Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Moroccan Roast Lamb with Moutabal and Cacik

As you well know from a previous post, I do love a bit of lamb. I've had my eye on this recipe (one of Nigella's) for some time. In fact, it's been staring at me from my recipe book holder in the kitchen for some time now. I usually cook from my own imagination, so recipes that are waiting to be tested out tend to sit here, sometimes for longer than I'd like!

This one caught my attention as I just love Moroccan flavours, and Nigella recommends that it's eaten with homemade Moutabal, a slow roasted, smoky, garlicky aubergine (pretty much my idea of heaven).

To get the very best out of the flavours in this dish, the better you leave the lamb to marinade in the spices the better. I made this the night before to make sure it was packed full of flavour. (I'm getting hungry just typing this...)

To make this, you will need:

1 leg of lamb (approx 2.5kg)
1-2 tablespoons of ras-el-hanout
juice of 2 lemons
6 tablespoons of olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped

First, you need to make sure all the flavours are able to penetrate the meat, so make incisions all over the leg of the lamb. In a mixing bowl, add the ras-el-hanout, lemon juice, oil, garlic and coriander. Stir together to allow the flavours to infuse, then using your fingers, start pushing the mixture into all the holes and rub the remaining aromatic paste over the whole of the leg. Pop the leg into a freezer bag, pouring in any leftover marinade and then tie knot in the top, making sure you've squeezed out all the air, and put it into the fridge for however long you are marinating it for.

It doesn't look too glamorous, but don't be deceived by it's look!

The next part of the dish to get started on is the Moutabal. This can be made in advanced, but if you do, hold off on the garlic and this just before serving.

Nigella suggests this serves 8, but two of us managed to polish this off no problem. So, let's say for two, you'll need:

3 aubergines
4 tablespoons of tahini
Maldon salt
Juice of 1 1/2 lemons
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped

Pre heat your oven to 210 degrees, prick your aubergines and pop them in for about an hour, until the skin has blackened and the flesh is soft.

Take them out and put aside until they are cool enough to handle. Once they are cool, cut them open to reveal the gorgeous, pulpy flesh inside, which you can scoop out into a sieve and leave to drain for 15 minutes or so.

Ta da!

In a large boal mix together the tahini with a tablespoon of warm water, a teaspoon of Maldon salt (or any salt you happen to have, and the lemon juice. Turn in the drained auberigine pulp into this mixture and mash with a fork until it's all combined.

Taste it to make sure the seasoning is right, but try not to eat it all at this point.

Our next bit of sauce on the side to go with the lamb is the Cacik, the Turkish version of Tzatik, a cucumber salad with LOTS of garlic (this really isn't a first date dish), and cooling mint and yoghurt.

You will need:

1 cucumber
500g Greek Yoghurt
Leaves from bunch of fresh mint
1-2 cloves of fresh garlic, crushed or microplaned
Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

First, you'll need to peel and dice the cucumber and stir into the yoghurt in a mixing bowl.

Then mix in most of the fresh mint (save some to scatter on at the end), the garlic.

Tip the lot into a serving dish, sprinkle over the remaining mint and drizzle with olive oil. And that's it, you're done!

I wouldn't make this one too far in advance and the flavours are best at their freshest. Particularly that pesky garlic.

With the Moutabal and the Cacik now ready to go, I'd say it was time to get the lamb out of it's bag and into the oven! Make sure you squeeze every last drop of the marinade out of the bag and onto the meat.

Isn't it looking better? Well I can also confirm that it was smelling amazing too.

Roast the beauty at 200 degrees C for about an hour and a half, and by then it will be aromatically blackened on the outside and deliciously tender and pink inside. Leave it to rest for at least 15 minutes - I served this with fluffy rice with lots of chopped mint and parsley, and green beams, so you can be getting on with this or any other accompanying dishes you choose to serve in the mean time.

Once well rested, cut into slices...

...to reveal the tender pink inside.

Serve up with your lovingly homemade Moutabal and Cacik, some toasted pita, sprinked with ground cumin. Oh, and a glass of red wine goes rather well too.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

I'm Back!

Things have been more than a little quiet on here lately. The truth is lots of things have been on hold lately while my I've been getting my new venture up and running. Remember my last post back in January about starting my own Interior Design Business? Well things have really been taking off since then, which has been an amazing start to the year. Incase you haven't ventured over, take a peak at my website and read what I've been up to on my other blog, particularly, my most recent project, The Kings Chapel Wedding Venue in Amersham, Bucks. 

Today was an exciting day today as I picked up my shiny, newly branded car - be sure to give me a toot or a wave if you see me about!

Since leaving Seasons and getting Claire Garner Interiors up and running, I've also started working for Mint Velvet a few days a week and I am totally in love with the brand. The tag line is 'relaxed glamour' which is an ethos that I am totally on board with. A snippet from their House Rules, a poster in the staff room of our Berkhamsted store...

"Laugh ten times everyday, Add a little sparkle, Let the little things make life lovely"

Who could disagree with all of that? This is exactly how I feel about interiors too - the extra detail makes all the difference and this should be about bringing a bit of joy and happiness into your home!

