Archive for February, 2014

As promised –below is the post by guest blogger Guy Alan (www.tigconstruction.com)

Beetroot & Orange Soup & Ham Shoulder Dijonnaise

We had four friends over for dinner on Saturday, and this is what we ate. OK so, soup first I guess.

I followed (sort of) a recipe from the Reader’s Digest Healthy One Dish Cooking recipe book.

For this dish you will need the following ingredients:

1 tbsp of olive oil

2 carrots peeled and sliced

2 celery sticks, rough cut

1 onion, rough cut

1 fennel bulb, sliced

3 tomatoes roughly chopped

300g cooked beetroot, peeled and sliced

2 oranges, grated zest and juice

1 litre vegetable stock

For the beetroot salsa:

1 tsp olive oil

100g cooked beetroot, peeled and finely sliced

1 tomato finely chopped

2 spring onions finely chopped

I heated the olive oil in a pan and added carrots, celery and the fennel, couldn’t get a bulb so used some dried instead. I cooked it for about 15 minutes until the vegetables were soft but not browned.

Next I added the tomatoes and the beetroot and cooked for three minutes or so. Then I stirred in the orange zest with the stock. In this case I did not have stock so I robbed a can of vegetable soup from the cupboard, which worked OK. I turned the gas right down and let the pan simmer for 25 minutes. While that was happening I made the salsa.

I took the soup from the stove and buzzed it in the blender until it looked smooth and creamy.

As I served the soup I dropped in the salsa, which is not quite what the recipe suggested, but it worked well.

I have tried this soup hot previously served with a tablespoon of plain yoghurt and a sprig of parsley which was delicious. I froze the soup and on this occasion served it cold. It seemed to have matured having been stored and it was a great starter. I like the cheeky orange opposing with the smooth earthier beetroot.

For a main I cooked a Ham Shoulder Dijonnaise from a recipe in Delia Smith’s Illustrated Cookery Course.

For this the recipe instructed me to collect these ingredients, to serve 6-8 people.

1 piece loin of pork with crackling, about 1.3kg

3 level tablespoons fresh breadcrumbs

1 heaped teaspoon whole peppercorns

1 heaped teaspoon dried sage

3 level teaspoons Dijon mustard


For the gravy:

A small amount of plain flour

10fl oz dry cider

For the garnish:

3 small Cox apples

1 oz butter

I turned the oven on to gas mark 7.  My pork was ready scored, but if it wasn’t I would have sliced lightly into the skin. I took off the skin and half the fat covered it in salt and put it on a baking tray.

I took two slices of brown bread in the blender and turned them into fine crumbs. I took 3 big tablespoons of crumbs and mixed them with the sage and peppercorns in a bowl. I just used ready crunched peppercorns. I did not add salt as I am trying to cut down. I covered the pork with a coating of the mustard, then took hand-full’s of the breadcrumb mix and patted it in until the roast had a furry little coat.

I put the meat into a roasting tin and lightly covered it with a square of foil. Then into the oven it went.

I turned the oven down to gas mark 5 and let it cook for two and a half hours. I basted the meat twice, but I forgot to remove the foil for the last half hour as per the recipe. I put the crackling under the grill as there was no room in the oven for a half hour. It burned a bit but it was alright.

I had also filled another dish with farmhouse cut potato, parsnip and kumara with half a cup of water and three tablespoons of olive oil drizzled over them. I made the garnish by frying the apples until they were soft ( and a bit black in places).

I made a gravy from two beef stock jellies, a healthy chuckle of ruby port and a few splashes of dry cider until it looked right. Using the cider to ease the consistency of the gravy until it flows nicely works well.

I served the roast sliced, self-serve, with vegetables sort of roasted and a bit steamed. The gravy worked very well and would do the ruby port thing again for sure.

My better half made the desert. With open meringues available we built our own using cut strawberries, blueberries, vanilla custard and double cream as toppings.

A delicious finish to an interesting meal!


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The best thing about cooking a chicken for your Sunday dinner is the stock you can make afterwards. It’s so very easy and really worth the extra bit of effort.

You need:

1 onion or 1 leek

1 carrot

1 celery stick

10 pepper corns

A sprig of thyme if you got any

1 head of garlic

I chicken carcass, cut into three

20 chicken wings (which I didn’t have)

  • Peel and chop the onion or leek into three large pieces and place in a stockpot or large heavy-bottomed pan
  • Chop the carrot into large pieces and add to the pot.
  •  Add the thyme to the pot. Cut the garlic head in half, across the cloves, and add to the pot. Add the peppercorns.
  • Add the chicken carcass and wings to the pot. Pour in enough cold water to cover the chicken, about 2.8 litres/5 pints.
  • Turn the heat on to a gentle heat and bring the stock to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 1½-2 hours.
  • After half an hour or so, remove any scum that rises to the surface with a ladle or a large spoon. Repeat as necessary.
  • At the end of the cooking time, strain the stock, discarding the vegetables and chicken pieces. Allow to cool. You can use the stock as it is, store in the fridge for up to three days, or freeze for up to three months for future use.

Most professional chefs have a stock pot cooking for hours and hours, and I guess to retrieve the most flavour you should cook your stock for at least 12 hours.

Simple as that!

On another note….

I recently had a conversation with a friend, who strongly believes that as a woman and feminist (not sure if you can be a woman and not a feminist but hey ho) you are lead to believe that you only think that you enjoy cooking and cleaning.  Deep down, as a feminist and woman, you don’t like it one bit. Ok, I confess. Cleaning is not my favourite pastime by a long shot, but I dislike dirt, and dust brings me out in hives, so it’s just one of those things you just do. Unless you get a good cleaner of course, which currently I can’t afford. But trust me, I would if I could and I’m sure I will in the future 🙂 I think as a human being I am as much programmed to dislike dirt and dust as any other human. Some have a high threshold for dirt/dust/mess and others don’t. If you find my house clean and tidy and the stock pot bubbling away, it’s not because I’m less of a feminist woman. It is because I’m me. And yes, I think I can be a woman, a feminist, a lover of food and an occasional cook.



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