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Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Ross's Party Lamb

Let’s skip the preamble in which I wax lyrical about some boyhood reminiscence or other inspiration and cut to the chase; of late I’ve been quite inspired by North African flavourings and also entertaining a lot and this is the (easy) way I’ve been doing it:

Barbecued Moslem Spiked Lamb with Roasted Veg Cous Cous – Serves 10

• 1 Big Leg of Lamb, butterflied (get the butcher to do it)

• 4 Garlic Cloves

• 1 Lemon

• 1 Preserved Lemon

• 3 Tablespoons Cumin Seeds

• 1 Onion (red or sweet white)

1 week before the party; smash the garlic with the flat of a knife, toast the cumin seed and chop the preserved lemon, put it all in a mortar with a healthy pinch of salt and smash it about into a rough paste. Grate the onion and add it with some peppercorns, oil and a bit of tomato paste to the mortar before grinding it all together some more, add the juice of the lemon and mix through.

Take a sharp knife and lightly score (in a hatched fashion) the lamb on both sides and then put the lamb into a large freezer bag. Tip the marinade in, seal the bag and massage it like a drunken teenager attempting foreplay.

Let the meat marinade for a few hours before popping into the freezer.

36 Hours before the party; take the meat from the freezer and let defrost in the fridge. The freezing is only for convenience and can be omitted as long as the lamb gets a 24 hour marinade.

The day before the party; finely chop/cube/dice:

• Red onions

• Assorted peppers

• Courgette and Aubergine

Toss in oil and roast for half an hour then pop in the fridge.

The day of the party; take a good handful of fresh Mint, Oregano and Chives and chop well, stir into some Greek yoghurt along with some garlic paste, add a pinch of sugar and salt and mix well – check for seasoning, perhaps some white pepper or some more salt, but not too much sugar.

You might also want to spoon some harissa (to taste) into some more Greek Yoghurt to make an alternative, spicy sauce.

Make a pile of cous cous and when drained work through a healthy knob of butter and the roasted veg – ideally so it’s still warm for service.

So now, barbecue the lamb, keep an eye on it so it doesn’t char too much – spray down any flare ups and turn often so it doesn’t burn, it’ll probably take 30 minutes. If you have a lid on the barbecue you might want to build the coals at one side and initially char it there before moving the lamb to the other side and covering it to let it roast through.

Now carve the lamb for your guests and let them help themselves to the cous cous, the yoghurt sauces and a green salad (bought mixed from any supermarket).

It’s easy for the cook, tastes great and looks really impressive. But mainly it tastes great, according to 3 of my cousins and 2 of their children it was the best lamb they’d ever had.

Well, except for Heather (aged 6) who didn’t like the charred bits. Little critic. Still, Uncle Ross doesn’t mind, and he certainly will have forgotten by Christmas. Probably.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Pork Chop Night

I grew up in the 80’s, a kid of 2 working parents and consequently a lot of indifferent, frozen food featured heavily in my upbringing. Not everything was frozen though, on Pork Chop night things were freshly cooked, the chop dipped in egg-wash, then bright orange Ruskoline breadcrumbs and shallow fried, served with apple sauce from a jar, tinned peas and bland boiled potatoes. I’m shuddering at the memory even now; given all the wonderful things you can do with pork, I can’t understand why anyone would’ve chosen that.

So, now I’m a parent I’m avoiding the horrors of my youth and instead doing pork chop night thus:

Pork chops, thick cut and preferably from a rare breed like Saddleback or Old Spot – 1 per person, I get mine from Ballencreiff pigs or the Gosford Bothy .

Floury potatoes

½ an apple per person

½ red onion per person

So stick the oven on to 180° and a griddle pan on to a high heat, score the fat on the chop (this stops it twisting the meat when it shrinks) oil the chops well with something like groundnut or rapeseed oil and season well (seriously, pork loves salt).

Cut the apple into 1cm dice and toss in a little oil then stick on a tray in the now hot oven.

