Deliciously Italian

We’ve been eating quite a lot of Italian food during the last month…this coincided (not coincidentally) with the arrival of Rachel Roddy’s book in my letterbox – “Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome”.  This is such a good book; full of stories from her life and experiences living in Italy.  Details of food markets, local eating places, quirky characters and of course, her own cooking and learning. It makes me CRAVE a trip to Italy (I’m very impressionable) so that I can do all the things that she does!  But in lieu of that, I’m making full use of her book so that I can get that delicious Italian feeling.

The first time I used her book was following a trip to the Mediterranean Food Company -one of my favourite places to shop in Christchurch (just for the ambience if nothing else) – where we bought beautiful Italian wines, salami, cheeses and cured meats for a Saturday afternoon platter.  This was then to be followed by a large pot of Pasta and Potato Soup.

To go on the platter I made a batch of Rachel’s Marinated Olives which is incredibly easy but super delicious.  Olives are mixed with olive oil, shed loads of lemon and orange zest, chilli and herbs and it’s recommended that they’re left to sit for at least 3 hours. However…being slightly greedy and impatient, I put some of the olives and their marinade into a small pot after just a couple of hours and gently heated them to further infuse their flavours.  As an added bonus, they’re absolutely divine served warm.  I also didn’t realise until that moment just how great olives and citrus are together.

Following the platter we had a surprisingly satisfying pot of Pasta and Potato Soup.  It’s an incredibly simple soup to make; just cook up a soffritto (finely diced onion, celery & carrot) with some guanciale (cured pork cheek) then add finely diced potato, pasta and water.  As Rachel says in the introduction to the recipe, it sounds like it’ll be too heavy and slightly boring but it’s neither of those things.  On first tasting, it has a very delicate flavour, but after a few mouthfuls you start to fully appreciate the purity of the flavour coming through  – Rachel describes the soup as “pure-tasting, elemental even…” – I wholly agree with this comment.  I’m very much looking forward to making it again as it’s also quick and easy to prepare.  The perfect meal to follow a platter and to accompany copious amounts of wine.

Potato and Pasta Soup

In the vegetable section of the book is a “Recipe for Lentils”.  I’m a sucker for lentils and so decided to make this the central element of our dinner rather than a side dish.  I had some leftover guanciale from the Potato and Pasta soup so I added this to the lentils (fantastic decision if I do say so myself).  It’s basically lentils cooked with a soffrito which gives them a wonderful deep, savoury flavour.  The recipe suggests serving the lentils with sausages which would be delicious, but I served them with blanched fresh greens from the garden which I quickly fried in some of the fat from the guanciale.

LentilsLentils and veges

The first pasta dish I made from this book was selected on the basis that we have lots of courgettes in the garden at this time of year…in future this recipe will be selected because it is sooo so tasty.  The recipe is Linguine with Courgettes, Egg and Parmesan (Linguine con Zucchine) – basically a vegetable version of Carbonara.  To look at the finished dish with its basic ingredients, it’s hard to imagine that it would have flavour to match a more typical carbonara, but looks can be very deceiving!  My husband looked particularly skeptical but on tasting it we were all blown away.  I have found that this is typical of the recipes in this book – a few basic ingredients which deliver a purity of flavour that has me licking my plate (…I know).

Courgette Pasta

Not surprisingly, the next recipe also contains courgettes, although this was a slight adjustment to the recipe on my part.  The recipe is Bucatini with Tomato & Cured Pork Sauce but in this case I substituted courgette spaghetti for the bucatini.  The sauce was absolutely to die for, and I have to admit that it would have been better with traditional pasta rather than courgettes.  It’s another very basic looking recipe (only 5 ingredients) that delivers big flavour – primarily just tomatoes, wine and cured meat cooked until their flavours intensify, seasoned with a healthy dose of pecorino romano (as tends to be the case with a lot of these recipes) and then…scoffed.

