Collard Greenz

Food, recipes and everything in between

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Roasted Pig Meat – BBQ style ribs and crispy crackling edition

pork belly, bbq ribs

I have been noticeably MIA from my blog and this entry is long overdue. A couple of weeks back, while visiting my parents, my mom and I had the opportunity to cook together, something that happens far too infrequently. I had been craving manly meat and wanted my mom to make something finger licking good that I had not had in ages – roasted pork belly with crackling, in all its fatty, sweet, salty, crunchy, exterior, and succulent, mouth meltingly tender interior. If that weren’t enough, I also made BBQ style ribs. So it was meat, with a side of yet more meat, oh and Yorkshire pudding – grease oven fried dough balls, with a few strands of cabbage salad on the side just so we didn’t feel too guilty. Clearly, this most certainly is NOT an entry about clean, healthy, weekday eating. Not only because of the calories but also because it simply takes time to prepare and cook. As it’s finger licking good, it’s totally worth the calories and effort every once in a while.

For the Pork Belly:
My Mom said she followed the recipe in this link with the following alterations described below:

Score pork belly the night before you plan to roast it. Apply salt and vinegar rub (not just salt as recipe indicates) to the scored belly, rub well into crevices, place uncovered in the refrigerator over night. If there is one thing we learned from our years spent living in Good Ol’ Blighty, a pork belly must air out overnight uncovered to ensure a crunchy, crisp crackling.

For the sweet, sour and slightly Asian inspired dipping sauce, ground spices can be substituted for whole spices, as well as bouillon for stock.

The result is nothing short of perfection – balance of sweet, sour, salt, spice, crunch, soft and juicy…. If that weren’t enough, and believe me, this alone, is more than ample for a fabulous meal… I made ribs as well.

For the BBQ style ribs – done in the oven
Cajun spices work really well to bring out that smokey BBQ style flavor. I used cumin, smoked paprika, chili, chipotle, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano and thyme, then a few healthy glugs of Worcester sauce and ketchup. Let the ribs marinade for a few hours or better still, overnight. Roast low and slow, about 325*F for approx 2 hours depending on the size of the ribs (with a loose foil tent cover), til tender but still firm-ish. You don’t want the meat to be falling apart, just firm enough to have some substance to sink your teeth into. Finally, slather ribs with a coating of your favorite BBQ sauce (homemade if you had a chance to make it in advance), though there is no shame in using one from a bottle. There are so many great options available. I opted for an all natural hickory smoked sauce. Turn oven up to about 350*F, remove foil and let the BBQ sauce cook through and permeate the meat for about 15 more minutes. Remove from the oven, cover again with foil and let rest for about 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

Serve with Yorkshire pudding if you dare and a simple cabbage salad works well.

NB. Clean eating starts Monday.

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Meat free Monday was a success…NB. Twitter photo

But tonight, being Tuesday, meat was on the menu, flank steak fajitas to be specific.

I don’t cook beef steak often, especially not this early in the week, it’s usually reserved for an occasional Friday night treat. But when I do, I like to make it a special, worthy indulgence in both calories and cost. I also generally save wine consumption for the weekend…but hey, rules are meant to be broken, occasionally. Life would be too boring otherwise.

If you are craving a bit of Mexican, here is my take and it couldn’t be easier:

1.5lb flank steak about 3/4 in thick, marbled fat is good as it adds more flavor, slices described below
1 each Pepper and onion sliced
Handful fresh coriander
1 lime
Spicy salsa
Guacamole – I often make this fresh but tonight I cheated… Sabra makes an excellent worthy-homemade-competitor
Low fat sour cream

For the meat marinade -
Drizzle generously w EVOO, Worcester sauce and small glug balsamic
Dash with cumin, paprika, onion and garlic powder, jerk spice mix, dash salt
Let marinade for a few hours or overnight.

Sauté sliced bell peppers and onions until well caramelized, sprinkle with addict nail cumin, paprika and jerk spice mixture. Once nearly finished, pan grill steaks (or if in the mood, fire up the BBQ) until medium rare, about 2min per side, let rest for a few minutes. Cut against the grain and serve on warm lightly toasted tortillas with spicy salsa, guacamole, freshly chopped coriander, lime zest, sautéed peppers and onions and small dollop sour cream.

