Tag Archive for Pork

Mushroom and cream sauce

This sauce is a pan sauce, which means that it is made in a pan after a piece of meat was fried in it. It uses all the juices that came out of the meat and the bits that stuck to the pan to create something delicious very fast. Sometimes I leave my sauce very plain, I just add a little water to the frying pan to make a lovely jus, but you can also make it into something a bit more special: mushroom and cream sauce.

Not all kinds of meat are suitable for pan sauces. I have the best results with all kinds of beef steaks or pork chops/fillet/loin, so basically all cuts that can be cooked fast in a hot pan. For this, I start with removing the smoke alarm from the kitchen as it tends to go off when I prepare something like this, it can get a little smoky. And you’ll have to take the meat out from the fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking, it should be at room temperature. And slice the mushrooms, you will not have time for that later on. For an extra luxurious version, use wild mushrooms.
Heat a thick bottomed frying pan on high heat, it should be very hot, you should not be able to hold your hand above it for more than 2-3 seconds. Add a little oil (use something that can withstand the high heat) and place your meat in the pan. Leave it for about 1 minute (do not fuss around with it!!) then turn it over (it should be nice and brown), fry for another minute. Turn the heat down, season with salt and pepper and add a knob of butter to the pan. This gives the meat a nice caramelized flavour and glossy finish. Turn over the meat once again, season this side as well. The time on low heat depends on the kind and cut of meat, a steak will need less time than a pork chop. Unfortunately I cannot give times for this, it really comes down to experience, I smell, hear and feel (cooked meat is less springy) if the meat is ready. Rest the meat between two plates to keep it warm, usually 10-15 minutes is enough, this is also the time necessary for making the sauce.
Use the same pan as frying the meat in, don’t clean it and don’t pour anything out. On medium heat, add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes, or until soft and a little coloured. Then add few tablespoons of cream, stir well and take off the heat. Check for seasoning. If some of the juices came out of the meat, add these to the sauce too. It gives extra flavour. If you like, you can add some herbs like parsley or tarragon to the sauce. Serve directly with the rested meat, oven baked potatoes and a mixed salad.

Mushroom and cream sauce

Ragu alla Bolognese

The classic Italian bolognese meat pasta sauce. Many different (authentic and less authentic) recipes can be found on the internet, all of them contain more or less the same ingredients, this one is my version. A good bolognese can’t be rushed, to obtain the rich, meaty flavours it needs a few hours to cook and to reduce the liquids down, to intensify all the flavours. And making a small portion doesn’t work either. Luckily it freezes well for a few months, so I cook this in bulk and freeze portions for later, to use on busy (or lazy) days. I usually serve this sauce with spaghetti, which is very un-Italian because the pieces of meat don’t adhere well to the pasta, or with penne or tagliatelle as the Italians do. And of course a good sprinkling of Parmesan to add even more flavour and richness!

Ragu alla Bolognaise

Ragu alla bolognese (serves 6, or serves 2 with 2 extra portions for the freezer)
Adapted from the Conran Cookbook

3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 large carrot, chopped finely
1 celery stick (with leaves), finely chopped
500 g mince (half beef, half pork)
3 large, ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped (a can of tomatoes works well too)
a large sprig of thyme
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper
150 ml chicken stock
a wineglass of red wine
Parmesan, for serving
Pasta, for serving

Optionals:
few rashers of bacon (add together with meat)
rind of a piece of parmesan (add with liquids, fish out before serving)
splash of cream or a knob of butter (when serving, adds richness)

Heat the olive oil in a pan (I always use my Dutch oven for this). Add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery and sweat until softened. Add the minced meat to the pan. Turn up the heat and brown the meat, stirring to crush the lumps. Add the tomatoes, thyme and bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cook until most of the liquid from the tomatoes has evaporated. Add a little of the stock and the red wine and stir. Leave the sauce to simmer gently for about 1.5 hours, adding more stock and wine as it is needed, using water if you run out of these. When ready the sauce should be thick and smooth. Check for seasoning and serve immediately or leave to cool for freezing.

Cottage pie

There is always confusion about cottage pie and shepherd’s pie. People call a pie with beef shepherd’s pie and a pie with lamb cottage pie. But actually it is quite easy to remember: a shepherd herds sheep, not cows. When I realized that it was so simple, it wasn’t difficult any more to remember which pie contains which meat.