Dice the potato and boil in well salted water and then wait a few minutes.

Grill the chops for a couple of minutes and then turn 90° in the griddle pan and grill for another couple of minutes to give you a nice cross hatched pattern, turn over to cook the other side.

While that’s cooking, dice the red onion.

The potato should be cooked, drain it and let it steam dry in a colander, take the pork out of the griddle and put in the oven, beside the apple.

In the pan you cooked the potato, dump a lot of butter and start softening the onion, after a few minutes add the apple and cook gently to let the flavours infuse – you should have a lot of melted butter in the pan at this point, if not then add more butter.

Now would be a good time to check the pork (probably 12 minutes or so since it went into the oven), press it to see how it yields – it should be tender but not too spongy, if you’re happy with it then remove from oven and leave to rest, if not back into the oven...

So, once the pork is out and resting, return the potato to the pan with the apple and onion and stir well to mix and work the melted butter in, it’ll break up a bit but that’s not a problem. Check for seasoning.

Now, serve a big spoonful of the potato with the chop and whatever steamed green veg you have to hand (seems to go very well with broccoli) to some happy campers.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Could be fun...

So, following some furious Twitter action this morning, plans are being hatched for an Edinburgh Foodie's Tweetup (for those that don't speak Geek, it's a meeting organised over social media) sometime in September.

We're going to be working on details soon but already there's a Whisky tasting mooted and I might even have heard someone mention a charity supperclub at some point in the future.

Stay posted for details and get in touch if you'd like to be involved.

Meat Free Monday

So, according to the Meat Free Monday campaign, we should all abstain from eating meat on Mondays to help save the planet by cutting down on, ahem, harmful emissions from the raising and production of livestock.

Fair enough and nice in principle but frankly, they’re missing a trick a bit.

Now, I’m not adverse to the odd bit of vegetarianism as this previous post attests but Meat Free Monday is crazy, and against the natural order of things; life should go thus: on Sunday you have a roast and then on Monday you use the left-over meat in a shepherd’s pie, risotto, fajitas, it’s a long list.

This is the way things have been done by thrifty ancestors for years, getting at least 2 meals out of a cut (or bird) and if you have enough bones a stock as well (and you can use left over veggies in the stock too).

So wouldn’t it be more sensible having meat free Tuesday? By my calculations, that gives you at least 2 days where you’re not using any fresh animal protein – and surely that’s better than 1.

Right, enough advocacy of vegetables, I’m off for a burger.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Wonders of Google Analytics

So, readers. It turns out that I have some. Wow.

When I installed Google Analytics, I really didn’t expect to find that anyone read this but seemingly quite a few people do – kinda regularly as well – and I post with terrible infrequency; I have no idea who you all are, especially those of you in America, Sweden, Japan and Australia, but thanks for reading.

Seriously, I’m touched by your interest. Please leave a comment or email me ( ) to let me know if there’s anything you’d like from this blog, more recipes, more reviews or more general rambling?

I’m also really glad to hear from Sean Kelly, ex-head chef of Abstract in Edinburgh and, in my view, a serious talent; Sean’s one of the guys I would love to have heading up the kitchen if I ever manage to get enough cash together to open my dreamt of Restaurant with Rooms in East Lothian.

Now, while we’re talking of readers, I’ve heard a rumour that some doctors forum has been debating my review of Ducks at Kilspindie; once again I’m glad you’ve got an interest in my hobby-blog-type-thing but please do remember that this blog is a hobby. I’ve got a real job, two brilliant but exhausting kids and when I go out for a meal I pay for it and want to enjoy it; it doesn’t matter if someone’s father was a respected GP – if you work in hospitality and then take my money, I’d like to be fed reasonably and served pleasantly. Not too much to ask, you’d think.

That’s all for now but I have a backlog of meals and recipes to write up which I’ll do as soon as work, kids and wife allow so expect more soon.