Tag Archives: Lamb

Keftas with raisin & almond couscous

One of the things I love about New Zealand is the lamb.  The lamb here tastes wonderful.  So I was rather pleased when a lamb recipe was thrown my way by this month’s Random Recipes challenge.  The theme for this month was “random birthday number” – we had to use our birth date to pick our book – in my case, the 14th book on the shelf, which was Guide de cuisine de l’Étudiant, a French student cook book which was a gift from my French aunt and uncle.  It’s a good book because it has a range of straightforward recipes for one, two and groups of people, so covers all sorts of occasions.  The random number button on my calculator directed me to page 147, which is a recipe for keftas, or North African lamb meatballs.

Now, the original recipe calls for ras-el-hanout, but I couldn’t find any – I have seen some here, but I can’t remember where, which is obviously super helpful.  So I had to make up a substitution based on various articles online.  Thankfully it worked out and the meatballs were actually fantastically delicious, although perhaps a little too oniony, so I’ve reduced the amount of onion in the recipe here.  What I also love about these meatballs is that they can be fried or baked (I personally preferred baked), and they’d probably work wonderfully on the BBQ as well.  I served the keftas with a side of raisin and almond couscous, which is easy to prepare whilst the meatballs are cooking.  I’m also submitting these keftas to this month’s Simple and in Season over at Fabulicious Food! since lamb is in season here, and this recipe is definitely super simple to prepare!

Keftas with raisin & almond couscous

Serves 3-4
Keftas adapted from Guide de cuisine de l’Étudiant
Couscous recipe by Sharky Oven Gloves

I thought there was a little too much onion when I made these, so I’ve reduced the quantity in the recipe given here (so yours won’t look quite as oniony as the photos in the post).  Don’t be put off by the number of spices in the recipe – if you’re missing one you can probably get away with leaving it out, particularly if it’s a spice that you don’t often (or ever) use.  The skewers are optional, but fun.  I’ve read that you should soak skewers in water before using them so that they don’t burn when cooking, but I forgot to do this and didn’t have a problem with burnt skewers.

Ingredients

For the keftas:
½ tsp Cayenne pepper
½ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground coriander seeds
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp turmeric
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
500g minced lamb
1 medium onion
Bamboo skewers (optional)
1½ tsp olive oil (if frying)

For the couscous:
75g raisins
½ tbsp olive oil
150g wholemeal couscous
50g flaked almonds
Knob of butter
Salt & freshly ground pepper
½ tsp ground cinnamon
Fresh parsley, to serve

Directions

1.  Place the raisins for the couscous in a heat-proof bowl and cover with boiling water.  Leave to soak whilst preparing the rest of the meal.

To make the keftas:
2.  If cooking the meatballs in the oven, pre-heat to 220°C/fan oven 200°C.

3.  Add the spices to a large bowl and stir together.  Add the lamb to the bowl and mix well with your hands so that the spices are evenly distributed.

4.  Finely chop the onion and mix it in with the lamb.  Form the mixture into walnut-sized balls, slightly flattening them.  Slide the meatballs onto the skewers (this is optional, particularly if baking the keftas, but recommended if frying them or cooking them on the BBQ).

5.  If baking the meatballs then place them in an oven-proof dish and bake for about 25 mins until browned all over and cooked through.  If frying them, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat.  Add the meatballs and fry for 7 mins before turning them over and frying a further 7 mins.  If BBQing, you’ll have to figure it out yourself.

To make the couscous:
6.  Meanwhile, prepare the accompanying couscous.  Drain the raisins and pour the soaking water into a measuring jug. Set the raisins aside.  Top the raisin soaking liquid up to 175 ml with water and to a saucepan.  Add the olive oil and bring to the boil.  As soon as it begins to boil, add the couscous, stir, cover and remove from the heat.  Allow the couscous to soak up the liquid (this should take about 10 mins).

