Sunday, 28 November 2010

Slow Roast Pork Belly with Orange and Cloves

I love food, which you may have already guessed from my blog. A big part of what I love though is the planning and preparing food. I find it relaxing to finger through my loved recipe books, gazing at the beautiful photography; possibly but not always with the intention of choosing something for a particular event.

This is what I am found doing at the moment, and the event is Christmas. I do like Turkey but have found this is often on offer at work or church do's so I like to explore other Christmas feasts in my own kitchen. One year I tried Duck a la Orange, I discovered I should not have basted the duck & orange sauce juices over the duck...turned out this was a la horrible. More successful year was Cider Spiced Ham, my Hubba liked it so much it has even made its way to the in-laws Christmas table.
So, what to do this year....?

Well as we all know, Christmas can be hectic which is such a shame and really not the point. So I was delighted to test another recipe for the fabulous Vanessa again. 
Vanessa is following her dream, and in the meantime making many a thankful foodie's dream recipe book. Vanessa has given herself a year to publish a book, and has blogged about it from the beginning. Prepped Fabulous recipes for the Time Short Foodie.
Prepped will be out in May 2011, and her publishers are so pleased with the project that they have even pursued Vanessa to write a second book. 
The recipe in question for a time-short Christmas day is Slow Roast Pork Belly with Orange and Cloves. This slowly roasting for 5 to 6 hours, perfect for opening presents, visiting family or going to church.
When I cook this again I will turn the heat up for the last 30min as this is what will make the skin change to tasty crackling. My photo doesn't really do it justice as it tasted fabulous, the Hubba loved it and it gave such a lovely festive smell through the house. See Vanessa's blog for a more scrumcious photo: RECIPE TESTER REQUEST Slow Roast Belly of Pork with Orange and Cloves

Roast pork belly with Orange and Cloves
6 cloves garlic
15 Cloves
Peel from 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
1.5 kg Pork belly
2 tbs Sea salt
1 glass of orange juice
1tsp sugar
  1. Preheat your oven to full whack, it should be at least 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7
  2. On a roasting tin place the unpeeled garlic cloves, the orange peal, ½ of the cloves and the cinnamon stick under where the pork will be.
  3. Make sure the pork skin is scored (it’s much easier to ask the butcher to do this). Rub the underside with half the salt and rub the other half in to the skin.
  4. Press the remaining 7 / 8 cloves into the skin and pop it into the oven.  Drop the heat to 300/150/ Gas mark 2
  5. Cook for about 5 – 6 hours on this low heat. 
  6. Remove from the heat and take the meat out of the pan, and set to one side to rest.  Strain the juice into a pan and add the orange juice and sugar.  Boil this for 2 / 3 minutes effectually reducing the liquid and concentrating the taste of the sauce.
  7. Slice the pork, drizzle with the sauce and Vanessa loves to serve hers with pan-fried potatoes and rosemary. 
This is the recipe as I tested it, apart from I turned the heat up to about 240 for the last 30min to change the skin to crackling. When the recipe is out in print there may be some changes.

When I tested this recipe I used the spare time to make some Fiery Tomato Chutney as foodie gifts for Christmas. This is delicious with Edam and other cheeses for Christmas. I will blog the recipe next week, as I am going to Fast from all blogging for a week from today.
Hope you are all well and enjoy planning your Christmas menu's!
Liz x

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Ang Sang Suu Kyi

It is with joy, hope and in prayer that I write this post about the release of Ang Sang Suu Kyi.
Ang Sang Suu Kyi is 'The woman who become an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression.' See BBC news profile. 

I am so joyful that she has been released, that she is safe and that she is prepared to talk with the National groups in Burma. I hope that these talks are made possible and that there is a true and growing democracy in Burma. See BBC link. 

My further hope is for the release of the hundreds of other political prisoners in Burma. I cannot imagine the hardship that they are going through and hope that justice will be done. See BBC news item about Burma's political prisoners. 

