Lamb Rump with Almond, Sour Currant and Cauliflower Rice

Serves: 4

After my birthday in June this year, we both agreed that after months and months of fine food and wine – at home and out – the time had come to reverse course.

There were a few strategies that worked.

One of them – calorie counting – was great. It helped eliminate snacking, put an end to my morning cappuccinos and made me make informed (and smarter) decisions about how much olive oil I should be drizzling on salads

(I.E. none at all.)

Another was the world of 300 calorie meals where I learnt of zoodles (zucchini noodles), squash pasta (substituting pasta for pumpkin), cauliflower pizza bases (amazing) and cooking with plenty of prawn and turkey.

Cauliflower rice is something I have previously written about as a genius alternative to rice and during our few months of lean cooking, I really dialled up Cauliflower rice and what we did with it. (After it is cooked, try toasting it in a wok: amazing.)

This dish cooked by Nat last night is excellent on quite a few levels.

Firstly, it is just plain delicious. It’s really tasty, it’s light, it’s aromatic.

Secondly, it’s healthy.

Thanks to the wonderful cauliflower rice.

I’ve learnt a long time ago that healthy eating didn’t mean compromising on flavour. More recently, I learnt that healthy eating didn’t mean smaller portions and being hungry.

Save your carbs and calories for the weekend and give this cracker a go.

Ingredients

1 tbsp garam masala
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
2 tbsp vegetable oil
4 lamb rumps (about 200gm): we used lamb backstrap
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
Plain yoghurt and vinegar to serve

Cauliflower Rice

600gm cauliflower, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 eschallot, finely chopped
1cm piece ginger, finely grated
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
1 tsp ground turmeric
3 tsp nigella (cumin) seeds
1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup roasted almonds
1 cup coriander, coarsely chopped

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c. Combine the garam masala, garlic and half the oil in a large bowl, season to taste, add lamb and massage to coat well. Heat the remaining oil up a large frying pan over a high heat, add the lamb and fry until well browned all over. Transfer the lamb to a baking tray and roast for around 10 – 12 minutes for medium-rare. Cover loosely with foil, rest for 10 minutes and then slice.
  2. For the cauliflower rice, bring vinegar to the boil, add the currants and remove from the heat.
  3. Process the cauliflower in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat oil in a large frying pan over a high heat, add the eschallot, ginger, garlic and curry leaves and sauté for 2 – 3 minutes until tender. Add the turmeric and nigella seeds, stir until fragrant and then add the cauliflower and stir until tender: 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Strain the currants, add to the pan along with the roasted almonds and coriander and season to taste.
  5. Top cauliflower rice with lamb, scatter with coriander and serve with yoghurt.

Turkish-style bread topped with lamb, spices and pine nuts

Serves: 4 – 6

This is really special, really easy street-food, perfect for a Saturday afternoon when friends come round.

The lamb mince can be prepared ahead of time meaning you only have the dough to do as people start walking through the door. Of course, when they see that you have made your own dough, they’ll know something clever is coming.

They’ll also think you’re a genius.

The taste – and the heat – is classic Middle Eastern.

And goes to show that the simplest things really can be the best.

Ingredients

175gm Greek feta, coarsely grated
250gm minced lamb
3 long red chillies, chilli and seeds coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 tsp cumin seed, dry-roasted and and finely ground in a mortar and pestle

Flatbreads

1/2 tsp dried yeast
2 1/2 cups plain flour, plus extra for dusting

To serve

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling
Toasted pine nuts
Thinly sliced mint
Pickled long green chillies

Method

  1. For the flatbreads, dissolve the yeast in 300ml of lukewarm water.
  2. Combine flour and a large pinch of salt in an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the yeast mixture and knead until a soft dough forms. Around 6 – 8 minutes.
  3. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 6 balls. Place balls on a floured tray, leaving 10cm between each and set aside for 1 hour to prove.
  4. Preheat the oven to 250c. Combine the lamb, chilli, garlic and cumin in a bowl. Roll out dough to 5mm-thick rounds on a lightly floured surface, then even top with the lamb mixture, leaving a small border. Transfer to oven trays lined with baking paper, drizzle with olive oil and bake (in batches if necessary) until crisp at the edges but soft in the center. Around 15 minutes.
  5. Serve scattered with pine nuts, mint and pickled chillies at the side.

