Pork and Sprout Bake

In all my years of living, I have always hated Brussels Sprouts.

I hated the smell, the taste and the texture…

Except, it turns out, when baked in cream and smothered in cheese!

As mentioned in my previous Blog post, I’ve recently join the keto community. I thought I would suffer greatly because hello who can live on zero carbs?? Me, evidently.

What I didn’t anticipate my main issue being, is finding exciting new ways to eat the same vegetables or starting to love ones I normally scoff at.

Enter Brussels Sprouts.

Processed with VSCO with kp4 preset

Ingredients used:

  • 600g Pork Belly Slices, diced into cubes (can also use Chicken Breast)
  • 1 medium Onion, sliced
  • 450g Brussels Sprouts
  • 300ml Single Cream
  • 50g grated Cheddar Cheese
  • Seasonings
    • 2 tbsp of Coconut Oil
    • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
    • 2 tsp Ground Ginger
    • 2 seasoning cubes (maggi/knorr)
    • 2 tsp Crushed Chillies

Prep time – 20 mins

Method:

  1. To prepare the Brussels Sprouts, cut off the stems of each sprout and discard any coarse outer leaves. Then cut each sprout into half.
  2. Rinse in a bowl with warm water.
  3. Add half of the seasonings to the bowl and mix well, ensuring all the sprouts are covered.
  4. To prepare the meat, rinse in a bowl of warm water and a splash of vinegar.
  5. Add the remaining seasonings and ensure all the meat is covered.
  6. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

 

Cooking time – 30 mins

  1. Put the coconut oil in a pan on medium heat until it is hot enough and ready to fry.
  2. Add the seasoned meat to the pan and stir periodically until halfway cooked, then add the onion and keep stirring until the meat is golden brown on each side.
  3. Add the Brussels Sprouts to the pan and stir into the mix. Cover with a lid and leave to steam on low heat for 10 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 165 degrees Celsius.
  5. Take the mixture off the cooker and pour into a casserole dish.
  6. Pour the cream into the dish, covering all the sprouts.
  7. Add the grated cheese.
  8. Put in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden brown.
  9. Enjoy!

Extra tip: Serve with freshly chopped parsley for an extra delicious kick!

Popcorn Pork

Meat. Snacks.

Say it with me: MEAT. SNACKS.

As mentioned in a previous post, meat snacks are my absolute faves.

So I was not in the slightest bit surprised when after defrosting a pack of pork belly, I knew I wanted them sliced and diced and devoured as little tiny pork bites.

And what better way to enjoy them than covered in breadcrumbs and deep fried?

None. There isn’t one at all.

P.S: preparing popcorn pork (come on alliteration!) is a very laborious task, but I promise the end result makes it all worth it.

P.P.S: To save yourself some of the hassle, you can use pork that has already been diced. I don’t because pork belly is my favourite cut so that is what I prefer to use.

20190828_121650073_iOS

 

Ingredients used:

  • 600g Pork Belly Slices, diced into cubes
  • 2 medium Eggs
  • Golden Breadcrumbs, any supermarket brand will do
  • Sweet Chilli Sauce, for dipping
  • Seasonings
    • 1 tbsp of Sesame Oil
    • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
    • 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
    • 1 tsp Ground Ginger
    • 1 seasoning cube (maggi/knorr)
    • 1 tsp Chinese 5 Spice
    • 1 tsp Crushed Chillies
    • Enough oil to shallow fry the pork

Prep time – 30 mins

Method:

  1. Rinse the meat in a bowl of warm water and a splash of vinegar.
  2. Add the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, seasoning cube, Chinese 5 spice and crushed chillies to the bowl and ensure all the meat is covered.
  3. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, crack the eggs, add a pinch of salt and whisk together.
  5. Pour the breadcrumbs in a saucer or flat plate and set up an assembly line (from left to right) of seasoned meat, whisked eggs, breadcrumbs and empty plate.
  6. Using tongs or your hands, cover each piece of meat with egg and roll in the breadcrumbs to allow a smooth coating. Place each piece of coated meat on the empty plate ready for frying.

Cooking time – 15 mins

  1. Put the oil on the cooker on medium-high heat until the oil is hot enough and ready to fry.
  2. Lower the cooker to low-medium heat.
  3. Add the coated meat to the pan and let cook on one side for 7 mins or until golden brown and flip each piece onto the opposite side and let cook for a further 7 mins or until golden brown.
  4. Once cooked, drain any excess oil by putting the meat in a bowl lined with kitchen roll.
  5. Serve with Sweet Chilli Sauce as a dip.
  6. Enjoy!

