Florence Cornish Cooks

A Food Blog

Jack and Coke Pulled Pork

My friend recently asked me, if I could eat only one meat for the rest of my life, what would it be? PORK. No hesitation, no umming and ahhing, pork. Pig, pig, piggy, oink. Think about the bacon, the sausage, the belly, the crackling, the cheeks, Percy Pigs (not strictly speaking pork but you get the idea). My Jewish Grandad would probably disown me, but, if there’s no pork, then I’ll walk.

Pulled pork is a way of life in the South. Each area has it’s own recipe, from the oozing, seductive braising liquor found in Tennessee to South Carolina’s 48 hour dry rub resting time. It can tell you more about a person than if they are a Republican or a Democrat. Seriously. It’s a serious business how you pull your pig.

Personally, I don’t think there are many things in life that are better than pulled pork. Tangy, molasses-rich barbecue sauce, meat that falls apart like a teenager who’s been dumped for the first time, all nestled on a soft, white bun. It’s like a cloud hugging a big, hoggy, smoky best friend. A beautiful thing.

Pulled pork is all about the balance of flavour. It’s a lot like Thai cooking in that way, which is built around a delicate play off between sweet, spicy, sour and salty – which I like to think of as something of a motto for life, not just for your barbecue. The spice rub gives you the heat here, mostly from paprika, cayenne and black pepper, so you HAVE to balance it with a nice sweet liquid. Move in Coca Cola and Jack Daniels, Hello delicious dinner time.

Coca Cola originally was invented as a pharmacist’s cure for headaches, it’s name coming from the coca leaf and the cola nut that made it. Add a little (or a lot) of sweetness and some fizz and BANG, Coca Cola as we know and love it today. The dark colour stains the meat whilst it cooks, making something of a trashy brine, and I like to think that the bubbles help tenderise the shoulder whilst is slowly yields to the heat of the oven.

In keeping with this idea of balance, to sound like a greedy Dalai Lama, I love to serve this particular recipe with a sharp, punchy Green Chilli Slaw and pillowy soft baked potato – done the old school way, in the oven for an hour. Just this time, MICROWAVES BE GONE.  A dollop of cool, loose sour cream and prepare to enter food coma. 

Jack and Coke Pulled Pork.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Cupcakes are the bomb. I know the market is saturated at the moment with crazy amounts of twee, cutesy, bunting heavy bake shops all laden with cupcakes but they really are the best. I’ve yet to bite into a fluffy, pillowy-soft, creamy topped bundle of heaven and think, ‘Hmmm, I think I’d prefer a biscuit right about now’.

This is my 100%, fail safe, solid as a rock chocolate cake recipe. Secret? Buttermilk and sour cream. It’s a real Southern rule to put buttermilk in cakes, Red Velvet for instance, which is about as Southern as Debutante Balls and the Kentucky Derby, always uses buttermilk. It gives it a moistness and lightness that seem to defy all laws of physics. Like I said before, THE BOMB.

Cupcakes look pretty straightforward but can be a bitch to perfect. The best advice I can give you is to prep like a boyscout, and use an ice cream scoop for the batter. So, get your butter softening from THE OFF. Get the oven pre-heating in plenty of time. Get your dry ingredients and wet ingredients measured, mixed and ready to do their thing. GET IT TOGETHER PEOPLE. This way, you will avoid any problems and will feel like a true domestic God/Goddess.

The peanut butter frosting is super easy too. Just crunchy PB, soft butter (because there’s just not enough naughty things going in there in the first place), icing sugar, vanilla and cream. Whip till it makes a satisfying slapping sound, and smoosh all over the top of the cooled cakes. Easy peasy and tasty as hell. What more could you want?!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cupcakes

Walnut Pesto Tagliatelle with Herbed Mushrooms

Pasta is something I crave more than anything else. Ever. In the world. It’s always the durum stuff that gets me. It was worst in Thailand – all I wanted was a massive bowl of spag bol, not even good quality, but slightly sour from the tomatoes, maybe using something cheap and bought in bulk like fusilli, and covered in grated Cheddar. Student-style heaven.

But, alas, it was not to be. Although I got some strands of the spag stuff when I was out there, it was always a bit too small (THE WORST) or a bit too watery, or just not real PASTA! (Cue crying like a baby… ‘Mummy…..I just want some spagggg!!! WAHHH!’)

So I was desperate to make this little beauty I’d been dreaming of since Samui. I adore mushrooms. They really are the bomb of the funghi world. And given that some of them can kill you, these are a badass veg if ever I saw one. But, like all of us when we are hungover or just couldn’t care less, they can be bland and a bit nondescript if you don’t give them a herby helping hand.

Because Chestnuts, Oyster and Wild mushrooms can be so meaty, I like to treat them in the same way you would a piece of liver or something. Sautee them in butter, with garlic and thyme and loads of seasoning, otherwise they will be limp like a boy who’s date turned him down for prom.

The walnut pesto is also bloody delicious. And super easy. Shove some of those nutty friends into a blender with a bunch of basil, garlic, parmesan (or Italian Hard Cheese as I used, only the finest from the Sainsbury’s Basics range…I’m on a budget here!) and olive oil. I don’t use any measures with the pesto, because if you’ve been a late teen/early 20s human, you no doubt have had pesto from a jar and pasta, meaning you’ve got a pretty good idea of the slightly sloppy, deep emerald green colour it should have. Use your initiative people – too thick, more oil. Too loose, more nuts. My philosophy for life!

Let the tagliatelle sit, covered in the pesto, in the hot pan for a quick minute before serving, to let the flavours seep in and take hold. Serve with loads of cheese – mandatory. 

