Sunday, December 6, 2015

Pulled pork

It's funny how dishes suddenly become ubiquitous. When I first encountered pulled pork, I sniggered to myself and though "with a name like that, it'll never catch on." How wrong I was.

This is taken from a book I picked up in the States, with the simple title Mexican Cooking by Chelsie Kenyon. The photography is not the best - which is probably why I was drawn to it! - but the recipes are great.

There are quite a few exotic ingredients in this, but it's well worth making the effort to track these down. The effect is a real symphony of flavours - everything in harmony, nothing drowning out anything else.

4 ancho chiles
2 guajillo chiles
500 ml water
1/2 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil
250 ml cider vinegar
500 ml orange juice
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon achiote paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 kg boneless pork shoulder, cut into large chunks (about 5 cm square)

  1. Soak the chiles in 500 ml boiling water for 30 minutes. Reserve the soaking liquid. Remove the stems and seeds of the chiles. Liquidise the chilis with 200 ml of the soaking liquid.
  2. Chop the onion and garlic, put in a large saucepan, and fry gently in oil until softened.
  3. Add the liquidised chiles and all of the remaining ingredients except the pork. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to minimum and simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Turn off heat, allow the marinade to cool, add the pork to the pot, and leave to marinade overnight.
  5. The next day, bring to a boil, turn to minimum and simmer for 3 hours. The meat should be just covered by the marinade, so add a little water if necessary at the start, and check regularly that it has not become too dry. (Or use a pressure cooker - see below.)
  6. Shred the pork with two forks and serve with tortillas, refried beans and tomato salsa.

Pressure cooker
Pressure cookers never really took off in the UK, but for this dish I think the end result is better (and it also means you don't have to worry about the meat drying out while cooking). If you have one lurking in your cupboard, dig it out and use it. I pressure cook the pork for about an hour. If you're looking for inspiration about what else to do with your pot, try Hip Pressure Cooking.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

American-style breakfast pancakes

Before I had children, when I was on holiday I would pore over my guidebooks in the morning (this was pre-internet) and try to figure a way of fitting in breakfast, lunch and dinner without exploding like Mr Creosote. When you travel with kids, you have to put their needs first (otherwise nobody has any fun) so on our recent trip in the States mealtimes were dominated by street food, picnics and snacks.

We did have plenty of diner breakfasts, though, and I realised that my pancakes had become a little bit, well, sad. One of the first things I did when I got home was to search out a decent recipe for American-style pancakes and then adjust and tweak it. I'm pretty happy with the results - light but still with plenty of texture and flavour.

375 ml whole milk
1 egg
20 ml vegetable oil
2 tbsp white vinegar
175 g self-raising flour
75 g fine maizemeal
a pinch of salt
2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder

  1. Measure the milk into a jug, add the beaten egg, the vegetable oil and the vinegar, and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Measure the self-raising flour, maizemeal, salt, sugar and baking powder into a mixing bowl. 
  3. Add the milk and egg to the dry ingredients and mix briefly until just combined.
  4. Put a heavy-based frying pan on a medium heat and brush with a little oil. Pour a ladleful of the batter into the pan, and cook at a low heat until it starts to form a skin on top. Flip over and cook the other side and cook until golden.
Notes on ingredients
The vinegar and milk mixture is an attempt to recreate buttermilk. If you have access to buttermilk, then use that instead. The maizemeal adds texture, flavour and colour, so resist the temptation to replace it with flour.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Sliced mushrooms with ginger dressing

This has been a staple of ours for a few years.  I usually make it as a salad to accompany a meal but it always seems to get eaten before the rest of the food is ready.

250g of sliced brown mushrooms
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tsps sesame oil
2 tsps sunflower oil
2 tsps light soy
handful of chopped coriander

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Leave to sit for at least 15 mins to give the mushrooms a chance to absorb the dressing before serving.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chilli sauce

We've just got back from a three week visit to the West Coast of the USA, travelling from Portland down to San Francisco and then up to Seattle. I've always been a bit sniffy about Mexican food, but I was converted by the burly charms of a breakfast burrito from a Portland food cart on my first day and didn't look back. Even the tortilla chips were great (and I say that despite the fact that one of them left me needing to visit my dentist to have a bridge repaired).

As a result, our first supermarket shop back in the UK included a special three-for-two offer of a large bag of birds eye, jalapeño and habanero chillies. I pickled the birds eyes, but short of setting up a taco stand couldn't think of any way of getting through the jalapeños and habaneros. So I decided to make some chilli sauce. I wanted something hot but with plenty of other flavours going on, and a bit of sweetness, too. I think this hits the spot.

Ingredients (makes about 400 ml)
12 habanero chillies
4 jalapeño chillies
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
2 tablespoons of tamarind concentrate
2 tablespoons of demerara sugar
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
250 ml water
30 ml cider vinegar

sterilised bottles

  1. Cut the habaneros in half lengthwise, cut out and discard the stalks, scrape out and discard any seeds, and chop the flesh. Chop the tops off the jalapeños to remove the stalks, scrape out and discard the seeds, then chop the flesh.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onion and garlic.
  3. Put all of the ingredients except for the water and vinegar into a medium sized saucepan, and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the water and vinegar, bring to the boil and simmer for another 20 minutes or so. The sauce should be fairly liquid, otherwise it won't pour.
  5. Transfer the contents of the pan to a jug and use a stick blender to puree the cooked sauce.
  6. Use a funnel to fill your sterilised bottles with the sauce.

Ethnic is as ethnic does
I'd never thought of Scottish cooking as qualifying as ethnic food until me and Sammy came across this food truck in Portland, flanked by offerings from Thailand and Lebanon.