Category Archives: Main 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!)
Beaten egg
Breadcrumbs (I usually have some in the freezer, but make fresh if you don’t have any)
1 lemon
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
Romaine lettuce
1 beef tomato
1 small goats cheese log
New potatoes
1/2 onion, finely diced
1 tsp wholegrain mustard

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.


The Dinner that was Practically Free! Lamb and Rhubarb Tagine

Well hi there!

It’s been a while again.  Wedding and work have resulted in a lack of inspirational cooking and thus an absolute dearth of blogging but I’m back (if only momentarily).  And what better excuse than to christen the beautiful tagine that my Auntie J gave us as a wedding present?!

Last weekend, A Husband and I went back home and raided gardens and allotments for freebies.  We came home with a couple of massive bags of apples, a huge amount of rhubarb, heaps of runner beans, half a dozen corn on the cob, some potatoes, a couple of onions and an enormous yellow courgette.

The courgette is actually bigger than the fire extinguisher.

The courgette is actually bigger than the fire extinguisher.

I love free veg!  I also love the 9p lamb which was in my freezer.  Free dinner?  Yes please!  It takes a long time to cook, but more or less looks after itself and is so worthwhile!  The lamb absolutely melts in the mouth and works so beautifully with the rhubarb.  An experiment that I’ll try again.

Lamb and Rhubarb Tagine

Lamb breast
2 onions
1/2 lemon
Juniper berries
Star anise
Cinnamon stick
Dried chilli
Dried mint
Dried parsley
Fresh parsley

  1. Pop the lamb in a pan with some water, an onion, the lemon and spices of your choice.  I used peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, star anise and a cinnamon stick.  Bring to the boil and simmer for around 1/2 hour.
  2. Remove the lamb from the water and slice into chunks, removing any bones.  Bring the water back to the boil, reduce significantly and remove all the bits.
  3. Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of the tagine and chop in the veg and rhubarb in big chunks.  Drizzle a few spoons of honey over the rhubarb.  Pile the lamb on top and ladle over a little of the stock.
  4. Grind the spices and dried mint and parsley in a pestle and mortar and sprinkle over the top of the lamb.  Place the tagine in the oven and turn up to 120C.
  5. Cook the tagine for around 4 hours.  I cooked it for about 2 hours one evening, turned the oven off and left it in there overnight, then turned it on again for around 1 1/2 hours to finish it off.  Don’t lift the lid prematurely, just trust that it will be perfect when the time comes!
  6. I served with boiled rice and some runner beans, finely sliced, boiled with some butter and nuts mixed in.  Sprinkle fresh mint over to serve


Crumbed Garlic Ribs

I had my hen do this weekend (yay!) and had an amazing time.  I had (rather fortunately) booked today off of work too so that I could recover which was just as well as there was no way I would have been productive in the office, but I managed to get a fair bit done at home.

Over the weekend A Man went shopping and suggested that we should have ribs tonight as well as suggesting that lots of garlic may well be in order.  I also had some breadcrumbs in the freezer and decided to improvise a new way of cooking ribs.  It worked incredibly well – they were flavoursome and juicy and tender and I will definitely be doing this again!  The crumbs protected the top from drying out and the apple and water steamed them from the bottom so that the meat just fell off of the bones and the slow cooking just emphasised that.  All in all it was a wonderfully successful experiment!

Much love

Gemma xx

Crumbed Garlic Ribs

1 Rack of Pork Ribs between 2 people
2 apples
2 onions
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
At least 6 cloves garlic, more if you really like garlic!
1 egg, beaten
1 handful breadcrumbs
Dried thyme, dried oregano and fresh parsley, chopped finely
New potatoes
Olive oil
Spices of your choice for the potatoes (I used a Peri Peri mix)


