Guardian ‘Cook’ magazine – Home Cook of the Year!

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Wow, what an achievement. I’m over the moon to be crowned this year’s Guardian ‘Cook’ Home Cook of the Year! In my opinion, the ‘Cook’ supplement is the best, weekly food publication in the UK and it’s been great fun contributing my recipes and seeing them in print.

I’ve decided to put a few of my favourite dishes on here, and I really do hope you’ll try to make them. It’s well worth the effort.One of the things the people at the Guardian like about my recipes is that they’re simple, yet at the same time exciting and wonderfully tasty; some of them pure genius, if I say so myself. But you’ll just have to try them to find out.

 

Pork Belly in Spiced Clementine SaucePork belly in Spiced Clementine Sauce

This is definitely one of my favourite recipes from the past year; sweet, spicy and juicy! The sauce works well with chicken, duck and most other cuts of pork. Try it on some ribs!

500g Belly pork strips

Zest and juice from 4 Clementine

150ml Pineapple juice

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ scotch bonnet pepper, minced

1 tbsp honey

¼ tsp ground allspice

Fresh thyme leaves, approx 1 tsp, to taste

Salt to taste

2 Clementine sliced

 

Pre heat the oven to gas mark 6

Combine all the ingredients, except the pork and sliced Clementine, in a saucepan and simmer until reduced by half.

Line a baking tray with enough foil to make a loose parcel for the pork.

Place the pork and sliced Clementine in the foil parcel, pour over the sauce, seal the parcel and place in the hot oven for 1 hour.

Remove the baking tray from the oven and open the parcel. Be careful as there will be lots of steam.

Increase the oven temperature to gas mark 8 and return the pan to the oven for 30 minutes, turning ½ way through.

The liquid will reduce further forming a thick, sticky sauce and the pork will crisp up around the edges.

Serve with coconut rice.

 

Croquetas

What to do with a tin of Sardines? The best thing I’ve discovered is to make the popular Spanish tapas, Croquetas. Trust me, these are unbelievably good; soft gooey middle with a crispy, crunchy coating, and a doddle to make. These make a great nibble or appetizer for the party season, and if you don’t fancy sardines, substitute ham, leftover turkey, mushrooms and cheese.027

Makes approximately 10

120g tin of sardines in oil

30g unsalted butter

2 spring onions, finely chopped

30g plain flour

250ml hot, full fat milk

Good pinch of ground nutmeg

1 egg, beaten

100g breadcrumbs

20g parmesan or other hard cheese grated

Vegetable oil for frying

Drain the sardines,  reserve the oil, and remove any obvious bits of bone and skin.

Heat the oil from the sardines and butter in a saucepan and gently fry the onion until soft.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour.

Return the pan to a gentle heat and continue cooking for about 6 – 7 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the hot milk gradually to the pan, stirring as you go, to achieve a thick sauce.

Season with nutmeg, salt and black pepper and continue to cook for ten minutes.

Flake the sardines into the sauce, stir, and set aside to cool. Cover with cling film on top of the sauce to stop a skin forming.

Mix the parmesan and breadcrumbs together.

Place the egg and the breadcrumbs in separate bowls.

Shape the cool sardine mix into cylindrical shapes and dip first in the egg, then in the breadcrumbs.

Heat enough oil to deep fry the croquetas to 180c. Fry in batches until golden, about 2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately, or keep warm in the oven until you’re ready to eat.

 

Cornflake Tart

Am I the only one that remembers this from school?

This is a slightly more grown up version in that it has a sprinkling of ground almonds and can be made using a compote if you prefer this to jam. You can also save time and use a shop bought pastry case…just don’t tell anyone!005

Cornflake Tart

 

Makes 4 individual 12cm tarts

 

Pastry

225g plain flour

100g  butter, chilled and chopped

15g caster sugar

1 egg

Cold water to bind

 

Filling

100g Jam or fruit compote

50g butter

115g golden syrup

25g ground almonds

Zest from 1 lemon

85g cornflakes

 

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Make the pastry

Blitz the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor until a fine crumb is achieved. Gradually add the egg and a little water until the mix comes together and forms a dough. Cover and chill the pastry for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, grease the tart tins.

When the pastry has chilled roll out the dough and line the tart cases.

Line the cases with baking parchment and fill with dried beans or baking beads. Blind bake for 20 minutes.

For the filling:

Add the butter, golden syrup, ground almonds and lemon zest to a saucepan. Gently heat the ingredients through for about 5 minutes – until everything has melted and come together. Stir in the cornflakes.

Remove the linings from the tart cases and spoon jam or compote onto the base of the cases. Cover this with the cornflake mix and return to the oven for 5 minutes.

 

Enjoy with a dollop of clotted cream.

 

 

 

Jerk!

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RRS: Turkey, pineapple jerk sticks.

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/may/24/skewer-kebab-kofta-jerk-recipe-swap-felicity-cloake

It seems like summer is finally here and without a doubt the barbecues are out in abundance. When I walk down my street , flip flops slapping against the hot pavement, my senses are bombarded with delicious aromas wafting over garden fences. There’s also the odd smell of lighter fluid and charred sausage, but I’m not complaining.

