Well hi there!
It’s been a while again. Wedding and work have resulted in a lack of inspirational cooking and thus an absolute dearth of blogging but I’m back (if only momentarily). And what better excuse than to christen the beautiful tagine that my Auntie J gave us as a wedding present?!
Last weekend, A Husband and I went back home and raided gardens and allotments for freebies. We came home with a couple of massive bags of apples, a huge amount of rhubarb, heaps of runner beans, half a dozen corn on the cob, some potatoes, a couple of onions and an enormous yellow courgette.
The courgette is actually bigger than the fire extinguisher.
I love free veg! I also love the 9p lamb which was in my freezer. Free dinner? Yes please! It takes a long time to cook, but more or less looks after itself and is so worthwhile! The lamb absolutely melts in the mouth and works so beautifully with the rhubarb. An experiment that I’ll try again.
Lamb and Rhubarb Tagine
- Pop the lamb in a pan with some water, an onion, the lemon and spices of your choice. I used peppercorns, cloves, allspice berries, star anise and a cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 1/2 hour.
- Remove the lamb from the water and slice into chunks, removing any bones. Bring the water back to the boil, reduce significantly and remove all the bits.
- Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of the tagine and chop in the veg and rhubarb in big chunks. Drizzle a few spoons of honey over the rhubarb. Pile the lamb on top and ladle over a little of the stock.
- Grind the spices and dried mint and parsley in a pestle and mortar and sprinkle over the top of the lamb. Place the tagine in the oven and turn up to 120C.
- Cook the tagine for around 4 hours. I cooked it for about 2 hours one evening, turned the oven off and left it in there overnight, then turned it on again for around 1 1/2 hours to finish it off. Don’t lift the lid prematurely, just trust that it will be perfect when the time comes!
- I served with boiled rice and some runner beans, finely sliced, boiled with some butter and nuts mixed in. Sprinkle fresh mint over to serve
Well hullo there!
I’ve been away for the week in rainy rainy Brittany, staying with friends, talking lots of French, eating ridiculous amounts of bread and walking lots when I ought to have been resting my damaged foot 🙂 I didn’t want to make anything which was going to be too high maintenance yesterday, as I had to do the food shopping and then go to work, so I decided to make this easy lamb recipe, which was pretty yummy. The lamb is cooked on a bed of fruit and onions, which then mush down to create a sticky jammy sauce. Yum! I roasted some red pepper, sweet potato and aubergine to go with it.
Lamb Ribs with Apricot-Onion Jam
1 and a half punnets of fresh apricots
1 red onion
Salt and Pepper
- Half and stone the apricots and place them in an ovenproof dish. Peel and slice the onion and add it to the apricot. Pour over a good slug of ginger wine.
- Place the ribs, skin side up, on top of the fruit. Season very well with the herbs and spices. Place in a medium-low oven for a couple of hours, until the meat is well cooked through.
- Remove the ribs from the dish and place somewhere to keep warm. Skim off some of the fat from the dish, if desired. Mash the apricots together with the onion and juices from the lamb.
- Serve the ribs with roasted vegetables, cous cous and the sauce. Leftover jam makes a fantastic addition to meaty or cheesy sandwiches.
Good evening good evening good evening
Even by my standards, my freezer has started to look a bit on the daft side. I’ve been saving meat bones like there’s some kind of world shortage, and eventually got fed up of trying to pack “real food” around them, so I decided to finally make up the stock yesterday. As I didn’t really have enough of any type of bones, the resulting stock was made in the slow cooker from a combination of chicken, lamb, ham and beef bones, along with a couple of carrots, some celery and some rosemary stalks. I was dubious as to what would result, but pleasantly surprised by a delicious smelling, relatively gelatinous stock (click here for some fairly fool-proof stock instructions, adaptable for any type of carcass).
