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Food, general thoughts, food…

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Bacon Wrapped Pork Fillet

I was fortunate a while back to procure a large amount of pork fillets on special. I stocked the freezer with them and have been cooking them this way and that for the past few months. The recipe (found here at the gourmet garden) gave me the idea for the recipe below which is very similar to the original. The only changes are the use of fresh herbs rather than packaged ones and I never peel my potatoes, also I just stirred the flavourings through the potatoes, I didn’t feel like mash.

It was all fabulous.

Bacon Wrapped Pork Fillet

500 g pork fillet
12 slices bacon
1½ Tbls fresh Parsley minced
½ Tbls Garlic minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Cracked pepper

1 kg starchy potatoes, cut into 2 cm chunks
2 Tbls Basil pesto

Combine parsley, garlic, pepper and mustard in a bowl.
Butterfly the pork fillet.
Stuff with the mustard mixture then wrap pork with bacon one rasher at a time, overlapping the ends.
Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
Cook each side of the pork slowly until light golden brown.
Pour 100 ml of water into the pan, cover and let it cook on low heat for 15 minutes.
Turn the heat off and let the fillet rest in the pan for 5 minutes before cutting it into 1.5 cm slices.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes in a large pot of boiling salted water for 15 minutes or until tender.
Drain potatoes well and stir through butter, salt and pepper.
Stir in the Basil pesto.


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Frozen Mocha Cheesecake

Lunch/Dinner today was amazing. I write it like that because I ate it like that. We had a pork roast flavoured with thyme, onion powder and garlic salt, great combination. With rice and roast potatoes, broccoli and gravy (I am not an apple sauce fan) for lunch around midday and then had dessert around 6pm for dinner because we were all so stuffed with lunch there was no room for dessert at the time.

I don’t often make desserts these days but this was one of those ones that just begged to be made. Every time we stop somewhere for coffee my husband orders a mocha so when I came across this recipe in my database I just had to try it out right away. Heaven knows how long I have had this recipe but once it saw the light of day it played on my mind until I made it. It was delicious. I ate an enormous piece and will go back for more in the ensuing days. It is richly coffee flavoured with enough chocolate to give it a mocha bent but not to overpower the coffee. Mmm fabulous!

Frozen Mocha Cheesecake

1 Tbs instant coffee granules
1 Tbs hot water
200 gm chocolate ripple biscuits
125 gm butter melted
200 gm milk chocolate coarsely chopped (gives you a couple of pieces from the block to gobble)
2 x 250 gm cream cheese brought to room temperature
395 gm condensed milk
250 ml thickened cream

Release base from 22 cm pan and line base and sides with foil.
Combine the coffee and hot water and set aside to cool.
Crush the biscuits into a fine crumb, blend in the butter and then transfer to the pan.
Use the back of a spoon to spread and press firmly into base. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave on a low heat until the chocolate melts and is smooth, then set aside for 5 minutes to cool.
Place the cream cheese, condensed milk and 250 mL of cream into a bowl and process until mixture is smooth.
Add the chocolate and coffee mixture to the cream cheese mixture and process until well combined. Pour the mixture over the biscuit base and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface.
Place in freezer for 8 hours or until firm.
Remove cheesecake from freezer and cut immediately (if you live in Australia and everything melts in seconds flat) or leave out to soften slightly to make cutting easier.
Serve with extra whipped cream and grated chocolate if desired or just indulge in more than you really should then hide the rest back in the freezer and try (unsuccessfully) to forget about it (I swear it is calling my name!).


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Meat and Potatoes

So, what to do with half a bottle of balsamic salad dressing (after marinating chicken in the other half)? Lamb steaks!

These little lamb steaks marinated in the balsamic dressing all day and then went into the oven in a casserole dish.
About 200C for around 30 mins (until they looked good).
At the same time I did the potatoes and put them in the oven on another shelf.

Cheesy Garlic Potatoes

4 potatoes
1/2 cup tasty cheese
60g butter
1 clove garlic, minced

Heat oven to 200C.
Microwave potatoes until almost cooked (about 6 minutes)
Combine butter and garlic in sauce pan, melt butter, salt and pepper to taste.
Cut potatoes into thick slices.
Arrange a single layer in baking pan, sprinkle with
cheese and a little garlic butter. Add another layer of potatoes and repeat.
Finish with a layer of cheese. Bake 15-18 minutes.


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Creamy Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Casserole

I was terribly lazy and not feeling like going outside in the rain so we had this sans the parsley which is shocking really because if I glance out of my kitchen window I look over 6 of the bushiest and most prolific parsley plants you ever did see.  So I am suffering a little guilt at not taking the trouble to dash out in the rain, but what is done is done and the dish was wonderful, saucy and delicious all the same so I’ll get over it I suspect.

I didn’t get much ‘Moroccan’ flavour out of this dish, it was somewhat overpowered by the mustard added at the end. It was a terrific dish though and well worth the time it took to prepare.

The original recipe (here) was actually a slow cooker recipe but I chose to change it up and do it in the oven.

