Monthly Archives: April 2013

Project Pig Skin

This might seem a bit weird, someone trying to lose weight making pork scratchings. Seriously they are full of fat and salt. They can’t be good for, what are you doing, go look at yourself.

Well, I did, and they didn’t stop me from loosing weight. I’m not eating carbs at the moment, (well I am eating a few, some veg, nuts, bit of fruit, small bit of chocolate) I’m not following any particular diet, I’ve read them all and it’s pretty obvious that cutting out bread, rice, pasta, potatoes will cut out a massive amount of calorie intake. But the only thing I notice missing is that savoury, salty crunch you get in anything from crisps to chips to even toast. The only thing I can find that come close and doesn’t have any carbs in it is pork scratchings.

I was in the supermarket last week and ended up buying three types of pork scratchings and some pork rind to make my own.

After trawling the internet I had a few ideas of how I was going to make them. Having two bits of rind I decided on baked and fried. I didn’t just want to make crackling,  I wanted some proper pork scratchings. The internet doesn’t have that many home made recipes for pork scratchings, which surprised me a bit.

First up…

Baked Pork Scratchings!!!

  • Pork rind
  • salt
  • paprika, or other flavourings (optional)
  • time

Everything I read pointed to needing to dry out that pork rind before you start cooking. Everyone has different timings. I just rubbed some sea salt on both sides of the pork rind, placed in the tin I would eventually cook them in and then banged it in the fridge. About every 12 hours I drained off the water, patted the rind down with paper towel, salted and whacked it back in the fridge. For no reason other than I couldn’t be arsed cooking them the first day I left the rind drying out for two days.

When it came to cooking the scratchings I took the dried out rind and cut it into rectangles. I probably left them a bit too big and I was too regimented. Scratchings in a packet are usually mental curly shapes, mine turned out a bit too consistent. I’m not sure if scoring on the underside would have curled them up a bit more. But maybe next time.

For the cooking, I salted the cut up rind and coated in paprika, smashed them in the pre-heated oven at about 180°C for about ten minutes and then turned the heat down to 140°C. Every half hour I checked on the little fuckers and drained the fat off. I must have cooked them for about three hours until I ended up with these bad boys…

Baked Scratchings

They tasted pretty fucking good. A little salty and a little hard but they had that nice crunch combined with the soft little bit of fat. Yeah, they tasted like pork scratchings.

Next up…

Fried Pork Scratchings!!!

  • Pork rind
  • salt
  • water
  • oil

Having two bits of pork rind I thought, fuck it, I’ll try two ways. These ones are like the more puffy pork scratchings you can buy that don’t usually have that risk factor of a big chunk of soft fat attached like the other type do.

For these ones people seem to boil the rind first, so that is what I did. Bang the rind in a salted pan of boiling water and simmer for an hour or two. Take it out of the water (for squeamish people, this will be pretty rank) and after it has cooled down a bit scrape all the fat off the underside. Now you have to dry it again. I cut the rind up, salted it and banged it back in the fridge for a day.

Heat up some oil (I used a wok) and throw the dried rind in. Now I did a couple of test bits and they didn’t puff up enough so I decided to try and dry them out more in the oven at the lowest temp for an hour. I got bored and just threw them all in the oil, when I put more than one bit in at a time they all puffed up. After draining I was left with these…

Fried scratchings

These weren’t as good (but to be fair I’m not as big of a fan of this type when you buy them in a shop anyway).

That was my adventure with pig skin. If I do it again, I’ll stick to the baked ones, but come on, they were a bit of a faff, yes, most of it was just waiting around, but that is still space in the fridge being used. The cost of the rind wasn’t too dissimilar to the price of a packet of pork scratchings and I don’t want to think about how much electricity I used cooking them.

I think I will leave this one to the pros.

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Blogs like Buses

I know you have been waiting around for me to write a blog for months and then boom three come along at once (four if you include this one, I don’t, it’s not about anything).

