Friday, February 27, 2009

This week I wanted... I bought... I made

After the vast amounts spent last week this week I shall try and be a little more frugal. Saturday we may well go out for lunch (possibly not the best start to frugality) so dinner can be cold collation or in fact hot collation of chorizo, padrone peppers, feta cheese and olives all from last weeks tapas with some crusty bread. Sunday I have food chain so I think roast chicken and veg Sunday night will be lovely and easy. Monday a treat for the man - may well be beans on toast was in fact lamb and barley stew from foodchain with a lovely ginger cheesecake to follow! Tuesday bean curd and peppers or something similar much less similar in fact was duck breast with duck fried potatoes and chicory and blood orange salad. Wednesday pasta - maybe with bacon and chilli as it's quick and it's been a while made bolognese sauce Tuesday night with mince from the freezer and the smoked bacon and had spag bol both Wednesday and Thursday and enough left for the man for his dinner Monday. Thursday duck bit salad. Friday hot sausages an experiment with green peppers and eggs.

At Ginger Pig I bought a chicken, a big thing though smaller than the biggest, for Sudnay dinner and then cold for lunches till Thursday and it was £13.40

At Booths I bought potatoes, swedes, parsnips, leeks, carrots with Sunday dinner and cold in lunches - the root veg were cubed and roasted together with garlic, ginger and chilli in olive oil, blood oranges, garlic, beetroot and thyme for £8.20

At Brindisa I bought some sweet smoked paprika for £2.75

From Wild Beef I bought eggs dinner Monday and Fridayfor £1.50

Then peppers Friday from Tony - £1

Milk and yoghurt from Neals Yard - £5.90

And bread and hot cross buns from Flour Power - because I love hot cross buns! - £4

So a much more manageable £36.75
And bought almost nothing more apart from a loaf of bread from St John in the week, half of which is in the freezer, some onions and a couple of tins of cirio tomatoes.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wild Mushroom & Hock Risotto

Wild Mushroom & Ham Hock Risotto

Am adding this post because it is where I used the last of my spoils from the hock I bought recently and also because it was really really good to eat.

I had a litre of thick jellied stock from the hock in the freezer as well as about 150g cooked meat. There was celery in the crisper and a couple of sweet onions in the vegetable rack that needed using soonish if they weren't to sprout. There was Parmesan in the door of the fridge as there almost always is. And butter of course. Rice in the pantry along with a jar of dried porcini. I had myself a deconstructed ready meal.

Wild Mushroom & Ham Hock Risotto

50g dried porcini, soaked in hot water for 20 minutes

250g risotto rice like vialone nano

50 g butter

2 tbspns olive oil

2 sweet onions or shallots, peeled and finely chopped

2 ribs celery, thinly sliced

150g shredded ham

1 litre of ham stock

Celery leaves from the centre of a bunch, finely shredded

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Bring the stock to a simmer in a pan. Drain the mushrooms, adding the soaking water to the simmering stock.

Melt half the butter and the oil in a heavy frypan and gently sweat the onions till they are translucent. Add the celery and stir to coat for a minute, then add the rice and stir thoroughly.

Add a ladle of hot stock to the rice and stir till it is absorbed. Keep adding stock and stirring till you've used about half the liquid. The rice will still be quite chalky.

Stir in the ham and mushrooms along with about half a tablespoon of salt and a good grinding of black pepper. Then continue to add the rest of the stock one ladle at a time, stirring fairly continuously - this is where it's good to have someone else who likes to help to do a little stirring too. The man is a joy at such moments.

The rice is cooked when there is only just the slightest resistance at the very heart of the grain - which should be about the same time as all the stock has been added and absorbed. If it is still a little hard, add some boiling water (NEVER cold) till the rice achieves the right consistency. Turn off the heat.

Stir through the rest of the butter, the grated Parmesan and the shredded celery leaves. Cover the pan with a lid and leave for five minutes before serving in deep bowls.

Now I had myself a perfectly reconstructed meal, taking about half an hour to make and costing about £2 with enough leftover for our lunchbox treat next day.

Date & Parsnip Salad

Saturday night I wanted to do a series of tapassy type dishes for dinner as the original plan had been to meet up with David for tapas and sherry at a place he'd heard about in Borough. Except then he couldn't find it again and he'd consumed an excess of sherry elsewhere in the meantime and, after waking with a dreadful hangover, was subsequently less convinced he wanted to repeat the experience. So they came to us instead but I still fancied a Spanish theme to the evening.

