Recipes for a better mood
Saffron, cacao and black pepper can all work to lift the spirits
Slow Cooked Pork and Fiery Minty Salsa
1kg boned out pork shoulder or leg, cut into large chunks, fat left on
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
1 bulb of garlic, halved horizontally
100ml apple cider vinegar
400ml fresh chicken stock
1 star anise
2 large cinnamon sticks
3 rosemary sprigs
zest and juice of 1 orange
flatbread or lettuce leaves, to serve
For the salsa
2 chillies, deseeded and halved
1 orange, peeled and cut into segments
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into wedges
½ garlic clove
8 mint leaves
1 tbsp lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Season the meat with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan until hot, then add half the oil and half the pork. Leave the pork until it can move without sticking, then turn over and seal on all sides. Once the pork is sealed and browned, transfer it to a heavy-based ovenproof saucepan and repeat the process.
Brown the cut side of the garlic in the pork fat and add to the saucepan, followed by all the other ingredients. Bring the liquid to the boil, then cover the pan with a lid and put into the oven.
Reduce the oven temperature to 160C and cook, covered, for 3 hours. Check after 2½ hours that the liquid hasn’t evaporated.
Once cooked, allow to cool a little, then shred the meat with two forks and return to the sauce.
Meanwhile, make the salsa. Place the chillies in a blender with the orange segments, apple wedges, garlic and mint and process until nearly smooth. While the motor is running, slowly add the lemon juice. Season to taste and serve immediately. If you prefer a chunkier salsa, cut everything into small pieces and don’t blend.
To serve, place some of the pulled pork either on a warmed flatbread or a piece of gem lettuce, then add a teaspoon of the salsa on top.
Tahini and Chocolate Bake
250g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
250g good-quality dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
4 medium eggs
280g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder
120g wholemeal flour
½ tsp salt
200g halva, broken into 2cm pieces
Preheat the oven to 200C. Grease and line a baking tin with baking paper and set aside.
Gently melt the butter and chocolate together in a pan, then set aside until it has cooled to room temperature.
Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl. Add the melted chocolate mixture and fold through gently.
Sift the cocoa, flour and salt into another bowl and then gently fold it into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in the halva pieces and then spoon the mixture into the prepared baking tin.
Dollop a small teaspoon of tahini into the mix in about 10 different places, then use a skewer to swirl through, creating a marble effect.
Bake in the oven for 20–25 minutes until the middle has a slight wobble and is gooey inside. Don’t worry if it seems a little undercooked as it will firm up as it cools. Once cool, cut into squares and serve.
Tonia Buxton has written four cookbooks and is a well-known TV celebrity and chef. For more information visit toniabuxton.co.uk