Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Latino Pork and beans



The loss of Native American territory as the modern United States was settled through the 19th century
http://www.thewire.com/national/2012/07/how-west-was-lost-native-americans/54797/

Commonly spoken about in cowboy films, pork and beans takes its place in culinary mythology as the dish that fueled pioneer America when settlers forged west into unexplored territory. Well, unexplored by white people anyway. I mean, it was already home to quite a lot of people who were living there quite happily already (but not for much longer, see the graphic above) but they weren't white European settlers and their story never made it into films so they were clearly not very important.

On a lighter note, a diet consisting largely of beans does have some unwanted side-effect, and you'd not want to share a tent with anyone who eats like this. 

Cowboys eating beans
 Mel Brooks captures the pain of the human condition that can only be relieved by lifting your buttock and farting

Apparently there is also a tinned version of this famous American staple in the States which sounds quite vile. Rumour has it that the pork content is of such poor quality and so insignificant that you might be suspicious that it's made of the sweepings from the floor of an abattoir. As I say, this is hearsay as I've never tried it, but I'd imagine it's something like the full English breakfast in a can which looks and sounds equally revolting. I've also never tried this and, indeed, wouldn't want to eat it if my life depended on it and the only way to consume it was in suppository form. I think I'd prefer a shit sandwich with hemlock dressing and a polonium salsa

Going from the ridiculous to the sublime, this dish is based on a recipe that appeared in the Guardian Saturday cooking supplement (for example they suggest you soak and boil dried beans when I say, in best Sweary style, fuck that when good quality tinned ones are available) though this itself was actually based on Brazilian feijola. It includes Spanish chorizo, Mexican chipotle and dark (ie British/Irish) beer so it's not quite authentically Brazilian. It's similar in a lot of ways to my chilli recipe but it does taste quite different and is another slow cooked classic made in one pot. There is something wonderful about trying a new recipe and it turning out so great you know it is a keeper, and this is one of those dishes

INGREDIENTS
400g belly pork
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4-6 garlic cloves, crushed
1 stick of celery, finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot chopped
50g chorizo, chopped
1 tin of black beans, drained
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp chipotle paste
1 1/2 tbsp tomato puree
1tsp mixed herbs
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 tin tomatoes
200ml dark beer
500 ml water
1 vegetable stock cube

It's all in the chopping
Celery, carrot, garlic, onion and chorizo

RECIPE
Remove the skin/crackling from the pork belly (I posted a blog mentioning my fatal attraction to pork scratchings recently so you ought to realise there's no way in hell I'm letting this go to waste. See the notes for what you can do with this)

Heat the oil in a pan, add the pork and brown it for a few minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon

Add the onion and garlic to fry for 5 minuted before adding the carrot and celery. Allow these to sweat out for 5-10 minutes before adding the chorizo and fry for another five minutes when the chorizo should colour up the vegetables.

More ingredients ready to go in
From 11 o'clock: mixed herbs, tomato puree, chipotle paste, black pepper, cumin

Add the cumin, black pepper, herbs, chipotle paste, chilli flakes, mustard and tomato puree then mix before adding the chopped yellow peppers to soften for a few minutes.

Pour in the tinned tomatoes, beer, water and crumble in the stock cubes before mixing well.

Add the beans and return the pork to the pan.

Simmer, covered, on a low heat for 3 hours or more (this would be a good slow cooker recipe). The pork should be almost falling apart.

Serve with rice, bread or baked or sauteed potatoes (roasted sweet potatoes would be fucking amazing with this).
A panful of porky joy

NOTES

This is what to do with the crackling:
- Ensure the skin is well scored into 2cm strips (should be done already, but use a sharp knife to do it yourself if not).
-Chuck it in a pan of water, heat it to boiling and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes.
-Pat it dry with kitchen roll, sprinkle salt on it, then wrap it in more kitchen roll for 30 minutes.
-Put it into an ovenproof dish and put it in a hot oven at 200°C for 45 minutes.
That's fantastic pork scratchings right there. In the recipe I adapted for this blog entry it states you use this as a garnish on the stew but I'd say fuck that and eat the scratchings on their own as a snack.

Chipotle chillies are fantastic, and the heat and warm smoky flavour the paste brings the dish is wonderful. On the other hand, chipotle paste isn't that easy to come by in the UK, unless you go to one of the really big supermarkets or some wanky Mexican deli. I mean, I make no secret of the fact that I'm a foodie wanker and I got hold of it, but improvisation is the bedrock of a great dish. Add more chilli flakes and a couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika instead. Damn it, even swap some of the chorizo for smoked bacon to give the same flavour if you can't get smoked paprika.

Mexican delis aren't that common in the UK, mainly on account of there not being a significant Mexican community over here. For example, where I live, the Mexican community is incredibly small. So small, in fact, that he lives in the centre of town and is actually my Spanish teacher.

The recipe would work with pork filet as well as the belly used in this incarnation and this would also be lower in fat and cook quicker.

As I mentioned above, the black beans are available in tins so why bother soaking and boiling the dried variety? Seriously, why make something more complicated than it needs to be? Sure, they'll be a bit cheaper, but how fucking tight are you to want to do that if you're already paying for chipotle paste and pork belly but want to save 10p on the beans? Also, make sure you get black turtle beans, not Chinese black beans which are fermented soya beans and totally different. The tin I bought for this was from Dunn's River (though if you can't find these, red kidney beans would also work):

This is the sort of dish Thomasina Miers might feature in her column. She is one of those trendy celeb chefs, slightly less trendy than the Yott, but she won Masterchef and her speciality is fantastic Central American Latino food that demands things like quail and day-old brioche. It's probably no revelation to say I've never won Masterchef. To be fair, I've never actually applied to enter the show as it's not really my kind of cooking. In fact the only reason I'd try to get on the show might be to try and infect John Torode and Greg Wallace with norovirus.

Monday, 14 December 2015

Egg fried rice, Indian style

The word "sundry", meaning "odds and sods", is an odd one because it's almost an obsolete word. In fact, pretty much the only time you really see it is at the back of a menu at an Indian restaurant where it categorises all the accompaniments for your curry, like rice or bread. Ironically, the only thing that appeared in this section (at least, until banned by the EU in 1997) that actually was sundried was Bombay duck. It's fairly common knowledge that it's not actually duck but is in fact dried fish. I can only assume it gets its name because it tastes fucking foul. Even the city of Bombay is no longer known by that name since it officially became Mumbai in 1995 in order to separate the city from it's past as part of the British Raj. Perhaps there's a connection, though if I was pissed off at the imperialistic nature of my former colonial masters, I'd send them even more of that fishy shit for pissed British people to order in the curry house after a skinful and leave them with a taste in their mouth making them worry that they had fellated a dead squid the previous night when they wake the next day.

