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.

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Glazed roast duck

This is the best duck I have made to date. It came out beautifully brown, with five-spice, honey and other brown flavours with meat juicy and flavourful. A success, which I hope to repeat every time I want to roast a whole duck. It was the first time I decided to steam the duck simply because it reduced the overall cooking time to 1 hour 45minutes, which is better than the usual 2 1/2- 3 hours it usually took me to slow roast a duck.

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Here’s the recipe:

time to make 2½ hours, out of which 30 min is prep the night before

1 whole duck (4 to 5 pound)
1 tablespoon Chinese five spice powder
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
5 slices fresh ginger (I went a bit crazy there as one can never have enough ginger)
4 cloves garlic (ditto)
1/2 bunch green onions (didn’t use these, forgot)
1 tangerine, peel cut in big strips
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup soy sauce

To reduce the fat and produce a crispy skin, begin by trimming the excess fat from the neck and body. Rinse the duck, inside and out, and pat dry thoroughly with paper towels. Combine the Chinese five-spice, sugar, and salt in a small bowl. Rub the spice mixture all over the duck, inside and out. Salt and five-spice powder makes a fragrant dry marinade, which draws some of the moisture from the duck so that the spices penetrate. I left the duck rest overnight in a larder so it was a bit air-dried as well.

When ready to rock and roast, stuff the duck cavity with the aromatics: the ginger, garlic, green onions, and tangerine peel. Fold the wing tips back under the duck and tie the legs together with kitchen string. Poke the duck breast a few times, piercing the skin. Place a roasting pan on the stovetop over 2 burners and fill with 2-inches of water, turn the heat to medium. Set a V-rack insert inside the pan and lay the duck on the rack, breast-side up. Cover tightly with aluminium foil. Steam the duck for 45 minutes, checking the water level periodically. Seems obvious but when doing this, make sure you don’t get burnt by the escaping steam. Steaming the duck first melts away some of the fat and shrinks the skin.

In a small saucepan combine the vinegar, honey, and soy sauce over low heat. Bring to a boil and simmer and stir for 15 minutes until sauce thickens. The duck will be lacquered with the sweet glaze, which caramelizes during roasting, making the skin crisp and brown.

Preheat the oven to 190C. Take the foil off the duck, remove the rack with the duck and pour out the water and all the fat that has rendered out. Put the rack with the duck back inside the roasting pan. Baste the duck with the vinegar mixture, until all the skin is completely coated in the glaze. Stick the whole thing in the oven.

Roast the duck for 1 hour, basting periodically with any remaining glaze to set in a deep mahogany colour. Tent the breast with some foil if it gets too dark. I didn’t need to do this as the duck was rather large so it could take the heat. The legs will wiggle easily when it’s done or the usual test – when pierce clear juices will run – works too.

I left it stand for a few minutes while waiting for the sweet potatoes to finish roasting for a mash. Carve and serve.

The duck was served with sweet potato mash and brussel sprouts with garlic and parmesan. Oh and a decent, if not extravagant, bottle of French red.
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Photos courtesy of Alec Muffett. Many thanks!

Spiced Butternut Squash Salad

This is a combination of three recipes, which was going to be either absolutely fabulous or a complete overload of flavours and ingredients. It turned out to the first option and so I am recording it for future reference.

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

800g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 medium bunch of spring onions, trimmed and halved
a few splashes of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic with skin on
2 cm chunk of fresh ginger
2-3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp coriander seeds, lightly crushed
1 tsp cumin seeds, lightly crushed
100g rocket
cooking chorizo

Soy balsamic dressing:

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tbsp soy sauce, I used dark one
1 fresh red chilli seeded and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp clear honey

Heath the over to 220C/fan 200C/gas 6. Place the squash, spring onions and garlic in a large roasting tin. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with seeds and season. Roast for 30 minutes, shaking the tray a couple of times to keep it from sticking.