Turkish-style eggs with Tomato, Green Chilli and Mince

Serves: 4

Every special occasion in our house calls for a special breakfast.

And that generally means something like this number: a spiced mince cooked with eggs.

This past Mother’s Day, Nat – sensibly – opted to run to the gym before an afternoon of champagne, great food and celebration.

Breakfast was spared.

I proceeded nonetheless.

It wasn’t until Monday that Nat handed in her verdict and it was a 10/10. The breakfast we should have had on Sunday: except that you take every opportunity to get out when you have three boys and limited time on your hands and why wouldn’t you?

It’s Mother’s Day.

Well done Nat. You are the best Mum in the world.

Oh, and enjoy this amazing mince breakfast.

It is awesome.

Ingredients

2 tbsp butter
1 onion finely chopped
6 green peppers, deseeded, finely chopped
250gm lamb mince
3 tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
4 eggs
Sea salt
Toasted, buttered, Turkish Bread to serve

Method

  1. Heat a large frying pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Add the onion and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Stir in the peppers and lamb mince, increasing the temperature, stirring, until the lamb is browned.
  2. Tip in the tomatoes, half a cup of water chilli flakes, pepper and a good pinch of salt. Mix thoroughly and simmer on a low heat for 30 – 60 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.
  3. Push the back of a spoon into the mixture to make 4 wells and crack the eggs into the wells. Cover the pan and cook for until the eggs are just set.
  4. Serve with the Turkish Bread and ideally Champagne if you have it!

Greek Butterflied Leg of Lamb

Serves: 6 – 8

My mother used to serve us this leg of lamb – at least three times a year – BBQed by my father. The smell of it cooking is a smell I’ve never gotten over.

I’ve cooked it plenty of time too.

Nat loves it and the boys love it.

Max turns one this weekend and we’re having a picnic to celebrate.

A picnic with crusty, buttered rolls, plenty of rocket and egg mayo… and a slices of warm, slow-rotisseried leg of lamb.

Good Lord.

Happy first birthday or whatever you cook this super simple, always amazing lamb for.

Ingredients

Leg of lamb, butterflied
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp salt
Pepper
1 tsp oregano

Method

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the lamb and pour into a large ziplock bag.
  2. Add the lamb and marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
  3. BBQ, basting liberally with the marinade until cooked medium.

Tobie Puttock’s Spiced Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki

Serves: 4

We have cooked a number of dishes from Tobie and Georgia Puttock’s The Chef Gets Healthy and we have never been let down.

I wouldn’t crash-diet on the book a week before your wedding because all of the recipes remain wholesome: more like the Chef Gets Healthier.

Though this is the appeal to me.

You’re eating great food that is easy to prepare and throw in a good walk with the dogs before dinner like we do and it’s almost as if you didn’t have dinner at all.

These particular lamb burgers are great: we dialed up the chilli which is a must and then doubled the recipe so we had more burgers for lunch.

Save time by buying a good Tzatziki rather than making it, get the leashes on the dogs and enjoy a cracking, healthy-ish mid-week meal.

Come to think of it, you could probably have a wine or two with dinner as well and still not look back.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tbsp dried mint leaves
500gm minced lamb
Small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
Small handful of dill, roughly chopped
1 egg, lightly whisked
100gm reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Tzatziki to serve

Method

  1. Heat the olive in a small frying pan over a medium-heat, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes, until slightly softened though not coloured. Stir in the allspice, coriander, cumin, chilli flakes and mint leaves and cook for a further minute or so.
  2. Take off the heat and set aside to cool.
  3. Place the lamb in a large bowl and add the cooled onion mixture, parsley, dill, egg, feta, salt and pepper. Use your hands to mix everything well.
  4. Shape the mixture into four patties, place on a tray and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat a grill plat or fry pan on high. Drizzle with a small amount of oil and cook the patties for 3 – 4 minutes each side or until just cooked through.
  6. Serve the burgers with a dollop of Tzatziki and this Roast Cauliflower with Chickpea Salad.

