Lay one portion of pork on a board, cover with cling film and, using a rolling pin, gently hit the pork to flatten it to an even thickness about 1.25cm/½ inch. Peel away the cling film and transfer the pork to a plate covered with kitchen paper to dry. Repeat with the remaining three portions of pork.
Put the flour, egg, and breadcrumbs on three separate lipped plates. Coat each steak first in flour, gently shaking off any excess, then dip in the egg and finally coat with the breadcrumbs.
Heat the oil in a large sauté pan then add the pork steaks and over a medium–low heat cook for 5 minutes. Turn and cook the other side for a further 5 minutes until golden and cooked through.
1 courgette/zucchini, halved lengthways then cut into 1cm/½ inch slices
2 × 400g/28 fl oz can chopped/diced tomatoes
20g fresh basil leaves, torn
1 tsp light brown soft sugar
salt and pepper
a large sauté pan
Preheat the grill/broiler for 10 minutes.
Place the peppers on a baking tray, skin side up, then grill/broil until the skin has blackened and blistered. Remove from the heat and place in a plastic food storage bag using tongs. Seal the bag and leave to become cool. (The steam that is released helps to lift the skin away from the flesh.)
Meanwhile, season the chicken. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the pan. Add the chicken and, over a medium heat, brown on both sides. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Add the other tablespoon of oil to the pan, reduce the heat to low, add the onions and cook until softened and coloured around the edges, 10 minutes.
Next, add the garlic and courgette slices, cover the pan and cook for a further 4–5 minutes, until the courgettes have started to soften.
While the vegetables are cooking, peel off the skins of the peppers and cut the flesh into thin strips.
Finally, add the tomatoes, half the basil, sugar and peppers to the pan and season. Bring the sauce to a simmer, then return the chicken breasts to the pan, pushing them down into the pan. Cook, uncovered, over a gentle heat, for 20 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through.
Serve with fettuccine and the remaining basil scattered on top.
Lay the prosciutto slices side by side, overlapping them slightly.
Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprig and finely chop them. Sprinkle them on top of the prosciutto and then lay the pork fillet on top. Wrap the prosciutto round the pork then put in the pan, seam-side down. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top and spread to evenly coat the prosciutto.
Roast for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together the cream and the zest from the lemon and set to one side.
Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the potatoes for 15 minutes, until tender. Drain and leave for 1 minute for the steam to evaporate.
Break off any woody parts at the end of the asparagus stems by holding the stems and quickly bending them. The woody part will snap off and you should be left with about 340g/12 oz of asparagus tips.
Tie the stalks with string. Half fill a deep sided narrow pan with boiling water, add salt, then stand the asparagus in the pan and cover. The tips are then steamed. Simmer until just tender, about 4–5 minutes. Drain and leave for 1 minute for the steam to evaporate.
Add the asparagus to the pan with the potatoes. Add a knob of butter and the chopped herbs and gently toss together to coat. Season, cover and keep warm while preparing the sauce.
When the pork is cooked, remove from the oven and cover. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the roasting pan on the hob, over a medium–high heat, and add the wine. Reduce by half. Turn down the heat and add the cream and let it bubble gently for 2 minutes. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and season. Strain into a jug.
To serve, slice the pork, pour over the sauce and serve with the vegetables.
By adding a little balsamic vinegar, I call this a sophisticated version of strawberries and cream. Just four ingredients of sugared strawberries, whipped cream and aged balsamic vinegar added to pretty glass dishes, then chilled. Simple but oh so inviting.
The strawberries need to be of a similar size, so quarter any large ones, halve any medium sized ones and leave any small ones whole. Place in a bowl and add the sugar. Stir to coat and leave for 30 minutes.
Stir in the balsamic vinegar.
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.
Strain the strawberry juices into a jug and set to one side. Separate a quarter of the strawberries from the bowl and set to one side. Now loosely fold the remaining strawberries into the cream and then divide between the glass dishes. Top with the reserved strawberries and chill for 30 minutes.
Just before serving, drizzle over the reserved strawberry juice.
I have two recipes for chicken cacciatore. One I have already posted (see Chicken Cacciatore) and this one I call Chicken Hunter’s Style. We like both recipes although they are slightly different. As cacciatore means hunter in Italian, it seemed an appropriate way to be able to identify the two.
Chicken Hunter’s Style – breasts of chicken are cooked with diced bacon and onions, sliced mushrooms and plum tomatoes in a seasoned tomato sauce.
I have two recipes for chicken cacciatore. One I have already posted (see Chicken Hunter’s Style) and this one is called Chicken Cacciatore. We like both recipes although they are slightly different. As cacciatore means hunter in Italian, it seemed an appropriate way to be able to identify the two.
