Tag Archives: pork

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. http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/sichuan-pork-broccoli-cashew-stir-fry

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Fancied an alternative to Sunday roast. Chicken in cider should do it!

30 Nov

  Years ago, I was fortunate enough to accompany the French school trips to Normandy, run by my husband’s school.  I remember these with fondness, the children were so excited, for most it was their first trip abroad without their parents and, without exception, they were so good!  They were even complimented on one occasion, on the ferry over to Caen, by a lovely old lady who said they were angels.  I had to agree!

During these trips we had some fantastic French cuisine, all rustic and easy to prepare, to cater for the large numbers.  One meal I remember well was when we had chicken cooked in cider and served with apples.  I know it sounds strange but please don’t be put off, it was absolutely delicious!  I have made a similar recipe many times using pork chops but thought I would have a go at one with chicken.  I have found a host of similar recipes, so I have used these as a base and adapted it to suit our taste.  Before we get to the recipe, here is a bit of information about Normandy that many of you will know and, hopefully, none of us will forget!

Normandy is on the north coast of France, with beaches on the English Channel, and played an important part in the World War II.  The Germans had marched through Europe, occupying the countries in its path, including France, and the English Channel was the only thing stopping them from invading England.  In 1944, June 6th, Operation Overlord took place, where Allied troops, including armies from the United Kingdom, Canada and USA, landed on the Normandy beaches, and worked with the French Resistance to fight the Germans and regain control of France.  Those who have seen ‘Saving Private Ryan’ will have a good idea how difficult this mission was.  I remember on one school trip we visited the American War Cemetery.  There was an old gentleman there who was part of the D Day Landings.  His family asked him to tell them what had happened and for a few painful minutes the man could not speak, he was so overcome with grief.  He then recounted how he had watched his brother die and some of his friends, including the best man at his wedding.  By the time he had finished he was sobbing, as were all of us that were listening.  I don’t think those children will ever forget, I know I won’t.

On a lighter side, Normandy is famous for apples and the production of cider and Calvados, an apple brandy.  They use these in many of their recipes.  So, onto the recipe for today.  I’ve included a slide show at the end to show the various steps.  I served ours with boiled new potatoes and cabbage.  It really was lovely.  Hope you give it a try.

Chicken in cider with apples

  • 2 oz unsalted butter
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 8 shallots
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) chicken stock
  • 300 ml (1/2 pint) dry cider (if using a 440ml can this will leave a glass of cider in the can for the cook!)
  • 2 apples, cored and cut into wedges
  • 2 tsp cornflour
  • 5 tbsp full fat Greek yogurt (low fat will curdle)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
  1. Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.
  2. Heat half the butter in a large ovenproof casserole over a high heat and fry the chicken for 5 minutes on each side or until the thighs are brown all over.  Keep turning to make sure they don’t burn.  Season well then add the shallots and celery.  Cook for a few minutes and add the stock and cider, bring to the boil, cover and cook in oven for about 40 minutes or until the chicken is cooked.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the rest of the butter in a small pan and fry the apples for about a minute on each side or until lightly browned.  Remove and reserve.
  4. Take the casserole out of the oven and place over a medium heat on the hob.  Mix the cornflour with the yogurt and add to the casserole, stirring, followed by the tarragon, mustard and apples.  Heat through for a couple of minutes then serve.

NB  You can freeze this when cooled so its useful for getting ahead for a dinner party.

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