Monday, 30 June 2014

Lemony Fried Pork Steaks (檸檬醬煎豬排)

I have to admit, this one didn't go down well at all with the children, which surprised me slightly. They love salmon steamed with lemon, ginger and soy, and are used to eating pork, so what's not to like?

Lemon chicken is one of those "not really Chinese" dishes, in that it appears on Chinese takeaway and restaurant menus, but not so often in Chinese homes. For this reason, it was one of those guilty treats on the very rare occasions that we got "western Chinese food" from the takeaway - along with sesame prawns on toast, crispy (not really) seaweed, salt and chilli ribs and ... well I can't think of anything else. To be honest, I would usually opt more for a steak and kidney pudding or battered cod and chips (with mushy peas and gravy or curry sauce) if I was to get anything from the Chinese takeaway!

To me, this pork version did taste pretty good, and also unusual in our household, because there's a lot more sugar than I usually use in cooking. The loin steaks were sliced as thin as I could and marinated overnight, and were packed with flavour. The peas provided a nice taste and textural contrast to the pork and lemon sauce. The sauce was sweet, without being too sickly. Although it didn't go down well with the children, I'll probably be serving it again in an attempt to turn them.

 


Ingredients

  • Approx. 300g pork loin (I bought a small pork loin joint) or pork escalopes
  • 1 handful of frozen petits pois
  • 2 spring onions, washed, trimmed and finely chopped
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 90ml water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1tsp cornflour, mixed with 20ml water to thicken
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  • A few drops of sesame oil


For the marinade
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • 2cm cube of peeled fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Shaoxing rice wine
  • 1 tsp Lea and Perrins Worcester sauce
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
Serves 2

 

Instructions

  • Rinse the pork chops, dry on kitchen towels and slice as thinly as you can (it helps to put the pork into the freezer for 30 minutes beforehand), or buy ready-sliced escalopes. Place the pork inbetween a couple of sheets of clingfilm and bash with a rolling pin a few times to tenderise the meat
  • Place the chops in a bowl and add all of the marinade ingredients. Stir well to mix, then cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes or overnight
  • Make the sauce. Place the sugar, water and lemon juice in a bowl and stir to mix
  • Heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil in a wok or large frying pan, until the oil is moving around the pan and very hot. Shake any excess marinade from the pork steaks and place in the pan. Let the steaks sit in the pan for 30-40 seconds before moving them, to allow them to brown and colour nicely. Turn once and let them brown on the other side too. When the steaks are cooked through (2-3 minutes), place them onto a warmed plate and set aside in a warm oven
  • Pour any excess oil from the pan, leaving about 1 tbsp remaining. Add the spring onions and fry for 10 seconds, before adding the lemon and sugar mixture. Bring to the boil and add the petits pois. Boil for 30s or until the peas are cooked through. Thicken the sauce by adding the cornflour emulsion, a little at a time, until the desired consistency has been reached.
  • Add the grated lemon zest and sesame oil, stir and remove from the heat. Pour over the pork steaks and serve immediately

Lemony Fried Pork Steaks (檸檬醬煎豬排)


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Moroccan Lamb and Aubergine Stew

I bought some Asian aubergines when I was last at the Chinese supermarket, with a view to making some Fish-Fragrant Pork and Aubergine Pot (魚香茄子煲), but it never really happened. Most of the minced pork went into a Steamed Pork with Salted Eggs (咸蛋蒸猪肉) dish, and then I kind of lost momentum.

I've been trying to make more use of the slow-cooker lately, and this dish worked nicely. I find that sometimes stews come out too watery, but there was no need to thicken or reduce the liquid content this time - perhaps it was the addition of pearl barley. When I switched the slow cooker on, the liquid level only came up to about half-way the height of the ingredients.

The children were suspicious, but when told it was based upon their favourite Moroccan Lamb and Couscous, they gave it a go and cleaned their plates - the middle and the toddler are suckers for chick peas. It was a little more heat than they are used to, so of course they had to cool down with ice cream afterwards!

 

Ingredients

  • 400g diced lamb
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 aubergine, cut into 2cm dice
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (keep some seeds in if you like heat)
  • 150g mushrooms, wiped with a damp cloth and cut in half
  • 150g dried chick peas, soaked in plenty of water overnight (or use a tin of chick peas)
  • 3 tbsp pearl barley, rinsed
  • 1 tin of peeled plum tomatoes
  • Plenty of olive oil
  • 400ml lamb stock
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Spice Mix
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
Serves 6-8

 

Instructions

  • Heat a pan on the hob to a moderate heat and add the cumin and coriander seeds. Stir in the pan for 30 seconds or so, until the seeds begin to brown and the aromas are released, then remove from the heat. When the seeds are cool enough to handle, crush them to powder using a pestle and mortar
  • Add the ground ginger, cinnamon and mixed herbs to the powdered cumin and coriander, and stir to mix
  • Place the onion, aubergine, pepper, lamb, mushrooms, chilli and garlic in a large bowl. Add the spice mix, plenty of olive oil (I would say 4-5 big lugs of it - the aubergines and mushrooms will soak it up) and black pepper. Mix well to combine, cover and leave for at least 30 minutes to infuse the flavours.