Bombay Duck
Looking at that picture you'd not know whether to smoke it, put it on your garden or flush it down the toilet

Chinese restaurants in the UK generally do egg fried rice to go with their dishes. You can get boiled rice too (as well as chips, though I've already given my opinion on having chips with Oriental food in another blog) but the combination of rice with egg is actually pretty good and works just as well with a curry if you add a bit of spice. This dish is pretty quick to make as well which is always an advantage and it's less fannying around than making a pilau (like this one, for example). It's also vegetarian.

INGREDIENTS
1 mug basmati rice
good pinch of salt
1/2 a small to medium sized onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp tumeric

RECIPE
Rinse the rice by placing it in a pan full of water, giving it a swirl then draining it. Do this a couple of times more  to remove excess starch from the grains. Finally drain it off into a sieve. Cook it according to the method used in my previous recipe for pilau rice by adding just less than one and a half times the volume of water as the amount of rice you're using (in this case one and a half mugs). Bring quickly to the boil, turn the heat right down and cover for twenty minutes, until the water is absorbed. You should be left with soft, fluffy rice with long basmati grains.

When the rice is ready, heat the oil in a frying pan or wok and add the spice for about half a minute then add the onion and garlic, stirring constantly. Slowly fry until soft. Crack the egg into the onion mix and stir it as it sets. When it's almost cooked, pour in the rice and stir gently to mix everything together without breaking up the rice grains. You should end up with nicely golden, fluffy rice that goes well with any curry.

Indian egg-fried rice
Not the most interesting picture but it has a pleasant colour

NOTES
I already mentioned that the best way to get decent rice is to buy a huge, fuck off bag from a local Asian grocers.

I have to give a mention to my local Asian supermarket, Mullaco in Dewsbury, where a 5kg bag of basmati rice costs less than £8. I realise it's a bit parochial to plug a local shop in a blog that may be read anywhere in the world, but it's that good.

In my introduction I mentioned fellating a dead squid to describe the sort of post-binge-drinking mouth-feel you would likely experience after eating Bombay duck the night before, and even I have to admit this is a ridiculous image to conjure. However, I'm lead to believe that this cephalopod-based act is actually the second part of the initiation ritual allegedly participated in by our Prime Minister when he was at university, the one that follows on from the activity widely reported to have involved sticking his todger in the mouth of a pig. Or not.

Bombay duck picture from http://www.bombay-duck.co.uk/

Saturday, 5 December 2015

Baingan Tamatar (aubergine and tomato curry)

Aubergines are funny things. They're called eggplants in the States, apparently because the first ones that Europeans saw were like the little white ones in the picture below. You do wonder though if they may have got a different name if they'd first seen one of the others, like a purple and white stripy arse plant (far right), or a deep violet penis fruit (do I need to point that fucker out?). I should stress that the latter ought not to be confused with a penis gourd.

United colours of aubergines

And what of other vegetables if they had been named after what they look like? I've already alluded to the sex toy appearance of the butternut squash and the phallic appearance of the courgette in previous recipes (to paraphrase the title of my own blog, it's not big, but it is funny). Would we find the "goth carrot" (parsnip); the "leafy stinking football" (cabbage) or the "You wouldn't want one of them up your arse" (artichoke) quite so appetising?

Of course, we Brits, being proudly European (apart from those of the UKIP persuasion), name them aubergine from the French word for the vgetable which is derived from in turn from Arabic al badinjan which itself comes from the Sanskrit vatimgana which is also the root of the Hindi word for aubergine, baingan, the title of the recipe.

All this linguistic nerdism is well and good, but the word aubergine does sound uncomfortably close to the French word for an inn, auberge, which spawned the Chris Rea song below and I'm not entirely sure that can be forgiven.


Whatever you want to call it, the aubergine is a fantastic vegetable. It is often thing of beauty with its vivid colour. It's also substantial enough to make the basis of a good main course dish in its own right, tastes great, and works really well in curries like this one. As I've said before, I've got a lot of respect for vegetarians and a great vegetarian dinner is all the better for the smug satisfaction you get in the knowledge that it didn't have any dead animal in it (at least, none that you knew about. I mean, there's no accounting for the odd fly or spider that made its home somewhere in the ingredients). This makes a decent main course for a couple of people with rice and/or a nice Indian bread.

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 big onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1bay leaf
~10cm piece cinnamon
2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 tsp onion seeds
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 cloves
pinch chilli flakes
1 tsp salt
1 good sized aubergine (about 3-400g worth if you use smaller ones), topped, tailed and cut into 2cm cubes
1 tin of tomatoes (ideally chopped)
200ml water
1 tsp garam masala




RECIPE
Heat the oil in a nice, solid pan and add the spices.

Fry for a minute then add the onion and garlic and sautee gently to soften.

Add the tomatoes and aubergines and stir well.

Add the water, bring to the boil and simmer.



Leave for at least half an hour, until the aubergine is tender.

Add the garam masala and stir well.

Taste and add more salt if it's needed.


Serve it on its own with rice and/or naan bread or with other accompaniments.

NOTES
Vegetable oil should be neutrally flavoured, like sunflower or rapeseed.

About 30% of the population of India are vegetarian. This amounts to over 350,000,000 people, over five times the entire population of the UK. It's therefore not surprising that probably the best vegetarian food in the world is from India, like this dish. I've got a few more great veggie curries up my sleeve for later blog entries.

I've mentioned before that aubergines are part of the nightshade family, also including tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. We could survive without these plants (in Europe we actually did without most of them before Columbus), but food would be so ridiculously dull.

Garam masala is a mixture of aromatic spices that pep up the flavour of a curry that might be lost during the cooking process.

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Bruschetta

It's a Sweary Brucie-Bonus!
Fucking nice to see you, to see you, fucking nice!

Bruce Forsyth
is a showbiz legend in the UK. He's also older than God's dad. Despite his advanced years, until a couple of years back he was still presenting Strictly Come Dancing on the BBC. He's most famous for his shit jokes and godawful catchphrases involving audience participation, though nowadays you can't help thinking that he uses the audience to help remember what he's supposed to be saying. The reason I mention him is so he cannot be confused with the subject of this blog entry, the wonderful Italian starter bruschetta.

First thing's first, this is how it's pronounced:

Bruschetta (or this version, at any rate) is basically an open tomato sandwich on toasted bread. This description really doesn't do justice to the dish, and it's a bit like describing a blowjob as a moist wank. The combination of the toasted bread, fresh tomatoes, olive oil garlic and fresh basil is fantastic.

INGREDIENTS
1 loaf of fresh bread (French baguette or ciabatta)
1 large clove of garlic
Good olive oil (extra virgin)
100g ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
Small handful of fresh basil leaves
Black pepper

RECIPE
Slice the bread diagonally to give plenty of area to put the rest of the ingredients on and toast the bread on both sides.

