Winter Vegetable and Bacon soup

16 11 2010

With the weather getting colder and the nights drawing in sometimes I just want to eat something warm and filling.

This winter vegetable and bacon soup ticks both of these boxes and like all soups is cheap and easy to make.

If you make more than you need immediately you can portion it into ziplock bags and it will happily keep in the freezer until you need it.

You will need:

1 large potato

250g swede/turnip

1/2 tbsp thyme

bunch of parsley

4 carrots

4 parsnips

2 sticks of celery

2 leeks

2/3 bay leaves

1 large onion

2 cloves of garlic

200g pancetta

1/2 litre chicken or vegetable stock

salt and pepper to season

olive oil or butter

Chop the onions, garlic and celery and sweat with a little olive oil or butter for approximately 15 minutes until they have softened.

At this point add in the remainder of the vegetables having first peeled, cleaned and chopped them into manageable pieces, continue to cook for another 7-10 minutes

Now add in the chicken or vegetable stock along with the thyme, a good pinch of salt and pepper and the parsley which needs to just be roughly chopped and the bay leaves.

Turn down the heat and simmer for about 25-30 minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and pour everything else into a food processor and blend until you have a nice smooth puree.

Pour the puree back into the pan and thin with a little more stock if it seems too thick, add more seasoning to taste and warm through.

Fry your pancetta until crisp and drain of any excess oil, add to the soup and serve immediately in warm bowls.

If you wish to make a vegetarian version omit the bacon and ensure that you use vegetable stock.

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Pitta-Gyros Recipe

1 10 2010

I recently posted my recipe for healthy, tasty, homemade flatbreads and mentioned at the time that I had been seriously craving some pitta-gyros like I used to have back home.

Well we have two options in life, light a candle or curse the darkness or in my case bitch and moan or get cooking…

So here is what to do if like me you fancy a delicious and surprisingly healthy taste of Greece:

Pitta-Gyros

Approx 1 kg of pork loin – you can use shoulder or most other cuts but loin is what I had to hand

Dried Oregano

Sweet Paprika

Coarse Sea Salt

Black Pepper

1tsp Dried Chili Flakes

Olive Oil

To Serve:

8-10 Flatbreads – Click here for the recipe

1 carrot peeled and shredded

2 or 3 tomatoes finely sliced

1 large red onion finely sliced

Tzatziki

Using a sharp knife cut thin slices from your piece of pork and then pound them flat (a cleaver works well)

place the pork into a large bowl and add in  plenty of the dried oregano (I use roughly 1  1/2 tablespoons but adjust to suit your tastes) a good 2 tsp of paprika, the dried chili flakes, a generous pinch of sea salt and the same of black pepper.

Mix everything together with your hands so that all of the meat is covered with the herbs and spices, pour in enough olive oil that all of the meat is coated. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour, the longer the better.

When you are ready to cook and eat your Pitta Gyros take your meat out of the fridge and cut it into strips, fry in a dry pan until the edges just start to blacken and the pork is cooked through – please ensure that the pork is cooked for the sake of your health!

Pop the pork in an oven proof dish, cover with some tinfoil and place in  a low oven to keep warm.

At this point make your flatbreads and then serve with the shredded onion, carrot, tomatoes and tzatziki and a little extra paprika on top.

Delicious!





Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

29 09 2010

 So this morning I had a little bit of surprise, I decided to go and visit my favourite little hole in the wall cafe; the food there has always been crap to sum it up politely but they serve tea that looks exactly like wood varnish and is exactly how I like it.

The problem is it’s gone, now where am I going to get tea that the spoon can stand up in?

The simple answer is I will just have to stop being lazy and bring a flask from home. The silver lining to the closing of this grease encrusted grot hole is that it has been replaced by what is to my knowledge the only BBQ joint in West Cork.

It has been opened up by a chap from Arizona by the name of Mike and his Irish wife, he has bought a smoker over from the states with him and is burning applewood that he is obtaining from a local orchard, so far so good.

The menu looks pretty appetizing featuring such BBQ staples as baby back ribs, brisket, home made beans, coleslaw and one of my personal favourites pulled pork.

