Sometimes I fall behind in writing about cookery books I’ve accepted for review. There is always a stack of books waiting for my attention, and I often feel vaguely guilty that I have already covered books that came in more recently than books that have been waiting a while. So I was delighted when a new friend agreed to take one from the pile and write a guest review about how she got on cooking from it. She chose French Food Safari by Maeve O’Meara and Guillaume Brahimi. Over to Tara Dean and her friend Dawn.

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I met Kavey through a friend when we needed somewhere to crash for the weekend whilst we went to Last Night of the Proms in Hyde Park. I had heard much about Kavey, it was a delight to eventually meet both Kavey who eats and Pete who drinks. I live in Bristol and keep myself very busy. I work for an international sexual health company, run my own sports massage business and am studying for my Masters in Occupational Psychology which I will complete early next year. In my spare time I do Bikram yoga, go to the gym and spend time with my amazing friends.

Whilst at Kavey’s I raided her sweet and chocolate box, as a blogger she gets sent lots of samples and so I had a great time, we inevitably got to talking about food and blogging. Kavey had been sent a recipe book to review and was finding her time limited, I was excited and up for the challenge so she asked me to take the book, cook, eat and review. So here we are, I hope you enjoy reading about my experience.

I have a wonderful friend called Dawn who writes the dessert part of this review, we met a few years ago as we both started out our studies in Psychology. As a fellow northerner, she’s from the east I’m from the west, we both love good homely food that fills your belly and makes you feel nice and warm inside. I take my food seriously and don’t like to eat too much junk food. I am known in the office for my interesting concoctions, when I work late on a Thursday my manager stops by the kitchen specifically to inspect what I’m eating. I’ve often been asked at work if I’m vegetarian even when there is meat in the dish because I am eating something homemade which contains vegetables. People are taken aback when I start work at 8am and I have managed to cook a curry or soup for my lunch before arriving. Life’s too short to eat food that does not taste good. I pride myself in making quick, inexpensive and healthy meals. Now that’s not quite how things happen when you cook from a French cooking book. My point is I can relate to people taking food seriously.

I cooked the main and thankfully Dawn did the dessert. We both thought we had picked a fairly easy none complicated dessert for her. One of the phrases I remember from the evening was from her husband Marc when she asked him to help her with the puff pastry. His reply was ‘No. I’ve made puff pastry once’. He meant you only ever made fresh puff pastry once, learn your lesson, and then buy pre-made ready to roll forever more. Knowing that, there are far more fun and less stressful ways you can spend your Saturday afternoon.

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Lamb Navarin

I chose the Lamb Navarin recipe which in our terms is a French Lamb Stew. First stop was the butchers. The recipe calls for 1kg boned lamb shoulder and 1kg forequarter lamb racks, cut between every second rib. After showing my butcher the recipe book we decided it would be half the price, more meat and much easier to have 2 kg of lamb shoulder which he boned and then I could dice. This was very simple to cut and led to a much less messy eating experience and left me with more money to spend on red wine which fits into my northern values. The recipe says to use chicken stock for which it provides a recipe for – ain’t no one got time for that – or water – I compromised and used stock cubes which I do not think took any flavour away. I had never heard of Kipfler potatoes and neither had the assistant at my local greengrocers. I did a quick internet search and up popped a picture of a long nobbly potato. We ended up with Anya potatoes which hopefully did not take anything away.

I found the recipe well written and easy to follow other than wrestling with Dawn for page viewing. There is a point in the recipe which instructs you to strain the sauce through a fine sieve. I really did not see the point of this and as I was cooking in a piping hot, very heavy, cast iron casserole dish I declined to follow. The result was a beautiful navarin with succulent meat and flavoursome sauce. The celeriac puree containing almost a full pack of butter was the perfect accompaniment. As much as the guests enjoyed the navarin the puree enjoyed the most praise. One guest commented that if I made it again he would like to be on the guest list.

Along with preparation you are looking at a good 3 hours to make this meal. That is without an dessert or starter. The recipe claims this dish can serve 8 – 10 people. We had 7 people to feed, no one behaved like a piglet and overfilled their plate and we had very little in the way of leftovers. I think the writer has been overly optimistic. Unless in France they have extremely small portions to allow for the many courses you would normally expect at a dinner party, which of course is entirely possible, however as a northerner I would like my main course to feel like a main. We did serve cheese between the main and the dessert. Although I have always experienced cheese to be served after dessert the author of French Food Safari says any French person knows that the cheese is served before dessert. Not wanting to appear as amateurs we stuck to tradition.

The book itself is well presented and inviting. There are sections on cheeses, meat, and very fancy desserts which you need specialist equipment to attempt. The recipes do look very inviting and I’m looking forward to trying some more…….. maybe for the next dinner party!

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Tarte Tatin by Dawn

A super friend of mine called Tara invited me to do a joint review of the new ‘French Food Safari’ and with the chitchat of good friends it was quickly decided: there would be a dinner party and it would be held in my kitchen. I offered to make dessert since this is a dish I always feel I do in a hurry when I have a dinner party. The idea of oodles of time without distraction from other dishes to prepare, felt like finally, without neglect, I was in a position to consider this dessert’s every need!

