Easy Moroccan lamb with couscous


This is pretty easy and so so tasty.

  • half a leg of lamb or 800g lean diced lamb
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin of chickpeas
  • cinnamon stick
  • small packet of ready-to-eat apricots roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
  • salt & pepper
  • water
  • couscous – enough to feed your hoard
  • vegetable stock cube or melt

Put the oven on to 190° C. If you have half a leg of lamb (rather than diced lamb), chop it into very large pieces – about 6 chunks maybe. I left the bone in for extra flavour. Remove as much of the fat as you can as you cut it – use a sharp knife or a pair of kitchen scissors if you like. I know fat adds flavour, but lamb is so fatty you can afford to remove a lot. Rub the ground spices (add more cumin and coriander if you like, but go easy with the paprika), salt & pepper into the meat and fry in a little olive oil in the casserole. When it starts to brown, add the garlic, apricots, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, drained rinsed chickpeas and enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil, cover, then put in the oven for about an hour.

Make the couscous up to the packet instructions – I like to add a veg stock melt or cube to the mix. Spread a layer of couscous over the casserole and bake or grill with the lid off for a further 10 minutes or so. Serve with some freshly-steamed green beans and crusty bread to mop up the juice.



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Pork Braised in Cider and spices

Firework night supper

This recipe from Waitrose Kitchen magazine was utterly delicious.

I’d use half the amount of star anise next time, and I substituted a small amount of nutmeg as I didn’t have any mace. I fished out the bay leaves, cinnamon and star anise before serving. Perfect for a firework night supper, and a great way of cooking cheap packs of diced pork shoulder. (Click on the image above to get a larger image of the recipe).

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Spicy Breakfast Beans

I had half a tin of kidney beans, half a fresh chilli and half a tin of tomatoes left over in the fridge when making brunch – out of hunger & necessity was born Spicy Breakfast Beans. They’re very similar to Huevos Sloberos, so you could maybe have them in a wrap with a fried egg on top.

  • Tin of chopped tomatoes
  • small onion
  • half a fresh chilli, or some dried chilli flakes
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • olive oil
  • tin of kidney beans, drained & rinsed
  • teaspoon of sugar or Agave nectar or something sweet

Chop & fry the onion in a little olive oil with the chopped chilli, until the onions start to colour & get a bit sticky. Chuck in the tomatoes, kidney beans a dash of Worcester sauce (or maybe soy sauce if you’re strictly veggie) and a tiny bit of something sweet – a tiny bit of sugar or agave nectar or whatever you have to hand.

Simmer for 20 minutes or so, while you cook sausages, bacon & eggs. Delish!


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Quick slow-roasted pork

I wanted to make some slow-roasted pork. Quick google. Ah, Nigella! Read recipe. Recipe tells me I should have put pork in oven this time… yesterday.

Life is too short for slow-roasted pork that takes 24 hours to cook. Even Jamie’s 6 hour slow roast is pushing it a bit, frankly. So here’s how I took a recipe from Jamie’s Home and turned it into quick slow-roasted pork, with crispy crackling and succulent pork that falls apart as you pull it:

  • Shoulder of pork, fat ready-scored
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 2 onions
  • 2 fat bulbs of garlic
  • splash of apple juice
  • a few fennel seeds
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • sprig of fresh rosemary, finely-chopped
  • 2 bay leaves

Put the oven on to 150 C.

In a pestle & mortar, grind the fennel seeds, salt and rosemary.

Rub sea salt into the scores in the rind of your pork. Heat a splash of olive oil in a roasting tray big enough for your meat on the top of the stove. Place your meat fat-side down and fry until the fat starts bubbling up and going golden. While it’s doing this, rub the salt / fennel / rosemary mix into the meaty side.

Thickly chop the onions and celery. Remove the meat from the roasting tray, then make a bed for it in the tray with the onions, celery, unpeeled garlic cloves, bay leaves. Place the meat on top and seal tightly with tin foil. Put in the cool oven. After about an hour, check on it to make sure there’s plenty of juice. If it seems like it’s drying out, add some apple juice or water. It should look something like this:

slow-rost pork - mid-way through cooking

Then pop it back in the oven for another hour or two – you’ll need to check on it from time to time to see that it’s not burning, and that the meat is cooked. It should be juicy and fall part when you pull it with two forks.

