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Malt Loaf Steamed Pudding

malt puddingI think regular readers know my feelings on malt. I go doollally for its dark and sticky charms whether it’s moist cakes or anything involving Veda bread. I like my beers black and I can even be swayed by the lighter malty treats like Horlicks. But one thing I’ve found over years of sampling, is that malt tastes even better when you warm it up slightly.

I got hold of some of that dark malt extract you see in health foods shops where it is sold as a virtuous alternative to granulated sugar. It made me wonder if I could take the warmth of toasted Veda or Soreen and basically serve it with custard instead of the usual slathering of salted butter? I thought I’d try and create dark dense malted steamed sponge pudding dotted with plump juicy dried fruit. I figured you couldn’t go wrong with such a combo.

And I was right. You couldn’t. In fact I went so right I created a sponge of such lightness it is even easier to eat than a whole loaf of Soreen to yourself. But I did discover that it is better to make this pudding and allow it to mellow in a tin for up to 5 days and then steam it again for just long enough to warm it through to get it to the right syrupy texture to go with custard. Apologies for making you wait. I promise it is well worth it. Read more

Slow Cooked Spiced Pork

slow cooked pork

Much as I love cooking, I’m less inclined when the weather is warm. My kitchen is quite small and my hair can’t take standing next to a hot oven or over a sink of steamy suds without expanding to an enormous size. I make a lot of salads and sandwiches and usually rediscover the George Forman grill for cooking summer veg without heat or hassle.

This year though I have a new trick up my sleeve: the slow cooker. Sitting quietly in the corner, just getting on with things, it’s a great way to whip up proper food without heating the house up or having to be indoors when the garden looks so inviting in the brief flashes of sunshine. I had such good results with cooking ribs in the slow cooker recently, I decided to do my take on the pulled pork craze sweeping street food circles at the moment.

My local butcher had a piece of pork shoulder for around £4.50 a kilo and I knew that slow cooking would render it something special. It cried out for lots of spicing and a bit of chilli spiked heat and after marinading for 24 hours, it went into the slow cooker for 8 hours for a no effort meal. I ate the leftovers for several days afterwards, piled high on tortillas with shredded cabbage and salad like a homemade kebab, dotted through rice and packed into a sandwich and slathered with homemade salsa.

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Marmite Rubbed Ribs

ribs

I hate Marmite. Loathe, despise and abhor the stuff. I run in the opposite direction from it. Until you cook it that is, and then something magical happens. The sharp bitterness mellows into a soft salty tingle that gives depth and layers to food like a rich umami gateway drug. But because I think Marmite on toast is the worst thing ever, I often forget about the other qualities of this oh so British spread.

When I marinaded some pork ribs last week in search of a serious savoury meat hit, I used miso as a base and was disappointed to find it lacked depth and left a strange powdery texture I disliked. I rummaged through the cupboards to find something to add the depth I needed, discarding fish sauce, barbecue sauce and soy sauce as just not quite right. And then I realised after 12 years of living in England, the thing my life was missing was Marmite. (I never knew anyone to keep Marmite in the house back in Belfast…)

This time I used some beautiful fat beef shortribs and rubbed them with a sticky Marmitey marinade for 36 hours, cooking them for 8 hours in the slow cooker and bingo! Dark delicious savoury meat that converted two people who don’t really like ribs usually to have second helpings.

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Callaloo Aloo

tinI love spinach. Gorgeous green leafiness, it seems to suit every single style of cooking you can challenge it with and adds iron rich taste to everything. But even Popeye would baulk at the price of it these days. Pillowy packets of it disappear into nothing when cooked and takes you aback everytime. When I first lived in London on a student budget I ate mountains of the frozen version and it still seems to taste of the cheap white wine I washed it down with making me struggle with this budget option.

So imagine my joy when I came across a huge can of that altogether most robust cousin of spinach, callaloo, in the Nour Cash and Carry for just 99p recently. The stronger stems and bigger leaves suit canning well and it retains its texture and flavour much better than spinach does. I thought it would suit slow cooking well and decided to update the Indian classic saag aloo with callaloo for an easy one pot meal.

Originally published at Brixton Blog…

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