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Roast Fillets of Pork with Prune and Apple

Our default Sunday lunch is Roast Chicken and John is the one who makes this weekly treat, served with Yorkshires and roasted root vegetables (already blogged) but last week, I fancied a change and had seen this recipe in a magazine. The pork is fabulous: the meat is moist and succulent and the stuffing, flavoured with sage, prunes and apples, is simply sublime. The finishing touch is the wonderful crispy Parma ham that is the wrapping to this rather wonderful gift of a lunch. Definitely put this one on your Sunday lunch list – you won’t regret it!!!

Serves 6 – 8

What you need…

1 x baking tin, lined with baking parchment

Knob of butter

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 medium Bramley apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped

Sausagemeat from 3 pork sausages

50g ready-to-eat dried prunes, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

2 x 450g pork fillets

8 slices Parma ham

for the gravy

300ml boiling water from the kettle

1 x chicken stockpot (I use Knorr)

2 tablespoons flour

100g chicken gravy granules

200ml apple juice

A good slosh of Marsala wine

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200°c / 400°f / gas 6.

First, make the stuffing. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over a high heat, add the onion and sauté for 1 minute. Pop on the lid and sweat over a low heat for 15 minutes until soft. Add the apple and stir for a few moments. Set aside.

Put the sausagemeat, prunes and sage into a bowl. Season and then add the onion and apple. Stir to thoroughly incorporate.

Cover a large board with cling film. Place the pork fillets on top and then cover them with cling film. Take a rolling pin and bash the fillets until they are roughly one third thinner than when they started. Remove the cling film and spread the stuffing on one fillet, placing the other one on the top of the stuffing.

Onto your baking tin, lay eight slices of Parma ham, slightly overlapping and sit the fillets on the top so they lay across the ham. Roll up like a roulade so that the Parma ham is sealed underneath. My Parma ham kept breaking up so I produced more of a patchwork effect but that didn’t seem to spoil the overall appearance, so just go with the flow.

Pop your pork into the oven and roast for about 1 hour, until crispy and cooked through. Transfer to a warmed serving plate to rest.

Whilst your pork is cooking, turn your attention to the gravy. First, make your stock by using a balloon whisk to dissolve the stockpot into the boiling water. Into a hot saucepan tip the flour and then, over a high heat, gradually tip in the stock, thoroughly whisking in each addition before adding any more. Once all the stock is in, pour in the apple juice. This then, was the end of Mary’s recipe. We however thought that the gravy was too sweet and a little light on body so we tweaked as follows: tip the gravy granules into a large jug and then whisk in some of the hot stock/apple juice mixture. Gradually add all the liquid to the granules, whisking as you go and then pour it all back into the saucepan. Bring to the boil and then slosh in some Marsala. Taste. Season and add more Marsala to taste – pretty damned good!!!

Serve your pork in slices with the gravy – absolutely delightful and very, very moreish!

Inspired by…

Mary Berry

How easy…

The pork itself is dead easy. As you can see though, we struggled a bit with the gravy. For us, Mary’s version was too sweet. We were however very happy with the tweaked version which was a rich and smooth with a gentle sweetness from the apple juice. My advice would be to make the pork following the instructions and then to make your own favourite gravy, adding a little apple juice to it!

 

 

Christmas Rocky Road

Wow! This stuff is just gorgeous and completely addictive. Crunchiness mixed with mellow, slightly melted mallow and the joy that is the mix of chocolate and golden syrup. Nuts, glace cherries and amaretti biscuits all combine to create something that can only be described as a seasonal joy! Just lovely!!!

Makes around 30+ bite-sized poppables!

What you need…

1 x 23 x 29cm-ish baking tin, lined with foil

250g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

150g milk chocolate, broken into chunks

175g butter

4 tablespoons golden syrup

200g amaretti bisuits (not the soft ones)

150g brazil nuts, shelled

150g glace cherries

125g mini marshmallows

Icing sugar for dusting

What to do…

In a large saucepan, tip in your chocolate chunks, butter and syrup and let the whole lot melt together over a low heat.

Meanwhile, in your food processor, fit the cutting blade and whizz the brazil nuts to rubble. Tip them out and set aside. Then do the same with your amaretti biscuits – it won’t take very long so just a quick whizz or you’ll get dust rather than rubble!

Once everything has melted, take the pan off the heat and tip in your nuts, amaretti, cherries and marshmallows. Gently stir the lot so that everything is evenly covered in the chocolate mix.

Tip the lot into your foil-lined tin. Run a spatula over the top so that it’s flatish. Pop in the fridge for 2 hours.