Merguez Meatball Flatbreads

Serves: 4

These meatball flatbreads are the bomb.com. We found them on the wonderful Brooklyn Supper blog and only made one or two minor changes.

Every element: meatballs, herby yogurt, the coleslaw and the toasted flatbreads, adds to the whole effect.

It is sort of like that signature sandwich at some new, trendy sandwich bar that has opened in the city. A sandwich that everyone is raving about.

We did this one Saturday evening and it hit every spot. Make sure you have chilled champagne at the side, music playing and the kids in bed and you’re set for the start of a great Saturday night in.

(Better still, send the kids off to grandparents or interstate and have a really great Saturday night in!)

Ingredients

Red cabbage slaw

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp minced parsley

Herbed yogurt

1 cup whole milk Greek yogurt (do not use low fat)
Pinch sea salt
1/3 cup minced parsley
2 tbsp minced mint leaves
Squeeze lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Merguez Meatballs

1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp coriander seed
1kg lamb mince
3 clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp harissa (from a tube)
2 tbsp canola oil

Flatbreads
Olive oil
Coriander leaves
Sriracha
Lemon wedges

Method

Red Cabbage Slaw

  1. Combine the garlic, lemon juice and vinegar in a large bowl and set aside. Add the vegetables and toss with the lemon juice mixture and sprinkle with sea salt. Cover and set aside at room temperature for an hour or two. Before serving, add salt to taste and toss with the parsley.

Herbed yogurt

  1. Combine the yogurt, salt, herbs, lemon juice and pepper. Taste and add additional salt and lemon juice as needed. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Merguez Meatballs

  1. Heat a small pan over a medium heat and toast the cumin and coriander seeds until fragrant and popping: 1 – 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and grind to a paste.
  2. To make the meatballs, combine the spices, lamb, garlic, paprika and harissa and mix well. Form into golf ball size meatballs and set aside on a clean tray.
  3. Heat oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the meatballs, searing the meatballs all over until cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, heat another pan over a medium heat and brush one side of the flatbreads with olive oil. Pan fry until crispy and golden and flip and cook the other side.
  5. To assemble, rub the herby yogurt on one side of the toasted flatbread. Add some of the coleslaw and line two or three of the meatballs on top. Drizzle with sriracha and sprinkle with coriander leaves. Serve with the lemon wedges.

Matt Preston’s World’s Best Rissoles

Serves: 4

I get the feeling that rissoles are back in vogue.

And thank you for that!

They still have the stigma of being a daggy, lazy dinner – left behind in the wave of MasterChef and salmon-three-ways – though it is the nostalgia and honesty of the rissole that now makes it on trend.

These Matt Preston rissoles are really good and served with a puréed mash and buttered peas, they closed off a weekend of cooking perfectly.

For lunch, Nat made Thomas Keller’s Cauliflower Panna Cotta with an Oyster Jelly and Bulgar Caviar; the night before, we made handmade noodles for a fusion Chinese/Middle Eastern dish.

Which is exactly why we needed these rissoles and why rissoles are what you need to hold back the endless waves of culinary complexity and sous videing. Enough is enough!

Enjoy.

Ingredients

2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely grated
1 zucchini, coarsely grated
800gm lamb mince
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 heaped tbsp of whatever European herbs you have: basil, oregano, parsley, coriander, tarragon or majoram, though not sage or mint
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 egg
Sea salty and freshly cracked pepper
1/4 cup mint jelly
2 tbsp malt vinegar (we used black vinegar)
Mash (into which we mixed two finely chopped raw French onions)
Buttered peas

Method

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat; add the onions, carrot and zucchini, and cook, stirring for 5 minutes until everything softens. Set aside to cool.
  2. Add the mince, tomato sauce, herbs, oats and egg to the vegetable mixture and season. Mix well using your (clean) hands until well combined. Shape into 12 rissoles.
  3. Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add the rissoles in batches a cook for 5 minutes each side or until cooked through. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  4. Add the mint jelly and vinegar to the pan and stir over a medium heat until the jelly melts. Return the rissoles and toss in the liquid for 2 minutes until coasted, sticky and glossy.
  5. Serve with mash and peas.