Tray-baked pork chops with rosemary and pears

pork pear rosemary

I’ve been making this dish for years. It’s a perfect meal for Saturday lunch when you want to get on with the weekend and not spend the day in the kitchen.

I regularly make this on Saturdays once the girls’ ballet lessons are out of the way (why, oh why did I go for dance lessons on a Saturday morning?) and it’s simply a case of throwing everything in a roasting tray, tossing in olive oil and bunging in the oven. Easy as. It doesn’t really warrant a recipe, but I thought I’d write it down anyway. It is actually based loosely on an early Jamie Oliver recipe, from his Naked Chef days, but even easier – if that’s possible.

So, simple and tasty and the kind of food I have to stop my children picking up and eating with their fingers, until I give in and join them.

pork pear rosemary

Tray-baked pork chops with rosemary and pears

Serves 2 adults and 2 children

3 or 4 pork chops – I used to share one between my two kids, but now they’re getting bigger they demand one each
several sprigs of fresh rosemary
6 large carrots, scrubbed and chopped into large chunks or quartered lengthways
3 pears, cored and quartered
4 large potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
6 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220°C / gas mark 7.

Arrange the pork chops, rosemary sprigs, carrots, pears, potatoes and garlic in a large roasting tray.

Season well with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to make sure all the ingredients are lightly covered.

Roast in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until everything is nicely browned and turning the chops and vegetables once or twice during the cooking time. The pears will be squishy and the garlic oozy, while the pork chops will be sticky and the carrots will have that lovely caramelised thing going on. The kitchen will smell incredible.

Serve with a big dollop of mayonnaise, homemade preferably, or the best shop-bought you can afford.

Cooking-with-Herbs

 

As rosemary is used in abundance in this dish, I’m entering it into Cooking with Herbs hosted by Karen at Lavender & Lovage where the themed herb this month is rosemary.

Braised pig cheeks with carrot and parsnip mash

braised pig cheeks with carrot and parsnip mash

This was one of the first recipes I featured on the blog many moons ago. It’s a rich, deliciously intense dish, in which pig cheeks are slowly braised in red wine, vegetables and caraway until they are so exquisitely tender they fall apart at the touch of a fork, and, if you weren’t upfront with your dinner guests, they would never dream they were eating offal. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve never actually tried tricking anyone into eating pig cheeks before, but it would be rather interesting to see how it worked out. Anyway, I know my lot love this dish and they are generally pretty squeamish about eating ‘funny bits of animal’.

I thought I should enter these pig cheeks into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, which is calling for people’s favourite caraway recipes, as this is undoubtedly one of mine. The plan had been to simply link up my previous recipe post (badly lit photos and all), but then I spotted some pig cheeks on the butcher’s counter – rather unusual as I normally have to put in a special request for them.  So I took that as a sign I had to make the dish again, especially for The Spice Trail. Such a hardship, I ask you. The things I do for this blog.

braised pig cheeks with carrot and parsnip mash

I always serve these braised pig cheeks with some kind of vegetable mash. It just seems to work so well with the rich sauce, and creates the most blissfully comforting of dishes. When I featured it on the blog previously I went for celeriac mash; this time it is carrot and parsnip. It could simply be mashed potato. Your call.

Braised pig cheeks with carrot and parsnip mash

Serves 4-6

6 pig cheeks, trimmed of fat
salt and pepper
flour for dusting
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 leek, washed and cut into 1cm chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
2 celery sticks, cut into 1cm chunks
2 garlic cloves, sliced
100g tomato puree
½ bottle dry red wine
300ml beef stock, hot
½ tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp caraway seeds
1 bay leaf

For the mash

4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 large parsnip, peeled and chopped
50g butter
splash of milk
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 140°C/gas 1.

Season the pig cheeks and dust with the flour. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large ovenproof pan and fry the cheeks until golden brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm on a plate.

Add a little more oil to the pan and add the onions, leeks, celery, carrots and garlic and fry gently until just beginning to brown. Pour in a little of the red wine and the tomato puree. Cook gently to reduce the wine and caramelise the puree. Gradually add the rest of the wine, reducing down each time until you have a lovely rich dark sauce.

Return the cheeks to the pan and pour over enough stock to cover. Add the peppercorns, caraway seeds and bay leaf and bring to a gentle simmer.

Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for four hours. Stir occasionally and add more stock if it begins to dry out.

Towards the end of the cooking time, boil the carrots and parsnip in a pan of salted water for around 10 minutes. Add the butter, milk and a little seasoning, and mash well or puree with a hand blender.

