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This little piggy

8 Sep

Went to the market too many times! Or for cholesterol at least. Today’s post is all about Eisbein. Yes, you read it. That piece of meat and meal that most are afraid of ordering at a restaurant if they see it on a menu,because they either think people will perceive them as gluttonous or because they  just can’t see themselves finishing such a big piece of meat. 
Well let me tell you, everyone wants a bit of crackling, fatty,juicy and falling off the bone Eisbein. I make it quite often. Why, you ask? Uhm, because it tastes fantastically incredible and also, how can something that is SO cheap taste SO good?! Double win! 

It is also a dish that really requires minimum effort. You can go about your tasks and things while it’s cooking. So, what’s the catch you ask?

Well, the cleaning of that one saucepan that you boiled it in… but not to worry, your man in your life wouldn’t mind doing it for you.. or, if you have children.. start them young.. teaching them the tricks of the trade! My lion of a man still thanks me gratefully each time for his Eisbein and he’s perfectly happy to do the dishes then 😃

People, it’s time to start climbing the stairwell to heaven!  Take that napkin and tuck it into your shirt’s collar, because you are going to eat till your chin and lips glisten! 

Ingredients 

1 X Eisbein / pork shank  person ( 2 for me and the lion) 

1 X cup of white wine vinegar

1 X teaspoon of whole peppercorns

1 X big pinch of rock salt for the water

4-5 bay leaves

1 X onion, roughly quartered, you can even keep the skin on 

700ml of boiling water from the kettle or enough to cover your pork shanks

2 X small pinches of rock salt 

As I’ve mentioned, it’s really easy and no fuss. Get the biggest saucepan or casserole dish you have – as long as it is deep enough for the shanks to be covered in water, then you’re good to go. I use my biggest Le Creuset  casserole baby that I have! 

Place the shanks in the saucepan, add all the ingredients and pour the boiling water over. Bring it to boil and then turn the heat down. Allow to simmer on a low heat for at least 3 hours.

After three hours,test the meat, almost like you would a cake. You’ll easily be able to tell if it’s cooked to the texture where it is nice and tender. I usually simmer mine for 4 1/2 hours, just because the shanks are so huge! If you think they’re ready, preheat your oven to 220 degrees. 

Carefully remove the shanks from the saucepan. This needs to be done with care,otherwise the piece of fat that is on top will slide and fall off and this is one of the most delicious parts of an Eisbein. 

Place on a lined baking tray. Gently pat the fat lightly with a thick paper towel, making sure the part with the fat is facing upward. 

Take a sharp knife and carefully score the fat. You don’t want to cut it through completely,only half way.

Sprinkle a pinch of the rock salt over each shank, focussing on the section where the fat is. All you do now is place it in the oven for about 45 minutes or until crispy! 

For the weary ones, you’ll hear loud “pop” sounds, almost like microwave popcorn. Don’t worry,this is simply the fat that is crisping up. 

Since Eisbein is so rich, I just want a refreshing,green salad, but then again, my Austrian friend Ulrike and her hubby will eat it the traditional way, with sauerkraut.Ending this off, I dedicate this recipe to my friend, the Scroobys, enjoy guys! 



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Oh SHANKS! It’s winter!

9 Dec

Not one of my favourites when you live in the UK… It starts when you realise you are one of the few households in London with such  an old boiler that it doesn’t have a self timer and when you wake up in the morning, it looks like you are on the set of “Sleepy Hollow” with all the mist in the room created from your breathing… Yup, that’s winter for you! The only answer I have to that is my mother’s wisdom… warm food! Always food! Combine that with my lion cub studying ( also picture a big bear with a thorn in his paw and its cartoon-like facial expression) and still the best option to take away grumpiness, cold and frustration = Roast.

I remember when I studied, my mother used one of her many special powers – treats and our favourite food. Since the naughty lion cub took it upon himself to go “treat” shopping, which I don’t have to tell you involves a lot of sugar, I took it upon myself to make sure he had a nice, cosy and heartwarming meal. Now one thing I can say is that the british aren’t too adventurous when it comes to cooking meat. They stick to the more well known cuts of meat, this is why I think if you steer away from the well known cuts, you might just pick up some top quality meat for a great price!

