Moroccan Lamb Cutlets with Easy Pea-sy Couscous

Our new French foodie obsession is meat from L’Aubrac, the region where PB is from. It’s best known for it’s knife industry (this is where authentic Laguiole knives are produced), as well as their own breed of cow, which produces some of the best beef that  France has to offer. Our main man is butcher Maison Conquet, whose wares are served in the 3 Michelin-starred restaurant headed by Sébastien Bras – if it’s good enough for them, then it’s certainly worth the effort to bring it home to our kitchen!

The region is also known for it’s lamb, and we had some lamb cutlets that were destined for our plates this weekend. Lamb is already a strong tasting meat, but a little bit of spice goes a long way to give it some dimension. I found a recipe which called for a dusting of ground almonds with ras el hanout, a Moroccan spice which basically translates as ‘best of the shop’.

I couldn’t find the spice in the shops so I made a simplified version of it myself, the recipe is below if needed.

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Moroccan Lamb Cutlets à la iphone

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Colourfully Spiced Turmeric Rice!

When I think of rice dishes, my mind wonders to the pilau rice served at one of my favourite weekend foodie getaways here in Hong Kong, Spices Restaurant. This turmeric rice recipe comes in a close second, and went really well with my whole fish marinated in spiced yoghurt. DSC03716 Colourfully Spiced Tumeric Rice!

You’ll need: (serves 4-5)

2 cups of rice
1 lemon
1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsbp olive oil a knob of butter
2 shallots, peels and sliced finely
1 heaped tsp turmeric
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Coriander, for decoration (optional)

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Spiced Yoghurt Baked Whole Fish

When I called Siemens two weeks ago to arrange an inspection for our broken oven, I was told that it was manufactured in 1994 (!!) and due to the fact that it was older than Justin Bieber, there would be a more expensive inspection charge. To be fair, the oven itself technically still worked, but the old school plastic knobs had completely broken so that I didn’t know what the temperature was, what function the oven was on, and the lamps were broken so I couldn’t see what was going on inside the oven – but it still got hot!

Our landlord chose to just buy a new oven rather than muck about, and I was so super excited when our brand new, stainless steel beauty arrived this week. In fact, I realised that I had never used a brand new oven in my life, ever. PB and I started getting really excited, negotiating over who would cook what and when (I know, we’re total food geeks), and who ultimately would be the one to christen it.

Naturally, it was me… 🙂

Since it was a weekday I needed a simple, easy to prepare and fast-cooking recipe. I had recently made a fresh batch of homemade yoghurt (using my nifty Severin yoghurt maker, which I bought for a whopping £22.89 the last time I was in the UK, and it has been a very welcomed addition to the kitchen arsenal) and found an awesome recipe for a yoghurt marinade for baked fish. If you get home after work and don’t have time to marinade the fish, I would just skip that step – I’m sure it will taste just as good!

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I made this recipe using two different fish – a barramundi (top) and a sea bass (bottom)

A whole fish dish definitely benefits from having one large fish rather than two small ones, to maximise the meat and minimise the small bones. Aside from this, I found that the barramundi held together much better when cooking, and had a nicer firm texture than the sea bass. Verdict – the barramundi was the overall winner for this recipe! I’m sure the yoghurt marinade would also work well with a whole butterflied chicken, salmon fillets or maybe even prawns or lamb.DSC03714 Spiced Yoghurt Baked Whole Fish

You’ll need:
(serves 3-4)

1kg whole firm white fish (sea bass, barramundi, snapper)
6-8 branches of fresh coriander, thick stems removed
6-8 branches of mint, leaves only
2 limes, seeded and juiced
2 large chillies, seeded (or 1 tbsp chilli flakes)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1.5″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 cup natural yoghurt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp salt Freshly ground pepper
1/2 red onion, finely minced (optional) DSC03711 Continue reading

Slow Roasted Lamb Leg (or Shoulder) with … Anchovy?

Here’s another recipe that’s great for a social dinner party, where time is of the essence and you want to be able to just take it out of the oven and pop it on the table. No one likes to be slaving away in the kitchen whilst the guests are all having fun outside!  What sets this recipe aside? Firstly, the slow cooking and continuous basting may be a labour of love, but it gives you a wonderfully juicy tender meat, with a crispy, salty crust – yum!

And secondly, for all those who turn their nose up at anchovies (like me, yuck!), I have recently discovered with this recipe that they are SUPERB in marinades! They have a salty, rich umami flavour which really complements the flavour of the meat without being the least bit fishy. I made good use of that jar of anchovies that’s been sitting in my fridge for ages, lurking dangerously close to the expiration date. Ok fine, it had already expired, but they’re swimming (pun intended) in olive oil and tasted just fine. I’ll certainly be adding it to a lot more of my marinades from now on!

This recipe was initially intended for a boneless shoulder of lamb, but all they had at Pacific Gourmet was boneless leg of lamb, and I find that they are interchangeable most of the time.

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Slow roasted lamb with a simple couscous and ratatouille

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English Breakfast for Dinner, Hold the Sausage, Add Some Greens

"Iberico Ham, Egg and Peas" at Aberdeen Steet Social

“Iberico Ham, Egg and Peas” at Aberdeen Steet Social

It was PB’s birthday earlier this week and my challenge was to cook up a meal that would wow him, and ultimately make him feel like the man of the hour. In my meal planning, I had remember once mentioning to him a dish that I had eaten for lunch at Aberdeen Street Social. It was a starter that stuck in my mind because it looked beautiful, tasted great, and was simple enough to be something that I could replicate at home.

Whilst the 3 elements of this dish are quite hands on and it’s a challenge for one person to complete and plate in a timely fashion so that it’s still hot when it gets to the table, it should get easier with practice! Preparation takes quite a bit of time as well (especially when you are prepping a main and a dessert at the same time), so when I started panicking that I wouldn’t have dinner on the table in time, my mum came in to help me and it certainly is easier with 4 hands!

Breaded Soft Boiled Egg with Iberico Ham and Smashed Peas

You’ll need:
(serves 4)

For the smashed peas:
300g green peas (petits pois or garden peas)
1/2 onion, peeled and finely diced
275ml chicken stock
50g unsalted butter
1 tsp sugar
a dash of cream (40ml)
a pinch of salt

For the soft boiled egg:
4 good quality eggs + 1 egg
100g plain flour
200g bread crumbs
Vegetable oil, for frying
Salt and pepper

Garnish: 80g iberico ham
small, crisp salad leaves

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8 Neat Tips for Making the Perfect Burger and Fries at Home

We have a couple of friends who are always inviting us to splendid dinner parties at their place – amazing wines, complicated cuisine (think sous vide, foams, emulsions etc.), and so on. Naturally, we wanted to return the hospitality, but as you can imagine it was a bit daunting! So we decided that if we weren’t going to go all Heston in the kitchen, we would go back to basics – burgers and fries. Who doesn’t love a good burger? And if we were going to go down this road, then PB and I were going to make the best bloody burger that we could possibly make at home (without a barbecue)!

We set about doing research on meat cuts, fat to lean meat ratios, the American burger vs. the Aussie burger and all that jazz, plus we consulted our Belgian friend PYB on his tips for the perfect fries. After a couple of trials, we believe that we’ve pretty much got it down. All of these tips are compiled from several foodie websites, online recipes and youtube videos – to save you readers the trouble, here the all the best tips for you in one easy list!

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It’s not the best photo, but I will post another once I make my next burger 🙂

Tips for the perfect burger at home:

1. Different people advocate different cuts of beef for the perfect burger, but they generally advocate beef chuck, and that it should be 80% lean and 20% fat. I use Australian grass-fed rib eye, which is the next cut along from chuck, and yields a great taste result.

2. Do not buy pre-minced meat! First of all, you don’t know what’s in it, and secondly, once meat has been minced it has more surface area to attract more bacteria. 180g of beef mince per person will do – ask the butcher to grind it in front of you on the day that you make your burgers. We buy rib eye steaks from Pacific Gourmet and they will grind it for you.

3. When shaping the patties, try to handle the meat as little as possible. Shape it loosely and don’t pack it too much, as this results in stodgy patties.

4. Meat usually should be cooked at room temperature, but burger patties should be as cold as possible. After shaping them, put them back in the fridge to cool again completely. This ensures that the fat melts evenly when they are cooking.

5. Before cooking your patties, use your thumb to create an indent in the centre of the patty – this will stop the patty from shrinking into a ball, and keep it flat when cooking.

7. Only season your patties right before cooking. Seasoning too early with salt will draw all the moisture out.

6. Use a brush or pour some oil on a wad of kitchen towel to oil the frying pan so it is evenly covered. When the patties are cooking, resist the temptation to keep flipping them and pushing down on them. Cook on one side for 3 minutes and then flip for a further 3 minutes, for medium rare. Rest the patties (covered loosely in foil on a plate) for a few minutes before serving so all the juices don’t go into the bun and make it soggy.

7. If you are making cheeseburgers, once you have flipped the patties once, add the cheese and cover the pan so that the cheese is melted when served. We used a French cheese (Cantal, but Compte or Tomme de Savoie would be fabulous too I reckon).

8. Whilst cooking the burgers, heat another pan (preferably a griddle pan to create some nice char lines) and toast your buttered burger buns – there’s nothing worse than soft buns!

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4 loosely shaped patties, 100% Australian rib eye

Tips for the perfect fries at home:

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Griddle Pan Harissa Chicken – A Must Try Recipe

We cook a lot at home obviously, and I love a beautifully stocked kitchen. I am the sort of person that could get lost in the home-ware black hole of department stores, for hours. Our drawers are full of useful (and some not so useful) kitchen gadgets, and there is hardly any room on our kitchen counter for all the toys that we have purchased over the years. Hello, my name is Jenny, and I am a kitchenware addict.

Pots and pans are something that I can be obsessive about without guilt, however! More and more I am hearing of the dangers of using old non-stick cookware that has been heated one to many times, and perhaps some of that non-stick layer has chipped off because I used a metal spatula in a rush one day. So I have been slowly replacing all those cheap pans that I used to buy with good quality Le Creuset cookware. I’m increasingly loving cast iron because it heats evenly, and it’s easy to transfer from stovetop to oven. Ok and fine, yes, IT’S SO PRETTY!

CreusetI bought a 32cm rectangular grill the other day in Caribbean Blue, and I am in love! Since then I have been searching for griddle pan recipes to try out, and I was inspired by a recipe in Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good. The recipe calls for harissa, and I had a untouched jar of homemade harissa that I bought at a market when I was in South Africa earlier this year. If I may so myself, this is one of the best recipes I have made recently, you must try it! It’s simple and requires few ingredients (read – easy and inexpensive to make).

If you don’t have a cast-iron griddle pan, Le Creuset HK is doing a promotion for them (and other cast iron goodies) for the month of August.

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Griddle Pan Harissa Chicken

You’ll Need:

1 x 1.5kg whole chicken, spatchcocked
2-4 tbsp harissa (depending on how hot you like it!)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp salt, and freshly ground pepper

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Cooking The Books: Easy Grilled Salmon with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

Living in Hong Kong and being a relatively lazy weekday shopper ( a trip to the wet market, GrEAT or Citisuper is a detour), I am always happy to come across a nice salmon recipe as it is the only fish that I would cook that’s available in my regular supermarkets down the road. A recipe also gets bonus points for being something that I can whip up in 10 minutes – sometimes we are at the office late, and other times I just cannot be arsed to spend too much time in the kitchen.

That’s why this recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s book “It’s All Good” is perfect. You might think that her book is all gluten-free this and vegan that (especially if you have read this hilarious article describing one woman’s effort to eat like Gwynie for a week), but actually some of her recipes are quite accessible, and you can always make substitutions or even omissions with some of the ingredients if necessary.

This recipe is simple as pie, no changes necessary. I serve it with a simple salad, or a pasta salad such as Roasted Vegetable Orzo Salad.

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As you can see, I didn’t have any parsley, so I substituted chopped spring onions instead.

 

Grilled Salmon with Grilled Lemon Vinaigrette

You’ll need:
(serves 4)

4 fillets of salmon
2 tbsp of olive oil, plus 1/2 cup for the vinaigrette
2 lemons, halved
2 tbsp finely chopped Italian parsley
2 tbsp finely sliced chives
Good quality salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Cooking the Books: Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

Last summer, after watching one too many of her cooking shows, I went Barefoot Contessa CRAZY and bought nearly all of her cookbooks, including Barefoot Contessa Parties, which is where I came across this wonderful recipe. There are many gems to be found in her books – some have nice European influences and many are straightforward and easy to make. She has several good recipes available on the Barefoot Contessa website, and also themed menus (but they’re pretty naff).

This (lightly adapted) recipe would go down a treat at any BBQ party, or with a summer roast such as this boneless leg of lamb, or any grilled fish dish – I like to have it with grilled salmon and a tangy grilled lemon vinaigrette. Heck, you could eat it by itself and be perfectly content!

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Ina Garten’s Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

You’ll need:
(serves 6)

1 eggplant, 1 inch diced (don’t worry about the size of the eggplant, you can never have too much)
1 red bell pepper, 1 inch diced
1 yellow bell pepper, 1 inch diced
1 red onion, peeled and 1 inch diced
1 courgette, 1 inch diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3  cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
225 grams or 1/2 pound of orzo

For the dressing:
Juice of half a lemon
1/3 1/4 cup good olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To finish:
4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
3/4 pound good feta, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
15 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

All of this colour is quite inspirational when you're cooking this dish, and the flavours are scrumptious!

All these colours is quite inspirational when you’re cooking, and the flavours are scrumptious!

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Easy Peasy Meals @ Home – Butter Chicken Masala

It’s not so much a complicated recipe that scares me from trying Indian curries – the recipes are actually quite easy and once you have those few key spices in your pantry, there’s not even that much that you need to buy from the supermarket. No, it is the fact that I might screw it up that worries me the most – that I’ll spend an hour pounding garlic and ginger into a paste, marinating meats and stirring away at a sauce that is never going to come off my dress if it splashes, only to have a steaming mess of an end product that I can’t serve.

Thank goodness for that decent Thai takeout down the road! It gave me the confidence to try out this recipe without worrying that PB and I will starve for the evening. I have been wanting to make a dent in the Indian spice collection that I acquired when I was in New Delhi last year. I went a bit mental in the shop and PB had to stop me from buying every product in the place. Then I promptly stuck it all in the kitchen cupboard when I got home and forgot about them.

One of the spice mixes I bought was for butter chicken masala. The spice vendor  gave me a recipe that required a couple of quite challenging steps (making your own yoghurt, cooking in a tandoor oven…), so I adapted it into a easy to make recipe that can be done in an hour after work. I made it together with Brown Rice Vegetable Pilau, and they go down a treat together.

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Indian Butter Chicken Masala

For the marinade:  

1/2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp butter chicken masala (can be substituted with 1/4 tsp turmeric, and 1/4 tsp chilli powder)
2 tbsp ginger paste
2 tbsp lemon juice  2 tablespoons
2 tbsp mustard oil or extra virgin olive oil
Salt

For the Butter Chicken Curry Sauce:

800 gm of boneless chicken, cubed in large 2″ pieces
2 onions, minced
1 tomato, pureed
1 tbsp tomato paste (or tomato ketchup)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp chilli powder (use Kashmiri chilli powder for better results)
1/4 tsp of turmeric powder
1-2 tsp salt (adjust to taste)
1 tsp of chicken masala (or garam masala)
1 cup milk
3 tbsp of cream or pureed cashew paste (soak and grind cashew nuts)
1 small bunch of coriander leaves / cilantro, for ganish

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