Pork, Tomato, & Feta “Baklava”

As I have mentioned several times before, I don’t do nearly as much cooking as I once did, now that I am living in two places. An exception to this came recently when I decided to make this “baklava,” from a recent edition of delicious magazine (it is a Sabrina Ghayour recipe, previously featured on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen which is where I have linked the recipe from). This is definitely a weekend project — preferably a cozy Saturday with a glass of wine, the paper, and some nice background music.

Although this dish takes a lot of time, it is not at all difficult and there is very little “fuss” involved. The most difficult part is assembling it, but even that is very easy. So, don’t be put off — what this requires most of all is time, not effort.

I bought a lovely pork shoulder at our local butcher — I have to admit that it was a bit unfortunate to cook it and then not just eat it right away and bury it in the baklava. Next time I buy it I’m not doing anything to it!

The recipe called for fennel, which I left out because I don’t like the taste if it. I think it’s complex enough without it though. The end result looks impressive and was really tasty — the honey means it has a tiny taste of sweetness. My only bugbear was that the sauce ended up a touch dry for me.

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Tomato & Tortellini Soup

This is one of those dishes that is satisfying not only because it’s tasty, but because it’s so simply and easy to prepare. If you get a lot of personal satisfaction about being efficient and keeping things simple, as I do, this is a dish for you!

I’m 9 months into living on my own for 4-5 nights a week, and it’s drastically changed how I cook. I’ve detailed this elsewhere on this blog. Convenience is huge, so a meal like this ticks a lot of boxes: quick, tasty, reasonably healthy (I added fresh spinach to the top). The Kitchn describes this dish this as “weeknight comfort food in 20 minutes” and I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description.

A package of fresh tortellini would normally last me two meals but I made three out of this one. I followed the recipe very closely, adding spinach as I mentioned above. It’s a bit awkward to eat — the floppy noodles create a bit of mess with the tomato sauce — but it’s damn good.

 

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Tomato Tarte Tatin

This recipe has been making the rounds on the internet and it’s easy to see why. Use the best tomatoes you can find, and you really can’t go wrong with this late summer dish (I’m a little late posting this — it’s currently about 14 degrees and raining here in London).

I’m a tomato fiend and love anything on puff pastry, so this was really up my street. It’s not as simple as throwing a bunch of tomatoes on pastry and baking it, but it’s worth it. The combination of honey and balsamic vinegar really works.

My pastry really puffed up a lot, so it didn’t lie flat when I turned it over. Doesn’t matter — still tasted delicious. All you need is a side salad with this one!

 

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Fish Tacos

Greetings from sunny and hot Nova Scotia. I am playing catch up on a few posts I’ve had sitting in drafts for a few weeks now.

Ever since my visit to Toronto’s Grand Electric in May, I’ve been craving fish tacos again. I finally decided to give homemade ones a go, and I am so glad I did because these were easy to make and will become a new staple. I am hoping to recreate them here in Nova Scotia.

I made up my own recipe but based it loosely on a combination of these three from Wit and DelightFood52, and delicious magazine. The components were:

  • Fish – I used North Sea haddock, fried in butter with a little sea salt
  • Guacamole – avocadoes, lime juice, salt, tomato, garlic
  • Slaw – red cabbage, red onion, coriander, fish sauce, sugar
  • Tortillas
  • Sauce – plain Greek yogurt, chopped coriander, garlic, salt

I didn’t measure anything, just mixed it up as I went along. These were delicious and will be even better with local NS haddock!

 

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Slaw

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Cauliflower & Cheese Croquettes

They had me at croquette. And cheese. This recipe appeared in the May 2017 edition of delicious magazine and it immediately appealed to me. And boy was it good. The texture was perfect — crispy on the outside, soft, creamy, gooey on the inside. Sooo tasty. Serve with mayo or Greek yogurt dipping sauce. Serve with a side salad.

Here’s how to make them. This makes enough for 2 people for 2 meals, so quite a bit.

  1. Chop a head of cauliflower into florets. Preheat over to 200C, and roast florets with a bit of olive oil and seasoning, for 20 minutes.
  2. When the cauliflower is roasted, whizz half of them, with 150ml milk, using a food processor or stick blender. Roughly chop the remaining cauliflower and set aside.
  3. Make the sauce: melt 50g butter in a saucepan and stir in 75g plain flour [I found I needed a bit more better]. Gradually whisk in 350ml milk and stir to make a smooth, thick sauce.
  4. Add the following to a mixing bowl: the sauce, 100g grated cheddar, a pinch of nutmeg, 2 spring onions (chopped), and 2tbsp olive oil, and all of the cauliflower. Cool, and then chill for 2 hours. The magazine recommends using cling film and allowing it to touch the top of the mixture to prevent a skin forming.
  5. Get ready to form the croquettas: in bowl 1, beat 2 eggs; in bowl 2, mix 150g Panko breadcrumbs with 30g Parmesan. With floured hands, roll spoonfuls of the mixture into balls, flatten slightly, and then roll in egg and then breadcrumbs. I did this as I went, batch by batch.
  6. Time for frying: the recipe recommends 1L sunflower oil. I did not use that much (probably about half). You want the oil hot — 180C on a digital thermometer (or until a piece of bread turns golden in 30 seconds).
  7. Fry the croquettes for a couple of minutes on each side. Leave to dry on a paper-toweled plate.

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Dark Chocolate Sunflower Seed Bark

When in Toronto for work at the end of May, I stocked up on snacks. Now that I have a “normal” 9-to-5 job, I need good desk snacks daily. Some of my favourites include fried corn and sesame sticks, but I also discovered a new (to me) company Barkthins. (Sidenote: snacks are way better in North America. UK, you could really do with upping the snack game!)

