Pigs in blankets

26 11 2010

Pigs in blankets are  great, they make a perfect accompaniment to your turkey on Christmas day, they are great as a starter and make an excellent festive finger food.

I understand that in North America pigs in blankets are little Vienna sausages in pastry not dissimilar to a sausage roll, well these aren’t them.

In the UK pigs in blankets are a chipolata sausage wrapped in a piece of bacon and roasted in the oven and typically most people would have them only at Christmas time.

The trick to serving great pigs in blankets is to make sure you use the best meat that you can afford, there is nothing worse than pigs in blankets made from the cheapest nastiest frozen sausages wrapped in watery bacon full of preservatives.

In recent years I have started using olive oil infused with sage, rosemary and garlic when I cook my pigs in a blanket, all three flavours go great with pork and just really help to lift it to another level.

To make 24 pigs in blankets you will need:

24 good quality pork chipolatas

24 rashers of good quality bacon, I prefer to use maple smoked bacon but it is up to you.

500ml of extra virgin olive oil

24 rosemary stalks with leaves till attached (optional)

12 sage leaves

2 garlic cloves

a handful of rosemary leaves

Method

The first thing you need to do is infuse your olive oil with the rosemary, sage and garlic flavours, I tend to do this well in advance so that you really get the flavour of the herbs coming through in the oil, ideally 2 weeks to 3 weeks minimum.

Bruise the herbs so as to help release their essential oils and drop them into your bottle of olive oil along with the garlic which should be roughly crushed.

I tend to remove approximately half of the oil from the bottle before doing this both to allow for displacement and also so as to have oil to hand to help dislodge any stray herbs that get stuck to the neck of the bottle.

Refill to the top with oil and place in a cool dark place for as long as possible.

Wrap each chipolata in a rasher of bacon, you might want to flatten the bacon out with the flat of a knife

when each pig is safely in it’s blanket I like to secure them, you can use a couple of cocktail sticks but  I like to be a bit fancy and use a woddy stalk from some rosemary sharpened into a skewer.

Lay your pigs in blankets into an oven proof dish and drizzle with the infused oil, if you have any sage leave left over I like to scatter these over before popping the dish into a preheated oven at 185 c for about 35 minutes.

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Kofte Kebabs

31 10 2010

 Anyone who has read my recipes before will possibly have noticed that I really do like Greek and Turkish food quit a lot, so much in fact that it is probably a very good thing that both cuisines can be some of the healthiest around.

 Kofte or Kefte or Kofta depending on where you are from are made of ground meat such as lamb that is worked with until it is almost like a paste mixed with herbs and spices and then formed into balls, cigar like sausages or worked around a stick before grilling – delicious 🙂

I happen to be particularly fond of a version that I used to have at a Turkish restaurant back home and that I finally managed to get right after many attempts. Whilst you can use most meats and even fish to make your kofte I find lamb to be the best however I do like a 50/50 mix of lamb and beef as well.

Ingredients:

500 g of ground lamb
1 handfull of parsley (stalks removed)
1 slice of white bread with the crust removed
1 medium red onion
1 garlic clove
1 egg
~12 mint leaves
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp black
1/2 tsp salt

Method:

When you buy your minced lamb ask the butcher to mince it twice for you to try and get it as fine and smooth as possibly, if you don’t visit a butcher and don’t have access to a mincer at home then place the mince on a chopping board and using 2 knives try and break it down as much as possible- imagine you are playing the drums!

Very lightly toast your slice of bread and using a food processor turn it into bread crumbs, if you don’t have a food processor then it looks like you will get to work on your drum skills again.

Peel your onion and garlic and dice both as finely as you can, also at this point chop up your parsely and mint leaves finely.

Beat together your egg .

Add all of your dry ingredients to a mixing bowl which has been greased with a little bit of olive oil and give them a rough mix together. Now add in your beaten egg and really mix everything together well, you don’t want any pockets of meat that haven’t been seasoned or any big clumps of breadcrumbs.

Once your mixture is well mixed together cover the bowl with a clingfilm/a teatowel and pop in the fridge for at least 30 mins.

After taking your mix out of the fridge divide it into equal amounts and shape it as you wish; either into little meatballs, cigar like sausages, patties or shaped around a wooden skewer.

Now for the cooking, pop your koftes onto a nice hot charcoal grill / bbq or if you don’t have a grill/bbq available you can pop them into a hot frying pan.

Cook the kofte until they are done, if you split this amount of mixture into 15 small sausages you will need to give them 3/4 minutes each, different sized portions will differ accordingly.

Serve with some natural yoghurt, a nice simple salad and some flat bread.





Turkish Lahmacun

22 03 2010

If there is one thing that I miss about the UK, and let’s face it there aren’t that many things, it’s the wonderful variety of different cuisines that are available to you on your doorstep, particularly where I am from in East London.

One of the many styles of food that I get a craving for quite regularly is Turkish and when I get that itch there is really and truly only one thing that is going to scratch it – Lahmacun.

These delicious little flat breads topped with spicy meat and a tangy peppery sauce are divine and as soon as you try them you will see why!

As I haven’t got a Turkish or Greek deli anywhere near me I have had to make some substitutions for a couple of ingredients however it isn’t many and the Lahmacun still taste great!

Ingredients:

10 mexican tortillas or any other type of flat bread
500 gr lean ground beef or lamb
2 medium onions
1 handful of parsley finely chopped
1 tbsp red pepper paste*
2 large tomatoes, seeds discarded
1 tsp flaked peppers or 1 red chilli de-seeded and very finely chopped
1 garlic clove
1 tsp salt

Method:

Chop and mix together all the ingredients except the ground beef / lamb. When it is well mixed together  knead it in with the ground beef. Put the mixture into a plastic bag and Refrigerate for about an hour, then let it stand on the work surface for 20 minutes or so before cooking.

Set the oven to about 180 and make sure you have two baking trays ready. Take some of the topping  and spread it over the flat bread as one even layer.

Place on the baking trays and put the trays on the second rack from the top in the oven. Bake for about 3-4 minutes, making sure not to burn the edges of the bread.

Place a paper towel at the bottom of a large pot. Fold the cooked Lahmacun in half and put them in the pot to keep them warm with the lid closed.

 When all are of the lahmacun are cooked, serve with a simple side salad while they’re still warm.

* If you can’t find turkish red pepper paste then you can follow the recipe here in order to make your own.








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