Cumin lamb and aubergine stew

On Tuesday Figgy was busy, held up by the mayor, and Alberto was in London for work, so I had my friend Douglas over for dinner and a bit of televisual entertainment. (An episode of Whodunnit hosted by Jon Pertwee and featuring William Russell, and an episode of The Avengers featuring Roger Delgado and Kate O’Mara) I fancied a new recipe and so I had a flick through some of my cook books at lunchtime and found this recipe in Just One Pot by Lindsey Bareham. It looked tasty and interesting and so I thought that I’d give it a go. It was only whilst I was cooking it that it occurred to me that the last time Douglas came over I cooked a tagine involving lamb, cumin and tomatoes. I hope he doesn’t think I’m a one trick pony!

It’s a tasty recipe and certainly one that I’d do again.

380g boneless neck fillet or loin
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 aubergine
1 large red onion, peeled, cut in halved and finely diced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons of olive oil
440g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
15g of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
150g of Greek yoghurt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cut the lamb into kebab-sized chunks and dust with the cumin.

Trim the aubergine and cut into similar sized pieces to the lamb.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes over a medium heat, until softened.

Add the aubergine and toss into the oily onion. Reduce the heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until the pieces begin to soften and slightly colour. Increase the heat and add the lamb, browning it thoroughly and stirring the cumin through the dish.

Season with salt and pepper and add the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Half fill the empty tomato tin with water and add that to the saucepan. Stir well and then bring to the boil.

As soon as it starts to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer, three-quarter cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

After 20 minutes, check to see if the meat is tender. If not, cook for a further 10 minutes or so.

Once the meat is ready, stir in the mint and serve, with optional Greek yoghurt to top.

Tasty. I served it with wasabi mash and steamed spring greens.


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Duck stir-fry

My! It’s been 17 days since I last updated! Doesn’t time fly. I’ve been cooking loads, as ever, but it has, by and large, been stuff that I’ve already blogged about.

I made this for myself for dinner this evening. It is sort of cobbled together from two recipes that I found online but it’s really just a thrown together thing. It came out rather well though, if I do say so myself. Measurements are all a bit approximate though.

Serves 1

1 duck breast, cut into thin slices (I left the skin on so that it would go a little crispy with the frying. This does make the dish a little fattier though.)
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
1cm knob of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
2 spring onions, trimmed and divided into white and green halves
⅓ of a red pepper, de-seeded and thickly sliced
⅓ of a green pepper, de-seeded and thickly sliced
⅓ of an orange pepper, de-seeded and thickly sliced
3-4 heads of tenderstem broccoli, stalk trimmed off just below the lowest ‘branch’
1 head of pak choi, trimmed
1½ tablespoons of soy sauce
1½ tablespoons of teriyaki sauce
A splash of mirrin
1 generous teaspoon of runny honey
A good squeeze of lime juice
A shake of dried chillies, to taste
A sprinkling of sesame seeds, to garnish

Boiled rice to serve

In a large wok heat the oil over a medium heat and add the sliced spring onions, garlic and ginger and stir fry for a couple of minutes, until fragrant and starting to colour.

Add the pepper slices and broccoli and fry for a couple of minutes, until starting to soften, but still with some bite.

Add the duck slices, increase the heat slightly and stir fry for a couple of minutes, stirring often to ensure that the slices become well browned on both sides. The skin should start to crisp, if you left it on, that is.

Add the soy, teriyaki sauce, mirrin, honey, lime juice and chillies, stir well to combine. Allow to bubble for a couple of minutes until the sauce starts to thicken. Then add the pak choi and the white and green pieces of spring onion. Stir fry briskly until the pak choi starts to wilt.

Serve garnished with sesame seeds.


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Chicken, walnut and pomegranate stew – Koresh-e-fesenjan

On Wednesday evening Alberto was caught up at work and I had nothing planned so I thought I’d cook us a spot of dinner. I thought I’d try this tasty Middle-Eastern stew from my Persiana cook book as it involved using the pomegranate molasses that I picked up at the weekend.

The end result is tasty with a rich, thick sauce. It is a little sweet though – I think that next time I might cut down on the amount of molasses.

