Monthly Archives: January 2012

A Cure – Pork, Chorizo & other stuff Stew

OMG. Where’d all the words go?

There were a lot of words on this here post, about being drunk and eating KFC and not having a hangover but needing food and stuff anyway.


OK here goes again.



Get the oven on at Gas Mark 3 and collect:-

750g skinless and boneless pork belly.

whole chorizo

medium sized onion

garlic – I used 4 cloves

smoked paprika

pancetta – at least 150g but more is also good

beans – this time I used borlotti but cannellini would also work


red wine

tin of tomatoes


Roughly chop up the onions and garlic.

Don’t play with your food.

Roughly chop the chorizo, too.  It probably deserves the rough treatment.

Then cut the pork up into big chunks.


Should look something like this upon completion.


This is the dog pretending not to like pork fat.  She’s a big fat liar.  She loved it, in fact she’s probably upstairs now chundering up the big stack of it she ate, somewhere under the spare bed.


In a biggish casserole dish brown off the pork in chunks., over a high heat  I used a bit of olive oil here.  Do it in batches even tho’ it’s a pain.  It’s worth it.


By the end you’ll have a plate full of half-cooked pork and a sticky casserole dish.  That’s right.


Throw in the pancetta and cook till it starts to go golden.


Then lower the heat a bit and add the onions and garlic, cooking a bit.


Then add the chorizo and a good teaspoon of the smoked paprika.  By this time the bottom of the casserole dish will look beyond redemption.  It’s not, don’t fret.


Throw in the tinned tomatoes.  Magically all the gooey goodness will arise, like Lazarus, from the casserole bottom.  Make sure it’s all got.  it’s good stuff, you want it.


Check the wine for drinkability.  If it’s ok to drink, then put about 150ml in the casserole.  If it’s not, then drink it anyway and open another bottle.


Add water, enough to cover the meat.

Stick it in the oven for 2 hours.


Some lovely ice cubes my Mum (hi Mum!) sent me for Australia Day.  I trust you all celebrated appropriately.


This is bout 90mins of cooking in….at 2 hours put in a can of drained and rinsed beans.  Stick it back in the oven, lid off, for another 20-20 mins.  Then eat.  Eat on an empty stomach.


Finito! I’d like some sour cream and coriander in this. Stuck a bit of lemon juice on it in the bowl. V nice.


So, continuing this weekend’s batter theme, I decided to experiment with an alternative to crumble.  God knows why, crumble is great, no need to replace it with anything.

Basically things went a bit awry so I’ve adapted the amounts, etc, as set out below so you won’t suffer the same, horrific fate as I did.  Stick the oven on at about Gas Mark 5.



fruit of choice – today we had pears and blueberries

around 1 and 3/4 cups sugar, I used light brown soft sugar, don’t think it matters too much, it will colour your batter if it’s darker, be more caramel I guess

1 and 1/2 cups milk

75g butter

1 and 1/2 cups self raising flour

vanilla paste or essence


Peel and core the pears, or apples, or whatever fruit you’re using if you’re using fruit that needs peeling.  Stick it in a saucepan with a generous splosh of water and about half a cup of sugar.  Stick on a lowish heat to begin cooking the pears and turning the water and sugar into a bit of a syrup.

If you’re using berries as well no need to stew them first, leave them raw as they’ll cook plenty enough in the oven.


In an oven dish put your butter, in the oven, and let it melt.  You’ll note above I have a truckload more than 75g butter.  That’s cause I used 150g butter and it was way, way too much.  Do not use 150g butter.


While the pears are cooking and the butter is melting, it’s a great time to do something else which will in no way compromise your concentration.  Combine your flour, sugar,vanilla and milk together.


Realise you’ve used plain flour instead of SR flour.  Look ruefully at the plain flour packet.

Do it all again with SR flour.


By this stage the dog will be unable to even look at you, so ashamed is she of the mess you’re making of things.


The pears will be ready by now, not all mushy and soft but slightly tender and deliciously swimming in a sugar bath.  Turn off the gas.

Get your oven dish with the melted butter out of the oven.  It’s Time to Assemble Stuff.


Pour in your batter.  At this stage my suspicion that I’d over-estimated the amount of butter I’d need became a definite fact.  Oops.  Look at all that fatty goodness.


Layer on your fruit, including the sugar syrup the pears cooked in.  Basically the idea is that the batter will come up and over the fruit, for the most part, during cooking.  I didn’t use a big enough oven dish and it kind of did, kind of didn’t.  I also meant to sprinkle over some cinnamon or allspice at this stage but didn’t.  I couldn’t.  The dog was still staring at me and I was beginning to crumble (oh, the delicious irony) under the pressure.