Extra tip: As shown in the image above, I chopped up some spring onions and sprinkled sesame seeds to add some pizzazz!

Peppersoup

It is my very firm (and non-professional) opinion that peppersoup cures all ills.

Got a cold? Have some peppersoup.

Feeling down in the dumps and need a pick me up? Have some peppersoup.

Had your heart broken? HAVE SOME PEPPERSOUP.

It is just so delicious and light and medicinal and you can have it any way you want, whether that be with meat, fish or even with just vegetables.

It’s a very popular dish in Nigeria (and other West African countries) and as such most of the ingredients will need to be purchased from an Afro-Caribbean grocery store.

I feel I have to warn you, this soup is very spicy (it says it right in the name) and is not for the faint of heart. So proceed at your own peril! 

Processed with VSCO with fv5 preset

Ingredients used:

  • 600g Goat Meat or Beef, cut into small chunks
  • 1 Large Onion, julienne
  • 200g Closed Cup Button Mushrooms, sliced in half
  • Seasonings
    • 2 Scotch Bonnets, chopped finely
    • 2 tbsp Peppersoup seasoning
    • 2 tbsp Ground Crayfish
    • 1 handful of Dried Scent Leaves, crushed with stems removed
    • 3 seasoning cubes (Maggi/Knorr)
    • 1 Clove of Garlic, crushed
    • 1tsp Ginger Powder
    • ½ tsp Crushed Black Pepper
    • Cooking Salt, to taste

Prep time – 5 mins

Method:

  1. In a bowl, wash the meat in warm water with a dash of vinegar/lemon juice.
  2. Put the meat in a pressure pot, add the onions and season with garlic, ginger and 2 of the seasoning cubes.

Cooking time – 25 mins

Cooking:

  1. Cover the meat with water and bring the pressure cooker to the boil on medium/high heat.
  2. Once the meat starts boiling, close the cooker and cook under pressure for a further 5-7 minutes.
  3. Turn the heat off and remove the pressure by releasing the steam.
  4. Transfer the meat and stock to a saucepan and put on low heat.
  5. Add some more water to the pot to cover at least an inch above the meat.
  6. Add the mushrooms, peppersoup seasoning, ground crayfish, dried scent leaves, seasoning cube and black pepper to the pot and let simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Extra tip: Substitute the meat for catfish and have your whole life changed.

Steak Dinner

When cooking a steak, simplicity is key.

– Chef Vic, 2019.

Prior to 2017, I didn’t know how to cook a steak.

At least not one I was ever satisfied with.

It either turned out being over-seasoned, or overcooked.

But then, that year for my birthday, a dear friend of mine took me to a cooking class where we were taught the perfect way to make steaks.

And sweet heavens above, since then my steaks have turned out PERFECT each time.

Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

Ingredients used:

  • Rump/Sirloin Steak
  • Sweet Potatoes, sliced into thin chips
  • Broccoli, top cut into small florets
  • Seasonings
    • 2 tsp Rapeseed Oil
    • 2 tsp Sea Salt
    • 1 tsp Crushed Black Pepper
    • 2 Garlic Cloves (see below for how to make garlic paste)
    • 3 knobs of Butter, room temperature
    • 1 tbsp Mixed Herbs

Prep time – 5 mins

Method (garlic paste):

  1. Peel the skin from the garlic and place on the chopping board.
  2. Sprinkle some sea salt on the garlic cloves and using the flat part of the blade, crush the cloves and drag across the chopping board.
  3. Scrape the paste using the knife and place in a bowl with the butter and mix well.

Prep time – 5 mins

Method (sweet potato fries):

  1. In a bowl, drizzle 1 tsp of rapeseed oil on the sweet potatoes and add in the mixed herbs.
  2. Toss to ensure all of the potato is covered.
  3. Spread out on an oven tray.

Cooking time – 35 mins

Cooking (sweet potato fries & broccoli):

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the tray of potatoes and leave to bake for 30 minutes, turning regularly.
  3. Additionally, blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 4 minutes and drain well.

Cooking time – 2 to 6 mins

Cooking (steak):

  1. Season the steak with salt and pepper.
  2. Put a griddle pan on high heat on the hob.
  3. Depending on how well done you like your steak, as a general rule of thumb add 2 minutes to the cooking time for each side (e.g. 2 mins per side for rare steak, 4 mins per side for medium, 6 mins per side for well-done).
  4. A trick I learned from the class is to flip the steak every 30 seconds, to ensure even cooking throughout the steak.
  5. Once the steak is cooked, serve with the sweet potato fries, broccoli and a dollop of garlic butter.
  6. Enjoy!

