Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Feasting at the weekend and a store cupboard week

So, ahem. I've been writing this blog for just over a week, and it's nearly a week since I've posted. Oops. We had my brother and his family staying over the weekend so things were rather busy in the Jay household. Sorry about that.

Naturally, as we had visitors we thought we'd put on some good food, the last two recipes from our weeks worth of meals for £35. It was important to choose recipes that didn't include any sausages as last time these particular guests came round I nearly killed them with a toad in the hole that contained 18 - eighteen - sausages which put everybody in to a food coma that very nearly required medical assistance to pull ourselves out of. We didn't have to eat all of them, but naturally we did so the idea this time was to give them meals that satisfied but didn't preclude any further conversation.

On the Friday then, we went for a slow braised pork shoulder recipe, cooked in local Suffolk cider.
Braised pork shoulder in cider with chive mash and gujerati beans
The cider itself was lovely (there was just a smidgen left over, which would have been a shame to waste) and while my guests politely disagreed, I thought the overall dish was a little underwhelming. I expected the flavours to be quite strong and pungent but it was a bit weedy overall. Perhaps I didn't season it well but I often find that when cooking with cider or lager that the results are not as full of body as I expect. This is the recipe I used, so if anyone has any ideas for giving it some oomph I'd love to hear it.
  1. brown the pork shoulder steaks in a little oil in an ovenproof dish. Remove them and add a finely sliced onion and cook until golden brown and sweet.
  2. Return the pork to the pan with about 400ml of cider and some bay leaves and cook at about 150 degrees for a couple of hours.
  3. Remove the pork and roughly tear it in to pieces. Return to the pan with some dijon mustard, creme fraiche and parsley. Cook for about 5 minutes and serve.
I also struggled with the mash - I know, I know, how can I claim to be a cook and struggle with mash? - but I never seem to get the tatties just right. This time round I over-cooked them and the whole thing was a bit sludgy. Any tips on perfect mash?

The Saturday night was a triumph of culinary delight, and cooked by Mrs Jay. A Goan chicken curry which was subtle yet spicy and wonderfully balanced. The recipe can be found in the April 2010 edition of Olive magazine. I'm really sorry I didn't get a picture as it was also a visual feast - so brilliantly yellow that we barely had to turn the lights on in the dining room all evening.

By the way, the beans in the picture above are a family favourite - infuse some oil with mustard seeds and garlic and then fry the beans slowly in the oil. Delightful, and you can add a spot of red chilli if it takes your fancy. If anyone wants to give them a go I'll post the whole recipe for you.

This next week brings its own kitchen challenges. Pay day doesn't come around until Friday (why is there always too much month at the end of the money?) so we're using up supplies in the freezer and the store cupboard. We've got some diced lamb, some minced lamb, mixed peppers and various salads and cheeses in addition to the usual things you'd expect like spices, couscous, pasta and rice. Does anyone have any good ideas for what I can do with these?


  1. Do I need a tagine to do it, or can it be done in another pot? Got any good recipes?

  2. Lamb and veg wraps with minty yoghurt. You could even make your own yoghurt should you be that way inclined...

  3. We've actually found a quick tagine recipe, which is being prepared tonight. I'll let you know how it goes.