It always pays to pay attention to the recipe too – I skim read and spotted that the chicken had to be cooked for 2 hours, but failed to spot that the walnuts had to be cooked for an hour first! Ooops In reality I was able to cook the walnuts for about 40 minutes and then the chicken for an hour and a half rather than two. Still – always read the recipe first! :) I think my confusion was partly due to the layout of the recipe in the book so I’ve switched things around here.

Serves 4

Vegetable oil
2 large onions, diced
1 tablespoon of plain flour
600g of walnuts, finely ground in a food processor (easier said that done – the kept slipping under the blades!)
8 bone-in chicken thighs
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.2 litres of cold water
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
450ml of pomegranate molasses
Seeds from 1 pomegranate

In a large saucepan toss in the plain flour and toast, over a medium heat, until pale beige. Add the ground walnuts and cook through.

Add the water to the walnuts and stir well. Bring the mixture to a slow boil, then cover with a lid and allow to cook for an hour over a low-medium heat. Once the oil from the walnuts is released and starts to float on the surface of the water then you know that they are cooked.

Whilst the walnuts are cooking heat some oil in another large saucepan and fry the onions until translucent and lightly browned.

Season the chicken thighs on each side, then turn up the heat and add them to the pan. Brown on both sides. Once the onions are cooked and the chicken browned turn off the heat and set aside until walnuts are ready.

Once the walnuts are cooked add the caster sugar to the walnut water and then pour in the pomegranate molasses, slowly, stirring well.

Once this is done, pour the walnuts and molasses over the chicken and onions, return to the heat, cover and cook, over a medium heat, for about 2 hours, stirring regularly to prevent burning and sticking.

The resulting stew should be thick, dark and rich. Serve with steamed or boiled rice and garnished with pomegranate seeds.


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Tray-baked rose petal lamb chops with chilli and herbs

Fig wasn’t over for our usual Tuesday Who this week as he wasn’t feeling well, and as it was Alberto’s first day back at work after his holiday I decided to cook this interesting looking recipe from Persiana for the two of us. The prospect of edible rose petals was too good to pass up! In preparation I’d managed to pick up some ‘hot pink’ edible rose petals in town on Sunday afternoon. The recipe is tasty, although I can’t say I picked up much flavour from the rose petals, there are plenty of spices to make it interesting. I served it with sweet potato mash and roasted asparagus. Lovely.

Unfortunately the rose petals are almost completely invisible in the finished dish so you can’t see them in the photo. But they are there. Honest! I took a photo of the chops marinating and you can clearly see them there.

Serves 4

500g of lamb chops
6 tablespoons of olive oil
5 tablespoons of edible rose petals, finely ground in a spice grinder (My petals were ‘hot pink’! I used a pestle and mortar to grind them and it was a bit tricky as the leaves were slippery and so it was difficult to get purchase on them. I had to add a little salt to give it something to grind against.)
1 teaspoon of turmeric
3 teaspoons of ground cumin
3 teaspoons of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons of sea salt
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons of rose water

For the herb and chilli drizzle

1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
20g of coriander leaves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of dried mint
Juice of ½ a lime
8 tablespoons of olive oil (this does make quite a lot of ‘drizzle’ – more than I found we needed)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, place the 6 tablespoons of olive oil, ground rose petals, spices, sea salt, garlic and rosewater and mix well.

Put the lamb chops in a large dish and pour the oil, spice and rose petal mix over the chops, working it well into the meat.

Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to the highest possible temperature. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Lay the chops on the baking tray, fat side up.

Once the oven had pre-heated for 20 minutes or so pop the lamb in and roast for 20-22 minutes.

Whilst the lamb is cooking combine the ingredients for the drizzle in a small bowl and mix well.
Once the lamb is cooked dot generously with the drizzle and serve.

I served this with sweet potato mash which I made by roasting the sweet potatoes, before scraping the flesh out and mashing it.

Tasty tasty!



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Banana bread

Today, rather than the normal crusty white loaf that I often make on a Sunday I decided to make banana bread. I’ve been meaning to make some for ages and today was the day!

It turned out rather well – it’s tasty and with a nice sugary crunch. The recipe I chose came from the BBC website and purports to come from John Barrowman! See, there’s a Who connection everywhere!

