Oops we did it again! (Tortellini with a leek and bacon broth)

First of all I am going to have to say lots of “sorries” to people. Sorry for not having posted for a while, sorry for not visiting you all so often, and a very, very big sorry to all the lovely folk who have nominated me for awards over the last few months and who I have not thanked properly. My excuses are many – the house renovations, a dreadful cold and my old laptop almost dying and having bought a new one which I’m trying to get to grips with (but not always successfully). The technical problems mean that the e-mails with the lovely award nominations are no more…along with some photos and documents. My fault entirely. So sorry. Again.

We’ve had some snow here, which was actually quite fun as there wasn’t enough to turn our little world upside down.

Snow 15 Enero 2013 (1)21 Jan 2013 (6)

We bought another place to do up – but this time it’s for us to use as our UK holiday place. Er yes, you did hear that right. Last one, I promise. But it was so sad and sorry looking and is part of an Edwardian House that needs to be loved again, we couldn’t just leave it there to get sadder could we? And when it’s done we may even let loved ones come and stay…so if you’re ever in the area…

Eek - that's all got to go!
Eek – that’s all got to go!

Walled garden - lots of potential once the rubbish has gone

But we’ve eaten too. Hearty dishes to keep out the cold, and glamorous dishes to celebrate the sea. I did cook an amazing monkfish tail with prawns and a champagne sauce. But guess what? The photos seem to have been lost in transit from one laptop to another.  Too much renovating and not enough backing up I hear you say.

Not a recipe as such for you today, but a bowl of hearty pasta and broth to chase away the snow, winter colds and house renovation madness.

Tortelloni with Leek & Bacon Broth (2)

For the two of us, I took one leek and finely sliced it, stir fried it with some finely chopped bacon (but you could use mushrooms if you wanted a veggie version), added in a packet of ricotta and spinach tortellini (or you could be fabulous like my pal ChgoJohn and make some ravioli) and covered with broth (stock). I used the broth from boiling a gammon but chicken or vegetable stock would also be good. Then I just simmered for a few minutes until the tortellini were cooked, and voila, a speedy supper. Be healthy and eat it as it is, or do like me and smother it in grated parmesan. Buon appetito!

Apricot Stuffed Pork Loin

Apricot Stuffed Pork (1)

Rest assured that despite the hard work, rubble and paint that is our life right now, we never go hungry!  In fact, we even manage to do a little small scale entertaining and this dish was one I made when Best Pal Ria and her brother-in-law came to visit and see what we had been up to.

I was inspired to cook this dish after having seen a beautiful recipe from ChgoJohn, take a look at this beautiful Roast Loin of Pork with Fig Preserves.

It was a great dish as it can be prepared ahead and served hot or cold, leaving you time to catch up with your guests.

Ingredients

  • A loin of pork (or a boned shoulder) mine weighed about 1.75kg 8 (which serves 6-8 people)
  • 10 finely chopped dried apricots soaked overnight in orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon of harissa paste
  • 2-3 tablespoons of pine nuts dried fried until toasted (or you can do this in the oven)
  • Salt and pepper
  • A glass of white wine (or chicken stock)
  • Olive oil

Use a long sharp knife to cut a slit through the middle of the pork loin (think of a hollow tube) so that you can then fill this with “stuffing”. Mix together the apricots and the juices, the pine nuts, the harissa and about 2 teaspoons of olive oil. Season the mixture and use it to fill the pork loin.

Season the outside of the loin and rub a couple of teaspoons of oil into it. Place the meat into a deep dish, cover with a lid or tightly with foil and cook at a medium low heat for about 3-4 hours. Remove the meat from the juices (which you will save) and chill the meat. Don´t skip this step, it makes serving so much easier!

The next day, thinly slice the meat into rounds. Warm the sauce and reduce a little. If you want to serve the meat cold, serve the sauce separately. If you want to serve it warm, pour about a third of the sauce over the meat, cover with foil and put into a medium oven for about 20 minutes and serve the rest of the sauce on the side.

I served mine with cous cous with mint, lemon zest, pomegranate and pine nuts but we ate if before we remembered to take a photo!

Speedy Suppers – Smokey Pork with Pimentón and Peppers

I do love alliteration don´t you?! Even more I enjoy a speedy supper dish which tastes amazing and looks pretty too.

Smoky pork & peppers (1)

If you don´t eat pork, this would be delicious too with chicken. It just wouldn´t be so alliterative.

Ingredients (to serve 2)

  • 1 pork fillet cut into small strips (or use a small piece of pork loin)
  • 1 pepper, sliced (I used an orange one)
  • 1 medium onion, halved and sliced quite thickly
  • About 6 chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 crushed cloves of garlic
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of smoked pimentón
  • A small glass of white wine
  • 2 tablespoons of crème fraiche (or use full fat yogurt)
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil

Start by browning the little strips of meat in a tablespoon or so of olive oil. When they are browned, remove from the pan and set aside. Now add the onions, garlic,  peppers and mushrooms into the same pan and cook gently until softened then turn up the heat slightly to give some colour to the onions.

Add the meat back into the pan and sprinkle over the pimentón and season.  Fry gently for a minute then add the wine. Turn the heat down and continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes then turn the heat up for a minute or so just to reduce a little of the liquid.

Check to taste the seasoning, turn off the heat and stir in the crème fraiche. Delicious served with plain boiled rice and some green vegetables.

Lamb with Quince, Pomegranate and Coriander

The 6th January is the Feast of Epiphany, celebrating the arrival of the Three Kings to Bethlehem. In Spain el Día De Los Reyes is a feast Day, and widely anticipated and celebrated by young and old. Traditionally a Roscón de Reyes (a Cake of Kings) is made. Check out my recipe from last year here, or Giovanna´s beautiful creation here.

Although we´re currently in England, we weren´t going to let a celebration pass us by, and the opportunity to celebrate it with best friends and parents was too good to miss.

Lamb with Quince (1)

We may have had to eat off a folding table in a half decorated room with mismatched plates from charity shops, but we were going to eat well.

We started with Jamon y Queso (Ham & Cheese) and Habas con Jamon (Broad Beans with Ham) and a delicious Brandada. Check out Mad Dog´s fantastic post all about this Catalan delicacy.

Our main course was inspired by my Christmas present from Big Man, the beautiful book Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi. We had bought a couple of quince back from Spain with us, although I didn´t have quite enough so added in chunks of butternut squash (Ottolenghi recommends pear) which worked really well.  Below is how I cooked the recipe with the original recipe also shown.

Ingredients (serves 4 as a main course)

  • 400g minced lamb
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 red chili, chopped (I used 1 tsp hot pimentón)
  • 20g chopped coriander plus 2tbsp to garnish
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1tsp allspice
  • 2 tbsp finely grated ginger
  • 2 medium onions peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium free range egg
  • 4 quince (1.3kg in total) I used 2 quince and a small butternut squash
  • ½ lemon squeezed plus 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses (I couldn´t find this so used honey plus the juice of an extra half a lemon)
  • 2 tsp sugar (I left this out)
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • Seeds of ½ pomegranate
  • Salt and black pepper

Place the lamb in a bowl with the garlic, chili, coriander, breadcrumbs, allspice, half the ginger, half the onion, egg and seasoning. Mix with your hands and then form small meatballs. The original recipe suggests stuffing halves of quince, Believe me, this is very hard work as quince are very hard to peel and chop, so I went with his other suggestion to chop the quince and cook with the lamb meatballs.

Lamb with Quince (2)

Peel and chop the quince/squash into large chunks and finely chop about a quarter of the chunks. Leave the larger pieces in a pot of water with the juice of half a lemon to stop the quince turning too brown. Or don´t bother – it will still look and taste good when cooked!

Heat the oil and add the finely chopped quince/squash, onions, ginger and cardamom pods. Cook (covered) until softened then add the molasses and lemon juice (or honey and lemon juice), sugar (if using), stock and seasoning. Now add the quince/squash and meatballs and cook gently for about an hour (covered) or until the fruit is soft. Remove the lid and turn up the heat and cook for a further few minutes until the sauce is thick and pulpy, check for seasoning and sprinkle with the pomegranate and fresh coriander before serving. I also added an extra squeeze of lemon juice.

Tastes even better if made the day before (just don´t add the coriander and pomegranate). I served it with basmati rice into which I stirred browned onions and cumin seeds (toasted and crushed with a pestle and mortar).

Fruit Platter (1)

Phew – a lovely meal with friends which was rounded off with singing and dancing (of the silly variety), Roscón and a fruit platter which went some way to convincing us that we hadn´t consumed any calories at all over Christmas and New Year.

Griddled Scallops with Seared Jamon

Ooh, that sounds a bit restauranty doesn´t it? Well, you can see from the photo that it really wasn´t, but it was quick and delicious and a perfect New Year´s Eve starter for the two of us. Who wants to spend hours in the kitchen when there´s champagne to be drunk for goodness sake?!

Scallops (1)

Back here on the South Coast of England, we are lucky to have access to freshly caught fish and shellfish. Rye Bay Scallops (caught locally) are delicious and even have a festival to celebrate their glory. Lucky us, perfect for a special treat.

Ingredients (for 2 people)

  • A few handfuls of your favourite salad (we used rocket and baby plum tomatoes)
  • 3 scallops with their coral per person
  • 6 thin slices of jamon (or use 3 slices of prosciutto cut in half)
  • A salad dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, a splash of soy sauce, half a teaspoon of honey and salt & pepper (go easy on the salt because of the soy sauce)

Heat a griddle pan until it starts to smoke and then quickly sear the jamon/prosciutto for a few seconds on each side.

Jamon a la plancha (1)

Remove from the heat and cook the scallops for about a minute on each side (or less if you like them less cooked or they are not very thick).

Put a layer of salad on a plate then 3 slices of jamon followed by the scallops.  Season the salad, drizzle with the dressing, serve with lemon and enjoy.

Skating on Thin Ice – Skate Wing with Prawns

Well, with my track record of falling into holes, walking into lamp posts and generally bumping into things, it´s probably a good thing that there are no local ice rinks for me to run amok in!

Skate with prawns (2)

Best to stick to Skate (ray) of the edible variety.  Here´s a super simple dish, which is quick to cook if the skate is already prepared. If not, check out this “how to” post. Aside from using the biggest frying pan you can get your hands on, it´s all plain sailing. Or skating…

Ingredients (per person)

  • 1 whole skate wing (or half if it´s as enormous as the one I bought)
  • Half a cup of raw peeled prawns (or you can use cooked)
  • Flour for dusting
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon
  • One clove of crushed garlic
  • Olive oil and butter for frying (or you can use just oil)

Dust the skate wing in seasoned flour and fry gently on both sides until lightly browned. Remove and keep warm while you fry the garlic and prawns until the prawns are cooked through and pink (if raw) or just warmed through if already cooked.

Squeeze a little lemon juice into the pan with the prawns and garlic and the oil/butter then pour over the skate to serve. Easier than a triple salchow. Whatever that is.

If, like me, you prefer a walk in the bright Winter sunshine to skating, hope you enjoy this shot of the beach at Bexhill on New Year´s Day morning where we walked with the dogs. Yes….we´re back in England to finish of the last bits of work in House No 2!

1 Enero 2013 (1)