We started with a lightly chilled manzanilla with hot padron peppers and marinated olives. Then I had a whole collection of dishes, mostly cold, except for some saffron potatoes and tiny lamb balls, which I made up as I went along. The array of salads largely came from Moro type recipes I found on the web, particularly an incredibly beautiful blood orange and chicory salad from Helen's Food Stories blog and a richly textured chick pea and butternut dish made luscious with tahini dressing.

The last one made, and I almost didn't, was date and parsnip salad from a very old article in the Guardian. I read the instructions, looking for how to cook the parsnips and realised - you don't. Just grate them and mix with everything else. And I doubted it deep inside, even though it was a recipe from Moro, from Sam and Sam Clark, and I love their food. It just didn't seem right. Their intro suggested it was half salad, half relish and that kind of put me off too. I love salad but I loathe relish - which half would triumph? And the man doesn't much like mint. It was Lebanese rather than Spanish. And I'd already made enough food to cover the table with jeweled plates.

But hey, what the hell. I had the ingredients, no cooking only chopping means it would be quick to make, disaster or no. Dinner should be an adventure. Good call - it turned out to be my favourite dish of the night. Savoury, sweet and decadently rich with a myriad of textures it really was the perfect accompaniment to the lamb and the rest of the vegetables.

Parsnip, yogurt and date salad
600g parsnips
10 dates, stoned and roughly chopped
2 tbsp fresh mint, roughly chopped
150g Greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon, or any slightly sour yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp runny honey
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

Peel the parsnips, cut in quarters lengthways, and get rid of any woody centre. Grate coarsely and place in a bowl. Add the chopped dates and mint, followed by all the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper, toss well and taste. Serve immediately.

Utterly divine. Suspect it would be even better with barbecue...

Friday, February 20, 2009

I wanted...I bought...I made

Chick pea, butternut and tahini salad

Saturday night the lovely David and his friend Michael are coming over for a little tapas chez nous - definitely including padron peppers, potato tortilla, chorizo had the peppers but with saffron potatoes, lamb and bulghur balls, chick pea and butternut salad, blood orange and feta salad and parsnip and date salad - think when I was planning I was imagining a tapas menu and tiny plates of food so may have slightly over catered...- and other stuff... Sunday may be an easy day, roast chicken perhaps it was easy but in the form of out for lunch and lots of lovely leftovers for supper. Monday I'm out so will need a little treat for the man steak 'n' kidney pie, Tuesday the turnip risotto we didn't have last week actually leek and bacon pasta, Wednesday the chilli from the freezer, Thursday Chinese a seriously good wild mushroom and hock risotto, and Friday probably sausage sandwiches spinach omelette and lentil salad...

At the Ginger Pig I spent almost no money. Really. I bought some minced lamb for balls, some smoked bacon ends for pasta and pork steaks for the freezer for spanish rice dish another time and it cost £8.35

Then at Booths I bought Padron peppers, pink fir apple potatoes, aubergine, endive, celery, red onions, parnips all for Saturday night and Sunday, courgettes, tomatoes with some peppers for roasted vegetables for a lunch for friends Monday at work, blood oranges and leeks pasta for £18

At Brindisa I bought a tub of spiced lardon because the woman was cubing it at the time and it looked amazing thought I was making a rice dish but didn't so it's in the freezer as well as a pack of chorizo thought I was making hot grilled chorizo but didn't so another treat for the freezer and a couple of large dried peppers for the rice but they will keep - £8.35

From Lizzie at Wild Beef I bought eggs omelette Friday night and porridge oats breakfast for £3.50

At Gastronomica I bought Parmesan some in the risotto, some on the pasta and some still in the fridge for £4

At Monmouth I bought coffee for £8.50

A medium tub of big fat juicy green olives Saturday supper from the Good Olive stall - £3.50

At Mrs Elizabeth Kings I bought a pork pie Satruday lunch - £5

Back at Ginger Pig I bought a scotch egg breakfast snack and a steak and kidney pie for the Man on Monday for £7.50

From Tony's veg stall I bought peppers that I roasted for lunch Monday for £3

At Neals Yard I bought milk and a couple of baguettes one with supper Saturday and one in the freezer till Friday for garlic bread - £7.60

Flour Power sold me two cottage loaves for weekend toast and then toast Monday night for me after class for £2

And there was a packet of chocolates still in the fridge but will take them to work Monday to cheer up those left behind from Artisan du Chocolat - £2

There was also a charming young French woman selling various sweet treats, the best of which was undoubtedly the tart pruneau which we gobbled Saturday night - £5.50

So, after starting so well I ended up spending a grand total of £87.65

And then I spent some more - buying spinach, parsley, coriander, mint, a pomegranet and butter.

