December 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, Alternative Meat, Offal, Lamb — ros @ 12:55 pm

after several months of not being able to properly access your blog. When I finally opened up my admin page after goodness knows how long, I was pleased and slightly suprised to find some people had linked to me. Of course I was less pleased when I found they’d just been hotlinking my photos. Chuh! :roll:  

Then there were the forty or fifty comments largly made up by spam. Having been there when my spam filter was designed, I know that this spam isn’t made by spam robots as it used to be. There are apparently now many hundreds of trained spam monkeys trawling the internet and leaving badly disguised links to their websites, masqueraduing as gushingly complementary comments.  

Anyay, yes, hello, I’m back, at least temporarily. I still don’t have a real computer. Just a laptop with a screen I can barely read and no keyboard. Thank God the boredom of the Christmas holidays has finally forced me into typing on a barely functioning USB device to update this poor, neglected website. So now I can tell you about my recipe for sheep.

No, of course I couldn’t eat a whole one. Not in one go anyway. But this dish includes a fair number of sheep consituents.

sheep dish with offal

Towards the end of August, I went to the Covent Garden Night Market specifically to see Fergus Hendrson perform on their stage kitchen. Softly spoken and slightly awkward in front of the large audience, he was a far cry from what you’d expect from a ‘celebrity chef’, yet he conveyed his passion for good cooking and ingredients better than any popular household name. Two things in particular stick in my mind. The first is his assertion that recipes are merely guides, not rules, for a genuinely good cook. The second is what I have come to hold high in my list of cooking commandments:

Love Thy Butcher

According to Henderson, if you find a butcher worthy of your custom and let them know how much you love them, you can expect great things. In his case, he got pig trotters. I was after sonething slightly different.

I was expecting a negative reaction clutching my short but unusual shopping list but the gentlemen at H G Walters barely batted an eyelid when I handed them the piece of paper. One veal kidney, some lamb sweetbreads and two lamb tongues would apparently be no problem.The two latter ingredients were destined for a recipe that held my fascination for some time: lamb rack with sauteed tongue and sweetbreads.

The original recipe, from the first series of ‘The Great British Menu,’ had obviously been created in the summer and required fresh broadbeans and samphire. I made do with defrosted peas but otherwise the ideas are largely unchanged. 

Sheep Feast (Rack of Lamb with sauteed tongue, sweetbreads and peas)

For Two People

  • 1 large rack of lamb (wih about 6 rib bones in)
  • 2 lamb tongues
  • 350g lamb sweetbreads
  • 2 handfuls of peas, fresh or defrosted
  • 200ml fresh lamb stock
  • unsalted butter- around 30g
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley to garnish
  1. Prepare the sweetbreads: If they’re frozen, allow them to defrost. My butchers say that if you’re short on time, let them sit it some warm water to speed this up. Then soak them in cold water in the fridge for two hours.
  2. Drain the sweetbreads. Bring a pa of water to the boil. Drop in the sweetbreads, bring back to the boil. Drain immediately and refresh in cold water. When they’re cool, peel off the tough outer membrane, then pop them in the fridge until ready to cook.
  3. Prepare the tongues: Place in cold water and brinng to the boil. Simmer until tender (around 1 hour 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the cooking liquid.
  4. Roast the rack of lamb as you norally would. I brushed mine with olive oil, seasoned and roasted it in a preheated oven at gas mark 6 for15 minutes This gave me pleasantly rare meat. Wrap in foil and leave to rest.
  5. While the lamb is roasting/resting, cook the peas in boiling water then drain.
  6. Pat the sweetbreads dry and dust them with the seasoned flour. Heat half the butter in a frying pan and when it is foaming add the swweetbreads and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  7. Drain the tongues and cut in half. Sautee on both sides auntil golden brown.
  8. Add the sweetbreads, stock and peas to the pan Simmer together for a few minutes.
  9. Cut the lamb rack into cutlets and serve with the peas and sweetbread mixture. Garnish with parsely. Minted new potatoes made a good accompaniment to this.

 

All in all a good recipe. The slighly diappointing thing for me is that the sweetbreads weret te crispy type I’ve had before. Perhaps that is easier to achieve with calf sweetbrads. Still, the flavour was good and I imagine that if I’d had a chance to get my hands on some samphire, it would have been even better. Incidentally, lamb sweetbreads are CHEAP. Excellent value for money if you have a good butcher that can order them for you. The most expensive part of this meal was the lamb rack but, given the quality it was well worth it. 

