An Indian Winter

An Indian Winter

Tonights meal actually had a little forethought – usually it is a case of whatever is in the freezer. But today I was feeling pretty pleased with myself having actually got some work done on my coursework so it felt I might actually have something to hand in at the end of the year. So I popped to Tesco’s and delved into the reduced items (ever the savvy student) and found some pork medallions. I am the first to admit that my meals tend to be mostly french or british inspired with the occasional foray into Moroccan or Oriental, but today i decided to tackle something I have never really attempted before, Indian. As I may have mentioned before my parents do not have the most adventurous taste buds (I’m training them) so the curry recipe below is VERY mild. My first problem with my wonderful idea was getting home and realising I had no cream or coconut milk…. I did however have creme fraiche (I know a seemingly never ending supply – maybe I should write a book, 101 ways with creme fraiche…) My second problematic encounter was realising I was trying to make yellow rice studded with raisins…..without any raisins, however I did have cranberries (you can see where this is going). The final problem I had was I only had a very small amount of gram masala and no curry powder, although I actually made it sort of work by bulking out the garem masala with turmeric and cardamon. If you have more Garem masala (and I expect this is probably the case) feel free to use just that. On the other hand the cranberries and creme fraiche worked rather well and it worked rather well.

Garem Masala crusted pork medallions, cranberry studded yellow rice and curried sauce

Serves 2

6 pork medallions
handful of breadcrumbs
2tsp of garem masala
2 tsp mustard powder
2-3 tsp dried coriander leaves
1 tbsp ground nut oil

wedge of butter
100-150g rice (however hungry you are) easy cook is best
couple of cardamon pods
1 tsp turmeric
handful cranberries

1tbsp groundnut oil
2-3 shallots, chopped into little squares
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1tsp garem masala
1tsp turmeric
couple of cardamon pods
dollop tomato puree
1 bay leaf
chopped coriander (we have frozen – I’d advise this)
2-3tbsp creme fraiche

1. Roll the outside of the medallions in the breadcrumbs, mixed with all the dry ingredients
2. Meanwhile sweat the shallots and garlic in the groundnut oil with a good sprinkling of salt.
3. after a few mins add the spices and cook for another minute.
4. Add the tomato puree, bay leaf and roughly 200-300ml water, let it bubble away for a bit until thickened a little.
5. Meanwhile place all the rice ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil
6. Sear the breadcrumbed sides of the pork in the groundnut oil (use tongs for this) then return all medallions to the pan and place in the oven at 180OC for 10mins
7. Before you are about to serve ( rice should have soaked up most of the water) stir the creme fraiche and coriander into the sauce.
8. Place a dollop of rice in the centre of the plate, top with 3 medallions each and drizzle over the sauce

Brined, Braised, Belly Up

Brined, Braised, Belly Up
Ingredients (serves 3)
For the Pork
3 pork belly slices
500ml water
1tbsp salt
1tsp sugar
1tbsp sherry vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 peppercorns
2 cardamom pods
1tbsp thyme
1 nutmeg clove
1 clove garlic
3 juniper berries
For the Ebly risotto
2tbsp butter
1tbsp marmite
150g ebly
½ large onion
1 garlic clove
1tsp thyme
2tbsp pine nuts
For the Jelly
150ml Brining liquid
3 gelatine leaves
For the ceps
9 baby mushrooms
2tbsp olive oil
2tsp salt
2tsp thyme
For the jus
200ml brining liquid
½ vegetable stock cube
2tsp marmite
For the cabbage
½ savoy cabbage
25g butter
1tsp salt
3 juniper berries
To serve
4 tbsp puffed rice
2tbsp brown sugar
1tsp salt
sage leaves
1.     For the pork, boil the water then pour over the pork with all the ingredients. Leave for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the pork and bring the liquid back to the boil, reserve 150ml, remove from the heat, replace the pork and leave for a further 1-2 hours.
2.     For the jelly, with the 150ml of brining liquid reserved, heat till boiling. Meanwhile soak the gelatine leaves in cold water, then squeeze dry and mix into brining liquid till it melts. Line 3 ramekins with clingfilm and pour in jelly in a thin layer. Place in the fridge to set.
3.     For the risotto, chop the onions and garlic into small squares and fry in the butter and marmite for 5mins over a medium heat. Add the ebly and thyme and stir, gradually add up to 250ml water, cooking slowly till the mixture is thick and the water is absorbed into the ebly but it is still al dente. Meanwhile heat the pine nuts in a dry pan till toasted light brown. Add to the risotto and place aside.
4.     For the ceps, Marinade the ceps in the oil, thyme and salt for 30mins. Then cut in half and place the halves face down in a frying pan and fry over a high heat without touching them for 2-3mins.  Remove and set aside.
5.     For the Pork, heat 1tbsp walnut oil in a pan, and place the pork skin side down, searing for 6mins, until skin is brown and crispy. Sear each side 2-3mins on each side, then place to one side under foil.
6.     For the cabbage, cut the stem out and shred into wide strips. Place in a saucepan with the juniper, salt, butter and 1tbsp butter. Cook for 2-3 mins covered over a medium heat.
7.     For the jus, place 200ml brining liquid in a pan with the marmite, stock cube and 200ml water, reduce until a thick consistency (approx. 7-10mins)

