Not quite a Premier Dinner

If you are looking for a cheap hotel, that isn’t Travelodge, then I am usually quite pleased with Premier Inn. I’ve felt that Premier Inn, which is generally not that much more expensive than the Travelodge have nicer rooms and definitely much nicer breakfasts. On a recent trip to Cambridge I stayed at the Premier Inn near to the A14. Knowing that I was arriving late on a Sunday, I decided to take advantage of their £22 meal deal.

Enjoy a delicious three course evening meal from our Meal Deal menu featuring specially selected dishes, plus a drink of your choice. Then the next day, eat as much as you like of our freshly prepared Premier breakfast, all for just £22.

As breakfast on its own costs £8.25 I thought that wasn’t such a bad deal.

Having arrived ordered a pint of bitter (part of the deal) and looked over the menu.

For the starter I went with the classic Prawn Cocktail, served on crisp salad leaves with tomato, cucumber, a classic Marie Rose sauce and buttered brown bread.

rawn Cocktail, served on crisp salad leaves with tomato, cucumber, a classic Marie Rose sauce and buttered brown bread.

Interestingly the menu you download from the web site says that this can’t be chosen as part of the meal deal, whereas the menu at the hotel says it can be. There were similar inconsistencies across other items too. As for the prawn cocktail, well I was surprised to see large prawns, I was expecting the smaller prawns you normally find in prawn cocktails. It was apparent that the Marie Rose sauce was from a bottle and there was slightly too much paprika! Alas the prawns lacked flavour and were too chilled and so were overpowered by the sauce. The salad was fresh and crisp and the lemon was a nice touch.

For my main I went with the 10oz rump steak that according to the menu, came with a grilled tomato, peas, a flat mushoom and chips, which was described on the menu as firm, meaty and flavoursome. I think they meant to say tough, chewy and bland! Okay it’s a rump steak and in terms of cuts of meat that is not a tender melt in the mouth option, it normally is firm and chewy. I thought it lacked flavour, which is normally the reason for chewing, sorry choosing the rump cut.

10oz rump steak that according to the menu, came with a grilled tomato, peas, a flat mushoom and chips, which was described on the menu as firm, meaty and flavoursome.

As you can see from the photograph I didn’t get a grilled flat mushroom, I guess the kitchen had run out.

For desert I made a mistake and went with the Caramel Apple Crumble. This was an apple crumble smothered with sweet, sticky caramel served with custard.

Caramel Apple Crumble

This was way too sweet and the sticky caramel sauce was horrible, it clung to the top of my mouth and stayed there. I didn’t finish the dish and left most of it.

So as the blog title says this was not premier dining and for the price I don’t think you can expect it to be. However in terms of value for money and convenience it wasn’t too bad, but I wouldn’t have the crumble again…

Roast Pork

Though relatively cheap, a joint of pork loin still makes for a nice Sunday roast.

Cooking lunch

I did manage to get very crispy crackling and a tender moist joint.

One thing I do about 30 minutes before the pork has finished cooking is to add some sliced apple to the roasting dish. I also add other stuff like onions, mushrooms, courgette and bread, however the apple is there as a kind of apple sauce. I do though have been known to cook the apples separately but sometimes for speed and to save on washing up I will roast the apple with the pork.

Cooking Apples

Whenever I cook pork (and if I have time) I like to cook some apple to serve alongside. This is not apple sauce, this is cooking apples.

Cooking Apples

If I have more time I do peel the apples, but this isn’t strictly necessary.

In a large frying pan, like the one you cooked the pork in, add some butter and place the apples in the pan. I then sprinkle a teaspoon of icing sugar. This helps to caramelise the apple and add a little sweetness. It is best to serve straight away once they have finished cooked and are browned.

Pork leg steaks with a spiced apple stuffing

Most of the supermarkets now have a “cook at home” food, Waitrose is no exception and they have their “Easy to Cook” range.

We recently tried the pork leg steaks with a spiced apple stuffing.

Described as “succulent English pork leg steaks with a spiced apple stuffing, topped with apple butter and wrapped in English bacon” they looked really nice and sounded delicious.