Chicken is sautéed and then cooked with chopped onions, sliced mushrooms and chopped tomatoes in a seasoned sauce. Rocket/arugula is then stirred through before serving.
seasonal vegetables or crusty bread to mop up the juices
deep sided sauté pan
Heat half the oil in the pan over a medium–high heat, add the chicken and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the remaining oil to the pan and sauté the onion and mushrooms for 8 minutes, until beginning to soften.
Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, bay leaf and chicken stock, then return the chicken to the pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, turning the chicken halfway through, until the chicken is cooked and the sauce has thickened.
Remove the bay leaf, then season well and stir through the rocket/arugula.
Another summer favourite. These little parcels are delightful. Raspberries are folded in a creamy blend of mascarpone and cream cheese and then chilled. They are topped with a mixed berry compote and decorated with raspberries.
Line the four ramekin dishes with cling film, overlapping the edges, and set to one side.
Beat together the cream cheese and mascarpone in a large bowl. (A food mixer or hand held whisk does this easily.)
In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then stir in the vanilla extract. Add to the cheeses and beat well to combine.
Reserve 12 raspberries for decoration and gently fold the rest into the cheese mixture.
Divide the mixture between the ramekins, tapping them a few times on the work surface to remove any air pockets. Fold excess film over the top and place in the freezer to become firm, about 45 minutes.
For the fruit compote
Meanwhile prepare the fruit compote. Place the fruit in a small pan and sprinkle over the sugar. Over a medium heat, cook the fruit until it starts bubbling, then reduce the heat to a medium-low setting and, using a wooden spoon, break up any larger fruit pieces, mashing the fruit slightly. Continue to cook for a further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Unfold the cling film from the top of the ramekins and invert each one on a plate, then carefully remove the rest of the cling film. Spoon the fruit compote over the parcels and place 3 raspberries on each to decorate.
These meringues are flavoured with coffee and, when cooked, a little melted chocolate is drizzled over. Serve on their own or with whipped cream or ice cream. Whatever you choose, they just melt in your mouth.
If using coffee granules, dissolve in a ½ teaspoon of hot water and set aside to cool.
Put the egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until just stiff. Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture becomes very thick and glossy. Then whisk in the coffee.
Dab a little meringue on the corners of the baking sheets (this will prevent the parchment paper from slipping).Then line each sheet with baking parchment pressing down at the corners. Spoon 4 mounds of meringue on each baking sheet, spacing well apart. Bake for 1 hour. The meringues should feel hard to the touch and lift off the parchment paper easily. Leave to cool completely.
Break the chocolate into small pieces, put in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of just simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth, then remove from the heat and leave until the chocolate has cooled. Drizzle the melted chocolate over the meringues and leave to set for at least 15 minutes before serving.
When we were grocery shopping this week, our fish counter was displaying some wild cod and it looked so good – really white and chunky. I couldn’t resist buying some and I cooked it making a provençal dish. It certainly didn’t disappoint.
It is not often we see wild fish to buy here in Canada, the main one we do see being wild pacific salmon, but I buy it when I can because there is certainly a difference. Once I found out how farmed fish was produced, with all its potential toxins, it made me realise just how much we have forgone quality for quantity. But that’s another story.
Anyway, we enjoyed our fish supper and hope you will want to try it too.
A nutritious fish dish that is full of flavour. The chunky piece of cod is baked with sliced peppers, plum tomatoes and garlic in a tomato, herb and wine sauce.
675g/1 lb 8 oz cod, skinned (chunky cod, if available)
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
3 tbsp olive oil
2 x 400g/28 fl oz can plum tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, crushed
3 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp oregano
salt and pepper
1 oz butter
large sauté pan
ovenproof dish, buttered
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Cut the fish into 4 portions and place in the ovenproof dish. Season and set aside.
Heat the oil in the pan, add the peppers and, over a medium heat, sauté for 3–4 minutes to soften, stirring occasionally.
Drain the tomatoes, reserving the juice, and add to the pan along with the garlic, wine, lemon juice and oregano. Season. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the reserved tomato juice, then simmer for a further 3–4 minutes.
Pour the vegetables over the fish and dot the fish with the butter.
Bake towards the top of the oven for 20 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Baste half way through cooking.
I’m indebted to Paul Hollywood, the English baker and celebrity chef, for this recipe. These bacon and cheddar loaves make a great lunch or snack and are enjoyed by all the family.
I have played about with his quantities of ingredients, though. The recipe in his book “How to Bake” recommends that 500g, or just over a pound, of flour will provide 4 servings. Perhaps he has a bigger appetite than I do, but that’s equivalent to a quarter of a large loaf in each serving. And I feel that the bacon and cheddar gets a bit lost in all the bread.