The final recipe consists of very slow roasted tomatoes and spaghetti.  This was intensely easy to make and intensely delicious to eat.  Simply put 1kg of small tomatoes in a roasting tray, add a generous amount of olive oil and salt, then roast for about an hour until they are sticky and sitting in a thick sauce made up of their juices and the oil.  Tip cooked spaghetti directly into the roasting tray with a bit of pasta water, mix well and serve.  Too too easy…too too tasty 🙂

Tomato pasta2Tomato pasta1

So this is the beginning of my foray into Rachel Roddy’s book “Five Quarters” and I feel that it is the only the start of what I am sure will become a long and meaningful relationship.  In fact, I’m already looking forward to cooking Sweet Pepper and Tomato Stew tomorrow night with the tomatoes I have sitting on the bench from the garden…and while I eat it I will revel in that delicious Italian feeling 🙂

 

Advertisements

Salads that aren’t shit

I’ve been making an effort this summer to make salads that aren’t shit – some would say, a worthy goal. My standard salad has always been:

…tear up some lettuce, add some chopped tomato, cucumber, peppers etc (you get the gist), top with lemon juice, olive oil and salt…

Very boring; very shit.  But some of my cookbooks have AMAZING salad recipes in them.  Yes, they are more time-consuming but they are well worth the effort (and generally provide left-overs – always a bonus).

I bought Gill Meller’s new cookbook “Gather” towards the end of last year; a gorgeous book.  I took it to the pub for it’s first reading which may have been a mistake…I had a number of involuntary vocal reactions to the recipes that perhaps weren’t suitable for a public place.  So obviously, I couldn’t resist working my way through a few of Gill’s salad recipes.  The first two I made were Tarakihi with Pickled Cucumber, Barley & Herbs; and Fried Pears with Roasted Red Onions & Crisped Puy Lentils.  So many favourite things in these salads – love pickled things; love barley; love fried pears; love puy lentils.

The herbs and pickles go beautifully with the fish and lighten up the barley; in contrast, the pear and roasted red onion provide a subtle sweetness.  A great combination and both were absolutely delicious.

img_1601v2

The next couple of salads from this book were Barley , Squash & Mushrooms with Herb & Crème Fraiche Dressing and Raw Courgette with Fennel, Pea, Mint, Dill and Lemon. The squash combined with the barley and a creamy dressing created a pretty robust and filling salad.  I think next time I would loosen the dressing up a bit more because the salad became quite thick and dense, particularly the following day.  A really delicious salad though.  The squash and mushrooms are cooked long and slow enhancing the pumpkin’s sweetness.  And once that’s done and the barley’s cooked, it’s just a matter of tossing it with the herbs and dressing and shoveling it into your mouth!

Given the heaviness of the Barley and Pumpkin salad, the Courgette and Fennel salad was a perfect accompaniment and pretty low effort to bring together.  A bit of slicing, chopping and dressing is all that’s required.  The mint, dill and fennel are so deliciously refreshing against the heartiness of the other dish.

img_1300v2

I’ve also created some of Peter Gordon’s salad’s from his most recent book “Savour”.  This is proof that my salad skills are improving because, when I first bought this book I was a bit intimidated by the salad recipes.  So, buoyed by my recent successes, I launched into Peter Gordon’s recipe for Freekeh, Poached Tofu & Shiitake, Roast Beetroot, Wasabi, Crispy Capers & Curry Leaf Salad (officially meant to be quinoa but I wanted freekeh…I love freekeh).  This was a challenging salad because there were a lot of things to do…roast some beetroot, thinly slice other beetroot, deep fry sliced beetroot (whoops…burnt some ie.most), cook the freekeh, make a poaching liquid and poach the tofu, fry the capers, fry the curry leaves…phew!  I was definitely starting to get a bit frazzled at the end of all of that!  Particularly given that I’d decided to make the Minted Baby Potatoes, Peas & Crème Fraiche as well.  Luckily this was a quick and easy one to make.  And the good news is that it was worth the effort.

img_1305v2

My final salad for this post is a simple Green Salad from “Savour”.  As mentioned earlier, my usual “green salads” are “pretty shit” so I decided to up my game on the simple salad front.  The salad below is a version of Peter Gordon’s green salad recipe using the greens that I had in the fridge and the garden.  My favourite improvements from my usual salads are that:

  • there’s no lettuce in it (a revelation!);
  • the veggies are really thinly sliced; and
  • it contains fresh mint

I was interested to note that Peter Gordon’s dressing is the same as mine – olive oil, lemon juice and salt – but it’s the mint that makes all the difference.  Result…my green salads have been revolutionised!

img_1320v2So if you’re also a boring salad maker, maybe it’s time for you to up your game.  It’s definitely worth the effort to make a salad that isn’t shit.

 

 

Totally Addicted to Persia

…and Sabrina Ghayour

I have been on a Persian binge recently, I can’t get enough of it; the more I cook it the more I want it…you can see how this could easily get out of control (and it has).  I have quite a few recipe books of that ilk (see my Cookbook Library for the full list) which I’ve used on and off over the last few years; but it’s Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour (see post here) that has set me off on my binge.  After loving Persiana so much I couldn’t resist buying her new book Sirocco and it hasn’t let me down – oh no – It. Has. Not.

