Shoulder of fortune…


Shoulder of fortune...

I last made this dish back in March (recipe March 30th) but I have always only ever done previously cooked it with a leg – but a good friend of mine – a lovely lady called Liza – let me, very kindly, have a shoulder of lamb from one of her own recently slaughtered beasts. And it was tremendous – cooking lamb straight on the rack for me is one of, if not the best, ways to treat this fine meat. It went in for 3 hours on 160c. Perfection. It oozed taste and succulence. Below it, I had popped the leeks, chopped, 2 red onions sliced and 5 cloves of garlic, halved in a tray of olive oil and roasted then for 10 minutes before adding bay leaves, a bouquet garni and 2 tins of drained cannellini beans this time, plus 1 and a half litres of chicken stock. It sat under the lamb and caught all its fabulous juices. I had scored the lamb first and rubbed in a garam masala mix, which gave it a wonderful warmth for a Sunday.

If you have never tried it – please, please do! It is magical.


IMG_4494All the good things in life on a plate…

Demo done…a good evening all round!


Demo done...a good evening all round!

Last night I was invited to give a cookery demo to a group of around 40/50 people at a Food and Wine evening held at Parsonage Farm in Upton, Hampshire. ( That is me above – I know I look like I am about to fall asleep – but I reckon I was moving so fast my wife couldn’t capture me without a blur! ) It was a very enjoyable evening and my first ever live demo! A superb butcher began the evening showing how to bone half a hogget – a lamb that is between one and two years old – so not a lamb and not yet mutton! It has an incredible depth of flavour and I prefer it to lamb. I then followed by demonstrating a dish that could be made from a shoulder of lamb. I used the wonderful succulent lamb from the farm and cooked Cordero al Chilindron – see June 24th for the recipe. I spoke for around 25 minutes and enjoyed every moment! The audience were receptive and I enjoyed their questions afterwards. Everyone got to sample my dish and several other dishes that were on offer – including some fabulous pulled pork that had been cooked in a Thai rub – a mix of various spices – provided by two lovely folk from Anna Valley Chillies – you can see their web site at – well worth a visit! They do a splendid Hot Banana Ketchup and several rubs for meat. They also have their own smokehouse and produce wonderful smoked salmon and trout. And…they grow all their own chillies! There were folk selling local brews too and a local wine merchant.

My thanks to Sarah and John Mills – who own Parsonage Farm – for giving me the opportunity – and to fulfil a lifelong ambition! The barn setting was very atmospheric and intimate.

Right, I now have the bug for demonstrating so I will have to search for more opportunities!


Minty lamb in a red wine sauce on Parmesan mash…


Minty lamb in a red wine sauce on Parmesan mash...

Just a really warming luscious simple lamb stew, perfect for autumnal nights. This is a favourite of mine though I do not make it often enough. Last night we had it for supper and we all remembered why we like it so much – velvety and filling and

I used neck fillet cubed. 3 or 4 fillets should easily be enough for 4 of you
Plain flour for dusting / runny honey / half a bottle of a good red wine – I used a tempranillo / bunch of mint torn into shreds / 12 baby plum tomatoes / a clove of garlic peeled and left whole / black pepper / chicken stock cube / olive oil

I use a high sided stainless steel casserole with a lid – see my earlier blog on these highly versatile creatures. Coat the lamb pieces in the flour. Then drizzle over a little of the honey.
Pan fry the lamb in olive oil until browned lightly. Remove from pan and add to the casserole. Add the tomatoes and fry gently until starting to soften. Add to the lamb, pop in the garlic clove then add enough red wine to just cover the ingredients, then crumble in the chicken stock cube and stir.Toss in the mint but save some for last few minutes. Add a dash of tomato puree if you wish – depending on how strong you like your sauces. A dash of black pepper too. 

Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer for about an hour and a half. Cover with foil first then put on the lid. Add rest of mint before serving. 

I ladled it onto a bed of pillowy soft parmesan mash – potatoes mashed with 100 gm of butter a tablespoon of cream and 50 gm or so of grated parmesan. 
Heaven on a plate.

Right, back to my wine and a bag of my favourite Seabrook’s Cheese and onion crisps! Enjoy your evening, people!

Green Day….


