Liiiiisa, why would you eat me? 6 hour roast lamb

I like the concept of roasting low and slow. That you can take a cheap, shitty cut of meat and turn it into something truly wonderful. Something, juicy, tender and altogether moreish. I recently had a whole day of having to stay at home, studying. What better way to pass such a hideous day, than to have wafts of lamb floating through the house throughout the day. And what better way to achieve such wafts than cooking lamb over the course of an entire day. Well, half a day, because battling inner-city supermarkets at 9am is a several-hour mission in itself.

Anyway, the lamb. I bought a nice, big fat piece of shoulder from the butcher and roasted it at 120 for 6 hours with various flavours added along the way. The concept is that you get a shitty old piece of meat that has heaps of fatty bits and sinew running through it, which all render out and / or go all tender and melty and by the end you have this absolutely delicious piece of lamb on your fork – knives need not apply because this baby just falls apart in your mouth.

You will need:
– 1 piece of meat. You could use pork, beef, lamb, whatever. The idea is just to get one of the cheap cuts. These are the ones that benefit from the long, slow roast. Premium eye fillet ain’t got no home here. I chose lamb shoulder, as mentioned, about 2kgs
– 1 cup of dry white wine
– 1 cup of stock
– a couple of bay leaves
– 4 cloves of garlic
– a few anchovies (optional!)

Phase 1 – get stuffed: The first thing to do is trim up your meat. You don’t want to be too harsh – some of that fat and sinew in slow roasting is a good thing. What you want to remove is that really thick, pale yellow fat that looks like it could clog up your arteries with just one glance. After you’ve spent a bit of time doing that, place a few incisions nice and deep into your lamb shoulder. In it, slide a few slices from the garlic cloves and, if you like, a little piece of anchovy – don’t worry, it seems to mellow and break up during the cooking process. Turn your oven up to 120 degrees at this point. Then you want to get a pan nice and hot with a little oil. You want to brown the lamb shoulder in said appropriately sized pot (because it ain’t gonna get nice and brown cooking at 120 degrees). It’ll take about 10-15 mins and when you’re happy with the golden-ness, deglaze that hot mess by adding your wine and stock to the pot. At this point, add your bay leaves (oh and I also added half a leek, chopped in half…though I’m not quite sure what this added. Sweetness of some variety).

Lamb - phase one complete

Lamb – phase one complete

Phase 2 – hot hot heat: Into the oven goes your lamb, in the pot, lid on. That is all. Seriously, leave it there for the next 6 hours, perhaps turning ever couple of hours. I did the cartouche thing – i.e. putting a piece of baking paper over the lamb so it loses less moisture.

Phase 2 - complete

Phase 2 – complete

Phase 3 – get some lamb (or pork) on your fork: all you need to do now is let your lamb rest in the pot for about half an hour. This is coincidentally the time it takes to organise some epic roast pumpkin / potatoes. Then get your fork out – save the knife – and go mental

Phase 3 - get it in ya

Phase 3 – get it in ya

Moar chickin of the preserved lemon variety

It seems like I’m on a roll. A chicken roll. Actually, speaking of which, I could go a chicken roll right now.

Luckily though, this post is not about chicken rolls, notwithstanding their deliciousness. It is about another equally delicious, scrumptious, fulfilling and generally delectable chicken recipes that I stumbled across a little while ago. It involves preserved lemons – not a quick thing to make, but definitely an easy thing to make (don’t be that loser that pays $11 a jar in a gourmet deli!)

