Slow Braised Shank of Lamb

Today could have been very different. For various reasons, I turned down a day visit to The Foxhunter; a restaurant said to be one of the most exciting in Wales; owned by television chef Matt Tebbutt and located in Nant-y-derry, bet you that is an adorable village too. If I had gone, I would have learned about  PGI Welsh Lamb.

As it goes, I am still slightly ignorant about Welsh Lamb and its PGI status which doesn't stop me having an opinion on the subject and here it goes:
We probably have some of the best lamb on earth, the PGI badge recognises its quality and acknowledges farming good practices. It also means that only sheep  born and raised in Wales and slaughtered in approved abattoirs can legally be described as Welsh Lamb.

It's soon lambing season, remember that lamb meat keeps in the freezer for up to nine months. If sometimes lamb might look expensive, there is no reason to ignore the less expensive cuts which are excellent braised, casseroled, stewed and slow-cooked.
At Pebble Soup HQ, there is no slow cooker, all is done in the oven, it may provide less control but it works very well too, that's how this recipe was done.
Slow Braised Shank of Lamb
1 Lamb shanks (per person, though I use one for two)
15ml (1tbsp) olive oil  
3 or 4 Onion, peeled and quatered  
1 Red and 1 green chilli, sliced
5 unpeeled garlic cloves
1/4 pint Lamb stock (or vegetable bouillon)
Rosemary sprigs, sage and bay leaves to flavour 
2 tbs tomato paste 
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2 use an oven-proof casserole if unavailable use an oven tray with high sides and aluminium foil to cover tightly

Place the lamb in a big casserole pot and season with salt and pepper be generous with the seasoning and drizzle the oil over.

Cut the onions into quarters, add to the pot with (unpeeled) garlic cloves, rosemary sprigs, sage and bay leaves.

Mix the bouillon with the tomato paste

Pour over the lamb, place the lot in the oven and let it cook for 2h1/2.

Serve with roasted potatoes and vegetables

More Lamb Recipes on Pebble Soup
Great British Chef's Slow  Cooked Lamb Shank

and the ultimate
7 Hour Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb by Greedy Gourmet

Give-Away #24 : Brioche Pasquier Hamper: a Selection from the Traditional and Pitch range

Breakfast in France can be a bit of a miserable affair, contrary to popular belief, croissants, pains au chocolat, brioches and the likes  are often kept for the week-end or reserved for guests and special occasions. However when the hour for goûter strikes, around 4 o'clock when children get out of school, the French will stop their activities and snack but that is not snacking as we know it, no greasy chips eaten out of carboard boxes, Non, non, non. That's when pains au chocolat, brioches etc play their role.
 Brioche Pasquier which uses traditional recipes and an authentic process to create its "breakfast  and gouter favourites” kindly offers one lucky Pebble Soup reader a hamper from their traditional and pitch ranges.

Give away description although it won’t necessarily be all of these, but a mix:
From the traditional range,
·         Pains au lait: Based on a traditional recipe, using the finest butter, milk and levain
·         Pains au chocolat: Made with brioche dough that is worked into a light puff pastry and filled with a dark cacao-butter chocolate
·         Croissants: Light buttery croissant made using processes authentic to the original French bakery
From the Pitch:  Perfect for a lunchbox treat or for snacking on the go, soft brioches, individually wrapped and filled with a number of flavours:
·         Chocolate: A chocolate flavour filling with a hint of hazelnut
·         Choc Chip: Light brioche filled with chocolate chips
·         Strawberry: Brioche filled with a light strawberry centre
·         Lemon: Brioche filled with a tangy lemon curd

How to Enter

  • Complete the Rafflecopter form below, unlock bonus entries by answering a question in the comment box.
  • Closing date: 30th March 2014.
  • Read the “Terms and Conditions” link at bottom of Rafflecopter form.
  • Winner will be contacting by email and announced on the Rafflecopter form.
Good luck

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Vienna : A Whistle-Stop Tour

The capital with the best quality of life in the entire world* - An imperial past with enduring grandeur - Excellent public transport with a cheap option for tourists - a place of classical culture with impressive thematic museums - Even a glorious food market and a specific cuisine and yet 

In spite of it all, Vienna isn't one of the most popular tourist destination when it comes to European capitals. Though everyone who has been will tell you that they loved it. Our excuse to go (if we ever need one) was that it's only 5 hours away from Prague by train and the journey cost less than £30.
From a sightseeing point of view Vienna is compact with an impressive stock of Art Nouveau buildings amidst elegant (but heavy) architecture from the mid 19th century.