Green Day....

I know, I know, rack of lamb again….boring…sorry, but as it was so good last month I succumbed and ordered another rack from Parsonage Farm – please check out their website!

So, we had it ce soir…and I am still in Jersey Royal mode, so these were, once again, bosom buddies with the lamb.

But…. I had also a large bag of greens – and I felt that they needed more than just a stiff steam. So, I popped a large wad, sliced pretty thinly, in a wok with an inch of water- put a lid on and let them wilt a tad for 5 minutes. I then drained the green goddesses and whilst they lay recumbent in the colander, I added a grind or two of rock salt and some crushed dried chillies. Whilst they rested, I pan fried some finely cubed chorizo til almost crispy – transferred this to the now clean wok, popped it on the heat and stirred in the greens. The flavour was very very tasty indeed….I could imagine it with turkey at Christmas….but it certainly went well with the lamb.

Anyway…it was different…and it brought a hint of warmth, along with the succulent lamb to a frankly disastrously damp Wednesday. The cockles of my heart at least now feel dry and mellow…..

Tikka Lamb Leg for a Lazy Sunday afternoon…


Tikka Lamb Leg for a Lazy Sunday afternoon...

Well…this was one of those days when..despite me thinking it was all going pear all turned out absolutely tickety boo! Mid morning shenanigans centring around trying to ferry my 17 year old daughter to a bus stop to go to London for a concert were time-chewingly annoying as she then realised that she had misread the timetable…no bus on a Sunday.and this all occupied steak-like chunks of my time knowing I had folk round for a late late lunch that I had to get into the oven as soon as…anyway, I ended up driving her and her friends to the’s what Dad’s do…but it also put me slightly…understatement being used here big time – behind time…anyway…all I do here is set the scene…I got back in time to throw the tikka marinade together, slam in the lamb, then grab an hour in the sun, shades on, cricket on the radio…and I almost caught up with myself.

The leg of lamb was from those lovely people at Parsonage Farm..tis lamb like no other, Real lamb. Lamb that fights back.

The recipe is based on an old one of Mr Oliver’s, though I think he uses a shoulder. But I had this monster of a leg..and it was crying out for a summer spice mix. we go.

You need :
2kg leg of lamb
Tikka paste – recipe in a patient
Red chiili, deseeded and sliced finely
2 garlic cloves finely sliced
I red onion finely sliced

Ok- for the tikka paste – you could use a shop bought jar – but why bother? This is funkier and sexier and far far tastier.

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 garlic cloves peeled
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp veg oil or ground nut oil
2 tbsp of tomato sauce
2 red chillies
Small bunch of coriander
2 tsp ground almonds

For the paste – fry cumin and coriander seeds on a medium heat until toasted and smelling good. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredients and whizz until smooth.

Score lightly the fat side of the lamb. Smear it all over with the tikka paste – you will not use it all. Then stab a few holes in the skin and slot in the red chilli slices and garlic slices. It should look like this…


In an ideal world..I do not live in one but you might….marinate over night…pre heat oven when you are ready to cook it…170c. Lay the red onion slices on the bottom of a roasting tin. Drizzle with oil. Place lamb on top. Pop in the oven , covered with a wet sheet of grease proof paper for 3 and a half hours. Baste every half an hour. The coating will be beautifully wizened as in photo at top of page. Slice chunks off , or pull off with two forks.


Serve it with this brilliant crunchy Indian Chopped Salad.

Ingredients –

1 tsp fenugreek seeds / 1 tsp mustard seeds / small handful of dry curry leaves, crumbled / 1 tsp of chutney – I use Mrs Balls, but  mango chutney would be okey dokey / 4 poppadoms / 2 carrots peeled and grated / 1/2 cucumber / 1 bunch radishes / 3 spring onions / 2 little gem lettuces / a big handful of cherry tomatoes / 1 red chill deseeded / bunch coriander / bunch of mint / lemon

On a large board add the grated carrot, then chop up finely the cucumber, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, chilli and the herbs. Add to the board and mix well. In a frying pan, gently fry the fenugreek, mustard seeds and the curry leaves in a glug of oil – I used garlic infused rapeseed oil. When the mustard seeds start to pop and jump – take off heat and add the chutney. Let it cool, then add to the board and mix in with all the other ingredients, plus a little grind of rock salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Crumble in the poppadom and stir again.


