Saturday, 31 March 2012

Fried cabbage with leeks and bacon

This is what the Italians would call Cucina Povera – poor cooking.  A very frugal lunch indeed; it takes next to no time to put together and uses only one pan! 

I based this on a dish from my very favourite cookbook, Delia Smith’s Complete Cookery Course but adapted it to use one of the leeks I had in the fridge – baby leeks are selling for coppers here at the moment so I always have a couple in the fridge! 

The quantity given below served one person, with bread and butter on the side.  Although you could, as Delia suggests, serve it with sausages and/or a jacket potato. 

For one person I used : 

½ a cabbage (I had Savoy in the fridge so used that but any cabbage would work)
1 baby leek
1 knob of butter (approx ½ oz or thereabouts)
3 rashers of bacon 

Firstly halve the leek lengthways and wash it thoroughly under running water.   Slice the halves of the leek up, then snip the bacon into pieces approximately the same size as the leek. 

Melt the butter, add the leek and soften for a few minutes before adding the bacon.  Cook for 5 or 6 minutes until the bacon is browning a little. 

While the bacon and leek are cooking, shred the cabbage and rinse well under running water.  When the bacon is starting to brown add the drained cabbage to the pan (don’t worry if it is a little wet) and season with salt and pepper.  Pop a lid on the pan and give it 5 minutes cooking time.  Remove the lid and give everything a good stir and let it cook for a further 5 or 6 minutes until the cabbage is cooked. 





The original recipe can be found here if anyone would like to try that one too http://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/party-food/accompaniment/fried-cabbage-with-bacon.html




Thursday, 29 March 2012

The Life and Times of a Cricket Wife

So here we are again.  Spring has sprung, the clocks went back this weekend and the outdoor cricket season is just two weeks away.  I specify outdoor, because the diehard cricketers have been playing indoors all winter! 

In my previous life, before I met my husband, when I thought about afternoons spent watching cricket I probably envisaged something terribly sophisticated and British.  A lady dressed in a pretty floral frock (for surely it must be a frock, not a dress) reclines in a striped deckchair, a wicker picnic basket at her feet and a glass of Pimms within arm’s reach.  In the distance the sound of leather on willow, the genteel applause of the crowd and a clipped BBC voice (circa 1950) saying “well done”; the lady raises her glass in acknowledgement of the victory. 

Nothing, but nothing could be further from the truth!  An afternoon spent watching cricket, more often than not entails as much packing and planning as an Arctic expedition.  A variety of garments are needed in case of cool weather, cold weather and, very often, a blanket as a back-up.  Of course, you also need a variety of sunscreen in case of bright sunshine, or brilliant sunshine;  and if I’m packing sunscreen then I’ll also want something to wipe it all off again at the end of the day (I hate to be sticky!) so a small soapy flannel makes its way into my already stuffed ‘go bag’.  Toss in my book, distance sunglasses, reading sunglasses and my lotions, potions and pills and I’m good to go! 

As for my picnic basket – I haven’t owned a wicker basket since I took cookery classes at school in the 70’s.  Wicker was very fashionable for cookery baskets in the 70’s!!  No, my picnic gets packed into a cool-bag, as everyone else’s does today!  My ‘picnic’ varies from week to week but is always a sandwich or filled roll of some sort (egg mayonnaise, salmon and cucumber, cheese salad etc), some fresh fruit and, of course, a flask of boiling water, my mug and some teabags.

Before I can even think about swanning off to park myself in my chair for the duration, we have to get the ground up and running.   

Cue Groundforce Day!  This is probably my favourite day of the season.  All the loyal stalwarts gather at the ground to weed the borders, paint the picket fence and the wrought ironwork, clean the clubhouse, trim back the bushes and cut back the trees.  As Chairman’s wife my role in all of this is firmly in the kitchen!!  If you’re imagining Bree Van de Kamp in a floral apron, immaculate manicure proffering dainties to handsome cricketers – think again!   

This is good old British builders’ fare!  The early birds start off with a breakfast of ‘bacon butties’ and tea.  If all I cooked all day was bacon butties my troops would not be disappointed!  No matter how much bacon I buy and cook, it’s somehow never enough!  The look on the faces as I take around tray after tray of stuffed bacon rolls is utterly priceless – and what gets me out of bed for what is an exhausting day!  The teapot that could feed an army never seems to hold enough as we pour mug after mug after mug of tea. 

