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!

 

Duck speck, fig and caramelised red onion pizza

Pizza is one of the ultimate comfort foods but think beyond the classics like margarita and pepperoni and go off piste! Duck speck is a product that not a lot of people may be familiar with but is certainly worth acquainting yourself with it. It’s cured duck breast which is made using a concoction of herbs and spice and the fat content melts away in the cooking process. I pick mine up from Eat Drink Ideas on my local market and they can be found here. The smoky notes from the duck pairs perfectly with the delicate but sweet figs and the savoury onions.

The base of the pizza is traditional but I used a cherry tomato passata which is sweeter than usual passata which worked much better here. You can make your own if you fancy! I also prepared a garlic and rosemary infused oil to drizzle over before cooking to add another dimension and pull the flavours together. Make more than you need and then keep it in the cupboard for next time.

I use a pizza stone at home which I heat for around half an hour on the highest temperature that my oven can muster. Alternatively you can preheat a baking tray and use this instead but make sure you take care and dig out the oven gloves!

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Ingredients- makes a 12 inch pizza
For the dough
250g tipo 00 Italian flour
3g salt
5g fresh yeast
160ml lukewarm water

For the drizzling oil
50ml olive oil
1 large garlic clove- peeled
Small handful of rosemary

For the topping
4 tbsp cherry tomato passata
40g grated mozzarella for pizzas
1 tbsp olive oil
20g butter
1 red onion- finely sliced
1 tsp caster sugar
50g duck speck- cut into thin slices
2 large figs or a few smaller ones- cut into sixths

1. Start off by making the pizza dough in advance so it has plenty of time to prove. You can use a bread hook on a mixer or good old fashioned elbow grease for this. Add the flour into a bowl and add the yeast and salt into two separate sides of the bowl; ensure these do not touch when dry and the salt will retard the yeast’s action. Add the water and bring together to form a rough dough. If you are kneading the dough yourself then this will take around 10 minutes until the dough is ready or 5 minutes with a bread hook. When it is ready, roll into a ball, place on a tray and cover with a slightly damp cloth and leave to prove for 30 minutes.

2. In the meantime you can make the drizzling oil. Simply pour the olive oil into a small pan, add the rosemary and garlic; give the garlic a light bashing first to release the flavour! Heat the oil until small bubbles start to form on the bottom of the pan and remove from the heat. Allow to cool and set aside.

3. For the caramelised red onion, take a small pan and heat the oil and butter together over a medium heat. Add in the onion slices and cook for 10-15 minutes until translucent. Add the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes until cooked down and sticky; remove from the heat and set aside.

4. When you are ready to cook the pizza, preheat your oven with either a pizza stone or tray to the hottest it can go. Roll out the dough as thin as you possibly can and place on the tray or stone. Using the back of a spoon, spread the passata on the base before sprinkling with the grated mozzarella and caramelised red onion slices. Distribute the sliced duck evenly followed by the fig segments. I placed these so the cut sides face upwards which looks great on the finished pizza. Drizzle with a little of the rosemary and garlic oil and pop in the oven for 10 minutes until golden, bubbling and irresistible!

Duck speck, fig and caramelised red onion pizza- put down the takeaway menu and get kneading!

Spicy Italian sausage and kale gnocchi

If I don’t have kale or spinach in my meals most weeks then I start to get withdrawal symptoms so this does the trick to satisfy the need even for diehard meat eaters as I’ve included spicy Italian sausage for good measure. This works well as a quick sauce or a baked gnocchi if you prefer so get stuck in!

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Ingredients- serves 4
500g gnocchi
1 small onion- finely chopped
1- 2 garlic cloves- finely chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes or chopped fresh red chilli if you prefer
2-3 fresh rosemary sprigs
8 Italian sausages- skin removed
100g kale- washed, drained and shredded
400ml passata
1 tsp red wine vinegar
Parmesan to serve

1. If you want to bake the gnocchi then you need to preheat the oven to 200c/ 180fan at this stage. Take a large frying pan and add a glug of vegetable oil and gently soften the onion and garlic. Sprinkle in the chilli and rosemary sprigs and cook for a further minute or two.

2. Next up add in the sausage which should have had the skin removed. Break up with the spoon and cook for another few minutes. Next you need to pour in the passata and red wine vinegar and simmer this. Check the seasoning to taste as some Italian sausages can be better seasoned than others to start with.

If you want to bake the gnocchi then disregard the next step and steam or boil the kale for a couple of minutes to start it off before mixing with the gnocchi and tomato base. It will take around 20 minutes in the oven and a topping of parmesan is also delicious.

3. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and cook the kale for 2- 3 minutes before adding the gnocchi to the pan. Cook the gnocchi for one minute less than the cooking time on the packet as you will finish them off in the pan. Drain the gnocchi and kale well.

4. Tip the gnocchi and kale into the pan with the passata and simmer for a further minute or so. Serve in warmed bowls with a liberal shaving of parmesan if you like.

Italian sausage and kale gnocchi- quick, easy and oh so delicious!