My adapted recipe below halves the quantity of bread and increases the proportion of bacon and cheese. Perhaps you’d like to try different amounts and let me know how you get on?
Baking bread is not difficult if you follow this 3-step process. Each step involves a ‘wait period’ during which you can get on with something else. For more information about the technique I use, here’s a link to my page on Breadmaking.
Pour the flours into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add most of the water and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or a plastic dough scraper. If some flour is left in the bottom, add the remainder of the water. It may not need it all. Just make sure that all the flour has been taken up.
Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave it to stand for 20–30 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare for the next step by weighing out the salt, yeast, and butter.
At the end of the 20–30 minutes, melt the butter and add it with the salt and yeast to the mixture, making sure that the yeast doesn’t come into contact with a wodge of salt, and mix well.
Cover the bowl with the tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil your hands and the work surface, and tip the dough out. Take the edge of the dough that’s furthest away from you and fold it towards you to meet the near edge. Push it into the dough with your fingers or the heel of your hand, stretching it gently away from you. Give the dough a quarter turn and repeat. Do this 8 to 10 times, then rotate the dough into a ball and put it back in the bowl.
Cover with the tea towel again, leave for 10 minutes, and repeat the fold and stretch.
Cover again and leave for 10 minutes. While waiting, lightly oil another large bowl for the dough to rise in. Then fold and stretch the dough for a third time.
The dough should now be smooth and silky. Tip it out and shape it into a ball. Put it into the lightly-oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel or cling film.
Leave it to rise until it's at least doubled in size.* At room temperature, this should take a minimum of an hour but it's fine to leave it for 2–3 hours. The longer the better – it improves the flavour.
While waiting, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, and add the bacon, cooking gently on both sides until just cooked. Set aside to cool and then chop into small squares.
Then prepare a couple of baking trays. Line them with baking parchment.
Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock the air out by folding it in on itself a few times. It should feel smooth. Add the bacon pieces and grated cheese to it, and knead until well mixed. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and roll each portion into a smooth oval, tapering the ends into points. Place 2 loaves on each tray, dust with flour and slash the tops along their lengths.
Cover with tea towels, or place each tray inside a clean plastic bag, and leave to prove for about an hour. You can tell when they're ready when they've doubled in size again and the dough springs back readily if you poke it gently with your finger.
Before the end of the hour, heat your oven to 220°C/425°F (gas mark 7).
Sprinkle with a little olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes or until nicely browned. Eat warm.
Many recipes recommend using warm water to make the yeast work more quickly. However, the flavour is improved if the process takes place more slowly. I use water at room temperature or even a little cooler.
* Doubled in size means doubled in volume. This means that if the dough is in the shape of a ball, the diameter increases by about 25%.
Have been enjoying the lovely sunny weather. It has been quite hot this week and so we have been walking with Shandy, our labrador, through the woods that lie behind us. It is amazing how much the leaf canopy shields the heat.
The woods are so pretty at the moment. The trilliums have now finished but have been replaced with a number of other wild flowers – blues, purples and white, colour is everywhere. They make the woods look very pretty. I enjoy it because when we lived in England I planted up an English country garden and a lot of the plants in the woods are the same. The most common one, I guess, being the wild geranium.
Recipes we are using now take less time to prepare and cook and here is one of our favourite salmon dishes. Using the centre cut of the fillet makes it easier to slice into portions once it is cooked so I do tend to choose this cut.
A fish dish that is full of flavour and looks very colourful on the plate.
Salmon brushed with butter and lemon juice is then roasted and served sitting on a bed of buttery spinach with buttery tomatoes alongside. Slices of potato are roasted until crisp to complete the dish.
Cut the potatoes into even-sized pieces and place in a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 7 minutes. Drain and leave for a few minutes so they can be handled.
Thickly slice the potatoes and add to a large bowl. Season and then coat with the olive oil. Tip into the roasting tin/pan and roast for 30 minutes, turning a couple of times.
For the fish
Lightly oil the ovenproof dish. Lay the fish in the dish, brush with the melted butter and season, then squeeze the lemon juice over the top. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
For the tomatoes
Tip the tomatoes into a small pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat a little and let the juice bubble for 5 minutes to reduce. Gradually whisk in the cubes of butter over a low heat. Add the sugar and season to taste.
For the spinach
Melt the butter in a large pan and add the spinach leaves. Cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir through a dash of white wine vinegar, then tip into a colander and press out the liquid.
Divide the spinach between four serving plates and place a fish portion on top. Spoon the tomatoes around one side of the fish and the crispy potatoes on the other.