28 August 2014

Jamie Oliver Pork Ragu

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The final meal in our ‘Jamie Oliver roast pork week’ came at a perfect time. For comfort food was craved, and nothing speaks comfort more than a big bowl of pasta.

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And a slow roasted pork ragu nonetheless.

Although, all the hard work had been done earlier in the week – when we slow roasted the pork shoulder for 5 hours! All I had to do, on this fine occasion, was turn that meat into a sauce.

Onions, carrots, rosemary and garlic…

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Sautéed in a little olive oil until soft.

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Followed by the pork and some fresh cherry tomatoes (my addition), along with fennel seeds and chilli flakes.

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Finished with passata and a splash of water, then allowed to simmer for 20 minutes or so.

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Piled high on a mound of linguine, and enjoyed with gusto!

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The pork was, as expected, rather wonderful. And my comfort craving was certainly satisfied!

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Overall – I enjoyed this ‘leftover’ week more than I thought I would (and I still have probably another 2 servings of the roast pork in the freezer!) It was definitely a cost-effective means of cooking – and one that would be quite handy for houses where there are more mouths to feed.

What about you? What is your favourite pasta dish?

26 August 2014

Crispy pork tacos

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The next meal created from our mothership’ roast pork was none other than crispy pork tacos. So easy to prepare, and enough yummy fillings to keep all tastes happy.

Simply – a portion of our leftover pork, shredded and jazzed up with the addition of paprika and cooked until crispy. Along with some rather tasty black beans  (undrained!) – simmered with onions and Cajun seasoning, and allowed to reduce.

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For the fillings – there was lettuce, a guacamole (of sorts), and pickle made with onion, capsicum and mushrooms.  And I couldn’t resist deviating from the recipe by adding some grated cheese and natural yoghurt to the mix.

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I love love LOVE these sorts of meals. Prepared in advance, then served ‘communal-style’ at the table. No utensils required!

The pork was delicious, as were the salty black beans (probably my favourite bit…) – particularly when paired with the creamy guacamole.

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Yes, lovely people, I was one happy camper after this ‘meal of leftovers’!!

What about you? What is your favourite taco filling?

24 August 2014

Save with Jamie – Roast Pork & Banh Mi

For those of you who have been following this blog for a while, it will come as no surprise when I tell you that I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver. I love his home-hearty style of cooking – that is creative and delicious. And the relative ‘fuss-free’ nature of his meals.

Actually, I’m pretty sure I own all of his cookbooks. Including this one, that I was gifted with at Christmas time.

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For some reason – however – I hadn’t really given it much thought – until I caught an episode of the related TV show a few weeks ago. The ‘mothership’ meal was roast pork – and the leftover meal was Bank Mi – and….well….I was sold.

So off Mr BBB went, not long thereafter, with instructions to collect a 4.5kg half shoulder of pork.

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Yes. 4.5kg.

My friends this was no wimpy pork shoulder.

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We tested the ‘mothership’ roast pork meal – one fine Sunday, served with roasted veggies and apples, a delightful sweet / vinegar cabbage dish and an onion gravy.

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Beautifully tender pork – that had been cooked for over 5 hours – and crispy crackling – for those of us that were so inclined.

But the real winner – was the yield. For with one dinner already done, I cut up the remaining pork and had plenty left for the rest of the week (plus a whole container-full placed in the freezer for meals of the future!).

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The next night came our second meal.

Banh Mi.

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And boy did I enjoy this one. The pork was reheated with a little of the dripping – then tossed through sweet chilli sauce at the last moment.

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Before being piled into a crunchy baguette (spread with pate for the non-pregnant household members) and topped with pickled veg (carrot, cabbage, cucumber).

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Topped with a good amount of fresh coriander – and I was well and truly in food heaven.

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The sticky sweet pork + with the pickled veg = happy tummies all around!

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And going from ‘thought’ to ‘table’ in under 15 minutes – this was one speedy meal also!

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But stay tuned – for the other two meals we created with this roast pork throughout the week!

What about you? What is your favourite way to use leftover roast pork?

20 August 2014

Chocolate peanut butter cupcakes

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Thankyou all for your words of support on my last few posts. Sharing such personal experiences is often never easy, but then it can also be incredibly therapeutic at the same time. And given our pregnancy ‘journey’ has been so very all-consuming over the last couple of years – physically and emotionally - to downplay or ignore it would just be…well….silly.

One of the biggest changes I experiences during the first trimester – was a complete lack of creativity when it came to food. I’ll explain more another day – but spending time in the kitchen just had no appeal. Which was so very strange given it is normally my favourite place to be!

But I am pleased to report that a sense of normalcy is starting to return, slowly but surely, and I even got my ‘bake’ on over the weekend.

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With the RSPCA cupcake day as my inspiration, I couldn’t say no to baking a batch to share at my work’s morning tea.

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And, instantly, I knew what flavour I would make.

Chocolate and peanut butter – aka one of my favourite flavour combinations!

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Beautifully light and fluffy chocolate cupcakes…

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And the most indulgent peanut butter icing I’ve ever made. Yes, lovely people, there was nothing healthy about this – let me assure you!

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Piped and finished with a halved peanut butter cup and…well…I must say I was rather chuffed with the result!

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My little “army” of cupcakes – all ready to be shared and consumed!

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And consumed they were Smile 

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You can find the recipe I used here (sans the chocolate icing, and cookie).

What about you? What is your favourite cupcake flavour?