The dessert? Tarte Tatin…The perfect antidote to the autumn air. This is a dish I have enjoyed without fail on numerous occasions during my time spent living in France as a student in the 90′s. My husband is part French and always holds a certain nostalgia for this dessert since his French grandmother would often make it.

On first sight, the recipe seemed fairly straightforward. I have, on several occasions baked a Tarte Tatin so thought it near impossible that I should find myself in troubled waters. Oh how I was wrong! The recipe required me to make puff pastry. Although I have experience of making shortcrust pastry I knew straightaway that to make puff pastry you need inherent qualities such as patience, determination and time. With a flick of my hair I decided I had time on my side and should not focus on the aforementioned qualities!

Some points regarding the recipe quantities: the pastry recipe required 500ml water, 250 ml of which needed to be ice-cold. After 250ml water I found my dough to be all pasty and did not even dare to add the next vat of water. I became a little disheartened at this and wondered how on earth I could possibly inject more water into it, considering all my quantities again-had I put too little flour in? All the quantities were right so with deep breath and without further ado I made a pledge to move on and get cracking with peeling the apples. With an eye on the time and my pastry in mind, I looked forward to what I thought had to be the more straightforward part of the recipe.

After peeling, de-seeding and coring the apples I made the caramel. On the previous occasions I’ve made Tarte Tatin I have added the sugar and butter to the fruit at the time of cooking so i was a little surprised that the caramel was made separately but appreciated trying out new methods! I know that you have to e very attentive to a caramel to stop it burning so I gave it my full attention despite the knowledge my pastry was going to be crying out for affection in the fridge before long. Unfortunately what I found is that there was not enough direction in the instructions. i was starting to feel concerned about the caramel bubbling away for 8 mins with apples and then being turned up to full heat until the apples became caramelised. I was also using a cast-iron pan which does, of course, retain a lot of heat in comparison to other materials.

The apples looked golden and caramelised and picture-perfect. Time to return to the pastry again…

I started to become aware of time: with guests arriving at 8pm I was not going to have this dessert done and dusted before their arrival even though I had started at around 5:15pm. I estimated that by 8:15pm the Tarte, pastry in tow, would be ready to put in the oven. One aspect which would have really helped in making this pastry… photos. There weren’t enough photos of the various contortions this pastry required during the rolls. A picture of all four corners folded in would have been welcomed with open arms.

Three hours and 15 minutes later saw the birth of my Tarte Tatin. It looked amazing.

The taste was disappointing. Everyone agreed it tasted a little burned. A slightly burned caramel sullied the whole dish and those melt in your mouth apples were suddenly left without a plan B. The pastry was ok but nothing special, not quite what I’d expect from having toiled and troubled over it for hours… I kicked myself for not buying ready-made pastry. At least I would have had an easier time coming to terms with a burnt caramel not to mention extra time to prepare for guests.

With more handholding I could have tackled this dessert. I cook and bake a great deal with 2 small children and a husband to feed but this recipe needed a chef (as well as more photos, directions and bags of time) and that, I hasten to add, I am definitely not.

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With thanks to Tara and Dean for their review, and to Hardie Grant for review copy of French Food Safari.

 

Roasting an enormous shoulder of lamb (1.6 kilos) for just three people meant we had a lot of leftovers. More than half, actually! All gently infused with garlic and the merest hint of rosemary.

Some went into sandwiches and some into a beautifully rich and meaty ragu that Pete cooked up.

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The rest I turned into lamb and spring onion hoisin lettuce wraps, a quick and delicious mid-week evening meal.

 

Lamb & Spring Onion Hoisin Lettuce Wraps

Serves 2-3

Ingredients
300-400 grams leftover roast lamb, approx. 1 cm dice
3-4 spring onions, halved lengthways and cut into 4 cm batons
Approx. half a jar supermarket hoisin sauce
1 head iceberg lettuce
Sesame oil, to fry (or any vegetable oil)
(Optional) quarter of cucumber, cut into thin 4 cm batons

Note: I used half a 240 gram jar of Waitrose Cooks’ Ingredients hoisin sauce, which is not as strong as the hoisin I buy from the Oriental supermarket. If using the stronger stuff, reduce amount of sauce by a third to a half and add a tablespoon or two of water, if needed, to help it coat the lamb.

Method

  • Carefully peel the leaves away from the head of lettuce, wash thoroughly and leave to drain.
  • Wash and cut the cucumber and spring onion batons and dice the leftover lamb.

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  • Heat sesame oil in a wok or large saucepan and add the diced lamb. Stir regularly.

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  • Once the lamb has started to heat up, add the spring onions and continue to fry, stirring regularly, for another couple of minutes.

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  • Once the onions have softened to your liking, pour in the hoisin sauce and stir thoroughly, until the lamb is evenly coated and piping hot.

