Thursday, 25 August 2011

Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with an Olive and Anchovy Rub

Now that I’m working back as a waitress at the restaurant that I worked at over my gap year, the amount that I am cooking has seriously depleted. When I’ve been serving food all day the last thing I want to do is stand over the cooker trying out new recipes so supper’s have generally consisted of quick pasta dishes or having my parents cook food for me!!

This will all change when I’m moved in to my new flat back in Brighton, with its AMAZING red, shiny brand new kitchen, with a fridge taller then me (and I am 5’11) and a work surface 3 times bigger then my last, but for the moment new posts will remain less frequent.

I’m really lucky to have parents that have always cooked delicious and often unusual meals, my mum following and tweaking recipes and my dad making things more from scratch – I’d like to think my cooking style is somewhere in between. My dad is especially good at incorporating whatever he can find in the fridge and transforming it in to a delicious supper. This rolled lamb shoulder that we made together for a Sunday Roast is no exception, and although I have included ingredients and measurements much of what is listed can be substituted or tweaked to make an equally lovely rub for the meat. Using rolled lamb shoulder is cheaper then the leg of lamb alternative, and buying it de-boned and rolled makes it easier to carve. The result is deliciously tender slow roasted meat infused with the rub, and pieces of olive and melt in the mouth garlic with every mouthful providing a kick.

Serves 6-8
1.8kg rolled lamb shoulder
-For the Rub-
5 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
9 anchovy fillets
12 pitted dry black olives (I use Crespo)
2 tsp seasalt, mixed with half a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs
handful of rosemary sprigs
  1. Put the meat into a roasting tin. Make slits in the lamb and add slices of 2 cloves of garlic, pushing them right in. Add 5 anchovy fillets, cut into thirds, into the slits, and finally the sprigs of rosemary.
  2. Crush 3 cloves of garlic, 4 anchovy fillets, olives and salt in a pestle and mortar to make a paste.
  3. Rub onto the joint and in the tops of the slits, as well as into the rolled meat at the ends.
  4. Pour ½ a mug of water into the tin and cover the meat with a foil tent. Leave to marinate for 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200C and roast at this temperature for the first half an hour. Then turn down the heat to 170C and cook for a further 2 and a half hours, basting once or twice.
  6. Take off the foil for the last 20 minutes of cooking to crisp it up. Take out of the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with roast veg and mint sauce. 

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Has any one else noticed how expensive tapas has gotten lately? Either I’m eating in the wrong places or the world has gone a little bit mad (that or I have been forever spoiled by the incredible tasting menu at El Pirata DeTapas in Wesbourne Grove). £8 for three cat bowl sized portions of decidedly disappointing and really not very authentic food? No Thank You. After one too many less then satisfactory meetings with this so called ‘tapas’, I decided to take action and make my own. It was this week’s Delia Smith/Waitrose recipe collaboration that encouraged me, who can resist heavily discounted king prawns and manchego.

I trawled Google to find suitable recipes, and stuck pretty firmly to my favourites, going for a spicy Patatas Bravas, Vodka Flambeed Chorizo, Triangular Slices of Manchego Cheese with Quince, Garlicky Griddled Sour Dough, Gordon Ramsay’s Garlic Prawns, Garlic and Sherry Mushrooms (scroll down the linked page for the mushrooms), and a selection of tasty Marinated Olives.

Yes garlic loomed large, 10 cloves of garlic in fact, but I am of the opinion that garlic is one of the best ingredients, it goes in pretty much all my food, and it’s good for you to boot.

Ben had to give me a hand with the timings, which is always my downfall when it comes to cooking. Ask me to do a roast and it’s more then likely we’ll end up having a separate meat and vegetable course… If you can get the timings right (or you have a Ben to sort them for you) this Spanish inspired feast is really very easy to make, and would be perfect made in larger quantities for a group of friends before a night out. 

Friday, 12 August 2011

Whole Grilled Sea Bass with Thai Style Sauce

Three years is really a very long time - it’s actually a whole 1/7th of my life. So what better way to celebrate such a length of time then with food. Have you ever noticed how food is at the centre of pretty much any celebration or event, from Christmas to Birthdays to Weddings, it just makes everyone happy!! The celebration in question is Ben and mine’s anniversary, a whole three years since I baked him that first Victoria Sponge and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ben always orders fish when we’re out (that or steak), he almost turned into a sea bass on our holiday to Turkey last month. Having never cooked a whole fish before it was a bit of a challenge for me, but actually turned out to be really easy to do. Served whole with pak choi and rice this dish has the wow factor, and most importantly, it tastes really great too.