On the other hand… I do like a challenge. Ever had pork shanks? Me neither! So.. walking along in the supermarket, I found a pack of pork shanks for a very good price, so why not? If Lamb shank is delicious why not pork? It is all in the imagination and then preparation. Whenever I am in doubt with meat.. I use alcohol. Yes, alcohol! You can never go wrong. It makes all meat tender and tasty 🙂 So while the lion cub was busy with his daily dose of studying, I got on with my preparation of our shank roast.. let me tell you, it warded off the winter blues if only for a short while! Nothing can beat a heartwarming roast 🙂

pork shanks

2 pork shanks, skin scoured

1 pint of Strongbow or apple cider

3 teaspoons of chopped garlic

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon of season all spice ( or chicken spice)

1 teaspoon sage

1 teaspoon of paprika

1 pinch of black pepper

4 tablespoons of olive oil

1 apple, roughly chopped in slices

1 leek, chopped

handful of mushrooms, roughly chopped

2 handfuls of freshly chopped coriander

1 big carrot, finely chopped ( food processor)

 

Preheat your oven to 200 C.  Mix all the spices, garlic and olive oil together. Rub this into the scoured shanks. Make sure it is rubbed in thoroughly into the shanks. Place your chopped leeks, apple and mushrooms in the bottom of your roasting tray.

pork shanks1

Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and scatter around 1 handful of the coriander. Place the shanks on top.

pork shanks2

Now place in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and scatter the chopped carrots and remaining coriander  around the shanks. Pour over your cider. Turn the oven down to 190 and cook the shanks for 2 1/2 hours or until it is falling off the bone. Do set a timer to baste the shanks with the juices.

pork shanks3

That’s it! No fuss! Serve it with roasted potatoes, mash, rice or anything you fancy. I made some polenta with soya cream and coriander. What a hearty meal! I hope you enjoy it!

pork shanks4

Overdue quick indulging chicken pie

10 Nov

As you all know, lately there have been no consecutive posts…. there are a few reasons… feeling blue… literally and figuratively… as the lovely cold british winter season creeped up on us. Arriving home late after work and of course having my own Conan in the house coming home ravenous after workout sessions at the gym… and a little bit of laziness added to that and you get a lovely combination of simply…. nothing.

This recipe came to light after having yet another wet and cold journey home and really feeling sorry for myself. What do I do when I feel like this? Naturally I think of what I will be cooking to eat for supper that will make me feel warm and cosy and fill up Conan’s stomach so that he will be ready for battle again the next day… a.k.a gym.

You don’t always have to think of a chicken pie as a lengthy process. If you have chicken fillets… then hey, Bob’s your uncle!! As I can never ignore a bargain, I still and always have loads of mushrooms in my fridge, so they HAVE to go into this pie. This is very quick and very tasty and for some absurd reason Conan was VERY impressed with it… as if I ever give him food he doesn’t enjoy? He still surprises me everyday! Just shows you, sometimes the quick, rushed option might taste better than you ever thought 🙂 So here we go, lets get cooking!

No Fuss Chicken Pie

1 pack of skinless chicken fillets, cut in medium sized cubes

2  1/2  handfuls of mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

salt & pepper to taste

1 pack of puff pastry

2 packets of chicken and sweetcorn instant soup

250ml cream / soya cream

125 ml of soya milk / whole milk

pinch of crushed garlic

Heat your pan with the sunflower oil. Add your chicken to the pan and lightly sear your chicken. Flavour with pepper and salt.

Fry it for about 8 minutes. Remove from the pan and add your mushrooms. Allow to soften. Now add your chicken back into the pan. Sprinkle over your soup powder. Stir it so that the mushrooms and chicken are coated in the powder. Now, add your milk and garlic. Stir through and add your cream. Stir well. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180 C.  Now, roll out your pastry on a board, sprinkled with flour. Grease a pie dish and place half of your pastry in the pie dish. Scoop your chicken mixture into the pie dish. Cover with the remaining pastry.

Brush with egg. Use the weight of a sharp knife to slide over the pie. Place in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.

Serve up with a fresh crisp salad or simple veg. So simple, but so tasty 🙂

Wayne’s sticky pork shoulder

20 Oct

There’s a very good reason for this title… and that would be a certain loving relationship that my friend Wayne has with a certain Eisbein dish at The Oxford Arms in Durbanville. When I was still in SA, our group of friends often met for drinks at The Oxford Arms.I always knew that Wayne would order his favourite… Eisbein. Wayne does everything with passion. Whether he is working, enjoying drinks & dinner,making music, giving a helping hand to a friend.. he’s almost like superman really!!

When he has the important people in his life around him, with drinks, a good meal and good music, it is safe to say that he is happier than a pig in mud!! They also have a little “piglet” on the way, which I am sure will have the same passion for life, love and naturally, everything else!!

So Wayne, you know I was thinking about you (with  a mental picture of you and a piece of Eisbein bigger than the size of your head… in your mouth) while I was preparing this lovely little piggy!! I am sure you would have lovingly tucked in!! Miss you guys…

Sticky Pork Shoulder

2 kg pork shoulder

1 can of beer

1 can of cider

1 tablespoon of cumin seeds

4 tablespoons of apricot jam

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 potatoes, cut into medium slices

salt & black pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 180 C. Pour your beer & cider into a ovenproof casserole dish, along with the garlic. Now put your pork in the cider and flavour with salt & pepper. Place in the oven, lid on for 1 hour.

