Category Archives: Family Meals

Smoked Pork Schnitzel

Hello hello hello hello

I love smoked food.  Smoked salmon is delicious, my favourite spice is smoked paprika, smoked cheese makes me happy, lapsang souchong (which is smoked tea) tastes fabulously decadent (even after my friend Christina described it as tasting like ham…), I was thrilled when I discovered smoked almonds at the supermarket and bacon is utterly pointless unless it’s smoked.  Imagine my excitement when I discovered that Morrisons has just started selling cured, smoked pork tenderloin!  We spied it last week, but it was somewhat too expensive.  It was 1/3 off this week, so we snapped it up.  You can, of course, use normal unsmoked pork tenderloin instead if you prefer.

A Man has made escalopes before and they were delicious, but a little on the dark side.  This time he used one of our new kitchen toys – a cast iron frying pan that we didn’t need but only cost £5 so we had no choice but to buy it.  The advantage of using cast iron for this sort of meal is that it heats up well, retains the heat and cooks evenly.  It worked really really well!  The schnitzel were perfectly golden, and tender and juicy on the inside.

We’ve been eating quite a lot of salad so far this month, after the disgraceful excesses of Christmas.  I wanted salad with this meal (particularly as the escalopes are fried in butter!) but also wanted something a bit more interesting.  This salad was delicious slightly warm, and we made a huge bowl full so there’s leftovers for me to take to work (yay!).  The goat’s cheese was one of a selection of mini truckles that we bought just after Christmas for 20p each, which were reduced simply because they were mini truckles of cheese which apparently supermarkets only sell at Christmas.  It added just enough of the cheesy taste without being overpowering.  Yum!

The ingredients list is a bit ridiculous, but you can chop and change it as you please.  And in case you’re curious, smoked cured pork tenderloin is fairly salty, and brilliant cooked like this.

Smoked Pork Schnitzel

1 smoked pork tenderloin (we cut ours in half and put half in the freezer as it was too big for two!)
Flour
Beaten egg
Breadcrumbs (I usually have some in the freezer, but make fresh if you don’t have any)
1 lemon
Parsley
Butter
1 red, 1 green and 1 orange pepper
3 small, fresh beetroots (with tops if possible)
1/2 fennel
1/2 butternut squash
3 carrots
Fennel seeds
Dried thyme
Olive oil
Salt & pepper
Rocket
Romaine lettuce
1 beef tomato
1 small goats cheese log
New potatoes
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
Mayonnaise

A Man fries the schnitzel in our fabulous new pan!

A Man fries the schnitzel in our fabulous new pan!

  1. Preheat the oven to around 200OC/400OF/Gas mark 6.  Slice the tenderloin into 3 slices per person.  Sandwich each slice between two sheets of cling film or baking parchment and bash with a meat tenderiser until around 5mm thick.  Mix the chopped parsley and zest of the lemon with the breadcrumbs.  Dredge the pork first in flour, then beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs and set aside.
  2. Half the peppers and remove the seeds.  Chop the tops off of the beetroots and half.  If they are young enough, you can eat the skin.  Chop the stalks off of the fennel and discard, but keep any fronds.  Cut the 1/2 fennel in half again, keeping the core to hold the layers together.  Slice the butternut squash and carrots into fingers, leaving the skin on.  Place all of the veg on a baking tray and season well with fennel seeds, thyme, salt and pepper.  Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil (this won’t be wasted – it’ll be used to dress the salad).  Place in the preheated oven for around 1/2 hour, or until all of the veg (particularly the beetroot) is completely roasted.

    A preview of what's to come...

