Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 37: Making Do

Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings really is a cool-weather dish. However, and I'm about to go on a tangent here, I had a large roast that was absolutely unsuitable for roasting. Evidently here in Kansas, a roast isn't a piece of meat that is roasted in the oven but a piece of meat that is pot-roasted. If you remember, my friend Jessica's neighbor asked her and her husband to go in on a side of beef. Paul and I then shared Jessica's take. We then all decided that her neighbors were obviously idiots when it came to ordering cuts of meat (20 pounds of ground beef? Icky minute steaks? A measly two sirloin steaks?!), plus Jessica got stuck with practically all the offal. Also, I am refusing to buy anything else from Yoder meats (which happens to be basically the only processor around here) because their butchering work is crap. We didn't have a single cut of meat that didn't have fat and tendons running through it-- not pleasant to eat medium-rare. So, we made our last roast Friday night and we boiled it until the tendons were no longer a problem. My Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings recipe also took care of some carrots that no one would eat raw (I hate not actually being able to see the carrots in the bag!). Plus, I never posted a good photo back in October, so here's Friday's Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings:

P.S. It's not really that horrible to make in warm weather. The only slaving over the stove you have to do is skimming the stock as it comes to a boil the first time.
While we're on the subject of making do, it seems that Barbara Pym's spinsters spend a lot of time doing just that. I've recently read both Excellent Women and Less than Angels and throughly enjoyed them both with their teas and church jumble sales and anthropology lectures. I plan to read the rest of Pym's novels sometime in the near future.

I've always felt an affinity for novels about spinsters, because I used to feel there was a good chance that I'd end up as one. I can't believe I found someone who puts up with all my eccentricities. Not that Paul is a saint and I prefer it that way. Anyhow, if you're feeling your own affinity toward spinsters, you might check out the Marple page at pbs.org. Right now, The Secret of Chimneys and The Blue Geranium are available online, which is awesome because it means that I don't have worry about being finished with dinner before 8 p.m. on Sundays and sometimes it's nice to watch a movie with breakfast!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 36: Another Quick Dinner

You might have noticed that we eat a lot of pork. It's Paul's favorite and is also extremely common in British cooking. I believe it's because pigs were cheaper and easier to care for than sheep or cattle and required less space, which was greatly in their favor after the enclosure movement.* Disclaimer: I don't know whether I just inferred all of this or I read it somewhere. I tried to find the information in my notes and wasn't successful! Anyhow, the main point is that various pig-based comestibles are often in British recipes and often on my table.

This tasty recipe uses the ubiquitous boneless pork loin chop. It's quick and tasty. A note for all you raisin-haters out there--this recipe totally transforms the raisins into something you'll want to eat. Our conversation at the table:

Me: You wouldn't even know there are raisins in this.
Paul: There are raisins in this?

Lemon Pork

serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 4-ounce boneless pork tenderloin chops
1 cup chicken stock
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with a bit of water to make a liquid)
6 scallions, trimmed and sliced

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. If the onion starts to brown, turn down the heat.

Next, season the pork chops and sear them for a couple of minutes on each side. Add in the stock, lemon zest and juice, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and raisins. Bring to the boil and then simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, stir in the cornstarch mixture and the scallions. Bring back to a boil and cook another 5 minutes. Serve the raisin/onion mixture on top of the pork chops.

Adapted from Favourite Dorset Recipes.

Goes really well with:

Lemon Butter Green Beans

serves 4

2 lbs green beans, trimmed and washed
4 tablespoons butter
lemon juice (around 2 teaspoons or so)
1 tablespoon minced parsley

Steam the green beans for 5 minutes and drain.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in the lemon juice. Add the green beans and parsley and stir to combine.

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.


I finished Paul's birthday present last month. The pattern is "St. Enda" from Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting. Thought you might like to see it.

