Wednesday, 18 February 2015


It's been just over a year since Mr. Grad moved over to the UK with me and whilst we eat Italian style food most days there are times when he hankers after a taste of home that is something more that just pasta. This week was one such week when he had a craving for Porchetta. 

Porchetta is a traditional Italian street food made from a whole deboned pig that it stuffed with herbs and spices and slow roasted in a fire pit and then pulled apart and usually put between two pieces of delicious crusty bread. Driving through any place in Italy you are likely to come across a roadside trailer selling this magical food. It is really out of this world delicious, just the smell when you are driving by is just heavenly and the panino itself... oh man... 

So anyway, Mr. Grad got on about wanting some Porchetta, now I don't have the space nor inclination to roast a whole pig, let alone the stomach to debone the poor beast, but I promised I'd try to make some for him. I began my research in earnest, there are so many Porchetta recipe's out there with all kinds of ingredients and I think a lot of them have tried to jazz up the dish to make it less humble street food and more gourmet 'look at what I made' kind of food. I didn't want any of that because the great and wonderful thing about Italian food is that it is simple! Forget all this Pine Nuts, Raisins and Chicken Livers nonsense. I'm sure it's delicious... well kind of... raisins and meat never particularly struck me as good together... but it's not Porchetta as I know it. A lot of recipes also are intended for slicing the meat which Mr. Grad informs me is not particularly common, rather it's more reminiscent of pulled pork. This is why if you are going for that kind of feel the Shoulder is better than the Belly as it falls apart so much better. We are also not huge fans of Pork Belly because of the amount of fat it has in it, nothing really worse than chewing through fat. 

After a good few recipes I came across a few that seemed to fit the bill so I set about making porchetta.

We were also really lucky because at this time I had just received a new programme invite by Tesco Orchard for their meat campaign. If you don't know what Tesco Orchard is you should totally check it out. Basically you fill in surveys and they invite you to try out new products based on your survey answers. They send you out vouchers which usually entitles you to a free product and extra vouchers to give to your friends. All you have to do is just talk about the product and report back to Tesco in the form of Tweets, Facebook Posts, Reviews, Blogs and so on, whatever you like! It's so much fun!

So onto Porchetta, thanks to Tesco Orchard I had a £10 voucher for fresh meat and they were also running a promotion on Pork Shoulder at £2.99 per kg. I managed to get a 3.6kg piece of deboned Pork Shoulder for 90p! Talk about a bargain! Now I had to butterfly it and well that was my first attempt and whilst perhaps it wasn't the neatest it did the job just fine! There are plenty of videos on youtube if you don't know how to do it, or you could ask your butcher to do it for you. Unfortunately I don't have a butcher but perhaps with time I will get better. I'm pretty sure I'll have plenty of practice because this went down SO well... I actually gave some to another Italian friend who loved it too so it does have the native seal of approval! I promise you if you make this you will LOVE it. It has so much flavour and is so fall apart tender and moist! and then you get the delicious crunchy skin running through and oh my just delicious!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Gluten Free Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes!!

Today is my friends birthday! Happy Birthday Derek! Yaaaay! 


What better way to celebrate a birthday than with cupcakes?! Unfortuantely my friend has a gluten intolerance so for a long while has only ever been able to eat those icky carboardy gluten free cupcakes that you buy in the supermarket *plegh*. That was until... he met me! Every year I send him cupcakes for his birthday... did you know you can send cupcakes in the post?? I found out a little while ago that there are a few products on the market like these very functional Postable Cupcake Pods or these Cakes-Away Postable Cupcake Boxes that look so pretty! I've used both with great success sending them to friends on random occassion because hey who doesn't like getting surprise cupcakes in the morning?? 

Anyway, birthday cupcakes, so every year I try to make him some delicious cupcakes for his birthday and a really awesome resource for gluten free cupcakes (and everything else!) is Gluten Free Canteen I've made so many things from there like these Double Chocolate Espresso Cupcakes and these Drunken Chocolate Cupcakes and so many others! All of them have been so delicious, in fact my non gluten free friends can't taste the difference that's how good they are!

Today I wanted to make something a bit different. I love salted caramel and I found a jar in the supermarket the other day and thought it would be perfect for the cupcakes. I've made Salted Caramel Cupcakes before that were a total hit so why not make a gluten free version to share with my dear friend? So using my go to resource I found these Chocolate Sundae Cupcakes which I adapted slightly to my purposes (also reducing the sugar a little) since I just wanted a really good chocolate cupcake base and they certainly didn't dissapoint! Rich, dark, perfectly moist and oh so chocolatey... delicious! Then I cut out a little hole in the top and filled with Salted Caramel Sauce and topped with more salted caramel flavoured buttercream and drizzled with even more salted caramel sauce and finally topped it off with a little square of chocolate just to set it over the top! (hey it is his birthday!)

Don't they look worthy of a celebration cupcake??