When cooked, remove the cheeks from the pan and keep warm. Pass the sauce through a fine sieve into a clean pan. Bring the sauce to the boil and reduce until it is good and thick. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve the cheeks on the mash and generously spoon over the sauce. Enjoy!

braised pig cheeks with carrot and parsnip mash

This is my last entry for February’s Spice Trail challenge, which celebrates cooking with caraway.

spice trail badge square

And I am also entering this dish into Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season event as both carrot and parsnip are certainly in season right now.

SimpleinSeason

Lemon roast chicken for Sunday supper and Monday lunch

lemon roast chicken beetroot carrot sweet potato

Before I had a family and had slightly more disposable income, I rarely took a homemade lunch into work. I’d usually pop out to the local sandwich shop, or on a Friday I might join colleagues for a pub lunch and a shandy. Those were the days!

Keeping a lid on our food budget means preparing a packed lunch most days, for me and my husband and the girls. And very often that means making the most of the leftovers from the night before. But lunchbox leftovers don’t need to be dull, and they don’t need to be a case of simply reheating last night’s dinner.

leftover lunchesI’ve teamed up with Most Wanted, the lifestyle magazine from money-saving site VoucherCodes.co.uk to devise a recipe that demonstrates how you can spend just a tenner on a delicious family meal for four that can then be magically transformed into a deliciously different lunch the following day.

The good folk at Most Wanted are keen to help people make the most of their money without compromising on life’s little luxuries. While a trip to the local deli might be a nice treat, regularly spending £5 on a salad or panini can’t be cost-effective. So they’re on the search for tasty recipes that create an abundance of leftovers you can eat for lunch without it costing a fortune.

I love a roast on a Sunday and, what’s more, they are ideal for leaving you with heaps of delicious leftovers for versatile weekday lunches, from soups and curries to sandwiches, wraps and salads. Personally I like to play with my leftovers a little, so I don’t find myself growing bored eating the same dish again and again.

This lemon roast chicken with beetroot, carrot and sweet potato is a colourful and cheery take on a roast dinner, making the most of those seasonal root vegetables. The veggies are roasted along with the chicken for an incredibly easy meal, full of rich, sweet, caramelised flavours.

lemon roast chicken carrot beetroot sweet potato

To give the chicken its incredibly fresh, vibrant flavour, I roast it with half a lemon stuffed inside, and then when the cooked chicken is resting, I squeeze the juice of the other half all over the skin. It’s so simple but it tastes glorious.

lemon roast chicken

Then to turn the roast into a different dish for Monday lunch, I’ve used the leftover meat and vegetables in a tasty bulgur wheat salad with fresh mint and coriander and lots of nutty, juicy pomegranate seeds. The colours are fantastic and I love the way the beetroot juices soak into the bulgur wheat turning it pink.

lemon roast chicken beetroot carrot sweet potato

What’s more, you should also have enough chicken left over to cook up a soup for Tuesday lunch, making a stock from the chicken bones.

And all this for under £10. Pretty good, eh?

lemon roast chicken carrot beetroot sweet potato

Lemon roast chicken with beetroot, carrots and sweet potato

Serves 4 with leftovers

1 medium chicken (around 1.5kg)
1 lemon
salt and pepper
25g soft butter
400g raw beetroots
450g carrots
350g sweet potatoes
olive oil
mixed salad leaves

Preheat the oven to 220°C / gas mark 7.

Sit the chicken in a roasting tin. Cut the lemon in half, and then one of the halves into quarters. Place the lemon quarters inside the chicken cavity and sprinkle some salt in there too.

Rub the butter over the skin and sprinkle with some more salt. Put the chicken in the oven and roast for around 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you poke a sharp knife into the thickest part of a leg. If the skin is browning too quickly, cover with a sheet of kitchen foil.

Peel the beetroot, carrot and sweet potato. Cut the beetroot and sweet potato into wedges, and slice the carrot into similar sized chunks.

Place the beetroot onto a sheet of foil and drizzle over a little olive oil and a grind of salt and pepper. Wrap loosely and place in another roasting tin.

Place the carrot and sweet potato at the other end of the tin, and similarly drizzle with oil and a little salt and pepper. Mix it up with your hands to make sure the vegetables are well coated.

Put the vegetables in the oven once the chicken has had around 50 minutes of its cooking time. Roast the vegetables for around 40 minutes, until they are tender and beginning to brown.