Such prisoners are those of the Karen State. Karen people are subject to much abuse by the military Junta in Burma and many flee across the boarder to Thailand. Please see the links for more information on the Karen State and its people, but please note that much of the news is upsetting and some of the reports by the Free Burma Rangers are not appropriate for children.
Karen Human Rights Group
Free Burma Rangers

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Grandmother's Christmas Cake

The words 'Grandmothers Christmas Cake' are evocative for me of family heritage and traditions. 
My father is an artisan baker, with his own bakery where everything is made on the premises, and where so many different types of loaves are baked from 4am every day. Just like it has been in my family since my Great-Great-Grandfather had a bakery in Sussex. 
So when Vanessa put a call out for foodie bloggers to test her recipes for her new book 'Prepped', which is described as Fabulous recipes for the Time Short Foodie, I was interested as it's aim appealed to me. 

Then after several email chats we settled on my testing Vanessa's Grandmother's Christmas Cake - I was ecstatic, as this was something I could chat about with my Dad - he doesn't seem to tire of food or baking! And it is such an apt recipe for this time of year when many of us are preparing for the feasts of Christmas.
Just read Vanessa's blog about finding her Grandmother's recipes, and you know that these are special recipes.

250g  self-raising flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp mixed spice
200g  butter
200g  caster sugar
Zest of a lemon
6 eggs
2 tbs black treacle
2 tsp Vanilla essence
500g  sultanas
½ lb raisins
12oz currents, mixed peel and glace cherries
100g chopped nuts
drop of milk to mix

1 Pre heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas2.
2 Sieve the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and Spices into a bowl.
3 Cream the butter, lemon zest and sugar in a large mixing bowl and then mix in the treacle, and vanilla essence until light and fluffy.
4 Mix the eggs in just a little at a time into the mixture, to stop the mixture from curdling, add a tablespoon of the flour to the mixture.

Fold in the remaining flour into the mixture. Mix well and then mix in the dried fruit, mixed peel, glace cherries and the chopped nuts.
5 Grease a 20cm/8inch round or an 18cm/7inch square cake tin and line the bottom and sides with baking parchment (but not grease proof paper).
6 Turn the mixture into the tin and make a slight hollow in the centre – to keep the cake flat on top (you don’t want a domed cake to decorate!)
7 Bake in the oven for 1 hour and then turn the oven down to 110C/275F/Gas mark1 for about 3 ½ to 4 hours. Test with a skewer. If not ready bake for up to another hour testing every 20 minutes or so, until the skewer comes out clean.
Remove from the oven. Leave to cool in the tin for 20 minutes.
8 Turn out on to a wire rack and leave to cool. Once the cake is cool, poke a few holes in the cake with a skewer and pour over 3-4 tbsp of the Brandy. Let the brandy soak right into the cake.

Keep the cake wrapped in foil and in an airtight tin or plastic container, with the holes top side up and add another few tablespoons of brandy once a week for a couple more weeks.  

Decorate with marzipan and icing a week before Christmas.

I love that , although the recipe wasn't too intimidating, none of the richness you hope for in a great Christmas Cake has been missed. Vanessa's definitely onto a winner with Fabulous recipes for the Time Short Foodie because we are all winners with great food like this. 

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Reading Blogs, Baking and Running - not all at the same time!

I'm loving the opportunities and challenges that arise from reading the blogs of others.
Tomorrow I will be filling you in on the privilege that I had in testing Vanessa's Grandmothers Christmas Cake for her recipe book 'Prepped'.
This was the first Christmas cake I have ever baked, and I am so pleased to say that although it wasn't too intimidating to bake, it certainly looks and smells impressive.

Tonight I also wanted to fill you in on the book that Naskren is offering on her blog 'Little Things, Big Stuff'. The book is Melissa Fay Greene's 'There is no me without you'. It's about a women's self given work to care for AIDs affected orphans in Ethiopia.
This reminded me of the work of Agape Home in Chang Mai, Thailand. To whom I was taken by a friend when visiting her work with my church from the UK. Another work my good friend Judy is involved in is Hope Home, also in Chang Mai. Please check out their blog, although it's relatively new, it's such a good work they are doing and I know they'd be really encouraged by your visits and comments.

And lastly, I managed to get to running with the Croydon Running Sisters. I'm so glad I actually get to do the things I say I'm doing!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Truly Good Women GIVEAWAY!

Check out my new 'Truly Good Woman Reviews' blog on the right-hand side.

The GIVEAWAY contest ends on Thursday 11th November!

Thanks for playing. x