Category Archives: Recipes

Tangy pear and mint sorbet recipe

Here’s a recipe for a delicious original sorbet I made up last night.

sorb.jpg

Ingredients

1 x 800gr tin of halved pears in juice (not syrup).
100gr of sweetened condensed skim milk.
50ml Southern Comfort (optional).
I handful of finely chopped mint.
3 lemons juiced.
1 tbls glucose (this stops the sorbet from freezing into a solid ice block)

Method

To ensure quick foolproof churning in your ice-cream maker, it’s best if all the ingredients (except for the condensed milk and glucose) are chilled over night before using.  The lemon juice can be frozen.

Place all the contents of the tin of pears into a food processor and puree.  While the food processor is running add the other ingredients to the pears to combine. Once all the ingredients have been completely pureed, empty the food processor contents into the ice-cream maker and churn until your machine stops.  Place the churned sorbet in the freezer for a few hours firm up it’s consistancy. If the sorbet is too hard to scoop, just let it sit for a while before serving.

This post was first posted on the 11th of January 2008

Australia Day dessert. 2010

I had a bunch of friends over for a dinner on the eve of Australia Day, which is 26th of January for all you non-Aussies.

The idea behind Australia Day is that it commemorates the landing of the first fleet at Sydney Cove in 1788.  Needless to say, one man’s meat is another’s poison and some Aboriginals call the 26th, “Invasion Day”. Fair enough, but to be honest the average Aussie takes the opportunity to have the day off to drink and feast without much thought or reflection on the matter.

Like all young nations, Australia is still struggling with it’s sense of identity. For instance there isn’t what could be called an Australian cuisine in the sense of how the Italians can claim to have a national food culture  that is recognisably theirs.

So it was with these nebulous feelings of being culturally adrift that I started to think about what I was going to serve for dinner. It is generally accepted by many people here in Oz that lamb will be eaten on Australia Day, so the main course was a no-brainer. Trouble was, lamb is eaten by lots of other cultures and it’s not exclusively Australian. How was I going to put an intrinsically Australian stamp on my dinner?

When I studied design we were told to always research a theme before we put pen to paper, and it was with that advice that I approached making my interpretation of an Aussie dessert.

My first thought was about what foods are uniquely Australian or at least grew here before colonisation. As everyone knows, Australia was inhabited by Aboriginals before European settlement and about the only uniquely native food that they collected, that has gained international acceptance is the macadamia nut. Coconuts also occur naturally up north in the tropical areas, so I thought they and the macadamia nuts would be a good start.

I also thought about some of the incidents in Australian history that have shaped our collective sense of who we are. 

The early history of Australia as an English penal settlement is peppered with stories of convict misery and the corruption of the NSW Corps (the low quality semi-criminal soldiers sent from England to manage the prisoners), which became known as the “Rum Corps” and who were involved in the “Rum Rebellion”. So rum had to be in the list of ingredients as well.

For the first 100 years of white history in Australia, most Australians saw themselves as de facto English and were only too happy to jump into whatever wars England was participating in. One of the biggest military blunders of the First World War was Churchill’s decision to send Australian and New Zealand troops (known as ANZACS which is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) with the British Army to Attack the Turks. Thanks to criminal ineptitude on the behalf of the British navy, the ANZACS were landed on the wrong beach at the base of some fairly steep cliffs. This tactical blunder was further compounded by the incredibly poor British army leadership that delayed movement of the soldiers off the beach for so long that the Turks were able to send reinforcements and pin the ANZACS and the British soldiers down on the beach at Gallipoli for almost a year. The disaster at Gallipoli is seen by many Australians and New Zealanders as the watershed moment of our respective senses of nationhood.

Being the willing cannon fodder for the British had lost it’s appeal.

During WWI, the wives, mothers and sisters of the colonial expeditionary forces would send packages which often contained food, to their loved ones overseas in the war. A common food in those boxes of love from home were sweet, buttery oatmeal and coconut biscuits (probably based on traditional Scottish oatmeal biscuits) called ANZAC biscuits.

By the way, when I use the word biscuit, it should be interpreted as “cookie” by North Americans. What North Americans call biscuits, we English speakers call scones.

As I thought about the ANZAC biscuits I remembered when I was a child, a friend of my grandmother, Phyllis Budd, used to make a variation of an old Victorian era dessert out of ginger-snap biscuits and whipped cream.  The biscuits were coated on either side with whipped cream and put together to make a log. The biscuits and cream were left over night and the moisture from the cream moved from the cream to biscuits to soften them and as a result, the cream thickened to a ricotta cheese consistancy.   

