Christmas

12th August
2012
written by Nibblish

This cider braised pork belly is pure heaven on a plate – the poaching step is all about making the meat as moist and succulent as possible, while frying it up on the day ensures the skin is crisp to perfection! Reducing the cider broth to a delicate jus works wonders to bring all the rich and earthy flavours together. It takes a bit of planning to get started the day before, but each step is super easy and the end result is truly michelin star quality!

Ingredients:
1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 celery sticks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smashed
4 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
500ml good-quality cider
1l fresh chicken stock
1-1.5kg piece unscored boneless pork belly
Vegetable oil

Instructions:

(day before)

1. Heat the oven to 160C. Place onion, carrots, celery, garlic, bay leaves and thyme in an oven proof casserole. Cover with stock, cider and bring to the boil. Slide the pork into the liquid making sure it’s totally submerged, cover with a lid and place in the oven for 3 hours.

2. Once cooked leave the pork to cool for a bit in the stock. Line a flat baking tray with cling film, carefully lift the pork, get rid of any bits of veg & herbs and place it skin down onto the tray. Cover with another flat tray or dish, weigh it down with something heavy place in the fridge overnight. This step is really important to ensure the pork’s skin is perfectly clean, flat – ready to be trimmed and crisped up the next day. Strain the cooking liquid into a jug cover and place in the fridge to chill.

(on the day)

3. Pour the braising juices (now jelly) into a saucepan and reduce down by two-thirds until thicker and syrupy.

4. Place pork on a clean board, skin-side upwards. Get a sharp knife and trim off any uneven edges so that you have a neat sheet of meat and cut into equal pieces. Heat oil in a large frying pan and reduce to medium heat. Sizzle the pork skin side down for 5 mins until the skin is perfectly crispy and flip it over for another couple of minutes until warm and browned all over.

Serve with cauliflower mash, mustard cabbage or any other earthy/wintery sides and drizzle the jus next to the pork on the plate. I also like to sprinkle a few bits of fried chorizo over it for extra texture!

Definitely give this dish a go for your next dinner party, pork belly is a very affordable cut of meat too, so no need to spend a fortune to impress!

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12th March
2011
written by Nibblish

This traditional French recipe makes a wonderful side for roast chicken, pork or lamb and is for sure the tastiest way to prepare peas. Try it, you will be surprised!!

Ingredients: (serve 4)

2 onions, finely sliced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
10g butter
1 tbsp oil olive oil
2 bacon rashers, finely sliced
500g frozen peas
1tsp sugar
1 cup chicken stock
1 bunch watercress, leaves picked
1/2 small bunch of mint, chopped
50g parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

Instructions:

1. Heat butter and oil on medium heat in a large non stick pan. Cook the onions and garlic for a couple of minutes until soft. Stir in the bacon and cook for 5 minutes until nice and crispy. Season with salt & pepper.

Cook at a robust simmer, uncovered, until everything is tender and the liquid flavorful and reduced.

2. Add the frozen peas and half the watercress to the onions and bacon. Add stock and sugar and cook over a low to medium heat for 5-10 minutes – or until they are cooked through but not too soft.

3. Stir in the remaining watercress, the mint and most of the grated parmesan. Serve immediately, topped with a sprinkle of the remaining parmesan and a few extra mint leaves on top!



As a variation, you can also add a spoonful of fresh creme at the end of the cooking time or replace the watercress with shredded butterhead lettuce.

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9th March
2011
written by Nibblish

This is a delicious old-fashioned lemon meringue pie, just like Grandma’s, with the lemon zest added to the juice. If it seems a bit too tricky for you, skip the first step and purchase short crust pastry sheet instead of making it yourself!

Ingredients (8 slices):

Pastry
1 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
80g unsalted butter, cold and cubed

Filling
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
6 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups water
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Meringue
4 large egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Start by making the pastry. Place the flour, caster sugar and salt in a food processor. Add 2/3 of the butter and blend it into the mixture.

2. Shape dough into a ball in your flour coated hands, and then flatten it into a round, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. In the meantime, start preheating the oven to 180 degrees and coat a 23 cm round baking tray with a thin layer of butter and a sprinkle of flour to make it non stick.

3. Roll out pastry on a lightly floured board, lift and gently press it into the baking dish. Trim pastry overhanging the sides. Prick with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly golden.

4. For the lemon filling, whisk sugar, cornstarch, salt and eggs together in non stick saucepan. Then gradually whisk in the water.

5. Bring mixture to a simmer over medium heat and whisk continuously until thickened. Remove from heat, whisk in zest, juice, and finish with the remaining butter.

6. To make the meringue, beat egg whites on high speed until at soft peak stage. Add the sugar gradually, the vanilla extract and beating continually until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick & firm.

7. Pour lemon filling into the crust, spread the meringue evenly over the top, making sure it attaches to the crust. Create peaks in the meringue using the back of a spoon.

8. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let it cool before serving.

Store leftovers for a few days in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze it as a surprise for later!

