Tapas recipe

TapasIngredients:

1 baguette loaf, sliced diagonally
1 roasted red pepper, peeled and cut into strips
1 roasted yellow pepper, peeled and cut into strips
100g (3.5oz) roasted macadamia halves

Pesto:
4 large handfuls of basil leaves
160g (5.5oz) unsalted macadamias
3 cloves garlic, peeled
125mL (4 fl oz) olive oil
65g (2.5oz) freshly grated parmesan
1 /2 teaspoon sea salt

Method:
1. Make the pesto first: wash and dry the basil leaves thoroughly.
2. Put them in a food processor or blender with the macadamias and garlic and process until well combined. Scrape down sides and process again. Add the parmesan and salt, process again, then slowly drizzle in oil, keeping the machine running. Process until smooth. Scrape pesto into a tightly sealed jar or plastic container until ready to use – a film of oil over the top will help to preserve it.
3. Store in refrigerator.
4. Toast the bread slices in a moderate oven until just turning golden. Remove, cool and store in an airtight container until ready to use. Just before serving, spread each piece with the pesto.
5. Top with a slice of red and yellow pepper and scatter over a few roasted macadamia pieces.

Makes approximately 30 pieces.

Do you have any good tapas recipes to share?

Do you prefer to go out to a tapas restaurant when you fancy a tempting treat?

The porchetta recipe with cherries and pine nuts is the sort of dish I think would get people tempted at a dinner party and who does not like belly pork – I know I do!

Serves 6-8

Porchetta Recipe

Ingredients

1.5 kg bone-out pork belly
1 tablespoon bicarbonate of soda

Salt rub
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon red chilli flakes
1 tablespoon sea salt

Stuffing for the porchetta recipe

500g pork mince
extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
tsp coriander seeds
Slice of sourdough, ripped into small pieces
100g cherries, pitted and halved and chopped
tbsp rosemary leaves, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
grated zest of 1 unwaxed orange
tablespoon of lemon juice
handful of toasted pine nuts
freshly grated nutmeg
1 egg, beaten

Method

Score the skin of the pork belly with a very sharp knife in a cross-hatch pattern, being careful only to score down to just before where the skin meets the fat, rather than the fat itself. Bring a large saucepan of water to simmer, and add the bicarbonate of soda. Place the pork belly in the water and poach gently for 5 minutes. Remove it from the water and leave to cool to room temperature.

While the belly is poaching, roast the spices for the salt rub. Place the fennel and chilli flakes in a dry frying pan (skillet) and toast over a high heat for a couple of minutes, until they are fragrant. Watch them so they don’t catch or burn, then transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.

Once the pork belly has cooled, turn it skin-side down and stab it all over the underside with a knife – don’t be shy here, this will help it absorb all that lovely seasoning. Grind the cooled spices in a food processor, spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Add them to the salt and mix.

Rub the underside of the belly all over with the spiced salt rub and pop it in the fridge while you make your stuffing. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and add the chopped onion. Season with a pinch of salt and black pepper and sweat together gently for ten minutes, until the onion is soft and fragrant, add the coriander seeds and garlic and cook for a couple more minutes before adding the mince. Cook for a few minutes, until the mince is browned. Set aside and leave to cool.
Transfer the mince and onion mix to a bowl, add the sourdough, pine nuts, orange zest, cherries, herbs and squeeze over the lemon. Season with salt, pepper and freshly grated nutmeg and mix up thoroughly with your hands. Add the beaten egg and incorporate.

Take the pork belly and lie it, skin side down, on the worktop. Form the stuffing into a sausage running all the way down the middle of the belly. Wrap the sides of the belly around the stuffing sausage and tie with butcher’s string. Place stuffing-side down in a baking tray, uncovered, and chill for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight. You want the skin to completely dry out so that it crisps up nicely when you roast it.

To cook the pork, remove it from the fridge and leave it for at least 1 hour to come to room temperature before you cook it. Preheat the oven to 180°C (280°F) and cook the pork for about two hours, turning the tray every 30 minutes or so to ensure it cooks evenly. After two hours, turn the heat up as high as it will go, to 220 and cook for 20 more minutes. Check its core temperature and if the thermometer reads 77 degrees it’s ready. If the skin looks in danger of burning, cover it with foil – but only do this once it has crackled.

Once the pork has cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Carving

When you’re ready to carve, clear a big chopping board. Remove the twine from the pork. Take a knife and gently trace the blade underneath the crackled skin, removing it from the fatty bottom of the belly. Cut the meat with a very sharp carving knife; it should fall into nice slices. Place the crackling on the board and use a big knife to chop it up into bite-sized chunks. Serve the pork and stuffing and crackling.

Do you use pine nuts  in your cooking?

Porchetta recipe with cherries and pine nuts perfect for dinner parties and gives the wow factor

 

Do you like chocolate?  Is that a really silly question?

I was lucky enough to be sent some Divine Chocolate to review.

It was a generously-sized bar of the dark chocolate with orange and ginger.  I loved the taste although it took me a few minutes to get used to the texture presumably orange or ginger strands.

