Sunday, March 16, 2008

Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs

I saw this on Jamie Oliver's show the other day and thought this would be a perfect way to use some of the lamb that I got in this week's meatbox

Recipe from the Jamie Oliver site

1 pound trimmed shoulder or neck fillet of lamb, chopped into 2.5cm chunks
2 heaped tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 level tablespoon ground chilli
1 level tablespoon ground cumin
4 level tablespoons sumac, if you can find any, or finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a good handful of shelled pistachio nuts
a few handfuls of mixed salad leaves, such as romaine or cos, endive and rocket, washed, spun dry and shredded
a small bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
1 red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
1 lemon a bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
extra virgin olive oil
4 large flatbreads or tortilla wraps
4 heaped tablespoons natural yoghurt

Here are the lamb steaks that came in this month's meatbox.

This dish is best cooked on a barbecue over hot coals, but if that’s not possible, put your grill on to its highest setting or heat up a griddle pan. Either way, get your cooking source preheated.

Place the lamb in a food processor with most of the thyme, chilli, cumin and sumac (reserving a little of each for sprinkling over later), the garlic clove, a little salt and pepper and all the pistachios. Put the lid on and keep pulsing until the mixture looks like mince.

Divide the meat into four equal pieces and get yourself four skewers. With damp hands, push and shape the meat around and along each skewer. Press little indents in the meat with your fingers as you go – this will give it a better texture when cooked.

In one bowl, mix the salad leaves and mint. In another, combine the sliced onion with a good pinch of salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice (the acidity will take the edge off and lightly pickle the raw onion). Scrunch this all together with your hands, then mix in the parsley leaves.

Grill the kebabs until nicely golden on all sides. Dress your salad leaves and mint with a splash of extra virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and some salt and pepper. Meanwhile, warm your flatbreads for 30 seconds on your griddle pan or under the grill, then divide between plates and top each with some dressed salad leaves and onion.

When your kebabs are cooked, slip them off their skewers on to the flatbreads – you can leave them whole or break them up as I’ve done here. Sprinkle with the rest of the sumac, cumin, chilli and fresh thyme, and a little salt and pepper. Now either toss the salads, grilled meat and juices together on top of the flatbreads and drizzle with some of the yoghurt before rolling up and serving; or let your friends toss theirs together at the table, then dress and roll up their own, drizzled with some extra virgin olive oil.

I made my favorite spinach raita instead of plain yogurt and this recipe for naan bread, and a liberal squeeze of lemon over everything. It was delicious and we greatly enjoyed our first meal out in the sunny back patio this year.

Spinach Raita with Toasted Cumin

adapted from from 5 Spices, 50 Dishes by Ruta Kahate

Mr. K got this great cookbook a while back and we have made some very good dishes from it. I'd recommend it as another great cookbook offering simple recipes bursting with flavor. This makes the best raita ever!

He also though that the dish needed some color and suggested paprika, so I opened up this amazing smoked Spanish Paprika which added a delicious smoky depth to the bright clean flavors of the raita. It was like no paprika I had ever smelled or tasted before.


4 ounces baby spinach or 5 ounces frozen spinach
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 cup plain whole or low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons minced red onion
3/4 to 1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp finely grated fresh ginger (about 1/2 inch piece)


Rinse the spinach and place in a saucepan with the water still clinging to the leaves. Cover and steam the leaves until tender but still bright green. Place in a strainer to cool and drain. If using frozen spinach, place in a saucepan with 1/4 cup water and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Drain and I did not really cool the spinach much because I wanted it to heat up the raw onion in the yogurt and blend in better.

Toast the cumin seeds in a small skillet over low heat until they turn dark and fragrant. Cool and grind them.

In a small bowl, stir the yogurt together with the onion, salt, ginger and the ground cumin.

Squeeze the spinach to remove excess water and finely chop it. Add this to the yogurt mixture and stir thoroughly. Chill until ready to serve.

Try it as a dip for crudite or as a condiment on grilled meats or curry.

Naan Bread


1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon white sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 egg, beaten
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons minced garlic (optional)
1/4 cup butter, melted


In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy. Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead for 6 to 8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth. Place dough in a well oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and set aside to rise. Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

Punch down dough, and knead in garlic. Pinch off small handfuls of dough about the size of a golf ball. Roll into balls, and place on a tray. Cover with a towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

During the second rising, preheat grill to high heat.

At grill side, roll one ball of dough out into a thin circle.

Lightly oil grill. Place dough on grill, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned.

