Luxury pork pie with orchard jelly

Pork pie is my father’s desert-island dish, something he’d eat every day given a chance, so for most of my adult life I’ve baked him one every year instead of a birthday cake, which he does his best to keep to himself, fending off the predations of my mother and sister (and me!). This recipe has been slowly developed for him over the years, to the point where I feel confident in saying it really is the ultimate.

Luxury pork pie with orchard jellyUnlike traditional pastry made with lard, this souped-up hot water crust dough uses the fat from the magnificent Iberico pig, which you can get from certain posh food retailers these days. It is super-soft, so really needs the overnight chilling to firm it up, and I prefer to crimp my pastry after chilling, so you get a neater finish. Spend time making sure the seal is right, smearing edges with a damp finger if necessary, as any cracks will let precious juices seep out. The stock recipe makes twice what you need but can’t really be made in a smaller batch, freeze the rest for another pie or use it to make a fabulous pea & ham soup.

Luxury pork pie with orchard jelly
Makes 1 large pie

For the hot water crust pastry:
600g plain flour
1 tsp fine salt
100g Iberico pork fat
100g unsalted butter
3 medium eggs (2 for the dough, 1 to glaze)

For the jellied ‘orchard’ stock:
1 full pork trotter (all the way up to the elbow) or 2 small feet, split (get your butcher to do this)
2 apples, roughly chopped
1 large white onion, roughly chopped
2 sprigs of sage
1 fresh bay leaf
500ml medium dry cider e.g. Aspall’s
500ml fresh chicken stock (homemade or from a tub in the chiller cabinet)*

For the pie filling:
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp white peppercorns
750g skinless pork shoulder, cut into 5mm-1cm dice
250g skinless pork belly, minced
250g smoked streaky bacon, finely diced
16 sage leaves, finely shredded
1 tsp ground mace
½ tsp cayenne pepper

You will also need a 20cm round springform cake tin, base lined with greaseproof paper

Start with the pastry. Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the centre. Put the two fats in a small saucepan with 200ml water and put on a low heat just until the fats melt (do not let it boil or you will drive off too much moisture). Pour the fat and water mix into the well in the flour and stir in, gradually incorporating the flour into the liquids. Lightly beat 2 of the eggs then add to the bowl and mix just until you have a cohesive dough. Don’t mix more than necessary otherwise you’ll activate the gluten which will make the pastry tough. Separate out a quarter of the dough for the lid. Shape both large and small balls of dough into flattish discs, wrap each in clingfilm and chill for an hour until firm enough to roll out.

To make the jellied stock, put everything into a tightly fitting saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest flame possible and simmer very gently for 4 hours. Strain through muslin for a really clear stock and chill until needed.

For the filling, crush the white peppercorns and sea salt in a mortar and pestle to a fine powder. Combine all the filling ingredients with a really generous grinding of black pepper and mix really well with your hands. At this stage it’s a good idea to fry a spoonful of the mixture off in a small pan and taste to check you like the seasoning.

On a floured worktop roll the large ball of pastry out to a large circle big enough to fill the tin on the base and all the way up the sides. Put the rolled out dough in the cake tin and smooth it up the sides, pressing it into shape with your fingers and making sure there are no gaps or thin patches. Fill the pie with the pork filling. Try and keep the filling nice and loose, don’t pack it down or there’ll be no space for jelly. Run a wet finger around the top edge of the pastry. Roll out the top section pastry to a 23cm circle and place on top the pie, pressing gently at the edges to seal. Loosely cover with clingfilm and chill overnight.

The next morning preheat your oven to Gas 4/180°C. Cut a small cross in the middle of the pie lid and fold the edges back to make a steamhole. Crimp the edges of the pie with your fingers, ensuring you have a really good seal. Lightly beat the remaining egg and brush over the top – don’t discard the remaining egg just yet. Put the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 45 mins. Reduce the heat to Gas 3/160°C and cook for a further 1 hour 15 mins. Carefully release and remove the springform tin (use a cloth to protect your hands), brush the sides with egg wash and return to the oven for a final 15 mins. Allow to pie to cool slightly before filling with jelly.