Extra tip: pair with a glass (or bottle) of good red wine and honestly live your best life.

Sesame Chicken

You ever hype something so much in your head and when it comes to fruition, you realise your imagination made it seem so much better than it actually is?

Well, that doesn’t happen very often to me and it happens even less often when it concerns food!

So imagine my surprise when I had a craving for some chicken, and set about satisfying that craving as my soul dictated, and yet…I…did not enjoy it.

My soul wasn’t satisfied.

oh my god omg GIF by TV One

I seriously debated posting this recipe, but my sister encourage me to do so as, in her opinion, the chicken was quite delicious.

I don’t know exactly what it is about this particular recipe didn’t do it for me, but maybe one day I’ll revisit it and find out.

Perhaps I’m being a touch too critical of myself…who knows eh?

Processed with VSCO with al6 preset

 

Ingredients used:

  • Chicken Thighs
  • Seasonings
    • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
    • 2 tbsp Soy Sauce
    • 1 tbsp Honey
    • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped finely
    • 30g Ginger, chopped finely
    • 1 tsp Crushed Chilli Flakes
    • 2 seasoning cubes (Maggi/Knorr)
    • 2 tbsp Sesame Seeds

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. Wash the chicken in warm water with a splash of vinegar
  2. Put the chicken, sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, seasoning cubes and chilli flakes in a bowl and mix together until all the chicken is covered.
  3. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Cooking time – 45 mins

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 185 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the chicken in an oven-proof deep dish skin side down and leave to bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Turn the chicken thighs so the skin is facing upwards and glaze with honey and sprinkle the sesame seeds on it. Put the chicken back in the oven to cook for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven once the juices run clear and the skin is nice and crispy.
  5. Enjoy!

Extra tip: garnish with fresh spring onions for an extra kick!

Lamb Ribs

For several reasons, lamb just isn’t one of my favourite meats out there.

Like, it’s very much towards the bottom of my list.

I’m just not a fan of how overpowering the taste of the meat can be, I dislike how not versatile it is but most of all I HATE how it can only be eaten fresh and hot. Once lamb cools and the fat congeals on it, it makes me feel sick.

[I do not claim to be the authority on lamb, and obviously you may have experienced differently, but for the most part, I said what I said]

Image result for i said what i said gif

There are only two times when I can be quite partial to lamb: Turkish (or other Middle Eastern) cuisines and in Caribbean food.

Man, I could really eff up a lamb shawarma right now…I really shouldn’t blog whilst hungry.

I used to live in a part of London that is notorious for its abundance of Turkish restaurants. During one of my numerous visits to the establishment that was at the top of my road, I begged the chef (who I was on friendly terms with) to give me the recipe for their Lamb Ribs and despite how much I shamelessly flirted, pouted and batted my eyelashes, he refused to part with it, stating “if I gave it to you then you’d never come back”.

Whatever.

I’ve since moved from the area and haven’t had a chance to eat Turkish food in a little while. So I really wasn’t all that surprised when I got a craving recently for Lamb Ribs. I just knew I’d have to recreate it as best as I could given the circumstances. They taste nothing like how the Turkish do it, but they were still pretty damn good if I do say so myself.

1BB32DE8-6644-45B1-A458-ADB9948BB554

Ingredients used:

  • 600g – 1kg Lamb Ribs (a visit to your local butchers is your best bet)
  • Broccoli, top cut into small florets
  • Seasonings
    • 2 tsp Olive Oil
    • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped finely
    • 1 tsp Crushed Chilli Flakes
    • 1 tsp Smoked Sea Salt
    • ½ tsp Ground Cumin
    • ½ tsp Mixed Spices
    • ½ tsp Paprika
    • ½ tsp Thyme
    • ½ tsp Oregano

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. Make a paste with the seasonings.
  2. In a bowl, place the lamb ribs and cover with seasoning paste.
  3. If you have enough foresight to plan ahead, I’d leave the ribs to marinate overnight. If you’re like me and you do not possess such, leave to ribs to marinate for 30 minutes.

Cooking time – 40 mins

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the ribs on a foil-lined oven tray and put in the oven for 20 minutes, then turn the ribs over and leave to cook for a further 15-20 mins until it’s cooked through and browned to your liking.
  3. In the meantime, blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 4 minutes and drain well.
  4. Enjoy!

Extra tip: as an extra step, season the ribs with some of the garlic and salt and sear them under high heat on a griddle pan before rubbing the paste on them and putting them in the oven to finish cooking.