  1. Slice the apples, leaving the skin on and core in – you won’t notice them so there’s no need to go to the effort of removing them.  Slice the onions and place with the apples in a wide, shallow casserole.  Preferably a pretty teal-coloured one 🙂
  2. Peel the garlic and place in a pestle (or possibly a mortar…) with some salt and grind to a sloppy paste.
  3. Mix the breadcrumbs with the herbs.  Dredge the ribs in flour and then beaten egg and place on top of the apple and onion, with the meaty side up.  Spread the garlic paste over the top of the ribs and cover with a layer of breadcrumbs.
  4. Very carefully pour the vinegar around the edge of the dish.  Make sure it does not touch the ribs.  Pour some water around the edge too, to almost cover the apple and onion.  Make sure this does not touch the ribs either.
  5. Cover the casserole with a lid and put into the oven at around 120°C.  Cook for about an hour and remove the lid.  Put the casserole back in the oven uncovered.  Top up the water as necessary.
  6. Slice the potatoes into wedges and put into a bowl with some olive oil and the spices of your choice.  Add around the edge of the ribs and place back in the oven.  Cook for around another hour.
  7. Turn the heat up to around 160°C.  Cook for another half an hour to crisp up the breadcrumbs.
  8. Separate the ribs and plate up with the potatoes.  Mix the apple and onions together into a sauce.  Serve with some peas.

The world’s most incredible steak

Good morning

So, last night A Man and I almost went out for dinner, but then decided to stay in instead and just use the money we would have spent at a restaurant to cook something incredible.  Rib eye steak was on offer at the supermarket, but still more expensive by weight than a rib of beef joint.  We went mad.  We bought a single rib joint and A Man took his cleaver to it when we got home.  2 enormous steaks and a couple more in the freezer.  Excellent!

I forgot to take any photos of A Man butchering the joint, but I’m sure you can guess what it looked like.

As far as I’m concerned, the key to cooking great steak is to ensure that it’s properly seasoned, and to make sure it’s nice and dry before you cook it.  If the meat has a ton of moisture on the surface, the steak will essentially steam, which is just what you don’t want.  The method below worked fantastically, and I’d recommend it.

Much love

Gemma xx

Great steak with baked chips, mushroom sauce and peas

2 steaks
Olive oil
3 large cloves garlic
Dried thyme
About 100g butter
1 white onion
1 large punnet mushrooms
A couple of tablespoons of rum or brandy
100g crème fraîche (I used Yeo Valley Organic half fat)
A small amount of stock, preferably home made
Frozen peas

  1. Crush and chop the garlic finely.  In a large bowl, mix around half of the garlic with a good glug of olive oil, about 1 tablespoon of thyme and some salt and pepper.  Dry the steak if necessary with a clean tea towel or kitchen roll, and marinate in the oil mix.  Turn the steak over and rub it around to ensure that the whole steak has had the oil treatment.

    The steaks sit and wait, poised to jump into the frying pan, and into my eagerly awaiting mouth.

    The steaks sit and wait, poised to jump into the frying pan, and into my eagerly awaiting mouth.

  2. Heat about 1 tablespoon oil in a frying pan with the butter, until the butter starts to bubble.  Finely slice the onion and add this with the remaining garlic to the pan.  Stir regularly and cook until the onion is soft.
  3. Slice the mushrooms and add these to the onions.  Continually turn them over, so that they are evenly cooked.  Cook the mushrooms until they are soft and have started to reduce.
  4. While the mushrooms are cooking, prepare your potatoes.  You can peel them if you like, but I prefer not to.  Cut them into chips of fairly even size, and then rinse the chips in cold water.  This will remove some of the starch from the surface and help to make a crispy chip.  Mix in a bowl with a touch more olive oil, and some salt, pepper and any herbs or spices you wish to add to your chips.  My favourite is smoked paprika.
  5. Turn the oven on very high, and place a baking tray in to heat up.
  6. Add the rum or brandy to the mushrooms and stir vigorously.  It should sizzle a lot.  Stir through the crème fraîche and stock and allow to bubble for a couple of minutes.  Season the sauce to taste, and add a little water if it is too thick.  Remove from the heat – you can warm it through again just before serving.
  7. Cook the chips on the preheated tray.  Depending on their size, and how crowded they are on the tray, they should take around 30 – 45 minutes.  Warm the plates if possible.
  8. A few minutes before serving, heat a dry griddle on the hob until it starts to smoke.  Put the peas on to boil (they really only need the water to boil, then they can be switched off).  Add the steaks to the griddle and watch them carefully.  Cook to your liking.  We usually have ours rare, but these came out slightly more on the medium side because I cooked them a little too long, but they were so tender it just didn’t matter.  Warm the mushrooms through at this point.

    Everything on the go.  I have to say, it was somewhat extravagant having steaks that only just fit in the griddle...