When the chicken is out of the oven, sprinkle with a little more salt and squeeze the juice from the other half of lemon all over the crispy skin. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Serve the roast chicken and vegetables with a simple leaf salad. There’s no need for any dressing; simply pour over the lemony roast chicken juices. Don’t be greedy now – make sure you leave enough chicken and veggies for tomorrow’s lunch.

So now for those leftovers…

lemon chicken bulgar wheat roast vegetables

Lemon chicken and bulgur wheat salad with roast vegetables and pomegranate seeds

Serves 4

125g bulgur wheat
leftover roast vegetables – beetroot, sweet potato and carrot
handful each of fresh coriander and mint, roughly chopped
seeds from half a pomegranate
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper
leftover cold roast chicken

Rinse the bulgur wheat and place in a large bowl. Cover with boiling water to at least double the height of the bulgur wheat, and leave for 15 minutes. Drain the bulgur wheat and leave to cool.

To assemble the salad, simply place the bulgur wheat in a large bowl with the vegetables, fresh herbs and pomegranate seeds.

Squeeze over the lemon juice and drizzle with a little olive oil. Season to taste.

Mix it all together gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning if required.

If you’re serving this straightaway, lay pieces of shredded chicken on top of the salad and bring to the table.

If you’re taking the salad to school or work for lunch, I share the salad between the plastic boxes and then place the torn pieces of chicken on top before popping the lid on.

For some reason, I prefer to keep the chicken separate to the rest of the salad, but feel free to mix it all up together if you like.

So there you have my two ways with a roast chicken.

How do you use your Sunday roast leftovers?

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by VoucherCodes. I received a fee to buy the ingredients and develop the recipes. 

no food waste challenge

 

As these recipes are a brilliant way to ensure you reduce your food waste, I’m entering them into this month’s No Waste Food Challenge hosted by London Unattached and Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

Roast vegetable sauce for pasta

roast vegetable sauce for pasta

I have been cooking this sauce, or versions of it, since I was weaning my two girls onto solids. They are now five and eight and still enjoy it just as much, although the portion sizes are considerably bigger now. Back in the early days, they would eat the sauce on its own and as they grew older I started stirring it into penne or fusilli to make a delicious pasta sauce. They still love it this way, especially with a huge heap of grated cheese on top, along with a drizzle of olive oil.

It’s one of the easiest sauces in the world to make. All the ingredients are simply roasted in one pan and then blitzed in a food processor with some stock. I don’t even bother to peel the garlic.

vegetables

It’s extremely adaptable too and you can experiment with whichever vegetables take your fancy – or whichever vegetables you might be trying to sneak past your unsuspecting fussy eater.

I generally cook up a big batch of this sauce and freeze it in individual portions; perfect for a quick tea after school when the kids have clubs to rush off to.

roast vegetable sauce for pasta

Roast vegetable sauce for pasta

450g tomatoes
1 butternut squash, chopped into large chunks
1 red pepper, cut into large chunks
1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
3 sticks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 courgettes (zucchini), chopped
3 garlic cloves
glug of olive oil
500ml vegetable stock (low salt)

Preheat the oven to 220°C / gas mark 7.

Place the tomatoes, chopped vegetables and garlic into a large roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and give it all a good mix to make sure everything is thoroughly covered. Roast in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender and beginning to char a little.

Put the vegetables into a blender with the stock and blitz until smooth. Job done.

Simply stir into cooked pasta for an easy peasy supper.

Freeze the remainder of the sauce in individual portions. You should get around 12 portions out of it.

family-foodies

As this pasta sauce is an ideal way to introduce your children to vegetables and entice them to eat a few they might not be so keen on, I’m entering it into this month’s Family Foodies challenge, where the theme is ‘Hidden Goodies’.

Slow roast shoulder of lamb with chicory and winter vegetables

slow roast lamb

I am very partial to slow roasting large joints of meat. I cook with an Aga and so, of course, slow cooking goes with the territory. Lamb, in particular, lends itself to slow cooking; the fat melts down deliciously, flavouring the tender, juicy meat so wonderfully.

slow roast lamb

This warm salad was inspired by a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi, which brings together shredded shoulder of lamb with roast chicory, raddiccio and figs. I have played with the ingredients a little to adapt the recipe to the contents of a winter vegetable box – sadly no fresh figs in there at this time of year. So instead, my version features roast parsnip, carrot and swede along with the chicory; all perfect partners for roast lamb with their caramelised sweetness.

slow roast lamb

With plenty of fresh herbs in there and an incredible, slightly sweet and sour dressing with lemon, honey, cinnamon and pomegranate molasses, I think this warm lamb salad would be a wonderful dish to serve your family and friends this New Year.