When it’s cooked, whack the oven up hot. Take the tray out, and remove the crackling. Set the meat aside for later. Put the rind in its own small roasting tray and season again with salt and pepper. Cook in a hot oven for 30 mins or so. Remove, dry on paper towels and munch with a glass cider, while you wait for your roast vegetables to cook in the hot oven.

pork crackling

Make gravy with the juices & veg left in the main roasting tray. Put it on the stove, sieve some plain flour in and stir in with a whisk until it thickens a bit. Gradually add half a litre of hot vegetable stock and a splash of soy sauce. Scrape all the bits off the pan and sieve into a gravy jug when nice and thick. Delicious.

We had this with roasted potatoes, parsnips and butternut squash, plus sauce made with home-grown apples simmered with a little butter, sugar, water and a nip of Somerset cider brandy. The aroma was heady and heavenly.


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Tasty pork loin chops

This looked quite nice, tasted even better. Sadly we scoffed it before I managed to take its photo.

  • 4 pork loin chops
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 apple
  • sea salt, pepper, olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • teaspoon dried thyme

Put the oven on, around 200 C.

Slice the onion roughly and fry in olive oil with some of the rosemary and thyme until translucent. Towards the end add the roughly chopped garlic and fry quickly. Scrape everything into an oven-proof dish large enough to hold 4 pork chops.

Season the pork chops generously with sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Fry quickly in batches on a high heat to brown the outside of the chops. Place the browned chops on the onions, add the rest of the herbs. Slice the apple and place a slice of apple on each chop. I sprinkled oil in top at this point, but if you do go sparingly – I ended up with too much.

Seal the dish with tin foil on top and put in the oven for about 45 minutes. The result was succulent, juicy pork chops that were really fragrant. The slice of apple melted and provided a blob of apple sauce for each chop.

We had this with roast potatoes and cabbage fried in butter, lots of black pepper and soused in a splash of vermouth.

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Thrifty SE13 food buys of the week

We planned to get veg in Lewisham market today and fish in Deptford (I wanted lunch at Panda Panda). We didn’t quite make it to Deptford, but we got some bargains in the market:

  • over 2kg cherry tomatoes for £2
  • 2 large aubergines for £1
  • over 1kg broccoli for £1
  • a huge whole salmon, filleted for £15 from the fish stall at the McDonalds end. A couple buying other fish there told us they’d had one from that stall and it was lovely.


Having found the fish we needed in Lewisham, we didn’t really need to go to Deptford. I’m afraid we went to Tesco – where I found Thai coconut milk for 69p a can (they also sell tins for 99p and £1.30 so make sure you find the right one – it’s called Cocofresh). We use a lot of this in curries. And as we weren’t going to Panda Panda I bought these udon noodles which I pimped with finely-sliced carrot, chilli, radish, peas and prawns. They were about £2.19 for 2 packets – and it was an excuse to get the Japanese mandolin out of the cupboard where it’s been for the last 12 years or so. They were tasty. And Chewy. I always insist on Chewy brand udon.
pimped udon

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Chicken & Veggie Cous Cous

We have one veggie in our house so we often cook ‘split dishes’ – they start out the same and then get split in two at some point in the cooking process when meat is added to one pot and not the other. This is a bit different because it starts out with two pots but you cook both dishes simultaneously.

Serves 4. You will need:

  • 200g cous cous
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 2 x teaspoons harissa paste – more if you like it hot
  • 2 x large teaspoons of garam masala ground spice mix
  • 1 x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 1 very large or 2 medium onions
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 handfuls of chopped dried apricots

Chop the onion and fry in a little olive oil with the garam masala spice in two separate pans. The spices should cook a bit and flavour the oil. After the onion has cooked a bit add half the chopped garlic to each pan. Add a teaspoon of harissa paste to each pan and give a good stir.

Cut the chicken breasts into strips and add to one pan, stirring so they get coated with the spices and cook all over. Add one third of the drained, rinsed chickpeas to the chicken, and then put the rest (two thirds) in the veggie pot.

When the chicken strips look cooked, add a handful of apricots and a tin of tomatoes to each pan, season with salt & pepper, top up with a little water if needed, put lids on and simmer for half an hour or so. Make the cous cous up by following the instructions on the packet – I just poured on boiling water to slightly more than cover the cous cous in a bowl, left it for 10 minutes and fluffed it up with a fork.

