Pork Tonkatsu – Japanese week

April 2, 2014 § Leave a comment


How may of you were watching the Hairy Bikers’ Asian Adventure on the BBC? I thought it was really good, and enjoyed it as a good mix of food and travel! The series inspired us to embark on a Japanese week, including:

  • Pork Tonkatsu
  • Poached Chicken Ramen
  • Chicken Katsu curry

Themed weeks are good if ingredients are normally quite pricy, our problem before was that we would buy a whole ingredient sent for just one dish, but by planning a whole range of (Japanese in this case) recipes, we could use all our fresh ingredients before they went off!

This recipe is adapted from the BBC Hairy Bikers’ Recipe. For the sauce, mix the following ingredients together in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer for five minutes:

  • 125g tomato ketchup
  • 75ml sake – Japanese rice wine
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (such as Kikoman)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grat
  • 1 tsp finely grated fresh root ginger
  • 1 tsp Japanese mustard
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp sugar

Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a small bowl. It will be served at room temperature Set to one side until ready to use.

To coat the two pork loin steaks bread crumbs, put 4tbsp plain flour seasoned with salt and pepper in one shallow dish, 2 gently beaten eggs in another and 5tbs panko bread crumbs in a third.

Coat each steak by first dipping into the flour, then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Re-dip each steak into the egg and breadcrumbs again – this creates an extra crisp coating. You may need to top up you egg or panko in your dishes.

Heat up a deep non-stick frying pan and add a good half inch of oil in the pan.

Shallow fry the cutlets on a medium heat until golden-brown on both sides- if you are lucky enough to have one, you can test the pork with a probe cooking thermometer – pork is cooked at 72C), this will take about 4 minutes on each side, be careful when turning the cutlets to avoid splashing the hot fat.

We had our pork with sticky rice, shredded Chinese cabbage and the Tonkatsu sauce poured over.

Moules a la Manchester with homemade garlic bread

February 3, 2014 § 2 Comments

moules meal

This was a great lunch! So quick and easy and the only non-store cupboard ingredient is a kilo of mussels!

On the way back from cycling to Ikea we stopped off at the fishmongers to buy some trout, which we had en papillote for tea and some mussels for lunch yesterday. Eventually deciding against a lamp in Ikea that would have been hard to bungee across the rack. It was nice 25 mile round trip on a sunny but very windy day!  

These are essentially moules mariniere only with cider instead of wine, as it has a much lighter less alcoholic flavour. The garlic bread was a bit of an afterthought, but as the home-made bloomer was going a bit stale -instead of throwing it out we decided to jazz it up:

Rustic parsley garlic bread:

If you’re lucky enough to have a small food processor/whizzer of some kind use that, if not a bowl and the back of a spoon will do quite well instead. If you are whizzing you can leave your engredients whole, if not make sure you chop everything nice and fine before you start to beat them into the butter.

Blend together, 50g butter, 3 cloves of garlic, 2tbsp flat leaf parsley and a pinch of salt. Once this has all blended together spread it on old slices of bread and grill until golden.

garlic bread

Moules mariniere / a la Manchester

Start off by cleaning all your mussels, pull out the beards – green mossy things, Neil uses his fingers, I use a pair of fish tweezers because I find them quite slippery, then rinse the mussels in cold water. As you go through the mussels make sure they’re all closed, if not give them a good tap on your work surface and see if they close, if they don’t chuck them away.


Once your mussels are nice and clean finely dice a small onion and a clove of garlic, sweat these off in a tsp of pork fat (or butter) in a very large saucepan until they soften but don’t colour. Add in 150ml of dry cider and the clean mussels turn up the heat, cover and leave to steam for a couple of minutes or until the mussels open.

Once cooked pour in 50ml of double cream and a small handful of chopped flat leaf parsley and stir this altogether – discard any mussels that haven’t opened. The mussels will have released a lovely salty liquor into the sauce. Serve with the garlic bread to mop up the sauce.


A sausage supper with spiced apple relish

January 23, 2014 § 11 Comments


Warming winter sausages in spiced apple relish

Winter and sausages – there is nothing so perfect in all the cold winter months as a good sausage supper. After being told that ‘no we can’t have another sausage sandwich for tea, that’s not a meal’ we settled on this recipe from Johnnie Mountain’s PIG book which has never disappointed.

Good quality sausages are a must. Ideally they should have a slightly coarse texture and contain at least 80% pork meat.

To start off the relish soak 55g raisins in very hot water for 30mins and then drain them. Heat a tbsp of vegetable oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan and fry 8 sausages (though we used 12 chipolatas as they go further…) for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Once you’ve popped the sausages onto a plate and put them somewhere warm it’s time to make the relish.

