Store cupboard staples, Jamaican Pork

So one week from payday i am seriously skint, down to my last £10 and was having a panic about what i could cook for dinner. Luckily i went shopping at the beginning of the month and knew i pork, rice, peas and a drawer stuffed with herbs and spices. I remembered a beautiful dish my friend Bex made for me from one of the Levi Roots books and fancied something similar, a sweet, spicy, pork chop.

After a quick lunch time Google search I put together a list and managed to go home without going via a shop, SCORE! Next time i make it i will make sure the pork is marinated overnight and in the summer, slung onto a BBQ but tonight the whole thing took about 30 mins from ingredients to table, not bad for a midweek meal. Pork is so cheap at the moment and the recipe so easy there isn’t an excuse not to try it (unless you’re veggie of course) and if you ditch the rice and replace it with something else, say sweet potato mash, its paelo too!

What you will need 4 four! (I just chucked stuff in to taste but i have tried to make a list for you)

– Pork! I used steaks (The sort of fatty loin things you get in the supermarket but get chops if you can afford it)
– 4 spring onions
– 1 large red onion (white if thats what you)
– 2 tablespoons white/cider vinegar
– 1 tablespoon soy sauce
– 1 tablespoon olive oil
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 teaspoons thyme
– 2 teaspoons brown sugar
– 2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
– 1 teaspoon ground allspice
– 1 teaspoon paprika
– 1 tablespoon honey
– 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
– 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 2 garlic cloves, minced
– Glug of cream, yogurt, creme fraiche etc
– 1 to 4 chillis seeded and chopped (up to you what sort of spice you like)
– 2 cups of rice (if you don’t have cups, weigh it and check the packet for amount pp)
– Peas (i chucked some in until i thought there was enough)
– 1 chicken stock cube.

Take all the ingredients apart from pork, yogurt, rice, stock and peas and put them in a blender, mix with the pork and set to one side to marinate. Ideally this would be overnight/ through the day but if you are in a rush just leave until the last minute to grill).

Whilst the pork is marinating, boil the kettle and place your rice, peas and stock in the pan. Add enough water to cover the rice, stir well so the stock cube dissolves and bring to the boil. Once boiling stick a lid on it and turn off the heat.

Place your pork on a grill pan so it’s ready to go removing some of the excess marinade into a saucepan, add the rest and cook on a gentle heat.

Check your rice, stir and if its almost done get your pork under the grill with a little more honey on top and cook until slightly charred, turn over and do the other side.

Add your dairy to the sauce, this will help it go further and calms down the heat and sweetness of the sauce.

Plate up and serve!

Pork marinating
The finished product, went down a storm!

Fabulous Cable Knit Headband

Hello folks, i have another knitting project for you!

My lovely friend Fran over at http://www.rubytuesdaycreative.co.uk/ ( she sells the most awesome things and gives you money off if it snows!) told me to have a go at this fabulous tutorial from http://transientexpression.com/tutorial-tuesday-cable-knit-headband/. At first i was horribly put off, i am a novice knitter and never thought someone like me, a YouTube, self teacher, would ever reach the dizzying heights of cable knitting.

Eventually, this weekend i was laid up with more back and head-ache and was miserable i couldn’t head over to a party so I thought i would throw caution to the wind and give it a go. I admit, i had to do some Google-ing but stumbled upon this really easy to understand picture of what a slip stitch is from http://www.vogueknitting.com/pattern_help/how-to/beyond_the_basics/cables.aspx . I don’t know about you but i have always struggled to watch videos, peoples hands get in the way! 

You can pick up the needles you need pretty cheap from Ebay, i bought then subsequently lost my slip stitch needle in the space of a few weeks so used an old snapped knitting needle i had lying around. The wool i will, of course, urge you to buy from your local wool shop if you have one but again, ebay is a good bet as are the big Hobby Craft style places.

I will say now, YOU MUST PAY ATTENTION! I got lost a couple of times and it is very hard to unpick to a point that you know without getting frustrated. Saying that, it was my first go and i got it done in about 4 hours, next time i bet it will be more like 2 – 3. Don’t forget i have covered basics here in my post https://bedsitbonnevivante.wordpress.com/2012/11/07/how-to-knit/

Making your headband, the pattern;

Materials:
1 ball of thick wool
Size 10.5 knitting needles US (6.5 UK)
Cable needle
Yarn needle for seaming

Methods:

I’m going to commit knitting blasphemy and tell you that it’s totally unnecessary to swatch for this project. Just knit the first couple of rows and see if it looks wide enough to cover your ears.

k=knit
cn=cable needle
p=purl
sl sts=slip stitches

Cast on 13 stitches.
Follow this stitch pattern:
Row 1: k13
Row 2: K2, p9, k2.
Row 3: k2, sl next 3 sts to cn and hold in front, k3, k3 from cn, k5.
Row 4: K2, p9, k2.
Row 5: k13
Row 6: K2, p9, k2.
Row 7: k5, sl next 3 sts to cn and hold in back, k3, k3 from cn, k2.
Row 8: K2, p9, k2.