This was a corker of a meal – we ate with friends about 5pm, washed down with this……. well lots of this actually……….


….and then, for a dessert, which we ate at about 7pm on the garden in the late afternoon sun, I pan fried pears, halved in butter and brown sugar. I added sloe gin to each pears centre. Popped a lid on and left for about 25 minutes. I marinated some strawberries in strawberry liqueur for same length of time. I served them together with all the juices and a blob or so of crème fraîche.

IMG_3237IMG_3240Lazy Sunday afternoon luxury..and we ate our dessert in the sun, listening to the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra himself, crooning his heart out. Perfect…..

First…catch yourself a pigeon…


I began early on in my twenties to collect cookery books and one that I really enjoyed reading and cooking from early on was The Readers Digest Cookery Year. Sounds dull I know – Readers Digest magazines were not the most scintillating of reads, even when you were stuck for an interminably long time in a dentist’s waiting room watching paint peel from the walls and trying to not hear children screaming just before the high pitched squeal of the drill wailed out – but this was a really interesting book, with colour plates of seasonal veg and fruit, photos of all the various animals and cuts of meat. Then the recipes followed for each month using veg, fruit, fish and meat for that season. It was first published around 1974 and it contains 500 or so traditional recipes, some of which are in danger of being lost if we are not careful, such as Durham Squab Pie. The book has a guide on how to skin rabbits, hang pheasants etc etc and gives advice on preparation. Sounds daunting but the recipes are easy to follow. This would be an appealing book for a novice cook, with hundreds of photographs of finished dishes to give a bit of confidence. It starts with chapters introducing one to all the basic main ingredients. Varieties of fish, meat, poultry, vegetables and fruit are all described in detail and are illustrated with the most marvellous water-colours. This medium seems to work well, giving a far clearer impression of the anatomical characteristics of the subject than can even the best photograph. Despite being a book from the 70s it is not bland or dull. Each month includes menus for that month and it uses butter, lard, and beef dripping in many recipes, so not for people with fancy diets! You can buy a new version of this book, but sadly they have gone all health conscious and it leaves lots of the more interesting dishes out and replaces butter or lard with olive oil. You can get hard back copies of the 70s edition on e bay for around £15 and it is well worth it.

Durham Squab Pie, which I mentioned above, is a lamb dish that makes you want to stoke up the fire and settle down for the evening. Originally, many, many years ago it was made using the (humble and much maligned) pigeon, which is what squab means. In culinary terminology, squab is a young domestic pigeon or its meat. The meat is widely described as tasting like dark chicken-though seemingly everything is when folk are stuck for a comparison! The term is probably of Scandinavian origin; the Swedish word ‘skvabb’ means “loose, fat flesh”. It formerly applied to all dove and pigeon species, such as the Wood Pigeon, the Mourning Dove, and the now-extinct and wonderfully named, Passenger Pigeon, and to their meat. More recently, squab meat comes almost entirely from domesticated pigeons. Anyway, the dish I used to cook a lot in the eighties, uses lamb or mutton chops. Squab pies would have had pie crusts top and bottom but mine uses sliced potatoes to line the buttered casserole dish.

Anyway – here is the recipe: Lightly pan fry the chops in oil until brown then lay to one side. You’ll probably need twelve for 4 people. Add a knob of butter to the pan and fry a couple of sliced cooking apples with a sliced onion and a table spoon of brown sugar. Peel around 4 or 5 medium potatoes – King Edward’s preferably, or just whites will do – then slice them thinly – about the width of a pound coin – no wider. Butter a casserole dish and line the bottom with half the potato slices, allowing them to overlap slightly. Lie the chops on the bed of potato slices, then sprinkle generously some fresh rosemary over them. A grind too of a little rock salt and lots of black pepper. When the apple mixture has been lightly browned, add to the chops and top up with chicken stock until just over the top of the chops- a litre should be more than enough. Then add another layer of sliced potatoes over the top. Add a knob of butter. Pop in a preheated oven at about 160 degrees centigrade for an hour. Needs some good bread to mop up juices afterwards!