Category Archives: Lunch

Recipe: Roast Stuffed and Rolled Pork Fillet

This recipe takes me right back to my childhood, my mum used to make a very similar dish and I had completely forgotten about it until I was reminded about it in college last (academic) year. It came up in one of our practical cookery classes and since then I have experimented with it several times until I came up with this recipe.

The recipe that I give for the stuffing, is a large enough quantity for three or four fillets, I like to make up the stuffing and freeze what I don’t use in “portions” so I’m not making it every time. I can just stuff, roll and roast as needed then. It’s also surprising just how quickly this can be put together even on a week night, just roast a few potatoes and some fresh veg in the oven with it and you have a really simple impressive dinner.


Roast Stuffed and rolled pork served with onion gravy, minted potatoes and steamed brocoli
Roast Stuffed and rolled pork served with onion gravy, minted potatoes and steamed brocoli

Ingredients;

Apricot and raisin stuffing

40g butter
1 large onion, diced
115g dried apricots, soaked, drained and diced
115g seedless raisins
115g fresh white breadcrumbs
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

and the rest

1 x pork fillet
Packet of Serrano ham


Begin by making the stuffing, heat the butter in a small pan and fry the onion over a moderate heat for about 3 minutes until translucent.

Place the apricots into a large bowl. Add the onions (butter and all), raisins, breadcrumbs and ginger. Season the mixture with salt and freshly ground black pepper. If you pick up a handful of the stuffing and squeeze it gently in your fist it should just about hold its shape when you let go. if it’s too dry just add a little more butter, if it’s a little too wet add some more breadcrumbs. Allow the stuffing to cool before use.

Next you want to take your pork fillet and trim off any excess fat carefully. Once this is done lay it out on a chopping board and make a cut about three-quarters way deep into it and the full length. This should allow you to open the fillet flat onto your chopping board. Using the heel of your hand you want to begin, flattening both sides of the fillet. If you strike at the centre with a movement towards either edge alternatively you should flatten and stretch the fillet out as much as possible.

Now comes the construction part, lay out your Serrano ham slices so that they just about overlap and are about an inch wider than the length of the fillet. Next lay the fillet on top (across all the Serrano ham overlaps) and place a line of your stuffing down the centre. Now comes the difficult bit, you need to fold either end of the Serrano ham over the ends of the fillet and roll the lot into one oversized Serrano ham wrapped sausage type of thing.

Place this in an oiled roasting tray and bake in a 180C oven for one hour, once the juices flow clear you’re ready to rest it for 10 minutes, then simply carve and serve.

Recipe: Thai Yellow Soup

Hmmm a traditional Thai soup recipe? Hell to the no! This is anything but. I came up with the idea for this recipe after an experiment in making Thai chicken curry. The chilli I used for the curry was a little lacking in the heat department and as a result I ended up with a curry that had almost no heat.

It still made for a fantastic tasting dish, just not what was originally intended. The lack of heat meant that all the other herbs and spices were able to come through in full force. Which led me to thinking about what else I could use similar flavours in because they are so great together.

This is the first of those ideas to make it to the “perfected recipe” stage and it’s a butternut squash and sweet potato soup of sorts but that doesn’t really make for a snappy title so given the inspiration and appearance I’m calling it Thai Yellow Soup.


Thai Yellow Soup garnished with a sprig of basil and a dash of truffle oil
Thai Yellow Soup garnished with a sprig of basil and a dash of truffle oil

Ingredients;

1 x onion, diced
1 x carrot, diced
2 x sticks of celery, diced
2 x cloves of garlic, finely diced
quarter of a chilli, diced
Thumb sized piece of ginger, finely diced or grated
Pinch of ground coriander
Pinch of ground cumin
1 x butternut squash, diced
2 x sweet potatoes, diced
Veg or chicken stock
1 x star anise
1 x handful of fresh coriander
1 x handful of fresh basil
1 x handful of fresh mint


Place a large saucepan over a medium high heat, once it has warmed add a little oil, just enough so that you can slow fry the onion until it is soft, then add the carrot and continue to gently fry until they start to soften.

Next you want to add the celery, garlic, chilli, ginger, ground coriander and ground cumin. stir it all together and continue to fry for about a minute this should be long enough to warm and release the fragrance of the garlic, ginger, coriander and cumin.

Add the butternut squash and the sweet potato to the pot and stir together. Add enough stock to cover all the contents. Drop in the star anise, fresh basil, coriander and mint, then stir and bring it to the boil. Simmer gently for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. When the sweet potato and butternut squash start to break up as you stir remove the soup from the heat and blend until you have a smooth purée.

Return this to a low heat. Then taste and season. If you are happy with the consistency of the soup you can proceed to the eating phase, if not, you could thin it by stirring in boiling water or by adding milk or cream.

I like to serve this soup drizzled with a little truffle oil for added decadence and a crusty bread roll is a great accompaniment to any soup.

Recipe: The best baked lasagna

lasagna is a typical Italian dish, it has many variations even in the same regions there can be big differences. I’ve developed my own over the years as I like the northern style with plenty of Béchamel sauce while also liking the simple tomato based meat sauces of the southern regions. This recipe combines the best of both and one or two other influences as well.

While it’s very common to see lasagna not many people realise just how much goes into it, you cook up a meat sauce, then you make the Béchamel sauce and finally you layer it all together and bake it. A 3 part process that can be a little time-consuming but is well worth the effort.

Oh and before anyone says it, I know, a Béchamel sauce with cheese added is a Mornay sauce so this is not a traditional lasagna at all really.

I use a lasagna tray for making this (approx. 32cm x 26cm x 8cm), if you don’t have one of similar size you could use a number of smaller ones, just be aware of the depth, you’ll be surprised how much the layers add up to.


