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Posts Tagged ‘lamb’

First of all I should report back on what happened to the rest of my lamb. Remember this guy? What was left of him after I had made a roast and a lamb and white bean stew (see my last post) went into my freezer while I decided what would become of him. Thanks to my Aunt Judy’s suggestion he went from…

…A lamb, lentil and mint soup (soup crossed with a stew really) and I think it was a fine end to his existence. I’m not even going to post a proper recipe for the stew as it really was a “bung it” but here’s a rough guide if you need some idea of where to start.

I started with chopped pancetta in a large saucepan, fried until crisp and then added chopped celery, onion, potato and  carrots (whatever veg you like or have left over). Gently fry the veg until soft and then add a teaspoon or two of dried mint, a few sprigs of rosemary and/or other herbs and your lamb bones and meat. Make sure you cut your lamb leg in half at the joint so that it fits into your pan properly! Top up with water to cover the lamb, bring to the boil and simmer for at least two hours until the lamb is falling off the bone and has flavoured the water to become stock (if you are making with just lamb meat you could also use a lamb stock cube but I recommend the real McCoy). Fish out the bones and pick off any bits of meat (you could actually leave them in but this just makes it easier to serve). Finally add two tins of cooked green or brown lentils, a glug of soy sauce (my aunt’s tip), a glug of Worcestershire sauce and a splash of red wine vinegar and simmer for another 20 mins or so before serving. Easy!

Now onto sweet things.

I am trying to restrain myself at the moment and make healthy meals during the week but the weekend is my excuse for two things. Puddings and special breakfasts. This weekend I made both. The breakfast was apple spice muffins from a recipe  in this book. The recipe was given to me by a friend at work who makes amazing muffins and he recommends the book which I now do too. I was very faithful to the recipe for once but I did use currants instead of raisins (purely because they were in my cupboard), left out the walnuts, added extra spices and used demerera sugar and cinnamon to top them because it gives more crunch.  The apple makes them lovely and moist and they feel just healthy enough to stop you feeling guilty whilst still being a pleasure to eat.

Apple Spice Muffins

Adapted from “Muffins: Fast and Fantastic” by Susan Reimer. Makes 10-12.

  • 250g plain flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 100g castor sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 apple peeled, cored and grated
  • 85g melted butter
  • 80g raisins (or currants soaked in boiling water and then drained)
  • 2 tbsp demerera sugar mixed with 1 tsp cinnamon to dust

Line a muffin tray with papers and preheat oven to 190°C. In a large bowl, whisk or sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Mix in castor sugar.

In a separate bowl combine the egg, milk, grated apple and melted butter and then add to the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined and fold in raisins/currants. Spoon into the muffin papers and dust with the sugar and cinnamon mixture. Bake in the oven for 20-25 min until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Delicious warm from the oven with a mug of tea.

Breakfast over, my sights turned to pudding… chocolate and thyme mousse. I know this sounds odd but I’ve seen it somewhere before and I was dying to try it. Weirdly it works. The thyme somehow enhances the chocolate flavour, giving it a fresh accent that cuts through the richness of the mousse. I made the mistake of making it at first without infusing the thyme in anything so it didn’t impart enough flavour to the mousse unless you got a mouthful with a little thyme leaf in it, which was delicious. To get the full fresh hit of thyme I have adjusted the recipe to infuse it in a little milk before cooling and adding this to the cream (I didn’t try to infuse it in the cream itself as I needed to whip it and boiling the cream can make it split and refuse to play ball). Adding a few fresh thyme leaves to the mousse as well is optional but as long as you don’t go mad you wont feel like a cow with a mouthful of meadow I promise.

Chocolate and Thyme Mousse

Serves 4.

  • 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) chopped
  • 60ml full fat milk
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 100ml double cream
  • seeds from 1 vanilla pod or 1 tsp vanilla paste or extract
  • 1 large egg

Put the milk and thyme in a small pan and heat gently until almost boiled. Take off the heat and leave to infuse as it cools. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally.

Add the sugar and vanilla to the cream and whip to soft peaks. Separate the egg and add the yolk to the whipped cream and whip the white in a separate bowl until stiff. Add the cooled infused milk to the cream and egg mixture and mix through (add extra thyme leaves removed from the stem as optional). Fold the melted chocolate into the cream and then gently fold in the egg whites. Place in the fridge or freezer to set, depending on how fast you need to serve it. Garnish with a sprig of thyme to serve.

Before I go there’s one last bit of news to share. I have created a facebook page for my blog… partly to stop bombarding my friends and family with updates every time I write something but also so that I have another way of communicating when I have something shorter and more immediate to say about what I’m cooking or eating. I’d love it if everyone used the page too to post their own food related thoughts and photos too so feel free to pop past and leave a message or add a picture as the fancy takes you…

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My blog is probably still a little young for me to be refreshing things but I’ve just been updating my ‘about me’ page because I was reading it the other day and realised that my reasons for writing have changed so much even the short time I have been publishing these posts. As you’ll see from what I’ve written, its much more about the people who read my posts than it was when I started and it was more of a personal experiment.

Rather than being purely a public diary of my food related thoughts (which I should point out is still a perfectly good reason to write), I find I spend more time thinking about what would be evocative and interesting to the people who are reading it and hoping that someone is finding it even half as inspiring as I find the blogs that I read. This realisation means that I suddenly find more pressure to write something about important or original and to write well.

