Those summer nights

There are some days where it’s pure torture to drag yourself into the kitchen. Even food bloggers aren’t immune to this.

Maybe it’s 38* outside.
Maybe you’ve had to do a lot of cooking lately.
Maybe you’re just too damn tired, and flopping on the couch with a season of Vikings and a bottle of wine is a much better idea.
Maybe it’s all of these things on the same day (last Monday, if you wanted to know).

These are all perfectly legit reasons to eat from the instant/delivered section of the food pyramid. BUT, if you stay with me, I can present to you a dinner that takes less time and effort to cook than it takes for Chinese to appear on your doorstep, with the added bonus of being good for you. I promise.

Lamb Skewers with Mint Pea and Feta Salad

From Good Food

500g lamb rump
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
Sea salt and black pepper
300g frozen peas
1 bag mixed lettuce greens
1/3 cup torn mint leaves, chopped
1/3 cup parsley leaves, chopped
150g marinated Persian feta
Flatbread, to serve

Dice the lamb into bite size chunks. Toss together in a bowl with oregano, olive oil and salt and pepper, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 hours. Soak wooden skewers in cold water, if you’re using them, to prevent them from burning.

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When you’re ready to eat, cook the peas in a pot of boiling water until tender (5 minutes, or whatever the packet instructions say). Drain, and refresh in cold water. Add the peas, herbs, greens and feta together and toss to combine.

Heat a bbq or frying pan. Thread the lamb onto the skewers evenly. Grill the skewers for a couple of minutes each side, or until cooked to your liking.

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Serve lamb with salad and flatbread.

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I used the flatbread to make everything into little wraps, because everything tastes better in a wrap. Duh.

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Breaking Bread

So, this is Christmas. And what have you done? If you’re anything like me, you’ve been run off your feet with Christmas parties, shopping, wrapping, planning, cooking, shopping, drinking more shopping (what is with all these little last minute presents?!) and a million catch-ups.

It’s well documented that I’m a grinch, however, I can’t hate everything about this time of year. I mean, it’s the best time to get out and try all the places that you never got to during the year, under the guise of merriment and quality time with friends and family!

The one place I still haven’t gotten to is Fremantle’s Bread in Common. The brain child of Nic Trimboli (you might of heard of him – his other ventures include Balthazar, Duende, Gordon St Garage – oh, and a little place called Little Creatures) is buzzing on Packenham Street, away from the myriad of fairly average cappuccino and pizza/pasta tourist pleasers that has rendered Fremantle a culinary wasteland for far too long.

The hero dish (aside from the bread) that I’m dying to try are the mint lamb ribs with black garlic; there is nothing about that dish that doesn’t sound amazing to me. Luckily, I happened across the recipe in the current Delicious Magazine, and was ecstatic that I don’t have to wait to try them!

Lamb ribs are all kinds of fantastic. They’ve been living in the shadows of the more popular pork and beef ribs; but are increasingly taking centre stage on restaurant menus. The good news is, lamb ribs are a ridiculously cheap cut of meat (unlike pork and beef), and you can buy a kilo of ribs for around $10, making this a great dish to make for a group of people, or maybe even leave out for Santa! Actually, don’t do that. If you leave meat out overnight for Santa, you might just kill him.

Black Garlic & Herb Lamb Ribs

From Delicious Magazine

1.2kg Macabee Dorper lamb ribs
3tbsp peanut oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1tbsp chopped thyme and rosemary
375ml white wine
1/2 bunch mint, chopped
6 cloves black garlic
1 long red chilli, seeds removed, chopped
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/4 cup sherry or red wine vinegar
Coriander leaves, to serve
Marinade
1/2 bunch each of mint, rosemary and flat leaf parsley, chopped
2 long green chillies
2 tsp each coriander seeds, fennel seeds, and whole black peppercorns
3 garlic cloves
Blitz the ingredients for the marinade in a food processor with 2 tsp salt until coarsely chopped.

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Rub the marinade into the ribs, then place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight if time allows.

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Heat your oven to 140*C. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil over medium heat in a roasting pan. Add the carrot and onion to the pan and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring. Add the ribs, thyme, rosemary and wine to the pan, then add enough hot water to cover the ribs. Bring the pan to a simmer, then remove from heat and cover with baking paper and foil and place in the oven for 3 hours or until the meat is tender.

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For the dressing, mix together mint, black garlic, chilli, sugar, vinegar and last 2 tbsp oil until combined.
Remove the ribs from the roasting pan, and discard the liquid. Season the ribs and char-grill in a pan over high heat, for 6 minutes or until golden.

Place the ribs on a plate and serve with dressing and coriander.