Rep Rows 1–8 14 times, or to the desired length. (I recommend making it pretty tight, because it’ll stretch, and you want it to stay on your head!)

Bind off, seam the short ends, and you’re done!

My attempt, the photo didn’t pick up the cabling as i would like

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BBV’s Pimpin’ Potato and Onion Tart

Who loves being skint? No? Anyone? Me neither hence when i stumbled up on this dish i felt i was saved from the horror of stale bread and porridge till pay day. It takes a little preparation and cooking (no don’t go, i will tell you how to make it easier!!) but the end result is a lovely, hearty tart with a cheap filling made with stuff you probably have lying around. I can make this after a quick trip to the local garage, yes i am a classy bird.

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You can choose to make the pastry, i do because i have a food processor, you are more than welcome to buy the pastry and use that. I like to make two or three times as much as i need and freeze it for use later. It’s cheaper but more effort.

For the pastry you will need;
– 200g Plain Flour
– 100g Butter (or 50g butter and 50g lard if you want to make proper pastry)
– Teaspoon of vinegar (trust me)
– Salt and pepper
– A little ice cold water

Chop the butter into chunks and put in the food processor, add the flour, seasoning and vinegar, start the blades and add the water a little at a time until it forms a ball and whizzes around the bowl. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge till you need it. Pastry is that easy, if you are doing it by hand you can find out how, here http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/shortcrustpastry_1278

For the filling
– 5 medium onions, i used red, you can use white if you want
– 3 medium potatoes
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 120g sour cream/creme fraiche/ yogurt (if you are using anything that isn’t sour cream, add a little lemon juice)
– 1 egg
– 100g cheddar cheese
– Seasoning

Fry your onions in oil and butter on a low heat and add the sugar and reduce them down so they are lovely and soft and sticky. Pace on a plate to cool off.

Whilst this is going on, peel your potatoes and chop them into thin slices. Once the onions are done put your potato bits in the pan and cover with enough water to just cover them, cook them for about 10 minutes until soft, drain them into a colander and run the cold tap over them to cool them down.

Whilst he potatoes are cooking mix up the sour cream, egg, cheese and and seasoning and give it a good beating. Add those lovely onions and stir well.

Put that to one side and roll out your pastry, place into a pie dish or similar and cut off the excess, pierce some holes in the pastry and pop in the oven with some baking paper or tin foil over it filled with baking beads or rice etc (this is called blind baking, if you don’t know what i mean then you can read abut it here .

After about 10 minutes, whip it out and start layering those potatoes at the bottom and then add that onion mixture. Bake for about 30 minutes on about 180c – 200c.

In the summer you can serve with salad, as it snowed today we had it with some steamed veggies.

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BBV’s Jumpin’ Jumbalaya

I am not going to pretend this is authentic. I will say that it is quick, easy and tastes pretty damn good but if Momma Cherri came for dinner she would possibly hit me with a wooden spoon.

It’s one of those meals that goes easy on the waistline but gives you a warm hug, you can even have it cold and served up at say a BBQ if you wanted to make it a side. The best bit is once you’ve got the base down (you cannot leave out your holy trinity of celery, green pepper and onions) you can add whatever extras you like, personally i like sausage and chicken but you go wild, seriously, i’ve given you permission and everything.

This, like the jerk chicken, is a recipe that uses a spice mix that you can make up in bulk then label and through into a drawer to be brought out as and when you want it.

For your spice mix (this will make about an American cups worth, basically enough for a few dishes) you will need;

– 4 teaspoons salt
– 4 teaspoons garlic powder
– 5 teaspoons paprika
– 2 teaspoon ground black pepper
– 2 teaspoon onion powder
– 2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 2.5 teaspoons dried oregano
– 2.5 teaspoons dried thyme
– 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (optional but i like a kick)

For your jambalaya

– 1 tbsp olive oil
– 2 chicken breasts , chopped or left over roast chicken if you have any
– 1 onion , diced
– 1 green pepper , thinly sliced (you can use red if you prefer)
– 2 -3 stalks of celery
– 2 garlic cloves , crushed
– 75g chorizo , sliced
– 2.5 tbsp Cajun seasoning
– 1 tbsp tomato paste
– 250g rice
– 400g can plum tomatoes
– 350ml chicken stock

Cook your chicken though and put to one side.

