Shepherd’s pie

There were several reasons to cook this tonight. First of all, we have a lot of fresh vegetables in the garden, and Malcolm requested plain cabbage, no messing with stir fries or salad, just lightly boiled, seasoned and buttered. Next, we had some lamb in the freezer, and I wanted to test out a new mincer. Also, we have some lovely potatoes coming in, the crop we are eating just now is Arran Pilot, and I wanted to see how well they mashed. They mashed very well indeed. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, in small chunks
  • 500g lean minced lamb
  • 500ml lamb or beef stock
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 900g potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
  • 75g – 85g butter
  • milk, to achieve consistency
  • salt and pepper, to taste

METHOD:

  • Heat the oil in a large pan, and when it is hot, add the onion and carrots, and cook over a medium heat until the onion is softening
  • Add the minced lamb, and turn the heat up, browning the mince
  • Add the tomato puree, Worcestershire sauce and stock, and bring to a simmer. 
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes, then uncover and simmer another 20 minutes to reduce the liquid. Season to taste with pepper and salt, if required. 
  • Boil the chopped potatoes in salted water, and drain. Mash with the butter, and a little milk to make a soft smooth mash. 
  • Add the mince to an oven-proof dish, and then put the mashed potatoes on top, using a fork to make patterns that will crisp up in the oven. 
  • At this point, the pie can be frozen or put in the fridge for cooking later
  • To cook the pie, bake for around 30 minutes. Leave to stand a few minutes before serving. 

To cook the cabbage, I cut it into wedges, cooked it for around 5 minutes in boiling water, then I poured the water off, and added salt, pepper and butter. 

Pasticcio – Greek baked macaroni with lamb mince

This feeds about eight people, or six very hungry teenagers. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 450g lamb mince
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 2 tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 450g macaroni
  • 250g ricotta
  • 75g parmesan
  • 50ml cream
  • 2-3 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • nutmeg

METHOD:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil, and very gently fry the onion for around ten minutes. Towards the end of the cooking, add the chopped garlic. 
  • Add the lamb mince, and turn the heat up to medium. Stir it into the hot oil to brown it, around 5 minutes. Add the oregano and cinnamon as you cook the mince
  • Add the tinned tomatoes and the stock cube, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes, then take the lid off and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper at the end of cooking. 
  • Next, cook the macaroni according to the instructions on the pack. 
  • In a bowl, combine the ricotta, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and eggs. Stir in 50g of grated parmesan. Stir in the cooked macaroni
  • Pour the mince into a large lasagne dish, and then top this with the macaroni. Sprinkle the top with around 25g grated parmesan. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. 

I served this with a green salad. It is good the next day served at room temperature. 

Chicken curry baked in foil

This is a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey that works well with a busy schedule. The meal can be prepared ahead of time, and just popped into the oven to cook it. It goes well with plain basmati rice and a salad. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika (Hungarian, sweet)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/4 tsp grated ginger root
  •  3 tbsp full fat plain yoghurt
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 level tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • approx 650g skinned chicken pieces. Ensure that there are some deep incisions in the flesh

METHOD:

  • Mix all of the ingredients except the chicken in a bowl. 
  • Rub the marinade into the chicken, including into the incisions. 
  • Put the chicken pieces in a single layer on a bit of tin foil, and then fold the sides, top and bottom of the foil over the chicken to make a sealed packet. Leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours. 
  • Preheat the oven to 200C. 
  • Put the whole packet in the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. You can try opening the packet to turn the chicken half way through, but I find it makes little difference. 

Hot Lightning with rabbit

This is a recipe introduced to me by one of my daughters, thanks to one of her boyfriends. I believe it is Dutch in origin. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 local wild rabbits, skinned and gutted
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 60g butter
  • 60ml water
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 apples (Braeburn or similar)
  • 8 potatoes (general cooking variety)
  • more butter and/or cream
  • 1 egg
  • nutmeg

METHOD:

  • Set the oven to 160C
  • Mix the rabbit with garlic, onion, salt and pepper. Put it in a roasting tray with butter and water and cover with tin foil. Bake in the oven until tender, about an hour. Take the tin foil off and bake for another ten minutes or so.  
  • When the rabbit is cool enough, strip off the meat, and put it into an oven-safe dish
  • Meanwhile, peel and chop the potatoes and apples. Put the potatoes in a saucepan and just cover with water, and season with salt. Cover with a layer of apples, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. 
  • Strain off most of the water, and roughly mash the apples and potatoes together, with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and an egg, butter and/or cream to taste. 
  • Put the mashed potatoes over the rabbit meat, heat through in the oven for around 10 minutes before serving.

I think adding bacon is allowed. 