I used to love visiting Phyllis.

Here’s the recipe for what I came up with.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 cup desiccated coconut (I use McKenzie’s “Moist flakes” for better flavour and texture) 
1 1/4 cup brown sugar
190g (almost 7oz) butter 
6 tbs golden syrup (you can substitute 2 tbs of treacle) 
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 cups of  fresh cream
1 cup of coconut cream
2 cups of roughly broken up unsalted macadamia nuts (if you can’t get unsalted nuts; wash salted ones)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup Rum (I use Bundaberg Rum because it’s so quintessentially Australian, in a bad way!)
1 block of dark chocolate (I use Gold’s organic, fair trade 70% coca chocolate)
Baking paper
Several A4 or foolscap sheets of heavy card or paper (about 200 gsm or so)
Sticky tape.

Method

Start this recipe two days before you serve.

Soak the raisins in the rum, over night in the fridge, on the  day before you start this recipe.

The day before you serve.

Preheat your oven to 160C (320F).

Melt the chocolate in a bain marie and pipe it out in 10 abstract grids onto a flat portable surface covered in baking paper that will fit into your freezer. Place them in your freezer while you deal with the rest of the ingredients.

Combine the oats, desiccated coconut and brown sugar in a large mixing bowl. Melt the butter and mix in 3 tablespoons of golden syrup or 1 tablespoon of treacle at low heat. When the butter is completely melted add the bicarbonate of soda. The bicarbonate of soda will cause the butter to froth up so mix it in quickly and pour the combined ingredients onto the dry ingredients in your bowl to combine.

On a large baking tray (I used 300mm x 450mm or about 12″ x 18″) lined with baking paper, evenly roll out the biscuit dough until it covers the whole tray. This operation will be easier to perform if you cover the dough with another layer of baking paper. Remove the top layer of baking paper and place the tray with the dough in the oven for 13 minutes or until the biscuit just begins to turn a light brown. DO NOT cook the biscuits for too long as they will become too crisp.

The sheet of biscuit will still be quite soft after cooking but don’t worry as it will firm up  as they cool down. While the sheet of cooked biscuit is still warm use a 6cm or 2 1/2″  biscuit/cookie cutter to cut out 24 ANZAC biscuits.

While the biscuits are cooling down, make a tube of baking paper 9cm or 3 1/2″ high by wrapping it around your biscuit cutter and then wrap the same size of heavy paper around the baking paper to reinforce it. Make a total 8 of these tubes.

Place the Macadamia nuts in a folded tea towel (dish drying cloth) and break them up into large pieces with a rolling pin. Place the nuts under a grill until they begin to go brown. Keep an eye on the nuts as they brown quickly and can burn in a surprisingly short time.

Whip up the cream and slowly add 3 tablespoons of golden syrup or 1 tablespoon of treacle as you go. As the cream starts to thicken, add the coconut cream until until it is well mixed in.

In a large airtight container with a sheet of baking paper in the bottom, place your paper tubes on their ends and sprinkle a some macadamia nuts into them. Then place about 2 tablespoons of the whipped cream mixture into each of the tubes on top of the nuts. The next step is to  drop a biscuit into each tube and push it down until a little cream comes out of the bottom of the tubes (just so you know there aren’t any big air pockets).

Next you add the same amount of cream again.  On top of the cream drop 3 or 4 rum soaked raisins. Don’t go overboard with the raisins as rum will be the only thing you will taste.

The idea of the raisins it that they are a little hidden surprise and not the main event.

On top of the raisins and cream drop another ANZAC biscuit and push it down to flatten out the cream underneath. More cream and raisins are added again on top of the ANZAC biscuit. Again this layer of cream and raisins is topped with what will be the last ANZAC biscuit (3 ANZAC biscuits are used for each dessert).  

Spoon some more cream on the top ANZAC biscuit and then sprinkle some more macadamia nuts on very top of everything. Push the nuts down a little into the cream to level it all off (I used the tamper from my espresso machine).

Push the lid onto the airtight container with all the desserts in it, and put it into your fridge overnight. 

Just before you serve your desserts take them out of the airtight container with a spatular so you don’t squash or loose your desserts through the bottom of the tubes.

Place the tubes onto the plates that you will serve them on and carefully cut off the paper tubes with a sharp knife. I used an exacto knife to cut through the sticky tape holding the tubes together.