Rub the clove of garlic on the toasted bread then crush what's left.

Gently fry the crushed garlic in some olive oil for a couple of minutes and set aside

Pile the chopped tomatoes on the bread

Liberally drizzle olive oil on the bread and tomatoes

Tear the basil leaves roughly and scatter them on top of the bruschetta

Pour the fried garlic and oil over then grind plenty of black pepper and serve it up.

This amount of tomatoes is enough to make four decent-sized slices which is a good starter for two or something smaller for four. It makes a great starter with something like my recently posted ham and mushroom pasta dish


NOTES
This recipe lives or dies on the quality of its ingredients. It needs fresh bread; fresh, ripe tomatoes; a decent quality, fruity olive oil and fresh basil.

You can toast the bread in a toaster. On the other hand, you can make it look good by the art of food wankerie and doing it in a hot, dry griddle pan. Being of the epicurean onanistic persuasion, I used the griddle pan method

As I said above, the tomatoes need to be nice and ripe and quite soft. To be honest, this recipe is best made in the summer when tomatoes have the most flavour. If it's out of season, at least look for the reddest and most fragrant tomatoes you can get.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Pasta with ham and mushrooms

Time for a sweary confession. It's hopefully obvious from this blog that I really love food and, more, that I'm fairly discerning about what I eat. I believe that great meals need good quality ingredients. All this is true, but I absolutely fucking adore pork scratchings. Pig rind, pork crackling, pork crunch, call it what you will, but in my opinion scratchings are the food of the fucking gods. Quite honestly, to me, scratchings are the ambrosia (no, not the rice pudding, you knob) to the nectar (no, not the loyalty scheme, you knob) that is beer. I would live on them if I could, though you would definitely be well advised to stand upwind of me if I did as they do not make a pleasantly aromatic bedfellow with my gut microflora.

I'm so much of a scratchings nerd it's often the second thing I look for in a new pub, after what beer they do. The most exotic of these was when I was getting pissed on San Miguel (Filippino version, not the Spanish version. They are supposed to be the same but they taste very different) it is in a small beach bar in Manila (in a street, not on a beach). They had vendors coming round to sell all sorts of weird things including knock-off watches, knock-off viagra (at least I assume it was knock-off) and even live snakes. Then a guy appeared who was selling actual pork scratchings which were fantastic. Of course, scratchings are also quite possibly the very worst thing you can actually eat: thick with fat, caked in salt and can shatter your teeth if you get bad batch. And don't even get me started on the smell that literally farts from the bag when you open it. Negative points aside, the point of all this is that, with all due respect to my vegetarian, Muslim and Jewish friends, surely pigs are meant to be eaten if even their packaging tastes so fantastic.

Filipino pork scratchings!

Obviously, there is far more to (from?) the pig than scratchings. There is a phrase from Spain saying they use "everything but the squeal" from the pig, (which is also the title of a book by a British expat living in Galicia), in that pretty much the entire animal is used in some way. If you think about it, there are a multitude of things derived from the original pig. Scratchings I've already mentioned, then there's bacon, sausages of various types, uncured pork meat in various forms, a whole anatomy of offal and even the blood in the form of blackpudding. There are less "meaty" products like lard and suet, then there are other uses for pigskin as leather and gelatine. Let's also not forget a wealth of medical uses: porcine insulin is used in treating diabetics and pig skin can be used to make dressings to treat burns patients. Pig products even find their way into cosmetics

I couldn't do a comedy/cookery blog mentioning Spam and not put this, could I?

One of the greatest product of the pig is ham. Like any food, ham can vary from the sublime, like Jamon Iberico from Spain, to the revolting, like tinned spiced ham otherwise known as Spam (so bad they named nuisance e-mail after it). In fairness, Spam is not a good representation of actual ham since it is at least partially mechanically recovered meat and not entirely pig in origin. Generally, real ham tastes good however much you pay for it.This is especially true if you intend to use it in a recipe like this rather than stick it in a sandwich. True, cheaper versions are pumped full of water so you're getting less meat per penny, but the flavour should still be there which, for the purposes of this recipe, is all you need.

This is yet another cheap, quick and easy meal. These factors are all well and good, and they form a bit of a theme in many of my blog entries. The most important thing, however is that this dish really tastes fucking fantastic which is a more prominent theme I hope runs through every single one of my recipes.

INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
100g chestnut mushrooms roughly chopped
150g cooked ham, roughly chopped (smoked if you prefer)
pinch of fennel seeds
pinch of mixed herbs
dash of lemon juice
1/2 a vegetable stock cube
100ml red wine
100ml pasata
Black pepper
All ready to cook
From 9 o'clock: ham, mushrooms, garlic, red onion

RECIPE
Heat the oil in a good heavy pan and add the onion and garlic.
Slowly cook the onion for 5-10 minutes then throw in the mushrooms.

Keep sauteing until they are cooked and add the ham to warm through.

Add the fennel seeds, herbs and lemon juice before crumbling in the half stock cube.

Pour in the wine and pasata and stir well, adding freshly ground black pepper. Leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Serve on pasta. Tagliatelle works quite well

NOTES
You can use smoked or regular ham. The tastes are different but both make a great dish.

For the version I took photos of for this recipe I used a cheap off-cuts pack of smoked ham from my local super market. It's not going in a sandwich and you're chopping it up so the original form doesn't matter too much and this was also quite cheap.You could use panchetta if you were feeling particularly foodie wankerish but it is a little over-powering in this dish.

I'm glossing over the recent WHO report naming  processed meat products such as ham as carcinogenic.

Yet again I need to point out that, while my regular blog guest star, Rick Stein, may mention being somewhere exotic like the Philippines in his painfully meandering stories, he probably wouldn't be talking about getting rat-arsed on cheap local beer and being offered drugs to give you a prolonged stiffy, or indeed pork scratchings. Sweary Chef wins again.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Burgers!


William Shakespeare was not only probably the greatest writer in the English language, he was also incredibly prophetic when his witches from Macbeth accurately predicted the composition of your standard burger available on the British High St 500 years after his death (see above). Generally, if a burger is made of crap it will taste like crap. Mind you, putting a slightly different spin on things, who needs to go to the zoo to see lots of animals when you can take a bite of a cheap burger and have an entire menagerie parading across your tongue and into your stomach? It's like a multi-species game of Operation "I'll go for the aardvark pancreas, then the walrus foreskin, and the hypothalamus of a couple of squirrels". On more pertinent note, a good burger can be a wonderful culinary experience and even better if you make it yourself and you know what's in it.

