duck and fennel risotto

As my regular reader will know, we eat a lot of risotto, but curiously I haven’t made one for ages. We roasted a duck over the Easter weekend, and when I boiled up the carcass for stock, quite a lot of meat came off.

Meals for the next few days had been sort of planned, so I stuck the meat in the freezer for a rainy day. It didn’t rain yesterday, but there was a bulb of fennel that needed eating up, so the duck was pressed into service.

For two people, use 5oz of risotto rice to 1 pint of liquid. For this one, I used the juice of a lemon, some rice wine (well, it was handy!) and water to make it up, with a good pinch of Marigold vegetable powder.

Sliced the fennel fairly thinly, and chopped a red onion, and set them to saut in some oil and butter. When they were soft, I added the rice and stirred it around to coat it, then started to add the liquid a slosh at a time. Stir it around until the rice has absorbed it, then add more. Strictly speaking, you’re supposed to keep the liquid simmering, but I generally don’t bother. I seasoned with salt and black pepper at some point during the proceedings.

The duck got added with the last slosh of liquor. The whole process took about 20-25 minutes. It was very nice.

Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

pork with leek and peppers

The great freezer transfer disgorged a box of pork fillets, so I though I’d cook one last night.

I cut it into thin strips, and fried it up in some olive oil, then set it aside. Then into the pan went a big knob of butter, a few sliced mushrooms, a yellow pepper deseeded and cut into strips, and two elderly leeks, chopped into rounds. Fried them down a bit, while I rummaged in what’s left of the herb garden for some sage.

Finely chopped the sage and threw it in, together with about 3/4 of a mug of good apple juice. I recommend you keep apple juice in your store cupboard – it makes a really nice change from stock or wine for cooking.

Seasoned with salt and black pepper, put a lid on it, and set it over a low heat. I guess it had about 20 minutes in all, but the pork was well cooked before I got to this stage – I’m a bit paranoid about cooking pork well.

We had a bowl of cooked spuds in the fridge, which had been destined for an Easter fry up breakfast which never materialised. So I cut them up, and fried them in olive oil and butter to go with the pork.


Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

three pig stew

Or, I suppose, a sort of goulash 🙂 The transfer of contents from one freezer to another has brought forth some nice things. There’s a whole Gressingham duck defrosting for today’s Easter feast, and there was also a couple of nice pieces of belly pork, and some uncooked chorizo sausages.

I skinned a piece of belly pork, cut it into chunks, and fried it in olive oil in batches, until the pieces were crispy. Into the same oil went a packet of pancetta cubes, which were fried for a few minutes, then I added a chopped onion, some garlic, and four chorizo sausages, cut into slices. Oh, and some cumin seeds, and a couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika. Fried these gently until the onions were translucent, then added a tin of tomatoes, a glass or so of red wine, and salt and black pepper.

Tipped everything into the slow cooker, added some haricot beans (which I had soaked and cooked yesterday), and waited six hours.

Served it with rice – lovely.

Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

a pound of mince? Meatballs!

As mentioned, we had a pound of mince to use up, as it wouldn’t fit into the new freezer regime.

I minced some garlic and a shallot, and chopped some fenugreek leaves small, while Pete ground spices (black cumin, lots of coriander seeds, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamon, allspice, black pepper), and made that lot into meatballs with a bit of sea salt. It made 16, I think.

I cut an onion in half and half again, and cut it into thin rings, then fried it in ground nut oil (together with more garlic) till it was translucent. Then we added more spices (more coriander and cumin, ajwain, nigella, fennel) and cooked it down for a bit. In went a jar’s worth of roasted yellow peppers, sliced thin, and I set it to cook over a low heat.

I browned the meatballs in more groundnut oil, and tipped them (and the oil) into the pepper sauce. Left them to cook while I did some basmati, to which I added a shallot, some cardamon seeds, and a generous pinch of Marigold veg bouillon.

Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

pineapple upside down cake

This always seems to me like a very 80s thing, and indeed I got the recipe from a cookbook printed in 1977 (The Dairy Book of Home Cooking).

We had half a pineapple left from making pork and pineapple, and decided an upside down cake would be a good thing to do with it. It was already chopped up, and I decided against the glace cherries too, but it was jolly nice nonetheless.

Take 2oz of soft brown sugar and 2oz butter, and melt together in a pan. Tip the resultant gloop into the bottom of a greased, 20cm round cake tin. Put the pineapple on top.

Put 8oz self raising flour, 1 tsp of vanilla essence, 2 eggs, 4oz butter and 4oz caster sugar into the food processor and blitz. I guess you could use a food mixer – cream butter and sugar, add eggs and vanilla essence, fold in flour.

Transfer it to the cake tin, bake at 180/gas 4 for about 1hr 10 minutes.

