It was move-in weekend this one just past. I worked on Saturday morning, checking that things were running smoothly on campus, but I didn’t eat before leaving the house. (I have a total inability to eat before 9am at the earliest). So by 1.30pm, when I found myself in Sainsbury’s, I was going on three cups of coffee and a shortbread biscuit. I was hungry. So it is perhaps unsurprising that when I found Marcus Wareing’s new book Marcus at Home and started perusing it, I wanted to make everything in it. Literally everything.
But mostly I wanted to make this slow-roast lamb. You may have noticed a love of lamb on this site. It is one of the few cultural staples that I identify from my childhood. It was not uncommon to refer to there being ‘half a sheep’ in one’s freezer. And if anyone made a trip to the Karoo (where the best lamb and mutton is raised), inevitably there would be lamb upon return. So roast lamb, particularly on a Sunday, was something of a feature of my childhood growing up. We even had it with my aunts in Bloemfontein when we visited last month.
Marcus’s slow-roast lamb is clever (in my humble opinion anyway) because he blends the spices together to smother over the lamb before cooking. I’ve always pierced the lamb and stuffed it with garlic/rosemary/thyme, but Marcus has you blend the spices with olive oil and massage this mix into the lamb. It is frankly genius. I can’t think why this hasn’t occurred to me before. You cook the lamb on a few onions which turn into lamb-y onion-y goodness at the end. I also like the use of sherry as the liquid to baste the lamb. I don’t use sherry enough and the resulting jus is fragrant and complex.
I paired the lamb with killer roast potatoes. I think I have finally cracked the crispy but soft roast potato equation. Here is what I did this time:
- Par boil the peeled and chopped potatoes until almost tender – there should be a little resistance of the knife when you stab them.
- Drain and shake the potatoes around the pan so their edges are bashed.
- Toss in a handful of cornmeal/polenta/semolina (this tip is from my aunt Jo)
- Heat a fair amount of olive oil in a roasting pan in the oven. It is hot enough when a small amount of potato sizzles nicely. I had about one centimeter’s worth of oil in the bottom of the pan.
- Toss the potatoes carefully into the hot oil and return to the oven for several hours.
The lamb takes 3-3.5 hours to cook in a low oven at 160C. I cooked the potatoes for a good two of those. They were crispy and golden on the outside and soft on the inside.
For veggies I roasted a coquina squash, carrots and parsnips with some olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary. I boiled some peas and courgettes until tender and then tossed in some butter and salt.
When the lamb was cooked, I rested it for ten minutes whilst I drained the jus and heated the peas again.
We shared some Warwick wine estate First Lady over dinner. Afterwards we binge watched more episodes of Great British Menu. I will definitely be making this lamb again. And will probably cook many more things from the book too. Watch this space!
This is the dish to eat when you are mostly in need of vegetables. Although Andrés would disagree, this is like the Spanish version of ratatouille. It is simple to make: dice the vegetables you want to use into small-ish chunks, about 1.5cm. You don’t want things so small that they disappear in the sauce. We used aubergines, courgettes (zucchini), onions, carrots, tomatoes and peppers. Cook these all separately until soft and tender. Heat a carton or tin of tomatoes in a large pot. Add all the vegetables back in and bring to a simmer. Serve with a fried egg and some bread for dipping, glooping-up the sauce. Voila!
Why do we eat chilis?
Drink your red wine slightly chilled.
Are you taking part in Dorie Greenspan’s #cookiesandkindness project? I am! I made cookies her World Peace cookies over the weekend and brought them to work yesterday because yesterday was the first day of Welcome Week and cookies were NEEDED.) You can listen to the Serious Eats/Special Sauce interview with Dorie here. It is wonderful. She is my new cookbook author crush.
A supermarket selling surplus food on a pay-as-you-feel basis.
Shakespeare and Company! I bought this new book on the shop in a moment of whimsy last week. Also, inspiration to open our cookbook shop if there ever was. If only we could find somewhere to live for a while.
For Mom: to eat, or not to eat?
I’ve been listening to this on repeat all day.
A farmer writes frankly about the realities of small farming in the US.
We don’t often get political on this blog, but this video. Watch it!
Cooking in Julia Child’s French kitchen.
Battles over school lunchtimes and what you should and should not eat (and who should decide).
Should you start a food blog?
I want to make these on the weekend. And this cake.
Autumn makes me want to make this pasta dish: butternut and sage with spicy sausage. Also this lemon pasta from Molly at Orangette.
Mother sauces of Spain.
On being connected to the land and culinary traditions.
On compassion, for the self.
Understanding the pumpkin spice phenomenon.
Did you read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? I loved the book – I particularly loved the use of photographs throughout the novel – and now the movie is about to be released!
So not quite an ‘everyday’ table but one that we should endeavour to undertake now and again: feeding a crowd. As it is Friday, you can plan your weekend around a feast like this one.
