Month: May 2011 (page 1 of 8)

American food

Food in the fast lane – Ambitious young chefs are turning their love of American snack food into high-end cuisine…” AWESOME. Bring on the sliders and hot dogs!

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Grand Rapids lip dub

Yes, yes, the Grand Rapids Lip Dub is pretty awesome. But how did they not include the Calder?? I mean, they put it on their garbage trucks but they don’t include their most famous landmark in the video?


It’s 12 days from the marathon, and it’s been pouring rain. I worry with every step that I’m going to slip on rain-slickened leaves and fall down. I stare at my feet as I walk, dreading an ankle roll or a knee twist. On the bus, I shrink back as the girl in front of me hacks and coughs. Can’t I just work from home for the next week and a half?

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I got a mysterious phone call from my friend Kathleen yesterday, saying she had something that would help me out with all my “foodie projects.” Hmmm. After some amusing miscommunication (I thought maybe she had a source for raw milk), she confessed that she’s now a Thermomix rep! I’d heard of these things before. They used them on Masterchef last year, and they’ve been getting pretty rave reviews. It’s hard to categorise them – they’re like a blender crossed with a food processor crossed with a heating element. You can’t buy them in shops; they’re only sold via personal demonstrations (which is what Kathleen is doing). Everyone who’s used one seems to rave about it. Unfortunately they’re pretty pricey, and our kitchen funds are earmarked for new countertops and a fridge. But I promised her I’d blog about it, so if you think you might be interested (and you’re in Sydney), leave me a comment and I’ll put you in touch!

Slow Runners Club

Podcast news
No, not mine. (Sorry Ted!) Yesterday I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest on the latest episode of the Slow Runners Club. Adam and Eddie have been coaching me online for the past month, so it was great to get to talk to them about my final weeks of marathon preparation. As I said on the show, I’m one of those people who loves to learn things from books, but in this sort of situation it’s nice to get advice from people who’ve actually done what I’m trying to do. Of course, it’s the Slow Runners Club so we rarely stayed on one topic for very long! It felt like just a fun chat with friends. You should give it a listen, and don’t forget to donate to the SRC fund for the Diabetes Action Team at the Chicago marathon.

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #17: Pork Chops & Crispy Crackling

Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals #17: Pork Chops & Crispy Crackling
This is our 17th cooking/blogging experiment from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. For this one we chose “Pork Chops & Crispy Crackling, Crushed Potatoes, Minty Cabbage, and Peaches ‘N’ Custard.” We picked it mostly because we had a lot of cabbage already, and it seemed like a good wintry dish. It was also pretty simple, which was good because I was cooking this one BY MYSELF. As we did last week, we adopted a “rally car” method where this time I cooked while the Snook read out the recipe, timed things, and took photos. Once again, it worked really well!

Pork Chops & Crispy Crackling

Substitutions: Our pork chops were a fair bit bigger than the ones he used. We couldn’t get “Maris Piper” potatoes, but we googled them and settled on Desiree as an acceptable substitute. We had plain cabbage instead of Savoy. Everything else was as-written!

Quick verdict: This was a simple, hearty winter meal without anything too fancy. The method for cooking the chops worked well, but the crackling was a disappointment. He doesn’t have you salt it at all(!), so it wasn’t as tasty as it should’ve been. The potatoes and cabbage were both good without being too much work. The dessert was another of his “quick assembly” recipes, and while custard and fruit are always good, it’s not exactly something you’d make to impress. Overall we both rated it 8 out of 10. You probably wouldn’t do this one for a dinner party, but it’s good enough for a cold Tuesday night. My final time was 33:17, so it’s another fast one too! Read on for a photo essay of the preparation.Pre-start prep: We got out all the necessary ingredients, tools, and cooking vessels. The kitchen was clean (well, as clean as it gets) and everything wiped down and ready to go. The oven was turned to 180C and the kettle was boiled. We had a big roasting tray and frypan for the chops, a saucepan for the cabbage, and a small saucepan for the peaches.

First up are the ingredients for the pork: pork chops (skin on), garlic, fennel seeds, sage, and honey.

