Moroccan style lamb with spiced cous cous and glazed pistachios

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Lamb is a meat that if often underused in my household but in this recipe it is the star of the show so don’t just leave it for Easter- hit the shops and get cooking! This dish has the perfect balance of savoury vegetables to balance the spice of the harissa, the richness of the lamb, the sweetness of the pistachios and the savouriness of the feta. The lamb can be marinated in advance if you have the time but equally it will also be delicious if it is made just ahead of time. I also made extra yogurt marinade and added some chopped coriander to serve on the side of the finished dish.

Ingredients- serves 4
For the lamb
8 lamb cutlets- trimmed
200ml natural yogurt
2 tbsp harissa paste

For the cous cous
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 courgette
1 aubergine
200g cous cous
400ml hot vegetable stock
1 tbsp harissa paste
100g feta
Fresh coriander
Salt and pepper

For the pistachios
2 handfuls of shelled pistachios
Knob of butter
2 tbsp sugar

1. Start off the lamb so then you have time to make the rest of the meal as it is marinating. Simply combine the yogurt and harissa in a bowl that is large enough to fit all the lamb cutlets. Season the yogurt to taste and coat the lamb cutlets well. Cover and chill until you need them.

2. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Prepare all the vegetables for roasting by chopping into small pieces that can then be tossed through the cous cous. Place on a large baking tray, drizzle with oil, season and roast until tender.

3. Take a large bowl and place the dried cous cous into it. Cover the cous cous with the hot stock and allow it to be absorbed. Use a fork and fluff the cous cous before stirring through the harissa. Before starting the lamb, make the glazed pistachios. Take a small non- stick pan. Melt the knob of unsalted butter and dissolve the sugar into it and wait for it to start to bubble. Add the pistachios and cook until glazed and sticky. Leave the cool and move onto the next step.

4. When you are ready to cook the lamb, remove it from the fridge and heat a frying pan or griddle pan to a medium heat. Cook the cutlets for 2-3 minutes on each side until they are lightly golden.

5. To serve, choose a serving plate or platter that is large enough to hold all the lamb and cous cous. Add crumbled feta to the warm cous cous and sprinkle through some freshly chopped coriander to taste before arranging on the platter. Add the glazed pistachios and arrange the lamb cutlets on top. Finish with a little more coriander if you like and serve.

Moroccan lamb cutlets with spiced cous cous and glazed pistachios- bringing a splash of colour and oddles of taste to your dinner table via the Middle East!

Nduja, red pepper and feta baked brunch eggs

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I’m just going to come out and say it… I love baked eggs! They are the perfect weekend breakfast or brunch that’s quick and easy so you still have plenty of time to read the papers and keep the tea and coffee coming. You can also use this recipe as a base recipe for tweaking as you go. I often add fresh baby spinach or kale and red onion is also delicious but the key is to keep it as light as possible.

Ingredients- serves 2
2 garlic cloves- finely sliced
1/2 tbsp nduja
Tin of chopped tomatoes
2 jarred roasted red peppers
Dried oregano, salt and pepper
50g feta
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take a small overproof frying pan or ceramic dish that is big enough to fi the tomatoes into. Add a small glug of oil over a medium heat; fry the garlic for a minute before adding the nduja to melt into the mix. Sprinkle in the oregano, add the tomatoes and peppers. Season to taste, Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until thickened slightly.

2. Crumble over the feta. Make two slight hollows in the tomato mix and crack the eggs into it. Finish off in the oven until the egg white is set. Serve immediately with plenty of fresh sourdough.

Nduja, red pepper and feta baked brunch eggs- grab your bread and dip until your heart and stomach’s content!

Chorizo, manchego and pepper muffin tin fritattas

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Muffin tin fritattas are as the name suggests- mini fritattas that are made in muffin tins! They are great for picnics, lunchboxes for work or school and even breakfast. Fritattas are an ideal go to spring or summer recipe and they can be useful to use up any vegetables or cheese that is in the fridge but has started to see better days. For this recipe I used a combination of chorizo, manchego and roasted red pepper so pack them with flavour but also to give them appealing colour. They are delicious warm from the oven or at room temperature. They can keep in a well sealed container in the fridge for a couple of days- if they’re not all devoured before then!

Ingredients- makes 12 fritattas
7 large free range eggs
1 large red onion
100g chorizo
2 large jarred roasted red peppers- chopped
130g manchego cheese
Fresh basil
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil

1. Preheat the oven to 190c/ 170 fan. Prepare the muffin tin by lightly brushing each hole with vegetable oil using a pastry brush.

2. Peel and slice the chorizo into slices and then quarter each slice. Heat a dry frying pan and fry over a medium- high heat; fry the chorizo until golden and remove from the pan. Add the red onion in and fry until it has softened. Set aside and allow to cool.

3. Take a large bowl and crack all the eggs into it. Lightly beat them with a fork. Add the sliced red pepper and grate 100g of the manchego into the egg. Tear in some fresh basil and add the onion and chorizo. Season well with pepper and a small amount of salt.

