Pork Belly and Who Are You Calling a Witch?

Sometimes distractions can be really fun.  Last Friday I hosted a lunch to meet distant cousins that I connected to through the DNA on Ancestry.  Which meant I needed to get our shared branch in order.  For me, that means going straight down the rabbit hole to find out more and more.  I completely lose track of time.  However, I’m really glad I did as I found a connection to the Salem Witch Trials.

A horrible time in history of hysteria which largely started because of a fungus on the rye grains.  I got my ancestry back to Esther Elwell neè Dutch and the trials suddenly popped up.  I found a deposition accusing her and two other women of pressing, choking, and squeezing a Mary Fitch who died.  A seventeen year old girl was witness to this.  I’m thinking holy moly.  Until I did more digging.  The witness had visions, Mary Fitch just had an illness.  The stroke of luck for my ancestor was that the court was dissolved a few weeks before her arrest because more and more “reputable” people were getting accused so the court finally thought, hey maybe we shouldn’t be using visions as evidence.  Esther wasn’t the only one I found, a Rachel Vinson neè Varney was also accused.  Scary times.  If they had been charged, it would have been a death sentence.

It made for a very interesting lunch!

Recently I’ve seen a few blogs using pork belly and I thought it was high time I took the pork belly out of the freezer and create something.  I’ve just added a WP Recipe Maker plugin to, hopefully, allow for a printable recipe below.  Please let me know what you think and if you have any issues.  I’m starting with the free version so I can’t include unit conversion but I should be adding that down the road.

Pork Belly How-To

Preheat the oven on convection/fan to 425F/220C.

It looks like a lot of mustard but it will not overpower the flavour.

In a roasting dish add the pork belly that has been scored, seasoned with sea salt and pepper, and rubbed down with brown mustard.  Roast for up to 30 minutes.  Keep an eye on this!  You want the skin crispy but not burnt.  Then turn the oven off of convection/fan and set the temperature to 300F/150C.  Bake for another hour or so.

Normally at the co-op the red onions are massive but suddenly they fit neatly in the palm of my hand and I have small hands.  In a skillet, take a couple of tablespoons of the drippings from the roasting pan, heat up the skillet.  Finely chop a small onion and two cloves of garlic.  Sauté on medium heat.  As the onions become more translucent chop up a mushroom or two.  Add them to the skillet and stir well.

When the mushrooms start to brown add 1/2 cup/4oz of vegetable bouillon along with 2 tablespoons of brandy.  Add a dollop of brown mustard.

Yes, more mustard! But it works. 🙂

Stir well and let simmer.  In the meantime cook up 1/2 cup of quinoa.

To serve, place a large handful of lettuce greens on the plate, add a few spoonfuls of quinoa then top with the pork belly and sauce.  It’s the kind of dish that straddles the hot and cool of the beginning of autumn.  Getting tired of salads but not quite ready for stick to your ribs food.

 

Pork Belly with a Mustard Garlic Sauce

A flavourful recipe by Our Growing Paynes that highlights the pork belly with a mustard garlic sauce.  

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 2
Author Our Growing Paynes

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb pork belly 227 grams
  • 1/3 cup brown mustard 3 oz
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 white button mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup vegetable bouillon 4oz
  • 2 tbsp brandy 1oz
  • 2 pinches sea salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • lettuce
  • 3 tbsp pork belly drippings 1.5oz

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven on convection/fan to 425F/220C.

    Score the pork belly with a diamond pattern through the fat but not the meat.  Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.  Rub brown mustard all over the meat.  Place in a baking dish and roast uncovered for up to 30 minutes. Keep an eye on it!  You want to crisp the skin but not burn it.

    Reduce the heat to 300F/150C on regular bake.  

  2. Take the pork belly drippings and add to the skillet.  Heat up.  Finely chop the small onion and sautè in the skillet.  Finely chop the garlic and add that to the skillet.  While the onion is becoming translucent chop up the mushrooms and sauté. 

