Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wk 1: Chilli-caramelised Pork on Cucumber Salad with Caramelised Pineapple Tarts

And so it begins, my 2013 Cookbook Cookoff Challenge.  Has a nice ring to it that, doesn't it?! LOL  My attempt to cook minimum two meals per week from my collection of cookbooks that have yet to be used for the purpose they were intended (cooking, that is.  Not just looking and drooling).

So first off the rank, from Donna Hay's Instant Entertaining which I was given as a farewell gift from my admin job with Qld Health many moons ago (and from which I was yet to cook anything), Chilli-Caramelised Pork on Cucumber Salad followed by a dessert of Caramelised Pineapple Tarts.  Part of Donna's 'Saturday Night' menu selection (note to self, page 46), it even had a starter and a side to accompany these but given that this is week one of my challenge, I didn't want to go too hard too early!

I wasn't too sure on the main dish since I'm really only a beef-or-chicken girl.  Mum's fault that one.  She doesn't like pork, lamb or too much fish so I was raised on a diet of beef or chicken.  And veg.  It's been a challenge for Lucky Phil to sway my tastes and try new things, that's for sure!

And to add to the occasion, first dish of the challenge and all, my dearest darling husband invited his brother and partner over for the that very night.  Not that I minded, they are great people and I love having them over and cooking for them anytime but this was a first-time recipe, anything could go wrong!!!

But it all went smoothly in the end.  Dan and Jodie were held up by about 2 and half hours but since I'd already done the prep-work I wasn't stressed and instead poured another beverage and danced around the kitchen until they arrived.  Fun!!!

My beverage of choice for the evening - vodka, sugarfree leomande and a titch (just a titch) of homemade lemon cordial.  Refreshing!
It was delicious!  Light and flavoursome, I could have put the recipe's amount of chilli in because I skimped a little and it didn't have enough kick - I hesitate when it's the first time cooking - too much and it's too much.  But it was for the best that I did hold back on the chilli - Dan and Jodie aren't chilli-spicy-hardened like Lucky Phil and I and they found it almost too much.  Note to self on that one.

And dessert, Caramelised Pineapple Tarts, were so simple and yet tasted so amazingly delicious I am totally doing them again!  I think they would also be superb with apples or apricots and maybe drizzled with some caramel sauce to boot....mmmmmm!  Things to do different next the label on the tin of pineapples on the supermarket shelf before you get home - slices you want, not pieces!

The verdict?
Definitely winners - both.  And definitely cooking these again.

Chilli-Caramelised Pork on Cucumber Salad (Donna Hay, Instant Entertaining, 2006, page 46)
Caramelised Pineapple Tarts (Donna Hay, Instant Entertaining, 2006, page 46)

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