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3rd March
2011
written by Nibblish

This classic Dauphinoise Potato gratin is world wide famous and a fabulous accompaniment to roast meats, juicy steaks or stews. Having said that, it’s not to say that its garlicky, creamy and crispy flavours can’t be enjoyed by itself…!

Ingredients: (serves 4 people)

9 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 cups whole milk
5 tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Fresh nutmeg
1 cup double cream
1 cup grated gruyère
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt flakes

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC. Place the potatoes in a non stick pan, cover with milk and season with salt & pepper. Bring to the boil, before reducing the heat and cook for 10 minutes.

2. Grease a baking tray with butter and spread the crushed butter over the surface. Drain the potatoes, transfer half in the gratin dish, add half the cheese, double cream and season with salt & pepper. Repeat again for the top layer.

3. Place the gratin in the oven and cook for 1 hour or until nicely brown and crispy!

Don’t be afraid of making slightly too much as any leftovers will taste even better when baked for the second time!

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4th February
2011
written by Nibblish

Duck Liver parfait is really economical and easy to make, but it tastes luxurious and looks really fancy too. My French compatriotes would probably hate me for saying that, but I see it a little bit like a Green peace foie gras – similar in taste and texture but without the arrogance, cost or cruelty! You can also make it up to 48h ahead and save it in the fridge as an early start of a fancy meal. You can also double the measures and serve it as the master piece for a party.

Ingredients (serves 4 people)

400-500g fresh duck liver, fat, strings and green patches trimmed
250ml milk
20ml olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small bunch of thyme, leaves picked
1 slice of bacon, chopped
50ml cognac or brandy
250g butter, diced
6-8 fresh sage leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Cornichons, Brioche and salad to serve

Instructions

1. Soak duck livers in the milk for 1.5 hours at room temperature. If you are using frozen livers, simply allow them to defrost in water for 1h and then soak in milk for another 30 minutes. After soaking, drain, rinse under cool water and pat dry with kitchen paper.

2. Heat a bit of oil and a nut of butter (5g) in a large frying pan. Add the onion, garlic, bay leave, thyme leaves and bacon. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and starting to colour.

3. Add your duck livers to the pan with an extra small splash of oil and season with a pinch of salt & pepper. Cook on a high heat for 2 minutes or until the liver pieces start to plump up. Add 50ml brandy or cognac to the pan and cook it off.

4. Transfer everything to to the food processor and blend it until smooth. Add the remaining 120g of butter to the food processor, bit by bit, and season with another good 2 good pinches of salt and pepper. Pass through a fine sieve if you have one and spoon it into a serving bowl and place in the fridge to start the setting process.

5. To make the clarified butter, place the remaining 125g of butter on low heat and cook slowly until the white dairy and clear oil are separated. Clean any impurities off the top and pour the clear liquid into a separate pan, before placing it on medium heat. After a couple of minutes, add the sage to the butter to fry and take the pan off the heat. Let it cool down and pour over the cooler pate mixture. Refrigerate the finished parfait for at least 4-5 hours or until the top layer looks hard and thick.

6. Serve the parfait with cornichons, fresh butter, freshly toasted brioche and a green leave salad.

Some people like to eat the sage flavoured clarified butter with the parfait, but you don’t have to. Even if you decide not to eat it, it’s still playing a key role to locking in the flavours and keeping the parfait fresh. You can save it up 4-5 days in the fridge when sealed. If you can’t find duck liver, replace with chicken liver. /em>

Click here for a Valentine’s version of this dish!

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1st January
2011
written by Nibblish
Happy new year everyone!!
Did you know that 2011 will be the year of the rabbit? 
It is expected to be a rather placid year, so we may want to go off to some quiet spot to lick our wounds, invest time in cooking delicious meals and look after each other after all the battles of the previous year. The Rabbit also makes a good entertainer and is a wonderful host. Pleasant and warm company, he has a good word to say of everyone and serve really nice nibbles.  It looks like good taste and refinement will shine through everything, especially for our Nibblish readers!

Here is the recipe for a “little snack” we had after our dinner on NYE to welcome the rabbit year with style!


Ingredients:
  • 300g dark chocolate, in small pieces
  • 300ml fresh cream
  • splash of liqueur (cointreau or cognac)
  • Macadamia and almonds, partly crushed
  • fresh strawberries, banana, apples to serve
  • marshmallows

Instructions:

1. Place chocolate pieces into the small ceramic fondue bowl, positioned in a larger pan containing water that is at the simmering point. 

2. Once melted, add the cream to the chocolate, whisk slowly until smooth. Stir in the splash of liqueur.

3. Add the macadamia nuts and almonds to the chocolate just before serving with the marshmallows and fresh fruits cut into bite size dices.



Make sure you hide anything that may vaguely look like a chocolate vessel, as your guests (like mine) may not be shy when it comes to warm & tasty chocolate! If you have any leftover chocolate and marshmallow, mix it all together and place into a plastic container in the fridge to improvise a Rocky Road!


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