  3. Once the mushrooms begin to brown add the bouillon, brandy and mustard.  Stir well and let simmer.  

  4. Cook the quinoa according to the instructions.

  5. Add lettuce greens to the plate, top with quinoa, pork belly, and the sauce.  

Basil Wine Sauce Over Grilled Salmon

It’s been a very interesting week getting the new business off the ground.  Aside from opening up the Etsy shop I also did a local art show called Art in the Park.  It was a great experience as I was able to get advice from fellow artists and everyone was so positive.  In addition to getting a few sales I also got great positive feedback which lets me know I’m not tilting at windmills.

I also upgraded this site to the business level and spent quality time with the “happiness engineers” to get a shop set up on my blog.  It took several hours as I seem to have a knack to ask for stuff that require special coding.  I still have a few more things to do but it’s all a go now!

Earlier this summer, when we were in Swanage, we took my in-laws out to dinner to thank them for putting us up and putting up with us.  We tried an Italian restaurant in town which wasn’t too bad.  The highlight of the meal was for my daughter and I as we ordered poached salmon with an amazing basil sauce.  She and I raved about it.  Once all the summer adventures were over I knew I needed to make this again as a treat.

I will admit, using fresh basil in it’s prime is best.  Our basil in the garden is a bit past it’s prime but the flavour was still there.

Prep the salmon first.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Slice a lemon to grill the salmon on.

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Pick a bunch, about three handfuls.  Wash and blend with a third a cup of dry white wine.

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In a saucepan melt 3-4 tablespoons of butter.  Add 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped, along with the basil and wine.  Sauté on low to medium heat.  The goal is to have a hint of the white wine come through with the basil being the highlight.  If need be, add more butter to get the right balance.  Sometimes the wine can be a bit harsh.

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While this is cooking, grill up the salmon.  I also grilled chicken for my husband and son. Do up a fresh salad and top with the salmon and sauce.

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I was hoping this meal was the swan song of the summer but the summer just won’t quit!  My daughter enjoyed this and was happy I can recreate the dish for us.  I think the best trips down memory lane are food related.

Korean BBQ Steak Salad

I am on a serious Asian flavour kick lately.  With the sticky hot weather it is great to be able to lean on all the flavours but not be heavy.  It also helps me from getting thoroughly sick of salads!  But even with air conditioning, the suffocating heat and humidity the idea of pasta and such doesn’t appeal.

I had made this dish a few weeks ago when we had friends over for dinner and I knew our kids would love it so now that camp is over it was time to make it again.  Their summer adventures are over and school starts next week so we’re getting back into routine again.  Our daughter is applying to universities and our son has four more years left before he flies the coop.  It goes by so fast.

I have a Williams – Sonoma cookery book simply called Asian.  A lot of thought went into that, obviously.  I adapted it based on the ingredients I had on hand.

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I made the dipping sauce/dressing and the marinade at the same time.  I did this several hours prior to grilling.  We’re still working on our bedroom so I knew I also wanted a quick dinner where I do most of the work before we exhausted ourselves painting and installing flooring.

Now I’ve tried the technique that the book mentions twice but without success but I’ll go over it and then just say not to stress or worry about it because you will still get the flavours needed.  They say to make a paste of sugar and garlic with the back of your knife.  I’ve seen it be successful on shows but for the life of me I couldn’t get it to do as it was supposed to.

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Chop up 4-5 cloves of garlic and add a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Attempt to make it into a paste.  Swear a bit then say to the hell with it and add 2/3 of it to one bowl and the rest to a smaller bowl.

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Add 6 tablespoons of soy sauce in the larger bowl and 3 tablespoons of soy sauce in the smaller bowl.  A tablespoon of sesame oil in the large and a couple of teaspoons of the oil in the smaller.  A tablespoon of rice vinegar in each bowl.  A small handful of sliced scallions in each along with a tablespoon of water.   In the larger bowl grate an inch/2.5cm cube of fresh ginger.  Add a dollop or two of the Gochujang paste to the dipping sauce.

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Mix both well.  Set aside the dipping sauce for later.  I had a pound of steak tips so I cubed them to be about 2in/5cm in size.  Toss the meat in the marinade, make sure the meat is well coated and covered.

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Cover and chill until it’s time to grill.

Fire up the grill and put the meat onto skewers.

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Grill it until the desired doneness.  We prefer medium rare for our beef.

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Once it’s done, add it to the salad and use the dipping sauce as a dressing.

