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One-Pan Crispy Chicken with Buttery Lemony Mushroom Orzo

This one-pan wonder combines crispy-skinned chicken, baked directly on top of buttery, lemony orzo, studded with wild mushrooms, leeks and baby spinach. It’s a complete (and completely delicious) dinner, made in a single skillet. 

Sticky Toffee Pudding (warm date cake)

Sticky toffee pudding is a hallowed British dessert which translates to American as “warm date cake drizzled with toffee sauce”. Either way you say it, it’s a deliciously rich and comforting treat, perfect for a chilly evening. 

Classic British Pork Pies

Your classic British cold pork lunch pie – seasoned pork and aspic in a firm and thoroughly tasty hot water crust pastry. It’s a process befitting a Tudor kitchen, but making these Melton Mowbray-style pork pies is way easier – and more fun! – than you might expect.

Chicken Liver Pâté with Thyme and Brandy

Chicken Liver Pâté with Thyme and Brandy

Chicken Liver Pâté with Thyme and Brandy

This pate – aka chopped livers – is a really versatile appetizer or party snack … and may even convert the non-liver-lover. 

I’m not gonna lie. Like most (all?) kids, I grew up hating liver. During the Jewish holidays, just the thought of that bowl of chopped liver, in all it’s grayish-brown glory, was enough to get me to fake a stomach flu. As I got older (and my mom, who is an excellent cook, took over Passover dinner from my culinarily-deprived Aunts) I came to really like it. Now I make my own (boozy) Passover version which is similar to this Pâté but with a much more rustic texture (and no butter of course).

If you think you don’t like liver, this is the dish that will likely change your mind. It’s rich and luxurious, silky and smooth, with sweetness from slow cooked onions and apple brandy. Stop making that face and try it!

Liver is also exceptionally nutritious, full of vitamins A and B12, and essential nutrients like folate and iron. That’s not why you should try it though. You should try it because it’s delicious and it’s time to experiment with grown-up things.

Pâté is also the most affordable, easiest, make-ahead appetizer (look at how much chicken livers cost!). Even fancy organic ones are a bargain. Serve it with crackers or baguette slices, and some tart cornichons, or even better, Spiced Pickled Grapes.

Creamed Pearl Onions

Creamed Pearl OnionsCreamed pearl onions is one of those holiday dishes that seems so unnecessary… until one year you don’t make it and everyone gets mad and you realize it’s a tradition for a reason, damn it. There’s something about that soft (but not too soft) texture and that simple, pale sauce that just works.

It’s a little smoky from the bacon. A little boozy from the sherry. Pure holiday delight.

Crispy Pork Belly with Soy Honey Glaze

Crispy Pork Belly with Soy Honey Glaze

Crispy Pork Belly with Soy Honey Glaze

Crispy Pork Belly with Soy Honey Glaze

I may have mentioned that Matt and I went to the UK last summer and ate a lot of pork belly.  It was consistently one of the best dishes we had all over several parts of England and Wales. If there’s one thing the British know, it’s how to make excellent crackling (that sound you hear is Matt furiously listing all the other things British people are excellent at. (So far;  crackling, funny shows, more funny shows, chicken keeping). I’m sure there’s more but we’ll leave it at that for now.

This was pretty much a nightly conversation on our trip. Emily: “We have to make this when we get back” (distractedly tries to figure out recipe). Matt: “Stop looking at me like I stole all the crackling!” (whilst licking crackling-glazed fingers).

Well, we’ve been back for six months and our local shop now has lovely local pork belly and we thought we’d finally try to make it in our local stove. In England, it was often paired with bubble and squeak, and a hard cider sauce but I really wanted  to try a soy and honey glaze combined with the crisp crackling we found on our trip.

If you can get (good quality, ethically raised) pork belly with the skin still on – you’ll need the skin to get truly crispy pork belly – it’s definitely worth seeking out. It’s a very affordable cut and it’s also very rich, so you’ll want small portions. That being said, I wouldn’t bother cooking a piece smaller than about 2 pounds because it will shrink a lot in the oven and could dry out. There’s also so much you can do with the leftovers.

It’s absolutely lovely paired with a fried egg and this Pickled Cucumber and Avocado Salad (really any crisp, vinegary greens would be great). I also really love it with Sesame Roasted Pears and a tart kale salad. But my all time favorite use of pork belly is Bánh mì sliders. So, so good.

Crispy Pork Belly with Soy Honey Glaze

Sesame Roasted Pears

Sesame Roasted Pears

Sesame Roasted PearsIt’s pear season! I love pears but I find it impossible to catch them at their perfect ripeness. They go from being hard as a rock to mush in what seems like minutes, don’t they? I also get an itchy mouth from most raw fruit (such a bummer during peach season) but pop these in the oven for 20 minutes and problem solved!

I first made these with duck breasts (using a Tyler Florence recipe) but thought it would be delicious with my newabsolutemostfavorite thing ever, Crispy Pork Belly with Soy Honey Glaze.

I know it sounds weird but this would also be a really nice addition to a Thanksgiving table. The sesame flavor is very mellow, almost a little nutty and would complement traditional Thanksgiving flavors well. You could scatter some toasted walnuts and Bleu cheese over them… oh my god, that would be so good. Must resist leaving work to make this right now.

It’s better to use slightly under than over-ripe pears but it’s a pretty forgiving recipe.

Crispy Pork Belly with Sesame Roasted Pears Crispy Pork Belly with Sesame Roasted Pears

That’ll do, hen.

That’ll do, hen.

Egg One

Egg One

It’s been an exciting sort of week in the world of chickens around these parts.

First, we started getting eggs last weekend. I might have mentioned in our first chicken post that we weren’t exactly sure how old our hens were, but breath was baited, fingers were crossed, wood was touched, and, more practically, I purchased a couple of small plastic eggs from Amazon and set them in the nesting boxes, as if to say, “Look. You see that? That’s what you’re supposed to do.”

The days are getting shorter. My research suggested that hens need about 14 hours of daylight to lay, so I had also run a light into the coop and set a daily timer to come on at 4.30 every morning. (I’ve since relented a little and given them a little lie-in; it now comes on at 5.30 every morning. I’m not a monster.)

Whether any of the above helped, or whether it was just their time, our first small, brown, speckled egg appeared on the morning of Saturday 12th October, exactly six weeks after we first settled the chickens into their new home. The next day, one more, and the next day, two. That day I also found one of the hens crouching at the corner of the garden, and when I investigated, found it had created something with a soft shell.

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