The fridge, on the other hand, is incredibly sad-looking. Quite a variety of salad veg, a load of carrots and not much else. Given that I really couldn’t be bothered to go shopping, I decided to make some carrot soup and concluded that the coconut cream leftover from the other day’s curry probably ought to be used up too, resulting in this slightly tangy version of carrot and coriander soup. Nice and simple, and fairly quick to make. Hopefully I’ll regain inspiration later in the week and start cooking exciting things again!
Carrot and Coconut Soup
I'm trying out a slightly more artsy style of photography. What do you think?
Lots of carrots, diced small
1 green chilli, seeds removed and chopped finely (top tip – don’t rub your eyes unlike some silly cow did this evening…)
Good quality stock (use meat stock if you like, or vegetable to make it vegetarian/vegan)
Half a carton of coconut cream
Fresh coriander leaves and stalks, roughly chopped
- Heat a little olive oil in a fairly deep pan. Add the carrot and stir. Shake in quite a lot of ground coriander and a smaller amount of cumin and onion powder. Add the chilli and stir everything well.
- Add enough stock to cover the veg, topping up with water if necessary. Stir through the coconut cream and turn the heat down to a slow simmer. Cook for at least half an hour, until the carrot is really soft. You don’t have to worry about boiling out all the goodness, as that’ll stay in the water, which will be whizzed up with the soup later!
- Once the carrot is soft, blend until smooth, adding more stock or water if necessary. Stir through the coriander and serve with crusty bread. A good tip if you have some bread rolls or a baguette or something which is starting to go a bit stale is to sprinkle some water over it and warm it through in a medium-hot oven. Voila! Fresh(ish) crusty bread 🙂
Yesterday I had a karate grading. A friend was visiting and I had planned to make lunch, but as I wasn’t in the house A Man did it instead. I had bought a piece of leg of lamb from the supermarket which had been reduced and I’m very glad I did! Roast lamb is not something we eat very often at all because usually it’s prohibitively expensive so it was nice to be able to have it for a change.
Although I had felt guilty about leaving my friend I’m pleased that I had. I used to do karate when I was a teenager but gave it up when we went on our European tour during our gap year. I started again in the new year and yesterday managed to re-grade directly from white belt to orange and back to where I left off. Unfortunately, it’ll probably only get tougher from hereon in! I keep having to remind myself that the pain and aching I’m feeling this morning is apparently good for me…
Roast Leg of Lamb with Red Wine Gravy
1.5kg Leg of lamb
Garlic cloves, sliced
Salt and Pepper
Potatoes for roasting
Water from any vegetables
1 dessert spoon redcurrant jelly or some kind of jam
- Cut small slits in the top of the meat and push sliced garlic and rosemary leaves into them. Rub the meat with a little olive oil and season well.
- Parboil the potatoes for a few minutes, drain, and shake in the pan to fluff up the edges.
- Preheat the oven to 180OC/350OF/Gas mark 4 and roast the lamb and potatoes in a tray together for an hour and a quarter. Take it out occasionally to baste the meat and turn the potatoes. If the lamb isn’t particularly fatty, you may have to add a little more fat for the potatoes.
- Remove the lamb from the oven and cover it over to rest for at least 15 minutes. Transfer the potatoes and most of the fat to another tray, put back in the oven and turn it up as high as it will go. Cook the veg for dinner (we had carrots and asparagus), drain and leave somewhere warm until it is time to serve.
- Place the lamb pan on a medium hob (if it is quite big, you might need to use two hobs). Stir flour into the fat to make a thick roux. Gradually add a glass or two of red wine, stirring well to prevent lumps from forming. Add the vegetable water until the gravy is the desired thickness. Taste the gravy – it may need some ordinary gravy granules adding, depending on how flavoursome the meat drippings were. Stir in a spoon full of redcurrant jelly. If you don’t have any, jam will do – blackcurrant is particularly good for this sort of thing. We used rhubarb and ginger jam.
- Serve the lamb thinly sliced with the veg, potatoes and gravy and some mint sauce (freshly chopped mint leaves, sugar, a little boiling water to dissolve the sugar and malt vinegar).
Qalaysiz! According to the internet, that’s Uzbek for hi.