Sausage with spiced apple

The relish is really quite easy – a useful midweek recipe. Add another tbsp.of vegetable oil to the same frying pan and soften a finely chopped onion (this will make use of all the lovely sausage flavours left in the pan), this will take about 10 mins on a medium heat, then stir in 1/4tsp ground cinnamon (or an inch or so stick of cinnamon), ¼ tsp ground allspice, cook for a brief 30 seconds. Then throw in 2 diced eating apples (we used braeburns), the soaked raisins, a tbsp of cider vinegar and 4 tbsp of water. Bring this all to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for 15 minutes until the liquid has evaporated and the apples have softened.

Once the relish has softened, stir in a couple of teaspoons of soft brown sugar and 3 finely shredded sage leaves. Check the seasoning and if necessary and a little salt and some pepper to give a nice balance of sweet form the apples and tart form the vinegar.

Pop the sausages back into the relish to warm them up for a couple of minutes and scatter another couple of shredded sage leaves on top.

You could have this with some mash or eat it like we did with some homemade crusty bread. 

Racing the clock – Piri piri sea bass, sweet potato salad and pastais de nata in 30 minutes

November 29, 2013 § 3 Comments

feta potatoes

Piri piri sea bass, feta and coriander sweet potato, spinach salad and Portuguese custard tarts:

I’ve had a copy of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals for a while now, but have only ever picked dishes out of the menus, rather than trying to tackle a whole meal in one go. They’re really well designed if a bit frustrating as you need to plan in advance so that you’ve got all the right things in – e.g. I don’t normally have feta in, or ready-made puff pastry.

We decided to set ourselves the challenge of making a meal in 30mins, from start to finish we managed 35, which I am quite pleased with, even if the kitchen did look like a bomb site afterwards!

This recipe from Jamie Olive’s 30 Minute meals, was originally supposed to be made with chicken, but we didn’t have any in, and the butcher was closed as it was a Sunday, so we make it with some rather lovely sea bass – and I think it worked very well!

See if you can beat our time!


Piri Piri sea bass -

Start off by turning the oven on to 200°C and putting a large griddle pan on a high heat.

Put two large sea bass fillets on a plastic chopping board, flesh side down, and slash the meat on each one a few times. Drizzle with olive oil and season, and then put on the griddle pan that is heating up, skin side down. Cook until the skin is crispy and then take it out and pop it on a plate.

Slice 1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper into strips and add to the griddle pan. Turn the heat down to medium and keep moving the peppers around.

For the piri piri sauce, peel and roughly chop half a red onion and add to the liquidizer with 2 peeled cloves of garlic. Add 2 red bird’s eye chillies (stalks removed), 1 tbsp of sweet smoked paprika, the zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ a lemon. Add 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a good pinch of salt and pepper, the bunch of basil and a glug of water. Whizz until smooth.

Pour the piri piri sauce you’ve just made into a snug-fitting roasting tray. Lay the peppers on top and put aside. Add the fish to the roasting tray with the sauce. Scatter over the sprigs of thyme and put the tray into the middle of the oven at 200°C for about 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked (it all depends on the thickness of your fillets).

Get the tray of fish out of the oven, sprinkle over a few coriander leaves and serve straight away.

Piri piri seabass

Potatoes -

Wash the potato and sweet potatoes and halve lengthways. Put them into a large microwave-safe bowl with ½ a lemon Cover with cling film and put into the microwave on full power for 15 minutes (or if, like us, you don’t have a microwave, boil these for 25 mins before you start the timer for the rest of the meal!).

Finely chop a red chilli and most of a bunch of coriander on a board, mixing as you go. Add 50g of feta and keep chopping and mixing.

Check the potatoes are cooked through, then use tongs to squeeze over the cooked lemon. Add the coriander mixture from the chopping board and mix everything together. Season and serve.

Salad –

Quickly dress a bag of rocket, still in its bag, with a slug of extra virgin olive oil, a good pinch of salt and pepper and the juice of ½ a lemon. Tip into a bowl and serve.

Portuguese(ish) custard tarts –

Dust a clean surface with flour. Unroll a 375g pack of puff pastry, then cut it in half so you end up with two 20 x 20cm squares of pastry (put one in the fridge for another day). Sprinkle over a few good pinches of ground cinnamon, then roll the pastry into a Swiss roll shape and cut into 6 rounds. Put these into 6 of the holes in a muffin tin, and use your thumbs to stretch and mould the pastry into the holes so the bottom is flat and the pastry comes up to the top. Put on the top shelf of the oven and cook for around 8 to 10 minutes at 200°C, or until lightly golden.

Spoon 125g of crème fraîche into a small bowl. Add one egg, 1 tsp vanilla paste, 1 tbsp of golden caster sugar and the zest of 1 orange and mix well.

