Friday, 29 February 2008

That pork dinner

The in-laws came over for dinner a few weeks ago, and about an hour before they were due to arrive, I still hadn't decided what to cook for dinner. FIL is gluten-intolerant, and that was my excuse for being indecisive. It doesn't really make much difference with a main meal - it's easy enough to use rice or potato instead of pasta, but it's not so easy to get the flour out of cake or pudding!

Anyway, GKGK came up with the idea of "that pork dinner". I don't often serve pork to visitors because some people can be a bit thingy about pork. I think for the most part, it's probably all in their head, or they've only ever had the pork that Aunty Flo used to serve at Christmas that had been in the oven for forty days and forty nights. People forgive a dried out steak - "he forgot to turn it, just give me some sauce", but poorly cooked pork? "I don't like pork, it's dry". And they never eat it again.

Anyway, GKGK had to decide what his parents would eat, and pork it was. And they loved it! It's actually one of our standard dinners - albeit one that's fairly high up the everyday dinner tree! It's really different, it's fairly healthy and its easy and tasty. I originally got the recipe from delicious magazine, but of course I felt compelled to tweak it! The trick is not to overcook the pork. A tiny bit of pink is GOOD. If you can't cope with that, fine, but don't cook it til it's leather, or a pigskin handbag or something!

Pork Cutlets with Roasted Fennel and Apple
Adapted from Delicious June 2006

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and thickly sliced
2 small red onions, cut into wedges
1 red apple, skin on, cored, cut into wedges
1 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs roughly chopped rosemary
4 x 200g French-trimmed pork cutlets
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1-2 tbs brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 200ÂșC
Toss the fennel, onion and apple with the vinegars and 1 tbs of the olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary and season with salt and pepper.
Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until the fennel and onion are tender.
Meanwhile, rub the pork cutlets all over with ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper.
Heat the remaining oil in an ovenproof frypan over high heat. When very hot, cook the pork for 2 minutes each side or until brown. During the last 5 minutes of vegetable cooking time, transfer pork to oven to finish cooking.
Remove the vegetables from the oven, add the spinach and brown sugar and toss gently to combine and wilt spinach.
Serve vegetables topped with pork cutlets and drizzled with pan juices.

I like to serve this with roast potatoes and/or pumpkin.

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Cheese and garlic monkey bread

After the wild success of the cinnamon monkey bread, I thought it would be good to try a savoury version. How hard could it be? Actually, not hard at all! I started off with the same base recipe, just with a few small changes. I intended to reduce the amount of sugar, but actually forgot! (The whole thing ended up a little bit sweet, but it wasn't really a problem, although I would definitely reduce the sugar next time). I also added about 1/3 cup finely grated parmesan into the dough. I made the dough the night before and whacked it in the fridge.

The above photo is the dough before it went in the fridge. The below photo is the next morning, after it had been sitting on the bench for about 1 1/2 hours. Lovely and puffy!

I then made up a mixture of finely grated parmesan, finely grated cheddar, oregano, powdered garlic (very dodgy, I know, but this was just a "concept trial"!) salt and pepper. I cut up the dough the same as the previous batch, but instead of rolling the balls in milk, I rolled them in olive oil, then dipped them in the cheese mix. Here they are, sitting on the bench for their second rising.

Here they are, all puffy and excited about being baked!

Here they are after being baked, and getting stuck in the pan, and being pulled out in bits and pieces!

It didn't affect the taste - they were absolutely beautiful! But I think next time, I might roll the balls in olive oil, then put them in the tins, then sprinkle the cheese mixture in and around them, because it was the cheese that stuck to the pans (even though I greased them). I also think it would be SO MUCH better if I used roasted garlic. mmmmmm! Friends and family all loved them - just as much as the cinnamon ones. So I am very excited about having 2 brand new recipes to add to my repertoire!

Friday, 22 February 2008

Monkey Bread

One of my favourites blogs is from the bakers at King Arthur Flour. As much as I love all the other food blogs I read, this one really shows the advantage of being written by people who bake for a living!

One of their recent posts was for something called monkey bread. I have never heard of this before, but after reading through and looking at the photos (they always have heaps of very helpful ones throughout the recipe), I decided it would definitely be a good thing to cook for the girls today. It's a bit like those pull-aparts you used to be able to get from Bakers Delight, except it's sweet.

I made the dough last night and put it in the fridge. GKGK kindly took it out for me at 6am this morning, so by the time I had got up and had breakfast, it was beautiful and puffy and ready for the next step. Making the dough is not difficult - but I did find it hard to know when it was kneaded enough. I also needed a fair bit more flour than the recipe said - which is something I often find with KA recipes. This might be due to different environmental factors, such as humidity, or it might be something to do with the flour itself. Or it might be because I don't know what I am doing and just keep adding flour when I really don't need to!

Anyway, aside from those little problems the rest of it all came together very easily, and by the time it had done its second rising and been baked, my friends were here, and were all very happy to eat it straight out of the oven!

Everyone loved it and demanded the recipe! So here it is... Monkey Bread from King Arthur Flour