Pork with prunes in wine.

This was amazing; the first time I cooked it, I was still telling people about it for days afterwards. I got the recipe from Frances Bissell’s book, the Organic Meat cookbook. I used a random bit of Ken Wilson’s pork, and some white wine from the fridge. The book specifies a cut that I didn’t have, and some wine that I didn’t have. It was still amazingly delicious. Serves 2.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tenderloin of pork approx 250g, sliced 1 inch thick
  • 8 large prunes
  • 150ml Vouvray or other white wine
  • 1oz butter
  • 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 4 tbsp double cream
  • Salt and pepper

METHOD:

  • Soak the prunes in the wine for at least 6 hours
  • Melt the butter and cook the shallots very slowly until soft
  • Turn up the heat, and add the meat, browning on both sides
  • Add the wine and prunes, and bring to a simmer: cook until the pork is tender
  • Stir in the redcurrant jelly, lemon zest, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to simmering point, and stir to amalgamate the cream with the sauce.

I served this with new potatoes and braised spring cabbage. Delicious.

Spiced slow-cooked mutton

I love having my girls home. One of them cooked this for us this evening. We used a shoulder of mutton, but the original recipe calls for 4 lamb shanks.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 shoulder of mutton, or 4 lamb shanks (local, of course)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 small dried hot red chilli
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram or oregano
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 4 small carrots, chopped
  • 6 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 170ml dry white wine
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tins of organic chopped tomatoes
  • A bunch of parsley, chopped

METHOD:

  • Season the lamb with salt and pepper
  • In a pestle and mortar, crush the coriander seeds with the chilli and dried herbs.
  • Put the herbs, spices and mutton in a bag together, and coat the lamb, squeezing well. Add the flour to the bag as well.
  • Heat a casserole dish, add the oil, brown the meat, then set this aside.
  • Add the chopped vegetables to the pan with a pinch of salt, and cook slowly until the onion and celery is soft.
  • Add the vinegar, and start to reduce to a syrupy consistency
  • Add the wine and bring to a simmer for a couple of minutes, then add the anchovies and tomatoes, and bring back to a simmer again.
  • Add the lamb back to the pan, bring to the boil, cover and then cook in a moderate oven 160C for a couple of hours. Remove the lid and cook for another half an hour.
  • Once the meat is tender, garnish with chopped herbs, and serve with mashed potatoes, or possibly polenta.

Rose water rice pudding

This is the strangest recipe for rice pudding I ever saw. But it works. These proportions serve six. I’ve adapted this from an American recipe, so it is by volume rather than weight.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 125ml  short-grain rice (we used arborio)
  • 500ml water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 750ml full fat milk
  • 125ml of whipping cream
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 50ml cup rose water
  • 50g sugar

METHOD:

  • Put the rice, water and salt in a large pan, bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes until the rice is tender
  • Add the milk and cream, bring to a simmer, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 55 minutes
  • Add the sugar, rose-water and cardamom, and simmer for a further 10 minutes

Either serve whilst warm, or chill in individual serving bowls to be served with stewed pears or quince.

Beefheart and kidney stew

INGREDIENTS:

  • One beefheart, chopped into large cubes
  • 2 lamb or pig kidneys, prepared and chopped
  • 1 or 2 rashers of streaky smoked bacon, or lardons
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 florence fennel (if available)
  • vegetable oil, dripping or other cooking fat
  • 1 large glass of wine
  • 1 can organic butterbeans
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 bayleaves
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour blended with a little butter

METHOD:

  • Using a deep cast-iron casserole dish, heat the cooking fat and fry off the chopped meat, and set aside.
  • Fry the bacon in the fat with the finely chopped shallots
  • Add the meat back to the pan, along with the glass of wine, herbs, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer
  • Cook in a very slow oven, around 110C for approximately five hours
  • Add the beans and the flour mixture, stir and cook for another 20 minutes or so.

We ate this with mashed potato, carrots and leeks. Any left-over stew could be used for a pie filling.

Kohlrabi with garlic & parmesan

I have successfully grown a lot of kohlrabi in my garden, and I have a number of recipes. I have usually sliced it thinly and braised it in butter and a little stock, but this is much more delicious.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 apple-sized kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into batons
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 200ml stock
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese, grated

METHOD:

  • Heat the butter in a small pan, and add the kohlrabi and garlic, and cook for around 3 minutes
  • Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer over a low heat for 15 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper, stir in parmesan cheese

Lobster with creole sauce

We had a very large lobster, which isn’t usually that good a deal: lots of shell, not much meat, and a worry about what to do with it. Plus it had lost its claws along the way, hence the reason why it wasn’t that marketable. I made this with it; delicious and I reckon it would work well with monkfish as well, or prawn tails. I poached the lobster for 15 minutes and saved the liquor for use in the recipe. If you doubled the recipe to use 2 lobsters, then you wouldn’t be using half onions etcetera.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 large cooked lobster, meat removed from tail, plus save the liquor from boiling it.
  • 25g butter
  • 2 tsp creole spice blend (from seasoned pioneers)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 green pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 tin tomatoes

METHOD:

  • Roughly chop the cooked lobster meat and put it in the fridge in a plastic tub along with 2 tsp creole spice blend, shaken to distribute the spice.
  • Melt the butter in a large pan and gently fry the onion for several minutes, until translucent.
  • Add the garlic, green pepper and carrot, and continue to fry for a few more minutes.
  • Meantime, use a soup wand to purée the tomatoes in the tin. Add to the onion and carrot mixture
  • Simmer the sauce very slowly for around 45 minutes, adding a little of the liquor from boiling the lobster if it looks as if it is getting a little dry.
  • Add the chopped lobster meat, and simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the lobster is heated through. Serve on a bed of rice.