Reheat 250-300ml of the jellied pork stock until piping hot. Place a small funnel or piping nozzle in the steam hole of the pie and gradually add the stock. Do it slowly and carefully, you will need to lift and tilt the pie periodically to evenly distribute the stock. When you absolutely cannot get any more stock into the pie let it cool completely. The pie is best served at room temperature, but if you’re not eating it at once you’ll need to pop it in the fridge once it’s cool.

*I make my own fresh chicken stock cubes by making a batch of stock from a roast chicken carcass and boiling it down until you’ve got a thick sticky reduction, then freeze it in ice cube trays. Two reduced stock cubes like this is enough for the stock here. If you don’t have, or can’t get, fresh stock don’t use regular stock cubes as their distinctive taste will mar the other flavours, plain water is a better bet.

Orange-baked chicken thighs with perfumed rice and nutty broccoli

Not your everyday chicken and rice, once you tasted both cooked in freshly-squeezed orange juice you’ll wonder why you never tried it like that before (at least, that’s what my friends said when I did this dish for them!). When I was growing up mum regularly used to roast me chicken breasts with fresh orange, an idea she got from a recipe in a battered old Marguerite Patten book called ‘Five hundred recipes for chicken dishes’, and this is a great way to jazz up a very simple midweek supper.

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Orange-baked chicken thighs with perfumed rice and nutty broccoli
Serves 2

2 large chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on
40g butter
3 large oranges
½ a chicken stock cube (a good one please – Kallo Organic for preference)
5 cardamom pods
125g basmati rice
1 small head of broccoli
20g flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Pat the chicken dry with kitchen towel and place skin-side up in a small roasting dish.

2. Squeeze the juice from 1 orange and pour over the chicken into the roasting tin. Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper (particularly with pepper) and dot with half the butter. Bake for 30-40mins or until golden brown and cooked through.

3. Meanwhile, juice the remaining oranges and make up to 250ml with water. Bruise the cardamom pods with the flat of a knife. Place the rice in a medium saucepan, add the diluted juice, crumbled stock cube and cardamom pods and cover with a tight fitting lid. Separate the broccoli into florets and set both rice and broccoli to one side.

4. 20 mins before the chicken is done bring the rice to a boil on a medium heat, stir once with a fork, then re-cover and simmer on a low heat for 10-12 minutes until cooked through.

5. Bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook the broccoli for 3-5 mins until tender. Drain the broccoli and return the empty pan to the heat. Add the flaked almonds and cook on a medium heat, shaking regularly, for 1-2 mins until golden. Add the butter, allow to melt, then add the broccoli and mix together.

6. Serve the baked chicken with the cooked rice (don’t eat the cardamom pods), the broccoli, and the juices from the roasting dish spooned all over.

Meat-free Mondays: Beetroot rosti with feta and tahini-lemon dressing

Beetroot doesn’t have to take ages to cook, these rostis are done in mere minutes, and pairing them with the salty feta really shows off their earthy sweetness

sketch1381096584613Beetroot rosti with feta and tahini-lemon dressing
Serves 2

2 medium beetroot
1 medium floury potato
1 small white onion
1½ tbsp plain flour
1 tsp ground cumin
2½ tbsp olive oil
50g tahini
1 small garlic clove
2 small lemons
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
100g feta cheese

1. Peel the beetroot and potato and coarsely grate. Place in a colander in the sink and squeeze out any excess moisture, then transfer to a bowl.

2. Peel, halve, and finely slice the onion, and crumble the feta cheese. Add the sliced onion to the grated beetroot and potato along with the flour, ground cumin, and half the feta. Season with salt and pepper and stir until well mixed.

3. Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Divide the beetroot mixture into four balls. Squeeze each ball tightly in your hands to bind it together and place evenly spaced apart in the frying pan.

4. Use the back of a spatula to flatten the balls gently into rostis approximately 1cm thick. Fry for 3-4 mins on each side, until tender and well browned, turning just once (be gentle, you don’t want them to break up!).

