Lamb Chops with Minted Pea Puree and a Rosemary Anchovy Sauce

Lamb chops, anchovies, minted pea puree

I can’t put it any other way, but I made this dish because my wife would hate it.

I just know she would battle on regardless and I’d get one of the standard responses I’m used to when thing aren’t to her liking: “that was…..fine” typically.

Or worse, the dreaded:  “at least it’s healthy”.

Lamb, peas, anchovies and mint are not a combination she’d enjoy so I had to wait until she was going out so I could make it for myself. I, on the other hand, love this sort of thing.

The dish covers the range of bases with the sweet peas making a great contrast to the salty anchovies. The soft puree works against the crunchy blanched vegetable. It’s very simple, on the face of it, but actually becomes a bit of a balancing act bringing it together in the end. I thoroughly enjoyed it though.

Now I’m just awaiting her next evening out with friends so I can buy some baby squid….

Northumberland Lamb Chops

Serves 2 (providing your ‘other’ will eat it).

  • 4 good lamb chops – these were local, from a Northumberland farm.
  • Oil
  • Salt

For the minted pea puree:

  • 4 handfuls of frozen peas
  • 4 mint leaves
  • 300ml Vegetable stock (or enough to cover)
  • 15g butter
  • Salt to taste

For the anchovy sauce

  • 6 anchovies
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • A sprig of rosemary, stalk removed
  • Vegetable stock form the peas above
  • A little more butter
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 large courgette/zucchini
  • 6 decent sized Jersey Royal new potatoes.

Heat the oven to 160°C/320°F

Boil a kettle and start the potatoes – they’ll take 15-20 mins. Prepare the courgette and carrot by making them into thin strips using a potato peeler or a mandolin if you’re brave. Leave in water until needed.

Get an oven proof frying with a little oil smoking hot. Season the lamb lightly and fry it until well coloured. Flip them over and seal the other side for about 30 seconds then place the pan in the oven for around 10 minutes if you like it rare (as I do). A kitchen thermometer will help you here.

At the same time, heat the peas in the stock until well heated through Try not to boil them. Drain the stock but keep it to one side. 

In a blender, place the peas, butter, good pinch of salt and chopped mint leaf. Blitz and add some stock, a little at a time, until loosened a little. Keep warm.

Pea puree

By now the potatoes should be done (or nearly done) Take them out the pan and set aside. They’ll need to cool down a bit anyway.

In the same water, blanch the vegetables for just a minute or two. Set aside with the potato to keep warm.

Once the lamb is done, turn the oven off and open the door to cool it down. Wrap the lamb in foil to rest. You may want to use it to keep everything warm whilst you finish the sauce:

In the lamb frying pan, add a little more oil if needed and fry the garlic gently for a minute or two. Add the anchovies and stir them around until they form a pulp.

Anchovies, garlic, rosemary

 

Add the rosemary and the reserved stock. Gently reduce by half. Taste but you shouldn’t need to season it. Stir in the butter to melt.

Serve it all up with a nice ‘big’ Rioja if you have some. Lovely.

 

 

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Bucatini All’Amatriciana

Bucatini All'Amatriciana

Funny isn’t it.

You can get spaghetti  in the shops for next to nothing in the UK; as little as 50p for a supermarket own brand – but you get what you pay for of course.  A decent brand like De Cecco costs around £1.50.

Start delving into the stranger shapes and you could be paying twice that. Same ingredients, there or thereabouts, just a different form. I know, I know it’s all about economies of scale, but go with me on this.

I confess I’m a sucker for the more obscure pasta shapes, especially if it comes in rustic paper packaging and with nothing but Italian written on it. I’m a food importer’s dream. I must say decent pasta does make a difference – it has better bite – but I think there is a bit of a plateau, once you get to a certain price point. A bit like wine really.

Walking around town the other day I spied this bucatini: paper packaging. Check. English instructions? No. Check. Funky shape? Close enough. Check. Cost £4.95. Jeez…

Bucatini pastaAs you can see they’re thick hollow tubes, about the same thickness as Pici.bucatini pasta

I bought it anyway of course but now what to do with it? l had a recipe for bigoli in salsa from my prized Polpo recipe book that suggests bucatini as a nice alternative. The ‘salsa’ in question is mainly anchovy fillet though, so I wasn’t sure Helen would have shared my enthusiasm.

