Spicy lamb burgers with coriander, tomato & yoghurt relish

I made this a couple of weeks ago for a BBQ party when my mother was visiting and it was a roaring success. Well, at least I loved them! The BBQ grill took ages to cook for some reason, so grilling these was a guess work as by the time the coals were doing their job I couldn’t see a thing. I recall a helpful maglite being used to determine what’s what. But… the end result was worth it, so here’s the recipe.

Ingredients
1kg/2¼lb minced lamb (it’s best not to use extra-lean mince as the fat will help bind the burgers and keeps them juicy when cooked)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1-2 tbsp mango chutney (I used Sharwood Mango chutney which was bought in an emergency and didn’t live up to our usual chutney standards :))
3cm/1¼in piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
¼ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, crushed
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
oil, for brushing
flat bread, pitta bread or burger buns, to serve

For the relish
6 ripe tomatoes, quartered, de-seeded and diced
200g/7oz tub of Greek yoghurt
bunch of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon or lime juice

Place the minced lamb in a large mixing bowl and add the garlic, onion, mango chutney, ginger, chopped chilli, turmeric, crushed coriander and cumin. Season well with salt and pepper and mix by hand until combined.

Divide and shape the mixture into 8-10 burgers. If you want to check the flavour, fry a small burger in a drop of oil before shaping the rest and, if necessary, add extra flavourings or seasoning. Place the burgers on a cling film-covered tray and keep them in the fridge to relax for at least 30 minutes. They’re ideal made the day before cooking. To prevent the burgers from sticking, brush with a little oil before barbecuing over medium-hot coals for about 5-6 minutes each side.

Mix together the tomatoes, yoghurt, coriander, onion and lemon or lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with the burgers, either inside the bun or as a dipping sauce. For a change, use diced, seeded cucumber instead of tomatoes, and try mint instead of coriander.

I will certainly be making these again, BBQ or not.

Grilled Halloumi Salad with Pomegranate, Grapes & Thyme

I’ve wanted to make something with pomegranate for some time now. Ever since the chicken with pomegranate and yoghurt worked out so well, it’s become one of my favourite dishes.

Halloumi is a favourite so when I came across this recipe, it was just a matter of time and pomegranate. I didn’t fry the cheese in clarified butter, instead grilled the slices and then chopped into required sized pieces.

The salad was absolutely delicious and I shall be making it very soon. And then again.

 

Ingredients

Serves: 2 as a main salad, 4-6 as a side salad

400 g mixed greens (approx. 8-10 cups)
Seeds from one pomegranate (½ cup or more)
1 cup seedless green grapes, cut in half
Small bunch fresh thyme, washed, dried and stems removed
225 g halloumi cheese

Dressing:

3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons pomegranate molasses
2 teaspoons sugar (sugar actually necessary as the molasses is not too sweet)
Juice from one lemon
2 cloves garlic, crushed (less is more in this case, garlic I had must have been extra potent, so will go easy on it next time)

Method

Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing and set aside.

In a large salad bowl, toss the greens with the fresh thyme, grapes and half the pomegranate seeds.

Blot the halloumi cheese with paper towel to remove excess moisture. Slice the cheese into slices just thick enough so they don’t disintegrate when on the grill. Grill for 7-10 mins each side. Turn and continue cooking until golden on both sides. Chop into bite-size pieces and toss the warm cheese into the salad.

Drizzle dressing over salad. Toss gently to coat. Garnish with remaining pomegranate seeds and serve immediately.

Variations on the puff pastry theme

A variation on Prawn, tomato and ginger parcels, using the same pastry – JUS ROL All Butter puff.

Ingredients

Serves 2 for lunch or light dinner

1/2 of 375g JUS ROL All Butter Puff pastry
100g ham – I used a thicker sliced roast ham
1 1/2 tbs of spicy sweet chilli sauce2 large fresh red chilli peppers – deseeded and sliced (didn’t have any other crunchy fresh veg)
1 mozzarella in brine – sliced
generous sprinkling of za’atar all over – can be substituted with dried oregano
few leaves of basil to serve – used my own
Preheat over to 220C (200C for fan assisted over)/Gas 7

Roll the pastry into a rectangle. Place on a metal sheet

Spread the chilli sauce as far to the edges as possible. Evenly distribute small pieces of ham, then the slices of fresh chilli peppers and finally the mozzarella.

Bake for approximately 15 minutes until pastry is risen and golden. I find that leaving it a couple of minutes doesn’t hurt anything.

Slice into four smaller pieces and enjoy. We had this with the fennel soup for starter and there was enough for a light dinner.