The first meal I made out of Sirocco was Citrus & Za’atar Roast Chicken with a Date, Orange, Almond and Rocket Salad and a Maftoul Salad.  The chicken is pretty straight forward – just smother the chicken in a rub made of spices and zest and bung it in the oven for a while. One thing I did find a challenge was not letting the spice rub burn; you can see in the image below that it got pretty dark (but luckily in a good way).  I turned the chicken over a few times while it was roasting and next time I’ll put it on a rack so that the skin stays crisp on all sides.  I ended up taking the chicken out of the oven early (thanks to my trusty instant read thermometer telling me it was cooked) but if I’d left it in there for any longer I would have had to cover it in tin foil to stop it colouring further.

img_0908v2
What a gorgeous looking bird 🙂

To go with the chicken I made a Maftoul Salad which is basically just Palestinian couscous mixed with lots of other tasty morsels and a gorgeous citrus-y dressing.  I’d had some black garlic in the cupboard for quite a while and I recently bought a jar of sour cherries so I couldn’t resist making this salad just so I could use both of those ingredients!

I also couldn’t resist the Date, Orange, Almond and Watercress Salad because it looks so beautiful.  In this case I couldn’t find watercress so I used rocket which worked well.  The dressing on this salad contains honey and red wine vinegar and it is ab-so-lutely delicious. One of the great things about all of these recipes is that they are very straight forward to put together and they make a great alternative to the western-style Sunday roast.

 

img_0917v2

img_0921v2
YUM!

The next meal I cooked from Sirocco was Rose Harissa Seared Lamb Steak (was meant to be beef but I wanted lamb) with Turmeric & Spice-Marinated Cauliflower and Asparagus with Preserved lemon & Pickled Chilli.  This was actually a pretty quick meal.  I did do one thing in advance that you wouldn’t normally need to do, but because I was going out on the night that I wanted to cook this I made the spice paste the night before and left the cauliflower to marinate in the fridge. That meant that when I got home from work all I needed to do was make a quick tomato sauce and fry the cauliflower (another adjustment – the cauli was actually supposed to be deep-fried but I shallow fried it).

The asparagus was also super quick and easy to prepare and is deliciously crisp, has a lovely freshness from the mint, a salty tang from the preserved lemons and heat from the chilli (in this case I didn’t have pickled chillis so I just used chilli flakes).  Sooo good!

img_0932v2

For the lamb, I don’t have rose harissa so I crushed up some edible rose petals and mixed those in with the standard harissa that I have in the fridge.  After rubbing that all over the steaks I gave them a quick hot fry and Bob was my Uncle – dinner was ready!  Such a nice combination of flavours, looks super fancy and is quick enough for a week night – I had it cooked and eaten in plenty of time for me to lounge around for a while before I went out – win, win and win 🙂

img_0935v2

It’s funny but I didn’t realise how often I was making slight changes to the recipes until I was writing this post and it reminded me of something that Sabrina Guyour wrote in her introduction to this book:

“…many people feel the pressure to follow recipes to the letter, but Middle Eastern cookery just isn’t rigid in that way.”

I can certainly vouch for that.

Persiana

Easy decadence

A few months ago I bought a cookbook by Sabrina Ghayour called Persiana which, as the name suggests, is full of all sorts of Middle Eastern and Persian delicacies that make me feel decadent just reading the recipes.  How can I possibly resist going out immediately to purchase edible rose petals and dried limes to add to what I already thought of as a well stocked middle-eastern pantry?  And of course, once I had possession of these gorgeous goodies I absolutely had to cook with them.  Below are some photos of what I’ve cooked from this book so far, and trust me when I say that these won’t be the last!

This first one is Spiced Vegetable Soup cooked on the recommendation of the person who sold me the book…we weren’t disappointed.  Beautiful and hearty topped with a pistachio herb oil.

IMG_0120v2
Enter a caption

Baked Eggs with Feta, Harissa, Tomato Sauce and Coriander is Persiana’s version of Shakshuka and like all Shakshuka’s, it’s a great start to the day.  One thing I liked about this version is that it doesn’t contain capsicums so it’s a good one for the winter months.

