Sunday, 22 May 2011

Swedish-Style Pork Meatballs

I've only just gone and done it again. Given a probably highly unauthentic dish a nationality. OK, so the closest I've got to Sweden is Ikea. Needless to say these meatballs are much better than their Ikea cousins (but I must admit, I have a soft spot for Ikea meatballs....).

This is another dish I remember really fondly from when I was little. My Mum and I used to make a little production line. We'd get our hands nice and messy squishing the meatball mixture between our fingers and then one of us would roll the meatballs, while the other one would dust them in flour. Needless to say if I was in charge of dusting the meatballs it would be like an explosion in a flour factory.

This version of the recipe I use sausage meat for ease. I have been known to make these meatballs using a mixture of pork mince and bacon. They're even nice with turkey mince if pork isn't your cup of tea. If I can get my hands on fresh tarragon I like to substitute it for the thyme for a different but yummy flavour.

Ingredients (serves 3)
Packet of 8 good quality pork sausages
White wine
Chicken stock
Vegetable oil
Plain flour

How to...
1. Finely dice the onions and garlic and soften in a pan with some vegetable oil.
2. Slice open the sausages and empty the meat into a bowl. Grind pepper and salt into the sausage meat. Add a generous sprinkling of thyme and the onions and garlic.
3. Make sure your hands are clean and stick them in the sausage meat and mix it all up.
4. Roll the pork mixture into small balls and coat them in a dusting of plain flour.
5. Brown the meatballs in a pan with some vegetable oil. Drain off the excess oil once they're brown.
6. Slosh about a glass of wine into the pan, pour the same into a glass for yourself and enjoy it.
7. Pour enough chicken stock in the pan to almost cover the meatballs, for me this was about 1 pint.
8. Leave to simmer for half an hour. The sauce should reduce and become as thick as gravy.

9. Serve with boiled rice and spinach, or just in a bowl with a hunk of fresh bread to mop up the sauce.
Whilst cooking I was listening to... The Buena Vista Social Club

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Chorizo and Bean Soup

Strangely I only like homemade soup, even the premium ready made soups that are available just don't do it for me. Also a little strangely I'm a big fan of soups in summer, possibly because they tend to be quite light and easy to digest. I think there's little better than tucking into a bowl of delicious, fresh soup after a day in the sunshine.

Soup is also really easy to make, which is an important thing for me at the moment. I'm in the middle of sitting my final exams at university. This means I need to get in lots of nutritious food, but not spent forever making it. It also helps that it's so simple, that even when my head is somewhere else, it's impossible to get it wrong.

Ingredients (makes 3 hearty bowls)
Chorizo (about 150g)
Tin of chopped tomatoes
Tin of mixed beans in spicy tomato sauce
Half an onion
Clove of garlic
Vegetable/chicken stock
3 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
Olive oil

How to...
1. Chop onions and garlic, soften in a pan with olive oil.
2. Dice chorizo and cook with onions and garlic for 5 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes, beans and 1 litre of chicken stock. Leave to cook on a medium heat for 30 mins or so.
4. Pour steaming hot soup into bowls and top with a handful of fresh baby spinach leaves.

Whilst cooking I was listening to... Turning Tables by Adele.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Pad Thai

I remember the first time I went to a Thai restaurant. I must have been about 9 years old and it was in Bayswater. The first bite of pad thai I had was like love at first taste. Since then I've had a lifetime of disappointment when restaurants get it wrong and probably for that reason I haven't had a go at making it. Weirdly it's probably the recipe I've googled most.

I was having dinner at a friend's and they said they fancied pad thai. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a bash. We encountered a few problems... lack of large flat rice noodles was the main problem, in fact it was thin egg noodles or udon noodles. We went for udon as they're my second favourite, but ideally it would be made with flat rice noodles.

This recipe (as with the last one I wrote), probably isn't totally authentic, but it tastes pretty nice and I'll certainly be making it again.

Ingredients (serves 2)
Flat rice noodles (2 portions)
100g pork loin
200g raw king prawns
1 egg
Thai fish sauce
Brown sugar
Tamarind paste
2 cloves garlic
2 red chillies
2 spring onions
Crushed peanuts
Vegetable oil

How to...
1. Finely chop garlic and chillies and soften in frying pan with a generous splosh of vegetable oil.
2. Finely slice pork loin and add to pan. Cook for 5 minutes.
3. Cook noodles according to packet instructions.
4. Add raw prawns to pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add noodles, finely sliced spring onion, a generous splash of fish sauce, a tablespoon of brown sugar, a teaspoon of tamarind paste and the juice of a lime.
6. Tilt the pan to one side and push noodles away from the flame. Add a beaten egg to the side of the pan nearest the flame and scramble it.
7. Mix the egg in with the rest.
8. Throw 2-3 big handfuls of beansprouts in the pan.
9. Cook for another 2 minutes.
10. Serve topped with crushed peanuts, coriander leaves and a wedge of lime.
Whilst cooking I was listening to... Coyotes by Jason Mraz.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Vietnamese Beef Pho

I get a bit worried when claiming to cook something from a country that I've never even visited, so before I offend anyone with any authenticities I thought I'd come clean. So this may (or may not) be authentic, but regardless it's pretty scrummy. As well as being delicious it's really quick to cook and is one of those soup that even goes down well on a hot summers day.

If I don't have rice noodles I either have it without noodles, with egg noodles or sometimes even put some leftover cooked rice in it.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6 in little bowls as a starter or 2 as a main meal)
2 sirloin steaks
3 shallots
5 cloves of garlic
2" of ginger
2 chillies
2 pints beef stock
1 portion of rice noodles
1 lime
Fish sauce
2 spring onions
Vegetable oil
How to...
1. Finely chop garlic, shallots, ginger and chillies.
2. Finely slice steak and lie over the bottom of a bowl in a single layer. When the hot broth is poured over this later it will cook the beef through perfectly.

3. Fry shallots, garlic, ginger and chillies in a splash of vegetable oil until they are soft and fragrant. Be careful not to burn it!
4. Pour in 2 pints of beef stock. Ideally use fresh but in all honesty I use stock cubes most of the time.
5. Squeeze in the juice of a lime and add a splash of fish sauce (not too much as you don't want it too salty).
6. Cook noodles according to instructions on packet. Split between bowls.
7. Pour hot broth into bowls over beef and noodles.
8. Garnish with finely sliced spring onion, coriander and basil.

Whilst cooking I was listening to... Come Away With Me by Norah Jones.