Wednesday, 5 December 2012

The Meat Crusade

This was sent to us and we thought it was a cause worth supporting

Butchers, Hutchinsons of Ripley, near Harrogate, has decorated a Christmas tree with meat trimmings..picture mike cowling nov 28 2012
Manager and Butcher at Hitchinson's of Ripley, Nick Allen

As the season of feasts approaches, The Meat Crusade is asking shoppers to support their butchers for life and not just for Christmas. Going to the butcher is a part of preparing for Christmas that we all enjoy.

There’s something satisfying about buying a turkey, ham or rib roast that feels special and gives you confidence that your family is getting something of exceptional quality for their Christmas dinner.

John Penny & SonsJohn Penny, Yorkshire Farmer and Meat Wholesaler, explains, “We all flock to the butcher at Christmas because we want the best we can buy for our family. We forget we can buy the best from the local butcher all year round. Visiting a good butcher shouldn’t be a once a year occasion, it should be a once a week routine.”

“Butchers need your support now more than ever. If the decline continues, the High Street butcher will go the way of the fishmonger—only a handful of shops will remain and the art of butchery will be lost for generations.”

“That’s why The Meat Crusade wants shoppers to know that if we fail to support our butchers throughout the year, you might find that many won’t be able to open their doors next Christmas.”     As the season of feasts approaches, The Meat Crusade is asking shoppers to support their butchers for life and not just for Christmas.

The domination of the large faceless retail chains has already contributed to the considerable decline in butchers – there were approximately 22,000 high street butchers in the mid1980s. This fell to just 6,553 in 2010, according to Ed Bedington, Editor of the Meat Trades Journal.

John adds; “Consumers have the power to change demand for products but if we don’t step up to do the right thing, very shortly our purchasing choices could contribute to the disappearance of our high street butchers altogether.”

Peter Buck of Hutchinson’s of Ripley, butcher for 55 years, says, “There’s no reason why customers shouldn’t be supporting butchers and purchasing quality meat from us all year round. There’s a perception that shopping at the supermarket is cheaper, but actually in many cases, butcher’s meat is better value as well as considerably better quality.

“We are encouraging shoppers to make a change – it is in their hands to ensure the high street butcher is here for future generations to enjoy. Don’t abandon the butcher; make it your New Year’s resolution to support them.”

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Hanoi Bike Shop

For a long time we knew we would head up to Skye for our honeymoon, however 'Manchester to Skye' is quite a journey to do in one leg so we got to thinking about a place to stop along the way.  The most obvious choice to people I spoke to was Edinburgh, however that would mean drifting to the east when really we wanted to minimise the number of miles and stay west.  So we thought, why not Glasgow?

We do enjoy visiting cities and it gives us a chance to go for a walkabout with not too much planned and just see where the night takes us.

As it was a Monday night though, we didn't want to be stuck as many restaurants it seems like to close on a Monday.  So we pre-booked a table at a restaurant in the West End.  The place looked great on the website but when we got to Glasgow we bought ourselves a travel card for the metro and went to find it.  For us, it was just a little too far away from the hustle and bustle and with the great number of alternatives on offer nearer the station, we decided to cancel our booking.


While wondering back and popping into one of many charity shops along the route we happened across a wonderful discovery.  The Hanoi Bike Shop sits down a little street just opposite Hillhead Station on the Metro.  It describes itself as a Vietnamese Canteen and sells street food(esque) dishes alongside some standard Vietnamese dishes.  Having spent a fantastic holiday in Hanoi a few years ago we were very excited about this find.  We peaked inside and it looked homely enough - obviously trying to re-create the street food feel but under cover, it is a canteen after all so I understand what they were trying to achieve. The only thought for us was whether it was quality enough to be our 1st honeymoon meal.

After much discussion, wandering past the menu in the window, more discussion.... looking at other places, wandering back again, we decided that as we were going to spend 3 nights in a very high-end dining establishment that is The Three Chimneys then a more modest start to the holiday would be fine.  And besides which, we didn't want to eat somewhere that we would immediately compare to the Three Chimneys - as that isn't fair on any restaurant.

