Sunday, June 24, 2012

Fennel and rosemary pork chops

Pork chops benefit from a good beating to tenderise them and a bit of acidity to cut the fattiness. They can take rather strong flavours (like rosemary and fennel) but in a different way to beef which goes better with really savoury things like mushrooms.

This is kind of like a spice rub.

Mix a table spoon of fennel seeds with a couple of pinches of dried rosemary, saltpepper, and garlic powder. Rub the (tenderised) pork chops with a bit of olive oil and the rub and roast them (they take less time than the potatoes and they can also be grilled). Drizzle with a bit of lemon a couple of times as they cook.

I served it with lemon and thyme roast potatoes and a light salad.

Rocky road cake: attempt 1

I wanted to experiment a bit so I tried to make a rocky road cake. Not the most successful in the rocky road sense but really good none the less. The marshmallows I used, started off large but I chopped them into mini marshmallow size and as a result the just dissolved into the batter. I haven't gotten around to repeating this will larger ones so feel free to help me experiment. You can just leave out the marshmallows in any case.

Brief discussion of making a cake/bun, some recipes tell you to put everything in together and beat. I do not like this as the more you mix, the more gluten forms making it all chewier and thus less cakelike and more breadlike. Anyway from theory to practise
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1tbsp vanilla
  • 200g self raising flour
  • 50mL milk
  • 200g frozen mixed berries
  • 100g white chocolate, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped
  • Large handful of marshmallows
You know the drill with cakes, cream butter and sugar, beat in eggs and vanilla, mix in flour and then add the milk. You can adjust the milk according to how large the eggs were, basically you make the batter nice and smooth.

Stir in the fillings and pour into a baking tray. I used a round silicone one. The silicone baking tray LINERS need to be placed on a baking sheet. They are really nicely nonstick if you brush them with oil but I tend to crudely line the base just in case. Bake at 170 degrees for a fan assisted and 180 for a non-fan assisted for 35-40 mins (check at 30 to be safe but don't forget that the oven loses a significant amount of heat, I think about 40%, every time you open the oven door). It's a good idea to allow it to cool in the baking tray for a couple of mins (to prevent melted chocolate going everywhere) before turning out onto a wire rack.

Excellent with a bit of ice cream.

Veggies moussaka

Well it's been a long time. I've been really all over the place lately: had to pack up and move house, sort out the new house (still not totally finished) and I've been really busy in work too. One of my best friends and I have also decided to try and start up a business of our own (coz, you know, we don't have enough to do anyway). More about that when it's ready.

Anyway, unsurprisingly there has been lots and lots of food in that time and obviously I'm not going to write all of it up but I'll try and put up the highlight over the next while.

Going to start with something I made absolutely yonks ago: Veggie moussaka.

This is really simple and to be honest I made it coz we'd run out of mince.

  • 2 onions chopped
  • red pepper
  • green pepper
  • yellow pepper
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 2 aubergines, sliced
  • 4 potatoes peeled and sliced
  • about 500mL béchamel (3 tbsp butter, 3 tbsp flour, 500mL milk, 2 balls of mozzarella)
The ratio of the veg doesn't really matter, just use whatever is in the fridge. 
Sauté the onions in some olive oil then add the peppers chopped up. Once they are a bit softened add the tomatoes and season. I added a generous amount of oregano as well. While this is gently simmering,   boil the potatoes. While moussaka is great made with sautéed potatoes, it is also more calorific. If you have a multi tier steamer you can steam the aubergine over the potatoes, otherwise blanch it.

To make the béchamel (I believe I've previously discussed how it has a different name once you add cheese to it), melt the butter in a pan and add the flour to make a paste, fry this gently for a bit then slowly mix in the milk (much easier if you use a balloon whisk but a wooden spoon will do just fine). Heat this to almost boiling while continuously stirring to prevent it sticking. Stir in the chopped mozzarella making sure it all melts.

Assembly time! A layer of potatoes, the pepper sauce, the aubergines in a layer, followed by a layer of the remaining potatoes and the béchamel poured over. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius until nice and golden brown (about 30-40 mins).

Very easy, lots of food and ridiculously healthy. If you want to further reduce the calories/fat just don't add the mozzarella.