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



smoked haddock ‘arancini’

Arancini is a very popular and favourite Italian snack, which is made of risotto & mozzarella with the addition of beef and peas. It is shaped into a ball, crumbed and deep fried.
I love haddock and had plenty of rice in my freezer so this is my version of arancini, which is fairly different to the original but I promise you, just as delicious!

These freeze really well, so pack it onto a tray, place it into the freezer for a couple of hours and then bag them in freezer friendly bags. Thaw overnight before dredging in flour, egg & crumbs and deep frying.

Serve these with a salad or sliced avocado and a dipping sauce of your choice.

ingredients | makes about 18 | a little effort
300g smoked haddock
1C milk
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2t crushed garlic
2 1/2 C cooked long grain rice
1C grated white cheddar
1C frozen peas
bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped
bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
handful chives, finely chopped
1t dried dill
1T fish sauce
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
1T olive oil
1T butter

to fry
2C panko crumbs
2 eggs, whisked with about 3 tablespoons milk
1/2C plain flour
cooking oil, for frying

method
In a small skillet, heat the milk and poach the haddock for about 8 minutes, turning halfway. Remove and set aside.
Heat the olive oil & butter in a small pan and sauté the onion & garlic until cooked. About 3 minutes. Add peas, stir to coat and cook for 1 more minute.
Tip the cooked rice into a large mixing bowl. Add a 1/4 cup of the poaching milk to the rice.
Add all the remaining ingredients to the rice except the frying ingredients.
Flake the cooked haddock into the rice mixture, add the onions and peas and now mix well, using your hands. The mixture must just come together to hold its shape. If you feel it is too wet, add a little more of the fine breadcrumbs.
Shape into golf size balls. Set aside.

In a deep, medium sized pot, heat enough oil to come about halfway up the rice balls.

In three separate bowls, prepare the panko crumbs, beaten egg and flour.
Roll each ball into the flour, then in the beaten egg and lastly coat with the panko crumbs. Repeat until you have coated each rice ball.

Carefully drop the rice balls in batches of about 4 into the hot oil and fry for about two minutes a side until beautifully browned and crisp.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel paper.

Serve warm.




porcupine beef meatballs

Porcupine meatballs, an American dish consisting of ground beef & rice were a staple during the Great Depression. Rice was added as a way of stretching the beef to yield more meatballs.
So called because the cooked rice sticks out of the sides of the meatballs.

To accommodate my 16 month old daughters’ palate and also include her in family dinners rather than cooking her a completely different meal, I like to keep weekday dinners simple yet delicious, flavourful and still nutritious.
Having a curious little human run around the house while trying to make a great meal can sometimes be a little challenging so I always suggest having a few easy, no-fail recipes that simplifies life and meal prep.

This is a hearty and comforting meal, cooked in a rich tomato sauce. Since the rice is added to the meat there is no need to cook a starch to serve alongside. You can, however, serve these on sweet potato or butternut mash.
As a vegetable side I suggest sweet roasted carrots or a mixture of buttered broccoli and cauliflower.

To make these meatballs extra nutritious you can add grated zucchini or carrot to the meat mixture. And for extra flavour, try adding finely grated parmesan or any hard, rich cheese.

ingredients | makes about 15 | easy
for the meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1/2 white onion, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1/2C long grain rice
1t dried oregano
1T fresh thyme leaves
1/2C milk
1 egg
1/2t fine salt
black pepper
olive oil, for browning

for the tomato sauce
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 can crushed tomato
400ml beef stock
2T tomato paste
2t paprika
2t mixed dried herbs / italian seasoning
1T brown sugar
2T Worcestershire sauce
1t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
handful fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro to serve (optional)
1T olive oil
2T butter

method
In a large bowl, combine all of the meatball ingredients together except the olive oil.
Mix well using your hands and then roll into balls the size of a golf ball.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet or pan with a lid and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.
Without wiping the pan clean, add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and the butter. Heat and saute the onion & garlic until glossy. Add the tomato paste & brown sugar and cook for about one minute. Add the paprika and dried herbs and stir to combine.
Pour the crushed tomato into the skillet followed by the Worcestershire sauce & beef stock. Stir to combine.
Season with salt & pepper.
Drop the meatballs into the sauce and bring the mixture to the boil.
Reduce the heat, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about one hour until the rice is cooked and most of the moisture have been absorbed.

Garnish with the chopped parsley and cilantro.







parmesan loaded meatball & orecchiette skillet

As pastas go I don’t have one specific favorite. I love all kinds, for very different reasons.
The general rule of thumb is that wide, flat pastas like pappardelle or tagliatelle love cream based sauces and long, round pastas, like spaghetti, are best served with a good drizzle of olive oil or draped in tomato based sauces, which beautifully coats each strand evenly.
“Rigate” means ridges, which makes it easy for sauces like pesto to cling to the pasta.
Short shaped pasta varieties, which includes orecchiette, are ideal for holding rich, hearty sauces with textures from vegetables or proteins.

Since making meatballs can be a little time consuming I make it worth my while by making two batches. One to use immediately and the other to freeze for a different occasion or dish. They freeze really well and bake beautifully straight from frozen.

These mini meatballs are packed with parmesan and herbs giving them a lot of flavor so they are perfect on their own as a snack or canape, served with spaghetti or in a beautiful creamy pasta dish such as this one.

ingredients | makes about 30-35 mini meatballs | a little effort
500g beef mince
1/2 white onion, very finely chopped
1t finely chopped garlic
5 thyme stalks, leaves only
2 rosemary stalks, leaves finely chopped
handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2C finely grated parmesan
1/2C fine breadcrumbs
1 whole egg
1T worcester sauce
2T chutney (I used Mrs Balls, original)
1/2t fine salt
good grind of black pepper
2-3T olive oil for frying

for the sauce
2T butter
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1t crushed garlic
3T sun-dried tomato pesto (optional)
1 can crushed tomato
1 1/2C – 2C beef stock
1 1/2t dried oregano
1T brown sugar
1t fine salt
black pepper to taste
1 1/2C orecchiette pasta shells
1/2C cream, full fat
fresh parsley, garnish
fresh cilantro, garnish
fresh parmesan, garnish

the method
Combine all of the meatball ingredients in large bowl. Using your hands, mix well until combined and then, with the palms of your hands, roll into balls just larger than bite size.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown the meatballs on all sides. Set aside.

In the same skillet, heat and melt the butter and cook the onion until glossy. About two minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for a further minute. Add the oregano & pesto and cook for another minute, while stirring.
Pour the beef stock & crushed tomato into the skillet, add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and stir. Add the pasta shells, stir to coat and then nestle the meatballs into the sauce.
Turn the heat down to a low simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for about 20 – 25 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until the pasta is cooked. Stir the cream through the pasta mixture.

Garnish with fresh parsley & cilantro and top with large shavings of parmesan.



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