Category Archives: Personal

Mike and Ollie’s slow cooked pulled pork with Lebanese flatbreads

I was visiting the wonderful Brockley Market today, and as usual I gravitated quickly to Mike and Ollie‘s delicious flatbreads. The reason I am posting is that my friend Ren then posted about Ottoman spices on her blog, which are at the heart of Mike’s cooking. So I am posting the basis of Mike’s flatbread recipes here for your enjoyment. I have tried this recipe with slow-cooked pork and lamb, and it is terrific with both.

Basic ingredients

  • Pork (2.5kg roughly)
  • Handful of fennel seeds
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • A good lug of vinegar (100ml)
  • 200ml liquid in order of preference: cider, white wine, stock, water
  • 2-3 onions


  • Thyme leaves
  • Aniseeds
  • A whole peeled garlic bulb

Cooking the pork

  • Right, you have 2.5kg of pork shoulder. Get a frying pan hot and preheat your oven to about 170 degC or gas mark 3.
  • Start by seasoning your meat generously with salt and give it a good rub into flesh. Add a little oil (sunflower or vegetable, not olive) and sear all over to form a nice golden crust.
  • Grind a handful of fennel seeds (if you wanted, you could add some ground aniseeds and/or thyme leaves or any other middle-Eastern spices), to this add a few healthy pinches of cracked black pepper and massage into your pig. If you wanted to, you could push a few whole garlic cloves into crevices within the pork’s flesh to add extra flavour.
  • Now, chop 2-3 onions and scatter over a suitable baking dish, then place the pork on top.  Pour in a good glug of white wine vinegar and 200ml of liquid, just to create a little steam and keep things moist, this could be white wine, cider, stock or water
  • Cover the dish with foil and cook in the middle of your oven for 3-4 hours, check for tenderness. Remove foil, then bake for a further hour.
  • Remove and pull as you see fit!

Flatbreads (makes 4-6)

  • 450g white flour preferably organic
  • 300ml warm water
  • 1/2 tsp dried yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt

Optional extras for dressing the flatbreads

  • 15ml orange blossom water
  • 30ml olive oil
  • Za’atar

Combine all ingredients minus the za’atar and work into a dough. Knead for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic, the dough should not be too firm, if it is, add more water. Leave in a warm place to double in size (1 hour plus). Get a griddle pan smoking hot. Divide the dough into 4-6 pieces and roll out as thinly as possible.

Pour a small amount of oil on each, rub all over with your hand and sprinkle over za’atar. Place oil side up into the pan and wait for bubbles to form all over surface (about 1-2 minutes) then flip. 2 minutes more and you should have beautiful flatbread.

To serve…

Spread a good layer of houmous on the flatbread, and top with salad leaves, toasted seeds, chopped red cabbage and dried chilli flakes. Next comes a generous serving of your delicious pork. Finally, add something sweet such as figs, apple or apple sauce, and top with yoghurt or creme fraiche.

Fold as a burrito, i.e. fold over the bottom and then wrap both sides over to form an open-topped parcel. Mike has thoughtfully provided a step-by-step photo guide to his brilliant creation.

If you get it right, then it should look something like the lamb wrap I had for lunch today. Yum yum!


Discovering the real story of Scott of the Antarctic

“I am just going outside and may be some time”. The immortal words of Captain Lawrence Oates on the ill-fated expedition to reach the South Pole with Captain Robert Falcon Scott in 1911-12.

I had heard this saying so many times, yet had little idea of the context. But that changed tonight when I visited a fascinating new exhibition on Scott’s Last Expedition at the Natural History Museum.

Based around the layout of Scott’s research expedition base on Antarctica, the expedition told the story of Scott’s grand, but ultimately failed adventure through artefacts and scientific samples carried back on his ship, the Terra Nova.

Did I learn something new from the exhibition? Definitely yes. Would I recommend it to others? Well, kind of. The stories are amazing and inspiring, but the interpretation left a lot to be desired. The flow was painfully static when entering and exiting the exhibition, with a slow-moving queue before you even got in through the doors. And the artefacts were presented in quite a linear and old-fashioned way with little interactivity and an over-emphasis on text.

Having visited Antarctica myself in 2009, I have some understanding of the harsh conditions that occur, and that was with modern-day gear to shield me from the elements. The exhibition did a good job of showcasing the range of resources used by the expedition team in tackling their challenge, and was moving in places when they illustrated the human impact of the snow and ice.

The star of the show was a digitised version of Scott’s diary, detailing the final weeks up to his death. This was recovered by the rescue party in 1912, and provides a compelling insight into the courage and fortitude of the polar team. But if the gallery is busy then you may well have to wait a long time to investigate this exhibit as it only really allows two people to interact at a time.

Overall though, I would recommend a visit. But not at peak times if you have any choice!

Tickets can be pre-booked through the Natural History Museum website and the exhibition runs until 2 September 2012.