Roast Lamb with Cyprus Potatoes

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I love cooking the potatoes this way – they are totally delicious.  This is a no-fuss, special dinner.

We bought the salt marsh lamb and potatoes from Booths’ supermarket in Carnforth.  Booths is a north-western phenomenon, which has proud little stickers all over the shelves, declaring ‘I’m from Yorkshire’ or ‘I’m from Lancashire.’  It’s a wonderful shop where I always spend far too much money.

You’ll need a joint or two of lamb (leg or shoulder), about 8 Cyprus potatoes, peeled and halved lengthways, one sliced onion, six cloves of garlic, sliced, a tin of tomatoes, ground coriander, ground cinnamon, dried oregano, olive oil and the zest and juice of a lemon.  You might also want some spinach and fresh parsley or coriander.

Cut deep gashes into your lamb and marinate it for 2-4 hours in garlic (6 cloves), 2 teaspoons dried oregano, half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of ground coriander, the zest and juice of a lemon, salt, pepper and a good glug of olive oil.

After the marinade time, pop a lid on and give the lamb an hour’s head start in a hot oven (180-200 degrees).

Now, stick in your potatoes – underneath, around and on top of the lamb.  Sprinkle over a sliced onion and a tin of tomatoes.  Sprinkle an extra couple of teaspoons of ground coriander and some salt over the dish.Turn down the oven and cook in a medium oven (160-180 degrees) for a further 90 minutes; for a larger joint, you will need longer.

If you like your potatoes crispy, like in the photo, take them out with a slotted spoon and cook on a non-stick tray in a hot, hot oven for 15-20 minutes while the lamb rests.

Serve on a bed of spinach with plenty of fresh parsley or coriander.

The starting point for this recipe was http://greekfood.about.com/od/maindishes/r/leglambpotatoes.htm

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Rib-eye Steak with Garlic and Herb Butter

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I’m not kidding.  This easy fifteen-minute meal (with a tiny bit of prior preparation) was the tastiest I’ve eaten for a while.  And it relieves the constant France-pangings a little.

Leave 80g butter to soften at room temperature.

Put one clove of garlic, about 8 stalks of parsley with leaves and a small pinch of salt in the processor.  Process until done, then add the butter and whoosh up again.  Put the contents onto a piece of clingfilm.  Roll into a cylinder inside the clingfilm, and pop into the freezer for an hour or two.

Sprinkle 4 rib-eye steaks with three cloves of garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil.  Leave covered at room temperature for about half an hour.

Barbecue the steaks on a hot barbecue for 90-120 seconds per side and serve with a slice of garlic and herb butter.

At this point, Barry – uncharacteristically effusive – said to my 10-year-old son, ‘What makes this so special is that we’re all enjoying this together.’

To which Drew answered, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t mind eating this alone!’

Oven-baked Ratatouille

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Spurred on by the arrival of Claire-Louise’s copious courgettes, here’s an adaptation of the earlier aubergine parmigiana recipe to make delicious use of them.

1 aubergine-4 courgettes-2 red peppers-sea salt-olive oil-a large onion-3 cloves garlic-3 tins tomatoes-sugar-black pepper-balsamic vinegar-lots of fresh basil-dried oregano-200g mozzarella-100g grated parmesan- 100g gruyère

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).

Cut your aubergine and courgettes lengthwise into thin slices.  Slice your red peppers.  Line a couple of baking trays and spread out your aubergine, courgette and pepper slices, brushing them with olive oil and sprinkling with salt.

Put the vegetables in the oven for 20 minutes until just browning.

Use a large, lidded frying pan to soften an onion and three cloves of garlic before adding three tins of tomatoes, a teaspoon of oregano and a dessertspoon of sugar.  Season with salt and pepper, then simmer (lid on) for 20 minutes.  At the end of twenty minutes, add a couple of teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Grease your baking dishes with olive oil.  I like to use lots of little dishes as it makes any leftovers easier to deal with.

Put a single layer of courgette into the bottom of each dish.  Sprinkle with some red pepper, fresh basil and some mozzarella slices.  Put a ladleful of tomato sauce into each dish, enough to cover the courgette.  Sprinkle with some parmesan and gruyère, mixed. Next, repeat the layering, but with the aubergine, fresh basil, mozzarella, tomato sauce and cheeses. Finish each dish with courgette and the mixed grated cheeses.

Put the dishes into the oven (180 degrees, fan oven) for about 20 minutes, until the mozzarella and parmesan/gruyère have melted.

Leave for five minutes before serving with more basil.

A Teeny Tiny Tasty Terrine

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I am really missing our usual summer holidays in France, hence the wistfully French taste of a garlicky terrine, perfect with crusty bread and a few guerkins.

You’ll need a 0.5 litre terrine with a lid or a smallish loaf tin.  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Ingredients

A chopped onion and two crushed cloves of garlic, softened in a biggish dod of butter.

200g fatty pork mince and 150g finely chopped pig’s liver (I’d do this in the processor to minimise contact with the offending article)

A handful of breadcrumbs (just take the crusts off and skoosh up a slice of any sort of bread in the processor), 2 teaspoons of soft green peppercorns, a pinch of mace, a sprinkle of nutmeg, a scant teaspoon of sea salt, a good grinding of black pepper, a tablespoon of white wine or marsala and a tablespoon of brandy.

Mix all of the above together really, really well.  Line your terrine with a couple of rashers of unsmoked bacon, then pour in your terrine mixture.  Cover with a few more pieces of bacon and tuck in a couple of bay and sage leaves.

Put the lid on or cover with tinfoil and cook in a tray of boiling water (which comes half way up your terrine) for 45 – 50 minutes.  It’s done when a skewer comes up hot from the middle of the terrine.

By all means, compress your terrine with weights overnight, or just leave it to cool before refrigerating.  Either way, leave it until the next day before eating.

Apple and Almond Cake

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This cake is wet rather than moist, almost mousse-like.  Provided that you usually have some stewed apple hiding in your freezer, this is a very quick cake to make.  The apples should be stewed with a little sugar and some lemon juice, so that they are still quite tart; if they are too sweet, just add some extra lemon juice to the mix.  As Nigella says, this cake tastes buttery even though there is no butter in it.

Adapted very slightly from Nigella Lawson’s ‘Feast.’ (Damp Apple and Almond Cake)

Grease and line a 25cm springform tin.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

In a biggish food processor, whoosh together 300g stewed apples, 325g ground almonds, 275g golden caster sugar, 8 large eggs, the juice and zest of 2 lemons (less if your apples are very tart) and a good grinding of nutmeg.  Scrape down the sides and whoosh again until smooth.  The mixture should be quite runny.

Bake for 35-45 minutes until the wobble has subsided and the cake is well-risen and golden.  It will sink again to horizontal as it cools.

Serve with a dusting of icing sugar.