Saturday, January 23, 2010

Crumbed Lamb Cutlets

Last week I told you I was in New Zealand so I think we should have some lamb- one of the things New Zealand is famous for. They dot the landscape outside my window and they make for delicious eating. ( This is not the vegetarian section).

There is nothing 21st century about this recipe. It was given to me by a friend who got it from her grandmother. These cutlets, although covered in breadcrumbs, are very straightforward and sometimes we all like something that is absolutely what it says on the packet. Good old fashioned tucker.

Don't be put off by the cooking time (45 minutes) which to us modern cooks seems like a hell of a long time for a cutlet but I always cook them for that long and it works. Mind you make sure you are not buying mini skinny cutlets for this as 45 minutes would probably write them off. The cutlet needs to be almost 2cms thick so we maybe looking at small chops.

I sometime add some herbs or chilli or both to the crumbs but they are far from necessary and it is a matter of your taste. I am sure grandma didn't. If you are buying the breadcrumbs get the nice natural ones ( not those horrid yellow things) or make some by puttting stale bread into the food processor. It doesn't matter if they're not really fine in fact a bit of crunch adds to the whole thing.

for 4

8 or as many cutlets/chops as you feel like

2 cups bread crumbs
2 eggs

salt & pepper

about an hour before dinner

Heat your oven to 180C 375F

Put the breadcrumbs onto a plate with a lip or a flat shallow bowl and add about 1/2 tspn salt and a good grind of pepper along with any herbs or chilli

Break the eggs into a similar plate or bowl and with a fork whisk the eggs up to mix the yolks and whites.

Trim any excess fat off the cutlets/chops.

Working one at a time- place a cutlet into the egg mixture, turn it over to coat with egg, give it a shake and put it onto the breadcrumbs. Gently turn it over in the breadcrumbs until it is covered. Maybe pressing the crumbs, with your hands, onto the meat. When it is completely covered place it into your roasting tin.

Continue with all the cutlets placing then side by side in the dish. Do not stack them on top of one another.

When the oven is hot place them in the middle of the oven and prepare what you are going to serve with them. As the oven is on you could roast some potatoes although I like minted boiled new potatoes and of course your greens.

Roasted potatoes would have to go in the oven now.

Minted boiled potatoes:

new potatoes
a few branches of mint

Scrub them clean. Hopefully they are small enough not to need cutting but they need to be no bigger than a circle made by your forefinger and thumb.
Put them in lightly salted water and bring to the boil- turn to simmer. They should cook in about 20 to 25 minutes although if you are cooking lots it may take a few minutes longer. When they are cooked- don't worry if nothing else is ready beacuse you are going to drain them properly- use a sieve to be sure to get rid of all the water- return to the saucepan, throw in the mint ( and a little butter if you dare) put the lid back on the saucepan and leave them to stand.
While they are cooking prepare your green vegetable/s.

15 minutes before serving

I always boil the kettle to get the boiling water for my vegetables but I live in a world where electric kettles are the norm, then I put it in the saucepan. Any way you choose to do it - boil some water, with it in the saucepan add some salt then your green veg. Simmer for as long as you wish. Broccoli takes about 3-4 minutes to be good and crunchy, beans take longer- about 8 minutes. You'll sort it out. They should feel tender if you poke them with the point of a knife.
If in doubt taste it- of course it will be hot.

Hopefully everything- golden cutlets, minty potatoes and crunchy vegetables are all ready at the same time. Don't panic if they're not- the lamb and the potatoes can wait for you, although not the greens, they must be drained as soon as they are cooked. They can sit in the saucepan but the lid must be off or they will lose colour. ( I will write soon about cooking veg..... the do's & don'ts )

That's it - enjoy and pretend you are at grandma's house. However I serve a dollop of red currant and pomegrante jelly with the lamb - bet that wasn't around in her day.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Red Peppers filled with Feta & Tomatoes with anchovy opition

Here I am again. It has been a while but it has been that busy holiday season and I feel sure you do no want a Christmas Cake recipe (although I do have a really great one which is very simple) or indeed other holiday fare which is what I seem to have been doing. All back to normal now although I am in New Zealand where all the summer produce is at its very, very best.

As I know not all of you are in the Southern summer I have gone for a starter which is not purely seasonal and all the ingredients are easily available year round. Although I generally serve this as a starter, with a few salad leaves and if possible lavash (Middle Eastern bread) I sometimes use this, as a side dish, with roast lamb.

When choosing your peppers it is a good idea to check the shape of them. They need to have quite flat sides, or as flat as possible. Avoid round ones, so that when you have cut them in half, lengthwise, and filled them they will sit nicely in the roasting dish.

This is a sort of "anything goes" dish. You can use either all or some of the ingredients and as much, or as little, as you like, for the filling although the feta and tomatoes are essential.


A variation of this dish is to use tomatoes, anchovies and basil for the filling and stud the top with black olives.


For 6
3 large red peppers
150 grams ( 4-6 ounces) of good quality feta
18 ( or so) cherry tomatoes, depending on the size
1-2 cloves of garlic (you know how much you like) peeled and crushed.
1 tbsp of capers, drained
1 fresh red chilli ( again if you want to)
Thyme leaves removed from a few sprigs
Basil leaves - about 18-24
24 black olives
2 tbspns virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 200C 400F with the rack in the middle.
Very lightly oil a shallow roasting pan.

Cut the peppers in half lengthwise remove the seeds and membrane. Be careful to try and keep the bowl-like shape of the pepper.
Put the garlic in the bottom of each pepper.
Cut the tomatoes in half, or quarters, again depending on the size and put them into the peppers.
Divide the feta into 6 portions and crumble each portion as you stuff it around the tomatoes. Don't be precious, squidge it all in.
Disperse the capers over the six peppers and add the thyme leaves and chilli, if you are using it.
Add salt and pepper- at this stage be a bit sparing with salt because feta is sometimes incredibly salty. You can always add more at the table.
Give all this a bit of a squash down into the pepper then top with the chopped basil leaves and dot the whole thing with the olives.
Drizzle the olive oil into the peppers and place them into the prepared roasting tin. Cook for about 35-45 minutes until the the cheese starts to go golden and everything looks bubbly and cooked.


3 Peppers
10 regular tomatoes -chopped very small
2-3 cloves of garlic peeled and crushed
Preserved anchovies- as many as you like.
Basil leaves -chopped
Black olives

Heat your oven and prepare the oven dish as above.
Prepare the peppers and line the base of the pepper 2 or 3 anchovies or more depending on their size.
If you are using garlic it goes in next.
Fill the peppers with the chopped tomatoes. You can easily use cherry tomatoes, cut in half, but in both cases use enough tomato to fill the peppers.
Add salt & pepper but very sparing with the salt here as anchovies are saltier than feta.
Add the basil and olives, drizzle on the oil and cook as for the feta recipe.