Saturday, 28 March 2015

Slow-Cooked Pulled Pork with Asian Slaw

Last weekend I invested in a slow cooker and I feel like it may have been a decision that will change my life. It came from trying to find a recipe for pulled pork which didn't involve one. That turned out to be impossible so I set off to Argos and got a nice big Breville one for £17.29. Aside from chilli, I wasn't sure what else a slow cooker was good for but having googled a couple of recipes I am dying to try them all out. But back to the task at hand, the first recipe I tried was from Lorraine Pascale. I've adapted the quantities slightly as I thought it wise not to make pulled pork for 12 on the first attempt (I definitely would have eaten it all). Even though I knew the idea of a slow cooker is to bung everything all in and leave it alone, I was still surprised at how easy this was. I'll certainly never be tempted to buy any of the ready made joints again!

For the pork:

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp mild chilli powder
  • 3 tbsp five-spice powder
  • 1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 600g boneless pork shoulder

For the slaw:

  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 1/4 red cabbage 
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 carrot
  • Large handful of fresh coriander 
  • 6-8 wraps  

(Serves 3-4)

Place the soy sauce, chill powder, five- spice, sugar, garlic and ginger in a slow cooked and mix well together. Sit the pork shoulder in the slow cooker and massage in the spice mixture. Put the lid on and cook on low for 3 hours. Now, at this point, I got a bit bored so I turned it up to high (adding in about 50ml water to stop the pork drying out) for about two hours and then one more hour on low.

Close to serving time, make the slaw. Shred the cabbage, onion and carrot really thinly and put in a large bowl. Drizzle over the sesame oil, soy sauce and yoghurt and toss well.

Once the pork is ready it should fall away really easily. Shred using a fork and serve with the slaw on top of slightly warm wraps.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

B Date: Bukowski, SW9

It gets to a point in any relationship where it's tempting to get stuck in a bit of a rut, when the idea of spending a night on the sofa is more appealing than heading out. Rich and I are definitely guilty of this, especially when it's cold and rainy outside so when I heard of the ABC dates I thought it sounded like a great plan to get us doing more and making the most of London.

Basically the idea is that you each take it in turns to plan a date or an activity around a letter of the alphabet. So Rich planned A (an automobile tour of London, seeing all the sights, then Asian food - tenuous but 5 stars for effort) and then in was my turn to plan B. It's no secret that we love burgers so I decided burgers at Bukowski in Brixton was pretty fitting. 

We arrived at 7:30 on Saturday and fully expected to queue but walked straight in which was definitely appreciated! The cocktails were amazing and not at all pricey. We thought we'd be true to the b theme and had bloody mary's and blood orange gins.

Then came the main event. I don't know about you but I don't think there is anything more glorious than chilli cheese fries. Normal fries are just not going to cut it anymore. These were nice and chunky with just the right amount of heat in the chilli and plenty of cheese! Both the burgers were really good too, fat and juicy with plenty of extras. Both of them had an egg in which we thought was a bit weird but actually went down really well. 

All in all a successful evening! We were going to head out to a bar earlier but it was cold and Rich forgot his coat (n'aww) so we headed back home and picked up a bottle of gin on the way to continue the cocktails. No need to change habits too quickly ey? 

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sticky Sweet Cinnamon Buns

Whenever I walk past a bakery in the supermarket there are two things I can't resist, almond croissants and cinnamon buns. Cinnamon is also my absolute weakness at Christmas too, a few years ago I learnt to make cinnamon butter and now it takes all the strength I have not to spread it on toast everyday (it's essentially all sugar). But anyway, I've never tried to make cinnamon buns before but having had time on my hands this week and a need to clear out some of the baking goods in my cupboard I put together this recipe for you all.

For the dough: 

  • 500g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 85g butter, cut into small cubes
  • 7g sachet of dried yeast
  • 2 large eggs, beaten 
  • 150ml full-fat milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A little oil 

For the filling:

  • 25g dark brown sugar
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 80g unsalted butter, melted

For the topping:

  • Icing sugar
  • Water

(Makes 10)

Place the flour, sugar and salt in a big bowl and rub in the butter until it has the texture of breadcrumbs. Add the yeast and then tip in the eggs and milk. Full-fat works best for this dough as it is thicker. Semi-skimmed you could probably get away with but avoid skimmed milk as it will make the dough to watery.

Knead in a mixer using the dough hook on a low speed for about 7 minutes, or if you are doing it by hand double the time (ish) to 15 minutes. If your dough is a bit sticky or dry add more milk or flour as you need until the dough is a ball and doesn't stick to the sides. Transfer the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and leave for an hour in warm place to prove. The dough should double in side, I left it for just over an hour.

While the dough is proving, you can make the filling. It's easy peasy, just mix the sugars, cornflour and cinnamon in a bowl!

When the dough is ready knead a few more times to get out all the air bubbles and roll out on a floured surface so it's roughly 30-40cm. Brush the dough with the melted butter (you will only use about half) and then sprinkle over the sugar mixture. It will look like a lot but keep going, trust me. Nothing worse than a cinnamon bun with not enough cinnamon in it.