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  • Serve by placing cucumber batons and hoisin lamb into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the leaf around the contents and enjoy!

 

Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm. For reader discount code, see end of previous post.

 

The lamb we were sent by Graig Farm is truly fabulous. The joints in particular have been a joy; one lamb leg roasted with za’atar and sumac and the other roasted plain. The lamb is as tender as could be, yet full of flavour too.

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When it came to the turn of the enormous shoulder of lamb, we decided to keep it classic and pair the lamb with garlic and rosemary. This lamb has such wonderful flavour that we knew it would stand up to the two strong flavours without being overwhelmed.

 

Garlic & Rosemary Shoulder of Lamb

Ingredients
1 x 1.6 kilo shoulder of lamb
3-4 heads of garlic
4-5 sprigs of fresh rosemary

Note: Adjust quantities for smaller joints.

Method

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  • Preheat the oven to 180 C.

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  • Cut the tops off 3 heads of garlic.
  • Retain the main part of the garlic heads and wrap each one in foil, sealed at the top.
  • Retrieve the pieces of garlic from the tops of the 3 heads and break open the remaining head of garlic and peel all the cloves.

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  • Cut deep slits into the lamb.
  • Push the large chunks of garlic deep into the slits.

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  • Tie the rosemary over the joint.
  • Place the foil-wrapped garlic heads in the roasting dish, around the lamb joint.

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  • Pop the lamb into the oven to roast. For medium, I give 25 minutes per half kilo plus 25 minutes; for this 1.6 kilo joint, I roasted it for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
  • Take the lamb out of the oven, cover loosely with a sheet of foil and leave to rest for about 20 minutes. (We crank up the heat on the roast potatoes for those last 20 minutes).

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  • Cook your veg, make your gravy and serve.

Tip: Keep the sweet, sweet roasted garlic from the foil-wrapped garlic heads aside to enjoy smeared over toast the next day, stir the roasted garlic into your gravy, or just serve a head per guest and let them squeeze it out and enjoy it with the lamb.

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A classic roast dinner that is hard to beat!

Coming up soon, a great recipe for leftover lamb…

 

Discount Code

Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:

KAV222

The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.

 

Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.

 

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Whilst there’s something to be said for leaving well alone when you know the quality of the meat is good, sometimes it’s nice to add a little extra flavour to a roast dinner. I made a very quick and simple za’atar and sumac rub for this beautiful half leg of organic Welsh lamb from Graig Farm. It worked very well, creating a spicy and robustly flavoured crust but allowing the flavour of the lamb to shine.

I still have lots of Abu Kassem’s za’atar from the trip we made to his farm in Lebanon back in 2011. Follow that link to read more about how he selectively bred from wild herbs and how he now produces za’atar that is sold across Lebanon, from his farm in the south of the country. The za’atar mix he sells includes the herb itself, dried sumac berries, toasted sesame seeds and salt.

I’m not sure of the identify of the green plant Abu Kassem calls za’atar. It’s often translated as wild thyme but the term refers to several herbaceous plants including different oreganos, savouries, marjorams and thymes. Of course, all of these herbs work well with lamb.

I added more sumac as I wanted to bring out the lemon-citrus flavour of this element of Abu Kassem’s blend.

 

Za’atar & Sumac Crusted Roast Leg of Lamb

Ingredients
1 kg half leg of lamb
2 tablespoons za’atar spice blend
1 tablespoon powdered sumac
2 tablespoons olive oil

Note: For larger or smaller legs of lamb, adjust the volume of the spice and oil rub accordingly.

Method

  • Combine the za’atar, sumac and oil and mix well.
  • Rub the spice and oil mix all over the surface of the lamb joint.
  • Roast according to your normal temperature times. (I roasted for half an hour per 500 grams in a fan oven pre-heated to 180 C and my lamb was cooked to medium).
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15-20 minutes before serving.

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Discount Code

Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) for yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:

KAV222

The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.

If you haven’t decided what to have for your Easter Sunday roast, get an order in fast for a superb joint of lamb. The boned rolled shoulder was gorgeous roasted with garlic and rosemary, and the leftovers made wonderful hoisin lettuce wraps and a delicious ragu with pasta.

 

Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.

 

With ever rising populations and land pressure, I’m not being controversial when I state that we need to reduce the amount of meat in our diets and increase the volume of grain and vegetables we eat.

But for those of us who love eating meat, this is easier said than done.

There are two ways to do this: the first is to use smaller portions of meat in each meal, such as a 50 grams of bacon used to give flavour and texture to a pasta dish or a fresh vegetable salad with a handful of leftover roast chicken or a stroganoff with lots of mushrooms and only a little steak; the second way is to balance a couple of meat-heavy meals a week with several vegetarian ones. I tend to waiver between these, and don’t eat as many vegetarian meals as I should, which is a shame as I adore tofu and enjoy cooking our home-grown vegetables.

If you opt for the second approach then, budget permitting, it makes a lot of sense to enjoy the best quality meat you can afford – a little of the good stuff rather than a lot of the mediocre.

