Tag: lamb

a butternut squash

image from Wikipedia

I love butternut squash. It has a lovely texture, and works in so many things: risotto, roast veg, Thai currys, soup, etc. But there’s no denying that it’s a faff to deal with due to the peel. So I did a little experiment.

I wanted some soup to come home to on Saturday, and astonishingly, there was no mongrel soup on the go (which I must address). And there was a squash in the fridge. I cut the top off the squash, and then chopped the rest in half, scooped out the seeds, and put it in the medium slow cooker with about ½” of wine (all there was left in that bottle, although obviously in this house, other bottles were available). I then added about 1″ further of water. Switched it on, went away. Returned after a couple of hours and added a diced and peeled Bramley, because it struck me that it would work rather well.

In the small slow cooker, I put a big onion, chopped, three cloves of garlic, and some chopped sage leaves from the garden. Half of this mixture went to make sage and onion tear and share bread (which I baked in the Remoska when we got home),

After four, or maybe five, hours, the squash seemed well cooked, so I scooped a bit out, and lo – even the skin was really soft. So I put it, the apple, the onion and sage mix, into the food processor and blitzed it all. Returned it to the pot with a bit more water, tasted it, and decided it needed some toasted cumin, which Pete obligingly provided. Switched the slow cooker onto medium, and it was all done and dusted when we got home, just half an hour to bake the bread. Splendid.

And then …

I had planned to make Anjum Anand’s Gujarati lamb on Sunday, and had removed half a shoulder of the relevant beast from the freezer. I usually add a squash to this, because the texture is so nice, but there was a bowlful of soup left and it seemed rude not to use that instead. So instead we had a kind of use it up Gujarati lamb, which went like this.

one shoulder of lamb, browned on all sides.
one onion, finely diced
some garlic (I used about six cloves) and a big piece of ginger, made into a paste with some water
a couple of handfuls of dessicated coconut
ground cumin, coriander, turmeric
some chilli flakes
leftover butternut squash soup (I accept that most of you won’t have this to hand)
some chickpeas (I always used dried, so had them cooking in the small slow cooker while this was going on)
lemon juice – about a tablespoon’s worth
salt and black pepper

Soften the onion in some vegetable oil, then add the garlic/ginger paste and fry for about three minutes. Tip in the spices (quantities here are very individual – we like our foot spicy). Fry a bit longer. Put the lamb in the slow cooker, tip the onion mix in, add the soup, and a little water if required – I wanted it to come about half way up the meat. I normally add sweet potatoes, but mine had gone mouldy (oh the shame).

Cooked it for about six hours (adding the previously cooked chickpeas about two hours from the end)  and it was just beautiful. We gorged on it, and there was plenty left for today’s lunch. And indeed there’s still a fair bit of the sauce left, so I shall be adding red lentils and veg to that, and making it into this week’s  mongrel soup.

So there you go – slow cook your squash, and no need to peel. Win win.

shepherds' pie

shepherds' pie filling

[apologies for the poor quality of the photograph – it looks better than this]

love shepherds’ pie. I don’t dislike its poorer cousin, cottage pie (made with beef), but much better is a cottage pie, made with lamb mince. So as I have a couple of friends coming for supper tonight, I popped into Normans on Tuesday and bought some lamb mince, enough for tonight and to pop a load of cooked filling into the freezer.

£12. Twelve pounds [falls over]. And it didn’t even look that much meat. Still … Last night I chopped onions, carrots and courgettes, and bunged them in the slow cooker in readiness. And this morning, I browned off the mince (in the wok – free firelighters!); I’ve always been wary of slow cooking mince without browning it first, and I’m not trying it for the first time with 12 quids’ worth of lamb.

The browned lamb went into the slow cooker, and I added some chopped herbs, about ¼ of one of those huge 99p tins of tomato purée (which reminds me, the rest of it is in the fridge), about ½ a glass of red wine, which has been sitting by the hob waiting to be used, some chopped garlic, and one of those little stock pot things. And a very little water, because I’ve been caught out before with sloppy stuff in the slow cooker – the lid fits too well! And that’s it, really – it’s comfort food, not posh.

