Category Archives: The perfect roast lamb

Baked Rhubarb With Orange And Cloves

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Although rhubarb is readily available through autumn it’s often not till early winter that I get round to baking my first tray.

I keep it on hand in the fridge mainly to eat with breakfast, be it with porridge, yoghurt, or muesli. But it would be a crime against rhubarb to stop there. It’s such an interesting fruit to use in baking, that when I do have cooked rhubarb in the fridge, I often feel compelled to bake.

Sometimes I arrange batons of rhubarb across a butter milk cake – before it goes in the oven – or I fold it through and on top of muffins, and have even been known to layer it in the bottom of creme brûlées.

 

 

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The tartness of rhubarb is its defining appeal. And that tartness requires a certain amount of sweetness to tame its sour taste and soften its flavour. I use orange juice, brown sugar and cloves to do this.

As the rhubarb slowly cooks, covered in the oven, it half steams half poaches itself to tender pieces. When cooked just right rhubarb should hold its shape easily, yet still fall apart at the touch of a spoon.

So next time you’re out shopping and you see rhubarbs bright red stalks staring back at you, reach out, grab a bunch, come home, flick the oven on, and you too can discover the many possibilities with baked rhubarb.

 

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Baked rhubarb with orange and cloves

Ingredients 

1 bunch thick stemmed rhubarb

zest 1/2 an orange

1 orange juiced

1/4 cup brown sugar

8 cloves

Pre heat oven to 160C.

Trim the rhubarb of all its leaves, wash and cut into 6 cm lengths.

Lay the rhubarb neatly in a small baking tray.

Place the orange juice, orange zest, brown sugar and cloves in a small pan, stir over a medium heat till sugar dissolves, then pour the liquid over the rhubarb. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes for thicker stalked rhubarb, less for thinner rhubarb.

Cool completely in the tray before transferring the rhubarb to a container, cover and store the rhubarb in the cooking syrup in the fridge for up to five days.

Cinnamon and maple toasted muesli

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My latest food obsession is with cinnamon. I can’t get enough of it. This ancient spice keeps finding ways into my cooking. I love it because it sweetens any thing it touches, not with a sugary sweetness, but with a spicy sweetness. Recently, i found out cinnamon is good for digestion. So, last week, when nearing the end of my home made muesli, I vowed to make a cinnamon inspired version, and here it is.

 

Once you’ve made your own muesli you’ll never return to the boring supermarket varieties. This toasted muesli recipe using another favourite ingredient of mine – pure maple syrup.  It’s a little expensive, but is a great sweetening alternative to highly processed sugar. It must be 100% pure maple syrup, not an imitation.

 

So a small amount of butter, a large pinch of cinnamon and a few glugs of 100% maple syrup make up the special rub to coat the rolled oats. Then it’s lots of nuts. The nuts can be substituted with any of your favourites. My choices are macadamia, pecan and almond, and if I’d remembered, I would of also included hazelnuts. Add some seeds – I’ve used pepitas and sunflower, rub it all together  and toast it in the oven for 10-12 minutes.

 

My final flourish, when the muesli has cooled, is adding some chopped fresh medjool dates. I think of them as fat, caramel sweets, they work perfectly with the cinnamon and the maple syrup. If you really want to set the bar high, try it with caramalised banana, and as with all muesli, finish with a dollop of yoghurt.

 

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A word of warning – this muesli is highly addictive.

 

Cinnamon and maple muesli

Ingredients
1kg rolled oats
100g (3/4 cup) cup pecan nuts
100g (3/4 cup) slivered almonds
100g (2/3 cup) macadamia nuts
70g (1/2 cup) sunflower seeds
70g (3/4 cup) pepitas
100g butter
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup maple syrup

 

Pre heat oven to 190C or 170C fan forced. Lightly crush the macadamia and pecan nuts. Place them in a large bowl with the almonds, pepitas, sunflower seeds and rolled oats.

 

Place butter and cinnamon in a small pan, heat till butter melts, then stir through the maple syrup. Pour cinnamon mix over oats and nuts and rub between your hands till all the oats are coated and the cinnamon mix is evenly distributed.

 

Line three large trays with baking paper. Spread the muesli over the trays and bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, stirring once half way through baking. Allow to cool. Place toasted muesli in a large bowl.

 

Halve medjool dates and remove pip. Cut into a small dice. Toss dates through cooled toasted muesli. Store muesli in an air tight container for up to two months.

Mustard and black pepper lamb

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There was much deliberation as to the recipe for my first post. It had to be a strong dish, one that paved the way for all the good things to follow. It had to be easy, so as to not frighten under-confident cooks away, it had to taste great, it had to photograph well.  So, after much procrastinating, here it is – Roast leg of lamb with mustard and black pepper. It’s simple, yet brilliant. This recipe guarantees the perfect roasted leg of lamb.

 

There are three steps to cooking the perfect leg of lamb. 1- the meat must come to room temperature before roasting. 2 – season well with salt and pepper on all sides. 3– rest lamb out of oven, for 30 minutes before slicing.That’s right 30 minutes. This allows the tendons in the meat to relax making the meat super juicy and tender. Follow these steps in the recipe and you’ll be eating the best leg of lamb you’ve ever cooked.

 

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In years long past, I’d always over cook legs of lamb. Now I cook my lamb for one hour only (if you’re not keen on seeing very pink lamb around the bone you might want to leave the leg in the oven for an extra 20 minutes). The beauty about medium cooked lamb is the left overs the next day. You can carve thin slices and re heat, and the lamb will still be tender. Finally, a perfect leg of lamb is achieved by the quality of the meat. Buy from a butcher you trust, and ask them where they source their lamb, and if they support local farmers. Give it a crack –  roast a leg of lamb.

 

 

Mustard and black pepper lamb

Ingredients

1.8kg leg of lamb

Olive oil

2 tbsp seeded mustard

1 tbsp cracked black pepper

Sea salt

To serve

1-2 bunches baby carrots

1 tbsp butter

2 tsp honey

 

Remove lamb from refrigerator. Rub lamb all over with 1tbsp olive oil, use your hands to smother lamb with mustard and black pepper on both sides. Place on a wire rack over a roasting tray. Stand at room temperature for 1 hour.

 
Pre heat oven to 200C or 180C fan forced. Generously season lamb with sea salt on both sides. Place in the oven and roast for 1 hour. Half way through roasting, spoon some of the rendered lamb fat on top of the meat and return to oven for the remainder of cooking time. Remove lamb from oven and set aside in a warm spot to rest for 30 minutes before slicing.

 

Meanwhile, place baby carrots in a small tray, drizzle with 1 tsp oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 20 – 25 minutes. Before serving toss carrots with honey and butter. Slice lamb into thin slices and serve with honey carrots and extra mustard to the side.