In a recent article in the Guardian, Alex Renton says:

Lamb is a green dream: the most gentle, ecologically, of all the farmed meats we eat. There is no animal more naturally-raised – it’s all free range and the feed just grows at their feet. Sheep don’t need water in the vast quantities cattle require and farming them is in itself a form of recycling: they graze hills and marginal land, recovering nutrients from poor grass and weeds other livestock won’t eat.

The land that will support one cow and calf can take as many as seven ewes and their lambs. And the grassy downs of modern England look as they do largely because of grazing sheep.

The lamb we produce in Britain is spectacularly good. Our climate seems well suited, both in terms of landscape and weather and the resulting meat is a delight.

A couple of months ago, I was sent a selection box of organic Welsh lamb by Graig Farm. Based in Mochdre in Montgomeryshire, the farm has been run by the Rees family since the 1940’s and has been certified as organic since 1999. Jonathan Rees is committed to producing great food “without the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, growth promoting drugs, routine use of antibiotics, and the large amount of additives often used in ‘non-organic’ methods”. Their sheep and cattle graze in grass, clover and herb pastures and their pigs are able to forage in the woods. Ten years ago, they built a processing plant on site, and do all the butchery and processing themselves at the farm.

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Delivery was straightforward. The meat was neatly packed in a large polystyrene box and kept nicely cooled with ice packs, however I’d have preferred more ecologically-friendly packaging options such as the British sheep-wool insulation that Paganum use.

My box contained 2 half lamb legs, 2 lamb leg steaks, 4 lamb loin chops, 1 boned & rolled lamb shoulder, 2 lamb chump chops and 1 rack of lamb, all organic, of course. This box is priced at £89.

People often dismiss spending the extra on organic with complaints that organic produce tastes no difference to non-organic. In many cases, that’s true. But there are a host of other reasons to consider organic, including the environmental impact of pesticides and fertilisers, the fact that organic farms are far friendlier to wildlife and, on a more selfish note, the vastly reduced use of additives. And farmers who can’t resort to the easy option of pumping their animals full of drugs focus much more strongly on keeping them healthy by more natural means. That added care and attention often does make itself evident in the taste. Of course, there are regulated controls on feed too, which also have an impact on the final product.

Every cut of Graig Farm lamb we’ve eaten has been absolutely superb. The meat is tender but not mushy, the flavour is sweet and rich, and there’s enough fat running through to keep the meat moist as it cooks. I really could not be happier with the quality of the meat.

For the lamb loin chops, I made a very simple marinade and then cooked the chops in a hot oven for about 25 minutes.

 

Garam Masala Marinated Lamb Loin Chops

For the marinade, I first combined 4 bay leaves, a piece of cinnamon bark about an inch wide and long, 1 brown cardamom pod and a couple of small green ones, 6 peppercorns and 3 cloves. These were powdered using a spice grinder and then mixed into approximately two cups of full fat yoghurt. I marinated the chops for a couple of hours before cooking.

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Discount Code

Try Graig Farm organic Welsh lamb (or any other meat such as beef and pork) for yourself with a special discount code for Kavey Eats readers:

KAV222

The code gives you 20% off orders over £50 and also includes free delivery. It’s valid until June 30th 2013 and can be used three times per household. Of course, you can pass the code on to friends and family, if they’d like to place an order for themselves.

If you haven’t decided what to have for your Easter Sunday roast, get an order in fast for a superb joint of lamb. The boned rolled shoulder was gorgeous roasted with garlic and rosemary, and the leftovers made wonderful hoisin lettuce wraps and a delicious ragu with pasta.

 

Kavey Eats received a sample box of organic lamb from Graig Farm.

 

A few weeks ago I was asked to film a video recipe for Vouchercodes.co.uk. They were looking for alternative ideas and twists for the Christmas day dinner. I made my mum Mamta’s Tandoori Leg of Lamb, which can be served with all the normal roast dinner trimmings, as we do in our house, or as the central dish to an Indian feast.

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My video recipe is now live on their site, as are other delicious ideas from fellow bloggers. Check them out too!

Here’s the shorter edit that Vouchercodes.co.uk are sharing. I have a longer version that I’ll share with you soon.

Mamta’s Tandoori Leg of Lamb

Ingredients
Leg of lamb, approximately 2 kg
2 medium onions, peeled and roughly chopped
4-5 cloves of garlic, peeled and 2 halved
1.5 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons besan (gram) flour (leave out if not available)
1 tablespoon coriander powder
A few strands of saffron, soaked in a tablespoon of warm water
3-4 bay leaves
1 inch stick of cinnamon
3-4 cardamoms
6-7 black pepper corns
5-6 cloves
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1-2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 tablespoons good quality oil
Juice of 1 lemon or lime
1 small carton of creamy, natural yoghurt
Salt to taste

Note: You can replace the bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamoms, black pepper corns and cloves with 1 tablespoon of good quality garam masala. Home made is best, as cheap ready made ones are bulked out with other, cheaper spices.

