Monday, 6 January 2014

My Mini Mexican Dinner Party

I feel myself saying this a lot but it's true; I'm a rubbish blogger! I started this blog as a way to record my recipes (I'm also crap at writing things down on scrap paper and loosing them!) and because I genuinely enjoy writing. The last few months have been pretty busy though (but NOT enough to warrant me not blogging!) as I've bought a house. Anyone who has been through this knows it is amazing but pretty stressful. I've moved away from my lovely lovely Kemp Town to the Elm Grove area. Although I really miss Kemp Town I now have a kitchen I can fit more than 1 person in and I have a garden; amazing! Plus living up a hill makes me far less inclined to go shopping (however ASOS has taken over in a big way!).

Old Kitchen-apologies for dire photo!
The other day I have my first official dinner party (official means I invited people, called it a dinner party and we sat round my new table, its got chairs and everything!). As I wanted to come across as being in complete control and uber organised I wanted something that I could have pretty much done by the time my lovely guests arrived. As I was still trying to muster up the courage to try my jeans on after Christmas I decided to do something light(ish), fresh and spicy. Mexican it was!
New kitchen with the added luxury of gas!

People have a funny idea of Mexican, assuming it is unhealthy and heavy. This is wrong. O.k, so I had cheese, sour cream and refried beans as sides but you didn't have to add them, you'd be a fool not to, but you don't have to!

Anyway I decided on a carnitas (Mexican pulled pork) with salads and all the trimmings. Unfortunately I didn't have the sensible idea of actually taking photographic evidence of each individual course so apologies for that!

Carnitas (Mexican Pullled Pork)

What you need

Pork shoulder, from the neck end, bone in.
1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
1/2 ground cumin
Salt and pepper
A few good glugs of orange juice (I actually used citrus juice as this was all that was available but think pure OJ is more authentic!)

Chilli paste

2 dried ancho chillis
1 dried chipotle chilli (both of these chillis are available in Waitrose!)
1/2 onion
good splash of cider vinegar
1-2 clove garlic
handful of coriander
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp dried oregano

What you need to do

Turn on your oven full wack. Mix the paprika, cumin and salt and pepper and then rub it into the pork. The harder you rub, the tastier it will be! Put the pork into a oven proof pot and then cover roughly 1 third with a good glug of orange juice and water (or stock). Put in the oven for 30 minutes before turning the oven down to 120. 

Now, roughly 4 hours later I decided to go out. I am paranoid about leaving my oven on and so took the pork out, took the cracking off and dumped the pork plus liquid in my slow cooker, on low, until I woke up (bleary eyed and slightly hungover) around 8 hours later! By this time the pork was falling off the bone. I pored off the juice before I pulled it as I wanted to drain the fat off (by this point I had tried on my jeans-they were every tight!).

Now its time to make the chilli paste. I looked at various different recipes for this and kinda amalgamated a few of the ones I liked the look of! Soak the chillis for roughly half an hour, do not throw the soaking liquid away!

In a food processor mix the all of the paste ingredients with a generous splash of the soaking liquid. Pull the pork and stir through the chilli paste. The pork can be gently re-heated just before you lovely guests arrive!

Taco Version

Jamie's Mexican Street Salad

I served this with Jamie Oliver's Mexican salad. He calls for half a cabbage (red and white) but I always seem to have loads left over when I make coleslaw so settled on a quarter! I also had no fresh jalapenos so I added a regular fresh chilli.

What you need

Quarter of red and white cabbage (shredded)
1 carrot, grated
4 radishes (not in season, I paid the price by them being decisively un-spicy!)
1 bunch of coriander, chopped
1 fresh chilli, finely diced
1 red onion, halved and finely sliced
1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil

What you need to do

Standard Jamie (got to love him,).  Check it in a bowl, squeeze over lime and olive oil before serving. Just had a rethink on that first sentence, I appreciate most salads follow the chop and chuck formula but it is still very Jamie!

Not the best picture but the tortilla version
The Extra Bits

I also served pico de gallo which is typically (I think!) chopped tomato, chopped red onion, chilli,
 coriander and lime juice. I also added grilled corn, removed from the husk, and avocado-simply because both are the food of the Gods (and also pretty Mexican).

Finally I made Paul Hollywood's roasted salsa and a standard guacamole (avocado, tomato, red onion, chilli, coriander and lime). Don't forget cheese and sour cream!

My lovely (and hopefully happy) guests

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Chorizo and Lentil Stew with Grilled Halloumi and Mint Salsa

This was adapted from a recipe called Meat Free Mondays. I added meat and adapted it slightly. It's not that I can't have a meat-less Monday (in fact in wasn't even Monday) but I just thought chorizo would really go with this.

What you need

250g puy lentils
1 Onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp of smoked paprika and chilli flakes
1 tbsp tomato puree
Glug of white wine
Vegetable or chicken stock
1 can of tomatoes
1 red pepper
Handful of kale (or any greeny type vegetables)
Handful of cherry tomatoes
Chorizo (I used about 3 inches, sliced!)
1 tbsp of pomegranate molasses

Mint Salsa

3 tbsp of mint
1 tsp of capers
3-4 tbsp mint salsa
1 clove of garlic
1/2 lemon

What you need to do

In a pan (can use stock or water, I used stock for extra flavour) cook the lentils.

While they are cooking fry the chorizo until crispy. Remove from the pan but save some of the oil. Add the onions and fry till soft. Add the garlic, paprika and chilli.

Then add the puree, wine stock and tinned tomatoes. Simmer for roughly 15 minutes. Add lentils for another 10. Then add the kale, tomatoes and pomegranate molasses, cook for 5.

Prepare mint salsa by literally chucking everything into a mini processor and pulsing until combined or simply put everything of a chopping board and cut it all up while muddling it up with the other ingredients.

Pan fry halloumi on a griddle and add chorizo to stew. Serve the stew topped with halloumi and mint salsa.