After cooking for an hour, remove from the oven. Take your pork out and place it on a baking tray. Season with salt & black pepper again. Mix your cumin seeds with the apricot jam and rub/coat the pork in the apricot jam.

Place your potato slices around the pork and season with salt & black pepper.

Drizzle with your sunflower oil and place it back in the oven for 45 minutes.

I served it up with some mushy peas…. a new favourite in our home!! Enjoy it with a salad or any veggies of your choice.

A sticky situation…

7 Sep

Which basically covers everything 🙂 We started going to the gym recently and I discovered that I love “starring” in Free Willy at the gym. Unfortunately, my body decided against it and I got a cold 😩 So, I was one lazy whale. Also, we discovered we had a guest in the house that particularly love sticky things.. a little mouse. As you can imagine, the Big Lion in the house was simply furious! How dare a mouse enter his lair?!!  Hilarious! So monday evening, after discovering we had a mouse, he started working on his hunting technique. Also, I didn’t cook. Anything. I have been feeling sorry for myself because of this stupid cold. NO energy.

So after emptying the shop to get everything ready for the mouse trap in our lair, the lion was ready. He explained in every detail how he will catch this mouse, especially by luring it with peanut butter. “They just love peanut butter”. Oh, I said, “So you’ve caught mice before then?” .. and he replies, “no, I never even caught one mouse”. Ahem. Needless to say, while he was busy with his hunting strategy, I was busy with my sticky strategy. We had some pork ribs that we didn’t toss on the barbeque, which we had to cook today. So, last night, all I did was create a marinade for these babies 🙂 Very sticky, sweet, but hey, comforting enough to make me forget about my sore throat & aching body, even if just for a few minutes. Seems like all the stickiness helped after all, the lion caught the mouse after all! ;-p Just shows you…. primal instinct ;-p

Sticky & Sweet ribs

1/2 cup of soya sauce

1/4 cup of sunflower oil

3 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons of fresh grated ginger

5 tablespoons of honey

4 tablespoons of brown sugar 1 teaspoon of garlic

2 packs of pork ribs, basically 1 kg

All you do, is mix together all the ingredients. Break up your ribs in smallish pieces and cover and toss around in the marinade. Cover with clingfilm wrap and place in the fridge overnight. All you do now when you get home from work is preheat your oven to 180 C.

Place your ribs on a tray, “thick meat side down” and drizzle the marinade over it. Cook for 30 -45 minutes. Take out after 20 minutes and baste in the sauce and place back in the oven. Serve up with some oven baked chips and a side salad, simple, sticky and happy 🙂

 

What the heck, lets have pork neck

30 Aug

Unlike the flavourful dish I will talk about shortly, I would like to give you the true definition of a pig and how it is part of my morning, every morning. No, not the lovely crispy bacon, this pig is alive 🙂 PIG: A pig is any of the animals in the genus Sus, within the Suidae family of even-toed ungulates. Pigs include the domestic pig, its ancestor the wild boar, and several other wild relatives. Pigs are omnivores and are highly social and intelligent animals. As you might have realized, these pigs dress up in suits in the morning and tramp all over you to get on the train. They are also omnivores, which means, they will basically eat you alive! Their second, more well known name would be – middle aged bankers, on the overland rail.  Highly intelligent creatures, but that is about it, for an animal 🙂 For some reason when I always get angry in the morning, I always feel better when I know we will enjoy pork for supper 🙂 There is something very satisfying in teaching a piggy some manners. Marinate it, cook it properly and it is the most well-mannered taste that you will enjoy for the day 🙂

Hey, pigs have great taste ;-p  Simply put, I am not a happy camper after having to go back to work after bank holiday, so obviously there will be a bit of negativity 🙂 Well, skip that part because the positivity just came back after I enjoyed a lovely supper 🙂 This is a love and leave dish – for the pork that is. I am sure you will enjoy this and all negative spirits will disappear!

Zingy pork

One pack of pork neck steak

One whole garlic’s cloves, lightly crushed

2 tablespoons of olive oil

salt & pepper

1 twig of fresh rosemary

handful of twigs of fresh thyme

30ml dry white wine

1 tin of tinned, chopped tomatoes

30ml balsamic vinegar

juice of half lemon

4 spring onions, snipped

1/2 leek, roughly chopped

2 handfuls of mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 red pepper finely chopped

1 teaspoon crushed garlic

1 teaspoon of olive oil for the sauce

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Place your pork on a non-stick baking tray.

Flavour with salt and black pepper. Toss around your garlic. Sprinkle your thyme and rosemary over the pork. Drizzle with your olive oil. Now place in the oven and cook dor 30 – 35 minutes, or until golden and cooked. While this is cooking, add  the remaining olive oil to a frying pan.

