This recipe came off the back of a conversation that I had earlier in the week with two of my great friends who I met when I was living in Hong Kong. As normal the topic of food came up and we were pondering the ranking of a pork pie, sausage roll and Scotch egg. Off the back of that conversation GB piped up that she plans on hosting a Scotch egg party with the idea of an ostrich Scotch egg in the centre and then filtering out to goose, duck, hen and quail.
Whilst I love the idea of a Scotch egg party the thought of one absolutely massive ostrich egg did not appeal to me hugely. However, it got me thinking – what if you confit the yolk and served with small pork or chorizo bites then that could be awesome! Not being the type of person to leave an idea alone and what with it being Burns Night this week and haggis being readily available I decided to give it a go albeit on a somewhat smaller scale. The result was delicious and this is definitely a recipe that I will be repeating!
Is it worth the effort of confiting the yolk? A thousand times YES – whilst it may take an hour to cook it is incredibly simple to do and at the end of it you get an egg yolk that is warm,silky and creates a wonderful sauce to dip the crunchy haggis pops in one you cut into it. This is absolutely a recipe worth trying if you can get your hands some haggis! Enjoy.
One-pot cooking is incredibly convenient for washing up purposes but also in terms of ease. The idea with this style of cooking is that you can throw everything into a casserole dish, cover and leave to bubble away in the oven without needing to think about it until it is time to serve. The added bonus with this particular dish is longer you leave it the more succulent and tender the lamb becomes.
As this dish cooks, the juices from both the apricots and lamb seep into the sweet potato mixture turning it into a stuffing that is infused with all the flavours of the dish. I would recommend serving this meal with simple accompaniments for example fluffy couscous and steamed green vegetables so that you can relish the taste of the lamb. This recipe would be a good alternative to a traditional Sunday roast, or would make a great centrepiece for a dinner party. Enjoy!
Aubergine is a fairly underrated vegetable which I think is a little unfair. When cooked well it is absolutely delicious and is a fairly meaty vegetable which is great if you are looking for something to bulk up a meal.
As with many things, preparation key to making this vegetable shine. For aubergine this means cutting the vegetable as required by a recipe, place on some kitchen paper or a tea towel, sprinkle over some salt, cover and leave for 10 minutes to draw the moisture out of the vegetable. If you are using the aubergine as a layer in a dish for example as it is used in the moussaka recipe below then there this one further step that I would highly recommend – lightly oil each side of the aubergine, place under a hot grill and cook for 4-5 minutes on each side which will soften the aubergine and give it a slightly smoky taste – adding to the overall flavour of the dish.
I like to think of moussaka as a healthier version of a lasagne as aubergine replaces the pasta sheets and in this recipe the crème fraiche replaces the béchamel sauce. I would avoid using low fat crème fraiche for this recipe as it has a tendency to split and go watery. If you can’t get crème fraiche and don’t want to make a béchamel sauce then use cream cheese instead.
I would suggest serving this recipe with a green salad as this moussaka recipe is packed full of flavour and it would be a shame to overpower it. So don’t over complicate it – a rocket or watercress salad with a little French dressing is the ideal accompaniment to this dish. Enjoy!
I visited Jordan a few months ago and have been hugely influenced by the food that I ate whilst I was out there. The style of eating is typically mezze with lots of little plates not dissimilar to tapas, which are often served with delicious salads that are dressed with pomegranate molasses and olive oil which both tantalises the palate and is refreshing all at once. I would highly recommend trying to get your hands on some pomegranate molasses if you can to give it a try, the flavour is both sharp and sweet – which really enhances any salad, especially if you also add a few pomegranate seeds, chopped coriander and crumble over some feta.
The lamb burger recipe below is the perfect accompaniment to this type of salad. The burger has quite a delicate flavour with just a hint of mint. The recipe below can easily stretch to 6 burgers or will make 4 large burgers. They are a great option for a barbecue, or if the weather isn’t playing ball work just as well in a griddle pan and on the plus side they are very quick to make.
