Posted in Jamie Oliver, stew, sweet and sour

Week 12 Part 2 – Roast Chicken and Sticky Pork Stew

So as well as a LOT of baking this week I did manage to rustle up a couple of new savoury dishes. One of which I stupidly forgot to take a photo of so you’ll just have to imagine how amazing it looked.

Nigel Slater’s Roast Chicken

As I’ve already hinted at I’ve never really made a roast dinner on my own, because it’s just the two of us it seems a bit wasteful making an entire roast dinner but we really fancied one this week and just used the leftovers for lunches. So I had to consult a recipe book on the chicken as I literally didn’t know what to do with it! So Mr Slater came to the rescue advising me to rub the skin with a garlic butter and some tarragon and I sat the chicken in a little bit of water and stock so I could baste it throughout the cooking. I roasted a couple of onions in the pan with the chicken so that I would have the base of an onion gravy at the end. The chicken went into the oven for an hour and a bit on 180 degrees, whilst that was cooking I peeled some sweet potatoes and put them on to boil – I’d decided I fancied sweet potato mash rather than potato mash because its healthier and so tasty! The other vegetables I used were cauliflower, broccoli and honey roast carrots. I par boiled whole baby carrots until I could just sink a knife into them, then coated them in honey and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes.

The chicken came out lovely – the skin was crispy and garlicky and the meat was cooked just right, the sweet potato mash and honey carrots created a nice sweetness to go with the cauliflower, broccoli and onion gravy. I was so excited about my first chicken dinner that I forgot to take a photo but it was so good!

Sticky Pork Stew

I’m always looking for new things to cook – earlier on in the year I bought some pork for the first time in ages, I made a recipe for sweet and sour pork, which I blogged about in Week 3 and since then I’ve been buying it a lot more regularly. But a girl can’t live on sweet and sour pork along so I’ve been trying to find new pork recipes. I got the bones of the sticky pork recipe from a Jamie Oliver recipe but typically I didn’t read the recipe properly and didn’t realise it took 2 1/2 hours to cook – on a school night that’s just not achievable so I modified it!

I used pork, red peppers, leeks, red wine, red wine vinegar, apricots and put them all in a casserole dish, with a bit of water to cover the meat. It went in the oven for an hour or so on 180 degrees. After an hour I checked it and it smelled fantastic, but the sauce was a bit runny so I mixed up a tablespoon of cornflour and water and added it to the dish, it went back in the oven for 10 minutes whilst I rehydrated some cous cous. This was a really warming casserole but with a twist – the apricots added a real sweetness to the dish that you don’t get with a traditional casserole.

Mr Gem thought it was good but was disappointed not to have the butternut squash mash I’d promised! Regular readers of my blog may remember I bought a butternut squash last week but so far I haven’t attempted to cook it. It is currently sitting in my vegetable rack goading me at my lack of inspiration. The fact is I didn’t want to waste the brand new ingredient on something as bland as mash, but so far I haven’t been able to do anything with it. However this week the squash is for the chop…watch this space!

Happy cooking!

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Posted in baking, Chinese takeaway, chocolate, cookies, cooking, sweet and sour

Week 3 – Sweet and Sour Pork and Chocolate Biscuits

So after the challenge of week 2 – when I really did go crazy on the savoury food I thought that Mr Gem and I needed a treat. 
Ordinarily a treat would be a takeaway or something but due to the Jan Health Kick I didn’t really want to start ordering food in, so I hit the recipe books, and found a recipe for Cantonese Style Sweet and Sour Pork – which looked like this in the recipe, admittedly it wasn’t as pretty on my plate…! 
It was a bit daunting to read that I had to make a batter and deep fry the pork as it was something I haven’t tried before. However the recipe was easy to follow and the result was better than anything I’ve ever had from my local Chinese! Mr Gem’s only comment was that it needed more sauce which is quite an easy tweak to make really.
I would definitely make this again, it was tasty and quite healthy really, only 432 calories each (plus rice or noodles) but perfect for a treat when you fancy something.  I’ve found a link online to the recipe here but so far I’d say I’m loving Ching’s work so I’d just buy one of her books if you like Chinese food!
As well as cooking, I do like to bake, its much more fun and so much messier. Mr Gem goes mad when I’m baking because I always end up with flour all over the place – but nevertheless this week I was really craving something sweet, so figured if I put the effort in to make my own it would at least burn some calories before I ate the sweet! So I found a recipe for some chocolate cookies – which I can’t find again unfortunately but this one is quite similar (you’ll need an American Measurements conversion if you want to try it – I recommend Delia’s as its easy to follow and understand!
The resultant cookies look a bit like this (but again still nicking pics from the internet until we get to Mid Feb!) 
The cookies are surprisingly tasty given that they work out at about 95 calories each and they are a real craving satisfyer (if that’s a real word?!) if like me you’re on a healthy diet but can’t resist the allure of chocolate. Oh and they freeze really well so you don’t have to eat them all in one go! 

Anyway – I’d love to hear if you’ve tried any of the recipes I’ve recommended and how you thought they worked out.