A hundred quid this week - and two dinners from the freezer. Will try harder...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry

Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry

That which doesn't kill you makes you stranger. Sometimes I love grafitti.

This week's bite club has a new set of rules - a process still in the making - but what I gathered is one ingredient of the week is broccoli. I'd planned to make some kind of stirfry -serendipity. Only my initial idea was making two dishes (never knowlingly make it simple), one chicken and one veg. Bought both. Then I was struck by a brainwave - chicken and broccoli stirfry. Quick, easy, less washing up!

This is an adaptation of a recipe from Charmaine Solomon that I have been making for years and years. It is a very subtle dish that makes brilliant use of both the stalks and the florets for their flavour and, especially, the contrast in textures between the smooth crunch of the stalks and the tiny flower heads catching the sauce. The meat, firm and juicy, is sliced thinly and then marinated in a little five spice which provides the encompassing flavour of the dish. The spice is rounded out and given depth with garlic and ginger and a hint of sweet from the shiaoxing wine.

Chicken & Broccoli Stir Fry

1 chicken breast
1/2 tspn five spice powder
1/2 tspn salt
500g broccoli
2 tbspns peanut oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbspn ginger, finely chopped
2 tspns light soy sauce
1 tbspn shiaoxing wine
2 tbspns chicken stock or water
1 tspn potato flour
2 tspns cold water

Bone and skin the chicken breast. Slice the flesh thinly and mix with five spice powder and salt.
Bring a little lightly salted water to the boil. Cut the broccoli into florets and the stalks into sticks about 3cm long and 1/2cm thick. Drop the stalks into the boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Add the florets and, when the water comes back to the boil, cook for another minute. Drain the broccoli and refresh under cold water. It will be crisp bright green.

Heat the oil in a wok and add the garlic and ginger. Stir fry for 30 seconds, then add the chicken and toss over a high heat until the meat turns white.

Add soy, wine, stock or water and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.

Mix potato flour smoothly with the cold water, add to the wok and stir till it is thick and glossy.

Add the drained broccoli and toss gently to mix and heat through.

Serve hot over rice.

And cold next day for lunch.

Simple and fabulous.
And yours for less than a fiver.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I wanted...I bought...I made


We're away for the weekend so think a simple roast beef very rare Sunday night might be easiest. Monday the man can have the pasty from the freezer and a little salad and I shall have egg on toast later. Tuesday noodles I think the man was out so I treated myself to a steak from the Ginger Pig shop on Lower Marsh, Wednesday the last of the chilli from the freezer chicken and broccoli stir fry with rice, Thursday risotto the last of the beef and mushroom stew from the freezer with sprouts and carrots and Friday, little culture vultures that we are, we're off to the theatre again.

Started as ever at the fabulous Ginger Pig where Charlie had found this blog and liked it so that was nice. I bought a hunk of topside Sunday dinner and lunches till Thursday and a chicken breast stir fry Wednesday night and spent £20.35 which felt like a lot

Then to Booths where I started out with the idea of leeks but they had brussel tops, and we had some with dinner a few weeks ago at the Anchor & Hope that were very tasty and I fancied trying to replicate them steamed then buttered with roast dinner - yum, also bought potatoes roasted, broccoli stir fried, spring onions, carrots, brussel sprouts with roast and with stew, small turnips intended for risotto but still there and a large bunch of parsley some with thyme for a white bean salad for lunches, the rest will do the turnips for £7.80

Just eggs fried on toast Monday night from Wild Beef - £1.50

A good lump of Parmesan for the fridge from Gastronomica - £4

Fennel salami Saturday sarnies before we set off from the other Gastronomica - £2.20

Chocolates for the parents of the man as we were off to visit them for the weekend from Maison du Chocolat - £2

Bread and milk from Neals Yard - £4.80

So a fairly reasonable total of £42.65 - and then decided we'd take some lovely cheese to the parents of the man as well so bought an ash covered log of goat cheese and a huge lump of sheeps cheese for £23.15

So finally spent £65.80

Didn't buy much extra this week, apart from some onions and a couple of tins of white beans and tomatoes, and of course rocket to steak on Tuesday...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Creamed Winter Veg

Winter Veg in Cream

Along with the roast pork we had on Sunday I wanted winter veg - it being winter with the weather to match. I had a parsnip in the fridge and I bought carrots and a lovely fat swede. I also bought a tub of cream - it being winter with the weather to match and so a little indulgence is allowed.