Happy New Year, everyone!

October 31, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:25 pm

…to those of you who have tried to contact me via e-mail. I still have no home internet and our school server appears to not like my web based mail page. I can read your messages as they come into my Blackberry but I have no easy way of retaining or replying to the messages. Blame BT.Apparently I have missed some good blogger meet ups. Boo!

Filed under: Uncategorized, Curries, S.E Asian, quick to cook — ros @ 5:22 pm

(otherwise known as squid in a tomato and clove sauce, Indonesian style.)

West London really is the place to be at the moment. This morning I discovered that what appears to be the world’s biggest Waitrose has opened by Shepherd’s Bush Green along with 40 or so restaurants as part of the Westfield development.

This shopping centre is ludicrously large. I intended to ‘pop in’ today on my way into school to see what the fuss was about. Not only do you need a map for the development itself, individual shops are big enough to merit having their own complex floorplans. At one point I found myself looking diagonally across the centre so most of it was in my sight. It was so enormous, I had a slight attack of vertigo, felt a bit sick and had to leave. Then it took me 15 minutes to get to the exit.

Yes it is THAT big. So big that, if it wasn’t for Wholefoods, it would render Kensington High Street totally redundant. So here I am, nestled in between cheap restaurants, the best butcher in London and a gargantuan shopping centre. This is my smug face. :)

Goon has become a bit disconcerted at my sudden good mood. I suppose that from his point of view, his girlfriend has undergone a complete personality transformation, from grumbling and snarling to generally quite happy. If it wasn’t for BT, I would only have one other complaint: the seemingly endless stream of colds.

Colds are an occupational hazard for teachers, particularly when they’re new to a school. I can’t remember a day this term when we (the maths department, that is) were all sniffle free. Germs like children and children like giving their germs to teachers. Fortunately I know the best thing to treat a cold: a big bowl of curry.

I have more than made up for last year’s lack of curry making and have been trying to expand my repetoire. The dish below originates in Indonesia and is lightly spiced and not at all hot. It’s perfect if you want something pleasantly invigorating but aren’t in the mood for a chilli based assault on the senses. It’s so mild that you might not class it as a curry, but it hit the spot for me, especially after the burningly hot Thai curry I made the previous night. It’s quick to make too, so a perfect schoolnight dinner.

Cumi Cumi Smoor (for 2 big portions)

indonesian squid

  • 400g of squid, cleaned, hoods cut into strips, 
  • the juice of a lime 
  • 1 onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped  
  • 8 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 150ml unherbed fish or vegetable stock or water
  • plain boiled rice or saffron rice to serve
  • chopped coriander/ sliced spring onion to garmish
  1. Get a large frying pan hot and stir fry the squid until it just curls up. Remove it from the pan, place it in a bowl, toss in the lime juice, cover and keep warm.
  2. Turn the heat down to low, add a little more oil, then add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook gently until soft.
  3. Add the tomato, stock, cloves and nutmeg. Stir well, ten allow to bubble gently until almost dry. Taste and season.
  4. Stir in the squid and warm through.
  5. Serve with saffron rice or plain boiled rice, garnished with chopped coriander and/or spring onion.

******

 

October 21, 2008

Filed under: Vegetables, Mexican, London life — ros @ 2:20 pm

That has got to be the understatement of the year and, to be honest, it is not so much technical problems but extreme technical incompetence. Apparantly it takes over two months for BT to set up Option 1 broadband. This morning, after spending two hours on the phone to their technical support ‘gurus’, I was told that actually no one had a clue what was going on with my internet and I would be offline until at least November the 4th.

Somewhere in India, there are two helpdesk people, sitting, shaking, and possibly crying underneath their desks. I have given up my policy of not blogging from my workplace and have come into school to write a post even though it is half term.

Other than lack of technology and blogging equipment (I also had no desktop, no photo software and my camera card reader got lost somewhere in my move) things are pretty sweet in West London. I found a flat which is essentially a large kitchen with attached sleeping area. It has an ancient rickety gas cooker, which has already caused me several burns, but, hey, at least it’s gas! The freezer is on the barely existing side, but to make up for it I have a big pink sofa. Yay! 