But I’ve not really had anything to write about. Most of my blogs have been about beer or baking. I did go on holiday the other week and get snowed in for a day where I went for a walk and ended up flapping about in snow up to my chest but besides that not much else would be that interesting. I’m no travel writer.

As for baking, I’ve not been eating carbs since the beginning of the year so baking has been out. I’m not sure anyone would want to read about me eating gradually smaller and smaller salads.

Beer has gone pretty much the same way as baking, no carbs means no beer. Although I have drank about three bottles a day, every day for the last few weeks while I have been eating carbs again (remember I mentioned a holiday, salads are not for holidays).

I could have wrote about Brewdog since being in their new brewery. They show pictures of quality control taking place in blogs they publish yet they still let inferior quality beers be sold in supermarkets and then when enough people moan about it they seem to have known that there was a problem with the batch yet they let it be sold anyway.

I could have also wrote about a blogger I started following on twitter who repeatedly links to their blog posts with different tag lines. They must have about 100 page views from me but I’ve only read about five blog posts.

And last of all I could have wrote about how the words craft, crafted and craftsmanship have been so over used in marketing of a wide variety of shit products they have lost all of the little meaning they had. Which I actually find hilarious and makes me think of hand made cards even more when I see the word craft.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s blogging spree and I will leave you with a picture of a naughty Tapir who’s nose I rubbed.

tapir face


Bourbon Pecan Brownies

Chocolate, nuts, alcohol, does life get any better? Bang them altogether and bake as a brownie and you will be living the dream.

This is how to fulfill that dream…

Bourbon Pecan Brownies!!!

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 125g soft light brown sugar
  • 100g caster suger
  • 75ml bourbon whiskey
  • 2 tsp vanilla etract
  • 175g plain flour
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 125g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

Get the oven preheated to 190°C and line a 20cm square (or similar sized) tin. There isn’t much to say about making brownies, you mix a bunch of stuff together, stick it in the oven, take it out then eat them.

Ok, ok, there might be a little bit more to it than that. Gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan. STOP!!! I said gently melt the chocolate and butter together in a saucepan, was that gentle? Beat the eggs and sugars together (an electric whisk might be helpful) until pale and fluffy. Next beat the gently melted chocolate into the eggy sugary goodness, add the vanilla and bourbon (ok, so I used Jack Daniel’s which isn’t a bourbon, but screw you), sift in the flour and cocoa and mix that shizzle up.

Try not to just eat the mixture but get it into the tin and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. I like brownies to be a bit gooey so I took them out after 20 minutes. Let them cool down before cutting. Enjoy with something like a Brewdog Paradox Grain or another barrel aged stout.

bourbon brownies


Scones

I was watching something the other day and it really made me want scones. Actually it really made me want clotted cream, loads of clotted cream, the scone would just be there to stop me from getting my fingers dirty and not just be sat eating a tub of clotted cream with a spoon.

Scones, they aren’t really that special are they, but how could you not like them. When I was making them it brought back to me the picture in my head of baking. When I was a kid I would bake a lot with my Mam, and a lot of the time it was scones, and when I thought about it, scones are actually more difficult than a lot of other things I bake. Most baking you measure stuff out, stick it in a bowl, mix it up, put it in a tin, whack it in the oven for a bit, take it out and eat it.

But scones are hands on…

Scones!!!

  • 300g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 75g unsalted butter, room temp, cut into cubes
  • 50g caster sugar
  • a medium egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 120ml double cream
  •  a bit of milk for brushing

When I came to make these I realised that I probably haven’t made scones in my adult life, even though I must have made them hundreds of times as a kid. These might not be the best recipe, I might have to give my Mam a ring to find out how she makes them but saying that hers might not be that good either. These turned out alright but I’ve had better. I might do some scone experimentation over the next year.

The oven needs preheating to 200°C when you come to bake these bad boys.