It did sound tempting.

After cooking the pork according to the instructions, I sliced the steaks and they appeared to be quite tender.

The problem was the flavour or to be more specific the lack of flavour. Now most pork you buy doesn’t have much flavour, outdoor reared or free range generally does. These steaks lacked any depth of flavour. Not a problem, the spiced apple should enhance the pork as should the apple butter. Hmmm, well they didn’t the apple flavour was also missing and the spice though there, was so subtle you quite easily missed it.

It was a pity as this did some a really nice dish, but the lack of flavour and general blandness of the finished dish was very disappointing. Next time I think I will make it myself.

Kentish Bramley Apple Crumble

Though I like to make my own puddings, now and again I will purchase a ready made pudding from one of the big supermarkets.

This Kentish Bramley Apple Crumble from Waitrose sounded very nice.

However…

And isn’t it always a  however…

It wasn’t that good in my opinion. Well what did I expect.

It was okay. The crumble was nice and buttery and not too sweet (one of the issues I have with lots of ready made deserts). However the apple was in my opinion not cooked enough, it was crunchy and not soft. Now this may have been intentional, but personally I prefer my apple crumble with soft apples.

Would I buy it again?

No!

Pork in a creamy apple sauce

Cooked and enjoyed Marks and Spencers’ Pork Medallions with a cider and shallot sauce last night

I normally prefer to cook my own sauces than use shop ones, but this Marks and Spencers isn’t too bad.

Whatever you fancy for dinner and whatever the occasion, M&S’s NEW The Cook Menu has something to offer. You’ll find a variety of exciting dishes, inspired by flavours from around the world, which all use the very best ingredients: fresh vegetables, sustainable fish and quality cuts of meat from M&S-approved farms. The preparation work has been done for you, so you can concentrate on the enjoyment of cooking and add an individual touch.

So what do you get?

Well you get some pork fillet sliced and a sachet of sauce, not enough sauce really, more would have been nice.

So you pan fry the pork and then remove from the pan and heat through the sauce.

I served mine with some fresh pasta and steamed vegetables.

It wasn’t that bad actually, quite good really.

Yes you could do this all yourself, however I didn’t have a huge amount of time, and nor did I have the ingredients for the sauce and that’s the real time and money saver with these.

Would I buy it again, yes I would.

Marks and Spencers Pork Medallions

Cooked and enjoyed Marks and Spencers’ Pork Medallions with a cider and shallot sauce.

I normally prefer to cook my own sauces than use shop ones, but as I was in Marks and Spencers and looking at their The Cook Menu range decided to give it a go.

Whatever you fancy for dinner and whatever the occasion, M&S’s NEW The Cook Menu has something to offer. You’ll find a variety of exciting dishes, inspired by flavours from around the world, which all use the very best ingredients: fresh vegetables, sustainable fish and quality cuts of meat from M&S-approved farms. The preparation work has been done for you, so you can concentrate on the enjoyment of cooking and add an individual touch.

So what do you get?

Well you get some pork fillet sliced and a sachet of sauce, not enough sauce really, more would have been nice.

So you pan fry the pork and then remove from the pan and heat through the sauce.

I served mine with some rice and steamed vegetables.

It wasn’t that bad actually, quite good really.

Yes you could do this all yourself, however I didn’t have a huge amount of time, and nor did I have the ingredients for the sauce and that’s the real time and money saver with these.

Would I buy it again, yes I would.

Pork with apple and basil wrapped in pancetta

This is a nice dish for a dinner party and can be prepared quickly and easily.

Take some pork medallions (thick slices of pork tenderloin) and place them on slices of apple – I peeled and cored the apple. Place a basil leaf and then wrap round a slice of pancetta bacon.

Place in a roasting dish and splash with olive oil and season with ground black pepper.

Pork with apple and basil wrapped in pancetta

Roast in the oven for twenty to thirty minutes until cooked. I made one mistake which was to roast them in a pan, when they really needed a grill pan.

Pork with apple and basil wrapped in pancetta

Serve.

Pork with apple and basil wrapped in pancetta

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.