Monthly Archives: May 2014

Spiced Yoghurt Crusted Lamb

Good morning, internet.

This time of unemployment is an interesting one for me, not least of all because I rather unexpectedly can imagine staying at home forever BUT only if we were rich or lottery winners (well, technically we win £20 a couple of times a year, which inflames me as I see it as a waste of a lottery win) or whatever. I think I’d probably get back into showing horses, or maybe take a dip into the world of dog shows. You know, something really worthwhile, something that contributes to the world at large.  Instead we are not lottery winners (apart from the £20 previously mentioned) and thus I tend to read a lot of Internet and get enraged about stuff.  Currently I am enraged about London house prices.  Even during the worst of the global financial crisis the prices in London were ridiculous but now things are ‘getting better’ it’s moved into actual insanity.  So, a nice little bit of rage keeps me going, fuels my obsessive clicking through of country properties on RightMove (which petrifies the boyfriend, I am pretty sure) and allows me an emotional release which frees me up to be something along the lines of a good enough mother to NewHuman.

NewHuman turns one tomorrow and must be congratulated for surviving this long in our care.

Right. Spiced lamb. This was made a few weeks ago and was bloody delicious, only slightly faffy and I think probably on-trend as far as food goes.  It’s also good for leftovers, unlike the cannon of lamb (backstrap I think we used to call it in Oz) I made the other day, also to be blogged, which cost approximately £100 for enough cannon of lamb to feed 1.5 people.

This is a Woman’s Weekly recipe. Australian Woman’s Weekly, an entirely different beast to the UK one.

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This requires a bit of overnight prep, sorry, but it’s worth it in the end.

Gather:

1kg, or thereabouts, of butterflied leg of lamb

1kg or thereabouts of sweet potato (you don’t need this till you’re actually ready to cook the whole palaver)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (in Australia they abbreviate this – surprise surprise – to EVOO. Wrong)

280g/1 cup of natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons of finely chopped mint

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

 

Marinade

2 tablespoons of Harissa. I used Rose Harissa.

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup chopped mint

1/2 cup chopped coriander

2 cloves finely chopped garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric

2 tablespoons preserved lemons, finely chopped (I didn’t use, didn’t have, forgot to buy)

1 cup/280g yoghurt

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So, combine all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.

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Line a dish or baking tray with baking paper (I didn’t do this), and place the lamb in the dish (probably skin-side down first).  Spread 1/3 of the marinade all over, then flip the lamb and spread the remaining marinade over what you can see.

It resembles a pile of spew on the pavement. Familiar.

Cover and refrigerate overnight.

20140528-091847-33527261.jpgWhen it comes to cooking time  preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan-forced) and line another baking tray with some baking paper, chuck in your sliced sweet potato and season with salt and cracked pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

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Line ANOTHER bloody baking tray with MORE BLOODY baking paper and transfer your lamb to it. Obviously if you’d been smart you’d have marinated it overnight in the actual baking tray and would only need to take it out of the fridge an hour or so before cooking to come back to room temperature. I was an idiot and had to conduct a messy transfer.

Season the lamb with salt and pepper and chuck it and the sweet potato in the oven for 35 minutes or so, or until the lamb is cooked how you like it. Sweet potato should just trundle along on the second oven shelf quite happily and be ready when you need it.

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Whilst it’s cooking combine the yoghurt, mint and cumin in a bowl, season to taste. It’s a bit weird-yum.

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It’s birthday week in our house. Dog turned 4. She’s been a right pain in the ass lately, I take back everything I said recently about how she’s turned into a nicer dog since NewHuman came along.

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Right, take out the lamb. Check for doneness.

Serve with the sweet potato and some watercress or rocket, and of course that weird-yum yoghurt sauce.

Is good.

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Rich Chocolate Cheesecake

Life’s hard, internet people.  I mean this because we’re on the last day of several beautiful, warm and happy weather-days, which coincided with the weekend and all of London’s smiling face, and thus when the rain and clouds return tomorrow we will be reminded of how shit things actually are here in terms of ridiculous costs of living.  Whilst the sun shines we can forget all about being sensible and budgety, and fling cash at meats for the BBQ, beers for the faces and all the fun stuff.  As soon as the grey returns I remember that I’m unemployed and basically poor and that I have not the means to go to the hairdresser and get her to fix the field of grey that insists of poking out all along my part instead of hibernating in some other, unseen dark place on my skull.  Asshole hair.