Prawn, tomato and ginger parcels

This is one of those chance recipes that just click into place and become favourite. I was investigating the range of chilled puff pastry dough in Waitrose (as you do) and my recipe radar went beep when I spotted the one on the back of JUS ROL All Butter puff. Go figure:

Ingredients

375g JUS ROL All Butter Puff pastry
150g prawns – cooked and peeled (I used frozen tiger prawns)
2.5cm piece root ginger – peeled and finely chopped
3 medium tomatoes
small bunch of watercress – stalks removed (I used chives from my garden)
beaten egg
1 fresh chilli green or red finelly chopped
handful of petite pois
(the last two are my additions, not part of the original recipe)

Preheat over to 220C (200C for fan assisted over)/Gas 7

Divide the pastry into 4 and roll each part into a square approximately 12.5cm across

Combine the prawns, ginger, tomatoes and watercress and divide between the pastry squares, piling into the centre.

Brush the edges with beaten egg. Bring corners to the centre to meet over the filling. Pinch the parcels firmly at the corners to seal and fold back the point of the pastry from the centre to reveal the filling.

Brush pastry with egg and bake for approximately 15 minutes until pastry is risen and golden.

Having piled on more stuff than could fit the result was more flat than parcel-like. However, it was delicious and next time I will try to be less generous with the filling.

As it happened the king prawns were 20% off at Waitrose meat & deli counter, I had just the right amount of ginger left over, my tomatoes were ripe and in sufficient quantities to use them for cooking – the augaries were good and I obviously needed to make this that night. The sticky chicken I was planning to make that night could happily marinate in its juicy goodness for another day…

Pea and smoked bacon soup

This is my favourite pea and ham soup. The herbs and spices seems odd for this recipe but work a treat. Whenever I make it I can’t have enough of it.

Ingredients
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
4 rashers/125g bacon chopped
600ml/1pt vegetable or chicken stock
300ml/1/2pt milk
500g peas, frozen or fresh
2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
4 slices/125g cooked ham cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp nutmeg, best freshly grated
1/2 tsp thyme (dried or fresh)
1/2 tsp ground coriander

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Gently fry the onions, garlic and bacon over a low heat for about 10 mins until the onions are soft and the bacon is browned.

Add the potatoes and stock to the pan, bring to the boil, turn down heat and simmer for about 10 mins until potatoes are cooked.

Pour in milk and tip peas into pan, simmer for a further few mins until peas are done. remove from heat.

Serve with big wedges of homemade crusty bread or with Pain Quotidien baguette.

Buffalo wings

On my trips to New York, I finally decided to taste and test as many as I could. In one week, I must have tried 2 or 3 places and I was pleasantly surprised by the heat and amount of meat this bar food has.

I managed to get large amounts of chicken wings from my local butchers – the first time I didn’t realise that each wing counted by the butcher is actually two pieces on the table. You need to snip off the wing tips at the first joint and then the remaining piece in two again approximately at the joint. So ordering 15 wings, let’s say for 3 people, turns into 10 pieces each, enough for a main course with bread to soak up the sauce, blue cheese dip and celery. And beer!

Ingredients:
serves 3

15 whole chicken wings

1/2 bottle of buffalo wing sauce (I use Wing Time Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce from my local Partriges. It is powerfully hot and we were feeling it! So for most I’d recommend the medium even mild versions).
bunch of celery sticks
blue cheese dip (recipe below)

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (I usually add a lot more cheese than this. Last time I made this I used some old Stilton that was too cultured to be eaten straight and the sauce was good enough to bottle and sell, as one of my guests kept saying!)
salt and pepper

I prefer to grill the wings, there is plenty of fat in the chicken skins, no need to add more artery clogging material. I heat the grill to medium/high. Baste the wings with sauce – keep enough aside to keep basting it every time you turn them. (Also, remember that as the sauce has been in contact with raw chicken make sure you use it only for cooking and never as additional sauce afterwards.)

Grill the wings for 20-25 mins in 5 minutes intervals, turning them over and basting them with more sauce. It’s a lot of turning but it’s worth it.

Roast beef with roast potatoes, parsnips & carrots

Last night I had a couple of friends over and at the last minute realised that the chicken I planned to make was two small for 4 people. So roast beef it was. I had all the ingredients so it was just a question of timing.

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Ingredients (serves 4):

1.2kg roasting beef
2 large parsnips
4 medium carrots
1-1/2 medium sized potatoes, quartered
rosemary
goose fat
salt and pepper
2 red onions
200ml red wine

First oil and season the beef and brown it in a heavy bottomed pan to seal it. I spiked it with bits of garlic afterwards but not essential. Put it on a rack and pour about 200ml of red wine in the pan, as it adds a bit of flavour to the meat as it evaporates. Cook it for 20 mins on high setting around 240C, then 30-35 minutes on 180C (10 minutes per pound rare times 1.2 per weight). After the first 20 minutes I added an onion sliced into 6 wedges, as onion is the secret ingredient for good and easy gravy.