Add your crushed garlic, leeks, spring onion & red pepper to a frying pan. Now fry for about 8-10 minutes. Add your mushrooms. Fryn until almost done and flavour with salt. Add the white wine. Mix through and allow to simmer.

After 10 minutes, add your tinned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Flavour with salt according to your personal taste. Meanwhile, you can cook some pasta, I used orzo pasta, as your base for the pork and sauce.

When your pork is done, take it out of the oven. Place your orzo in your plate. Place the pork on top of that and top it off with your lovely sauce. Enjoy with a simple veggies or a side salad 🙂

Pantry pasta & kitchen madness

28 Aug

It really, truly is when I am in the kitchen. I might love cooking, but it’s as if there is a 3 year old child in the kitchen and it is even worse when baking. After my little knife in the arm incident, with my friend the dishwasher, the hubby behaves like a prowling, protective lion – he is too scared to leave me alone. Now, if he hears something falling, it takes him 2 seconds and he is in the kitchen! As I was baking yesterday to fill up my cookie jars, he must have been tired, as I kept on dropping tins and wooden spoons and basically everything a 3 year old drops, breaks and destroys when in a kitchen. So you can imagine how many times he ran up and down! What can I say, I am a VERY clumsy lady!

Also, a trait that I got from my mother, I have a distinct way of moving my nose around and up and down at “shop bought” cookies. Of course, my mother always made them herself as it was also too expensive to buy them in the shop, so naturally I would be a “cookie snob” 🙂 I completely went off the rail yesterday! I baked finely chopped, dark chocolate oat cookies and biscotti. The biscotti recipe is my mother’s, so I knew it would be perfect.  My neighbour also enters my post today. She is italian. Many times we talk over the fence and share tips about growing vegetables and flowers.

Come to think of it, while I was outside, waiting for the biscotti to finish baking, she handed me a handful of cherry tomatoes, obviously grown by her. This is what brings me to “pantry pasta”. We also went out last night, so I had to cook something that I had available, while still covered in flour all over!  Having a handful of fresh and sweet cherry tomatoes gave me the idea of plain, natural flavours.

Back to the biscotti,  the following compliment, I give credit to my mother – My neighbour Ave, told me this morning, that they call it “cantucci” and it is her husband’s favourite. She said it was absolutely delicious and her being Italian can’t find fault with it, and will have to ask me for MY recipe! Proud daughter with a very big smile!:-) So there you go mum, you know you are the perfect woman 🙂 So let’s start with the pasta, then we’ll move onto the biscotti and I think I will leave the dark chocolate oat cookies for another day 🙂 Don’t worry, I WILL add it 🙂

Pantry Pasta

Linguine pasta

handful of cherry tomatoes, halved

2 teaspoons of crushed garlic

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

1 pack of bacon, cut into bite size pieces

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan

50ml of dry white wine

6-7 slices of jalapeno, pips removed and finely sliced

2 handfuls of slices mushrooms

Put some water on to boil for your pasta. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the olive oil, garlic and jalapeños. Mix through. Add the mushrooms. Allow them to brown. Add your pasta to the boiling, salted water and cook till al dente. Now add the bacon and the tomatoes. Toss lightly while the bacon is cooking.

When the bacon is done, add the lemon juice and white wine. Simmer for 5-7 minutes.

Flavour with salt and pepper. Add half of your parmesan to the mixture and toss. Now, drain your pasta, allow at least 1 tablespoon of pasta water left in the pan with the pasta. Spoon the pasta in the pan with the bacon & mushroom mixture. Toss lightly.

Cover with a lid and leave to stand for 5 – 10 minutes. The pasta will absorb the flavours and the juices. When done, dish up and sprinkle each bowl of pasta with the remaining parmesan, plain, simple and lovely!

Mom’s biscotti or Biscotti Della Nocciola

500ml plain flour

250ml caster sugar

100g roasted hazelnuts

5ml vanilla essence

pinch of salt

5ml baking powder

2 eggs

zest of two lemons, finely grated

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Sieve your flour,sugar,baking powder & salt in together in a large mixing bowl and put aside.

Beat your eggs, zest & vanilla essence together in a separate bowl.  Add this to your flour mixture, along with the nuts and mix with a wooden spoon to a soft,but  manageable dough.  Divide the dough in two. Roll in cylinder forms. Place fairly far apart on a butter greased baking tray as they rise a fair amount. Sprinkle with flour and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Take out of the oven and allow to cool slightly. Now, cut in thin to medium slices. Place them back on the baking tray and allow to “dry” on a cooling rack in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius for 3o minutes. Take out of the oven and enjoy  🙂