Thursday, 29 September 2011

Phew - Puy at last!

Victoria Market
I eventually found where to buy my Puy lentils - Queen Victoria Market - this is a great market, it has everything a foodie loves.  Fresh fruit and vegetables. Meat, fish and some great purveyors of cheese, olives, pasta, bread, cakes, coffee and now even chocolate!
So in my lunch break I trek to the market and you can imagine my disappointment - closed!  Something I hadn't even considered.  Are these lentils worth it I think?
Fresh fruit
Back I go the following day - these had better be good. Ah success. ........
Fresh vegetables
What a selection of pies!

A tasting table = very dangerous
Oooh Chocolate!

What a lot of fresh pasta

Food Hall
I could have wandered all day - unfortunately I had to get back to work.

Meat Man

Now the choice of what to make with them.  Soup from the magazine "Dish" as mention in an earlier blog "Chased by Puy Lentils", or a recipe on 12 September 2011 Lentil Tomato and Pasta Soup or a suggestion from Spiced Season Vegetables with Puy Lentils posted on 5 September 2011. Decisions, decisions.
At last Puy!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A Twist on the Sunday Roast - or Pork Belly for Hungry Piggies

Another big weekend in the garden, digging, raking leaves, potting up new chilli plants, a bit more pruning and shaping and by the time I had slipped off the garden shoes I was hungry so Sunday night dinner needed to be tantalising as well as nourishing and Pork Belly certainly hits the spot.  
A  “Woman’s Weekly” recipe no less, has become a favourite - Pork Belly and Plum Sauce.  I have made this a couple of times now and have not been disappointed.  The flavours work so well together.
Do not be put off by what seems like, loads of ingredients – believe me its well worth the effort.  The cucumber salad on top seems a bit strange on first reading (especially if you are expecting traditional roast pork) but in actual fact is perfect. 
If your pantry doesn’t house Chinese Wine a light sherry will do.

Prep time 20min cooking time 1hr 55mins- serves 4
800g bone pork belly, rind on
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup chinese cooking wine/sherry
1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 cloves garlic sliced thinly
small piece ginger sliced thinly
1 cinnamon stick crushed
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/3 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon fennel seeds ( I put in ground fennel, didn't have seeds)
4 plums either fresh or tinned.

Cucumber Salad
1 small cucumber
1 long green chilli sliced thinly (optional)
2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint (omit if you forget!)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon caster sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 180deg
  2. With pork on board rind side up score rind diagonally rub with salt and oil into the cuts
  3. Combine water, stock, sauce, wine, sugar, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, chilli, juice, fennel in a large shallow baking dish. Place pork in dish rind side up, roast uncovered for 1 hr 20 min. Increase oven temp. to very hot (240) roast pork for further 15 mins uncovered or until crackling is crisp.
  4. Remove pork from dish, cover to keep warm. Strain liquid in baking dish into a med. saucepan. Bring to the boil, add plums, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 mins or until sauce thickens.
  5. Make salad and follow pack for couscous
  6. Serve thickly sliced pork with plum sauce and cucumber salad arranged on top. 

Monday, 12 September 2011

Spring is in the Air and Grapefruit Marmalade saves the day!

Spring has sprung - right on cue the buds are starting to burst out of hibernation, thank goodness after all the construction in the back yard through winter it is crying out for a little greenery. Our garden is undergoing a makeover of sorts since the pool disrupted its contentment.  So the trees and plants that are left will have to carry it through until some new plantings are established.
The fig tree has baby figs starting to form and light green leaves slowly unfolding. .  I was also very happy to see the transplanted Japanese Maples are also showing signs of life thank goodness.

The wisteria that has for about 17 years done its own thing along the back verandah was given the haircut of its life in winter.  The thick old wooden trunks that had wrapped itself around the posts were chopped out leaving only two vines per plant to be systemactically wound around new wire up and along the verandah.  This weekend the bare vines opened bright green and it is going to be pretty come summer.

Afternoon tea was a problem though as I had spent so much of the day outside but some fresh warm homemade bread topped with butter and my grapefruit marmalade that I had made a few weeks ago saved the day and went down very well.  Its an easy recipe - here its is.

1.25kg grapefruit
2 lemons
2.5kg sugar

1. Scrub the fruit under warm running water to remove any wax.
Remove the rind in long strips avoiding the bitter pith
Cut strips in 2in lengths and slice thinly
Remove pith from fruit and chop the flesh
Place all  in fruit and rind in a non-metallic bowl add 10 cups of water and leave in the fridge overnight.

2. Put 2 saucers in the freezer. Place fruit and water in a large pot, bring to the boil, reduce heat, simmer for 45 mins.

3. Add sugar, stir over low heat without boiling  for 5 mins or until sugar has dissolved. Return to the boil and stirring often for 40-50 mins, checking frequently in the last 20mins.  Remove any scum.  When the marmalade falls from a tilted wooden spoon in thick sheets without dripping start testing for setting point.

4. Remove from heat, place a little of marmalade onto one of the cold plates and place in freezer for 30 seconds.  A skin will form and wrinkle when pushed with finger.
Spoon immediately into clean, warm jars and seal.
Store in cool dark place for 6-12 months.
Refrigerate after opening for up to 6 weeks.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Chased by Puy Lentils

My consciousness has been stalked by Puy lentils.  Dark little slate coloured pebbles (as Nigella Lawson calls them).  I tasted them for the first time (unbelievable as that might sound) last week at a work luncheon where rocket, Puy lentils, coleslaw and parsley was served in little cups.  Emm....I like these I thought.

The very same week I bought a new food magazine from New Zealand called "Dish" - the Mediterranean issue (this issue also featured an article about Turkey by Leanne Kitchen - another link, but I will return to this article later) and as I flicked through the pages on the train home here they were again! Puy lentils. A nice little recipe for Roasted Eggplant (Aubergine) and Puy Lentil Soup, which I have noted as worth making.

But still there was more - whilst on the treadmill that night (my exercise regime during the winter months) I was watching an old dvd of Nigella's and blow me down if she didn't cook sausages and lentils - yes you guessed it Puy!

After all these signs Puy are on the top of my shopping list this weekend.

"Dish" offered some interesting Pantry Notes  -
Puy Lentils - these small slate-green lentils have a delicate blue marbling. Considered by many to be the best lentil because of their unique peppery taste and the fact they keep their shape during cooking. They are the only lentil to be identified by area of cultivation; grown in the Le Puy region in France.