From the shorter end, roll the dough into a big sausage. Cut into 10 pieces. Lightly grease a deep baking tray, I used a deep cake tin, and line with greaseproof paper. Place each round, swirl side up, in the tin, cover with cling film and leave to prove for a further half hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 180c and when the buns are ready smother them in the remaining melted butter. Bake for 30 minutes but check them after 20 and if they are brown enough cover them in tin foil to stop them burning. They definitely do need the full 30 minutes otherwise they will still be doughy on the inside.

Lift out the tin and leave to cool while you make your icing. I never know the water - icing sugar ratio, so just make a little bit however you like it. I've gone for quite a thick one so it didn't drip off the sides.

Divide them up and enjoy while they're still warm!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Courgetti with Avocado Pesto

For my birthday I got two recipe books (yes my collection does now number over 30...) that I am completely obsessed with. Hemsley + Hemsley and Deliciously Ella. The first recipe I couldn't wait to try was courgetti. Armed with my spiralizer I set off.

Now, I have a confession. I hate courgette. My mum puts it in bolognese (weird) and I used to spend ages picking it out, but I was determined to give it a go. First I tried it with puttanesca (H+H recipe) and it was AMAZING. I ate it three times last week. Deciding I needed to branch out a bit I flipped through Deliciously Ella and came across her avocado pesto recipe. I didn't have all the ingredients in the house so came up with this recipe which uses fresh, homemade pesto.

What you'll need:

  • 50g fresh basil leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 25g pine nuts
  • 90ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large courgettes
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Half a lime
  • Parmesan, grated
  • Black pepper
(Serves 2)

Toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan until just brown. Then put into a small food processor with the basil, garlic and olive oil. Wizz until smooth then add the avocado flesh and blend again. Season with pepper and add the juice of half a lime to add a zing.

Cut the ends off each courgette and put them through your spiralizer according to the instructions.

Add all the avocado pesto to a large, deep frying pan or wok and warm through. Add all the courgette to the pan and stir until fully coated. Heat for around 5 minutes until the courgette is warm all the way through but still a bit crunchy.

Divide between two pasta dishes and sprinkle over parmesan if desired.

PS. I used this spiralizer. I'm not going to lie, it's not the greatest - I won't be winning any prizes for neat ribbons but it does the job and for only £2.68 it's the cheapest on the market by far. I would definitely recommend if you just want to try courgetti out for the first time.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Dishoom, WC2H

On Wednesday Rich, my Dad and I went to Dishoom in Covent Garden for a post birthday dinner. I'd been dying to go there for ages and finally managed to convince Rich to brave the queue. Kudos to him, he queued for 40 minutes before I (running late as usual) met him right at the door. We queued at the bar for another 40 minutes but there were plenty of drinks and snacks to keep us going. Lucky old Dad turned up just after we'd been seated at our table!

So Dishoom... yes it was an hour and 20 minute wait but my oh my was it worth it. From start to finish in the queuing process staff were extremely attentive, made an effort to remember everyone's names and relayed that through the restaurant. I wish I had better photos because I feel like these really don't do it justice. The house black daal is a must have and the chicken ruby is also amazing if you like curries with a bit of sauce. We ended up sharing all our dishes as everything looked so good, all washed down with some locally-brewed London beers and a couple of Kulfi.

It was a perfect experience. And when I came home and started to read up about the restaurant I understood why. Shamil Thakrar, the owner of Dishoom, is incredibly passionate. Passionate about the food and culture of India. Dishoom is set to represent the traditional Iranian cafes set up by immigrants in Bombay in the 1920s and 30s which are now sadly dying out. He is also an incredible writer. If you get a chance read his overview of 2014 on the Dishoom blog. He has also done speeches, most noteably at Dezeen Live. All of this comes through in the design of the restaurant and, of course, the food. What Thakrar said is true, "when you take a bite of [the] food, you're tasting the century of tradition and heritage, which makes the food more than just food".

So please go to Dishoom. The food, the people and the atmosphere are amazing.  

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Birthday In Food

On Saturday I was thoroughly spoilt rotten for my birthday (I am now the proud owner of an R&B bag) and of course a lot of that involved food. The day started with a bottle of Moet from Rich (which I saved for the evening) and a bag of Maltesers from my Aunt and Uncle.

Then we headed off to Tota in Tooting Broadway for brunch with my sister. Although there were pancakes on the menu I opted for a full English, which I hadn't had in ages, topped off with the most amazing mixed berry smoothie. Space is tight but the staff are friendly and you don't feel at all rushed.

Lots of cake, drinking and dancing later I was in much need of some hangover food so Ollie and I walked up to The Manor Arms in Streatham. The rugby was on so it was super crowded but we still got served quickly and they do big, juicy burgers as well as light salads and cheesy garlic breads so there is a bit of everything you fancy.

One rich hot chocolate later and I was tucked up with My Best Friends Wedding by half 6. Thanks to everyone that came and made it amazing. The big 2-4. One year older and wiser ey?