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Sausage hash with fried egg

13 Oct

DSCI0342There are times when I have lots of bits and pieces of food left in the fridge that need to use up and I made this recipe for just such an occasion.  It is almost like a breakfast in one pan as it contains all the thinks I like for a good old English Breakfast but it is all cooked together. We had it for lunch one day but I am sure it would make a great brunch or breakfast dish.

Did you know there is actually an English Breakfast Society?  This is what they have to say about the history of the English Breakfast.


The full English breakfast is a centuries old British tradition which dates back to the early 1800’s, when the Victorians first perfected the art of eating breakfast and elevated the most important meal of the day into an art form.

When the Victorians combined tradition with the most important meal of the day, they created a national dish, one that is widely loved to this day and regularly enjoyed by millions of English breakfast lovers all over the planet.

The breakfast table was an opportunity to display the wealth of the estate and the quality of the meats, vegetables and ingredients produced on the surrounding land and a chance to show off the skills of the cooks who prepared a vast selection of typical English breakfast dishes every morning, for the residents and guests of the house.

The gentry used to love their breakfast feasts and in the old Anglo-Saxon tradition of hospitality, used to provide hearty full breakfasts for their visiting friends, relatives and neighbors. The gentry used to enjoy a full breakfast before they went out to hunt, before a long journey, the morning after their parties and when reading the mail and periodicals of the day.

Breakfast served in these country houses was made up of ingredients sourced from farmers based on the estate, the meats were cured and cooked using regional recipes and methods. Their breakfasts were made up of traditional English dishes, cooked in a typical English way and it was here that the idea of the traditional English breakfast began.

This recipe may not fit in with their ideals but it is definitely delicious.

Sausage hash with fried egg               Serves 2

  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 new potatoes cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 2 good quality sausages of your choice
  • 3 rashes of unsmoked streaky bacon
  • 1/2 green chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 1/2 red pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • small handful of parsley, chopped
  • salt and black pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and gently fry the potato for 10 minutes until it is starting to soften and go golden.
  2. Skin the sausages and break up the meat into small nuggets. Add to the potato.
  3. Using scissors, snip the bacon into thin slices and add to the pan along with the onion, chilli and pepper.
  4. Stir to combine them all and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender and the sausage cooked through.
  5. Add the parsley and season to taste. Mix carefully.
  6. In a separate pan fry two eggs.
  7. Serve the hash immediately, divided between two plates with an egg on top of each.

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Pasta bake with courgettes and sausage

29 Aug

DSCI0165I suppose every one has their own version of comfort food but, for me. pasta does it every time.  Apart from it being so versatile, it is quick and easy to cook and, often, freezes well so there is always a ready meal in the freezer.

This pasta recipe was the ultimate in comfort food.  Little nuggets of sausage in a beautiful tomato sauce and topped with melted cheese.  Absolutely delicious.  I am already thinking about how I could vary the recipe.  Maybe, instead of adding a pinch of chilli to the sauce I could use chilli sausages, or for an added Mediterranean twist maybe Italian sausages.  How about a Spanish influence with chorizo? I could vary the vegetables too.  Perhaps replace the courgettes with spinach or asparagus spears.  I can see we will be having this dish a few times in the future.

Sausage is a food usually made from ground meat with a skin around it. Typically, a sausage is formed in a casing traditionally made from intestine, but sometimes synthetic. Some sausages are cooked during processing and the casing may be removed after. Sausage making is a traditional food preservation technique. Sausages may be preserved by curing, drying, or smoking. Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, such as bacon, ham, sausage and other foods, primarily from pork.

Wikipedia lists 189 types of sausage from around the world and the list is incomplete! Looks like I will have more variations to this recipe than I initially thought.

I found the recipe in a Good Food magazine and adapted it to my taste.  Here is the link to the recipe on their website and my version below.

