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 roast 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.
- 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
- Season the chops with salt, pepper and the paprika. Sprinkle on both sides with a little oregano, and set aside for later.
- 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.
- 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)
I only had one lecture today, Latin, from 11am – 12pm. It’s an hour bus journey from Leamington to campus, and even though there was snow, there definitely wasn’t enough this morning for me to pretend that I couldn’t get in! (Obviously, not that I’d actually do that…) So I left to get the bus as usual, and got in fine. I hadn’t quiiite managed to pre-prepare the translation, but we did read that famous line: “timeo Danaos et dona ferentis”.
But the snow got much heavier, and eventually all the buses back to Leamington were cancelled…leaving people stranded?! I’m pretty lucky because my friend has her car at uni so we drove back, but it wasn’t exactly an easy journey. We finished lectures at 12pm, and got home at 3pm. The traffic was so slow! And walking down the Parade to my house wasn’t great either, I was slipping everywhere, and my hat kept falling down over my eyes at unexpected times 😦 Plus I was carrying the ingredients for beef bourguignon, and having such important cargo was making me even more nervous about an imminent fall! If I’d seen myself, I’d probably have laughed. I need grippier shoes I think. And a hat that doesn’t have elastic in it, because I think that was probably what made my hat slip down continually!!
All in all, it definitely wasn’t worth the journey in. My advice? Do not go out in the Midlands snow to see this:
I’d much rather stay in, simply for this:
(I mean, I don’t want to sound whiney. I know Sweden puts up with this sort of weather every year and just gets on with it, but…the walk down the Parade was pretty treacherous!)
- Stewing steak, diced
- Bacon, roughly chopped
- Mushrooms, roughly sliced
- One carrot, finely sliced
- One white onion, finely sliced
- 2 salad tomatoes, quartered
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 250ml red wine
- 200ml beef stock
- Dried or fresh thyme, to taste
- Baby new potatoes
- Plain flour, to dust
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Dust the stewing steak, diced into large pieces, in plain flour. Fry it in a little oil and butter in a heavy casserole dish, until browned.
- Remove to a plate. To the casserole dish, add the carrots and mushrooms. Brown them lightly then when golden, remove to a plate.
- Fry the large sliced onion, with the sliced bacon. When they are soft, return the beef to the pan with the crushed garlic, the tomatoes, 2 bay leaves, thyme to taste, the red wine and 200ml of stock. Season and simmer for around 60-90 minutes, until the meat is tender. Return the mushrooms and carrots and continue cooking for 15-20 minutes.
- Once the mushrooms have been returned to the pan, boil baby new potatoes in salted water. When tender, drain and return to the pan with a knob of butter. Season, and then lightly mash with a fork, breaking the potato skins, creating a ‘smash’ effect. Serve with the beef bourguignon, to soak up all the delicious gravy!
On a cold day like today, a jacket potato is greatly comforting. A wonderfully fluffy potato encased in a crispy outer shell, with cracked black pepper and melting butter. Nothing could be better than that! Except, perhaps, a jacket potato that has been twice stuffed: the fluffy inner potato mixed with cheese, herbs and nuts and put back into the oven to bubble and brown. That could be better. A twice-stuffed jacket potato on the whole allows you to create a fuller flavour, that still offers itself as comfort food. Plus the opportunity for variety – simply cheese, tuna, tangy spring onion, colourful Mediterranean vegetables, or a fairly posh thyme and pine nut potato!
The secret to achieving the perfect potato is the cooking method. In days of yore, I used to wrap potatoes in foil, shove them in a hot oven and leave them until they felt soft inside. I was young and foolish then, but now when it comes to baking potatoes, I am content to consider myself only the former. Firstly, wrapping in foil. Don’t do that. I use Delia’s tip, and get brilliantly crisp skin each time – after pricking the skin, rub in olive oil and salt. Your hands definitely will be oily, but that’s nothing a bit of washing up liquid can’t fix, and it’ll all be worth it for that skin! And try to use sea salt rather than table – rather than an overall salty flavour, intermittently crunchy pieces of salt will alter the texture and taste. The heat of the oven and cooking time are also important. I prefer to cook my potatoes on a lower heat, for longer, giving them time to really cook to perfection.
- 1 large King Edward potato
- Cheese, grated
- Pine nuts
- Thyme, basil or both
- Pinch of chili flakes
- Cherry tomatoes, quartered
- A handful of spinach
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Prick the potato skin with a fork, then transfer to a plate. Drizzle over a little olive oil, and massage the oil into the skin of the potato. Sprinkle with salt, and then place in the oven.
- Turn the oven down to 160 degrees, and cook the potato for 1 hour 45 minutes – 2 hours, depending on the size of the potato, until its skin is crisp.
- Remove from the oven, and slice in half. Scoop out the potato flesh, and place in a bowl. Mix in the grated cheese, herbs, spinach and nuts. Season, and then stir again to ensure all the ingredients are combined with the potato.
- Replace the potato ‘flesh’ in the potato skin, and top with the cherry tomatoes. Put back in the oven, and bake for a futher 10-15 minutes, until warmed through, and the potato is crisp and golden on top.
- Serve with a tomato and balsamic vinegar side salad.