19 Jul 2011


Jamie's recipe for pork belly is my favourite and one I have cooked since his book, Cook With Jamie, was released in 2006.

This is an easy, no fail recipe, and only requires the best pork you can afford. The pork in Jamie's recipe is cooked on a bed of fennel but if you don't want to use the fresh fennel then the pork will still taste fabulous.

This is the tastiest belly pork ever, it is coated in a mixture of bashed up fennel seeds and salt and after an hour or so a bottle of white wine is added to the roasting tin. Long slow cooking is also the secret to perfect belly pork and not one to be rushed, as with all good things!

I always score the pork myself because invariably the meat has never been scored very well, even though I always buy it from the butcher. We have a huge meat knife hidden away in the cupboard, which is a bit scary, but it makes easy work of scoring meat.

You will fall in love with this recipe, just as I have, and your kitchen will be full of the most beautiful aroma's. I know once tried there will be no turning back.....

Here is the original recipe, for the two of us I mostly buy a 1.5kg joint because I like to have some leftovers.

Serves: 6-8

2kg pork belly on the bone, 2 tablespoons fennel seeds, sea salt and black pepper. 4 fennel bulbs, each cut into sixths, herby tops removed and reserved, small bunch fresh thyme leaves picked, 5 unpeeled cloves of garlic, olive oil, bottle of white wine

1. Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature. Score the skin of the pork.
2. In a pestle and mortar bash up the fennel seeds with a tablespoon of salt until you have a powder, then massage into the scores of the skin.
3. In a roasting tin toss the fresh fennel with the thyme, garlic, a good splash of oil and some salt and pepper. Place the pork belly into the preheated oven. After 10 minutes turn the oven down to 170°C/325°F/Gas 3 and roast the pork for a further hour.
4. When the hour is up, take the tray out of the oven, pour away any excess fat, add the white wine and pop back in the oven for another hour.
5. Remove the fennel and keep warm whilst you put the pork back in for a final hour until the skin is golden and crisp and the meat is melt in the mouth tender. If the wine evaporates during the cooking time, add a splash more wine or water to loosen and make a light gravy.
6. Let the pork rest for 10 minutes. Carve into large chunks and serve with gravy and the fennel.


16 Jul 2011

Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans Cupcakes

It seems that once I get a theme going, I just don't know when to stop. Not so long ago, it was cupcakes and flowers and now it is cupcakes and chocolate.

Mr W and I went on a shopping spree for cake toppings and to make the cupcakes even more calorific, I have a box overflowing with wonderful chocolate cake toppings. The great thing about this theme is, I/we get to eat any decorations that are left over.

I made a vanilla cake base, piped with buttercream and simply topped them with these fabulous chocolate covered coffee beans from Waitrose.

You will need: A muffin tin lined with 12 cupcake cases

115g softened butter, 115g caster sugar, 115g self raising flour, 2 eggs, 1-2 tablespoons milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Beat together the butter and caster sugar until soft and fluffy. Add the eggs slowly to the mixture, together with the vanilla extract and milk. Fold in the flour.
2. Divide the batter between 12 cupcake cases and cook in a preheated oven 180°C for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Buttercream Icing

250g unsalted butter, 500g icing sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon hot water

Simply mix all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

14 Jul 2011

Peach and Raspberry Slice

Another Bill Granger recipe taken from his book, Bill Granger Every Day, there are so many great recipes you are spoilt for choice.

It's always good to cook with fruits that are in season, the raspberries were freshly picked from my garden, unfortunately the same can't be said about the peaches.

This is an unusual recipe and I kept my fingers crossed it would work out. Fortunately, it never let me down - the base is sticky with a cake layer on top. This is quite sweet and I would recommend cutting down on the sugar. The slice kept well in the fridge.

You will need: 20 x 30 cm greased and lined tin but a smaller tin will give you a thicker cake layer.

185g plain flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, plus ½ teaspoon extra, 125g chilled and cubed butter, 115g soft brown sugar, 115g caster sugar, 3 peeled and sliced peaches, 90g raspberries, 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract, 1 lightly beaten egg, 185ml milk

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line the tin.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl and rub in the butter. Stir in both of the sugars. Press half the mixture over the base of the tin. Lay the peaches over the top and sprinkle over the raspberries.
3. Add the vanilla extract, the extra baking powder, egg and milk to the rest of the base mixture and stir well. Pour evenly over the top of the peaches and raspberries and bake for 1 hour. Cool in the tray, then cut into squares.

To peel peaches: score a cross in the skin with a sharp knife, then blanch the peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, refresh in cold water and peel the skin away from the cross.

10 Jul 2011

White Chocolate Raspberry Cupcakes

I couldn't resist buying a box of White Chocolate Raspberries dusted with freeze dried raspberries, from Marks & Spencer, this beautifully designed box sold them to me immediately.

I could have just eaten the lot, but I decided to top some cupcakes with them and share the remainder with my husband, I would have felt guilty forever if I hadn't saved him any chocolates.

Makes: 12

You will need:

115g butter at room temperature, 115g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 115g self-raising flour, 2 tablespoons milk, grated zest of 1 lemon.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with paper cases.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
3. Sift over the flour and fold in by hand. Stir in the milk and lemon zest.
4. Spoon heaped tablespoons of batter into each paper case and bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
5. Transfer the cakes to a wire rack and leave to cool completely before decorating.

Buttercream Icing

This recipe isn't as rich as a normal buttercream icing because my husband finds the topping a bit much.

You will need: 167g softened butter, 500g sifted icing sugar, two tablespoons hot boiled water.

Simply whisk all the ingredients together until light and fluffy.

2 Jul 2011

Apple and Cherry Tart

This recipe is from Bill Granger Every Day. On my bookshelf there is a gap just waiting to be filled with his latest book, Bill's Basics. I have all of his other books and started buying them before he was a recognised name in this country. It was his love of breakfast and brunch that attracted me to him, and also the fact that he has the ability to even make scrambled eggs seem glamorous.

I chose to make one large tart in my tarte tatin tin, it needs to be made in a metal pie dish of some sort otherwise the underneath pastry won't cook, soggy pastry bottoms are horrid. The individual tarts are a bit fiddly because you have to line the muffin tin holes with strips of baking parchment, to lift the tarts out after they are cooked, but they are worth every minute of your time. A more cost effective way is to put the filling in a tart tin and just top with the pastry which is something I have done in the past, so one recipe and lots of different ways to make the tart.

The sweet pastry is fabulous, although I think it would be a good idea to use less sugar, the pastry rolls out easily which is always something to be grateful for. I'm not a fan of sweet pastry because it can be sugar overload especially when the filling has already had sugar added to it.

According to my husband this tart is one of the best I have ever made and everyone should like it - I think I'll make this one again because I think it did the trick, he bought me some new furniture today!

The recipe can be found here on the Good Food Channel website. A couple of things regarding this link, the photograph doesn't look like cherry pies and also the mixed spice isn't in the original recipe.