Pasta bake with courgettes and sausages                Serves 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 good-quality pork sausages
  • 3 courgettes, sliced on the diagonal then cut into batons
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
  • good pinch chilli flakes
  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
  • 300g / 10 oz penne
  • 150g ball mozzarella, patted dry and torn into chunks
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins and breaks into small nuggets. Fry in the oil until brown and cooked through. You may need to do this in two batches.
  2. Add the courgettes to the pan with the garlic and chilli flakes. fry for a couple of minutes then pour over the tomatoes. Season and allow to bubble for 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if it is too thick.
  3. Meanwhile cook the penne as per packet instructions. Drain well and stir trough the sauce.
  4. Transfer everything to oven-to-table dishes, either individual or one large dish.  Sprinkle over the mozzarella and place under a hot grill until the cheese is golden and melted. Serve immediately.

NB This dish can be frozen after assembling. Defrost before reheating and heat through in a low oven for 20 minutes.

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Pork, broccoli and cashew stir fry

21 Aug

DSCI0111I have become a little disillusioned by the food served in Chinese restaurants of late.  Somehow it all tastes very similar and I seem to have a headache the day after eating it. Maybe that’s the wine, oh well.  I have had some success with just throwing in various meats, fish and vegetables into a flavourless oil and stir frying but it is the sauce I struggle with.  There are some amazing Chinese flavourings for sauces but the combination of them to make a balanced tasty sauce is quite tricky.  I have, over recent years found some excellent combinations for classic Chinese dishes such as Sweet and Sour.  The sauce for this dish is similar to a Sichuan sauce but not nearly as fiery as those I have experienced in the past.

I thought I would find out a little more about cashew nuts.

The cashew tree is a tropical evergreen that produces the cashew nut and the cashew apple.  The cashew nut is served as a snack or used in recipes, like other nuts, although it is actually a seed.

The cashew apple is a fruit, whose pulp can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or distilled into liqueur.Although a nut in the culinary sense, in the botanical sense the nut of the cashew is a seed. The seed is surrounded by a double shell containing an allergenic phenolic resin, anacardic acid, a potent skin irritant chemically related to the better-known allergenic oil urushiol which is also a toxin found in the related poison ivy. Properly roasting cashews destroys the toxin, but it must be done outdoors as the smoke (not unlike that from burning poison ivy) contains urushiol droplets which can cause severe, sometimes life-threatening, reactions by irritating the lungs.  It seems like someone has to go through a hazardous process to bring us this snack.

I found the recipe in a Good Food magazine.  Here is a link to it on their website.

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Home made faggots – make a batch and freeze some for another day!

22 May

 I remember some time ago, my friend Pam asked if I had a recipe for faggots.  At the time I said no and that I thought it was too much of an effort to make faggots when you can buy them in the butchers ready-made.  How wrong was I!  This faggot recipe is wonderful.  Not only do you know what is going into the faggots ie no rubbish, but they taste better than any faggots I have ever eaten. I was absolutely amazed at how authentic they were and how they retained their shape, even when cooked in the delicious onion gravy.  The recipe makes a tray of 24 faggots.  Don’t panic! They can be frozen in packs of four (or however many you want, in foil containers and then cooked from frozen when you want them.  They are so easy I think they would make perfect food for a Bonfire or Halloween party, served in plastic dishes with a spoon of mash.  Perfect!!!

When I was a child we used to have Savoury Duck.  I have no idea why it is called this.  It appears to be something you can only buy in the north of England.  If I had to describe it I would say its a sort of savoury mix of subtle spices, probably some form of starch and bits of meat that usually do not get eaten.  Mum used to slice it and cook it in the fat left over from frying the bacon for breakfast.  She would remove it from the pan then reheat tinned tomatoes in the same pan so they picked up some of the lovely spice infused oil.  My favourite breakfast!

I spent some time in Guildford when I left school but could not buy Savoury Duck anywhere.  That is when I first came across faggots.  I would cook them the same as Mum did and, although their flavour is stronger, I found them to be just as delicious.  According to Wikipedia, faggots and savoury ducks are one in the same.  Not true, I can definitely tell the difference!

