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)

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!

chicken with bacon, sweet potato and courgette

DSCF7094

A year ago, in January 2012, I began this blog. I have immensely enjoyed compiling recipes, writing reviews and developing ideas wherever I can! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along, and hopefully have successfully made a few dishes. Here’s to another year of culinary experimentation!

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 chicken breast
  • ½ courgette, cubed
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 3 rashers of smoked, streaky bacon
  • 1 chicken stock cube, and 2-4 tablespoons of hot water, depending on the size of the pan!
  • Dried sage
  • Olive oil

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 200 degrees. In a medium sized frying pan, heat a little olive oil. Fry the chicken breast for roughly 4-6 minutes, until golden brown on each side. Then, transfer to a roasting dish and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until tender and cooked through.  DSCF7095
  2. Add the bacon to the frying pan, and fry until crisp. Cut into strips with scissors, then add the diced sweet potato. Stir fry for a few minutes, before crumbling over the stock cube.
  3. Pour in a little boiling water, and stir. Add enough water that the cubes of sweet potato are partly submerged, but not so much that they are ‘drowning’ in stock. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and boil until the sweet potato is tender, and the stock has mostly reduced.
  4. Add the courgette, and allow to simmer in the remainder of the stock. Sprinkle in 1sp of dried sage, and season. Add a little more water if necessary, to prevent the vegetables and bacon sticking to the pan.
  5. Remove the chicken from the oven, and thickly slice. Arrange the vegetables and bacon on a plate, and serve the sliced chicken alongside. Season, and serve!