Category Archives: cooking with meat

Recipe: Lamb and Chickpea Stew with Tomato, Lemon, Chilli and Oregano

I keep popping my head up for air and then making big promises of a return to regular blogging.  And then I get swallowed up by work again, or come down with the plague, or both, and I disappear underwater again for another month.

So I’m not going to make any grandiose plans this time, except to note that I do, in fact, have three posts in progress right now, and a likely two more to come, if only I can tread water fast enough… After that, well, August is full of centenary stuff for work, so I suspect I will start sinking again.  But I’ll be back when I can, I promise.

(and if you are interested in the Centenary stuff, here’s a link to all the Science in the Square events for August – they look like a lot of fun, so if science is something you are interested in, come along and see what’s happening!)

To the recipe, Batman!

This was just a simple stew I put together one Sunday evening when I had a shoulder of lamb that wasn’t quite defrosted enough to roast, a couple of lemons which had been zested but not juiced, chickpeas from a tin that had been drained for meringue purposes and were drying out in the fridge, and a lot of tomatoes and onions – and also no desire to go to the shops.  I was in an Italian or Greek sort of mood, so I added oregano and chilli and just a little cinnamon, and the result was one of the best lamb stews I’ve ever made – very fresh and clean tasting, and lovely with Turkish bread, labneh and tabouli (and the next night, in a bake with macaroni and melted cheese).

Of course, the challenging part of this recipe – which I do not expect you to do – was getting the meat off the lamb shoulder.  You see, this was yet another piece of the infamous and enormous Roast Lamb Pack that I got at Easter, in a state of ill-advised post-Lenten euphoria, but we just don’t eat that many roasts in our household.  So I figured I’d carve the lamb off the bone and cut it into chunks myself.  This turned out to be tricky for two reasons.  First, the lamb just would not defrost, which made cutting it difficult.  And secondly, well, let’s just say that I have renewed respect for butchers as professionals.  Figuring out where the bone is (especially when the joint is half frozen) is really difficult.  Making usefully sized and shaped chunks out of the meat, while avoiding waste, is even harder.  I suspect diced meat is priced well under what it is worth in terms of labour.

But in this case, my work was all worthwhile.  This is a great stew, and I’ll be making it again.

(And apologies for returning to blogging with yet another meat post.  Sadly, the tireder I am, the more likely I am to revert to easy food, and my repertoire of easy vegetarian food that Andrew will also eat is just not up to the job… something to work on next year, when I have a life again!)

Your Shopping List

olive oil
500 g – 750g lamb shoulder, diced by someone else
2 tsp lamb spice mix from Gewürzhaus (optional)
2 big onions, sliced
2 tbsp chilli flakes (yes, this is quite hot, but it’s a nice, clean heat – I really liked it)
2 tbsp oregano
5 cloves of garlic (or cheat like I did, and use 1 tablespoon of Gewürzhaus garlic lovers spice)
a handful of cherry tomatoes (optional, I had some, they were going to go off if I didn’t use them, you know the drill…)
2 tins of tomatoes, or one tin of tomatoes and a jar of tomato-based pasta sauce
juice of two lemons
1 tin of chickpeas (drained)
1 cinnamon stick
salt and pepper to taste Continue reading

Respecting the Lamb

Hello, food blog friends!  This is me, taking a break from politics-land to be excited about lamb, but also to say that I really do love you and have not been deliberately neglecting you all week.

Actually, I attempted to cook two different recipes this week especially for the purpose of writing them up on this blog.  Did they work?  No, they did not.  They were, in fact, somewhat disastrous.  So you miss out this time, because I’m a little bit too tired to write up my dire failures in amusing style just now.

Never mind.  I’m really here to be all excited at you about my order from Koallah Farm today.  Vegetarians may want to skip this one, because this post is all about lamb.

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Recipe: Lamb, Sweet Potato and Chickpea Curry with Almonds and Saffron

I really don’t understand curries very well, which is why I’ve just bought myself a book all about curries from around the world.  You would think, then, that I’d follow the recipes in them, and indeed that was my intention, but basically I screwed up.  The curry I was going to make was a simple lamb curry with almonds and saffron, because I had diced lamb to use up, but it used twice the amount of lamb I had.  No worries – I would just halve the recipe.  Except that I forgot to do so, and once I had measured out the saffron water and started cooking all the onions and garlic and ginger – which I had accidentally doubled instead of halved anyway, hello, virus-brain! – and spices it was too late to go back without waste.