This recipes was the obvious answer in the end of course. It’s the Romanised and therefore more widely recognised version of the Amatrice dish that authentically calls for spaghetti, pecorino Amatriciano and cured pork jowl called Guanciale *closes Google tab* Pancetta is a worthy alternative it seems though thankfully. I’ll try and get the ‘original’ ingredients in the future but trying to emulate super-regional dishes in a different country will test even the best stocked delis.

If you can get a nice block of pancetta like this, it’s so much better than the ready cubed supermarket version. It’s no more expensive generally either.

One thing I did find is that the sauce, being made with dry white wine and tomatoes, turns out very sharp in flavour. Unpleasantly so for my personal taste. Maybe using the type of sweet fresh tomato you get in sun bathed Italy the results are different, but here in the UK? So, as much as it pains me with current clamp down on excessive  sugar, I had to add a teaspoon in. It’s still a tenth of what you’d find in a can of Coke though and it makes enough sauce for 4 so I wouldn’t lose too much sleep.

Oh and a word of warning: bucatini, being pretty thick, has a certain ‘spring’ to it. After eating the left overs for work in the office, I ended up looking like an extra in Reservoir Dogs.

Thankfully I had no meetings that day.

Serves 4

  • 300-400g bucatini pasta
  • Olive oil for frying. Not extra virgin, it’s a waste.
  • 1 can of plum tomatoes.
  • 1 Glass white wine
  • 1 red chilli
  • 200g pancetta
  • 1 onion
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp sugar (or as you need it).
  • Pecorino (or parmesan) and extra virgin olive oil to serve.

Slice the pancetta into thick cubes and finely dice the onion.

Brown the pancetta in a medium sized frying pan. When crisp, turn the heat down and add the onion and chilli. Cook gently until softened but don’t colour it..

Pancetta onion chilli

Add the wine to the onion and pancetta and reduce to almost gone.

Finally, pour in the tomatoes and reduce.

While this is happening, start the pasta. 1l/35 fl oz salted water per 100g. It will take about 12 minutes. Better to have the sauce ready before the pasta.

The pasta sauce should be fairly thick when done. Season to taste with the sugar, salt and pepper.

If you can, drain the pasta just before it’s done and return to the pot –  keeping a few tbsp of water back. Add the sauce and reserved water and finish it off with the lid on. It’ll take on a bit more of flavour of the sauce.

Serve it with pecorino, or parmesan if not, black pepper and a quick drizzle of  extra virgin olive oil.

Pecorino cheese

Bucatini All'Amatriciana

 

 

 

Pork Chops with Black Pudding, Cavolo Nero, Grilled Peaches and Port

 

Pork chops, peaches, black pudding, port, cavolo nero

It’s fair to say ‘planning and meticulous detail’ aren’t really words I’d apply to some of the things I come up with. When I get the chance to find somewhere decent to food shop, I tend to try and pick something interesting and then build an idea around it.

Cavolo nero, I admit is something I’d never tried and threw in the basket to kick this one off, but heading up to the meat counter, I saw some decent local pork chops, made a connection and it started from there….

I think the grilled peaches idea came from a salad recipe. That black pudding accompaniment; well, pretty much most gastro-pub menus and a little personal preference. The sauce was originally pencilled in using Marsala wine, which the store was out of, but later a quick rifle through the drinks cupboard indicated that we had a stockpile of Port and it seemed silly not to use it.

The pork was good and inexpensive. I liked that the bone was still attached, but you need to cook it carefully to make sure you cook the meat in contact with it, without cremating the rest. Thermometers – the most important tool in the kitchen!

This would have been great, nicely done on the BBQ/grill. But, well, this was the scene in the back garden, so kitchen it was….

