Pork with Rosemary-infused salt, Bulgur Wheat & Special Veggies

This recipe has been sitting in my drafts since Lent last year, probably because the photograph isn’t great. However, I think that Simple September is a good time to share it with you because it introduces a cheap cut of meat, a store-cupboard grain which I love, and a ‘using up’ approach to to vegetables.

Enjoy! 

One of the joys of supermarket-free shopping is going to the butchers and trying different cuts of meat. Today I popped into a local butchers shop to see what caught my eye and was good value and came away with a pork rib chop – something which I had never cooked before. It turned out to be an amazingly tender cut of meat and I shall certainly be cooking it again.

Cooking pork gave me the opportunity to  try out an infused salt which I made at the weekend – inspired by the book Gifts from the Garden by the wonderful Debora Robertson. This book was by far my favourite Christmas present and I am very much looking forward to putting it to good use when spring arrives!

The veggies were very much a ‘what have I got’ effort; what I had was a single carrot, the tail end of a bag of frozen peas and jar of artichokes in oil – a winning combination it turns out!

Why bulgur wheat? Simply because I love it and had not shared it with you previously.

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It is worth saying at this point that I have been reliably informed that I ‘could do better’ with respect to my food photography; I didn’t get the feedback until after I drafted this post so apologies if the picture doesn’t give this delicious meal justice! Please do keep giving me feedback – I’m all for continuous improvement.

Ingredients

  • a pork rib chop
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary-infused salt
  • 1/3 cup of bulgur wheat
  • a pinch of saffron (not essential)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of vegetable stock
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • a handful of frozen peas
  • four pieces of artichoke, chopped
  • mixed herbs

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Mushroom Soup 

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Autumn is drawing in, and as far as I am concerned that equals soup weather (and pie weather of course!). This one I find particularly warming, I think partly due to the mace which I very much associate with autumn and winter cooking. Mace is a truly wonderful spice; if you do not have any in your store-cupboard I highly recommend that you get some. Mace comes from the same tree as nutmeg but has a rather more savoury taste, it is fantastic in all sorts of wintry stews and I recently put it in a rather delicious beef pie.

This mushroom soup recipe is vegan;  I put soy milk in it rather than cows milk because I had some in the fridge which needed using. I have to say that I don’t like soy milk in tea or on cereal but it is really good to cook with. I am also rather fond of almond milk – it’s great to cook with and rather good in hot chocolate.

Ingredients

  • Mushrooms! I used quite a big bowl full (see picture below) which were left over from Punk Night – I don’t like to waste things! Mushrooms shrink more than you think they will, so don’t worry if they fill the whole saucepan because they will reduce.
  • A small red onion
  • Half a teaspoon of Mace
  • A teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • A couple of grinds of black pepper
  • A tablespoon of cornflour

Method

Heat some oil in a frying pan and then add the onion, mustard seeds, mace and pepper.

When the onion is nicely softened, add the mushrooms. Give it all a stir, turn the heat down and put a lid on the pan allowing the mushrooms to ‘sweat’.

Keep an eye on it;  you probably won’t need to add any liquid because a lot will come out of the mushrooms,  but if it looks like it is drying out then add a splash of hot water from the kettle.

When the mushrooms are cooked, put them in the blender along with the cornflour. Give it a good whizz, adding the soy milk (or other milk) a bit at a time.

Put the mixture back in the pan and heat slowly, allowing the cornflour to thicken.

Taste, and add further seasoning if required. More milk can be added, depending on how thin or otherwise you like your soup.

Done!

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Odds and Sods Soup

I have decided that it is time to go back to my £5 a week food budget – I have become lazy recently, and although I have maintained the discipline of not wasting food it has become too easy to spend more than I need to and to do ‘lazy cooking’.

I have not yet spent my £5 this week, and I did not top up my storecupboard before commencing my budget cooking – no cheating! Before I spend my £5 I need to use up some fresh ingredients; my lovely lodger is working away for a week and has left me with a fridge full of yummy things which I cannot let go to waste, so what I have to start with is:
– a couple of rashers of bacon
– a bag of green salad
– an avacado
– salami & parma ham
– red peppers

Thanks Amy!

I also have carrots which very much need using up, onions, garlic, a lonely potato, a lonely tomato, fresh bread, and of course my trusty spice cupboard.

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So of course I started with soup.

Ingredients

– one onion
– one potato
– one big tomato
– one red pepper
– six carrots
– 2 cloves of garlic
– smokey paprika
– stock from the freezer (or a vegetable or chicken stock cube)
– salt and pepper to taste

Method
Finely chop all of the vegetables apart from the tomato. Fry in a large saucepan with the paprika and a little oil or butter.
Put the tomato in a bowl of boiling water straight from the kettle; when it has been in there a few minutes you will find that the skin peels off easily.
Add the tomato to the other vegetables along with a pint of stock – I used my turkey stock from the freezer, but you could equally use a vegetable stock cube.
Simmer until the vegetables feel soft when you put a fork in them – about 20 minutes – then blend using a food processor or hand blender.
Return the blended vegetables to the saucepan and continue to cook on a low heat, adding more liquid (water or milk) if you think that the consistency is too thick.
Taste, and season with salt and pepper if required.
Serve with toast and lots of butter.

