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slow-roasted lamb with mediterranean vegetables and feta

this is the perfect dish for a hot sunny day when you really don’t want to have to put too much effort into knocking up something delicious. it was inspired by a picture i saw in a magazine and is very simple to make.

slow roasted lamb is the starting point – i used neck (which has the advantage of being cheap) which was roasted with onions, garlic, lemon and herbs. having said that, i have plans to repeat this dish next weekend, when our house has filled up with olympic visitors, using a shoulder of lamb. you can also use leftovers – just wrap them in foil and warm them in the oven, i don’t think the meat needs to be particularly hot.

about 40 minutes before the meat is ready and you want to eat, put a tray of chunked mediterranean vegetables into the oven – aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers, fennel were my choices. season with salt, pepper and a few chilli flakes plus the juice of a lemon (add the lemon to the tray as well, sliced into centimetre pieces – it will caramelise and add a lovely flavour) and olive oil.

once everything is ready i piled the vegetables onto a serving platter, topped with the lamb (take it off the bone if you use a leg or shoulder), plus crumbled feta cheese, grated lemon zest and some shredded mint and/or basil. serve with a green salad, some hummus and flat breads, for scooping everything up.


salmon with cherry tomatoes and black garlic

this pasta dish was just lovely when we had the recent spell of mild sunny weather. i marinaded some salmon in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and then grilled it until it was just cooked. the flaked salmon and its juices were mixed with chopped cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, black garlic (roasted would also be nice), a little red chilli and some pasta. add extra olive oil or lemon juice to taste and then tuck in.


spring salmon with lemon, basil and broccoli

the weather in london was wonderful this weekend – bright, mild and dry which meant i got to spend a couple of hours in the garden, tidying it up after several wintery months of neglect. and then we had a late lunch, outside, while we enjoyed the final bits of sunshine – so exciting to be eating in the garden again!

this dish was inspired by a lovely lunch that friends cooked for us last week. in an ovenproof dish i put chopped chilli and garlic, tenderstem broccoli, chunks of red peppers, cherry tomatoes, the juice of a lemon plus the squeezed lemon cut into chunks, a couple of chopped anchovies, some capers, a handful of basil leaves plus a glug of both white wine and olive oil. oh, and some black pepper.

i cooked this for 10 minutes at 180c and then added my salmon, which was wrapped in smoked pancetta, and cooked it for another 15 minutes. a final few minutes under the grill to crisp up the pancetta and it was done. serve with crusty bread to mop up the juices.


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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lobster and linguine – part one

i love christmas, but not for the reasons you probably think. i don’t celebrate it at all which means i get to spend a few days on my own, doing whatever i feel like while (it feels like) the rest of the world dons its santa hat and settles in for a tradition-filled period of celebration and excess.

not having to think about traditional food xmas food and having only my foodie whims and foibles to take into account, i decided that lobster was on the menu this year. well, that and a good deal on frozen canadian lobster at lidl.

i had big plans – homemade ravioli stuffed with lobster or asian-flavoured dumplings to go in a spicy broth were my starting points. however, a stinking cold and a hefty dose of associated laziness saw those plans go out the window and i ended up falling back on that cupboard standby, dried pasta – linguine to be precise. twice.

this was my first lobster and linguine dish – cavolo nero cooked slowly in a mix of butter and smoked oil with garlic and chilli until it started to crisp up. this took about the same time as the pasta did to cook so i took it off the heat just before the pasta was ready and added the lobster plus a handful of oak-smoked tomatoes (it was their oil i was cooking everything in) to warm through. i then added the cooked pasta plus some of the cooking water and seasoning.

the flavours are quite rich and  work really well together as everything has a robust flavour, so nothing gets drowned out. i made a version of this last week, using smoked pancetta pieces, which was just as delicious, albeit a bit less indulgent.