Sunday, 13 May 2012

...a foodie

the kitchen table

That word, 'foodie' has all sorts of connotations, doesn't it? When I say it, I mean 'likes food and is interested in cooking.' I like cooking, and learning about ingredients, and working out what exactly I can do with the three seemingly unrelated ingredients we have at the end of the month. Usually one of them is lentils. We like lentils.

I also, of course, like eating. Over the past few months, we have had to put ourselves on a budget, and because we like socialising, and music, and books, it means that a lot of our food has been fairly basic - a lot of vegetarian, and a very lot of carrot and lentil soup.
dumpling soup for our brewing colds

This week, I will be at work for 4 days and be doing an overnight between two, which means there will be very little time to spend the budget in a social manner. I will also be really tired, hungry, and unlikely to want to cook. With this in mind, I planned for this weekend to be a foodie weekend, and we spent most of our budget on food.

I have a foodie weekend every now and again. They are usually at the beginning of the month, so doing one in the middle is quite fun. We do a big shop at the beginning, and then I spend both days cooking, and reading about food, and eating, and preparing meals for the week. I am lucky to have loads of cookbooks, but this weekend, my reading has come from blogs. I subscribe to relatively few food blogs, but I horde posts from my favourite ones for weekends such as these. My long-term loves are Smitten Kitchen, Tea and Cookies,  Travelers' Lunchbox, Bread & Honey (no longer updated, but worth a look), The Wednesday ChefEat Like a Girl, A Southern Grace, and Domestic Sensualist. Recent(ish) addtions are The Foodie HistorianGrilled Cheese Social, A Wooden Nest (which is a lifestyle blog, but is food heavy), Shutterbean and Moveable Feast. I'd appreciate any other suggestions!
sourdough starter, attempt four, day one. apparently this is how it should look

I've spent the last two days sitting at the kitchen table, reading and cooking, occasionally getting up to stir, or baste, or top up a pot, or take something out of the oven. Boiling a chicken and making stock - does anyone else hate stripping chicken? - then making the stock into dumpling soup. We bought the dumplings from the Chinese supermarket, but I'm going to learn how to make them I think - recipe suggestions would be lovely please! Kneading bread dough and baking bread.  Boiling a pork hock for sandwich fillings - which is much cheaper and nicer than buying sliced ham.  Baking biscuits and realising I don't actually like cashew butter. Attempting another sourdough starter - this is attempt four and it now sits atop out internet route for warmth. And lastly, or at least the most time consumingly, brining and roasting pork/

Everything (except the biscuits) has been fairly successful this week, but the pork was something else. I saw Gizzi Erskine talking about brining pork on twitter recently, and whilst I'd heard of it done for barbequed meat, I'd not thought to do it for a roast. I had a wee panic about getting the volume of one of the brining ingredients wrong, and tweeted the lovely lady on the off-chance she could help, and got a very detailed reply, which stopped me fretting for the next 18 hours! This might be my new go to roasted thing, and I never thought I'd say that. Roast chicken and I are firm friends. This roast pork though, IT IS GOOD. And whilst brining requires a bit of forethought, it is easy and cheap, and it makes a real difference to the moisture and flavour of the meat. The flavour it puts in is subtle, and I am planning to work on different brining spices and gravy flavours combinations. I recommend it highly, which is why I'm going to stick a recipe here.

Brined Pork Roast and Basic Gravy

1kg pork roast, with a good layer of fat for crackling.
2ltr water, 
80g salt (I used sea, I assume normal is fine) + 5g for cooking
60g sugar
10g peppercorns, crushed (plus a little for gravy)
10g thyme
10g cloves 
5g mustard seeds (a dollop of mustard would also do)
5g flour for gravy