Pork chop ingredients

Next the smashed potatoes: potatoes, half a lemon, wholegrain mustard, and parsley.

Potato ingredients

The cabbage is very simple: just cabbage and mint sauce. (We used some of the Snook’s homemade mint sauce.)

Cabbage ingredients

And the bits for the dessert: tinned peaches, cinnamon stick, custard, shortbread, and mint (which we didn’t bother with).

Dessert ingredients

Pots and pans, ready to go! The big frypan and the roasting pan are for the pork. The big saucepan is for the cabbage, and the small one is for the peaches.

Pots and pans

Here we go! I started by trimming the skin and some of the fat off each of the pork chops to make the crackling. (This wasn’t easy, and I may have lost a few minutes here due to my inexperienced knife skills.)

Trimming the chops

Then I cut the strips into quarters to make thinner crackling. (Note: We both think we’d leave it thicker next time.)

Slicing the skin

The skin went into the hot frypan, fat side down.

Skin into frypan

Now for the potatoes. I gave them a wash and picked off any gnarly bits.

Cleaning potatoes

I cut them all in half, then placed them in a bowl with half a lemon, salt, and pepper. A double layer of clingfilm went on top and then they went into the microwave.


Back to the chops. I scored the fat on the back of each one, then seasoned with salt and pepper.

Seasoning the chops

The crackling was getting pretty crispy, so I flipped the pieces over. I also added 8 unpeeled, squashed cloves of garlic.

Garlic and crackling

Next I transferred the garlic and crackling to the roasting pan with some fennel seeds and put it in the oven. I then put the chops in the frypan, standing them on edge to render the remaining fat.

Rendering chops

While the chops were cooking, I prepped the cabbage by removing the core and outer leaves, then cutting it into wedges. These went into the saucepan with boiling water to cook.

Starting the cabbage

Once the fat on the chops was golden, I laid them down flat to brown up on each side for a few minutes.

Cooking the chops

Next I took the roasting tray out of the oven. The garlic was smelling nice.

Garlic and crackling

The pork chops went into the tray, along with some fresh sage. I tossed everything together to coat.

Adding sage and tossing

Then the whole thing gets drizzled with honey and put back in the oven to finish.

Drizzling honey

The dessert didn’t require much cooking. I dumped the peaches into the small saucepan with a cinnamon stick and let it cook.


By now the potatoes were cooked, so I added wholegrain mustard, salt, pepper, and olive oil to the bowl.

Cooked potatoes

Chopped parsley was added, and then I “smashed” everything up as best I could. The potatoes were finished!

Finished potatoes

The cabbage was now tender, so I took it off the heat and drained it.

Draining cabbage

The peaches were still simmering away…

Cooking peaches

To finish the cabbage, I added mint sauce, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

Adding mint sauce and seasoning

After a quick toss, the cabbage was finished!

Finished cabbage

At this point, I would like to draw your attention to the benchtop. “Some chefs,” I said pointedly to the Snook, “like to work CLEAN.”

A tidy chef is a productive chef

As soon as the oven timer went off, I pulled the finished pork chops out. They looked pretty good!

Finished pork chops

The finished meal of pork chops with crackling and garlic, minty cabbage, and smashed potatoes.

Finished meal

To finish the dessert, I poured custard into a bowl and topped it with the cooked peaches. Then I crumbled some shortbread on top.

Finished dessert

Tasting notes: I had high hopes for the crackling but was disappointed. It was just hard, chewy little shards without much flavour. I really think it needs to be salted before it’s cooked. Rodd said, “I think the crackling method he described is not very effective.” The pork chops were cooked well. We both liked the veg, and Rodd thought that the flavours all worked nicely together. Dessert was a little boring, but hey, it’s hard to go too wrong with fruit and custard. As I said before, this is a decent 8/10 weekday meal but probably not something fancy enough for a date or a dinner party. At only 33 minutes preparation time though, it’s certainly one of the quicker and easier recipes we’ve tried!

Stay tuned for another recipe from Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals!

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