Stick it all in the oven for 30-45 mins, depending on your oven, until cooked.  Wooden skewers will help with testing done-ness.  It has a moderate cakey texture, the batter, when cooked.


Eat with ice cream or creme fraiche or throw it away if it didn’t work.  Actually I mopped up the excess butter and stuck it back in the oven for a bit longer and it was tasty.

If you try this let me know how you got on, do.

Batter Up, or Toad in the Hole

Me and the boyfriend are trying to do a healthy January, so naturally we went and had a big lunch with some of his family today and came home to eat a healthy supper of carb- and fat-laden goodness. So should you.

I spent many years thinking toad in the hole was when you cut a hole in a piece of bread and cooked an egg in the middle, in a frypan. Seems much more logical than a bunch of sausages (is that the collective noun for sausages? Is there even one? There totally should be. I vote for a Piglet of Sausages) floating in a sea of wheat-based liquid. Anyway…..get some ingredients together after putting your oven on to heat at HOTHOTHOT.


Get yourself:-

250g plain flour

300ml milk

4 eggs, lightly beaten

good pinch of salt

some kind of vegetable oil, not strong-flavoured olive oil

couple of red onions

seeded mustard, about a dessertspoon’s worth

thyme or another herb of your choice


bacon or Parma ham or something


Throw the milk, salt and flour into a bowl and begin to mix through. It’ll look lumpy.


See how smug I look? That’s cause I have a whisk and I’m going to use it. Get one. Whisk that mix up good. Beat it.


See how smooth that is now? Like baby butt. Anyway chuck in a big dose of seeded mustard (to be honest any mustard would do, I like mustard) and here I’d add the thyme, too, but I don’t have any so I chucked in some dried marjoram, to no effect whatsoever. Stir through and then leave it the hell alone for a while. You’ve got other stuff to do.


Kind of brown your sausages in a fry pan for 5 mins or so. This is not crucial but I always feel better doing it, makes sure the things are cooked by the time you get to eating them. Then wrap in bacon or parma ham or some other kind of porky hammy product. Wrap them up like pigs in blankets, for soon they shall be toads in holes.


Slice the onions and fry them gently in the pan you had the sausages in, chucking in a slop of balsamic vinegar if you can bear it. Whilst you’re forking around with them, make sure you’ve put a metal roasting tray into your hot oven with a healthy but not too thick layer of that delicious oil in it. You want that shit to heat up, yeah.

Should only take 5 mins, no stress – I always chuck a tiny pip of onion in to check it – if it sizzles, it’s good.


Working quickly, pour in your batter, put in your sausage pigs and then half of the cooked onions in whatever decorative manner pleases you most. Get it in the oven, quicksticks!

Leave it in the oven and DO NOT OPEN THE BLOODY DOOR OK? for around 20-25 minutes, you’ll see when it is done.


It’ll look like this. Like mountains of yum.


Here is a serving suggestion. If you’re nuts you might want to add some kind of green vegetable to this but because we’re having a health January we went with the no vegetable option to keep the calories down.

Obviously you can see we’ve used the rest of the onions to chuck in a quick gravy. Use that family recipe you have for gravy, or use some bisto and the leavings from the sausage pan. No one will really care.


If you’re lucky, whilst you’re cooking, you’ll be treated to the sight of the boyfriend using power tools on plastic fittings. Even the dog doesn’t look convinced it’s a good idea.



See the bacon above?  That is the best bacon.  I hesitate to say it as it’s not Australian bacon but there you go.

Apparently it’s also microwave-able, who knew?  Who’d do that anyway?  Microwave bacon?  Illegal.

Anyway, get some of this bacon cause you’re making your boyfriend breakfast.  It may or may not be because he cleared up the backyard for you, including some dog-poo deposits of unknown toxicity.


See how, with the plastic wrapping removed, it still looks like plastic?  That’s the beauty of stabilisers and preservatives my friends.


Stick in a frypan, no extra fat needed.  See that white stuff in the bacon?  That’s fat, soon to hit your thighs.  Enjoy.

Cook it a bit.


This is the dog doing an impression of your boyfriend upon being told his bacon isn’t ready yet.


Turn over the bacon.  It’ll begin curling like that spiral perm I had when I was 15.  Spiral perms are never a good idea.


Butter some bread, generously.  At this point you could also add some of that homemade chutney I know you’ve made, or some tomato sauce.  Or, if you’re hideous, brown sauce.  Your boyfriend, however, likes it just plain buttered.