*You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about enclosure by consulting G.R. Elton's England under the Tudors or Barry Coward's The Stuart Age. (See? I'm using my university education.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 35: Fast Food/Slow Food

Lamb Lickety-split

I know this blog isn't exactly 30 Minute Meals, but I do occasionally make things that don't take two hours and thirty pans. This is a super-fast main dish that only takes about 15 minutes total after you've marinated it. This recipe originally used redcurrant jam (but I couldn't find any here in middle America) and is adapted from Favourite Dorset Recipes.

Lamb Chops with Blackcurrant Sauce

serves 2

2 lamb chops (about an inch thick)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
Several sprigs of rosemary
Handful of peppercorns
1/4 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons blackcurrant jam

Place the lamb chops in a single layer in a shallow dish. Drizzle over olive oil and add the onion, rosemary and peppercorns. Pour the wine over. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours.

Take the lamb out of the fridge and place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a glug (scientific measurement!) of olive oil. When the oil gets nice and hot, add the lamb chops to the pan and season with kosher salt. Cook for 3 minutes on each side and remove to plates to rest.

Pour out any oil and fat from the pan, place it back on the heat and deglaze with the strained marinating liquid. Stir in the blackcurrant jam and reduce as desired. Pour over the lamb chops and serve immediately.

Goes really well with this asparagus recipe.

Beautiful lamb in marinade:

A Pie Requiring Patience

It's a lot of work in one go, but it serves eight (lots of leftovers!) and there's no worry about reheating it, because it's meant to be served cold. This was my first time to make hot water pastry and I was a bit terrified. I haven't quite figured it out, though, because the whole shell had to be pretty much pieced together. Maybe it gets easier with practice. I used this recipe and only changed a couple of things. First, I used a Kaiser 12 1/2" x 5" Springform Loaf pan (much much cheaper than a raised pie pan) which left no room for the jellied stock, I used bacon, and I didn't have any allspice, so I went in a totally different direction and used Old Bay Seasoning instead. Don't ask me why, but it did turn out well. Oh and, in case you were wondering, 3 ounces of butter are 6 tablespoons and 4 ounces of lard are 8 tablespoons. I might write out my own version of the recipe once I've really figured out what I'm doing with the hot water pastry.

Thankfully, the pie was awesome, because it took most of the day to make. I served it with frozen peas & carrots because I totally neglected to buy any vegetables at the grocery store and happened to find the bag of them when I was rummaging around in the freezer. They're actually not nearly as retirement-home-cuisine as they appear--as long as you a) don't overcook them, b) salt & pepper them, c) add some butter and d) add a bit of sugar.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 34: June is Bustin' Out All Over*

Well, warm weather has finally settled in for good (at least until October). I suppose I should feel glad after the winter we had, but I wish we'd had more spring weather. I was looking forward to highs in the upper-60s, low-70s, but those days didn't last very long! I'll just have to look for culinary compensation. Believe me, I am looking forward to berries and stone fruits.

Paul and I went to Dillon's Sunday morning and there was already a display of peaches out. Peaches that were as hard as rocks and will never ripen, most likely! However, there were also nectarines, which have an earlier season than peaches and they're perfect for the following recipe, which is simple and quick and doesn't require a lot of dishes.

Broiled Pork Chops and Stone Fruits
adapted from this recipe

serves 2

2 bone-in pork chops, around 1/2" to 3/4" in thickness
Olive oil
4 ripe-ish stone fruits (nectarines, peaches, apricots, plums, whatever is in season), halved and pitted
pinch dried red pepper flakes (the kind that go on pizza)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Place your oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat your broiler.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the pork chops and halved fruit (cut side up) on the sheet. Brush the pork chops with a light coating of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the pepper flakes and the brown sugar on the fruit then top with the butter.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and broil for 8 minutes. Turn the pork chops over and broil another 8 minutes. The fruit may need to be removed earlier; it should be nicely caramelized, but not falling apart. The pork chops should be browned and cooked through. Serve with a green vegetable, such as:

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon Butter

serves 2

1/2 lb asparagus, tough ends removed
1 tablespoon butter
juice from 1/2 lemon

Steam the asparagus 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the butter and lemon, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine (and melt the butter). Divide between two plates and serve immediately.