… and I have plenty left for lunch tomorrow – hurrah!

Penne pasta with ham, spinach and crumbly cheese

As you must have worked out by now I hate to waste food. This was an impromptu ‘using up’ meal; I had some white crumbly cheese which my parents left with me before they went on holiday, plus some spinach and ham which my lovely lodger had not managed to finish off before she went away for a few days, and would not have lasted (don’t worry,  I will replace it!). A very cheap and yummy lunch for a wet, stormy Sunday.

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Ingredients
This fed one person:
– 1 cup of Penne pasta
– a splash of Olive oil
– a teaspoon of dried Oregano
– a couple of slices of Ham
– two handfuls of Spinach
– 1/2 cup of crumbled white cheers  (I’m not sure what it was – I’ll have to ask my mother!)
– Black pepper
– a sprinkle of Chilli flakes

Method
Bring the pasta to the boil. Follow the instructions on the packet;  not all pasta takes the same length of time to cook.
While the pasta is cooking, crumble the cheese, rinse the spinach and shred the ham into small pieces.
Drain the pasta and add a splash of oil and the oregano. Next add the ham, spinach and cheese and put the lid back on the pan so that the spinach wilts, the cheese melts and the ham heats through; the hob does not need to be on at this point, it should have enough residual heat from cooking the pasta.
After a couple of minutes add some black pepper and give it a good stir.
Serve with a sprinkle of chilli flakes.

Kitty’s Soda Bread

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It is over two weeks since I posted this taunting photograph with the Leftovers Soup, and I have finally got around to writing the promised (and much requested) recipe. Apologies for being a bit slack.

Ingredients

  • 125 g / 4 oz Bread Flour
  • 125 g / 4 oz Plain Flour
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • ½ Teaspoon Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 15 g / ½ oz Butter
  • 225 – 250 ml / 7½ – 8 fl oz Plain Yoghurt
  • Beaten egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • Poppy seeds (optional)

I usually use ½ wholemeal flour (i.e.  4 oz Wholemeal Plain or 4 oz Wholemeal Bread Flour).

If you do not have plain yogurt, milk can be used instead but make sure that you start with a much smaller volume and work up to the correct texture.

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Method

Pre-heat the oven to 200oC.

Sift the flours with the salt and bicarbonate of soda and then rub in the butter.

Add 225 ml / 7½ ml of the yoghurt all at once and mix quickly to make a soft dough, adding the additional yogurt only if necessary.

Shape into a 15 cm (6 inch) diameter ‘cake’ and place it onto a floured baking tray. Score deeply with the back of a knife into quarters.

Brush with beaten egg, then grind some salt and pepper onto the top. Seeds can be added at this point if you have them.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes.

This soda bread is best served fresh from the oven. Enjoy with some nice butter, cheese and a lovely soup – such as this rather yummy one!

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A Quick Sunday Lunch for One

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This was delicious!

I first defrosted some part-cooked stuffing wrapped in bacon which was in the freezer from my pre-Christmas food preparations; I’m pretty sure it was Delia’s chestnut stuffing.

Then, I roasted new potatoes, onions and carrots at 180oC in a very similar way to how I cooked the potatoes on Friday. After about 20 minutes I added the stuffing balls, followed after another 5 minutes or so by a handful of walnuts (at this point I added a little more olive oil).

When it all looked nice and roasty I cooked some frozen peas, took a pretty picture for you and then scoffed the lot!

Carrot, Lentil and Cider Soup

It’s time to use up the rest of the carrots before my next shop, so it’s soup time again! This particular pot of soup fed me for two meals.wp-1452710058423.jpeg

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion/ a couple of small ones
  • 5 carrots (approx)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Curry Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Coriander
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 pint vegetable stock
  • approx 1 cup of cider (I used some frozen home made cider; made into ‘ice-cubes’ in the same way as the turkey stock mentioned previously)
  • almond milk (you can substitute in any other type of milk)
  • seasoning

Method:

Peel and chop the onions and carrots and cook in some olive oil (just enough so that they don’t stick) along with the spices for about 5 minutes, keeping an eye on it and stirring occasionally.

Add the cider and cook on a medium heat for another 5 minutes.

Add the lentils and stock and simmer on a low heat for 10-15 minutes, adding more liquid if required.

Transfer to a blender and whizz until smooth, adding almond milk until the soup is nearly the right consistency. Pour the soup back into the pan, using some more of the almond milk to swill out the rest of the soup from the blender so you don’t waste any.

Bring the soup slowly up to temperature. Taste. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

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