8.     To serve, mix the puffed rice, salt and sugar, place on a baking tray and place in a preheated oven at 180oC for 5mins until golden brown. Place the risotto in ramekins and top with jelly then place some puffed rice on top. Place the ramekin in the top RH corner of the plate. Place the cabbage in bottom LH corner of the plate. Cut each piece of pork in half diagonally, and lay on the cabbage. Lead a trail in an L shape from each side of the cabbage with the mushrooms.  Spoon jus over the pork and garnish with sage leaves. Serve

Everybody needs good neighbours

Everybody needs good neighbours
            It is always an exciting moment when the neighbours come to dinner. I’d been asking my parents to throw a dinner party for ages and as an added bonus the neighbour is a fellow foodie! So since the Great British Menu website had been so successful for the Dean’s dinner I decided to replicate that success. They turned up for dinner with the man who lives upstairs thrown in for good measure and I started my cooking following a couple of glasses of champagne and a little conversation.
            My opening dilemma was that of the plates. I didn’t have enough for both starter and pudding of the square variety and my mothers suggestion that I just ‘wash them up’ led to a lecture from me that I wasn’t Cinderella and was in fact doing this party for them out of the goodness of my heart. (Who am I kidding, its more fun for me than them!) After this she kindly conjured up some extra plates from somewhere and preparation could begin. I pretty much prepped everything before(the biggest secret of my dinner parties). For the starter I had decided on goats cheese, beetroot and olive tuile. made the mousse (filling my beloved piping bags) and chopped the beetroot with ease and the balsamic glaze was easy too. The tuile I approached with difficulty. My hands may be somewhat numbed thanks to years of thinking I was too good for oven gloves but it is still a challenge to shape tuiles when they are incredibly hot but harden as soon as they cool. I think if I made tuiles again I would invest in a silicon mat, because the hardest part was making the mixture thin enough on the baking tray and a silicon mat would have helped this process as well as allowing me to shape it without leaving burns all over my fingers. After about 7 attempts I had enough misshapen tuiles to pass off in the starter and actually felt rather proud that I had been teaching myself more diverse techniques. Yes they looked like slightly odd pieces of bark but I decided that added to the charm of the plate. I designed the plate once again in what my sister calls my Modrian style. 

            The main was my Achilles heel. The main course at the last party had been a little cold because I had taken too long plating up and here with my braised pork, wild mushroom and fondant potato it was going to be hard making the greyish meat look attractive. (I hasten to add here that apparently this was delicious, think pulled pork) other issue I had had earlier that week was the lack of wild garlic in early September. So I messed around a little with the recipe (apologies Christoffer Hruskova). Luckily there is a very good butcher and fruit and veg stall near where I live so I managed to get the pork neck (a lovely cheap meat by the way) and a lovely mix of wild mushrooms, dried. As a pitiful compromise for the lack of wild garlic I decided to use a mix of normal garlic and spinach. That and rehydrating the mushrooms overnight made up for the lack of ingredients plus the smell of the mushrooms was amazing as they rehydrated. I also substituted the berries with goji berries (apparently a superfood) and figured truffle was too expensive so used truffle oil instead. This was almost the most successful dish of the evening.
            However the real success was the mango millefeuille. For the main course my dad had opened the really good red wine and I was one glass down as I plated this up, I think it added to the overall rugged charm of the plate. An unusual dish, this veered away from my usual devotion to modern French style cooking. My dad was even keen on the caramelized chilli (I expect the gold leaf on top helped too, people are generally like magpies). the pastry sheets I made were on the more obese side than the ones in Frances Atkins’ picture, and there was slightly less gold leaf, but the neighbor sent a nice card over afterwards so I must have done something right. 
(their photo not mine)