Cooked bacon.  Personally I could go a little crispier but for bacon sarnies this is about right.


Place a generous pile on one slice of bread.


Slap on the other slice of bread, serve with a mocha, cause your boyfriend likes chocolate despite having told you, when you first met, that he doesn’t have a sweet tooth.  He lied.


This is the dog doing some heavy begging.  This happens a lot but is particularly hard going when bacon is involved.

You’ve not had bacon of course, you’ve had some jam on toast, taken the dog for a long walk, hung out the washing, done the washing up and are about to pay some bills.  Easy like Sunday morning my arse.

Chilli, in these cold times

I’ve taken a risk. I’ve made chilli, one of the boyfriend’s specialities. Obviously I can’t mess it up. Also, I never really made or ate chilli before I met him so I’m kind of new to it but I think, already, that mine is better than his. Course it is. This doesn’t take very long to cook, is quite delicious, can be eaten with any number of side dishes and ways, and will allow you some leftovers as, like bolognaise sauce, it’s often (always) better the next day. Stupid chilli. I’m never better the next day.


Get together a load of ingredients as above. The include:-

500g beef mince

couple cloves garlic

one onion

a carrot

a capsicum (or pepper, if you’re not australian)


ground cumin

paprika (we liked smoked in our house)

hot chilli powder, or medium, depends on what you have or like


balsamic vinegar

red kidney beans


Oh, and some jalapenos for serving, if you like them. And a tin of tomatoes. Chopped if you have them, no matter if not.


Oh, and some beef stock. I prefer this kind, slosh a bit into about half a pint or so of hot water from the tap.


Finely chop the onion, carrot and garlic and chuck in a pan with a teaspoon of marjoram (not in the ingredients photo, I thought of that later), teaspoon of paprika, teaspoon of hot chilli powder and teaspoon of ground cumin. And some salt and pepper. Slosh in some vegetable oil and cook over a lowish heat, cooking not burning.


When it’s cooked down a bit, chuck in the finely diced chorizo and capsicum. Doesn’t matter what colour capsicum. The yellow one was the least mouldy so that’s why it made it into tonight’s chilli. The red one was a bit green, so it’s now in the bin, crying bitter tears over a wasted life.

Cook it all a bit more, stirring.


Then put in your mince, having turned the heat up a bit higher – you want to brown the mince, you don’t want it to juice up. I hate the texture of mince unless it’s all broken up, so get chopping. Chop away with that wooden spoon.


Till it looks a bit like this. This is on the way to satisfactory but is not there yet.


There’ll be bombs of mince, like this one, hiding from you.


Kill them. Explode them, pulverise them.


Till it all looks like this, browned and crisp and even. Not really. You don’t want it crisp.


Then throw in a good slug of balsamic vinegar, bout 2 tablespoons of tomato puree, the can of tomatoes and their juice and stir through, then add the beef stock. Cook it a bit over a lowered heat until it’s simmering, then cover a bit with a lid or plate or whatever you have and let it bubble away.


Go check on the boyfriend to make sure he stays away from your chilli-making. You’ll find him otherwise engaged with Skyrim, battling dragons and vampires and acquiring potions of minor healing.

Your chilli is safe.


Wake the dog up and tease her with some smoked mackerel. That stuff reeks, I don’t know how you English stand it. Dog likes it, but she’s English. Comes from Devon, actually.

Anyway, 10 mins of simmering means chuck in the rinsed kidney beans, then after another 10 mins of simmering your chilli is done. If you can stand it, let it stand for about 10 mins or so, will help things along.
Serve with whatever you fancy. We tend to eat it with wraps (not rice) with creme fraiche and cheddar. Boyfriend also has jalapenos as well as chipotle sauce.


He has a thing for burritos. I am keeping a close eye on it to make sure he stays safe. This, above, is how he eats his chilli.


This is how I eat mine. Parsley. Love it. To be fair, some coriander and a squeeze of lime juice would be nice, too.


And finally, a word of warning. Next time you have a bbq in July, don’t leave it to the following January to clean your bbq, else you be faced with Mould Monsters, as demonstrated below.




This is how I made apple and raspberry crumble.  It’s a bit crappy (the post) as I was cooking really fast and haven’t taken enough photos, nor is it very step by step but the end result is bloody delicious so take my word for it and just make some.

Get together:-

apples (I was feeding the whole host, as per the pasticcio post, and so used 12 apples, but halve that amount I suppose, for a more reasonable amount)


about 3/4 cup brown sugar (doesn’t really matter what kind, don’t believe what anyone says, I used light brown this time)

cinnamon or allspice

plain flour


butter (depends on how much crumble you’re making.  I think this time I used about 125g or so).


Peel and slice the apples.  This’ll be the most pain-in-the-arse bit.  I used Bramleys.  I never use them normally and I’ve remembered why – they go to baby mush pretty much immediately for the most part, whilst others will never soften at all.  I don’t think it matters what you use really.  If you want a mushy crumble, use Bramleys, if you don’t, use a different apple.


Chuck them in a saucepan with a squeeze of lemon juice if you have it, no matter if not, most of the sugar and a good amount of cinnamon or allspice to taste.  You can stick a clove or three in here if you’re feeling fancy.  I wasn’t.  I was feeling rushed.  And hot.  Splosh a little bit of water to stop it all sticking to the bottom and put over a medium heat to cook a bit.  Basically when it all looks about 2/3 cooked turn the heat off.


In a bowl put about a cup of rolled oats (optional but recommended), a cup and a half of plain flour and another half cup of sugar.  Then slice up your butter into little bits and ‘rub’ in.  This is a boring but useful technique you’ll need to use for scones and other delicious but slightly labour-intensive baked goods.  Smooch the tips of your fingers against your thumbs, rubbing together the butter and dry ingredients till they begin to look a bit breadcrumby.  I hate doing this.

I’ve not yet found a good intermediate cheat so I’m afraid you’re stuck with it.

If the mix isn’t looking buttery enough, crumble-y enough, chuck in some more butter, as I’ve done above.  Then you might think it looks a bit too buttery.  Like I did.  Chuck in some more flour.  I’m of the opinion it doesn’t really matter, you’ll get to know what ‘feels’ right and you can never have too much crumble on a crumble anyway.


It should kind of look like the above.


And have the superpower of keeping its shape when you compress it.  Then returning to breadcrumb-y-ness when you loosen it all up again.  Handy superpower, that.

Layer the washed raspberries along the bottom of your baking dish then spoon the cooked apples on top.  Chuck on the crumble topping and sprinkle with more brown sugar.  Truly, don’t worry about any sugar-lumps – they make delicious toffee in the oven and are good for identifying cavities once eaten.


It’ll look a bit like this when you’re done.  See those sugary lumps?  Dentist’s friends, they are.

Stick it in a moderate oven for about 25-30 minutes or until it looks golden on top and some of the fruit juices are bubbling away around the sides.  Eat with custard and/or ice cream.

I didn’t get any photos of this cooked cause I was busy.  Nor did I get any pics of the second lot we heated up the last night my Aussie nephews were here, I was getting ready to play poker.


I won a lot of chips off those boys, oh yes.  I love beating children at games.  They need to learn sometime that losing is life.


I have my nephews (and their dad) visiting from Australia at the moment. It’s pretty ace. The nephews are 10 and 14 years old and, thus, capable of interesting conversation, humour, vast consumption of foodstuffs and general misguided but amusing opinions. Anyway we had a few good friends over last night (6) to supper with us (5, now, with them and me and the boyfriend), somehow squeezed around our small table on a variety of stools, outdoor chairs and broken dining chairs. Classy.

Needed something big and good, so went with this. It’s a bit fiddly if you do the meatball version, as I did, and less fiddly if you replace the meatballs with sausages you’ve helped escape from their skins. I at one point swore quite widely as I realised that there was a bit of work to do to make it, as I started cooking at 4pm for a 7pm supper after a day on the Duckbus. Or an hour on the Duckbus and several hours getting there and back (well, one each way).

I’m babbling. Let’s go. Don’t be intimidated by the volume of ingredients, etc. It’s actually not that bad, this recipe makes enough for 8-10 at least, we have so much left over. I also left out a lot of the cheese element cause we had a friend coming over who doesn’t like cheese but will tolerate mozzarella. Oh, and I also cheated by not making my own bechamel. It was fine. If you want to make your own go for it, but bought stuff is perfectly ok for stuff like this. I got this recipe out of a fairly recent Guardian Weekend magazine, think it’s a Hugh F-Whatisface one – go google it if you want the official version, rather than this adapted mess.

I cooked all this from start to go in an hour, into the oven, whilst the boyfriend was walking the dog in the park. More on that later.



Pasticcio is, if you’re Italian, not a specific dish of certain ingredients, it means baked pasta, but it generally has some kind of meaty/creamy saucy/tomato-y involvement, as well as penne. This one was meatballs.


600g minced beef

600g minced pork (I used 500g and suffered no ill effects)

1 beaten egg

1 onion, finely chopped

slug of olive oil

bit of lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

bit of chopped parsley/oregano/basil, whatever you fancy

you can also stick some parmesan in (about 200g, grated) if you want

Mix it all up.