The last step is to carefully and quickly (so they don’t melt in your fingers) push the chocolate grids into the top of the desserts. If you like, you can put some passionfruit pulp around the dessert as a tasty garnish.

Here’s an amusing video by the talented American comic Rich Hall in the guise of his much convicted uncle Otis Lee Crenshaw, about Bundaberg Rum.

[youtube CIB6JGwADOo]

THIS, is a lemon! Roast lemon chicken with Sicilian olivies recipe.

When we first moved into our house, my wife Engogirl, declared that we MUST get a lemon tree. I said I didn’t want one because I thought it would take up too much room and I wouldn’t have that much use for the fruit. Engogirl insisted, so her mother bought us a Meyer lemon tree. Since my mother in law isn’t someone you want to get on the wrong side of and it pleases me to see my wife happy, I did as I was told and planted the tree.

It took about 3 years before we got any lemons but when we finally did, I was stunned at how good they were. The lemons are almost sweet enough to eat without any sugar added and the skins are fairly thin and a deep yellow.

This is a lemon

Our little tree (it’s only about 180cm or about 6ft) now produces about 60 to 80 lemons a year, all year round. The great thing about lemons is that you can leave them on the tree for about three months after they are ready to eat and you just pick them as you need them. That way they are always fresh and I don’t have to worry about them going off. Any lemons that I can’t use, I juice and make ice cubes with to cook with later. I usually cook something with lemon at least once a week.

There ain’t going to be any scurvy on my watch!

Here’s one of my favourite recipes (I’ve made this so many times) that I cooked for some friends last Friday night. The recipe originally comes from “Delicious” magazine (this magazine is fantastic has totally changed, for the better,  the way I cook) and it’s by Belinda Jeffery.

Roast lemon chicken with Sicilian olives.
Serves 4

Ingredients

Olive oil
4 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves
1 heaped tablespoon of thyme leaves and 8 sprigs
8 skinless chicken thigh cutlets (I use fillets)
Plain flour to dust
2 lemons, scrubbed, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 and a half cups (375ml) of chicken stock
1 table spoon of chopped preserved lemon rind (you can get this from food stores catering to Arabs)
24 Sicilian olives or any other large green olive.

 Method

Preheat your oven to 190C (375F).

Fry the sliced onion, garlic and thyme in the olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion is a light golden colour (about 20 minutes). In the meantime dust the chicken in flour. When the onion is cooked turn up the heat to medium high and fry the chicken on both sides in the same pan for about four minutes a side until it’s golden.

Lay the cooked onion in a casserole dish and arrange the chicken on top. Then overlap the sliced lemon over top of the chicken. Heat up the chicken stock and chopped preserved lemon rind until it boils and then pour it into the pan the chicken was cooked in to deglaze the pan. Pour the contents of the deglazed pan around the chicken and place the dish in the oven for 50 minutes uncovered. Baste with the stock a few times while it’s cooking. After cooking for 50 minutes spread the olives over the lemon and cook for another 30 minutes (don’t think you can toss the olives in earlier to take a short cut, because they will burn and go black).

I serve this dish on a bed of cous cous that I mix lightly steamed asparagus into. For wine to go with this meal I recommend a lightly chilled soave.

By the way I didn’t adjust this shot to make the lemon look more saturated (as you can tell by my pasty winter complexion).  

I hae meat tha ye can eat! The perfect roast pork recipe.

I had some friends over for dinner on Friday night to help celebrate my birthday (which was the day before).

the usual suspects

For the main course we had a pork roast stuffed with mushrooms. The pork was cooked in a kettle barbeque over charcoal and served with a potato and celeriac mash and also with roast carrots and beets. For dessert we had an orange and almond cake served with quince and sherry ice cream, topped with a marmalade and Gran Marnier sauce. All home made.

I have to say, that the pork was absolutely perfect and here’s how I prepared it.

Serves 10

Ingredients

A large deboned pork loin with the belly and skin (check with your butcher as you might have to order this a few days ahead). The piece I used weighed about 4kg (about 8.8 lbs)
1kg (2.2lbs) of mushrooms (I used about half field mushrooms and half rehydrated mixture of porcini and chantrells)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of chopped fresh thyme
Zest of 4 lemons
1 cup of salt
2 tbs of fennel seeds

Method

Prepare the pork by using a box cutter (or any other type of razor in a safety handle) to cut thin strips about 7mm (about  1/4″) deep and about 7mm wide into the skin.

Roughly chop up the mushrooms and fry with the garlic and thyme until the mushrooms begin to brown.  When the mushrooms are cooked season with salt and pepper, then add the lemon zest and remove from the heat.