After returning to the hotel to freshen up, we returned to rather fuller restaurant to that which we had looked at before.  This was a very good sign for a Monday night.  We asked for a table for 2 and were seated at a table near the counter complete with a selection of condiments such as fish sauce and chilli sauce destined for the Pho should we have ordered it.


We were told that the dishes listed as starters were suitable for sharing as part of a mini banquet which is how we wanted to eat.  The dishes we ordered were great - although I fear we may have ordered more than we really needed but its best not to go wanting I suppose:


From the top our dishes were; Bun Cha; Mustard Greens; Rare Beef and Kohlrabi salad; Coconut, Lemongrass and Lime leaf curry with Bike Shop Tofu, Aubergine and Potato; Pho Bo; Prawn Crackers and Peanut and Chilli dip; Orange Pannacotta-style dessert with Spiced Oranges; Vietnamese Drip Coffee.

We really enjoyed the experience and think that if you go you should do so with an open mind.  There have been a lot of reviews that seem over critical on its authenticity.  For us, we can understand what the proprietors are trying to achieve and think they have done well in introducing some fabulous food to a market that may not have experienced it before.  The dishes are a little too refined to be street food and the drip coffee not quite strong enough compared with the drip coffee I once had sat on a little plastic chair down a back street in Hanoi!

Never the less, go there for the fun of it, the quality of food on offer and also the Hanoi Beer which is also delicious.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Therssy's Village Black Pepper Mix

Following a long period away from the website - we now have a one year old daughter and 2 weeks ago got married!  I think that can constitute as a busy time of our lives.  We are now getting into a routine which sees both of us working full-time and Olivia in full-time nursery.  

This might provide an opportunity to kick-start the blog which is what I intend to do.

As I just said, we recently got married and as Olivia is so young we chose not to take a long honeymoon.  Instead we called on the services of nanna, grandpa and grandma, packed a couple of bags and headed North.  We had a fantastic night in Glasgow visiting the fascinating Hanoi Bike Shop.  Then we went even further North, onto the Isle of Skye, up to the North West of the Island for the main part of our holiday which was a 3 day break at the amazing Three Chimneys.  These wonderful places will each feature in their own post shortly.

First I wanted to share a little discovery with you.  Fran had mentioned to me that if we ever visited Skye, we must go to Portree and find a place called Skye Batiks.  The website will tell you more but it wasn't the tie-dyed clothing Fran was interested in it was the Sri Lankan curry mixes they sell.  Apparently they used to have a shop in York which is from where Fran hails and she had memories of a black pepper mix that she insisted I tried. Well we found the shop, bought a few items such as a hand crafted puffin for Olivia, but most importantly we found the curry mixes.

A couple of nights ago I tried using the Black Pepper Mix and I have to say it was fantastic.  There is a recipe on the back of the packet which I followed very loosely.  It suggests Chicken or Beef so I chose Turkey Thigh (frugality bites after paying for a wedding).  Because of this I cooked the meat in stock to tenderise it before adding the coconut milk.  Also, some of the other ingredients were changed slightly according to what was in the house, note the garlic! Here is exactly what I did:


Therssy's Village Black Pepper Mix
500g Turkey Thigh - diced
2 Tomatoes - coarsely chopped
2 Medium Onions
1 Green Pepper
1 large clove Elephant Garlic
200 ml Coconut Milk
1 tsp Crushed Garlic
1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
250 ml Chicken Stock
Vegetable Oil
Salt (to taste)

DSC06537Add the curry mix to the meat, tomatoes, salt, vinegar and ginger and mix thoroughly.


Gently fry the onions, garlic and peppers until lightly browned.


Add the meat mixture and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes.  Add the stock and simmer for 20 minutes.


Add the coconut milk and simmer for a further 20 minutes.  Serve with rice.

This curry mix was fantastic, not too spicy but with a warm pepper kick to it and a lovely sweet blend of cinnamon and cloves.  I'm not very au fait with Sri Lankan food but this had an almost Moroccan feel about it - probably the use of the cinnamon that I found to be very moreish and I can't wait to try the other mixes we bought.  I can see we will be ordering more from the website when we have finished these (which won't take long).

Monday, 23 July 2012

Onion Bhaji

I found this recipe on the Internet and think there are a few similar examples but loved it and thought I would share it with you.  I tinkered a little bit with ingredient quantities and as I have tried it a few times now, I am fairly happy with the final version.

These bhajis are supposedly healthier as they are oven baked.  I suppose they are a bit healthier than deep fried bhajis but there is still quite a bit of oil used which is important for the authentic taste.  Anyway, I didn't cook them in an attempt to be healthy but rather a way of making our home cooked curries a little more interesting.  It certainly worked as they are delicious.

To make 4 bhajis:


3 medium onions (half chopped against the grain and half the other way)
1.5 tablespoons of Gram Flour
1 tablespoon tomato puree
Ground Cumin
Ground Coriander
Chilli Powder
Ground Ginger
Ground Turmeric
Olive oil
Butter (to grease the dish)

What to do:

First you need to make the onion mixture.

Gently fry the onions in a little olive oil for 10 minutes.  Add half tsp of cumin, coriander, chilli and ginger.  Add 1 tsp of turmeric.  Continue to cook for a further 2 minutes and remove from the heat.

Next, mix the gram flour with half a tsp of cumin and half a tsp of coriander, salt and pepper.

Then, add the onion mixture to the flour, mix in the tomato puree and enough water to make the mixture wet but not sloppy so it can be shaped into a bhaji (2 or 3 tbl spoons). 

Divide the mixture into 4 and place onto a buttered oven dish with a spoon.  Flatten with the back of the spoon to make about 1 inch thick.

Bake for 25 minutes in a preheated oven (160 degrees c), brush with a little olive oil and return to the oven for a further 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Trust me - you will never buy bhajis again.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


Its been a while, we know, but little people tend to take over lives, and what cooking we do is often something tried and tested, or a vegetable puree for little mouths, or just heating something up which we've batch-cooked previously. So in reality we have been cooking, but not so much that is interesting to write about!

However the other day, after wanting something quick and easy to snack on, I came over all Mary Berry. I felt the need to fill up the cake tins with lots of tasty home baked treats.
I went off to the library in search of some baking books. I came across The Great British Book of Baking which had so many recipes I wanted to try, I had to take it out.

The first recipe I tried was "Jumbles".
The book gives a little write up about where the recipe came from and about how the "flavourings" can be adapted to suit whatever you have in the cupboard. I chose white chocolate chunks and chopped hazelnuts.

The picture above is actually of my second attempt at these biscuits, as yes, they are supposed to be biscuits.  The recipe says to place a spoonful of the mixture onto a baking tray to cook, but either the use of a fan oven for baking is beyond me, or it is the gluten-free flour not acting as normal, or maybe even both, but they all joined together and ended up as a massive burnt offering which took a lot of perseverance with a spatula/chisel to get off the tray.
The more successful batch (pictured) was produced by adding that spoonful to the bottom of a silicone muffin tray. They did end up more cakey, than biscuity, but this is not a complaint, as they were lovely and even though only temporarily, they did provide a filling for the cake tin.

Recipe (taken from The Great British Book of Baking)

125g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
50g light muscavado sugar
1 medium free range egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
175g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
flavourings: up to 100g

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5
Gently melt the butter in a pan large enough to take all the ingredients. Remove from the heat and stir in both the sugars. Using a fork, beat the egg with the vanilla in a small bowl until thoroughly combined, then stir into the butter and sugar. Sift the flour and baking powder into the pan and stir in. When thoroughly combined add your chosen flavourings.

Using a tablespoon, scoop the mixture on to greased baking trays, setting the biscuits well apart to allow for spreading. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the jumbles are a light golden brown colour and just firm.