Hope you’ve had a spiffing couple of weeks as mine have been brilliant. My first lot of exams are done, I’ve graduated, I’ve been to Amsterdam for the first time ever and I’ve eaten lots of yummy food which was lovingly cooked for me by other people 😀 Today it’s A Man’s birthday and his answer to the inevitable question of what he wanted for his birthday tea was “something with lamb in it”. I could have done crispy lamb again, or a tagine, but decided to do a little recipe scouring for some new inspiration and I’m pretty chuffed with the result.
I more or less followed the recipe for Aliona’s Plov in the Ballymaloe Coookery Course but with a couple of alterations. I’m really annoyed with myself that I forgot to add the whole garlic bulb with the rice, but next time I’ll endeavour to remember (yes, there will be a next time). The salad is also heavily based on the recommended accompaniment of Korean Carrot Salad, but I added fennel as I thought it would go. I was right.
I have no idea if this is anything close to how a genuine Plov should be – I’d never even heard of it until reading it in the book. What I do know is that it was very tasty; a kind of hearty pilaf. One worth trying out.
For now, here’s a photo of A Man blowing out his candles. Awww.
23 candles. 23. They were a bitch to light!
Uzbek Lamb Plov with Warm Carrot and Fennel Salad
Small piece of lamb shoulder
Carrot chopped into sticks (don’t worry about peeling unless it really needs it)
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
A few twists of a chilli mill
1 teaspoon turmeric
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
About 1 oz/25g basmati rice per person
1 whole garlic bulb
For the Salad
Thinly sliced onion
Thinly sliced fennel
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
1 dessertspoon brown sugar
3 dessertspoons cider vinegar
Large handful fresh coriander, stalks and leaves roughly chopped
- Cut the lamb into cubes roughly the same size. Separate the fatty meat from the lean meat.
- Heat a saucepan on a very hot stove. Add the fatty lamb and immediately turn down to a medium-low heat. Add any bones from the lamb. The idea is to render as much fat from the lamb as possible, so this may need to stay on the low heat for quite some time. Stir occasionally to prevent it sticking.
- If desired, pour away some of the lamb fat (I poured the vast majority off, and retained it – it’s make lovely roast potatoes!). Fry the onion and garlic cloves in the fat until starting to soften. Add the carrot and spices and fry for a few minutes.
- Turn the heat up a little and add the lean lamb, stirring to ensure all sides are browned. Add enough boiling water to just cover the meat. Simmer with the lid on for 20 – 30 minutes, until the meat is tender.
- Stir in the rice and place the garlic bulb in the middle of the pan. Replace the lid. Cook on a very low heat, stirring occasionally until the rice is cooked through. Add more water if necessary.
- Heat some olive oil in a pan. Fry the onion, fennel and carrot for a couple of minutes. Stir through the ground coriander.
- Dissolve the sugar in the vinegar. Remove the carrot from the heat and stir the vinegar and fresh coriander through the veg. Serve with the plov immediately, while the salad is still hot.
Hello hello hello
As I mentioned the other day, money is scarce this week, and as part of our budget food shop last weekend I picked up 300g of lamb breast for 69p. I’d not cooked breast of lamb before, but have had experience of attempting to eat a rolled breast roast which clearly hadn’t gone very well. Beside the fact that we really didn’t have enough for a roast, I wanted to do something different with it and I do declare this meal to be one of the favourite things I’ve cooked in a very long time! I’d even go so far as to hazard it being restaurant quality *blows own trumpet* It’s time-consuming, in the fact that the meat needs low slow cooking, and there are several elements to the dish, but the whole thing can be prepared in advance and the final cook through only takes 5 minutes, which is perfect if you don’t quite know when your other half will be home from work.
