Lamb with vegetables, oranges and white wine.

This is an Italian recipe from Elizabeth David’s classic, ‘Italian Food’. It is delicious even if not cooked perfectly. I was very lucky and bought some really good quality hogget from West Gerinish, very tender, very tasty. I also used the mystery herbs – called ‘herbs for meat’ or ‘Italian seasoning’, possibly. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • About 900g to 1kg lamb cut in one piece from the leg.
  • A couple of carrots, chopped
  • A stick of celery, chopped
  • an onion, chopped
  • Chopped turnip, about the same volume as the carrot
  • Rind of 1 sweet orange
  • Juice of half the orange
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tbsp mystery herbs, or use oregano or marjoram
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 can of chopped tomato
  • 2 glasses sweet white wine (or one of table wine, one of marsala)
  • olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A splash of balsamic vinegar
  • About 200ml stock (vegetable, chicken or lamb)

METHOD:

  • Chop a clove of garlic finely, and rub it into the meat along with a handful of the mystery herbs, salt and pepper. 
  • Brown the meat in a little oil in a casserole dish, and then set aside.
  • In the same pan, fry the chopped onion slowly in the onion, and then add the garlic, and the rest of the chopped vegetables, garlic, coriander and orange rind, and cook until softened. 
  • Add the tomatoes, bring to a simmer then add the meat and white wine, and salt and pepper, and 200ml of stock. The meat should cook on a bed of vegetable stew, slowly roasting in the steam. 
  • Cover and simmer gently for two hours. This works better in a low oven. Keep an eye on the stew to make sure it doesn’t boil dry. 
  • At the end of cooking, squeeze the juice of half an orange over the meat and let it settle before serving. 

 

Pressed Tofu with Cabbage

This is another wonderful recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Eastern Vegetarian Cooking. It is very satisfying. To press tofu, select a medium to firm tofu, place between two teatowels under a baking tray, and put something heavy on top, such as a tin of beans. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • around 100g pressed tofu (firm)
  • 225g cabbage (works well with brussels sprouts too)
  • 2 fresh hot green chillies
  • 1 punnet of mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger, cut into thin strips
  • 3 cloves of garlic, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry or shaohsing wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp sesame oil

METHOD:

  • Chop the ingredients as follows: 
    • Cut the tofu into julienne strips 4cm long
    • Core the cabbage and cut into fine strips
    • Remove the stems from the mushrooms, and slice into 1/2 cm slices
    • Cut the spring onions into 4cm lengths, and shred lengthways
    • Cut the green chillies into fine 4cm strips
  • Heat 1 tbsp of oil in the wok over a  medium/high heat and fry the bean curd for about 10 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. 
  • Add the rest of the oil to the bowl, and add the ginger slices for 20 seconds, pressing into the side of the wok. Then add the garlic and fry for a further 15 seconds. 
  • Add the chillies, mushrooms and spring onions, and stir fry for 30 seconds before adding the shredded cabbage, and frying for a further minute. 
  • Add the wine, then the soy sauce, salt, sugar and sesame oil. Add each ingredient round the edge, and stir, before adding the next. After another minute add the bean-curd. 

The original recipe says to remove the ginger slices beforehand, but I can never find them, which is why I chop it up finely. 

Pollack with chickpeas and chorizo

A friend of ours came to the back door with a couple of very fresh large pollack, just as I was contemplating what to have for tea. I was about to make a Norwegian dish from Davidson’s, involving cheese and macaroni, but then I turned to Google. 

When I search for recipes online, I type in the ingredients that I have, and then pick out interesting sites to check what they suggest. I sometimes pick up flavour suggestions, or some interesting methods. I don’t like sites with too many photographs, it makes it hard to find and follow the recipe. I also don’t like sites with poor formatting, or dodgy programming that don’t let you download the recipe so that it is readable.

