Roast pork and leek sliders with garlic parsley butter beans

Leftover roast pork is delicious in many dishes, like my lunch of make-your-own-tacos, and of course, mini sliders. Serve with a side dish of beans sauteed with parsley and garlic for a robust meal in winter, or with a side salad in the summer.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 leeks, washed and with the roots trimmed about 1/2 inch
  • Roast pork or another cooked meat, chopped into smallish pieces
  • Bread rolls
  • 8 oz. pre-cooked beans (we used a tin of butter beans after our lima beans failed to soften in time)
  • Chopped garlic or garlic powder
  • 2-3 sprigs of parsley, leaves chopped roughly
  • Butter, duck fat or oil

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350-400 degrees and put the bread rolls in (they’ll only need 5-10 minutes)
  2. Cut the leeks into small pieces
  3. Heat 1 1/1 tablespoons of butter/fat/oil in a pan over medium heat
  4. Saute the leeks for 4-5 minutes, moving constantly to prevent burning
  5. Meanwhile, heat more butter in a small pan and warm the garlic (2-3 minutes if using raw, 1 minute if using powdered/dried)
  6. Put the beans into the pan and heat
  7. Add the pork or cooked meat to the first pan with leeks, lower the heat
  8. After a few minutes when the beans are hot, add the parsley, remove and serve
  9. The leek and meat mix should be done, cut the rolls and serve

Homemade pizza party

Pizza parties are usually for kids, involving enough grease to power a fleet of bio-diesel trucks. How about a grown-up version you make at home?

We made two pizzas. The first was a taste explosion with goat cheese, garlic-herb olives, spinach, pine nuts and squash. The second was an elegant and simple affair with Beecher’s sharp cheddar.

Ingredients:

  • Frozen or fresh pizza dough (we’ve made our own too, but tonight was low key)
  • Tomato sauce or pesto sauce
  • Oil, olive or some such
  • Few tablespoons of corn flour
  • Choice of toppings (squash and other large toppings should be pre-cooked)

Directions:

  1. Follow the directions and defrost the dough, usually putting in the fridge for a few hours or overnight
  2. Roll the dough out on a flat surface, we used cookie trays
  3. Pick up the dough and move it in circles with your fingers, and alternate holding it by edges – you really have to do this awhile if you want thin crust
  4. Spread a table spoon of oil over the pizza and it, then take a tablespoon of pesto or tomato sauce and spread until you have enough – don’t do too much or it’ll be soggy
  5. Spread your toppings over the pizza, starting with cheese
  6. If you have fresh toppings like spinach, these should be put on after it is done, but frozen should go before
  7. Cook for 15-20 minutes, watching the crust as an indicator

 

 

 

Roast cracklin’ pork, sweet potatoes and corn

Tonight we had roast pork – a real leg from a butcher who gets them from a nearby farm. The taste is so clearly superior that I find it hard to eat pork at restaurants. Juicy, clean and delicious. And of course, crunchy rind!

Paired with corn and sweet potatoes, this was a fairly sweet and tender-tasting meal.

To cook a pork leg is pretty simple, you need to criss-cross cut the leg so that the fat can drain and then salt evenly. Place in the pan leg or rind side up.

We pre-heat the oven to 450 or 500 degrees for the first 30 minutes, then drop the temperature to 200 for the remaining time. It should be 25-30 minutes per pound.

Fried smelts and herb-butter potatoes

 

Smelts are a small, delicious fish that somewhat resemble salmon. They are best when fried and eaten whole if small enough, or when bigger you can fairly easily pull the bones out by pulling along the spine to the tail.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh or de-frosted smelt, cleaned and heads removed if the fish is longer than your thumb
  • 2-3 tbsp. rendered duck fat
  • Lemon quarters
  • Brussels sprouts (optional side)
  • Young potatoes (optional side) with herb butter

Directions:

  1. Turn on a large fan and open the windows when cooking any seafood!
  2. Cook the vegetables in boiling water until tender when pierced with a fork, set aside
  3. Rinse and pat the smelts dry
  4. Pre-heat the duck fat at high heat
  5. Place the smelts in the pan and cook about 3 minutes each side
  6. Put the extras in the oven at 250 degrees if you have a small pan
  7. Serve with lemon and parsley

You can also make them breaded if you prefer, by shaking them in a seal-able bag with 1/2 cup breadcrumbs prior to frying.