Vic-terranean Salad

Do you know what else I love?

A really good lunch.

Once, at a work meeting, the venue we went to supplied us with a very fancy lunch and on that day I had the most incredible Mediterranean Salad. It took me like three days to stop talking about it and even longer to stop thinking about it and I knew it was only a matter of time before I attempted to recreate it with a twist of my own.

[Enter: meat, meat and more meat]

Honestly, can you really say you’ve eaten anything if there’s no meat inside? 
(Please vegetarians/vegans shouldn’t come and kill me- you don’t have to add meat to this salad)

If you do decide to add meat, however, I’d suggest white meat or fish. The venue served the salad with salmon (which was delicious) and it also went really well with the pork belly I made (even though pork is technically red meat). I imagine it would also go very well with chicken or turkey.

The thing that excited me the most about this recipe was the use of nuts!

I usually only eat nuts on their own as a snack, or in food like cereal or chocolate but other than in a few Asian dishes, I’ve never really eaten nuts as part of the main meal. So this definitely added to the appeal of trying to recreate the recipe as it would be something I hadn’t cooked before.

And let me tell you; it was sensational.

And super quick to make!

salad

Ingredients used:

  • Pork Belly, cut into bitesize chunks
  • Broccoli, top cut into small florets
  • 25g Sundried Tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • A handful of mixed nuts, ground in a pestle and mortar briefly to break up into smaller chunks
  • Seasonings
    • 1 tsp Rapeseed Oil
    • 1/2 Garlic Clove, chopped finely
    • Rosemary, sprinkle
    • Black Pepper, using a mill
    • 1 seasoning cube (Maggi/Knorr)
    • 2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
    • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 tbsp Manuka Honey
    • Italian Herbs

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. In a bowl, place the pork belly and season with rapeseed oil, garlic, rosemary, black pepper and seasoning cube.
  2. Mix together and leave to marinate for 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the salad ingredients as listed above (do not mix together yet).

Cooking time – 25 mins

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the pork belly on a foil-lined oven tray and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then turn the pork belly and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, blanch the broccoli florets in boiling water for 4 minutes and drain well.
  4. Mix the broccoli together with the sundried tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese and mixed nuts in a bowl.
  5. To create the dressing for the salad, mix the balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, manuka honey and a pinch of Italian herbs.
  6. Once the pork is ready, serve with the salad and drizzle the dressing on top.
  7. Enjoy!

Extra tip: if you like sweet meats as I do, when you take the pork belly out of the oven to turn over, glaze with some honey for an extra kick.

Pesto Tagliatelle

You ever get those days when the only thing you want to eat is creamy, cheesy and carb-loaded?

This was one such day.

This meal is so delightful, and each calorie-filled bite is as decadent as the next.

Truly a hearty meal to curb any carb craving.

pesto carb

Ingredients used:

  • Fresh Egg Tagliatelle (500g pack)
  • Bacon Lardons (155g pack)
  • Smoked Back Bacon (6 rashers)
  • Chestnut mushrooms (4 or 5)
  • 1 large onion
  • Crème fraîche (300ml – you can use normal cream instead, but I happen to find it a little too sweet to use in cooking)
  • Seasonings
    • Vegetable oil – 1tbsp
    • 2 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • 1 stock cubes (maggi/knorr)
    • Black pepper (I use a pepper mill)
    • Pesto – 3 tbsp
  • Parmesan cheese

Prep time – 5 mins

Method:

  1. Chop the onion and mushrooms and put into a bowl
  2. Slice the bacon rashers vertically and keep together with the Lardons

Cooking time – 25 mins

Cooking:

  1. In a large wok, fry the bacon and Lardons in vegetable oil until almost cooked. Then add the chopped onion and mushrooms to the wok.
  2. Season with the garlic, stock cube, black pepper and pesto.
  3. Add the Crème fraîche to the mixture and leave to simmer on low heat.
  4. In another saucepan, cook the Tagliatelle (follow the instructions on the packet).
  5. Once cooked, drain the water from the Tagliatelle and add the pasta to the wok.
  6. Stir in the pasta until all of it is covered by the creamy sauce.
  7. Leave to simmer for a further two minutes
  8. Serve

Extra tip: grate some Parmesan cheese over the pasta after serving and sprinkle some dried mixed herbs for aesthetics 

Spicy Jerk Chicken with Rice and Peas

Fun fact about me: I love meat. I really, really do.

I don’t think I’ve ever made a vegetarian meal in my life (at least willingly).

