Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Amazing Slow Roasted Lamb

When asked recently what my favourite meal is I didn’t immediately have the answer. After putting some serious consideration into it, I didn’t come up with a definitive answer, but an awesome roast lamb is certainly in my top 3. A perfectly roasted lamb shoulder, with roast potatoes and a red wine gravy, hell yeah.

There’s a couple of tricks to getting the most out of a lamb roast. Firstly, get a cut with the bone in, a shoulder or leg is perfect. The bone carries a lot of flavour and the meat around the bones is generally more interesting. Secondly, be sure to err on the side of less time than more, dry lamb is terrible. Finally, don’t skimp on the meat. Getting aged lamb isn’t particularly easy, but generally the better the butcher, the better the meat. Look for a good covering of a nice clean, white fat on the meat.


  • 1 x good size lamb leg or shoulder on the bone.
  • 4 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter


Leave the lamb on the bench for a few hours prior to cooking to let it come up to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 220.  Mix the spices and oil together in a bowl to form a paste. Rub the paste on the outside of the lamb especially on the top, fatty side. Place the lamb in a roasting dish and cook for 25 minutes. Cover the lamb with a tinfoil, lower the temperature of the oven to 120 and cook for 4 hours. An hour before serving, use a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature of the lamb. The temperature should be close to 77. If it’s below 73, increase the temperature of the oven to 180 and uncover to finish it off.

Half an hour before serving, take the meat out of the oven, wrap it in tinfoil and cover with a folded tea-towel and leave to rest. Retain the juice in the roasting dish for gravy.

Finally, when carving, retain the juices and and them to the roasting dish juices.

Gravy or Sauce

This recipe is not exactly a gravy, more of a jus or sauce. Take all of the retained juices from the pan and carving and either use the roasting pan or a big frying pan. Heat it up to a hard boil. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Lower the heat to a simmer and add plenty of salt, pepper and the butter. Let the sauce cook down to a slightly thick sauce and serve.

Thanks to Meat and Livestock Australia for a recent masterclass on cooking lamb. It helped quantify some of the method I’ve been using for a long time.


I’m Turning Vegetarian

Well ok, I’m not. That title is just a sensational attention grabbing headline. But, this week’s dinners are going to be pretty much exclusively vegetarian. The only meat products we bought at the market today were 2 snapper and some bacon (for breakfast.) We are also trying to step away from our regular carbohydrates of pasta and mashed potato and experiment with a few other “fillers.” There’s going to be beans, lentils, quinoa and perhaps some barley. I’m going to try and avoid rice as well, but I think that’s probably unlikely due to the likelihood of atleast a couple of curries.

Why you ask? Well I think our cooking revolves too much around pasta and stewy casseroles. I love them, but it’s pretty unimaginative and uncreative so placing some restrictions on the menu should help us think outside the box.

Anyway, what recipes do you suggest?

Spanish Style Pasta Sauce Recipe

I’m a pasta fiend. It’s my go to meal, a bit like a pizza I don’t care it’s vegetarian, meat lover, bolognese or in this case spanish style. This was a really quick light lunch – a lazy man’s paella. I was also trying to use up a heap of home-grown tomatoes, but you could easily replace with whole-tinned tomatoes.

Spanish PastaIngredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2kg quartered tomatoes
  • 1 hot chorizo
  • 2 roughly chopped cloves garlic
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch of saffron
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 300gm pasta – preferrably tubes, spirals or shells
  • parmesan


Slice the chorizo and fry it in a good amount of olive oil. Add the garlic and when it is fragrant, add the tomatoes and cook until they are soft. Mash them with the back of your spoon and add the paprika, saffron, salt, pepper and the stock. Put the pasta on to cook. Stir the sauce and cook on medium heat. When the pasta is al dente, strain and add to the sauce and cook for a few minutes.

Serve and drizzle with a bit of extra virgin and a small sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Roast Chicken stuffed with Lemon, Garlic and Fennel

Roast chicken is one of the easiest yet mind blowing dishes you can make. Almost impossible to break and due to the limited number of variables, great to experiment with. The most important thing is the chicken. Grab a small free-range chicken, they are a bit smaller but much tastier than fattened battery chickens. There are basically 2 parts of roasting a chicken, the rub and the stuffing.

The trick with the rub is salt, salt is what crisps up the skin and gives it that unique texture, you then add other flavours to it to enhance the taste. Simple and effective.

Roast Chicken

Chicken Rub Recipe

  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • lemon juice

Using a mortar and pestle grind ample salt, a touch of pepper and paprika to taste down to a fine powder, add a splash of olive oil and lemon juice and beat with a fork. Ensure there is enough to cover rub into the whole chicken, and if more is needed add lemon juice and salt.

