Slow Cook Lamb

2010 is on its way out and as far as I am concerned it is good riddance. I do not want to see another like it. I had almost forgotten what it was like to do battle with ill, loss and demons with my guard down.
I am, certainly, not grateful for the reminder. Falling hurts bad. But at least I have been reminded that every moment is precious and if treated well, there is fun in each and every of these moment.
So good-bye 2010 bring the next one on, I am focused and this time, I am not loosing sight of what is important, frivolities included.

2010 was also a year when I got much more involved in the world of food, I hope you have enjoyed reading my posts as much I have enjoyed researching and writing them.

There has been many recipes which stood out and delighted my taste buds but the  one which got my vote is "Slow Cook Lamb". I first saw it on Greedy Gourmet. Michelle describes it as a memorable meal, spot on. The first thing, my friend Anne said, after Wow was : "this is a memorable dish." Don't be put off by the cooking time, there is nothing for the cook to do whilst the lamb seats in the oven,  here is the link to the recipe.

Only one thing left to do and that is to wish you and you and you, a great 2011.

Short of a Present or Two, Turn to Baking Cherry Shortbread

If like me you were prevented to get out and about  today, prevented by snowflakes as large a flying saucers then you might not get all your presents on time. One suggestion is to have a quick look in your kitchen cupboard to see if you had the ingredients for this shortbread recipe which will make a nice present too

Cherry shortbread

Makes 10 fingers
Ready in 1 hour 10 minutes
This will keep for two weeks in an airtight container,

115g unsalted butter
55g caster sugar, plus extra for dusting (optional)
Few drops vanilla extract
175g plain flour
75g glacé cherries, quartered

1.Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas 3. Line the base of a 20cm shallow, square cake tin with a sheet of baking paper.
2.Cut the butter into squares and put in a mixing bowl with the sugar and vanilla. Stir with a wooden spoon until evenly mixed.
3.Sift in the flour and mix with your fingertips until the dough starts to come together. Gather into a ball, then roll out to a 20cm square.4.Put in the prepared tin and prick with a fork
5.Arrange the cherries on top to make six lines, pressing them in lightly. Bake for about 35-40 minutes
6.Mark into fingers while hot, then leave to cool for 20 minutes. Remove from the tin to finish cooling on a rack
7.Dust lightly with caster sugar, if liked, then gift wrap or store in an airtight container.

recipe and top picture from Asda Magazine

Golden Basmati Rice with Apricots

It is panic time, the gas stove is kaput, yet again, the gas man isn't answering my calls and the manufacturer is giving me the runaround (music: click on link before continuing). I have a pressing deadline for the London Guide for Expatriates. No presents are bought, no cards sent and it is soon Xmas. My head is in a mess and I can't find the picture for today's post, probably because it never existed and the dish was gulped even before the camera came out. I bet you one day this household will be in such a hurry to get tucked in the food that the camera might get eaten too. 
There is only one recipe for this kind of feeling and that is basmati rice.

I love this recipe with its crisp apple and soft apricots. It also contains saffron which is a curious ingredient we should talk about one day, when I am not in a panic :) but you can skip the saffron you will not the golden colour but the recipe will still be good.

Though it is based on a Persian dish, this takes me back to the rice paddies of Indonesia, to the endless bus trips picking sticky rice out of bamboo canes, to the smily faces and the warm sun on my face.

So need a bit of Zen in your life, try this out

Golden Basmati Rice with Apricots


serves 8 prep time 30 min Total time 1h30
  • 1/4 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup salted roasted almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 6 dried apricots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Freshly ground pepper

1.Preheat the oven to 375°. In a small bowl, crumble the saffron over the warm water and let stand for 5 minutes.

2.In a large skillet, melt 4 tablespoons of the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat until softened, 7 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon, then add the rice and stir to coat. Add the stock, saffron and its soaking liquid and the salt and bring to a boil. Transfer the rice and liquid to a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes, or until the stock is absorbed and the rice is tender.

3.In a large skillet, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the scallions and cook over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Add the almonds and apricots and cook until the apricots start to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the apple and cook, stirring, just until warmed, about 1 minute. Stir the mixture into the rice, season with pepper and serve hot.

recipe from food& 

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Where Was I ?

"Where Was I?" does indeed start to sound a little bit like a recurring theme on this blog, may be I should call it "Where Was I, This Week?". It is such fun to scour new places. Though this time, very unusually, the place was not new to us, and yes before you get startled at the use of "us" instead of the usual "he" & I, it is not a typo, it is called for as we went back to the place we first met in celebration of decadesss. The word that comes to mind is "allegory", the past week was an allegory of these years.

A familiar starting point:

A strange ride through the night:

Reaching one of the most romantic city in......... here are some culinary clues,

Give it a go, have a guess, "in which country did we meet?" 

Leave a comment, I will put your name in the randomiser, the winner will receive a cookery book from my collection.

don't hesitate to tweet and retweet this post, the more the merrier.
No rules apply, you can comment from anywhere in the world.

Xmas Pudding: It's Feeding Time

 Mid-April, Sue surprised me (and possibly the airport security) by flying from Toronto with a Xmas pudding neatly sealed in plastic. She took a mysterious and mischievous air and said: "Keep this in your freezer until such a time when you will get instructions by email." A couple of days ago, the instructions arrived: it is feeding time.

This morning as snow flakes where dancing outside the kitchen window I took the pudding out of the plastic.  Liberated, it generated an unmistakable sweet aroma which floated in the kitchen. Next I got Ann's flask, oh! yes this is a friends' affair, everyone is participating. Poked some holes in the pudding and started pouring cognac, wrapped it is in its cloth, it is now ready for its next feed next week.........

If you are not familiar with Xmas pud, traditionally it is made 4 to 5 weeks before Christmas. This pudding contains very little flour, lots and lots of rich dried fruits and spices. It is common practice to include a coin or a charm in the pudding during it's making. A couple of weeks before, it needs to be fed with cognac or rum and left its cloth until the day when it is steamed for 3 to 4 hours, it should darken deeply, served with cream and I was told yesterday that any leftovers could be fried the next day.


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