The BBC food website is reliable, informative and full of good ideas, so when I spotted this recipe, I had to try it. I had to tweak it to fit my ingredients and timescale, though. I get all my spices and herbs from Seasoned Pioneers, if you wondered. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • coarse sea salt
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1 large pollack, filleted, skinned and boned
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, finely chopped, 
  • 4 cooking chorizos (about the size of a standard sausage, and soft) cut into 1 cm lengths
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 200ml chicken stock
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can chick peas (or 150g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked until tender)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 125g spinach (could be more, but that is all I had)

METHOD:

  • Cut the fillets of pollack in half to make four good-sized portions, In a close-fitting plastic container with a lid, sprinkle the pollack with coarse salt and a pinch of saffron, and ensure that the fish is well-coated. Cover, and put in the fridge.
  • After an hour and a half, start preparing the rest of the stew. Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Put a casserole dish on a medium/high heat, add the olive oil, and fry the onions, garlic and chillies for 6 minutes or so. 
  • Add the chunks of chorizo, and cook for a further 5 minutes. 
  • Add the cumin, paprika, bay leaves and cinnamon, and continue to cook for another 4 minutes or so. 
  • Add the drained chickpeas, chicken stock and chopped tomatoes, bring to the boil and then put it in the oven for 45 minutes. 
  • Next, remove the stew from the oven, check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. I also reduced the stew a bit on the stove top at this stage. 
  • Take the fish from the fridge, thoroughly rinse off the salt and pat dry, before adding to the top of the stew, and returning the casserole to the oven for a further 12 minutes. 
  • To serve, lift the fish onto warmed dishes, and then stir the spinach into the stew before ladling it onto and around the fish. 

We also had some fresh bread and olives at the table, and a Spanish white wine. 

Tagliatelle with St Agur Cream sauce and spinach.

This is an adaptation of a recipe from ‘Vegetarian Pasta’ by Rose Elliot. We had quite a lot of cream and cheese left towards the end of the Christmas break, so this was an excellent way to pull everything together. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 300ml cream 
  • salt, black pepper
  • grated nutmeg
  • 400g tagliatelle or fettuccine
  • 125g blue cheese such as St Agur or dolcelatte, chopped
  • 125g spinach leaves, shredded
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

METHOD:

  • Make the cream sauce. Melt the butter in a small pan, and add the onion. Cook very gently for ten minutes with the lid on. The onion should be tender, but not brown. 
  • Add the garlic, and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the cream, and leave to simmer very gently for another ten minutes. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. 
  • Put a large pan of salted water on to boil for the tagliatelle. When the water boils, add the pasta, give it a stir and leave to cook for around 8 minutes. 
  • A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready, add the cheese and spinach to the sauce, and stir to warm through, and season with pepper. 
  • Drain the cooked pasta and put it back in the warm pan, add a tablespoonful of good olive oil and stir. 
  • Serve in warm dishes with the sauce poured over the top. You can also pour the sauce onto the pasta in the pan, stir, and then serve onto warm dishes. 

Tofu and broccoli

Another outstanding and adaptable recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s book, Eastern Vegetarian Cooking.  Tofu and any of the cabbage family is very good. A top tip from the recipe book, after chopping the broccoli, freshen it in cold water until you need it. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 1/2 tsp cornflour
  • 175ml stock
  • 1 tbs shaohsing wine or dry sherry
  • 2 tps soy sauce 
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 spring onion
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into strips
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into strips
  • 225g broccoli florets and stems, all about 4cm long
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • roughly 225g medium tofu, cut into 2cm cubes or thereabouts

METHOD: 

  • Put the cornflour in a cup or small jug, and add 50ml of the stock, and mix before adding the sherry, soy sauce, and sesame oil. 
  • Cut the spring onion into 4cm lengths and then shred lengthways into strips. 
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a wok over medium heat, and when it is hot, add the ginger and garlic. Stir and fry for 10 seconds, then add the broccoli and spring onion. Continue to fry for around a minute. 
  • Add the rest of the stock, cover and simmer on medium/low for a minute until the broccoli is hot but still crisp. Lift the broccoli out with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. 
  • Turn the heat to low, and add the tofu, heating it through. Once it is hot, stir the cornflour mixture in the jug, to ensure it is well mixed, and then pour over the tofu. Mix very gently, and then return the broccoli to the pan. Continue to cook on low, stirring very gently, until the sauce is thick and everything is hot.