timscience: (strange food)
Last night J and I decided to try the new shish place that's replaced Joe's cafe. It's called Oxford's grill and looks a bit shit from the outside. This is deceptive as it's actually very good.

It seemed totally deserted, which we figured might be a bad sign, until we realised it was Ramadan and before sundown so a lot of the clientele might not be eating just yet. Generally speaking delicious, with generous portions. Fans of the old Cafe du Liban will know the style although the food is Turkish not Lebanese. I reckon you could do a proper mezze meal from teh starters if you wanted which is half the point of this kind of place.

I had Liver fried in spices as a start and Iskander, a mix of meats on top of a pile of cubes of bread soaked in spicy tomatoes,as a main - both were excellent. We also tried Cankaya, a spicy dry Turkish white, which was well tasty, and finished on a good Turkish coffee. You can get a two course set meal and a free glass of wine for £9.95 which is pretty good - otherwise reckon on about 20 -25 quid per person including wine.

Anyone who misses the Euphrates might want to give it a try - the style is different but it kind of fills the same space on Cowley Road.
timscience: (strange food)
Think of it as kind of a hot chutney stew and it would probably work with mangoes. Serves 2.

2 lamb steaks
2 small or one large nectarine
1 medium onion
1 small green pepper*
1 mild chilli*
a handful of cherry tomatoes*
black onion seeds
Seasoned Pioneers Tunisian 5 spice mix (Ras-Al-Hanout would probably work as well but be sparing - it shouldn't be stupid hot).

* we used garden grown stuff for this, thanks to [livejournal.com profile] cleanskies, and also added some tiny gourds that we've grown.

Cut the lamb into four parts and coat with 2 tsp of spice mix. Fry until it starts to brown and add the onions and green pepper. Fry for 5 more minutes while you slice the nectarines and tomatoes. Add them to the pan with about a teaspoon full of black onion seeds, and add about a dessert spoon full of water.

Put the lamb to one side and pour the lot into a small casserole. We have a Nigellaware Marmitout that we got half price in a sale with J's birthday money. We didn't realise it was Nigella branded at the time but no regrets because it is the most amazing thing, made of some astonishingly light ceramic, it retains heat like cast iron and keeps everything beautifully moist. But, you know, a small casserole. Place the lamb on top and put the lid on. Put in the oven at gas 3 for an hour. I found the gravy needed thickening with about a heaped tablespoon of flour whisked in about halfway through the cooking process so maybe next time I'll do that at the start. We had it with rosemary, feta and almond couscous.

It was amazingly tasty.
timscience: (strange food)
So, we had some breast of lamb, enough for two. This was a strip about 5 inches across and maybe a foot long or slightly over, after boning.

Stuffing:
- Breadcrumbs (a slice of wholemeal with the crust cut off should do it)
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 decent sized sprigs of rosemary
- a couple of glugs of olive oil.
- 1 tsp Khmeli Suneli spice mix. This probably isn't essential but we really like it.
Whizz the stuffing mix in a blender and spread over the lamb. Roll the lamb and stuffing up into a swiss roll. Tie with string unless you want splodey lamb (which works OK but looks a bit odd)

There is an alternative stuffing mix involving apricots and/or dates, flaked almonds and pine nuts that you may want to try as well.

Now, J and I had a discussion about roasting lamb breast - she favours wrapping it in foil, I tend to favour trimming fat off it and putting it on top to self baste. We compromised on putting it in a tagine to keep it moist. This was, it turned out, a good idea. Since it's in a tagine you should probably put a bed of pulses under it - we had half a tin of leftover chickpeas, as it turned out.

For the bed:
- 1/2 tin of chickpeas. Napolitana seem to be noticeably nicer than own brand chickpeas, by the way.
- 1 squirt tomato puree
- One small onion, roughly chopped.

Mix the chickpeas, onion and tomato puree together in the tagine base. You don't need any of the chickpea liquid, there'll be quite enough from the meat.
Quarter and deseed a chilli, lay on top of the chickpeas.
Put the lamb on top of the chilli, put a few salt flakes on top of the lamb, put the lid on the tagine, put in the oven at gas mark 2 for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
When it is done, serve onto plates, then put 2 tsp of flour into the liquid in the tagine. Mix up and use as gravy.

This was well tasty and the lamb came out beautifully moist and meltingly tender. We had it with roast parsnips and carrots, and baby spinach leaves.
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