285g of plain flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
½ teaspoon of salt
110g of butter, plus extra for greasing
225g of caster sugar
2 eggs
4 ripe bananas, mashed (I only used three and that seemed banana-y enough.)
85ml of buttermilk (or normal milk mixed with 1½ teaspoon of lemon juice.)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180.

Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs, mashed bananas, buttermilk and vanilla extract to the butter and sugar mixture and mix well.

Fold in the flour mixture.

Grease a 8″ x 5″ loaf tin and pour the cake mixture into the tin.

Transfer to the oven and bake for about an hour, or until well-risen and golden-brown.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely before serving.


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Lamb shank, black garlic and tomato tagine

On Friday evening I had the lovely Douglas over for dinner and Doctor Who. (We opted for The Claws of Axos, although, to be fair, we chatted throughout it – mostly a lot of very entertaining anecdotes from Douglas about Jacqueline Pearce!) I fancied another new recipe from the Persiana cook book that Alberto got me for my birthday. It’s a tasty recipe and I don’t often use lamb shanks so it was nice to do something different. It takes about 3 hours though so it’s not a quick option. The recipe says to cook in a large saucepan on the hob but I opted to use my tagine in the oven.

The recipe says to use ‘black garlic’ which it describes as ‘normal garlic that has been slow-cooked in the oven until deeply caramelised and jet black without being burnt.’ I wrapped a bulb of garlic in foil and roasted it for over an hour and used that – it seemed ok flavourwise, although the roasted bulbs were very sticky and soft which made peeling them difficult. I may have slightly over-roasted them.

Serves 4

Olive oil
2 large onions, roughly diced
3 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
4 lamb shanks
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs of thyme
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
6 large tomatoes, halved
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 black garlic cloves, bulbs peeled

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Fry the onions for a couple of minutes, then add the dry spices and stir well.

Pop in the lamb shanks and brown on all sides, then fold the spice and onion mixture over them.

Season with salt and pepper, then add the bay leaves, thyme, chopped tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar. Pour in just enough water to cover the meat. Stir well to combine then bring to the boil.

Now – you can either a) turn the heat down and simmer it in the saucepan or b) do what I did and transfer it to a tagine and pop it in the oven for the requisite cooking time. I much prefer to cook these sort of recipes in a tagine if possible.

Regardless of which way you do it the dish needs to cook for two hours initially. If you’re cooking it on the hob in a saucepan then turn the heat down to a medium low, pop a lid on and stir every half hour or so to ensure that it doesn’t stick. If cooking in the oven then you probably only need to stir it once.

After two hours, add the black (roasted) garlic, stirring it well into the sauce. Add a little more water if necessary and cook for a further hour.

Delicious. The tomatoes, spices and onions form a rich, thick sauce and the long cooking time means that the meat just falls off the bone.

I served this with sweet potato mash with a dash of ground cumin and a dollop of Greek yoghurt to make it creamy.


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Lemon and poppy seed drizzle mug cake

On Tuesday, for dessert for Fig and I, I decided to make some more mug cakes. I opted for the lemon drizzle this time (only with very little drizzle!) rather than the chocolate brownie. The cakes came out well, although they are quite large and thus rather filling.

Per cake:

2 tablespoons of soft butter
1 medium egg
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
½ a teaspoon of lemon extract
3 tablespoons of caster sugar
4 tablespoons of self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of poppy seeds
Pinch of salt

Lemon icing to decorate

Place the butter in a mug and microwave for 10-20 seconds, until melted.

Add the egg, lemon juice and lemon extract and beat with a fork until combined.

Pour in the sugar, flour, poppy seeds and salt and beat well until smooth.

Cook in the microwave for:

2 minutes (600W)
1 minute 45 seconds (800W)
1 minute 30 seconds (1000W)

(If you want to eat the cake out of the mug then this is fine. If you’d prefer to turn the cake out then mix it in a different mug from the one you intend to cook in and line the cooking mug with cling film before cooking.)

Decorate with a lemon-flavoured water icing.


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Ras el Hanout chicken wraps

Last night I had the lovely Fig over for dinner and Doctor Who, as Tuesday tradition demands. (The Tom Baker story The Sun Makers, in case you’re interested.) I wanted to cook a new recipe from the new cook book that Alberto bought me for my birthday. Unfortunately, most of the recipes I really liked the look of all took 2-3 hours! I spotted this one which didn’t take quite so long, however, it did require a bit of marinating so you do need to prepare a bit.