Now that I’m back, I’m quite convinced that my irritation at living on the Islington-Hackney border was not just a case of the grass being greener. I am so happy to be back in Hammersmith. My flat is within 10 minutes walk of at least eight nice but affordable restaurants and at least two nice but more expensive restaurants. Roll on payday! A five minute detour on my way home from work takes me to what must be the best butcher in London. The supermarkets are decent. True, a floor assistant responded to my request for black pudding by taking me to the chilled dessert section,  but I found brawn in the bargain bin! ! Woohoo! I also have a supply of interesting ingredients from Shepherds Bush market and a load of expensive but bizarre things to gawp at in Wholefoods.

The new job seems very promising too….. but more on that later.

I’ve been spoiling myself this month, eating and drinking far too much. This has had the effect that I am skint, yet again, until I get paid on Friday. To avoid this happening next month, I am using the fact I can’t visit my butcher on Sundays to force myself to eat more vegetarian food. Last Sunday I didn’t need much convincing. After a heavy weekend I go off the idea of meat and start craving grains and other healthy foods. I used the opportunity to make myself a few portions of a nourishing meal that would freeze well, just in case work gets more demanding as we head towards mid winter.

4 Bean Chilli

four bean chilli

  • 1 can each ready to use kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, chickpeas
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes (or 800g fresh, peeled and chopped)
  • 2 medium/small onions onions, minced
  • 6 small cloves garlic, minced
  • vegetable oil to fry 
  • cayenne peper- 2-3 teaspoons
  • paprika- 2-3 teaspoons
  • 3 teaspoons dried oregano 
  • frehly ground cumin- about a teaspoon
  • freshly ground coriander seed- a teaspoon
  • a small bunch of coriander 
  • 3 red peppers, cored, deseeded, chopped into small pieces
  • beef stock- around 500ml
  • a good shake of tabasco (optional)
  • Tortillas to serve with soured cream and grated manchego (or mild cheddar) cheese and possibly a nice green salad.
  1. Put the onion and garlic in a large saucepan and fry gently in the olive oil.
  2. Chop the coriander stem finely- about a handful would be good- throw this into the pan with the spices.
  3. When the onion is soft, add the red pepper and allow to sweat, pan covered, for a couple of minutes.
  4. Stir in the beans and tomatoes. Add the tomato puree and stock and stir well
  5. Let the mixture simmer, covered, for half an hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Uncover, take off the lid and allow to bubble down to a thick sauce consistency..
  7. Taste, adjust spicing if you like and if you’re that way inclined, add a shake of tabasco.
  8. Just before serving, stir in a couple of handfuls of chopped coriander leaf.
  9. Serve on flour tortillas with a big dollop of sour cream, grated machego cheese, some more chopped coriander to garnish and a simply dressed green salad.

*****************

I have missed blogging a lot. Now I’ve started my new job, I should have time to write a couple of times a week so hopefully, as soon as I have a net connection I’ll be back for good and I may even be able to let you see what the kids here have been cooking in our after school club. Wish me luck! 

August 28, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized, Offal — ros @ 12:36 pm

The internet is a funny place isn’t it? For a start, it isn’t really a place at all, although it does feel like one: a seperate world where people can quietly have a look into other people’s lives (yes, serial lurkers, I still know you’re there ;) ). It’s a place where one can anonymously irritate and insult perfect strangers all day without getting punched in the face and, on a chatroom somewhere, a lonely guy in his mid forties can start a loving relationship with a beautiful girl in New York without knowing that in reality she’s a fat hairy man from Newcastle.

I’ve heard some people say that one day the internet will be the world’s single source of information and will eliminate the need for books and television. Personally, I hope this doesn’t happen. I’m no stickler for tradition but I think there is one big problem with the net at the moment: search engines. Search engines were designed to be intelligent, but they are, for now, very, very stupid indeed. To demonstrate what I mean, let’s try a little experiment. Open a new tab on your browser (or a whole new browser window if you’re the type to have a messy desktop) and go to www.google.co.uk. Now, search for ‘how to cook couscous’.

Obviously Google, the biggest and most important search engine in the universe, is designed to bring you the best and most useful results for your query. Look down to the bottom of the page (possibly the top of the second page) and you should see a link starting ‘Andy Millar….’