You end up straining a huge amount of fat off of this dish, but don’t despair – anything you strain off isn’t going into you! If possible, the best thing to do would probably be to braise the lamb the day before cooking the stir-fry, refrigerate the broth and simply spoon off the solidified fat from the top the following day. However, I did it all in one afternoon, so it’s perfectly fine to do so. To counteract the richness of the lamb, you need to keep the stir fried veg as simple as possible, with no sauce and a sliced chilli to cut through the meat and its sauce. I highly recommend trying this dish out. I worked it out as costing about £1 for 2 portions, though even if the lamb and asparagus I used had been full price it would only have come to around £2 altogether. Definitely worth a shot, even if it doesn’t go 100% to plan!
Crispy Chinese-style Breast of Lamb with Stir Fried Vegetables
This was one of the most perfect dinners I've cooked in a long while. Perfect balance of flavours, perfectly cooked, perfect portion size. And of course I'll never be able to replicate it...
300g lamb breast
Chinese 5 spice
1 Clove Garlic
Dried Galangal (or root ginger if you can’t find galangal)
1 tsp Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Sake
1 tablespoon Tomato Purée
1 Chicken Stock Cube
1 onion, sliced
2 dessert spoons Honey
For the Stir Fry
1 yellow pepper
4 asparagus spears
1 red chilli
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Noodles or rice to serve
- Score the skin of the lamb and rub generously with 5 spice powder. Slice the ginger and galangal finely and push into the scores, all over the meat. Mix together the sugar, soy sauce and sake and sit the lamb in it to marinade, overnight if possible.
- Placed the onion in the bottom of a casserole dish and lay the lamb on top. Dissolve the stock cube in the marinade, and add the tomato purée. Pour this over the lamb, with enough hot water to cover the meat. Cover and cook at 180OC/350OF/Gas mark 4 for around 3 hours.
- Remove from the oven, remove the lamb from the broth and leave to cool separately. If possible, refrigerate the broth until the fat rises to the top and sets. Remove as much of the fat as possible, and place the broth in a small pan with the honey.
- Pull the lamb apart with your fingers, discarding any bones and place the shreds in a cold, dry frying pan.
- Chop the onion, pepper, courgette and asparagus and place in a cold lidded wok with the sesame oil. Stir well to completely coat the veg. Slice the chilli very finely and add to the veg, removing the seeds.
- Once you are ready to serve, warm through the lamb cooking broth on a low heat. Stir-fry the veg, placing the lid on at intervals to steam it. Heat the lamb first on a high heat, and then on a medium-low heat, until all of the fat has rendered from the meat. The lamb will go crispy quite quickly, so keep a close eye on it as well as continuing to stir the veg and the broth.
- Remove the lamb shreds from the fat and drain well. Dish up the rice or noodles, topped with the veg, followed by the lamb and drizzle the broth over the top of the lamb. Delicious!
A Man prepared this, and it was stuck in the slow cooker, ready for when he got back from work and I from school. It’s a great way to cook curry, and curry is a great way to cook cheap cuts of meat. I love aubergine in curries, both for the flavour and the fact that they break down in the cooking and thicken the sauce. You could do this with beef, lamb or chicken thighs if you prefer. This is good for leftovers too, particularly roast dinners – add all your meat and veg from dinner, along with any gravy that you’ve got hanging around. I’ve filed this under “speedy” – although it takes ages to cook, the actual prep is minimal and the sort of thing I used to do before lectures when I was at uni.
Pork and Aubergine Curry
Pork, cut into cubes (we had shoulder, but any cut will do)
Fresh chilli, diced
- Fry the onion in some oil on a very low heat. Grind the chilli and coriander seeds with some oil in a pestle and mortar.
- Stir the spices into the onion and fry gently. Add the pepper and aubergine.
- Brown the meat with the vegetables. Take off of the heat and place in the slow cooker pot. Stir in the tinned tomatoes and cook on low for several hours. The aubergines should break down and there should be no need to add any water to the curry.
- When you’re quite close to serving, stir through the cashew nuts (to prevent them going soft). Serve with boiled rice and your choice of Indian accompaniments. We had naan bread (far too much for my tummy!) and natural yoghurt (which I would have made into mint raita, had we had any mint…).