Slow roast shoulder of lamb with chicory and winter vegetables

Serves 4-5 (including plenty of leftover lamb for naughty late night sandwiches!)

1.5kg shoulder of lamb, on the bone
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp dried mint
1½ tbsp fresh thyme, picked
1 head of garlic, cut in half widthways
2 parsnips, peeled, halved and quartered lengthways
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
half a swede, peeled and cut into large chunks
3 chicories, halved lengthways
2 tbsp honey
4 large sprigs of rosemary
4 stems of sage
20g rocket
salt and pepper

For the dressing:

70ml olive oil
90ml lemon juice
1½ tbsp honey
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses

If you are using a conventional oven, preheat to 150ºC / gas mark 2.

Place the lamb in a roasting tray and rub all over with a tablespoonful of the olive oil, lemon juice, mint, thyme, and a generous grind of salt and pepper.

Pop the garlic halves next to the lamb, cut side down, and cover the tray with foil.

If you’re cooking in an Aga, roast in the middle of the top oven for 20 minutes, before transferring to the simmering oven for 5 hours, regularly basting the meat with the cooking juices.

Otherwise, roast in a conventional oven at 150ºC for 5 hours, again regularly basting the meat.

When it is completely tender and the meat falls away from the bone easily, remove the lamb from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Shred into bite size pieces, discarding any fatty bits. Cover and keep warm.

While the lamb is resting, prepare the vegetables. If necessary, increase your oven to 220ºC / gas mark 7.

Place the parsnips, carrots and swede in a large bowl with 2 tablespoonfuls of olive oil, honey and a pinch of salt and mix well with your hands. Toss into a roasting tray together with the fresh rosemary and sage, and cook in the oven (top of the roasting oven in the Aga) for 20 minutes.

Place the chicory halves in the bowl and add another spoonful of olive oil, a little more honey and a touch more salt, and mix together. When the root vegetables have had 20 minutes, add the chicory to the roasting tray and cook for another 10 minutes, until the root veg is caramelised and the chicory is tender.

To make the dressing, simply whisk all the ingredients together and set aside.

To serve, place the rocket in a large, warmed serving dish. Scatter the roast vegetables over the top and finally cover with shredded lamb – you’ll only need about half of it. Save the rest for tomorrow.

Drizzle the dressing over the top and serve immediately.

slow roast lamb

As the dressing for this warm winter salad features a strong hint of cinnamon, I will enter it into this month’s Spice Trail challenge, which I just happen to host.

spice trail badge square

Round Up: March’s Recipes for Life Challenge

Beetroot, carrots and cheese. Those were the three ingredients selected by the cookery club at SWALLOW for this month’s Recipes for Life challenge. And they did indeed present quite a challenge.

But I should have known I could rely on you food bloggers to deliver the goods. We received a surprisingly diverse range of recipes this month, showing just how versatile these humble ingredients can be…

Sarah from The Garden Deli got the ball rolling with this sumptuous Carrot and Beetroot Soup with Cheesy Croutons. Featuring garlic and cumin, this beautiful soup is a proper winter warmer and I love the croutons for dunking topped with one of my favourite cheeses, Wensleydale.

I experimented with some Beetroot and Carrot Pancakes for my first entry and, while they tasted pretty good – particularly with the herby mascarpone on the side – I was a bit disappointed the pancakes didn’t turn out pink like the batter!

Last month’s challenge winner, Chez Foti came up with this fantastic Roasted Roots and an Easy Roasted Roots Pizza. Louisa’s dish brings together sensational seasonal roasted root vegetables on top of a quick and easy wholemeal scone pizza base, not forgetting lots of lovely mozzarella. Yum!

Helen from The Crazy Kitchen really did go crazy with not one, not two, but three entries for Recipes for Life. Anyone who was stumped by the three set ingredients this month – look and learn! First up were these incredible Baked Cheesy Meatballs with Beetroot Sauce. Now don’t they look good? And a crafty way to sneak vegetables into unsuspecting children…

Another fiendishly clever way of disguising veggies comes in this gorgeous Two-of-your-five-a-day Chocolate Cake – the second entry from Helen at The Crazy Kitchen. “It’s sooooo good!” was the verdict of Helen’s 10-year-old, beetroot-hating daughter! Say no more!


There’s been a lot of talk on Twitter and food blogs recently about the 5:2 diet. So much so, my husband and I are both giving it a go. This Beetroot, Carrot and Cottage Cheese Salad, the final entry from The Crazy Kitchen’s Helen would definitely make a delicious lunch for a 5:2 fasting day and I plan to give it a try very soon.