So I decided to bulk out the curry with chickpeas and sweet potato.  After all, I don’t like stews of any kind that are just meat, meat and meat, sweet potato seemed like it would get along with all the sweet aromatic spices in this dish, and chickpeas are always a good random filler protein in my book.  Also, this lowers the glycemic index of the dish *and* makes it suddenly a lot closer to a one-pot meal (by which I mean that the ongoing Sickly Catherine feels empowered not to make a vegetable side dish now, which is a very good thing).  And then I looked at the cream added at the end of the recipe, and thought about the fact that I don’t like creamy sauces much and that I had this tin of coconut cream from goodness-knows-when sitting in my pantry waiting to be used, and…

I’m fairly sure we have lost any authenticity along the way (which is why I am not claiming that this is a Kashmiri curry, despite what the book says), but I have to say, it’s the best curry that I’ve ever made.  I strongly suspect that the slow cooker was an important part of this – the spices seemed to blend and work together rather than sitting awkwardly in different corners of the room, squinting sideways at each other.  That’s not what usually happens when I make a curry.  So, while a slow cooker is not a requirement for this recipe, I do recommend cooking it over the lowest heat possible for as long as possible if you don’t have one.

Still, next time, I *promise* I will follow the recipe properly.

I can do that, you know.

Your Shopping List

2 tsp saffron threads
1 1/2 cup hot water
8 green cardamom pods
2 tsp dried cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
3 onions
3 cloves of garlic
about 2 cubic inches of ginger root
2 dried chillis
500 g cubed lamb shoulder or other stewing lamb
salt and pepper which I entirely forgot to put in, but you might want to
500 g sweet potato
Either 1 cup of dried chickpeas, partly cooked (of which more later) or 1 tin of chickpeas, which you will add at the end of the recipe
120 g blanched almonds
270 ml (a medium-sized tin – don’t get too hung up on measuring this) coconut cream

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Recipe: Steak or Portobellos on Peachy Summer Salad with Mayonnaise and Garlic Toasts

salad2I always call this my Restaurant Meal, because it feels so posh: gourmet salad, slices of steak (and vegetarians, please don’t give up on this recipe yet – marinated grilled mushrooms or tofu would work brilliantly here too), home-made mayonnaise, and beautiful pasta dura bread, toasted with garlicky oil to make it golden.  All that salad means I can pretend it’s healthy, too!

Actually, it’s usually a bit of a leftoverish thing.  I will keep on ordering these steaks when I’m feeling pre-menstrual, despite the fact that Andrew doesn’t eat steak unless it’s heavily disguised.  So they sit there, getting closer to their use-by date, while I dither about them.  Then, the pasta dura tends to be from two or three days ago when I did antipasti for dinner, and so it’s gone a bit stale and really *needs* to be toasted. 

There’s no real excuse for the mayonnaise, I must admit.  Though the mayonnaise does make a good excuse for meringues or macarons afterward…

Anyway, the results are always glorious – the steak is juicy (through no fault of mine, I might add  – I’m not very good at cooking steak, but if you get your meat from a free-range, organic sort of farm, it’s pretty hard to make it taste bad), the mayonnaise creamy and decadent, the bread toasty and garlicky and wonderful, and the salad refreshing and just right for a hot summer evening.  If you want, you can do the steak earlier, and have it cold in the salad  – that works too.  Whatever you do, it will be wonderful…

Your Shopping List (for 4 people)

garlic mayonnaise
4 steaks – porterhouse, scotch fillet or eye fillet all work; alternatively, get 4 huge portobello mushrooms
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt, pepper
100 g mixed salad greens of your choice
1 red capsicum
1 lebanese cucumber
3 spring onions
about 500 g assorted tomatoes (cherry or large or both)
2 nectarines
2 peaches
a handful of basil leaves
8 slices of pasta dura bread or gluten-free sourdough
2 tablespoons garlic oil, or plain olive oil plus three cloves garlic
juice of half a lemon
a splash of white wine vinegar
a couple of drizzles of olive oil (I’m sorry this is so inexact, but really, you need to dress your salad the way *you* like it)


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A couple of menu posts…

I’m out practically every night at present, so in lieu of actually useful content, here, have a few menu plans…

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Recipe: Getting My Goat

This entry was going to be a recipe for goat and cardoon tagine.  I’m still going to include the recipe at the bottom of this post, because Andrew quite liked it, but I really, really didn’t.  Instead I’m going to talk about the strangeness of goat, and my attempts at cooking it.  (Apologies to my vegetarian readers – I promise the next recipe will be a vegetarian one with vegan options!  Indeed, I have already written said recipe, but I am currently more inspired by the goat… though it’s rather a negative sort of inspiration.)

