recipes for healthy living

Category: Mains

Slow (Slow) Roast Leg of Lamb and a Strawberry Tart

Strawberry Tarts

Strawberry Syrup Ii

Roasted Leg of Lamb

Lamb Platter

St Patrick’s Day fell really nicely this year resulting in a long weekend with a Bank Holiday Monday. With my (big) family invited over for lunch it was important not to waste too much time in the kitchen cooking so I settled for an easy slow roast leg of lamb. Actually it was 1 and a 1/2 legs of lamb as it was a big gang and it was perfect for what turned out to be a cold and wet St. Patrick’s Day. I covered the lamb in the herb and garlic rub the previous day and slow roasted in the oven for nearly 8 hours it was meltingly tender and falling off the bone. As simple dish of minted peas and a large dish of gratin potatoes made a meal which resulted in the plates nearly licked clean! Anchovies, garlic and rosemary are a classic combination (not made up by me, I have to say, though I have no idea of where I first got this) and I raided Donna Hay for Dessert but added my own twist on a strawberry syrup with the addition of Chambord and a reduction in the amount of sugar. Both these recipes were crowd pleasers to which I definitely will return.

Slow Roast Leg of Lamb
For each leg of lamb
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and sliced lengthways into thin slivers
Marinade made from:-
1 small 50gm can anchovies chopped finely
About 2 large sprigs of rosemary chopped finely
4 large garlic cloves peeled and mashed
75ml olive oil

During cooking
1/2 bottle white wine / water if preferred
Preheat the oven to 150C.

Place a trivet of vegetables into your roasting pan (onions, carrots, unpeeled garlic a few sprigs of thyme and rosemary) and drizzle over a little oil.
With a small sharp knife, make a load of incisions in the fleshy side of the leg and Insert into each a thin slice garlic.
Combine the rest of the ingredients and rub well all over the meat.
Grind over plenty of black pepper. Place the lamb in a roasting pan and pour some water into the base and about half the wine.
Cover with foil, Put in the oven and roast for 6 hours – up to 8 hours until meltingly tender and falling off the bone.
Check from time to time and add water / wine if the bottom is dry.
Remove the meat out of the oven and leave to rest in a warm place for at about 10 minutes before shredding apart.
Keep the meat warm while you finish the gravy.
Taste the juices and see if any salt is necessary— probably not because of the anchovies.
Drain the fat off the juices, and mash all the veggies into the left over juices
Sprinkle in a little flour if it’s very thin and mix well to cook out.
Strain through a sieve mashing to extract as much as possible of the juice.
Serve a big platter of lamb with a dish of minted peas, some gratin potatoes and the gravy.

Strawberry Mascarpone Tart (Donna Hay)
2 x 300g punnets strawberries, hulled and halved
200g plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tablespoon caster (superfine) sugar
100g cold butter, chopped
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

750g mascarpone cheese
50g icing sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tbsp preserved lemon syrup
125ml cream whipped to gentle peaks

Strawberry syrup
1 300g punnet fresh strawberries
50g caster (superfine) sugar
1 tablespoon water
3 tbsp Chambord / Framboise
To make the Strawberry syrup, place the berries, sugar, water and chambord in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to the boil and cook for 5 minutes or so until it starts to reduce. Mash the straberries a bit in order to extract maximum flavour. Strain the syrup and allow to cool.

Place the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor and process until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg and vanilla and process in short bursts until the pastry just comes together. Add a few tbsp of ice cold water if needed. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and work quickly with your hands to form a ball. Flatten the pastry, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 180°C . Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 3mm (f in) thick. Line a 24cm (9in) round fluted tart tin or 6 mini tins with the pastry, trim the edges and prick the base with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Line the pastry with baking paper, fill with baking weights and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and weights and bake for a further 5-8 minutes or until golden. Bake for 10 and 3 minutes approx if using the small tin sizes. Set aside to cool.

Place the mascarpone, preserved lemon syryup and vanilla in a bowl and beat to combine and loosen the mascarpone.
Fold the cream into the mascarpone and spoon into the tart shell and smooth the top. Arrange the strawberries on the tart and drizzle with the syrup. Serves 8.

Spring Flowers

Pumpkin gnocchi

Tray of Gnocchi

I have had 2 cans of pumpkin puree in the press since Halloween, bought with great intentions, but sitting unused ever since. Every time I opened the press they were sitting there looking at me saying ‘Oi, what about that pumpkin pie you were going to make’. The time had passed to make the pie so I had to think of something else. The cold weather we have inspired this Pumpkin Gnocchi, based on a recipe for traditional recipe, paired with chorizo and absolutely delicious. Now I only have one can left……….

Pumpkin Gnocchi with Chorizo
Makes about 48 small pieces

60gr butter
350gr starchy potatoes
350gr pumpkin puree
40gr grated Parmesan
70gr all purpose gluten free flour
¼ tsp grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
1 egg yolk

Oven at 180C
Bake potatoes until they soft and skins are crispy
Allow to cool slightly and scoop flesh into a bowl
Add the pumpkin puree and mash until smooth
Add parmesan, flour salt & pepper and Nutmeg
Add the egg yolk and stir until the mixture comes together into a soft dough.
Divide the dough into 4 and roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface into a log about 1.5cm in diameter
Cut into 2 cm pieces and place on a lightly floured tray
Cook the gnocchi, in batches, in a large pan of salted water for about 3 minutes until firm and floating on the surface.