Chop and fry your onion on a low heat till soft then add your pepper and celery (also chopped). Add your garlic and stir through then put in the tomato paste and allow to cook at the bottom of the pan for a few minutes then stir it through the veg.

Then you want to add your meat back into the pan, if you are using prawns, don’t add those until the last 5 minutes or so of cooking. On top of that add your rice, the tinned toms, your seasoning, and the chicken stock so the liquid just covers the the rice.

Give it a good stir so its all covered in delicious and bring to the boil. Once there turn the heat off, wack the lid on and watch Eastenders. Don’t touch the pan AT ALL.

When ready give the rice a good stir so all your ingredients are distributed evenly and serve with corn bread if you can be bothered or french stick if you can’t.

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Jamie Olivers fresh and punchy peri peri chicken

We ate most of it so here are some left overs for you to drool over. Mmmmm leftovers.
We ate most of it so here are some left overs for you to drool over. Mmmmm leftovers.

I LOVE this recipe. It’s my fail safe “I want to impress you but i don’t have the time to make an effort” dish and almost tastes better than Nandos (I only say nearly because A) I don’t want to be lynched and B) Nandos will bring food to my table i didn’t have to make myself and sometimes thats just what a tired girl needs!) but i have found in the past the recipe structure posted online is quite difficult for a nervous or beginner cook to navigate as it’s one of his 30 minute meal jobs.

Jamie recommends you serve this with salad but you don’t make friends that way. He also serves it with some of the tastiest mash i’ve ever made, it’s so good bog standard mash is now a disappointment, a single tear rolls down my face when i have to eat a smashed white potato, it has the potential to be so much more…

I digress. It looks like a lot of ingredients, some stuff you will have in the store cupboard, other stuff will be cheapest at the green grocer (I got all the veg and herbs for £4 and the chicken reduced for £2.50 and could freeze half of that). Even cheaper again if you grow your own herbs, you don’t even need a garden!

For the peri peri chicken

  • Chicken on the bone (thighs are best in my opinion though i have used legs too. If you really hate bones you can use breasts but they cost more and you have to watch they don’t dry out)
  • 2 peppers, i prefer red, Jamie says one red one yellow, i say do what you like
  • Small red onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red chillies (i shall leave hotness up to you)
  • 1tbsp Paprika (smoked if you can find it)
  • A bunch of basil
  • 1tbsp Worcester sauce
  • 2 tbsp White wine/cider/rice vinegar (if its pale and vinegar you can use it, not malt!!!)
  • Juice and zest of one lemon

Pop the oven on about 200C. Fry the chicken, skin side down till yummy and crispy then flip over for a minute or so till the chicken is sealed. Pop that into an oven proof dish. Chop up the peppers and put in the pan and leave to fry, you want them blackened. As the peppers are cooking, put the rest of the ingredients with a splash of water into a blender and whizz into a fine paste. Give it a sniff, it should smell like there is a party in your nose and everyone is invited. Pop the peppers in with the chicken, add the sauce then put in the middle of the oven.

Whilst your chicken is cooking you can do the potatos!

“OMG whats the recipe?!” sweet potato and feta mash.

You will need

  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 2 med white potatoes
  • Half a lemon
  • Feta or “greek salad cheese” its cheaper
  • A bunch of coriander
  • 2 red chillies

Peel all the potatoes, chop into large chunks and put in a microwave dish with half a lemon and cover it with microwave safe cling film. Then microwave for 15 minutes. If you don’t have a microwave i am sure if you used the whole lemon (as the water will dilute it) and put it in a pan with water and boil as normal it will be just as good. Whilst you are nuking your potatoes, gather the other ingredients and chop really finely all together.

Once your potatoes are done take them out and take of the clingfilm CAREFULLY. I cannot stress this enough. I have scolded fingers on the steam that wooshes out, i find cutting into the side closest to you is a better bet, but really, be careful! Ones you have freed your pomme de teres from their steamy bed put all your cheesy loveliness in there and mash it all up.

Get your chicken out of the oven and serve.

How i funished my flat for under £100

I haven’t been too lucky with housing since i left home. I seem to have stumbled from one failed tenancy to another. Such stories include breaking up with a boyfriend and living in a friends basement for 3 months, sofa surfing in a pub after quitting uni and living in a shipping container (no word of a lie) whilst working as an outdoor instructor. There has also been a healthy splattering of thieving, violent, inconsiderate, alcoholic house mates constantly forcing me to pack my ever shrinking piles of possessions back into boxes and move on to the next hell hole.

Toothpaste for dinner

However.