Method

  1. Make slits in the leg of lamb, insert a few halved cloves of garlic into a few of the slits, and set lamb aside.
  2. Optional: Grind the whole spices (see Hints & Tips).
  3. Place all ingredients except yoghurt into a blender and blitz until smooth.
  4. Transfer paste to a bowl, add yoghurt and mix well.
  5. Taste and adjust spices. Remember that the spice paste has to give enough flavour to 2 kg of meat, so it has to taste a little over-salted and over-spiced at this stage.
  6. Spread the spice paste over the lamb, ensuring that some is worked into the slits.
  7. Leave to marinade at least overnight. For best results, 24 to 36 hours.
  8. Place on a baking tray and cover with aluminium foil.
  9. Cook at 375 F, 190C for 1 1/2 hours for pink meat (or 2 hours for well-done meat).
  10. Baste from time to time and leave uncovered for last half hour, so that the spices and meat turn brown.

Hints & Tips

Ingredients

  • Make sure you use full fat yoghurt for this recipe as low fat yoghurt often splits when heat is applied. Thick Greek-style yoghurt works well.
  • If using frozen lamb, defrost thoroughly and drain resulting liquids before applying marinade.
  • Instead of buying tiny jars of spices from the supermarket, it’s more economical to buy in slightly larger quantities from Asian grocery shops. However, spices fade over time, so if you don’t use them up quickly, they’ll lose their intensity of flavour. I’d recommend storing a small amount of each one in easy-to-access spice jars, keeping the rest in your freezer and replenishing as and when you need to.
  • Fresh ingredients such as ginger, coriander and other key ingredients for Indian cooking are also often cheaper in Asian and other ethnic grocery shops. If you don’t have an Indian or Pakistani shop near you, look in stores specialising in Chinese or Caribbean food, as there are many cross-over ingredients.

Tips

  • If your food processor or blender is not very powerful, grind the whole spices in a spice or coffee grinder first, before combining them with the other ingredients. If you have a powerful food processor or blender, add the whole spices with the other ingredients and grind in one step.

Alternatives

  • You can use this marinade recipe on any meat or fish from larger joints or whole chickens, to smaller cuts such as lamb shanks or individual portions of chicken. It also works well on whole fish, though will need far less marinating time.

Serve with

  • We love this tandoori roast lamb with traditional British trimmings – roast potatoes and parsnips, carrot and swede mash, savoy cabbage and gravy. We serve it with either a mint raita or mint jelly. For Christmas, we add chipolatas and stuffing and brussel sprouts for my sister who adores them…
  • Of course, the lamb leg also works as the centrepiece for an extravagant Indian feast. I recommend my favourites such as chicken curry, stuffed aubergines, an additional vegetable dish such as cauliflower and potatoes, a daal or red kidney bean curry, some chapatis and rice on the side. To start, maybe pakoras or samosas and afterwards, a vermicelli kheer, similar to rice pudding but made with vermicelli pasta. Recipes for these dishes can be found on my mum’s site, Mamta’s Kitchen.

Leftovers

  • Use leftovers just as you would with those from a plain lamb roast – make shepherd’s pie, lamb hot pot, a simple lamb curry, lamb and potato cakes or enjoy it sliced cold in sandwiches or wraps, with some of the minted cucumber and onion raita.

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The introductory segment was filmed right at the end and it was after 11 pm by then, so I’m blaming my odd bounciness in that bit on my tiredness, but the rest is not as cringe-worthy as I feared! In fact, although I’ve long felt I have a face for radio, I’m really happy with it! Really hoping I can work with Voucher Codes on more of these in the future.

 

This post was originally published as a guest post on Pete Drinks.

We eat first with our eyes, so it’s no surprise that I’ve pinned more food images to my Pinterest boards than any others. One of the recipes that caught my eye was this Guinness & Cheddar Meatloaf from The Galley Gourmet blog. Admittedly, it was the sight of bacon-wrapped meat that drew my eye, but I also liked the sound of the beef, lamb and cheddar meat loaf and the beer and honey glaze.

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We made a few small changes to ingredients, and halved the recipe to serve 4 (or two with generous leftovers). There was some leftover glaze, as indicated in the original recipe, which we poured over the leftovers before reheating.

Bacon-Wrapped Meatloaf with a Stout & Honey Glaze

Glaze ingredients:
150 ml stout beer of your choice
50 grams light brown sugar
50 grams (2-3 tablespoons) honey
Meatloaf Ingredients:
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
90 ml stout beer
1 slice white bread, roughly torn
60 ml whole milk
225 grams ground beef
225 grams pound ground lamb
1 large egg
100 grams strong cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 heaped teaspoon umami paste (or 10 grams dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted and finely chopped)
0.5 teaspoon salt
0.5 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
200 grams good quality streaky bacon, approximately 12 rashers

  • First make the glaze by bringing the stout, honey and sugar to a boil, in a small pan, then cooking on a medium heat until the the liquid thickens and reduces to half of the original volume. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

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  • Preheat the oven to 180° C (fan).
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a frying pan and sauté the onion until just softened and beginning to take on colour.
  • Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  • Add the stout and simmer briskly until the excess liquid has been absorbed or evaporated.
  • Set onion mixture aside in a bowl to cool down.