Still, it’s sunny today and I’ve already once waged war on the BASTARDING TREE that lives several gardens over and along, which constantly rains down leaves onto my deck. I anticipate at least 3-4 sweeps a day to keep it vaguely clear.  I learnt last night that the tree is called Robinia Pseudoacacia or suchlike. Either way, it’s not pseudo-dropping leaves. It does that very realisitically.  Asshole tree.

NewHuman sleeps upstairs, unaware of our rapid descent into poverty, poor chook. It’ll be homemade rice for him from now on, none of that fancy sticky rice he loves so much from the sushi place up the road.

*wipes brow*

Had the in-laws over (lovely, they are lovely, and I say that because (i) they definitely are and I’m very lucky, and (ii) my mother told my mother-in-law of the existence of this blog and I am a bit embarrassed) a couple of weeks ago and fed them this cake. Bloody bloody delicious they are.

20140519-094243-34963298.jpgI don’t have the requisite picture of the ingredients for you, so instead you have, above, a swiftly-taken picture of NewHuman making a break for it. I think, in fact, he was hotfooting it upstairs, entirely encouraged by me, to go wake his father up from a lie-in.  HA.

This is an Australian Women’s Weekly recipe.

Gather:

250g chocolate ripple biscuits (if you’re Aussie you can get these.  In the UK I just used choc chip Hobnobs)

100g butter, room temperature

500g cream cheese, room temperature

300g caster sugar

375g dark chocolate

2 eggs

cocoa powder for dusting, if you can be arsed. I couldn’t.

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Preheat your oven to 180C (or 160C for fan ovens) and lightly grease the base and sides of a springform tin of around 20cm diameter.  Think mine was 22cm.  Or 18cm. Can’t remember.

Whazz up the biscuits and butter in a food processor and go for it, till combined, then press the mixture quite firmly, like that maths teacher you loved to hate but actually loved, into the tin and around two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan.

Don’t be afraid to get a little firm, really.

Chuck it in the freezer.

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In a bowl, or your mixer if you have one (mixer will be easier, true) combine the cream cheese and the sugar, beating it well for about 2 minutes and making sure you do all the scrapey scrapey stuff along the sides.

Melt the chocolate – I did the microwave method of slowly and carefully (HA I CHUCK IT IN A BOWL AND LOOK AT IT AFTER A MINUTE) – until just melted, no more.  The original recipe says to stir some of the cream cheese mixture into the chocolate and then pour the chocolate into the cream cheese mixture. Nah. I just quite slowly poured the melted chocolate into the cream cheese mixture as the mixer was on low. Was fine.

Add your eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Eggs blatantly deserve it.

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Get your base out of the freezer and carefully pour the mixture into the tin.  Stick it on a baking tray and into the oven for 35 minutes.  Seriously, definitely go the baking tray. No matter if your trust in your springform tin is deeper than the Mormons’ belief in the evils of caffeine, still put it on a baking tray.

After 35 minutes turn off the oven and just leave the cheesecake in there to cool, with the oven door ajar.

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Voila.

Refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight, whichever is easier.

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A month ago I was in Boston, at a baseball game. Today I’m in West London and instead of a baseball game will be taking NewHuman to the pool for a swim where I will spend most of my time reminding him that he can’t breathe underwater. I’ve seen no sign of gills and I’ve had him nearly a year now, so am quite confident I’m right on this one.

Anyway, if you want you can dust the top of the cake with cocoa powder. I just took it out of the fridge an hour or so before serving, and served great chunks of it with some hard-earned raspberry coolis.  The cake is not as sweet as I had anticipated, which is great, so with the sharp raspberry it’s a winner.

If you could try to have your raspberry coolis look less like a pool of blood on the plate then that’d be nice for your guests.

