Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Pulled pork

This is a dish we had never encountered until we moved from Britain to Canada, but it is certainly one of our slow cooker favorites. Very easy to prepare, very tasty results.

We follow the recipe here on Chowhound.

Basically, put a layer of sliced onions and garlic in the bottom of the crock pot, and add a cup of stock. Pat the pork dry and rub all over with a mix of spices: a tablespoon each of dark brown sugar, chili powder and salt, and 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cumin and cinnamon. The amount of spice looks scary when you prepare it, but you want the pork to have a good coating and it works out OK. Place into the crock pot and cook long and slow (8 to 10 hours on low).

When cooked, remove the pork and pull apart. Drain off (but keep) the liquid and return the onions and the pork to the pot. Mix in with a good dollop of barbecue sauce to taste, and enough of the saved liquid to make the dish moist. Serve on buns with salad or coleslaw.

This is a good dish for pot lucks. If you're taking it with you to a party and reheating it there, pour some of the stock into a jar or bottle and take it with you so you can adjust the moisture at the last minute.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Spaghetti carbonara

A quick and easy dish, and also our traditional first dinner whenever we go camping.

Cook the spaghetti in a pan of salted water.

Meanwhile, cut up some bacon into fine pieces and fry in a little olive oil. When turning crisp, add some cream, bring to the boil, and add some grated or diced cheddar. Turn the heat low and allow the cheese to melt into the cream.

In a separate bowl whisk 2 or 3 eggs with some more cream.

When the pasta is cooked, drain it and return it to the pan. Stir in the eggs and cream. The egg will cook in the heat of the pan. Stir in the bacon/cream/cheese mixture and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fish & chips

A great British tradition. Home-cooked, you can make it as plain or as fancy as you like.

We buy packets of frozen battered fish that you can pop in the oven. Or you can make your own batter. A good alternative is to breadcrumb some cod pieces. Beat a couple of eggs in a shallow bowl, and prepare a bowl or plate each of plain flour, and breadcrumbs. dip the fish pieces in the egg first, then the flour to coat, then the egg again and finally the breadcrumbs. Fry until golden.

Serve with chips - again there's lots of ways to do this. Traditional in a deep pan of oil, or these days we use a shallow fryer that tosses the chips in nothing more than a couple of spoonfuls of oil.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Barbecued ribs

We like crock pot meals from time to time. Usually easy to prepare and you can come home from work to a cooked meal. This one is not a complete meal in itself but is very easy to prepare.

Marinate a rack of ribs in a mixture of Thai sweet chili sauce, honey, and tomato ketchup (in roughly equal measures). This can be done the night before. Place the ribs and the marinade into a slow cooker and cook on low through the day.

Serve with salad and carbs of choice.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Sprouts with mushrooms and almonds

Everyone loves sprouts. Don't they? LOL. The vegetable everyone loves to hate, but I suspect part of that is rooted in being served sprouts badly cooked. Soggy? Ugh!

This simple twist won't guarantee perfectly cooked veg - the timing is still in your hands - but it's a great enhancement on the plain old boiled variety to accompany chicken or turkey.

Peel and prepare sprouts as normal. It's important to cut a cross fairly deep into the base to allow them to cook in the middle without the outside going mushy. Boil in salted water for about 5 minutes. A bit of crunch is fine, but overcooking is not good.

Meanwhile cut some button mushrooms into halves or quarters depending on size. You want pieces similar size to the sprouts and about the same quantity overall. Fry them in butter until starting to brown. Throw in a handful of flaked almonds. Drain and add the sprouts to the pan. Toss everything in the butter for a few more minutes, then serve.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Barbecued pork tenderloin

This is a favorite specialty of ours, especially when the outdoor barbecue weather comes around but honestly it's good any time of year.

Marinade your pork tenderloins in a mixture of maple syrup and mustard. For enough pork for the family we use approx. 1 cup of maple syrup to 1/2 cup of either Dijon or mild yellow mustard (the kind that goes on hot dogs, not the sharper British variety). Add a sliced red onion and a few cloves of sliced garlic to the marinade and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

Heat a heavy based grill pan, remove the pork from the marinade and sear it all round. Set the pork aside and add the marinade (including onions and garlic) to the pan. Cook for a few minutes then pour the marinade out. Put the pork back in the pan and pour the marinade over the top. Sorry about all the swapping around, but you want the pork underneath all that aromatic goodness.

Cover the pan and put it in the oven to bake on a moderate heat (380F) until the pork is cooked through and the liquid has reduced and caramelized. Should be about an hour to 90 minutes. Remove the pork and cut into slices to serve. If necessary, finish the caramelization off on top of the stove. Spoon the reduced marinade over the top of the pork when you serve it up.

Great with fries and a salad and a crisp white wine.

Ravioli

This meal is a real cheat, all from pre-made ingredients, for when we need a quick meal that needs no preparation. We buy packets of fresh-made filled pasta.

Boil the pasta until cooked. Drain. Add a jar of sauce and return to the heat for a few minutes to heat the sauce through. Serve with grated Parmesan.


Monday, May 8, 2017

Chicken chasseur

This is our simple take on a famous dish.

Fry a chopped onion until soft, then brown some chicken pieces - breasts or thighs either on or off the bone, whatever takes your fancy. Fry some mushrooms - either whole if they're small, or cut into quarters. Place everything into a casserole dish along with some diced carrots and a drained can of Romano or white kidney beans. Pour in some stock - or we use a sachet of mushroom gravy for added flavor. Cover and put in the oven for an hour or so. This is a dish you can prepare and leave to cook long and slow.

Serve with rice or mashed potatoes.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cauliflower cheese

A great side dish to go with a roast, when you're feeling in the mood for something a little more special than plain veggies.

Make a Roux sauce (small knob of butter melted in a saucepan, a spoonful of flour mixed in and cooked briefly, then milk whisked in to make a thick sauce) and melt in a few slices of cheese.

Meanwhile, briefly cook cauliflower florets - only a few minutes, you don't want them going soggy. Drain and tip into a casserole dish. Pour over the cheese sauce, then sprinkle a 50/50 mix of grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs. Either fresh breadcrumbs or something like Panko. Pop in the oven for 1/2 hour to brown and crisp the topping.

As an alternative to cauliflower, you can use broccoli or some similar variant. In this case we used broccoflower. 


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Carrot & ginger soup

Soups are great additions to the weekly menu and very simple to prepare.

Peel and chop enough carrots - one or two per person - and place in a pan of salted water. There should be enough water to easily cover the carrots, but don't overdo it - you'll see why later :)

Peel and finely chop a piece of ginger - about 1" cubed gives enough for flavor - and add to the pan.

Bring to the boil and simmer until the carrots are soft (about 1/2 hour). Set aside and leave to cool.

In a large saucepan, make a Roux sauce: Melt a generous knob of butter - an ounce or two, add flour to make a crumbly consistency and cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Slowly add milk, whisking to remove lumps, until you have a thick sauce. Bring to the boil and cook gently for a few minutes, stirring to ensure it doesn't catch on the pan.

Pour the carrot & ginger plus the liquid (this is why you don't want the carrots swimming) into a blender and blend until fairly smooth. Mix into the Roux sauce. Add more milk if the soup needs thinning.

Serve topped with fried bacon pieces and heaps of fresh bread or toast.

Tacos

Another quick & simple light meal.

Fry some onion and ground beef or turkey until browned. Add a little water and stir in a packet of taco seasoning. Cook until the liquid has reduced.

Serve on either hard corn taco shells or flour tortillas, with your choice of sour cream, salsa, lettuce, tomato, olives, grated cheese.