Korean BBQ 9 2018It is also great as part of an Asian tapas night or over rice.  But for now we’re keeping it light until the cooler weather finally arrives.  Hopefully that comes soon!

 

Spicy Pork in Lettuce

When the kids are away the parents will play.  While the kids were off having the time of their life at camp we thought it would be fun to have friends over for dinner.  I was still going through the withdrawal from the fibro meds so food had to be simple.  I was a hot mess and a few days before I couldn’t really get out of bed so my husband was questioning my sanity.  I won’t go into detail on how often he does that.  😉

I was in the mood to do Asian tapas.  I did up chicken satay, Korean BBQ steak, some spring rolls and spicy pork in lettuce.  If you can find the type of lettuce that gives you small cups go for that.  I couldn’t so had to use Romaine lettuce.

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I chopped up a healthy handful of scallions and 2 garlic cloves.  Peel an inch/2.5cm cube of ginger and set aside.  In a skillet add 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and heat up.  Once the oil is hot add a pound of ground pork.  As it starts browning add the scallion, garlic and grate the ginger into the skillet

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Add a few tablespoons of Gochujang, which is a fermented hot chili paste, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and a few splashes of lime juice.  Simmer to allow the flavours to develop.

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Adjust the spicy heat as needed.  If you want more, add more Gochujang or red pepper flakes.  Season with fresh ground black pepper.  You shouldn’t need salt given the other ingredients.

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As I was finishing this dish our friends showed up so it was a quick photo so not to be rude.  Plus I had to make the Mai Tais.  First time making them and we’re totally hooked. Such a good drink to go with Asian tapas.  🙂

White Chocolate Muffins for a Sweet Treat

Oh blogger’s block!  We’ve all been there.  This week, with us getting ready to go across the pond and the school year coming to a close, my mind was blank.  Crickets!  I try to plan a week ahead but nothing came to me.  The other night we were watching the Great British Bake Off.  Sadly not the one with Mary Berry.  Sorry to say but Pru is not Mary Berry! But it finally sparked inspiration.

I have one of Mary Berry’s baking books, “Baking with Mary Berry”.  She has a recipe for white chocolate and strawberry muffins which calls for strawberry jam.  I had my strawberry rhubarb jam in the fridge so I thought this would be fun to make for the kids.

This is a very easy recipe to make, in fact most of it’s done by the time the oven is preheated at 400F/200C.

The recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of self rising flour.  If you don’t have that it is easy to make it.  Add 1 1/2 tsp of baking powder and 1/2 tsp of salt per cup of flour.  Sift all together and you are off and running.  I had to prep this and also melted 7 tablespoons of butter.

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In the mixer bowl add 2 large eggs, beat them.  Then add the butter, a cup/8 oz of milk.  I used full fat milk here.  Next add 2 tsp of vanilla and 2/3 cup of sugar.  Tip in the flour mixture then blend everything until it’s smooth and incorporated.  Once it’s mixed add 100g of white chocolate chips.  Mix well.

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Line a 12 well muffin tin with paper cups.  Spoon in half the batter divided equally between the 12 cups.  Spoon in a bit of jam in each cup.

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With the remaining batter cover each muffin evenly.

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Bake 25-30 minutes until they are golden and pass the toothpick test.  Allow to cool then dust with confectioners’ sugar.

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I found this in the breakfast chapter but I think this would be a bit sweet to start the day with.  After school snack?  Perfect.  🙂  This would also work with a variety of fruit jams so the sky is the limit.

 

Easy Homemade Granola

We’ve all done it, keep meaning to make something homemade to save money but never getting around to it.  Then thinking about it all over again as you scoop the expensive stuff into a bag at the shop.  My husband enjoys having granola on his yoghurt in the mornings.  For at least a year I’ve been meaning to give it a try but something always distracted me.

The other week https://frugalhausfrau.com posted about making granola.  She made it look so easy and delicious I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer!  And quite frankly, with two teenagers in the house, any way I can save on the food bill is a good thing.

My husband loves raisins/sultanas and currants so I thought I would keep it simple with the addition of almonds.

Homemade granola 1 2018

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C.

In a bowl add a cup of oats, a handful of almonds (chopped), a pinch of salt, a tablespoon or so of brown sugar, half a teaspoon each of cinnamon and ground nutmeg.  Mix well.