I used always to add a can of baked beans to shepherds’ pie filling, but flushed with success after the home made baked beans, I took a different tack this time. I’d run out of haricots, and so bought a bag from the Indian grocer up the road; they were labelled as haricots, but when I slow cookered them yesterday, they looked more like butter beans by the time they were done. They also enlarged themselves quite dramatically, so look out for a post in the next day or two involving leftover haricots and tomato puree! Anyhoo, after the mince mix had driven us mad all morning, I added some? most? of these pseudo haricots, and left it all to sit.

I had intended top top it with a mash of swede and potato, possibly with finely chopped spring onions (guess what I found in the back of the vegetable drawer? 🙂 but, sadly, the swede was unpleasantly squishy. So I did a load of cheesey mashed potato, with the spring onions, bunged it on top of the lamb, and put it in a hot oven.

And it was probably the best shepherds’ pie I’ve ever made.

Pudding? Well, it’s a weekday, and I haven’t much time, and Aldi had a 99p Apple Strudel. Nothing wrong with shortcuts when you’re busy, eh? Nobody wanted much more, so it remains in the freezer.

lamb, leek and barley soup

I don’t normally bother with recipes for soup – they’re a bit mongrel here. But I’ve started tracking what I eat on MyFitnessPal, so it’s worth writing stuff up, just for that. So hopefully there’ll be a lot more appearing here now.

We make this quite often, as Morrisons do three lamb bones for about £0.85, which make a fine soup. I roast them off in the Remoska for half an hour, then boil them up in some water. Let them cool, fish them out, and strip the surprising amount of meat off them and shred it. And there’s the basis for the soup.

In the slow cooker (or a big pot), put the stock and meat, two leeks and some carrots (couple of big ones, or five smallish assorted, as I did this morning), which have been chopped finely. I use the Magimix for this as a rule, but sometimes I will stand and chop; it can be quite therapeutic, particularly if you imbue the veg with human personalities 🙂 Add 200g ish of barley, a couple of teaspoons of salt, and a good sprinkling of black pepper. Top up with boiling water if there is insufficient liquid.

About four hours in the slow cooker will do it, less if you’re in a pot on the hob. It’s very nice, and exceeding warming, which given the thermometer says -1C here today, is just what’s wanted.

calories carbs fat protein
per serving

a load of mince

We are having the kitchen refitted  in the next few weeks. I cannot tell you how much I’m looking forward to the process, not least because I’m not. I want it to be done, obviously, but oh my … blocking up doors and knocking out walls and moving the gas points, etc. Still, it will be lovley when it’s finished, or so I keep telling myself.

As part of the preparation for this, I’m cooking all the ingredients in the freezer into meals that I can freeze, so we can at least eat well while I weep into the wreckage. So last night, I removed all the minced meat – 2lbs each of pork and lamb, and 1lb of beef. Stuck them all in the microwave to thaw (not to thaw electronically, just as a cat-proof box), then when we were warming the microwave hotties last night (rock’n’roll lifestyle that we live), I stuck them in the oven as it is similarly cat-proof

While rummaging for the mince, I found a box of frozen banana muffin mix: we love muffins, and they’re far nicer fresh, so I often freeze half the batter; banana muffins for breakfast, then! I came down and put the oven on to warm – and you’re all way ahead of me, aren’t you?

Thankfully I realised in time, and removed the meat before anything dreadful befell it, apart from the edge of one packet of lamb, which Iggy and Ron were quite happy to deal with. The pork and beef were turned into meatballs in a sweet pepper sauce quite, but not exactly, like this – only had two fresh peppers in the veg drawer, so added a jar of roast, and bunged honey and a dash of shoyu in the sauce. They’re in the slow cooker doing their thing.