The best baked lasagna
The best baked lasagna

Ingredients;


Meat Sauce
1 x Anchovy fillet
6 x slices of pancetta or bacon, chopped
1 x large sprig of rosemary, picked and finely chopped
2 x bay leaves
1 x large red onion, diced
2 x sticks of celery, diced
1 x carrot, diced
2 x cloves of garlic, crushed
500g Beef mince
500g Pork mince
250ml Red wine
3 x 400g tins of tomatoes, chopped (plus one tin of water)
Salt
Pepper
1 x Star Anise

Béchamel (Mornay) sauce
100g flour
100g butter
1L milk
1/2 onion
6 x cloves
75g x parmesan
3 x mozzarella balls, diced

400g of lasagna sheets
Freshly grated Nutmeg

 

Serves 12 – 15 portions


The meat Sauce

Begin by heating a large saucepan over a medium heat, once it’s up to temperature add a little extra virgin olive oil, then the anchovy and pancetta/bacon, fry them for about a minute and add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, rosemary and bay leaves. Cook these together gently for about 20 minutes.

Next you want to add your meat, making sure to break it up as much as possible as you’re adding it and keep it moving over a high heat until it browns, then add the wine and simmer for a minute before adding the 3 tins of chopped tomatoes and a tin of water.

Finally add a single star anise, bring the lot to a boil and simmer for 1 hour. Then taste and season before removing the bay leaves and star anise as they can have a very unpleasant texture and it’s only their flavour we’re after anyway.

While the meat sauce is simmering get on with the Béchamel sauce.

Béchamel (Mornay) sauce

Take the half onion and skewer it with the cloves, now place this in a saucepan along with the milk and warm it but do not let it boil.

In another slightly larger saucepan, start melting the butter but do not let it burn, keep the heat as low as possible. Once melted add the flour and quickly stir it in until you have a sandy paste like substance. Now using a wooden spoon or plastic whisk start to slowly add the warmed milk, (but not the onion and cloves) mixing it in as you go, the slower you can add the milk the less likely you are to end up with a lumpy sauce so take your time.

Once all the milk has been added you need to “cook out” the flour, this is done by continuing to bring the sauce slowly up to temperature, stirring regularly and tasting. This can take as little as 10 minutes or as long as an hour. When you taste it, if you can still taste flour then keep going and taste again in another few minutes. Once you’ve “cooked out” the flour you have a Béchamel sauce and this can be used with many dishes or subtly changed by adding things like chopped parsley or dill to create other sauces.

But what we want to do is make a Mornay sauce so we add in about half the diced mozzarella and most of the parmesan cheese, hold back enough to cover the top of the final dish. Stir the sauce until the cheese melts and combines completely with the sauce, if it’s too thick use a little milk to thin it, but don’t go crazy we want it a little thick so it will sit on top of the meat layer rather than combining with it.

Final assembly and baking

Take some kitchen paper dipped in extra virgin olive oil and oil up your lasagna dish. If you have a non stick dish, I prefer to start with a pasta layer as it makes the lasagna a little easier to serve. next you want to add a layer of meat sauce followed by a layer of the Béchamel/Mornay sauce. Then sprinkle at little less than a third of the remaining mozzarella over the Béchamel, sprinkle a little grated nutmeg and repeat the Pasta, meat sauce, Béchamel, mozzarella and nutmeg, layers twice more using all the remaining mozzarella on the top, also sprinkle the top with the remaining parmesan.

Bake for 30 – 40 minutes at 180C until the top is golden and bubbling. You can serve this immediately although it’s best to let it cool a little first as the portions will stay together better.

This also freezes very well just wait for the lasagna to cool completely and portion into freezer suitable bags or boxes. Then when you just have to defrost them and reheat when you want Lasagne.

Recipe: White Soda Bread

White Soda Bread
White Soda Bread

Ingredients;

340g plain flour
5g salt
5g bicarbonate of soda
290ml buttermilk


Preheat the oven to 200C.

Sieve the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl and stir.

Make a well and pour in the buttermilk, then mix quickly to make a dough.

Place on a lightly floured surface and knead briefly, you almost want to treat the dough like it’s really hot when you’re kneading it, handling it as little as possible. Then form into a round and flatten slightly before placing it on a lightly floured baking sheet.

Cut a cross in the top with a sharp knife and bake for about 30 minutes or until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Cool on a wire rack.

Recipe: Potato Rosti

Potato Rosti
Potato Rosti

Ingredients;

400g Potatoes, peeled
Melted Butter
Salt
Pepper

Serves 2


These are fairly easy to make and a great alternative to mash or baked potatoes. They do need a bit more effort though, not much, so let’s not think about it and just get started.

First you need to peel and wash the potatoes, they should be roughly the same size so cut them only if you really need to. Next place them in a saucepan with just enough salted water to cover them. Place this on a high heat and bring to the boil. Let it simmer for about a minute then remove the potatoes from the water and allow them to cool slightly before moving onto the next step.

Grate all the potato using a large grater, season with salt and pepper and add the melted butter, a little at a time, mixing in well each time, until the potatoes stick together. Depending on the type of potatoes the amount of butter will vary, however I find the starchier the potato the less butter is required. You could also substitute sunflower oil for the butter, but I find this can effect the flavour and colour of the result.

Next take a small amount of the mixture and form it into a mini burger shape. Fry it until golden brown on both sides and taste to check the seasoning. If you’re not happy add more salt and pepper to taste.

Next, shape the mixture into rounds like you’re making burgers. I use a ring mould for this but you can form them into rounds by hand either. Then fry on a hot pan until golden brown, usually 3 -4 minutes a side.