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Food, general thoughts, food…


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Dry rub ribs

The dry rub ribs. A raging success. Even my daughter liked them and she isn’t our biggest rib eater. The only problem is that it was a grab and dump recipe so passing it on is a bit more difficult than usual.

What I started with was the ribs of a lamb, all of them, however much that weighed.
I sliced them into individual ribs and then rubbed spices all over them, put them in the fridge overnight and then into an 180C oven until they were cooked to my satisfaction. The list of spices goes something like this:

Salt
Pepper
Paprika
Cumin
Coriander
Garam Masala

Not in any particular order or quantity. I just gave everything a good shake, rubbed it in and then decided it needed some more and added what smelt lacking.

I made sure to trim all of the visible fat from the ribs before rubbing and cooking, even so there was a decidedly greasy film to our fingers once we were done. Unless you plan on pre-boiling your meat there is not a lot you can do about the fat in lamb ribs.

I enjoyed the dry rub, it is a technique that I would like to explore further. I have much more experience with marinades than dry rubs. There is a whole world of flavour out there that I have been missing! I was very pleased that my initial experience with this style of cooking meat was so positive.


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Something out of nothing

This meal was an ‘out of my head’ meal that was born on my kitchen bench.
Not long ago I bought a whole butchered lamb from my local butcher. It was not bagged or tagged and so, upon arriving home, I bagged it myself. Of course the labelling of said lamb was a little slipshod and there were a few pieces that were just random bits in bags. To deal with this I work on the premise that if it is cut small enough, anything is edible and just remove a meal sized baggy to defrost and plan meals as I go around what I find in a bag.

Yesterday I removed 2 bags that I imagined contained ribs and belly pieces. Low and behold I was right. I cut all of the ribs into individual pieces and rubbed them with some dry spices from the cupboard, covered them in plastic wrap and bunged them in the fridge for cooking up tomorrow. This left me with a couple of belly pieces that promised to be a decent amount of meat, should I take the trouble to cut off the fat and small dice them so that they were not tough as old boots.

I find these ‘throw away’ bits of a lamb very tasty although they are also usually very chewy to go along with it. You can cook them slowly and they tend to become more tender and delicious to eat but yesterday I just wanted to cook them up quick and get it over with, it was already dinnertime.

I removed all of the fat and as much sinew as I could and then diced the lamb up very small. Then I tossed it in with a cup full of Greek yoghurt and a couple of tablespoons of Moroccan seasoning. After stirring it through thoroughly I let it sit for a bit while I cooked some rice. After frying it of quickly in a non stick pan it was unceremoniously dumped on a bed of rice and hungrily devoured by the troops. As there were no complaints and barely any breathing during the whole process I will call it a success.

I enjoyed it very much, it was spicy without heat and also tasty, the lamb flavour still coming through strong. If you can be bothered fiddling with off cuts and taking the time to get the usable meat out of the bone and fat, they can be very rewarding indeed.


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Potato Salad my style

Potata Salata, my go to potato salad. I am not a huge fan of mayonnaise based potato salad, I am particular about the mayonnaise that I use and still, enormous gobs of it kind of turn my stomach. Don’t get me started about store bought potato salad….Urk!

I stumbled upon this recipe many years ago and every time we have a BBQ or potato salad is called for, this is my alternative. I have yet to receive a complaint and often receive a request for the recipe where ever we go.

Of course, as a plus, it uses fresh parsley from the garden patch so that always makes me a happy bunny. This time I threw in a handful of chives also as the onion I had was a bit on the small side and the salad itself was a bit on the big side. I normally cut down on the oil a bit and up the vinegar but the recipe is a great base to start experimenting from. Make sure to use a tasty olive oil and a good generous grinding of salt and pepper. Give it time for all the flavours to blend together.

I prefer this salad unrefrigerated, obviously you don’t want to leave it out for hours but take it out of the fridge well before serving so that the oil isn’t solidified and the chill is off the salad.

Potata Salata
4 to 6 servings

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 red onion, thinly sliced
5 large red potatoes, diced large
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (I use a truckload but that’s just me)

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, wine vinegar, oregano, parsley, and onion. Mix and set aside.
Add potatoes to a large pot of boiling, lightly salted water.
Boil until potatoes are tender. Drain water and let cool.
Place in a large bowl, add dressing and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Toss to coat, cover bowl and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.


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Fancy midweek dinner

Last nights dinner was a fancy one. I have never cooked a lamb rack before and was somewhat nervous about the whole thing. Funny, even when you have cooked a myriad of different things all of your life, simple things can be daunting, just because they are new to you.

Not to be put off I searched though my recipes until I found one that spoke to me and off I went to the garden. I love to use as many fresh herbs as I can in our food, it gets me out into the garden to ‘talk’ to my plants and give me a few quiet moments in a place I very much enjoy being.

Herbs gathered it was a mammoth chopping session to get them all cut up fine enough to press onto the meat, everything else was in the fridge or the cupboard (it’s good to have a well-stocked pantry). I put a little foil ‘stocking’ over the bones to prevent burning and got to pressing the herb mixture on the meat. Half way through I considered throwing away the meat and just pressing the herb mix straight on myself, it smelt so good, I just wanted to jump in and bath in it. That impulse was shaken off by the rumbling of my belly though so dinner was saved. Thank goodness!