Remove the trays from the oven and leave to cool for 3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Dorowat (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

Dorowat (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)
Although it has been a while since we last posted, I can assure you we have been cooking.  The pressure of having a very young child to take care of is taking it's toll and the blog is the one that has suffered.  Mainly we have been cooking tried and tested recipes but every now and again we have searched for something a little different.

We have used the slow-cooker quite a lot recently too as it is good to prepare food during Olivia's morning snooze, hit the button and have tea ready 8 hours later.  This recipe is an absolutely fantastic example that we found in Making the Most of Your Slow Cooker

We changed things only very slightly so this is basically the recipe as stated in the book:

Vegetable Oil
3 Medium Onions (chopped)
3 Garlic Cloves (chopped)
1 tsp Minced Ginger
200 ml Vegetable Stock
250 ml Passata
3 Hard Boiled Eggs
6 Skinless Boneless Chicken Thighs
Salt and Pepper

Spice Mix (crushed and mixed)

5 Cardamon Pods
5 Cloves
1/2 tsp Ground Turmeric
1/4 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper


Pre-heat the slow cooker
Cook the onions over a medium heat for about 10 minutes
Add the garlic and ginger and cook for a further 2 minutes
Add the stock and passata and cook for a further 10 minutes till thickened a little
Add the spice mix and stir through and season
Transfer the sauce to the slow cooker and add the chicken thighs whole and push them down to just be submerged.
Cook on medium for 5 hours
Add the boiled eggs and cook for a further hour

We had this served with rice and flat breads and thought it was fantastic.  It had a lovely dark colour and a sweet and spicy flavour with just enough heat.  The boiled eggs was a new one on us but it seemed to work well.  In fact we enjoyed this dish so much we might do a little research into Ethiopean cuisine and see what delights we can discover.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Kashmiri Butter Fish

Kashmiri Butter Fish
This was a fantastic dish I created after making a Kashmiri Butter Chicken in the slow cooker.  The original recipe comes from Ultimate Slow Cooker.  From this I used the idea of creating the sauce seperate from the meat and pureeing the onions in order to get the right consistency.  This is not a new idea for us as it is the way we make curry sauce "curry secret" style.

When preparing the sauce for the chicken I thought it would work perfectly for cooking fish.  This is because I could spend the time getting the sauce just right and then add the fish just for 10 minutes till cooked.  I also decided to add a little chilli powder to the spice mix as it seemed to be lacking a little in heat.

So that is what I did.  This recipe can be easily adapted by making the sauce and pouring over whole fillets and baking in the oven in order to keep the fish whole.  On this occasion I cut up a couple of fillets of Coley into chunks and cooked them for 10 minutes at the end which worked perfecly well too.

Here is how I did it:


white Fish (such as Coley)
30g butter
3tbsp double cream
2 medium onions
3 cloves of garlic
chunk of fresh ginger (2 inch)
2tbsp tomato puree/paste
half pint chicken stock
1tbsp demerera sugar
salt and pepper

Spice Mix:

1tsp paprika
1tsp turmeric
1tsp fennel seeds
1tsp whole cumin
1/2 tsp chilli powder
5 cardamon pods
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Blitz the onion, garlic and ginger in a food processor.
Heat the butter in a large pan or wok and add the onion puree.
Cook on a medium heat till just beginning to colour (about 15 mins)

Crush and mix all the spices together in a pestle and mortar and add to the onions.  Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add the sugar, tomato puree and chicken stock, season and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Add the chopped fish and cook for a further 10 minutes.  Take off the heat and add the cream and serve.

