Tag Archives: lamb

Recipe | Shepherd’s Pie

Hello! First of all my apologies for going AWOL for rather longer than promised. Finishing the book somewhat took it out of me, and what with all the other jazz going on with supper clubs and various articles I neglected the blog. But I’m back. *Doffs cap*. Continue reading


Filed under Ramblings, Recipes, The Secret Larder

Christmas Canapes

There are only so many bowls of Doritos and dip that you can eat in a month. Don’t get me wrong, I love those processed, cheese-dusted, crunchy beauties (give me Doritos over Kettle Chips any day of the week), but sometimes you just want something a little more refined. That’s not to say fussy, or time-consuming, or expensive. But a little elegance at Christmas is sometimes necessary.

On Saturday I found myself doing canapes for 60 and, with the aid of two super-capable helpers (always a little awkward-making when your sous-chef is more experienced than you), cranked out close to 700 canapes and mince pies with no fuss whatsoever. You could quite happily do a couple of these (along with some mulled cider, perchance), without any stress.

Christmas Koftas

The idea of these was that they look like mini Christmas puds. If you hadn’t spotted that already.

Makes around 30

500g minced lamb

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon harissa

1 tablespoon ras el hanout

1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 egg

Olive oil

100ml Greek yoghurt

A handful chopped mint

Juice of half a lemon


Barberries (available in Persian stores – otherwise pomegranates will work)

Make the kofta mix (can be done ahead) by putting the lamb mince, harissa, spices, onion and egg in a bowl along with a good slug of olive oil and some pepper. Mix thoroughly by hand, and set aside until ready to cook.

The mint yoghurt can also be done ahead. Finely chop the mint and add to the yoghurt with the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Refrigerate until needed.

An hour before cooking, soak the barberries in boiling water for 45 minutes, then drain and press out any excess moisture.

Set the grill to 240C (you could fry the koftas but with guests you may not want to have a smoky, smelly kitchen). Form the koftas into small balls, season with salt and pop under the grill for 8 minutes.

Rest for 1 minute then garnish with a drop of mint yoghurt, a sprig of coriander and a couple of barberries.

Chicory with gorgonzola, cranberries, walnuts and truffle oil

Makes 30

2-3 heads of chicory (3 to be safe)

200g Gorgonzola, roughly chopped

A handful of dried cranberries, roughly chopped

A handful of walnuts, roughly chopped

Truffle oil

Wash and dry the chicory, and break apart carefully, saving the larger leaves for a salad (they will probably be too big for canapes). Trim the bottoms of the longer leaves and arrange on a plate. Add a few bits of Gorgonzola, cranberries and chopped walnut. You can do all this ahead, then just drizzle with a little truffle oil before serving.

Chicken liver parfait on crostini with pomegranate

Makes plenty (the parfait will keep and be of much use over Christmas)

1.2kg of chicken livers, washed, trimmed, and roughly chopped

450g unsalted butter

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

100ml brandy

2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, finely chopped

Pomegranate seeds

A French stick style baguette (as thin as possible)

Melt 250g of the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat. When completely melted, add the garlic and thyme leaves and gently poach in the butter until the garlic is starting to colour at the edges. Add the chicken livers, season with salt and pepper, and continue to poach for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Turn up the heat to high and add the brandy. Carefully set fire to the pan with a match and burn off the alcohol (don’t be alarmed by the longevity of the fire – it will die eventually (just keep tea towels, children and pets away)).

Once the flames have died down blend the livers in a food processor or with a hand blender. Failing these you can make a coarser pate by beating the livers with a wooden spoon.

Transfer to a bowl or posh parfait jar and leave to cool. Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter until the milk solids separate to the bottom. Pour the clarified butter onto the parfait and leave in the fridge to set. Will keep for a week.

When you’re ready to devour this heart-stopping concoction, slice the baguette and pop under the grill for a couple of minutes. Slather on a teaspoon of parfait (or quenelle if feeling poncy) and garnish with pomegranate seeds.


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Supermarket scavenging [lamb neck fillet with pearl barley]

It’s remarkable what you can sniff out at the meat counter in the supermarket if you time your run. In Sainsbury’s yesterday I managed to purloin 3 sirloin steaks for £4.50 (down from £20/kg to £.650!), a kilo of sausages for £2 and a lamb neck fillet for £1.80. The trick, I believe, is to rock up a couple of hours before closing, when they are really just trying to fob off any meat that will be past its sell-by in the next couple of hours.

I had never tackled lamb neck before, but was aware that, like squid or octopus, it’s a case of either fiendishly hot, quick cooking, or long and slow. Anywhere in between and you will end up with something akin to a handbag in texture. In spite of giving the meat a good rest, I was still a wee bit alarmed by how rare it was, as in my book, lamb is best served medium to medium well done, having the tendency to be chewy if served too pink. Yet the neck was incredibly soft and tender and, sat lazily on a bed of pearl barley, with the zip of vinegary roast beetroot to lift this rich and frugal supper, was a very successful foray into the latest and trendiest ‘cheap cut’.

Lamb neck fillet with pearl barley and roast beetroot

Serves 1

1 large beetroot
A few thyme leaves
Cyder vinegar
Olive oil
Tin foil

1 tablespoon chopped shallot
A good handful of chopped parsley
80g pearl barley
50ml red wine
500ml hot chicken stock

A 300g lamb neck fillet
A little red wine and stock

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Quarter the beetroot or cut into chunks. Place on a large sheet of tin foil, drizzle with vinegar, olive oil and thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Wrap up in the foil and roast for 45 minutes. Allow to cool – this only needs to be served a little warm.

Meanwhile, soften the shallot in a little oil with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley and pearl barley and add the red wine. Simmer for a minute or two, then add the stock. Simmer gently uncovered for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Season the neck fillet with salt and pepper and rub with olive oil. Get a heavy-based frying or griddle pan smoking hot and add the lamb. Fry for 4 minutes on each side, remove to a warm plate to rest for a good 10 minutes.

Add some wine and stock to the frying pan and scrape up all the lovely caramelised juices. Slice the lamb thickly and serve with the pearl barley and beetroot, drizzled with the remaining cooking juices.

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