IMG_7056-impI must admit, we liked this. The peaches were a little under-ripe and therefore a bit sharper than I’d like but it’s easily resolved next time. The sweet port sauce helped though and added a bit of richness.

peaches, cavolo nero

Ingredients for 2

For the pork:

  • 2 good pork chops
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Oil for frying

2 peaches, halved and stoned. You know what I mean.

6 small slices of black pudding (or fewer, larger ones).

4 handfuls of sliced cavolo nero

Sauce:

  • About 100ml port
  • A little oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, crushed, but in its skin
  • 200ml good pork or chicken stock
  • A handful of thyme, on the stalks
  • Salt
  • Butter to finish (about 30g)

A handful of peashoots to finish

Let the pork come to room temperature. Preheat an oven to 160°C/320°F.

In a heavy pan/skillet, heat some oil until smoking and brown the meat well. Flip it over. Add the black pudding to the pan and place in the oven for ten minutes.

IMG_7052-imp

Meanwhile, in a small pan, fry the garlic and thyme very gently to infuse the oil. Pour in the port and stock and gently simmer to reduce it until thickened.

Boil and kettle and steam/gently boil the cavolo nero in shallow water for about 5 or 6 minutes – making sure the tough stalks are tender. Drain, season and put back in the pan with a lid to keep warm.

Check the pork with a thermometer, especially near the bone. I take 62°C/144°F as cooked without being overdone – good pork is pretty safe these day and some cuts can be served rare – but I’ll leave this for you to decide yourselves!

Remove the pan from the oven and cover with foil to rest for 10 minutes.

Heat a griddle pan until smoking. Take the peach halves and place them cut side down to heat through and take on some bar marks. Gently prise them free with a spatula or preferably a thin palette knife. They might be stuck so be careful not to take away the nicely charred bits.

Stir the butter into the sauce, which should have reduced nicely. Taste and season.

Heated plates are important here. Place the pork on the cavolo nero and arrange the rest around it.  Pour over the sauce to make a nice cheffy ‘moat’ and tuck in.

This cries out for a nice citrusy white wine and who was I to argue.

IMG_7071-imp

 

Chicken and Brown Rice Warm Salad with Mint, Yoghurt and Honey

Chicken Brown Rice Yoghurt Mint Honey

A couple of things people often say to me when they find out about my alter-ego as a dinner snapping food enthusiast is that they would love to cook but ‘don’t have time’ or that it’s too expensive to buy all the ingredients these days.

I try and smile in agreement, but inside I’m wrestling with the urge to reply “bullshit”. I don’t of course, it would be rude, but the point stands that preparing decent food doesn’t have to be expensive, nor time consuming.

I swear other than a little bit of marinading, this took no more than 25 minutes (with a little attention) and cost no more than a fiver. We got two dinners and lunch out of it so that’s £1.66 per head. Now if people say they can’t be bothered, then fine, I respect that it isn’t for everyone, but this is very doable.

This warm salad, much like the Monarchy has a distinct Greek accent with yoghurt, lemon, oregano, tomato and olive oil but I’m not sure it features in any Taverna. I worry about these issues too much though as I was actually quite pleased with the outcome and think the balance of flavours was just about right. Healthy too if you go steady with the salt.

The superb honey I used was a gift to Helen by her colleague James, whose folks keep bees, so a gratuitous plug is due:

Yorkshire Honey

The rice, with a bit of kettle boiling, takes the longest to prepare. I will stick my neck out though and recommend that if time is tight, you could always use one of those pre-cooked packets. Before you start pelting me with cries of “hypocrite!”, the plain varieties are mercifully just rice, oil and salt….

A little yoghurt and mint dressing and some of the warmed honey drizzled over the top finished it off nicely.

Serve 2-3

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced thinly
  • 100g brown rice
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • A couple of handfuls of broccoli
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • Dried oregano
  • Thyme (dried or fresh)
  • 3 or 4 tomatoes, diced
  • About 100g feta cheese, finely diced
  • 1 lemon
  • 3-4 heaped tbsp yoghurt
  • 1-2 tsp mint sauce
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • Oil for frying
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

Marinade the chicken in the juice of half of the lemon, a little olive oil, the garlic (sliced thinly), salt, and about 1 tsp each of oregano and thyme. 20 minutes should do as a minimum.