Walnut Pesto Tagliatelle with Herbed Mushrooms 

Texan Chilli with Corn Bread

I have incredibly strong opinions about chilli. The biggest one: there are 2 forms of chilli, both devilishly divine and perfect in their own way. CHILLI NUMERO UNO: Soupy, loose, served with a hunky piece of bread, spring onions on top, a golden mountain of Jack cheese heaped on top. NUMERO DOS: Chunky, meaty, warm and smoky, originating from Texas and with ABSOLUTELY NO BEANS UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES. And they should never, ever be served with clinical, swollen school dinners rice.

This is the Texan variety. It’s really more of a casserole but it is totally, unquestionably one of the best things to touch my tongue, ever. EVER. The base is a standard casserole technique of browning off chunks of stewing steak (one of the cheaper cuts so naturally I like it more) and then sautéing a sultry mixture of chilli powder, cayenne, cinnamon, nutmeg, onions and hella garlic. Somewhere between Buffy the Vampire Slayer and warding off a potential kiss after a garlic-laden Italian meal. Sweat all that good stuff down till its soft, sticky and aromatic, chuck in 2 tins of tomatoes, salt, pepper and a touch of sugar. One of the best things my Mum ever taught me – apart from knowing how to tell cheap underwear from expensive ones – was that whenever you cook with tomatoes, add a teaspoon of sugar. It tempers the acidity and adds a seductive tang to the taste. What more could you want?

Then, you add to the party my secret ingredient. Cwoffee. I heard that Texan chilli came about because cowboys when they were in the mountains would cook all their meat and canned goods in a pot and then throw in the dregs of their coffee mugs. I like to add it as a testament to this, almost certainly, false history, but also because I can’t get enough of the smoky, bitter back note it adds. Plus, I can’t resist putting weird things in food. I’m desperate to shove an avocado somewhere, on paper, it doesn’t belong.

Like Sonny without Cher, Yonce without Z, you can’t have chilli without cornbread and this one is an absolute doddle. Cornmeal is pretty easy to get hold of these days – and I am super lazy so if it’s not in my local Tesco then, well, what can I use instead? Case in point, I have been known to make chocolate cupcakes using Options ho-cho sachets when I could NOT be arsed to go any further than the corner shop.

Corn meal is often found in the Foods of the World aisle, as its used loads in Jamaican cooking. Bu for cornbread, just mix 2 cups with 1 cup buttermilk, some melted lard (YUM), baking powder, salt and pepper. Bake for 30 mins till firm and serve warm. You’ll feel like you’re in Brokeback Mountain. Well…not in that way…unless you are that way inclined, in which case, great…but you know what I mean.

Serve with the chilli, topped with onions, sour cream and cheese. I try to eat no meal without cheese. It’s a life lesson. 

Texan Chilli and Corn Bread

Redneck Eggs Benedict

I have had a tumultuous relationship with eggs. When I was a kid I remember THINKING I liked them, nagging my Mum till I got one fried up in lots of lovely veg oil for breakfast, nibbling the white and screaming, running away from the yolk. It was definitely that I liked the idea of them much MUCH more than the actual drippy, sloppy yellow gunk that was left on my plate.

But, like many things from coffee and wine to single life and nights in watching Danish detective dramas (or Triple D’s, as I like to call them), I’ve grown to like them more and more with age. Now, I can’t get enough of our chicken-laid friends. Especially, when they are covered in the second most indulgent sauce of all time – hollandaise. The first is lobster reduction, for blindingly obvious reasons but I am yet to have a tax bracket high enough to have that on my breakfast so, for now, I’ll stick to good old tangy, sweet, golden, butter based hollandaise. Come to me, child.

This recipe is called Redneck Eggs Benedict for several reasons.

1. I don’t think people are light hearted enough when it comes to food. The way I see it, have fun. You want to put marshmallows on top of cake and then microwave it all into one big stringy, gloopy, delectable mess? (from experience, you MUST do this at least 10 times in your life) Go for it. So, I thought, who loves sweet, tangy, salty maple bacon, cornbread and eggs? Me. Oh, and truckers. Here we are with Redneck Benedict.

2. I love using leftovers. Not from any eco-tree hugging-ice caps are melting-don’t waste anything even the eyelids and bumholes from a pig – standpoint. Just because the satisfaction of using up all of something fills me with an excitement only equalled by lining up for a rollercoaster at Disney World. I can hear you all now, OOH ISN’T THAT LAME. Well, yes. I never claimed to be the next Iggy Azalea! Lame is my game. And yes, I enjoyed that rhyme too.

So, if it wasn’t clear already, this twist on the 4* and up hotel breakfast classic uses cornbread rather than English muffin, maple bacon rather than ham and spring onions instead of pincy snipped chives. Maple bacon, oh maple bacon. The BEST BEST part of this meal and one of the best parts of life, really. No hyperbole here. Streaky, fatty, TASTY bacon frying in a pan has to be a sight more beautiful than any oil painting. Just drizzle (well, pour) a generous amount of maple syrup over the top and leave to keep warm and crisp up in a pan in the oven. I, as you may have noticed, used the slightly racially questionable Aunt Jemima syrup here as I didn’t have any maple in and couldn’t be arsed to go buy some. What’s Aunt Jemima I here you ask? Pancake syrup my friends. What’s the difference with maple I here again? This one’s fake. And all the tastier for it.

The only faff with this is getting all the elements warm and together on the plate at the same time. Yes you will have 29 pans on the go but the results are utterly worth it. Indulge in the life of the Deep South – or the Deep South by way of Crystal Palace. Enjoy. 

Redneck Eggs Benedict.