When I started making these this is the part that just screamed in my face this is baking, sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a mixing bowl then rub the butter in with your fingers until it resembles bread crumbs. It was the rubbing in of the butter that brought all those memories back of being stood on a chair with my pinny on and my tiny rolling pin getting my hands dirty in a bowl of flour and butter. I found it crazy the amount of cakes I’ve made and I haven’t rubbed butter into flour for years.

After the butter is rubbed in you can just mix in the sugar. Beat the cream, vanilla and egg together then add to the flour and squidge together to form a dough. You don’t want to handle it very much. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for a couple of seconds. You don’t even need to roll the dough out, just pat it down with your had till it’s a couple of cm thick. The recipe I was following says 4cm thick but that is very optimistic to say it also wants you to use a 6-7cm cutter and be able to make 8 scones. There was no chance this was happening. At 4cm thick and 7cm in diameter I would have only been able to make about three scones.

I like a straight cutter rather than a rigid one and remember not to twist when you cut them or they might not rise very well. A pro would probably throw the left over dough away after the first set of cut outs but what do I care. Try not to mess with the dough too much when you roll it back up to get another scone or two out of the mix but don’t just waste it. The second ones might not turn out as neat but they will still be good.

Brush the tops with milk, place on a slightly greased baking tray and bake for 15 minutes. Take out of the oven, let them cool down for a couple of minutes on a wire rack and then while still warm break in half, add jam and massive amounts of clotted cream.

scones


Sourdough Beer Bread

Well sourdough bread seems the trendy thing to make at the moment. Everyone seems to be baking it. I’ve made a few, probably not as many as I would like but I’ve not been eating carbs since the beginning of the year. I mainly bake cakes, bread has never really been up there on things to make as I don’t eat it quick enough before it goes stale. I’m not sure taking a loaf into work to share would work very well.

Mrs TramP bought me the Hobbs House Bread Making Kit a while ago so this recipe is using their 57 year old sourdough starter that comes with the kit. I’m not using their recipe or their method of baking though.

So what could be more trendy than combining sourdough and beer?

Sourdough Malt Beer Bread!!!

  • 240 ml Sourdough Culture
  • 30g Melted Butter
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbl Sugar
  • 240ml Malt Beer
  • 200g Rye Flour
  • 245g Plain Flour

The hardest part of this recipe was finding a malty beer in my boxes of very hop centric beers. The closest thing I had was a Robinsons Old Tom so that’s what I used.

So lets do this…mix the butter, salt, sugar and beer together until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Bang in the sourdough culture, the rye flour and about half the plain flour and mix up. Whack the dough out onto a floured board and knead in the rest of the plain flour. This is where I fail a bit at bread making. I never know how long to knead for and these sourdough breads seem to be well more sticky than anything you see on things like Great British Bake Off. It should be smooth and satiny, I gave up after  a while when I was knackered and my wrist started hurting.

That’s it for about 12 hours, put the dough back in your mixing bowl, cover with cling film or a shower cap a la Baker Brothers. To be fair the shower cap thing works pretty well. It should double in size, if you haven’t worked it out you might want to do the first bit before you go to bed to have ready to bake in the morning. After the 12 hours, tease the dough out and leave for half an hour, if it flattens a lot then knead in some more flour. Shape the loaf however you want and then leave for another 2-4 hours until it doubles in size again.

Now I’v not worked out which method works better, either the one above or this one. After kneading leave for half an hour, knock back, shape, cover and leave for the 12 hours. I’ve not been mental enough to make two loaves at the same time when I can’t manage to get through one.

Here’s the crazy bit, place the loaf on a baking sheet or stone and bang in a cold oven then turn to 190°C and bake for 70 minutes. A cold oven, are you mental? You can preheat the oven to 230°C and bake for 40 minutes, but I have tried the from cold method and the loaf sprang up much better than when I preheated the oven.

That’s it, take out, slice, cover in butter, dip in soup, sit back and enjoy being on the sourdough bandwagon.

sourdough