Chicken marinading

Meanwhile cook the rice in salted water.

Prepare the vegetables, and the mint dressing (just mix the yoghurt and mint sauce with a little salt). Set aside.

Diced vegetables

Precook the broccoli a little by steaming a pool of shallow water until softened (but still firm). Leave to cool. Drain the rice and rinse under the cold tap

In a large pan or wok, fry the chicken/marinade ingredients in hot oil until coloured. Add the vegetables and season. Cook until the chicken is just done. Add the broccoli and rice to heat through. Taste and season some more if needed.

When just done, add the tomato, and other half of the lemon juice.

Mix well and plate up. Sprinkle over the feta and drizzle with the yoghurt. Heat the honey in a small milk pan and spoon a little over too (not too much or it will be too sweet). A final dusting of oregano and a little decent olive oil finishes it off.

See, not too bad?

Chicken Brown Rice Yoghurt Mint Honey

Bratwurst, Green Slaw and Mushroom Hash

Bratwurst, green slaw and mushroom hash

Driving home in the sun this evening, I started to feel that spring has really sprung. Once I got in I opened the back doors and the birds were singing. The frog spawn in the pond was incubating its inky black spots and the tree blossom was being carried in the breeze. I just knew it was time to uncover the BBQ for the first time in 4 months.

Right.

…So anyway, whilst that’s being steeped in bleach, I thought I’d use the griddle pan in the kitchen for this dish.

This is pretty simple but something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. The Bratwurst sausages are great with the green slaw, which is inspired by a version found in the Pitt Cue Co’s book. A good book by the way. The sweet and sour dressing was all mine though and I added some tahini for a little bitter richness.

The mushroom hash was actually more a kind of warm potato salad, but worked well.

Serves 2:

4 Bratwurst sausages if you’re hungry. Two if not.

For the green slaw:

  • 3 savoy cabbage leaves
  • About a quarter to a third of a white cabbage
  • 1/2 a white onion
  • Half a green pepper
  • Half a celery stick
  • Handful of hazelnuts

Green slaw ingredients

For the dressing:

  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp raspberry and chilli vinegar (very much optional)
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/s tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp chilli oil
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 good pinches of sea salt
  • 1 tsp tahini

IMG_6208-imp

For the mushroom hash:

  • 2 large flat mushrooms sliced.
  • About 12 baby potatoes, halved
  • Dried thyme
  • Rapeseed oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, left in their skins
  • 1/2 a white onion, sliced thinly
  • Salt

Preheat the oven to moderate-high.

Start with the potatoes. Par boil them for about 10 minutes. Drain and lay on a deep baking tray with the mushrooms, onions and garlic. Season with salt and sprinkle over thyme and olive oil.

Roast until the potatoes are browned.

Mushroom Hash

Meanwhile, make the slaw by very finely shredding the two types of cabbage, onion, celery and green pepper. Mix well in  bowl. Roughly crush the hazelnuts in a pestle and mortar (or with a rolling pin) and add them in.

Hazelnuts

Make the slaw dressing by mixing the ingredients in a bottle (I used a squeezy serving bottle) and shake well to mix. Taste and adjust it as you see fit.

Griddle the sausages until marked well then transfer to the oven to heat through.

Bratwurst

Serve the sausages on the hash with the dressed slaw on top and your choice of sauce – I had some good Dijon mustard, and a nice cold continental beer.

Bratwurst, green slaw and mushroom hash

Mango with Yoghurt and Cinnamon Crumble.

Mango yoghurt Crumble

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and you can probably tell that by the dearth of dessert recipes on here. I do appreciate a good pud though and when I have them, it tends to be something like this.

To be fair, I guess you could eat this for breakfast too, but as I mentioned previously, mornings are not my natural environment and the likelihood of knocking this out on a weekday morning is about the same as Miley Cyrus turning out to be a Mormon.

I liked this though – it’s a nice balance of smooth tangy yoghurt and mango, super-sweet maple syrup, and crunchy oat crumble.