This was popular, I think I’ll have to make it again.

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Sticky Sesame Chicken

Morning.

Often on Sunday nights I think about posting the blog. I’m pretty sure I used to post regularly on Saturdays or Sundays. Now I mostly don’t.  Laziness.  And also on most Sunday nights I’m rather diverted by Incredible Levels of Rage directed at Fiona Bruce, who presents Antiques Roadshow. Now I may argue I’m not quite the demographic for Antiques Roadshow, and I’d be wrong if I bothered to remember how bloody old I am, but regardless we tend to have it on in the background whilst we either scroll through Twitter (the boyfriend) or search the internet for dreamy country properties (me).  Fiona Bruce has taken the art of the simper to a whole new level. I cannot bear it. I am afraid I often tell her to eff off. It’s got a nice alliteration, F— Off, when you pair it with a brusk ‘Fiona’ at the end.

Anyway, that’s why I didn’t post this last night. I actually made this a couple of weeks ago, I think, and utterly cocked it up.  Regardless of the significant levels of cock-up it still tasted brilliant.  It was supposed to be served with sweet and sour eggplant. I absolutely incinerated the eggplant so it didn’t get the glazing at the end as per recipe. We still ate it.  Boyfriend and I managed to demolish two thirds of a whole chicken in one go. We probably ate this whilst in front of Antiques Roadshow, and thus I didn’t notice how much I was eating because I was too busy being mad at Fiona Bruce’s simpering.  Bloody Fiona.  It’s clearly her fault I’m so fat.

Right.  I’m mining a lot of Australian recipes at the moment – you can pretty much assume I’m cooking something from the Aussie Women’s Weekly or Donna Hay.  This is AWW.

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Gather:-

1.4kg whole chicken
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
¼ cup (60ml) hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 clove garlic, crushed
4 baby (420g) eggplant, sliced thickly (I sliced them what I thought was thickly. It wasn’t thick enough. GO VERY THICK INDEED. Thick like the waist of an aging daytime tv host).
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup (60ml) malt vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
2 spring onions, thinly sliced

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The AWW says to combine the sesame seeds, ginger, hoisin sauce, honey, Chinese five spice and garlic in a large plastic bag.  I could only find supermarket ones that have those annoying safety holes for those people who don’t know that plastic bags aren’t hats.  I just did all this in a bowl. Was fine.  If you’re using a bag cause you’re smart enough to have freezer bags big enough, then place the chicken in the bag and massage the marinade all over the chicken.   MASSAGE THE CHICKEN. I know it’s dead but I’m sure it’ll appreciate it anyway. Close the bag tightly around the chicken and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight to marinate.  I just used a spoon to make sure the marinade was well spread and shared around the poor, dead beast’s cold, cold flesh.

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This pic is blurry probably because the poor, dead chicken was nervous about what was coming next for it (BIG HOT OVEN YES) and thus was doing big shivers.  Not my fault.

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180C or 160C if you’ve a fan oven.   In a baking dish chuck your VERY THICKLY SLICED EGGPLANT and toss around a bit in some olive oil.  Move the eggplant to the sides and place the chicken in the centre, breast-side down. Reserve any remaining marinade for basting.  I didn’t have lots of marinade left, just so you know.

Roast for 45 minutes, after which you need to turn the chicken around so it’s breast-side up, and give the eggplant a turn as well.. Baste the chicken with the reserved marinade and pan juices. Roast for a further 45 minutes, basting once during cooking. If over-browning, cover dish with greased foil.  That foil step is crucial. I didn’t do that bit. Mistake.

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Dog has been sloth-like lately. And also nice. She’s, like, 100% nicer since NewHuman arrived. If having a kid wasn’t such a pain in the arse I would’ve done it ages ago if I’d known how much it would have improved the dog.

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Above is burnt chicken and cremated eggplant. Hopefully yours won’t look like this. If so, my deepest sympathies.

Transfer the chicken and eggplant to separate dishes. Cover chicken with foil and rest in a warm place for 10 minutes.  You can totally eat the eggplant as-is, by the way.