Serves 4

2 heaped tablespoons of ras el hanout (or to taste – depending upon how spicy you like things)
Olive oil
4 large skinless chicken breasts
Sea salt
4-6 flour tortilla wraps
1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced into half moons
Pomegranate molasses (I couldn’t find this anyway, so I mixed together some pomegranate juice and normal golden syrup)
Rocket leaves and pomegranate seeds to garnish

For the yoghurt sauce
1 small bunch of mint leaves, finely chopped
400g og Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons of sumac
Freshly ground black pepper

Mix the ras el hanout with about 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl to create a paste.

Smear this over the chicken breasts, ensure that they are well coated. Season with a pinch of sea salt and cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge for a few hours.

Make the yoghurt sauce – put the mint in a bowl, add the yoghurt, sumac and salt and black pepper and mix well until the sumac and mint are evenly incorporated.

At this point the recipe says to fry the chicken for about 8-10 minutes each side, however, I pre-heated the oven, drizzled the chicken breasts with olive oil and roasted them in the over (at 200) for 20 minutes. That seemed to work rather well.

Place the cooked chicken on a chopping board and allow to relax for a couple of minutes. Then slice the chicken into strips and place in the centre of each tortilla wrap, along with some of the onion slices. Top with a dollop of the yoghurt sauce and garnish with rocket leaves, pomegranate seeds and a drizzling of ‘pomegranate molasses’.

Very tasty! And rather more filling than I was expecting. I served it with a nice rocket, avocado and feta salad.



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Lamb, butternut squash, prune and tamarind tagine

On Wednesday I made this lovely new recipe from the Persiana cook book that Alberto got me for my birthday. It’s tasty and full of different flavours. Easy to do but it takes some time.

Serves 6

Vegetable oil
2 onions, roughly diced
600-800g of lamb shoulder or neck, diced
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of turmeric
Sea salt
2 tablespoons of tamarind paste
2 tablespoons of honey
1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and diced
2 generous handfuls of pitted prunes

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan.

Add the onions and sauté until they start to brown slightly.

Add the lamb to the pan and brown the meat, stirring all the time.

Add the spices to the pan along with a generous grind of sea salt and stir well to ensure that the meat is thoroughly coated. The stir in the tamarind paste and honey.

Pour in just enough water to cover the meat and bring to the boil.

Once boiled you can either turn the heat down and continue cooking on the hob or, if you have a tagine, transfer the contents of the saucepan to the tagine, place the lid on and cook in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half. Check it occasionally and add more water if required.

After the cooking time has elapsed add the chunks of butternut squash to the tagine and stir in so that they are well mixed with meat and covered with the liquid. You may need to top up the liquid a little. Place back in the oven for another half an hour.

Add the prunes and cook for up to a further half an hour, until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the squash is tender.

Serve with buttery cous-cous and garlic flatbread.



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Chocolate brownie mug cake

To follow the stuffed aubergines on Tuesday I turned to another birthday present – the book Mug Cakes by Mima Sinclair which I got from my niece and nephews for my birthday. It’s a cunning scheme whereby you make individual cakes in mugs or teacups, using a few spoonfuls of ingredients and a microwave. Fun. I toyed between this recipe and a lemon and poppy seed drizzle, but opted for this one in the end.

Serves 1

2 tablespoons of soft butter
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of light soft brown sugar
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder
1 medium egg yolk
½ teaspoon of vanilla essence
4 tablespoons of self-raising flour
A pinch of salt
2 tablespoons of chocolate chips

Place the butter in a 250ml mug and microwave for 10-20 seconds until melted

Add the caster sugar, brown sugar and cocoa powder. Beat with a fork until thoroughly combined.

Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat together, then add the flour, salt and beat again until thoroughly combined and smooth.

Stir in the chocolate chips.

Cook in the microwave for 30 seconds. (It says 50 seconds for a 600w oven, 30 seconds for a 800w oven and 25 seconds for a 1000w oven. Trouble is, my oven is a 750w, just to be difficult!)

Scatter the remaining chocolate chips over the top and microwave for another 30 seconds.

Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so and then serve.


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