I would recommend serving these burgers with hummus (see below for a quick and easy recipe that takes no more than a couple of minutes to prepare), a few toasted pittas and a salad. Enjoy!
A Sunday roast has always been one of the meals I look forward to the most. Tender meat served with crispy roast potatoes, loads of vegetables with a rich gravy – it doesn’t get much better than this. I remember when I first started cooking roasts I found them fairly stressful due to all the component parts. However, it is all about good preparation and timing- if you can get that right then it is a fairly painless process.
As we rear our own ducks we tend to make our own duck fat, which is then frozen in portions ready to be used for roast potatoes. After plucking, drawing and butchering the ducks we render the unwanted skin of the bird down in a hot oven (180C – 200C fan) for about 40 – 55 minutes to draw out the fat. The fat is then sieved and left to cool slightly before pouring it into small pots ready to be frozen. If you can’t get duck or goose fat then use olive oil or vegetable oil in its place.
As I have mentioned in previous blogs, as a family we prefer to eat lamb well done, consequently all timings recommended for the meat are made with this in mind. If you prefer your meat medium or rare please see the notes.
Roast lamb with garlic and rosemary
Ingredients: (Serves 4)
1 leg of lamb (1kg – 1.5kg)
3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
3-4 stalks of rosemary (cut into 2” pieces)
1-2oz butter (softened)
1-2tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 180C fan.
Mix the garlic, butter and oil together in a bowl.
Take a sharp knife and make deep incisions into the joint roughly 6-8 times.
Smear the garlic butter all over the joint, push some gently into the incisions.
Insert the rosemary pieces into the incisions and season well.
Place the meat joint in a roasting tray.
Place in the oven and cook the lamb for 1hr -1hr 15 minutes basting occasionally for a well done joint.
Remove from oven, wrap in foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes in a warm place before carving.
If you prefer a more scientific approach to cooking meat and would rather use a meat thermometer to gauge how your leg of lamb is cooked work on the following principle:
50C – Rare
60C – Medium
70C – Well done
75C – Very well done
Alternatively, insert a knife into the joint and press down slightly so that you can see the colour of the juices, the pinker the juices the rarer the meat.
Roast potatoes in duck fat
6-8 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into large pieces)
2-3tbsp duck fat.
Place the potatoes in some salted water and par-boil for 15-20 minutes.
Drain in a colander and set above the pan to continue to drain for 30-45 minutes.
Roughly 40 minutes before serving, place the duck fat in a roasting tin and place in the oven at 180-190C fan for 5 minutes to melt the fat.
Remove from the oven and very carefully tip in your potatoes. Stir and turn the potatoes in the pan to make sure they have all been covered in oil and then season.
Cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes until golden brown.
Red cabbage with sultanas
400-500g red cabbage (finely sliced)
1 handful of sultanas
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2-3tbsp olive oil
Place the cabbage and sultanas in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 5-6 minutes (or until the cabbage is soft).
Drain the cabbage well, then return to the pan and add the vinegar, oil and sugar and stir well.
Taste and add seasoning as required, serve.
Honey glazed carrots with parsley
5-6 carrots (peeled and cut into batons)
2 heaped tsp honey
1 heaped tsp butter
1tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Place the carrots in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes (or until the knife goes easily into the carrots).
Drain the carrots and return to pan, add the butter and honey stir together and add cover for 5 minutes.
Just before serving scatter over the parsley and season with a little salt and pepper.
4 onions (peeled, and left whole)
Cook the onions in the same roasting pan as your joint.
Remove the onions from the pan after about 40-45 minutes.
Place in a small ovenproof dish, cover with tin foil so that they stay warm.
If they cool too much, pop them back in the oven for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Gravy (for lamb)
juices from the meat pan
1 glass red wine
2 heaped tsp red currant jelly
½ pt – ¾ pt water (or vegetable water)
1 stock cube
1-2 heaped tsp cornflour (made into a paste with a little water)
Having removed the meat, place your meat pan along with its juices on the stove and heat.