I had 2 people so I had half the meat but made the full recipe of crust. It fell off the lamb at cutting but we heaped it on our plates and enjoyed it anyway. The lemon juice added a tangy freshness that was delicious with the broccoli and potatoes that accompanied our meal and cut through any residual fatty taste in the lamb.

 

Parsley And Mustard Crusted Lamb Racks
Serves 4

4 racks of lamb (4 cutlets each)

Crust
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 green shallots, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
1/3 cup seeded mustard
1/2 cup stale bread crumbs
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Trim excess fat from racks, cover bones with foil. Press crust mixture evenly onto back of each rack, cover, refrigerate for several hours. Place lamb on rack in baking dish, bake in moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes or until tender.
Crust: Combine all ingredients in small bowl; mix well. (Try not to bathe in it)


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White Chocolate Cheesecake

Just in case other people in the household needed a chocolate fix over the Easter break I made a White Chocolate Cheesecake. My husband still tells me each time I make an ‘exotic’ cheesecake that he prefers my lemon cheesecake to all others on the planet. It’s nice to hear and I make sure to make him one now and then but I love to try new recipes, this is just the latest. Fortunately this one met with his approval, not a cheesecake (in his opinion) but a really nice dessert.

White Chocolate Cheesecake
Serves 8

120 g plain chocolate biscuits, crushed
60 g butter
250 g cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup  Sweetened Condensed Milk
200 g White Chocolate, melted
300 ml cream
3 tsp gelatine
2 Tbsp water
100 g Milk Chocolate, melted

Combine biscuit crumbs and butter, press into base of 20cm springform pan, refrigerate until firm. Beat cream cheese and  Sweetened Condensed Milk until smooth.  Beat in cooled  White Chocolate and cream, until thick.
Sprinkle gelatine in hot water, stir until dissolved, cool (see instructions on pack). Beat gelatine into cheese cake mixture, spoon over crumb crust.
Swirl cooled Milk Chocolate through cheesecake.
Refrigerate until firm.

 


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Little lemon biscuits

I fancied a change from all of the chocolate and caramel in my life this weekend. Trust me to go off chocolate over Easter. Anyway I settled on some lemony iced biscuits to give myself a sweet treat with the freshness that I had been craving.

Cream Cheese Meltaways
36 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
60g block-style cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 190C. To prepare cookies, combine flour, cornstarch, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.
Combine 1 cup powdered sugar, butter, cheese, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 4 minutes). Add flour mixture; stir until just combined (dough will be dry and crumbly). Shape dough into 36, 2.5cm, balls.
When shaping, do not try to form perfectly smooth balls.
If the dough is handled too much, the cookies will become heavy and dense.
Place balls 5cm apart on baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes or until bottoms of cookies are lightly browned. (they barely brown on the top but brow quicker on the bottoms, remove them before you think they are ready)
Cool 5 minutes on pans on wire racks. Remove from pans; cool completely on wire racks.

To prepare glaze, combine 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar and lemon juice, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
Dip tops of cookies in glaze; place on wire racks.
Let cookies stand for 30 minutes or until glaze is set.

The icing was intensely lemony when they were made, which was wonderful, this eased off after a couple of days but they were still delicious. The biscuit is very soft, a bit like a melting moment.


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An easy weekend with good wholesome food

It was an easy weekend. All of our house guests disappeared on Friday and the two of us just pottered around the house, tidying and getting silly little things done. I painted the door step, for some reason it was a redy brown kind of colour and frankly most of the paint was gone. I found some paint in the garage, kindly left by the previous owners, so now it matches the walls surrounding it instead of being a faded, scraped up, odd colour that matches nothing. I feel better about it anyway.

Herbs featured big in this weekends menu. I made a tasty potato dish to go with some BBQ lamb chops over the weekend.

8 small potatoes
Good handful of thyme, parsley and chives
Generous knob of butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Halve or quarter the potatoes and boil until soft. Meanwhile chop the herbs finely.
Place drained hot potatoes into a serving dish, toss in butter until melted and add herbs, salt and pepper.
Stir through.

This resulted in green covered potatoes that tasted divine.

The next day I was treated to a fabulous lamb roast that my husband prepared perfectly.
Last night I diced up the left over roast potatoes and lamb, mixed them in with the left over gravy and added a little salt, pepper and thyme. Topping it all off with mashed potatoes mixed with a generous bunch of snipped chives, sprinkled with cheese.

Call it Sheperd’s pie or Cottage pie, in fact call it whatever you like, it was fabulous and will double as lunch today.

By the way, currently in the pepper grinder I have a mixture of black, green and white peppercorns. It is amazing the taste difference to just having black pepper. I love toast with butter, thinly sliced tomato and a little ground pepper and a little ground salt. My go to snack/comfort food anytime of the day. I can really taste the difference in the pepper, I was astonished.