Whilst roasting slice the chorizo and dry fry until crispy. Set aside.

Pop the garlic cloves from the skins, mash and stir into the dressing. Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

Put the rocket in a salad serving bowl and arrange the squash on top. Pour the dressing over, sprinkle with the crispy chorizo and serve.

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

I made this as a combination of two recipies for a creamy butternut squash soup. It came out truly amazing and I just have to make a note of what I did to recreate it exactly next time.

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Total time: 70 minutes  
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500ml Chicken or Vegetable Stock
  • 800g-1kg Butternut squash, seeded and peeled
  • 4 tbsp Olive oil
  • 4 small Thai chillies choppped
  • 1 tsp Ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Garam masala
  • 6 Garlic cloves, peeled, whole
  • 1 Onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large piece of ginger (about 10cm) very finelly chopped
  • 400ml Coconut milk (1 can of Waitrose half-fat)
  • 1 Lime, juice (I used half a lemon)
  • Double cream, to serve
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • Fresh Thai chillies chopped
Method
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C, gas mark 6. Cut the squash into 5cm chunks, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil and toss with the chillies and spices. Roast for 20 minutes than scatter over the garlic and roast for a further 20 minutes or until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining olive oil in a large saucepan; add the onion and ginger, cover, and allow to soften. Saute for about 10 minutes. Add the roasted butternut squash, stock and coconut milk. Simmer for 10 minutes, add lime juice or lemon juice to taste and season. Liquidise with a handheld blender or a processor.
  3. Serve with a drizzle of double cream, add fresh basil and chilli to garnish the soup.

Venison steaks with cranberry sauce and celeriac puree

I love venison, especially in winter and this year I decided to try as many ways of preparing it as I can find. I think steaks are the best way, though I am partial to venison sausages with red wine (used to get them at the Kingsland Edwardian butchers in Portobello Road).

This recipe is a combined one. The venison steaks with the cranberry sauce are a Delia recipe, the celeriac puree is from BBC food site.


Venison steaks and cranberry sauce

For the steaks
2 venison steaks (about 14 oz/400 g total weight)
1 tablespoon groundnut or other flavourless oil
2 level teaspoons crushed peppercorns
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
salt

For the sauce
2 rounded tablespoons cranberry sauce
zest and juice ½ orange
zest and juice ½ small lemon
1 rounded teaspoon freshly grated root ginger (about 1 inch/2.5 cm cube, after peeling)
1 level teaspoon mustard powder
3 tablespoons port

If you want to, you can make the sauce way ahead of time (even several days). Take off the outer zest of half the orange and the lemon using a potato peeler, then with a sharp knife shred it into really fine strips, about ½ inch (1cm) long.

Then place the cranberry sauce, ginger and mustard in a saucepan, add the squeezed orange and lemon juice, and place over a medium heat. Now bring it up to simmering point, whisking well to combine everything together, then as soon as it begins to simmer turn the heat off, stir in the port and then pour it into a jug to keep till needed.

When you’re ready to cook the steaks, heat the oil in a medium-sized, thick-based frying pan. Dry the steaks thoroughly with kitchen paper, then press the crushed peppercorns firmly over both sides of the steaks. When the oil is smoking hot, drop the steaks into the pan and let them cook for 5 minutes on each side for medium (4 minutes for rare and 6 minutes for well done).

Halfway through, add the shallots and move them around the pan to cook and brown at the edges. Then 30 seconds before the end of the cooking time pour the sauce in – not over, but around the steaks. Let it bubble for about 20 seconds, season with salt, and then serve the steaks with the sauce poured over.

Celeriac puree

700g/9oz celeriac
70g/2oz unsalted butter
70ml/2fl oz double cream or 100ml milk
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of nutmeg
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the celeriac in boiling water for 20-25 minutes, if you want, add 2 medium sized potatoes. Drain well and blend all of the ingredients either in a food processor or a hand blender (I use the latter). Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper and blend to a purée.