Once the washing up after round one is done (and I am eternally grateful for the dishwasher that we invested in!) it’s time to get started on lunch.  As this is more of a graze than a stop and eat, it’s got to be eat-it-in-your-hand fare.  Hot dogs and burgers specifically!  Again, we get through pot after pot of tea .... and coffee .... and squash!! 

Finally, the last of the bangers and burgers are cooked and served; the dishes done and put away and the kitchen cleaned and returned to order.  Apart from a few rounds of tea I’m more or less off duty; it’s time for me to sit out in the sunshine, catch up with old friends and enjoy the feel of the sun on my face after a long winter.
 

We’ll break out the cake and sit in the sunshine with a cuppa somewhere around 3 or 4 o’clock, admire our handywork and anticipate the weekends to come. 

Welcome back Summer, it's good to see you again!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Steak and mushroom pie


Who doesn’t like a pie!  Hubby loves my pies and this is one of his favourites.  It's very economical as it uses the cheapest cuts of beef, and the mushrooms will stretch the meat to make a delicious and filling pie. 

I like to make something like this the day before we want it as I always find that the flavours develop on keeping. 

For two of us I used: 

1 big onion
1lb stewing beef (clod, shin, skirt etc)
½ lb mushrooms
1tb flour
1 pint beef stock
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
1tsp mushroom ketchup (optional, if you don’t have it leave it out)
1tsp tomato puree
2 small sprigs of thyme
1 small sprig of rosemary, finely chopped
1 bayleaf
2 tb olive oil

1 pack of flaky (puff) pastry (you can make your own but frankly it isn’t worth the faff!  You won’t use it all and the leftovers can be frozen for another time.)  If you can't get flaky/puff pastry then shortcrust pastry will be fine.

1 egg, beaten to glaze the pie.  You could replace the egg with milk, or even water if you don’t want to waste a good egg as a pastry glaze! 

Firstly, dice the beef and brown in 1tb of olive oil.  Remove to a plate when browned. 

While the beef is browning peel and dice the onion, then brown in the second tablespoon of olive oil. 

While the onion is cooking, clean a third of the mushrooms and chop fairly finely.  Add to the pan with the onions and sautee for a few minutes.  Return the beef to the onions and mushrooms and toss around to mix everything together. 

Add the flour to the beef, onions and mushrooms and mix thoroughly.  Gradually add the beef stock, stirring to eliminate any risk of lumps.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, mushroom ketchup (if using), tomato puree and herbs and mix in.  Bring to a gentle simmer and then cover. 

Cook in the oven at 150oC (300oF/gas mark 2) for 2½ to 3 hours. 

After the first hour, clean and slice the remainder of the mushrooms and add to the casserole, stirring to give it all a good mixing. 






The pie I am making is a lidded pie, which is to say it just has pastry on the top, not on the bottom.   

If you are making the pie filling ahead of time, allow it to cool completely before you add the pastry lid.  If you are making the filling to cook straight away you can add the pastry lid now.

To make it up, roll out a piece of flaky pastry about 2” or 3” larger than your pie dish.  Cut the extra pastry and use to line the edges of your pie tin.  Brush with beaten egg then add the pie filling to the tin.  Lay the lid over the dish and trim to fit.  Brush with beaten egg and cook at 180oC for 20 - 25 minutes (30 – 35 from cold), until the pastry is golden.






Sunday, 25 March 2012

Parsley Sauce


Parsley sauce is such a comforting sauce, and equally delicious with fish as with ham.  I particularly like it served with poached smoked cod or haddock. 

I have already given the recipe elsewhere, as part of a baked ham and parsley sauce post; but I thought it deserved a post all of its own too! 

I make an all-in-one sauce which has never failed me.  You do need to make sure that all of the ingredients are cold though (or room temperature). 

The quantity given below is plenty for two people, but any leftover can be frozen for another time.   

1tb plain flour
1 generous tsp butter
½ pint of cold milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2tb chopped curly parsley 

Simply place the flour, butter and milk together in a pan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring from time to time.   

My handy little whisk
As the sauce begins to simmer stir constantly to stop any lumps from forming (if any do form just beat them out with a small whisk).  I have a handy little whisk that I use for this and have never known a lump to form! 

Stir the sauce as it thickens and turn the heat right down.  The sauce will need to cook for at least 5 minutes, and preferably longer to cook out the flour. 

Season to taste and add the parsley for the last few minutes to flavour the sauce.



