Lamb with Spring Vegetable Broth and Real Mint Sauce
Believe it or not I’ve been mulling this recipe over for about two years now. I saw some michelin star chef or other making a very complicated version on a TV show and decided I liked the basic idea, but needed to normalize it for us home cooks. Of course without losing any flavour.
Ingredients for 4 to 6 servings The Spring Vegetable Broth 800ml / 27 fl. oz. of good quality Chicken (or vegetable) stock
500gr / 1.1 lb. baby carrots, cut lengthways in half and then into pieces of about 2.5cm / 1in.
6 x spring onions, cut lengthways in half and then into pieces of about 2.5cm / 1in.
250gr / 0.5 lb of peas (fresh or frozen)
2 x shallots chopped finely
2 x cloves of garlic chopped finely
1 x tbsp of thyme leaves
1 x tbsp of finely chopped fresh chives
1 x tbsp of finely chopped fresh parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
The Mint Sauce The leaves of 8 to 10 stalks of mint
4 x tbsp of water from a recently boiled kettle
3 x tbsp of white wine vinegar
1 x tbsp of sugar
Salt to taste
The Lamb Chops 2 or 3 lamb chops per person
1 x tbsp of fresh thyme leaves
1 x tbsp of finely chopped fresh oregano
Juice of a lemon
1 x tbsp of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
I like to start by making the mint sauce. Strip the leaves of mint from the stalks, sprinkle over a little salt and chop them until fine. Place them in a bowl, pour over the boiling water and add the sugar, stir through and leave to cool. Once cool add the vinegar and check the flavour – you can adjust the salt, vinegar or sugar if you wish.
Then, prepare the lamb chops. In a bowl, mix together the thyme, oregano, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Add the chops and mix through to cover them with the rub and set aside. Line a roasting tray with aluminium foil ready for the lamb to be roasted in.
Now for the broth. In a medium/large heavy bottomed pan, heat the stock until it reaches a gentle boil, add the garlic, shallots, thyme and carrots. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid, and cook for about 8 minutes on a gentle simmer. You should cook until the carrots are almost ready. When I start cooking the broth I like to put the oven on to heat for the lamb chops at 180°C / 360°F
Whilst the broth is cooking, your oven will reach temperature, place the chops in your lined tray, scraping all the rub over them and put them in the oven. The chops will need about 15 to 20 minutes in the oven – flip them over half way through the cooking time.
Add the spring onions, peas and salt and pepper to your broth and cook for a further 5 minutes.
Check for seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary (the amount will depend on how your stock tastes), add the parsley and chives just before serving.
I like to place the broth in the bowl then the chops on top and drizzle with a little mint sauce.
Tips and Variations
When cooking the broth, it is important to cook the vegetables gently and not on a fierce boil. If you do boil them to harshly, you will lose a lot of the liquid in the broth. Also, the cooking time depends on the size you have cut your vegetables. The reason you don’t want the carrots cooked through at stage 3 is because you need to let them cook a little more with the rest of the vegetables and you don’t want them turning to mush.
There should be enough broth to serve just a little with each serving. Think of it in this recipe as being more of a light sauce or gravy rather than a soup – you don’t want the lamb swimming in it.
More often than not, I use frozen peas for this recipe. I don’t defrost them before adding them to the broth as they defrost and cook really quickly.
I like to serve this dish with some boiled potatoes (new if in season) tossed in a little salt, pepper and chives.
Recipe for Roast Butternut Squash Salad with Goat’s Cheese
Phew! After all that delicious (but a little bit full on) food in France, it’s great to get back home and back into the kitchen to make something that I really love.
This recipe for roast butternut squash salad with goat’s cheese has some classic combinations. It’s not revolutionary, I’m not re-inventing the wheel here, just getting back to some basics.
You’ll have to forgive me for showing off the herbs I’ve been growing on my balcony – I’ve put loads of them into this recipe.
Preparation Time: Under 10 minutes Cooking Time: About 15 to 20 minutes to roast the squash
For the Salad 4 x baby gem lettuce shredded or chopped finely
50gr / 1.7 oz. toasted pumpkin seeds
50gr / 1.7 oz. toasted pine nuts
100gr / 3.5 oz. mange tout, chopped finely
250gr / 8.8 oz. soft goat’s cheese
To Roast the Butternut Squash 1 x medium butternut squash with the seeds removed and cut into roughly thumb sized pieces (keep the skin on).
2 x tbsps of olive oil
1 x tbsp of honey
2 x tsps of fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Dressing 4 x tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Juice of a lemon
1 x tbsp honey
8 to 10 basil leaves chopped finely
1 x tbsp finely chopped chives
1 x tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
Salt and Black Pepper to taste
To roast the squash, pre-heat your oven to 200°C / 400°C. Place the squash in a roasting tin, drizzle over the honey and oil, sprinkle over the thyme and a few grinds of black pepper and mix everything through until covered. Roast in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until it has softened and taken on some colour. When cooked, add a little salt.
Whilst the squash is roasting (or you can roast it in advance), prepare the dressing by whisking the oil, lemon juice and honey in a bowl, then stir through the herbs. Add seasoning, tasting as you go.
