Slow Cooked Cuban Style Pork

Long slow cooked dishes usually make me think of the cooler months, but using the slow cooker means the kitchen doesn’t get all hot and steamy, and I don’t get all hot and bothered. And with a little planning, if you need to use the oven,  head out for a few hours to enjoy the sunshine  and come home to a delicious meal!

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I bought a shoulder of pork the other day, a not expensive cut of meat which goes a long way with a little crowd, or it can be used for a few meals when it’s just the two of us. I’d seen a few recipes for Cuban Mojo Pork which included the juice of citrus fruits like orange , lemon and lime and the fresh flavours appealed. I also recently discovered a lovely new blog, Iowa Girl Eats. Lots of lovely gluten free recipes for those that don’t/can’t eat gluten, and for others like me who can…just a lot of lovely,  beautifully photographed recipes! This dish follows  her recipe pretty much exactly (thank you Kristin!) and I can highly recommend it. We ate the dish, as she suggested with rice, guacamole and I made some spicy Black Bean dip. Lots of lovely leftovers too, so a win-win situation.

Ingredients (to serve 6 approx)

  • Pork shoulder  (about 2kg), skin removed
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup each of lime and lemon juice
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 hot chili (cut open but left whole)
  • 1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 or 2 teaspoons of dried oregano 
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of dried cumin and smoked pimentón 
  • 2 bay leaves

Put all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for about 10 hours. The meat should shred easily (like pulled pork) or you can leave it in chunks. I put the pork shoulder in whole but you can cut into  large chunks if it fits better into your pot that way.

If cooking in a conventional oven, I’d recommend cutting the pork into about four or six pieces, using a cup and a half of chicken stock and cooking on low for about 3 hours. Check the liquid half way through,  you may need to add more as you want the final dish to be juicy with some of the lovely sauce it creates to spoon over.

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Serve with whatever you fancy. I make my guacamole by mashing a large ripe avocado then adding in some finely chopped spring onion, a finely chopped ripe tomato,  finely chopped coriander and chili and seasoning.

If you enjoy slow cooked pork dishes, check out my Chinese Style Slow Cooked Pork.

PS. Am playing around with a “new look” on the blog. Let me know what you think, all criticism happily accepted! And if anyone knows how to add a “search” button to the top of the page, I’d love to know how…

 

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Lemon Rice With Cashew Nuts

I made this lemon rice dish to eat with the Rendang Style Beef I made recently. A local Indian restaurant serves lemon rice, and I always order it but felt it was time I learned to make it myself. As a vegetarian dish it would stand pretty well alongside some vegetables, and is great with many other dishes, not just curries.

Lemon Rice (3)

Ingredients (to serve 4-6)

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1  tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida (optional)
  • ½ small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 long green chilli (finely chopped and deseeded too if you prefer it less hot)
  • 10g fresh ginger, peeled and grated or chopped finely
  • About 10 fresh curry leaves
  • 100g unsalted cashew nuts
  • About 500g cooked and cooled basmati rice
  • juice of 1 large lemon plus the zest of ½ the lemonfinely grated
  • Optional – finely chop the remaining half of the juiced lemon
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Heat the oil in a large pan or wok and add the mustard seeds, turmeric and asafoetida. Fry, stirring constantly, until the mustard seeds begin to pop.

Now add the onion, green chilli, ginger, curry leaves and the nuts and fry for a couple of minutes until the nuts take on some colour and the onion has softened.

Curry Night (9)

Add the rice into the pan and stir fry until hot (a few minutes) then add the lemon juice, zest and lemon pieces. Mix well and season with salt and pepper before serving.

Inspired by a recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Great Curries.

Arroz Caldoso con Cangrejo – or Holidays, Romance and Crabs

Any of you who have followed my blog since way back when may recall a trip we made a few years back to the north of Spain. To Galicia and Asturias more precisely. An insanely beautiful part of the country, lush and green. Lush and green because, like in Scotland or the English Lake District, it rains a lot. And rain (and rain) it did. Which left us plenty of time for eating and drinking. Always look on the bright side, I say.

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I don’t know why it surprised us that it rained, even though it was only the tail end of summer, as holidays and special occasions are generally a complete disaster for Big Man and me.

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Our anniversary falls on 11th November so aside from the fact a lot of folk are quite rightly marking a very solemn memorial to all those who lost their lives in conflict, it’s a dreadful time of year for good weather in the Northern Hemisphere. Christmas and Birthdays generally involve some sort of disaster or a member of the extended family falling ill so we’ve now accepted that we’ll not get ourselves too worked up over celebrations and holidays and just enjoy the everyday joys.