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  • If using porcini mushrooms, add boiling water to reconstitute, soak for 10 minutes, drain and finely chop.
  • In a bowl, soak the bread in the milk, tossing lightly until soggy but not falling apart.

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  • In a large bowl, combine all meatloaf ingredients except for the bacon. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. (You can use a food processor for this step if you prefer).

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  • Line a rimmed baking tray with aluminium foil, transfer the meat mixture onto the foil and shape into a rounded loaf.
  • Drape the meatloaf with slightly overlapping strips of bacon, tucking the ends under the loaf. Carefully cover the ends of the loaf with additional rashers.

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  • Brush the top of the meatloaf with a few coats of the glaze.

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  • Bake for 45-50 minutes, basting with the juices, or extra marinade, 2 or 3 times during cooking.
  • Allow to rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

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We both loved this recipe, and will definitely be making it again. Hope you enjoy it too!

 

Given how much I adored Saraban, I was really excited about getting my hands on the latest title from Greg & Lucky Malouf: New Middle Eastern Food.

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Whilst I was immediately taken by many of the recipes, one major problem with the book revealed itself very early on:

The typography and page layout may look modern and attractive but made the book very hard to read. With the exception of the recipe title and ingredients, the introduction and method are printed in pale grey on white paper. Combined with the small text size, this really had me struggling. I’ve not had this problem with any other recipe book, so it’s not a case of deteriorating eyesight.

Flicking through the book on the sofa, I tried to lift the book closer to my eyes, but it’s large size and weight made that impractical.

I can only suggest reading this one at the table, and making use of a sturdy book stand when in the kitchen. Or perhaps investing in a pair of magnifying reading glasses!

Reading problems aside, what about the book?

Whereas their previous books (Arabesque, Moorish, Saha, Turquoise and Saraban) are as much about sharing their journeys and creating, in words and pictures, a vivid mental image of the regions, peoples and traditions they experienced, this latest title is much more focused on food.

What you’ll find here is a compendium of over 300 Middle Eastern recipes, many of which have appeared in the Maloufs’ other books. There are also plenty of new recipes for fans who already have a Malouf library. I particularly like the larder section at the back which is a veritable encyclopaedia of recipes for spice blends and spice pastes, dressings, pickles, relishes, jams and preserves.

As is the Malouf style, the recipes in the book are not slavishly authentic but adapted to suit the modern global market which allows many of us to incorporate ingredients from all around the world into our cooking. So a recipe for a zucchini omelette includes provolone cheese, and a confit date ice cream uses Kahlua. As Greg explains in his introduction:

“My food would not be about reinventing classics – and nor, really, would it be about tradition. Instead, I was bursting with ideas for a new kind of Middle Eastern food: subjective and personal interpretations, yes, but dishes that would absolutely capture the essence of the Middle East, but express it in a fresher, more inventive – and even, perhaps, a more Western – manner.”

We chose to make two recipes: lamb kifta tagine with eggs and my favourite, kukiye sabzi (a soft herb omelette), which we’d made once before, as the recipe is also in Saraban, . By the way, the spectacular Persian Baked Yoghurt Rice with Chicken (Tahcheen-e morgh) that we so enjoyed previously is also included in this book.

Lamb Kifta Tagine With Eggs

This dish can best be described as lamb meatballs in a tomato-based sauce, with eggs baked on top.

Meatball ingredients
500 grams lamb, finely minced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil for frying
Sauce ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 x 400 grams tinned tomatoes, drained and chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Other ingredients
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup coriander leaves, finely chopped
6 free-range eggs
(optional) baby radish leaves and sage flowers to garnish

Note: We halved all amounts, above.
Note: We used regular salt instead of sea salt (since it was being used in a cooked dish).
Note: We used vegetable cooking oil instead of olive oil (for the same reason).
Note: We used chopped tinned tomatoes and included all the juices.

Method

  • To make meatballs, thoroughly mix all the ingredients, except for the oil, and with wet hands, form into walnut-sized balls. Heat the oil and brown the meatballs all over. Drain well on paper towel.

MaloufMeatballsEggs-0524 MaloufMeatballsEggs-0525 MaloufMeatballsEggs-0527

  • For the sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based casserole dish and lightly sauté the onions and garlic until they are translucent. Add the tomatoes, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste and stir well. Then add the water, stir again and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer the sauce, uncovered, for about thirty minutes, or until it has reduced to a very thick gravy.

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  • Add the meatballs to the sauce and continue cooking for a further 8 minutes. Stir in the parsley and coriander. Carefully break the eggs into the sauce, cover the pan with a lid and cook until the eggs are just set, which will take about 5 minutes.

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  • Serve at once, straight from the pot.