4. Carefully use a ladle and divide the mixture between the 12 muffin tin holes. Do not fill them to the brim as they will naturally rise during cooking. Grate a little more manchego on the top of each hole and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes or until the egg has set and the fritattas are golden. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. When cool remove the fritattas from the tin; you may need to loosen them a little by carefully running the blade of a small, flexible knife around the edge of the tin holes. Serve by themselves or with a simple salad.

Muffin tin fritattas- your answer to breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Mee hoon goreng

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Mee hoon goring may not be a dish you’ve heard of before but, once acquainted, it is certainly a dish you want time and time again. It comes from Malaysia and is a super savoury noodle recipe. As it is so versatile you can play around with the main ingredients, be it pork, prawn or chicken to satisfy everyone but making it vegetarian by adding in even more vegetables is equally delicious so there really is no excuse for not making it. Mee hoon goring calls for a base paste that can be made in larger quantity and then kept in a sealed container in the fridge for a week or so. To add another layer of flavour and texture you can serve the noodles topped with crispy shallot ring; simply shallow fry sliced shallot in oil until golden and arrange on top.

Ingredients- serves 2-3
For the paste
1 banana shallot- finely chopped
2-3 dried Kashmiri chillies(or similar)
2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
1 inch piece of fresh ginger- finely chopped
Salt

For the rest
Vegetable oil
3 slices of pork belly- cut into bite sized pieces
3tbsp dark soy
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp honey
2 nests of vermicelli rice noodles
Half a pointed cabbage- finely shredded
Carrot- grated
3 spring onions- finely chopped
Kecap manis
Oyster sauce

1. Start off by making the paste. Simply combine all the paste ingredients plus a pinch of salt in a small blender or pestle and mortar and blend (or bash!) to a coarse paste. Add a splash of water to loosen it and set it aside.

2. Take a large pan and fill with boiling water. Add the chunks of pork belly and boil for 2 minutes to remove any impurities; remove carefully using a slotted spoon. Rinse the pan out, add a splash of oil and heat to medium- high. Add the pork belly to the pan and fry until golden. Remove and set aside.

3. Next up, make the sauce for the pork belly by combining the dark soy, rice wine vinegar and honey in a small non- stick pan. Simmer until reduced and thickened and add to the pork belly. Continue to cook on a lower heat until the pork is caramelised and sticky.

4. Meanwhile you can make the base of the noodles. Soak the noodles in hot water according to the packet instructions before draining well. Heat a glug of oil in the wok and fry off a generous tablespoon of the paste you have already made. Fry until fragrant but keep it moving so it does not catch on the bottom of the wok. Add the cabbage and carrot and fry until starting to soften. Add a tablespoon each of kecap manis, oyster sauce and a splash of water, stir well to combine. Making sure the noodles are well separated and add to the pan along with the pork belly which is now nice and sticky; cover the pan and cook until warmed through. Towards the end of cooking sprinkle in the spring onions so they retain some crunch. Serve immediately.

 

Mee hoon goring- a new noodle dish to add to your repertoire!

 

 

Ultimate summertime salad

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The weather is starting to hot up and thoughts start turning to lighter meals to enjoy al fresco (well, hopefully if this lasts!). If a Greek salad and Italian panzanella had a lovechild then this salad would be the result. It packs a punch and combines savoury, crunchy and satisfying ingredients to create a healthy but filling salad. To be honest this is a great meal to use up whatever salad vegetables may be lurking in the fridge as you can’t really go wrong. This salad is ideal to take on a picnic as you can make the main elements and then assemble it at the last minute to avoid soggy bread disasters or make a big bowl of it to serve at a BBQ to eat with grilled meats or fish.

Ingredients- serves 3-4
150g sourdough bread- cut into bite sized cubed
1 red onion- finely sliced
350g assorted vine tomatoes
Half a cucumber- deseeded and sliced
200g feta
1 tbsp oregano
100g pitted mixed olives
2 tbsp.red wine vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Freshly chopped parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 150c/ 130 fan. Place the chunks of bread on a baking tray so they are arranged in a single layer. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake until slightly golden and crisp around the edges. Remove and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the tomatoes. Cut them into a combination of halves and quarters and place in a bowl. Add the sliced onion along with 2 tbsp of red wine vinegar and 3 tbsp olive oil. Season well and  set aside to infuse.

3. In another bowl, combine the cucumber, feta, olives and oregano along with a good crack of black pepper and another tablespoon of oil.

4. Choose a suitable bowl in which to serve the salad and add half of the bread into it before adding the tomato mixture, cucumber mixture and tossing well. Add the remaining bread. Serve with an additional sprinkling of parsley and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving so the brad can soak up the juices from the tomatoes.

Ultimate summertime salad- I promise you you’ll be making this time and time again!