There is a point to all this reminiscing. Today I bought two cooked and dressed crabs at the local fishmonger intending to boil some potatoes, make a salad and call it lunch. Big Man began to talk about an amazing meal we’d had on our trip to the north of Spain. The rain poured down, the wind howled and the first hotel we stayed in was nice but miles out of town. After a long, long drive we decided to do something we rarely do and EAT IN THE HOTEL RESTAURANT. What a good decision that was. The food was incredible and we made the most of it, ordering their speciality of Arroz Caldoso con Bogavante (which translates as brothy rice with lobster) for our last night there. Why didn’t I make “brothy” rice with crab he asked? Why not indeed, so I did, and absolutely wonderful it was too.

If you have an earthenware cazuela to make and serve this in, use it (Celia, I’m talking about you!). It really makes a difference to the flavour and is more authentic.

Ingredients (to serve 4)

  • The meat from 2 cooked crabs (white and brown) which will weigh about 260g – although you can use raw too but will need to cook them first
  • About 1.2l of fish stock made from the crab shells and any other bits of fish you can beg from your fishmonger and with a few strands of saffron added
  • 400g paella rice
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 200g chopped, peeled tomatoes (if using tinned, and why wouldn’t you, make sure to drain them first)
  • A splash of brandy
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A lemon, quartered
  • Some finely chopped parsley to serve
  • Olive oil

Gently fry the onion in a little olive oil until it is softened but not browned then add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes and cook gently for about 10 minutes and add the splash of brandy. Next add the rice and stock.

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(A little reminder, if you’re making paella you’ll need 100g of rice per person approximately and for every 100g of rice you need about 210ml of liquid. For brothy rice you need the same amount of rice but 3 times the amount of liquid, so approx 300ml to every 100g of rice.)

Cook gently, half covered until the rice is almost done, add more stock if it’s drying out too much, then add the cooked crab meat, stir and taste and add seasoning if necessary at this point. Turn the heat off, cover the pan and let the rice rest for at least 5 minutes and to let the rice finish cooking. Serve with a little parsley sprinkled over and wedges of lemon to squeeze over the food.

This is a dish made with a few ingredients but which lets them shine, it tastes luxurious and decadent. Which made me think it would be good for a Valentines meal – very romantic. Unless you happen to be us and also have Valentine’s Disasters…but more of that in a few days.

If you want to see more of the North of Spain, do check out the links at the start of the post, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

A Vegetarian Feast – Mushroom Risotto with Asparagus

We love risotto and I make it often. Some folk are nervous about it, thinking it will be a pain to stand and stir, and worrying if the rice will be over cooked or undercooked. Relax, pour yourself a lovely glass of wine and just enjoy about half an hour of gently attending to your dish while your mind sorts out the worries of the day. The diners will eat when the risotto is ready. No sooner, no later. And if you don’t like your rice too “al dente”…well you’re in charge, you can cook it for longer.

It’s a great dish too for using up whatever you have to hand. Personally I’m not so keen on meat risottos so this is a good option for us on the days when we choose not to eat meat or fish. To make this vegan you’d need to use vegan cheese and leave out the splosh of cream at the end – it will still taste amazing, I promise.

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Ingredients to serve 6 as a starter, 4 as a main

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g carnaroli or arborio rice
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 2 peeled and crushed cloves of garlic
  • About 10g of dried porcini mushrooms soaked in boiling water, drain and finely chop the mushrooms and reserve the liquid. Make the liquid up to 1.5 litres with vegetable stock and keep it hot
  • About 300g chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced or finely chopped
  • A tablespoon of butter
  • Fresh parmesan
  • A good splosh of cream

Start by warming the oil in a deep frying pan and sweating the onions and garlic until soft. Add fresh mushrooms and cook gently until they are also soft then add the rice. Stir the rice in the pan to make sure all the grains are coated in oil then add the chopped reconstituted dried mushrooms.

Slowly add the hot stock, a couple of ladles full at a time, stir into the rice and when it has been absorbed, add more liquid. When the rice is almost cooked to your liking, turn the heat off and stir in the butter and cream, cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Serve with griddled asparagus and large mushrooms (brush them with olive oil and season before cooking on a hot griddle) for a filling main course. Sprinkle with fresh parmesan as you serve if that takes your fancy.

Ottolenghi Inspired Stuffed Peppers

Yes, the love affair with Mr O continues. Today the recipe is inspired by one from his book Jerusalem, and is, in turn, one of his own mother’s recipes. Momma knows best, we all know that.