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  • Malouf suggests liberally garnishing with radish leaves and flowers, and serving with plenty of Arabic flatbread to mop up the runny egg yolks. Alternatively, he proposes accompanying the tagine with a dish of plain buttered couscous and a dollop of thick natural yoghurt.
  • He also adds a note that those who enjoy a more piquant dish may add one finely chopped bullet chilli whilst sautéing the onion and garlic.

We really enjoyed the dish, though found it a lot like a North Indian tomato-based curry in flavour. Reducing the volume of coriander leaves would probably alleviate this.

(Kuku-ye Sabzi) Soft Herb Omelette

Ingredients
2 tablespoons barberries, stems removed
1 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup chopped coriander leaves
1/2 cup chopped dill sprigs
1/2 cup snipped chives
50 ml olive oil
6-free range eggs
(optional) 2 tablespoons saffron liquid (a few strands of saffron soaked in a couple of tablespoons of boiling water)
1 tablespoon self-raising flour
(optional) 1/3 cup fenugreek leaves or 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, lightly crushed
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Note: we omitted the barberries, saffron liquid and fenugreek.
Note:
We halved all amounts, above.

Method

The first time we made this, we used a small frying pan, which was better suited to the halved amounts. The second time, we used a much larger pan, which resulted in a flatter finished omelette with raised sides, reminiscent of a Yorkshire pudding. Both tasted great and had a good texture, but the one made in the smaller pan was more in line with what the dish should look like.

  • Preheat the oven to 180 C. Soak the barberries in cold water for 2 minutes, then drain and dry. Toss the herbs together and use paper towel or a clean tea towel to pat out as much moisture as you can.
  • Pour the oil into a non-stick oven-proof frying pan and heat in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

MaloufKukuyiSabzi-0541 Kookoosabzi-5870

  • Whisk the eggs and saffron liquid, if using, until frothy. Whisk in the flour, fenugreek, salt and pepper, followed by the herbs and barberries.

MaloufKukuyiSabzi-0543 Kookoosabzi-5871

  • Pour the egg mixture into the hot oil. Cover the pan with a lid or foil and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until nearly set. Remove the cover and cook for a further 15 minutes to brown the surface.

MaloufKukuyiSabzi-0545 Kookoosabzi-5874

  • Cut into wedges and serve hot from the pan. Alternatively, drain on paper towel and cut into wedges when cold. Cold omelette is particularly good as a sandwich filling.

This dish became a favourite of mine at the now closed Aqua restaurant in North Finchley, so it’s great to have a simple, delicious recipe to make it at home.

With thanks to Hardie Grant for the review copy.


Published by Hardie Grant, New Middle Eastern Food by Greg & Lucy Malouf is currently available from Amazon for £19.84 (RRP £30).

 

New cook books are great. New cookbooks I won by following the author on twitter are even better, especially as I hadn’t even realised there was a competition running!

I’m a real fan of a good stew.  Hearty and comforting, full of warmth and good flavours and often made from inexpensive ingredients. What’s not to like?

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Genevieve Taylor feels the same way and shares a wide range of recipes in her book Stew! released earlier this year.

Particularly appealing to those wanting inspiring yet frugal recipes, it didn’t take me long to decide which recipe to try first, though I have a feeling we’ll be trying quite a few through the cold winter months to come.

The recipe for lamb shanks with red wine and balsamic vinegar was very straightforward and the results were absolutely delicious. And it was just as frugal as promised, making use of a small pair of lamb shanks from Donald Russell, an inexpensive but perfectly drinkable red wine from Aldi, and an inexpensive bottle of balsamic vinegar from Waitrose.

This is definitely a recipe we’ll make again!

Enter my competition, below, to win your own copy of Stew!

StewBalsamicLamb-0583

Lamb Shanks with Red Wine and Balsamic Vinegar

Ingredients
2 tablespoons plain flour
4-6 lamb shanks (or 1 kilo ox cheeks, see note below recipe)
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
4 red onions, cut into wedges through the root
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
375 ml red wine
150 ml balsamic vinegar
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Note: We had 2 lamb shanks, so halved all amounts in the recipe above.
Note: We used regular vegetable oil in place of olive oil.

Method

  • Season the flour with salt and freshly ground black pepper. On a large plate dust the lamb shanks with the seasoned flour and toss to coat all over.

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  • Heat the cooking oil in a heavy-based pan, with a lid, and brown the lamb shanks on all sides. This will take a good few minutes so don’t rush it as the flavour will be greatly improved if the shanks are well browned. Remove to a plate and set aside.

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  • Add a little more oil to the pan if necessary, add the onions and allow to soften and colour a little at the edges. Then add the garlic and rosemary and cook for just a minute.

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  • Return the lamb shanks to the pan and pour over the red wine and balsamic vinegar.

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  • Bring up to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook very slowly for 2 – 2.5 hours. You want the lamb to be so soft it is coming away from the bone. Turn the shanks every now and then to baste them in the juices.

StewBalsamicLamb-0606

  • Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve with herby mash potatoes.