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Melt 2 tablespoons of butter, add this and a teaspoon of vanilla to the bowl.  Mix thoroughly.  Taste to see if you need to adjust the seasoning.

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Spread out evenly on parchment paper over a baking sheet.  Bake 30-40 minutes.  This is a wide range because you don’t want to bring out a burnt taste to the granola and every oven is different.  Stir the granola twice during the baking.  Once it’s a light golden colour it should be done.

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Once it’s baked, let it cool before adding the raisins/sultanas and currants.  I added a healthy handful of each.  If you find the raisins are on the sweet side you can back off on the sugar to keep it balanced.

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I enjoyed it over yoghurt but this is great as an on the go snack or over ice cream.  As we ended up with nearly 3 cups of mixed granola store it in an airtight container.  This is so easy and the variations are endless, there isn’t any reason to buy it anymore!

Orange Thyme Grilled Chicken

On Sunday, the day I made this meal, we were faced with how surreal life is.  It was a gorgeous day and we were tackling the hops (seriously never plant those!).  We were struck by how busy the fire and police departments were.  While we were planting some veg in the back we realised the current set of sirens didn’t go past our house.

Out of curiosity we wandered out front to see 5 cop cars, 2 ambulances, and various other vehicles.  Something was definitely up.  A few minutes later an ambulance went tearing up the road.  The initial report was someone shot himself by accident and he was belligerent which caused the cops to be called to hospital.  Unfortunately the real story was worse.  The man died and the guy who shot him is in jail for felony manslaughter.

It’s a bit shocking in our small town.  What made it all surreal for me was as they were putting up the crime tape I noticed how life continues on.  The next door neighbour to the crime scene was mowing the lawn, people were walking their dog and we’re were putting about in the garden.  I know it’s how life works but I found it jarring.

After all the work in the garden we wanted a light dinner.  I had seen a few recipes involving orange juice and mustard, orange juice and thyme or orange juice and garlic.  I thought I could come up with a recipe involving all of it.  Lots of flavour and still keeping it light.

In a bowl add equal parts orange juice and olive oil.  Finely chop a few cloves of garlic and add it to the bowl with a handful of fresh thyme.  Add a dash of lemon juice and a good heaping spoonful of stoneground mustard.

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Season with sea salt and pepper.  Add the chicken breast to marinate for a couple of hours.

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When it’s time for dinner fire up the grill.

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I did up a fresh salad with avocado, tomato, cucumber and carrot.  I do love salad season!

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Here’s hoping the upcoming weekend is a lot quieter for all.

Custard Biscuits with Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

With the spring properly here now we are enjoying the fresh flavours that come with the warmer weather.  Our garden is coming along with the busy bees arriving to enjoy the blooms.  Our gooseberry and black currant bushes are a hive of activity which is wonderful.  The garden makes a happy place for the bees and butterflies.  Need to work on plants to invite along the hummingbirds.

One of my favourite flavours growing up was strawberry and rhubarb.  My mum would make a divine strawberry and rhubarb pie that I loved.  I wanted to bake something that would include that delicious combination.  I was flipping through the “Sweet” book by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh and found a recipe for Custard Yo-Yos that had a rhubarb icing.  I thought I would do a strawberry and rhubarb jam instead for the filling.

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Make the jam first to give it time to cool.  Use a ratio of 1:1 for the strawberry and rhubarb.

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In a small saucepan add the fruit and a bit of water so the fruit doesn’t catch as you bring it to a simmer.  Add brown sugar a bit at a time until you get the flavour and thickness desired.  You do want this on the thick side so it doesn’t drip too much out of the biscuit sandwich.

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C

In a mixer bowl sift together 175g/1 1/3 cups of all purpose flour, 65g/1/2 cup custard powder, 65g/1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.  If you don’t have custard powder ( 🙁 )  you can use cornstarch (cornflour) but it won’t be much of a custard biscuit without the custard!  I like using Bird’s custard powder.  One because it’s good and two it’s what we can easily find.  Cube 170g/3/4 cup of unsalted butter that is at room temperature.  Add it to the mixer bowl.