Persian Dried Lime, Lamb & Split Pea Stew…O…M…G!  This one was amazing!  I wasn’t able to find dried limes in time for this recipe but used pickled lemons instead (on the advice of the man at the Middle Eastern supermarket) and they infuse the dish beautifully…and I always love the texture of split peas, satisfyingly soft and yet firm.  Definitely a winner.

IMG_0193v2

I served the lamb stew with a Bulghur Wheat Salad.  This was supposed to have pomegranate seeds in it but there aren’t any around at the moment so I used dried cranberries soaked in lemon juice instead.  They made a good substitute and since then I’ve seen that you can buy dried cranberries that are soaked in pomegranate juice which would probably be even better!

IMG_0189v2

If you want to try something sweet, Spiced Carrot, Pistachio and Almond Cake with Rosewater Cream was a great way to use up a bag of pistachios that had been sitting in the cupboard for a while.  It’s more of a dessert cake (very moist and crumbly) but I was quite happy to take it to work and eat it with a fork.  It has a lovely flavour, is gluten free and totally decadent.

Spiced Lamb Kefta with Butternut Squash, Pistachio Pesto, Feta, Cranberries and Almonds.  There’s a burst of sweetness from the currants in the Kefta which goes nicely with the lamb and spices.  The mixture was a bit loose so I added a decent amount of breadcrumbs to get the right consistency.  The pumpkin with the pesto is amazing, almost like a nut butter.  I used the leftover pesto as a pasta sauce which was also divine.

Lamb Shank, Black Garlic and Tomato Tagine was a great use for a couple of huge shanks that I had in the freezer.  If you haven’t come across it before, black garlic is garlic that’s been slow cooked until it becomes caramelized, sweet and delicious.  To be honest, it’s so good I could eat it on its own and it melts into the tagine to provide little surprises of flavour every now and again.

Persian Saffron Chicken, Fennel and Barberry Stew…this is the only one of Sabrina’s recipes that I would categorise as just ‘good’ rather than ‘amazing’.  It tasted good, it just didn’t have the gutsy flavour of some of the other recipes.  By the time the fennel had cooked for so long it was pretty tasteless and it really relied on the barberries to add oomph.  Still…one average recipe amongst a bunch of crackers isn’t too bad.

Poussin with Harissa and Preserved Lemon enabled me to use a poussin that I’ve had in the freezer for quite a while now.  We got all excited when we saw them at the local butcher a while ago but they were so expensive that we only bought one…it then proceeded to sit in the freezer because I could never think of what to do with one small bird.  Eventually we just got it out of the freezer and ended up having it for breakfast!  The harissa and preserved lemon blended together to make a rub…a genius idea, I’ve never thought of blending preserved lemons before but it opens up so many more uses for them.

Tray Baked Rose Petal Lamb Chops with Chilli and Herbs…of course I had to make something that included the edible rose petals!  These chops were amazing, so much flavour from the marinade and fast enough to make on a weeknight.  They are served with a herb and chilli drizzle which is quick and easy to make and very tasty.

To go with the lamb chops I made a Fattoush Salad with some slight variations.  I didn’t have any tomatoes (it’s the end of winter), I used jarred chargrilled capsicums instead of fresh and I used rocket instead of lettuce.  This salad is amazing…it is so crunchy and fresh and the dressing is wonderfully zesty which was a great match for the rich lamb chops (which were quite salty).

My rating for this book so far?  Totally fab!  So if you’ve been thinking about trying it out I would highly recommend it.  I hadn’t realised quite how many recipes I’d already made from this book and out of the 12 recipes I’ve cooked, 11 were amazing and 1 was good…that’s a pretty good strike rate!

Rebellious Baking

You might remember from previous posts that I’ve been trying to cut down on my sugar intake this year.

I don’t usually make changes to baking recipes because of the “science” involved

I started out using recipes that were designed to be low sugar but lately I’ve gone back to more traditional recipes which I’m adjusting to make them healthier. It’s quite fun deciding what to change and to see if it’ll work out or not;I don’t usually make changes to baking recipes because of the “science” involved so my recent experiments have made me feel rather rebellious!

The first recipe I adjusted was Nigella’s Banana Bread recipe from “How to be a Domestic Goddess” (you can find this recipe here).  This banana bread was soooo good that it has been promoted to my new go-to recipe.  But really, how could it not be good when it’s full of rum-soaked saltanas?!  It has walnuts in it as well which are dee-lish.

What did I change – I changed half of the flour from white to wholemeal and I reduced the sugar by about 1/4 of a cup.  Not huge changes but I thought it best to go gently at first.

