It was an Observer Food Monthly weekend. They come around so quickly – which is in equal parts comforting and disconcerting.
Interestingly, this month The Independent went toe to toe with Grauniad Towers and matched a ‘Restaurant Special’ The New Review (TNR) against the OFM. I read both cover to cover and ended up cooking from one. It felt as though honours were even.
In TNR, Lisa Markwell’s 24 hours in Duck and Waffle is a fun yarn, and there’s an intriguing short about conflict cooking. Over at the OFM, their list of 50 ‘foodie picks’ includes a number of items well outside the mainstream (and so is therefore valuable). I covet Anissa Helou’s kitchen, and my favourite read of the weekend was Elizabeth Day’s account of lunch with “the master of the vituperative barb”, Brian Sewell. “Juice that, ducky”.
Now on to the recipes.
You know Easter’s next week, yeah? Well if you didn’t, you do now. Because the dominant theme of the weekend recipe columns was our Easter meal; and for most of the cooks, that theme offered an opportunity to tell us we should be cooking lamb.
Mark Hix’s column was all about lamb, and included shoulder on freekeh. 160C for 4 hours. He’s still loving asparagus and wild garlic, btw.
His Indy pal Bill Granger was Easter focused. Bill’s meal included ‘slow-cooked leg of lamb’. 160C for 3.5 hours after an initial blast.
I’ve got to say I think the slow stuff should be left to the shoulder; leg is best at a hotter heat for a shorter time, as per Henry Dimbleby’s in The Guardian’s ‘Cook’ supplement. 30 minutes at 210C. 30 minutes at 90C. Rest for 30. Sounds about right.
On a separate note, I liked Granger’s idea of sesame and mint seasoned, deep fried courgette.
Stevie Parle suggested some seasonal greens … to go with our lamb.
Whilst his stablemate Diana Henry included a lamb recipe in her Easter meal plan.This one had a Moroccan-ish twist; harissa roasted shoulder with tahini and parsley sauce could well be a nice change from garlic, rosemary and anchovies. 140C for 4 hours (again, after an initial browning). Diana proposes a yoghurt and pistachio torte with passion fruit and mango for dessert. Yes please.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Yotam wrote some cooking ideas for Easter as well. Of course there was lamb – a shoulder for 6 hours at 140C. But special mention goes to his torts pasqualina, which could be a decent Good Friday project.
It was left to Rowley Leigh to point out that the tradition of having spring lambs at Easter is flawed. These are lambs that have come through a miserable, wet and muddy winter. Whereas lambs born now feast on lush spring and summer grass, and taste much better. So actually, we should be making a song and dance about lamb in September / October, not April. In the meantime see if you can source some year old hogget for next week’s lunch …
Party pooping over, Rowley still goes for a lamb shoulder recipe. His turnip gratin side dish looks great. But I’ve got to say I’m not convinced by the cooking time for the meat: under 2 hours at a mix of 200C and 150C. It seems out of kilter with his intro in which he mentioned a long cooking period and a melting consistency.
For what it’s worth, I’m a 7 hours at 130C kinda guy.
That’s it for lamb, but we’re not done with The Passion just yet. Gizzi’s Sunday Times column was Easter themed too, but she prefers a chicken. Hers looks a good recipe – brine the bird overnight, stuff it with chorizo studded rice (cooked in chicken stock), serve it with a fresh green salad. Like Bill, she finishes her lunch with a rhubarb dessert (they do frangipane tarts and clafoutis, respectively).
Not Easter lamb
Still with me? There were a few things that had nothing to do with lamb or Easter.
Two new books were being paraded in the OFM. Both look like they’re packed with temptation.
Fanny Zanotti’s Paris Pastry Club is one for the sweet tooth brigade. This paid up member of that group liked the look of a cookie based banana split sundae, the ‘almost instant’ chocolate fondant cake, and the ricotta and honey beignets.
Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana ought to be a success – there are surprisingly few books on Iranian cuisine. With the forthcoming Honey and Co book and the general influence of Ottolenghi, expect Middle Eastern influenced cooking to be big over the next twelve months.
That said, Claudia Roden was documenting that cuisine back in the 1970s. Those recipes weren’t in print this weekend. But The Observer did put us on notice that a 25th anniversary version of her Food of Italy is about to be published. A nice set of recipes. Which reminds me, there was an enjoyable little interview with Ms Roden and Allegra McEvedy in TNR.
Also in TNR, seven great recipes from some of Britain’s best regional restaurants.
And this week’s ‘Ten Best’ recipes in ‘Cook’ were on a ‘British’ theme. Consider Karam Sethi’s goat balti and the Glamorgan (veggie) sausages from the Fellin Fach Griffin.
I went for Sabrina Ghayour’s charred aubergine with saffron yoghurt, nigella seeds and pickled chillies. Because it looked like it would go nicely with lamb.
Saffron’s not my favourite ingredient, but I enjoyed this. Maybe bookmark it as an easy but crowd pleasing side dish for BBQ season.
Weekend Menu, 12 & 13 April 2014
Pot roast red cabbage, stewed apple, fresh cheese
Stephen Harris (The Sportsman), Independent on Sunday News Review
Slow roast lamb shoulder with spiced freekeh
Mark Hix, Independent on Saturday
Ricotta and honey beignets
Fanny Zanotti, The Observer Food Monthly
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