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Blend on low until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Next add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  If you had to use corn starch then make it 1/2 a teaspoon.  At this point you will probably be wondering, as I was, how on earth was this dry mixture going to come together.  Have no fear!  The butter starts it’s job with the vanilla.  Start on low then speed up to medium to bring the dough together.  It will take 30-60 seconds to happen.

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Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.  Roll balls of dough of about an 1 inch/2.5-3cm.  Place the balls about 1 1/2in/4cm apart.

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Dust a fork with flour and press into the tops of the balls.  Don’t go all the way through!  Just go about halfway.

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Bake for 25 minutes.  If you use more than one baking sheet, rotate them halfway through.  You want the biscuits dry on the bottom and slightly golden.  Leave them on the sheet for a couple of minutes then transfer them to a cooling rack.

When the biscuits and jam are cool make sandwiches.

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There is nothing like custard with strawberry and rhubarb.  Definitely flavours of the beautiful warmer weather.

Brussel Sprout Sliders

A quick post today as we’re getting ready to hit the road for university tours.  It seems so surreal that our daughter is old enough to be thinking about university but it’s here!  She’s ready for the next chapter and excited about it.  I look forward to see where her journey takes her.

This past weekend I made a dinner for my husband as a thank you for holding down the fort during tax season.  It’s a lot of extra work for him for which I am grateful he takes on.

One thing he loves is Brussel sprouts so that definitely had to be on the menu. Just for him mind as I can’t stand the stuff!  I came across an idea on Pinterest for vegetarian Brussel sprout sliders with tofu, I think plus there were asian flavours.  I thought it would be a fun idea with streaky bacon and french flavours.

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In a small bowl add two parts olive oil to one part champagne vinegar.  Finely chop 2 small cloves of garlic and add a healthy dollop of brown mustard.  Season with sea salt and pepper.

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Mix well and coat the sprouts.  Reserve the remaining mixture.

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Roast in the oven at 350F/175C.  Cut 3 rashers of streaky bacon into squares.  Cook them up in a skillet, slowly rendering them.

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When the bacon has been cooked remove from the skillet and set aside.  Drain the bacon fat until you have a couple of tablespoons left in the pan.  Add to the skillet thinly sliced onion.  I was only making 4 sliders so I did a half a cup.  Cook slowly to soften and caramelise.

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When they are halfway cooked add the remaining mustard mixture to the onions.  Continue to caramelise.

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Once all the ingredients have been cooked assemble into sliders.

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My husband really enjoyed these so I’ll be making these again.  Just a small way to show my gratitude.

 

Who Doesn’t Love a Tart? A White Wine Mushroom Tart…

See, when tax season ends it is supposed to be spring.  Normally I can get outside in the fresh air and putter about in the garden.  Mother Nature did not get the memo this year!  On Monday we had a two hour delay for school due to snow and ice.  It’s just been cold this week.  The strong winds took down a large tree in town.  She is being cruel!

I really hope the warm weather shows soon because it would be nice to have a spring longer than a couple of weeks.  Summer likes to show early here.

Every Tuesday night we have pizza and sometimes I buy a phyllo dough mushroom tarts with white wine.  It’s been on my list to recreate it but I decided instead of fiddling round with the phyllo that I would make my short crust pastry.

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In a skillet melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  Finely chop shiitake mushrooms to give you a cupful.  Finely chop shallots until you have about 1/3 cup.  Sauté the mushrooms and shallots on medium heat.  Chop up fresh thyme and rosemary, about a small handful total and add them to the skillet.  After cooking for several minutes add a 1/4 cup/2oz of dry white wine.

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Grate about 3/4 cup of jarlsberg and put it in a medium bowl and set aside.

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Preheat the oven to 350F/175C and prep the pastry.  Technique to do the pastry is here.  For this recipe I used 1/2 cup/70g of flour, a pinch of salt, and just under a 1/4 cup of butter.  When the butter is fully incorporated into the flour gradually add cold water a bit at a time until the dough comes together.  Roll out thinly.

Add the mushroom mixture to the cheese and mix well.  Add a dollop to the pastry.

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Pinch the dough closed and slice three vents into the top.  Brush with a beaten egg.

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Bake for 20-25 minutes until the pastry is golden and flaky.

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These are great for a cheese and wine night or if you have a potluck to go to.