I have a confession, I love kebabs, I know everyone says they’re really unhealthy although I’m not sure why since they are mostly filled with raw veggies. Anyway, they are definitely my fast food of choice so since it’s lamb season I thought I’d a share a fancier version of the junk food classic.
pita bread: 2 cups flour, 2 tsp fast action dried yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, ¾ cup water, 1 Tsp olive oil
lamb kebab: 500g diced lamb leg, 1 tsp ras-el-hanout spice, a good squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper, a large glug of olive oil, a mix of green and red cabbage, 1 red onion, a handful of cherry tomatoes, spiked creme fraiche, pickled cucumber
spiked creme fraiche: 2-4 Tsp creme fraiche, juice of half a lemon, 1 crushed garlic clove, a pinch of salt and pepper
pickled cucumber: ½ a thinly sliced cucumber, juice of half a lemon, ½ tsp sugar, ½ tsp salt, pinch of cumin
We’ll start with the pita bread, you can of course buy them but these are simple and quick to make. Combine your flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a bowl, add the water and olive oil and mix until all ingredients are combined. Once it has all come together knead the dough until it is soft and smooth. Leave to rise while you finish the filling.
Preheat your oven to 240°C. Mix together your ras-el-hanout spice with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt, pepper and a little olive oil, coat your lamb in the mix and leave to marinade for a few minutes. Slice up your cabbage and red onion as thinly as you can and chop your cherry tomatoes into quarters. for the spiked creme fraiche and pickled cucumber simply mix all the ingredients together in small bowls. By now your dough should have doubled in size, divide your dough into 2 or 4 for large/medium sized pitas or 8 for small ones. Roll out into circles, they don’t have to be perfect, place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 6-8min.
While your pita breads are baking fry up your lamb in a really hot pan until nice and crispy on the inside but soft and juicy on the inside, about 4-6 min. When the pita’s are ready carefully slice them in half and start filling them layering the lamb, shredded veggies, pickled cucumber and spiked creme fraiche. These fancy lamb kebabs are perfect for sharing with friends and family over Easter weekend, don’t forget the hot sauce!
So we’re back for round two of national pie week. I feel like I cheated on this one too because I used shop bought puff pastry (it’s really hard to make yourself!) but it’s what’s on the inside that counts right? Here’s my version of the classic steak and ale pie, stuffed full of mushrooms!
600g beef (stewing, shin or your preferred cut)
2 punnets of mushrooms (I used a mix of chestnut and shiitake)
2 celery sticks
2 garlic cloves
300ml dark ale
300ml beef stock
1 Tsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig rosemary
1 pack puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Finely chop up all the onion, garlic, carrots and celery and slice up all the mushrooms. Brown your beef in a little olive oil and butter, if you used a large cut like mine (I used brisket) you can either leave it whole and shred it once it’s cooked or you can chop it up into large chunks. Once your beef is browned nicely remove it from the pot and fry up the onion, garlic, carrots and celery until soft. Return the beef to the pan and add the stock, ale, tomato paste and herbs. Cook until the meat is beautifully tender and falling apart, I popped mine in the oven at 170°C for 2½ hours. Add your mushrooms about 30 min before the end. Once it’s cooked you might need to reduce the sauce a little, boil it rapidly for about 10 min or until it’s nice and thick, you only need to do this if the sauce hasn’t thickened up. Once it’s ready pour it into your pie dish.
Roll out your pastry until it is big enough to cover your pie dish, it needs to be about 1cm thick. place it over your pie dish and trim off any excess, make sure it’s sealed the whole way around. Cut a little sliver in the top so the steam can escape. Brush the beaten egg over the pastry. Pop in the oven at 220°C for about 15-20 min or until beautifully golden.
Best enjoyed with a glass of ale and some creamy mash, yum!
It’s national pie week! We love pie, or more accurately, Vicky loves pie and makes me bake them all the time! To celebrate national pie week I’ll be doing two pie recipes, today’s is a sweet and tangy pear and rhubarb crumble and later on in the week I’ll be posting a yummy steak, mushroom and ale recipe.
