through eating.
Give it a try if you like – it’s an easy, fail-proof recipe for an everyday, but more interesting than that still.

tamarindchicken (4)

Posted in Blog, Main meals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soft Lamb Chops with Red Wine Sauce

I haven’t bought lamb in ages. The last time I did, I bought a big piece for our flat Christmas dinner last year, stuffed it and cooked it for an hour and something – but for some reason, since then, I think of lamb as some super-expensive, fancy dinner that should be eaten only on special occasions.
Yesterday though, I bought some small lamb chops (boneless), and they turned out so juicy and fine, I think I’ll be buying lamb a lot more from now on.
redwinelamb (1)Here’s how I prepared them (and had a lot of fun doing it too!):
I seasoned the chops on both sides, then seared the lamb chops on high heat for 2 and a half minutes on one side or until coloured, then turned them and browned them on the other side. Still on high heat (and this is my favourite part), I added a generous splash of red wine and let it bubble away until reduced and all the alcohol has burned off. Then, I added a splash of water for a bit more texture and let that reduce too.
At this point, the lamb chops were ready. The texture on the outside seemed a bit rubbery, but turned out pink and extremely soft on the inside. Splashed with the sauce, it was an absolute delicacy. The cuminy potatoes were my boyfriend’s request – he liked them so much last time, we went with them again.
redwinelamb (3)
I’d advise for anyone to try this easy method – with enough seasoning (and a pinch of cayenne as usual), this dish really tastes amazing. And for those with more experience: any good tips on how to cook lamb? They were delicious like this, but I’d love to experiment with it.
Cheers!
Posted in Blog, Main meals | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Advances of an Amateur, or Why We’re Having Purple Chicken Tonight

Strange how the days fly by. It has already been a week and a half since we moved into this flat, and we’re already at the middle of August. September is coming way too quickly for me – these are the days I want to stay. Reading book after book, cooking my hours away and lying on our comfortable sofa… Wish I could stay like this for a little longer.
Either way, tonight’s dinner was something else. I am certain that culinary chefs all over the world might want to stone me for what I did, but what the heck, it turned out tasty. And red wine was all I had handy. The side dish was, in this case, just as important too, so we’ll get to that as well.
redwinechicken (1)
If you would also like to join the “stick-it-to-the-pros” club (or the “get-stoned-by-them” club), here’s how to do the sauce:

Dash of red wine
Dash of water
Salt, freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne (Hola, Chef John)
Pinch of sugar
Handful of pink peppercorns (my new absolute favourite, I’d put it in my cereal if I had cereal for breakfast)
Sear the chicken on high heat until nicely coloured on all sides. Don’t turn down the heat – add your dash of red wine and stand back, it spits. Reduce the wine just a little by letting it bubble away, and turn your chicken in it until nice and freakishly purple. Add your water and let bubble away as well. When reduced by about half, add your seasoning and mix well. Turn your chicken in the sauce well to reduce purpleness. Cook until the chicken is soft and moist (and gosh, it really was so soft on the inside).
Now the roast potatoes, I’ve never done before. I was always scared they’d turn out hard. But today, I’ve read up on some recipes suggesting I should par-boil them before the oven, or cook them for 50×2 minutes, and a lot more stuff – until I turned around and ignored most of it, really. A, don’t bother par-boiling before the oven. Why would you? It’s extra effort and extra washing up. Instead, just go straight to the oven. B, they don’t need more than 40-50 minutes in a 180 degree oven, I promise. Here’s how I did it:
Splash a generous amount of olive oil in your roasting tin. Cut your potatoes into relatively big cubes and coat them in the oil well. To my potatoes I added some cumin seeds for a bit of flavour, salt, pepper and cayenne. With all that, the potatoes are ready for cooking at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes. After that, you might want to check on them and toss them around a little, nothing fancy. Taste after 40 minutes – if it’s crunchy on the outside and amazingly soft on the inside, you are done. You can even leave these in the turned off oven until serving, nothing bad is going to happen.
And here they are, the stars of the show:
redwinechicken (2)
I
 even decorated with pink peppercorns. I could literally just munch on them like crisps. Anyway, that’s all I have for today – have a lovely evening!
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hello From Croydon – A New Era – Wiener Schnitzel Steaks