Authentic street or peasant food is often wonderful and can tell you a lot about the place it originates and the people who make and eat it. This stuff is often made for workers in offices, in the fields, those cleaning streets, often all standing in the same queue, all of whom need something quick, cheap and nutritious. More than that, good street food thrives word of mouth recommendation so depends on its quality and is therefore made with more than a little bit of love. It's often eaten on the hoof, or at plastic tables at the side of the road, served from a shack, a kiosk or just a barrow. Think Belgian waffles, Thai noodles, German wurst and even, dare I say it, Gregg's pasties. On the other hand, street food is also one of those current wanky food fads that are increasingly misappropriated of late by middle class people in gingham shirts and tweed, sporting ridiculous facial hair (aka fucking "hipsters") and sold from the "pop-up" restaurant. These are the sort of people who had a couple of tacos at Chiquito's and then decided to go off touting their food as authentically Mexican when, in fact, all they've done is buy an economy tub of Old El Paso fajita mix and thrown it over some Iceland chicken portions in a huge fuck-off bucket the previous night before banging them out from the back of a trailer for a tenner a pop.

Hamburgers get their name because they were once street food in Hamburg, or maybe it was because  they were produced by German immigrants in America. Actually, the true origin of the burger seems a bit fucking hazy. Well, after a cursory Google search it does, at any rate. Wherever the thing started, the hamburger basically uses cheap cuts of beef and makes them quick to cook, easy to eat and downright delicious if done right, so what's not to love?

Now, while it's true that hamburgers are still very much the food for poor, lazy or inebriated people, with our streets lined with fast food outlets, many upmarket restaurants now also have them on their menus. Probably the most ridiculous and obscene example is something like the Fleur Burger made in Las Vegas and costs $5000. OK, it's not really your normal hamburger. It's got truffles in it and it's made with Wagyu beef, but it's a bit of a stretch that one of these is a few hundred times better than a Big Mac. Wagyu beef is rumoured to be the very best sort of beef there is, as the cows it comes from are given the finest grain, plied with beer and their farmers massage them and probably fellate them on a daily basis, all in an effort to give beautifully fat-marbled beef. This attention doesn't come cheap, making Wagyu beef the most expensive form of cow flesh in the world. I have trouble understanding what sort of fuckwit takes the finest quality steak, mashes it up then puts it back together again in the form of a burger. It's the kind of cuisine that kind of makes you hope for a shred of truffle getting stuck in the recipient's windpipe. Nothing fatal, you understand, just enough to require a fairly violent and undignified Heimlich Manoeuvre to project the sliver (all couple of hundred quidsworth) across the room.


The Heimlich Manoeuvre
Never has the line between first aid instruction and soft-core gay porn been so blurred

INGREDIENTS

1/2 a medium sized red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
500g beef*
2 tsp Worcester sauce
dash Tabasco sauce
pinch mixed herbs
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp (or more) freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp coarse grain mustard
salt
1 medium egg

To serve:
Buns

Grated cheese
mixed leaf salad
Tomatoes, sliced
1 red onion, sliced
Gherkin slices

Ketchup
Mayonnaise
Mustard
Chilli sauce
Sliced jalapenos

*The beef can be mince, stewing beef like chuck steak or, on a couple of occasions, I've used some very cheap sirloin steak from my local butcher which was awful as steak but made pretty good burgers. If not using mince, remove any really stringy or gristly bits from the meat then chop it roughly. I'll twat on about this more in the notes

RECIPE
Heat the oil is a small pan and add the onions and garlic to fry gently until soft, around10 minutes.

Allow to cool and add it to a food processor along with all the other ingredients. If you don't have a food processor, you need to use mince and mix everything together by hand in a bowl though the texture won't quite be as fine and the burger is more likely to break apart when you cook it

Take a quarter of the mixture, roll it into a ball then squash it into a patty between your hands.

Alternatively, if you're a foodie wanker like me, you might possess a burger press which means you can make nice, regular-shaped burgers.

When formed you can keep these in the fridge for a while if need be, for example if you are planning to barbecue them later, and they also freeze pretty well too.

A burger press doing its stuff


Smear the burgers with a little oil, slap them into a hot griddle pan and cook for maybe 4-5 minutes each side, turning regularly. Alternatively do them on the barbecue where they taste fantastic.

Unlike steak, the suggestion is that burgers are cooked through. See notes.

Before

After
Perfectly griddled

Stripes like this are NEVER out of season

Toast the bun a couple of minutes before the burgers are cooked then serve them on the buns with the salad ingredients plus condiments of your choice. Serve them up with chips, or better still, potato wedges like these I posted a while back.

Done to perfection
I'm not going to win any awards for food photography.  I'm not David fucking Bailey, OK?


NOTES
I've tried making burgers a few times in the past and they never worked as they tasted just like mince. The key is in the other things that go into the mix: the onions, garlic etc.

Having tried this with different types of beef, they all have different properties. The cheap sirloin I used tasted great but the burgers were a bit dry. Chuck steak made burgers that were a bit more moist but still a little drier than I prefer. Mince made the best patties in terms of being moist as it's all down to the fat content so cheap mince would probably work best as it has a higher percentage fat. This means that the cost of the burgers is really low as well, and the recipe could even be classed as yet another of my mince wonder.

Burgers ought to be cooked through completely. This is apparently true even if they are made from steak. The reason is because if you cook a steak, the bugs are on the outside and get killed by the searing whilst the under-cooked inside stays fairly bug-free (don't mention the parasites!). However, if you mash it all up to make a burger, the bugs are then spread through the whole patty. Saying this, I'd risk doing a burger rare if it was made from steak, but if it's made from mince you really need to make sure they are cooked properly. Besides, minced beef tastes like shit if it's under cooked.

The composition of the final burger in its sandwich form is very much a personal thing: how much salad, what salad ingredients, which sauces. Personally I like some cheese, a bit of lettuce, some sliced tomato, sliced onion, sliced gherkin, mayonnaise, ketchup or some sort of chilli sauce and perhaps some jalapenos. Mrs Sweary, on the other hand, has her burger totally bare with perhaps a few leaves of lettuce and a bit of sliced onion, a statement which would not have been out of place in the script of a Carry On film or indeed on my blog entry for pork afelia.

Shakespeare quote pic from http://leyendomucho.blogspot.co.uk/2013_10_01_archive.html
Heimlich manoeuvre pic from http://www.firstaidreference.com/first-aid-for-choking-heimlich-maneuver-adult-choking-infant-choking/139/

Friday, 13 November 2015

Mince wonder part 3: Bolognaise

It was only a matter of time before I got round to posting my version of this old kitchen standard and it's yet another addition to my array of mince wonders following chilli con carne and shepherds' pie. Mince doesn't cost a lot and can also be replaced by veggie mince if necessary, making it flesh-dodger friendly, so this dish is really versatile, tasty and cheap. It's the ultimate student/laddish meal but nice enough for a more sedate dinner with polite company.

