Meaty melanzane parmigiana

Screen shot 2014-05-27 at 2.51.51 PM

There is not much to say about this as it’s a complete meal and all you need to do is make a green salad. Simply divine!
What could be nicer than ground meat in with the Melanzane Parmigiana? This comes direct from the one and only BBC Good Food magazine.

Serves 6
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing
2lbs ground lamb
4 garlic cloves, crushed
4 thyme sprigs
4 rosemary sprigs
3 large bay leaves
2 x 14 oz or (1x 28 oz) can chopped tomatoes or tomato passata
a good glass of drinkable red wine
1 lamb or chicken stock cube
1 good handful of fresh basil, sliced roughly
1 tbsp sugar
5 large eggplants, sliced lengthways into 1/4 inch slices
2 x 7 oz balls mozzarella cheese, torn into chunks
8 oz good parmesan cheese, grated
6 oz mascarpone cheese

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or flameproof dish. Add the ground meat and brown over high heat, breaking up with a fork as you go. You may need to do this in batches. Once well browned, tip onto a plate and set aside.
Add more oil, the garlic and herbs to the pan and gently cook for 1 minute. Tip in the tomatoes and red wine and bring to a simmer, stirring up any meaty bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the ground meat to the pan, crumble in the stock cube and add the sugar and seasoning. Gently simmer for at least 1 hour, stirring occasionally, splashing in more water (or lamb/chicken broth, if you have some) to keep it saucy if you need to. If you have time to simmer for longer, go for it – the longer the better for great flavor and intensity. Now fish out the herb stalks and bay leaves.
Meanwhile, heat a griddle or frying pan. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with olive oil, then griddle in batches. You want each slice softened and slightly charred, so don’t have the heat too high or the eggplant will char before softening. Remove to a plate as you go.
Heat the oven to 350 F.
Set aside some of each cheese to go on top. In a large baking dish, spread a large spoonful of meat mixture over the base, then a layer of eggplant and season well. Spoon over more meat sauce then scatter over some fresh basil, mozzarella, parmesan and blobs of mascarpone cheese.
Add another layer of eggplant and some seasoning. Repeat, layering everything up and finish with a layer of meat sauce. Top with your reserved cheese and bake for 30 to 40 minutes until the top is crisp and golden and the meat mixture is bubbling.






Easy baked penne

Everyone needs one of these meaty, creamy, cheesy dishes that are universally adored, easy to make and can be made as much for large crowds as for 4 people.


Screen Shot 2015-12-27 at 11.38.29 AM


Serves 4 to 6
8 oz penne pasta
1/2 lb ground beef, lamb, sweet Italian sausage or even chorizo
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 (24 oz) jar of good quality Marinara sauce or similar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
6 oz Provolone cheese
6 oz shredded or sliced Mozzarella
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
chopped parsley

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, brown the ground beef or other meat.
Add the onion and cook until softened.
Add the spaghetti sauce and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Stir in the sour cream.
Add the drained pasta and stir to coat

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Spray a 2 quart baking dish with non stick cooking spray.
Pour half of the pasta into the baking dish.
Top with half of the Provolone and half of the Mozzarella.
Pour the remaining pasta on top and top it with the remaining Provolone and Mozzarella and sprinkle the Parmesan on top.
Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Thai-style lamb shanks


These succulent shanks of lamb are subtly flavored with coconut milk and Thai spices and baked until meltingly tender.

Serves 4
4 lamb shanks
1 x 14 oz can coconut milk
1 tbsp vegetable oil
18 fl oz vegetable, lamb or chicken stock
2 large onions, finfely chopped
3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
salt and pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh lemon grass
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander

To garnish
fresh cilantro leaves or finely sliced chili
finely sliced scallions  or wedges of lemon

Preheat the oven to 400 F
Place the lamb shanks in a roasting tin and roast for 40 minutes, turning them halfway through the cooking.
Lift out the lamb shanks, drain off all the fat, then transfer to a casserole dish or Dutch oven in which they fit snugly.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 F.
Heat the oil in another pan, add the onions and saute until light golden.
Add the curry paste, lemon grass, cumin and coriander and stir fry for 1 minute.
Add the coconut milk, stock and chopped fresh cilantro.
Pour this mixture over the lamb shanks, cover and cook in the oven for 2.5 hours until the meat is very tender.
Check the seasoning of the sauce.

To serve, place each lamb shank in a warmed shallow serving bowl.
Spoon over some of the sauce and scatter with fresh cilantro leaves and any other garnish you fancy.
Serve with Thai jasmine rice and a steamed green vegetable such as bok choi.


Mild lamb curry with cilantro rice

I am a curry freak and a lamb freak, so what’s not to like in this! It’s very mild and rather soothing, so I think the curry novices will also like this
This is a recipe from Rachel Allen, an Irish recipe book writer and chef.

Serves 6

2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp cardamon seeds
4 cloves
3 tbsp sunflower oil
4 onions, sliced
2 1/2 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into 1 inch dice and fat removed
2 tsp ground turmeric
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp root ginger, finely chopped
1 red chili, seeds removed and finely chopped
salt and ground black pepper
2 cups cream
1/2 cup lamb or chicken stock
lime or 1/2 lemon, juiced
cilantro leaves for garnish

For the rice
1 lb basmati rice
2 tbsp butter
8 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Toast the seeds and cloves then crush them using a pestle and mortar or spice grinder

Pour 2 tbsp of the sunflower oil into a large lidded casserole dish or Dutch oven on a high heat, add the onions and saute for 5 minutes until softened and nicely golden.
Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining oil to the pan.
Place the lamb in the pan and sear until well browned, making sure the pieces of meat don’t touch, or they will not sear but steam.

