What could be better than a BLT

When I lived in the USA, I use to attend college at night, often finishing around 9pm, so on the way to class, I would grab a sandwich, being one of my favourite BLT from Arby’s, however, on one occassion I managed to also pick up a case of food poisoning which put me off Arby’s and BLT’s. 

Getting back into the BLT’s, I love the simplicity of this sandwich and the little twists you can gourmet it up with.

My BLT today has a small twist…
makes 2

6 slices bacon (cut off the fat if you want to be healthier)
lettuce, I used mixed Italian pack with watercress
20 cherry tomatoes
mayo
balsamic vinegar
seasoning
2 whole grain pita pocket, cut open and toast lightly

Dry fry your bacon, if you rather fry in oil, let sit on a paper towel to drain off excess oil
Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and pop into a hot pan, let blister a little, drizzle with balsamic vinegar and cook off until nice and sticky. Season yiur tomatoes.
Now build your BLT, I dont use butter but feel free to butter your pita pockets, spread mayonaise on each side, place some salad leaves on the bottom slice, a few cherry tomatoes, slices of bacon and finish off with more cherry tomatoes and a little of the sticky juices from the pan.

Garnish and enjoy

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New Age Bangers & Mash

How often does the “what’s for dinner” conversation go down in your house?  When do you actually decide what you are going to make for dinner, whether you are going to cook or go out?  These are all important questions, for those who are faced with the daunting task of having to decide what to feed your family.  You don’t want the boring same old same old, having said that, if you are anything like me, having to go to the store to buy ingredients just for one meal makes me rather grumpy.  Unfortunately, the love to shop card is not part of my make up, so it’s a task and a half.

So for my New Age Banger & Mash I dug around in my freezer and just used what I had in the house.

I love potatoes, I can have potatoes done any way, but I wanted something different…

500g baby potatoes
1 onion, roughly diced
1 generous tsp garlic, chopped or used crushed garlic
50ml brandy
1 tbsp sugar
handful of parsley, chopped
Olive oil
salt & pepper

Parboil the baby potatoes; you want them just soft enough that you can squash them between your palms.  Set aside to cool

In a pan, fry off your onions over a medium heat, add the sugar and let caramelize.  Add the brandy to deglaze the pan, add garlic and briefly cook until all the liquid has cooked out.

Squeeze the baby potatoes between your palms just to break them, you looking for a rustic kind of look.  Add to your pan with onions, toss around until well combined.  Add the parsley, season and set aside.

Now to put something together on a plate!

Pork bangers – boil off your bangers and fry off in a little olive oil.  If you want to keep it slightly healthier, set your oven to 180° C, after boiling them off, just pop them in the oven until nicely the bangers have a nice colour. Healthier but it does take slightly longer.

I popped a packet of peas into a pot, a knob of butter, orange zest and a splash of orange juice.  Cook just until the peas are heated through.  The fresh citrus flavours with the peas are a lovely combination.

Rolled Pork Belly, stuffed with Apricots in a Brandy & Rooibos syrup

This month being heritage month, I started thinking about all the wonderful South African bits and pieces I missed when I lived in the USA.  We use to get little care packages sent to us, from back home, filled with South African goodies, we were also very lucky to have  a store close by which sold a little piece of home – Ouma Rusks, Milo, Rooibos Tea and Marmite, then we found an online SA store in California where we could buy Savanna, we were in heaven!  I would introduce my American friends to the little bits of South Africa, which brought me to this recipe.

I have played around with a similar idea before but thinking what is really South African?  Rooibos, Dried Apricots and Brandy…how much more South African do you get than that?

Pork Belly, stuffed with apricots in a brandy & rooibos syrup

Serves 6

1.6kg pork belly, deboned, ask your butcher to score the skin for you to make life easier at home
1 tbsp Caraway seeds, roasted and roughly ground
Coarse salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste
1 Rooibos tea bag
1 cup of boiling water

For the Syrup
100g brown sugar
2 rooibos tea bags
1 cup Klipdrift brandy
125g dried apricots
1 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice

Soak the dried apricots in the brandy for half an hour
Place all the syrup ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer, let simmer for 5 minutes and turn off, set aside to cool
Roughly chop the cooled apricots
Simmer the remaining syrup until reduced by half

Preheat your oven to 150°C

With the pork belly skin down, season the flesh with salt & pepper, brush a little of the syrup over the flesh and place chopped apricots down the middle.
Roll pork belly and tie with butchers twine, you want a tightly rolled pork belly.
Rub the scored skin with salt, pepper and the caraway seeds

In a roasting tray, place two small bowls upside down and place pork belly on top.  Fill the bottom with a cup of rooibos tea and a little water until the water level is just under the flesh.

Place in oven for 3 and a half hours.  Remove from oven, pour all the juices into the same pot the syrup is in.  Cook together, thicken with cornflour for gravy.

Place the roast back into a preheated oven at 180°C, and cook for 25 minutes.
Put your oven on full grill and cook for 15 minutes to get a nice crispy crackling

Serve with mashed potatoes which ever way you like and some vegetables of your choice and you have a lovely easy meal