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Black garlic can be bought in tubs from supermarkets, and is simply fermented garlic cloves. They’re sweeter, less pungent than regular garlic and the dramatic colour adds interest to the plate. If you can’t find it, substitute roasted garlic cloves.

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Everything tastes better when it’s round.

If there’s something that we can all agree on, there is nothing more delicious than pork belly. It appeals on so many levels – it can be roasted all sexy and crispy, or slow braised until it melts. It also works across the entire flavour spectrum, making it completely versatile.

But, let’s be honest, it’s also a little bit done. Everyone, everywhere, has done it to death. 

Enter your new Big Love – LAMB BELLY. It’s all the deliciousness of pork belly, with the additional awesome of lamb! You’re welcome, Kosher eaters.

Let me tell you – nothing makes you feel more cheffy than learning to tie something with kitchen string. Plus, everything tastes better when it’s round, which has been documented by science. Think about it, pizza, Wagon Wheels, scrolls, cheese burgers, doughnuts. You know it’s true. That is why this dish ticks all the boxes.

Crispy Stuffed Lamb Belly

Adapted from Food 52

3 tablespoons oregano, finely minced
1 cup feta, finely crumbled
1 tablespoon olive oil
900g lamb belly, off the bone
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef stock

Preheat the oven to 180*c.

Mix the feta, oregano and olive oil in a bowl (I used my food processor) and combine until it forms a paste.

Lay the belly out flat on a cutting board, fat side down.  Spread the feta paste evenly across the belly, leaving a small border around the edge.

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Start at one of the short edges, and roll the belly tightly, then tie every inch or there abouts with kitchen string. Rub the outside with the combined minced garlic, salt and a splash of olive oil.

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Place the rolled roast fattier side up in a heavy bottomed oven and stove top proof dish. Add the wine, stock and juice, cover and roast in the oven for 2 hours.   Increase the heat to 230*c and roast for a further 15 minutes, or until brown and crispy.

Note: As my piece of belly was only about half the size called for in the recipe, it was done in 45 minutes.


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Serve with Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes and a green salad.

Lambpage

I’m on a lamb-rampage at the moment – a lambpage, if you will. I’d forgotten how good good lamb can taste.

I love ‘entertaining foods’, meals that are designed to have all the dirty work done in advance and then plated up with minimal fuss when you’re half a bottle of wine down. This particular dish couldn’t be easier – a couple of tubs of hummus, tabbouleh which can be thrown together quickly or even bought, and lamb which cooks up in 15 minutes. Oh, and eaten with pita bread – who needs plates? Probably people with table manners. I’m not that person.

Ras el hanout isn’t typically found in your local supermarket, but it’s stocked in specialty stores. In the absence of that, it’s easily made from the spices you have at home, which is kind of fun. Mixing spices always kind of makes me feel like a magician. Or a chemist, in a non-Breaking Bad kind of way. Don’t be afraid.

Spiced Lamb & Hummus with Tabbouleh

From Delicious

2 tbsp olive oil
1kg lamb leg steaks, diced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp ras el hanout
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups beef stock
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
400g hummus
Pita bread and greek yoghurt, to serve

1/2 cup burghul
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 Lebanese cucumber, seeds removed and chopped
1 bunch mint and coriander, finely chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp olive oil

For the tabbouleh, put the burghul in a bowl and cover with boiling water and let stand for 20 minutes.

For the lamb, add the oil to a frying pan over medium heat. Add the diced lamb to the pan and cook for 6 minutes until browned all over. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and ras el hanout and cook for another couple of minutes.

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Stir in the tomato paste, then the beef stock. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and let the sauce thicken for 7 – 8 minutes. Remove the pan from heat, add the lemon zest, juice and season to taste.

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Drain the burghul and toss together with the remaining tabbouleh ingredients in a bowl.

Spread the hummus over a serving plate, then spoon the lamb over the hummus, and top with tabbouleh and Greek yogurt.

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The 10th Circle of Hell (perfect for roasting)

I love imaginary winter.

I hate real winter, because I’m useless with the cold. But this pretend winter that’s going on? I can handle this. 

There is, of course, an exception. WHO INVENTED MORNINGS? A terrible idea! It’s early and super extra cold and there’s no coffee and getting out of bed is the devil.  In my not so humble opinion, Dante forgot a circle of hell. Getting out of bed early, when it’s cold, on a weekend. Bah. 

Which is exactly what I find myself doing every Saturday. I get up, and I help Wade sell crumpets at Subi Farmers Markets. Come! Say hi! Eat things! Wait… I’ve gotten side tracked.

At the markets, there is all manner of deliciousness. Burgers and breads, chocolates and chai, pastries and bacon oh my! There’s also a heap of incredible stall holders whom I’ve been very lucky to get to know. I’ve talked about my love of Gingin Beef before, but today, say hello to Macabee Dorper Lamb.

