Zoe organised a supper at hers with Tim, Patrick, and Chris last night, and texted me in the morning asking what we should cook and this is what I came up with. I love fruit cooked with rich meat in the winter. We were a jolly bunch.
Cooking the lamb like this keeps it really moist and tender and it makes its own gravy.
Carrot and Tarragon Salad with Walnuts
5 or 6 carrots, peeled and then grated or shaved with a peeler, or ideally with a mandolin
2-3 tablespoons of chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons of chopped, toasted walnuts
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ teaspoon of sugar
3 tablespoons of olive oil
a good pinch of salt, to taste
a grind of pepper
How to make:
Mix the dressing ingredients together. Just before service mix the carrot with the tarragon, the walnuts and the dressing.
The reason for mixing just before serving is to keep the carrot crunchy and to stop the salt in the dressing from leeching all of the liquid from the carrots.
Lamb with Prunes, Garlic, Rosemary, Vinegar and Red Wine
2kg (or thereabouts) meaty lamb shoulder, boned and rolled, that can fit into a casserole
200g prunes, roughly chopped
½ bulb garlic
250ml red wine
3 tablespoons of wine vinegar
a sprig of rosemary
a sprig of sage leaves (optional)
How to make:
Season the lamb all over and rub with olive oil.
Stuff 4/5 cloves of bruised garlic cloves and ½ of the prunes into the centre of the rolled shoulder. Also stuff in half of the rosemary and the sage leaves.
Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the large casserole and throw in a few cloves of bruised garlic and fry on a medium heat until the garlic is aromatic. Then add the lamb and seal all over until browned. Add in the prunes, wine, water, vinegar, a good pinch and the remainder of the herbs into the casserole.
Cool with the lid slightly off so some steam can escape either on the top, on a low-medium heat, or in the oven for around 1.5 hours, or until the lamb is still pink but not raw in the middle. Check after 1 hour.
If the liquid seems to be evaporating too fast add in another cup of water.
Remove the lamb from the dish and leave to rest for twenty minutes and then taste the gravy in the dish, if it needs to taste stronger reduce slightly. Season it to taste with salt and add a touch more vinegar if it seems to sweet.
Rice cooked and then mixed with almonds and spinach cooked in melted butter, and a good grating of nutmeg. Zoe’s excellent and foolproof method for cooking the rice is to rinse it, add it to a pan, cover with water so that the water is about 1 inch above the rice with a pinch of salt. Put the lid on the pan, and put on a medium heat and leave it. It will be cooked after 15-20 minutes.
Spiced Fig and Plum Spelt Cake
I took the proportions of this from this site and they worked really well.
500g mix of figs and plums, cut into 8ths
150g spelt flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
80g flaked almonds
150g soft brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinammon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon mixed spice
3 medium eggs
150ml natural yogurt
100ml sunflower oil
How to make
Pre-heat the oven to 180c.
Sift together the flour, baking powder and spices. Add 2/3 of the almond flakes.
In a separate bowl whisk together the egg and the sugar. Then mix in the oil and the yogurt.
Fold in the flour with a metal spoon.
Stir in 2/3 the fruit.
Pour into a medium-sized baking tray and top with the remaining fruit and almond flakes.
Bake for 35-40 minutes. Test cake after 30 minutes to check it’s cooked.
Yogurt and a dusting of cinnamon.