Serves 2
2 small sea bass, gutted and scaled
2 tsbp Thai fish sauce
3 tbsp sherry
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
handful fresh coriander, chopped (plus more leaves to garnish)
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 limes, juiced
1 fresh red chilli, chopped
½ firm mango, peeled and cut into matchsticks
200ml water
2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp cornflour, mixed with 2 tbsp water
  1. Heat the grill to a high heat.   Make three to four cuts on each side of the fish with a sharp serrated knife. Marinate the fish in a dish with the fish sauce for 5 to 10 minutes.
  2. Put all the remaining ingredients except the cornflour and coriander into a saucepan. Place over a medium heat and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the cornflour and coriander and stir until thickened. Keep the pan on a low heat whilst the fish is cooking.
  3. Grill the fish on a baking tray for about 10 minutes on either side, being careful not to place it on too higher a shelf (you don’t want to skin to blister too much), until the skin is golden and crisp and the flesh is firm and flakey at its meatiest part. Serve whole with the sauce poured over and sprinkled with coriander.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Summer Pavlova

A couple of Sunday’s ago Ben’s parents hosted a Garden Party to mark the 60th Wedding Anniversary of Ben’s Grandparents Clive and Freda. It was a fantastic day, made even better by a little sunshine, practically the only sunny day we had in the whole of July. Ben’s mum, as always, went all out and produced a huge spread with a barbecue, poached salmon, salads, cheesecake, trifle, apple pie and cake amongst other things. I really wanted to contribute to the day in some way and made some Marinated Lamb Kebabs and a Summer Pavlova.

The marinade for the lamb skewers are from a previously tested Alice Hart recipe, and I added peppers, red onion and cherry tomato to pad them out and add some colour. 

Marinated overnight, prepared in the morning and then cooked on the BBQ, the meat was tender and flavoursome and complimented the myriad of burgers, chicken and sausages.

My main contribution to the meal was a dessert, in the form of a Pavlova. I’d made smaller meringues before, and this follows the same method, and is surprisingly simple to make, it just takes ages in the oven. I went a bit mad in Waitrose choosing fruit, picking out strawberries, cherries, blueberries, kiwi’s and pomegranate seeds as well as wild white strawberries (from my very own courtyard garden I’ll have you know!). 

My one criticism of the pavlova’s that I have had in the past is too much cream swamping everything else, so I decided to cut out the top of the meringue and stuff it with fruit, before adding a layer of whipped double cream and then more fruit to decorate. To hide the cracks that inevitably appear in the sides of the meringue I stuffed sprigs of mint leaves into the cream, and scattered about more of the fruit. I was really pleased with the overall result, and it was all eaten, so I think it must have tasted pretty good too!!

Meringue recipe from ‘Cook, Eat, Smile’
Serves 8 to 10
-For the Meringue-
3 large egg whites
175g caster sugar
2 tsp cornflour
1 level tsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
-For the Topping-
Approx 400ml double cream
Mixed fruit and berries (I used strawberries, slices of kiwi, pomegranate seeds, blueberries and cherries)
  1. Preheat the oven to 140C. In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the sugar, whisking as you go until you have marshmallowy-like and shiny peaks. Fold in the cornflour, vanilla extract and vinegar.
  2. Cover a large baking tray with baking parchment and spoon the meringue onto the paper. Create whatever shape you like, mine was circular, you may want to build up the sides to create a bowl shape if you do not wish to cut the top off and stuff the meringue with fruit.
  3. Bake for 1 ½ hours, then turn off the heat and leave the meringue to cool in the oven until it is completely cool.
  4. Peel the baking parchment away and place the meringue on a serving plate. At this point I cut the top off my meringue carefully and stuffed the inside with fruit before spooning on a layer of whipped double cream and then adding more fruit to decorate, the more fruit the better!! 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Lemon Meringue Ice Cream

So this post was supposed to have been shared with you a week ago, just before I went to Corfu with my Mum. As I'm pretty inept when it comes to blog related stuff I somehow managed not to publish it but just saved it - but here it is now long overdue! As if by magic, the weather in England has suddenly transformed into glorious sunshine, finally, so there really is no excuse not to make this refreshing ice cream now.

Made with my very own homemade lemon curd, this zesty ice cream is simple to make and does not require an ice cream maker (a very rare thing, or so all the recipe books I own would have you believe). This recipe is one of the first that I remember being taught to make when I was little, and it’s all thanks to my lovely Godmother Nickie. You could go the whole hog and make the meringue at home too, but I just stuck with the home made lemon curd. If you were going to sacrifice one, I suggest you go for shop bought meringue over shop bought curd, the meringue dissolves away in the cream anyway so its main function is the input of sugar to balance the acidity of all the lemon, but home made lemon curd is really worth the time and effort.

I’m afraid I forgot the exact quantities of my Godmother’s recipe, but found that Nigella’s gives the same results. I’ve linked the Not Quite Nigella blog version of the original Nigella recipe as it includes a microwave Lemon Curd for those blessed with a microwave and who are feeling a bit lazy.
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