The meal I nearly forgot to blog about

I was looking forward all week to cooking dinner for friends, taking photos and being able to blog about it. However, caught up in the cooking, the anxiety that everything turned out ok and the impatience to start eating, I completely forgot about the blogging. Or at least I did until we were just about to start eating the main course and one of my friends says, ‘So Fleur, are you going to blog about this meal then?’ Arghhhh! I’d forgotten to take photos of the  starter I’d been so pleased with. Fortunately I could still get the main in and the dessert though. For the starter I made some Piadine, an Italian flat bread, which is so quick and easy to make, yet really impressive. The dough gets rolled out into rounds and then fried in a dry frying pan or griddle pan for a few minutes each side. To go with the bread I made a large platter of Prosciutto, goats cheese and balsamic roasted cherry tomatoes. (In place of a photo of the starter I’ve provided a rather cute photo of one of the two dogs I’m dog-sitting for this week whilst the owners are away skiing. So I am also house sitting, which means a bath, an en-suite, a tumble dryer, six gas hobs and a double oven. For a student, this is such luxury!)

For the main course I made a Greek pork and prune stew with leek, peppers and carrot. I felt I was taking a pretty big risk with this one as fruit in savoury dishes isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But, quote Matt, ‘Fleur, I don’t normally like sweet stuff in main meals, but this is actually really good, the flavours balance really well.’ Result! A generous squeeze of lemon juice to finish off the stew provided a good zesty contrast to the prunes. And the prunes had taken on a lot of the stewy flavour, resulting in less pruney tasting prunes and a gorgeously sticky, slightly sweet sauce. I will, however, be in no rush to make a large quantity of rice again. It went rather gluey!

But fortunately I think dessert erased the gluey rice from everyone’s mind. Sticky toffee pudding! I’m not sure how many times the word ‘amazing’ was uttered, but it was a lot (and I felt rather smug!) I’d made the pudding and the toffee sauce the day before and kept them in the fridge. I then reheated them both before serving, so the praise was also largely hassle free! (Sadly this photo does the pudding no justice what so ever.)

Pork and Prune Stew (adapted from Jamie Does…)

Serves 8

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 kg pork leg, trimmed, and cut into 3-4cm chunks
  • 150ml red wine
  • 1tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2  leeks, sliced thickly
  • 2 red peppers, chopped into rough 3-4cm pieces
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1.5 tsp dried oregano
  • 1.5 tbsp tomato purée
  • 250g prunes
  • juice 1 lemon
  • Large handful parsley, chopped
  1. Heat 2tbsp oil in a large casserole dish over a moderate heat. Fry the pork for about 10 mins, stirring every few mins until golden brown all over. (If your dish isn’t large enough to fit all the pork in a single layer, cook the pork in batches.)
  2. Add the wine and vinegar to the pan (along with all the pork) and cook for about 5 mins until reduced by about two-thirds. Transfer the pork and liquid to a bowl and return the pan to the heat.
  3. Add another tbsp oil to the pan and fry the leeks, peppers and carrots with the oregano for about 10-15 mins, stirring now and then until soft.
  4. Return the pork and liquid to the pan. Season. Stir in the tomato purée and add enough water to just cover everything.
  5. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat to very low and cover. Cook for around 2 hours until the meat is falling apart. Add the prunes and then cook for a further 45 minutes with the lid off, or until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
  6. Add lemon juice to taste and season. Sprinkle over the parsley.
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