Lay out the pork, skin side down  and use a very sharp knife to cut a pocket into the loin (the large solid piece of meat at the end)and stuff it with about half of the mushrooms. Spread the rest of the mushrooms on the belly (the flat flap hanging off the loin).

Roll up the pork into a log and tie up with cooking string. Then rub olive oil all over the skin. With a mortar and pestle, grind up the fennel seeds with the salt and rub the mixture well into the cuts in the skin of the pork. Cover the pork and put to one side so it can warm up to room temperature.

In the meantime get your barbeque ready. Load up the charcoal trays up high to make a hot fire. It usually takes about an hour for the charcoal to be ready to cook with after it has been lit, which gives the pork time to warm up a little. Don’t start to cook until all the fuel is coved in a thin layers of white ash. If you don’t have a kettle barbeque you can use an oven at 180 C or about 375 F.

The best way to calculate how long to cook the roast (this works for the oven and barbeque) is to lay the pork down and measure how high the end sits above the surface that it is laying on. You cook the roast 1 minute for every millimetre. For example, my roast sat 140mm high so I cooked it for 140 minutes.

When your roast is cooked, take it out of the heat and let it sit for 30minutes. Don’t cover the meat with a non breathable material like foil because it will trap the steam and make the crackling go soft.

This roast was PERFECT

Macadamia nut tart

Sorry for not posting much stuff lately. I’ve been pretty busy with real life and the socializing that it involves. Yesterday I had some friends over for a churrasco (Brazilian barbeque) and I made a macadamia nut tart for dessert.

Macadamia nut tart

 So in the hope that you will forgive me for my tardiness, here’s the recipe.

 Ingredients

Pastry

225gr (1 and half cups) of plain flour
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
125gr (1/4lb) unsalted butter
2 egg yolks

Filling

5 egg yolks
200gr (7oz) caster sugar
2 tablespoons of corn flour or you can use custard powder
600ml (2 and a half cups) of light sour cream (it has half the fat of normal sour cream and there is enough fat in this thing)
2 teaspoons of vanilla paste (or vanilla extract)
200gr (7oz) of macadamia nuts. Toasted and roughly crushed.

Method

Pastry

Combine the flour, sugar, and butter in a food processor until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add one egg yolk and process until it turns into a ball of dough. Roll out in so it will fill the bottom and side of a 25cm (about 9 and a half inches) greased flan tin.  Line in pastry dough with baking paper and fill with weight (like rice or dried beans) and blind bake for about 30 minutes at 200C (390F).  When the pastry is cooked, take out the weight and paper and brush the pastry with the other egg yolk  and bake for another 5 minutes (this water proofs the pastry and stops it getting soggy when the filling is put in).

Filling

Heat the sour cream until hot but not boiling. In the meantime mix up the egg yolks and corn flour with the sugar in a bowl. Pour the hot sour cream over the egg yolk mixture and when it is combined return it the saucepan and heat over low heat, continually stirring until it thickens. Take care that you don’t boil the mixture.  Just before you pour the filling out, mix in the vanilla paste.

Place half the nuts in the pastry and pour the filling over them. Sprinkle the rest of the nuts over the top of the filling. Chill the tart in the fridge and serve cold. The tart goes well with frozen yoghurt and a berry coulis (I made blueberry one yesterday).

Spongati cake recipe from 1820

This is an updated version of a spongati cake recipe by Ivan Day. Day got the recipe from William Jarrin’s “The Italian Confectioner” which was first printed in 1820. The cake is sort of like an English mince tart but in my opinion, much better.

Ingredients

For the pastry

225gr (8oz) plain flour
50gr (2oz) caster sugar (I use pure icing sugar)
100gr (4oz) unsalted butter (the Danish brand, Lurpak is excellent)
3 egg yolks

For the filling

115gr (4oz) white bread crumbs
115gr (4oz) walnuts
20gr (2/3oz) currants
20gr (2/3oz) pine nuts
450gr (1lb) honey (I use macadamia honey)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg
Icing sugar to dust the finished cake

Method

Preheat the oven to 150C (300F)

Sift the flour and sugar. Chop up the butter into small cubes and mix with
the flour, sugar and egg yolks until you get a breadcrumb like, consistency
(I did this all in a food processor). Roll the mixture into a ball and chill
for about an hour or so. I always rush this step and it makes the pastry
more difficult to control (it splits and cracks) when it’s rolled out, and
on a side note, in Jarrin’s original recipe he says to let it sit in a cool
place over night.

