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.

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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!

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.

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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.

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.

Salmon and Broccoli Bowl

I’ve said this before on a previous post, but I feel led to reiterate it.

I really love meat.

I also really love fish.

Well, not really love, but I do adore a good salmon (see also Cod, Hake and Catfish).

To be honest, I’ve never really experimented with other types of fish, so I have no idea whether I like them or not. (basically I could never be vegetarian/vegan in this life or the next. Disclaimer: I have nothing against them- do what makes you happy innit)

Anyway, due to the vicissitudes of life it had been a while since inspiration hit me kitchen-wise but recently I found myself craving the soft, flaky texture of a good Salmon fillet and after looking at the ingredients I had in my fridge, I knew exactly what to pair it with to satisfy the craving within.

Also, for some very weird reason, I like eating most of my food out of a bowl. My father says it’s the village girl in me, but I think it’s because I am incredibly lazy and hate the formality of eating from a flat plate and using proper cutlery. Ugh.

But I digress. On with the show!

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Ingredients used:

  • Salmon Fillets (I prefer going to a fishmonger than buying fish pre-packed)
  • Basmati Rice (2 cups)
  • Pak Choi (200g pack can be found in most big supermarkets)
  • Tenderstem Broccoli (250g pack)
  • Seasonings
    • Sesame oil – 2tbsp
    • Soy Sauce – 2tbsp
    • Chilli flakes
    • Chinese 5 spice
    • 2 cloves of Garlic (chopped into fine pieces)
    • Chopped Ginger
    • 1 or 2 Bird Eye Chillies (or regular thin chillies)
    • 1 stock cube (maggi/knorr)
    • 1 Lime
    • 1 knob of butter

Prep time – 10 mins

Method:

  1. In a bowl, place the salmon fillets and season with sesame oil, soy sauce, 1 clove of finely chopped garlic, half the amount of chopped ginger, stock cube, and a dash of chilli flakes and Chinese 5 spice.
  2. Leave the fish to marinate for 5 minutes.
  3. Before cooking, cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice of half a lime onto the fish.
  4. Wrap the individual fillets in foil to create foil parcels and cut the remaining lime half into slices and put on the fillets before closing the parcels.

The purpose of the parcels is to allow the salmon to cook in it’s own juices and to give you something to pour on the rice once ready.

Cooking time – 30 mins

Cooking:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees (gas mark 5)
  2. Place the salmon on an oven tray and leave to bake for 15 minutes, checking intermittently.
  3. Wash the rice and put into a saucepan.
  4. Pour 3 cups of boiling water into the saucepan and bring to the boil.
  5. Once the rice starts to boil, lower the heat and cover the saucepan with a tight fitting lid.
  6. Leave the rice to simmer for about 15 minutes then remove from heat and leave to steam in the saucepan for a further 2-3 minutes.
  7. While the rice is cooking, sauté the pak choi, broccoli and chopped up birds eye chillies in the knob of butter and season with the remaining ginger and garlic. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for aesthetics.
  8. Serve the rice with the salmon and sautéed vegetables in a bowl and enjoy!

 

Extra tip: don’t lick your fingers after throwing away the lime slices because baked lime tastes like sorrow.