Also have on hand some extra basil leaves and about 3 balls of mozzarella. And some extra parmesan if you’re into that sort of thing.


Form it into meatballs and fry in batches, in a frypan. So far so complicated, eh?


As the meatballs are done, plop them into a bowl in which the passata is residing, redly. I added a tin of chopped tomatoes to this, incidentally, just to juice things up a bit.


At about 2/3 way through the meatball-cooking process, stick your penne on, to early al dente only cause it’ll cook more in the oven.


By the end of the meatball cooking your frypan will look all blackened and sticky. That’s good. Fear it not.


Slosh a bit of red wine in to get up all the sticky bits, doesn’t take long, then add it and the sticky bits to the bowl of passata and meatballs.


Should look a bit like this. Bit odd. Strangely alluring.


Now, imagine we’ve skipped forward a bit. You’ve drained your pasta and mixed through your bechamel sauce. If you’re making it by hand then make the sauce, obviously, first. There are recipes everywhere for it. You’ll need 1 litre milk, a bay leaf, 100g butter and 100g plain flour. Melt the butter, stir in the flour, slowly add the milk you’ve warmed through with the bay leaf in it, simmer, stirring, till thickened.


Buy a couple of big jars of white sauce from the supermarket and chuck them through the penne.

Layer in a BIG BLOODY PAN some saucy pasta, then some red sauce and meatballs, then a whole sliced ball of mozzarella and basil. Repeat until the pan is overflowing and you’re done. If you’re using the extra cheese do so on top of the last layer.


It’ll look a bit like this when done. At this stage you’ll remember you’ve not seasoned anything properly and in the absence of all the extra parmesan it’ll be a bit bland, so desperately flood the stuff with cracked black pepper and sea salt.


Make some lame attempts to decorate it.

Right now you’re supposed to bung it in the oven (HF-W doesn’t specify how hot, I went with gas mark 4/5) with some foil over the top, for 30 mins, and then remove the foil for the last 15 mins. I didn’t do this in the rush to make dessert (more on that later) so bunged it in foil-free. It actually made it nice and crispy. I don’t think it matters too much as long as you keep an eye on it.

Eat. With salad. It’s pretty bloody tasty actually, if you stick enough salt in it. And I’d recommend the extra cheese if you can.


Then marvel at the sights seen at the dog-park, by the boyfriend. Pigs! Pigs on leads! Pigs on leads in London!


Bum-nut lunch

As previously mentioned my uncle calls eggs ‘bumnuts’.  I like it.

Also previously mentioned is the whole health-January idea.  It sucks.  Anyway I had a really short time to do something fast that also didn’t cost money (ie: something bready and wonderful from a sandwich shop) as for some reason me and the boyfriend are, along with Health, compounding our misery by keeping a record of spend.  So far we’re being really parsimonious but I reckon we both only have about a week in us till we crack.  The below was lunch, and now I’m off to the far reaches of West London.


3 eggs.  Not that Health, so I should’ve probably done 1 egg and 3 whites but bugger that for a joke.  I’ve eschewed butter and milk and that’s hardship enough.  Go generously on the seasoning.  Chop up some parsley, if you like parsley.  I do.


Any veg in an omelette is good, today I’ve finely sliced some asparagus and chestnut mushrooms.  Mostly cause I just sharpened the peeling knife and it’s fun to use.  I wanted to put in lots of delicious parma ham that’s sitting, forlornly, in the fridge but I Did Not.  I Am Being Good.*

* relatively

Lightly cook off the veg till they are crispy but warm.  Unless you love soggy veg, in which case cook the bloody hell out of them.


Pour in your whisked eggs, then whisk again.  See how fast I’m whisking with that fork?  I’m barely visible to the naked eye.  Do this for a bit.


Till it looks a bit like this.  Like sick.


Using a spatula, I prefer the plastic one, start lifting it around the edges and moving the pan about to let the uncooked bits hit the hot edges where they will, I promise, cook.  Keep doing it for a bit.


Eventually it’ll be about 85% cooked and you will be able to flip it like this, into halves.  Do that, squeeze it down a bit with the spatula, flip over from side to side if you like your eggs cooked.  Which I do.  If you like your eggs raw don’t bother with any of this and just eat the salmonella as it comes.


Stick on a plate.  That green stuff is the parsley I forgot to add in while the stuff was still cooking.

Eat with the utensil of your choice, remain unsatisfied, and leave the house as fast as you can cause it stinks like egg.

Bon appetite!