Today’s recipe is chicken with preserved lemons! It takes a little while – like a Sunday afternoon project – but do it, it’s worth it 🙂

You will need:
A marinade in which to let your chicken hang out for a while:
– 1 clove of garlic, chopped
– 1/4 of a preserved lemon (see note!), finely sliced and only the rind – ditch the flesh
– 1 onion, chopped
– 2 tsps smokey paprika
– 2 tsps cumin
– 1 tbsp of chopped fresh coriander (you can use the stalks)
– 1 tbsp chopped parsley
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/2 tsp saffron threads that have been soaked in a tiny bit of water (not absolutely necessary, but does impart a nice colour and flavour)
– 50ml olive oil
– salt and pepper to taste

The rest of the meal!
– 500 grams of chicken (I used thigh)
– 1 tomato, sliced
– 1 more onion, chopped)
– a couple of potatoes, chopped in fairly large pieces
– 100g of olives
– a good handful of chopped coriander
– about 100mL of water (maybe more – depending on how dry it’s all looking when it’s all cooking)

A note on preserved lemons:
Preserved lemons are super easy to make, although they take a fair few weeks to make. Get yourself a clean glass jar and enough lemons to fill it. This is harder to estimate than it sounds, so as a guide I went with one of those larger pasta sauce jars that I had lying around and about 4 lemons (maybe it was 5…). You’ll also need a fair few tablespoons of salt. Cut your lemons in quarters and then the idea is to place a lemon quarter in the jar and then squash the hell out of it. I use a rolling pin to really get in there and squash it down. Put a teaspoon of salt in. Then another lemon quarter, squash again. Another teaspoon of salt. Repeat until you’ve filled the jar with some seriously squashed lemons and however many teaspoons of salt the number of lemon quarters equate to. It should end up that the lemon juice covers the lemon quarters; if not, get some extra lemons and squeeze just the juice out until everything is covered. Seal her up and whack at the back of the fridge for the next month. Don’t freak out if it develops a little white mould…it’s all good, just scrape off when you use the lemons.

Now to the recipe:
Step 1 – rate and marinate: chop and mix all of the marinade ingredients. Let the ingredients get to know each other for 20 minutes or so. Phew, that was easy. Now get your chicken ready. Massage it all in and let the chicken sit there for a good coupla hours

Marinate me.

Marinate me.

Step 2 – finger licking good: Tip the chicken and the marinade into a pan on low (…or a tagine if you’re organised). Add the tomatoes, onion and potatoes and mix in with the marinade. Dot the olives around and tip in the water, along with half of the handful of coriander. Cook over a super low heat until the chicken is cooked. Check the water and add more if needed. Estimate that it takes around 1/2 an hour or a little longer. Top with the remaining coriander and serve with whatever you like – quinoa, cous cous, rice, vegies…nothing…anything…

Rahhh I'm going to eat you like a lion

Rahhh I’m going to eat you like a lion

The yoghurt files: supermarket yoghurts – the good, the bad and the ugly

God I love my little foodie soapbox. Proclaiming what ingredients should be mixed where, which restaurants have satisfied my rampant appetite and now, to put another finger in yet a new pie, my humble (and potentially irrelevant) opinion on supermarket yoghurts: the good, the bad and the ugly.

It was my own Dad that posed this delicious challenge to me, and as one that loves a good spoon of bacterial dairy, I could but jump at the chance. Here goes (and remember, let’s not sue Hannah for defamation – opinions taken at your own peril (or deliciousness)):

Listed in order of deliciousness…

Harris Farm Honey and Almond – 350g – $4

 

Harris Farm honey & almond

Harris Farm honey & almond


– Very creamy – the thickest of the lot
– The yoghurt was fairly sweet, although there was a distinct honey taste (as opposed to just sugary)
– The chopped almonds added a nice textural touch, but this may deter some eaters
– Quite expensive at $4 for a mere 350g
– Only available from Harris Farm
– Overall I thought it was a delicious yoghurt that would actually go well in place of cream for a dessert like an apple pie or similar

Macro Organic Greek-style Yoghurt – 500g – $5

 

Macro Organic Greek-style

Macro Organic Greek-style


– I was definitely impressed with this yoghurt. I’d always had this image that greek yoghurt was this gross sour mess. Macro’s yoghurt is very thick. It has the requisite non-sweetness to it, but I think sometimes that is nice, especially atop some muesli and fruit for breakfast in the morning
– Fairly high in fat
– Developed more of a watery residue after a couple of days, than the Harris Farm yoghurt – but still lasted very well for the week
– Very thick and creamy – a lot more than other greek yoghurts I have had

