Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Week 5 - Real Good Food - Nigel Slater

February is not yet through and yet we're already back to lamb and already back to dear Nige. I didn't mean to return to Mr Slater so soon, but I have wanted to make this recipe since far before #cookbookchallenge began. In fact right back to my uni days, where I'd tuck myself in to bed and leaf through my rapidly growing collection of cookbooks, before dozing off while dreaming of steak and scallops (sadly the reality was more cheese toasties and tinned tuna).

While I always thought it was rather a summery-sounding recipe, after seeing lamb cutlets reduced on the Waitrose meat counter on the way home from work (already negating the benefits of any pay rise), I knew it was a sign and the time had come to finally make it. 

While it would be perfect thing to enjoy in more clement weather - taking delicate little frenched lamb cutlets, coating in breadcrumbs, fresh mint and Parmesan, and shallow frying until crisp outside and blushing pink within - it bought a little ray of sunshine into a gloomy February evening. Although we did enjoy with a glass of leftover port from Christmas, rather than a crisp glass of cold rose.

While it was slightly more effort than I would normally think of putting into my post-work scran, it was made far easier after I roped in the Ewing - who loves a good process to follow and is far more methodical that I am - to assist with the chopping and prepping and breadcrumbing. 

Lamb chops with Parmesan and mint
adapted from Nigel Slater's Real Fast Food

8 lamb cutlets or 4 lamb chops, fat trimmed
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
large handful of grated Parmesan cheese
50 g fine breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint or parsley, mixed into the breadcrumbs
olive oil for frying
lemon wedges, to serve

Bash chops out carefully with a meat cleaver or rolling pin.
Press chops into the cheese, making sure it sticks well to both sides.
Dip the chops into the egg and then into the herby breadcrumbs.
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pan. Place 3 to 4 chops in the pan, you may have to do this in batches, reduce heat and cook until nicely browned, about 2/3 minutes per side.
If cooking in batches, place cooked chops an oven-proof dish and keep warm in a low oven. Repeat with remaining chops.

I'm pleased to report the effort was certainly worth it, as we both agreed it was one of the best dinners we had enjoyed for a while. And we certainly don't do badly on that front. In fact, for my next trick, I'm already thinking of trying something similar with pork steaks or veal and serving with spaghetti in tomato sauce.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Week 4 Three Sisters Cook

Week four saw one of my favourite celebrations of the year; Burns Night. I would say this is partly in honour of the Ewing's dad, who was born in North Ayrshire, and that is partly true, but my love of haggis, neeps and tatties and the chance to drink warming spirits in the dreary dog-end of winter also may have something to do with it....

This year I decided to serve our haggis as part of a Scottish breakfast with Perthshire black pudding and square sausage. Sadly I couldn't find authentic Lorne sausage, which I believe is made with beef (and would therefore seem to be more of a square burger) but I did find a pork-based Southern appropriation that was still very tasty.

I also made homemade tattie scones, and keeping up with the family theme, the recipe I picked for #cookbookchallenge was from the Three Sisters Bake cookbook, a gift from my sister bought for the Ewing and which has become one of our favourites, not so much for the recipes, but for the inscription inside that always gets me in my feelings.

As well as being part of a Scottish breakfast Tattie scones also appear across the Irish Sea, where my Dad grew up eating them in Belfast, during long summers spent with my Irish Grandmother's family. There they are called potato cakes, or farls, and I'm guessing made from leftover mash and cooked in bacon fat. Growing up my sister and I ate them too, but sadly the ones we were familiar with were the thin, square ones that came in packs of half a dozen from the supermarket. They still tasted pretty great when toasted and covered in butter and beans. 

Tattie scones
Adapted from Three Sisters Cook
500 g potatoes
50 g butter, plus extra for cooking
1/2 tsp salt
100 g flour (plus a little extra for rolling out)
1 tsp baking powder

Peel and half the potatoes and boil in salted water until cooked. 
Drain then return to the pan and mash with the butter.
Add the flour, salt and baking powder and mix until you have a stiff dough.
Roll dough into a circle about 1cm thick then cut into quarters - if you want thinner scones, divide the dough into half and make a circle from each half of dough, to give you 8 scones, but I like chunky ones.
Fry the scones in butter on a griddle/frying pan for 4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
Alternately, brush with a little melted butter and place under the grill, until golden brown on both sides.