It's a cliché to refer to the 1970s as the decade that style forgot, but this isn't really fair. Sure, the fashion was largely pretty ludicrous, but this was also the decade that gave us punk and decimalisation. It's also the time when we Brits started to look to our new European chums for food and style tips. These aspirations to European cool may have left a lot to be desired by today's standards, but then again, you do need to learn to shit in a potty before you can use the toilet.

70s fashion
This much polyester in one location is now banned due to the fire risk

In the 1970s spaghetti bolognaise was the absolute fucking zenith of continental sophistication. In fact this dish is so 70s you could put a droopy moustache on it and call it Peter Wyngarde. I know it's easy to scoff with the benefit of hindsight, but its competition in terms of continental sophistication at the time included crème caramel in plastic potsColman's Beef Bourgignon ready-made sauce mix in a sachet; and Blue fucking Nun Liebfraumilch German white wine, so it won hands down on being something that tasted nice.

Label from a Blue Nun bottle
and a video giving correct response to being offered this awful excuse for wine

Anything from mainland Europe was considered stylish. Even British cars of the time had an aura of continental mystique about them with names like Allegro, Cortina and Capri. This was, of course, long before our era of Easyjet and Ryanair flights, the Channel Tunnel and the EU. This was an age when these places across the Channel in Europe were exotic and sophisticated. They were separated from us by water, they were "other". These countries were so exotic you needed visas to enter them, so sophisticated that you could get ameobic dysentery from merely looking at a glass of the local tap water (or so travel advice of the time would lead you to believe).

Europe had an edge, it seemed a dangerous place. There was often a pervading mistrust of Germany from those who had lived through WWII. France ate funny-shaped bread, molluscs and amphibians. Spain was just recovering from being under a Fascist dictatorship and was on the verge of a military coup in order to return it to one at any time (yes, this really almost happened).

Nowadays things are different. Forty years on and we find that we Brits are more worldly wise. Foreign travel is nothing we think twice about. We pay the price of a pint of Belgian lager (brewed under licence in Wales) allowing us to be herded onto a 737 to Barcelona or Bratislava for a weekend. We get there and immediately find an Irish pub to get shit-faced on Guinness while watching the Man U game before getting a Big Mac on the way back to our hotel to crash out before a full English in the morning to dissolve the hangover. Like I said, exotic and oh-so-fucking worldly.

As I've alluded to in other blog entries, this was my very first taste of Italian food. As I've also alluded to, I was raised in a house that was hardly an outpost of culinary exploration. Bolognaise in my family went through various incarnations as I grew up though, in fairness, many of them were actually quite tasty if not authentically Bolognaise. For example, baked beans don't really grow on trees in the fair city of Bologna, but did find their way into some of my parents' incarnations of this ragout but made for a reasonably palatable dinner. My version is a bit more authentic and certainly doesn't have baked fucking beans in it.

INGREDIENTS
500g beef mince (or vegetarian mince if you are so inclined)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finey chopped
1medium carrot, finely chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, crushed
250g mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 tins of tomatoes (or replace 1 tin with a 500g carton of pasata)
2 table spoons of tomato puree
1 tsp mixed, dried herbs
1 bay leaf
1 tsp paprika
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 beef stock cube
150ml red wine
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp Worcester sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce (optional)
2 tsp dark soy sauce

RECIPE
The vegetables
Carrot, celery, garlic, onion and mushrooms.
Note how finely chopped they are, apart from the mushrooms

In a heavy saucepan dry-fry the mince to brown it for about 5 minutes (essentially until it's cooked), making sure it's well broken up with no lumps, and pour it into a sieve to get rid of the excess fat.

To the empty pan add the olive oil and heat on medium before adding the onion and garlic to fry for 5 minutes.

Throw in the celery and carrot and gently cook for 10 more minutes, ong enough to soften, then add the mushrooms for another 5 minutes until they look cooked.

Return the cooked mince to the pan and add the tomatoes, breaking them up (or use chopped tinned tomatoes), before stirring well and adding the herbs, bay leaf, paprika, black pepper and mix well.

Crumble the stock cube in and squirt in the tomato puree, again stirring well.

Pour in the wine, balsamic vinegar, Worcester sauce and (if you're using it) Tabasco.

Stir well, bring to the boil then turn down the heat to simmer with the lid on for at least an hour, ideally two or more.

Keep checking intermittently and stirring. Leave the lid off for a while if the sauce is too liquid.

It's a pan of pasta sauce
What more do you want?

This recipe makes plenty for four adults.
Serve with pasta (well, duh!) and bread

NOTES
As a pasta sauce this needs to be nice and smooth, so the onions, carrot and celery need to be finely chopped. Also, make sure the mince is nicely broken up when frying it. The mushrooms add a bit of texture so need to be chopped larger. It's actually a good way to hide vegetables if you have a sprog with an aversion to culinary plant matter.

Using pasata instead of a tin of tomatoes makes a more smooth, almost creamy texture. Tinned tomatoes are cheaper though

Tabasco adds a bit of subtle piquancy so don't use too much. It's not supposed to be "spicy". On the other hand, my piquant might leave some chilli-dodgers with steam blowing out of their ears. These things are relative so leave it out if you or your guest(s) are effete.

Pasta for this is traditionally spaghetti, but in the Sweary household we tend to use something that takes less cutlery skill to eat, like penne or fusilli, mainly because Mrs Sweary can't eat spaghetti without looking like an extra from True Blood when she's finished (see picture for an idea of what I mean).

Darling, but you've got a wee bit of sauce round your mouth.
I told you you should have ordered penne for your bolognaise instead of spaghetti

70s fashion pics from https://www.pinterest.com/hippyali/70s-men/ and http://www.paintlouisville.org/70s-fashion-trends.html. Blue Nun label image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/jassy-50/13336957223. Messy eater picture sourced from http://weheartit.com/entry/154371114/in-set/93667449-blood?context_user=loverofsatan666&page=2

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Hyderbadi black pepper chicken

Spices are incredible things. Seeds, fruits, roots, even tree bark. They generally look, at best, unimpressive and at worst just plain fucking nasty. Take the star anise. It looks like a brown shuriken but adds the subtle aniseed flavour to Chinese cuisine. Cloves look like rusty nails but they also give the heady, numbing aroma to mulled wine. Worst of all is root ginger which looks like Boris Johnson but is an integral flavour as part of Indian and Chinese food. and of course in sweet recipes like ginger biscuits and cakes. Without spices food would be just so dull.
Spices and the things they resemble
(from top: a star anise and a shuriken; a clove and a rusy nail; root ginger and BoJo)

I could go off on a tangent and twat on about how some spices are important in traditional Chinese, Ayuvedic and other historic mystical system of pseudo-medicine and they can cure all sorts of shit but if you're a regular follower of this blog you'll know I don't subscribe to any of that new age bollocks. True, herbs and spices, like any natural products from animals or plants, contain all manner of substances which may have beneficial effects and there is a lot of good research underway to look into these possibilities. Sometimes the effects aren't necessarily beneficial. For example, I could mention how capsaicin, the component that makes chilli hot, is actually neurotoxic, how you can actually get high on nutmeg if you eat enough of it and if you eat too many poppy seeds you can test positive for heroin at roadside drugs tests. Indeed the "poppy seed defence" is a well known in legal circles when people have claimed that their positive drug test was due to eating a poppy seed bagel rather than being off their tits on smack.