Add the glass of wine and allow to bubble away for 2-3 minutes.
Add ½ pt of water, red currant jelly and crumble in the stock cube stir together.
Pour in the cornflour paste and stir continuously as your gravy thickens, add a little more water if it is needed.
About a month ago I assisted a local butcher with the butchery of some of our lambs. It was an interesting experience and I am pleased to have learnt some basic butchery skills. The day started fairly early (7am to be precise) – the butcher started with one of the largest lambs and demonstrated how the process is carried out.
The first step was to cut the lamb in half down its spine using a large saw. Then each of the sides were divided up into the following cuts:
shoulder – this is taken off first after cutting around the blade and can quite simply be pulled off.
leg – this is removed from the carcass just in front of the pelvis bone using a saw, then a boning knife was used to remove the pelvis bone so that only the leg bone remained and any excess fat was trimmed off.
rib chops / cutlets – the cartilage at the bottom of the ribs was removed. Then a sharp knife was inserted between each of the ribs as close to the backbone as possible and then run down to the end of the rib. Finally a clever was used to remove cut through the backbone at the point of the initial incision.
loin chops – after the rib chops have been removed, the loin was rolled up into the spine, then the clever was used to chop between each of the vertebrae to produce individual loin chops.
scrag end / neck – this is removed after the shoulder by a saw and is divided into manageable pieces using the clever.
stewing meat – this is made up of any trimmings from the lamb.
This process was carried out on all but one lamb, who had been nicknamed ‘tiny’ ever since he’d arrived, unfortunately this lamb was a triplet and did not grow particularly well over the 5 months he was with us and subsequently when it came to butchering him it was carried out slightly differently:
rack of lamb (the rib section was left whole)
scrag end; and
It was from the butchery of the smallest lamb that I was able to try French trimming a rack of lamb. It was my first attempt and I found it interesting to try. The first thing I have to comment on is the amount of potential waste you have when you French trim a rack of lamb. I retained all of this meat and will be cooking it is a stew later this week. French trimming is a slow process, but it did make the dish look more inviting. I found that by snapping the rib at the very top and then gently pulling the bone downwards I was able to remove a lot of the cartilage and meat from the ribs and then tidied it up using a very sharp knife.
As the winter months are starting to set in, it is worthwhile having a couple of casserole recipes at your fingertips. Casseroles in my opinion are wonderful because you can leave them to cook away in the oven at a low temperature and know that after 2-3 hours you will have an amazingly tender meat and vegetable casserole ready to eat. The other major benefit to a casserole is that there is really no need to serve anything with them other than some French bread – this is because the casserole contains all the carbohydrates and vegetables to make it a well-rounded meal.
A casserole dish is an invaluable piece of kit to have in your kitchen; however if you don’t have one then you could always use a deep oven-proof dish that you cover with a double layer of tin foil. If you do this you will need to make sure that the tin foil is on very tight so that the steam stays inside the dish whilst it is cooking.
Lamb and Bean Casserole
shoulder of lamb
2 onions (diced)
1 red pepper (diced)
2 carrots (diced)
3 celery stalks (diced)
a small bunch of thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tsp paprika
tin of tomatoes (400g)
1 tbsp tomato puree
½pt vegetable stock
a tin of Cannellini white beans (800g)
2 glasses of red wine
oil (for cooking with)
1. Preheat oven to 160C fan.
2. Place Lamb in a large casserole dish with a little oil and cook for 5 minutes allowing the meat to brown off a little.
3. Add the onions, carrots, celery, pepper, seasoning and paprika and mix well.
4. Finally add all the other ingredients, cook for 10 minutes to allow it to come up to heat before placing in the oven and cooking for 2 – 2½ hours until the meat is meltingly tender and falls off the bone.
5. Remove from the oven. Take the shoulder out of the casserole and strip off any meat that may still be attached to the bones. Cut the meat into bite sized chunks before returning the meat to the casserole dish; stir the well before serving with a slice of French bread.