Exploring Vienna

Spending time in the Austrian capital needs forward planning and a selective mind, it's a case of too much to see and too little time to see it. The incompressible are Vienna’s landmark Gothic cathedral Stephansdom (St Stephen’s Cathedral), Schönbrunn Palace the imperial rococo style summer residence favoured by the iconic Empress Sisi and Ringstrass, walking along the boulevard will give you a strong understanding of Vienna before the fall of the empire in 1918 (a yellow tram with personal headphones will avoid blisters), these seen, your Tailor-made itinerary can be "activated".
Note that a "72 hours Vienna" travel card at 20 euros is a must.
Taking a look at the food scene
It won't be earth-shattering to read that Vienna is big on pastries however the Austo-Hungarian monarchy didn't only unite Hugary, Bohemia and Moravia as territories it also bought the cuisines in a large melting pot; contributing to goulash, strudels, various pancakes and the famous Wiener Schnitzel which is rumoured to have reached the Austrian capital from Istanbul. The hot dog came later but don't leave without having tried one of the sausage stands which dots the city.
Note that strangely it's not that easy to find a restaurant open in the evenings on a week-end and every thing bar night-clubs seems to close earlier that in the UK.

May be not surprisingly, Naschmarkt, Vienna food market was my first stop, a long string of food stands and restaurants which doubles up with the flea market on Saturdays, the whole of Naschmarkt is closed on Sundays. when there don't can't miss the eye catching vinegars stand, may be not great for tasting though but rather impressive for its varieties.
Recommended by locals:
Xocolat Manufaktur, as a writer at, I have tasted my share of chocolates, these are some of the finest. The shop doubles up with the factory so that customers can see the fabrication process, I am told that there are workshops too.

Pay attention: it's the cultural bit 

Music and Visual arts are closely associated with the Vienna, if you are interested in classical music, it would not be too difficult to design a walk dedicated to all the musicians who live in Vienna at one point or another, Beethoven, Strauss, Mozart, Schubert, Brahms to name but a few.
Themed museums are really well conceived, I still groan at not catching The Third Man museum (as in O. Welles). Sigmund Freud's place of work is a museum too and I am told by my neurotic friend that it's an excellent place to see.
As for the visual arts, a choice has to be made thought most are situated in a compact quarter, each one is huge and one can take only so much in. The Leopold Museum which owns the world's largest collection of works by Egon Schiele and a number of master pieces by Klimt is fascinating.

Vienna's Lodging Options

This is where Vienna comes undone, at the time of research, all the options were deemed expensive. With a Vienna (travel) card, it might be worth considering staying outside from the main center, there is so much to see and do that it is unlikely you'll spend much time indoors. We opted to stay in the center at Pension Lerner as Hotel Daniel, our 1st choice was so popular it was fully booked 
Pebble Soup's best experience in Vienna : PolaWalk,  a company recently founded by two cool photographers who take customers and vintage Polaroid cameras on an activity walk, the latter can be Tailor-made or generic. It's a completely different approach to photography. In a world where frankly too many pictures are taken, this gives a chance to focus on the essential as the cartridge contains only 8 pictures, it's a very different way to look at Vienna and you get to take your oldie-worldly pictures home.

Useful address: 
Food Market
between Karlsplatz and Kettenbrückengasse
U4: Station Kettenbrückengasse
U1, U2, U4: Station Karlsplatz

My thanks to the staff at the tourism office for providing me with information and two complimentary travel card.

 *the latest global survey from consultant group Mercer which uses 39 factors such as political stability, health care, education, crime and transport.

Spinach Pie Olga

Reminder: You have until Sunday to win a personalised apron for messy mums
Spinach Pie Olga
Hands up these of you who recall the Scardale Diet. It's a 14 days diet with strict meal plans, minimum alcohol and a couple of very low calories days per week.  
Does it work? yes, it does, the first time, the weight loss can be spectacular then like all these diets, the second time round the loss is lesser and in between you've possibly gone back to your old habits, your body is now storing fat faster and you have created vicious circle which is going to be hard to break.
Having said this, Scardale contains a couple of cracking recipes, Spinach Pie Olga is one of the delicious ones at 75cal and less than 5g of fat per portion, it's a good addition to a meal.
Now for the murder: Dr. Herman Tarnower, cardiologist and author of The Complete Scarsdale Medical Diet died age 70 murdered by his lover who was 20 years younger than him.
Nothing to do with the diet.
The man was a womaniser and after a 14 years relationship, one day she blew a fuse, grabbed a gun, got to his place, found underwear belonging to another and blew his brains, she was convicted of murder. I'll let you draw your own conclusions mine is that crash diet don't work.
Back to :
Spinach Cheese Pie Olga
500g frozen chopped spinach
3 eggs, beaten 
170g cottage cheese ( you might as well make it low fat ) 
2 slices bread, dipped in water and then squeezed out
20g grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Thaw spinach, add salt and squeeze out water, let it cool
In a bowl add other ingredients, mix it all up, add the cooled spinach
Press lightly into bottom of 9-inch pie pan (use nonstick pan or coat well with no-stick vegetable spray).
Bake approximately 40 - 45 minutes.
Serves 4

As this recipe is great to add vegetable to a pack lunch or as a veg starter to dinner, I enter it in Extra Veg a challenge with a prize run by Helen and Michelle of respectively Fuss Free Flavour and Utterly Scrummy

Dark Glacé Cherry Biscotti

I trust that if you look at a word carefully enough, it should unlock its meaning.