Take the muffin tin out of the oven, and use a teaspoon to press the puffed up pastry back to the sides and make room for the filling. Spoon the crème fraîche mixture into the tart cases, and return to the top shelf of the oven cook for a further 8 mins.

Put a small saucepan on a high heat. Squeeze in the juice from the zested orange and add 4 tablespoons of golden caster sugar. Stir and keep a good eye on it, don’t let it burn!

Pour some caramel over each tart, serve, check the timer to see how you managed and put your feet up!


Those summer days – a light and herby spinach tortilla

August 6, 2013 § Leave a comment

slice with bread

This dish is perfect for those summer weekends, quite quick and the fact that it makes a big tortilla is all the better as plenty for Monday’s lunch box!

This tortilla is called kuku in Iran (where it comes from) and is a really light yet filling one dish meal.

I’ve taken this recipe out of Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrits’ Economy Gastronomy but up the herb and flavouring quantities here to give it a little more pizzazz…

It really is a delicious, hardly takes any time at all and is nice and cheap

  • Boil and mash one very large potato (or a couple of smaller ones…)
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C
  • In a large bowl toss through the following – all roughly chopped
    • A couple of fat cloves of garlic
    • 100 g of spinach
    • A large handful of coriander and parsley
    • A couple of sprigs worth of mint
    • Half an onion – finely diced
    • The juice of half a lemon
    • Salt pepper
    • The seeds of 4 cardamom pods – crushed
    • The mashed potato
    • 6 eggs

Grease an oven proof dish generously with butter and pour the mixture in and bake for 15-30.

Let it sit once it’s out of the oven for at least 10 mins.

Serve with some crusty bread (this one is homemade rye bread), some feta or plain yoghurt.

Crying Tiger – Thai grilled beef

July 1, 2013 § Leave a comment


I’ve just started a new job! So I’ve been sorting out how to manage my time and plan quicker meals now and then.

Now, as it was my birthday recently, I was given a beautiful Emma Bridgewater cake stand which I have already put to good use (or bad if your my waistline…) but I’m still waiting for a good photo op for a post that really does it justice, so more on that later.

This recipe is definitely quick and easy but oh so delicious. As with most steak recipes, you will spend more time on the preparation than the actual cooking. It comes from our bible of Thai food – David Thompson’s Thai Food. It consists of simple soy marinated grilled beef and a chili sauce called ‘Crying Tiger’.

Seua Hay Rong – Grilled beef with Chili sauce

Marinate your beef steak in 3-4tbsp light soy sauce and set aside.

Make the chili sauce by combining: 3tbsp lime juice, 2 tbsp fish sauce, a pinch of white sugar, a (very) large pinch of chili powder, 1 finely sliced red shallot and a tbsp of coriander.

Cook your steak how you like it, we grilled ours until medium-rare, and then leave to rest for 2mins. Serve with sticky rice and chili sauce.

A Basket Full of Bread – Part 4. Eight Stranded Plait

June 3, 2013 § 3 Comments

The fantastically fiddly but satisfying plait – from Paul Hollywood’s ‘Bread’ series on BBC.

plait bread done

This recipe is very similar to the wholemeal bloomer but uses only strong white flour as it has more stretch than the wholemeal. Put 500g strong white flour a large bowl, on one side of the bowl add 10g salt and on the other 7g fast action yeast (normally the green tub as opposed to the yellow one). Add 240ml water (cool rather than warm – this gives the bread longer to rise and mature) and a glug of olive oil. Make a claw shape with your fingers and mix this together.

Bring everything together into a shaggy mess and knead it until it leaves the sides of the bowl clean. Pour a little oil onto your work surface and hands and knead the dough for 10mins. The dough should become smooth and silky. Lightly oil the bowl and return the dough, cover and leave for a couple of hour or until tripled in size. Knock it back and shape into a ball.

raw plait

Now for fiddly and faffy part (isn’t that why you’re here?!):

  • Divide the dough into 8 equal sized pieces
  • Lay the strands out like an octopus with them joined at the top and fanning out in an arch bellow
  • In your head number the strands 1-8 from left to right – this is the number of the place not the strand, so when a strand is moved they are renamed according to their new position
  • It is important to keep the strands relatively tight and heading away from the top knot as you plait:
  1. Place 8 under 7 and over 1
  2. Place 8 over 5
  3. Place 2 under 3 and over 8
  4. Place 1 over 4
  5. Place 7 under 6 and over 1
  • Repeat steps 2-5 until the plait is finished
  • Tuck in the ends to neaten it up
  • Place on a floured baking trayplait bread 2 done

Phew. Now that the hard bit is over, leave the loaf to prove (rise) for an hour or so. Gently brush the loaf with a beaten egg this will give it a lovely sheen when it comes out and bake for 20-25mins at 200°C.

Cool on a rack and wow your friends for tea!


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