The next step is to mix the filling ingredients together.

Take 2/3 of the pastry dough and roll it out into a 22cm (8 1/2″) circle and place
the filling in the middle leaving a 4cm (1 1/2″) clear border which you turn upwards
to make a rim. I actually do all this in a 22cm (8 1/2″) springform baking dish lined
with baking paper which makes it all easier to control. Roll out the rest of
the pastry to cover the filling and base, then press the edges together.

Put  several holes in the top to let out the steam and cook for about 40 to
45 minutes.

When the cake has cooled down, lightly dust it with some icing sugar.

This cake goes well with ice-cream, frozen yoghurt (my choice), custard or coffee.

By the way, for my regular visitors, sorry for not posting for a while and
my only excuse it that I’ve been making arrangements for my up coming
trip……. plus I’m just slack!

Vietnamese butcher. Hanoi, Vietnam. 2007

This is a photo of one of the cleanest and nicest butchers I’ve ever seen in a developing country. When I saw the big piece of pork loin in the front, it looked so fantastic to me at the time that I remember wishing to myself that I had my Webber barbeque with me.

The meat looks better than the mat from the supermarket near home

Usually butchers in third or second world countries can be disgusting and very bad smelling, but in Hanoi they looked pretty good and didn’t have the usual sickening pong I’ve come to expect in tropical countries. As a matter of fact I felt pretty confident eating anywhere that served freshly cooked food where there were lots of locals eating when I was in Vietnam.

After seeing this post, my mother sent me this recipe:

How I make a good “German Schnitzel” ( and fooled a lot of people!)

Slice the pork loin up, into 1/4 inch slices. I pack the unused portions in zip-lock plastic bags and freeze them ….then we have schnitzels whenever we want for a fraction of the cost of a Vienna schnitzel (which of course is veal) which I find a little too bland for my taste.

One slice is enough for a man sized meal, by the time you’ve pressed the crumbs into it.

(I use seasoned bread crumbs and an egg with a little water or milk in it)

First score the pork, criss-cross, on both sides, dip it into the egg mixture, and then cover it with the breadcrumbs, and push them in hard, with you finger-tips. The meat will press out to double the size. Turn them over a couple of times, to maximize the covering of breadcrumbs

Heat about 3 tablespoons of light oil, to right temp for frying. Re -dip the schnitzel in the egg mixture again, and drop into pan carefully.

That last re dipping is the secret, it STOPS the absorption of a lot of oil and also stops the whole thing from sticking to the pan, they only need a few minutes on either side. I usually just cut into one to make sure it’s cooked to pink juicy,(not bloody) so it still is cooking when you are ‘plating up’

Its not greasy and it’s crispier outside, If you leave it too long before you eat it, yes it will go softer, and overcook itself……Try it you’ll like it!

Our first week of the new year

I hope you all had a nice Christmas and an excellent new year!

As is usual, the time between Christmas and New Year’s day is packed with feasting and socialising. That’s my excuse for being slack with posting and I’m sticking to it.

Here in Sydney Australia it’s stinking hot right now and for reasons I don’t understand, I always get highly motivated to do major projects around the house at this time of the year. The smart time to do most of these laborious jobs would be in the cooler weather, but no, that would make too much sense. I never really feel like doing such things until it gets uncomfortably hot and humid.

Further proof that I’m a complete idiot. 

Last year at about this time I landscaped the front yard in the blazing sun. This year I’ll be toiling in the backyard making a pond and replacing two toilet sets in the house. 

The photo below is of Engogirl on the first day of this year, helping me with the construction of some bench seating that will surround the pond we are constructing.

Engogirl likes using the drill press

After sweating our butts off for a day, we decided that instead of getting stuck into our backyard work and knocking it over quickly, we would rather get into an air-conditioned car and take couple of days off to visit Engogirl’s parents at their holiday home in Tallong (2 hours south of Sydney).

There are a few orchards in Tallong and stone fruits are in season. Engogirl’s father loves jam and makes his own.

This man is powered by jam

Here’s Engogirl’s father’s recipe for apricot jam

Ingredients

Equal quantity of firm (slightly unripe) apricots and sugar. For the jam that was being prepared in the photo above, 1kg of apricots and 1kg of sugar were used.
Pectin (use only half the amount that is recommended on the packet or the jam will be too firm).
Water.
Glass jars. 