 First chop the word, here we have "bis" meaning twice followed by "cotti": cooked, therefore biscotti literally means "twice cooked". 
So can someone tell me why did I bake these biscotti once only? worse I went on to complain that they were too soft and the recipe didn't quite work. Not funny. 
I first encountered biscotti, age 6. My dad had a military service pal who went on opening a biscotti factory. The man had a son, age 7. To this day, I am not sure what I liked most as we drove towards Provence. Was it that I would meet again the son whom I adored or that I would be allowed to all the biscotti I could eat.
Forward to February 2014, I was invited to a Valentine's day baking session organised by French Glacé Cherry,  which I wasn't able to attend but the invitation bought back floods of memories, including the incident of "the eye of the needle".

When in Provence we would blend in with the family which happened to be keen cavers. My parents were far from but they are polite folks so when they got invited to go caving they agreed.
The ins and outs are slightly blurred, all I remember was the humiliating moment when half my body went through what seemed like a ridiculously small opening, but the bottom half got stuck and someone shouted "too many biscotti."

I learnt my lesson and never went caving again. 
Dark Glacé Cherry Biscotti


75g French Glacé Cherries
225g self-raising flour
Zest of 1 orange
75g whole almonds, roughly chopped
100g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
50g slightly salted butter, melted and cooled


Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 35 minutes
Makes: about 24
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C, 375°F, gas mark 5.
  2. Place the self-raising flour in a bowl and the orange zest, sugar, almonds and French glacé cherries.
  3. Beat together the eggs and butter. Add to the flour and mix to a dough. Turn out onto the surface and cut in half.
  4. Shape each half into a log 24 cm long. Space well apart on a greased baking sheet and flatten each until about 7cm wide. Bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Leave to cool for 20 minutes then cut each piece using a serrated knife into about 12 slices. Space the biscuits slightly apart and return to the oven for a further 15 minutes.
  6. Serve with espresso or a sweet wine.

For a long time after the "cave incident" I was not able to look at biscotti the same way but failure had its silver lining and after making a fool of myself yet again around biscotti, at least I try to read the recipes to the end. So for these reasons, I am entering this recipe in the Summer 17 Inheritance Recipes, a challenge co-hosted with Coffee and Vanilla

Disclaimer: Recipe from French Cherry Glace website reproduced with authorisation.

Give-Away #23 : Personalised Apron, Perfect for Mother's Day

Perfect for Mother's day
It won't be long before we're looking for ideas for Mother's Day Gifts. On a day when we want to show our mums how very special they are, a personalised present will make a great gift.

And why not ride on the baking trend? and acknowledge all the cooking and baking mums do. With this in mind, My 1st and Pebble Soup have joined forces to bring you ideas for gorgeous gifts for mum and give away a "best mum in the world" personalised apron worth £20 to one lucky reader.

All you have to do to enter is, to complete the Rafflecopter widget below to verify your entries – ONE mandatory question will appear, which you need to answer in the comment box. This simple answer will unlock 3 bonus entries.

Deadline: Sunday 16th at midday, the winner will be notified during the day which will give plenty of time for the to make contact and arrange for the apron to be personalised and posted to a UK address only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck

Marmalade & Whisky Glazed Ham.

When I was 14 my parents decided to send me to England to further my language skills. So they picked the best company they could afford and off I went to ........Dundee.
Geography wasn't their forte. With my limited knowledge of English, mostly learnt via Shakespearean texts, in a unfamiliar environment, I was completed lost. Everything was alien. I have 2 distinct memories of my Scottish stay. One, of seals in the Dundee estuary and the other, of ham with pineapple sauce.
I am not sure which of the two startled me most.


This week-end, The World’s Original Marmalade Awards took place in Dalemain Mansion in Cumbria. Concomitantly,  Mackays asked Pebble Soup along other with other blogs for an idea to incorporate in their #mackaysmarmalademarch recipe-collection

Scottish. Marmalade....It couldn't be anything but........Ham. The following is an absolutely classic with a little twist added. It's also incredible easy to prepare, all you need is:

Marmalade and Whisky Glazed Ham

  • 1 piece of ham (normally I would use ham bought from the local butcher but this time, I got it with the weekly shopping, in the supermarket).
For the glaze
  • 5 tbsp marmalade
  • 1 splash of whisky
  • 1/2 tbsp of mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of chili flakes (optional)

Mix the glaze ingredients together in a medium bowl (it will be too much glaze but it doesn't really matter)

Place the ham in a oven-proof dish, brush 3/4 of the glaze over and place a foil on the top.

Bake the ham in oven according to instructions - usually in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 3, 325°F (160°C), for 20 minutes per lb (450 g) -

When cooked removed the foil, brush the rest of the glaze mix on the top of the ham and cook for another 15-20 minutes.

Let the ham rest for 10 minutes before serving.

My jam and marmalade facts:
Commercial jam and marmalades tend to have more sugar than home-made ones which is fine as long as the products are made with care, using traditional equipements. A bit of research will be repayed in taste.

Disclaimer: Mackays send me complementary products to develop this recipe. Words and opinions are my own.


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