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.

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.

Chicken with garlic and cider

This is a wonderful impromptu dish I made for my mother when looking at what ingredients I had at hand. From my trusted source of ocado recipes.

Don’t be put off by the large quantity of garlic, as the flavour will mellow in the cooking. Good with boiled new potatoes and green beans.

Serves 4

Total time required 50 mins

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 40 mins

Ingredients:

15 Garlic Cloves, unpeeled

1 pinch Salt

1 pinch Black Pepper, freshly ground

2 tbsp Olive Oil

30g Butter, unsalted

4 Chicken Breasts, skin on

1 Bay Leaf

450ml Dry Cider

200ml Apple Juice

200ml Double Cream

1 tbsp Thyme, leaves

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). Cook the whole, unpeeled garlic cloves in a pan of boiling salted water for 4 minutes. Drain, cool slightly, then peel and set aside.

Heat the oil and butter in the casserole. When sizzling, add the chicken, skin-side down, and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Turn the chicken over and add the garlic cloves, bay leaf, cider, and apple juice. Cover and transfer to the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

Lift the chicken out of the pan. Remove half the garlic cloves and discard. Bring the remaining juices up to the boil. Crush the garlic into the juices with a fork, then boil until reduced and thickened slightly.

Add the cream, season to taste with salt and pepper, and simmer for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the sauce and baste with the juices; add the thyme leaves and serve immediately.

Chicken with fennel and thyme

A brilliantly simple chicken recipe. Fennel and thyme make for a deliciously refreshing change and the result is rather Italian.

Serves 6
Ready in about 40 minutes

Ingredients
4 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
20g bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
200g smoked lardons or pancetta pieces
2 fennel bulbs, each cut into 12 wedges
1 red onion, sliced into 12 wedges
300ml dry white wine

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil into a non-stick roasting tin. Add the garlic, thyme, 1 tablespoon sea salt and 2 teaspoons ground black pepper and mix. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Scatter with the lardons or pancetta, add the fennel and onion, and drizzle with the remaining oil. Cook for 15 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 230°C/fan210°C/gas 8.

2. Pour the wine into the tin and cook for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and the vegetables tender. Serve with the Lemon-dressed tagliatelle.

Nutritional Information per serving:
371kcals
17.7g fat (5g saturated)
41.6g protein
3g carbs
2.2g sugar
1.9g salt

Pork belly with soy and star anise recipe

A recent find via the Telegraph recipes, a succulent dish of pork belly and aromatic ingredients such as star anise, chilli, ginger and garlic. I made it in the last throes of cold weather in the UK – it seemed to be a winter dish but the ginger lifts it to any season.

As it happens the cold, if sunny, spell continues so perhaps time to make it again.

 

IMG_7803, originally uploaded by alecmuffett.

The full set of photos is here.

Ingredients:

1.5kg (3lb 5oz) pork belly, bones removed, rind on
125ml (4fl oz) dark soy sauce
75ml (2¾fl oz) Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
25ml (¾fl oz) rice vinegar
2 tbsp soft light-brown sugar
5cm (2in) piece root ginger, peeled and finely sliced (I added twice that much as we love ginger!)
3 star anise
3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely sliced (as usual, I added one more chilli)
12 spring onions, sliced on the diagonal (I didn’t have spring onions so used one red onion finely chopped)

Cut the belly into chunks about 5cm (2in) square. Put in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for five minutes. Skim off any scum. Strain the pork , rinse the pan and put the pork back in. Add about 1.5 litres (2 pints 15fl oz) fresh water (or light chicken stock ), plus all the other ingredients, setting aside half the spring onions . Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer, cover tightly and leave to cook very gently for two hours, or until the pork is completely tender. Make sure it doesn’t boil dry – add more water if you need to.

Scoop out the pork with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reduce the liquor by boiling until you have a good flavour. Return the pork to the liquid and heat through. Serve in bowls with the rest of the spring onions sprinkled over the top. Serve with noodles or boiled rice, plus some kind of stir-fried greens – cabbage or pak choi. I got a bag of vegetables from M&S, which I quickly stir-fried with some oyster sauce.

Update: I made it again and this time I reduced the liquor to a syrupy reduction. This turns the dish from nice to fantastic!

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.

Quick chicken stir-fry with peppers, water chesnuts and onion

This is truly one of the improvised quick dishes. I was going to make chicken with okra Louisiana style but discovered that the okra has gone bad. So I had to regroup and stir-fry was the easiest (and fastest) option:

Ingredients:
Takes 10-15 mins (if you are fast chopper!)

groundnut oil
2 chicken breasts diced
2 garlic cloves
1 inch chunk of fresh ginger finally chopped
1 fresh green chilli finely chopped, use whole, do not deseed if you want a bit of kick
1 medium sized red onion chopped into slices so they retain shape and crispness
1 bell pepper cut into square pieces
1 can of water chestnuts
handful of cashews
packet of Amoy Teryiaki sauce

In a wok heat 1-2 tbsp of oil, fry the garlic, chilli and ginger. Throw in the cashews so they fry in the oil before everything else goes in. Add the chicken and fry for 3-4 mins depending on the size of the cubes. Add the water chestnuts cook for a minute, then add the pepper and onion and stir fry for 3 minutes. Add the sauce, turn down the heat and stir for about a minute. Serve immediately.

Hot and sour prawn soup

This is one of my favourite soups but I always thought it would be too complicated to make at home. I love the fragrant broth with galangal and lemongrass and a kick of bird’s eye chilli.

Ingredients:
Serves 4, Ready in 30 minutes

25g tamarind pulp (I used tamarind paste from waitrose, it seemed to work but will try to get pulp next time to see if it makes any difference)
1 tsp sunflower oil
1 tsp palm sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 litre fish stock
2 lemongrass stalks, outer layer discarded and finely sliced
5cm piece galangal, sliced
2 fresh or dried kaffir lime leaves
1 red bird’s eye chilli, sliced
250g raw king prawns, peeled, deveined with tail shells left on
Juice of ½ lime
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla)
1 spring onion, sliced
Handful fresh coriander leaves

  1. Put the tamarind pulp into a bowl and pour over 125ml hot water. Set aside for 10 minutes. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the palm sugar and garlic. Stir-fry for 1 minute.

    Tip To freeze: Freeze at the end of step 2 for up to 2 months. Thaw and complete the recipe to serve.

  2. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer. Strain the tamarind liquid into the pan and add the lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves and chilli. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Add the prawns and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until pink and cooked through. Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, spring onion and coriander. Serve straightaway.