Ode to Nigella 3 – Rhubarb compote

Keeping with the colour theme, today we move from green to the most glorious of ruby reds. Rhubarb.
I adore rhubarb. ADORE.

I’ve been known to eat an entire jar of rhubarb jam simply by dipping my finger into it. Not in one sitting mind you, but in definitely less than a week.

I think this is a lot of sugar to rhubarb, but it tastes so delicious I am yet to try making it with less. My favourite plate for it at the moment is spooned over my porridge but tomorrow morning, the batch that is currently in the oven will be spooned over some goats curd on fruit toast. Mmmmm.

Rhubarb Compote

  • 750g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into sticks
  • 225g caster sugar
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange
  1. combine ingredients in a baking dish (I use a battered and loved enamel one that used to be used at AB’s first employ, the wild gourmet)
  2. cover with foil and bake at 190C for 45 minutes to an hour by which time it should still be holding its form but sitting pretty in a sea of glorious ruby juices


Lemony lamb with roasted vegetable couscous salad

I’ve been quite proud of my expanded dinner repertoire of late. Particularly that most of it does not follow a particular recipe to the letter. For you see, I am one of those home cooks who tend to follow recipes to the letter. I get ansy if I have to change something or leave something out and do not even bother trying to console me if it all goes pear shaped and ends up uneaten or worse… unedible. And yes, those two things are very very different.

Anyway, this is an example of me relaxing the recipe fixation and going with flavours. If I wasn’t watching the fat intake so much I would have lugged over the olive oil for the veggies to roast and then dressed the couscous and veggies in the honey mustard dressing I have come to know and love. But it was delicious all the same.

Lemony lamb with roasted vegetable and couscous salad

  • lamb backstrap (as many as you need for as many as you’re feeding)
  • lemon pepper
  • 1 cup couscous
  • pumpkin, cut into chunks
  • sweet potato, cut into similar sized chunks as the pumpkin
  • eggplant, cut into thick slices (as in, about 1cm thick) and then cut again to similar size pieces as vegetables
  • Spanish onions, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • mint
  • flat-leafed parsley
  • 1 lemon, zest finely grated and juiced
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 220C
  2. Coat the lamb in the lemon pepper and set aside while you chop the vegetables and get them cooking
  3. Cook vegetables for about 30 minutes or until getting some good colour and are cooked through.
  4. Cook the lamb using your preferred method – I would have used the stove top cast iron griddle, but have been using the knock out the fat knock out the flavour non-stick benchtop griller thingy we normally reserve for toasted sandwiches lately and been pleasantly surprised. For starters, meat is done in 3-4 minutes (as it cooks top and bottom), they get the nice ‘lines’ on them and I’m using a lot less fat in my cooking. And it’s easy to clean. I know! – and then let it rest
  5. Combine the couscous with 1 cup boiling water (I throw in some stock powder to add more flavour) and cover
  6. Combine the couscous with the vegetables, herbs, zest and juice
  7. Slice lamb and serve w/ couscous and green veg of choice. I cooked some asparagus on the grill after cooking the lamb as it is in season here at the mo and absolutely delicious.

Puy lentils with mint and feta

As I embark on project boombalardy I have been cooking a lot more with lentils and loving it. This was something I just made up as part of the Festival of Jasper on the weekend which was simply sensational.

Puy lentils with mint and feta

  • 1 cup puy lentils
  • 200g feta
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, quartered and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup (or so) kalamata olives
  • 2-4 sprigs mint, finely chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, zest finely grated and juiced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
  1. Combine the lentils with 1 1/2 cups water (or stock), bring to the boil and then simmer gently for 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and lentils are al dente. For want of a better expression.
  2. Drain lentils and toss with crumbled feta, the tomatoes, cucumber, olives, herbs and zest.
  3. Squeeze over lime juice and the olive oil and season.

Naturally, if you’re not watching your fat intake with the intensity of the best British train-watcher, you could pour over a few good lugs and a bit more lime juice, but this was very tasty all the same.

Lebanese style peas and lamb

This is based on a Karen Martini recipe that featured recently in the Sun Herald’s Sunday Life magazine. I reckon you could double the amount of lamb mince and leave the rest of the recipe as is. Just depends on how many you’re feeding and how much you like peas. (I love peas with a passion that is completely misplaced on vegetables.) I also added in the carrots to get another vegetable into the family. I doubled the entire recipe and it made A LOT. I have tubs in the freezer now, which is not a bad thing but don’t say you weren’t warned.

Lebanese style peas and lamb

  • 100ml olive oil*
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 250g lamb mince
  • 2 carrots, cut into lengths
  • 2 tsp dried chilli (I left this out due to Oscar not being able to stomach chilli in any form)
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • sea salt
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 700ml water
  • 750g frozen peas
  • to serve: steamed rice, plain yoghurt, lemon juice and fresh mint, finely chopped
  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add onion and garlic
  2. Add the lamb and brown
  3. Then add the carrots, spices and tomatoes
  4. Add the tomato paste, water and peas
  5. Cook for 20 minutes
  6. Serve with rice, yoghurt, squeeze over some lemon juice and sprinkle some fresh mint.

*I made it with 2 tsp of oil and it still tasted delicious. I will leave it to you and your waistline to decide which way you go.

Caremlised lime snapper

Now Chef is working in Pyrmont he can go here on the way home from work. So last week I asked him to pick up some white fish fillets on the way home. He selected a whole snapper and they gutted and filleted it for him. I was already in heaven. This is inspired by a Donna Hay recipe from her book the instant cook. One of those books someone bought for me that I thought, gee this is good and then fell out of my head as I returned to the staple dinner selections we are all want to do. It gives you a main recipe and then three versions of it underneath. Nifty I say.

Caramelised lime snapper

  • 1.8-2kg white fish fillets
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 6 tbls brown sugar
  • 4 tbls lime juice
  • 2 tbls soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1-2 tsp chilli flakes (optional – I didn’t use as Oscar can’t do heat of any nature at all)
  • steamed rice, fresh coriander (cilantro) and shallots (green onions or scallions depending on where you live) sliced – to serve
  1. Heat the oil in a large frypan
  2. sear the fish for one minute on each side
  3. pour over combined other ingredients and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until the fish is cooked through and the sauce has reduced and is nice and sticky.
  4. Serve with steamed rice, coriander leaves and sliced shallots

Served two (and a half – mum tried some) adults and three kids with a little bit left over.
Imagine using the sauce w/ prawns.