Return the onions to the pan and all the seared meat and add the crushed spices along with the turmeric, garlic, ginger and chili.
Season with salt and pepper, toss everything together to combine and stir in the cream and stock, scraping any sediment from the bottom of the pan.

Bring slowly to the boil, then immediately reduce the heat and cover with a lid.
Leave to simmer gently for about 1 hour, removing the lid for the last 15 minutes.

*Alternatively, cook it in an ovenproof dish or pan, cooking in the oven, preheated to 325 F for an hour, leaving the lid on for the whole cooking time.
Check that the lamb is tender, cooking for a little longer if necessary

Add the lime or lemon juice and check the seasoning.

For the rice- Place the rice in double it’s volume of salted water or chicken broth, bring to the boil, cover with a lid and cook for 10 to 12 minutes until the rice is cooked and all the moisture has been absorbed.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow to stand for a few minutes, with the lid on.
Stir in the butter and cilantro, using a fork in order not to mash the rice

The Meatzza!

You will just love this, especially as it tastes so good and instead of a crust, it has a meatball-ingredient base with all the pizza qualities.  You could even try it with an Italian sausagemeat base too. It doesn’t get much better than this. Thank you Nigella Lawson.

Serves 4 to 6

1 lb ground lamb
3 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
3 tbsp breadcrumbs or quick cooking oatmeal, but not the instant one
3 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 clove garlic, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
butter, for greasing
1 x 14oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp garlic flavored oil
1 tsp dried oregano
4 oz fresh mozzarella (not buffalo) halved then sliced
a few fresh basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 425 F

In a large bowl, using your hands, combine the lamb, Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs or oatmeal, parsley and eggs. Grate in (or mince and add) the garlic and add some salt and pepper.
Do not over work it, just lightly mix together or the meat will become compacted and dense.

Butter a shallow, round baking pan of about 11 inches in diameter and turn the meat into it, pressing the mixture lightly with your fingers to cover the bottom as if the seasoned ground meat were your pizza crust.

Make sure you’ve drained as much runny liquid as possible from the can of diced tomatoes, then mix the tomato with the garlic flavored oil, oregano and some salt and pepper and spread, using a rubber spatula, lightly on top of the meat base.
Arrange the mozzarella slices on top then put in the oven for about 25 minutes, by which time the meat should be cooked through and lightly set and the mozzarella melted.

Remove from the oven and let it sit for 5 minutes, then adorn with some of the fresh basil leaves and bring it to the table before cutting into wedges, like a pizza.


Braised eggs with ground lamb, tahini and sumac

Screen shot 2014-06-15 at 7.41.25 AM

A gem from Yotam Ottolenghi…

Serves 2 as a substantial meal on it’s own

3 x oven roasted tomatoes or 1 cup fresh cherry tomatoes
olive oil
1 large leek, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
4 x cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3/4 lb ground lamb
2 tsp sumac
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp za’atar
salt and black pepper
2 x generous handfuls roasted pistachios, roughly chopped
1 tbsp harissa paste (store bought is fine)
1/2 preserved lemon, flesh discarded & skin finely diced
1 cup chicken stock
4 x extra large free range eggs

Yoghurt sauce

1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
1 tbsp tahini
juice of half lemon
1 tbsp water
pinch sea salt

To finish
1 tbsp green harissa or a handful fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

If using cherry tomatoes, heat a small , cast iron grill pan over high heat until very hot. Add the tomatoes and cook over high heat for about 4 to 5  minutes until starting to blacken on the outside. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat a generous slosh of olive oil in a heavy based frying pan over medium heat.
Add the sliced leeks and garlic to the pan and saute, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and turn slightly golden.
Add the lamb to the pan, increase the heat slightly, and cook for a further 5 minutes or so until the lamb is browned.
Add the sumac, cumin, za’atar, pinch of flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Stir to make sure everything is well coated with all the seasonings and cook for a further minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the chopped pistachios, harissa paste and preserved lemon.
This dish could be prepared ahead up to this point.

Return the pan to the heat, adding the tomatoes and chicken stock.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to low, make 4 small wells in the mixture and break an egg into each well.
Cover the pan, and continue to cook over low heat until the egg whites are set but the yolk is still runny – about 5 minutes.

While the eggs are cooking, make the yoghurt sauce by mixing all the ingredients together and whisking until smooth.
The mixture should be quite thick, but thin with a little more water if it’s too thick.

Once the eggs are cooked, remove the pan from the heat, dot dollops of the yoghurt sauce over the top, sprinkle over a little sumac and finish with a drizzle of green harissa or a sprinkling of fresh cilantro sprigs

Serve immediately

Easy and quick oven roasted mustard/herb crusted racks of lamb

Serves 6

These are divine and so easy and quick. For me living in Los Angeles, the best lamb to buy is New Zealand lamb and Trader Joes sell a great rack of lamb, unfrozen and vacuum packed.
Be careful not to overcook the lamb and 25 minutes is the perfect time for me to achieve this color above. I have been known to double the mustard/herb topping
This is a recipe from the Barefoot Contessa and is bulletproof.

1 1/2 tbsp Kosher salt
2 tbsp minced fresh rosemary
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup good Dijon mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 racks of lamb, “frenched”  Trader Joes has already done this for you

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the salt, rosemary and garlic until they’re as finely minced as possible. Add the mustard and balsamic vinegar and process for 1 minute.

Place the lamb in a roasting tin, not too deep, with the ribs curving down and coat the tops with the mustard mixture.
Allow the lamb to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

Roast the lamb for exactly 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium rare.
Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil
Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs and serve