The lamb was fried off and hurled in a big casserole dish (having realised that the first one I started wasn’t going to be big enough – roll on the dishwasher). Fried of carrots, courgettes, onions, celery in olive oil, added some home made Ras el Hanout, salt, pepper, tin of tomatoes, splash of home made wine and in it went with the meat. Added some bay leaves and thyme from the herb pots

I reckon I’ll get about seven meals worth from that lot for the two of us; moussaka tonight, with spinach under the aubergine (works really well) and a half pack of feta that needs eating up.

And now I must go and clean up the kitchen.

lamb shanks cooked with calamity

A few weeks ago, Morrisons had some lamb shanks reduced – £2.10 a pair. Believe it or not, I’ve never actually cooked lamb shanks before, but I bought a couple of packs and stowed them away in the freezer. Decided to cook them on Sunday, so on Saturday I bunged a load of flageolet beans in the slow cooker, left them for a few hours, and turned them off, then drained them on Sunday morning.

I didn’t get to the rest of the cooking, as I was feeling distinctly unwell, and could barely eat, never mind cook.

lamb shanks in the slow cookerSo on Monday evening, I browned the lamb shanks and put them in the slow cooker pot, on top of a bed of flageolets, fried off a courgette and two large carrots, diced. Added them to the pot, and browned a dozen shallots, and added them. Then into the frying pan went a good teaspoon of grain mustard and a dessertspoon or so of brown flour – stirred those together and added about a glass of red wine, stirring as I went. Whisked that up to get rid of lumps, added some of the shallot water (I always soak them in boiling water before I peel them – it makes it easier, and you get nice shallot-y water too!). Then some random herbs from the garden – bay, rosemary, sage, thyme, juice of an orange, and a sloosh of tomato puree. I meant to add some redcurrant jelly, but forgot.

All of that was brought to the boil, lobbed in the slow cooker, and I switched it on low and went and sat down. And when I came out an hour later, there was no heat at all. Eek. Switched it up to high, left it an hour, and it was hot, but not as hot as it should be. Turned it to low when I went to bed, and when I got up in the morning – DEAD. Stone bloody cold, lamb uncooked. And when I tested the beans, they were uncooked too.

With some four letter words, I decanted the lot into my faithful old cast iron casserole, and set it over a low heat. We only bought that slow cooker 22 months ago, so I’m not pleased, but it was from an eBay seller who is no longer registered. So I nipped over to Argos and bought another – bigger! better! cheaper! The old one was 4.5l, and the new 6.2; the extra volume will be useful.

The lamb was delicious, and somehow I made space in the freezer for two of them, but we really are in a “one out one in” scenario at the moment, as it is full to the gunwhales with xmas fayre.

Leftover juice and veg went into the new slow cooker, together with some barley and more water, and I experimented making some soup with it. This one actually simmers things on high, which the old one never did, and the extra capacity is great for soup making. And for £15, who can complain? Actually, now I look, it’s gone down another pound since yesterday – grab yourself a bargain!

more from Morrisons

We returned to Morrisons on Sunday, and had a good wander about. Picked up some undyed smoked haddock, which we consumed with a mountain of cauliflower cheese last night (I’m trying to cut my carb intake considerably).

While checking out the meat counter, I spotted some packs of lamb bones at £0.57, and fell upon one with glee. I put them in the slow cooker with some water and left them in there (switched on, of course 🙂 all day. Then this morning, I skimmed the stock and reboiled it in a pan, and rescued the quite surprising amount of lean meat from the bones.

Last night I chopped two carrots, a courgette and a leek into teeny tiny pieces, so I’ll sweat those off tonight, add the stock and some barley (and the last spoonfuls of last week’s lamb and lentil soup, which was itself a remnant from the lamb and lentil curry!), and voila – this week’s soup!

Currently, there is a whole chicken in the slow cooker – not sure how well it’ll work, but I’ll write it up later. And there are chickpeas and spinach for lunch – this low carbing ain’t all bad 🙂


moussakaLamb is so expensive, so when I see some on offer, I grab it. Sainsburys were doing 1kg of minced lamb for a fiver a few weeks ago, split into 500g packs, so I stowed a couple in the freezer. And then Friday was such a miserable damp day, we decided to construct a moussaka, not least to use up the aubergine lurking within the veg drawer in the fridge.