As ever, I used what I had to hand, the original ingredients are in brackets following my version. It makes a stunning main course accompanied by a salad packed full of all your favourite leaves, or an excellent starter if you use smaller peppers and restrain yourself to eating only a half. Tough choice.

Stuffed Peppers (4)

Ingredients (to serve 4 as a main course or 8 as a starter – easily halved, or even doubled for a party)

  • 4 red bell peppers (which I halved and blanched in boiling water for about 3 minutes) (8 romano peppers, no need to blanch)
  • 2 cups of homemade tomato sauce or (1 large tomato roughly chopped, 2 medium onions roughly chopped, about 500ml vegetable stock)

Stuffing

  • 140g basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp Allspice (1 ½ tbsp baharat)
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 400g minced pork (400g minced lamb)
  • 2 ½ tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (2 tbsp chopped dill, 1 ½ tbs chopped dried mint)
  • 1 ½ tsp sugar
  • Salt and black pepper

Put the rice in a saucepan and cover with lightly salted water. Boil for 4 minutes, drain, rinse and set aside.

Dry fry the spices, add the olive oil and onion and fry until the onion is soft. Pour this and the stuffing ingredients into a large bowl and mix). Season.

Stuff either the half peppers or if using the romanos cut a slit lengthways without cutting in half completely and stuff each pepper.

If not using previously made tomato sauce, place the chopped tomato and onion into a large pan with a tight fitting lid (or pour your sauce in). Sit the peppers on top, cover with a lid and either simmer on the stove top on a low heat for about an hour or cook in a medium oven until the peppers are tender. If using the stove top, make sure the sauce does not dry out by adding a little water if necessary.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Almost Arroz a a Cubana

It sounds so exotic doesn’t it…Cuban Style Rice? Well, sorry to disappoint, but it’s not at all! Arroz a la Cubana is a store cupboard, go-to dish. Often served in restaurants as part of the mid day “menu” and eaten by impoverished students all over Spain. What is it? Simply rice with tomato sauce and a fried egg on top.

As with many simple dishes, they can be comforting and filling. And they can be dressed up too, if this is what takes your fancy.

I almost always have some home made tomato sauce in the fridge. In the summer our little huerto provides me with tomatoes to see me through most of the year, and even though we missed the end of the summer in Spain, I managed to freeze plenty of tomatoes which will keep me going for a month or so until this season’s vegetables are available to me.

Solomillo con arroz a la cubana (5)

There may be a different way of making Arroz a la Cubana, this is my method which gives you a slightly soupy textured rice, almost like a risotto.

Ingredients (for two as a main course)

  • 1 cup Spanish paella rice
  • 1 ½ cups of water
  • 1 cup of tomato sauce (sofrito) Recipe below
  • Salt and pepper

Start by bringing the rice and (salted) water to the boil, reduce the heat and continue to cook slowly until most of the water has evaporated. Now add the tomato sauce, check for seasoning and continue to cook for a few minutes more until the rice is almost done. Turn off the heat, cover the rice and leave to stand for 5 minutes, by which time the rice will be done.

Typically served with a fried egg on top, a great veggie meal, I added some cooked green beans and topped the rice with griddled loin of pork. Delicious with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Chica’s Quick Tomato Sauce

  • About 5 fat cloves of crushed garlic
  • 500g of crushed tomatoes
  • A tablespoon of tomato purée
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh basil or oregano (stalks and leaves, not chopped)
  • A glass of red wine
  • About half a teaspoon of sugar

Put the garlic into a few tablespoons of olive oil (do not heat the oil first, we don’t want the garlic to brown) and cook slowly for a few minutes until it starts to soften. Now add the tomatoes, the tomato purée, the wine and the herbs. Season lightly and simmer for about 30 minutes until thickened. Check for seasoning and if it is a little sharp, add the sugar (this is not always necessary). Cook for a few minutes more, remove the herbs and you’re done.

We’re back Up Our Mountain!

Yes, we’re back! Not quite from outer space, but it’s been a long time. It was a long and horrible journey and we arrived late last night. I just wanted to say a quick “hello” to you all, show you one little snap of the kitchen (not quite finished, but nearly there) taken the night before we left.

Forgot to take the protective film off the chimney hood, so it's ot such a funky colour really..oh yes, and we haven't painted the picture rail yet either...
Forgot to take the protective film off the chimney hood, so it’s not such a funky colour really…and the over the counter lights need to be connected…oh yes, and we haven’t painted the picture rail yet either…

We managed to have a little housewarming party for Big Man’s Birthday and to say a proper hello and thank you to all our lovely new Bexhill friends and neighbours.

