oriental chunky vegetable & pork

I love the sweet, savoury, umami flavours that ingredients like soya, honey and fish sauce add to a dish. Stir fries are easy, flavourful and healthy and right at the top of my list of good, nutritious meals. An old Chinese method of cooking, which is a little time consuming in preparation but only takes minutes of cooking.
It always reminds me of my travels to far away countries with beautiful cultures and cuisine and hot, summer days.

A wok is the best pan for stir-frying because its curved surface distributes the heat more evenly and more food can be fried in less oil. If you don’t have a wok, a sauté pan will make a good substitute.

Serve this dish with rice or noodles and extra homemade chilli paste.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
1 red onion, sliced
5 garlic cloves, sliced
3 carrots, sliced into large sticks
4 zucchini, sliced into large sticks
200g button mushrooms, halved and quartered
1 red pepper, sliced
500g pork loin steak, cubed
1/4C honey
1/2C soya
3T sweet soya
1T fish sauce
1t sesame oil
1/2t red chilli flakes (optional)
2T olive oil & extra for browning meat
2T butter
1T sesame seeds (i used white and black)
1/2C cashew nuts, chopped
1C rosa tomatoes, whole or halved
large bunch fresh coriander, half chopped, half for garnish
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper

method
In a large wok or pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the cubed meat all over. Set aside.
In the same pan, without wiping it clean, heat an extra 2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter and sauté the red onion for about 2 minutes. Add the vegetables and garlic, toss and cook, while stirring or tossing, for about 8 minutes.
Add the red chilli flakes, tomatoes and the meat, stir to combine and then add the soya, honey, sweet soya, fish sauce & sesame oil. Stir to coat and cook for about 5 minutes, occasionally stirring until meat is cooked through. Season with salt & pepper.
Add the sesame seeds, cashew nuts, parsley & chopped coriander and stir to combine.

Garnish with fresh coriander and serve with steamed basmati rice or noodles.




red pork curry

I love and enjoy a good, strong curry and since I had pork neck steak in my freezer, I gave a delicious shop bought red curry paste a go for this dish.
Rich in flavour with very tender cubes of meat, this a simple recipe and one I will definitely be returning to. Very, very soon.
I served couscous, natural yogurt and lots of fresh coriander as sides to the curry. Delicious alternatives are noodles, pineapple or mango salsa or sticky rice.

Fragrantly delicious, this easy one pot meal brought back fond memories of Thailand holidays.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
900g pork neck, cubed
1 white onion, fine dice
1/4C white wine
4 garlic cloves, diced
2T red curry paste
2t grated ginger
1T fish sauce
1T brown sugar
1 can (400g) crushed tomato
200ml chicken/vegetable stock
zest & juice of 1 lemon
1 can coconut milk
salt to taste
good grind of black pepper
200g baby corn, halved diagonally
handful fresh coriander (cilantro), for garnish
2 spring onions, sliced diagonally, for garnish
2T olive oil, for browning meat + 2T extra
knob of butter

method
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the meat in batches until browned on all sides. Set aside.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and knob of butter without wiping the pot clean.
Sauté the onion and garlic until glossy, taking care not to burn the onion. Deglaze the pot with the white wine and reduce completely while scraping the bits of the bottom of the pot.
Add the curry paste, ginger and brown sugar, stir and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the crushed tomato, fish sauce, vegetable stock & lemon juice, stir and bring to a light boil. Carefully tip the cubed pork back into the pot, stir and bring to a simmer.
Pour half of the coconut milk into the pot, cover with a lid but leave a small gap, and gently simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
Pour the remaining half of the coconut milk into the pot, add the lemon zest and baby corn and cook for a further 20 minutes, uncovered until the meat is beautifully tender.
Taste and season with salt & pepper.

Garnish with coriander and spring onion.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x



pork sausage & veg tray bake

I do love the simplicity of a tray bake and, admitting, that it is a meal frequently enjoyed around our dinner table.
This is a meal that I return to again and again and will not easily tire of.
A great time saver as you can put it all together, store it in the fridge and then just pop it into the preheated oven come dinner time.

The added bonus, of course, is the clean kitchen after dinner. And this alone gets a very high mark in my book.
A healthy, comforting and nutritious meal that your family will love, without having to spend hours in the kitchen.

Good alternatives to pork sausage are beef / chicken sausage or chicken breast.

Serve with a side of couscous or buckwheat.

ingredients | serves 4-6 | easy
8 pork sausages
300g baby potatoes, halved
400g chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 red onions, quartered
6 garlic cloves, whole
punnet baby carrots, scrubbed
200g mushrooms
6-8 sweetcorn mini cobs
1/2C olive oil
2t paprika
1t dried oregano
1t dried thyme
1t cumin seeds, crushed
1/2t salt
good grind of black pepper
4 rosemary stalks
150ml white wine

handful fresh parsley, chopped (garnish)

Preheat the oven to 200C.
Put the rosemary stalks onto a large sheet pan.
In a large bowl, mix together the olive oil, herbs, salt & pepper. Add the vegetables to the herb mixture and toss through to coat well.
Tip the vegetables onto the roasting tray and arrange in an even layer.
Rub the pork sausages with a little more olive oil and nestle them between the vegetables.

