Entries in mince (5)


stuffed artichokes


one of the things i has most excited me as a result of reading and cooking from jerusalem, is that i discovered that my local turkish supermarket sells frozen, pre-prepared globe artichoke bases. so exciting!

this meant that tackling the recipe for stuffed artichokes with peas and dill, which really appealed when i flicked through the book, as i love artichokes, but which was also a definite no, as i hate preparing them, was actually a complete doddle to make.

it was also wonderfully delicious – the artichoke bases are stuffed with a mix of beef mince and leeks, flavoured with allspice, cinnamon and mint. they are browned in a pan and then baked in a lemony stock, to which peas and dill are added just before serving (and after i took the picture above).

the filling is really interesting and reflects the book’s focus on vegetables – there is just over half as much mince as (blanched) leeks in the mix, which gives it a lightness that means the artichokes aren’t overwhelmed; it also makes the dish much cheaper and healthier.

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heston-ish chilli con carne with jalapeno cornbread muffins


we eat chilli quite a lot as it’s easy to cook in large batches, portion up and freeze.

i grew up eating chilli con carne with rice – it was a variation on the bolognaise recipe we used to make, just with the addition of chilli, cumin and kidney beans. the version i make these days has evolved over the years and is made without tomatoes, with a spice mix of cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, cassia and bay plus chillies, thyme and a bit of dark chocolate. we tend to eat this with soft tortillas, rolling it with salad, sour cream, guacamole, red pepper strips, cheese and (in my case) jalapenos for an extra kick of heat.

it’s almost three years since i varied my recipe but this weekend i decided to give heston blumenthal’s chilli con carne with jalapeno cornbread muffins and spiced butter a go. the recipe is from his new show, which i’ve really enjoyed – there have been 6 episodes, each showcasing a different ingredient (this was in the beef show) and i’ve got a pile of recipes that i want to try.

as you’d expect, it’s a fairly complicated recipe – there is a spiced butter (the spices are cumin, cayenne and smoked paprika); a kidney bean and vine tomato mix, which is made using a pressure cooker, with the tomato vines added for extra flavour; the chilli itself (the spicing here comes from star anise but you stir in the spiced butter partway through, and save a bit for adding at the end); and finally, the jalapeno cornbread muffins.

so, how did i get on?

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hot mint sauce


slow-roasted shoulder of lamb is one of my favourite weekend dishes.

this week’s lamb was rubbed with a mix of crushed garlic, grated red onion, smoked paprika, lemon juice and olive oil – a scaled back version of a moro recipe (i didn’t have any fresh thyme leaves to add). the recipe suggests the lamb is served with a spicy chickpea puree and a hot mint sauce.

again i adapted the chickpea mash – thinly sliced red onions were cooked over quite a high heat until they softened and began to change colour. having turned the heat down i added sliced garlic, some bashed cumin and coriander seeds and left it to slowly caramelise. this was added to pureed chickpeas (i use tinned – if you drain and rinse them then leave to stand for 5 minutes in boiling water it’s easy enough to turn them into a warm mash). flat leaf parsley was stirred through at the end, along with a pinch of smoked paprika.

the hot mint sauce was the most interesting part of the dish – chopped garlic is fried in olive oil until it runs golden, fresh mint leaves and cumin seeds are then, after a minute, some red wine vinegar. simmer for 30 seconds, add a pinch of sugar and seasoning and that’s it – a lovely homemade zingy mint sauce to liven up your lamb.

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spaghetti bolognaise

my default use for beef mince used to be bolognaise* sauce but for the past year or so it has been chilli. however, this weekend i decided that i needed a plate of spaghetti bolognaise.

this is one of the first dishes that my mum taught my brother and i how to cook. over the years i’ve refined the recipe i use, something that most people do with this sort of staple dish (spaghetti bolognaise was top of the list for meals that british people can cook from memory, according to a survey last year). in fact what to put into the perfect spag bol is a debate that can go on for quite a while and always worth a look, if you are interested in new variations.

my version is quite simple – i don’t use the holy trinity of onion, carrot and celery, preferring to simply start with sliced garlic gently fried in olive oil. pancetta may or may not be added and then i brown the mince, trying to keep it quite chunky. once the meat is cooked i add a glug of red wine and a similar amount of milk, which helps tenderise the beef. a tin of tomatoes, a bay leaf, some fresh basil sprigs and seasonings are the remaining ingredients. this is gently simmered until the fat in the meat starts to show and the sauce has a rich-looking texture (you can cook this sauce over a very low heat for hours, adding more liquid as it dries, but i rarely bother). the herbs are removed and fresh basil added.

the next question is which pasta to serve it with - i grew up eating it with spaghetti but also like the bolognese traditional choice of tagliatelle. you'll see from the picture that i finish the dish with coarsely grated strong cheddar cheese, rather than parmesan. this is another childhood choice that i hark back to.

i'm sharing this with debbi does dinner who is hosting this week's presto pasta nights.

* the more appropriate italian spelling is bolognese but i’ve been bought up using the french version and can’t bring myself to change


spiced meatballs with feta and pomegranate couscous

 there are some dishes which you eat every last scrap of, scrape the bowl for leftovers while silently wishing that you hadn’t had to share the dish (in this case with 8 friends!) and mentally flick through your diary to work out when you can cook it again. this spiced meatballs with feta and pomegranate couscous was one such dish.

the meatballs were flavoured with toasted cumin and coriander plus coriander stems (i’m really enjoying using the stems in different ways to the leaves and the flavour subtleties which result), lemon, garlic and harissa. they were roasted on top of a gently spiced tomato sauce (similar flavours to the meatballs) and topped with a layer of crumbled feta which was scattered with mint and parsley before serving.

the couscous was scented with lemon, parsley, mint and chilli. i then added the seeds of a pomegranate and everything came together wonderfully – the complex layers of flavours in the meatballs and sauce, melting cheese contrasting with the light, zingy couscous. i served this with a green salad which had a simple lemon, olive oil and garlic dressing.

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