Cottage pie is real comfort food, it is a dish you want to eat on a cold day, cozy in a warm sweater. Some cottage pies contain stewing meat, but I love this quick version with mince. I use half pork half beef mince, not traditional, but it gives a good, hearty flavour together with the herbs and flavourings. The creamy mashed potatoes complement this perfectly, and the crispy top finishes it all. I use my trusty ovenproof Le Creuset Dutch oven to prepare the meat, so that I can top it with the mash and place it in the oven, instead of having to use another dish for this (less cleaning this way).

By cutting the potatoes in cubes they will cook faster than when leaving them whole. But take care not to cut them too small, as they will absorb a lot of water, which is not pleasant to eat. You can make this dish very well in advance, it will only get more tasty. If doing so, reheat the cottage pie on 150C in the oven, then turn it up to brown the top.

Cottage Pie

Cottage pie (2 generous servings)

500 gram mince
olive oil
1 big onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of thyme (or rosemary)
1 small can of tomato puree
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
pepper
splosh of red wine
1 beef stock cube

600 gram potatoes, peeled and cut
knob of butter
splash of milk
salt and pepper
nutmeg (optional)
egg yolk (optional)

Cook the potatoes in salted water until soft, drain.
Meanwhile, heat some olive oil in an Dutch oven. Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent. Then add the mince, fry until browned. Add the other ingredients and cook until the acid of the tomato puree is cooked of and the mixture starts to caramelize and stick to the bottom of the pan. Add a drop of water to dissolve the sticky bits, stir this through the mixture and turn of the heat.
Make the mashed potatoes. First, mash the potatoes, working of the heat to prevent burned bits on the bottom. By mashing before adding liquid you get rid of the lumps easily. I like to do this part with a masher. Stir in the knob of butter and some milk, using a fork. Then gradually add some more milk, while stirring, letting it absorb by the potatoes, until you have the consistency you like. Still using the fork, beat the potatoes vigorously, until you get a light and fluffy mash. Good mash needs some effort. Season with salt and pepper, and nutmeg if you like. Taste if you seasoned the mash enough, because underseasoned mash is really not nice to eat and hard to remedy after finishing the dish. If you are using the egg yolk, add it now. This adds a nice richness to the mash, but only use this trick for dishes with mash that go into the oven. Pile the mash on top of the mince, decorate with a fork (stop here when preparing in advance) and place in a preheated oven of 200C to brown the top of the mash.

Courgette, ham and bechamel sauce gratin

Everyone who has/had courgette plants in their gardens knows that with nice summery weather these plants turn into overdrive. A courgette a day per plant is not uncommon. Although our two courgette plants did not yield us this much courgettes, other ways to use courgette except grilling an putting it through rice and pasta dishes are always nice to know.

This recipe was given to me by one of my neighbours. The courgette is cut into batons, grilled until brown and rolled into slices of ham together with some sautéed onions. Bechamel sauce is poured over and the top is grilled in the oven. The combination may seem a bit weird, but when you taste it, you will make it again. The firm courgette contrasts very nicely with the creamy bechamel sauce, and the ham gives a nice savoury touch. By gratinating the dish it becomes a whole, and the bechamel gets a nice crust. Very nice to serve with some plain cooked rice. You don’t need much rice because the dish is very filling, but the rice works well with the bechamel sauce.

Courgette, ham and bechamel sauce gratin

Courgette, ham and bechamel sauce gratin (2 portions)
1 courgette
1 onion
some oil
salt and pepper
a few sprigs of thyme
150 gram cooked ham (in thin slices)
25 gram butter
25 gram flour
300 ml milk
nutmeg
Optional: some green herbs (parsley, chives) to put through the bechamel