5. Meanwhile, finely grate the zest from the lemons, then juice them (keep zest and juice
separate). Crush the garlic clove and, in a small bowl or jug, whisk together with the tahini, lemon juice, 1½ tbsp olive oil and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

6. Arrange the spinach leaves on plates, and toss with the lemon zest and remaining feta. Transfer the cooked rosti to the plates and drizzle over the tahini dressing.
Continue reading “Meat-free Mondays: Beetroot rosti with feta and tahini-lemon dressing”

Pumpkin Amaretti Ravioli

Pumpkin Amaretti RavioliHallowe’en, All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain….whatever you call it, it spells PUMPKINS, carved ones to be precise (or as the Americans call them – Jack O’Lanterns). There are many subtle variants to the legend of why precisely we carve ghoulish faces into squashes at this time of year (apparently the Irish traditionally use turnips or swedes instead) but ultimately the idea is to scare bad spirits away. Seems sensible enough to me, and I always loved the slightly gory feel of tearing out massive handfuls of fibre and seed from the pumpkin’s interior!

Many many years ago (2005 to be precise), when blogging was still quite niche rather than the first resort of any self-confessed ‘foodie’, Elise over at Simply Recipes ran a competition for the most creative way of using up the off-cuts from the pumpkin carving, and I won! With this picture no less:

Yes, really; hard to imagine that winning now isn’t it? These were the days before every blogger taken seriously had a digital SLR, home studio and props cupboard!

Anyhoo, as you can see from the first photo, I’ve reshot (though it’s still nothing Foodgawker or Tastespotting would consider acceptable), and have tweaked the recipe a bit over the years, omitting the pumpkin seeds (I like to dry-fry them with salt & chilli and serve them as pre-dinner snacks), and replacing the creamy sauce with a simpler sage butter and some fried amaretti breadcrumbs. So here at long last is my reprise of my favourite Hallowe’en recipe, reinvented for 2013….

Read on for the recipe…

Pulled pork and fried mac cheese burgers

The advent of the American street food revolution in the UK has made me very very happy. Not to mention much poorer, several pounds heavier, and in all probability with blood that resembles spicy cottage cheese. Even their salads are bad for you. No seriously, have you ever actually ordered a Cobb salad?

Pulled pork & deep fried mac cheese burger

There are days I think I could – and do – just live on hot wings, waffles and chili. There’s a lot of debate about who does the genre best, but for me it absolutely has to be Pitt Cue Co. From the day they set up their trailer on the Southbank they had me hook, line and sinker, and the pulled pork and deep fried mac cheese burger was the first dish of theirs I ever tasted. Spicy, juicy pork, tangy crunchy slaw, and crisply-crumbed but oozy-centred mac cheese all sandwiched within a sweet bun. Who could ask for more?

This is my version. The ingredients list is long, but really, it’s just some roast meat, a spot of sauce and a slice of pasta bake – really not all that difficult, when you think about it.

Pulled pork and fried mac cheese burgers
Makes 6 hefty burgers

You will need:
6 handfuls slow-roast pork  (I roast a 2kg shoulder at Gas 2 for 5 hrs 45mins, it gives you more than you need but hey, too much pork is never a problem, right?)
6 large brioche or ciabatta rolls
A portion of your favourite slaw recipe – I like to use red cabbage for both colour and its extra crunch

For the fried mac cheese:
225g macaroni
350ml whole milk
½ white onion
4 cloves
2 bay leaves
30g butter
30g flour
115g Swiss or Dutch cheese (something like Gruyère, Emmenthal or Maasdam)
15g Parmesan, finely grated
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
nutmeg, to taste
plain flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs for coating

For the pulled pork sauce:
1 x 6g Ancho Poblano*
15g Pasilla chilli*
15g Cacabel chilli*
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 cloves
1 scotch bonnet
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder
2 tbsp palm sugar
250g red onion
juice of 2 oranges
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp tomato puree
Read on for the recipe…

Cheaty cheapy roasted tomato & pepper soup with basil oil

As much as I love tomato soup I’m often horrified by the cost of making it at home. It’s common for recipes to call for a minimum of 1.5kg tomatoes for a few portions, that’s pretty darn expensive to buy, and even when I have a glut in my garden I’ll be hard pressed to provide that more than once a season.

Tomato Pepper Soup

So to satisfy the penny pincher in me (and to acknowledge that for yet another year in a row there’ll be little to no sunshine and my tomato harvest is likely to be nil) I’ve created a tomato soup that delivers all the flavour for a fraction of the cost, the tomatoes being bulked out a little with peppers and carrots, and a shot of concentrated tomato puree gives an extra boost of tomatoeyness. The basil oil isn’t strictly necessary, but I do think a homemade soup deserves that little extra dressing up, and it means you can make this in the winter (or our ‘summer’ equivalent), with hothouse-grown tomatoes, and still feel like you’re in the Provençal sunshine.