The beef ended up very pink in the middle, with juices running clear. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, it should be more but everything else was ready and we were starving.

To make roast potatoes I followed this recipe. Parboiled parsnips for a few minutes (5-10 depending on size. I added them to the potatoes for the last 5 mins of parboiling). Roast them in olive oil (or duck or goose fat) for 30-40 minutes on 180C, with the red onion cut into 12 wedges, sprinkled with dried rosemary (fresh better if you have it). Carrots are quick and easy – cut into long chunks, season, put in a pyrex bowl, add a knob of butter, cover with cling film. Put in a microwave for 4-5 minutes, depending on how many there are. They should still be crunchy, with the butter and carrot juices at the bottom of the bowl.

Serve the juices from the meat, the onions are crunchy by now, in a separate bowl as gravy. I usually have hot creamed horseradish with the beef.

Chicken tikka masala revisited

Since I first blogged about my attempts at Indian cooking, this chicken tikka masala has become a favourite. I made it again, third time, last Saturday. I ventured to make Saag Paneer as a side dish and served it with wonderful basmati rice with star anise and cardamom (recipe is in the same post as the chicken tikka masala).

IMG_7718 by alecmuffett IMG_7724 by alecmuffett IMG_7726 by alecmuffett IMG_7731 by alecmuffett IMG_7734 by alecmuffett IMG_7735 by alecmuffett IMG_7736 by alecmuffett IMG_7740 by alecmuffett IMG_7741 by alecmuffett IMG_7744 by alecmuffett

Next I am going to try Korma and Jalfrezi dishes. If successful I’ll cook an Indian feast for friends, where we shall have all of them!

Chicken tikka masala

I made this last week on a weekday and must say it was the best Indian dish I have had outside the Painted Heron. It is not from an Indian source but from Gordon Ramsay. The rice is wonderful too, cardamom and star anise working its fragrant magic.

Ingredients:
Serves 4

Groundnut oil
1 large onion, peeled
2 fresh green chillies
1″ piece of ginger, peeled
3 garlic cloves, peeled
½ tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp soft brown sugar
1 tbsp tomato puree
400g tinned chopped tomatoes
4 boneless chicken breasts (approx 150g each), cubed
10 dried curry leaves
4-6 tbsp natural yoghurt
Handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped

For the steamed rice
400g basmati rice, rinsed
600ml cold water
Salt and pepper
3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 star anise

  1. Heat two tablespoons of groundnut oil in a pan. Slice the onion and fry in the oil. Meanwhile, deseed and chop the chilli, chop the ginger and add to the hot pan, crush in the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.
  2. Add the chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and sugar and cook for 1-2 minutes. Next, add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes to the pan and allow them to cook for a further few minutes.
  3. Transfer the sauce to a food processor and blend until smooth (I transfered into a deepest pyrex ball I had and used a hand blender. This seems unnecessary as the sauce already look good, but it is an essential step to make the dish really creamy and make all the flavours blend.
  4. Add a tablespoon of fresh groundnut oil into the pan and fry the chicken pieces until lightly coloured (watch the video from Gordon on how to joint a chicken). Pour in the blended sauce and add the curry leaves. Simmer gently for 10 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  5. Place the rice in a saucepan, add the cold water and season with salt and pepper (watch the video from Gordon on how to cook rice). Lightly crush the cardamom pods with your fingers and add to the pan with the star anise. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the rice to steam for a further 5 minutes. Remove the cardamom and star anise. Fluff up the rice with a fork and set aside.
  6. Stir in the yoghurt to the chicken curry along with half the chopped coriander. Serve with the steamed rice and garnish with the remaining coriander.

Pan fried calf’s liver

Prepared the French way, calf’s liver is one of my favourite quick and fairly posh dinners. I ask the butcher to cut not too large but rather thick slices, at least 1 inch, preferrably more, 1 1/2 even 2inch is best. I discovered this having the dish at Cafe Boheme (scroll down to the Mains), which has the perfect way of preparing it.

Heat heavy-bottomed pan as hot as you can (I always use Le Creuset gridle) with just enough oil to stop the liver sticking to it too much. Cook for 3-4 minutes depending on how rare you like the meat in the middle. Remember these times apply to thicker slices. After 3 minutes on each side check the meat by making a small incision to see the center and make a decision depending on your preference. Season and serve with horse-radish or mustard potato mash, fried onions in winter and wilted fresh spinach in summer.

Cold calf’s liver is wonderful with bread the next day.

Note: Never salt liver before cooking, it’ll go hard and chewy.