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Tandy, over at Lavender and Lime, has an awesome little challenge called Ready Steady Cook for bloggers all over to take part in. It’s reminiscent of the TV show, where contestants are given a set of ingredients that they must use to produce a starter, main meal and dessert. In Tandy’s version a group of bloggers provide one another with a list of 7 ingredients that they can use, and then each blogger also picks one pantry ingredient – these are then available for use by all the participants.

I received my list of ingredients from Original Cin and they included:

  • Pork Belly
  • Sesame seeds
  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Hot English mustard
  • Honey
  • Sorrel

A very interesting list indeed, I’d never cooked a pork belly before so that was quite daunting, and I was thrown by the sorrel – sage with pork, apple and sage, these are familiar, but sorrel was interesting and I can’t say I’ve ever used it! Though admittedly we do have a bloody sorrel bush in our garden…

Now, I do have some confessions, and I must apologise Tandy, but I struggled to get this challenge done – I’ve hardly been cooking recently as can be seen by my very quiet blog. So I have to admit that I did not make a starter, wracked my brains trying to think of something, but just never got my act together! And I didn’t use the sorrel…mmm, maybe sorrel soup for starters?

My main course was a slow roasted pork belly, which I started at a temperature of 240 °C for 30 minutes to get the fat to go crispy and then turned down to 170 °C for an hour. Before roasting I glazed the pork belly with a mixture of 2 Tbsp single blend olive oil, 2 Tbsp honey, 2 tsp Hot English mustard and 1 tsp of sesame seeds. I was really happy with the balance of honey and mustard, as it can be so easy to get this wrong. I also roasted quartered onions alongside the pork, they soaked up the drippings of glaze from the pork and were sweet and delicious.

Unfortunately, during the cooking I started to notice an unpleasant smell coming from the oven, I persevered through until the pork was down, but by the end it was pretty clear that our pork belly had the foul smell of boar taint! It was inedible and we ended up eating oven chips for dinner. Apparently one is not meant to eat male pigs, only females, however I think the Spar supermarket butchers do not follow this rule as this is the second time in 2 months that meat from a Spar store has had boar taint (the first was our Christmas gammon). It was very disappointing and frustration after spending all that time in the kitchen, for no reward. I think it may take me a while to try a pork belly again…though I have had a successful and delicious gammon since Christmas, so maybe there is hope.

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For dessert I went to an old favourite – apple crumble :-) I love apple crumble, in any form or combination – in fact, I think it will be one of the puddings for our wedding later this year! I tried a slightly different variation this time, cooking 3 large Granny Smith apples on the stove top with about a tablespoon of demarera sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon until the sugar had caramelised a litle and the apples were soft. An amazingly comforting smell. I then made the crumble with flour, butter and demarera sugar – I used less butter than usual (diet, diet, diet!) and as a result ended up with a far more crumb like texture to the crumble. I covered the apples still in the pan with the crumble mixture and baked it in the oven for 30 mintues at 180 °C. It was lovely, again the balance between the tartness of the apples and the caramelisation of the sugar was just right for my taste and the cinnamon gave it that homely smell.

20120131-082154.jpgPlease excuse the awful photo!  Oh, and I may have cheated and served a little ice-cream with the crumble – so much for that diet!

I really enjoyed this challenge, I liked pushing myself to come up with recipes, rather than relying on books or blogs for inspiration. I look forward to the next round and will hopefully have more time and be less distracted in order to do a proper job!

Thanks Tandy!

Follow the link below to see what everyone else got up to…