Roasted tomato & pepper soup with basil oil
Serves 4

500g cherry tomatoes
2 red peppers, quartered and deseeded
Half a red chilli (in the piece, not chopped)
3 small carrots, peeled
a small knob of butter
1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced
2 garlic cloves, bruised and peeled
pinch of celery salt
3 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
500ml vegetable stock

For the basil oil
15g basil leaves
olive oil

Toss the tomatoes, peppers and chilli in a tiny drop of oil (just enough to stop them sticking), then roast at 200˚C/Gas 6 for 40-45 minutes. Remove the peppers to a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool before skinning. If you can be bothered, pinch the skins from the tomatoes too, but don’t be too fastidious about it.

Finely grate the carrots (use the finest side on a box grater, or a microplane), then sweat in the butter with the onion, bruised garlic, celery salt and tomato puree until meltingly tender. Add the roasted tomatoes, skinned peppers and the chilli, plus the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil, simmer for just a minute or two, then blitz and season to taste.

For the basil puree, whizz the basil leaves with a pinch of salt and just enough olive oil to form a smooth paste (using a stick blender or mini processor). Serve the soup drizzled with the oil.

Gram flour waffles with Cola-braised beef (or chili con carne)

Gram flour waffles with Cola-braised beef (or chili con carne)2012 really was the year of the savoury waffle. Waffles came as sides to deep fried chicken (e.g. Rita’s, not to mention Glady’s Knight’s feature on Man V Food), smothered in shaved or pan-fried foie gras (fain daining restaurants across the land), and as a base for every slow-braised ‘deep South’ meat dish from pulled pork to chili. Twenty-twelve was also the year I finally got a kitchen where all my many gadgets can come out to play, having finally got enough storage space to have them within reach of a kitchen counter.

(BTW…Yes I know we’re halfway through 2013 already. It’s taken me a while to get round to posting this, okay? Waffles still rock.)

One of my most-loved but underused items rescued from long-term storage is a German waffle maker, brought back from Frankfurt for me by my sister’s friend’s parents when I was about 12 years old. I’d only ever made sweet waffles in it, but encouraged by the mood du jour I decided it was time for a savoury test, one to accompany a batch of cola-braised beef, but you could of course use your favourite recipe for chili con carne, or try mine.

Gram (chickpea) flour waffles

150g Gram (chickpea) flour
100g plain flour
generous pinch English mustard powder
1 tbsp baking powder
1½ tsp salt
3 medium eggs, beaten
425ml whole milk
115g unsalted butter, melted & allowed to cool slightly

Sieve the gram flour, plain flour, mustard powder, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the middle. Combine the eggs, milk and cooled butter in a jug, then pour gradually into the flour, whisking all the time to gradually combine dry ingredients with liquid. Preheat your waffle iron to medium. Cook a ladleful at a time, until golden (how long will depend very much on your own waffle iron). Keep the waffles warm in a low oven, covered with foil, while you make the rest.

To serve:

  • 4 portions Cola-braised beef*, chili con carne or some saucy pulled pork
  • Apple coleslaw (just replace half the cabbage in your favourite recipe with grated green apple with a squeeze of lemon juice)
  • Grated cheese

Deliciouso, I hope you’ll agree!
See the full post for my cola beef recipe…

Black pepper prawns (Firecracker prawns)

You can always tell if you’re truly comfortable with someone when you’re willing to get down and dirty with a plate of sticky finger food in their company – whether it’s wings, ribs or a mound of shellfish, nothing says “he/she’s a good’un” like a willingness to get stuck in, get sauce smeared everywhere and do lots of finger-licking! In this dish that’s all pretty much compulsory, no cutlery is needed or wanted here.

Black pepper prawns

Despite the quantity of hot ingredients – 3 types of pepper, lots of ginger, chilli – this isn’t an insanely hot dish (though it does have a kick!). The Szechuan pepper not only makes your lips tingle, but it had a slight numbing effect too, leaving you hungry for more. It may seem odd to use butter in a clearly Oriental dish, but it creates a gorgeously unctuous sauce and – fusion-sceptics note – really is the best.

