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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My favourite sin

There seems to be a direct link between the declining temperature, and my willingness to do stuff. In short, it gets cold, I become a sloth.

It’s not my fault, really. I mean, what incentive is there to break free from the incredible cosy warmth of my bed/fort and endless tv, to venture out into the cold harsh world? There is none.

(Yes, I’m aware that Real Winter doesn’t start until next month. I’m a sook, ok?)

Necessity is the mother of invention, and it is with this that I’ve discovered the genius of slow cooking. You toss everything into a pan, throw it in the oven for a couple of hours, and once you wake up from your nap – DINNER! How good is that?!

This recipe went straight to the top of my to-do list. With its wholesome, filling lentils, delicious wintery vegetables (which I chopped in a blender because I was feeling really lazy) and beef that honestly, literally falls off the bone; it’s the perfect Sunday recipe.

Sloth + Gluttony = Happy Bri, even if it makes me a sinner. Hell will totally be worth it.

I used beef ribs from Gingin Beef, because look at that picture. Can you see that marbled fat? That my friend, is a very, very good thing. When slow cooking, fat is your friend, adding flavour and preventing the meat from drying out. Embrace it.

Braised beef short rib with moghrabieh and green lentils

From Delicious Magazine

1tbs olive oil
2.5kg beef short ribs
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup red wine
1L beef stock
5 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
1 cinnamon quill
5 cloves
1 cup moghrabieh (pearl or giant couscous)
1 cup green lentils
1/2 bunch parsley, chopped

Heat the oven to 170*C. Heat the oil in a roasting pan, then add the ribs, browning thoroughly on all sides. Set aside.

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Over medium heat, add the carrots, celery and onion to the pan and stir for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and continue to stir until fragrant. Add the wine to the pan and cook until the wine reduces by half, 3-4 minutes. Add the cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and stock, then simmer.

Nestle the ribs back in the pan, cover with baking paper and the foil. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 3 hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone. Remove the ribs, shred the meat and discard the bones. Reserve the juices from the pan.

Cook the lentils and the moghrabieh in separate pans of salted water. Each pan should take around 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

Over medium heat, skim the fat from the roasting pan and then cook until slightly thickened, 5 minutes or so. Combine all the ingredients, and serve with yoghurt.


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Turns out, I didn’t have all of those whole spices like I thought I did. Overzealous pantry cleaning, coupled with a forgetful brain. Always replace the stuff you throw out, kids. I used 1/2 tsp of ground cloves, and 1 tsp ground cardamom instead. Also, I only had 1.8kg of ribs, and it all worked beautifully.

Food bribery gets stuff done.

I make no secret of the fact that I like to bribe people with food to do my bidding.
What? It’s like the age-old bartering system, where the Europeans traded blankets for food with the Native American Indians. Except, that’s also how they all got smallpox and died… Look, the point is, no one has died after I’ve fed them, I swear. Wait, that’s not my point. Oh god, I’ve forgotten what my point is…

Anyway. I convinced some friends to help me move some stuff around my house, and for that, I offered to cook them dinner. It’s how the system works, right? After the crazy of last week’s Christmas feast, I wanted to do simple. And fewer dishes. For that, this dish is magic. Everything goes in one pan, it’s filling but not heavy (unless you eat the whole pan. The thought crossed my mind), and who doesn’t love to eat straight out of the pan? Just me? Oh. Well, this just got awkward.

Also – the leftovers are awesome.

Turkish Meatballs with Eggs and Flat Bread

Adapted from: Kitchen Coquette by Katrina Meynink

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion finely chopped
400g tinned crushed tomatoes
1 tbsp brown sugar
500g cherry tomatoes
3 eggs
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp sumac
2 tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600g beef mince
1 chorizo sausage
200g Persian feta
a handful of coriander leaves
a handful of mint leaves

1. For the meatballs, place half the onion in a mixing bowl and add spices, garlic, one of the eggs and the mince. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well, and using your hands, roll into even walnut sized balls.

2. Heat oil in a large frying pan and sauté the rest of the onion until just translucent. Remove the onion, and add the meatballs and chorizo to the pan in batches, until cooked through.

