Week Fifteen

It hardly seems possible that it’s October this week! Time, under Covid, flies by even more so than before the pandemic – well done us for having lived with Covid conditions for 6 months now! Since starting MenuMistress just over three months ago, I am finding that time is flying by even more as I am forever looking to the future, thinking about what menus we can eat in the coming weeks rather than days! I must admit that my ‘control freak’ gene loves this forward planning, and indeed I have been looking forward to October for some time now as I have been wanting to share some of my favourite recipes which are rather autumnal – my taste buds prefer the more comforting flavours of recipes which are more suited to the colder climate. This week’s first menu is a Leg of Lamb which is cooked with cider – sounds strange I know, but trust me the sauce that the cider makes with the juices of the lamb are delicious! The second menu is a beautifully spiced Lamb Byriani, which uses the leftovers of the leg of lamb – yes, it seems that my new MenuMistress@Uni page for students is having a frugal effect on me!  Finally, a slightly lighter menu, Chicken Escalopes with a Lemon Sauce (al Limone), a recipe which I am also sharing on my @Uni page as it is super quick and easy.

Menu One

Roast Lamb & Cider served with Flageolet Beans (serves 6) 

Cider with lamb may sound like a strange combination, but believe me it works beautifully and is absolutely made for these more autumnal days. Like all of the recipes I share, this is very easy to cook – making it possible to cook midweek if you fancy. This recipe is taken from ‘Pure, Simple, Cooking’ by Diana Henry (yes, her again!); she recommends that this dish is served with flageolet or cannellini beans – and of course she is absolutely right!

1 Leg of lamb (approx. 1.8kg -2kg), trimmed of excess fat

2 large cloves garlic, cut into slivers

2-3 sprigs thyme

50g unsalted butter, softened

250ml dry cider

A good slug of calvados or brandy

570ml chicken or lamb stock

175ml crème frâiche or double cream

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Make small incisions all over the leg and stuff with a slivers of garlic and a little thyme. Rub the butter all over, stuffing some down the incisions as you do so, season generously.
  2. Place in a preheated oven, 220’c, roast for 15 minutes then turn down the heat to 200’c, and continue to roast for another 45 -50mins.
  3. Remove the lamb to rest in a warm place covered with foil for about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile pour the cooking juices into a jug and skim off the fat and discard.
  5. Set the roasting tin over a medium heat, add the cider and calvados, boil to reduce by two-thirds. Then add the stock and the reserved cooking juices, reduce this  by two-thirds, then add the crème frâiche (or cream). Boil until slightly syrupy.
  6. Serve the lamb, sliced, with the sauce in a warm gravy boat and the flageolet beans on the side (recipe below).

Flageolet Beans with Lemon and Parsley

Flageolet Beans with Lemon & Parsley

So simple, yet so delicious!

400g tin flageolet beans (or cannellini beans), drained

A generous slice of butter

Half lemon

Handful chopped parsley

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Place the drained beans in a saucepan, gently heat with the butter.
  2. Add the parsley, season with a squeeze of lemon juice and the salt and pepper.
  3. Serve!

Menu Two

Lamb Biryani (Serves 4)

This is a lovely ‘one pot’ recipe, great for using up leftovers – you could make it with other roast meats such as chicken, beef or pork. It’s definitely a recipe that you will want to make again and again, an easy Monday option!

200g basmati rice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2cm piece ginger, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 onion, chopped

3 handfuls baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon plain flour (gluten free if required)

2 tablespoons mango chutney

200g leftover roast lamb, or whatever you have left (see note above)

1 cup lamb or chicken  stock

50g almond flakes

50g butter, melted

Sea salt and black pepper

Greek natural yogurt to serve

Fresh coriander, chopped, to serve

  1. Cooke the basmati rice according to the instructions on the packet, and set aside.
  2. Place the oil, ginger, garlic and onion in an ovenproof dish and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Add the curry powder, flour, chutney, and the chopped lamb, season with salt and pepper then stir well. Pour in the lamb stock. Top with the reserved, cooked rice, sprinkle with the almonds and drizzle with the melted butter. Cover with a lid (or tin foil) and place in a preheated oven, 200’c.
  5. After 20 minutes remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes.
  6. Serve topped with the yogurt and the chopped coriander.

Menu Three

Chicken Escalopes with Lemon Sauce – ‘Pollo al Limone’

A classic Italian recipe, often made with veal escalopes as well as chicken. One of my staple dishes, as it is really easy to ‘whip’ up. It’s delicious with baby roast potatoes (recipe below), but more often than not I serve it with plain white rice as when I make this I’m normally in a hurry and rice is quick and simple to make – also I like the way it mops up the lemon sauce!

By marinating the escalopes in the lemon juice for 30 minutes before cooking it tenderises the meat, you will notice the difference, but if I’m in a hurry I must admit that I often omit this part.

I normally cut my chicken breasts into three or four pieces, lengthways, and then flatten them out into escalopes by covering them with clingfilm and hitting with the base of a saucepan – not the most elegant way but it works! Alternatively you could ask your butcher to do it for you. Because you are flattening out the breasts, I find that they go a long way, so rather than 4 chicken breasts for 4 people you could get away with less depending on how hungry you are. If you haven’t any white wine to hand you could use all chicken stock, but the addition of wine does enhance the overall flavour.

3-4 chicken breasts (see note above)

8 tablespoons of lemon juice, plus a little more to taste (about 2 lemons)

40g butter

150ml dry white wine

150ml chicken stock (or 300ml if not using white wine – see note above)

1 teaspoon softened butter

2 teaspoons flour(gluten free if required)

1 lemon thinly sliced to serve (optional)

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

Sea salt and black pepper

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into 3 lengthways, cover these slices with clingfilm and flatten by hitting with the base of a heavy saucepan (see the video of me doing this here!).
  2. Sprinkle the escalopes with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and leave aside for 30 minutes. Then dry with a piece of kitchen roll and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the escalopes, fry on each side over a fairly high heat, until they are evenly browned. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
  4. Pour the remaining lemon juice and the wine and stock into the pan and bring to the boil. Boil for about 3-4 minutes, until the liquid it reduced slightly.
  5. Meanwhile mix the softened butter with the flour to create a paste – a ‘Beurre Manié’.
  6. Add the butter paste (Beurre Manié) to the sauce, mixing well until the sauce is smooth (I often use a whisk for this). It will thicken the sauce. At this point check the seasoning, you may want to add a little more lemon juice, I sometimes add an extra knob of butter at this point – just go with your taste buds!
  7. Return the escalopes to the pan to reheat, sprinkle over the chopped parsley.
  8. Serve the escalopes with the sauce and the sliced lemon for decoration, and either baby roast potatoes (recipe below) or on a bed of white rice.

Staple Side Dish – Baby Roast Potatoes with Garlic and Rosemary (serves 4-6)

Baby Roast Potatoes

900g unpeeled new potatoes washed and cut roughly into 1cm cubes

2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

sea salt and black pepper

  1. Preheat the oven 200’c. Put the olive oil in a roasting tin and place in the oven to heat up.
  2. Place the potatoes in a clean tea towel and dry them thoroughly.
  3. Remove tin from the oven and carefully slide the potatoes into the hot fat. Sprinkle over the garlic and rosemary then stir around.
  4. Cook in the oven for 30-40 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper before serving.

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