It’s half term, by today (it being Wednesday) the kids are probably starting to itch for something parent-inspired to do. I say put that Prittstick away! Save that jigsaw for tomorrow and instead get them making their own (and your) dinner. These three recipes provide lots of short term concentration span activities. There’s breaking an egg, there’s crumbling feta cheese, there’s measuring out herbs, there’s scrunching and shaping koftas. No time to get bored, oh no.
Then in the 20 minutes they take to cook there’s shredding (with supervision) vegetables, mixing up coleslaw and blitzing hummus. If your kids are anything like mine they love the opportunity to press the buttons of grown up kitchen equipment. Obviously, watch them like hawks. I know I don’t need to say that but I feel duty bound, in a Mum like fashion.
You can watch the recipe being made on ITV’s This Morning by clicking here.
Now I made a similar pie to this on This Morning and it was easy, oh so easy. You just stirred it on the hob, covered it in raw sliced potatoes, covered it and left it in the oven until your stomach couldn’t stand waiting any longer. It was a week night pie that everyone likes. My 9 month old son especially loved it and started to jump in his high chair when faced with a plate of lamby potatoey pea based goodness.
But I know you lot. I know that although you like fuss free recipes, you’re also the types to like a bit more of a challenge. I know you do buy puff pastry, but also reserve the right to make your own pie coverings when the mood takes you. So this is the weekend version of the one I made on This Morning. The lamb is stewed that little bit longer for depth of flavour. The pie lid isn’t potato, it’s flaky homemade rough puff. The stuff I made on the Bake Off that made Paul Hollywood say something vaguely positive about one of my bakes. I urge you to make it. Go on…
I made this pie using the Kenwood Chef Sense which is available here. The full video of the recipe is below and can also be viewed here, plus some top tips on getting really crisp pastry without a soggy bottom in sight here.
Lamb, pea and mint pie with rough puff pastry
Place the butter (apart from 50g of it) and lard into the freezer an hour before you start making the pastry.
Preheat the oven to 160C/gas mark 3. To make the pie filling toss the lamb in the flour, black pepper and salt. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat and fry the lamb in 3 batches to brown, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Remove from the pan and add to a casserole dish with a fitted lid.
Dice the onion using the Kenwood and fry in the remaining oil until just starting to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the stock, mint, thyme and nutmeg and allow to simmer for 2 minutes before pouring into the casserole dish. Add the lid and oven bake for 2 hours, stirring every 20 minutes or so.
Put your flour into the mixer bowl and add the 50g of room temperature butter , using the K beater, mix the butter into the flour for a couple of minutes until you have a breadcrumb consistency. Remove the frozen butter and lard from the fridge and grate it using the grating attachment into the floury butter mixture. Using the K beater mix again until all the strands of frozen butter and lard are coated in flour – this should only take a few turns. Next add the vinegar and the water very slowly with the K beater at the lowest setting. Just as the pastry comes together into clumps stop.
Flour your work surface well and pull the pastry together with your hands forming a square flat shape. Then flour the top of it and roll into a long rectangle about 4mm thick. Mentally divide the pastry into thirds, then fold the right side over to meet the first third and the left side over to do the same so you have a piece of pastry with three layers. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 30 minutes. Repeat this step three more times using flour each time, then chill for an hour before rolling to use on the pie.
When the lamb is tender and the sauce has reduced down remove from the oven and add the frozen peas. Stir and leave to cool. Place into a 22cm pie dish (metal preferably) at least 3cm high and chill the pie dish complete with filling.
Roll the pastry out to about 2mm thick onto a well floured work surface and then cut a circle about 2cm larger than the pie dish. Use any off cuts to cut into strips to stick to the pie rim with egg wash. Then egg wash these strips and attach the pie lid to the top of the pie. Cut a cross in the middle for steam to escape and egg wash the top of the pie. Then bake in a preheated oven at 200C/gas mark 7 for about 50 minutes until the pastry is golden brown, puffed up and the pie filling is piping hot.
I turned 35 on Saturday. My husband and I celebrated by watching a sci fi movie at the cinema and getting a bit tipsy on house red wine (it’s THAT kind of cinema, an arty subtitled films one serving wine in plastic glasses rather than vats of sugary cola) then going for Italian food at our favourite restaurant where the owner kisses your face and comments on how skinny you’re looking even when you’re not. Women love him not surprisingly. We were home by 11pm, which for us is quite a crazy one.
Now something happened on Saturday night. Call it January madness, call it the red wine talking, but well, we talked about what would happen if we had another baby. Now hold on. I know, I know! Lawrence is only 7 months old and frankly we are on our knees with sleep deprivation (not from him mind, that prize goes to poorly Son Number 2) so a sicky tired to your bones pregnancy and indeed a newborn are really not advised. Plus we have no room for another baby. Poor Lawrence already sleeps in the same room as all my things to sell on eBay and the roof box. Not for him a nursery decorated with teddy bears and a wooden train spelling his name, oh no.