 

 

Garlic, herb and lemon slow roasted lamb

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Now here is a recipe that is too good not to share- my garlic, herb and lemon slow roasted lamb. This can be used for either lamb leg or shoulder and it is ideal for a lazy Sunday roast dinner or for entertaining. Lamb is now in season in the UK so it is the perfect time to get your hands on some and make the most of it. I recently cooked this for Easter lunch and it went down a storm! For 4 people I used a half leg of lamb which meant that everyone was well fed but there were certainly no leftovers! If you have large appetites, want leftovers or if you are feeding the 5,000 then by all means use a larger joint and cook for longer until the meat is falling off the bone.

If you have time then you can prepare the lamb the night before you want to start cooking it by following the first step, covering tightly and leaving in the fridge to allow the flavours to infuse.

Ingredients- serves 4
Half leg of lamb
Handful each of fresh thyme and rosemary
2 bulbs of garlic
1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
300ml water or white wine

1. If preparing the meat either the night before or the morning of cooking then all you need to do is find a deep tray that will comfortably fit the half leg in and pop it in. Peel around 4 cloves of garlic, cut them into quarters and use a sharp knife to make slits in the lamb; pop a sliver of garlic into each slit. Scatter the remaining garlic cloves around the lam in the bottom of the tray. Drizzle the lamb with a little olive oil and rub so it is well coated; season well. Cut the remaining bulb in half width ways and place in the tray cut side up. Scatter the herbs too. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the lemon rind and place on and around the lamb. If preparing in advance, at this stage cover well and refrigerate. If cooking then and there, read on…

2. Preheat the oven to 140c/ 120 fan. Pour the water or wine, depending on what you are using, into the tray. Cover tightly with foil and place on the middle or low shelf in the oven and cook for around 4-5 hours. The time will depend on the size of the joint so check and baste from time to time. If the bottom of the tray becomes too dry then add another splash of water. When the lamb is nearly ready, remove the foil and allow the lamb to catch some colour and turn golden. The juices should run clear and the meat should come away from the bone with ease. Remove from the oven and rest whilst you make other accompaniments.

Garlic, herb and lemon slow roasted lamb- a sure fire crowd pleaser that’s packed with flavour but that needs very little care!

 

Springtime fricassee with pan fried sea bream

If you’re a regular reader of this blog then you’ll notice by now that, not only do I enjoy cooking with seasonal ingredients as far as possible, I also have a penchant for pan fried sea bream. I love how delicate it is whilst also being able to stand up to a range of flavours. If you can’t find sea bream then sea bass will also work well. When fish is fresh you really don’t need to do much to it to bring out the best in it so keep it simple. I have chosen to pair the fish with spring vegetable fricassee; asparagus, peas and broad beans are in plentiful supply at the moment so take advantage of them whilst they are at their best. I served the fish and fricassee with roasted garlic mashed potato to bring the dish together and indulge in my other love in life- garlic!

Ingredients- serves 4
Olive oil
Unsalted butter
4 sea bream fillets- pin boned and skin left on
1 shallot- finely chopped
200g asparagus
200g shelled broad beans
200g podded peas
150ml double cream
Salt and pepper to season

For the mashed potatoes
1 bulb of garlic
Olive oil
500g Maris Piper potatoes- peeled and quartered
100g butter

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/ 180 fan. Take the bulb of garlic for the mash and remove some of the outer papery layers. Carefully use a sharp knife to cut the bulb across the top to expose a little of the cloves. Place the garlic on a sheet of foil, drizzle with some olive oil and gather the side of the foil to make a parcel; roast in the oven for around 30 minutes or until the garlic has softened. When tender, remove from the oven and allow to cool until you can handle the garlic. Squeeze all the garlic from the bulb and use the back of a fork to lightly mash it down; set aside.

2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add a little salt. Cook the potatoes until tender; drain well and set aside before mashing with the butter added. Pop in most of the roasted garlic and combine well. Keep the mash warm.

3. Next up you need to make the fricassee and this could not be more straightforward. Bring a medium pan of water to a vigorous simmer but just below a boil. Take the asparagus and quarter each spear before then chopping each quarter to give thick sticks of asparagus. Add to the water and blanch for 1 minute before removing with a slotted spoon and refreshing in a bowl of ice cold water. Take the shelled broad beans and do the same for 3 minutes and then do the peas for 2 minutes.

4. In a medium pan add a glug of oil and soften the shallot. Pop in the remaining roasted garlic. Add the asparagus, broad beans and peas and pour over the double cream. Simmer gently for a few minutes until the vegetables are nice and tender. Taste and season well.

5. As the fricassee is finishing off get going with the fish. Heat a non- stick frying pan over a medium- high heat and add a good knob of butter and a glug of oil. Lightly season the skin of the fish and place skin side down into the hot pan; when the butter and oil starts to bubble then its ready to use. Fry the fish for around 4-5 minutes before gently flipping it over and cooking for a further minute or two. Serve the mash and fricassee and mash in deep bowls and top with the golden pan fried bream; serve immediately.

Springtime vegetable fricassee with pan fried sea bream- a celebration of seasonal ingredients!