So in the spirit of doing something useful as well as pleasurable I thought I would give you this lamb recipe which actually turned into 3 separate recipes, 2 of which are written below and 1 is still to be created but can be easily created using your own ideas in the meantime. I called it recession lamb because its an excellent way to eek out one joint into several meals, especially if you are cooking for two and always land up with left overs and this is how I approach all my weekly shopping to save money and avoid wasting things. The title is in no way related to the taste of the end result though!

This all started with a craving for a lamb Sunday lunch. However, after making my shopping list and wandering up and down the meat aisles I realised they didn’t have any de-boned roasting joints which I had my heart set on. In the end I bought the lamb leg anyway with the intention of de-boning it myself. Bearing in mind I have never done this before and I don’t own a boning knife I was setting myself a fair challenge for what was supposed to be a lazy Sunday morning. Professional chefs everywhere would probably be recoiling in horror or sniggering into the sleeve of their whites if they were watching however I did manage to get the bones out without losing half the meat and although Im fairly sure I didnt do it properly as I didnt have one continuous slab of meat to roll up (in fact it was quite full of holes), I still managed to get from this…

To this…

More evidence that cooking is often more about perseverance than talent. And that you can fix anything with string.

So having wrestled my lamb into submission, I set about my original plan to make a herb crusted lamb with rosemary roasted veg which turned out to be just as delicious as I was hoping and therefore worth sharing. Pink slices of aromatic juicy lamb with salty and sweet new potatoes, carrots and shallots. We ate half the lamb on Sunday and the other half became the basis for recipe number two – lamb and white bean stew. As it turned out I undercooked the lamb slightly which turned out to be perfect as we ate either end and I used the under cooked middle for the stew which cooked just perfectly as it heated through. I also had a few off cuts of lamb and all the bones and bits of muscle from de-boning which I froze and will form the basis of my third recipe which I’ll get around to making this week – another lamb stew or a lamb soup, depending on what lands up on this week’s shopping list and what takes my fancy (details to follow as soon as I have worked out what they are).

Apart from the couple of before and after photos, I’m not going to try and write a tutorial on de-boning a leg joint as there are already a ton of perfectly good articles and videos available on the web but hopefully the fact that I managed to do it without proper tools or any expertise will give you more confidence to attempt it yourself and otherwise you can get your butcher to do the hard work and still use the recipes to make some good grub that wont break the bank.

Herb Crusted Lamb  with Rosemary Roasted Veg

Serves 2 with enough over to make lamb and white bean stew. If you are making for 4 then just add more vegetables.

  • 1.2kg lamb leg or 900g rolled lamb joint
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 4 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
  • larch bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs rosemary, 4 sprigs finely chopped and 2 halved
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • olive oil
  • 400ml lamb or chicken stock
  • 8-10 new potatoes
  • 2 carrots, quartered lengthways
  • 4 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 4 anchovy fillets, roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled

If you are using a whole leg of lamb, de-bone it by cutting the meat away from the bone as close to the bone as possible and lifting out the bone away from the meat. Trim the tendons and any fat off the meat and make a cut into the thickest parts of the meat to flatten out and get an even thickness. Now roll the lamb up and tie with string to make a parcel. Place any off cuts of meat and all the bones in the freezer and use to make a lamb stock for another stew or soup. You could use them to make the stock for the stew below but I didn’t have time so I froze them to use for a third meal.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Place a good glug of olive oil in a roasting dish for the veg in the oven. Heat a splash of olive oil in a frying pan and sear the lamb on each side. Combine the herbs (keep 2 rosemary sprigs for the veg) on a plate. Brush the lamb with the mustard and roll in the herbs to coat.

Take the veg dish out of the oven and add the left over rosemary sprigs, anchovy fillets and garlic cloves. I know anchovies sound like an odd addition but you wont taste them and they give the veg a heavenly sweet/salty flavour. Stir to help the anchovies melt and then add the potatoes, shallots and carrots and return to the oven. Put the lamb in the oven and roast everything for 30-40 minutes. As I said before, I found that the lamb was still too pink in the middle after 30 minutes but we took slices off each end which were perfect. When the lamb is done, take it out and wrap in tin foil to rest while you make the gravy. Add the flour to the lamb juices in the pan and stir over a low heat for 2 minutes. Add the stock and stir to de-glaze the pan (get all the caramelised bits to dissolve into the gravy). Cook for another few minutes until thickened. Remove the veg from the oven, carve the lamb and serve with the gravy.

Lamb and White Bean stew

Serves 2-4 depending on your portion size.

  • About 230g left over roast lamb, cubed (preferably just undercooked or rare)
  • 400ml veg stock
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tins white beans (I used one cannellini and one butter bean)
  • 150g spinach (or a few big handfuls)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • few sprigs thyme
  • olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy based pan and gently fry the celery, carrots, leek and garlic until softened. Add the wine and cook until reduced by two thirds. Add the veg stock and bring to the boil. Add the beans and herbs and simmer for 20 min. If you want to make the sauce more creamy, spoon some of the beans into a bowl, mash with a fork and return to the stew. Add the lamb, red wine vinegar and spinach and cook for a final 5 min until the lamb is just warmed through. Serve on its own or with crusty bread for mopping up the sauce. I should point out the photo below doesnt really do it justice as the lighting was shocking but it is delicious I promise!

    Now, what to make for my third lamb dish…

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