    A preview of what’s to come, together with my pretty olive wood salad spoons…

  3. Whilst the veg is cooking, very finely chop the beetroot tops and place in a large salad bowl.  Finely chop the fennel fronds and add to the beetroot.  Chop the tomato and romaine, and add these and the rocket to the bowl.  Slice the cheese and add this.  Set aside for the time being.
  4. Boil the new potatoes.  Mix the finely chopped onion with the mustard, a small squeeze of lemon juice and a spoonful of mayonnaise.  Once the potatoes are fully cooked, cool slightly and mix with the mayo mix.  Add more mayonnaise if you like, but you don’t want it to be swimming in the stuff.
  5. Once the veg has fully cooked, remove from the oven.  Place the frying pan on a medium-high heat and melt the butter.  Turn the oven off, but place a plate in there to warm up.  Chop the veg into bite sized pieces, mix the oil and herbs on the tray with the remainder of the squeezed lemon juice.  Add the veg to the salad bowl, stir the oil and lemon juice well and pour over the salad.  Toss the salad well.

    What a tosser...

    What a tosser… I do love my salad to have a lot of vibrant colours and diverse flavours.

  6. Once the butter is bubbling, fry the schnitzel a couple at a time until the breadcrumbs are golden brown, turning occasionally.  Don’t crowd the pan or they won’t cook properly.  Once each batch is cooked, place them on the warm plate in the oven.

    Action shot!  I forgot to take any photos until the meal was nearly finished, so you're getting a lot of late ones.

    Action shot! I forgot to take any photos until the meal was nearly finished, so you’re getting a lot of late ones.

  7. Plate up once the schnitzel is fully cooked and enjoy with a nice cold G&T!
A Man doesn't like mayonnaise, so he just had plan new potatoes but I thought the potato salad went really well with this gorgeous salad and the beautiful pork.

A Man doesn’t like mayonnaise, so he just had plain new potatoes but I thought the potato salad went really well with this gorgeous salad and the beautiful pork.

Chorizo Stew

Oh hi there!

Happy new year.  Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas.  Ours was fab and I’ve created an experimental dish to use my favourite present – a beautiful teal coloured cast iron casserole dish given to us by my parents.  It’s bloody heavy but that metal helps to distribute the heat evenly across the dish.  The enamelled surface is great because you get a crust of deliciousness which can be easily scraped up into the sauce thanks to how non-stick it is.  The lid condenses all of the steam back into the sauce, and it’s virtually silent when it’s boiling.  And thanks to how pretty it is, you can feel proud to take it to the dinner table. 🙂  In short I adore it!

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A Man’s dad gave us a mandolin which has already been used to make coleslaw and to slice a gammon joint.  I foresee a dauphinoise or gratin in my future…

I also bought A Man a new knife – a rather dangerous looking beast of a cleaver.  We’ve agreed that I’m banned from using it, because given the ease with which it cuts through an entire chicken I’d be quite likely to go straight through my finger.

The sword and shield of the kitchen!  A Man's  chopper and the lid of the casserole.

The sword and shield of the kitchen! A Man’s chopper and the lid of the casserole.

My other kitchen-related present was a trio of teapots.  I’ve got a feeling that I’ve become a bit predictable…

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That’s a glass teapot for fruity teas, a Le Creuset teapot for posh teas and an “It’s always Time for Tea” teapot because, well, it’s true.

The stew I made with some little sausages made with garlic and paprika.  They were from Morrisons and I would thoroughly recommend them – they were yummy!  I was really pleased with this meal and the only thing I would change would be to add some spice (I dropped some of my chilli jelly into the leftovers for next time we eat it).

Much love

Gemma xx

Chorizo Stew

Olive oil
Red onion
Garlic cloves
Chilli (optional)
Fresh tomatoes
Fresh parsley
Green pepper
Cavolo nero
Chorizo sausages
White wine
Brown rice to serve

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  1. Heat a good splash of olive oil in a wide pan.  Dice the onion, crush the garlic and chop the chilli finely if using.  Fry gently in the oil.


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    This photo’s out of sequence because I didn’t go snap-happy until slightly too late. Deal with it!

  2. Dice the pepper and add to the pan.  Finely chop the stalks of the parsley and cavolo nero and stir in.  Chop the tomatoes and leaves of the parsley and cavolo nero to add later.
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  3. Brown the sausages with the onion.  Cook for several minutes.
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  4. Add the cavolo nero leaves and cook for a couple of minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and a small glass of white wine.  Cover the dish and leave to simmer for 30 – 45 minutes.