Roast in the preheated oven for about 35 minutes until the sausages are golden brown. Carefully remove the tray from the oven, turn the sausages over and toss the vegetables.
Pour the wine into the roasting tray and roast or a further 20 minutes until the sausages are cooked and the potatoes are tender.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and serve with your choice of side.


split pea soup (with pork)

Cold, wet days are perfect to indulge in beautiful, thick, tasty soups. In my view soup just isn’t soup without fresh crusty bread, with lots of salted butter or crispy cheese toasties. This, however, is my opinion and one I will not change any time soon.
We are (sadly) nearing the end of our winter season with spring around the corner. But with the icy chill in the air and the snow capped mountains I am by no means ready to start cooking or dressing spring.
Pea soup brings back many childhood memories for me. Not only was it a favorite in my mothers’ kitchen but also the kitchen of my paternal grandmother. The lingering smell of this soup sits firm in my memory bank.
This recipe, however, is my simple version of a pea (and ham) soup…I used pork rashers instead of ham and I enjoy the addition of cubed carrots. I also prefer to blend my soup to achieve a beautifully smooth, silky, velvety texture before adding the carrots.

ingredients | serves 6 – 8 | easy
1T olive oil & a little extra to fry the rashers
1T butter
500g split peas, rinsed
4 pork rashers (about 400g)
1 large white onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 celery ribs, sliced
2 large carrots, cubed
2t fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
4C chicken broth
3-4C water
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
fresh parsley, for garnish
creme fraiche, garnish

cooking method
In a large pot with tight fitting lid, heat about a tablespoon of oil and brown the pork rashers on both sides. Set aside.
In the same pot, without wiping it clean, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil and butter and saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.
Add the celery and peas to the pot, stir to coat and cook for another minute or so.
Pour the chicken broth into the pot followed by the water.
Add the thyme & bay leaves and season with salt & pepper. Bring the mixture to the boil and add the pork rashers.
Turn the heat down to a very gentle simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the pork rashers making sure you removed any bone that may still have been in the rashers. Set aside to cool.
Using a stick blender, blend the soup mixture until silky smooth. Add the cubed carrot, cover with the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes . occasionally stirring, until the carrots are soft.
Remove the soup from the heat and stir the chopped meat through the mixture.

Serve the soup warm garnished with fresh chopped parsley and a good dollop of creme fraiche.




stuffed pork belly roast

Pork belly is a beautiful boneless, fatty cut of meat from the belly of a pig. Many will say it is best served pink when stuffed and roasted although I prefer a longer cooking time, that yields perfectly moist and tender meat.
There is much debate about the perfect crackling and there are many methods to achieve the crunchiest crackle, although I have learned that it only takes a little patience and the right preparation to achieve this tasty, teeth breaking goodness.
In my view, the toughest part of cooking the perfect belly is scoring the meat, which is an impossible task without a very sharp knife. I have, in the past, used a shaving (minora) blade, which certainly isn’t the ideal but it works quite well.
My butcher, however, was kind enough to score, roll & tie this large pork belly on my behalf, which really simplified things. To save you time and effort I suggest contacting your butcher to arrange for them to do all the hard work so that you can focus on the important task of cooking this tasty piece of meat.

ingredients | serves 6 | a little effort
for the belly
1.4kg pork belly, scored and dried
olive oil
1/2c – 1c coarse salt

for the stuffing
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
60g butter, melted
olive oil
2t fennel seeds
20g fresh sage leaves
zest of 1 lemon
60g walnuts
40g semi-dried tomatoes
large handful fresh parsley
5T breadcrumbs

for the trivet
1 whole garlic head, halved
1 onion, quartered
4 celery ribs, halved
2 large carrots, halved
3 leeks, halved
1/2lt chicken stock
juice of 1 lemon
1c white wine
2 stalks rosemary
1c apple juice

how to do it
preheat the oven to 230 degrees C/210 with fan.
Lay the pork belly down on the meat side and score the skin in a diamond shape, taking care not to cut all the way down to the meat.
Dry the belly using towel paper. Set aside.
Heat one tablespoon of olive oil and a little butter in small skillet and cook the onion & garlic until tender, taking care not to burn it. Set aside to cool.
Combine the fennel seeds, walnuts, dried tomatoes, parsley, breadcrumbs and butter together in a food processor and process until well combined and almost finely chopped. If the mixture is too dry, add olive oil a little at a time until you have reached a paste like consistency. Set aside.
Turn the belly over with the meat side facing up. Sprinkle the meat with the lemon zest.
Combine the onion mixture & the stuffing mixture and spread it over the belly leaving about a centimeter open on each side.
Pack the sage leaves on top of the stuffing. Season with black pepper and a little salt.
Carefully roll the belly and lay it down on the seam side. Using cooking string, tie the belly at about 2cm intervals.
Rub the belly with olive oil and then rub the coarse salt into the skin making sure you get into the scored lines.
Place the halved garlic head, onion, celery, carrot & leek into a roasting tin, place the belly on top and into the oven to roast for 35-40 minutes to crisp up the skin.
Remove the tin from the oven and turn the heat down to 160 degrees C/140 degrees with a fan.
Pour the apple juice & white wine around the belly taking care not to touch the meat. The liquid should not reach the meat and only cover the vegetables.
Place the rosemary stalks into the liquid and roast the belly for further 2 – 2.5 hours.
If the skin is not crisp enough after the cooking time, pour the liquid & vegetables into a pot and roast the belly again at 230 degrees C for a further 15-20 minutes while you make the sauce.
If you are happy with the crackling, set the belly aside to rest for about 20 minutes while making the gravy.

Make the sauce
Using a handheld blender, blend the vegetables & liquid until almost smooth. Add the chicken stock and bring it to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 15-20 minutes until reduced. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve back into a pot. Reduce the mixture for a further 15 minutes if necessary. Taste and season.

Serve
Slice the belly in thick rounds and serve it with spring onion & mustard crushed potato, glazed carrots & gravy.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x