8th November 2018
An Army Of Bastards
Scary Pumpkin

It seems over recent decades our society has spawned an army of bastards dedicated to destroying everything I love.
Doctor Woke Who, Star Wars, Star Trek (If you are averse to having your Sexually Transmitted Disease ridden Sci-Fi series lecture you on how woke you should be then check out The Orville!), Alien (Who knew that Ridley Scott was a pretentious, self-indulgent, talentless hack who had no idea what made his own movies great?), Predator, Yorkie bars, breakfast cereals, jams, alcohol, fat, sugar, salt. The list is endless - containing as it does every foodstuff which doesn't taste of shit, cardboard or kale.

Where do they come from these new puritans?
Perhaps that's not the right question - the prodnoses and the interferons have always been with us, and used to find a warm welcome in the local church. Perhaps the question is, now that religion has lost its power over men's minds, how have these self-appointed nannys managed to so effectively infiltrate not only the organs of state, but commerce as well. We seem to be drowning under wave after wave of centralising neo-authoritarians determined that neither democracy nor capitalism shall prevent them from dictating how the rest of us live. You might think that taking to the sea would provide effective relief, but unfortunately we all have to come ashore sometimes. If you're really unlucky that shore might be Ireland, but with the arrival of minimum alcohol pricing Scotland ain't far behind :(

So, Happy Birthday to Me?
Have an army of boat dishes...

Porc et Citrouille aux Pruneaux
Pork, Pumpkin and Prune Pot Roast
meat main crockpot stew
I added some pumpkin 'tis the season!, spices, and a bit more meat to Roumette's recipe. I'm sure other squash and potatoes would also be acceptable additions, particularly if then served with, say, couscous.

Serves 6

Remove any skin from the pork and chop into large chunks.
Cook the whole spices in oil until they fizz and release their aroma, then fry the pork in batches as necessary to brown.
Finely chop the onion and add to the pan, stirring briefly to coat in the oil, then add the wine, whole peeled garlic cloves, half the prunes, and a handful of sage, thinly sliced if you like. Season and add enough water to cover if required. Stew in a slow cooker, or bring to the boil and cook in a low oven for 2 hours, adding more water as necessary.
Peel and de-seed the pumpkin, cut into large chunks and add to the pot. Then add the rest of the prunes and cook for a further 30 minutes or until the pumpkin softens.
Stir in the cream and serve.
Pretty good stew. The sage works really well, though I was dubious.
Roumette suggests serving with green beans and some boiled potatoes crushed with fried leeks.

Porc aux Pruneaux
Pork with prunes
main meat stew
I bought a 1.2kg pork loin roasting joint that had been rolled and tied round with string at intervals. Then I sliced each of the fat tied steaks off and fried them separately.

Serves 6

Put the prunes and the wine in a small saucepan, leave to soak for a few hours, then bring to a simmer for 10 minutes to soften the prunes.
Set aside.

Generously season a plate of flour with salt and freshly ground mixed peppercorns.
Heat a generous knob of butter in large frying pan until it stops foaming and starts to brown, then roll each loin steak in the seasoned flour to coat and fry in the butter, in batches as necessary without overloading the pan. Decant each steak into a casserole dish or large pan when nicely golden on both sides. Cut off their strings, if they have any.
Finally fry the finely chopped onion, add the sliced garlic towards the end, and add to the casserole.
Actually I didn't add them to the casserole here because I forgot, and instead continued with them after casseroling the pork (which I had prepared a night earlier and then left to finish the next evening) by pouring the cooking liquor onto the cooked onion, reducing and then adding the cream. Which was fine, but they'd probably be better simmered with the meat.
Add the saucepan of wine and half of the prunes to the casserole, reserving the rest for serving, add the stock, cover and cook in the oven, or simmer on the stovetop for 20 minutes or half an hour until the meat is tender.

Place the meat on a warmed serving platter, degrease the cooking liquid this is where I added my onion then boil until it reduces by about half, stir in the cream and crème fraîche and bubble until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. You could flavour with redcurrant jelly, or mustard, or lemon juice, or anything else you fancy at this stage.
Stir in the chopped chives and the reserved prunes, pour over the pork steaks on the platter and serve.
I served mine with well-boiled potatoes, slightly crushed into a pan of spring onions; roughly chopped and lightly fried in a remarkably large amount of butter (I would have used chopped leeks, but apparently they are not readily available in Galway), and a bowl of Green Beans with Garlic, Lemon and Green Olives Yumsk!

Belly Pork with Black Beans
main meat oriental stew
A recipe for Belly Pork in Black Bean Sauce, without going to the trouble of making the black bean sauce before-hand.

Serves 4

Rinse the black beans (or the sauce will be too salty), drain and roughly mash with a fork. Set aside.
Boil the potatoes until they're soft and fall off a piercing knife. Peel and chop roughly. Set aside.

Heat peanut oil in a large frying pan and fry the belly pork, in batches as necessary, to nicely brown. Set aside in a large pan.
Re-oil the pan and fry the chopped onion over high heat until softening. Add to the pan.
Fry the green pepper briefly over high heat until lightly seared. Don't overcook or they'll lose all their crunch by the end. Add to the pan.
Fry the celery over high heat until lightly seared. Don't overcook or they'll lose all their crunch by the end. Add to the pan

Generously re-oil the pan and fry the ginger gently until it colours and raw smell has gone.
Add the pureéd garlic and fry a little.
Add the finely chopped scallions.
Add the washed fermented black beans and fry until aromatic.
Add the rice wine or sherry, rice vinegar, sugar, hot pepper sauce, soy sauce and stock. Add the cornflour dissolved in water and stir through without boiling yet.
Add to the large pan and heat on low. Stir occasionally until the sauce starts to thicken, then carefully stir in the potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes until warmed through, then serve with sliced scallions and a drizzle of sesame oil.
Very good.
Also good made with 2 chunked carrots fried up instead of the green pepper and the celery, and with half a savoy cabbage - very thinly sliced, added to the large pan just before adding the liquid and heating.

Although you'd typically eat it with (jasmine perhaps) rice, mashed potato or even slices of baked parsley polenta also work.

Green Beans with Garlic, Lemon and Green Olives
side veg vegan
A sort of cut-down version of St John's Green Beans, Shallots, Garlic and Anchovies

Serves 4

Trim the beans and cut into manageable lengths. Bring a pan of water to the boil, drop in the beans, bring back to the boil and simmer for a minute or two so the beans will be tender but retain some texture. Drain, then mix with a generous dose of olive oil, the crushed garlic and the lemon zest.
Halve the green olives and add.
Throw in some pickled green peppercorns if you have some and think they'll be nice.
Very quick, easy and quite good.

Scrambled Porridge Eggs
breakfast veg
It is possible to combine porridge (or at least, fine oats) and scrambled eggs into a single dish. But it's hardly worth it. Oh sure, you can turn out some especially creamy porridge, but the eggs lose much of their own independent silky richness.
And if you try cooking the eggs and oats together from the start you need to so overcook the eggs to soften the oats that they turn granular and rubbery.

Unless you are short of pans, better to cook the porridge and scrambled eggs separately, but if you absolutely must eat eggy porridge, or you have a boat-load of porridge to use up, this is the recipe for you.

Serves 1-2

Moisten the oats with some stock or crumbled stock cube in water and cream or milk. Season with salt & pepper and cook over a low heat in a small saucepan until softened.
Break the eggs into a cup or straight into the pan if it's not too hot, stir them up briefly and loosen with a little more cream if you like. Add to the saucepan with a knob of butter and cook gently, folding continually, until the eggs set.
It's scrambled eggs Jim, but not as we know it.

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