While I enjoy eating and cooking copious amounts of meat, I find that chicken is always at the bottom of the list of meats I make. It’s a little boring to me and prefer playing with red meats.

However, every once in a while a very silly craving for chicken will hit me and it won’t go away until I have done with it what my soul desires.

Thus we have this post.

I wanted chicken, I wanted Caribbean food and I wanted it immediately.

So I made it.

jerk chicken

Ingredients used:

  • Chicken thighs
  • Seasonings
    • Vegetable oil – 1tbsp
    • 3 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • 2 stock cubes (maggi/knorr)
    • Crushed habanero chilli flakes or 2 scotch bonnets
    • Jerk seasoning (Dunns River is my favourite to use)
    • Thyme
    • Salt
  • 3 cups of rice (any type is fine- I only had basmati available)
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of coconut milk

Prep time – 15 mins

Method (chicken):

  1. This step is optional but I always wash all my meat in warm water with a splash of vinegar
  2. Put the chicken, vegetable oil, half the chopped garlic, stock cubes, chilli flakes/scotch bonnets and jerk seasoning into a mixing bowl and mix together until all the chicken is covered.
  3. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Method (rice):

  1. Wash the rice by putting the rice in a bowl, submerging in warm water and stirring. Tilt the bowl to pour out the starchy water. Repeat this step until the water remains clear.
  2. Put the rice in a large saucepan.
  3. Pour the red kidney beans into the saucepan.
  4. Use a measuring cup to pour the coconut milk into the saucepan. (It’s usually about 2 cups). This step is important because you will subtract this number from the amount of water you put in the rice.
  5. Season with salt, thyme and the remaining garlic.

 

Cooking time for rice – 20 minutes

Cooking time for the chicken – 30 minutes

Cooking the chicken:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees(gas mark 5)
  2. Place the chicken on a foil-lined oven tray skin side down and leave to bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Turn the chicken thighs so the skin is facing upwards and leave to cook for a further 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven once the juices run clear and the skin is nice and crispy.

Cooking the rice:

(For every cup of rice, use 1.5 cups of water to cook)

  1. Boil water in a kettle
  2. Add the boiling water to the rice (subtracting the number of cups that was used to add the coconut milk- so if 4.5 cups of water is needed to cook 3 cups of rice, and 2 cups of coconut milk was added to the rice, only 2.5 cups of water needs to be added to the rice).
    Who knew cooking required so much maths?
  3. Once the rice starts to boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
  4. Leave the rice to simmer for about 15-18 minutes then remove for heat and leave to steam in the saucepan for a further 2-5 minutes..
  5. Use a fork to fluff the rice and mix the kidney beans throughout.
  6. Serve.

Extra tip: use the stock from the chicken as a sauce for the rice.

Roasted Honey and Black Pepper Pork

Pork is probably my favourite meat.

I find it so versatile and it easily and readily absorbs the flavours of your desired cuisine.

My go to with pork is usually some sort of Asian flavour but one day I had a hankering for pork belly that I knew wouldn’t be satisfied with the Asian flavour.

So I went into my kitchen and let the spirit lead me.

IMG_2196

Ingredients used:

  • Pork belly (a pack bought from the supermarket)
  • Seasonings
    • Sesame oil – 2 tbsp
    • Soy sauce – 2 tbsp
    • 1/2 cloves of garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • Chopped ginger (not much is needed)
    • 1 Stock cube (maggi/knorr)
    • Crushed chilli flakes
    • Honey – 5 tbsp
    • Crushed black pepper

Prep time – 20 mins

Method:

  1. Cut the pork belly into bitesize chunks and put in a mixing bowl
  2. This step is optional but I always wash all my meat in warm water with a splash of vinegar
  3. Put the sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chilli flakes and stock cube into the bowl with the pork belly and mix together until all the pork is covered. For an extra kick, you can add half a scotch bonnet.
  4. Leave to marinate for 10 minutes.

Cooking time – 25 minutes plus 5 minutes

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees (gas mark 4)
  2. Place the pork belly on a foil-lined oven tray and leave to cook for 15 minutes, then turn the pork belly and leave to cook for a further 10 minutes.
  3. Take the pork out of the oven and coat with the honey and crushed black pepper.
  4. Increase the heat of the oven to 200 degrees (gas mark 5) and cook the pork for a further 3-5 minutes.
  5. Serve with steamed black kale and broccoli for a delicious and nutritious dinner.

Extra tip: if you’re feeling super hungry, this meal can also be paired with steamed rice.