Give everyone two large spoons of cous cous and put the stew on top – serve with a dollop of yoghurt if it’s extra spicy, or and / or some chopped coriander leaves.

It was delicious. The veggie one ended up much spicier than the meat one for some reason – I must have put more harissa in it. I’m having the leftovers with Turkish flatbread for my lunch tomorrow. Can’t wait.

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Hot shots, part deux

The hipster coffee maker in the previous post really divided opinion, but it’s a nicely made film and it, plus the Guardian article and associated comments, really got me thinking about coffee. I love coffee, but I’m not a snob about it. I make drip coffee at home with pre-packed ground red label Lavazza in a cup-top filter cone (it takes 1×2 size filters) and my favourite regular coffee shop is Ravellos on Dean Bradley Street in Westminster. They can make a black Americano that is so smooth you’d swear it had cream in it. I’ve dabbled with Dark Fluid coffee from Brockley Market and the With Jam & Bread Café but I’m not totally convinced yet.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the comments on the Guardian article on coffee, but a few useful common themes seem to emerge:

  • There’s not much point having an espresso machine at home. Making espresso well is indeed an art and you really do need to spend silly money for a good machine. If you love espresso, find a shop that makes it well and frequent it.
  • Finding a coffee shop in Britain that really makes good espresso is still surprisingly hard.
  • If you want to make coffee at home, make drip coffee in a cone, caffetiere or consider an Aeropress or similar (I’ve not checked the price of one of those mind) – or if you want something more like espresso, try a stove-top Bialetti Moka pot.
  • If you have a Moka pot, the first few cups will taste disgusting, you must never clean/scrub it with soap (rinse it with water) and cheaper Lavazza works better than expensive Illy.
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Coffee porn

Ok, not exactly food, but I do like a nice cup of black coffee, and this is mesmerising:

via http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/may/09/how-to-make-the-perfect-espresso

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The Goods Shed, Canterbury – Review

Goods Shed menu

the Goods Shed lunchtime menu on 14th Feb 2012

The Goods Shed

I had lunch in Paris recently, in a fantastic restaurant, Terminus Nord, just across the road from the Gare du Nord. It occured to me that you would not find such a great eaterie so close to any major railway terminus in London. Well that may or may not be true, but there is an equally wonderful, but very different, restaurant right next to Canterbury West railway station.

The Goods Shed marketThe Goods Shed is a kind of fixed, indoor farmers’ market with a restaurant. There’s a huge variety of amazing produce on sale: meat, fish, cheese, vegetables, an extraordinary selection of bottled and kegged beer and cider, cakes as well as a cafe and ready-made food to take away and eat at home.

The restaurant sits around the outside of the shed on a raised platform. The atmosphere is informal and the food is amazing.

perfect pork & best crackling everEldest son had slow-roasted pork with marmalade sauce (£14.50). This photo really doesn’t do it justice – it was a BIG piece of meat. The pork just melted in the mouth and the crackling was perfect: crispy on top, without a hint of being burnt, and utterly melty underneath. The mashed potatoes and curly kale were perfect with it.


duckI had duck breast with roasted pears, hibiscus sauce… and some kind of mash and curly kale. At £16 this was the most expensive dish we had, and I was a bit disappointed with it. If you got each ingredient on your fork at the same time, it was lovely, but the duck on its own didn’t taste of anything very special to me.

best chicken everMy daughter had chicken – it was a leg, and being a leg they were unable to split it for a child portion. But what chicken! This was easily the best chicken I have ever had. It was cooked utterly perfectly – the source produce, seasoning and cooking process were all top-notch. And, like the pork, there was a lot of meat on the plate here. Superb.

There was also a very tasty, generously-portioned vegetarian platter on offer. I’m sure the puddings are amazing, but we were vanquished by the genorosity of the portions… and we thought we probably ought to visit the Cathedral, which was (ostensibly) the main purpose of our visit to Canterbury in the first place.

A very filling one course lunch for 2 adults and 3 children (two of whom had adult portions) came to £77.40 including one local ale and five soft drinks.

Thoroughly recommended – we’ll be back. And thank you to @ginandting for suggesting it.

Web site: http://thegoodsshed.co.uk/restaurant/
Closed Mondays!

I rounded off the day by watching one of my favourite films: Powell and Pressburger’s 1944 masterpiece A Canterbury Tale.


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