Rub this into the skin of the chicken and make sure there is none left over, the more the merrier. Make sure you do this in the roasting dish as the chicken should cook in the extra rub.

Stuffing Recipe

  • lemon, halved then sliced
  • fennel, diced roughly
  • garlic, chopped roughly
  • breadcrumbs

Ensure that there isn’t too big chunks of anything and combine in a mixing bowl. Stuff the cavity with the stuffing.

Cooking Instructions

Cook in fan-forced oven at 170 for 1 hour (more for a larger bird). Check after about 40 minutes and if the skin is a nice dark colour, cover with tin foil. After an hour poke a skewer into the breast and under the leg and ensure the fluid runs clear.

Bonus Gravy

Depending on how much breadcrumbs was in your stuffing and how much rub you used after cooking the chicken there should be an extremely tasty, glutinous gravy in the bottom of the pan. Over a low heat, add water and, a touch of salt and a dob of butter and stir until it combines.

Spicy Tomato and Basil Soup Recipe

This post is part of an ongoing series about dinner ideas.

A newfound source of super flavoursome Doncaster tomatoes inspired this recipe at a recent dinner party. I peeled the tomatoes myself, but you could just as easily use tinned whole tomatoes. I also don’t have a blender so just cooked this down and mashed the tomatoes with a potato masher and cooked the tomato skins down in a small amount of water to turn them to paste.

Spicy Tomato and Basil Soup

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, finely chopped
  • celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small chilli, finely chopped
  • 1kg juicy tomatoes
  • 500mL of vegetable stock
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • large handful of fresh basil, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons of raw sugar
  • sour cream


Peel the tomatoes by submersing in boiling water for 2 minutes and then transfer them to a bowl of cold water. The skin on the larger tomatoes will easily peel off while the smaller ones will need to be helped with the aid of a knife. Save the skin and blend them to paste.

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook until soft, add the celery and chilli and cook for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes and blend them roughly with a hand blender. How smooth you want the stock is a matter of preference, I personally prefer it to be pretty chunky for a nice mouth texture. Finally stir the tomato paste, sugar and basil into the soup.

Simmer the fluid for as long as is practical, this should reduce the fluid to a nice thick soup.

Garnish with a fresh basil leaf and a dollop of sour cream.

Wine Pairing

Sangiovese and Barbera always go well with strong tomato sauces and soap. However, in this case with the spicy flavours in this soup it will pair perfectly with a peppery medium-aged Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.

Thai Green Curry Recipe

This post is part of an ongoing series about dinner ideas.

Thai restaurants seem to be everywhere in Australia, ranging from the finest dining experiences to cheap $6 curries for lunch and takeaway dinner. The popularity of this style of food stems from the fact it is full of flavour and caters to a variety of palates and requirements. Gluten free, vegetarian, seafood, spicey or mild are all very easy to achieve without any compromise to the quality of the flavours.

In a similar vain, it is easy to cook an authentic Thai curry yourself, at home, with minimal fuss. Forget about the pre-packaged ready-made stir through sauces, all a great tasting green curry requires is nothing more than a heap of really fresh veges, a bit of meat, a tin of coconut milk, curry paste and a few spices.
Thai Green Curry


  • A few tablespoons of green curry paste
  • 200 ml tin of coconut milk
  • 2-3 Kaffir lime leaves
  • Handful of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small red capsicum, diced
  • 1 small green capsicum, diced
  • handful of green beans
  • 400g of the diced meat of your choice (preferably pork, chicken or prawns)
  • 10 grams of palm sugar
  • 200 ml or vegetable or stock of the meat of your choice
  • Chilli to taste


Start by frying the curry paste in vegetable oil until you can smell it, add the coconut milk, Kaffir lime and palm sugar. Once the palm sugar has desolved, add the meat and cook over a low heat until meat is mostly cooked, add the stock and all vegetables and simmer for a further 10 minutes. Serve on long grain rice.

The trick to making this is making sure not to overcook the vegetables, the low heat means you don’t need to worry so much about overcooking the meat as it should remain juicy regardless.

Wine Pairing

While I very rarely recommend people to drink the most citrusy of sauvignon blancs, the tangy lime flavours will be tempered quite nicely by the spice of the curry and blend quite nicely with the slight citrus flavour brought through by the Kaffir lime. Gewurztraminer almost always stands up well to the often overpowering flavours of curry and spice and this will be no exception.

Dinner Ideas

Great dinner ideas are hard to find, often recipes are too complex, time consuming or just plain over the top. The problem I have is that I cook the same thing over and over, forget about it in 3 weeks and then start cooking something else over and over. So, hopefully to combat this never-ending story I’m going to compile a list of all these dinner ideas and post the recipes. What does this all have to do with an aching head, you ask? Any of these go perfectly with a bottle of Riesling, Pinot Noir, Beer or a number of other poisons. All you have to do is drink.