Method

Place freshly washed jars with lids and sugar into an oven and heat up to 100 degrees C (which is boiling point at sea level or about 212 degrees F). The sugar is preheated so that it dissolves quickly and completely when it is added to the fruit. Wash, pit and halve the apricots. Place prepared apricots into a saucepan with a cup of water, then heat for about 15 minutes, until the fruit begins to soften, over medium heat.

When the fruit is soft add the sugar and pectin stir until dissolved. Bring the mixture to the boil and cook for about another 5 minutes, whilst continually stirring. You will know when the jam is ready to fill the jars when the jam mixture sticks to the side of the saucepan in thick blobs. When the mixture is ready, take the jars and lids out of the oven (don’t forget that they will be hot, so use oven mitts) and fill with the hot jam mixture and screw on the lids straight away. It’s probably best to perform this operation in your sink in case there are any spills or accidents.

My version of mango sorbet

It’s summer here and that means mangos are in season! My wife and I love them and have already been through 4 whole boxes of mangos this season. We usually make mango smoothies to beat the heat, but every now and again we use mangos in salads or I make a sorbet out of them.

My version of mang sorbet

Unfortunately many mango growers have opted to grow the large reddish mangos (such as the Calypso or the Bowen) that look so spectacular but don’t taste as delicious as the smaller yellow mangos (such as the Kensington or the Turpentine).

Trust me on this, the smaller yellow mangos are WAY better.

I usually start this recipe the day before I want to serve it and it makes about 2 litres (about 2 quarts).

Ingredients

Enough mango cheeks to fill up a 1.5 litre (3 pints) blender
400gr of sweetened condensed milk (14 oz)
100gr liquid glucose (3.5 oz)
Juice of 2 limes (about the size of a golf ball)
 
Method

Blend the mango cheeks until liquid. You may have to push the mangos down every now and again (Now I don’t have to tell you not to do this, while the blender is switched on…. do I?). When the mangos are liquid pour in the condensed milk, lime juice and glucose (you might have to warm up the glucose in the microwave for a few seconds so that it pours easily) while the blender is running and blend until it is thoroughly combined. 

Chill the mixture for a few hours and then churn in an ice cream maker and return to the freezer until ready to serve.

I usually time this recipe by doing the blending just before I go to bed and I leave the covered mixture in the fridge until morning to cool down and I churn it in the morning and then place it in the freezer until the evening.  I do it this way so the texture is firm but not hard and it’s easier to scoop.

If you’re wondering why glucose is used, it’s because it keeps the sorbet soft enough to scoop and gives it a smoother, less crystalline texture.

Don’t use frozen mango cheeks or tinned mangos (they taste like crap). Another reason why you shouldn’t try and blend frozen mango cheeks to speed up the churning is because the glucose will go as hard as a rock and won’t mix in properly. 

My version of Merguez with Amadou & Mariam singing along

I’ll be having a bunch of French friends over for dinner in two weeks time for Bastille day celebrations and I though I’d trail a meal I’m going to make for them, John dory with shellfish , saffron and merguez broth.

For you non-cognoscenti out there merguez are a sausage from North Africa that are popular in France. I make my own merguez from scratch and I thought you may want to try making them sometime, since most of you live overseas and are unlikely to ever come to my place for dinner.

The music I was listening to as I was making my merguez was my new favourite CD, Amadou & Mariam on their album Dimanche a Bamako

[youtube yxH7pKD8flA] 

Ingredients

1 kg lamb
2-3 teaspoons harissa (you can test how hot you want it by frying up a little mince and tasting it)
5 large cloves garlic
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (pimenton)
1 teaspoon ground allspice
250ml iced water
 
Thin sausage skins
 
Method

Try and use whole spice for recipe as the flavours will be more intense. Put all the whole spices into a dry frying pan over medium heat. Keep the pan moving so that the spices are evenly heated. Take off the heat when the spices start smoking and grind them up in a mortar and pestle. When the spices are fine, add the garlic and pound it all together.
 
The meat should be cold.
Trim any skin from the lamb, but leave a good proportion of fat and cut it up into chunks.
 
Toss all the ingredients (no, not the skins as well) into a food processor and mince. Then spoon the mince into either a sausage maker (not necessary) or, the way in which I do it, a cloth reinforced piping bag (the sort of the used for icing cakes). Place the sausage skins over the end of your filling device of choice and fill them up. Easy!
 
Cook sausages slowly on low medium heat and don’t prick them, the fats inside help the meat cook and the flavour will be better.

[youtube dKrFbfCHm5Q]

 

I didn’t bother putting any photos of the merguez up because they just look like ordinary sausages.