Gippsland Organic – individual tub – $1.70

Gippsland Organic (vanilla)

Gippsland Organic (vanilla)

– Comes in a range of flavours including vanilla and berry
– Certainly very creamy, not quite as thick as the two above and very, very smooth
– Slightly sour tinges, but in a good way! – the yoghurt wasn’t too sweet

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy Blueberry Fields – individual tub – $1.90

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy

Dairy Farmers Thick & Creamy

– True to its name, the yoghurt was indeed creamy, although not to the thick, lush levels of the more expensive first two yoghurts
– I noticed that it had quite a lot of sugar (16%), which could trick the average punter, seeing as it claims to be low in fat
– Visible blueberries – a rare feat in the wide world of yoghurt. I wouldn’t necessarily refer to it as a “field” of blueberries…but let’s not be nit-picky

Farmers Union Greek Strained Yoghurt – individual tub – $2

Farmer's Union Greek Strained

Farmer’s Union Greek Strained

– It was a fairly expensive serve at $2 for an individual tub
– There was a noticeable watery residue, but perhaps this was due to the “strained” part. That said, it may turn off the average yoghurt-phobe
– The yoghurt was quite nice and creamy, although you felt that you had to stir it a fair bit to achieve that creaminess
– On that topic, I failed to notice the extent of the layer of honey down the bottom – very much bordering on too much. Pro-tip: you need to stir this so you don’t end up with a painfully sweet ending. I ate about half the tub, then noticed the honey, then prayed that after eating, my teeth wouldn’t fall out from sweetness

Vaalia Passionfruit – 4 pack of individual tubs – $5 (on special)

Vaalia

Vaalia

– This one was on par with the Gippsland Organic in terms of creaminess. It was a lot creamier than a lot of the “non-gourmet” yoghurts (you know the ones…Ski D’lite, I’m looking at you)
– The passionfruit flavour was lightly sweet (and not overly, which was a good thing) and slightly tart
– No actual passionfruit was noted, unfortunately. I like a couple of seeds to know what I’m getting myself into

Danone Activia – pack of 4 smallish individual tubs – $4

Danone Activia

Danone Activia

– Chunks of mango were noticed, although they were kind of firm/hard, which was a little disconcerting
– Slightly acidic aftertaste that hit you in the back of the throat
– Despite being low fat, it was sufficiently creamy, especially compared to the non-gourmet yoghurts
– The tub was noticeably smaller than the other individual tubs of yoghurt. If you really tried, you could knock it off in two decent-sized spoons

Yoplait ForMe – 6 individual tubs – $5 on special

Yoplait ForMe

Yoplait ForMe

– The flavours of black cherry, boysenberry and strawberry in the pack of 6 was nice…has anyone ever actually eaten a boysenberry? In the yoghurt, it sort of just tastes like “generic berry” to me
– Claimed to be low-GI and low in sugar…though perhaps it was this that resulted in the yoghurt being a fairly watery / liquidy consistency
– I did notice a few little bits of fruit, but overall I felt that the flavour was quite fake and that perhaps even some colour had been added

Well there ya have it. My humble opinion on a small variety of various yoghurts. Take it as you will, and if anyone offers you the Harris Farm or the Macro Organic, you take that little tub of bacterial goodness, you grab the nearest, biggest spoon, and you go mental.

The quick and the dirty – hummus!

There’s a million ways to spell it and a million ways to eat it. But there’s only one way to think about it, and that is that hummus is delicious. I was recently in a supermarket, looking at the dips section and was shocked to see all of these random ingredients in what should be such a simple food! Emulsifiers, stabilisers, preservatives… Making dip at home is a bloody easy, bloody delicious and bloody cheap way to get around all of this malarky!

Here’s a super quick recipe idea to use up that random can of chick peas you’ve had in the back of your cupboard for the past 5 years.