That’s right, in Google’s opinion, one of the world experts on cooking couscous is Goon. The man who the other day served up crunchy pasta in a carbonara, the man who asked me if chocolate truffles were dug up by pigs in France, the man who I recently caught trying to drink sherry soaked raisins straight from a mug, is one of Google’s top choices for advice on cooking this particular carbohydrate.

Needless to say, Goon has never cooked couscous by himself. It is very, very dangerous to trust Google’s recipe choices.

Of course, in reality, I love the internet. Over the last week when my access was limited, I felt like I was going slightly mad. Google is the one of the things I use the most, both for searching and for advertising on my site. However, on occasions it does frustrate me. There are days, when I have a bit of comment abuse from the internuts and I wonder why they have decided to attack me so suddenly. Generally it turns out that Google has put me top of an image search for cute fluffy bunnies and I bet you can guess which posts it links to.

Then there are the occasions where Google does send people with relevant queries to my site but directs them to the wrong place. If you search for beef mince recipes (as a ludicrous number of people appear to do), my blog’s first appearance will direct you to the archive for September 2006, which is totally useless. I do have a page somewhere with beef mince recipes but that obviously isn’t relevant.

Now, one of Google’s favourite pages on my blog appears to be the recipe for devilled kidneys. It was an old page, from before the great hard drive crash of Summer 2006. The picture was gone, the recipe was vague. However it was Google’s 5th hit. I was embarrassed, so I decided to spruce it up and, to make sure that Google doesn’t start sending people to the August 2008 page instead of to the right place, I’m giving it a Google boost.

So, Google spiders, are you watching? This is the recipe for devilled kidneys. That’s right, a devilled kidney recipe. In fact it is a lamb kidney recipe too.  You may wish to call it a deviled kidney recipe  or a recipe for deviled kidneys.

I think that should do it. :) I’m afraid you have to click on one of the links to see the devilled kidney recipe. You’ll see why.

August 22, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 10:45 pm

It would appear the internet I had ready set up in the new flat was cancelled by the old tenants. Can’t say I blame them, athough it would have been nice if the estate agents had mentioned something. Tonight I am posting from Goon’s flat, 5 minutes from Covent Garden Market, where we have just  been shopping. We had some more oysters and fizzy, then I went haywire and bought some spicy salami, some pecorino, olive oil and balsamic syrup. After tasting the salami and cheese, Goon decided he wanted sausages and something cheese related for dinner, so I went and bought some additional good quality pork sausages and red onion chutney and we are now waiting on some hot dogs with smoked paprika wedges for dinner, while nibbling on the salami and pecorino.

It took us 40 minutes to work out how Goon’s new grill worked. This is why my gas cooker rocks, even if I’m paying more than Goon to live in zone 2.
I also bought Goon a cake from Lavender Bakery. I ate most of it. This is why I don’t make cakes: I would end up the size of a house.
Due to internet setup times I may be away for a week or so. No matter, it will give me time to sort out the interesting fungus growing on my new kitchen’s window.  Ah, the joy of renting….

See you soon!

August 20, 2008

Filed under: Farmers' Markets, Beef, Fantastic Shops, fruit, London life — ros @ 12:12 am

There have been a few occasions when I’ve wondered why I blog. With the abuse from former students, the idiots who ‘tlk in txt spk n thnk yr fd lks dsgustin rofl lmao’ and the sheer amount of time it takes to write a post and upload some pictures, you have to wonder why we bother.  But then I remember all the fantastic people I’ve met through this site: other bloggers, a few readers and various people in the food industry. That makes it worthwhile in itself. Then there the few occasions when you get invited to some really great events.

Last Friday I was lucky enough to be asked along to have a look around the Covent Garden Night Market. This is a summer special. It runs through August on Thursday and Friday evenings hosting some fantastic stalls and catering for a variety of tastes. As well as tasty things to munch on while you’re there you’ll find all kinds of foodie delights: breads, meat, game, teas and coffees and Italian olive oils and vinegars as well as some of the Borough Market regulars. 

I arrived shortly after 6pm last Friday, just in time to meet some other food bloggers including Helen, Julia, Niamh and Krista before the entertainment began. 

Each Friday at 6:30pm the kitchen theatre on the West Side of the market plays host to some great chefs. Last week it was the hairy bikers who cooked up a three course meal of a starter with seared scallops and salmon, a Tuscan style beef salad and a dessert of zabaglione.

