Tag Archives: Christmas

Lentil and Chestnut Soup, life updates and some thoughts on ‘Simply Nigella’

Lentil and Chestnut Soup (8822)

These past couple of weeks are turning out to be so weird. What a way to start today’s post, eh? In the spirit of Halloween I am still feeling like a zombie. Sleepy (strong anti-ear infection medication does that to you, trust me) and generally very light-headed. I meant to post a recipe yesterday, but my to-do list went out the window in the afternoon since I didn’t feel well at all. The situation hasn’t improved much. My ear still feels like someone’s lighting a lighter in it and to top it all off I get stabbing pains at intervals, as if someone is literally poking a needle into my eardrum. Not fun. Babies are prone to getting ear infections, I am constantly hearing right now. True. I’m not a baby but I still feel miserable. Poor things (little ones not me), no wonder they constantly cry in pain.

Let’s move on to the more cheerful things, shall we? I have two pieces of good news. I have my new desk! I am so pleased with it. I almost couldn’t believe it was here while watching J and his dad assembling it in the study. I am really enjoying working in this room even more. It’s my haven. Nearer completion we plan to purchase a comfortable reading chair to place next to the window. Can’t wait. The second piece of news is that I am waiting for a number of cookbooks to arrive, all of which are for review. I’ll be happy if they all make the cut, so we’ll see.

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Aubergine Chermoula

Aubergine Chermoula (9562)

Thank goodness and everything or anyone you and I might believe in, Christmas came and went without a hitch. I promised myself I wouldn’t worry too much about it but in reality J and I spent the best part of the week before feeling sick about the whole thing. At one point I even thought I had some sort of stomach ulcer. Part of it was my fault I’m sure – but looking back I cannot see what was all the fuss about the cooking, since I spent two days prepping everything beforehand. But you see, it was not all about the cooking. Anyhoooo, everything turned out just fine.

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A Christmas Treat: The Easiest Chocolate Brownies

The Easiest Chocolate Brownies (9969)

After much deliberation I’ve decided that the last recipe for 2014 will be one of the best I’ve tried this year. When I say the best I mean it in every sense of the word, including the easiest. I make this recipe again and again and it turns out good every time without fail. I also like to make it when I’m in a rush, or before I head off to someone’s house for lunch or dinner. Or when celebrating 4 years of C&T! Time flies, but I’m stating the obvious there.

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A Christmas Gift: Shortbread

Making Shortbread (8785)

Since the countdown to Christmas is now in full swing, I thought that a recipe for shortbread is now in order. This is one of my go-to things to bake when I am invited at someone’s home. Reasons being: I definitely don’t need to spend a fortune for gifts, I can make it easily up to two days before the event (it will keep wonderfully well if stored properly), it can be easily transported anywhere without becoming a mess when travelling, and the recipe can be varied according to any flavour you want. I have once tried it with lavender and lemon zest. It was the nicest thing I have ever had. It’s a win-win situation all round.

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Roast Beef with a Simple Gravy

Roast-Beef-(5470)

Christmas is around the corner and the preparations have begun. I haven’t really been in the swing of things this week, although my trees are up and so are the rest of the decorations. My beautiful mum has been over to help me, although I suspect she came over to keep me company first, helping me out second – something which I always relish. To me, she is truly one of a kind. I love her to bits. I’m having people over this year for the day and although I still feel the pressure (even though I know I don’t need to) she somewhat managed to ease my nerves. I hope to offer a little bit of that by the some of the recipes here on C&T.

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Braised Lamb with Aromatic Spices

Braised-Lamb-with-Aromatic-Spices-(6307)

WordPress is acting up, but to make up for the lack of recipes last week, I have an additional post for you for this week. Also I’ve been receiving some requests these days in the run-up to the holidays. This is the first for this season. For me, this recipe is an oldie but a goodie, as they say. And it’s comforting. December has officially started – I say officially because culturally Christmas begins way to early. One of my neighbours has had her tree up for more than three weeks. That’s crazy if you ask me. I don’t think I’ll have mine up till next week, together with the traditional Bambin (Baby Jesus) and/or Presepju (Crib). And some things are still in boxes anyway. I’m learning slowly is the less I have the happier I am. I’m still working on that.

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Roast Pork

Perfect Roast Pork (8585)

I can’t believe and/or understand how this year has gone by so quickly! Everyone says that every single year, and the older I get the more I say it. Thankfully this year I am not in charge of all the Christmas planning, and I have been able to relax a little bit. That left me plenty of time to think about food, not that I really need a specific time to do so; I always think about food and what I will be eating next. That’s me! Anyway, moving on.

I love a good roast and there’s no better time for one than this. It’s simple and tastes great, and an alternative to the traditional bird, which alas is not my favourite. Turkey may be leaner, which contributes to its dryness, but you want the fat in a recipe like this. The crackling keeps the meat moist so keep it for the roasting process and discard it before carving. It’s too much for me to be honest, and a little chunk goes a long way. It all depends on what you like.

A note on the cooking times, according to the size of the meat, I would work on the lines of around 55 minutes to an hour per kilo plus 25 to 30 minutes on top of that. Of course, these times may vary. Mine took an extra 30 minutes or so to cook properly, but the best way to test this is with a meat thermometer. You will never go wrong with that. For pork the ideal temperature is around 75 to 80ºC.

  • 1.8kg leg of pork, skin on
  • course salt
  • mustard powder
  • 3 large red onions, halved, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, washed and sliced
  • 1 whole head of garlic, chopped in half, skin on
  • 6 to 8 large baking potatoes, washed and cut into chunky wedges

Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Remove the pork from the packaging and with a clean thick kitchen towel pat the skin to make sure it’s dry.

Preparing Roast Pork (8582)

Score the skin with a sharp knife if your butcher has not done it for you beforehand, and rub the skin with salt and mustard powder. If you’re sharing the crackling with a large group of friends then use the mustard powder. If you’re cooking for a few people and plan to throw the crackling away, then just rub the skin with the salt.

Place the chopped onions, carrots and celery in the middle of a baking tray, and put the pork onto the vegetables. Put the two garlic halves beside the pork.

Roast the pork for 1 hour at 200ºC, then take the dish out of the oven and slowly place the potatoes around the pork and veggies. Slowly…because you don’t want to splatter any hot fat and hurt yourself in the process. Turn the temperature down to 175ºC. Put the dish back in the oven and continue to roast for around 1 hour 25 minutes.

Perfect Pork Crackling (8584)

Take the pork and vegetables out of the oven, place the pork leg and the potatoes on a warm serving place and let the pork rest for 25 minutes in a warm place as close to the oven as possible. Don’t serve this piping hot, you really don’t need to and it’s important to let the meat rest before carving. I don’t cover with foil either – the crackling is enough to leave the pork moist. Remove the crackling just before carving. You can either serve this in chunks or discard it.

Perfect Pork Crackling (8589)

Perfect Roast Pork (8586)

If you are making gravy, spoon any excess fat from the bottom of the roasting dish and strain the liquid through a sieve into a saucepan. Add a splash of cider or even red vermouth to the liquid. In a small ramekin mix a rounded teaspoon of cornstarch/cornflour with cold water until you get a pasty but still watery mixture. Quickly pour this in the saucepan and whisk it until you get a smooth gravy. Pour this in a gravy boat and serve with the pork and potatoes.

Perfect Roast Pork with Gravy (8588)

If you’re eating this with your beloved, as I did, there will be plenty of leftovers for the next two or three days!

This is my last recipe for the year. Enjoy and a Happy Christmas! See you all in the New Year. Take care of yourselves.

Rob x