Baked ham with parsley sauce


I vividly remember the first time I ever tasted ham with parsley sauce, it was with my Grandparents!   Neither of my parents like parsley sauce so  I had never heard of it before.  Then one day I was in my Grandparents’ house and she dished this up.  One taste and I was lost!  Every time I make it now it reminds me of those lovely days with my Grandparents. 

I bought a small uncooked bacon (ham) joint, about 2¼ lbs in weight.  I soaked the joint overnight in a bowl of water to remove any saltiness from the preserving. 

When you are ready to cook the joint simply pop it into a roasting tin, cover with foil and bake in a low oven.  I cooked mine at 150oC (300oF/gas mark 2) for 2½ hours. 

The parsley sauce method I use is an all-in-one method that saves a lot of faff and lumps!   I have a really handy small whisk that makes light work of sauces. 

For the parsley sauce : 

1tb plain flour
1 generous tsp butter
½ pint of cold milk
Salt and pepper to taste
2tb chopped curly parsley 

My handy little whisk
Simply place the flour, butter and milk together in a pan and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring from time to time.  As it begins to simmer stir constantly to stop any lumps from forming (if any do form just beat them out with a small whisk).  Stir the sauce as it thickens and turn the heat right down.  The sauce will need to cook for at least 5 minutes, and preferably longer to cook out the flour.  Season to taste and add the parsley for the last few minutes to flavour the sauce. 

I always like this best with boiled potatoes and broad beans (fava beans).  Sadly, broad weren’t available this week so I had frozen peas instead! 



From my Grandmother’s kitchen to yours – I hope you enjoy this little taste of Wales!



Any leftover sauce can be frozen and would be really lovely served over some poached fish.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Bubble & Squeak

I’m (once again!) faintly embarrassed at writing a recipe, such as it is, for something so simple, but I’m sharing this recipe for the benefit of my American friends, who may not have heard of it! 

Bubble and squeak was a traditional supper here in the UK, back in the days when people burned up the calories during the daytime and could afford (calorie-wise) such a big meal after a big Sunday dinner.  I think the tradition varies from area to area, but in my family it’s made up with whatever leftover vegetables there are from the roast dinner; usually potatoes, cabbage, carrots, peas but is literally made up from whatever assortment of cooked vegetables you have.   

Made with Colcannon mashed potatoes

I often make Colcannon mashed potatoes (with leeks and cabbage) and this is a lovely way to use up any leftovers.  I like this so much that I always cook surplus vegetables specifically to make bubble and squeak the next day (or the day after that!).  When you are working it’s such a simple meal to put together when you come home.

The ‘recipe’ is difficult to quantify other than to say you need enough cooked vegetables for the number of people you are feeding.  As I said above, it is literally made from whatever you have to hand.  I’ve used an assortment from : 





Potatoes (boiled, mashed or roasted – it makes no difference)
Cabbage
Brussels sprouts
Parsnip
Swede (rutabaga)
Peas
Beans
Leeks 

All you need to do is chop up (coarsely or finely, it’s up to you) the vegetables that you are using. 

Made with roast potatoes, carrots, cabbage and beans
Heat a little oil, beef dripping or goose fat in a frying pan and when the oil is hot add the vegetables.  Toss around the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.  You want bits of the vegetables to brown so don’t keep it constantly moving, just enough to stop it catching and burning.

Serve with leftover meat, ham or bacon.  A generous puddle of brown sauce never goes amiss either!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Kedgeree

I first tasted this back in the early 70’s, when my Aunt, who was a very adventurous cook for the time, made it for us.  It was a revelation as, in those days, my Mum’s repertoire was quite restricted.  She’s what you would call “a good plain British cook”; a great cook inside her comfort zone.  I digress!  I had never tasted anything like this before and it has remained a favourite ever since. 

It’s a classic Anglo-Indian Victorian breakfast dish, although we’ve always had it as our main meal!  This is my version of it, which leaves out the curry powder!  

For two people : 

1 large smoked cod or haddock fillet
1 cup of rice
½ cup of peas
2 hard boiled eggs
1 small bunch of parsley
1 generous knob of butter
Salt to taste 

Firstly, pop the fish fillets into an oven-proof dish, cover with water and cover the dish with foil.  Place in the oven to poach at 200oC(400oF/Gas mark 6) for 25 to 30 minutes. 

While the fish is poaching, cook the rice, adding the peas for the last 10 to 15 minutes. 