Invert your rocky road out of the foil-lined tin and cut into bite-sized ‘poppable’ squares. Stack up so it’s roughly rocky-road-mountain-like, dress with daft figures and dredge with icing sugar. Serve to everyone’s absolute delight! Just keep popping them in – it’ll be hard not to!!!!

Inspired by…

Nigella Lawson

How easy…

You chop some bits, you melt some bits and you mix some bits! Then you enjoy the whole lot and wow, it’s great!

Risotto with Scallops and Black Pudding

There’s something about the happy marriage of scallops and black pudding: just yummy! And in this risotto, they are really scrumptious: the earthy black pudding and the sweet scallops mixed in with the rich, creamy risotto – ooooh, just lovely!

Serves 4

What you need…

750ml hot water from the kettle

2 fish stockpots (I use Knorr)

25g butter

1 shallot, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 leek, washed and diced

250g Arborio risotto rice

50ml dry white wine

1 dollop mascarpone

50g Parmesan, freshly grated

4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1 tablespoon rapeseed oil

12 slices black pudding

12 scallops (out of shells)

What to do…

Use a balloon whisk to dissolve the fish stockpots into the hot water to create your fish stock.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and sweat the shallot, garlic and leek without colouring.

Turn the heat down and add the rice, stirring to coat in the butter. Add the wine and cook for 2 minutes. Then start to add the stock, one ladle at a time, waiting for each ladleful to be absorbed before adding any more – this should take 15 – 20 minutes. The rice should be cooked but still retain some ‘bite’. Add in the mascarpone and Parmesan together with the parsley and seasoning. Taste and adjust the cheese content and season to suit.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat the oil and when it starts to smoke, add the black pudding, cooking it for 3 minutes before turning over and adding the scallops to the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, turning the scallops once.

Serve your delicious risotto with your lovely scallops and black pudding and just enjoy the sheer yumminess that is this combination!

Inspired by…

James Martin

How easy…

Very easy and very relaxing to make as long as you have the time that the arborio needs to get to that lovely oozy, delectable state!

 

A Little Moving Problem…

Grrrrrr – moving house and the only thing that’s keeping me sane is the ability to cook/bake, photograph and blog: am at new house with great photograph of today’s dish (a Mary Berry number) but the transfer cable from camera to computer is at the old house – of course it is. Blogging to resume on Sunday!

Postcards from a Traveller’s Table: Sizzling Santorini

Departing from the cruise ship on a tender at 8.30am, we had committed to explore before the heat became depleting. Up the Fira mountainside via a cable car that was less than mechanically reassuring in its jerking, screeching assault, we reached the top to be greeted by the unmistakable stench of donkey dung!

A mission to locate a pharmacist quickly achieved (aloe vera for burnt bits and a potion to combat ‘holiday tummy’) and we left a disappointingly littered and graffitied main road to explore the promised white-washed iconic Greek buildings snuggling up along winding cobbled streets.

And, it was lovely – really lovely. The picture postcard-perfect cobalt-blue sky and turquoise Aegean sea combined to provided the perfect backdrop to this beautiful village of vibrant white homes gently sprawling down the mountain-side to meet the water – just idyllic. However, the thing about cruising is that you only ever get to have time for a quick snapshot of a visit. For us, with our family-wide food obsession, our plans for each port inevitably focus on the identification of a restaurant for lunch. Not for us the long coach trips visiting historical monuments or being shepherded around places of interest by a militant with a lollipop. We’ve firmly cast aside any thoughts of cultural exploration in favour of food…every time! Sorry, but there it is and I’ve given up feeling bad about our lack of cultural curiosity!

So, lunch followed a morning of relaxed meandering through bougainvillea-decorated narrow and winding cobbled streets of artisan shops, tempting us to part with our Euros. Homemade Greek jewellery, hand-blown glass ornaments (picked up a rather lovely albeit large piece for home) jostled with tee-shirts and sneakers printed to order (some rather rude!), core ingredients for every Greek-kitchen and all manner of sweet delicacies guaranteed to expand the waistline (my downfall will surely be homemade baklava). Oh, and what is the Greek obsession with male sex organs and the scary sizes to which they produce wooden versions doubling as corkscrews?!

Moving on. Hot but breezy, our morning of browsing culminated in an al fresco lunch on the mountainside overlooking the sea – the warm breeze and delicious cold local white wine were great accompaniments to a fabulous light lunch, the star of which was John’s choice of a prawn risotto with Pernod (a dish that I have since replicated successfully and blogged).