Creamy Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Casserole
Serves: 6

7-8 chicken drumsticks, skin on
2 medium carrots, chopped on chunky angles
1 small brown onion, diced finely
8-10 small potatoes
300 g cherry tomatoes
4 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
60 g butter
4 garlic cloves, chopped thinly
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
¼ cup parsley
300 mL cream
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

Add Moroccan seasoning, salt and pepper to flour.
Coat chicken in flour mixture.
Heat oil and half the butter in pan, fry chicken in batches until browned.
Place chicken into a large casserole dish.
Meanwhile fry onion, garlic, carrot and baby potatoes until brown.
Add chicken stock and wine, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
Pour vegetable mixture over chicken, add bay leaves.
Place in the oven at 150C for 1 1/2 hours.
Add cream, cherry tomatoes and mustard, cook for another half hour.
Garnish with parsley.
Serve with rice.


Crispy Pork Belly Strips

This was simple and tasty fare made on the spot when I found some pork belly strips in the freezer. I went searching for a recipe and found many delicious sounding sweet and sticky marinades for pork but it wasn’t what I was looking for yesterday, I wanted something simple that would just showcase the tastiness of the pork, without overpowering it with spices. Nigella to the rescue! I searched until I found Nigella’s blog and her idea of just roasting the pork, plain and simple.

It was amazing! Crispy and porky and the potatoes were meltingly soft underneath and slightly roasted at the sides. The onion had absorbed some of the pork drippings and was soft and fragrant and delicious. It was just what I was looking for. Thanks Nigella!


Crispy Pork Belly Strips

6 thin pork belly slices (I halved 3 thick ones)
1 large onion, cut into 6 wedges
5 potatoes quartered (obviously this depends on size, mine were fairly small)
Fresh Thyme & Sage
Salt & Pepper
Olive oil

Place onion and potatoes in a large baking pan, drizzle with oil and sprinkle with herbs.
Salt & Pepper to taste.
Drape the pork belly strips over the potatoes.
Salt & Pepper once more.
Cook for 40 mins at about 210C until the pork is crispy and potatoes cooked through.

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Potato Salad my style

Potata Salata, my go to potato salad. I am not a huge fan of mayonnaise based potato salad, I am particular about the mayonnaise that I use and still, enormous gobs of it kind of turn my stomach. Don’t get me started about store bought potato salad….Urk!

I stumbled upon this recipe many years ago and every time we have a BBQ or potato salad is called for, this is my alternative. I have yet to receive a complaint and often receive a request for the recipe where ever we go.

Of course, as a plus, it uses fresh parsley from the garden patch so that always makes me a happy bunny. This time I threw in a handful of chives also as the onion I had was a bit on the small side and the salad itself was a bit on the big side. I normally cut down on the oil a bit and up the vinegar but the recipe is a great base to start experimenting from. Make sure to use a tasty olive oil and a good generous grinding of salt and pepper. Give it time for all the flavours to blend together.

I prefer this salad unrefrigerated, obviously you don’t want to leave it out for hours but take it out of the fridge well before serving so that the oil isn’t solidified and the chill is off the salad.

Potata Salata
4 to 6 servings

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 red onion, thinly sliced
5 large red potatoes, diced large
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I use a truckload but that’s just me)

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, wine vinegar, oregano, parsley, and onion. Mix and set aside.
Add potatoes to a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water.
Boil until potatoes are tender. Drain water and let cool.
Place in a large bowl, add dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss to coat, cover bowl and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

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An easy weekend with good wholesome food

It was an easy weekend. All of our house guests disappeared on Friday and the two of us just pottered around the house, tidying and getting silly little things done. I painted the door step, for some reason it was a redy brown kind of colour and frankly most of the paint was gone. I found some paint in the garage, kindly left by the previous owners, so now it matches the walls surrounding it instead of being a faded, scraped up, odd colour that matches nothing. I feel better about it anyway.

Herbs featured big in this weekends menu. I made a tasty potato dish to go with some BBQ lamb chops over the weekend.

8 small potatoes
Good handful of thyme, parsley and chives
Generous knob of butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Halve or quarter the potatoes and boil until soft. Meanwhile chop the herbs finely.
Place drained hot potatoes into a serving dish, toss in butter until melted and add herbs, salt and pepper.
Stir through.

This resulted in green covered potatoes that tasted divine.

The next day I was treated to a fabulous lamb roast that my husband prepared perfectly.
Last night I diced up the left over roast potatoes and lamb, mixed them in with the left over gravy and added a little salt, pepper and thyme. Topping it all off with mashed potatoes mixed with a generous bunch of snipped chives, sprinkled with cheese.

Call it Sheperd’s pie or Cottage pie, in fact call it whatever you like, it was fabulous and will double as lunch today.

By the way, currently in the pepper grinder I have a mixture of black, green and white peppercorns. It is amazing the taste difference to just having black pepper. I love toast with butter, thinly sliced tomato and a little ground pepper and a little ground salt. My go to snack/comfort food anytime of the day. I can really taste the difference in the pepper, I was astonished.