Anyway, onto the recipe in hand. If you've read a few of these entries you'll know I really love my spices. Most of these dishes have a good measure of spice, especially chilli.This doesn't have so much as a whisper of chilli in it. It isn't actually a curry. Yes, it's Indian. Yes, it's got some spice content. Yes, it's actually hot in a spicy way, but it's not really a curry. No coriander, no cumin, no aromatic spices, no chilli. I ranted about what made a curry in one of my previous entries but this doesn't fall into that category because it's only got tumeric, ginger, garlic and black pepper. Lots and lots of black pepper.

I have to say that this dish is probably one of the tastiest things I have ever cooked. The combination of black pepper, vinegar, ginger, garlic and onion is actually quite magical.

INGREDIENTS
2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp salt
4 tsp crushed back peppercorns
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp ground tumeric
3 tbsp vegetable oil
500g chicken fillet, diced
1 onion, puréed
1 onion, sliced

RECIPE
Mix the garlic-ginger paste with 1 tsp of the black pepper, tumeric, vinegar and 2 tsp of the oil.

Add the chicken and stir, ensuring it's well coated, before putting in the fridge to marinate for 2-3 hours.

Add the remaining oil to a pan, and the rest of the black pepper then fry for a few seconds before adding the sliced onion. Sauté this until soft then add the puréed onion and fry until it starts to gain some colour.

Add the marinated chicken along with any liquid from the marinade and gently cook the chicken through. How long this takes obviously depends in what form the chicken is. For this entry I used diced chicken breast which took 15-20 minutes, though other times I've used chicken on the bone which is in bigger pieces and so takes longer, but I'll come onto that in the notes.



Makes enough for two adults served with rice or an Indian bread, plus maybe a vegetable curry to make a more complete meal



NOTES
Garlic-ginger paste is exactly as it's described: mushed up garlic coves and fresh ginger. I pounded it into a paste in a pestle and mortar, but you could use a small hand blender. If you don't have either you could get away with crushing the garlic and grating the ginger then mashing it up further with the back of a spoon. Two teaspoons is about 2-3 cloves of garlic and a small thumb-sized piece of root ginger. The actual amount you need isn't actually that critical, as long as there's enough to coat the chicken as part of the marinade.

The original recipe for this was from celeb chef Atul Korcher and uses a whole chicken cut into 8 pieces. That's shit-loads more chicken than I needed since I made this for two people. Also, the original cooking method is a bit of a pain in the arse with on-the-bone chicken plus originally the recipe used 100ml oil which is way too much though makes cooking larger chicken pieces easier but makes the dish greasier than a Tory MP who fell in an oil slick while lubing himself up to participate in an orgy.

Using diced chicken may lose out on flavour of bone-in chicken, but it's so much easier to make as the chicken really needs to be rubbed with the marinade if it's in big, bony lumps. This makes the preparation more messy than Mr Messy visiting a scat party (possibly attended by a ready-lubed up Tory MP) and has the effect of giving your fingers the look of someone who smokes 40 a day plus if you have a cut on your finger it hurts like hell, thanks to the vinegar.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Mongolian Beef Stew

The flag of Mongolia.
It's rather nice
Undoubtedly the most famous Mongolian is Genghis Khan who ruled the Mongol hordes that rampaged across Central Asia into Eastern Europe in the 13th century. He was also, according to legend, the grandfather of Kublai Khan who, besides being probably the world's second most famous Mongolian, was also a dab hand at building. Well, according to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem named after him, at any rate. Coleridge wrote "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome decree". Apparently this Xanadu place was fucking immense. It was so big it had a river running through it, entire forests and even the odd hill. This description may need to be taken with a bit of a pinchof salt, though since, Coleridge was out of his head on opium when he wrote it. Mind you, it does appear to detail what was probably the very first concept of a theme park. He'd basically invented Disneyland but was too off his tits to build it. The poem also gave rise to the wonderful slice of 70s cheese from Olivia Newton John and ELO, below, from the film of the same name. I don't think that version of Xanadu was in Mongolia, besides which, Coleridge would have been having some truly nightmarish hallucinations if he had dreamt up the roller disco, assuming there was room to build one between the many an incense bearing tree or sinuous rills.

Xanadu by ONJ and ELO with appearances from Gene Kelly, no less

Anyway, back on topic. There are a few other ethnically named dishes on the blog that aren't especially authentic and this is one no different. My Mongolian beef stew is about as Mongolian as my arse. For a start it's not made with yak, has no trace of fermented ewe's milk to bulk it up and it's been nowhere near a yurt. It is based on recipes I found in a few sources claiming to have Mongolian provenance, though these also seem more Amir Khan than Genghis Khan but, fuck it, it's got soy sauce, black bean sauce and water chestnuts in it, so how exotic do you want?

Frequently twatted on about by regular blog guest, Rick Stein, when he's waxing lyrical about how they are "so comforting" or "like mother used to make", stews are generally easy, cheap and filling. Thing is, my mother used to make the most boring fucking stews ever. I was lucky if it had a stock cube in it. Even so, meat cooked for a fucking age with vegetables will develop a reasonable taste on its own. Therefore it doesn't take much more to make a stew or casserole that tastes great. Often in the West we do this by cooking in booze, like French Boeuf Bourguinon in wine, beef in Guinness or Carbonnade (pork in beer) from Belgium. Many oriental dishes use lots of coconut to give fragrant, creamy stews. However, this recipe, has lots of soy sauce and black bean sauce which combines with the slow-cooked beef to give a thick, rich, satisfying plateful of genuine comfort with an exotic flavour. It's basically oral sex from a furcoat-wearing Ulaanbataar prostitute in casserole form

INGREDIENTS
2 tbsp olive oil
400g diced stewing beef
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
1 tin water chestnuts (140g drained weight), drained and sliced
200ml water
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp dry sherry
120g black bean sauce
pinch dried chilli flakes
Black pepper
pinch 5 spice powder
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp honey

RECIPE
Pour the oil in a pan and heat then add the beef and sautée until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon.

To the remaining juices and oil add the onion and garlic then fry until soft. Throw in the carrot and water chestnuts and return the meat to the pan.

Add the water, soy, sherry and black bean sauce and stir.

Stir in the chili flakes, 5 spice and plenty of black pepper then mix in the tomato puree and the honey.