7.  Toast the flaked almonds until fragrant in a frying pan over a medium heat, taking care not to let them burn.  Once the couscous is ready, add a knob of butter and fluff up the grains with a fork.  Season with salt and pepper and add the ground cinnamon, raisins and almonds and stir through.  Cover to keep warm until the keftas are ready.

8.  Serve the keftas immediately, accompanied by the couscous, sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley.

Enjoy!

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Attempting to make summer appear with an aubergine & lamb gratin

I try to eat seasonal (and locally-produced) foods as much as possible – not only is it better for the environment, but produce that is grown in season quite simply tastes better.  During the dark and rainy depths of winter, I sometimes find it a bit difficult to stick to seasonal foods when I’d really like a bit of sunshine in my life and there are some lovely, bright-looking red peppers and courgettes staring me in the face in Tesco’s.  During the summer, however, eating seasonally is pretty easy-peasy.  There are just so many seasonal vegetables and fruit that suddenly we’re all spoilt for choice for a few months (sounds awful, doesn’t it?).

Although it is technically summer at the moment, the weather appears to be completely unaware of this, and a few days ago Edinburgh was subject to some serious thunder and lightning accompanied by torrential rain that was more akin to a tropical rainstorm than anything else (although significantly colder).  Clearly it’s not just during the depths of winter that there’s a distinct lack of sunshine here in Scotland.  At least all the summery vegetables are actually in season at the moment, which helps to bring a little bit of sunshine into the kitchen at least, so when we happened across a recipe for a summery aubergine and lamb gratin the other day, we decided to test it out, partly hoping that it would inspire the sun to make an appearance…  It didn’t, but the recipe was super easy to prepare and turned out to be rather yummy – it would be great if you’re having people over for a summery dinner since it can be prepared in advance and bake away by itself whilst people arrive or the starters are served.  Although we used lamb mince, it’s also a great way to use up any left-over mince, which is always a bonus.  Since aubergines and lamb are both in season at the moment I’m submitting this recipe to the July Simple and in Season blog event over at Fabulicious Food.

Aubergine & lamb gratin

Serves 2
Adapted from my mum’s folder of random recipes

Although we used lamb mince, this would also work with beef mince, and is a great way to use up any left-over mince.  We tried splitting the aubergines into two layers with the beef in the middle, but this resulted in some slightly dry aubergine slices in the top layer, so next time I make this I’ll put all the aubergine slices on the bottom, and I’ve adjusted the recipe to reflect this.  This works as an entire course by itself, but if you feel you need more, it would be lovely with couscous.

Ingredients

1 big aubergine
1 onion
1 clove garlic
200g lean lamb mince
Handful fresh parsley
½ tin of chopped tomatoes or 2 tbsp tomato paste
2-3 tbsp breadcrumbs
10g unsalted butter

Directions

1.  Cut the aubergine into 5mm slices, place them in a colander, sprinkle with salt and leave them to sit and drain for about an hour.  Pat dry with kitchen roll.  Chop the onions and finely chop the garlic.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

2.  Heat some oil in a large frying pan and sauté the aubergine slices until just golden.

3.  In another frying pan, heat some oil and add the onions and garlic and cook for 10 mins.  Add the meat, cook until browned, then add the chopped tomatoes (or tomato paste), finely chopped parsley and seasoning, and fry for a further 5 mins.

4.  Layer the aubergine slices in an oven-proof dish, followed by the meat, onion and tomato mixture.  Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top to cover, and add a few tiny cubes of butter.

5.  Bake in the oven for 45mins and serve hot.

Enjoy!

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An April adventure at the St Andrews Farmers’ Market

I finally got myself organised and went to St Andrews Farmers’ Market for the first time last month, bringing home some fantastic cheddar, as well as some Mojito jelly from one of the condiments stands.  The cheese was eaten pretty rapidly, but I haven’t used the Mojito jelly yet, mostly because I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do with it.  The man who I bought it from suggested simply serving it with lamb (as you would serve mint sauce), and the idea of Mojito lamb has been playing on my mind ever since, though I felt like it should be kept for a special occasion, so I hadn’t really pursued the idea further.