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    Action shot!

  5. Taste the sauce and season as necessary.  Cook the rice.  Remove the lid and allow the sauce to reduce slightly.  Add the parsley just before serving.

    Open wide!

    Open wide!

Friday night is Fish night

Oh, hi there blogworld.  You’d forgotten all about me?  Well, I used to write a food blog fairly regularly, and then I started work in the real world and suddenly had other stuff to do than cook elaborate meals on a weekday.  Like just cooking something quick because I was starving.

So let’s face it, I’ll probably post this and then abandon my blog for another few months.  Such is life.

Recently, A Man and I have been able to buy a lot of fish from the supermarket which has been reduced to absurd levels of cheapness.  We’re talking 19p here.  I therefore have absolutely no option but to buy it, which inevitably results in there being heaps of fish in my freezer.

Due to this, a couple of times recently we’ve had ‘posh fish and chips’ for dinner on a Friday.  I have written about this previously but have done it slightly differently, so thought another post couldn’t hurt.

The first I won’t write a recipe for, as frankly it’s just a case of wrapping the fish in foil and baking for 20-30 minutes depending on how big it is.

This is a rather unhappy looking sea bass.

This is a rather unhappy looking sea bass.

That was some time last month.  However, last night I set about to improve January’s battered fish recipe and I honestly think I’m onto a winner now.  Fish fingers are absolutely one of my guilty pleasures, but when they contain whole pieces of actual fish like these do, I don’t think there’s any reason to feel guilty!

Much love

Gemma xx

Battered fish fingers and chips

Fish (any type is fine – I used one lime and coriander marinated salmon fillet and one whole lemon sole)
Potatoes (or a mix of ordinary and sweet potatoes)
Herbs and spices (I used some ground chilli flakes, smoked paprika, cumin and thyme)
Olive oil
Cornflour
Egg white
Water
Herbs
Sunflower oil
Peas

  1. Turn the oven up as high as it will go.  Chop your potatoes into chips – they don’t need peeling (not even the sweet potatoes!).  Place them on a baking tray and liberally coat them with your chosen herbs and spices.  Drizzle with a good amount of olive oil and put them in the oven.  Check on them every once in a while and shake them about a bit.  They should go crispy on the outside and soft in the middle.  If necessary, turn the oven down slightly.
  2. This next bit depends on the type of fish you have.  If it’s just fillets then you’re safe.  If not, you will have to fillet your fish.  I used Darina Allen’s instructions for filleting flat fish (see below) and it worked beautifully!
  3. These instructions assume you’re right-handed.  If you are left-handed, you may want to do it the other way!
  • Lay the fish dark-skin up and head towards you.
  • Using a very sharp (and preferably flexible – mine was totally the wrong type of knife really) knife, cut down the left-hand side of the spine.
  • Turn the knife horizontally and gently, using long sweeps of the blade, separate the flesh from the bones.  Be careful not to chop through the bones!
  • Once you have removed the whole of the fillet, turn the fish so that the tail is now facing towards you and repeat for the other side.  Once you have finished filleting the top of the fish, flip it over and fillet the bottom.  Voila!
Like I said, the knife was totally inappropriate and I may have been able to do it more quickly with a proper filleting knife.  Pretty pleased with the overall result though!

Like I said, the knife was totally inappropriate and I may have been able to do it more quickly with a proper filleting knife. Pretty pleased with the overall result though!

 

  1. (I don’t know how to resume the numbering at 4, so pretend I have)  Cut all of your fish into strips and set aside.  Separate the egg white from the yolk, and mix the white with some cornflour.  You may need to adjust the batter with more cornflour and water, but you should get something the consistency of single cream.  Season with herbs if you like.
  2. Place a plate in the top oven to warm, and put some kitchen towel on it to drain the fish onto after cooking.
  3. Heat some sunflower oil in a pan until a small piece of bread starts to sizzle and brown (but not burn and blacken!) as soon as it hits the oil.
  4. Put the peas on to cook.  They only need to be hot through, so as soon as they are, turn off the hob.
  5. Fry the fish fingers in small batches.  Once they are cooked, transfer them to the kitchen towel.  Once all are cooked, serve immediately.  They should be light and crispy on the outside and beautifully moist in the middle.
  6. Serve with tomato ketchup, tartare sauce, pickles and of course lemon wedges.
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The batter is very pale, as only the egg white has been used. This allows the pinkness of the salmon fillet show through.

