It's been a flurry of birthday celebrations in the Colehill Kitchen this past week, and a birthday is not a good birthday without good food! I'm a firm believer in enjoying food as part of a celebration. I don't feel like it's been a real occasion unless the kitchen is brimming with ingredients and a medley of delicious smells has been emanating from it all day. This time there were aromas of chocolate (of course!!) and baking, as well as roasting pork, garlic and onions, balsamic vinegar and herbs galore!! It was quite a feast and began the week in true decadence!
Thanks to these birthday celebrations, I've had an epiphany about pork. I never thought I liked pork really. I always found it a little dull compared to other meats, and quite often dry and chewy, as well as finding crackling a complete and utter anti-climax.
How wrong I was.
We had the MOST beautiful pork loin from our local butcher (The Parson's Nose on Fulham Road if you're interested, which you really should be if you live nearby, their meat is phenomenal!). I asked for it boned and rolled, which the butcher did right there in front of me in a matter of minutes, quite an impressive sight, let me tell you! I hurried on home to cook it, and stuffed it with a rustic herby stuffing from Jamie Oliver's website (jamieoliver.com) which I tweaked a little. I don't often use his recipes, but this one was a real winner, beautiful tasting stuffing that complimented the pork perfectly. Obviously we had to have roast potatoes with it, and then some steamed brocolli for a bit of goodness!! And to finish, a chocolate mud cake with mascarpone cream. I know, restrained wasn't I?
I had a complete meltdown with the mudcake. I had arrived home from work after a nightmare-ish journey, and a frantic dash to the shop to get the ingredients, and was baking up a storm in a frazzled state, just finishing adding the chocolate mix to the rest of the mix, about ready to put it into the tins, when I happened to look around and see an unopened bag of caster sugar sitting next to me. Bugger. In my manic state, I had completely forgotten to add the sugar to the flour mix. What to do? Well, I decided to just add it to the melted chocolate and continue pouring this into the rest. The recipe said to put the sugar in with the dry ingredients, but the cake turned out so well, I'm sticking to my accidental method now!!
We've been indulging in delicious delights for quite a few days now - it's probably time to reign it in a bit... but before I do, let me share with you these recipes that I've been using during the celebrations!
Roast pork with herb stuffing
Pork loin, off the bone
500g rustic bread
small handful picked Rosemary
2 red onions, finely sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
3 heaped tblsp fennel seeds
sea salt and black pepper
4 tblsp balsamic vinegar
generous drizzle of olive oil
Throw it all in a mixing bowl and toss so that the oil and vinegar cover everything, then stuff into the pork. This makes quite a lot of stuffing, but try and get as much under the pork as possible, trust me, you'll thank me when it's cooked!! Then score the skin thickly and rub with sea salt to make extra crispy crackling!
I had a 3.4 lb piece of pork, the general rule is 20 minutes per pound plus 20-30 minutes, but I cooked mine for about an hour and a quarter at 180 degrees and it was perfect. Then let it rest for 20 minutes so that it's really juicy and tender when you eat it.
Maris piper potatoes
Boil the potatoes until the outsides are soft, drain and put back in the pan.
Hold a lid over the top and shake the pan to bash up the outsides of the potatoes.
Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, heat some oil (about 1/2 inch deep) in a baking tray in the oven.
After it's been heating for about 5-10 minutes, carefully place the potatoes in the oil, and put back in the oven at 180-200 degrees for about 20 minutes, basting now and then, until nice and golden and crispy. If they aren't crisping up then turn the oven to full heat for the last five minutes and they will be lovely and crunchy when you take them out.
Chocolate mud cake
125g dark chocolate
125g milk chocolate
250g butter (if unsalted, add 1/2 tsp salt)
500g caster sugar
160g plain flour
165g self-raising flour
30g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 large eggs
125ml buttermilk (I couldn't find buttermilk but a substitute is to add 1 tblsp of lemon juice to 240ml whole milk, then use 125ml of this)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Put the chocolate, butter, sugar and water in a pan and warm gently until the chocolate and butter have melted. Stir occasionally to stop it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate of sodatogether.
Place eggs, oil, buttermilk and extract in a bowl and mix.
Add egg mix to flour mix, then add chocolate mix in 3 stages.
Split into two springorm tins and bake for 45-50 minutes at 170 degress, or until a skewer comes out clean.
130 ml double cream
90g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Beat the mascarpone, vanilla extract and sifted icing suagr together.
Whip the cream to a soft peak, and fold this into the mascarpone.
Slather onto the bottom sponge, place the other cake on top, then top with more mascarpone cream and dust with a little extra cocoa powder.
A healthy nutritious dessert!! ;-)