Slice the courgette into batons and the onion into rings. Grill the courgette until brown and sauté the onions in some oil and with some salt, pepper and the thyme until soft. Preheat the oven at 200C.
Make a bechamel sauce. Melt the butter, add the flour, stir until mixed well and there are no lumps (this is called a roux). Fry this on low heat for 2-3 minutes to cook the flour. Take care not to brown the roux, bechamel is a white sauce! Then pour in the milk bit by bit, stirring well and adding the next bit only when the previous is taken up completely. When you add too much milk too fast, the sauce will get lumpy. I like to do this with a wooden spoon, but many people prefer a whisk. When all the milk is added, cook the sauce for another 2-3 minutes to let it bind completely. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg (and green herbs when using).
Make the onion-courgette-ham rolls. Spoon some onion on a slice of ham, place some courgette batons on top and roll the ham around. Place in an ovenproof dish and finish all the rolls. Then pour over the bechamel sauce. Put the dish in the oven and bake until the top forms a nice crust. Take care, bechamel is one of those things that can go from pale to burned in a very short period of time! Serve hot.

Meatballs

Meatballs are one of my favourite dishes. Unfortunately we don’t eat them that often, because they take quite some time to prepare and usually we get home quite late and hungry. But the time is definitely worth it! These meatballs go well with almost anything because they are quite neutrally, savoury spiced, but we usually serve them with spaghetti and a simple tomato-vegetable sauce. Another good option is to serve them with peanut sauce and rice.

Meatballs 
300 g half and half mince (half beef, half pork)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt, pepper
1/4 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp dry bread crumbs

Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs. Roll small balls from the mixture.
Slide the balls carefully in a hot pan. Bake them on high heat, brown them per side and then shake them (don’t stir!!!) to brown the next side (about 3-4 sides). Don’t disturb them too much! Take them out of the pan.
Add the meatballs with all the juices into their sauce to cook further/to warm through. The first time you make this it is nice to slice one of the balls in two after the browning stage to see how far cooked they are, this will depend on the size of the balls, how hot the pan was, etc. Then you will know how much time they will need in the sauce to completely cook through.

Mince and vegetable wraps

Wraps are one of our regular weekday staple foods. I usually make a filling of mince and vegetables. They are easy, healthy, fast and filling and of course very tasty. You can easily make a big batch of filling and freeze it in portions to use on the very busy days for a fast and healthy diner. It is easy to “hide” an enormous amount of vegetables in the filling. And it is easy to make variations by adding different side dishes or toppings. Possibilities are for example sour cream/creme fraiche, cheese, sambal, salsa, guacamole and lettuce.
Usually we use half and half pork/beef mince. Only beef would make a leaner dish, but the stuff they sell here for beef mince tastes like dry rubber, so we use the half and half for more flavour and succulence. It is also possible to make this dish with pieces of chicken breast or thigh. Chicken/turkey mince would also be a possibility, but I never tried.
Recently I discovered the possibility of filling a wrap with raw, cold vegetables. It works perfectly! Just spread the wrap with some hoummous, a little sambal badjak for spice and heat and fill it with julienne cut vegetables dressed with a little lemon or lime juice. Carrot, cucumber, paprika and courgette work very well, but of course you can add any vegetable you like. Or make variations with other spreads and vegetables. These are also great to take with you for a healthy lunch meal.

Wraps filled with mince (6 medium sized wraps)

6 medium sized tortilla wraps
vegetable oil
300 gram minced meat
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped finely
1 paprika, cubed
1/3 courgette, half moons
small tin of tomato puree
1 stock cube (beef)
1 tsp sambal badjak
splash of soy sauce
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp bay powder
1/2 tsp paprika powder
1/2 tsp ketoembar
splash of lemon/lime juice
1/4 tsp dried coriander leave
black pepper
cheese

Heat a pan on medium heat with some vegetable oil. Add the cumin and sambal, mix. Add the onion and garlic, cook on low heat until soft. Add the mince, bake on high heat. Add soy sauce, stock cube, bay powder, paprika powder, ketoembar and black pepper. Add the tomato puree, fry. Add the paprika, cook on high heat. Add the courgette, bake until everything is cooked. Take care not to drown the dish, cook it on high heat to cook of all the liquid that comes from the mince and the vegetables.
Heat wraps in microwave, scoop filling on wrap, sprinkle with some grated cheese, fold and enjoy! For those who like it spicy, spread some extra sambal on the wrap.

