|Alright, I'm exaggerating a bit here!|
It's hard to know whether to go for a seasonal spring menu or autumnal comfort food.
Also I was on the water (kayaking) most of the weekend- being buffeted by the wind- and unable to plan menus or shop. So it was very much a case of 'What's left over in the fridge or languishing in the freezer?'
I had frozen halloumi cheese (leftover from a couple of weeks ago), a breast of lamb in the freezer, olives, some yoghurt, a bulb of fennel and some fresh fruit to use up in the fruit bowl.
Time to go Greek, methinks.
So today's menu is : halloumi bites with olives and balsamic vinaigrette to start, followed by slow roasted breast of lamb on a bed of braised fennel with orange- and fresh fruit with fudge fondue and greek yoghurt for dessert.
The starter is simple enough - cube the halloumi cheese and fry it in a little vegetable oil until brown and crispy. Put it in a bowl, next to a bowl of olives and a dipping sauce of vinaigrette made from 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp Dijon mustard and some salt and pepper. I make it in a screw top jar, shake it up and then pour into the serving bowl. You can pour leftovers back in afterwards and keep in the fridge.
If you have other meze type nibbles eg. a tin of stuffed vine leaves, some grilled peppers in oil, cubes of ham etc then add them in to make the starter more substantial- or indeed into a main meal.
|Halloumi Bites with vinaigrette dip|
For the breast of lamb, I used the slow cooker. First, seal the meat all over in a dry frying pan until it is brown and some fat starts to run. Place it in the slow cooker with a glass of red wine and a glass of water ( or two glasses of stock), season with herbes de provence, salt and pepper and leave to cook on low for 4-5 hours. When it is tender, remove from the cooker and put in a hot oven (200 degrees) for 35-45 minutes to crisp up the skin.
Meanwhile, slice the fennel thinly (keep back the stalks and feathery fronds). Soften 1 small white onion in some butter or oil in a saucepan and add the sliced fennel. Pour on 1/2 glass of orange juice and a good pinch of salt and pepper (some extra chopped olives go well too). Cover with a piece of baking paper and a lid - this way the fennel braises without drying out. Turn the heat right down and leave to braise.
Take the lamb out of the oven and leave to rest for 5-10 minutes, then slice into rounds and lay these on a bed of fennel. Decorate with the feathery fronds. (The stalks are for lunch tomorrow.)
|Slow Roasted Lamb Breast with Fennel|
For dessert, slice up whatever fresh fruit you have in the bowl- I had an orange, a kiwi and some grapes. Pineapple or banana would be good too- or melon.
Make the sauce by melting together 1 tbsp of muscavado sugar, 1 tbsp of golden syrup and 30 g of butter. Bring to the boil. Take off the heat and stir in 1 tsp vanilla essence and 2 tbsp of double cream. Pour into individual dipping pots and serve immediately- so you can dunk your fruit in whilst the sauce is still hot and runny.
|Fruit with Fudge Fondue|
The lamb leftovers were chopped up and made into 'Cornish' (or rather Sussex) pasties. (As they are made with lamb, they can't be called true Cornish pasties.) Soften 1 small white onion in a little oil, add the chopped lamb, 1 small potato diced and 1 small diced turnip or swede.( I blanched the potato and turnip in boiling water for 2 minutes first).Cook for a few minutes, but it doesn't need to be cooked through as it is going into the oven. Moisten with some of the leftover gravy from the lamb (but don't make it too sloppy). Season really well with a tsp of salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper.Roll out some shortcrust pastry until thin, and then cut out rounds using a dinner plate (for a Pasty-zillah), or side plates for smaller versions. Lay your meat mixture along one half of the pastry, about 1 cm in from the side.
|Perfection in Pasties|
. Lay on a greased baking sheet. Brush with milk or beaten egg and bake at 190 degrees for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over.
Pasties are a brilliant way to use up leftovers- either, like here, with all the leftover bits from a roast dinner or with whatever you have to use up. I like vegetarian ones best- with potato, cheese and onion or with leftover stir fry veg for a fusion East meets West. Or you could continue the Greek theme with spinach and cream cheese.
The leftover fennel stalks were sliced into batons, added to cucumber and carrot sticks and had with hummus for my lunch.
Any leftover fudge sauce can go with ice cream or drizzle over fruit. I didn't have any left though.