Balaton beef goulash

I kind of made this up,  basing the flavours on a vegetarian recipe that I have. There may be edits as I try out tweaking the recipe. It was good enough the first time, though.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Approx. 200g onion, chopped
  • 200g pancetta (or streaky bacon) (optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil or lard
  • 2 tsp Hungarian paprika
  • 1 tsp caraway, lightly crushed
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • salt
  • 300 to 400g beef, cut into cubes
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 300ml tub of sour cream
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 or 3 potatoes, peeled and diced (or use small salad potatoes, around 200g)

METHOD:

  • Set the oven to 160℃
  • In a large oven-safe casserole pan, fry the pancetta until crispy on the outside, and set aside. 
  • In the same pan, fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat until golden yellow and soft
  • Add the paprika and caraway seed, and stir into the onions, around 15 seconds. 
  • Add the meat and stir to brown the meat on all sides as well as coating it with paprika
  • Add the stock, bacon, tomato puree, black pepper, salt to taste, and bring to a simmer. 
  • Cover and put the pan into the oven for around 2½ hours
  • Add the peeled chopped potatoes, and check the seasoning, and then cook for another half an hour or so, until the potatoes are cooked. You can add other vegetables as well, such as carrots, or celeriac, if you wish. If the stew is not thick enough for your taste, simmer on the stove top with the lid off, to reduce it down. 
  • Stir in the sour cream, and garnish with chopped parsley to serve. 

 

Italian Lamb Stew

Oh, this is so delicious, I would cook it every week if I had enough local lamb. I got the basic recipe from ‘Dear Francesca‘ but adapted it to use some ingredients that I already had. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 to 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 1 kg (+) gigot chops (or other chops) or lamb shoulder – trim the chops of fat, 
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 pinches of dried thyme, or 1 tsp of Italian dried herbs
  • 1 tbsp red pepper paste
  • 200ml stock or water
  • 8 small new potatoes, or 4 large potatoes peeled and cut into chunks. 

METHOD:

  • In a large casserole dish, heat the olive oil, and fry the garlic and onion over a low low heat for ten minutes. 
  • Set the onions aside, and fry the meat in the olive oil to seal it. 
  • Return the onions and garlic to the pan, and add the tinned tomatoes, pepper paste and herbs. Bring to a simmer. 
  • Cook in the oven at 180C for 30 minutes. At this stage, the stew can be frozen or kept in the fridge to finish cooking alter. 
  • Add the potatoes to the pan, and the extra stock if required, and cook on the stove top until the potatoes are cooked (about half an hour or so) 

And you’re done! The book suggests chicken or beef versions of the same stew, but with lamb it is just glorious. We served it with a green side salad. 

Lamb stew with dried limes, vegetables, and borlotti beans (Khoresht-e Gormeh Sabzi)

I can’t believe I haven’t shared this recipe before. It uses the vegetables that are making a come-back after the winter, and is also a good way to use some of the Allium triquetrum leaves as they start to grow. It is a very unusual flavour for western palates, the dried limes and turmeric give the stew a rich flavour. I used the recipe in ‘Nightingales and Roses’ and added the vegetables growing in the garden. I wonder what it would be like with a bit of lovage?

INGREDIENTS

  • 3-4 dried limes (from Persepolis or other online shops)
  • 100g parsley
  • 100g coriander
  • 100g spinach or chard
  • 1 handful of kale tops
  • 1 handful of Allium triquetrum or inner leaves from small leeks
  • olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 500g lamb (from shoulder or best end of neck) in large pieces. 
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 can borlotti beans, drained 

METHOD:

  • Cover the limes in hot water, and weigh them down with a small plate so that they soften over the next couple of hours. 
  • Strip the leaves from the parsley and coriander, and rinse all of the green vegetables, and leave to dry. 
  • Heat 2 tbsp oil in a casserole dish and cook the onions until they are golden.
  • Add the lamb and turmeric and fry until the meat is browned. Add enough stock or water to cover the meat and bring to a slow simmer. Continue to cook on a low heat for an hour. 
  • Use a food processor to chop the green vegetables finely. You’ll need to do this in batches. 
  • Heat 2-3 tbsp oil in a pan and add the chopped vegetables, and cook until they begin to darken. Add the fried vegetables to the stew. 
  • Add the limes to the stew. To enhance the flavour, stab them a few times before putting them in. Braise for another 30 minutes
  • Add the borlotti beans and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check the flavour and add salt to taste. 

We had this with plain rice, and it was phenomenal. The main part of the stew is the beans and vegetables, with lovely tender lamb morsels. 

Spiced lamb heart stew

This recipe is probably not that authentic, but it is based on a US recipe for a Moroccan stew. I have adapted it to use locally available ingredients and metric measures. I feel very strongly that if we are to eat meat at all, it should be local, and there should be no waste. This ‘nose to tail’ approach covers ingredients that are not commonly available in supermarkets, but can be acquired locally, before they are discarded.

