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.




banana & walnut pancakes

We are all guilty of the two or three bananas that always end up lying atop the other fruits in the fruit bowl, looking sadder with each passing day. Many of us are also guilty of eventually just chucking them in the bin.
This is another easy breakfast recipe using ripe bananas. The batter can be made the night before, which saves you valuable time in the morning.
The cooking process is really quick and everyone will love these golden, crunchy delights!!
Delicious on their own or served with a good dollop of natural yogurt and maple syrup, they are filling, packed with goodness and will keep you and your loved ones going until lunch time.

ingredients | makes about 12 depending on size | easy
1 cup all purpose flour
1.5T castor sugar
2t baking powder
1/2t salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 large ripe bananas or 3 small ripe bananas, mashed
1C milk
2T canola oil
3/4C walnuts, chopped
natural yogurt, to serve
maple syrup, to serve

method
In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. Stir to combine.
Add the egg, milk & oil and beat well using an electric handheld mixer or handheld whisk.
Fold the mashed banana through the mixture followed by the walnuts.
Heat a little oil in a non stick frying pan and drop 1/3 cup full amounts into the pan. Cook until you notice little bubbles on the surface then turn them over and cook until beautifully golden.



apple, cottage cheese & walnut muffins

Simple to make with simple ingredients that had almost reached its expiration date, these delicious muffins are definitely worth baking.
I had quite a few Granny Smith apples hanging around in my fruit bowl and a (half) tub of smooth cottage cheese that desperately needed saving. You can use natural yogurt as an alternative to the cottage cheese. In fact, i used half a cup of cottage cheese and half a cup of double cream natural yogurt.
Almonds, pecan or pistachio’s are also a great alternative if you don’t have walnuts. I love nuts and i love the crunch it adds.
I often bake muffins, savory or sweet, not only because i enjoy devouring it but also because it brings simplicity to every day life, especially when i am on a tight schedule or simply don’t feel like making breakfast or cooking lunch.
The perfect on-the-go snack, breakfast or light lunch for me and for my toddler.

ingredients | makes 12 regular or 6 jumbo | easy
1.5C all purpose flour
1/2C brown sugar
1t baking powder
1t baking soda
1/2t salt
1/2C smooth cottage cheese
1/2C double cream natural yogurt
1.5C grated granny smith apples
1/4C canola oil
1/2C milk
1t ground cinnamon (optional)
1 egg
1t vanilla essence
1/2C walnuts, roughly chopped
1/4C oats, garnish

how to
preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a muffin pan with melted butter or non stick spray and set aside.
Sift the dry ingredients except the walnuts, into a large bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix all the wet ingredients together until well incorporated and smooth.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. Do not over-mix.
Gently fold in the walnuts.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray, sprinkle with the rolled oats and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.
Leave to cool in the tray for about 7 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Store in an air tight container.

Great on its own or served warm with butter, grated cheese and jam or preserves.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x


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




haddock risotto with leeks & peas

I love a good risotto and will pay good money for a well cooked, tasty one although sometimes this seems like a tough request or expectation.
A good risotto is a process and needs a little love for a delicious end result. Take the time, nurture the arborio rice and you will be left with a wonderfully tasty meal, perfect for lunch or dinner.
Arborio rice is a starchy, short-grained rice variety that produces a luxuriously creamy finish and can absorb quite a bit of liquid without becoming mushy.
A little effort for this one but well worth your time and patience.
I used skinless, de-boned haddock that was lightly smoked. It has a flaky texture and a beautifully delicate flavor, perfect for the rich, creamy risotto it is served with
This dish is quite rich so is best served it with a simple rocket & avocado or tomato salad or simple steamed vegetables.

ingredients | serves 4 -6 | a little effort
270g haddock fillet, lightly smoked & de-boned
350ml milk
1 bay leaf
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
300g uncooked risotto
600ml fish stock
1C dry white wine
1/3C cream
3T creme fraiche
4 leeks, washed and sliced diagonally
1C frozen peas
3/4C finely grated Parmesan
1t dried dill
1.5t fine salt
1.5t black pepper
zest of half a lemon
bunch of fresh parsley, finely chopped
fresh dill, garnish (optional)
2T olive oil
80g salted butter

how to do it
In a pot, bring the milk and bay leaf to a gentle boil. Gently submerge the haddock fillet into the milk, bring it down to a simmer and poach for two to three minutes per side.
Remove the haddock using a slotted spoon. Set aside and reserve the milk for later use. Mix the fish stock and white wine together in a large jug. Set aside.
In a large pot, melt 20g butter with the olive oil. Saute the chopped onion until glossy taking care not to burn it. Add the leaks and cook until soft. About three minutes.
Add the uncooked risotto to the pot and stir to coat. Add the garlic and dried dill and cook for one minute while stirring.
Gently pour about one cup of stock & wine mixture into the risotto and stir. Leave to cook on a gentle heat, stirring twice, until almost fully absorbed. Repeat this until you have used all of the liquid. Add the remaining 60g butter and stir through.
Now pour the poaching milk and cream into the risotto and leave to simmer, while stirring for about three minutes.
Add the peas, stir and cook for three minutes. Stir the creme fraiche through the risotto mixture. Add the salt, pepper, zest, parsley and parmesan and stir well.
Flake the poached haddock into the risotto and give it a gentle mix. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with fresh dill if using.

From my kitchen to yours, with love x