Very retro 🙂

Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

a weekend's cooking

We had already set aside Saturday evening to make a batch of Pete’s Wondrous Chilli – the beans were boiled and slow-cookered on Friday night, and we set to and made it yesterday afternoon. 4lbs of lovely Dexter stewing beef was turned into 10 really rather generous portions; we shall have some for supper tonight, and four tubs have gone in the freezer. We cooked it overnight in the slow cooker, and the smell drove us quite demented.

Yesterday, Pete sallied forth with his bicycle and trailer to do the shopping, and returned bearing (amongst lots of other things) two huge bunches of herbs; one of coriander, and one of fenugreek, which I’ve never seen before in its fresh form.

The coriander was easy – we found four chicken breasts in the freezer (we are really getting it under control now!) and a batch of lemony coriander chicken is in the slow cooker now.

I’ve never cooked with fenugreek before, but we put some leaves in the chilli (well, why not?!). I also minced up the last of the breast of lamb we had last week, grated up carrot, celery and onion, chopped garlic and fried it up with the lamb. Added my version of the Ras El Hanout spices I love so much*, and bunged in about a cup full of lentils. And more fenugreek. That’s currently cooking slowly downstairs on a diffuser, for a moussaka in the week.

I’ve had enough now, although I might just whip up a pear and chocolate crumble, as there are pears that need eating. (Pete has just said “ohmigod”).

* I should have made a note, but I used lavender, rose petals, paprika, cloves, cinnamon, ground ginger, galangal, coriander seeds, cardamon seeds, peppercorns, mace. It might not be authentic, but it smells nice.

Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

slow cooked breast of lamb

slow cooked breast of lamb

Still on the freezer clearout, we liberated a rolled breast of salt marsh lamb, and a cooked chicken breast. This is what I did with the lamb.

Put some haricot beans to soak overnight, then simmered them for 30 minutes.

Browned the lamb in some groundnut oil.

Into the slow cooker went: lamb, beans, one courgette, two carrots, two leeks (all diced), about six cloves of garlic, crushed, about 3/4 pint apple juice, some woody herbs (rosemary, etc). I drizzled a little honey on top of the lamb too. It smelled lovely, but something seemed to be missing, and after some consideration, I added a couple of generous teaspoons of harissa.

Left it on low for about 9 hours, topping up with a little boiling water part way through the afternoon.

Served with boiled potatoes and steamed broccoli.

The rest of the beany vegetable stock will go for soup, and I might well mince up the remainder of the lamb for a shepherd’s pie – I can always boost it up with lentils if need be.

tortilla-ish sort of thing

As our regular reader will know, we are desperate to reclaim some freezer space. So, on Friday evening, I removed two tubs – one labelled “black bean tortilla mix” and one bearing the legend “beef and mushroom pie filling”. And yesterday morning I fished out the packet of organic wheaten wraps that had been languishing in there for a while.

But when I opened the black bean mix, we realised that it must have been planned for a swift lunch – there really wasn’t enough in there to do supper. As far as we could tell, it was black beans, onions, garlic, tomato.

So I boiled up some potatoes (including, in an opportunistic sort of manner, enough to put towards a nice Sunday brunch), then fried them off in olive oil with some pancetta cubes, thus padding out the bean mix quite nicely. This was divided between four wraps (a big mistake – it was far too much and we ate it all [groan]), skewered with cocktail sticks.

Then we made a swift sauce from onion and garlic fried off in olive oil, a diced yellow pepper and a finely chopped red chilli, carton of chopped tomatoes (and pinch of sugar). Poured it over the wraps, scattered with chopped fresh coriander and half a package of feta. Baked in the oven for 25 minutes.


Originally published at Reactive Cooking.

slow cooked beef rib

I usually do this in the oven, but being in slow cooker experimentation mode, I decided to try it in there.

One rib of beef – not very big, probably only a couple of pounds. Ours was a slab of Dexter, bought from the wonderful Mr Rawlings. I browned it in some groundnut oil, and put it in the slow cooker pot.

Then I cooked up some carrot batons and about a dozen shallots (always wise to put shallots in boiling water for about five minutes – makes them much easier to peel, and then you get nice oniony water for stock). I added a bit of maple syrup to the pan at this point, to start the vegetables caramelising.

In went a tablespoon of flour and a heaped teaspoon of grain mustard, stirred round, then I started experimenting. Half a glass of red wine, a slosh of teriyaki, two heaped teaspoons of marmalade – (the redcurrant jelly had gone mouldy :(. Some ground peppercorns and juniper berries, the onion water, some sea salt. Reduced the liquor a bit, then put it in the pot with the beef.

Cooked on auto for 3 hours, then low for another, while we did roast potatoes and cauliflower and yorkies (can’t remember the last time we had yorkies).

I’ll be doing that again – the meat was just beautifully tender.