It was only after putting it all together, in a nice pot, that I realised what I’d done. It’s a bloody Muller® Crumble Corner.

So, 0/10 for originality, but this is hand-made and uses fresh fruit so take that Muller.

Mango yoghurt crumble ingredients

Makes 2

  • 1 Mango, peeled, stoned  and cubed.
  • About 6 heaped tbsp of plain yoghurt (3 in each)
  • Maple syrup

For the crumble:

  • 20g Rolled oats
  • 50g Plain flour
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 20g Sugar (or to taste)
  • 40g Butter

Mix all the dry crumble ingredients into a bowl and then rub in the butter to make a crumble.

mixing crumble

Lay it out on a baking tray. Bake on a high heat in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, but being careful not to burn it.

Crumble on baking tray

Set aside to cool

Add the mango pieces and yoghurt to a pot, and swirl in some maple syrup.

Sprinkle over the crumble topping and tuck in.

 

Teriyaki Chicken and Vegetables.

chicken teriyaki

Japanese food remains a bit of an enigma to me. I love it, don’t get me wrong but having had limited exposure to Japanese restaurants, other than the few westernised versions scatted here and there around the North East, I don’t understand it.

I Google/Binged it of course and there are a number of helpful websites out there demonstrating how Japanese ordinarily eat meals, nicely preceded by a simple and typically efficient “itadakimasu”. The trouble is I have to try and translate this to the local restaurants. There’s a good one I like in Newcastle called Osaka: friendly service, informal atmosphere, plenty of Japanese diners (my favourite yardstick for ethnic restaurants). The menu however, is a bit of a dichotomy; on the one hand I love the variety, but on another, it confuses the life out of me.

Now I must point out at this stage, that this is far from the biggest problem life can throw at a person, but then this is a food blog. ‘Order-panic’, when the waitress comes over for the second time, is up there with wanting to use the salt and noticing someone seated  after  you had their order taken first. Major dining issues.

I’m going to try and learn more about Japanese food though. Fortunately these days Japanese ingredients are getting easier and easier to find – another benefit of international  students coming to study in my local cities

This is something I made a little while back with moderately tangible Japanese origins. It’s healthy though (or so I believe this week – see my last piece) and tasty. Chicken thigh would have been better as I find no matter how long I marinate chicken breast, it struggles to take on flavour, but the glaze is intensely flavoured.

I use a plastic food bag as you can push most the air out and well cover the chicken, rather than have the marinade pooling in the bottom of a container. You can get away with making much less marinade too that way.

I cooked the vegetables on a stupidly high heat for only a minute with a small amount of soy and  sesame oil and were nicely smoked as a result.

And, yes I’m aware the chicken is not getting eaten with those chopsticks.

Serves 2:

  • 2 Chicken supremes, skin on or off, I removed it later anyway.
  • Teriyaki marinade:
    • 3 tbsp soy sauce
    • 3 tbsp honey
    • 2 tbsp mirin
    • 2 tbsp sake or Chinese rice wine
  • Sesame seeds to finish.
  • 100g rice.
  •  1 tbsp ground nut oil
  • Mixed vegetables, I used: thinly sliced spring onion, sugar snap/snow peas, baby corn, red chilli, garlic and small broccoli heads.

A little soy and  a few drops of sesame oil to flavour.

Marinate the chicken in the teriyaki marinade for a day, or two (preferably two as I did here).

chicken in a teriyaki marinade

Heat then oven to a high setting – 200 to 220°C or 390-430°F

Boil the pain rice for about 15 minutes, using the absorption method.

Remove any skin, as it will just shrivel up, and roast in the oven on a wire rack/tray. Brush with the marinade frequently to get a nice glaze. The chicken will be done once at 60-65°C/140-150°F in the centre. Check using a thermometer probe, but it will be about 15-20 minutes depending on the size of the chicken.

Sprinkle the seeds over the chicken and leave to rest.

Make the vegetables: stir fry them in smoking hot oil for just a minute or two, flavouring with the soy and sesame oil at the end.

Serve it all up. Itadakimasu.

chicken teriyaki