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A Man dives into the bowl of sweet and ordinary potato chips.  These were perfectly seasoned with all the spices.  Yum!

Spaghetti Carbonara

Hello there!

I actually made this recipe last week and completely forgot to write it up.  I’d spent the day shopping for clothes and wandering around IKEA, and by the time I got home I just could not be bothered to cook anything elaborate.  Luckily we had some excellent quality bacon, courtesy of one of A Man’s dad’s pigs in our freezer.  This bacon has around an inch of fat on it and had an incredibly rich flavour – it was perfect for this recipe.  I also happened to have just bought some pasta bowls which I was eager to use, so this seemed as good an excuse as any.

Carbonara should be silky, glossy and rich.  The key is to only cook the egg with the residual heat from the pasta, or you’ll end up scrambling it.  You can add onion, chillis, herbs etc if you fancy but I didn’t bother.

Much love

Gemma xx

Spaghetti Carbonara

75-100g spaghetti per person (fresh or dried is fine)
Good quality back bacon with a decent layer of fat
3 or 4 smoked garlic cloves
One medium sized egg per person
A good chunk of parmesan
Black pepper

  1. Cook the spaghetti according to the instructions.  Separate the fat from the meat of the bacon, and chop both into chunks.  Fry the fat in a pan on a medium-low heat to render it down.
  2. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife and add to the bacon fat with the chopped bacon.  Fry for several minutes until cooked and slightly crispy (but take care not to burn it).
  3. Beat the eggs together.  Grate the parmesan and add most to the beaten eggs with a little black pepper.
  4. Drain the pasta and put it back in the pan.  Add the egg mixture and stir well.  Add the bacon, garlic and a little of the bacon fat and stir until all the ingredients are well combined.  Serve immediately, sprinkled with the remaining parmesan, more black pepper and a side salad.  I saved the bacon fat and used on the Bunny Ballotines I made the other day.

Aubergine and Mushroom in Fragrant Peanut Sauce

Hi there

I went a bit nuts on the veg front when I went shopping this week – there was so much different stuff I fancied buying, so last night it seemed to make a lot of sense to have a vegetarian dinner.  What I made was a mish-mash of stuff, but actually turned out to be pretty tasty.  Despite the long list of ingredients, it was also really quick to prepare, which can only be a bonus in my book.

My one piece of advice would be: don’t forget to put the rice on.  We ended up having disappointing cous cous, because it’s quicker to cook than rice.  Tonight we’re having the leftovers with added chicken and rice.  Or at least, that’s the plan.

Much love

Gemma xx

Aubergine and Mushroom in Fragrant Peanut Sauce

Y’know, imagine rice instead of cous cous…

Aubergine
Mushrooms
Leek
Red pepper
Root ginger
1-2 cloves garlic
Lemongrass
Kaffir lime leaves
Cumin
Ground coriander
Ground ginger
Toasted sesame oil
Crunchy peanut butter
Coconut milk
Some kind of sweetener – honey, brown sugar or agave syrup
Soy sauce
Fish sauce (omit if vegetarian)
Nuts (I used soy nuts)

  1. Chop all the veg into chunky pieces and place in a bowl.  Peel the root ginger and garlic, grate on a microplane and add to the veg.  Bruise the lemongrass, chop finely and add to the veg.  Crumble in a couple of kaffir lime leaves, and sprinkle on a generous amount of cumin, coriander and ginger.  Add a couple of spoons of sesame oil and stir really well to ensure everything is evenly distributed.  Leave to marinade for a couple of hours.
  2. Heat a wok until it is really hot.  Throw the veg into the pan and immediately turn down to a medium/low temperature.  Stir fry for several minutes, until the aubergine is cooked in the middle.  Cover the wok.
  3. In the marinade bowl, stir together a couple of heaped spoons of peanut butter with enough coconut milk to form a fairly thick sauce consistency.  Add a teaspoon of your preferred sweetener and a good dash each of soy and fish sauce.
  4. Add the sauce to the veg and stir well.  Once hot, adjust the sauce as required by adding more soy sauce, fish sauce or sugar.  Cook for a few minutes for the sauce to reduce slightly.
  5. Stir through the nuts at the last minute, and serve on a bed of rice.