Stir well and heat to boiling in the pan.

Cover and turn the heat right down then leave to gently simmer for at least two hours, stirring occasionally. The meat should be nice and tender, almost falling apart.

In the pan it looks like any other stew

Makes enough for two people served with rice, and looks like this:



NOTES
I got onto this recipe because my wife happened to mention that she fancied something made with lamb. I went to my local Co-Op where they had no lamb, so I got beef instead. Besides, it works best as a beef dish with the thick dark gravy made from the soy sauce. Pork or lamb may also work but you might need to tone down the soy sauce, perhaps using light rather than dark.

For black bean sauce, I used Blue Dragon Black Bean Stir Fry sauce, mainly because it was the only thing they had involving black beans in my local super market. This may be a bastardised version of black bean sauce, with all sorts of other stuff in it for the purposes of stir frying, but it works.You could use some more authentic black bean sauce as purchased from a Chinese grocer (or bigger supermarket) if you can be arsed. If using real black bean sauce, add about two big tablespoons.

Many vegetables you might want to put in a stew that needs to cook for a long time will disintegrate by the time the meat is tender enough to eat (eg peppers, courgette). Hard root vegetables work best in maintaining their integrity, like the carrots in this version, which go soft as long as they don't get cooked too long. Water chestnuts, however don't change in the slightest and stay crispy. They are integral to the dish add crunch to the meat which should be falling apart by the time the recipe is served. Another good thing about them is they are tinned so having a couple of tins in the cupboard means you can make this anytime you fancy

You could leave out the chilli flakes if you're not a fan of heat. Also, it's a good idea to not add too much 5 spice powder because if you overdo it, the whole thing will taste like aniseed balls.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Chicken chow mein

Yes, it's supposed to be chow mein and this is Chop Suey.   
It's a great song so fucking sue me


While I've been doing this blog I've done recipes from various parts of the world, but so far not from China, as such. And that's not going to change with this recipe, since this is yet another bastardised/Anglicised variation on an authentic regional dish. OK, it's Chinese, in that the ingredients are oriental but, like chicken tikka masala in Indian restaurants, it's basically thrown together to appease the delicate pallets of us poor, fragile westerners. There's no sharks' fin, no rotten smelling durian fruit, no bird's nest composed of dried avian spit (or other exotic ingredient regarded as a delicacy in the orient). Not that there's anything wrong with these ingredients from a culinary point of view per se. Tastes vary around the world and what one culture find a delicacy other people find repugnant. I mean, nobody east of the Danube in their right mind would even consider bringing a lump of rancid, congealed, mouldy milk (or "blue cheese" as we refer to it in Western Europe) anywhere near their mouth, never mind eat it. Or there is surströmming arguably the most disgusting "delicacy" in the world, which is a tinned form of effectively rotten fish originating in Sweden. On the other hand, and taking a broader view, the demand for sharks' fin in the east and in oriental restaurants all over the world is seriously depleting the global population of sharks. This is because sharks' fin soup is a luxury dish and a burgeoning middle class in countries like China, Singapore and Malaysia, keen to show off their wealth and status, has increased demand.

I've eaten sharks' fin soup. It tasted delicious. Not because of the fin but because of the ingredients that went to make the broth of the soup. The fin itself added fuck all to the flavour, only being present as strips of slightly chewy gristle floating in the broth.

This raises an obvious question. If it doesn't have any taste of its own, why is sharks' fin so popular? It's so highly prized because, according to traditional Chinese medicine, it's supposed to impart sexual potency. So sharks are being hunted to extinction because businessmen can't get a stiffy. That is bad enough, but there is actually no evidence that sharks' fin is in any way an effective remedy for erectile dysfunction. In fact, since sharks are apex predators, they accumulate toxic metals like mercury in their tissues which can lead to all manner of health problems including sterility and erectile dysfunction in men. Ahh, the irony. Personally, if any bloke wants to show his social status or how magnificent his tumescence is, I think he should buy a bigger car, shag his secretary then just fuck off, and leave sharks alone. Or try Viagra.

Dragging myself back on track, noodles are huge in east Asia. They are the perfect foodstuff: filling, cheap and versatile. They are popular street food, taste fantastic and really keep these countries running.You can have fried dishes like this or soups with noodles in. In fact most eastern Asian countries have their own versions of a noodle dishes: pad Thai in Thailand, mee goreng and laksa in Malaysia, Japanese udon. They are the origin of pasta, brought back from China by Marco Polo, apparently. Like shark fin, they also taste largely of fuck all. This means they need a well-flavoured sauce (or broth in soup recipes) and other ingredients to turn them into something worth eating.

This is a really easy dish to make. The most time-consuming part is preparing the ingredients. Chopping carrots into matchstick-sized pieces, slicing peppers into strips and finely chopping ginger are a collective pain in the arse, but they cook quicker and the results are worthwhile.

INGREDIENTS
150g dry egg noodles
300g chicken fillet cut into strips
2 tbsp light soy
black pepper
3 or 4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 piece ginger (about 3 cm), finely chopped
1 small bunch spring onions, cut diagonally into pointy sticks
1 small-medium carrot, cut into matchstick sized strips
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
100g washed bean sprouts (about a handful)
200g mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp vegetable oil (not olive, see notes!)

Sauce
2tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce (the thick dipping kind)
3 tbsp dry sherry 
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar

RECIPE
Put the chicken in a bowl and pour the light soy over it and add a liberal grind of pepper.

Mix them well so they are well coated in the soy and put in the fridge to marinate for a couple of hours or so.

Boil up a large pan of water and add the noodles.

Simmer gently until they are soft, about 5 minutes (depends on their thickness). Drain them and set aside.

Make up the sauce by adding the dark soy, chilli sauce, sherry, sesame oil and sugar to a cup and mix well then set aside.

Add half the oil to a frying pan or wok and heat until it's very hot.

Stir fry the chicken until it's cooked (about 10 minutes).

Remove the meat with a slotted spoon, leaving the oil plus any juices from the cooked chicken in the pan.

Add the remaining oil and the throw in the garlic and ginger and stir fry for about a minute.

Throw in the carrot, pepper, spring onion and mushroom and stir fry for 5-10 minutes.

Add the bean sprouts and carry on stir frying for another couple of minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan and keep moving on the heat to make sure everything is warmed.

Refresh the noodles by running them under the cold tap, drain well and add them to the pan.

Try to mix up everything and once the noodles are warmed through add the sauce mixture, and the best way I've found to do this is to gently turn them over like you might do when dressing a salad.

I would add a warning that it is a bit of a ballache to make sure that the noodles are mixed with all the other ingredient.

NOTES
Use a neutral-flavoured oil for this, like sunflower or soya, but NOT olive oil which has too much flavour and is definitely not Chinese and doesn't tolerate the high heat you need to stir fry.

The chilli sauce adds a little spicy edge to the sauce as well as a bit of sweetness and stickiness. It should be the Thai sweet type as made by the likes of Blue Dragon or Encona. These aren't very hot, but if you really can't tolerate chilli, leave it out. Then again, if you do have an aversion to chilli, why are you using a cookery blog which has a significant Scoville rating in almost every recipe?

You can put lots of different vegetables in this. I've done the same recipe with combinations including mange tout, sugar snap peas, green beans, baby sweet corn, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts. They ought to be fairly crunchy, but otherwise it's up to you. You could also make it with any other meat like beef, pork or prawn. You could even omit meat altogether and make it vegetarian.

Recipes in Chinese cookery books suggest using Chinese rice wine, or sherry as an alternative. The sherry works perfectly well, but it needs to be a dry type. Something like a fino is what you need but definitely not Harvey's fucking Bristol Cream

Like rice, soy sauce is best bought from Asian supermarkets where you can get a huge bottle for the same price as you might pay for a tiny one in your usual place.

No pictures on this entry yet. I'll take some next time I make this.

This isn't intended to be a racist blog. The rant about sharks' fin is a rant against general fuckwittedness anywhere it raises its head in the human race. All of these superstition-based remedies are as idiotic as one another. For "Chinese traditional medicine" you could just as easily read "homeopathy" or "astrology". If this sounds cynical, I can't help it. I'm a Sagittarian, it's in my nature


Friday, 6 February 2015

Tomato pilaf

You might have noticed that I use some of the same ingredients in a lot of my recipes. Tomatoes are one of them. And why not? The press is full of stuff about how great they are, full of antioxidants like lycopene. Basically it's supposed to stop you getting cancer. Better still, tomatoes taste fucking great with pretty much everything.

Mind you, some pseudo-scientific fuckwits claim that all nightshade vegetables, of which tomatoes are one (a group also including peppers, chillies, potatoes and aubergines) are a bad thing to eat for a variety of reasons. These include the claim that they contain a toxic alkaloid, that tinned tomatoes contain a man-made toxin and that they can cause osteoporosis. This is all utter bullshit without any foundation in reality, let alone science, and I'm not giving these hysteria-promoting morons the privilege of a link.

Of course, not all tomatoes are good. It took George Clooney a good few years to get over appearing in this



INGREDIENTS
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp tomato puree
150g fresh tomatoes, peeled
350 ml vegetable stock (made by adding half a vegetable stock cube to 350ml of warm water)
200g rice
Salt
Pepper

RECIPE
Heat the oil in the a heavy-based pan and add the onion and garlic. Fry them until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the rice, stir so that it's coated with the tomato mixture then pour in the stock plus salt and pepper to taste. Heat until it's boiling, turn down the heat and cover for 10 minutes or more, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. Serve.

This makes enough for two-three adults.

Tomato pilaf served with pork afelia

NOTES
No pictures of the preparation for this entry. It's rice that's a sort of reddy-orangey colour, what do you need a frigging picture of?

It doesn't need any fancy rice. I used Thai jasmine rice which is what I use for most things. It needs to be quite a moist dish though.

Peeling tomatoes is a regal pain the arse. What you do is pour boiling water into a heatproof jug then cut a slit in the skin of your tomato before throwing it in the boiling water for 20 seconds or so. This should make the skin pucker and shrivel up so it looks similar in colour and texture to David Dickinson. It then becomes easy to peel off. One or two are OK, but doing a lot of tomatoes takes ages and becomes more difficult as the water cools. You could probably get away with using some tinned tomatoes, but you'd have to add less water.

This is tomato PILAF, not to be confused with Edith PIAF. though if it were about her, I daresay she may have changed her signature torch song to "Non, je ne regrette riz"
(a little linguistic humour there)

This goes really well with something like my pork afelia which I also recently posted

Monday, 12 January 2015

Afelia Pork

INTRODUCTION
As you may have guessed, I have a very British love of the double entendre (and, yes, the irony of something as British as football hooliganism and binge drinking having a French name does not escape me). To really enjoy a good double entendre you do have to need it to be accompanied by the appropriate sound and all the double entendres in this blog update will have a convenient player to give you a sound from that British institution, the Carry On films, to enhance your smutty enjoyment.



Cookery is chocker-block with double entendres from your coq-au-vin...



...to your spotted dick.



Afelia pork is another, though slightly disappointing in the double entendre front. Obviously it would be sound even more rude if it was made with steak and was called afelia rump.



This double entendre-rich blog entry builds on my previous one for pulled pork, though that didn't benefit from the sounds. That recipe is one of the rash of similar dishes that have been doing the rounds for various cuts of meat for a while now, and I can see why they are so popular as I really like my meat pulled.



If that sounds appealing, do look it up. You'll find my entry very satisfying.



INGREDIENTS
1 heaped tbsp whole coriander seeds
Juice of 1 lemon (works out about 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp dry white wine
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
500g lean pork meat in 2-3cm cubes (tenderloin is good)
1 tbsp olive oil 

Meat mixed with the marinade, ready to go in the fridge to steep

RECIPE
Crush the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar. Yes, I'm THAT kind of cookery prick who has a pestle and mortar. Crushing them between two plates also works if you don't happen to be a foodie wanker.

Mix the crushed seeds with the lemon juice, wine, garlic, salt and pepper and half of the olive oil, then mix well.

Add the pork, and stir so that it's well covered by the liquid, cover and put it in the fridge to marinate for at least a couple of hours. This allows the marinade to tenderise the meat as well as making it taste nicer.

Be aware that your fridge will smell like Dracula's worst nightmare with the garlic.


Pork on the hob, cooking


Heat the rest of the oil in a frying pan or wok on the hob and add the meat plus any remaining  marinade and keep stirring on a medium heat until the pork is cooked, about 20 minutes.

The liquid will reduce down to an almost syrupy consistency.

Serve with roasted peppers and perhaps a rice dish, like my recipe for tomato pilaf.

And here it is ready to eat

NOTES
You could make quite a feast out of this with a starter and dessert. As a starter, a nice soup and it doesn't come any nicer than the wet, fishy mouthful of clam chowder.



A good dessert to have with this dish would be something fruity, perhaps pears poached in port, since there isn't anything nicer than a big juicy pear.



This recipe doesn't have any butter in it, but I do like to stick a knob in when I'm cooking.



Afelia is usually a dish made with red wine from Cyprus but this is Delia Smith's version made with white. You can always rely on Delia but I'm a bigger fan of Fanny Craddock's recipes as well. Delia's are great, but I love the taste of Fanny's.



My wife can't think of double entendres so I had to give her one.



  Thanks to http://www.carryon.org.uk/sounds_frm.htm who I've linked to for all the Carry On sounds