Brush uncooked side with butter, and turn over. Brush cooked side with butter, and cook until browned, another 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill, and continue the process until all the naan has been prepared.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Slow Cooked Achiote Pork (Cochinita Pibil)

Serves 6, adapted from Rick Bayless' Mexican Everyday

This is Achiote Paste. It is ground annatto seeds mixed with spices, vinegar, salt, garlic, cornmeal that originates from the Yucatan region of Mexico. The red color comes from the annatto seeds which have been used as a dye for fabrics and body paint since pre-Columbian times.

The word Cochinita refers to baby pig, the mayan word pibil means buried. According to Bayless, this dish typically would be a pit-cooked suckling pig, smeared with the uniquely savory achiote seasoning and served with a drizzle of habanero fireworks and the citrus sour of pickled red onion.


Half a 3.5 ounce package achiote seasoning
3/4 cup fresh lime juice (divided use)
1 3-pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
1 large white onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
1about 1/2 cup roasted fresh chile salsa
or bottled habanero hot sauce (such as Yucateco and Frontera brands)

Place the achiote seasoning in a small bowl. Pour in 1/2 cup of the lime juice and 2 teaspoons salt. Then use the back of a spoon to work the mixture into a smooth, thickish marinade.

In a large (6 to 8 quart; at least 12 inch diameter) heavy pot, preferably a dutch oven, place the pork and pour the marinade over and around the roast. Scatter the white onion over the meat, dribbling the water around the meat.

Set the lid in place and braise in a 300 degree oven for about 2-1/2 hours to 3 hours until the pork is thoroughly tender. I used a 4 lb bone in pork shoulder and left the fat on while it cooked. My general rule for this type of roast is to cook it until it falls apart when prodded witha fork. It took more like 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

While the meat is cooking, combine the red onion with the remaining 1/4 cup lime juice in a small bowl. Sprinkle with about 1/2 teaspoon salt, toss and set aside to marinate, stirring from time to time.

Use tongs to transfer the meat (it will easily break into delicious-looking pieces) and onions to dinner plates. Spoon off any rendered fat that's floating in the juices. If there is a lot of brothy sauce -- 2 cups or more -- boil it down to about 1 cup to concentrate the flavors. Taste the sauce and season with salt if you think it needs it, then spoon it over the meat. Top with the lime-marinated red onions, and serve with the salsa or hot sauce -- and plenty of hot tortillas, if that appeals.

My best results were doing the initial cooking, letting it cool overnight in the fridge, scraping up the layer of fat when it is still solid. Then I cooked it on low on the stove top covered, occasionally skimming off fat for another hour before serving.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Abalone Filets Sauteed in Brown Butter

Serves 2

four 1-oz abalone filets

1 stick of unsalted butter

salt and pepper to taste

fresh lemon wedges
chopped fresh parsley

Slowly heat the butter in a saucepan on low until it foams, turns golden brown and a layer of scum forms on top, taking care not to let it burn or get too dark. Take this off the heat and skim off the top layer. Let cool for a few minutes to allow solids to settle at the bottom, then strain the mixture through a fine sieve or cheesecloth.

Rinse the abalone in water, pat dry and salt and pepper both sides.

Heat this mixture in a saute pan until foaming and gently slide the abalone into the pan, cook for 30-40 seconds on each side.

Remove from pan, squeeze generously with lemon and sprinkle with parsley. Eat immediately.

Abalone filets with Parmesan Macadamia Coating

I made these delicious fried abalone filets with macadamia coating (on the right side). This makes enough for 2 appetizer portions.

four -1 ounce abalone filets (I ordered them online from an abalone farm)

for the egg coating:

2 egg whites
1/2 clove garlic, finely minced or smashed through the garlic press

nut coating
1/2 cup shaved parmesan
1/4 cup raw unsalted macadamia nuts, chopped finely
2 tblspn chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

2 cups vegetable oil for frying (or enough to fill the saute pan 1/2 deep)

fresh lemon wedges
  1. Mix the egg whites and garlic in a small bowl. Combine the ingredients for the nut coating in a wide bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a saute pan on medium heat.
  3. Thoroughly coat the filet in the egg mixture and give it a good shake to remove excess. Place on nut mixture and press down firmly, pick up and turn over, pressing firmly into the mixture. I scooped up some of the mixture and sprinkled over areas that lacked the coating. Shake to remove excess coating.

4. Gently slide into the oil, frying until the coating is golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove and place on paper towels to drain. Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges.