paprika lamb with chickpea stirfry

With the arrival of March, we are closer to Spring. The sun will return at last, and daffodils and tulips blowing in a light breeze will become a familiar sight once more. Lamb always makes me think of Spring, it’s the perfect DSCF7106roast for Easter. Although Spring doesn’t arrive until March 20th this year, this recipe allows us to jump ahead into the spring mindset. This is no Easter roast though – it’s another tasty way to enjoy this tender meat, coated in hot, smoky paprika and sprinkled with fragrant oregano. As the chops are massaged with the paprika spice and herbs, their flavours permeate the meat, but does not overpower it. Fried for only a short time, the taste is locked in, whilst the meat stays tender, remaining deliciously pink in the centre. Plus, far away from the wintry stews we’ve been indulging in so far this year, the chickpea stir fry is light and full of flavour. Whilst the garlic and chili provide a warm kick to the stir fry, the chickpeas are soft with a bite; the chunky vegetables lend their own textures and flavours with each mouthful. A brilliant accompaniment to the lamb, this dish will transport you in time forward to the arrival of Spring.

Ingredients

  • 2 lamb chops
  • ½ courgette, chopped into thick chunks
  • ¼ aubergine, chopped into thick chunks
  • ½ red pepper, finely sliced
  • Good handful of cherry tomatoes
  • ½ 400g tin chickpeas, drained
  • ½ red onion, finely sliced
  • 1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chili, finely sliced
  • Hot, smoked paprika
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Olive oil

Methods

  1. Season the chops with salt, pepper and the paprika. Sprinkle on both sides with a little oregano, and set aside for later. DSCF7107
  2. In a large saucepan, heat a little oil, and fry the onion for 8 minutes, until soft. Reduce the heat and the garlic, red pepper and courgette and stir fry for 5 minutes. Add the aubergine, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas and sliced chili. Stir well to combine, and leave to warm through on the hob, until the cherry tomatoes have blistered. Season well with salt and pepper.
  3. Meanwhile, fry the lamb chops in a separate saucepan for 2 minutes each side. Then, when still pink in the middle, transfer to a plate and add the chickpea stir-fry. Season again, and serve!

(adapted from recipe by Jamie Oliver)

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savoury stuffed pancakes

Pancakes don’t have to only be enjoyed on Shrove Tuesday. I save any spare batter for IMG_20130213_173912the next day, and continue the pancake feast into Ash Wednesday!

The versatility of the humble pancake is greatly under appreciated. For that one Tuesday a year, most people greedily spread Nutella, squeeze maple syrup, or sprinkle sugar across those crisp little circles. But they can be used for so much more! As a base ingredient, they are incredibly useful. Pancakes are essentially flavourless until you add the filling: it really is ‘what is on the inside that counts’! Although shop bought pancakes tend to add sugar for a sweet taste, pancakes that are homemade are generally plainer (as they I think they should be!). Because of this, you can create both sweet and savoury dishes. Forget chocolate and fresh fruit; think peppers, onions, tomatoes.

This recipe uses delicious Italian vegetables, like a pasta sauce. But the possibilities are endless! Chorizo and parmesan, smoky fish in a creamy sauce, garlicky mushrooms with cheese, ham and cheese, roast tomatoes, spinach and ricotta….

Ingredients (serves 1)

* Cup of flour

* Cup of milk

  • Butter
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • ½ courgette, thinly sliced
  • ½ red pepper, diced
  • ½ packet of ready-to-eat Puy lentils (made by Merchant) OR 200g of Cannellini beans, drained
  • ½ jar passata, or homemade tomato sauce
  • IF USING PASSATA: ½ tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • Oregano, to taste
  • Cheese, to taste

Method

  1. Remove leftover batter from the fridge. Melt butter in a large frying pan, ensuring that it is very hot! The pan must be hot before adding any butter.
  2. Add a small amount of batter to the middle of the pan. Turning the pan in a clockwise movement, spread the batter across its surface to cover the bottom of the pan. The batter should be in a circular ‘pancake’ shape. It should not be thick, but a thin like a French crepe. If needed, add more batter to ensure it can reach across the pan!
  3. Tease the outer rim of the pancake away from the edge of the pan using a spatula, running it around the circumference of the pancake.
  4. After 2-4 minutes, cook the other side of the pancake. If you’re brave, flip it! OR, wiggle the spatula under the pancake until you reach the middle, then lift slightly and turn it over. Cook the other side for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a roasting tin. Repeat until you have 3-4 pancakes.
  5. Then, in the same saucepan, heat a little oil. Fry the diced onion until soft, then add the red pepper. Sautee for 5 minutes, before adding the courgette and Puy lentils. If using the homemade tomato sauce, add and reduce to a simmer to warm through. If using a shop-bought jar, add and pour in the Balsamic vinegar. Reduce to a simmer.
  6. In the roasting tin, lay the pancakes flat. Place a spoonful of the tomato mixture in the middle of the pancake. Spread into a vertical line, so the mixture looks as if it is ‘dividing’ the pancake in two.
  7. Roll one side of the pancake tightly over to the middle, and then bring the other side over the top. It should now be rolled up with the mixture inside. If you place the ‘fold’ of the pancake (where the two sides meet) face down in the roasting tin, it will prevent it coming open during cooking! Do this by turning the rolled pancake over altogether.
  8. Repeat for all of the pancakes, before sprinkling with cheese. Place into a hot oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, until the cheese is golden brown. Serve with salad, and enjoy!

leek and cannellini bean pie

Inspired by the turkey leftovers pie, I decided to embark on creating a vegetarian equivalent. The way the leeks were prepared in Jamie Oliver’s pie was fantastic. Rather than blanched, the leeks were sauteed in a little olive oil over the course of half an hour, DSCF7035to draw out both their moisture and flavour. Using this little piece of Jamie-wisdom, you get very tender, and very tasty, leeks! So all I needed was a turkey replacement. An obvious choice was Quorn, or another meat substitute. But claiming to develop a recipe to make it veggie-friendly, I couldn’t help feeling that using vegetarian “turkey” pieces was a little bit like cheating!

So instead, I turned to beans.

Ingredients, serves 1.

  • ½ leek, finely sliced
  • ½ 400g tin cannellini beans, rinsed
  • Dried chili flakes
  • Clove of garlic
  • Vegetable stock cube
  • Enough hot water to make a sauce, roughly 4-5 tablespoons
  • Dried parsley
  • Butter
  • Flour
  • Cold water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Add the finely sliced leeks; reduce the heat to low, and sauté for 25-30 minutes. Ensure that you stir them regularly – although the moisture from the vegetables will come out, it is important to make sure that they do not burn to the bottom of the pan!
  3. Whilst the leeks are cooking, make the pastry. Place the flour and the butter in a bowl. With cold hands, using only your fingertips, gently rub the two ingredients together, until they resemble ‘breadcrumbs’. Do this gently and lightly – with each ‘rub’, lift the flour and butter a little out of the bowl to introduce air.
  4. Once breadcrumbs are achieved, add small amounts of cold water and stir in until a ball is formed. Wrap this in clingfilm or silver foil, and place aside in the fridge until later.DSCF7033
  5. Add the sliced garlic to the leeks, and fry until the garlic begins to emit an aroma. Crumble in a vegetable stock cube, and stir to coat the leeks and garlic. Add the cannellini beans, and stir.
  6. Gradually pour in tablespoons of boiling water, making a sauce. This should not be too runny, but should be enough to bind the ingredients together. The cannellini beans should sit comfortably in the sauce, but should not be fully submerged.
  7. Add the chili flakes and parsley to taste, and remove from the heat. Transfer the pie filling into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry and tuck over the pie filling, then brush with milk and score.
  8. Place in the oven, and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the pastry is golden.