I believe most countries will have a similar foodstuff that uses up lots of meat left overs, probably first cooked years ago when meat was expensive and to prevent waste.  The Scottish Haggis springs to mind and, in Greece, there is Kokoretsi.  I love them both!!   Apparently there is also a similar dish in Portugal called Almondega.   I will need to give it a try when I next go there.

Anyway, the recipe was in one of my Good Food magazines, here is a link along with a slideshow for each step I made when making them.  Shaping the faggots is a bit messy so wear an apron.  You will find it is well worth it.  

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Mushrooms and prosciutto with spaghetti

24 Apr

DSCI0573I love pasta dishes as they are so quick and easy.  I can never understand it when friends tell me they have take-aways because they don’t have time to cook.  Of course we are all different but cooking when I finished work was my stress relief and I have almost always cooked a meal from scratch every day for as long as I can remember.  I admit to not being very adventurous in my younger days, although, having said that, I can remember making some great meals out of bacon scraps and my kids loved a sausage pie I used to make them when money was tight.  i am not averse to taking shortcuts though when i am cooking.  I used to make all my own pastry, for example, but have found the ready-made varieties in Supermarkets are excellent so why bother with the mess and hassle.  One thing i have found if you want to cook fresh food daily, is that planning is essential.  Think about what you want to eat in advance and make sure you have included ingredients in your shopping list.  An added advantage of this is that, if you stick to the list, you will really cut down on the waste and your shopping bills may actually reduce!

The flavour combination in this recipe is spot on. The saltiness of the Prosciutto means no additional seasoning is required and it compliments the subtle flavour of the mushrooms and the sweetness of the onions.  The only change I will make to the recipe in the future is to omit the walnuts.  It isn’t that I don’t like walnuts as I absolutely love them but, in this instance, I didn’t feel they added anything to the finished dish.

I think it took me about 30 minutes from start to finish to make this and it was absolutely delicious. I hope you give it a try.

Spaghetti with garlic mushrooms and prosciutto from the BBC Good Food magazine.  Serves 4. Here is a link to the recipe.

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Sausage and pasta – what’s not to love?

31 Mar

We love sausages and pasta, so when it is combined in just one pot, easy and quick to cook with hardly any washing up, then this is food heaven.  I have to say I was a bit dubious that everything would be properly cooked but I enjoyed every mouthful and all I cook hear from Terry, my husband, was something that I could only describe as a purrrrrrr!  Kids will absolutely love this dish, a perfect midweek meal.  One word of advise though, use good quality sausages.  I think cheaper versions might have too much fat and maybe make the dish oily.  The pasta used in this dish is penne so I thought I would look up a few foodie facts.

Penne (pronounced peni) is a cylinder shaped pasta.  It can be either smooth or ribbed and is designed to hold as much sauce as possible.  It was perfect for todays dish and you could actually see the sauce running through the middle of the pasta and oozing out the other end.  The name penne comes from penna, Italian for feather or quill, presumably to describe the similar action of these as writing implements. 

There are some mixed theories of the origins of pasta to Italy.  Some say it was brought to Italy by Marco Polo from China.  However, there is evidence that pasta was already eaten in Italy during Polo’s time and there is even mention of a type of lasagna in 1AD!  In more recent times, the 8th Century to be exact, pasta was introduced to Sicily by the Arabs.  It was made from a hard variety of wheat and is believed to be the origin of dried pasta.  To this day there are many Sicilian recipes that contain influences from Arabian cooking, and include raisins and spices such as cinnamon. Today there are over 350 shapes of dried pasta and Italians eat over 60 lbs of pasta per person, each year!