Lamb, vegetable and spice mix

(I left this in the fridge overnight, then just put it in the slow cooker with the other ingredients in the morning, and had a tasty tea ready by 4pm)
  • Drain the chick peas, then place in a pan with cold water, bring to the boil and boil for 15 minutes
  • Place the lamb and vegetable mix into the slow cooker, and add the chick peas, rinsed pearl barley, tinned tomatoes and lamb stock. Stir to combine, making sure that the meat is not exposed at the top (it dries out), then replace the lid and cook on low for 8 hours
  • When the stew is ready, add salt and pepper to your taste
  • Serve with couscous or rice

Moroccan Lamb and Aubergine Stew


Moroccan Lamb and Aubergine Stew

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Slow-Cooker Ham and Vegetable Soup

My kitchen is currently in tatters, due to some disastrous building work, and we have been surviving on one hob for the past few months, as our induction hob gave up the ghost. The kind man from Miele came out and charged me about £100 to tell me that it would cost more to fix than to replace.... nevertheless! A new hob is on order and should be with us in a week. Hooray! My dad will be pleased.

This soup takes about 15 minutes' prep, then you put the slow cooker on as you leave in the morning, and it's ready for dinner, save a bit of chopping and blending. The children were adamant that their favourite soup ever was canned tomato soup (I have a soft spot for this too), but they deigned to scrape their bowls clean, which made me happy. It's filling and comforting

 

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, peeled and diced into 5-8mm pieces
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced into 5-8mm pieces
  • 1 stick of celery, diced into 5-8mm pieces
  • 1 floury potato, peeled and diced into 5-8mm pieces
  • 1 slice raw ginger, peeled
  • 3 ripe tomatoes
  • 1 corn on the cob, stringy bits removed
  • The remains of a ham shank, skin/fat removed
  • 2 tbsp each of red lentils, pearl barley and green and yellow split peas (or use a handful of soup mix, such as this one)
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • A generous amount of ground black pepper
Serves 5-6

 

Instructions

  • Peel the tomatoes by scoring a cross into the base of each one, then submerge in freshly boiled water for 10 minutes. Drain the tomatoes and peel the skins off. Chop roughly
  • Rinse the pulses under running water
  • Place the ham shank into the bottom of the slow cooker, and add the onion, carrot, celery, potato, ginger, diced tomatoes, corn on the cob (break into half if necessary) and pulses
  • Add the dried, mixed herbs and ground black pepper and give everything a stir to mix
  • Cover with water and cook on low for 10 hours
  • When the soup is cooked, remove the ham shank, ginger and corn on the cob. Place about 1/4 of the soup mixture into a jug and blend until smooth. Return the blend to the soup
  • Using a sharp knife, scrape the corn kernels from the cob and return to the soup
  • Remove the meat from the ham shank and using a couple of forks, shred the meat thoroughly. Return to the soup
  • Give the soup a good stir and add a little more water, if it is too thick. If it is too thin, remove some of the soup, blend and return, and mix
  • Serve in big bowls with thick slices of toast (even better if you can melt some cheese on top)
Slow-Cooker Ham and Vegetable Soup

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Roasted Asparagus with Tomatoes and Chilli

I love asparagus so much. The season has begun early this year, with asparagus available from the end of April. We get lovely stuff here, from Claremont Farm, Church Farm and Hawarden Estate. Like strawberries, I don't buy when not in British season, as the asparagus starts to lose its flavour very quickly after picking.

There are so many ways to cook asparagus tastily - boiled for 5 minutes in water, stir-fried Chinese-style, baked in a hot oven with lots of butter, salt and pepper. Last night I had asparagus for the second night running, and decided to make use of some sad looking tomatoes which had been languishing in my fruit bowl. They were a little hard and unripe, but they did the job. In an ideal world, I would have used the reddest baby plum tomatoes I could find, but any of the interesting variety of small tomatoes you can find nowadays would be fabulous. We were using up leftovers, so I served with some sausages and mash (the tomatoey oil flavoured the mash nicely) but I'm not averse to eating the whole lot by myself with no other accompaniments!