Place the ingredients for the salad in your serving bowl, keeping back a little of the squash, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and cheese to dress.
Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it through until everything is covered evenly. Place some of the squash, nuts and seeds and cheese over the top decoratively and drizzle with a little extra oil if you wish.
I’m often rummaging around the cupboards looking for a snack. I know I shouldn’t, and I know that really, if I’m really trying to be good, to eat healthy, I shouldn’t be snacking at all. It is after all a new invention. We used to eat our three square meals a day and that was that. So I know I shouldn’t, but I accept that I’m going to, so might as well have something around that’s going to give me some good nutrients – right?
Preparation Time: 20 minutes plus 2 to 24 hours chilling time Cooking Time: 1 to 1.5 hrs
Ingredients for 1 loaf: Loaf tin 30cm/12in. x 11cm/4.5in. x 7cm/3in. deep
(1 Cup = 250ml)
3 cups of porridge oats
½ cup of dried cranberries
¾ cup sultanas
1 x cup of pumpkin seeds
2 cups of desiccated coconut
¼ cup of chia seeds
¼ cup of hemp seeds
1 x cup of chopped walnuts
2 x tsp salt
2 x tsp cinnamon
1 x tsp nutmeg
2 x tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup of olive oil
½ cup of honey
2 x cups of water
Line your loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl followed by the wet. Stir everything together until it is evenly mixed and the water has been taken up.
Place the mix, pushing it down a little to firm it into your loaf tin. This amount should almost fill the tin.
Cover with cling-film and place in the fridge for at least two hours, if you can, leave it overnight or even up to 24 hours.
When you are ready to bake your loaf, pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Remove the cling film and cover it with aluminium foil.
Bake for an hour, remove the foil and place back in the oven checking every ten minutes that the top browns but does not burn – if it starts to get too dark, cover with the aluminium foil again.
As this is quite a dense loaf, I like to check it in the middle with a thermometer to make sure it has been cooked through. When the thermometer registers 95°C / 190°F in the middle and the top is a dark golden brown the loaf is ready.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely (at least two hours) before you try to slice it. If you try to do this before the loaf has cooled, it tends to be a bit wet in the centre and crumble on the outside.
Tips and Variations
You can keep the bread for a few days in a cool dry place, however I like to slice it and then freeze it so that I can take a slice out of the freezer when I feel like it and toast it.
12 large white asparagus, peeled and the bottom 1.5 cm removed
50gr of toasted pine nuts (you can toast them in a non-stick pan – be careful to keep an eye on them)
2 x spring onions chopped finely.
4 medium tomatoes, chopped into little cubes (make sure they are ripe)
6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste
To cook the asparagus, place them in a large pan of boiling water for about 7 minutes. Make sure they have plenty of water in which to cook. To check they are ready, just pierce the thickest part with a sharp knife, there should be a slight resistance.
Whilst the asparagus is cooking, mix the olive oil, vinegar, tomato, onion and a little salt and pepper in a bowl to make a dressing. Just mix together with a fork. If you do this before you start to cook the asparagus, the ingredients will give more flavour into the oil.
To serve, drain the asparagus, share out on plates, drizzle over the dressing and sprinkle with the pine nuts.
Tips and Variations
This is a great light alternative to the usual heavy version with Hollandaise sauce or with melted butter and ham.
This can also be served as a side dish to salmon.
Try serving on a bed of seasonal leaves, just lightly dressed with a little extra virgin oil and white balsamic.
If you don’t have white balsamic vinegar, you can use white wine vinegar (add a tsp of honey to this version) or normal dark coloured balsamic vinegar, if you don’t mind the colour.
Works well with green asparagus as well, although you will need more spears per portion. I love to dress this version with some shards of parmesan or a sprinkling of crumbled soft goat’s cheese.
This has to be one of my simple of all my ‘Keep it Simple’ recipes. Not only is it super easy, but it’s super quick, tasty and healthy too.
Preparation Time: Less than 10 minutes Cooking Time: Less than 10 minutes
Serves 4 2 x tbsps olive oil (or, use the oil in which your anchovies are stored)
600gr / 1.3 lb. salmon filets, sliced into bite sized pieces
6 x spring onions (scallions) chopped finely
2 x large cloves of garlic chopped finely
5 or 6 anchovy filets chopped finely
5 x medium tomatoes chopped roughly
½ tsp of dried chili flakes (more if you want more of a kick)
800gr / 1.7 lb. spinach (the frozen kind, defrosted)
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan.
When the oil is hot, add the spring onions (scallions), garlic, anchovies and chili. Stir and fry off for just under a minute. Let the ingredients brown but not burn.
Add the salmon and allow to cook, turning it over once or twice, but resist the temptation to stir around too much, you will just break up the fish and make it mushy. Get a nice brown colour, so watch your heat – hot enough to brown but turn it down or move around just a little if you notice it is burning.
Add the tomatoes, stir through, then add the spinach. If any water has accumulated whilst you have been defrosting the spinach, just use that too.
Stir through and add some salt.
Cook the spinach for about 3 or 4 minutes, it should bubble a little.