Burgers

I could make my own buns, my own burgers, my own pickles and my own sauces, but I won’t. The thing I like about burgers is that it is fast food, it literally takes only 15 minutes to cook a filling and satisfying meal, with products that are always available in the supermarket, even if you do your groceries very late. And you can adapt them to your taste any way you like. I also like that it is quite messy food that you can eat with your hands, which is very satisfying as well.

Burger (For one burger bun)
1 bun (I use par-baked dark multi-grain buns and bake them off in the oven)
1 hamburger (bake them in a hot, dry pan, season with salt and pepper and finish cooking in the oven that you already use for the buns)
a few slices tomato
a few slices cucumber
1 gherkin, thinly sliced
dollop of mayonnaise
dollop of ketchup
optional: some slices of cheese, some baked bits of bacon, a baked egg

Pile everything on the bun and enjoy!

Sweet ‘n spicy ribs and corn on the cob

An American inspired diner. I wanted to make something tex-mex like, it turned out a little different, but it was certainly very nice.
Ordering spare-ribs is very easy, but making them yourself is almost as easy (and much cheaper). And they are much more tasty, meaty and tender than the ordered variant!
Corn on the cob is available all autumn, and is much more nice than corn from a can. The cobs should look fresh, not dried out.

Sweet ‘n spicy ribs
Spare ribs
honey
ketchup
ketjap
lemon juice
sambal
salt

This marinade is something you make by tasting, and making it like you like. I usually use about 1 spoon of honey, 1 spoon of ketchup, a splash of ketjap, a splash of lemon juice, some sambal and a little salt, but it really depends on how spicy or sweet you want them. You can also add some garlic, or ginger, or paprika powder, or whatever you want… just make them with what you like.
Spread half of the marinade over the meat, then put it in the oven (on low/~160C). After half an hour, add the other half of the marinade. Cook the ribs for another half an hour, but the last 10 minutes turn the oven hotter, then the ribs will be more crisp and the marinade will get nice and sticky.

Corn on the cob
Corn
Butter
Salt and pepper

Take off the outside of the corn (the leaves and silk). Boil for 10 minutes, don’t add salt to the water (the corn will get tough then). Then put the corn on the grill for a while, to get a nice grilled taste. On a plate, slather some butter over the corn, and some salt and pepper.
I like my corn very plain, but off course you can add any kind of herb you want. For example lime and chilli, or Provençal herbs.

Ham and cheese quiche

The recipe of this ham and cheese quiche is from my mum. She makes this quiche on every appropriate occasion (parties, potlucks, etc) and it is always very appreciated. It is a really versatile dish, you can eat it warm or cold, as appetizer, main dish, on a picnic, as party food, etc. And everyone always loves it, me included. No one can make it as well as my mum, but we can at least try to recreate this amazing dish!

Ham and cheese quiche (10-12 pieces)
Family recipe
1 tin croissant dough
200 gram grated cheese (Gouda)
200 gram ham, cubes
150 ml cream
3 eggs
pepper
italian dried herbs

Preheat the oven at 160C. Grease a round or square oven dish. Open the tin croissant dough, cover the oven dish with it. If your dish is to big, you can roll the dough a bit thinner. Spread out the ham in the dish over the dough. Then sprinkle over the cheese.
Mix the cream, eggs, pepper and herbs (no salt, the cheese and ham makes it salty already!), pour evenly over the ham and cheese in the dish.
Cook in the oven for 35 minutes. Take it out and let it cool. Or, for an even better quiche: let it cool inside the oven (turned off, off course).

Variations:
– use puff pastry in stead of croissant dough
– use different kinds of cheeses, like emmentaler, parmesan, cheddar, brie or even a blue cheese
– use bacon in stead of ham
– add some sautéed onion and mushroom
– swap the meat for something else (f.e. sun-dried tomatoes) for a vegetarian variant
– use other herbs, like provencial dried herbs, or fresh herbs (thyme/rosemary, parsley/chives, etc)
– make mini quiches by using a muffin or mini-muffin baking tin

Ravioli with spinach-parmesan and ricotta-prosciutto filling

Ravioli are perfect for a diner party. They look posh, but if you have a little experience, you can make them in a matter of time. Especially when you make them for a small amount of people, or when you use them as a starter. You can make them and keep them for a while in the fridge, but make sure they don’t dry out.

