Wednesday, 25 November 2015


I love to cook a proper lunch on a Sunday although unlike most English, I don't like to do a traditional roast and instead like to mix it up a bit! Here is a Spanish pork recipe I found in a Waitrose magazine and it is from the London based chef Jose Pizarro who has a tapas bar and two restaurants around the city. It took around 2 hours to make.

Ingredients for 6 people:

1kg diced pork shoulder (I couldn't buy diced pork so ended up buying pork loins which I diced myself). 
4 tbsp olive oil
150ml red wine
2 onions, chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
200g chorizo, skinned and chopped
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree
400g can of chopped tomatoes
300ml fresh chicken stock
3 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
2 tbsp chopped oregano
4 bay leaves
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
2 tsp caster sugar
100g pitted black olives

Season the pork. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, flameproof casserole dish and sear the pork in batches, until browned, then set aside in a bowl.

Add the wine to the pan and as it bubbles up, scrape down the base of the pan with a wooden spoon to release all the caramelised juices. Pour over the pork and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan with the onions, cover and fry gently for 15 minutes, stirring now and then until they are very soft.

Add the garlic and chorizo and fry for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the paprika and cook for one minute.

Add the tomato puree, tomatoes, stock, herbs, pork and juices. Season and simmer for 1 hour with a cover on for half the time. I made the mistake of not checking or stirring mine and managed to burn it a little so I advise you to keep an eye on it! Although I expect mine burnt because I just cooked half the recipe.

Boil the vinegar and sugar in a small pan until it reduces to about 1 teaspoon.

Stir into the casserole with the olives and simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes until the pork is tender.

Season and serve with some fried potatoes (if you like).

This was way better than I was expecting and we all really enjoyed it - the chorizo in it made it much more appealing to Arabella than she thought and I adored all the flavours. It was very warming and so tasty…..I have now added Jose Pizarro's restaurants to my list of places I want to eat! This worked really well as a family lunch with fried potatoes and I think it would be dinner party worthy as well.


Tuesday, 24 November 2015


Sausage and mash has always been a favourite of mine however I am not the hugest fan of mash unless it is mixed with cheese or mustard or truffles. However it is a classic dish that I will always order if I go to a pub for lunch. I was overjoyed when I found this recipe in my Olive magazine - I love a potato rosti - we used to have them at home as children from a German frozen food delivery company and I would want them with every meal. This recipe took around an hour.

Ingredients for 4 people:

Sunflower oil
8 sausages
4 large King Edward potatoes
3 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
2 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tsp English mustard powder
1 egg, beaten

2 onions, thinly sliced
25g butter
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
500ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Heat the oven to 180 C / fan 160 C / gas 4.

Brush 1 tbsp of oil over a shallow roasting tin, about A4 size, or a round ovenproof pan, about 20-22cm across. I was only doing the recipe for two of us and the dish I used was far too big - it didn't really matter to be honest - and just meant that my potato rosti was very thin!

Brown the sausages in 1 teaspoon of oil for 5 minutes or until golden.

Grate the potatoes, no need to peel them. I have never grated potatoes before and it was easier than I thought. Put them in a clean tea towel and squeeze out as much water as you can - the amount of water that came out really surprised me!

Add the potato to a bowl and mix in the thyme, 1 tablespoon of grainy mustard, 2 teaspoon of English mustard powder, the beaten egg, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper.

Tip into the roasting tin, brush a little oil over the potatoes and then add the sausages on top. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes until the sausages and potato are crisp, golden and cooked through.

After about 15 minutes it is time to make the gravy. Put the onions and butter in a frying pan and cook gently until really soft and starting to caramelise - about 25 minutes.

Stir in the sugar and brown over a higher heat for a couple of minutes. 

Then stir in the flour, mixing it until it has completely blended in.

Gradually stir in the stock, followed by the remaining tablespoon of grainy mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and then reduce until it has a good consistency and season to taste.

Finally serve the potato rosti and sausages with plenty of delicious onion gravy.

Yum - this was really good - I loved the crispy potatoes and they tasted incredible with the sausages and lashings of onion gravy. Next time I would probably add some peas too. Arabella wasn't mad on the onion gravy but she adored the sausages and rosti so it was both adult and kid friendly - another success. It took a while to cook but it was definitely worth  the effort!

Monday, 23 November 2015


After the success of my Squash & Goats Cheese Pasta last week, I was keen to recreate a similar recipe that I had picked up in Waitrose in September 2004 and never cooked!! Well there is no time like the present especially as it is the season for squash. It took about 40 minutes to cook.

Ingredients for 4 people:

1 butternut squash (I cheated ad bought ready prepared)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
350g lardons
350g pasta - we used fusilli
300g feta cheese, drained and cubed
75g pine nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 200 C / gas mark 6.

