National Trust Cafe

I had an excellent meal yesterday at the National Trust cafe in Swindon (next door to the STEAM museum and the Swindon shopping outlet). It’s part of their headquarters.

National Trust Headquarters, Swindon

I ordered the pork chop with tomatoes and mushrooms served with vegetables and seasonal potatoes.

The chop (which was boned or boneless) was grilled to perfection, too often with this kind of dish you find some cafes cook it in advance and keep it warm which usually means that the pork dries out and is very tough. This pork chop was full of flavour, tender and delicious. The chop was covered with a chunky sauce made form tomatoes and mushrooms which was well flavoured and for me perfectly seasoned (which means it wasn’t salty).

The vegetables were okay, the carrots tasted as though they were cooked from fresh, but I have a suspicion that the peas and sweetcorn were cooked from frozen (which isn’t surprising and they tasted fine).

The potatoes were roasted new potatoes which were well cooked and very tasty.

My other half went for the red pepper flan (okay read quiche) which was served warm with potatoes and salad. She said the flan was really nice, I was almost too focussed on my pork to ask her for a taste.

For afters I had the treacle tart, too often these can be over sweet, but this was just right in terms of sweetness, but I did find the pastry somewhat tough.

The pork chop dish was very reasonable at £5.95, the flan was only £4.95. I did think the treacle tart was sightly overpriced at £3.25 (especially as other cakes were only £1.50). However overall it certainly was value for money.

Compared to the food offerings in the shopping outlet, if you are out Swindon way, pop over to the National Trust cafe and enjoy a delicious meal in peaceful and pleasant environment.

Pork Medallions with Apple

This dish went down very well with the family and is quite quick and simple to make.

Pork Medallions with Apple

Take some pork medallions (slice some pork tenderloin in 1″ slices or ask your butcher) in a hot frying pan, panfry on both side and then let rest.

As you cook the pork, soften half a diced onion with some pancetta in another pan.

Once you have removed the pork, add some butter to the pan and cook some apple slices, until they are soft and brown.

Remove the apple.

Turn the heat up, add some sliced mushrooms, once they are cooked, add the cooked onions and pancetta.

Add some spoonfuls of creme frache and freshly chopped parsley to make a sauce.

Slice the pork, add to a plate with the apple.

Add the sauce and serve with rice.

Simple Beer Batter

Sometimes simple is best.

Tonight I cooked some pork balls to go with the chinese meal I was cooking.

I created a simple batter, of self-raising flour and some beer. Mixed to a consistency which would coat a spoon, not too thick and not too thin.

Cut your pork into cubes about 1cm thick, tall and wide.

Hot oil and a few cubes at a time until golden brown.

They should be crisp and more importantly retain their crispness.

Breaded Pork

This is a very tasty way of cooking pork loin steaks, however you can use other cuts of pork as well, I have done this recipe with thick slices of pork tenderloin.

Take your pork loin steaks. They need to be quite thin, about quarter of an inch (5mm). If you have thicker steaks, if you put them in the freezer to firm up you will find them much easier to cut into thinner steaks.

Breaded Pork

You now need to make some breadcrumbs, add some herbs and ground pepper to the breadcrumbs.

In a frying pan add some plain oil, something like sunflower, I used rapeseed oil, and heat up until it takes about thirty seconds to brown a cube of bread.

Take the steaks, coat in plain flour and then dip in beaten egg before covering in breadcrumbs.

Depending on the size of your pan, cook just one or two steaks at a time, otherwise too much in the pan will cool the oil down too much or the steaks will stick together.

Cook for a minute two on each side.

Once cooked, keep in a warm oven until ready to serve.

One of the benefits of cooking pork is that the pork stays really tender, whereas dry frying the steaks can sometimes toughen them up.

I have served this with rice and tomato sauce.

Pork with white wine and pancetta

Last night I cooked a very nice meal and it only took 15 minutes from scratch.

Ingredients

Pork medallions (or you could use loin steaks, pork chops or tenderloin)

Olive oil

Black pepper

Rice

Green beans

For the sauce

Pancetta

Onion

Parsley

Flour

White wine

Creme frache

So first boil the kettle with fresh water to cook the rice and the green beans.

Whilst the kettle is boiling put two pans on for the pork and the sauce. Add a dash of olive oil to both pans. When the oil is hot, add the pork (ensure it is dry) to one and the pancetta to the other.

Ensure the rice is washed, I now use basmati rice all the time, in the main as it cooks easily without sticking and only takes ten minutes. Put separate pans on for the rice and the beans. Time the rice for ten minute, the beans should be cooked after ten minutes as well.

Once the pancetta is cooked, add the onion, finely chopped.

Check the pork, turning if needed.

Once the onion is softened add a spoonful of flour to the pancetta and onion and stir well, then add a good dash of white wine. When it starts to thicken take off the heat.

When the pork is cooked, remove to a warm plate and allow to rest, this will make it tender.

Deglaze the pork pan, by adding a good dash of white wine. Add the pancetta and onion sauce and a couple of large spoonfuls of creme frache, add the parsely and freshly ground black pepper.

Stir.

Put the rice on the plate, you can just spoon it on, if you have more than fifteen minutes then I use a ramekin, spoon the rice into the ramekin and then upturn onto the plate, looks neater than a spoonfuls of rice.

You can either leave the pork whole, or slice depending on what you prefer.

Cover the pork with the sauce.

Serve with the green beans.

Fifteen minutes from entering the kitchen to on the table.

Sorted.