Firecracker pepper prawns
Serves 2

300g raw shell-on jumbo king prawns, trimmed of legs & straggly bits
1 tbsp black peppercorns
1 tsp white peppercorns
1 tsp Szechuan peppercorns
100g butter
15-20g fresh ginger, finely diced
1 red chilli, finely diced (as hot as you like)
3 fat garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 spring onions, chopped
a squeeze of lemon juice

In a large wok toast the peppercorns for a minute or two until very aromatic, then tip into a pestle & mortar and crush roughly. Don’t over pound them, you want bits of peppercorn, not dust.

Melt the butter in the wok then fry the ginger, chilli and garlic for a couple of minutes until tender but not browned. Throw in the crushed pepper, the prawns, oyster sauce, soy sauce and most of the spring onions. Simmer, stirring constantly, until the prawns are cooked through (they should be completely opaque, with no trace of grey on their shells), finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, and the reserved spring onions and serve immediately.

To eat, suck the sauce off the prawn shells one at a time, peel off the shell and dunk the prawn back in the sauce. Suck the heads if you’re feeling brave (it’s where a lot of the prawn’s best juice is!). Crusty bread for mopping up the spare sauce is hardly authentically Oriental but works wonderfully, alternatively give each person a little bowl of steamed basmati or jasmine rice.

Continue reading “Black pepper prawns (Firecracker prawns)”

Chicken Cordon Kiev

Chicken Cordon Kiev

Many years ago when I worked as a development chef for the supermarkets, every season some smart-alec sales guy would say “let’s redo the chicken Kiev. Let’s make the best, tastiest, most indulgent chicken Kiev anyone’s ever had – it’ll fly off the shelves!” and no matter how much we grumbled & begged, one of us chefs would be sent into the kitchen to come up with the ‘new Kiev’. Bechamel, bacon, butter, cream, the finest farmhouse Cheddar – we played with variations on them all, in the attempt to make this classic-turned-trash into something smart & fancy the average posher-than-Tesco-but-not-Selfridges-food-hall customer would be thrilled to pop into their overpriced basket. But every time, sure as eggs are eggs, we’d finally get a product the buyers were happy with & then they’d say “Now, about the nutritionals on this…” and that’s where the whole concept would crumble, as we’d always known it would.

Y’see – you can’t make a Chicken Kiev without butter. Or salt. In generous quantities. And a luxury one? Well then you’ll be wanting cream too, and good cheese (whose sodium quotient is almost as alarming as the fat content) and don’t even get me started on the nutritional values on bacon. And so we’d be sent back to make a Kiev that didn’t have a big fat red warning light on all its RDAs, and it’d be, well, okay, but really, it was nothing special anymore. And so the idea would get shelved for another 4 months until someone new joined the sales team….

Keep on reading, yumminess to follow…

Chive flower tortelloni

Chive flower tortelloniChives grow abundantly in our garden and although the plants, at 3 years old, are a bit tougher and woodier than I’d like they still put forth a beautiful crown of purple flowers at this time of year, which is as attractive to me as it is to the bumble bees that frequent our herb bed in droves.  The flowers are even more delicious than the green chive itself, with a delicate perfumed garlicky-ness I find quite addictive.  If you don’t grow your own and can’t get hold of the flowers by any other means you could of course substitute fresh chopped green chives in this, just use a bit less to avoid them overpowering the other flavours. Half the flavour of the potatoes is in their skins so I leave them on as you want to get maximum flavour from the simple constituents of the filling here, and I like to use Burford Brown eggs for my pasta, as the orange yolks give a great rich colour.

Chive flower tortelloni with new potatoes and raclette cheese
Serves 8-10

500g ’00’ pasta flour, plus extra for dusting
4 medium eggs + 6 egg yolks
For the filling:
1kg new potatoes, scrubbed but not peeled
100g butter
300g raclette cheese (or any other good melty cheese)
5 tbsp chive flowers (approx 10 heads)
You will also need a pasta machine

Put the flour and eggs in a food processor and pulse until it forms a dough (or mix by hand on a clean worktop, breaking the eggs into a well in the centre of the flour and working in gradually). Knead the dough on a clean worktop for a few minutes until you have a smooth, pliable dough, then divide into eight portions, wrap well in clingfilm and leave to rest for an hour.

Read on for the rest of the recipe…