Kohl rabi soup

This recipe can be made vegan, or not so vegan.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2tbsp Vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 kohlrabi, well peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 litre vegetable stock
  • 1/2 litre water
  • 100g cashew nuts OR 200ml double cream
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • a good pinch of white ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 potatoes
  • chilli flakes
  • olive oil

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions for around 10 minutes, until soft.
  • Add the crushed garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, and then add the kohlrabi.
  • Add the stock, water, herbs, salt and pepper, and the nuts if you are using them. Simmer for at least 20 minutes (I watched ‘It takes two’ strictly come dancing for the duration).
  • Dice the potatoes and steam until tender
  • Remove the bayleaves and puree with a soup wand. Add the cream now if you are using this.

Serve in warmed bowls with the potatoes, and garnish with olive oil and chilli flakes.

Kerala Lamb Stew with Turnip

Here’s a twist on local ingredients. It looked a little pale and would have been improved with the addition of green beans and carrots.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 900g lamb, diced
  • 4 tbsp veg oil
  • 2x7cm cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 10 cloves
  • 10 cardamom pods
  • 1 large red onion, finely chopped
  • 20 curry leaves (or 10 bay leaves)
  • 2 tsps grated fresh ginger
  • 1 lb potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 turnip, peeled and diced
  • you could add chopped carrots and green beans
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 can coconut milk

METHOD:

  • Put the oil in a large heavy pan, and set over a medium heat. When it is hot, add the cinnamon, peppercorns, cloves and cardamom, and let them sizzle for a few seconds.
  • Add the onion, and continue frying until it starts to turn light brown.
  • Add curry leaves and ginger, and after another minute, add the lamb and stir for a few minutes.
  • Add 1 litre of water bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes
  • Add the potatoes and vegetables, salt and cayenne pepper, and simmer for a further 30 minutes, until the meat is tender.
  • Add the coconut milk, and thicken sauce to taste by squishing the potatoes a bit.

We just had this as it came. Rice or bread would be good, but we didn’t bother.

Beef Cheeks

We are working through the lower reaches of our freezer, and someone has given us beef cheeks. I am very keen on eating all of the animal, waste is a terrible thing.

Beef cheeks are tough, cheap and extremely tasty cuts of meat that need long cook times to make them tender. You could use shin of beef or venison for this recipe instead.

First off, I had to prepare the beef cheek. I started with about 600g of meat, but a lot of it was sheets of fat and connective tissue. I trimmed it, using a very sharp knife, and then cut the remaining sheets of meat into pieces about the size of half a post-card, and about 1 cm thick.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 600g ox/beef cheeks
  • seasoned flour, 2 tbsp
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 2 large Carrots, chopped
  • 2 sticks Celery, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • a dash Brandy
  • 300ml Red Wine
  • 1 clove
  • half tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 pinch of aniseed
  • 4 sprigs of time, or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 can of tomatoes, blended
  • 2 Anchovies (you can buy these in a jar, in oil)
  • Salt and Black pepper
  • Flat Leaf Parsley, to serve.

METHOD:

Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees celsius.

  • Trim the cheeks as described above, coat each piece with seasoned flour. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish, and brown the cheeks. Once they are done, remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Slice the onions, carrots, garlic and celery and cook in the same pan over a medium to low heat, until soft. Add a little more butter or olive oil if required
  • Once the vegetables are soft, increase the heat and add the meat back to the pan, with the can of pureed tomatoes. Mix to coat the ox cheeks and veg in the puree and bring to a simmer.
  • Add the wine, brandy, clove, cinnamon, thyme, bayleaves, aniseed and anchovies, and bring to a simmer. Put the pan into the oven to cook for 2 1/2 hours.You may wish to check that there is enough liquid in the pan half way; add stock or water if necessary
  • After 2 1/2 hours, check that the meat is tender, and turn the oven off, leaving the pan in the oven. Use this time to make mashed potatoes, cook any additional vegetables, have a cheeky wee glass of wine, and remember to warm the plates.

We had this with mashed potatoes, but the original recipe suggested polenta as an alternative. It was delicious.

Quick-braised celery

I got this recipe out of ‘how to cook’ book 2 by Delia Smith. Word of warning – takes a little longer than I anticipated.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head of celery, trimmed and cut into 5cm batons
  • 25g butter
  • 75g carrots, cut to match the bits of celery
  • 1/2 large onion, finely sliced
  • 200ml marigold stock
  • Salt, pepper, chopped parsley

METHOD:

  • Melt the butter in a pan, and cook the onion over a medium to high heat, until golden
  • Add the carrots and celery, and cook for another 5 minutes, until beginning to brown
  • Season with salt and pepper, and add the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for around 15 minutes
  • Take the lid off and boil the juices down to a reduced and thickish stock.
  • Serve with the juices poured over the celery and garnished with chopped parsley

I served this with Roman Beef Stew.