Friday 22 September 2017

Pork Steaks with Gin & Coriander Sauce

Pork Steaks with Gin & Coriander Sauce

  • 2 juniper berries
  • 4 tbsp Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin, warmed
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 x 175g/6oz thick, boneless pork steaks
  • 150ml cloudy apple juice
  • 4 tbsp crème fraiche

Crush the juniper berries coarsely using a pestle and mortar (if you don’t have one, cover them in a tea towel and give a good whacking with a rolling pin!).  Warm the gin in a small pan, add the berries and leave to soak for 20 minutes.  Trim the pork, leave on a little fat for flavour and to keep the steak moist.  Drain the berries, reserving the gin for later.

In a mini blender or using a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic, rosemary and coriander seeds with the juniper berries and 2 tbsp olive oil.  Spread the mixture over the pork, cover and marinate for as long as possibly (preferably overnight if you can).

Heat the remaining oil in a small non-stick frying pan until very hot.  Add the pork and cook quickly on both sides until golden.  Pour in the gin – boil fast until it disappears or set light to it (carefully) and let the flames burn down – this cooks off the alcohol so you are not left with the alcoholic taste.  Pour in the apple juice.  Scrape the pan to loosen any sticky bits and bring to the boil.

Half cover the pan with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes until the pork is cooked and the sauce is reduced but not too thick.  Remove the pork to a warm plate.  Swirl through the crème fraiche into the sauce.  Bring back to the boil and boil rapidly for 1-2 minutes until it’s syrupy, then season to taste.  I served the steaks with a good helping of mustard mash, carrots and savoy cabbage.

As we are heading into Autumn this recipe is perfect for this time of year, especially for a Sunday lunch with family and friends.  As one of the key ingredients in this recipe are juniper berries, I chose Blackdown Sussex Dry Gin which contains 11 botanicals, one of which is also juniper, this really brings the sauce to life, as you can imagine, with that amount of botanicals, the sauce is packed full of flavour, trust me, you wont be disappointed! 

Blackdown Artisan Spirits can be found nestled within the foothills of the Blackdown Hills, West Sussex, where they are surrounded by the beautiful South Downs National Park.  They produce a number of spirits which are each produced in small batches using selected ingredients sourced from local and English producers.  They combine age old traditions with a unique modern taste of the English countryside.  As well as gin, they also produce a silver birch vermouth (which I hope to be cooking with soon!), silver birch vodka and a blackcherry liqueur.  All of these products can be purchased via

This recipe is courtesy of Good Food Magazine.

Tuesday 19 September 2017

Festival of Sussex Gins

Earlier in the month we went down to Hotel du vin in Brighton where the Festival of Sussex Gins was being held.  The event was put together by Jo and Jason from the Brighton Gin Club and sponsored by Fentimans.  As the title suggests, the event was to showcase Sussex gins.

Jo and Jason from the Brighton Gin Club
Having been to a couple of gin festivals in the past, this was on a smaller scale; obviously the reason being is there are only so many Sussex gins!  Great little venue, I did wonder if there would be enough to do in our allotted 3 hour visit, however I needn’t have worried.

Upon arrival we were given our gin glass and taster card and then let loose to sample the gintastic delights that awaited us.   Basically you visited each stand to sample their particular gin, marked it off on your taster card and at the end of the event you handed in your completed card and received your goody bag which contained several taster bottles of gin, recipe cards, discount vouchers and flyers with information about all the distillers. We also picked up sticks of rock along the way from the lovely lady at Brighton Gin! 

Jane Keating from Brighton Gin

  As with any good event there was a bar from which you could purchase bottles of the gins that were being showcased and also drink tokens.  Once you purchased your tokens you then visited your stand of choice to receive a full measure of gin along with ice and the appropriate garnish which you then took to lovely Nicola (she of the flame hair and amazing Vivienne Westwood shoes!) at the Fentimans stand who then provide you with your mixer of choice.

Nicola Bourne from Fentimans
As mentioned above, for the afternoon session we had 3 hours to make our way around and sample the 12 gins being showcased, all I can say is where did the time go!  Everyone manning the stands was so friendly and we had long chats with all of them (that’s probably where the time went, I do like to talk!) and each and every one of them was so passionate about their gin, it really did make for a great afternoon.  As a recent convert to gin it still astounds me that there is such a variety of flavours, you would think gin is gin, but hell no, once those botanicals get into the mix this is where the fun begins! 

Thomas Martin-Wells from Slake Gin

A number of gins that I tried had a very strong flavour when tried neat however add a mixer and wow they become something completely different.  I had always said I could probably only drink one or two g&t’s in a sitting and that was mainly due to the tonic, there is only so much quinine my mouth can take!  That said, tonics and mixers have come a long way over the years and Fentimans certainly seem to be leading the way that’s for sure, so much choice.  Every gin has it’s perfect partner be it a tonic, mixer or garnish, so many combinations that you can experiment with, bring on the gin I say!

