Saturday, 5 July 2008

Finger licking good

As you will have gathered by now Will is off to the big smoke, Londinium. To mark this occasion we had some folk over for dinner. On the menu to start were some pretty good pork ribs, courtesy of our friend Nigel Slater. The recipe is simplicity itself an found in the Kitchen Diaries, one of my favourite cookbooks if not only for its beautiful binding but for the charming prose found within.

Essentially, you buy a bunch of ribs, get a big bowl into which you put the following things
6 tbsp thickish honey
3 heaped tbsp oyster sauce
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
4 whole star anise
¼ tsp salt flakes
¼ tsp black peppercorns
mix it all up, add the ribs and leave to marinate. This can be for a couple for hours or overnight if you are organised. You then pop them in the oven and slow cook for and hour and a half. Out they come and they are gooey and the meat falls of the bone. Tasty.

We followed this by a lamb shank dish from Nigella, which I have to admit needed some tinkering with, to satisfy our taste buds. As it comes we felt the sauce a little one dimensional, when what we wanted was a sauce that you wanted to mop up with bread. To resolve this issue I added some sun-dried tomato puree. This contained some chili,salt and some herbs too and had the desired effect of making the gravy more robust and moreish.

This was served with couscous with pomegranates, pine nuts, chives and spring onions which was light counterpoint to the heaviness of the shanks.

To top this all off, Rachel produced this beautiful creation.

We all love meringue, especially with cream and berries ala Eton Mess. Rachel took this one step further by phoning her mum who is a dab hand at making Pavlova to learn how to whip this up, quite literally. If I learned one thing about meringue it is to eschew modern whisking equipment, and do it by hand. The other is that corn flour and vinegar are the secret to gooey meringue.

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