Tuesday, March 18, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Lamb Salad

A few weeks ago, we ordered a lamb from an organic farmer friend of ours and while we were scoffing cocktails in Athens, a very kind friend took delivery of it for us, weighed all the pieces, labelled them and put them in our fridge. Hanna, you rock ;-)

On March 16th, we had leg of lamb for dinner.  Oh my.  Tender, juicy yumminess doesn't even begin to describe how good it was.  I followed a very simple Jamie Oliver recipe and in jig time, we were sitting down to aromatic heaven.  I also made his mint sauce, which was a disaster, so best avoided if anyone is curious.  Waaaay too much red wine vinegar.  Thankfully I'm not a mint sauce fan, so only Mountain Man was disappointed and had to mop up the vinegary goo from his plate before continuing.  But I digress.

On St. Patrick's Day we were both on a fast day, as part of the 5:2 Programme.  (Hardly the stereotypical way to spend the day, but I do love to break the mould.)  I was half starved by 3pm, so figured the only way I'd make it to breakfast today was if dinner was utterly delicious.  I searched the worldwideweb for some lamb salad recipes, came up with nothing satisfactory so decided to mash a few of them together and hope for the best.

I sliced up some of the cooked lamb, marinaded it in lemon juice, a tiny amount of olive oil and some Za'atar, which I bought in San Francisco and had no idea how to use.  Za'atar is actually thyme, but this was a mix of thyme, sesame seeds, summac and sea salt.

Once this was marinading I rinsed 1/4 cup of quinoa and simmered in 3/4 cup of water until cooked (when the little tails break free of the seed body, they're ready).  This was then drained and spread out on a plate to cool.

The odd bits of veg lounging in my fridge were sliced up and pan friend with some garlic.  I managed to dig out half a courgette, 1/3 of a leek and a red onion.

I poked the seeds out of 1/4 of a pomegranate and mixed them with half a head of romaine lettuce, the few mint leaves that were left after a cocktail night on Friday and a handful of toasted pine nuts.  Then, the lamb was quickly pan fried, the veg was added for one more quick spin in the pan and the whole lot was mixed in a large salad bowl including a light dressing made with lemon juice, pomegranate molasses (first use! woop woop!) salt, pepper and olive oil.

A small pile of sparkling, colourful goodness landed on our plates and was gobbled down before we had time to blink.  I tried very hard to savour every mouthful, but it was very difficult.  I was half starved after all.  We loved it so much I'm making it again tonight, but this time adding even more ingredients like sultanas, chia seeds and red pepper.  Can't wait!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Guilt Free Ice-Cream

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!  If you've sworn off something for lent, maybe today is the day you allow yourself a treat.  This is a great option, delicious but really not particularly guilt inducing ;-)

 Over Christmas, Mountain Man and I visited a friend and I had the rare opportunity to sit and chat while someone else cooked.  We were fed homemade bhajis to keep us (or me, really) calm, while the most amazing vegan Indian spread was prepared.  I was in heaven.

I did help with one thing, which was to make some ice-cream.  Possibly the easiest thing on the planet to make, basically this is a mix of cashew nuts, dates for sweetness, water and cacao nibs or dark chocolate to make the mix deliciously chocolatey.  Our host directed me, as I hadn't made it before and within about 10 minutes, it was ready to go into the freezer.  

Cashew nuts are a fantastic alternative when you don't want to use cream or milk.  Simply blitzed in a blender with water they make a gorgeous creamy sauce, brilliant for lasagne or in this case, ice-cream!  Nutrient wise, they're high in protein and energy rich, so a small amount is quite filling.  They're also good sources of Magnesium, Manganese and Iron as well as Vitamin K.

Recently, I decided to make two versions, one as a plain vanilla and the other as chocolate chip.  They start the same way and chocolate chips are added at the end.  You could add cocoa powder for a really chocolatey version, which, as I type, sounds really good! 

So, to make the ice-cream:

  • Put a cup of raw cashew nuts into your blender.
  • Add 5 soft pitted dates, 1/2 a cup of filtered water and 1 tsp of vanilla extract.
  • Turn on the blender and blitz everything.  Stop occasionally to scrape everything down the sides of the blender and repeat until the mix is really smooth.  It can take a while, as the nuts can be a bit grainy so keep at it.
  • Once it's super smooth, pour the mix into a container for freezing.  
  • If you want to make it chocolate chip, add a handful of dark chocolate to the blender and blitz for 30 seconds so the chocolate is still in small chunks.
  • For super chocolatey gorgeousness, add 2 tbsp of cocoa powder and a handful of dark chocolate and blitz well.  
  • If you have an ice-cream maker you can use that.  I don't, so I took the container out of the freezer every hour and gave it a stir.  This stops it from turning icy.


Serve on it's own, with some melted dark chocolate poured over or, as I did recently, a shot of Baileys  (Obviously, this will not be vegan, but it is yum!)