Monday, 30 December 2013

Panettone Pud

You know every year at Christmas when you vow won't overbuy? But you do.

I bought a Panettone for half price. Of course it sat on the sideboard and was picked at.

I had a carton of cream in the fridge also leftover so made a version of bread and butter pudding using the Panettone.

Panettone Pud Recipe

Panettone (I had about three quarters leftover)
450 ml milk
200 ml cream
3 large eggs
75g sugar

I used two quiche dishes measuring 21cm diameter.

Slice the Panettone up into small pieces and pack it into the two quiche dishes.

I didn't butter it as felt it was rich enough.

Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan and bring to just under the boil, remove from the heat and set aside.
Put the eggs and sugar into a bowl over a saucepan of water. As the water underneath heats up, whisk the eggs and sugar together.

Continue to whisk until the egg mixture is thick and creamy.

When the milk and cream mixture has cooled slightly add the egg mix into the milk and cream and continue to whisk.

Divide the custard mixture between the two dishes.  Press the panettone down into the custard mix with the back of a spatula.

Place in a pre-heated oven at 180 deg for 35 minutes until golden and puffed up.

Serve with whipped cream.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

It's all about Family, Food, Fun

Annual Christmas Family Shindig
Our annual family Christmas get together is over for another year. Every year after Christmas we all gather in one of our houses and sit down to eat lots, drink lots, argue, shout, laugh and generally be merry. It is always noisy. One of my nephews said to me during the meal the other side of his family were polite, quiet and refined. Let's just say the rambunctious side gathered yesterday.

It was important as it may well be the last time dad will be with us. Dad has dementia and is getting progressively worse. He still knows us all thank goodness but in reality little else.

Food has always played a huge part in our family life. I suppose in a way that may not be considered traditionally Irish. Yesterday all fifteen (my daughter was only member missing) sat down to a four-course meal, lovingly prepared by my brother and his partner, from stunning ingredients all washed down by great wines, grappa and some very exciting Irish craft beers.

Christmas can be a stressful, lonely time for many. Standing in hateful supermarkets over the past few days watching people turn into greedy, ill-mannered, bad-tempered oafs makes me really hate it. But yesterday made me realise what's important. Family, food and fun.

Here's hoping we will all be together again for Christmas 2014.

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Buyer Beware Rare Breed

Rare breed pork, the latest, newest buzzword popping up on restaurant menus. Rare breed usually refers to any breed that's not Landrace. Landrace are the familiar pink pig, commercially bred for specific characteristics such as leanness and to provide a good conversion of muscle to fat ratio. They have little hair and would not be as well able to cope living outside as rare breeds or the original pig breeds (but they can adapt). They also do not lay down a protective layer of fat as the rare breeds do to keep them warm.

Rare breed pigs such as Saddleback, Irish Grazer (Tamworth), Gloucester Old Spot, Duroc, Hampshire etc. are the original pigs our ancestors reared, usually outside but in more recent times in a sty. These were fed a mixed diet of vegetables, grains and slops. Feeding slops was banned after some wise guy decided that it would be an idea to feed a vegetarian animal (cattle) with animal protein and lo and behold BSE materialised. Since pigs are omnivorous like us, it is perfectly fine to feed them animal protein.  However probably not advisable to feed them pork or bacon slops. Although I'm sure in days gone by they were.

It is this mixed diet plus the freedom to root and forage for grass, vegetation, roots and grubs that gives rare breed pork it's flavour. Free range rare breeds are able to run, root and generally behave as pigs should. Landrace pigs are reared in concrete housing and fed concentrated feed. They get little or no exercise.

Unless rare breeds are reared outside and fed a varied diet their meat is no different from meat from a Landrace. So a restaurant stating that their pork is rare breed is as meaningless as stating a chicken that has the potential to stick it's head out a gap in the shed, is free range. Do you really want to pay more for something that is no different from conventional pork?

When next you see "rare breed" on a menu ask. Ask if it was outdoor reared. Ask what it was fed. I can guarantee the restaurant won't have a clue. In fact they probably never gave it a second thought. However for their beef they will know the seed, breed and generation and how long it was hung/aged etc.

Why should pork be any different?

Beware of buzzwords. After all arsenic is gluten-free.......

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Prawn Curry and Wok Naan

This is the ultimate fast food. When you live in a rural area where the only take away is MSG central and most certainly doesn't deliver, it's handy to have a recipe that takes as long to prepare as it takes to cook the rice. I have added salmon when I see it on the reduced aisle, cut into chunks and it was really delicious with prawns. You could use any meaty fish such as monkfish.

Prawn Curry recipe

1 pack of frozen prawns
1 large onion sliced
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 (inch) piece of ginger finely chopped
1/2 inch piece turmeric finely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
half tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tbsp ground coriander
half a fresh chilli chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes or equiv. tomato passata
Half tin of creamed coconut
Good pinch salt

Add all the spice ingredients to a pan and fry in oil for a couple of minutes. Add the onions cut in thick slices and just toss them in the spice mix. They are much nicer if they have a bit of crunch.  Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes. Finally add the coconut. (At this point the sauce can be refrigerated for later or even frozen). Finally add frozen cooked prawns and continue to cook for three minutes.

Serve with basmati and naan bread.

Wok naan bread recipe

225g strong flour
half a 7g packet of dried yeast
good pinch salt
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
2 tbsp coconut milk

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add yoghurt, coconut milk and water to make a cohesive dough. Knead until light and stretchy. Cover and leave to prove for an hour. After an hour knock back the dough and divide into four pieces. Stretch each piece into a tear drop shape. Put a wok on to heat. When it is smoking add some coconut oil or an oil with a high smoking point (rape, sunflower). Flip over after a few minutes. You can transfer them to a pre-heated oven (180) as they are cooked to finish them off or just to keep them warm.