Tag Archives: spice

Spicy Pork Medallions with Sweet Potato Wedges

This recipe has some of our favourite spices in it, slathered generously over meaty chunks of pork and served alongside some delicious sweet potato wedges and crunchy salad. Pork medallions are a great way to serve pork – they are really lean and healthy, and a little goes a long way! If you cook them properly, like we do here, they are also juicy and tender. We really recommend buying pork loin and slicing the medallions yourself (or getting your butcher to do it for you) – we have found pre-packed pork medallions can be a bit dry. We managed to freeze half of the pork loin we bought, so you can be sure we’ll be doing a similar recipe again soon.

For 2 people, you’ll need:

  • 180g pork loin (you can get twice this amount and freeze half, we did!)
  • 2 tsp each of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, mustard seeds
  • 1 heaped tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • Large handful of breadcrumbs
  • 100g mixed-leaf salad
  • Vinaigrette (we made our own with 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp cider vinegar and a bit of sea salt)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 glasses of cider (sort of optional, but not really!)

Start off by making a marinade for the pork, by toasting the spices and crushing with a pestle and mortar along with the mustard, a pinch of salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil – just enough to make it into a smear-able paste. Slice your pork loin into medallions about 1-2 cm thick (we managed to get 8 medallions out of ours), and coat the medallions in the spice mixture. Put aside while the rest of the dish is cooking.

These spices look AMAZING! Loving the lens on my camera! - Fats
These spices look AMAZING! Loving the lens on my camera! – Fats

Spices in pestle & mortar

Pork with Spice Marinade

Heat the oven to 180ºC. Slice your sweet potato into wedges, and parboil by covering them with water in a pan and just bringing to the boil. While this is happening, put a couple of tablespoons of oil into a large roasting dish and heat in the oven at about. Once the sweet potatoes are parboiled, take the dish out of the oven, and throw in the chilli flakes along with a bit of seasoning, swiftly followed by the sweet potato wedges. Toss around a bit to make sure that everything gets coated, and put back in the oven. These should take about 45 minutes to cook, with occasional turning – put your feet up with a cider! (To our American friends, that’s the alcoholic version…)

Sweet Potato Wedges

When the wedges are about 15 minutes away from being nice and crispy, retrieve the pork. Prepare your breadcrumbs by spreading over a plate with a bit of seasoning, and heat about a tablespoon of oil in a griddle or frying pan over a high heat. Cover the pork medallions in breadcrumbs, and add to the hot oil. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side so that they turn nice and golden. While this is happening, you should just have time to knock up a vinaigrette. Dish it all up and enjoy with a nice glass of cider! Are we starting to sound obsessed? It’s because we are a bit…

Pork cooking in griddle pan

This recipe is great and really flexible – we’re thinking of trying it again soon, maybe a french version with rosemary, thyme and oregano, or perhaps a spanish version with smoked paprika and chilli.

Spicy pork medallions done

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Indian Spiced Baked Salmon

We use jarred curry pastes all the time, they’re really convenient! They’re choc full of spices that you’d have a hard time keeping your kitchen stocked with. The only problem is that when you’re cooking for 2 there’s often quite a lot left over, so unless you want to keep eating the same thing over and over you have to get inventive! This recipe for salmon with Balti paste definitely falls into that category – what’s more, it’s easy and totally delicious. You can really use any kind of fish fillets and any kind of curry paste, the recipe is very flexible.

For 2 people, you’ll need:

  • 200 g new potatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp nigella (black onion) seeds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp curry paste (we used Patak’s Balti paste, which is medium-hot – you can use whatever you have!)
  • 2 tbsp natural yoghurt
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 200 g baby leaf spinach

Start by halving your potatoes length-ways (so that they’re quite thin) and parboiling them placing in a pan of cold water and bringing to the boil, then simmering for 2-3 minutes. Bring the oven to temperature while you’re doing this – about 180 ºC should do it. Put your roasting dish into the oven to heat up. Once the potatoes have been parboiled, drain them and add the oil, mustard seeds, nigella seeds and the salt to the pan. Make sure the potatoes get a good coating, and one the roasting dish is nice and hot take it out of the oven and add the potatoes into it, savouring the satisfying sizzle! Put the dish back in the oven – the potatoes should take about 40-45 minutes to cook.

Not only are nigella seeds delicious, they make the humble potato look awesome
Not only are nigella seeds delicious, they make the humble potato look awesome

To prepare the salmon, mix together the curry paste and the yoghurt so that it forms a consistent light-coloured paste. Cover the salmon fillets in the paste in a bowl. About 15-20 minutes before the potatoes are ready to come out, move them aside in the roasting dish (or use a separate dish if you don’t have space) and put the salmon in. We had some particularly meaty fillets, but if yours are thinner they will probably take less time to cook.

Curry Salmon in Roasting Dish

Wilt the spinach in a pan on a low heat with some salt and pepper – it should only need about 5 minutes.