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Leftovers for dinner: Lamb with Vaguely Turkish Eggplants and Yoghurt

I had a couple of lamb mini-roasts from Koallah Farm, which I had planned for dinner when a friend was coming around… in the end, it was just me and Andrew that evening, so I had an entire mini roast, cooked somewhere between rare and medium-rare, leftover.  I also had some rather nice flatbreads in the freezer, from a rather epic Scoopon which resulted in terrifying amounts of bread, and a bunch of long eggplants and tinned tomatoes on hand.  After yesterday’s outing to Zaatar, I also had labneh, and a yen for more middle-eastern food, so I decided to play with eggplant yogurtlu (a Turkish dish that I am very fond of), flatbreads, zaatar and lamb.  

Foolishly, I did not photograph the results, but I’m recording them here anyway, because that was one delicious meal, and I will definitely make it again next time I have leftover lamb.

Your Shopping List

2 red onions
olive oil – quite a lot, I’m afraid, because eggplants *drink* the stuff.
6 long eggplants
3 cloves of garlic, or more
1 punnet cherry tomatoes, or half a punnet of cherry tomatoes and one or two rather elderly tomatoes that got left out on a bench and forgotten when you had choir one night and Williamstown the next and basically didn’t do any cooking for a few days
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
dried mint
dried thyme
1 lamb mini-roast, cooked rare (I realise that you aren’t going shopping for this, really.  Basically, leftover roast lamb of any kind would be fine, and you want about 300 grams of it)
100 g labneh or thick Greek yoghurt, I think.  I really don’t know!  It was several big spoonfuls, until the sauce got a bit paler and smelled right…
4 thick flatbreads
more olive oil
zaatar, to sprinkle on the flatbreads

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Respect the chicken!

(This is another one of those ‘I’m really not vegetarian’ posts.)

I talk a fair bit here about respecting the chicken (or the lamb, or the beef, as the case may be), and being mindful of where meat comes from, both in terms of the way the animal has been raised and treated during its life, and in terms of remembering that it is a whole animal – not just the breast or leg or maybe some mince.

But having said that, I’m actually fairly new to the idea of using as much of the beast as possible.  This is partly because I really do not like offal (and yes, I have tried it), partly because it’s just easier to buy meat which doesn’t require trimming or boning or whatever, and partly because my tastes in meat are a bit boring and Andrew doesn’t like meat that is recognisable as meat, so to speak.

This makes the idea of using as much of the animal as possible rather daunting…

On the other hand, when I do manage to start with a whole chicken, and break it down into its components and use it over several meals and make stock with the remains, I feel so terribly pleased with myself afterwards…  Also, thrifty!  And, while it makes extra work at the beginning of the week, it saves work later in the week, so you don’t lose much time by it.

(and also, I find that we then tend to go vegetarian for the entire following week because we are so entirely over chicken by that point, which is thrifty *and* ethical!  Bonus! – though of course, one does have the option of freezing things…)

Anyway, this post isn’t about pretending that it isn’t easier to buy your chicken just by the section you want to use (especially, of course, if you live alone – I don’t think any single person can reasonably be expected to deal with that level of leftover-commitment), and nor is it going to be a moral high-ground thing.  But I suspect I’m probably not the only person out there who really likes the idea of using a whole chicken and making stock and doing exciting things with leftovers but is totally intimidated when actually faced with a whole chicken.  There are, undoubtedly, other ways to do this, but here’s what I do.

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I always feel faintly guilty writing about meat on this blog.  It’s not that I pretend to be vegetarian or to write a vegetarian blog (though I admit, having this blog is influencing me to make more vegetarian food, because I like writing about it!), but I do know a lot of the people who read this regularly are vegetarian or vegan.  So they probably are not going to be especially interested in this post, which is entirely a gloat over the joys of meat.  And yet, it would feel dishonest not to write about meat, because that’s the thing I’m most excited about right now. Continue reading

Truffles again, and a little gloat

I have cooked my first truffle!  Or rather, I have prepared my first truffle – I didn’t actually cook it.  I shaved thin slices off it for my meal and put the rest of it in a container full of arborio rice to infuse.  In a day or two, I’ll put it into some eggs.  I still have evil plans for chocolate mousse, because having tasted truffle in mousse, I now find its flavour a bit chocolatey (though mostly I would describe the flavour as pongy).  I don’t know what I’ll infuse after that.

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