 

Ingredients

  • 400g asparagus spears
  • Approx. 150g small tomatoes - my choice would be baby plum tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
  • Salt and ground black pepper to season
  • 1/2 red chilli (leave a few seeds in for heat)
  • 1/2 clove garlic, peeled and sliced as finely as you can
  • Copious amounts of strong, punchy olive oil
Serves 2 as a side, or me as a main

 

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees fan
  • Trim the woody ends from the asparagus (you can do this by bending both ends and the stalk will snap where the woody bit ends), and wash well in a few changes of water
  • Drain the asparagus and lay in a roasting tray
  • Wash the tomatoes and cut into halves or quarters, depending on the size. Using your hands, squash the tomatoes a little over the asparagus so that they become mis-shapen and give up some juice, but do not disintegrate. Lay on top of the asparagus
  • Finely slice half a chilli, keeping a few seeds/pith in if you like some heat. Add the chilli and the finely sliced garlic to the tomatoes and mix them in lightly
  • Drizzle the olive oil over the tomato and asparagus generously, and season with salt and ground black pepper


  • Place in the oven for 12 minutes, then remove and serve immediately
Roasted Asparagus with Tomatoes and Chilli
Served with sausages and mash on the side!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

"Moussaka"

Has anyone noticed the recent lowering of veg prices in the supermarkets? I thought Sainsbury's seemed cheaper than usual, with a selection of vegetables for 69p, but then my thrifty mother informed me that I was being ripped off, and that Asda and Aldi were doing the same vegetables for 50p.

I've totally lost control of my fridge and freezer for a few reasons:
  1. My parents came to stay for a week to help when we were short of childcare, and I surrendered my kitchen to them (this is normal, and much appreciated Mum and Dad!). We also got a night out whilst they were here - thanks again!
  2. My in-laws came to stay for a few days the following week, and they eat a different type of meal to my parents. They also very generously offered to babysit, so that we could experience the eating of a meal without having to get up once from start to finish.
  3. We've just had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend in Shrewsbury, where I did no cooking whatsoever
What this does mean though, is that I was frantically stuffing food into the freezer before we left, and putting all remaining vegetables into Lakeland Stayfresh Longer bags, in an attempt to preserve them for this week. Somehow I ended up with 2 aubergines, and decided to try a moussaka.

I've titled this post "Moussaka" because like my family spaghetti "bolognaise", I'm sure it contains ingredients which might be frowned upon by purists. I had about 150g of soaked chickpeas which I pulsed in a food processor and added to the lamb mince, also a couple of bags of mozzarella cheese (2 weeks past sell-by date...). The result was lovely tonight - I hope you enjoy it too.

 

Ingredients

  • 450g lamb mince
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Olive oil for frying and roasting
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp chopped oregano
  • 1 tbsp Lea and Perrins Worcester sauce
  • 150g chickpeas, soaked overnight, then drained and boiled hard for 15 minutes (or use tinned chickpeas)
  • 2 aubergines, rinsed and cut into round slices 5mm thick
  • 1 X 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 250g sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1 handful of grated parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 pint of milk
  • 40g butter
  • 2 dessert spoons of plain flour
  • A pinch of grated nutmeg
  • Salt and pepper to season
Serves 4-6

 

Instructions

  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees fan
  • Soak the aubergine slices in a large bowl of salted water for 30 minutes, to remove the bitter juices
  • Pulse the chickpeas in a food processor, so that they are coarsely chopped
  • Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan to a moderate heat, then add the onions and fry for 3-4 minutes until softened. Add the garlic and fry for a further minute, stirring constantly
  • Turn up the heat and add the lamb mince. Brown the mince completely, then tip the mixture into a colander and drain away the excess oil. Give the pan a rinse and return to the heat
  • Return the lamb mixture to the pan and add the chickpeas, bay leaf, oregano, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree and Lea and Perrins, and add plenty of pepper to season. Stir well to combine
  • Bring the pan to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Check the pan regularly, and add small amounts of water if the mixture appears to be drying out
  • Brush oil over a couple of baking trays and pre-heat in the oven
  • Drain the aubergines, rinse with water and shake well to get rid of excess water
  • Lay the aubergines in a single layer on the baking trays and brush with olive oil. Add ground black pepper

  • Bake the aubergines in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once
  • Make the béchamel sauce. Heat the butter in a heavy-based pan over a moderate heat. When it has melted, add the plain flour and stir-in to make a roux. Cook over a gentle heat for 1 minute
  • Add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Continue adding until the milk has reached a thick but pourable consistency. Add a small amount of salt and pepper, and grate a little nutmeg into the sauce. Mix thoroughly
(I used two baking trays as I was cooking for two separate meals)
  • Place about 1/2 of the mince mixture into a baking dish and add 1/2 the aubergines. Repeat with the mince mixture and add the remaining aubergines on top
 
  • Pour the béchamel sauce over the aubergines and top with sliced mozzarella. Add a handful of grated parmesan cheese, then bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes until the top is browned and bubbling
  • Remove from the heat and serve immediately. I like mine with rice and some green vegetables
 


"Moussaka"