The process could not be simpler. Peel and cube each of the vegetables into dice about one centimetre square - half an inch in old money. Cook each one separately in boiling salted water till just al dente. This doesn't need to create vast amounts of washing up - do them one after the other in the same pan, preferably one that is big enough to hold all the vegetables together. When all are just cooked and drained warm a small tub of cream with a sprig of thyme and a single clove of peeled garlic - in the same pan - till the cream comes to a simmer. Take off the heat and leave to steep for ten minutes.

Remove the garlic and thyme, add the vegetables to the cream and gently warm through.


I think the reason I like this so much is that each vegetable retains its individual flavour and because they are cooked in water they are very light, almost delicate. The cream wraps around them rather than soaking in - just lovely. Interestingly they are really nice cold next day in lunchboxes.

Seriously recommend.

Total cost about £3 - good cream ain't cheap.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Slow Cooked Pork

Just enough pork left for Friday's lunch!

It would be fair to say that this was a bit of a disaster and possibly my fault for believing the recipe when it wasn't right. But in my defence I'd never cooked it before and so I simply didn't know what I was really doing. As the man remarked if you push the envelope all the time with your food you're bound to end up with an occasional paper cut.

I bought a magnificent piece of pork from Charlie at the Ginger Pig - leg on the bone. I requested a piece between 2 1/2 and 3 kilos and he cut me 2.75kg. You just have to admire the skill. I wanted to slow roast it with fennel and chillies from a recipe from The Borough Market Cookbook, specifically the section devoted to the Ginger Pig. You can see why I might have had faith in its provenance. Reading it through I realised there was a bit of a hiccup early on when it was unclear if you cook at a high heat for 30 minutes or an hour but I went with 30 then turned it down to gas 2, which is slow but not ultra slow. There was no liquid to be added at this stage but the instruction was to turn the joint over to fat side down. I left it uncovered a little hesitantly but I have to admit I did turn the dial down to 1 before we went out for a couple of hours - to be on the safe side. Glad I did - would have been a fully fledged disaster if I hadn't.

Got back after the meat had been in for four and a half hours - and blackening all over. Flipped the meat back to right way up and added 500ml of pork cooking juice from a previous meal and covered it with foil. Allegedly it still had an hour or two before 45 minutes at full blast to finish it. I lasted about 45 minutes still at Gas 1, then with the liquid absorbed and the top blackened but definitely crackled I pulled it out and wrapped it in foil.

Considered the idea of dinner at 5 - but too too early for me. The meat stayed reasonably warm and inside the crust was delightfully moist and richly spiced with fennel and garlic and chilli. Scraped all the black bits off the base and mixed it with water to make a very dark and highly spiced sauce with only a slight hint of burnt. Served it with lightly steamed winter veg medley with a cream sauce and crispy roast potatoes for a good dinner. But not the truly great one I'd been hoping for.

The following recipe is what I will do next time...

Slow Cooked Pork
2 1/2 - 3kg piece of leg of pork on the bone, and ask your butcher to score the skin
5 cloves garlic
1 tbspn fennel seeds
1 tspn red chilli fans
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
3 tbspn olive oil
4 tspn sea salt
400ml white wine or pork stock

Unwrap the meat and put it onto a plate, very loosely covered with a piece of greaseproof paper and put it into the fridge. About an hour before you plan to start cooking, take the meat out and bring it up to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7.

Peel the garlic and put them into a mortar along with the fennel seeds, chilli flakes, pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt. Pound with the pestle to make a rough paste. Rub the paste into the flesh side of the pork, really working it into the meat.

Put the pork into a roasting pan big enough to leave a little space around the edges of the meat. Drizzle the olive oil over the skin and rub the rest of the salt in.

Put the pan into the hot oven for 30 minutes, then turn the heat down to 100C/200F/gas 1/2. After another half an hour drain any fat that has collected in the pan then add the wine/stock and cover the pan tightly with double layer of foil.