Peel the eggs, chopping one coarsely and slicing the other into quarters.  Wash and chop the parsley. 

When the fish is cooked, remove from the poaching water to drain, and then flake into bite sized pieces. 

Strain the cooked rice and peas and return to the pan, adding a generous knob of butter.  Stir so that the butter melts and then add the chopped egg, parsley and the cooked flaked fish.  Stir gently so that you don’t break up the egg or the fish any further.  Decant to a serving dish (or onto plates) and arrange the quarters of egg on the top.




I would like to dedicate this dish to my Auntie Joan, a great cook and a wonderful inspiration.  Thank you!


Sausages braised in Guinness, in a Yorkshire pudding.


My hubby absolutely loves sausages, in any way, shape or form!  I always feel that sausages are at their best made into a gravy dinner, with what we in Wales call ‘potch’ (swede (rutabaga) and potato mashed together) and lots of fried caramelised onions.   

One of my favourite way of serving them is braised in red wine as you have a delicious gravy to go with them, and I often serve them in a Yorkshire pudding as one of my ‘dinners in a Yorkshire Pudding’.  You do need mashed potato with such delicious gravy so we usually either have ‘potch’ or colcannon (mashed potato with cabbage and leeks). 

For today though I decided to experiment with cooking them in Guinness.  Hubby loved it, as an experiment it was a resounding success! 

For two people : 

6 good meaty sausages (I like Cumberland)
1tb olive oil
1 good knob of butter
2 onions
½ tsp sugar
1tb flour
1 (440ml/half pint) can of Guinness
¼ pint of beef stock (½ a cup)
1tsp mushroom ketchup (optional, leave it out if you can’t find it/don’t have it)
1tsp Worcestershire sauce
1tsp tomato puree (or ketchup if you don’t keep puree in the house)
1 or 2 sprigs thyme
1 bayleaf
Salt and pepper to taste 

Firstly brown the sausages all over and then set aside. 

Melt the butter and olive oil together in a large pan.  Peel and cut the onions into thin half-moon slices and add to the oil and butter mixture, add the sugar and some ground black pepper and brown gently for 10 – 15 minutes.  As this is quite a simple recipe in terms of ingredients, you do want the onions to brown to get the best flavour into the dish. 

Add the flour and stir into the onions.  Gradually add the Guinness, stirring and scraping up any bits from around the pan.  Add the Worcestershire sauce, mushroom ketchup, beef stock and tomato puree/ketchup and stir.  Add a seasoning of salt and pepper, the herbs and the sausages and bring to a gentle simmer. 

Cover the pan and pop in a low oven (150oC/275o F/gas mark 1) for 3 ½ hours.  You want to have a nice gravy with this so if it seems to dry out at all just add a little more boiling water (half a cup or so). 



To make the Yorkshire Pudding I used : 

1 x 8” sandwich tin 
3oz plain flour
1 egg
3 fl oz milk
2 fl oz water
Salt and pepper to taste 

Place the flour in a mixing bowl and season, make a well in the centre and add the egg, milk and water.  Beat well so that there are no lumps whatsoever in the mixture.  Traditionally it’s made the night before and left to sit, the longer you can leave the batter mixture the better. 

When you are ready, grease the sandwich tin well and heat in the oven (it needs to be very hot), pour the batter mixture into the tin and cook for 25 to 30 minutes at 220oC (425oF/gas mark 7). 

I made the Yorkshire first and just re-heated in the microwave when we were ready to eat. We had one between us as we had potatoes as well.

This was a very substantial meal, so don’t plan on doing anything more than resting your stomach afterwards!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Chicken Tortilla Soup with Avocado Salsa

We first ate this soup when we were skiing at Beaver Creek several years ago.  It’s been hubby’s favourite ever since!  After tasting it again on our last holiday he asked me to make it for him.  This is my approximation of it.   

Instead of tortillas, I decided to lighten it by serving an avocado salsa with it.  There’s something about lime, avocado and coriander that always screams summer at me.  Probably because it takes me back to the ‘Delia Summer Collection Days’ of the early 90’s! 

For two of us, this was what I used : 

For the soup : 

1 tb olive oil
1 shallot
1 small clove of garlic
1 stick of celery
1 red chilli
1 bunch of coriander (stalks for the soup, leaves for the salsa)
1 green pepper
1 x 220g can of chopped tomatoes (1 cup)
1 x 220g can of red kidney beans (1 cup)
1 cup leftover cooked chicken
¼ tsp ground coriander
1 lime
¾ pint chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste 

For the salsa : 

½ small red chilli
The coriander leaves from above
The juice from ½ a lime
1 small avocado 

Finely chop the shallot, garlic, celery and coriander stalks and add to the pan containing 1tb of olive oil.  Add the ground coriander and sauté gently for 5 minutes. 

