Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween Munchkin!

Alright, so it’s the last day of October. The time of the year when adults and children alike, prowl the streets, looking like zombies, mummies and Spiderman. We don’t really celebrate it back home but since I’m in London now, I felt a slight obligation to keep up with the festive spirit.

Stephenie bought a couple of munchkins (mini-pumpkins) from the supermarket last week, and tonight, we decided to get some carving done!

Here’s what we did!

WHOOOOSH!!!

STARS!!

Oh, and here’s what I saw on the train a coupla days back! It definitely deserves some affection.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN TO ALL!

(If you’ve done carvings of your own, and would like to share, leave a link in the comments below! Sorry, no prizes for the best ones, but I’d really love to see them! )


Sausage Penne Bolognese

Even though I think the best way to have Bolognese is with spaghetti, sometimes penne is a pretty good change. Served in a deep bowl, all you need is a fork to stab and shove.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pork sausages
  • 1 small handful of frozen peas
  • 2 inches of a medium carrot, diced finely
  • a quarter of an onion, diced finely
  • 1 small small knob of butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • chilli, minced (optional)
  • 2 tsp of double concentrate tomato puree
  • a pinch of dried basil
  • sea salt, freshly ground
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • freshly grated Parmesan,
  • a couple of fresh basil leaves
  • 2 handfuls of quick cook penne
COOKING:
  1. Get your pasta boiling in a pot.
  2. In a hot wok, toss the peas in.
  3. Once they’ve defrosted for a bit, dump the carrots in, together with the small small wad of butter. Toss.
  4. Then add the garlic and onions. Let them fry away happily, tossing occasionally.
  5. If you want it slightly spicy, add in the chilli now.
  6. Peel of the skin of the sausages and throw them into the wok. Cut them erratically with a spatula whilst stirring everything together.
  7. Scoop out some of the starchy pasta cooking water and pour into the wok.
  8. Stir in the tomato puree and add more pasta cooking water accordingly.
  9. When you’ve got the consistency you want, and the sausages cooked, pinch in the dried basil, salt and pepper. Stir and turn off the heat.
  10. Drain pasta.
  11. Serve with bolognese. Garnish with Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

15-minute meal for the famished soul.


Asparagus & Bacon Penne

Remember King’s Asparagus? We know from that meal that bacon and asparagus are a match made in heaven. Now, we’re gonna have it with pasta.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 streaks of smoked bacon, cut up into one-inch bits
  • 3 large stalks of asparagus, sliced in half lengthways (Don’t be like me and forget to buy asparagus. I used dwarf beans instead. I am ashamed.)
  • a quarter of a yellow pepper cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 handfuls of quick-cook penne
  • 1 tsp of vegetable oil
  • 1 small small knob of butter
  • Cheddar, finely grated
  • dried basil
  • dried oregano
  • sea salt, freshly ground
  • black pepper, freshly ground
  • chilli, minced (optional)

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Get the pasta cooking in a pot of boiling water.
  2. In a hot skillet with vegetable oil, toss in the bacon to render the fat out.
  3. Then, in goes the butter, garlic and asparagus.
  4. If you like spice, now’s the time to toss in the chilli.
  5. Fry till bacon browns and asparagus wilts slightly.
  6. Welcome the Aroma Fairies into your kitchen, they’ve missed you sorely.
  7. Season with basil, oregano, salt and pepper.
  8. Drain the pasta and mix it altogether in the skillet.
  9. Add more salt if necessary.
  10. Serve with an abundance of shaved Cheddar atop.

Pizza: Asparagi alla Parmigiana

Don’t be like me and leave it in the hot oven after it’s done, thinking it would ‘keep warm’ that way. It got way overdone.

Anyway, using this pizza dough recipe, this is what goes on top:

  • Thin slices of asparagus
  • Slices of white mushrooms
  • Shaved Parmesan
  • Lemon Mayonnaise*

*This can be bought off the shelf, but I prefer making my own. Squeeze lemon juice into some mayonnaise; enough so that there is a refreshing zest of lemon goodness but not so much so it becomes a sour mess. Top the pizza with this after it’s been baked, using a squeezey bottle. If you don’t have one, use a ziplock bag, with a small corner snipped off. Have a good time making lovely patterns. Have a better time eating this pizza.


Pork Shoulder: Five-Hour Slow Roast

Dear Samuel, it’s your birthday today, so this one’s for you.

*****

This is how a Five-Hour Pork Shoulder Slow Roast would look like.

Especially after being completely macerated with a pair of tongs and a cerated knife.

Okay, I screwed up the crackling on this one big time. But the meat was just perfect. It better be after five hours of baking in the oven.

  1. Get a hunk of pork shoulder (about 800g to 1kg) from the supermarket or butcher. If you can get it with the bone in, even better.
  2. I can’t comment much on how to do the crackling right. But in theory, here’s how it goes: Score the skin half a centimetre deep, and about a centimetre apart. Rub salt into the crevices.
  3. Season everywhere else with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper.
  4. Get the whole hunk of meat on a roasting dish and stick it in the oven for 30 minutes, at 220ÂȘC. This should make a crackling happen.
  5. When the crackling looks right, wrap the whole dish snugly with a double layer of foil and stick it back into the oven for 4 hours, at 180*C. Go out and have a beer with the lads, or have a nap.
  6. Prepare some stuff to accompany the pork shoulder – carrot slices, diced onions, smashed garlic (a whole bulb, skin on) and a couple of rosemary sprigs.
  7. After four hours, remove the foil and set in the carrots, onions, garlic and rosemary. Baste everything in the fat rendered at the base of the dish.
  8. Stick it back into the oven for another half hour before serving.

It sounds like a lot of work to do, but it’s so simple for something so amazing. Tender tender goodness.


Royal Purple Mash

This is actually yam ice cream.

I’m kidding.

It’s your good ol’ mashed potatoes, gone wrong.

  1. Get a bag of purple potatoes from your supermarket, or backyard (if you grow them). Peel the skin off with a speed peeler. Be careful not to slice your skin off while you’re at it. I’m just saying. I didn’t slice my thumb.
  2. Boil them till soft in a pot of water on the stove. Marvel at the water turning into a deep teal colour.
  3. Once soft enough, drain and mash away.
  4. In a mortar and pestle, crush a pinch of dried thyme.
  5. Add the crushed thyme, to the mash, together with freshly ground sea salt, black pepper, a small knob of butter and cream or milk.
  6. Serve to puzzled yet excited guests.

Egg In The Basket

Inspired greatly by the film ‘V for Vendetta’, I decided to make this for breakfast.

Okay, I didn’t make this. Sarah did.

It features her meticulous nature, her love for rocket leaves and a slice of her super-seeded loaf of bread.

  1. Gather what you need to do this: a slice of bread, an egg and an empty glass. Oh, and a little bit of veggie oil.
  2. Make a hole in the slice of bread with the glass, not too big, not too small. Take care not to break the hole after making it. Handle gently.
  3. Heat a skillet and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil.
  4. Spread the oil about fairly evenly and lay the holed slice of bread gently on.
  5. Crack the egg into the hole. If you’re particular, like Sarah, crack the yolk on at the end so it’s in the middle.
  6. Put the lid onto the skillet. If your skillet doesn’t come with a cover, use a plate. We do this because we don’t like eating raw eggs; the heat generated in the skillet will cook the top of the egg.
  7. Cook till you’re satisfied with the doneness. Sarah thinks part-cooked-part-runny is the best way egg yolks should be done.
  8. And of course, have it with fresh (or not-so-fresh) rocket leaves.

Happy mornings, forever.