Hairy Bikers

The Hairy Bikers, being their hairy, entertaining selves.

HAiry Bikers2

 Si slices delicious fillet steak. I am jealous.

 Let me assure you that fillet steak was amazing. If I heard correctly, it came from the Northfield Farm stall at the market. Apparently on the 28th of August, the guest chef will be Fergus Henderson.  Pig’s ear salad, here I come!

After that little spectacle and almost being eaten alive by a Hairy Biker’s irate fan who NEEDED to be close to the bikers, it was time to explore the market along with Julia from a Slice of Cherry Pie and Niamh of Eat Like a Girl. The first port of call was obvious for me.

Prosecco and oyster stall
Quick! Join the queue before they run out!

Who could say no to oysters and prosecco? Ok, it supposedly isn’t the best season for them but they were still very good and at £10 for 6 oysters plus a glass of bubbly, they aren’t too badly priced. If you decided to indulge, try not to be like me and spill oyster juice down your arm and skirt. I smelled like fish for the rest of the evening. Classy.

As we sat and ate our oysters, I thought how nice it was to meet other food bloggers, especially after corresponding for so long over messages and e-mail. It was comforting to be chatting to two other young women and find out that they’re just as terrified of motherhood as me and for the same reasons. It’s not just the commitment or the physical and financial strain that worries us, oh no. It’s the thought of 9 months with no cheese, wine or rare meat! 

Continuing to explore the West Piazza, we found some very tasty salami.

 Chorizo stall

It’s a shame that the wild boar sausage had sold out by the time we got there but we got a taste of the spicy salami. I must say it was absolutely delicious with a substantial spicy kick.

And here we have a paella pan with paella.There’s always paella at these markets, isn’t there?

paella

Also present were Manor Farm. I have recommended these guys for years. If you want to catch them at Covent Garden, go EARLY. They sold out fast.

Finally, I got a briefly introduced to Michelle of The Lavender Bakery who is selling some beautiful cupcakes.

Cupcakes

 

Look at the little biscuits! They’re sooo cuuute!    

biscuits

This is Michelle’s first venture into retail and she is doing a marvellous job. If cupcakes are your thing, please go and support her.

All in all this was a very enjoyable evening. The mood was set well by the kitchen theatre and the stalls are fabulous. This time I only explored the West of the market but I will be back next Friday to have a look at the stall selling the flavoured teas and coffees that Niamh took advantage of and the stall with all the lovely olive oils. In fact, Goon is moving to a flat just 10 minutes away, so I imagine dinner next Friday will be from Covent Garden Market. Probably with some of that fillet steak. 

August 16, 2008

Finally we’re out of budget zone. It’s been a gruelling 8 months, believe me. Goon has finally found a job, meaning my salary is now just for me and, as descibed in an earlier post, I won’t be putting down my flat deposit until after I get my final pay from Highgate, meaning everything has settled down.

Last weekend, Goon came back from his cousin’s weddng looking very smug with the news that a company in Baker Street had accepted him as their desktop support man. He filled me in on the details.

“They’re giving you how much!?!!” Goon looked smug as he repeated his salary. “You’re straight out of University! You technically don’t have a degree yet!” 
“Good, isn’t it?”
“But I know people with PhDs that earn less than that!”
Goon thought for a second. “Yes!” he said. “Like you!” Goon stuck his tongue out at me.
“I don’t count!” I replied indignantly. “I’m in for love not money. Plus, given that I work 35 weeks a year, I’m still paid at a better rate.”
 ”Even including my bonuses?”
“You get a bonus?” Goon nodded and looked even more smug. “Wait. You have no degree result. Given you attended precisely 4 lectures during your 3 year course, I don’t want to see your degree result. This is your first job, and they are offering you that much money!?”
“ I have experience.”

I sat bewildered for a second.

“That tinkering you did instead of going to school counts as experience?”
 ”Yep. Enought to earn me more than you!” I shook my head in disbelief.
“No wonder the economy’s collapsing.” Goon snarled at me.
“So how much is this bonus of yours going to be?”
“Twenty percent if all goes well…. so…. ummmm…..” Goon thought hard and scratched his head. “What do you get when you divide my salary by four?

I ran his last sentence through my head again.

“Are you sure they haven’t confused you with one of the other applicants?”