I fancy myself as a bit of a BBQ aficionado and on seeing that Mike makes and sells his own sauces I got chatting to him, before long the topic turned to the pulled pork (which looked and smelt delicious )

Try as hard as I might I couldn’t get Mike to disclose any of his secrets to me, much like those pesky magicians in that sense, but I can vouch for the pulled pork being delicious, so much so that I bought a pound of it to take home and eat later.

The problem with 1lb of pulled pork is that there is only 1lb of it and try as I might to ration it out it just doesnt last.

The only logical option was to crack out MY recipe for homemade pulled pork and hit the kitchen.

As I don’t possess a smoker of my owner and the weather in Ireland isn’t often the best for having the BBQ out I have devised a different but equally tasty method for preparing my pulled pork.

Ingredients:

4 kg pork shoulder / collar
3 large red onions
3 cloves of garlic
2 red or yellow bell peppers
1 habanero chilli (you can substitute jalapenos or just use less/no chilli if you wish)
smokey paprika
coarse sea salt
black pepper
zest of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
1 bottle of bbq sauce of your choosing

For this recipe I get roughly 4 kg of pork collar from my local butcher, I get the skin left on and the bone left in and trim everything up at home, if you don’t have the time and inclination ask the butcher to do this for you and just make sure that you remove any tendon/gristle that is left when you get home.

Mix the brown sugar together with enough sea salt, black pepper and paprika to give the meat a good rub, pop it in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for at least an hour ideally longer.

De-seed the bell peppers and cut into thin strips, you can use green bell peppers if that is all you have to hand but red or yellow work best and look better in the finished dish.

Peel the red onions and chop into quarters, if the onions are particularly large then you can chop them into eighths.

Crush the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife and combine with the chopped habanero and the lemon zest

Take your slow cooker and put roughly half of the chopped peppers and onions on the base of the pot, now place the pork on top and add the remaining peppers and onions around the sides. Add your garlic, chilli and lemon zest and try to make sure that it doesnt all end up in one clump.

Now pour over your bbq sauce; which bbq sauce you use really is down to you and your personal tastes. I normally use a mixture of half a bottle of Levi Roots Reggae Reggae sauce for its rich fruity flavour and warming scotch bonnet kick and half a bottle of something with a bit of a smokey taste to it.

Top the pot up with warm water until the pork is covered, pop on the lid and set the slow cooker onto it’s lowest setting. If you aren’t using a slow cooker then I would pop everything into a mid size casserole dish and set it in the oven at about 100c.

At this point you can just forget all about it for a good long while, I tend to leave mine in the slow cooker for about 12 / 13 hours if I can but you can get away with less time. I certainly wouldn’t leave it for anything less then 6/7 hours though as you want the meat to be really succulent and juicy.

When you are ready to eat take the pork out of the slow cooker and grab yourself a couple of forks, the meat should be so tender that it just shreds up without any effort whatsoever.

Pile the pulled pork onto a platter, add the onions and peppers from the pot and pour over a ladle full of the cooking liquid to help keep everything nice and moist.

Serve with nice fresh rolls or flatbreads, a nice crunchy coleslaw and bbq sauce of your choice to finish it all off nicely.





mmmm meat candy not

17 05 2010

A co-worker of mine has been away in China for the past couple of weeks and came back to work yesterday.

We always bring back some sort of food stuff from trips and it has recently become an unofficial contest to see who can bring in the strangest thing.

I think we might have a winner or at least an incredibly strong front runner.

Chinese meat candies.

I like meat, I like candy and I like Chinese food so how bad can they be.

Well I will tell you exactly how bad they can be, it was a little bit like eating a sweaty sock full of garlic and chopped meat that had been crushed up into a tiny shite coloured cube mmmm delicious.

There was a spicy beef flavoured cube, a ginger pork flavoured cube and one which I actually believe to have been a lump of shrimp paste dusted in sugar and wrapped in fancy paper.

The pork and the beef were bad enough but the shrimp one was truly fishalicious, I was tasting that bad mother funker for about 3 hours afterwards.

If you ever find yourself with a pressing need to vomit you could do far worse then pop a few of these cubes of gastro-intestinal death.








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