I don’t really know rhubarb, I’ve only eaten it once before, when I was a kid and I’m pretty sure I didn’t like it. I’ve been hearing about forced rhubarb for the last few months so when I saw it on special I thought I’d give it a try, apparently it’s a lot more tender and the stalks are longer. I half followed a recipe from a torn out page of an old Waitrose magazine I found in my recipe file. I admit, I gave one of the stalks a little nibble while I was chopping just to try, it looks like celery but boy was it sour!
400g rhubarb (I used forced)
2 star anise
125g sugar, plus 60g for the pastry
1 cup flour
squeeze of lemon juice
Turn your oven to 180°C. Peel your pears, and chop into chunks removing the core as you go, slice the rhubarb diagonally into 2cm pieces. Throw it in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon juice and toss it around, don’t add too much lemon juice, it’s already really sour, this is just to make sure the pears don’t go brown. Break your star anise into small pieces and grind in a spice or coffee grinder (I used my pestle and mortar and that worked fine too just make sure you crush the spices till they are really fine). Add the sugar and star anise to the bowl and coat the rhubarb and pears in the sugar and spice mix. Tip into your pie dish.
I know crumble is probably not the most technical of pastries and is a bit of a cheat for pie week but it’s delicious and easy so that’s my excuse! Add the flour and 60g sugar to a bowl and rub in the butter until it is all incorporated and has a kind of bread crumb consistency. Sprinkle generously over your pie, make sure all the fruit is covered. Add a few knobs of butter, this will make the pastry go beautifully golden. Now it’s time to pop your pie in the oven! Bake for 35-40min.
This is definitely the most interesting pie I’ve ever baked and I was pleasantly surpised, it’s always nice to have a change from a good old apple crumble, just to mix things up! This delicious pie is seriously tart and I think would be perfect with a big scoop of vanilla ice-cream! I sprinkled a few dried rose petals on top just to make it look pretty and for an extra depth of flavour (they’re edible). Enjoy with a cuppa or if you’re feeling fancy, some bubbles would go perfectly!
Keep an eye out for our second pie recipe later this week.
4 and 20 Blackbirds Pie Dish | Rose Plate | Yellow Ovals Napkin
It’s blood orange season and just about every blog I read has a recipe for these gorgeous, dark red citrus fruits. I’m jumping on the bandwagon with two very different ways to use these tasty oranges. They’re not in season for long so if you spot them in the shops grab them quick!First up blood orange curd. I was making a Jamie Oliver dessert (which I’ll share below) one Christmas and forgot the lemon curd. Try finding a shop that sells lemon curd on Christmas Day, not going to happen, but eggs, butter and lemons, that’s possible so I made my first ever batch of lemon curd and realised how easy it actually is, so here is a basic recipe.
½ cup castor sugar
zest of 2-3 blood oranges
½ cup fresh blood orange juice
4 egg yolks
Whisk together the zest, juice, egg yolks and sugar. Once combined pour into a small saucepan and gently heat while whisking constantly, it must be on a low heat, if it gets to hot it will split. The mix should start to thicken, it’ll take about 5-10 min. Once it’s thickened up remove from the heat and leave to rest. Once it’s cooled a little whisk in the butter bit by bit. Pour into a clean air-tight jar and pop in the fridge, it’ll last about 3 weeks. So now that you’ve made the lemon curd what do you do with it? My favourite recipe is a Jamie Oliver one, it’s the best dinner party dessert because it looks amazing and is ready in about 5 min. To start you’ll need meringue nest, fill them with a dollop of your curd, top with a mixture of creme fraiche and mashed up raspberries, arrange a few whole raspberries on top and finish with a drizzle of honey and a sprig of mint. So good!
Next up a yummy cocktail, this is a twist on a Whisky Sour, I had a one this past New Years eve and it was so good I’ve been making them ever since! Let’s call it a Blood Orange and Thyme Whisky Sour.