To serve – Per person
1 oz diced chorizo
4-5 pieces of gnocchi

To Serve: heat 1 tbsp olive oil over a medium heat and add the diced chorizo and fry until it starts to release its oil. Remove an keep warm, Add a further tbsp oil and when hot, add the gnocchi and fry until golden and crispy. Season and toss back in the chorizo and toss gently to combine.

Serving of Gnocchi

Beef & Eggs…


A hungry husband after the overnight from New York, devoured this Ottolenghi inspired dish, the first time I made it. Eggs are really popular in our house, add meat and you are guaranteed a bonus!. Perfect for a brunch with a gang as you could get 2 pans on the go and feed a good crowd of people with this tasty filling dish. Perfect filler with protein and good fats – would be a great option before a night or after a walk on St. Stephens Day.

Feeds 2 normally – fed 1 hungry husband on this occasion.
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
½ tsp flaked chilli
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
300g minced beef
6 small plum tomatoes cut in half
4 eggs
¾ tsp sumac
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and pepper

Add the oil to a pan over a medium heat. Tip in the onion, garlic, chilli, paprika and cumin and cook for about 5 minutes to soften and colour a bit. Add the minced beef, 1 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper and brown well, about 8 minutes, stirring, on high heat. Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes. Make 4 small wells into the mix and break an egg into each. Cook the eggs for a few minutes, and then you can either finish by putting a lid on and cooking for about 8 minutes more or popping into the oven to finish, when cooked the yolks will look a bit cloudy. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with sumac and finish with the parsley and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at once with some flat breads. Delicious!


Pan Fried Halibut with Olive Tapenade & Beans

Pan Fried Halibut

This is a simple tasty dish which can be put together in less than 10 minutes. There are great shop bought tapenade’s available from farmer’s markets and the like which add a lovely zing to the dish. The halibut stands up well to this where as more delicate fish might be overpowered. Full of heart healthy fats, carotenoids and flavenoids from the beans and tapenade and not a potato in sight!

Serves 2
2 pieces of Halibut – check for pin bones, dry with some kitchen roll and season
4 Handfuls of green beans, trimmed.
2 tbsp olive tapenade loosened with 2 tbsp of olive oil

Oven at 180C
Bring a small pot of salted water to the boil and blanch the beans for 1.5 minutes.
Tip them straight into ice water to seal the colour and stop the cooking.
Drain and set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp of rapeseed oil in a hot oven proof pan and place the halibut into the pan, skin side down.
Keeping the pan quite hot, allow the skin to crisp, dont move the fish around the pan.
After about 3-4 minutes place pan into the oven to finish the cooking, depending on the thickness of the fish about 6 minutes.
Take pan out of the oven and remove the fish to a warm plate.
Tip beans into pan to warm through for a minute or 2.
Arrange the beans on top of serving plates, drizzle over the tapenade.
Place fish onto beans and finish with a little more of the tapenade.
Serve and Enjoy!

North Indian Chicken Curry

My time spent at Dublin Cookery School learning both Indian and Thai curry flavors opened the world of great spicing to me and there are some of my favourite cuisines to experiment with. This is one of my favourite home style curries, so named because it is easy to prepare and can be reheated the next day and tastes even better. You just can’t go wrong with this curry. Best cooked with free range chicken and I prefer on the bone, though not everyone likes the skin left on during cooking. The final step of adding the chopped ginger at the end is courtesy of my time spent with Sunil of Ananda, just about my favourite Indian restaurant in Dublin.

North Indian Style Chicken Curry
Serves 4
1.25lbs chicken in 1” cubes or
the same weight in chicken on the bone cut into pieces
100ml veg oil
1 bay leaf
Spice mix made from 5 green cardamoms, 1” cinnamon stock, 1 tsp black peppercorns, 1 star anise, 2 tsp cuimin seeds and 4 cloves – pounded together in your Mortar & Pestle
½ lb onions finely sliced
1 tbsp Ginger Garlic Paste
1 ½ tsp each of ground coriander, turmeric, red chilli powder
4oz canned tomatoes, juice drained
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 ½ tsp salt
Enough water to cover

To Finish
1 tsp Garam Masala
2 tbsp chopped coriander
1 tbsp finely chopped finely

Heat the oil in a pot and add the pounded spices and the bay leaf. Stir till the spices release their aromas and start to crackle. Be careful not to burn as they will be bitter if they do. Tip in the onions and cook will golden brown then add the garlic ginger paste and stir continuously. Add a little water if it starts to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the powdered spices and stir quickly, add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, salt and stir to combine. Tip in the chicken and enough water to cover everything.
Cook on a slow heat stirring slowly occasionally.
As the tomatoes melt to form a sauce, add water if you need it to keep everything covered. Cook for about 20 – 25 minutes until the chicken is almost fully cooked.
Sprinkle in the Garam Masala and finish cooking the chicken. Just before serving sprinkle in the chopped coriander and ginger which add a delicious dimension of taste. Serve with some basmati rice or my delicious sweet potato rotis.

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