Friday, 22 March 2013

Lamb breast

Lamb breast (or belly; I've never been able to get my head around the fact that the same bit of an animal is called different things depending on the beast so you get lamb breast, pork belly and beef brisket. Anyhoo, moving on.) is something I've been wanting to try for ages. A pre-Alpine leaving feast, was the perfect excuse to go to the butchers in Banners and get my hands on a big old breast of lamb. (Well over a kilo of lamby goodness for a little over £3: bargain!)

(Sorry for the terrible photos, I got a bit in to the swing of hosting and only remembered to take any photos at the last moment.)

I stuffed and rolled the lamb and slow roasted it. As my friends arrived they both commented that they could smell the lamb way out in the landing outside me flat. The lamb skin was incredibly crispy, quite like pork cracking. The meat was meltingly tender with the fat having rendered away leaving a strong flavour of lamb. The sides of broccoli, courgettes and carrots were suitably light and fresh (despite the appalling weather outside).

For pudding, I put together a little trio of puds. I made Heston's passion fruit and chocolate tart, which is quite possibly the silkiest, smoothest thing I have ever made. Simple chocolate deliciousness. To go with the tart I made a berry sorbet and finished off with a piece of my favourite brownie. All in all a pretty damn good pud plate: complimentary flavours, different textures and contrasting temperatures.

On to the recipes.

Stuffed lamb breast

Lamb breast
For the stuffing: (use quantities as you see fit and to reflect your palette)
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
~80g best sausage meat (lamb sausages or mince would be great)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon

1. Sweat the onion until transparent and soft. Leave to cool.
2. Mix all the stuffing ingredients together.
3. Trim any excess skin or fat from the lamb. Rub a cut clove of garlic over the meat. Spread the stuffing all over the lamb. Roll the belly tightly and tie.
4. Brown the meat all over in a pan then roast at 150°C for 3hours. Once tender (a skewer should pass in to the meat with no resistance). Leave to rest for about 15mins.
5. Carve in to thick slices and serve.

Roast courgettes with lemon (a recipe from Sainsbury's)

6 courgettes, trimmed and cut into thirds, then each third cut into thick strips
1tsp lemon juice
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp mint leaves, chopped

1. Put the courgettes in a roasting dish in a single layer.
2. Whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, then drizzle over the courgettes. Turn to coat.
3. Roast at 160°C (fan oven) for 30 minutes. Spoon into a warm serving dish and sprinkle with the chopped mint.

Steamed broccoli with toasted sesame seeds (a recipe from Sainsbury's)

900g broccoli, cut into small florets
1tbsp olive oil
1½ tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

1. Steam the broccoli over a pan of boiling water for 7-10 minutes until tender.
2. Fry the sesame seeds in the oil until lightly browned. Add the broccoli and stir-fry briefly. 

Lemon and parsley carrots (taken from New British Classics, Rhodes, G, 1999, BBC Worldwide)

1lb carrots, sliced thinly
1tsp caster sugar
1oz butter
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Parsley, chopped

1. Put the carrots in a medium pan and barely cover with water. Add the sugar, half the butter and a pinch of salt. Cover with a butter paper and bring to the simmer. Cook until tender.
2. Remove the carrots and reserve.
3. Bring the cooking liquor to the boil and reduce by three-quarters. It should be nearly a syrup.
4. Add the lemon juice and simmer for 1min.
5. Season to taste. Add the carrots and re-heat. Stir in the parsley before serving.

Exploding chocolate gateau recipe (Heston's recipe with some steps slightly simplified)

For the base:
150g all butter shortbread biscuits
30g butter, melted
2 tbsp white caster sugar
25g orange popping candy

For the chocolate ganache
• 175g whipping cream
• Pinch of salt
• Pulp from 6 passion fruits
• 50g fresh custard
• 110g dark chocolate (minimum of 60% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
• 50g milk chocolate, broken into pieces

1. Place the biscuits in a food processor and add the melted butter and sugar. Blitz until the mixture resembles fine sand in texture.
2. Gently stir in the popping candy. Place the mixture inside a 20cm cake ring placed on a tray lined with baking paper. Flatten using the back of a spoon then put to one side to set.
NOTE: Heston uses a smaller 15cm cake ring which gives a very satisfying deep slice
3. Add the cream, salt and passion fruit to a small saucepan and place over a medium heat until it almost comes to the boil. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes, then stir in the fresh custard.
4. Put the dark and milk chocolate in a bowl. Place over a bain marie (a pan of gently simmering water) and allow to melt completely. Remove from the heat.
5. Strain the infused cream and add to the bowl of melted chocolate a third at a time, making sure to incorporate the cream thoroughly after each addition. Allow the ganache to cool to room temperature.
6. Pour the ganache into the ring and place the tart in the fridge to set for 2 hours. Place the tart in the freeze.
7. Remove from the freezer 20 minutes before serving.