Rinse the kidney beans well and de-seed and chop the green pepper and red chilli. 

Add the tinned tomatoes, kidney beans, green pepper, red chilli, chicken stock and finally the cooked chicken (tear into bite sized chunks).  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Simmer gently for half an hour. 

While the soup is simmering you can prepare the salsa.  Simply chop the coriander leaves and pop into a serving bowl.  De-seed and chop the small chilli (or half of a chilli depending on the size and how hot you like it to be) and add to the coriander leaves.  Peel and chop the avocado and add to the chilli and coriander leaves.  Finally, squeeze over the juice of half a lime. 

When the soup is cooked, to give it a delicious light zing squeeze in the juice of the lime and stir through the soup. 

Serve the soup with the salsa heaped in the middle for a lovely light contrast.


Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Victoria Sandwich

There was some interest on my Facebook page so I thought I’d write a quick blog post to share this simple glory with those of you who have never tried it before. 

There’s a simple rule of thumb when making Victoria sandwich (sponge) cakes and that is for every egg you use, you need 2oz each of flour, sugar and butter.   

As a general guideline, I usually make a four egg mixture (which uses 8oz each of flour, sugar and butter) for a nice deep sponge in two 7” diameter sandwich tins. 

To make a cake the size pictured I used : 

4 large eggs
8oz caster sugar (superfine I think in the States)
8oz butter
8oz self raising flour (cake flour)
1tsp vanilla extract 

To fill the cake :

Sandwich Tins
Small pot of double cream (heavy cream)
3 or 4 tsp raspberry jam 

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy and then beat in the egg, gradually and then add the vanilla extract.  Add the flour and mix in until everything is combined. 

Grease and line two 7” sandwich tins and divide the filling between them. 

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 170oC (325oF/Gas 3) for approximately 30 minutes. 

Keep a close eye on them and test after 30 minutes with a skewer.  If it comes out clean then the cakes are done. If not give them a little longer but watch them closely.

Leave to cool in the tins for a few minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Soften the jam a little in the microwave (it only needs seconds) before spreading over one of the sponges and then cover with the thickly whipped cream.  Turn the other sponge onto the top of the filling to sandwich, and dredge the top with icing sugar (confectioner’s/powdered sugar). 

To make it extra special I often add whole raspberries to the filling too.   

(You could use strawberry jam and use sliced or halved strawberries in the middle) 



For cricket teas I often make a five egg sponge (10oz each butter, sugar and flour) in one of these (10" x 6") oblong tins.  When cold cut the sponge in half and then split the halves through the middle.  Cut each of the four pieces into smaller squares (I think I used to get something like 30 from this tin) and spread with whipped cream and some fresh fruit – sliced strawberries or whole raspberries go down very well!

Slimmers' Chicken Leek and Mushroom


We’re trying very hard to be good and drop a few tonnes (!) before the summer gets here and I thought this would be both tasty and fairly healthy. 

I served it with some cooked spelt, but you could equally have it with barley, rice or pasta. 

For two of us : 

1 small leek (the green part only)
5 or 6 medium mushrooms
About a cup of cooked chicken
¼ pint chicken stock
2tb light Philladelphia
Salt and pepper to taste 

Slice the leek lengthways, rinse well and slice across the lengths quite thinly.  Clean and slice the mushrooms and tear the chicken into edible sized piees. 

Toss the whole lot into a sauté pan and pour over the chicken stock, season to taste. 

Simmer on a medium heat until most of the liquid in the pan is absorbed (you want some to make a sauce so don’t let the pan cook dry).  Add the Philly and stir well to combine with the contents of the pan. 

Chop some fresh parsley and sprinkle over at the last minute. 

Serve with or over your choice of side.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Risotto Primavera (Springtime Risotto)


I love March, after the long dark days of Winter it’s good to see Spring arrive and get some light back in the world.  To celebrate the arrival of warmer weather this week, and lighter evenings I thought I’d share this wonderful recipe with you all. 

Literally ‘Springtime Risotto’ it can be made with any assortment of spring vegetables that takes your fancy.  I love asparagus, and to celebrate the return of better weather (hopefully!) I thought I’d use that in my risotto. 