Due to my friendship circle widening i have found two new friends and flat mates to share with. They have also got to the end of their tether with poor housing options and I found us a wonderful new home to share. The only problem being that it was totally unfurnished bar white goods and none of us really had any furniture whatsoever.Thank goodness the internet is a damn good resource and there are a bunch of places to find cheap and even free furniture if you know where to look.

Working in social housing has meant that i have picked up some resourceful tips to get things for cheap and even free and I want to share some of these. Some of these are obvious, some of these won’t work for you and some of these will be a light bulb moment.

Freecycle is an incredible place made up of community groups through Yahoo. Just search to find you nearest one, ask to join and specify when you want alerts and you are away. People give everything away but you have to be quick and you have to flexible. Don’t ask for things you can’t pick up, it makes people cross. You also have the opportunity to list things that you want but I haven’t had a lot of luck with this method. Other downside is that you don’t always know exactly what you are getting till you turn up, i picked up a mattress once and it wasn’t until i got it in the car that i realised it stunk of cigarettes and it had to go straight to the tip…well it stayed in my friends garage till they moved and someone else took it to the tip.

Gumtree is another great site and you have more access to pictures this way. You will find things are perhaps more expensive than you would like but i have found haggling quite successful, especially if you remind the seller you are doing them a favour by getting rid of their unwanted processions and if you can pick up quickly. Through Gumtree i got a bed, bookcase, mattress and microwave for £65, not too shabby i hope you will agree.

Ebay is bloody marvelous. I bought a matching set of a three piece sofa and two armchairs for a penny…yes a penny. The seller didn’t even want the penny! They are ugly, they are green and they were bought the year i was born but man are they comfy! Nothing a few throws can’t sort out if we get sick of looking at them. Also managed to score a sweet coffee table for £5. You can filter your searches to within 10 miles of your location though do double check where people claim you location is. I had people saying they were in Bristol but were half way over to Bath in reality. You can create a watch list, have access to photos and can discuss the items with the sellers with enough time to think about whether you really want to bid on the item or not. Try not to bid on lots of things at once, you may end up with my furniture than space.

Social media sites are a resource people forget about all the time when i discuss this sort of thing with them. Never underestimate how lazy people are, a quick post up on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and anything else you have access to (email etc) means someone, somewhere finally can dump their unwanted furniture on you. Through friends i managed to secure a desk to sew at and another bookcase completely free. It’s worth asking around friends, acquaintances and followers because you never know what people are looking to get rid of.

Of course moving things isn’t that easy when, like me, you don’t have a car. However i did discover that citycarclub.co.uk do a very reasonable van hire scheme, for £20 a year you can book and drive one of their vans for a reasonable hourly charge. If you go to their website you will see whether they have one near you. Otherwise you can find lots of reasonably priced removers on Gumtree, through word of mouth and again using social media to ask if someone knows someone who knows someone. Don’t forget pester power, guilt friends and relatives into giving you a hand in return for pizza and beer.

I hope you found some of this useful, if you have any tips or tricks of your own, please share them in the comments section!

 

Christmas pudding isn’t all that

Dessert

I toyed with the idea of making a light desert, but also remembered it was CHUFFING CHRISTMAS and light food is not the order of the day. This is a wonderful (in my humble opinion) step away from the traditional stodgy Christmas pudding towards something a little more refined and quite frankly exciting. You are never totally sure if they have worked and the delight on everyones face when they have a wonderful end to a wonderful meal makes that 12 minutes of worrying so worth it (that and the cheese board).

Chocolate Fondant Puddings for four (you will need ramekins)

  • 8 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
  • 4 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa, to dust
  • 4 ounces (100 g) good-quality dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), in pieces
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks (save the yolks for meringues or one of those lame, yolkless omelette’s they eat in LA)
  • 2/3 cup (120 g) caster sugar
  • 2/3 cup (120 g) all-purpose flour
  1. Heat oven to 325° F.  Grease 4 large ramekins with butter, about 3 inches (7.5 cm) in diameter.  Cut a small, square piece of parchment and place in the bottom of the ramekin and grease with butter, then dust liberally with cocoa.
  2. In a small bowl set over a saucepan of hot water, slowly melt the chocolate and butter.  Remove bowl from heat and stir until smooth.  Let cool for 10 minutes. NEVER melt chocolate in pan.
  3. Using an electric whisk, whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together until pale and thick. Add the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk just to combine.
  4. Sift the flour over the mixture and using a large metal spoon gently fold in.
  5. Divide the batter between the ramekins and bake for 12 minutes and only 12 minutes. Seriously, set a timer.
  6. Turn the chocolate fondants out onto warmed plates and serve immediately.

Should all have gone well you should have four, delightful little fondants with yummy, gooey centers, if not you have four lovely light cakes so all is not lost.

Wishing you all a very, merry, stress-free Christmas and positive new year.

SMC