If you’re bothering with glazing the eggplant, then pour the pan juices from the dish into a heatproof jug; discard the fat from the surface of the pan juices. Return the pan juices to the baking dish with the vinegar and sugar; stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, add eggplant and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes or until the eggplant is well coated.  Unless you start with pieces of eggplant approximately 1 foot thick I’m unsure how they are supposed to survive 90 minutes of roasting and then further cooking but hey, the AWW Test Kitchen obviously believes they will so you go for it.

Serve chicken with eggplant, sprinkled with green onions.   By the time the eating part came around I could not be arsed with the spring onions. We just ate. It was amazing.

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Pasta with Roasted Butternut Pumpkin

Morning.

This post should be titled ‘Orecchiette with Roasted Butternut etc etc’ but shitting Sainsbury’s don’t sell orecchiette.  Or, at least, the branch nearest me doesn’t, which seems absurd seeing as it’s planted firmly in the posh version of middle class in West London. Insanity.  It does sell fusilli, the reserve pasta for those who have stopped caring.  It all seems so mixed up.

ANYWAY, so it’s just pasta.  Use whatever kind you like.  I made this again yesterday with Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ parpadelle which was somehow faulty and disintegrated into broken bits of spaghetti as soon as it hit the boiling water.  I might have to change pasta supplier, eh.

Either way, it’s very bloody tasty.

Not much going on here – I’m currently one of the filthy unemployed which means NewHuman suffers my company on an unrestricted basis, which much be a pleasure for him.  I mostly strap him down into his pram and walk for miles around my bit of town, perving in all the windows of the big houses and eeking out my £5/day allowance on a coffee and some kind of flaky crumb for the bebe.  POOR ME.  This unemployment does however mean that the boyfriend is rewarded with proper meals once again, rather than the sad relationship he was developing with packet ham and cold cheese.  He is happier, I think, but also wanders around patting his belly whilst sadly shaking his head,and counting holes on his belt.

Oh well, we’ll be nice and fat again in time for our Italian jaunt to Lido. A pleasure to see all three of us beached on the sand, for sure.

Oky dokes.  Pasta.

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Gather:-

600g butternut pumpkin, cut into 1cm cubes (I just cut up the long, non-seedy bit of a whole squash, reserving the rest to use later)
1/4 cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
250g cherry tomatoes  (use lots, the tomatoes help make a yummo sauce)
250g thinly sliced round pancetta (what the hell is round pancetta? This is an Aussie Women’s Weekly recipe – if you’re UK just use pancetta cubes, it’s easier)
500g orecchiette pasta (as discussed, whatever you like. I used trompetti first time around)
18 fresh sage leaves (this was awfully specific. I did not use 18 leaves. I should’ve. The sage is GOOD)
finely grated pecorino cheese, to serve (I used parmesan and no-one suffered)

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In a big roasting tray chuck all the bits in.  I also added about 1.5 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes because I was craving hot weather. Totally logical.  Season well, be generous.  Stick into a pre-heated oven at 200C or 180C fan-forced.  If you’re making this for lots of people use a couple of trays so the stuff isn’t all crowded and doesn’t go all mushy.

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Roast for, say, 20-25mins or so, till the tomatoes can’t take it and burst (poor darlings) and the pancetta and pumpkin start to go golden and yum.

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Fry off your sage leaves in a little olive oil and place to one side on some kitchen towel. They only need half a minute on each side and will go nice and crispy. Easy. Also, people (ie: the boyfriend) will be so impressed you fried sage that it’s worth the minimal faff.

Whilst all this is going on you’ve clearly had on a big pot of salted water to boil and have cooked your pasta.

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NewHuman is getting inconveniently tall.

Rightyo – drain your pasta but leave a bit of cooking liquid in – ie: don’t shake out every last drop like the boyfriend INSISTS on doing.  The starchy water helps make a nice sauce.

Stir through the cheese, most of the crunched up sage leaves and all the tomatoes and pancetta and butternut.  Garnish with a bit more cheese and a whole sage leaf.  You can probably dispense with the whole sage leaf unless you’re cooking this for company.

Is good.  Bon appetite, or whatever that is in Italian.

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