Prepare the squash by cutting it in half, then scoop out and discard the seeds. Using a sharp knife, peel the squash and then cut the flesh into bite sized chunks and place in a roasting tin.

I cheated and just bought ready prepared squash and then I forgot to cut it into chucks anyway!

Drizzle with oil, stir in the garlic and oregano and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the squash is golden and tender.

While this is cooking, dry fry the pine nuts for around 4 minutes - keep your eye on them as they burn quickly!

About 7 minutes before the squash is ready, fry the lardons in a frying pan over a medium heat.

A few minutes before the squash is ready, put the pasta on in a large pan of salted boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions - mine took 8 minutes.

Add the lardons and feta to the squash and return to the oven for around 4 minutes until the cheese starts to soften and melt.

Stir into the drained pasta.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil (very important), a scattering of pine nuts and some freshly ground black pepper (don't add salt as it is already salty from the feta and lardons).

This was really good - amazing flavours together and the drizzle of olive oil at the end just finishes it off. I love feta and so very much enjoyed this pasta. Arabella wasn't so much of a fan, however I am sure if I substituted the feta for goats cheese, she would have wolfed it down. I can't believe I wasted 11 years waiting to cook this….I am so pleased to have leftovers as I can't wait to have it again. You could use proper bacon rather than lardons in this recipe or leave it out full stop if you are veggie and as I mentioned you could have goats cheese rather than feta - Arabella's idea for next time!

Wednesday, 18 November 2015


They have recently opened a Smith and Wollensky in London and I am keen to give it a go, however the problem with bringing these American imports to England is they charge the same price in pounds as they do in dollars so it works out pretty expensive! Therefore it was much better on the wallet to eat here in Las Vegas and I am very pleased I did.

Smith and Wollensky is a chain of steak houses which was created in 1977 by Alan Stillman who also created TGI Fridays….a favourite of our family growing up. According to Stillman, there was never a Mr Smith or Mr Wollensky involved. He opened the Manhattan phone book twice and randomly pulled out two names, Smith and Wollensky. The announcements for the opening, however, carried the names Charlie Smith and Ralph Wollensky. Stillman later admitted that Charlie and Ralph were the names of his dogs! 

There are 9 locations around the States and now a restaurant in England too - I have visited the ones in Miami, New York and now Vegas.

The menu is a favourite of mine - plenty of seafood starters like crab cakes or tuna tartare, salads such as an iceberg wedge and they also are famous for the split pea soup. For mains there are plenty of steaks or fish or other meats like veal to choose from and lots of tempting sides.

I knew the portions were huge so didn't have a starter and instead went straight for a Gorgonzola crusted 10oz filet mignon with a side of truffled mac and cheese.

While I waited for my supper to arrive, I could not resist the warm white soft dinner rolls flavoured with salt and rosemary - absolutely divine.

Then the main attraction arrived and it really was impressive. The steak was cooked rare and was perfectly pink, there was plenty of Gorgonzola on top as well as a cheesy sauce with bacon bits and spring onions. It was AMAZING!

As was the truffled mac and cheese - both creamy and cheesy, the truffles are from an oil rather than the real McCoy - but brilliant as well. I couldn't stop eating it even though I was totally cheesed out. I wish I had been able to eat more sides as there were so many enticing ones - creamed spinach, buttermilk onion rings and beef bacon and cheddar tots.

I had no room for pudding unfortunately - the table next to me had a gigantic chocolate cake which looked magnificent - I guess I am just going to have to go to the one in London and to be honest, I cannot wait!!

Smith & Wollensky

Tuesday, 17 November 2015


I love Welsh rarebit - it was a staple Saturday lunch for us growing up - so I was delighted when I found this recipe for pork rarebit and had to give it a go. Tuesdays are always a rush and I need to cook something quick - this took under 20 minutes so couldn't be more perfect.

Ingredients for 2 people:

2 boneless pork loin steaks or chops, (fat trimmed if you are being healthy)
80g grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp Dijon mustard or 1/2 tsp English mustard
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

To serve:
180g garden peas

To make the rarebit topping, mix the cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and season well.

Put the chops under some cling or a sheet of baking paper and bash until about 1cm thick.

Season the chops and add a tablespoon of oil to a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the chops for 3 minutes on each side. When you flip to the second side, start to preheat the grill. 

Spread the rarebit mix on one side of the pork chop/loin and grill until golden and bubbling. This took 3-4 minutes and I cooked the peas at the same time.

Finally serve with the peas or vegetables of your choice and enjoy.

This was really good - I can always tell a recipe is a success when I do not have to nag Arabella to hurry up and eat - tonight she was even the dinner winner! A really successful meal. We rarely have pork and sometimes I find it quite dry, but the cheese on top is a great, flavoursome addition and this was so quick and easy to cook.