Jerk seasoning is one of my favourite flavours to barbecue with, it really makes a fresh, spicy addition to whatever is being cooked – fish, chicken, veggies, all benefit from this flavoursome seasoning. There are spice mixes in the shop that are okay, but nothing beats the freshness and flavour of a homemade marinade, and if there’s some left over, just stick it in the freezer to use another day. The added benefit of making your own marinade is that you can adjust the flavours to your taste, I like mine hot but I know that not everyone has my asbestos taste buds.

 

Jerk Turkey and Pineapple Skewers

Serves 4
500g turkey/chicken thigh, cut into chunks
(chicken thigh makes a good substitute)
½ a small pineapple, trimmed and cut into chunks

For the marinade
6 spring onions, chopped
2 Scotch Bonnet peppers, deseeded and finely chopped
100ml soy sauce
125ml red wine vinegar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tsp ground allspice
½ tsp cinnamon
2 garlic cloves, crushed

 Mix together all the marinade ingredients, then add the meat. Cover and marinate overnight.

 Thread the meat on to skewers, along with the pineapple, and barbecue, grill or bake until cooked through.

Any excess marinade can be boiled down separately to make a thick, jerk, dipping sauce.

 

 

Jerked Coconut Pork Goujons

coconut goujons

 

 

Desiccated coconut makes a wonderful, flavourful, crispy coating, and of course it has that tropical thing going on that allows it to go so well with other Caribbean flavours.

In this recipe I’ve used the coconut to coat pork strips, that have first been marinated in jerk spices. Of course you could substitute Turkey, Chicken, Fish or Shrimp with equally good results, and even Sweet Potato wedges for a veggie version.

Serves 4 – 6

500g Pork Loin steaks cut into goujons

4 tbsp. Jerk marinade

1 cup breadcrumbs

1 cup desiccated coconut

1 beaten egg

Oil

First marinate the meat in the jerk seasoning for at least one hour or overnight.

Mix the breadcrumbs and the coconut together in a large bowl. I haven’t specified what type of crumbs to use as I tend to use leftover stale bread from my freezer. You can make the crumbs extra crispy by drying them out in a warm oven for a few minutes or you could simply buy Panko breadcrumbs

Dip the jerk coated meat in beaten egg, then in the coconut/crumb mix.

The goujons can be shallow fried over a medium heat, turning once, for about 5 minutes each side; baked in a hot oven, 190, on oiled parchment for about 15 minutes; or cooked on a griddle over the barbecue.

 

Chicken cooked in milk with green peppercorns

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Christmas saw a frenzy of activity in my kitchen and, whilst it was a joy, I’m now ready to sit back and let the cooking take care of itself. I’ve also resolved to waste less and make the most of whatever I have in my fridge or cupboard.
This chicken dish ticks all the boxes! The bird from my freezer, milk that’s almost out of date, a handful of fresh sage leftover from the Christmas stuffing, and a tablespoon of peppercorns from the bottom of a jar. And the best bit, throw it all in and let it take care of itself!
Now I realise that ‘Chicken in milk’ may sound a little weird but variations of this dish have been done by others and it’s more than worth the little effort it takes. The lemon zest reacts with the milk during cooking to create the most gorgeous, zingy sauce, and the peppercorns add a gentle heat. These flavours, combined with sage and garlic, make this dish a winner.

Serves 4

You’ll need a lidded casserole dish or lidded stove to oven pan

Ingredients

1.5kg chicken
Sea salt
Oil
1 handful of fresh sage leaves
zest of 2 lemons
1 tbsp green peppercorns
4 whole cloves of garlic
560 ml semi skimmed or whole milk

Heat the oven to 190 / Gas 5
Season the bird with salt
In a little oil, brown the chicken well on all sides
Discard any excess oil
Add all the other ingredients, cover the pot, and place in the oven for 90 minutes. Baste 2 or 3 times during cooking.
5 minutes prior to serving remove the lid and, using a fork, squash the garlic cloves and a few of the peppercorns into the sauce. Cook for the remaining 5 minutes then serve.

Perfect with mashed potatoes and green beans.

033

Pepperpot Pie

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Pepperpot pie picSeveral lovely people have asked me for my winning ‘Pepperpot Pie’ recipe, a wonderful, warming dish for these chilly autumn evenings. This pie is infused with flavours and heat from the Caribbean and is equally good made with meat or vegetables. For the meaty version, substitute 800g of shin beef for the waxy potato and corn, and simmer the meat until soft, prior to adding the sweet potato.

