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A Sound Meal!

Grilled Lamb Loin with Saffron potatoes – Main Course (Serves 6)

This simply prepared lamb is delicious when served with the creamy saffron potatoes. The potatoes can be prepared using single cream instead of wine for a richer taste. I learn how to prepare this dish when I was working for Peter Gordon and is a clear example of how simplicity is the key to achieve great flavours.

Ingredients
1.2 Kg lamb fillet or short loin, divided in to 6 equal size portion
2 Tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 if dry
2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

For Saffron Potatoes
100ml olive oil
1 large white onion, peeled and finely diced
1 Celery stalk, finely diced
1 Medium carrot, peeled and finely diced or grated
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 pinch of saffron
2 tablespoons white vinegar
300ml semi sweet white wine (I usually use Riesling)
5 large potatoes, about 1kg, skins scrubbed
200g finely grated parmesan

Preparation
1. Lay a portion of lamb on a chopping board and slice horizontally, keeping the lamb in one piece, then butterfly the lamb open and gently flatten out to a thickness of 1/3 inch with a meat hammer. Do the same to the remaining 5 pieces.
2. Mix thyme, oil, salt and black pepper together and brush over the lamb pieces. Cover and leave to marinate.
3. Now start to prepare the saffron potatoes, preheat the oven to 200c or mark 5.
4. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and add onion, celery, carrots and garlic fry until slightly golden, then stir in saffron and vinegar.
5. Boil until the liquid has almost evaporated, then add the wine, salt and bring back to the boil.
6. Cut potatoes in to 1/4in slices and place half in an 8 inch square ceramic roasting dish. Sprinkle with parmesan and pour on half of the onion mixture prepared before.
7. Spread over the remaining potatoes and pour on the rest of the onion mixture. Cover the dish and bake until cooked, about 1 hour, remove the lid and cook for a further 10 minutes.
8. Now finish to cook the lamb, Heat a frying pan, or even better if you got it a heavy skillet, it has to be really hot. Cook lamb for 30 seconds each side for medium rare or if you prefer well done add 30 seconds for each side.
9. Plate up! Place the lamb on the centre of the plate, then spoon over the potatoes with their cooking juice and serve. Enjoy your delicious Lamb and saffron potatoes.

Recommended Wine: Malbec (Mendoza Argentina)

Chickpea and Feta Fritters Starter (Serves 6-8)

This delicious and easy to create dish can be served as a starter with a light salad or makes a great breakfast/brunch dish served with bacon or eggs.

Ingredients
2x 300g cans chickpea, rinsed and drained
1 Large free range egg
100ml thick yoghurt
2 Tablespoons Tahini paste
1 Teaspoon of salt
1 Teaspoon baking powder
2 Tablespoons cornflour
150g feta cheese, cut into 1/2 cm cubes or if you prefer roughly crumbled
4 Spring onion, finely sliced
Oil or butter for frying

Preparation
1. Place 3/4 of the chickpeas in a food processor with egg, yoghurt, tahini, salt, baking powder and cornflour. Puree to a coarse paste.
2. Place in a bowl and mix in remaining chickpeas, feta and spring onions. Stand for 15 minutes.
3. Heat a little oil or butter in a frying pan and dollop in a spoonful of mixture. Cook over a moderate heat until golden, then gently flip over and cook until just set.
4. Fritters are very soft and can break if flipped too soon, so handle them gently and only flip when almost set.
5. You are now ready to serve our chickpeas fritters either as a starter or (my favourite) for breakfast/brunch with eggs and crispy bacon. The choice is yours Enjoy!

Recommended Wine: Sauvignon Blanc (New Zealand)

Creamy Poached Caramel Pears – Dessert (Serves 8)

This is a real warmer, I love to serve it with some Madeira cake or just a scoop of vanilla ice cream for a great hot/cold contrast.

Ingredients
8 Medium-large pears, remove the core if you wish
500g caster sugar
80ml water
1 orange, skin peeled off with a peeler, juiced
250ml of double cream

Preparation
1. Use a potato peeler to peel the pears in strips to give a striped effect. Place sugar and water into a large deep saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
2. Once it comes to the boil, remove the spoon and don’t stir again. When the sugar has cooked to a pale caramel, place the pears in, then the juice and peel from our orange, add 250ml of hot water.
3. Put a lid on the pot and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cream and continue to cook until the cream has reduced to a caramel sauce.
4. This will take about 20 minutes, so watch carefully to make sure the toffee does not catch or burn.
5. You are now ready to serve. In a serving bowl place the pear standing and pour the hot sauce on top. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a slice of Madeira cake as you prefer. All done!

Recommended Wine: Vin Santo (Italy)

“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them” – Oscar Wilde

SIMONE CONTI

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