Saturday, 19 March 2011

Tasty Tunes: Dinah Washington

I've been a bit poorly this week. I've got a cold I can't shift and I've been busy at work so I haven't had time for much else other than cracking on with paperwork and blowing my nose. Anyway, I'm not fishing for hugs, just explaining the silence here. I even skipped my MasterChef recap, so you know I was feeling rough.

Speaking of MasterChef, a dream I had about my favourite show inspired one of the meals I cooked this week. This is not so unusual. When I was in the deep, balmy midst of MasterChef Australia I scarcely went more than two nights without dreaming I was either a judge, a contestant or a special guest chef. This dream was slightly different. My subconscious imagined that the new audition process we all hate so much was now taking place on a stage in front of an audience, exactly like X-Factor.

I was in the audience, but for some reason had brought along a large Tupperware box full of pork loin, champ and buttered cabbage. I'm not entirely sure how it stayed warm, but it was a dream. Some things aren't to be questioned.

As John and Gregg left the theatre through the audience I grabbed John's arm and asked if he wanted to taste the food I'd brought. (I would never do this.) He tasted it, loved it and asked if I wanted to be in the competition. Of course I said yes and John summoned some flaxen-haired girl wearing a headset and cuddling a clipboard to take down my details. It was fantastic. Sadly, waking up to a buzzing alarm telling me it was time to get going spoilt it.

Deciding I wouldn't let the joy of this dream fade, I made the meal I'd lovingly created for John while asleep. I split and pounded the pork loin until I had four tender pork steaks. I marinated them in extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper for about an hour. Meanwhile, I made the Champ. Champ is an Irish dish of buttery mashed potato dotted with spring onions. I could happily eat that and only that for the rest of my life. Once the potatoes were ready I set them aside while I seared the pork steaks. After they'd had a few minutes on each side and were nicely browned, I transferred the steaks to a tray and left them in a hot oven to finish cooking. They were quite thick, but had they been thinner, frying would have been enough. I finished with the shredded buttered cabbage.

It was a coincidence that I happened to be making this dish the day before Saint Patrick's Day. I've never quite understood why so many non-Irish people celebrate this day. But I'm told Paddy was actually Welsh so I suppose I can claim some tenuous link there. The soundtrack to this meal was markedly un-Irish too. I'm currently building a gorgeous playlist consisting of Etta James, Dinah Washington and similar silky voiced ladies. I mashed my spuds to this tune. Enjoy!

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