    Everything on the go. I have to say, it was somewhat extravagant having steaks that only just fit in the griddle…

  9. Once the steak is cooked, immediately plate up everything  Pour any juices from the steak pan back over the meat.  Revel in just how incredible your dinner is going to be.
Incredible steaks, delicious mushrooms, perfect crispy chips and, well, peas.  What an amazing Saturday night dinner!  Over the top, yes, but still better value for money than going to a restaurant or getting a takeaway.

Incredible steaks, delicious mushrooms, perfect crispy chips and, well, peas. What an amazing Saturday night dinner! Over the top, yes, but still better value for money than going to a restaurant or getting a takeaway.

Chop chop


I decided this evening it was about time to blog some dinner, and what better to blog than some pork n stuff?  Usually I’d make this with cider, but we don’t have any open at the moment, so instead I’ve added some glugs of Apple and Fig juice.  Obviously standard apple juice or cider would do fine.

I love having excuses to use my beautiful teal casserole, but the problem with slow cooked chops is that they can end up a little on the flabby side.  The chops in question were from A Man’s dad’s pigs and as such have a really thick layer of fat on them.  To remedy the flabbiness, I snipped the rind and fried it off before cooking the meat – I think it worked OK, although you’re never going to get true crispiness when cooking this way.

Much love

Gemma xx

Pork chops in garlic and apple jus

1 pork chop per person

Butter and olive oil

1 red and 1 white onion

About half a dozen cloves of garlic (I used half ordinary and half smoked garlic)

2 eating apples

2 sticks celery

3 mushrooms

Herbs of your choice

Apple juice or cider

  1. Snip the fat on the pork chops every inch or so.  Don’t trim down to the meat!
  2. Heat the butter and oil in the pan.  Chop your onions and add them to the oil, frying gently.  Peel the garlic cloves and add them whole to the pan.
  3. Fry the rind of the chops in the pan but don’t cook the meat.  I achieved this by closing my tongs around the chops and locking them closed, so they stood up by themselves.
    Continue to stir the onions and garlic.  When the chops have cooked for a few minutes and the rind has started to crisp up, remove them from the pan.
  4. Core the apple and chop it into chunky slices.  Finely slice the celery and mushrooms and add everything to the pan with some herbs.  Stir occasionally.
  5. After a few minutes, add a little juice or cider and allow it to reduce slightly.  At this stage I also added some of my apple and thyme jelly.
  6. Nestle the chops amongst the onions and apple and add a lid to the pan.  Place in a low oven for around 40 minutes.
  7. Check the sauce before serving and reduce on the hob slightly if necessary.  Serve with mashed potato.
Seriously, this pork was so tender it basically required no chewing.

Seriously, this pork was so tender it basically required no chewing.

Fusilli con Pollo


I’ve been experimenting again!  Again using my gorgeous new casserole.  I’m not entirely sure where this idea came from beyond the thought process of: these are the things I have in the fridge; I haven’t had pasta for a few days; let’s try that.  It worked out really well, and I made just enough to have leftovers for a yummy pasta salad for my lunch later in the week.  Win!

I’ve not gone crazy with the photos tonight.  Lucky you!

Love love

Gemma xx

Fusilli con Pollo

1 chicken leg per person
Olive oil
Red onion
2 cloves garlic
Yellow pepper
Cavolo Nero
Fresh tomatoes
Small amount of Chicken stock (I used a few home-made concentrated stock cubes which I had frozen in an ice cube tray)
Half a lemon
Fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
Teaspoon of sugar

  1. Procure some chicken legs.  Ours came from the whole chicken A Man attacked with his cleaver the other day.
    100_1981 100_1982
  2. Heat the oil in a pan.  Brown the chicken legs and remove from the pan.  Turn the heat down to low.
  3. Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic.  Fry for a few minutes.  Slice the mushrooms, pepper and cavolo nero stalks and add to the pan.  Chop the cavolo nero leaves and set aside.  Cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Chop the tomatoes and add to the pan with the cavolo nero leaves.  Add the stock and lemon juice and stir well.  Make wells for the chicken legs and replace in the pan.  Cover the pan and cook for at least half an hour or until the chicken is cooked.
  5. Cook the pasta until it is al dente.  Drain and set aside.
  6. Remove the chicken  from the pan, stir through some fennel seeds, salt and pepper and a teaspoon of sugar.  Add the pasta and stir well.  Replace the chicken in the pan and cover until required.


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!


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…


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


  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.


    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.
  3. Brown the sausages with the onion.  Cook for several minutes.
  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.


    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!