Devour promptly, perhaps washing it down with a nice glass of red if you are in the mood…




Blueberry Muffins

This is a super simple, healthy recipe for breakfast muffins that is popular with the masses. I was inspired to write this blog entry by my husband’s recent visit to a large chain coffee shop, let’s just call is Square-deer…. He was super hungry and in a rush and grabbed the low calorie blueberry muffin in an effort to be some what healthy, as much as you can be on the go. It’s no shocking revaluation that the low calorie option isn’t all that wonderful for the waist line. Just to put it in perspective, the chain low cal option still had a whopping 500(!!!) calories and 8g of fat, only 80calories less than the full fatty version?!? Yet another reason for me to loathe the likes of Square-Deer. But back to my recipe, and this has only approx 130 calories per muffin (depending on the size muffin you make), yet they are still bursting sweet fruity goodness (NB: you can substitute this for just about any fruit you like):

1 cup plain white flour
3/4 cup whole meal flour
1/3 cup wheat germ or ground flax seed
1tbsp baking soda
2 eggs
1/3 cup raw cane sugar
1 and 1/4cup buttermilk
1/3 cup natural Greek yogurt
2 cups fresh blueberries lightly coated in dusting of flour
Zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 and line muffin tin with cupcake holders.

Combine dry ingredients, combine well with a whisk, there is nothing more off putting than a mouthful of baking soda in poorly mixed batter… I may have been known to make this school girl error on more than 1 occasion…make a well in the center for the wet ingredients.

Separately whisk eggs and combine with other wet ingredient, poor into well of dry ingredient bowl and the key is to stir only until just combined. Add blueberries and lemon zest. Over mixing loaf and muffin batter will result in stodgy, dense results.

Bake for approx 20-25min, let cool in baking pan for about 10min before transferring to a drying rack.

As these muffins don’t have any oil or butter, they tend to stick to the cupcake paper, I therefore find that they are better the next day after they have had a chance to cool fully and the muffins shrink slightly back to size. The paper will peal away no problem the next day. My tip, make them the night before so by breakfast they will be perfect with your caffeine beverage of choice!


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Meatless Monday Mushroom Risotto

I regularly cook meat free Mondays to try to cut down on calories and also to be a bit lighter on the purse strings and I am always searching for new vegetarian recipes (NB. Suggestions welcome :) ). A staple that I frequently cook is risotto, mushroom being my favorite fall back option. Here is my take on mushroom risotto, which I prepared tonight for my parents. The proportions would work well with other types of stock and veggie or meat combinations as well. I make my own stock which I believe really helps enhance the depth and flavor of the dish. Also, using Italian Arborio rice will ensure a truly authentic nutty al dente risotto. I also add loads of freshly chopped spinach as it makes the meal wholesome and balanced with a nearly half ratio of veggie to rice. You can easily make a larger batch of the mushroom stock in advance and freeze it in batches so it’s on hand as and when you want to use it (for stews and soups also). This recipes yields approx 4 dinner servings.

1/2lb sliced mushrooms
3oz pack dried mushrooms
3 cups water
2 cups dry white wine
1 shallot minced
2 cloves garlic minced
Large handful chopped fresh parsley
2 cups fresh spinach leaves roughly chopped
Pinch salt and black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch dried Italian herbs
2 cups Italian Arborio rice
2tbsp butter
2tbsp EVOO

For the mushroom stock:
Place dried mushrooms in pot with water, wine, garlic, small handful fresh parsley, pinch of dried Italian herbs (about 1/4tsp dried rosemary, oregano and chili flake combo) and half the shallot, let simmer on low heat for about 1.5 hours. Strain ingredients into a food processor reserving liquid for later. Blitz ingredient into a rough paste and return to mushroom stock liquid.

In a separate pan sauté sliced mushrooms and rest of minced shallots and garlic on medium heat until light golden brown. Remove ingredients from pan and set aside. Place arborio rice in the same sauté pan and let it toast lightly for a few minutes, constantly stirring so rice gets a cream color with faint golden edges. Turn burner heat to low, add 1 ladle of mushroom stock and stir until absorbed. Let stock absorb almost entirely before adding the next ladle full. The idea is to add stock slowly and wait each time until nearly entirely absorbed by the rice, regularly stirring. When about half of the stock is added and absorbed return the sautéed mushroom veggie combination to the pan, continue to add ladles of stock and to stir regularly. The process will take about 30-40min. The rice is finished when it is a firm texture but not hard or crunchy. Test it occasionally until it reaches the ideal al dente texture. Add the chopped parsley, spinach and butter and stir until spinach wilted and butter melted, this helped create and smooth, velvety some what creamy coating on the rice albeit maintaining the firm slightly nutty texture of the rice. Lastly add the EVOO and sprinkle generously with freshly grated Parmesan and cracked black pepper. Serve with light dry red wine, and as my 16month old says at meal time NOMNOMNOM!


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