Result – this recipe is delicious and didn’t seem at all impacted by the changes I made.  The cake is very moist which makes it a bit fall-aparty but it’s an issue I’m prepared to put up with!  It’s possible that the crumbliness was caused by the wholemeal flour.  Outcome – successful change.

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the banana bread…we were obviously too focused on eating it to think about preserving it for posterity!

The next recipe I meddled with is a family favourite that my Gran always used to make.  It was actually quite a big deal for me to change this recipe because I didn’t want to lose the essence of what makes Gran’s Brown Betty special…however the other option was not to make it anymore which didn’t appeal either.

What did I change – I left the quantity of sugar the same but I replaced the white sugar with a mixture of coconut sugar and rapadura (only because I didn’t have enough coconut sugar).  I read online that these sugars can be difficult to cream with butter because they’ve got larger granules so I ground them a bit finer in my mini blender and they creamed up nicely.  I also substituted pure maple syrup for the golden syrup and replaced all the white flour with wholemeal flour.

Result – you can taste the wholemeal flour but the flavour is still really good and by the time we’d been eating it for a couple of days we had adjusted to the change in flour.  The texture was good and most importantly, it still had that certain special something that is distinctive to Brown Betty.  So this time I went a bit further by changing the type of sugar and using all wholemeal flour.  Next time I will try reducing the quantity of sugar as well and see how that goes.  Overall a successful experiment.

IMG_0105v2

This is an outstanding dessert!

I have to admit that I made very little change to this last recipe but it didn’t contain a lot of sugar in the first place.  This is a dessert recipe for Roasted Figs with Pomegranate Molasses and Orange Zest from Ottolenghi’s book “Plenty More”.  If you want to try this recipe you can find it here.

This is an outstanding dessert!  The sauce consists of pomegranate molasses, strips of orange zest, thyme sprigs, lemon juice and brown sugar.  The figs marinate in this before being grilled with another sprinkling of brown sugar until caramelized…very easy!

While the figs are grilling the sauce is reduced and thickened then drizzled over the figs, which are sprinkled with thyme leaves and served with a dollop of sweetened mascarpone and greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of orange zest…devine…it looked stunning and tasted stunning!

This recipe would be great for a dinner party because most can be done in advance.  The mascarpone and yoghurt is whipped and put in the fridge and the figs can be left to marinate for a reasonable period of time until needed.

What did I change – there are only 3 tablespoons of brown sugar in the recipe but even so I cut this in half and I only used 1/2 tablespoon of icing sugar in the cream.

Result – I think the above says it all…devine!

IMG_0763v2

IMG_0768v2

For my next experiments I’m keen to try replacing the white flour not just with wholemeal flour but other flours such as buckwheat, brown rice and almond meal etc.  Even though I’m still in the early stages of making these adjustments, there’s something very satisfying knowing that my treats are nourishing(ish).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetarian Meals for Busy Weekdays

Recipes from New Zealand Chefs

We like to eat quite a lot of vegetarian meals these days.  Not only do they offer plenty of variety but I’m also pretty hopeless at remembering to get something out of the freezer in the morning!  So a fast and convenient vegetarian meal is often a winner (and a life saver). I’ve made a few vegetarian meals lately from some of the New Zealand cookbooks in my collection and they’ve all been super tasty.

This first one is actually from Eleanor Ozich’s blog rather than from one of her cookbooks (of which I have two!).  You can find her recipe for Buttered Balsamic Lentils with Portabello Mushrooms via this link My Petite Kitchen if you’d like to try it.  This was a speedy, mid-week dish…great for a Friday night when I already had roast vegetables in the fridge left over from the weeks salads.

The buttery garlicy flavour of the mushrooms was divine and added a nice meatiness to the meal.  Interestingly, the lemon juice really brought out the flavour of the balsamic vinegar without adding any lemony flavour.  I was quite surprised by this and next time  I’ll avoid adding extra vinegar until after I’ve added the lemon juice because the change was quite significant.

The only negative we found is that the portions are a bit small.  I only used one tin of lentils rather than two…a tin of lentils per person just seemed like too many!  I think I was right about that but it did mean that it wasn’t quite a full serving size (it would probably be a great side dish to a steak…but it wouldn’t really be classed as vegetarian after that!).

IMG_2335

Emma Galloway’s Pumpkin korma from her book “A Year in my Real Food Kitchen” is another great recipe (to be fair, I’m yet to find a bad Emma Galloway recipe).  It was more long-winded than I had anticipated but not too bad.  The paste ingredients include quite an unusual combination of spices and I wasn’t too sure how they would taste but they came together really well.