After devouring the bark in about two days at work, I decided I would try to recreate it. I used this recipe as a base. I experimented a bit with the ratio of seeds to chocolate: in the end I used 300g dark chocolate and about 200g sunflower seeds — you really do need quite a bit of chocolate if you’re going to make a big batch.

This is really easy to make. I only used sunflower seeds — make sure you lightly toast or roast them. I was a bit nervous that it wouldn’t set, but it did (make sure to refrigerate at least an hour). It is delicious, especially with the added sea salt. I’d encourage everyone to give this one a go! 🙂

Sorry, no photo this time!

Cauliflower & Broccoli Cheddar Bake

Soon after I posted saying I’m not cooking much new…I have a couple of posts in the pipeline.

This is like a mac & cheese except solely with vegetables. I’m not sure about elsewhere, but cauliflower rice is everywhere here: even in tiny shops it’s available, pre-chopped. I picked some up on a whim and for a couple of days mulled over what to do with it. Since we all know that I love cheese…it had to be something cheesy in the end. I loosely adapted this recipe.

I didn’t have buffalo sauce (it doesn’t seem to exist here? Maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough), so made the recipe a simple “mac and cheese,” with bechamel sauce, cheese (mature cheddar and Parmesan), and “pasta” (vegetables). The original recipe is with shrimp, but, again, I omitted this.

I won’t lie: this was not the tastiest or most thrilling dish I’ve ever made. In hindsight I would have added some sharp blue cheese to it, and if I make it again I think I’ll do that. Nevertheless, it wasn’t dull or bland — I had it with a side salad and they worked well together. I don’t think I’d go to the trouble of mincing the cauliflower by hand to make this though — some shortcuts are worth it.

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A New Normal, part 2

In my last post, I reflected on a “new normal” that I’ve been living since the beginning of this year. In this post I want to talk more about what that means in terms of cooking and eating. You’ll notice that posts have declined quite a bit since January, and that’s because I simply don’t try many new recipes anymore (that being said, now that we’re moving into summer months, I hope to change that).

My requirements for food during the week are as follows: meals must a) be fairly easy to prep, b) healthy, c) require a minimum amount of ingredients, d) within budget, and e) as leftovers, be able to be taken for lunch the next day. I don’t have a huge pantry of staples condiments/spices to turn to, so anything too complicated or time-consuming is out.

I try to follow a stringent meal planning system because without it I would waste a lot of food (and money). As I am hardly ever in Liverpool for more than 5 days at a time, I need to plan carefully to make sure I don’t leave a lot of perishable food that will be off by Monday evening. I’ve found this to be tricky because I want to eat as many fresh vegetables as possible, but this is also the stuff that goes off quickly.

I’ve found that I eat more vegetarian meals now than I did when living full-time with H., just because they’re often less complicated to prep and meat is of course pricier. I also have eaten more pre-prepared food than before, simply for the convenience factor (this was especially true during the first few chaotic weeks). I try to keep to a rough budget of £25-30/per week, though some weeks will be more if I am stocking up on basics. Some staple meals include risottos, pastas, fresh ravioli, salads, fish, and curries.

I miss a lot of my “London life”, including more adventurous meals and the luxury of cooking out of only one kitchen(!). But, things were always going to change post-PhD, as I am no longer able to set my own schedule as much as I once was. I also really miss cooking with H. regularly (though not necessarily having to plan around his schedule! 😉 ). When it comes down to it, I doubt I’ll ever have as much time to cook as I have over the past 6 years since I started the blog. Life gets in the way! But I hope to continue to share what I can until posting feels like a chore. 🙂

“Ravioli” with Cavolo Nero & Goat’s Cheese

This recipe caught my eye because it simply looked good in a recent edition of my delicious magazine. It also falls into a category — vaguely healthy-sounding pasta dish — that usually appeals to me. This one was unusual because it uses fresh lasagne sheets as the pasta — the “ravioli” aren’t really ravioli.

The sauce is made in a food processor with a combination of cavolo nero (boiled for a minute to make it soft, then water squeezed out), olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and salt. The accompanying paste is soft goat’s cheese, walnuts (I used toasted almonds), sage, lemon juice, and oil, again made in a food processor. To assemble, you cook the lasagne sheets, and then “layer” the three components, beginning with sauce, then noodles, then goat’s cheese paste. Repeat. Top with Parmesan or Pecorino.

This unfortunately did not pack enough of a punch taste-waste for me. The sauce was a bit bland and watery. The recipe says to squeeze out as much water from the cavolo nero as possible, which I did, but I still found it lacking. I also found the noodles too thick. It was an experimental meal I guess — not a bad one, but one I won’t be making again.

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Early Spring Favourites

I missed February favourites, so thought I’d do an ‘early spring’ roundup. I hope to return to more frequent posting very soon. Happy spring! 🙂

◌ Two of my favourite things.

◌ Goop’s spring fiction guide.

◌ Seems very, very impractical!

What an experience. Take me there!

◌ I can’t stand the term ‘clean eating’ either.

◌ My cultural consumption has plummeted over the past few months with the exception of podcasts, which I have been listening to on my way to work: I’ve really enjoyed the short, fictional podcast Homecoming, starring Catherine Keener & David Schwimmer, among others. The Babysitters Club Club has really made me laugh, and I recently began  season 2 of Undisclosed, and I’m hooked.

◌ Love this feature on Alaskan fisherwomen.

Meal planning for one.

WOAH.

Leonard Cohen’s Montreal neighbourhood was also mine. Makes me nostalgic.

Amazing.

◌ Happy that Broadchurch and Line of Duty are back.

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