Chocolate swirl bread

A delicious, almost cakey bread that smells intoxicatingly of chocolate. The recipe is slightly complex and was translated from a Japanese website where the photos look even nicer. I’m copying it here just in case the original link goes down but it is certainly not my invention.

For the chocolate paste

  • 20gm or 1 oz. cake flour
  • 50gm or 4 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 80gm or 3 oz. milk (warmed)
  • 25gm or 1 oz. cocoa powder
  • 10gm or 1 tsp. butter

For dough

  • 300gm or 1 1/3 cups bread flour
  • 12gm or 2 1/5 tsp. milk powder
  • 5gm or 1 tsp. dry yeast
  • 5gm or 1 tsp. salt
  • 24gm or 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Water (water + egg yolk = 210gm or 7 1/2 oz.)
  • 18gm or 1 1/2 tbsp. butter

What to do
For chocolate paste

  • Mix sugar and cake flour into the egg white until smooth. (no need to beat)
    Add coca powder into warm milk and sitr till powder is incorporated into milk.
  • Add egg white mixture into the warm milk (using a small pot) and stir over low fire till thicken (paste like). Then add in butter and mix till incorporated.
  • Leave paste to cool and then roll into a 14x14cm square (using plastic wrap).
  • Keep in fridge.

For dough

  • Mix all the dough ingredients tog. Knead for 8 mins and add the butter. Knead until you get a smooth dough. Leave to poof at room temperature until 1.5 times size and then place dough in the fridge for 1 hour.
  • Take out dough after 1 hour, roll it out to 25×25 square. Place the 14x14cm rolled out chocolate paste in the middle of the dough. Fold in 4 sides of the dough to cover the chocolate and seal the seams tight.
  • Roll out dough to 45x21cm. Make 3 folds (like folding a letter) and place dough in the fridge for 1 hour.
  • Take dough out from the fridge and repeat the step above (roll out and then 3 folds). Rest it for 10 mins.
  • Finally, roll dough to 14x30cm. Make a cut in the middle (along the 30cm side) but do not cut through, leave about 3cm uncut at top end, then twist and plait the dough.
  • Place plaited dough into the bread mould and let it proof at room temperature until dough expands to 80% of the mould.
  • Bake at 190C or 375 degrees for 35-40mins in a preheated oven. (preheat oven at 200C, 400 degrees)

 

 

Bon appétit!

 

Sweet rice pudding (kheer)

Tonight’s dinner was roast chicken with leftover rice (there’s sort of a trend this week). So dessert took center stage – the ultimate British or Indian comfort food, warm and sweet and milky.

Ours is a variation, not the thick traditional rice pudding that’s like oatmeal. Think more like hot cereal with milk.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz. rice
  • 1 qt. milk (may need more if the rice is very absorbent)
  • 3 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 fresh bay leaf

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees
  • Put all ingredients in a casserole dish, uncovered
  • Bake for 2 – 3 hours, depending on the rice

We made ours with purple rice from Thailand, which gave it the natural colour.

Bon appétit!

Pasta with prosciutto, spinach and Romanesco

I am utterly delighted by fruits and vegetables that excite my senses with their newness. New smells, tastes, looks and texture, or a departure from the ordinary. I am also excited by new meats, grains and such, but there’s something lovely about a fruit, vegetable or seed. I can see it entire, instead as of a byproduct.

So it should not be a surprise that I promised an unusual addition for tonight’s dinner… notice that green shape in the background? Romanesco is a gloriously odd shaped cauliflower that has been mixed with broccoli, but which essentially tastes like cauliflower.

Isn’t it lovely?! But I’ll try not to keep waxing poetic about my odd passion. Instead I’ll leave you with the recipe for pasta with prosciutto and spinach, another adaptation from Food and Wine’s Quick Italian from Scratch. The pasta is hearty, with bright spinach and salty warm prosciutto, with the tasty Romanesco on the side.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts (I forgot these tonight but they’re delicious)
  • 1/4 lb sliced prosciutto
  • 10 ounces or just some handfuls of spinach
  • 1 lb pasta
  • Grated Parmesan to taste (optional)
  • One head of Romanesco

Directions:

  1. Optionally toast the pine nuts in a small frying pan with a little bit of oil, or in the oven for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Boil water and cook the pasta until it is done, then drain most of the water.
  3. Boil water and cook the Romanesco, or steam it if you prefer – treat it like cauliflower.
  4. Add the spinach and prosciutto to the pasta, and stir until warmed through.

Bon appétit!