I don’t actually eat chocolate often but when I do, I like it to be a really indulgent treat.

Divine Chocolate fits the bill perfectly.  Chocolate to savour or to share with a very special loved one.  A lovely addition to a romantic night at home.  Alternatively, something to hide away just for you when the children are in bed and you want to reward yourself for another day of juggling it all.

Even better, you can rest assured that the producers of the chocolate are getting rewarded appropriately for their efforts too.

Divine Chocolate products are made from the best Ghanaian cocoa supplied by the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative that owns 45% of the company, and are free from artificial flavourings, colourings and preservatives.  They are all suitable for vegetarians, and carry the FAIRTRADE MARK. 

In celebration of Divine’s Ghanaian ownership, the bars are decorated in gold with distinctive traditional West African motifs called Adinkra symbols, each of which carry their own meaning, making them a beautiful gift as well as a perfect treat.  

For more information on the full Divine range of 100g and 45g bars, gift chocolates, baking ingredients and seasonal lines visit http://www.divinechocolate.com

I am reviewing Indian cooking sauces from the Spice Tailor.

Do you like Indian food?  Would you like to create spicy dishes with the wow factor for your family?  Are you daunted and unclear on just what type of spices to use?

When I make a curry, it is usually edible enough but never reflects the true sense of  Indian delights.  That is proably because I really don’t know what flavour combinations to use or what is the “right” quantity of curry powder or spices.

I need worry no longer as TV chef and cookery writer Anjum Anand has launched her own range of cookery sauces called The Spice Tailor.

I combined the fragrant and zingy mangalore herb curry version with beef.  You can choose to use any red or white meat.

The first thing that impressed me was that you get a little packet of spices that really look the part and get you in the mood.   You heat them in oil for just 20 seconds and then add your cubed meat for 2 minutes, browning lightly.  You then take the sauce which has such a rich colour, stir it in and 7 minutes later, you have your completed dish.

Fast food but not as we know it.

When we tasted the results, we were impressed with how balanced the flavour was.  A definite kick but not too daunting and lovely with our naan breads.  It looked beautiful too.

The Spice Tailor products come with preparation guidelines but also lots of different ways to adapt the recipe to taste.

The Spice Tailor sauces are easy to use so anyone can create great tasting, authentic Indian dishes using them.

Highly recommended by me!

Bay adds a sophisticated herbaceous note to this cherry and bay pie recipe

Cherry and bay pie recipe

Serves 6-8

Cherry And Bay Pie Recipe

Ingredients

350g self raising flour
160g cold unsalted butter, cubed
Pinch of salt
Tbsp vanilla essence
Ice Cold water: 90ml-100ml
1 egg
Granulated sugar, to garnish

100g/3½oz good-quality black cherry jam
½ tsp grated nutmeg
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp cornflour, mixed to a paste with 2 tsp cold water
500g/1lb 2oz fresh cherries, pitted and halved

Method

For the pastry for this cherry and bay pie recipe, put the flour, salt and butter in a bowl and rub in the butter until you have breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla extract and then the water, a tablespoon at a time, combining the mix with a knife or spoon, bringing it together until the mixture starts to clump together into a dough. You need to be cautious at this stage as you don’t want sticky pastry. Add a little more water if necessary, you want a smooth, solid ball of dough. Divide the lump into two and then flatten both into disc shapes, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 and grease the pie dish. Remove a disc of pastry from the fridge, unwrap it and roll it out on a generously floured work surface to 3mm/¼in thick and about 2½cm/1in wider than the pie dish. Transfer to a floured baking sheet and chill for about 10 minutes. Repeat this process with the remaining disc of pastry.

Heat the jam for the filling in a saucepan with 100ml (3½ fl oz) water, nutmeg, bay and the vanilla extract. When it’s all melted together, add the diluted cornflour and stir together until smooth and thickened. Add the cherries and gently coat them in the mixture, being careful not to mush them up, so you preserve their shape. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Using a floured rolling pin, carefully transfer one of the chilled pastry sheets to the greased pie dish and drape it across the dish. Let it sink into the dish and, holding on to the edges, lift and tuck the pastry into the edges of the dish, all the way around, to line it. Trim off any excess pastry and lightly prick the base with a fork. Fill the dish with the cherry filling (including the bay leaf). Use a pastry cutter to cut holes in the remaining pastry sheet, covering an area just smaller than the diameter of the pie dish, leaving a large border intact. Place it over the pie filling and fold the edge of the top crust over the edge of the bottom crust, crimping it together with your fingers to seal.

Brush the pastry with the the beaten egg and sprinkle over the granulated sugar. Bake for 20 minutes, until the crust is golden, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C/350F/Gas 4, covering the top of the pastry with foil if you need to, to avoid it burning, and bake for a further 30 more minutes, until the filling is bubbling and the pastry is golden, firm and lightly puffed.

Allow the pie to cool for about one hour before serving with cream.

This cherry and bay pie recipe comes highly recommended and I hope you try it.

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