The recipe I am sharing today is based on one from Woman and Home Dinner Tonight.  I have adapted it to suit our taste.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Sausage and pasta one-pot         Serves 4

  • 8 good quality sausages (choose the variety you like best)
  • 6 slices pancetta (or smoked streaky bacon), roughly chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 250g (9oz)chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1.5 pints (about 700 ml) ham stock (made with 2 ham stock cubes)
  • 250g (9oz) dried penne pasta
  • 200g (7oz) runner beans, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and Pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a very large, deep, frying pan or saute pan.  Fry the sausages, pancetta and onion over a medium heat for about 5 minutes until the sausage is brown all over.  Keep turning and moving around the pan to avoid burning.
  2. Add the mushrooms and fry for a further 2 minutes until they have softened slightly.
  3. Pour in the tomatoes and stock then add the pasta and beans.  Mix well, bring to the boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes until the sausages are cooked and the pasta is tender.  This should give you a rich sauce.  If the sauce is too thick simply add a little more water.  If it is too thin boil rapidly for a couple of minutes to thicken it.
  4. Stir in the Worcestershire Sauce and season to taste.

Serve with a couple of glasses of red wine! Heaven!!!!! 

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Black pudding Scotch Eggs – love them!!

27 Feb

On the third Saturday of each month we have a Farmers Market in our town.  Our favourite stall is run by a young couple who make Scotch eggs.  The come in all sorts of flavours.  Apart from the original they make Piri piri, sweet chilli, onion and black pudding eggs.  By far the best is the black pudding scotch egg.  We all love it, even our 5-year-old Grandson!

I have made Scotch Eggs many times before so I used my basic method but added a little fried onion for sweetness and chopped black pudding to the sausage meat.  The eggs were absolutely delicious.  I believe even those who do not like black pudding will love.

The Scotch egg’s origins are obscure. According to an article in the Telegraph (Feb 2011) the exclusive London trader Fortnum & Mason claims it invented the portable snack for rich coach travellers in 1738. “The eggs would have been smaller in those days,’’ says the company’s archivist Dr Andrea Turner. “They would have been pullet’s eggs rather than hen’s eggs, and the meat would have been gamier, like a strong Victorian pâté.’’

She believes that the eggs then filtered down the social ranks, first becoming a Victorian savoury using cheaper meats, and finally arriving at the mass-produced egg served in the pubs, cafés and at picnics in second half of the last century.

An alternative theory, suggested by Annette Hope in her book A Caledonian Feast, claims that the Scotch egg evolved from Nargisi Kofta, an Indian dish that is also made from minced meat and a boiled egg.

Neil Chambers’s explanation seems more likely: that it was a northern variant of the Cornish pasty produced by Scottish smallholders, who would have kept chickens and pigs.  “It was a poor man’s lunch produced from leftovers that was easy to transport,’’ Neil says.

Meanwhile, the Scotch egg’s fame has spread abroad. “Skorchi eggs” have become a Japanese New Year delicacy and they are a best seller for the Nigerian food chain Mr Bigg’s.

Black pudding Scotch eggs                                        Makes 3

  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • oil
  • 200g good quality pork sausage meat
  • 100g good quality black pudding, finely diced
  • 3 eggs
  • plain flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Dried natural breadcrumbs
  • Oil for frying
  1. Fry the onion in a little oil until softened but not coloured.  Remove from the heat and add to the sausagemeat in a bowl.
  2. Add the black pudding and mix carefully until the black pudding is evenly distributed in the sausagemeat mix.  Divide the mix into three balls then wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour to rest.
  3. Boil the eggs for approximately 6 minutes then cool in iced water and peel.
  4. Flatten each ball of mix until it is about 1 cm thick then wrap around the egg and mould so it is covered completely.
  5. Put some flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs into separate bowls then coat the covered eggs  firstly with flour, then beaten egg then breadcrumbs.
  6. Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer to 160- 180C.  If you are using a pan use a deep pan and 3/4 fill with oil to prevent it boiling over during cooking.  Heat to the same temperature as before (best measured by a cooking thermometer).  Carefully lower the eggs into the oil and cook for about 9 minutes until golden brown and cooked through.  Carefully remove from the oil and stand on kitchen paper to absorb any excess fat.

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