Curry Salmon Served

That’s all there is to it – this is a really simple meal and a great alternative to a standard curry. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Za’atar Steak with Spicy Sumac Roasted Vegetables

Bird has a bit of a problem. It’s the reason our spice cupboard (yes, we have a whole cupboard) is the biggest mess you’ve ever seen. It’s an obsessive need to buy any interesting spice that she’s heard of, or one that she hasn’t, that we don’t currently own. This time resulted in za’atar and sumac cluttering up our kitchen. These are both widely used in Middle Eastern and North African cooking – sumac is a beautiful deep red/purple course powder made of crushed, dried fruits which, despite their fiery colouring have no heat, just a beautiful lemony tang. Lebanese style Za’atar contains sumac along with some earthy freshness from thyme and oregano, aniseed sweetness from fennel and rich creaminess from toasted sesame seeds. Za’atar can come in many guises, this is just the blend of ours, have a look and see what you can find!

Sumac
Sumac

We also had a craving for steak and thought it would be fun to try our new spices on some lovely rib eye steaks. It’s most unusual for us to not have any chilli in things so we put a little in with the vegetables and then smothered the steaks in za’atar and oil and popped them on a really hot griddle pan for just a few seconds a side. This is a brilliant meal for those who love their aromatic spices but don’t get on so well with chilli as you could leave it out entirely and still have a burst of gorgeous spices. It’s also incredibly flexible, these spices are slightly mellower than many we use so would go with mild fish, vegetables or white meat right through to steak like we did.

Ingredients

  • mixed vegetables which are great for roasting – we used an aubergine, some peppers, red onion and mushrooms
  • 1 heaped tsp of sumac
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • A pinch of sea salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • vine tomatoes
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 steaks
  • 1 tbsp of za’atar
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • flatbreads/pitta breads to serve

Bit of a non-recipe really… preheat the oven to 190°C. Chop up all of the vegetables apart from the tomatoes into bite sized chunks and mix with the sumac, the chilli flakes if using, the sea salt and the olive oil in a large roasting dish and whack them in the oven. They will take about 45 minutes to roast and need a shake around every 15 minutes or so. Mix the za’atar with the extra virgin olive oil to form a paste and smear all over the steaks to briefly marinate. After nearly half an hour of the vegetables roasting add in the vine tomatoes. Then after a further 10 minutes add the pomegranate molasses to add some tangy sweetness.

Sumac vegetables

Now is the time to get your griddle pan super hot and then stick the steaks on, we did ours for less than a minute a side because we love ours really rare but just turn the heat under the griddle down a little and cook it for longer. Make sure you scrape all of the toasted herbs and seeds onto the steak, the sesame seeds are gorgeous! Serve with the vegetables and some warmed flatbreads or pittas (and a cheeky glass of wine!).

Steak with vegetables

Spontaneous Pear Crumble 2 Ways

We recently came into possession of a couple of pears (by way of a charity walk-to-work day organised by Bird!) and we thought that rather than just eat them we’d make them into crumbles – much more interesting to blog! We’ve done these mini crumbles before, with apple, but we thought we would give you a couple of more interesting flavour ideas. We’ve gone with a couple of contrasting flavours – a sweet, spicy sugar syrup with cardamom, cinnamon and star anise and a tart, fruity alternative made with raspberries.

Ingredients – for the topping, you’ll need (makes 2 mini crumbles):

  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar

To make the topping, simply rub together the butter and flour in your fingertips until you get breadcrumbs, then add the sugar and mix together. Easy or what?!

To make the sweet and spicy crumbles, you’ll need (makes 2 mini crumbles):

  • 1 cardamom pod
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1 pear

To make the sugar syrup, add all of the ingredients to a pan and bring to a boil over a medium heat. Leave it bubbling away to let the flavours infuse for about 5 minutes. If you see the sugar syrup start to darken, stop – it’s done! Chop your pear up into small (~1 cm) cubes and put it into 2 ramekins (or other small dishes), pour over the sugar syrup (taking out the whole spices) and cover with a couple of centimetres (just over half an inch) of topping.

Is it too early to start talking about Christmas...?
Is it too early to start talking about Christmas…?

For the fruity berry crumbles, you’ll need (again, makes 2 mini crumbles):

  • 2 tbsp raspberries
  • 1 pear

Almost no preparation required here, just chop up your pear up into small cubes and put it into 2 small ramekins, and cover with topping. We keep some frozen raspberries in the freezer, which are useful for all sorts of things in the winter.

Raspberry and Pear

Once the crumbles are assembled, place in an oven at 180 C for 20-25 minutes – you should see the top go a lovely golden colour. Sit back and enjoy your tasty, warming winter treat!

Crumble and Coffee
Spicy Pear Crumble and Coffee
Pear and Raspberry Crumble
Pear and Raspberry Crumble

Coming Soon! Autumn and More…

It’s been a while! A week by my reckoning. Sorry we haven’t been posting, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been cooking – we’ve got some real treats lined up for our next few posts. Autumn is well and truly here in Bristol, so that means comfort food – stews, soups and squash are most definitely on the menu! Here’s a sneak peek…

Autumn Preview