There is little that gives me more pleasure than feeding others but I understand that for some, the prospect of feeding a large number of people is panic inducing. It needn’t be. The recipe for success is: 1) equally mad friends also willing to cook (or bring some part of the meal with them); 2) fantastic ingredients; 3) stuff that you have made before (key!) and 4) wine. Because if all else fails, you’ll be relaxed enough not to worry too much about it. And as Julia said, never apologise! People are always grateful that you are willing to cook for them. Even if it hasn’t turned out quite as you planned, they don’t know that!
This Everyday Table’s meat dish was Ottolenghi’s roast pork with oranges. Our pork came from Merrivale butchery and was truly spectacular, cut and boned for us by the loveliest butcher, scored, and the perfect amount to feed our hungry friends. Whilst I am the biggest fan of Sunday roasts, the sides we made were spectacular enough to hold their own, if you didn’t want to cook any meat. For sides we made red cabbage with apples; cucumber salad with ginger; butter carrots; cauliflower two ways (from the August Taste magazine and outstandingly good); and roast potatoes (following guidance from my aunt Trudie). We bought our vegetables at Karkloof Farmer’s Market and our wine choices were from Meander Fine Wines (a truly wonderful wine shop).
We hadn’t really planned a starter, but served slices of cold roast sirloin on a bed of rocket, with many shavings of parmesan, drizzles of balsamic glaze and olive oil.
For dessert I made blueberry tart, from The French Kitchen: A Cookbook. It is one of my favourites, written by Joanne Harris and Fran Warde. It is a wonderful wonderful book, and I packed it into my suitcase so I can cook from it more. We served the tart with a mascarpone cream.
The meal was some effort but hugely satisfying. Lunch lasted well into the late afternoon. Afterwards there were naps and dog walking.
I made this on our first Saturday back, after our holiday. It is something I would normally make for dinner (being completely incapable of being functional before noon on the weekends), but Andrés was working in the evening, so I made it for our lunch (the things you do for love!) The pasta is super duper easy, and captures the sunshine bursting in the last tomatoes of the season. Rachel says you can eat it with whichever pasta you like, but we hardly ever have tagliatelle so it felt like a treat. And really now, how can anyone not be tempted by a recipe for ‘bursting tomatoes’? I am in love with the name. I served it with pork chops, salted, peppered and fried in the pan.
The holiday is over. Back to reality and the new academic year. Le sigh. I am already planning our next few trips away and am trying to get back into the swing of things. Holiday blues are out if full force but I am planning some catch-up/highlights here of all the eating we did during our time at home. In the meanwhile, here is this week’s reading list!
A garden in a small space. I really want to read this book!
Diana Henry on life and inspiration in the kitchen. She has written her 10th cookbook – Simple – which looks fabulous. Here is an interview with her discussing the book.
Autumn is in the air. Plum cobbler. Plum cake. Plum torte. I came home and instantly made marjorie plum crumble for Friday night’s dessert, having found perfect crumble-plums in our massive post-holiday shop.
I love Deliciously Stella sooo much. She is a breath of fresh air in an avocado-saturated world. Here you can find out why you should love her too.
A new blog find! Yay! With a video for apple traybake. And an article on impostor syndrome.
Advice on writing. (And life).
How much do you love Matilda? She is one of my favourite book heroines. There is much being made of 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth this month and this little essay is one commentary, plus this from Sophie Dahl.
Bake-Off has been sold to the highest bidder. And Mel and Sue are leaving. What are we going to do now?
If you are at a loss of things to do, and can afford a trip to the south of France next month, do this please.
Is meat grown in a laboratory kosher?
There is still much work to be done around helping children eat well during school lunchtime.
This video appeared on a friend’s Facebook page and it is just lovely – British bakers in the 1960s. I particularly love the spun sugar and the marzipan-covered cake.
Today (and most of this week) I am in rural Kwa-Zulu Natal. We cooked all weekend. Jen came to stay. Yesterday we went down to Durban and ate fabulous seafood at The Oyster Box Hotel. Today and tomorrow we are simply relaxing, walking the two tiny dogs, and cooking some more.
This cookbook and lasagne recipe.
Chef’s Table explores France! (Super excited. Weekend plans sorted.) Also the review on Eater.
Autumn is approaching (spring is coming where we are currently but will sadly have to leave on Thursday) and this plum tart fits the season perfectly for me.
Jen slow-roasted tomatoes for salad over the weekend. They were divine and lifted the flavours and textures to more interesting heights. Serious Eats tells you how and why you should do this.
Sustainable farming methods to help improve the soil and our climate.
The importance of silence.
The role of the sugar industry in shaping our diets.
Chefs in schools.
Do you get as much satisfaction from zoodles as from noodles?
I finished Early One Morning yesterday. I thoroughly enjoyed it – a tale of women in Rome during the Second World War, which moves forward to the 1970s and back again. I have started The Midnight Queen today (which I found at the airport yesterday).