Take the time and effort to plan ahead with cooking and you and your family will feel wrapped in warmth and love.
This is such a great recipe with the slow, gentle cooking that will have the succulent meat falling of the bone, filling the house and neighbourhood with delicious wafting smells and heralding to all, the great dinner as they approach the front door. Winter, a time for hibernation, reducing the pace, crackling fires, comfort foods, slow cooking, thick socks and your favourite big wooly jumper to snuggle into as you read your favourite author or chat with family and friends around the fire. The season is changing, the last autumn leaves drift through the air in the soft breeze on this colder but sunny day with a clear blue sky that will soon be replaced with grey.
I love the rituals that we move through with the seasons, especially the foods. Besides having a flu shot, I find the best way to survive winter and steer clear of all the coughs and colds is to fully embrace it. Spend time each day outside, take an umbrella, rug up, walk or hike in the bracing fresh air, cook slow dishes, bring the stock pot out and the slow cooker out of the cupboard and breeze through winter.
In the coldest countries like Scandinavia as much time as possible is still spent out side throughout the year. In Adelaide, we have no excuse, with our mild Mediterranean climate to go out into the great outdoors. I find a long walk early in the morning, warms me up for the day with fresh oxygen and blood racing through my veins, my face glowing, I feel energised and ready to tackle the day.
As the seasons change have a look at what’s on offer in the food markets and plan your meals around this produce. Be creative using fresh herbs, spices, caramelized onions, garlic, ginger, beans, lentils. cheaper cuts of meats, fresh soup stocks and slow cooking to bring out the flavours of your dishes.
My slow recipe today of roast lamb with middle eastern favours, of cumin, coriander, apricots, garlic and figs, a green dressing from end of summer herbs in the garden, fresh goat curd and some cooked puy lentils added at the end is quick and easy to prepare. Once in the oven, you can virtually forget about it for the 6 hour cooking time. With the lamb now in the oven, I can see Mabel my dog outside the window sniffing the air in anticipation for the lamb shank bone that will come her way later.
If you have an oven with a timer, this dish can be prepared the night before, left marinating in the fridge then put in the oven in the morning with the timer set to start while you are at work or out.
For the pesto I use a combination of fresh herbs from the garden. Bunches of fresh herbs can be expensive, especially when you only need small amounts. Herbs are generally hardy plants and with little effort will grow easily in pots or your garden to enhance the flavours of your dishes.
SLOW ROAST LAMB with middle eastern flavours, goat curd and end of autumn green pesto
Recipe, serves 6-8 people
for the lamb
1 x 2kg leg or shoulder of lamb
olive oil, enough the rub over lamb
1 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper
fresh rosemary sprigs
4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced lengthwise into 2 or 3 pieces each
For the lentil, spice mix
fresh thyme, one handful
I carrot, washed and diced
1 stick celery, washed and diced
1 brown onion, peeled and diced
1 orange, zest removed and juiced
4 dried apricots, sliced
4 dried figs chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon of olive oil
puy lentils, 1/3 cup per person, cooked in boiling water for 20 mins, rinsed in strainer and drained
2 cups chicken or lamb stock
2 bunches of broccoli or broccolini, washed, sliced and lightly steamed when ready to serve
150g fresh goat curd or labneh
1 lemon for serving
2 tablespoons roasted almonds for serving
For pesto style green dressing
2 handfuls of fresh herbs, I used mint, parsley and basil but you could use rocket and coriander as well
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or hot English if you prefer a hot mustard)
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 clove garlic, peeled
olive oil to mix, about 1/3 cup
salt and pepper to taste
Place all ingredients in a small processor to mix or pound in a mortar and pestle.
To make lamb:
Rub olive oil over the lamb.
Cut about a dozen or so slits in the surface of the lamb and insert the garlic pieces and rosemary sprigs.
Squeeze over the juice of a lemon and sprinkle with pepper and salt.
Place the following ingredients in the bottom of a large baking dish, thyme, carrot, onion, apricots, figs, garlic, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, lentils, orange zest, orange juice, olive oil and toss together.
Sit the lamb on top of the vegetable lentil mix, pour in the stock, cover with a lid or foil and bake slowly for 6 hours on 140oCelcius.
Remove foil for the last half and hour.
Spoon cooked vegetable, lentil mix onto a large platter, arrange meat that you have cut or pulled off the bone on top.
Steam broccoli for just a minute or two until just cooked and scatter on top of meat with goat curd, roughly chopped almonds and pesto style mix. Pop the platter on the table to share.
Add lemon wedges or lemon cheeks to squeeze over.
X seventies girl