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Delicious…

Edit: The following week, I made this recipe again substituting a ox cheeks for the lamb shanks and it worked beautifully. I used a kilo of ox cheeks and the full amounts of everything else. I also allowed an extra hour for cooking, covered and then an additional half an hour uncovered to reduce the sauce a little further at the end. It was absolutely fantastic, just like the lamb shanks.

Win!

If that lovely recipe whet your appetite, why not enter my competition to win a copy of this marvellous book for yourself?

 

How to enter

You can enter the competition in 4 ways.
Please leave a separate comment on this post for entries 1 – 3. A separate comment is not needed for entry 4.

Entry 1 – Answer the question
Leave a comment below, answering the following question:
Which vinegar gives its distinctive flavour to the lamb shank stew I cooked from Genevieve’s book?

Entry 2 – Become a Facebook fan of Kavey Eats
Go to the Kavey Eats Facebook page and click on the Like button. Leave a comment below once you’ve done so. If you’re already a Facebook fan, just say so in your comment. Please include your Facebook name.

Entry 3 – Follow Kavey on Twitter
Click through and follow @KaveyF on Twitter and leave a comment below once you’ve done so. If you already follow me, just say so in your comment. Please include your Twitter name.

Entry 4 – Tweet
Tweet the (exact) sentence below:
I’d love to win a copy of Stew! by Genevieve Taylor from www.kaveyeats.com #KaveyEatsStew

Rules & Details

  • The deadline for entries is midnight GMT Saturday 26 November 2011.
  • One entry per method per person.
  • The winner will be selected from all valid entries using a random number generator.
  • The prize includes delivery, and can be delivered to UK mainland addresses only.
  • The prize cannot be redeemed for cash.
  • The prize is offered and will be delivered directly by Absolute Press.
  • The winner will be notified by email or twitter asked to provide a delivery address. If no response is received by the end of November 2011, the prize will be forfeit and a new winner will be picked and contacted.

*If you don’t have a secondary email address already and are nervous about sharing your main email address on the internet, why not set up a new free email account on hotmail, gmail or yahoo, that you can use to enter competitions like this?


 

Anyone who’s visited Niamh (eatlikeagirl)’s stall at the Covent Garden Real Food Market over the last couple of months may well have salivated over her delicious slow-roasted pork or lamb served in home-made blaas (bread buns) with home-made condiments. Recently, she’s resolved her meat sourcing difficulties by turning to online farmer’s market, Paganum, purveyor of fine quality meat produced in Yorkshire. Having scarfed my way through some of Niamh’s fine fare, I have been very impressed with the quality of the meat.

Some of you might know that, because of a dearth of butchers in my local neighbourhood, I’ve been investigating online sources of good quality meat over the last few months. Thus far, The Well Hung Meat Company has delivered acceptable meat but at prices too high for me to place repeat orders. And Abel & Cole have impressed me with the quality of some of their meat, but less so with consistency not to mention issues with the ordering and delivery process. I’ve also got a list of other online meat suppliers to try, most of whom I encountered at the Organic Food Festival in Bristol some weeks ago.

So, recently I received a delivery from Paganum. I really like the environmentally friendly woolcool insulation – it kept the contents very well chilled and is made from British sheep’s wool. The meat looked great!


Sturdy packaging using environmentally friendly insulation

I consulted the twitter food community for ideas on how to cook my leg of lamb and opted to go with thelarderlout‘s advice to “slow cook at 170C w/ 1/2 btl redwine, rosemary, garlic, carrot, celery, onion, anchovy paste. baste every 1/2 hour. 3 hours’ll do it.”

I hate celery, so I dropped that straight away. I intended to go out for anchovy paste and fresh rosemary but, in the end, decided to make do with what I had in, so onion became spring onion, fresh rosemary made way for dried and I didn’t bother with the anchovy paste!

So, go ahead and use this “recipe” as a starting point. I’d love to hear about your own variations and successes.

Boneless Leg of Lamb Braised in Red Wine With Garlic

Ingredients

1.7 kilo boneless leg of lamb joint
Some home-grown carrots
Some spring onions
Some cloves of garlic, chopped
Half a bottle of Argentinian Malbec red wine
A scattering of dried rosemary

Method

  • I made a bed of carrots, spring onion and garlic in the bottom of a large glass casserole dish.
  • The lamb leg was place on top. I made holes with a sharp knife into which I pushed large chunks of garlic.
  • I glugged half a bottle of red wine over the lamb. It covered the vegetables and came a little way up the side of the lamb.
  • And then I popped the dish into our fan oven, set to 170°C, for 3.5 hours.

The finished lamb was beautifully tender. The red wine had produced a wonderful, deeply coloured stock – to my surprise it didn’t have a particularly red wine taste at all! The garlic and rosemary flavours came through, but didn’t overwhelm the rich lamb taste. And the lamb did taste great – nothing like the insipid, anonymous taste of cheap lamb but an almost hogget-like intensity that I liked very much.

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