VEGETABLE PEPPERPOT PIE

Glug of oil for frying
400g New or waxy potatoes, diced small
1 large or two small, diced small, sweet potatoes (approx 400g)
200g sweetcorn
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 fat scallions, chopped (spring onions)
A small sprig of thyme (approx dessertspoon of leaves only)
150ml medium sherry (Pale Amontillado is good)
200ml veg stock
200ml coconut milk
Two handfuls spring greens or kale, chopped very small
1/2 scotch bonnet pepper finely chopped (no seeds)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste (I like a lot of this)
Salt
Tsp flour to thicken

PASTRY
400g plain flour
250g butter
2 eggs
Teaspoon turmeric
salt
water

NB. Scotch Bonnet peppers vary in size and heat but basically they are all VERY hot. It wouldn’t hurt to use a bit less then add more if needed. They give a beautiful flavour and aroma so it’s best not to substitute if you can get them.

Sieve the turmeric and a good pinch of salt into the flour, blitz the butter and flour in food processor until like breadcrumbs, Add beaten eggs and a drop of water until mixture comes together. Leave to rest in the fridge.
Pre heat the oven to 190
Sautee the potato, sweet potato, onion, and spring onion until slightly browned. Add the scotch bonnet, thyme, salt and pepper, greens, sweetcorn , stock and sherry and simmer for 10 minutes until just cooked. Stir in the coconut milk and a teaspoon of flour mixed with cold water. Simmer for a further 5 minutes for a thick gravy. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Line a deep, 10″ pie dish with the pastry, bake blind for 15 minutes. Fill the pie with the cooled vegetables, put on a pastry lid and brush with egg, bake until gold and crispy.

Makes one large pie or 6 individual.

In honour of ‘The Great British Bake Off’

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Now that ‘The Great British Bake Off’ has returned,  Wednesday night’s will see me glued to the TV, glass of wine in one hand, notebook and pen in the other, jotting down inspirational tips for my baking. And it seems I’m not the only one. Friends and family, and even better, kids, are being inspired and baking more.

My ten year old daughter, Ruby, made me some wonderful cup-cakes, ‘Rose cakes’, with crystalized petals:Ruby's Rose CakeCaramel Popcorn Cupcake and ‘Caramel Popcorn Cupcakes’. Her friends, Ellie and Kaysha, joined in on the act and created a wonderful ‘Victoria Sandwich’, with my name emblazoned in marshmallows across the top! Who could ask for more.

I’ve also been baking up a storm, from bread, to pies, cakes and puddings. Thankfully not all for me as my waistline couldn’t take it!

Photo courtesy of  Rebecca Luton for The Guardian
Photo courtesy of Rebecca Luton for The Guardian

Baking is pure alchemy that never ceases to amaze me. There is nothing more relaxing or rewarding that pottering in the kitchen for a few hours and seeing a few simple ingredients turn into something wonderful for your loved ones. I’ve learned that practise makes perfect and that even the bakes that go wrong can usually be rescued or used in some way. If you haven’t already given it a go, try your hand at a bit of baking. Who knows, next year we might be seeing you on ‘The Great British Bake Off’.

All things Caribbean

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windrush 66 picIt seems like the past few weeks have been jam packed with all things Caribbean. I cooked for our ‘Windrush 66’ event last week, Curried Goat, Stew Chicken, Curried Chicken, Rice n Peas…not to mention the cakes. The event was a HUGE success, with all generations, colours and nationalities coming together to celebrate the arrival of ‘The Empire Windrush’, 66 years ago.

On Sunday it was Preston’s 40th Caribbean Carnival, and if I say so myself, it was the best yet. I was able to unleash my alter ego and don outrageous make-up, an Egyptian/mythical creature like costume, and sparkly false eyelashes. What joy! However my legs are yet to recover from dancing the streets over several miles.

Back to food, (my favourite subject). This week’s recipe swap for the Guardian Witness was ‘Mint’. I’m not a huge lover of this particular herb but there are a couple of dishes that mint really adds to. I’ve submitted the recipes so click on the link and have a look.

Enjoy the sunshine! x

 

Wheeeeee Splash!

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thomas skovsende The ‘Wheeeeee Splash’, is me diving into my blog! My wonderful friend, Adrian Watkins who built this website for me, told me to ‘dive in’ and do my blog. So here I am.

Today has been interesting, eventful, and rather exciting. I had a fantastic photographer, Thomas Skovsende,  come to my home and take pictures of me and my cakes. How lucky am I? The photos and accompanying article will appear in September’s ‘Prima’ magazine. I also kind of killed two birds with one stone as I had masses of food to prepare for an event on Sunday, and therefore had lots of food for Thomas to photograph. The event I’m talking about is Windrush 66. A celebration of the 66th anniversary of the Empire Windrush arriving in the UK, bringing with it the first large influx of immigrants from the Caribbean. I’m making cakes and Caribbean food for the event so will be living in my kitchen for the next day or so.

The not so exciting but eventful part of my day was to go to a meeting with the police to discuss licensing issues for Windrush 66. Thankfully all has turned out well but it’s a learning curve I need to master. I’m off to my kitchen to bake…again! Thank you so much for visiting my Blog.

Welcome to my blog

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beef-ribs

Hello and welcome to my blog. Please feel free to blog away with your recipes, discussions and questions, I would love to hear from you!

Miz Pepperpot x