3.Return all the meatballs and chorizo to the pan and add the onions, tinned tomatoes and sugar. Cook for 10 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, until the skin is starting to burst.

4. Crack the remaining eggs over the mixture and cook for 3 minutes or until cooked to your liking.

5. Scatter the feta, coriander and mint over the top, and serve directly from the pan with naan bread.

Wheezey may have licked her plate clean. Does a compliment come any better than that? I don’t think so.

Dinner. 100% Blood Free.

There are some things in life you should never have to witness.

  • Your parents getting it on, for example (This happened to a friend of mine. He’d like to forget, but he can’t. Mostly because we won’t let him)
  • Hairy plumber butt crack.
  • Girls who mistake opaque stockings for pants. Or jeggings, for that matter.

Also on this list: Me, when using knives. It’s kind of like watching a train wreck. Painful to watch, but you can’t look away, because someone might lose a limb (being me).  I maintain it’s half the reason my mum wouldn’t let me in her kitchen, it was just faster to cook herself, then the drive to the hospital for stitches.
Which is why I hate cooking things that require me to cook things that are cumbersome. Things like pumpkin, for example. But, no, I really wanted this particular dish for dinner, so, here I am, cutting up a pumpkin.
It wasn’t until after I’d managed to get the damn thing peeled (and narrowly avoided cutting myself no less than 3 times) that my housemate wandered into the kitchen and asked why I didn’t just cut it up into little pieces, and then peel it?

*facepalm*

I can’t be trusted in book stores.
All those books, with their rich, dusty smells of paper, the cracking of spines and rustles of pages… Bookstores call me with their siren song.
I picked up Maha by Shane Delia, and it was love at first sight.  The first recipe was an amazing dessert which I hope one of you will let me make for you soon, because I’m dying to test it out, and the second, is this one.
I loved it for several reasons. It’s one of those really easy dinners, with not a lot of effort (once you get past me and the awkward pumpkin), it’s vegetarian – the original recipe doesn’t call for chicken – and it’s easily adaptable. Add more veggies. Throw in beef. Whatever.
On top of all that, it uses one of my favourite ingredients, Israeli couscous.

Israeli Couscous

I use it in place of rice or regular couscous in cooking, in salads, everything. It’s becoming easier to find, but I get it from The Re Store, Kakulas Brothers or specialty stores. Totally worth it.

Israeli Couscous with Spiced Pumpkin & Tomato
Adapted from: Maha by Shane Delia

100g Israeli couscous
100ml vegetable oil
1 onion
Toum (see note)
small pinch of saffron threads (If you don’t have them, don’t worry)
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
150g peeled Jap pumpkin, cut into 1cm pieces
4 skinless chicken thighs
400g tin chopped tomatoes
150ml chicken stock
coriander & mint leaves, to garnish

Cook couscous in boiling water for 8 minutes, then drain and set aside.
Heat oil in a heavy based saucepan over medium heat, add the onion, toum paste & saffron threads, cook for 5 minutes or until onion softens. Add spices and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.


Add pumpkin, chicken, tomatoes and stock, simmer over medium heat for a further 15 minutes or until pumpkin is soft and sauce is starting to thicken.

All in

Stir in couscous and cook for a further 2 minutes to soak up most of the liquid.
Finish with a sprinkling of herbs and serve immediately.

Note: Toum is a paste made from 10 garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt & 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil and smooshed until creamy in a mortar and pestle. That was more than I’d use in a lifetime, so I just used  4 cloves of garlic, a pinch of salt and maybe a teaspoon of oil, and squished it until it was close enough to a paste/I got distracted. Perfect.

Normally when recipes say to garnish with herbs, I normally write it off because you generally only need a little bit, and you end up with all these herbs in the bottom of the fridge that you never get around to using. That annoys me. However, I discovered mint in the garden today, so I figured, may as well. I absolutely, without question, insist that you include the mint. It’s brilliant.

By the way, this is brilliant the as leftovers. The best thing about cooking with spices like this, is that they develop over time, meaning it’s actually better the next day.

Very pleased with my efforts for the evening, I hit the showers. And proceeded to promptly cut open the side of my thumb opening a shampoo bottle. Go figure.