Continue to cook for 5 or 6 hours, adding a little more liquid if necessary. Baste occasionally.

When the meat is juicy and pulls apart easily with a fork, remove the foil, increase the heat back to 220C/425F/Gas 7 and put the meat back into the oven. Cook for another half an hour - but keep a close eye on it. You want thoroughly golden crisp crackling but not burnt bits.

Remove the meat from the pan and put it onto a warm plate, cover with foil and allow it to rest for half an hour or so.

Drain the fat from the pan and then deglaze the pan with water, reduce slightly and serve this as a spicy gravy with the meat.

In the end the version we had was really quite nice - certainly once we got past the slightly charred crust. It was very good for lunches and lasted for the whole week - making the £20 the meat cost a not unreasonable price.

Seriously recommend this as a way to cook pork.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I wanted...I bought...I made

Fish cakes with mint & coriander chutney

Given that it is properly winter and that I am out a lot next week I am thinking beef stew one with mushrooms - an enormous pot of daube perhaps - to keep body and soul together in a most delightful fashion. If I make it on the weekend the man can be on veg duty to peel potatoes for mash and carrots and sprouts ready to go when I walk in the door. It will be luvverley. And Tuesday and Wednesday dinner will be sorted. I'd like to try some Indian fish cakes Saturday night and possibly a spiced roast chicken we had spiced but it was pork that we had Sunday. And then it will be Thursday - and I'd definitely like chinese, noodles and peppers and possibly tofu we had cold collation with hot padron peppers and it was fab. Friday we're out - came home to fresh pasta with sage butter, ready in minutes - so how easy was that?!

Managed to spend a lot of money this week - even with a list I stuck to it's easy to do. Started at the Ginger Pig where Charlie was wrapped like a michelin man against the cold and cheerful with it. As he served me he wondered if I was the Bron who writes a blog about Borough - I've been outed! We had a nice chat about it and his vague plan to do one about meat which I think is a great idea. I asked him for a piece of pork leg on the bone for Sunday roast and lunchboxes for the week about 2.5 to 3 kilos in weight - he weighed the piece he cut and it was absolutely dead centre at 2.75. Deeply impressed! Also bought a kilo of stewing beef for beef and mushroom stew Tuesday/Wednesday for a total of £30.15, enough to get me a stamp on my Ginger Pig loyalty card.

Then to Booths for lots of veg - yukon gold potatoes for mash with stew, carrots, sprouts with stew, leeks with fishcakes Saturday night, swede in cream with the roast, sugarsnaps lunches and mushrooms for stew for £9 exactly

Then to Brindisa for chorizo and chickpeas meant for tapas Thursday night but didn't happen so a couple of treats in hand - £7.20

Lizzie had wisely opted to stay home sitting on the Aga so Richard sold us eggs scrambled Monday and sausages freezer for £5.30

At Gastronomica I bought some napoli for lunch and some of their fabulous stuffed pasta for dinner post theater Friday night - £5.40

Then to Monmouth for coffee - £8.50

I bought a tub of french salt crystals - an indulgence really but I wanted some to sprinkle over my padron peppers for the tapas feast planned for Thursday - and it's one of the enduring joys of the market to be able to try new things even after all these years these are so good I am planning to always have some to sprinkle across the top of salads and hot peppers and such like, as I am a big fan of salt - £4

Back at the Ginger Pig for a steak and kidney pie for the man for dinner Monday - £5.50

Bread, milk, yoghurt and cream at Neals Yard for £11.20

Then more bread and brownies at Flour Power - £4

So a big total - £90.25 - might need to budget a little more frugally!

Also bought mint, coriander, ginger, onions and pollack at Brixton Market Saturday afternoon, and rocket, speck, braesola, baguette and butter through the week

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Sweet Parsnip Cake

I have been wondering lately about using vegetables in cakes and sweet things after the success of the beetroot chocolate brownies. Fruit loaf made with parsnips, carrot cake spiced with fennel and cinnamon, afternoon tea with hot golden pumpkin scones dripping butter - that sort of thing. Grated root vegetables subtly alter the character of these fabulous treats without the veg in question – carrots, beets, parsnips, even sweet potatoes and pumpkin – dominating the flavour. It is a cheap and healthy way to bulk out cakes and a simple cheat to get the vegetable averse to unwittingly enjoy consuming a few. Cake that is good for you!
I'm not much of a cakey pig myself - an occasional slice is good but I can go for months without and never miss it. The man though has a definite penchant. Snowed in at home on Monday - well there were no buses, how good is our new mayor - so I decided to make cake to fill the flat with warmth and a lovely smell. The recipe I used is similar to one in Hugh F-W's Guardian column a little while back. It's quick and easy and a treat for my sweet.
Sweet Parsnip Cake