Once it’s all in the pot it’s pretty much plain sailing – you just wait for it to cook and then tuck in.    It’s got really beautiful flavours and the cashews add richness to the sauce that is accentuated by the yoghurt and besam flour.  A few pumpkin seeds sprinkled over the top could be a good addition.

IMG_0072

Another good recipe from Emma Galloway is Carrot, Cumin and Red Lentil Soup served with Coriander Cashew Pesto, this time from her book “My Darling Lemon Thyme”.  This soup is made hearty from the lentils and given added warmth from the cumin seeds.  Carrot and cumin is always a good combo and the addition of lemon juice at the end sets it off nicely.

I wasn’t too sure about the pesto…I had to make it twice because the more robust coriander stalks were too bitter.  The second batch was also a bit bitter so I put it in a bowl on the side rather than adding it directly to the soup.  The soup was so good on its own that I didn’t add any pesto at first for fear of ruining it, but when I did finally try it I discovered that it was actually a nice addition.  Perhaps the sweetness of the carrot is enough to counter some of the bitterness of the pesto.  Soup-er delicious!

IMG_0084

This final recipe is out of Peter Gordon’s new book called “Savour: Salads for All Seasons”. It’s a really beautiful side dish of Spiced Roast Cauliflower and Garlic with Tahini Yoghurt Dressing.  It’s reasonably quick to make, just chuck everything into a roasting dish and stir a few times.  One mistake I made was to burn the garlic – there’s even an instruction in the recipe warning against this…but I burnt it anyway!  Next time I think it would be easier  to add the garlic at a later stage and then you don’t need to worry.  Despite the burnt garlic it’s a really tasty dish and the tahini gives the dressing a deliciously subtle nuttiness. (I have to admit that I served this cauliflower with steak…so almost vegetarian… but not quite!).

IMG_0064IMG_0070

What vegetarian meals (or almost vegetarian meals) have you been cooking lately?

Pork and Beans

Getting Winter Started in Style

I cooked an amazing recipe last week out of a book called “One: A Cook and Her Cupboard”.  It’s written by Florence Knight – I don’t know if you’ve heard of her?  I first saw her on River Cottage and I’ve since learnt that she was the Head Chef at a London restaurant called Polpetto.  I bought her book by accident when I was in Melbourne last year (although when I say by accident…I was in a shop called Books for Cooks!).  This is the first proper meal I’ve cooked from this book and I was really happy with it – the recipe was really enjoyable to cook and the look and taste of the dish are fantastic.

I’m always a sucker for recipes with beans

The recipe is Buttered Pork, Cannellini Beans and Watercress; for some reason I’m always a sucker for recipes with beans. It’s a pretty decadent recipe actually – the pork is cooked in 750g of butter!  But I feel better about it when I realise that it’s basically just a confit. To reduce waste I strained the butter into a jar after the pork finished cooking so that I can use it as ghee.  It imparts a lovely subtle porky, garlicy flavour which is an added bonus!

I’ll quickly run through the steps for cooking this recipe…

After removing the skin the pork is sliced into thick strips, rubbed with salt and sugar and then left to cure overnight (officially the skin is supposed to stay on the pork but I wanted to make crackling with it).

IMG_0073

The next morning the salt is rinsed off and the meat is placed in a roasting dish with the aromatics tucked in and around (to reference Jamie Oliver there!) to await its butter bath.

IMG_0077

The butter is clarified before being poured over the pork…

IMG_0079

…it then gets covered and cooked in a slow oven for 3 hours until it’s falling apart and luscious…the smell in the house while this transformation is taking place is heavenly and highly appetite inducing!

IMG_0081

Meanwhile the beans are soaked overnight and cooked very simply in stock with an onion and bay leaf until softened but still quite a soupy consistency.  The watercress is stirred through the beans which are served into bowls with the pork and crackling served on top.

IMG_0082

This tasted so good.  The pork is quite salty from its curing process but this is toned down by the beans and watercress.  The beans have a lovely savoury flavour which go really well with the pork and crackling.  I served this as a hearty Sunday lunch when my aunty came round last weekend.  It’s great in that it doesn’t require any last minute preparations…it’s just good, simple, tasty food.  It’s worth having a look at this book if you haven’t already.  Obviously I need to try a few more recipes before I can say the whole book is great but this recipe makes me very optimistic.