Anyway, the launch went really well this week, and so the MV team of course had to celebrate with some fizz. (Not that an excuse is ever really needed...)

So that's where I've been hiding. There's lots to catch up with you in the coming weeks, including quite a few foodie posts (no surprise there then). Watch this space - I promise to try not to disappear for so long again! :)

Friday, 17 January 2014

Exciting News!

Exciting news! After a few years working in events at Seasons I decided it is time for me to re-join the world of interior design. I've set up my own interior design business! It's going to be an exciting journey, so please feel free to view my site and share it around - clairegarnerinteriors.com

Monday, 30 December 2013

Highlights of 2013 - Part 4 - Moroccan Barbecue

I am lucky enough with my job that I'm able to sample some amazing food. One of my favourites this year has to be this Moroccan BBQ menu. Who doesn't love a BBQ?

The Menu

On the BBQ...

Chermoula chicken (paprika, ginger, parsely and lemon marinade, 

Rose harissa marinated lamb fillet skewers

Garlic and saffron king prawns

Roasted vegetable skewers with chilli and mint glaze

Roasted peppers with garlic, goats cheese and toasted cumin


Spiced carrot salad with cinnamon, coriander and almonds

Roasted aubergine salad with Babaganoush, spiced yoghurt and toasted pine nuts

Rose harissa cous cous with roasted vegetables

Chick pea, chicory and cumin, with tahini and sumac

Chermoula Chicken enthusiastically cooked by Alistair.

Bring on Summer 2014 for next BBQ season!

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Highlights of 2013 - Part 3 - Glorious Goodwood Indeed

Hurrah! Tickets had arrived for Goodwood - we were going to celebrate my lovely friend Sarah's birthday and it was time for a new dress. I opted for this number from ASOS (it has now become one of my trusty favourites in the wardrobe, and you lucky things, it's now in the sale here).

And it wasn't 100% accidental that my boyfriend and I were so well co-ordinated. Love the Panama!

This man and I were slightly less well co-ordinated, although thankfully he wasn't my boyfriend, he was just casually photobombing my photo.

We headed out to buy our lucky tickets and waited excitedly for the first race. I'm not really much of a gambler. After having the odds explained, and how best to make your selection, I opted to go for the 'I like the sound of that one' technique. I'm pretty sure this is what most people do, but just pretend to have some well thought out reasoning behind their choice. Surely?

After watching a few races from the ground, we headed upstairs to get a different view, and ended up setting up camp in the sun in Gordon's bar.

The day raced by (no pun intended, honest), and a few jugs of Pimms later, we went to place our final bets. Now, a fair few of my 'I like the sound of that one' selections had some relation to my furry feline friends. When 'Pal of the Cat' was listed as a runner in the final race, it was an easy choice. We took to our seats in the Grandstand to watch the horses come in.

And would you believe it that Pal of the Cat won? I placed a £5 bet, and won £140! As I said, I am not a gambler, so this was a first for me.

And so, with the races over, and the sun still shining, we headed down stairs to celebrate. 

And celebrate we did, dancing about in the afternoon sun to some great live music. Beginner's luck? Probably, but I think my love for the furry ones worked in my favour that day!

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Highlights of 2013 - Part 2 - Henley Royal Regatta

Henley Royal Regatta - the perfect excuse to get dressed up and spend the day drinking Pimms in the sunshine.

It was the hottest day of the year so far, and we started off on the river banks with a few bottles of fizz. The banks were packed with people cooling off and dipping their legs into the water. With little space or shade out there, we were pretty pleased that we were lucky enough to have badges for Stewards enclosure this year, all thanks to my lovely friend Sarah who organised them for us. This meant we had access to the stands to watch the rowing, and also to the large array of champagne, Pimms and seafood bars. So once we'd had been checked that we were all appropriately covered up in the right places, we headed in and hit the champagne bar.

It really was so hot, once we had a cool glass in hand, I don't think any of us even thought about rowing for the next hour at least!

Once cooled off, we made our way over to the stands to watch some rowing. I can't really claim to know much about rowing, but it was still exciting none the less, and who doesn't enjoy cheering on very fit men in lyrca?

Oh hi beaut!

Oh, and another!

Oh and a few more. Aren't my friends looking dapper?

Phew, that was hot work - time for another Pimms or tw. At this point our group of 12 had become a three, so we hedged our bets and headed to the Mahiki tent to find our pals. It wasn't long before we found them sipping on their Pina Coladas and settled down with the rest of the tent to watch Andy Murray win the title at Wimbledon.

And what better way to end such a good day? A party in the car on the way home. (I do have videos, but I've decided to be kind and keep these to myself - I'm not sure I'd be forgiven for sharing!)

And one final drink at our local. I think I might get this dressed up for a trip to the pub more often! :)

Henley Royal Regatta is on from the 2nd - 6th July 2014. Tickets to Stewards were great fun, but not essential if you can't get them - just plan to get there early so you can get a good spot on the river bank and set up camp. More info here.