Anthea carries just about every cut you can imagine, so the limit is really your imagination. Also, she’s bloody nice. I couldn’t say no to the mini roasts she sells – I typically only cook for one or two people, and for that purpose, they’re perfect.

Reasons why I love this recipe:

  1. The meat roasts while you make the world’s easiest risotto. Dinner in 30 minutes.
  2. It makes for surprisingly excellent leftovers – if there is any
  3. Cheapest. Side dish. Ever. A bag of frozen peas, stock, rice? $10.
  4. Perfect winter comfort food
  5. Brilliant impress-a-date recipe. You heard me, gentlemen.

Rare Roast Lamb with Minted Pea Risotto

Adapted from Nigel Slater

1 mini lamb roast (mine was approx 340g, and that was enough for 2 people)
1 glove of garlic, sliced thickly

2 medium shallots
1 tbsp olive oil
750g frozen peas
1 litre vegetable stock
1 onion, diced or 1 leek, thinly sliced
150g aborio rice
Handful of mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)
butter (optional)

Preheat the oven to 220*c.

Using a sharp knife, cut small slits into the roast. Stuff the garlic slices into the cuts. Line a roasting dish with baking paper, add the roast, then rub with olive oil, pepper and salt.

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Place in the oven and cook for at least 25 minutes if you like your meat rare (and I do), longer if you like it well done. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 5 – 10 minutes before slicing thinly.

While the lamb roasts, make the risotto. Peel and finely chop the shallots, cooking them in a saucepan in olive oil over medium heat until soft. Add the stock and peas and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Use a stick blender and blitz the peas until mostly smooth – feel free to throw an extra couple of handfuls of peas in after, you want some to remain whole. Leave the soup over a low heat to keep warm.

Finely dice the leek or onion, then cook slowly in butter until soft. Stir in the rice, coating with butter. Add the soup, a ladleful at a time, and stir gentle until absorbed; just like making a normal risotto. The texture you want is tender but with a bit of a bite. Add the mint, if you’re using it.

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Taste, season with salt and pepper and if you’re anything like me, whack a big, fat slab of butter on top.

Serve with thinly sliced lamb and extra mint.

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Tip: the key to the risotto is using a good, salt reduced stock. When a recipe has so few ingredients, you have to make sure they’re good ones!

P.S. These are my favourite blogs this week:
The Skinny Perth – his new post about Hoi Bo? I was there. Order the chicken rice. You’re welcome.
Beers and Sympathy – I don’t drink beer or watch Parks and Rec. But I now plan to, because it sounds awesome.

Saving things for good

Growing up, I was a princess.

I spent the early years of my childhood living in Karratha. As a little kid, the prospect of running around in dirt, mud and with as little clothing as possible when it’s 40* outside is utter heaven. Unless you’re me, wanting to be a princess.

I insisted on being dressed every morning in dresses with layers of itchy tulle petticoats, white patent leather Mary Janes and those little white socks with lace around the ankle. Seriously. Parents and grandparents would plead for me to change into something else, to keep the pretty dresses for a nice occasion. I didn’t really understand the concept of keeping things ‘for good’, I wanted to wear it now.

There seems to be similar concept with food. People seem to be a little reluctant to make something truly nice for themselves unless it’s an occasion. Which, unless you’re doing something completely ridiculous like making a croquembouche or a turducken (which is insanity, delicious insanity), makes no sense. Why not make a nice dinner for yourself, for no other reason than you can?

The problem with saving nice things for special occasions is that you don’t always get the most enjoyment from them. Those pretty dresses got grown out of before they were properly worn. And those delicious meals that you’re saving for a special occasion? They’re not being eaten.

I love dukkah. Turkish bread, dipped in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar then into dukkah is a favourite snack. It’s stupidly simple to make and is really really good. Dukkah compliments chicken, salmon and lamb; gives a delicately spiced kick to a simple dish. It’s kind like dressing up a simple black dress with a fabulous pair of shoes.

Which you definitely deserve. You’re worth it.

Dukkah Crusted Lamb Rack with Haloumi and Roasted Tomato salad

8-cutlet lamb racks
1/4 cup dukkah
4 tomatoes, on their vine
4 cloves garlic
4 tblsp olive oil
180g haloumi
1 tbsp mint, roughly chopped

1) Preheat the oven to 190*c.

2) Brush lamb racks with olive oil and roll in dukkah.

Place lamb racks in a roasting dish with tomatoes and garlic. Drizzle with olive oil.

4) Place in oven and roast for 15-20 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before cutting racks in half.

5) While the lamb rests, heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry haloumi for two minutes each side.

Serve with haloumi and tomatoes, and scattered mint.