At that, Goon decided he’d taken enough abuse and went downstairs to eat some celebratory cream cakes. I took a minute to get over the news that Goon was going to be better paid than me (I am clearly in the wrong business) and then started looking for places to host a celebratory dinner.

Now he has a job and can therefore stay in London, it is certain that Goon will be living on his own next year. There’s no way he wants to go back to eating tuna rice again so I have bought him a wok and a wok book.

Goon LOVES his wok. It really is the ideal cooking tool for someone like him. He probably won’t do the most exciting cooking with it but he’ll feed himself more healthily than he used to. Admittedly I bought the book primarily for its inclusion of pictures (Goon won’t use a book without pretty pictures) but, from what I’ve seen so far, the recipes are ideal for him. There’s lots of easy dishes taking less than half an hour to cook and, on the off chance he gets more adventurous, more challenging material too. Or, more likely, I’ll just use the challenging mateial when I visit. 

On Sunday he had his first lesson: chicken with satay sauce.

Easy Chicken in Satay Sauce (adapted from The Essential Wok Cookbook, Murdoch Press, various authors- serves 2)

Chicken in satay sauce

  • 400g chicken breast, cut into thin slices
  • 2 limes
  • salt and pepper
  • peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying 
  • 4 spring onions
  • 1 heaped tablespoon red curry paste (from a jar if you’re like Goon, made from scratch if you’re like me)
  • 2 heaped tablespoonfuls peanut butter
  • 200ml coconut milk 
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Steamed rice to serve and perhaps some vegetables stir fried with ginger, garlic and soy
  • Chopped coriander to garnish (optional)
  1. Toss the chicken strips with the juice of one lime and some salt and pepper. Leave to stand for ten minutes.
  2.  Slice the spring onions into 1cm lengths on the diagonal.
  3. Put a teaspoon of oil in the wok, swirl to coat and get the wok hot. Stir fry the onion until starting to soften. REmove from the pan and set aside
  4. Shaking off any excess lime juice, add half the chicken to the wok and stir fry until they are golden brown in patches. Remove from wok and set aside, repeat with the rest of the chicken.
  5. Add the curry paste, coconut milk and peanut butter to the wok, stir to combine well.
  6. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
  7. Adjust the heat so the sauce is bubbling gently. Let it reduce until it coatss your spoon thickly.
  8. Retuen the chicken and spring onion to the wok and cook for 2-3 minutes until the choicken is hot all the way through.
  9. Just before serving, stir in the juice of half the remaining lime
  10. Serve with steamed rice, a vegetable side dish, garnished with the remaining lime cut into wedges and chopped coriander.

Recipe Notes: I think marinading the chicken in a full on lime juice, lime zest, peanut oil, ground cumin and ground coriander marinade would make this better. But Goon is unlikely to have those ingredients next year, so we kept it simple.

*************

Goon has learnt several lessons from this.

  1. It takes ages to season a wok.
  2. Stirring too vigorously makes satay sauce fly across the room. If another person is in the room with you, it may land in her hair and then she may start hitting you with a frying pan.
  3. Woks heat up quickly and thick sauces can cling to the edges and burn if the heat is too high. You must keep the temperature moderate and scrape down any sauce that is clinging to the sides of the wok.
  4. Always read a recipe through from beginning to end before starting. Otherwise you will realise half way through that you actually need a side plate and someone to make some rice very quickly.

I also learned something: It is harder to cook a simple side dish and steam some rice while supervising a Goon than it is to prepare a 3 course meal for four people. Still the result was good, especially given the short list of ingredients and the relatively short cooking time.   The only problem was that the chicken itself lacked flavour despite being decent free range meat. A marinade in spices as suggested in the note may help this. The book didn’t even call for a lime juice, salt and pepper mix.

Goon will have another turn at cooking on Monday. Perhaps something with beef this time and I may get him to do ALL the cooking, including side dishes.

August 13, 2008

Filed under: Vegetables, Lamb — ros @ 7:10 pm

We’ve all been complaining a lot about the weather this summer. It has truly been a mixed bag, almost like Britain has developed a monsoon season.  To make it worse, the rain likes to make itself manifest at weekends or at around 6pm.

The weather is trying to spite office workers! How rude!

During the day, it has certainly been hot enough to go out with just a t shirt on, but my leather coat remains in my bag in case the heavens decide to open a little bit earlier than expected.