Luckily the red wine that resulted in a silly conversation about 4th babies was also responsible for us falling asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
Onto the recipe. This is perfect end of January fodder. It’s easy to make, the majority of the work happens in the oven without any need for prodding or poking AND it tastes perfectly moreish in a wonderful wintery way. Before you ask, yes you can use beef mince if lamb offends you. If you do this, I would advise leaving out the mint and subbing the peas for some sliced par boiled carrots or some quartered mushrooms. I would also consider sprinkling the potatoes with cheese if you go down the beef route. The cheese feels a bit much with the lamb in my humble opinion, but it’s your pie and you should do what you like).
Lamb, pea and mint pie with an easy sliced potato topping
Serves 4 – 6
1) Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 7. Fill and boil the kettle.
2) Heat the oil in a large frying pan on a medium heat for a minute. Add the onions and the salt, soften for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3) Toss the minced lamb in the flour, coating evenly. Add to the pan of onions and brown for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4) Place the stock cube, mint, thyme, black pepper and nutmeg into a jug and add 400mls boiling water. Stir and pour into the frying pan. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken a little.
5) Place the peas into a casserole dish. In a bowl, toss the sliced potatoes in a little salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
6) Pour the lamb filling into the casserole dish and stir. Layer the top with the sliced potato. Cover with a lid/foil and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes, removing the lid/foil for the last 20 minutes.
NB: Freeze after stage 5, defrost in the fridge and bake as per instructions.
Some great tips on making short work of your roast lamb joint.
Until recently I still hadn’t made my mind up about slow cookers. It seemed that everything I made in my handsome Crock tasted similar. It wasn’t a bad taste – quite deep and meaty and flavoursome, but frankly all a bit samey.
I was reading a blog the other day where a poster was moaning about beef being the nemesis of the slow cooker – left for any longer than 4 hours and it turns into a samey tasting stew. Therein lay my problem! I’d been overdoing the beef. So without further ado, I grabbed some lamb shanks out of the freezer and set to work. The results were a hot and wholesome stew fit for a cold, cold day. And we’ve been getting a lot of those lately.
As with all good slow cooker recipes you can’t just sling it in the pot and hope for the best. A little prep using regular pots and pans is required. So, begin by frying the onion in the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Fry until starting to soften then add the crumbled stock cube and the garlic. Give it a good stir and then whack the heat up and pop the lamb shanks in. Fry on both sides until they’ve browned enough to make them look appetising.
Add the tomato purée to the mix, then the red wine vinegar, honey and tinned tomatoes. Stir the lot and reduce the heat to about medium. Leave to bubble away for 10 mins, then pour carefully into the slow cooker. Add the chilli (chop using scissors – so much more finger friendly) and black pepper, then put the lid on and leave to cook on ‘SLOW’ for 10 hours. You can then put the stew onto the ‘KEEP WARM’ function and it’ll be fine. About half an hour before you want to serve it add the drained black eyed peas and give it a good stir then put the lid back on and leave on ‘KEEP WARM.’
Eat with nothing but a warm knee in front of the TV.
Today I was abused again. I’m a battered mother – both kicked and hit on the head. My crime? I suggested that a certain person’s nappy might need changing. Not only did I dare to suggest this, but I also suggested it and then changed it (!) in front of a very attractive, much older lady.
My friend Jasmine, who it has to be said is very easy on the eye, had come to visit for the afternoon. Charlie has a crush on her and has done since he first met her when only a few months old. After chatting with Mr B this evening we have come to the conclusion that Charlie was plain embarrassed that his Mum got his gentleman’s area out in front of such a beautiful woman. Sorry Charlie.
Today’s recipe is spicy and sticky and warming from all the cinnamon. In fact if you don’t like cinnamon then probably best not to make it. I do, though Mr B did say ‘it’s very cinnamon-y, isn’t it?’ Yes it is.
You need a frying pan with a lid to make this. Failing that a hob proof casserole dish with a lid.
Brown the lamb in the oil on a high heat in a frying pan then add the onion, ginger, salt, chickpeas and cinnamon sticks. Cover with water (warm from the tap) until the meat is covered, then put the lid on the frying pan and leave on a low heat for 90 mins.
Check that the meat is tender, which it really should be after 90 mins. Then add all the remaining ingredients and turn the heat up a little. Stir occasionally to stop the rice sticking and check that it doesn’t need any more water. Mine needed about another 90mls but this will depend on how hot your hob is and how much has evaporated. Check the rice is done – it needs a bit of bite left. Then serve! Perhaps without the cinnamon sticks.