Monday, 19 March 2012

St Petersburg, Manchester

Not knowing much about Russian cuisine, I was rather excited and intrigued when a friend invited me out for a meal at St Petersburg restaurant in Manchester. She had bought a Groupon which was needing to be spent, so it was a week night that we went.
The limits of the voucher meant that we could only choose from the Duke Stroganoff Menu between certain (early) times, but a quick look on the website showed us that this didn't appear to be very restrictive at all!
The menu had lots of exciting things to choose from, and the decision, for me anyway, could have been a lot harder if I was eating wheat. There were a few pancake options called Blini, which sounded great, but alas not for me. Maybe I'll do some research into the various recipes and try and re-create them at home.
I chose the Sveklas So Slivamy to start, which, according to the menu was a Russian mixed vegetable salad. and my friend chose the Schee - a sour cabbage soup.

The salad was fresh and creamy and seemed to consist mainly of beetroot and walnuts, and was rather like coleslaw. The portion was rather substantial, but this isn't a complaint, as it was lovely. Again, the soup was rather large, but very tasty. The only thing that was slightly disappointing was the accompaniment of those shop-bought bread rolls.

For the main course I chose the Miasnie Kotelty which were apparently "Russian Style juicy beef mincemeat rissoles (I'm never sure what a rissole actually is) served with a spicy sauce or sauce of your choice". I didn't get a choice of sauce, but spicy is always fine with me.
My friend chose the Pelmeni Sibirskie - beef and pork pelmeni (Russian style ravioli), served with fresh herbs and butter and a sauce of your choice. Again, not sure if there was a choice of sauce, but it came with a sour cream dip and some hot chilli sauce.

The beef rissoles were very juicy, and were covered in a rich creamy sauce. I loved the fact that the chips were homemade (are things homemade when made in a restaurant? - but you know what I mean) and the chilli sauce added a bit of heat. The salad garnish was fresh, but a little basic. I believe that the ravioli wasn't what was expected, but tasty and filling.

We opted for ice cream and the gateau of the day (chocolate) to finish off.

By this time, it was late in the evening, and the restaurant was now full. So obviously the restaurant is popular outside of the vouchers! We thought that the food was very good, and the choice of wine was good too, but we're not sure that we would pay full price. I suppose that's the danger with Groupon etc. They do get you into the restaurants to try to food and sample the atmosphere, but somehow you do think twice about going back without the discounts. Or is that just me being tight?! Actually, yes it is - the prices are not that expensive!
We found the service very good too, and although there are a few things that seem to be lost in translation on the menu, and many words which require concentration to pronounce, this all added to the fun. I think we will go back, just maybe when there's another offer....

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Vegetable and Blue Cheese Crumble

A couple of years ago, while I was eating wheat and all things bread, I ate what was a lovely meal in a pub in Tintagel, Cornwall. The trip was full of lovely culinary experiences. A traditional cream tea, a fantastic Nepalese curry, and of course the fabulous traditional Cornish pasty. Most of which are a little more difficult for me to eat now....
We were camping in Tintagel, and many evenings were spent eating out. Mostly at the pub in the village, where we almost worked our way through the menu. The dish that stuck in my mind was the veggie dish of Vegetable and Stilton Crumble.

We've recently been given a bag of dried gluten-free breadcrumbs, and since I am once again allowed to eat blue cheeses, I thought I'd have a go at re-creating this dish.
The amounts can be varied depending on your preferences or what you have in your fridge. Also, the amount of blue cheese can be varied depending on how cheesy you like things.
We served it with chips and peas, in true pub food style. Yum!

1 large leek, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
Half a broccoli, broken into florets
Half a cauliflower, broken into florets
200g blue cheese, crumbled
Half pint milk
Tablespoon flour
25g butter
Handful of breadcrumbs
25g grated Parmesan

1. Gently fry the onion and leek until soft.
2. Boil the broccoli, cauliflower and carrots until tender.
3. Mix all the vegetables together in a large bowl or pan.
4. Make a white sauce by first melting the butter in a pan. Stir in the flour, and then add the milk bit by bit, stirring continuously. When the sauce has thickened, stir in the blue cheese until melted, and season to taste.
5. Stir the cheese sauce through all the veg and spread in am ovenproof dish.
6. Mix the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan and sprinkle evenly over the veg.
7. Bake at 180C for about 20 mins or until the topping is golden.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Creamy Tomato and Chicken Stew

Another recent "freezer food" dish we have made a couple of times since the new addition to our family is the Creamy Tomato and Chicken Stew from the fantastic Soups Stews and Mash book.
Grandma actually introduced us to this dish when she brought round a meal for us in the first week that Olivia was home. She had modified the recipe slightly with the addition of potatoes and peas so that we wouldn't have to cook accompaniments. We have since made this recipe a couple of times, and it does freeze well and is delicious.