The night before you plan to cook pork
  • put everything except pork in a pan
  • bring to the boil
  • simmer 30 mins
  • leave to cool 30 mins
  • place your pork in a bowl/tupperware a little bigger and taller than it is
  • pour over brine, making sure to scrape in all the herbs
  • cover loosely, and set in fridge for a minimum of 12 hours (mine had 18, I'm going to try 24 next time)
To cook pork
  • preaheat oven to 200c
  • drain off brine
  • pat pork dry, taking care over the fat
  • if it isn't already scored, score your fat through failry closely, till about 2/3 of the way through the fat
  • place in an roasting dish/tin
  • sprinkle 5g of salt over fat and pat in
  • bake at 200 for first 20 mins,
  • turn down to 160, cook for a further 1h 10mins, till fat is crackly and brown, and juices run clear
  • remove from oven
  • place roast on a warm plate, and cover in foil
  • allow to rest fo 30 mins (the foil hat and warm plate will keep it warm
  • to make gravy, heat juices over a medium heat, add flour and whist till it thinkens. Our gravy was quite salty, so a wee bit of pepper was needed to balance it out.
lovely moist meat

I am quite excited to try different flavours and lengths of time with this. I often make pork gravy with a bit of cider, so I want to try brining with apple juice. I definitely want to try 24 hour brining.

mmm salty crackling

My last bit of cooking today will be making more stock from the ham hock bones. I can't resist an opportunity to have proper stock. As I said up there ^ somewhere, if anyone has new food blog suggestions or a dumpling recipe, I'd be most grateful!

I hope everyone has had a good weekend. :)


Helen said...

I recently found a lovely food blog called What Rachel Ate. I also like The Skint Foodie, Little Red Courgette and Everybody likes sandwiches. x

JoJo said...

Yum and double yum- this is a very exciting post. I too love cooking and would love some more time to think about it and do it! We also have a no red meat, v low fat diet 90% of the time due to my husband's health so finding exciting new recipes can be a challenge. I am off to check out some of these blogs to see what I can find! Thanks for this Lisa Marie! Jxx

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Yum! All of this looks so good! I consider myself a foodie because I appreciate food and am open minded about things! I don't make many 'impressive' meals, but everything tastes good, which is what matters I suppose. :)

I made enchiladas with lentils this weekend. I LOVE lentils. :)

Kate said...

We always have a week at the end of the month when we are skint and end up eating some kind of lentil based meal every night! This post has made me very hungry!

TheFoodieHistorian said...

Thanks for linking my blog - must try and update it more regularly...

To me, being a foodie is about enjoying food. It doesn't have to be expensive or clever - it's about taking the time to appreciate the effort that has gone into growing the ingredients, the cooking of the meal, and the company you share it with (even if it's just veg, mash and gravy with a DVD, sometimes that can be perfection too!)

Evil Pixie said...

Fabulous post! It's making me hungry... Yikes! But I'll definitely check out those foodie blogs you mentioned.

Smidge said...

Lovely post... please post the dumpling broth recipe? I love this and i've been looking for a good one.

amy b.s. said...

i am right there with you as a fellow foodie!

Lindsay Jewell said...

Thanks for listing me. :)

I have a rather extensive list of food blogs I follow, but here are a few of my faves:

Simply Recipes -

Food in Jars -

Seven Spoons -

101 Cookbooks -

What Katie Ate -

grace said...

well, hello, little piggie! i'm like you, lisa-marie, in that my amount of socializing is directly proportional to my splurging at the grocery store. :)

Lottie said...

Looks amazing! I cooked roast pork this week too, long and slow so the meat just flakes apart, it was just what i needed.

Siobhan said...

The pork looks IMMENSE. I have brined chicken for a tray bake and it was lovely and tender. I am hiding this post from M as I not meant to eat much pork and he will want to eat that.

Lisa-Marie said...

Helen, thank you, all added to my reader!

JoJo, the blogs I posted have a lot of veggie stuff, so recipes should be plentiful!

Lisa D, EXACTLY. My food is not that impressive, but it is mostly tasty! I have never thought of lentil enchiladas! That's something to add to the list!

Kate, your eating sounds a lot like ours. It always makes me laugh though as our 'end of the month' week is in the middle for everyone else.

FH, thanks for the recipes! We have having mash and gravy (with sausages) thanks to this comment!

J, enjoy, and prepare for wanting to eat A LOT.

Smidge, I've found a dumpling recipe, so I'll post both next week. :)

Lindsay, thank you for the recipes and lovely food pictures. You have just doubled my food blog consumption!

Grace, there are many ways in which we are alike I think! :)

Lottie, recipe please?!

Siobhan, I will make it for you both one day. I only have a small bit of pork and fill up on veg. We can both do that and Dave and M can eat all the pork. We only ate half of the roast for dinner.