Back down the mountain in the cable car (after queuing in the sizzling heat for an age) and our view is that we must come back to this little group of volcanic islands for a proper holiday and that we should do it before it is ruined by the hoards of tourists being regularly disemboweled from cruise ships (9,000 in one day when four of them turn up at the same time!)071916_3775 copy 071916_3771 copy 071916_3769 copy 071916_3768 copy 071916_3767 copy 071916_3766 copy 071916_3763 copy 071916_3762 copy 071916_3761 copy 071916_3760 copy 071916_3758_1 copy 071916_3757 copy 071916_3754 copy 071916_3753 copy 071916_3751 copy 071916_3750 copy 071816_3809_1 copy

 

Postcards from a Traveller’s Table

Two weeks out of the kitchen, sunning myself on a cruise ship, disembarking for a few hours to get just a little taster of Venice, a couple of Greek islands and Montenegro, but now it’s back home. I take loads of pictures whilst away and rather than sticking the lot up (too boring unless you were there). I’m going to put up a few at a time over the forthcoming weeks with a little big of blog about our time in each place and of course, what we ate! Hope you enjoy ‘postcards from a traveller’s table’, the first one of which will go up at the weekend. In the meantime, the cooking and blogging resumes tomorrow, just as soon as the washing machine is finished it’s continual cycles!

Light and Lovely Lemon Mousse

What can I tell you – light, fresh, yummy, yummy, yummy, zesty, sweet, heavenly springs to mind. This is just a lovely, lovely lemon mousse that takes a bit of effort but is soooooo worth it. Try it and I guarantee you’ll add it to your favourites list!

Serves 4

What you need…

1 x 1 pint mould, filled with cold water

1½ dessertspoons gelatine powder

45ml cold water

1½ eggs (I know! See tip!)

1 egg yolk

50g caster sugar

65ml lemon juice

Grated zest of 1½ lemons

125ml double cream, lightly whisked to soft peaks

What to do…

Take a large bowl (bigger than the one that you are going to whisk the eggs and sugar in), tip in a load of ice, top up with water and set aside.

Put a large saucepan over the heat with a steamer and bring to a simmer.

Tip the gelatine into the water to soften. Set aside.

Put the eggs and yolk with the sugar into a large heatproof bowl and pop into the steamer. Use a handheld electric whisk and beat for between 5 and 10 minutes until the mixture is pale and fluffy and the whisk leaves a distinct trail.

Remove from the heat, setting onto a tea towel on your worktop to prevent slipping. Add the lemon juice and zest and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool.

Stick the gelatine into a microwave for a few seconds to melt and then tip into the mixture. Whisk to incorporate.

Put your mixture bowl into the iced water bowl and pop in a balloon whisk. For 15 – 20 minutes (whilst you clear up) keep coming back to the mixture and give it a gentle little whisk, also scraping down the side of the bowl until the mixture is just starting to set. Fold in the cream so that it is evenly incorporated.

Empty the water from your mould and then tip your mixture in. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. To unmould, fill your sink with hot water to a height just below that of your mould. Pop the mould into the water and remove when you see the sides of the mousse just coming away from the mould. Invert onto a pretty plate (remember to breathe – it will plop out – I promise!!!) and serve to a very appreciative audience! Enjoy – it is simply heavenly!

Tip…

This is half the original recipe – works perfectly for us when we’re on our own but obviously, you can’t really have half an egg. For the half, chuck an egg in a measuring jug, beat it with a fork just to mix it all together, see how much liquid there is and the chuck half down the sink. Sorry, but there it is: either this or double up and invite friends around or eat a lot of lemon mousse (not necessarily a problem!!!)

Inspired by…

No idea! Another once clipped from a magazine years ago that I have made and enjoyed successfully over at least 2 decades!

How easy…

It is easy, but it does take time and there’s quite a lot of clearing up. That said, it can be prepared 24 hours in advance so hey, job done if you have friends coming around!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frozen Raspberry and Orange Parfait in a Dark Chocolate Case

This is the most fantastic dessert for a boiling hot summer day – I know we don’t get many but you can make this and then whack it in the freezer until the glorious British weather delivers a freakily hot day! It’s refreshing, light but sweet; the ripeness of the raspberries married to fresh, sweet orange and then all encased in dark chocolate is just a wonderful combination.

Serves 8 – 10

What you need…

1 x 20cm deep spring-form cake tin, lightly oiled

175g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

1 tablespoon water

15g unsalted butter

500g fresh raspberries

2 tablespoons clear, runny honey

150ml orange juice, freshly squeezed (makes all the difference)

175g caster sugar

2 egg whites

Pinch of salt

300ml whipping cream

Mint leaves and 3 or four extra raspberries, to garnish

What to do…

To make the chocolate case, tip your chocolate chunks and water into a heatproof bowl and put into a steamer over a pan of simmering water. Melt the chocolate and then stir in the butter. Spoon the chocolate into the base of the tin and spread it evenly up the sides of the tin – you can go all the way to the top and have thin coating of chocolate or just half way, as I did, to have a thicker chocolate case. Pop the case in the fridge.

