This dinner was stumbled upon by chance, completely inspired by the lovely ingredients we picked up on our local high street. We’d gone for a walk on one of the first sunny Saturdays of spring with the intention of dropping by the greengrocers and the butchers to pick up a couple of bits for the coming week. In the greengrocers we nabbed a celeriac and some rhubarb (bang in season, and more to come on that later!) and in the butchers we picked up some beautiful Gloucester Old Spot boneless pork chops. Back at home we started to plan our meals for the week and realised we had a beautiful dinner sat right in front of us! Neither of us fancied a creamy gratin so we went with a boulangère potatoes-inspired dish, finely sliced celeriac layered with softened onions and apple slices to complement the pork.
This was really easy to prepare but felt pretty fancy, you could definitely wow a few people coming round for an alternative roast. It would be delicious with our roast pork belly recipe too!
Boneless pork chops, 2 per person
2 tsp olive oil
1 celeriac, sliced into 2-3mm slices
1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 dessert/eating apple, peeled, halved, cored and sliced thinly
About 10 sage leaves, half finely sliced and half left whole
About 1/4 pint of chicken stock
2 tsp butter
Greens to serve – we had sautéed leeks with cabbage
The slicing is by far the most tedious bit about this dish, once you’ve got all that done it’s just layering!
Start by frying the onions in half the butter and oil with the chopped sage. Cook for around 10-15 minutes until they’re nice and soft. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Start layering up your gratin in an oven-proof dish, we did celeriac-onions-apple finishing with a final layer of celeriac. Make sure you season well with salt and pepper on each layer too.
Pour over the stock – it should come about 3/4 of the way up your dish. On the top layer of celeriac take a couple of minutes to make it look pretty-ish (not really our strong point!) and then dot with the remaining butter and the remaining sage. Pop in the preheated oven – it should take about 45 minutes to cook perfectly!
Our pork chops took about 20 minutes in total to cook, so roughly halfway through the gratin cooking time start these off. Coat with the remaining olive oil and heat a griddle pan over a medium heat. Render the fat off the chops by standing them upright in the pan for about 5 minutes until the fat has turned golden on the outside.
We then poured a lot of fat out of the pan as they were in danger of deep frying! Cook them on each side for a couple of minutes and then pop into the oven either in the pan if it’s oven-proof or transfer to a dish and cook for a further 10 minutes.
Serve with some greens and enjoy. We love shopping local, there are some brilliant places and you end up inspired to cook dishes you might never have thought of otherwise!
As we’re fast approaching pancake day/Shrove Tuesday we thought it was only fair on you lot if we prostrated ourselves before the altar of batter and tested out a new pancake flavour! It’s been a really hard time, selfless aren’t we? We really can’t choose whether we like the crepe style pancakes more or fluffy American style but fear not, we plan on evening the score with some thin beauties in a day or two. Seeing as we decided on making thick pancakes first we thought we had to put some bacon in/on/near them – if we’re going American then we might as well go properly American. Apple and bacon is a fantastic combination – salty, sweet, tart and smoky – it makes an ideal pancake topping or filling.
Ingredients (makes 4-6 pancakes)
135g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp melted butter, cooled slightly
2-3 rashers of streaky bacon, chopped into small pieces
1/2-1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and diced
1 tsp honey
To make the pancake batter sift the first 4 ingredients into a large bowl together then stir together the milk, egg and butter and pour into the dry ingredients. Mix together with a fork or whisk until combined and leave to stand for a few minutes.
Put the chopped bacon in a frying pan and then place over a very low heat so that the fat melts. Once it has melted turn the heat up and get some colour on the bacon. When it’s all lightly golden add in the apple, stir and cook for 1 minute then stir in the teaspoon of honey and cook for a further minute. Then tip all of this into a bowl ready to sprinkle on the pancakes.
Give the frying pan a wipe and then put it back on a medium heat and add a little oil or butter. Take a spoonful of the mixture and drop into the pan – don’t worry if they don’t turn out perfectly shaped! While the mixture is still wet on top sprinkle over some of the apple and bacon mixture and lightly press in. Cook for 2-3 minutes then flip over and cook for a further minute or so, until nice and golden. Keep them warm in the oven while you cook the rest and then serve with whatever you like – we went with just a little butter (as if we needed more) but these would be fab with some ricotta too and a side salad.
What’s your favourite topping for pancakes? And what style do you love most – thin or thick?
We love dessert, but then who doesn’t? Sometimes when you get home from work though cooking dinner feels like enough effort, and dessert seems like just too much bother for a weeknight. It doesn’t have to be! This apple crumble is so easy to put together and then gives you about thirty minutes to relax with a coffee or a glass of wine while it cooks and you end up with a simple, comforting pudding to round off your meal.
All you need for this is 1 apple (cooking apples work best but we’ve used different varieties before and they’re all fine), flour, butter and sugar. Everything else is optional, we added some oats and a little cinnamon to our crumble topping but you can make it as simple or complex as you like. You could use almost any fruit for this, or even a mix – apple and blackberry, raspberries, pears, peaches – you name it, you can crumble it!
Preheat the oven to 170°C. To make the crumble topping simply rub plain white flour into around 2 tbsp of butter until you have a large breadcrumb consistency. You don’t want to add too much flour, this is a more buttery mixture so some larger lumps are normal. To this add a couple of tbsp of sugar, we wanted ours quite sweet to contrast with the tart apples but if you were using a sweeter fruit then maybe tone down the sugar a bit. We then added a handful of oats and around 1/2 tsp of cinnamon because it works beautifully with apples. That’s the topping done!
So just chop the fruit into a medium dice, coat with a little sugar if it’s a tart fruit and place in ramekins – you want it to be at least 2/3 of the way up, it will shrink down a lot when cooked. Sprinkle your crumble topping on top, we pile ours high! Put it on a baking tray and in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden-brown. Let it cool for a moment and then tuck in.
This would have been even better with some cream or ice cream but it was a pretty spontaneous dessert so we didn’t have any in. Give it a try for an indulgent moment with minimal effort.