For two people you need : 

1 tb olive oil
1 shallot
1 clove of garlic
1 stick of celery
1 small carrot
1 bunch of asparagus (approximately 6 or 7 long spears)
¾ cup of risotto rice
2 cups of vegetable stock
1tb chopped flatleaf parsley 

As always with risotto, finely chop the shallot, garlic and celery and sweat gently in the olive oil for 5 – 10 minutes.  Dice the carrot quite small and add to the veg to sweat.   

Snap the woody stalks off the asparagus and cut the stalks into ¼” slices, keeping the tips whole, and set aside. 

Add the rice to the vegetables and stir around in what juices there are in the pan, and then add the stock.  You could stand at the stove and add the stock bit by bit until it is absorbed or do what I do – add it all in one go and stir from time to time. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Simmer gently, stirring from time to time.  You may need to add more boiling water if your rice has absorbed the stock too quickly so keep the kettle hot.  Cooking time will vary depending on the type of rice you are using (Arborio, Carnaroli or Nano) but the risotto should cook somewhere between 15 to 20 minutes.   

The consistency you are looking for is what the Italians call All’ Onda (with a wave) – it should be creamy and liquid enough so that when you draw your spoon through the pan the space fills up quickly, but it shouldn’t be sloppy.  If your risotto seems at all dry simply add a little more boiling water from the kettle and stir it through until the right consistency is achieved. 

After 5 or 6 minutes cooking time add the stems of the asparagus, and the tips for the last 5 minutes cooking time.  (I like my vegetables so have some bite, so if you like yours softer add the asparagus stems when you add the stock and the tips after 10 minutes.)

When the risotto is cooked, wash and finely chop the parsley and use to garnish the risotto to give a final fresh green hit to the dish, finally and most importantly (!) an avalanche of parmesan will finish it beautifully. 

Actually you could do what the Italians do and add a mantecatura of 1 – 2 tbs single (light) cream and the same amount again of parmesan cheese at the very end of the cooking time.



*If you have an open bottle of white wine to hand add a glug to the rice and stir until it is absorbed before you add the stock.


Sunday, 11 March 2012

Glossary : Ingredients


UK                                                                  US 

Aubergine                                                     Eggplant

Chickpeas                                                     Garbanzo Beans

Coriander                                                      Cilantro (Dhania in South Africa)

Courgette                                                      Zucchini

Rocket                                                          Arugula

Spring Onions                                              Scallions

Swede                                                          Rutabaga

Glossary : Oven Temperature Conversions

Centigrade                Fahrenheit                Gas Mark

110                             225                             1/4

120                             250                             1/2

140                             275                             1

160                             300                             2

170                             325                             3

180                             350                             4

190                             375                             5

200                             400                             6

220                             425                             7

230                             450                             8

250                             475                             9

Irish Stew (my version)


As I was away on holiday on St David’s Day I thought I’d share a recipe with you to celebrate my Celtic cousins’ Patron Saint’s day instead – St Patrick’s Day. 

Traditionally Irish Stew contains pearl barley, but I prefer it without so this is my own particular version.  Actually, the purists in Ireland don’t use barley either and the version I had when we were in Ireland (County Mayo) contained only lamb, onion and potato.  I like to add carrot to my version and I’ve given it a little Welsh twist by using leek instead of onion but you could use onion if leek isn’t easily obtainable. 

For two to three people : 

2 lamb leg steaks
1 large or two small leeks
2 medium carrots
2 medium potatoes
1 small sprig of rosemary
1 bayleaf
1tb flour
2 pints of lamb stock
1tb olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste 

Firstly cut the leg steaks into large pieces and fry in the olive oil to brown on all sides.  Remove to a plate as they are browned. 

Slice the leek/s lengthways and rinse well under running water, then cut into slices approximately ½ an inch thick.  Peel the carrots and cut into fairly big pieces and do the same with the potatoes. 

Add a little more oil to the pan if needed, and gently sweat the leek and carrot for 10 minutes.  Return the lamb to the pan and add the tablespoon of flour, stirring well to absorb any juices in the pan.  Slowly add the lamb stock, stirring well to eliminate the risk of lumps forming.  Add the potatoes then season with salt and pepper and add the chopped rosemary and the bayleaf.  Cover and cook on a very low simmer for two hours, or pop it into the oven to cook at 150oC for two hours. 

(150oC = 300oF = gas mark 2)