Creamy berry sorbet (a recipe from Sainsbury's)

500g frozen summer fruits, slightly defrosted
60g caster sugar
125ml pomegranate juice drink
30ml double cream

1. In a food processor, whizz the berries, sugar and pomegranate juice drink together until smooth. With the motor still running, gradually add the cream and continue to whizz until well blended. Transfer the mixture to a stainless steel bowl, cover with clingfilm and put in the freezer.
2. Freeze the sorbet for between 1 hour and 1 hour 20 minutes or until set. Take the bowl out of the freezer at 15 minute intervals to whip the mixture with a spatula - by doing this, you'll break up any ice crystals that might have formed, resulting in a smoother, creamier sorbet.
3. Remove from the freezer 15 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Red rice salad with mackerel

I've been wanting try red rice for ages and I finally managed to get my hands on some. It was a bit like wild rice; firm but a bit nutty in flavour. It went really well with red peppers and mackerel.

Red rice and roasted red pepper salad with mackerel (taken from Rice Ingram. C, 2001, Hermes House)

Ingredients (for 1):
2 mackerel, fillets
2oz Camargue red rice
Vegetable/chicken stock
Red pepper, de-seeded and sliced thinly
2-3 sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 whole garlic cloves, unpeeled
1tbsp parsley, chopped
1tsp vinegar, red wine or balsamic (lemon juice would work too)

1. Cook the rice, following the instructions on the packet.
2. Fry the pepper slices in olive oil until softened, approx. 4 mins.
3. Add the tomatoes, whole garlic cloves and onion. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 8-10mins, stirring occasionally.
4. Remove the lid and fry for a further 3 mins.
5. Meanwhile fry the mackerel in olive oil, skin side down for 3-4mins, then turn and fry on the other side for 1 min. Remove form the pan and leave to rest.
6. Take the rice off the heat and add the parsley, vinegar and season to taste.
7. Peel the garlic and cut into thin slices.
8. To serve, spread the rice on a plate, put the peppers on top, scatter the garlic slices and top with the mackerel.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Burger and Lobster

Much has been written about Burger and Lobster since the first branch opened in late 2011. There are now four restaurants in the chain and I finally got to experience the phenomenon at the newest branch at 1 Bread Street tonight.

The menu choice is simple:
  • Burger
  • Lobster (steamed or grilled)
  • Lobster roll
That's it. Just three things on the menu. £20 each. All come with fries and a salad. In the interests of foodie investigation I had a steamed lobster and a burger. 

The lobster was pretty damn good: tender sweet lumps of crustacean goodness anointed in a bath of garlic butter. Only picking from the shell slowed us down. The fries were good, although saltless and the salad was perfect accompaniment. Well worth £20.

The burger was OK. Not the best burger I've ever had, but definitely the most expensive and not really worth it. The patty was medium-rare and packed a meaty punch, the salad and pickles added a refreshing zing and the bacon and cheese rounded off with an umami hit. Unfortunately the roll wasn't really up tot eh job and had disintegrated by the end. A good burger but not £20 good.

At this newest city outpost there is limited booking. Fortunately for us at 1800 we managed to just walk in and secure a table for four. The place filled up pretty quickly and was buzzing by the time we left. The service was pretty good although once the silver platters are delivered there's not a great deal to be done. Although we did seem to be the only table not to be offered a plastic bib to protect from the lobster juices. I'm not sure if this was simply and over-sight or a conscious snub. I hope the former. Also it's worth mentioning the cocktails. They were good. Definitely worth getting there early and hanging out at the bar for.

I'd go again but just stick to the lobster.

Burger & Lobster on Urbanspoon
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