So … cut a couple of carrots, a courgette and a couple of celery stalks into small dice, chopped an onion and a few cloves of garlic, and set them to saute down.

Sliced the aubergine thinly, laid it on a baking tray lined with tin foil (saves washing up!), drizzled with olive oil, and set in a hot oven for about 30 minutes.

Browned the lamb mince off, and set it aside, draining off the fatty juice. Added some Ras el Hanout to the veg mix and cooked it down for a few minutes, then bunged in the lamb, a can of chopped tomatoes, a slosh of red wine, and some salt and pepper. Left that lot to simmer for about half an hour.

Made a white sauce with wholemeal flour (always do these days, as it’s better for us than white).

Then into the dish went meat/veg mix, then the sliced baked aubergine, then the white sauce, and finally some feta cheese, cubed small. This lot went into the oven at 200 for about 25 minutes.

It made four generous servings, so we had the rest yesterday. Om nom nom 🙂

slow cooked lamb and lentils

I picked up a half shoulder of lamb in Morrisons yesterday for £4.40, and we decided to slow cook it. As it happens, it was a horrible cold, rainy, Sunday and it was exactly the right way to approach it.

I browned the lamb and put it in the slow cooker with two peeled and cubed sweet potatoes, and half a squash that was lurking in the veg rack.  Then I heated more oil, added some black mustard seeds and cooked them till they popped, then added a thinly sliced onion.

Then into the frying pan went a paste of garlic and ginger, some cumin, coriander and chilli flakes, and I fried all that off for a bit, then added a carton of chopped tomatoes, a handful of dessicated coconut (we have somewhat of a glut of that right now), and some water. Added salt and black pepper, and brought that to a simmer and turfed it all into the slow cooker.  Then I hurled in some (loosely speaking) lentils, put the lid on and hoped for the best.

It cooked on high for about 6.5 hours; the meat fell off the bone, the sauce was beautiful,  there’s enough for at least one more meal, and some the sauce will go as a soup base. We have declared it to be A Success!

surprise breast of lamb

Why “surprise”? Because I thought it was a pack of sausages when I lifted it from the freezer, which rather dashed our plans for Toad in the Hole for supper on Monday night.  I had to rush to the local CoOp and purchase sossidge; the Toad was gorgeous, thanks for asking.

So there I had a smallish piece of breast of lamb, and no plans for it.

First off, we had some broad beans which had got forgotten, so I podded them, and set them to boil.  They had about 35 minutes I think (they were very old and hard).

Into the slow cooker went

one small squash
three small onions quartered
one tired red pepper
two carrots, chopped
about 1.5 teaspoons of harissa (all we had)
a sloosh of honey
a slosh of tomato ketchup
the beans
rosemary, bay leaves and sage from the garden
and, of course the lamb

I switched it on at 8 o’clock this morning, and now the smell is taunting me …

moroccan style rack of lamb


Ages ago – a couple of years – we bought half a salt marsh lamb for Lots of Money. The meat was beautiful and it was worth every penny, and for some reason the rack remained in the freezer.

We hauled it out on Saturday, with a view to roasting it for Sunday dinner, but when the time came round, we didn’t really fancy it.  However, out of the freezer it had come and thus it had to be used up.

So on Sunday night, in the slow cooker, I put four carrots, one courgette and a dozen shallots and a sliced red pepper, together with a glug of olive oil, and left it on low for four hours.

Then on Monday morning, in went some cardamon seeds, pomegranate seeds, a pinch of paprika, a sloosh of tomato ketchup, some apple juice, some water, a load of tamarind paste, and the rack of lamb, cleaved into two.  In rummaging through the kitchen drawers at the weekend looking for something, I found some natural cotton bouquet garni bags, so in one of them went bay leaves, savoury, sage and parsley (all from the herb garden). I seasoned with salt and pepper, put the lid on, and left it on low for about 10 hours.

The meat fell off the bones, and the flavour was wonderful. We had it with plain boiled potatoes, as there was plenty of veg in with the meat.