I love the look of this Roasted Vegetable and Goat’s Cheese Risotto from Under The Blue Gum Tree. It sounds so simple to make but you just know it’s going to be absolutely packed full of flavour, with the gorgeous creaminess of the goat’s cheese a perfect partner for the earthiness of the root vegetables.

I wish I could bring you pictures of this Beetroot, Carrot and Goat’s Cheese Tatin from Martin at The Tempest Arms as it sounds simply divine and should look stunning. But I promise to make it very, very soon and I will post photos when I do.

Meeting the lovely Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog was one of my highlights from the Bristol Blog Summit earlier this month, which also gave me the perfect opportunity to persuade her to enter Recipes for Life. She promised she’d try, and I was very pleased to see she was true to her word with these ingenious Beetroot, Carrot and Goat’s Cheese Muffins. As with all Choclette’s recipes, there’s some chocolate in there, as well as a little kick from a touch of cayenne pepper. I look forward to trying them out.

This is a dish we eat quite a lot in our house, so I just had to enter it – my Beetroot, Carrot and Feta Cheese Salad. It’s ever so simple and ever so tasty, and a great way to create a summery-feeling salad with winter vegetables.

The final entry came in at the very last minute but I was so glad to see it – a Carrot and Beetroot Cake with a Cream Cheese Topping from Lucy at The Bell Inn. Again I sadly don’t have photos of this one but when you read the recipe you just know it’s going to taste good and I absolutely adore beetroot and carrot in cakes. Another one to try very soon.

But of course, what you’re waiting to hear is who did the SWALLOW cookery club choose as this month’s winner? Well, Lucy at The Bell Inn came a very close second with her Carrot and Beetroot Cake but first place goes to… Helen from the Crazy Kitchen for her scrumptious Baked Cheesy Meatballs with Beetroot Sauce. The group said they particularly liked the sound of the oozy cheese in the middle of the meatballs. Me too!

So a huge congratulations to Helen for her well deserved win – a small prize will be arriving in the mail very soon. Thank you so much to everyone who entered their wonderful recipes this month, and watch this space for the next set of three ingredients for April’s Recipes for Life challenge.

Beetroot, carrot and feta cheese salad

Today is the last day to enter the March Recipes for Life challenge. So if you’re sitting on a delicious dish featuring beetroot, carrot and cheese – well, I hope not literally as that could get a little messy – then today is the day to let me know about it! Details of how to enter this month’s challenge are here.

For my last-minute entry, I bring you a fresh and zingy salad – one that we eat regularly in the Bangers & Mash house, or variations of it at least. It’s a surprisingly summery salad considering its winter root vegetable ingredients. This version uses of course beetroot and carrot, but you could also try it with turnip, swede, celeriac or any kind of red or green cabbage. It’s based on an Ottolenghi recipe and I love it for its versatility and its slightly sweet and sour dressing which is just mouth-wateringly tasty.

As I made it at the weekend for Recipes for Life, I tried it with some feta cheese this time. It worked extremely well – the soft tanginess of the feta is a perfect contrast to the earthiness of the beetroot and parsley. You can use whichever herbs take your fancy. The original recipe used parsley and dill but I went with parsley and coriander, simply because those are what I had in the fridge. It also features capers but you could leave these out if you don’t have or like them, or perhaps use olives or chopped gherkins instead. I left out the dried sour cherries from Ottolenghi’s version; sometimes I’ll use another dried fruit instead or chopped apple. But not this time, as I thought there was probably enough going on. Go experiment!

By the way, I use organic vegetables so I don’t bother to peel them for salads like these. But if you’re not sure what your veggies have been grown in, it might be best to peel them first.

Beetroot, carrot and feta cheese salad

Serves 4 to 6

3-4 medium beetroots, scrubbed and grated
3 large carrots, scrubbed and grated
large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
large handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
200g feta cheese, cut into small cubes
30g capers
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp sugar
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

This is so simple. Place the grated beetroot and carrot in a large mixing bowl with all the other ingredients (keep back a few pieces of cheese to place on top at the end) and mix together well using your hands. Ottolenghi describes it as ‘massaging’ the ingredients, so that the vegetables get the chance to absorb all the delicious flavours.

Leave the salad in the fridge for at least an hour before serving, when you can throw in the last few pieces of brilliantly white feta, which I think look fabulous alongside the pink pieces.

This salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days. I think it tastes even better the next day. I like to eat mine in a tortilla wrap with hummus and cold meats. How will you eat yours?