Thursday, 31 October 2013

Pork and Pitas

Whilst doing field work in Greece a few years ago, I discovered a love of souvlaki – a fast food consisting of meat on a skewer, which was then wrapped in a pita with vegetables and Greek yogurt. I was often so hungry after being on site from early in the morning, that I had finished my souvlaki by the time I had walked back up the hill to my apartment and was wishing I’d bought two. This recipe is partly inspired by those souvlaki memories and partly invented as a result of what was in the cupboard and fridge (specifically a can of artichokes that I bought to make Easy Chicken but didn’t use). It makes enough to fill about 6 pitas, depending on how generously you fill them (and how much fat comes out of the pork!). This does not have to be marinated, but doing so will improve the flavour and help to tenderise the pork (particularly if you use cheap pork, as I did!).


What you’ll need:

750 g – 1kg diced pork

1 can or jar of cooked artichokes (I used a jar with a drained weight of 240 grams; if your artichokes come as whole hearts, cut them into quarters before using)

Generous glug of olive oil

Generous glug of lemon juice

Dried oregano

Pepper (and salt, if desired)

A package of spinach leaves (I used a 260 gram pack)

6 pita breads

Salad vegetables (I used shredded lettuce and sliced tomatoes)

Greek yogurt

What to do:

1. Place the pork and artichokes in an ovenproof dish. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, pepper and (if using) salt to the dish and mix together thoroughly. If you have time, cover the dish with cling film and leave to marinate for a few hours or overnight.








2. When you’re ready to cook the pork, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180º C or 350º F) and then place the dish in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 2 hours or until the pork is cooked. You will need to mix around the pork and artichokes a couple of times during the cooking process to ensure that it browns evenly.


3. Once the pork is cooked, spread the spinach leaves over the pork and artichokes and put the dish back in the oven for about 2 minutes to soften the spinach, and then remove the dish from the oven and mix the spinach into the pork and artichokes. Any crispy bits of spinach should soften as they are mixed with the cooking juices. Place the dish back in the oven for a few minutes and then remove once the spinach has cooked. Apologies for the lack of picture of this stage – I was in a hurry to finish our supper by this point and forgot to take a picture!

4. Toast the pita breads and split them in half. Stuff each one with salad and some of the hot pork, add a dollop of Greek yogurt and then enjoy!


Monday, 14 October 2013

Almond Butter Biscuits

Like many things I bake, this recipe was inspired by an ingredient that I bought to try in something else that I never got round to making. In this case, the ingredient was ground almonds and the never-made bake was a chocolate torte. I spent most of last week craving homemade biscuits (or cookies, depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on!) – a craving probably fuelled by a tiredness-induced sugar desire during a week of Baby S being unwell (which I temporarily abated on a daily basis with chocolate and nice, healthy fruit). Over the weekend, I finally had the chance to bake whilst J and Baby S had some Dad-baby time. The idea for these biscuits had been in my mind for a day or two before then and, much to my delight, they turned out pretty close to my mental image/taste. This recipe makes about 36 biscuits. The cup measurements below are based on a 250 ml mug as equal to one cup. If you want to, you could ramp up the almond taste by adding some almond extract to the mixture – if you do this (which I’ve not tried), it is probably best to add it when you add the egg.


What you’ll need:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 cups self-raising flour

Pinch salt

1 1/2 cups ground almonds

What to do:

1. Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the egg to the bowl and beat into the butter/sugar mixture.





2. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl, add the ground almonds and then fold the flour, salt and almonds into the butter/sugar/egg mixture until thoroughly mixed together.



3. Roll the dough into one or two long cylinders with a diameter of about 5 cm, then wrap the cylinders in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour to become firm.



4. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180º C or 350º F) and then remove the dough from the fridge.

5. Slice the cylinder(s) of dough into rounds that are about a centimetre in width.


6. Place the biscuit rounds on a couple of baking trays that have either been lined with greaseproof paper or greased and then bake in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. You will need to leave a little bit of space between each biscuit, but not much (at least 1 to 2 cm) as they hold their shape pretty well in the oven.



7. Once baked, remove the baking trays from the oven and place the biscuits onto a cooling rack to cool before eating. These will keep for at least a few days in an airtight tin.