Monday, 24 November 2014

Pork Belly Roasted with Garlic and Cider

Sorry. Did I mention pork belly? 

I'm surprised by the number of people that still pull a face and complain about pork belly being fatty and greasy.


This slow-roasted pork belly slab is indeed a bit fattier than other cuts, but then it's belly for goodness' sake. It has the sweetness of the cider (it's all cooked, so it's ok if you're on the AIP or if you are avoiding alcohol), soft, melty onions and then a whole garlic bulb that turns like paste after the long roasting in the oven. You just squeeze it out of the papery skins and eat it with the pork and the cidery juices in the pan. 

Honestly. You want to put this on late morning on a Sunday and tuck in once it's all cooked, later in the afternoon. It's one of our super favourite roast dinners now. 

The timings for the recipe are based on Jamie Oliver's pork belly roast

A note on the cider: Do you know, some people say that cider isn't 'paleo' and that cavemen wouldn't have known how to make it. Firstly, a) the paleo diet isn't really just based on what cavemen ate - and b) I think that they did drink cider - because it's just fermented apples, which is something that happens in nature. I like to think of them, getting a bit giggly and rosy-cheeked, painting on cave walls as the sun comes up, having accidentally drunk the juice of some gone off apples. So there you go.

Pork Belly Roasted with Garlic and Cider
Serves 4-5
1.2kg slab of pork belly
pinch of salt
1 onion, peeled and sliced thickly
2 whole bulbs of garlic
about half a mugful of cider

Turn your oven up as high as it will go, and get out a shallow roasting tray. I like to line mine with foil to save on the washing up afterwards, as everything will go very dark and sticky. 

Pat the skin of the pork belly slab with a kitchen paper towel, so it's dry and sprinkle over a pinch of salt. On the roasting tray, arrange the onion slices and put the garlic bulbs near the centre of the onions. Lay the pork joint over the top, skin side facing up. 

Slide into the oven and roast for 10 minutes - you'll see the skin start to bubble and crisp up. Once the 10 minutes are up, turn the oven down to gas mark 3/170ºC/325ºF and roast for another hour and a half. The pork should now be fairly cooked, but you'll want it a bit more melty. 

Pour the cider into the tray, around the pork - don't pour it straight onto the skin, but around the base of the roasting joint, and then slide back into the oven for another 45 minutes. 

This will give you plenty of time to get on with your vegetables. Once the 45 minutes are up, bring the pork joint out of the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Then, cut into slices with a sharp knife and serve with the garlic and the roasting juices spooned over the top. Beautiful. 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Blueberry Topped Baked Sweet Potato (AIP, Paleo, Vegan)

This is the stuff mornings are made of. 

Ever fancy sticky-sweet, vanilla-scented blueberries? I do. 

Bolstered by my first experience with sweet-toppings for a baked sweet potato (Caramelised Apple and Cinnamon) I started to consider other sweet toppings that would work. And I couldn't get blueberries out of my head. And now, I can see what my brain was trying to tell me. 

The colours are enough to make me happy: bright amber sweet potato flesh, with dark, rich blueberries and their stained juices rippling through the coconut yoghurt. But the flavours - there's a touch of vanilla extract (it's ok on AIP because it's cooked) that makes this feel a bit like a fairground treat. There's sweetness from the blueberries, maple syrup and the potato but then a nice tartness with the coconut yoghurt that contrasts it all beautifully. Need another reason to make it? You get the good starch and beta carotene from the sweet potato, powerful immune-boosting phytochemicals from the blueberries and wonderfully good bacteria and fats from the coconut yoghurt. 

I've said enough. Don't take my word for it, make it yourself. This dish is vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, autoimmune protocol friendly, paleo and primal. 

Blueberry Topped Baked Sweet Potato
Serves 1.
1 sweet potato, scrubbed and pierced all over a few times with a sharp knife
1 handful blueberries (I used frozen)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tbsp coconut yoghurt

First, preheat your oven to gas mark 7/220ºC/425ºF. Line a baking tray with foil and place the sweet potato on it (I usually bake two or three sweet potatoes seeing as I'm having the oven on. This means I have soft sweet potato waiting for me in the fridge to reheat, without having to cook it first). Bake the sweet potato(es) until tender, about 40 minutes. 

Once the sweet potato is soft in the middle (test it with a sharp knife), get on with the blueberries. In a small frying pan, heat up the blueberries on a medium, fairly gently heat. Trickle in the maple syrup and the vanilla extract and allow it all to heat up and come to a gentle bubble in the pan. The juice from the berries will leak out as they cook, making a lovely sticky blueberry sauce. 

To serve, place the sweet potato on a plate, split down the middle and dump a tablespoon or two of the coconut yoghurt in the centre. Finish by spooning over the warmed, sticky blueberries. Eat while hot, with a spoon. 

What are your favourite sweet potato toppings? 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Chunky Tapenade

Something has been bugging me for a little while. 

For a few months now, I've had a feeling there was a really obvious recipe that I'd been missing, that was naturally dairy-free, gluten-free, nut-free and suitable for the paleo and autoimmune protocol diets. 

And when I picked up a tin of black olives in the shop, it suddenly dawned on me what it was. Tapenade. 

Tapenade is a mixture of olives, capers and some other bits and pieces, and you can serve it at parties, on crackers (or slices of cucumber) - or mix it up in a salad (it's awesome with tuna). You can also pile it up on your burgers, if you like for added umami flavour. It's supposed to originate from the south of France, and chances are, if you buy it in the shops, it'll be smooth and purée-like. Well, I like mine chunky. 

You could add a little bit of raw, grated garlic into the tapenade if you like, or chop up a spring onion and toss it in, but I wanted to keep this FODMAP-friendly, too, so didn't include it here. I actually prefer making this chunky tapenade than the smooth, food-processor version because a) you only need to wash up a board and a knife afterwards and b) you get a lot more 'hands on' with the ingredients. The sweet, aniseed flavour of the basil rises up from the board with salty, briny olives, anchovies, capers and citrussy parsley. Chopping that lot equals food therapy, that does.

Chunky Tapenade
Serves 1-2 or more if spooned onto crackers as a starter or party nibble
12 black olives, pitted
7 capers
juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp basil, chopped
2 anchovy fillets, from a tin
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

With a sharp knife, chop up all the ingredients and stir together in a bowl, adding enough olive oil to bind the mixture and create a salsa-texture. Spoon onto crackers or cucumber slices - or scatter into your favourite salad. 


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