2 parts whisky or bourbon
2 parts blood orange juice
½ part thyme simple syrup
½ part egg white (optional)
1 part cointreau
ice, for shaker and to serve
to garnish: Blood orange slice, maraschino cherries and a sprig of thymeCombine everything except the garnish in a cocktail shaker (as you can see I don’t have one so I just used a mason jar) and give it a good shake until everything is well combined. Strain into a tumbler filled with ice and add your garnish. For the simple syrup combine equal parts sugar and water (I did a ¼ cup of each) and a sprig of thyme, heat in a saucepan until your sugar has dissolved and leave to cool.
A few tips, if you’d like more of a sour kick you can do a mixture of lemon and blood orange juice. Plain simple syrup or honey will work too, the thyme just gives an extra depth of flavour. I know some people aren’t to keen on egg whites in cocktails and you can definitely leave it out but it makes it look really pretty and foamy and it tastes oh so amazing!
Our group of friends has recently started the tradition of celebrating Burn’s night (any excuse for a party). This year we are going full out Scottish with haggis (I’ve never had it!), whisky cocktails and we’re even reciting our favourite Robert Burn’s poems (although, I hope that part was a joke cause I don’t actually know any!). I was given the job of bringing the tatties and neeps so I decided to make tattie scones, it was my first experience and I have to say they were so yummy and really easy to make!
I used a recipe from one of my favourite recipe books, Three Sisters Bake. It’s written by, you guessed it, 3 sisters who own an adorable cafe in Scotland. As usual I put my own spin on the recipe and added a few extra ingredients.
large knob of butter
½ tsp baking powder
oil (rapeseed or olive will do)
2 garlic cloves and 1 stalk of rosemary (optional)
Peel and chop the potatoes into quarters, boil for around 15min, or until soft. I tossed the garlic cloves in along with the potatoes. If adding rosemary, chop it up really finely and throw in a bowl along with the flour and baking powder, add the drained potatoes once they’ve cooled a little.
Mash everything up, I found it easiest to use a fork rather than a potato masher. When it all starts coming together tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until till it’s about 1.5cm thick. slice into any shape you like, you could even use a cookie cutter if you’d like them nice and round.
Heat the oil in a shallow pan and fry the scones for about 2 min on each side or until they are beautifully golden.
We’ll be enjoying our tattie scones with a spot of haggis but they were absolutely delicious topped with a poached egg – a perfect weekend breakfast!
How will you be celebrating Burn’s night this year?
I’ve been looking for the perfect pie to show off the really cool 24 blackbirds pie dish that we’ve got in our shop, remember the nursery rhyme? This delicious beef and chorizo pie recipe is from an old Waitrose magazine with a few addedtweaks, it is beautifully rich and the chorizo adds a lovely spiciness to the pie! I make it every couple of months and Gary is always really happy when I do!
750g braising steak
260g chorizo, sliced
1 chopped red onion
2 finely chopped cloves of garlic
1 tin cherry or plum tomatoes
splash of red wine vinegar
1 Tsp soft brown sugar
2o0ml beef stock
60ml red wine
1 can of butter beans
1 sheet of puff pastry
Fry the beef in a fairly large pot, just to seal it, do it in batches if you need to. Remove the beef, add the onion, garlic and chorizo to the pot and cook until the onion has softened, return the beef to the pot along with the tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, wine and stock. Bring to the boil, cover and drop down to a simmer for about 45min, before carrying on check that your beef is melt-in-your-mouth soft, if not leave it for another 20-30min. Uncover the pot and cook for another 10-20 min to thicken up the sauce. Add your beans and leave to cool. Now it’s time to prepare your pastry, roll it out, big enough to cover your pie dish, mine was still about 1cm thick. Tip your mixture into your pie dish and cover with the pastry, seal around the edges. remember to cut a small cross in the middle for the steam to escape. Lightly beat your egg and brush over the pastry before popping it in the oven for another 30min at 200°C. As an alternative to egg you could also brush your pastry with milk or melted butter.
I used beef shin but feel free to use any cut of beef, ox-cheek or even steak would work, just adjust the cooking time of your filling accordingly. It’s basically just a delicious stew with pastry on top, and who doesn’t love pastry! Yum!