Friday, March 30, 2012


It seems to be all about lamb this week and next with Easter around the corner. It's the best time of year for lovely Spring lamb, butterflied, if we're lucky, on a big, burning barbecue.

Lamb doesn't come cheap though - in fact it's getting pricier every year. If there's just a few to feed for your Easter lunch, buying a shoulder won't leave you much change for the spuds.

Using the neck of a lamb can be a fantastically cheap alternative. Find it at the Waitrose counter or at your butcher's, and get it cut to the size you need; I'd give at least 250g per person. Marinate it for a morning in oil, herbs, and spices, and flash it in the pan for a perfectly pink, perfectly tasty bit of meat, which won't cost you a shoulder and a leg.


serves 2


500g lamb neck (will cost about £3), boned, trimmed of sinew and excess fat
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 tbsps olive oil
salt and pepper

1 handful parsley leaves
1 handful mint leaves
1 handful basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp capers/ 2 cornichons
6 anchovies
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsps mild olive oil
salt and pepper

Rub the lamb with the garlic, chilli and olive oil, and season. Cover and set aside at room temperature for a few hours, or overnight in the fridge, removed a couple of hours before cooking.

Throw the salsa verde ingredients into a food processor or pulse with a hand blender until wet and smooth. Add more mustard, salt or olive oil to taste.

Place a clean, dry frying pan over a medium heat. (You can do this on the barbie too). When sizzling hot, add the lamb. Cook, on each side for 2 minutes. Repeat this process once or twice. This should leave you with a perfectly pink, juicy middle and a crispy outer. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes to tenderise the meat, lightly covered with a tea towel.

Cut widthways into 1cm slices and serve hot or cold with the salsa verde, new potatoes, crusty bread and soft buffalo mozzarella for a deliciously thrifty Easter feast.

Monday, March 26, 2012



from Rosie and Jim's Sunday Lunch club
(Served with slow roast pork belly)

Serves 20 hungry Sunday lunchers


butter and olive oil or juice from roasting meat
4kg new potatoes
2 large onions, roughly chopped, sliced and diced
1 large bunch sage, roughly chopped
lots of salt and pepper

Set the oven to 200C.

Meanwhile add the potatoes to a pan or two of cold water and bring to the boil. Turn to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes until they slide off a knife if poked. Drain and transfer to a large roasting tray.

Press down on the potatoes with the bottom of a saucepan so that they flatten and crack. Even better if some are mashed completely.

If you have any fat from roasting meat (I used the leftover fatty juices from pork belly - oink) then pour it over in abundance and toss through. If not, use melted butter and lots of olive oil. Sprinkle over the sage leaves, distribute the onion and throw on the salt and pepper. Pop the tray in the oven and leave for an hour or so to crisp up.

Try these alternatives for jazzing up the

BEEF - fresh horseradish/ gherkins (add at the end)
CHICKEN - pancetta/ sausages/ Parmesan
LAMB - mint/ wild garlic/ chilli
COD - tarragon/ capers/ garlic/ chorizo
NUT ROAST - parsley/ Gruyere

Thursday, March 15, 2012


My mother, born and brought up in Scotland, land of all things neep, said she won't touch swede for love nor money. Had too much, she said. Can't stand the stuff. Can't bear the smell. And even when I pulled out a perfect turnip she sniffed at it, told me to throw it to the hens. I know many more who would say the same.

This recipe is great for those who don't like, or think they don't like swede. Roasting it with honey, garlic and thyme kindly masks its sheepy, back-of-the-throat twang (a grower for sure) and softens the solid root to chewy flesh. Combine it with smoked bacon and crumbled feta and you have the mix of salt and sweet. It's an easy way in. Mum ate it, and went back for more.


1 large swede serves 2


1 large swede, scrubbed, removed of its top, cut into chunks or wedges
2 tbsps olive oil
3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
4 roasted cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs thyme
generous season of salt and pepper
4 rashers smoked streaky bacon
tsp balsamic vinegar
100g feta
toasted pumpkin seeds, optional
few leaves mint, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Put the swede in a roasting tin with the olive oil, garlic, roasted herry tomatoes and thyme. Season well. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. Add the bacon and put back in until crispy. The swede should be chewy with crisp skin. Remove from the oven.

Pour the balsamic into the bottom of a large bowl and pour in the warm olive oil from the roasting tin. Whisk to emulsify and add the roasted swede and bacon. Crumble over the feta and pumpkin seeds, if using, and toss through. Garnish with mint and serve, warm, spreading the roasted garlic onto thick slices of bread. Swede, swede heaven.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


This is so bloomin' scrumptious it doesn't even need a write-up. Apart from to say that, though the pork weeps with fatty joy and the skin is crisper than a morning in March, it's the rhubarb that really makes it.


NOTE: You need 5 minutes the night before to prepare this.

serves 2

500g pork belly, boned, scored (you can ask your butcher to do this)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 leaves sage

olive oil
1 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes

1 glass cider
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 shallot, peeled and quartered
1 bay leaf

2 sticks rhubarb, chopped into 1inch batons
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water

Overnight or at least 8 hours before:

Rub the sides and bottom of the belly with the crushed garlic, chopped sage, oil, salt and pepper, avoiding the skin completely.

Cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge.

4 and a bit hours before serving:

Preheat the oven to the highest it can go or to about 230C.

Rub the pork skin with a little olive oil and the sea salt flakes. Place skin side up on a grate over a roasting tray and place in the oven for 45 minutes until the skin is crisp and brown and starting to bubble and burst.

Meanwhile, pour the cider, veg and bay into another roasting tray.

When it's time to remove the pork, turn the oven down to 180C. Place the meat on top of the veg and cider. Cover the edges of the baking tray with foil, leaving the skin exposed, so that the cider can steam up through the bottom to make the juiciest of meat. The skin will continue to crisp and be pretty solid when you serve it. Cook for a further 3 hours until, when poked with a skewer, there is no resistance from the pork.

Remove from the oven and leave to rest, loosely covered with tin foil.

Throw the rhubarb, sugar and water into a saucepan and place over a medium heat until soft and stringy. You want it still to be sharp so it cuts through the salty pork.

Slice the pork into large squares and serve alongside the lovely, rosey rhubarb.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Golly, lunchtime sandwiches are dull.

Dry, slapdash towers of bread, fumbly constructed at home with leftover hummus from the back of the fridge. Or worse, slimy, week-old slithers of starch bought in a hurry at the nearest supermarket. If only we could justify the daily, dripping, pastrami-stuffed loaf you get at Mishkins. We all wish we had the time and temper to make our own deli sarnie before work but, well, it never really happens. Opening eyes, washing hair and getting dressed have to be conquered first.

What we need is a put-it-together-last minute kind of sandwich - fresh, quick, cheap and easy. No soggy bread, no squished middle, no irritating cling film, no effort.

The Danes have nailed it with their open sandwich. Freshly baked rye piled high with cured meats, smoked cheese, and soused fish. Elegant, sophisticated, healthy, zero struggle.

Here's how you can get there. Make this smoked mackerel pate the night before, put it in a jar , pop it in your bag, and smother it on rye or crisp breads for a scrumptious munch. The shallot pickle takes a few minutes, the pate a matter of seconds.

Ditch the old sandwich - within moments you've got a mini smørrebrød for one.


serves 1-2


for the pate:
2 fillets smoked mackerel, skin removed
1 tbsp natural yoghurt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp Dijon mustard
good sprinkling of black pepper
pinch salt

for the pickled shallots:
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1 large echalion shallot, finely sliced

Whizz all of the pate ingredients together to make a smooth paste. Place in an airtight, sterilised jar and keep cool in the fridge until ready to use.

For the pickle, place the vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan and set over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the shallots and simmer for a few minutes until soft. Leave to cool slightly and serve, or cool completely and place in another jar until you're hungry.

Serve on Ryvita and, if you have an extra minute, a beetroot and watercress salad.