Pasta & Pork adventures
It’s been a long and hectic week.
There hasn’t been a lot of posting on this site, because I’ve been too busy with other things, work, life and spending as much time as possible in the kitchen.
Adventures in Pasta
Quite a lot of the kitchen time has been spent playing with our new pasta maker, and then finding things to do with the mountains of pasta that I’d produced.
The dough recipe that came with the pasta maker was completely useless, it gave a dough that was far too dry and inflexible, you could always add some water to it, but then you end up with pasta that tastes waterlogged and overcooked. I’ve found that to make a good basic pasta, you need about 100g of flour, 1 large egg, and a teaspoon of olive oil per person.
Some very simple tagliatelle with nothing more than a good olive oil, some freshly ground black pepper, and oodles of freshly grated parmigiano was a great midweek meal. Stupidly simple, but when you have good ingredients then why mess about with them.
The second big pasta triumph of the week was a vegetarian lasagne, with alternating layers of carrot/tomato and courgette/yellow pepper.
Apart from the pasta, the food highlight of the week was yesterdays Pork belly.
I love my local butcher (no, not in that way), he can tell me where each piece of meat comes from, what it was fed on, how long it has been hung for, and pretty much anything else that I want to know about it. If I tell him what I want to do with a piece of meat, he advises me on the best cut for the job and cooking times, etc.
If you currently but meat in the supermarket, then I strongly advise leaving the meat out the next time you do a shop, and calling into a good butchers. It will probably be more expensive because the meat is probably of higher quality, but personally I’d rather eat less meat in the week and eat some vegetable based meals in between, than eat lower quality meat.
Yesterday morning I came home from the butcher with a beautiful piece of pork belly, bought because I fancied pork, and it looked like a nice piece of meat. The problem was that I didn’t really have a clear plan of what to do with it.
Unusually for a Saturday afternoon, I had nothing important that I had to do, and I had the house to myself. I sat down with a cup of coffee and a bit of paper and had a think and a doodle, then went to the kitchen to play and experiment a bit.
What I came up with was crispy roasted pork belly, crushed potato cakes with capers, caramelised apples, roasted baby shallots and balsamic beetroot, served with a cider reduction, and pork gravy.
Overall, the whole dish worked fantastically well, it’s full of classic combinations with nothing too unusual going on. There are just a couple of little changes that should be made, and I’ll put these in the recipe when it is posted during the week.
After quite an elaborate main course, it seemed like a good idea to stick to something nice and simple for desert. Raspberries and strawberries are both still in season and I love them both, I could happily eat them straight from the punnet, but we had them with some lovely thick and creamy custard.