Pulled lamb and jewelled couscous

The lamb in this takes a while to cook but the whole recipe is dead simple. It’s worth making a fair bit so that you can get a couple of meals out of it.

Ingredients (makes 4-5)

The lamb
1 shoulder (or leg) of lamb
Couple of dessert spoons sunflower or rapeseed oil

The couscous
½ litre vegetable stock
300g couscous
1 pomegranate
A few mint leaves
Handful of pine nuts
Handful of watercress
3 dessert spoons olive oil
Juice of ¼ lemon
Salt & pepper

1. Rub the lamb with the sunflower or rapeseed oil and a bit of salt and place in an oven dish. Cook at 140° for 3 hours. Remove from the oven and the lamb should pull off the bone easily.

2. Pour the vegetable stock over the couscous, add some salt, pepper and a dessert spoon of olive oil, and leave to rest for 5 minutes.

3. Finely chop the mint leaves and bash the seeds out of the pomegranate (see here for method). Add the mint, pomegranate seeds, pine nuts and watercress to the couscous.

4. Mix together the lemon juice and a couple of dessert spoons of olive oil with the salt and pepper, correct if necessary with more/less olive oil.

And that’s it!

Peach, prosciutto and pecorino

This was delicious, very light and airy, and loads of flavour.

I used what are probably among the last peaches of the season, from the same batch as the end-of-summer breakfast.

Ingredients (for 2)
Some sprigs of rocket
2 peaches
Couple of slices of prosciutto (or Serrano ham in my case)
A few shavings of pecorino (I used fresh parmesan though, just as nice)
Snipped chives
1/2 lemon
Splash of olive oil

You assemble all the ingredients on a small plate. For the parmesan shavings use a vegetable peeler. Mix the lemon juice and olive oil and drizzle over (you’re also supposed to add pomegranate molasses here but I chucked mine away recently after 4 years of meaning to use it and never getting round to it). Then snip the chives and sprinkle over.

Thanks Waitrose Magazine for this one.

Porridge and stewed plums

So the first exploit with the fruit we picked off the tree is stewed plums. Really easy, and because I’m addicted to porridge (there are worse things), I decided to cook some of them up for breakfast.

I realised recently when I made an apricot puree without sugar for my daughter (she hated it and as a result I inherited it), that combining starchy oats and acidic apricots worked really well. For some reason heating certain fruits accentuates their acidity – I’m sure there’s a Michelin-starred chef out there that can explain that – the same principle applies for apricots as it does peaches and plums.

Conclusion: the porridge in the picture was delicious.

For the porridge, pour a small cup of oats into a saucepan, add double the amount of milk. Cook on a low heat for 10 minutes or until the ingredients have turned into a creamy mixture. For the plums, cut them in half and remove the stones, place in a saucepan and also cook on a low heat for 20 minutes or until the fruit are soft.

Garlic & walnut oil dressing

I’ve been doing this dressing for years ‎and really should get round to doing a different one. It’s so nice though that I tend to default to it every time.

The basic ingredients are always the same: garlic, rock salt and 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar‎. For the latter two I most often use walnut oil and walnut vinegar, however this can be substituted or added to with cider vinegar as well as olive or hazelnut oil.

1. Peel about 5-6 large cloves of garlic and add to a mortar with a rounded teaspoon of rock salt

uncrushed garlic
‎2. Crush with the pestle until the mixture becomes a smooth paste

crusshed garlic
3. ‎Transfer to a jam jar (or oil decanter like the one pictured) and add 9 tablespoons of oil  and 3 tablespoons of vinegar. Then shake up to mix thoroughly.

If you use less oil and vinegar then you’ll obviously need to do the same with the salt and garlic.

This keeps for a few weeks in the fridge and improves with time as the garlic and salt infuse into the oil and vinegar.

Spinach & prawn linguine


This is a variation on a Jamie Oliver recipe. In fact I’m thinking of renaming this blog “Ode to Jamie” because I seem to rarely do anyone else’s. The original recommends courgette instead of spinach which I’m sure is also lovely.

You need a couple of handfuls of uncooked prawns, and a couple of fresh spinach, some chopped parsley and the juice of half a lemon. You can also add some grated parmesan, which I did, although if you’re a purist then you won’t because I don’t think Italians typically mix cheese and seafood. At least they didn’t in Emilia Romagna when I lived there at the age of 20. Plus it makes me sound really knowledgeable so I continue to say it.

Anyway, you basically cook the linguine on one side, and whilst that’s doing you cook the prawns in the frying pan, then add the spinach. Drain the linguine, reserving some of the cooking water, then add both to the pan with the lemon juice and parsley. Serve and add parmesan.

Baked whiting with fennel, red peppercorns and thyme

This looks like an elaborate meal for a Monday night but it was dead easy. I’d bought the two whitings previously from my usual fishmongers and then just scattered over a mixture of fennel seeds, rock salt, red peppercorns (for aesthetic purposes only) and then fresh thyme. I put some thyme inside the fish too and then poured a few glugs of oil over.

20 minutes later (at 180 degrees) they were ready to eat with asparagus and brown rice. Lovely.

Roasted trout with artichokes & almonds

side ok

This is a great one – not too difficult but looks quite impressive, so nice if you have guests like we did today.

It’s a Jamie Oliver recipe (for a change…), with some stuff tweaked to my tastes. For example the artichoke and almond mixture is supposed to contain mint which I am never very convinced by.

Instead of the recommended trout fillets I also buy a whole trout and ask the fishmonger to remove the spine and as many of the bones as possible. In French the method is called “en portefeuille” (the “wallet method”), and the guy at my fish shop (O de Mer, 50 rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis) does it really well. It’s easier to keep it all together with the stuffing and I think it looks better served as a whole fish. I’ve stuck to the original in the recipe below however because fillets are easier to get hold of.

Ingredients (serves 4)
Olive oil
8 x 200g trout fillets
1 good handful of almonds, blanched
1 ciabatta, preferably stale
Zest of 2 lemons
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
10 artichoke hearts, drained and sliced (can be the marinated type although I prefer them without a dressing)
4 rashers of bacon (or can be replaced by cured ham)
sea salt and black pepper
1 small handful of fresh thyme leaves, picked

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and rub a roasting tray with a little olive oil. Lay the trout fillets skin side down on the tray with a few bits of string under each fillet.
2. Lightly toast the almonds in the oven for a couple of minutes – watch them carefully as they don’t take long – then bash them up using a pestle and mortar. Try to get some powdery and some chunks. Put the almonds into a bowl.
3. Take the crusts off the ciabatta and whizz it up in a food processor. Add the lemon zest, chopped garlic, artichoke hearts, and 5 tablespoons of olive oil to the bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix it up well and sprinkle a good handful of the mix over each trout fillet.
4. Place the other 4 fillets on top of the breadcrumb mix, skin side up, laying a bacon rasher along the top of each one, and secure with the string. Sprinkle the thyme over the top and any excess filling around the tray.
5. Place in the middle of the preheated oven and cook for about 15 minutes, until the trout is golden and crisp.

long ok