A special occasion presented itself on Saturday evening – Craig’s birthday dinner.  Perfect.  Conveniently, Saturday morning was also this month’s Farmers’ Market, so I decided that I’d get lamb from the market in the morning, and then it could marinate in the afternoon as necessary.  It all sounded like a great idea, but I just had to work out exactly how to do it.  None of my recipe books had anything remotely resembling Mojito lamb (the closest recipe I found was tequila chicken, and it really wasn’t very similar at all), and searching online wasn’t especially inspirational either.  When I stopped by Luvian’s (my local bottleshop) to get wine to go with it, Rich sounded rather unconvinced (though it might have helped if I’d known exactly how I was doing it – “uhm, well there will be rum, mint, sugar.  I’ll probably marinate it, oh ya, throw in some lime zest, too.  Might fry it, or roast it, depending on the cut, or something like that.  I have no idea what I’m serving it with, possibly couscous of some description.  And I haven’t decided what kind of rum I’m using yet either” probably isn’t the world’s best explanation).  Kudos to Rich for managing to make sense of my haphazard description, but I came out feeling distinctly doubtful of the whole thing.

By Saturday morning, I still wasn’t really sure what I was doing.  This resulted in a good 10 minutes of dithering in front of the lamb stand trying to decide which cut I wanted.  I like my meat cooked very rare (practically galloping off the plate in fact), Kat likes hers well done, and Craig likes his somewhere in-between.  A roast was never going to please everybody, so I went with leg steaks, so that they could all be fried for different lengths of time and (hopefully) everybody would be happy.  One of the fundamental rules of having people over for dinner (particularly when it’s a special occasion) is to have previously tested the recipe (which by default means you should have a recipe in the first place).  Consequently, I committed a serious dinner-hosting sin – when I eventually got around to doing the marinade a couple of hours before dinner, I very much made it all up as I went along (there was definitely no recipe, never mind a tried-and-tested one).  I’m not sure how, but thankfully it turned out fine.  More than fine actually – when fried, the lamb acquired a slightly caramelised flavour from the sugar, which was counter-balanced by the rum and lime zest, as well as the chilli and lime zest in the couscous that was served on the side.  Thank goodness!  Oh, and I should add that I completely forgot to add the Mojito jelly to the sauce as I’d originally thought I might.  Oops.

Mojito lamb

Serves 4
Recipe from my imagination

This is actually a fairly quick recipe to prepare, since everything is more or less just mixed together and left to marinate before frying.  I served it with couscous to which I had added a finely chopped de-seeded chilli pepper, the zest of 1 lime and about 5 finely chopped and sautéed shallots.

Ingredients

For the marinade:
150ml spiced rum (add more as you feel necessary)
50g demerrera sugar
15g fresh mint leaves, chopped
Zest of 1 lime (keep the lime, the juice is needed later)
4-5 tbsp olive oil

650g lamb leg steaks
Juice of 1 lime
Mint leaves to garnish (optional)

Directions

1.  Mix all the marinade ingredients together with some ground black pepper in a large dish or bowl.

2.  Trim any fatty bits off the lamb leg steaks and add them to the marinade, making sure that they are well coated.  Cover the dish or bowl with a lid or cling film and allow to marinate for at least 1 ½ hours in the fridge.

3.  When ready to cook, drain the steaks, though reserve the marinade.  Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan, and fry the leg steaks for several minutes on each side, until done to your liking (this will depend on the thickness of the steaks and also on your personal preference).

4.  Remove the steaks to a serving plate and cover with tin foil to keep them warm.  Deglaze the pan with the lime juice, then add the marinade and allow to simmer down for a few minutes.

5.  Serve the leg steaks garnished with some fresh mint (optional) with the Mojito sauce on the side (a bit like a gravy) and a shallot, chilli and lime couscous.

Enjoy!

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