You will need:
– 1 can of chick peas, drained
– the juice of 1-1.5 lemons
– a few teaspoons of tahini
– olive oil (a couple of tablespoons)
– salt and pepper
– a little water

It may look like I’ve been a little vague on the quantities here, but that’s the point! Make it to suit your taste. I, for one, am a fan of lemony, tahini-y hummus but others might absolutely hate that sesame residue.

Step 1 – whirlwind tour: Get your best looking blender out on the bench. Tip in your can of chick peas, start with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of one lemon, along with 4 teaspoons of tahini. Add a generous couple of pinches of salt and pepper and whiz’er up. I found it helpful to add in a couple of tablespoons of water, just to get everything to blend to a nice, smooth paste. From here, it’s one of those add-a-little-bit-of-this, add-a-little-bit-of-that kind of things. I went for another half-lemon’s worth of juice and a couple more teaspoons of tahini. I also added a tiny bit more olive oil and water to smooth things out. Blend until it’s all smooth and creamy and then smear it on bread, have it with falafel, eat it with a spoon, have it with some salad or barbequed meat… whatevs! Will keep for around about a week. If separation occurs, just stir it back up 🙂

If this gets too boring for you, have a go with chucking into the blender some roasted capsicum, or some olives!

Spread me!

Spread me!

Cafe con Leche, Surry Hills

It’s a rare and special thing when an unpretentious, non-hip, non-ironic noshery comes up in Surry Hills. It’s been there for a while, I believe, and it was a welcome and delicious surprise one leisurely morning (a little while ago now!). I was fortunate enough to have a leisurely hour to spend in the tiny (but very popular) Cafe con Leche on Fitzroy Street in Surry Hills.

Their claim to fame is being Colombian. So, of course, despite offerings of lattes and flat whites and Sonoma muesli, fruit salad and eggs on toast, I had to go for the most South American items on the menu. I guess I was looking confused, as the nice chap behind the counter recommended the arepas. I bloody love arepas, having only recently discovered them on my visit to Fairfield a little while back. What is better than arepas con queso? It’s basically liquid cheese running through a thick corn pancake and it’s freakin’ fantastic. For about $11 or so, I had a plate of two arepas – one being con queso, and the other being with little chunks of corn running through, and all the trimmings. Super cute little plate-lets of guacamole, salsas, pulled pork and sour cream. Simple, but effective, sufficient in quantity, and altogether delicious. Could’ve done with a litttttle more spice in the salsas – but if that’s my only complaint, then that ain’t half bad.

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For drinks, I obviously couldn’t go past HOT CHOCOLATE WITH CHEESE. With. Cheese. I’d had this thought that it was obviously going to be some form of cream cheese / cottage cheese / something that looks vaguely soluble. But no, it was actual slices of cheese. It was weird…. The hot chocolate, itself, was great. It was rich and dark and not too sweet – just how I like my men. I mean…my hot chocolate. And it was served in a cool, funky looking little cup, with a stick in it. Now to the cheese. It didn’t really melt. I’m not sure if it was because the hot chocolate wasn’t burningly hot….or if that’s the point and the cheese isn’t meant to melt. Either way, it essentially resulted in me ending each sip of the delicious liquid with a small piece of cheese dribbling down my chin. Not my most attractive moment. It didn’t taste BAD…it was just weird.

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Despite my cheese debarcle, I had a great little relaxing brunch at Cafe con Leche. Luckily, being a week day, it wasn’t packed as it seems when I’ve walked past it a few times on Saturday mornings. There were many locals coming in for a takeaway coffee – so I assume their brew is pretty good! The staff were super nice and attentive (and didn’t look at me like I was a total idiot when I stared at the menu, bewildered). The menu isn’t lengthy, but it’s considered and from my experience, it tastes great and is reasonably priced. I hope I have another free weekday morning some time, some day, to head back there again.

Cafe con Leche
104 Fitzroy St, Surry Hills

Food? 9 out of 10
Drinks? 8 out of 10. A delicious hot chocolate and interesting with a Columbian twist. I hear the coffee is good, but other than that, pretty stock-standard
Atmosphere? 8 out of 10. Small and cute – could be cramped on a busy day – but with some cute little “Colombian-feeling” touches.

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