The recipe for the dough is always the same (also for making other pasta), but you can stuff it with everything you want. Just keep in mind that a very wet filling causes problems sometimes, because these are likely to burst in the boiling water.

It is important to use flower meant to make pasta with. This is the Italian grade 00 flower, made from hard durum wheat. If you use ordinary flower, you get noodles, not pasta.

The recipe sound very complicated, but just give it a try. The first time probably will be a horror, you’ll probably have problems with rolling your dough. But after the first time, it gets more easy. You get to know what works and what doesn’t, you can experiment with different fillings. The ravioli you buy at the supermarket won’t be as tasty as yours, and the ones of the delicacy shop will be much more expensive (and probably also not as tasty as yours).

Ravioli
About 12 big ravioli, depending on shape and size.

200 gram pasta flower
2 eggs
a pinch of salt
1 tbsp olive oil (not classic Italian, but it helps to form a smooth dough)

NB: you need a pasta machine for this recipe

Put the flower in a bowl, make a small hole in the middle, put in the eggs, salt and olive oil. Mix in the flower and knead until you have a smooth dough. The right consistency is really important, otherwise you get problems with rolling out the dough and your ravioli will burst while cooking. So keep kneading until you have a very smooth, elastic dough. Cover it in clean film and put it for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
Take the dough from the fridge, cut in half, put one piece back in the fridge and roll the other half.
Put your machine on the widest setting. Roll the dough a few times trough, then fold it in two and put it trough again. When the dough is very dry and flaky, knead some more water trough; when the dough is too wet and sticks to the pasta machine, sprinkle with some flour. It is important to work fast, as the dough dries out quite quickly.

Roll the dough trough the machine and put the setting each time thinner. When you are at the thinnest setting, you want to have a nice big sheet of pasta with sort of straight edges. Fold the sheet together (if you have a good dough, it won’t stick, otherwise use some flower) and wrap it in clean film so it won’t dry out. Roll the second ball of pasta as well.

Now is the time to fill your ravioli. There are several ways to do this.

1. Cut rectangles from your dough (with a knife or ravioli/pastry wheel). Spoon a dollop of filling on one side. Smear the edge with a little bit of water. Put the other half of the rectangle over it. Make sure you don’t trap any air inside (keep one side open and push the air out) and seal the edges well, otherwise your ravioli will burst when cooking. You can make a half moon of it by cutting the edges with a round cutter (or cut around the edge of a glass). Or you can leave them rectangular.

2. Put dollops of filling on one sheet of pasta. Make sure you keep enough distance between them. Brush the edges with some water. Put the other sheet of pasta on top. Seal the ravioli. Make sure you don’t trap any air inside (keep one side open and push the air out) and seal the edges well, otherwise your ravioli will burst when cooking. Cut the ravioli with a round cutter, or cut around the edges of a glass.

Boil the ravioli for a few minutes (1-4 min, depending on size and filling) in a BIG pan of boiling water with some salt. Don’t put to many at once in the pan. Remove the ravioli from the pan with a slotted spoon. Set aside and keep warm until you cooked all the ravioli.

Sage or parsley butter

a knob of butter
some parsley or sage
a splash of lemon juice
a pinch of salt and pepper

Melt the butter, put in the sage or parsley, some lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. This is a very good sauce to toss your ravioli in. It covers the ravioli a little bit, but it is not to heavy and it doesn’t overpower the filling of the ravioli.

Off course you can serve your ravioli with any sauce you like, but this is what I like best.

Spinach-parmesan filling

100 gram spinach
100 gram mushrooms, cubed
1 shallot, cubed
50 gram parmesan
some butter
some nutmeg
pepper

Wash the spinach, put it in a wok and wait till it slinks. Put it in a sieve, push as much water out as you can. Chop finely. Sauté the mushrooms and the shallot in a little bit of butter, drain as well. Put the spinach, mushrooms and shallot in a bowl, grate the parmesan above, season with nutmeg and pepper. Mix and use as filling for ravioli.

Ricotta-prosciutto filling

200 g Ricotta
200 g Prosciutto
100 g brown mushroom
a little pepper

Cut the prosciutto in small cubes. Cut the mushrooms in small cubes and fry them slightly. Mix with the ricotta. Season with a little pepper. Use as filling for ravioli.