Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Mulled Ginger Beer

There are so many Christmas traditions I love, from the classic minced pies, fruit cake and of course, the turkey with all its trimmings on the big day itself. But this is also treat-season and boy, I do know how to treat myself well. After a somewhat productive day off doing the Christmas shopping, I want to wallow more in the festivities.

At home, I put on Christmas carols and I make my mulled ginger beer. I do love the more traditional mulled wine, believe me (that is my drink of the season), but this mulled ginger beer is lighter and just all too drinkable which in my case can be dangerous.

It is full of Christmas warmth from the ginger beer, strong ginger and lemon tea, and slices of fresh ginger. But not just heat, it is also fruity from the lemon in the tea and the clementine. Spice wise, cinnamon is a must and a couple of aromatic cloves. And since I am in the Caribbean, I feel like adding a generous splosh of dark rum is very appropriate. I add the rum at the very end, because I don't want to lose all the alcohol. Don't judge me.

This is a great drink to make for a party because it can be made well in advance and it'll sit happily on a low heat. Plus, your guests will arrive with the most welcoming scent. 

If you want to make a virgin version of this, just switch the ginger beer to the non-alcoholic kind and leave out the rum, obviously. 

Have a Happy Christmas everyone!

Mulled Ginger Beer
Serves 1, happily

330 ml ginger beer
200 ml ginger and lemon tea
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, or to taste
1/2 clementine
2 cloves
1 cinnamon stick
1 cm fresh ginger, cut into slices
A generous splosh of dark rum

Pour the cider and tea into a saucepan, add the brown sugar and put over a low heat to mull. Stud the clementine with a couple of cloves and add to the pan with the cinnamon stick and slices of fresh ginger. 

Let the mixture simmer and infuse nicely. Add the rum at the end, serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Jerk Pork Chop with Rice and Beans

This jerk pork chop was all I can think about when I was at the gym this morning. I always think about food and my next meal anyway; and after a good workout session, of course, I have to find a great way to replace all the calories I burned.

Jerk seasoning is essential in Caribbean cooking and yes, you can buy the ready-made mix from the store; but making them at home is not difficult. Plus, you can adjust the spices to your liking. Don't be alarmed by array of spices and long list of ingredients. You might already have all of these in your cupboard. Especially at this time of year, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger are the champion spices of the holidays. So, I always have a good stock of them.

The pork chop I use here is bone-in and I always prefer that when cooking meats. As the saying goes, the closer to the bone, the sweeter is the meat. Also, I love nibbling on the bone afterwards.

Because there's so much flavour in the jerk marinade, the pork chop doesn't need a long time to sit around. If you have the time, let's say a couple of hours, yes, sure why not or even overnight. But when you're hungry like me, fifteen minutes will do just fine.

What is also crucial for me is to bash the pork chop in between a couple pieces of cling film to make it thinner which means later it will need less cooking time. When I am hungry, I want food... fast!

The traditional accompaniment to jerk chicken or pork is rice and beans. The beans most often used are red kidney beans or pigeon peas. Purists might not agree with my brown rice and sauteed green beans but they delight me. 

Jerk Pork Chop
Serves 1, happily

1 bone-in pork chop
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cm fresh ginger, finely grated
1 small clove of garlic, finely minced or grated
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of runny honey
2 tablespoon of soy sauce
Zest and juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Brown rice and green beans, to serve

If your pork chop is thick, bash it with a rolling pin or wine bottle (that's what I use) between two pieces of cling film to make it thinner.

In a bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning and spices to your liking. Then smear everything to your pork chop and leave it aside for few minutes, whilst you cook the rice or prep the green beans.

Heat a heavy-based pan on a moderate heat and cook the chop for about five minutes to really form a nice crust before turning it and cooking for another five minutes. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to rest. This little resting time will ensure the pork stays juicy.

Using the same pan, add a knob of butter and cook the green beans. Season with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a plate and serve with the brown rice.