Archive | June, 2012

Scrumptious = health for breakfast

10 Jun
fruit with yoghurt

fruit with yoghurt (Photo credit: Peet Sneekes)

Today, at last, summer is here. Over 30C but fresh, with a light breeze. Sunday, so extra quiet – no work today with everyone at church (except heathens like me). Time for breakfast outside under the mirabel tree. Feed cats, next door’s dog, horse and chickens first, or you’ll have no peace.

What: yoghurt (preferably home-made from organic full cream raw milk but Greek style is the next best); whatever fruit is in season or in the fridge (today I had a banana and an apricot), seeds and nuts to hand (I had toasted sesame, organic coconut flakes, almond flakes, pumpkin seeds and flax seeds (linseed); black pepper, cinnamon and if you like, a bit of cayenne.

How: chop the fruit into a bowl, shake and scatter the seeds, nuts and spices, dollop the yoghurt on top and mix. Eat slowly, relishing every texture and taste. Seriously good start to the day – and never boring because of the almost limitless variations, even in winter.

When it’s cold, I sometimes toast a bit of muesli or just oats, gently, in a frying pan (no oil) and tip on top of the fruit/yoghurt as an extra bit of warmth and crunch.

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Slow roast pork, tender and rich

6 Jun
roast pork loin, potatoes

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was prompted by the Ranting Chef’s post yesterday to tell you about my slow-roast pork, which is always a guaranteed winner for any occasion, even if you’re on your own (piggy, piggy). [Beware: if you do this for a party, make you sure you get some early, because it vanishes before you can say crackling.]

Scour the supermarket shelves for the largest pork joint you can find. Doesn’t really matter what joint it is as long as it’s pork and not bacon, ham, gammon or suchlike – unsullied roasting pork – leg, shoulder, belly. Carving will be immaterial – the meat will fall off the bone if there is one. If you’re lucky, you can find a big joint on sale, which makes it even tastier, somehow…

What: joint of pork bigger than you think you really need (it will all be eaten); packet of mixed herbs; cheapest bottle of dry white wine or cava; salt

How: The day before you want to eat it, ie 24 hours ahead, put the pork in a deep (3″ – 4″) roasting dish (cut it in half if it’s too long and nest the two halves side by side). For good crackling, cut deep slashes into the skin all over the top and sides and rub salt into the skin. Pat the mixed herbs all over the pork, including underneath – be generous. Slosh the white wine or cava (I used an old bottle of cava that had lost its fizz a bit, so no good for drinking – perfect for cooking) into the roasting pan – use the whole bottle, or as much as will go into the pan. If pan too small, get bigger pan. The wine keeps the pork moist and makes the most delicious, aromatic gravy.

Stuff pork in oven on high heat for half an hour, then turn the oven to its lowest setting and leave it for 24 hours. This is very difficult, as the smell of the roasting joint will torment you, especially when you come down for breakfast. But do not give in to temptation. LEAVE IT. Check that it’s doing okay and hasn’t dried out too much – if there’s no liquid or almost no liquid in the pan, slosh in some more wine. If there’s a lot of grease, pour some off into a bowl (not down the sink) and put the joint back into the oven.

For the crackling, I’d suggest taking the crackling off the meat half an hour before serving. Keep the meat warm and let it rest, and put the crackling back in a hot oven until it’s bubbly and crisp. You can make the gravy at this point, too. Take the juice from the pan, pouring off excess fat, and either serve as is, or thicken with a little flour or cornflour and top up with a little boiling water if necessary.

For a dinner party, serve with garlic mashed potatoes or a herb risotto, and a green salad; for a party, it would be the centre piece of a buffet. Don’t worry, it won’t be around long enough to go cold…

Tuna and cauliflower barley pilaf

3 Jun
English: Cauliflower Ελληνικά: Κουνουπίδι

English: Cauliflower Ελληνικά: Κουνουπίδι (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love risotto and pilaf dishes, which are endlessly versatile, easy to cook and easy to eat, gentle on the pocket and as healthy as you like.

Last night I was running out of fridge potential. A shopping trip is looming, today or tomorrow, but there’s still plenty to work with, despite the almost-empty fridge. One of my perennial store cupboard ingredients is pearl barley (barley – arpacas – in Romania, pearl barley in UK). Cauliflowers are cheap at the moment, and high on the simple-to-prepare-and-cook chart. Tinned tuna is always on standby.

What: barley/pearl barley, cauliflower, tin of tuna, fresh herbs, black pepper and tiny bit of salt

How: Boil the barley. This can take about 40 mins or a bit longer, depending on the eficiency of your stove, so put the barley on and go and do something else, because everything else takes 10 mins. When the barley’s done, drain and put the lid back on the pan to keep the barley warm.

Put a little oil in a pan (or drain the oil from the tuna, if canned in oil. If canned in brine, add that to the oil in the pan). Wash and chop the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and lob into pan. Sizzle gently for 5 minutes, then add the tuna, seasoning and most of the herbs (eg basil, thyme, chives) and sizzle for another 5 mins till cauli is done to your preferred balance of crunch/tender. Stir in the barley and serve, topping with the rest of the chopped herbs. If you like a bit of yoghurt on top, a spoonful or two is good, but naked is also good.

Healthy stuff: cauliflower, esp if not overcooked; tuna, herbs. I have no idea of the health value of barley, but it’s a whole grain without the gluten of wheat.

Enjoy!