Before you start, be aware that this recipe requires marinating overnight, and a slow cook the next day, so not a quick cook. I managed to set the oven onto automatic, so it was ready when I came home. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 6 lamb hearts
  • 100ml good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 100g sliced dried apricots
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thickly
  • 50g chopped black olives
  • 500ml stock
  • 4 large carrots (or squash or pumpkin or sweet potato) in 1 inch chunks

METHOD:

  • Prepare the hearts. cut away the coronary arteries around the top of the heart, as well as the auricles (small flaps at the top) and then cut the muscle into 1 inch chunks, or as close as possible. Put them in a sealable container and add the marinade ingredients as you prepare them. 
  • Grind the fennel seed in a mortar and pestle, and add this to the lamb hearts along with the cumin, coriander and turmeric.
  • Add the grated ginger, crushed garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Mix well together. Seal the container and put it in the fridge overnight.
  • The next day, slice the onions into thick slices. Fry in olive oil, over a low heat, for around ten minutes, until soft and brown, and transfer to a casserole dish. 
  • Remove the meat from the marinade, and fry in the same pan to brown it, and then add it to the casserole dish. 
  • Add the vegetables, stock, the marinade, cinnamon stick and bay leaves to the pan, and bring this to a simmer, check the seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Cover and cook at 180C for 2 hours. Remove the cover for the second hour, to reduce the gravy a little. 
  • I garnished this with chopped parsley and coriander. 

Steak and Kidney Pie

We had a really good bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape, and when I googled what we should eat with it, the answer was steak and kidney pie. I made this, and it was delicious. The basic recipe is in Maw Broon’s cookbook

INGREDIENTS:

  • 375g Bells ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 2 sheep’s kidneys
  • Approx 150g mushrooms, roughly chopped. 
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 450g steak
  • A little water
  • Milk or beaten egg to glaze

METHOD:

  • Turn the oven to 220C
  • Dice the steak into large chunks. Peel the kidneys of their membrane, and cut out the central fibrous tissue. Coat the meat in seasoned flour. 
  • Fry the onion gently in the butter until translucent, for around five minutes. 
  • Add the mushrooms, and continue to fry gently for another three to five minutes. 
  • Mix in the meat, and fill the pie dish with the mixture. The dish should be fairly full. Add a little water. 
  • I needed to fold the rolled pastry in half, and then gave it a gentle roll to ensure it was just a shade larger than my dish. Wet the edge of the pie dish and trim a strip of pastry, and press this onto the wetted edge of the pie dish. Cover the pie filling with the pastry, pierce a few holes to let steam out, and decorate as you wish. 
  • Glaze the pastry with egg or milk. 
  • Cook in a hot oven, 220C until the pastry is golden, and then turn the heat down to 180C and cook for a further hour and a half. 

We had mashed potatoes and garlic cabbage with this. 

 

Kibbeh

This is a classic middle eastern dish, found all around the Levant and beyond. I derived this recipe from ‘Moro’ – but I wouldn’t have been able to do it without a really good mincer. I borrowed one as part of a bid to make white pudding, of which, more later. There are some good YouTube videos out there showing the technique, and many many versions. It is easier than it looks at first sight. 

INGREDIENTS:

Outer layer:

  • 250g very lean lamb, minced twice, second time on a fine setting
  • 1/2 small onion, grated finely
  • 125g fine bulgur wheat
  • salt and pepper

Filling:

  • 1/2 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g lean lamb, minced once on a medium setting
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of Baharat spice mix (or 50/50 cinnamon and allspice, with a pinch of paprika)
  • 3 tbsp pine nuts and flaked almonds
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper

To serve

  • Greek yogurt, flavoured with mint, salt and pepper, crushed garlic, and a drizzle of best olive oil

METHOD:

  • Start by making the outer layer. Wash the bulgur wheat with water, and set aside
  • Mix the minced lamb with grated onion, salt and pepper. 
  • ‘Kneed’ the bulgur wheat for around five minutes and then mix well into the minced lamb, to make a stiff paste. Set aside in the fridge. 
  • Next, make the filling. Toast the nuts in hot olive oil. As soon as they start to brown, scoop them out of the oil and set them aside. 
  • Fry the chopped onion in the olive oil very slowly for around 15 minutes, until caramelised. 
  • Add the lamb and Baharat spice mix and turn up the heat a little, to start cooking the lamb. Break up the lamb with a spatula as it cooks. Add a spoonful of cold water to slow the cooking a little, and cook until the pan is dry. 
  • Add the nuts and the chopped herbs, salt and pepper and remove from the heat. 
  • To make the kibbeh, take a ball of the casing about the size of a golf ball, and hollow it out, making a thin-walled cup of paste, and then fill this with the fried lamb filling, and seal it shut, making something lemon-shaped. Continue this way until all the mixtures are used up. 
  • Deep-fry the kibbeh in hot olive oil for around five minutes, turning to ensure they are brown all over. 
  • ALTERNATIVELY put half of the casing at the bottom of an oiled baking dish, add all of the filling and cover with the rest of the casing. Cook for 15 minutes in a hot oven. 

Serve with the yoghurt garnish, fresh flat-breads, and a  sharp green herb salad. For a more substantial meal, serve with a vegetable pilau.