180g self-raising flour
180g golden caster sugar, plus 1 tbsp extra for dredging
1 tsp baking powder
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
100g raisins
50g candied peel
3 eggs, lightly beaten
180g butter, melted and left to cool slightly
150g parsnips washed, peeled and grated
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas mark 4.
Grease and line a 900g loaf tin.
Gently mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest and dried fruit. Stir in the eggs and butter, then gently fold in the grated veg.
Spoon the mixture into the loaf tin, smooth the top with a spatula and bake for about 55 minutes, until risen and golden, and a skewer comes out clean.
Sprinkle a tablespoon of caster sugar over the top. Leave to cool in its tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling rack.
The sugar on top melts a little in the heat and forms a lovely crispy edging on top of the cake.
Make this for less than £2 - and have enough for at least a dozen generous slices to share.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Persian Lamb

Sunday dinner

I am heartily sick of roast dinners. I usually cook a roast of some description on a Sunday and have cold roast meat and vegetables or salad for a couple of days for lunches at work. They are quick to make and very tasty, not to mention cheaper than the Pret option. So really I should not complain. I know of friends who claim that for the whole of their childhood they had the same meal on the same day of the week with the only blip in the pattern being xmas. If it's sausage and mash it must be Tuesday. What was probably meant to be reassuring must have beem mightily tedious.

Somehow I've reached the same point of saturation with roast dinner. I really adore roasted meats and also crispy roast potatoes and cauliflower cheese, even cold I like cauliflower cheese. But I feel it has become an endless act of repetition, the only decision being what meat to buy and what veg goes with it and I am just thoroughly bored with it. It has been building up for a while - last week it was roast chicken, with the aforementioned cauliflower, but the week before I made a fabulous rice, bean and chorizo dish that went well for lunches for a day or two. Then later in the week I tried to factor in a couple of things that would also yield leftovers to get us through to Friday. It was nice, but definitely a bit more complicated. Suspect it wouldn't work next week though as I am out every night except Thursday.

This week I decided it would be a bit like meze - an ideal solution to the need for yummy leftovers and still a substantial and fairly wonderful dinner to finish the weekend. I had been toying with the idea of tapas Saturday night but my sweetie wanted cold collation so dips and bits was an even more attractive notion with the centrepiece spiced roasted lamb which would also be fabulous cold. I made a big pan of creamy butterbean mash, another of delicately spiced rice, and I put onions in to roast with the meat. Probably a dish too far I also bought cherry tomatoes with the idea of roasting them separately with basil oil - even that slow cooking didn't entirely rescue the out of season sourness.

The lamb was brilliant - the spice rub comes from an old Middle Eastern Cooking book that I was flicking through looking in fact for something else. It cooks to an intensely rich crust with the flesh scented with garlic as it cooks. All the flavours meld so that, despite the fact that the man doesn't like mint or tomato he loved this. Wonderfully decadent.

Roast Persian Lamb
1/2 shoulder lamb
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
50g butter
1 tbspn tomato purée
1 tbspn fresh chopped mint
1 tspn turmeric
4 red onions, peeled

Make 6 deep cuts into the flesh of the lamb and poke a sliver of garlic into each one, then put the lamb into a roasting tin big enough for the meat and the onions.

In a bowl, mix together the butter, tomato purée, mint, turmeric and salt and pepper. Rub this mix all over the lamb. Surround the meat with the onions and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes in a very hot oven - Gas 8, 230 C, 450F. Reduce the temperature to moderate, Gas4, 180C, 350F, baste frequently while cooking the meat for another hour or so.

Remove the foil and cook for another 15 minutes for the skin to become crisp.

It was a really enjoyable meal, and a proper treat for lunch - at home Monday because we were 'snowed in' and then in lunchboxes for a couple of days.

It was £7.50 for a half shoulder of lamb, so the final cost would be about £8.50 with the onions as well - a bit of a bargain really.