To make the frozen parfait, use your food processor break down the raspberries into a pulp and then press them through a sieve into a jug to create a pip-free purée. Stir in the honey and set aside.

In a large bowl, use a handheld electric whisk to beat the egg whites and salt together to form soft peaks. Set aside. Rinse off your whisk and then in a smaller, separate bowl whisk the cream until it also forms soft peaks – no more. Set aside. Rinse off your whisk again.

Clean out the sieve and use it to strain the orange juice into a saucepan. Add the sugar and place over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Increase the heat to high and boil fiercely, without stirring, for 3 minutes. Quickly tip the hot orange syrup into the egg whites, whisking the whole time and keep going until the mixture is thick and resembles an uncooked meringue.

Using a balloon whisk, lightly fold in the raspberry purée and when fully incorporated, gently do the same with cream.

Tip the lot into your chocolate case and whop into the freezer for at least 5 hours but preferably overnight.

To remove from the tin, either rub the sides with a hot cloth or – much more fun – go around the outside of the tin with a kitchen blow torch. I then take a steak mallet and gently bang the sides just to make sure that the case has loosened away from the tin. Open your tin mechanism and gently ease the sides away from the parfait. If you’re feeling brave, carefully insert a fish slice all around the bottom of the parfait to separate the chocolate base from the tin-base and then ease it onto a pretty serving plate. If you’re not feeling so brave, just lift the parfait, cake tin-base and all, onto the serving plate. Decorate with raspberries and mint, cut into slices and serve immediately – absolutely delightful: an English summer right there on a plate and a perfect antidote to a hot, sticky summer’s day (or evening) – yummy!

Tips…

The original recipe used white chocolate rather than dark but I elected to use the latter, believing that it would be a better foil for the raspberries. I’m also not that keen on white chocolate. However, if it is your thing, swap out the dark for the white!

If there isn’t a crowd of you when you first serve this, you can quickly cut the parfait into slices and then re-freeze those not required for another day.

Frozen Rasp Parfait slice w

Serving suggestion…

Whizz and then sieve raspberries to create a purée, then stir in some Chambord black raspberry liqueur to suit your taste. Just a little on the side of your frozen parfait is quite delicious!

Inspired by…

Josceline Dimbleby

How easy…

It’s not hard, but takes quite a bit of time and creates a fair old mess. That said, the dishwasher was quickly loaded and doing its business and l like the fact that this can be made waaaay in advance.

 

 

Prawn and Pomegranate Salad with Mint and Coriander

This is quite simply a really yummy salad: the delicate fishiness of prawns intermingled with citrusy, fresh coriander, the cool cucumber, the aromatic, sweet mint and then the tart piquancy of pomegranate seeds. All of those flavours rolling around together are just fabulous and the pomegranate seeds make the salad look like it’s bejeweled! Simply lovely served with barbecued fish! Try it – you’ll love it!

Serves 4 as a side dish or starter

What you need…

Seeds from ½ pomegranate (buy ready-prepared if you can – lot’s easier)

7cm length cucumber, peeled, sliced and then quartered

2 large handfuls coriander, chopped

Small handful mint leaves, torn

A selection of your favourite salad leaves (I like rocket, red chicory, baby gem, baby spinach, iceberg)

200g cooked prawns

for the dressing

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 dessertspoon white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon runny honey

A squeeze of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

What to do…

Into a screw-topped jar, tip all the dressing ingredients, screw the lid on tightly and set aside.

In a large, roomy salad bowl, chuck in all your ingredients.

Just before you are ready to eat, shake your dressing like mad and then pour over the salad before tossing all the elements together so that everything is evenly mixed and coated with dressing.

Tips…

Sometimes, I buy raw prawns and cook them in a splash of oil and salt about 30 minutes before we eat this salad, adding them at the last minute. The slight warmth of the prawns seems to emphasise the other flavours – really lovely.

A variation on the pomegranate is strawberries, hulled and quartered. Less tart, they give the salad a gentler tone.

For extra crunch, include some sugar snap peas that have been sat in boiling water for 2 minutes before being refreshed in cold water and then drained.

Include basil and parsley to make up the leaves if you happen to have any in the fridge. There are no rules, just a mix of flavours you enjoy together.

Inspired by…

I’m not sure: I think I made it up!

How easy…

See, it’s just salad, which I’ve always viewed as something that should be dead simple but really tasty.