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I’m very, very behind on posting, reading and commenting but we now have months and months of catching up, relaxing, cooking, sewing, eating and vegetable growing to look forward to, so once I’ve caught my breath….I’ll be back properly!  Thanks for all your kind words of support over the last few months and for sticking with me.  What good pals you all are, I need to organise another little party….

When life gives you cold rice…you make Arancini

So…look away now if you fear deep frying, or just don´t do it for health reasons. I understand, really I do. It´s just that I do deep fry from time to time. Once, in a little experiment to see just how much oil is used when making “proper” chips, I measured the oil (half vegetable, half olive oil) before and after making them and was pleasantly surprised to find that just a couple of tablespoons had been used in the whole process. So now, whilst I don´t advocate eating deep fried food daily, or even weekly, I don´t feel guilty when I do make chips, or deep fried peppers, or croquetas…I do it with joy in the anticipation of how good they´ll taste when they´re hot out the pan.

However, if you do want a healthier, and non fried version, check out this great baked recipe from Natalie at Cook Eat Live Vegetarian.

So, on with the deep frying. Ingredients are few for delicious arancini, but you do need to have some leftover risotto from the day before. Don´t even think about making it fresh to use the same day. Magic happens overnight in your fridge and those little grains of rice continue to absorb any liquid as they cool down and become extra stodgy sticky and perfect for molding into those little balls of ricey, cheesey goodness.

Arancini, as I am sure many of you know, are named after the Italian word for “Little Oranges” because of their shape and beautiful colour. When I was a child on holiday in Southern Italy with my family, sometimes the aunties would agree to a night off of cooking. This meant either a visit to a local restaurant or a trip to the local shop which provided all sorts of delicious “ready meals” to take home and heat up. Nothing like fast food of today, of course. Proper food, made by the Mamma or Papá of the shop – pasta, roasted peppers, hot and cold meats…well, a whole menu full of delicious food to take home and enjoy. I would always offer to go along with the uncles to collect this as I was rewarded with a piping hot “arancino” to eat on the way home. God forbid I should pass out with hunger on the way.

Just in case you fancy doing something different, arancini can also be made with minced meat as a filling – it´s up to you.

Ingredients

  • Leftover, cold risotto, at room temperature
  • Mozzarella cut into small cubes
  • Dried breadcrumbs (I used panko, as I have just “discovered” them in the UK – have never come across them in Spain – but use whatever kind you like)
  • Oil for deep frying

Take about a tablespoon of cold risotto and put it into the palm of your hand (wet your hands first, this stops things from getting too messy. Place a little cube of cheese into the centre and mold the rice into a ball then roll it in the breadrcumbs.

Deep fry the arancini in very hot oil for about 2 minutes or until they are a beautiful deep golden colour.

Drain on kitchen roll and have a cold glass of wine to hand because you will probably need to taste one to check it´s done, burn your lips and need to cool them down.

Now you see me…. now you don´t – Oven Baked Risotto

Oh dear, where have the last 10 days or so gone to? It´s busy, busy, busy here and while we are still (of course) working, cooking and eating, there has been very little activity on the blog. I do miss you all, and I am sorry that I haven´t had time to get over and comment.  House Number One is finished. Yes, you read that right!  Well, apart from 6 door handles that need to be put on. We even have a lovely tenant waiting to move in as soon as we move out.

So you can imagine that things have moved on apace in House Number 2 (I am sitting in a bare room while the kitchen floor is being grouted and windows are being replaced upstairs and the plumbers are doing things with copper pipes).

Photos to come, but in the meantime, back to the food. Best pal Ria sent me the recipe for her oven baked risotto which is given below. Believe me, if you ever thought you fancied risotto but didn´t have time to stand over the pot and stir, this is a fantastic way to do it.  I made extra (of course) and turned the remains into something else the next day and I would strongly suggest you do the same.  I have given Maria´s version and then afterwards my adaptation according to what I had available in my fridge. Perfect comfort food.

Maria’s world famous baked haddock & cabbage risotto

Serves 4 (easily halved or doubled – it’s very forgiving)

Prep 5 mins, Cooks in 35 mins

Dead easy and delicious!

Ingredients

  • 1  tbsp olive oil
  • 1  onion chopped
  • 300g/10oz  risotto rice
  • 1  litre vegetable stock (you can use vegetable bouillon powder)
  • 280g wedge savoy cabbage, thickly sliced (Tanya – I used about a dozen thinly sliced mushrooms and half a dozen rashers of finely chopped smoked streaky bacon instead of the cabbage and haddock)
  • 400g/14oz skinless smoked haddock (preferably go for the undyed sort and ask the nice fishmonger to skin it for you – but if you can only get with skin on it’s very easy to slip off after it’s been cooked, before you flake it)
  • 3 tbsp crème fraiche
  • 50g freshly grated parmesan

Heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6.

  1. Heat oil in a 2 litre casserole dish, then soften the onion over a medium heat for about 5 mins.
  2. Tip in the rice and cook for 2 mins, stirring well.
  3. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, then add the cabbage.
  4. Cover and bake in oven for 20 mins
  5. Remove the dish from the oven and give the rice a stir.  Place the fish on top of the rice, replace the lid, then bake for 5 mins.
  6. Flake the fish into large chunks and stir into the rice with the crème fraiche and half the parmesan.  Season with freshly ground pepper, then sprinkle with the remaining parmesan to serve.
  7. Eat and enjoy.
  8. Don’t forget to pretend it was really difficult to make!

So, there it is, the secret is out…you can make a great risotto in the oven and have time to nip upstairs for a shower, pour yourself a glass of wine and take a deep breath before dinner.

So…you want to make a Paella?

Finally, I thought it was about time I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) for this classic recipe. I went to a local expert, he´s called “Chef Colorin” and he makes the paellas for all the local fiestas. Be warned, there are LOADS of photos in this post, but I hope you enjoy seeing the process.

Of course, he wasn´t going to just  sit down with me over a glass of wine and give me the recipe. Much better than that, I was going to join in with the cooking. Fantastic, I thought, how many are we cooking for then Chef? Oh, not too many he told me, only 420 on Sunday. Get there about 11am he said, and we´ll show you the ropes.

Not one to balk at such a challenge, and I even wore the exceedingly unflattering hat (yes, I´ll show you the photos). It was one of the hottest and windiest days we´ve had for a while, so we couldn´t even put a shelter up for shade. Hey ho, the show must go on, and of course, it did.

We used 3 Paella pans which make 140 portions each. Feel free to adapt for smaller groups! The ingredients below are per 140 person pan.

Start with your base stock which is made in large 50 litre pots, sheltered from the wind today with a clever little device which goes round the base of the gas ring.

Into each pot goes 800g of stock cubes to 50 litres of water (at home, you´d probably use home made chicken or fish stock), 5 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons of sweet pimentón, 200cl of dry white wine, 500g each of chopped peppers and garlic, 1kg of monkfish, assorted fish bones, 400g of chopped tomato and 4 kilos of prawns with their shells on. Bring to the boil then simmer for about 20 minutes or so. Chef added 14 sachets of paella food colouring to the mix but at home we´d use saffron or turmeric.

Strain out the prawns, fish etc.

Then, wearing your glamorous outfit, count out 280 prawns (that´s so that everyone gets at least 2 each) and pull any meaty bits of fish off the bones. First come, first served on any extra prawns!

Lookin´good Chica, and rockin´that mesh hat look!

Is your fire ready to cook? I hope so, we´re going to begin.

Heat 3 litres of olive oil in your pan and add 8 kilos of chopped pork and season with salt to taste. Fry gently for a few minutes.

Now add a couple of heaped tablespoons of sweet pimentón.

Next comes a kilo each of red and green peppers and 250g of chopped garlic. Don´t forget the seafood – 2 kilos of chopped squid.

Stir gently while making silly faces.

Big Man has a go wearing the “Sherry Server” hat from Jerez!

Time to add 4 kilos of chopped tomatoes and a kilo of sliced roasted peppers.

Open the bags of rice carefully – 14kg for 140 people, which translates to 100g per person at home.

Such concentration – I take my work very seriously!

Add to the pan.

Stir gently into the sofrito with your giant paddle.

Now add30 litres of stock (which is 2 litres of stock per kilo of rice, plus a little extra – at home you would add 200cl plus a dash per 100g of rice…see, not so complicated!).

Keep that rice moving without burning your legs on the fire underneath the pan.

The professionals in action…

It´s much harder than it looks! (And don´t forget to taste).

Rookie cooking….

Remove from the heat and sprinkle over those prawns and the fish you set aside.

Was he trying to sneak one of my carefully counted prawns?!

Phew, job done. Time to show off an enormous loaf of bread baked by a local baker.

While we´re eating, you can enjoy a vaguely arty shot of a clean paella pan (don´t forget to oil it after washing up).

PS. Am off to London tomorrow for a week so will try to keep up with all your lovely blogs and comments, but apologies if some have to wait until after 20th June. Hope you enjoyed the paella making as much as I did, sorry it was so long but I really enjoyed putting it together. I do have to admit though, I was quite glad to take my “uniform” off and sit down in the shade of an olive tree with a large glass of tinto de verano.