I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to let this thing slip again, but unfortunately I have been under the academic kosh these past couple of weeks so any gastronomic scribing has had to be put on hold. My new year’s resolution was actually to keep a food diary – scribblings of recipes and recipe ideas, and magazine cut outs of foody stuff. What is it with starting things and not carrying them through? I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Lent is not a time for abstinence, but instead for making everyone feel thoroughly rotten about their failure to stick to their lenten fasts. That said, I’m doing OK. My theory (and it was one shared by the chaplain at school) is that, because lent is actually 47 days long, once a week you can let it slip. So since lent began I have allowed myself two beers, which is not bad going….My parents cut out the booze altogether except for Sundays, Dad going so far as to fast during daylight hours. Nutjob. I’d be interested to hear people’s reasons for lenten deprivation – I would gingerly suggest that most of them do not do it on religious grounds, but health. It certainly seems that the vast majority abstain from chocolate, or crisps, or cigarettes. It’s a good moment to do it – less indefinite (and thus absolutely no chance of sustaining) than a new years resolution. Let me know how you’re getting on.
And what of the new, dairy free life? It’s really not all that bad. Well, I say that, I probably dream about cheese or butter in one form or other about 5 days a week, but, rather like when you give up smoking, it is in the context of horror when you dream you’ve relapsed. Last night I made the first dairy free mash potato, using rapeseed oil instead of butter and milk, and it was really good. When pushed through a ricer, the mash is incredibly smooth, and the oil gives it an interesting texture. Definitely thumbs up. Similarly soya yoghurt – with honey and granola, it is an excellent breakfast. The only thorn being that my blood test results arrived, telling me to avoid sesame seeds and nuts. If anyone has a good homemade granola recipe that I could tinker with, fire it my way – firstname.lastname@example.org – thanks.
This recipe errs towards restaurant-y, but in a pretty homely way. It doesn’t feel too heavy, and is remarkably easy.
Stuffed loin of pork with swede and parsnip bubble and squeak cakes
For the bubble and squeak
A small swede
1 small savoy cabbage
For the pork
1 shallot or small onion
2 flat field mushrooms
1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
A little cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 fillet of pork, trimmed of any excess fat
6 slices of prosciutto
100ml hot stock
Salt, pepper and oil
N.B. If you’re allowed, I’d recommend adding butter to the bubble and squeak.
Kick off by peeling the swede and parsnips, chopping into chunks and bringing to the boil in salted water. Meanwhile, finely slice the cabbage and steam or boil until tender, drain and blanche in cold water. Once the root veg are cooked, drain and mash thoroughly, or ideally whizz up in a magimix until smooth, adding butter if using, and lots of salt and pepper. Mix with the cabbage and allow to cool (they hold their shape better this way).
Preheat the oven to 200C.
Peel and finely chop the shallot and soften in a little oil. Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the pan. Increase the heat and stir for a minute or two until the mushrooms start to soften. Grate the apple into the stuffing, add a dash of vinegar and the mustard. Stir through, season, and take off the heat.
Lay the prosciutto slices out alongside each other, overlapping at the edges. Lay the thicker half of the pork fillet over the ham and pile the stuffing on top. Fold the other half of the pork over the top of the stuffing, and wrap up tightly with the prosciutto. Tie up, if necessary, though the natural oils in the prosciutto should act as a glue. Heat an oven proof-frying pan over a lively flame with a little oil, and quickly brown the pork on all sides, before popping in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, shape the bubble and squeak into cakes. After 20 minutes are up, remove the pork to a warm resting plate, and put the pan back over a medium flame. Add the cider and stock and simmer for 10 minutes or so, scraping any caramelised meat juices off the pan. Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat, and fry the bubble and squeak cakes for 4 minutes on each side.
Slice the pork and serve with the bubble and squeak and a drizzle of gravy.