The rapidly changing temperatures really confuse my appetite. As I went food shopping last Tuesday, it was a very warm and humid 22 degrees. I had a bit of a bargain binge, picking up half price duck breasts, and some lamb neck fillet reduced from £5 to £2.05 and half price broad beans. I was thinking lamb kebabs using some super cheap veg from the Turkish grocers and a broad bean and feta salad (feta also seems to be one of the grocers’ cheap items).  Sadly, as I went to leave Sainsbury’s I saw that it had decided to storm properly, complete with a bit of thunder and lightning.

Half an hour later, when I got home, the rain had just stopped. I was soaking from the waist down and my hands were numb. I NEED to buy a bigger umbrella. I certainly wasn’t up for summery lamb kebabs with a light salad any more. I was more in the mood for a casserole. Time for another score cupboard raid, I thought, and so this came into being…

It’s essentially a twist on a lamb blanquette, kind of inspired by lamb avgolemono (which I’ve only read about but never actually had). It was cheap, which is the important thing right now, and it still tasted very good: good enough for Goon to ask for it again. The ingredients were
From the bargain bin: approximately 500g of lamb neck fillet and 400g unpodded broad beans.
From the storecupboard/fridge/freezer: a lemon, some garlic, frozen peas, fresh tagliatelle, a splash of cream and an egg
From the Turkish grocers: parsley
From the windowsill: the remains of the poor mint plant, which is now properly dead.
Total spent on the meal: £2.02 for the lamb. 40p for the parsley and £1.37 on the broad beans, so under £4 for two generous servings.

Summer Lamb ‘Blanquette’

  • Lamb neck fillet, around 450g, cut into bite sized pieces
  • around 500ml vegetable stock
  • 1 lemon, zested and cut into quarters
  • about 10 mint leaves, finely chopped, plus a sprig or two to to garnish
  • 2 handfuls of frozen peas, cooked.
  • 400g of broad beans, shelled, podded and cooked (I’ve put a note on how to prepare broad beans at the end)
  • 1 large egg
  • around 20ml of single cream
  • two servings of fresh tagliatelle, cooked (around 200g) tossed in parsley and olive oil if you like 
  1. Brown the lamb in batches over a high heat.
  2. Place in a saucepan of cold water, bring to the boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer.
  3. Over the next five minutes or so, skim the scum that rises to the top of the water off with a wooden spoon.
  4. Once no scum is left, drain the lamb and place in a pan with the vegetable stock. Bring back to a simmer.
  5. Add the lemon zest and the chopped mint
  6. After 30 minutes, the lamb should be tender. Strain off the liquid into a seperate saucepan, reserving all the solids and boil until reduced by half. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 2 or 3 minutes. This is to stop the egg mixture from curdling when it is added.
  7. Beat the egg and cream in a bowl. Add to the reduced stock, stirring constantly. This should thicken the sauce although you may need to return the pan to a low heat for this to happen.
  8. Stir the lamb and other strained solids back in. Add the peas and broad beans. Warm through, taste, adjust seasoning.
  9. Serve with the tagliatelle, squeeze over  some lemon juice, garnish with mint leaves and wedges of lemon.

Note: to prepare the broad beans: remove the outer pods and discard. Put the beans in their white casing into some cold water. Bring to the boil. After 3 minutes, drain and pour over cold water to cool them. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the beans. They’ll pop out of their casing and should be almost cooked.

 *************

If you’ve never tried lamb with lemon in a dish, you should try it. They pair up remarkably well. Sharp flavours cut through the natural fattiness of the meat. I noticed that the supermarket packaging suggested that lamb neck is grilled or fried. I suppose this works too, but it is amazingly tender when braised slowly like this.   Now, what to do with that duck….?

 

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:03 pm

So, not long ago I was asked if I was interested in supporting Allrecipes and their new website by giving £100 of Waitrose vouchers to a reader of this blog.

What I’d give to have £100 of Waitrose vouchers now! 

Bit of a no-brainer really. Shame I can’t enter this myself! So, below is a message from our friends at Allrecipes- it’ll just take a minute to enter and you never know,,,,

Please note, I didn’t write this but, if you have any trouble with links, let me know and I’ll try to fix.

Calling all Cookery Masterminds!

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1. What type of cheese is needed to make Nanmurat’s legendary salad? Hint: Click here

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