When I say new era, I mainly mean new kitchen. I know I’ve mentioned that I am moving to a new flat – well that move is now complete (even the internet is connected now) and so I am back on the blog, finally.
I’d like to start by introducing my new kitchen. It has got an electric hob which heats up so fast I don’t even have time to blow my nose; the oven finally has proper temperature measures on it (grill included) and we even bought a microwave. It’s red and it looks cooler than it sounds. Anyway, without further explanation, ladies and gentlemen:
kitchen3 kitchen2 kitchen4
It is definitely a one-person kitchen, but my boyfriend doesn’t object to that.
We’ve moved in about a week ago, so until now it has been takeaway pizza and buttered toast. Yesterday though, I finally got around to making something that took more than 10 minutes – and that would be Wiener Schnitzel steaks.
Why I call them steaks? Well, The point of the breaded schnitzel is usually that it is huge, but thin, like it has been bashed with a rolling pin. Traditionally pork, although sometimes chicken, and so very deliciously crispy. Most of those things manifested in my creation too – except my schnitzels were made of pork shoulder steaks, and so by definition, they were as thick as my finger.
wienerschnitzel steak (2)
For a portion that served two and left one slice for today’s lunch, I used:
4 thick pork shoulder steaks
3 eggs
About 10 tbsp flour
A generous amount of breadcrumbs (nothing fancy, I used what I had)
Lots and lots of flavourless oil (vegetable/sunflower etc.)
Frying these babies is actually much easier than I though. I always had this paranoia about breading meat. The breading order goes like this: flour – egg – breadcrumb. This is what kept me up. Doesn’t the egg wash off the flour? How are the crumbs going to stick? To be honest, I learned on the job, so I guess I can proudly say I am no longer scared of breading. (Hey ho!)
Anyway, for those of you who haven’t done it before: you dip your meat into the flour and cover it really well, every inch. Shake off the excess, then dip the meat into the beaten eggs in a separate bowl; cover with the egg all over, because this will be the glue for the breadcrumbs. Finally, roll your meat very well in the crumbs, making sure once again that every inch of it is well coated.
Heat enough oil in a deep frying pan so that it covers the meat at least halfway. Wait until the oil is sizzling (you can test with a crumb), then put your steaks into the oil, laying them away from you. 
Now normally, if these were skinny schnitzels, you’d need about 2 minutes on each side; in this case, I fried them for about 4.5 each, making sure the breading doesn’t burn. All this time made the crust even crunchier though, so it’s win-win. When you feel like you’re done, once again only in this case I do recommend cutting into each slice a little, just to make sure you’re not serving raw pork, because no one will thank you for that.
I served the steaks with a mixture of rice, sweetcorn and peas (a school cantine classic) and they were a hit. Much quicker than they look, these thick pork steaks are delicious and actually quite a fast dinner to make. You can even do all that washing up whilst your meat is frying.

wienerschnitzel steak (1)

Posted in Blog, Main meals | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cherry Clafouti – so very good for when it is 30 degrees outside

Yes, it has been a while, and I am terribly sorry. The good news is though, in about two months, I will be moving my cooking to a brand new kitchen in a brand new flat, so the frequency of posts will be, hopefully, back to normal. Until then, I hope everyone is having a lovely summer, and if not, here’s how to improve it.
clafouti (1)
Clafouti is one of the easiest desserts I have ever made, and you could really put anything inside from chocolate to banana.
For this recipe, which serves about 2-3-4 people, you need only these basic things that you’d have in your cupboard anyway:
125g flour
100g sugar
3 eggs
300ml milk
About 400-500g of whatever filling you choose (in this case, pitted cherries)
First off, add half of the sugar to your cherries and mix them up. Let them soak and put them aside. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Then, break the eggs into a mixing bowl and beat them with a whisk until quite pale and fluffy.

Next, in bits, add the flour and whisk until the lumps are gone – then add the sugar (this can be added in one go) and then the milk. Don’t worry if your mixture seems too liquid, this is actually a good thing.

Grease your baking tin (I used a springform but it could be a simple square baking dish), then lay the bottom with the filling. Finally, pour your mixture over the filling and when you’ve made sure it covers all of it, you are ready to bake.
I baked mine for about 40 minutes and this is how it turned out:

clafouti (2)

I also dusted it with some icing sugar mixed with a little cinnamon, and the result was stunning. It tastes like one thick pancake, really.

Hope you enjoy this super easy recipe – it really is amazing before a lovely Sunday nap.
Posted in Blog, Desserts | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sweetcorn Fritters with Yoghurt Dip

This is probably one of the few vegetarian dishes that I truly adore. These little fritters are packed with sweetcorn to the extent where you can hardly taste the batter – and the thai twist on them, added by the genius of Mr Ramsay, really make them special.
They literally take 20 minutes maximum to make, and they are extremely delicious.
sweetcornfritters (1)
For the amount that you can see on the picture (would serve 2, if I hadn’t been so hungry…), you’ll need:
100g flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
250g sweetcorn, patted dry
2 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
Chilli powder
1 egg, beaten
5 tbsp milk
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper

For the tip:
Yoghurt
Juice of 1/2 lime
Chilli powder
Chopped coriander, if you have any

The method is simple. First, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and baking powder (remember to sieve – avoid lumps!). Like me, you may start to worry, thinking the flour is not enough, but you will see in the end, it is.

Make a well in the middle and add the beaten egg and milk. Whisk together until it forms a smooth batter – you will probably need to add some extra milk. Now add your olive oil and whisk again until well combined.

To this batter, add your sweetcorn, spring onion and chilli powder – you can also add coriander here, along with anything else you would want in your fritter. Mix together and your batter is ready!

Fry your fritters in batches, tapping them down as you place them into the frying pan. Cook until golden brown on both sides – and dinner is ready!

For the dip, just mix everything together until well combined.

Hope you enjoy this delicious dish as much as I do, every time! :)

sweetcorn

Posted in Blog, Main meals, Snacks | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment