Monday, 19 May 2014

Greek Lamb & Pasta Stew

I absolutely love this recipe- which I have cooked variations of before - the lamb gets really tender, the pasta soaks up the rich sauce and the salty feta sprinkled over is a perfect counterpoint. And, as is always marvellous, it gets chucked in the oven to transform into a delicious one-pot dish.

What I actually did here was freeze, at the point where it had cooled overnight, half of the stew and then used half of the amount of pasta, feta etc quoted to finish off (just in case you wondered from the photos). Be aware that you don’t have to cool it and eat the next day - it will just taste a bit (even) better if you do. Feel free to just carry on with the next stage at that point though if you don't want to wait.

And speaking of feta, Nigella throws some parsley or oregano along with the feta over the finished dish but I felt that even though this is supposed to have a Greek rather than Italian feel it would suit a sprinkling of gremolata perfectly so i made some and mixed that in with the feta before sprinkling over

Greek Lamb & Pasta Stew
serves 4

2-3 tbsp olive oil, plus more if needed
800g boned shoulder of lamb, trimmed of excess fat and cut into cubes
about 1½ by 2½ in
1-2 medium onions (or half a massive one), sliced finely
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
½ tsp dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 carrot, peeled, halved lengthways, and then cut into 3 across
400g tin chopped tomatoes
200ml lamb stock
250ml dry white wine
freshly ground black pepper
150g macaroni pasta
100g feta cheese
1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped 

zest of 1 lemon
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp olive oil

Preheat the oven to 165C.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large cast iron casserole and brown the lamb in batches over a medium-high heat, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Remove the meat with a slotted spoon to a plate or bowl as you go.

Turn the heat down to low, adding a little more oil if necessary. Add the onions, with a pinch of salt, and cook for 10-15 minutes until soft and translucent.

Add the garlic, celery, thyme, and oregano and cook for a couple of minutes more.

Add the meat to the vegetable mixture along with the bay leaves, carrots, tomatoes, stock and wine. The liquid needs to at the least completely cover the meat and vegetable - remember you will also be adding pasta later so if necessary add some water too.

Bring to a boil, removing any scum that rises to the surface, and let it bubble for a few minutes.

Cover and transfer to the oven for about 2 to 2½ hours until lovely and tender. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Let the stew cool and when it is, transfer, covered to the fridge. Make sure you do take it out of the fridge again about 2 hours before you’ll be cooking and skim any fat that has solidified off the top.

Add 200ml lamb stock to the stew and reheat on the hob until it is piping hot. Add the pasta about 10-20 mins before you want to eat - making sure there is enough liquid & juices to cover all the pasta: remember that the pasta will absorb some of that liquid.

At the point that you add the pasta to the stew, mix the feta, parsley, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil together so the flavours can meld and set aside.

When the pasta is cooked, ladle the stew into shallow bowls and serve with the feta-gremolata in a bowl in the middle of the table so people can sprinkle over as they wish.

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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Miso Sake Salmon with Bean Thread Noodles

I'm the first to admit that this doesn't look very pretty. At all. And honestly? Bean thread noodles (or glass noodles or Chinese vermicelli) are a pain in the butt to cook with. But this is a good recipe and other than the pain-in-the-buttness of the noodles is easy, quick and full of flavour.

If you don't have wasabi paste, you can use English mustard: you want that sinus-clearing heat you get from those two, but only a whiff of it, you don't want to be blowing your head off. 

Miso & Sake Salmon with Noodles
serves 2

2 skinless salmon fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
100 g bean thread noodles, soaked & snipped into smaller lengths
4 tbsp chopped chives
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
for the marinade
1 tsp wasabi paste
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp garlic oil
1 tbsp sake
for the sauce 
1 tsp garlic oil
1 red chilli, finely sliced
½ tsp grated ginger
2 tbsp miso paste
2 tbsp light soy sauce
zest of 1 lime & juice of ½
½ tsp sugar
4 tbsp sake
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp wasabi paste
3 tbsp water
1-2 tbsp coriander, chopped, to serve

In a freezer bag, combine the mustard or wasabi paste, Worcestershire sauce, soy, oil, and sake and add the salmon. Leave to marinate for about half an hour.

While the salmon is in the marinade get the sauce ready: in a frying pan heat the oil and add chili and grated ginger and fry them a few seconds. Turn up the heat and splash in the sake: when it has reduced slightly add the remaining sauce ingredients apart from lime zest and juice and stir for a few minutes until the ingredients are combined.

Add the salmon pieces to the sauce and cook for a couple of minutes until they colour and lose translucency. Stir in the lime juice and zest.

Stir in the bean thread noodles and when they are well combined add the sesame seeds and chives and stir through.

Serve immediately sprinkled with chopped coriander and some wedges to squeeze over.

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Thursday, 1 May 2014

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup

Adding to my collection of Asian-inspired soups this is another that is also very adaptable: it can be made vegetarian by upping the veg content even more (and using vegetable stock of course); you can use chicken breast rather than thighs to make it a little healthier (although thighs I don’t think can be beaten on the taste front), or prawns or mixed seafood, fish and so on.…

I actually wanted to use pad thai noodles but I couldn’t get hold of any so instead used plain old egg noodles which were still good. But again, use what noodles you like or even have it without noodles and have it as is or even with a small bowl of rice alongside.

This is filling and delicious - always a good combination.

Spicy Thai Chicken Noodle Soup
Serves 3 

groundnut oil
2-3 tbsp tom yum & / or red Thai curry paste
350g chicken thigh fillets, thinly sliced
1 tin coconut milk
800ml chicken stock
2 nests noodles, cooked and drained.
1 kaffir lime leaf, shredded
1 stick lemongrass, tough outer leaves & top third removed, halved and bashed with a rolling pin
2 tsp garlic & ginger paste
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1-2 red chilies, deseeded and finely sliced
150g button mushrooms, halved
1 tbsp fish sauce
pinch of sugar
80g babycorn, sliced on the diagonal
65g sugar snaps, sliced in half on the diagonal
½ red pepper, sliced
1 handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped plus extra for garnish
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges for garnish

In a splash of groundnut oil, gently saute spring onions, chili and garlic & ginger paste for about a minute until fragrant. Add the lemon grass and shredded lime leaf and cook for 30 seconds.

Add the Tom Yum / curry paste and stir fry for about 30 seconds - 1 minutes.

Add the chicken and stir around until the pieces are all coated and the chicken has just lost its pinkness.

Add the vegetables then splash in the fish sauce and add a pinch of sugar and the stock & coconut milk.

Bring the soup to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 10-20 minutes until the chicken is just cooked through and the vegetables tender but retaining a bit of bite.

Add the cooked noodles and stir well. Check for seasoning and adjust carefully with fish sauce / sugar as necessary then stir through the chopped coriander & lime juice.

Serve in large bowls with a little extra coriander sprinkled over and lime wedges alongside.

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