A quick word about the book: It was Grandma who introduced us to this book a while ago and we've since blogged the Beef and Peppercorn Stew. This book is fantastic. It has the look of an old-fashioned book, but it was actually published in 2000. It also seems that it is no longer available (on amazon anyway), but we managed to get hold of a second hand copy via ebay. Some of the recipes are quite adventurous, using different ingredients, and combinations that are not automatically thought of. The mash section is particularly inspiring. Instead of either plain mash, or sweet potato mash, there are recipes for pumpkin and white bean puree, swede and orange mash to name a couple. There is also a section of different breads to compliment the soup section.

Anyway, on to the recipe - taken straight from the book.

4 rashers bacon
2 tbsp oil
50g butter
300g small button mushrooms, halved
1.5kg chicken pieces
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
400g can tomatoes
1 cup/250ml chicken stock
1 cup/250ml cream
2 tbsp chopped parsley
2 tbsp lemon thyme leaves

1. Chop the bacon into large pieces. Place a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Brown the bacon, then remove and set aside on paper towels.
2. Heat half the oil and a third of the butter in the pan until foaming, then stir in the mushrooms and cook until softened and golden brown. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon.
3. Add the remaining oil to the pan with a little more butter. When the oil is hot, brown the chicken pieces in batches over a high heat until the skin is golden all over and a little crisp. Remove from the pan.
4. Heat the remaining butter in the pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium-high heat for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Pour in the tomatoes, stock and cream. Return the bacon, mushrooms and chicken pieces to the pan and simmer over medium-low heat for 25 minutes. Stir in the herbs, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving.

We generally use boneless and skinless chicken thighs rather than chicken pieces, and use either a mixture of herbs (dried or fresh) or normal thyme from the garden. The potatoes and peas (or any other beg you like really) can be added along with returning the mushrooms, chicken and bacon to the pan.
We do this that the way the recipe instructions read is a little faffy. Why does everything need to be cooked separately and removed from the pan. For time purposes it is much easier to cook the chicken separately, then cook the veg and bacon together, it might take a little longer but allows us to nip out of the kitchen. Not actually sure if the way the method suggests adds anything to the flavour, but it could well do?
And we've eaten this just by itself with a spoon to slurp us the delicious sauce, or it could be served with an exciting mash, or crusty bread.
This recipe was even appreciated by Nana, who is well-known within the family for not liking things with too much spice, herb, garlic, onion, pepper, or translated as "flavour"!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Lamb and Mint Casserole

This Lamb and Mint Casserole is another one pot meal of recent times. Again made in bulk with some left over to freeze for another time.
It is based on a pub meal I had some time ago, and the flavours stuck with me.
The dish is relatively inexpensive, if you can fnd lamb at a reasonable price. We actually asked the butcher for "enough for 4 people" which was about 500g, and he cubed up some lamb leg for us, but since this is slow-cooked a cheaper cut could be used.
The quantities can be adjusted to suit your liking. I personally like it a little more minty, but for the general population, I'd stick to just a couple of spoonfuls of mint sauce. Plus this time, we'd only got a glass of red wine to go in, so I upped the amount of stock to a pint, and used 2 stock cubes (and no extra seasoning).
This could probably be done in the slow cooker, with an adjustment to the liquid, but working out the quantities would require a little more brain power than we have at the moment!
I hadn't made this casserole for a while, but will do it more often now, since it was met with the exclamation "This is well nice!"