Gail Woolston from Brilliant Gim
 The day itself was split up into two sessions, afternoon and evening, each session holding 100 people which for me was perfect. At previous events I have been to, there were far too many people, you had to queue for ages to get a sample or a drink at the bar, and you didn’t really get the time to talk to the distillers. However there was none of that here, a great event put on by the Brighton Gin Club, great choice of gins not to mention the mixers and tonics, all in all top marks Jo and Jason and certainly great value for money -  I have never been given gin to take away before in a goody bag!

Sarah Thompson from Blackdown Gin
 On the day we got to sample the following luscious gins (and I would recommend each and every one of them):-
  • Blackdown Gin (they also do vodka, vermouth and a blackcherry liqueur)
  • Brighton Gin
  • Brilliant Gin
  • Cabin Pressure
  • Foxhole Gin
  • Mayfield Sussex Hop Gin (this made what little hair I have left curl!)
  • Old Hove Gin
  • One Sage Gin
  • Simpsons Old Tom Gin
  • Slake Sussex Dry Gin (I am lucky enough to be paying them a visit this very weekend)
  • Tom Cat Dry Sussex Gin
Old Hove Gin
Over the coming months I will be featuring recipes on my blog using some of the gins showcased at the festival and will provide a bit more info about the distiller used when I do.  I have to say, having asked the distillers about cooking with gin, the recurring answer was to make gravlax, well, trust me, I shall be coming up with a few tasty recipes a tad different so watch this space!

The Brighton Gin Club put on a number of events in and around Brighton throughout the year so visit their website for details of up and coming events:-

Saturday 16 September 2017

Kankun Chicken Tinga Tacos

Kankun Chicken Tinga Tacos

  • 1 jar Kankun tinga cooking sauce
  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 8 small flour tortillas
  • Handful of crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 2 radishes thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped coriander 

In a medium sized pot heat a small amount of vegetable oil, add the chicken breasts and brown off 5-10 minutes, turn the chicken a few times otherwise it may stick to the pan!  Add the jar of sauce and cook for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken to a chopping board and shred using two forks.  Return the shredded chicken to the pan of sauce and mix so the chicken is evenly coated in the sauce.  

Plate up your tortillas, add a good helping of the chicken to each one, top with some crumbled feta, add a dollop of sour cream and then the spring onions and radish slices and finally a sprinkle of the coriander.

This is my take on the chicken tinga taco and even if I do say so myself, God, that was good.  My good friends at Kankun Sauce provided the tinga sauce so I can't take all the credit.  These are from a new range of cooking sauces that they have brought out and this is the first one I have tried, all I can say is if the other two are as tasty as this then they are onto a sure-fire winner here.  The tinga sauce is packed full of flavour and has a nice heat behind it, so much so I had no use for chopped jalapeño peppers as the sauce was plenty hot enough without being uncomfortable!  Having looked at a few tinga taco recipes they mainly seemed to consist of the meat, some onion and coriander, so I thought I would add a few more ingredients to the mix which I'm glad I did, this was so good I want it again tomorrow but I don't have any more sauce!  

Keep up the good work Kankun, you had me with your chilli sauces and mole and now you have me yet again with these cooking sauces! Love love love them! Please give them a try, if you love Mexican food you will love these, you don't need to go out to get your Mexican fix you can now do it for yourself at home.

Sunday 3 September 2017

Sweet and Sour Chicken

Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 medium onion cut into 12 wedges
  • 2 different coloured peppers, deseeded and cut into 3cm chunks
  • 225g can of water chestnuts
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 25g chunk of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the Sauce
  • 425g can of pineapple chunks in natural juice
  • 2 tbsp cornflower
  • 150ml water
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • ½ tsp dried chilli flakes

To make the sauce, drain the pineapple in a sieve over a bowl and keep all the juice, you should have about 150ml.  Put the cornflower in a large bowl and stir in 3 tablespoons of the pineapple juice to make a smooth paste.  Add the remaining juice and the water, then stir in the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, ketchup and chilli flakes until thoroughly combined.  Set aside.

Cut each chicken breast into 8 or 9 pieces.  Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan or wok and stir-fry the onions and peppers for 2 minutes over a high heat.  Drain the water chestnuts and cut them in half horizontally.

Add the remaining oil and the chicken to the pan and stir-fry for 2 minutes until coloured on all sides.  Add the garlic, ginger, pineapple chunks and water chestnuts and stir-fry for 30-60 seconds.

Give the cornflour and pineapple mixture a good stir and add it to the pan with the chicken and vegetables.  Stir well, season with some ground black pepper and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 4-6 minutes until the sauce is thickened and glossy and the chicken is tender and cooked throughout, turning the chicken and vegetables a few times.  I served this with some egg fried rice.

This recipe is taken from The Hairy Dieters “How to love food and loose weight” – Each portion has 288 calories and should provide 4 portions.

I had my doubts that this would be as good as my local takeaway, especially when I put all the liquid mix into the dish it just didn’t look right but as you can see from the photo, it all came together and looks just like the takeaway version, but I have to say this had more flavour and for a lot less calories so you don’t have to feel guilty anymore about having the takeaway feeling at home!