A wintery welcome to you all, my friends, and may I first begin by offering my humblest apologies for last weeks post. You know those things that seem clever and witty at the time but that on reflection just make you look like a bit of a tool? Yes, well… Sorry about that.
So moving on, and the subject of this weekends shenanigans was something designed to bring a little cheer to the hearts of TPB. Having spent the week moping about licking my wounds (figuratively speaking of course, otherwise… eew!) and positively sulking about my hemispherical position (not only could I no longer hang out with Miss Sally and Mr Saint, but they were going to round one of Ultimate Barista Fighter, without me!), I was naturally a little glum. Miss Rose came up with the sterling proposition that all would be put right (as it quite often is) with pig.
Having exposed Miss Rose to my obsession for Ottolenghi delights, we turned to them once more for guidance and decided on roasted pork belly with an accompanying array of delicious salads. So I'm afraid there will be no recipe links this week as it's all Ottolenghi. Just get yourself the book; go on, I promise you won't regret it.
After selecting our cart du jour, and knowing our proclivity for generally overdoing things, we thought for a change it would be nice to entertain for lunch. Unfortunately certain other commitments and epic all-night drinking sessions led to various unannounced absences of friends, and resulted in the feasting being left to Miss Rose, Mr L and myself (thanks Paul!). I know I will most likely fail to convince you of anything to the contrary, but you have my assurance that the overindulgence to follow was in fact intended for a far greater number of people, honest...
For mains, a rather wonderful slab of pork was selected and lovingly smothered with garlic, rosemary and thyme, the skin salted and then sent intoxicated (we opted for Leffe blond instead of wine) into a very hot oven.
Roasted pork belly
As our little piggy crackled away, we prepared an extraordinary spiced red plum, ginger and rhubarb relish. Plums were necessarily replaced with apple as a consequence of seasonality, but regardless this was a killer condiment in gorgeous glistening rouge, and was mighty tasty to boot.
Spiced apple, ginger and rhubarb relish
The first of our spectacular salady counterbalances to our extravagant pork-fest was a sensually challenging lentil concoction. Puy lentils simmered with bay were moistened with a luscious sauce of shallot, red wine vinegar and dried cherries (we used Team Pretty Bake spiced Morello cherries), mixed with baby spinach and crispy bacon and finally topped with a heady Gorgonzola. It may sound like a curious combination but you have my word that it is extraordinarily delicious.
Puy lentils with sour cherries, bacon and Gorgonzola
Next up was a gorgeous, crisp mix of French beans and mangetout lathered with olive and macadamia oils and adorned with orange, chives and freshly roasted hazelnuts.
French beans and mangetout with hazelnut and orange
And last but not least was roasted butternut squash embellished with toasted almonds, pepitas, nigella and black sesame seeds, and accompanied by the especially scrumptious burnt aubergine with pomegranate molasses.
Roasted butternut squash
Burnt aubergine with pomegranate molasses
Each item was simply spectacular and aesthetically divine, and when combined into a most delectable feast you'd have to agree this is one sexy luncheon:
Ottolenghi roasted pork belly with salads
Of course a Team Pretty Bake Sunday session would not be complete without just a little bit of baking, so we finished the day with the lovely apple and olive oil cake with maple icing.
Apple and olive oil cake with maple icing
So that, my friends, is how we like to do lunch. For once a rather anecdote-free occasion, just a lovely crisp winter's day spent roasting, baking, and feasting with good friends. Ottolenghi did not disappoint, L & A did manage to stop by for cake, and although Marky Marc arrived too late for his promised antipasti to be properly enjoyed, we did get a sneak peak at his salami (you didn't honestly think I'd last a full episode without just a little smut, did you?), and if the taster is anything to go by, they're going to be delicious.
Until next time...