This is a tasty burger

Hallo

Yesterday, A Man and I went to have a look at how our wedding rings are coming along, and was that ever exciting!  This meant that we were out of the house half of the afternoon, and didn’t want anything too labour-intensive for dinner.  This wasn’t too time consuming (especially for me as I didn’t make it!) but absolutely delicious.

Earlier on, I had caught the scent of a BBQ blowing on the breeze, and realised just how long it’s been since I had a homemade burger.  A Man was put in charge and the result was amazing.  Honestly, I’m seriously considering having another one for breakfast.  It was goooood.

I leave you with the recipe, and the wise words of Samuel L Jackson (aka Jules Winnfield).

Love love

Gemma xx

A Man’s Tasty Burgers

Good quality beef mince
Fresh breadcrumbs
Fresh basil leaves
Half an onion
One fat clove of garlic
Salt and pepper
1 egg

  1. Finely dice the onion and garlic.  Place all of the ingredients in a bowl together.
  2. Mix everything together really well with your hands.  Add more breadcrumbs or egg until the meat stays together well.
  3. Shape into burgers and leave to rest until ready to cook.  Cook under a medium grill or on a BBQ for a few minutes on each side.  You can leave it slightly pink in the middle if you like.  I melted some mild cheddar on top of my burger just prior to serving.
  4. Serve with your preferred side dishes.  We had toasted ciabatta bread, homemade baked chips, corn on the cob, tomato, lettuce and thinly sliced red onion.  My favourite way to eat my burgers was with a scrape of mayonnaise and a dollop of sweet chilli sauce.  Om nom nom nom nom nom nom.

There’s also a rather attractive photo of me attempting to stuff this in my gob. For some reason I don’t seem to have uploaded that one…

Creamy Trout Fusilli

Hullo

Yesterday I planned a quick dinner because I figured it would be more relaxing than spending hours in the kitchen.  As it happened, I spent hours in the kitchen anyway as water was streaming through the ceiling and flooding the place.  Not impressed.  It’s just as well dinner was quick because I definitely didn’t have the energy to do something time consuming after so much mopping!  Had I not already thawed the fish you can absolutely bet we’d have had takeaway.

As I’ve already mentioned, this meal is quick (it only takes as long as the pasta takes to cook) and tasty.  You can add different veg to it, take the fish out if you don’t fancy, use salmon or ham instead, grate some cheese on top etc.  Play around with the ingredients depending on what you’ve got in.

Love love

Gemma xx

Creamy Trout Fusilli

Fusilli (or any pasta will do)
Spring onions
Courgette (we used a huge one from A Man’s mum’s allotment 🙂 )
Cream
Pesto
Juice of half a lemon
Trout fillet, skinned and boned

I realise this photo is super uninspiring, but I’m not going to apologise for that 🙂

  1. Put the pasta on to cook as per the instructions
  2. Chop the spring onions and fry in a little olive oil.  Chop the courgette (and, if it’s anything like as big as ours was, peel it too!) and add to the spring onions.  Stir well and cook for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add some cream to the veg and stir well.  Add a couple of heaped teaspoons of pesto and the lemon juice and turn the heat down to low.  Continue to stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Once the pasta is cooked, drain most of the water from it, keeping a couple of tablespoons.  Add to the sauce and stir well.
  5. Just before serving, chop the trout into bitesized chunks and stir through the pasta.  The heat from the pasta and sauce will cook the fish, so serve immediately to prevent it from overcooking.  Serve with lots of fresh black pepper.