18 August 2014

Our pre-pregnancy journey

Thankyou all for your lovely and warm well-wishes following our recent announcement. I never intended to drop a bombshell and then go offline for the week,  but life got ‘busy’ (and the fogginess of the first trimester lingers) making it hard to find a spare moment and, at times,  a clear head.

But before I perhaps get into more details of the first trimester, I need to take a step back.

For I feel there is more to our story than a pretty pregnancy announcement. Followers of this blog will know that we have endured infertility in the past, and I am sad to say that we were not granted an easy ‘get pregnant’ journey this time around either.  And while it is often easier to stay silent on issues such as these, I know too many people who share a similar story to keep it hidden.

It took us many years to fall pregnant with Charlotte, but we knew we wanted more than one child – if that was at all possible. And knowing we were not getting any younger, we sought the assistance of a fertility specialist just before C’s first birthday.

Unfortunately, however, it was not a good fit. Almost 12 months later – having undergone multiple IUIs, medicated cycles and finally, an IVF cycle, we were left with more questions than answers and a bank balance that had taken a big hit. My emotions were running high, and our life was consumed with timings, tests and bad results.  All while trying to keep a sense of normalcy at work, and in our home life.

Thank god for running – and the little moments of peace it offered.

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So we made the decision to change specialists – and fertility clinics – and immediately the differences were apparent. Like chalk and cheese, really.

We now had a doctor that listened, and access to nurses that were empathetic and understanding. A treatment team that was sensitive. Sensible.  Our doctor was well-schooled in recent medical studies and developments. He was encouraging, and thorough.

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And we didn’t mess around.  As soon as we could, we were back on the IVF-wagon. And as I am sure many of you are aware, this involved daily hormone injections, blood tests and scans – and with it went any ‘mystery’ of conception. Despite high medication dosages, however, we had a pretty poor response during the cycle. We also had a poor outcome during the ‘lab’ phase, which was simply heartbreaking.  I think I might have alluded to it before.

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At the end of it all – we had one little egg that was available for transfer – but a hormone spike that would see us take a break for a few months to give ourselves the best chance of success.

For if this didn’t work – it was back to square 1. Back to another full medicated IVF cycle – and something we weren’t looking forward to.

I don’t know whether it was the benefit of having our new specialist on board, or whether it was ‘simply’ our time, but two weeks after the transfer, the most gruelling and loooooong 2 weeks, we received the most joyous news.

We were pregnant.

I will never forget this day. When I knew the call would come at some point in the afternoon, and I jumped every time my phone rang. When we were standing in a spice shop, and I threw the phone at Mr BBB to answer because I just…couldn’t.  When I saw the relief and happiness in his eyes when he was told the good news.

But happy news aside, we were realistic about risks and possibilities. So even having successfully navigated through a tough 18 months of fertility treatment, we knew we still had (and still have!) a long road ahead of us. For while we try to remain optimistic and positive - we have learned to take nothing for granted.

And thus the seemingly long first trimester began….

To be continued.

12 August 2014

An exciting announcement….

Naps and nausea.

Yes – my lovely friends, that pretty much sums up life in the last 3 months.

But it has all been for a good reason. A wonderful, exciting reason….

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For our little family is growing!

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Due February 2015!

07 August 2014

Olive oil loaf with candied blood oranges

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The last dish in my blood orange series, is back on the sweet spectrum. A tasty little loaf to serve for afternoon tea, perhaps, or otherwise indulge in at any time of the day.

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This loaf, while generally pretty simple, is jazzed up with blood orange zest in the cake itself, topped with blood orange slices that have been ‘candied’ and then drizzled with the infused sugar syrup.

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The end result is a loaf that is moist, yet light…

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I couldn’t resist adding  sprinkling of chopped pistachios to the top of the loaf also – which not only colour contrast to the vibrant red of the blood oranges – but also added a nice crunch to the loaf itself.

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But my favourite part – was certainly the sweet sugared orange slices as well as that syrup that had found its way into the middle of the loaf.

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A cake best eaten while still warm out of the oven, perhaps with a dollop of cream or crème fraiche.  Or even spread with a little butter.

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A delicious end to a delicious ‘blood orange’ inspired week!

Olive oil loaf with candied blood oranges

For the candied blood oranges

  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbs honey
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1-2 blood oranges, sliced thinly
  1. Combine the water, sugar, honey and cardamom in a large frypan over a medium heat. Add the orange slices in a single layer, and bring to a gentle simmer.
  2. Cook gently for 40 minutes, turning over the orange slices every 10 minutes or so.
  3. Remove orange slices and place on a piece of baking paper and set aside. Reserve sugar syrup in a small jug and keep warm.

For the loaf:

  • 2.5 cups plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • zest of one blood orange
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbs chopped pistachio nuts
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cardamom in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat the sugar and eggs, until light.
  4. Add the eggs, yoghurt, olive oil, zest and vanilla and mix until combined.
  5. Add the flour mix in a couple batches, and mix until just combined.
  6. Pour into the prepared tin, and smooth top.
  7. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto wire rack.
  8. Use a skewer to pierce holes in the top of the cake, then pour over half of the reserved sugar syrup. Arrange orange slices on top, brush with extra syrup and sprinkle with pistachios.
  9. Slice and serve.

Again, a big thankyou again to Red Belly Citrus for inviting me to be a part of their campaign. It’s been a lot of fun – combining two or my loves (new ingredients and recipe creation) and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for this gorgeous fruit in months to come!