500g diced lamb
1 small bottle red wine
3/4 pint lam stock
250g mushrooms, halved or quartered depending on size
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 desert spoons mint sauce
olive oil

1. Fry the onion and mushrooms with a little olive oil in a large oven proof pan/casserole until softened.
2. Coat the lamb in flour and add this to the pan. Fry for a little while to colour.
3. Add the wine, stock and mint sauce to the pan and stir well.
4. Cover, and cook at about 160C for 2 - 2.5 hours, stirring every so often. I uncovered the casserole for the last half hour to thicken the sauce. Serve with mash or crusty bread and veg. (or like us, mashed veg - yum!)

Friday, 6 January 2012

New Year, New Family

Happy New Year - a little late!

We've had an exciting and busy 2011, a house move, threat of redundancy, and most importantly the arrival of Olivia Rachel.

We've also eaten some notable dishes, from our first try of haggis on a camping holiday to Scotland to our discovery of the lemon chilli chicken served at the excellent Mozaic Cafe, and a fantastic meal at the Lamb Inn, as well as a couple of outings to one of our favourite restaurants: Kantipur.We've also cooked some favourites this year including Carbonara (which I can now have again since having to give up undercooked eggs!), various curries from the excellent Curry Secret book and revived the old recipes of our grandmothers of raspberry buns and cornflake cakes. We've even experimented with homemade preserves as gifts this Christmas - more about those to come.

Our predictions for 2012, food-wise, are less of the "Eat Out" and more of the "Eat In" and more one-pot dishes that can be frozen, or re-heated easily. And much greater use of the slow cooker. Also at some point over the next year our kitchen will no doubt be full of various purees all ready for a little mouth!

Our New Years Eve was a quiet one. We all stayed up to see the new year in, but I guess Olivia thought it was just a normal day/night! We ate a rather lovely baked Camembert with garlic, thyme and white wine (baked in our new cheese baker which was a Christmas present), along with a rather special bottle of Camel Valley sparkling pinot noir which we had been saving for a special occasion. What better way to see out what was perhaps the most memorable and special years of our lives.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Pork with Paprika and Olives

For those of you who know us, you'll know that we received a special delivery on 26th of November 2011. The arrival of Olivia Rachel is the main reason why we haven't been posting for a while.
We've changed the way we're eating over the past month, depending a lot on one pot meals that can be prepared quickly, slow cooker meals or casseroles or things that will freeze well. The next few posts will be of the meals we've cooked that seem to freeze well, and are easy to prepare, the first of which is Pork with Paprika and Olives.

We spotted this recipe in the January edition of Good Food magazine and was an advertisement feature for Magners.

Recipe (taken straight from Good Food magazine) (as is the picture, due to my camera being police evidence following a break in, but that's another story)
Serves 4

500g/1lb 2oz diced pork leg or shoulder
1 red onion cut into thin wedges
2 garlic cloves, crushed
100g/4oz chorizo, cut into chunks
1 tsp smoked paprika
400g can chopped tomatoes
300ml/half pint chicken stock
400g can chickpeas
100g/4oz green olives, drained and rinsed
zest and juice of 1 lemon
small bunch parsley, chopped
crusty bread to serve

1. Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Season pork. heat a little olive oil in a large flameproof dish. add the pork and brown all over. Remove from dish and set aside. dd the onion and garlic to the dish, and cook until softened. Add the chorizo and paprika, and cook for 2 mins, then add the tomatoes and stock, along with the pork.
2. Cover with a lid, put in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Add the chickpeas and olives, and cook for 1 hour more. Stir in the lemon and parsley, and serve with crusty bread.

This dish is one of our current favourites. The flavour is rich with the tomatoes and chorizo, yet fresh and zingy with the addition of the olives and lemon. Plus being pork, it offers excellent value for money, especially when supermarkets have different offers on meat over the holidays! We serve it with a little rice, and sometimes a bit of green veg. We have found that is does freeze well, but don't really know how long it will keep in the freezer, as once we know it is in there, it doesn't stay there for long!