Oh it’s such a pearfect day….I’m glad I ate this with you!

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Oh it's such a pearfect day....I'm glad I ate this with you!

Supper last eve was rounded off with the simplest of dishes – glimmering green conference pears halved, seeds scooped out gently and then placed carefully, flesh side down, into a frying pan in which around 80 gm unsalted butter and 2 or 3 tablespoons of brown sugar were nicely melted and unctuous.

I left them for around ten minutes on a low heat, then added a splash of brandy. Several minutes later I turned the pears and
popped a lid on the pan for ten minutes.

The result was the softest and most succulent of pears encrusted with a caramelised coating.

On to a plate – a drizzle of cream, and more of the buttery sugary brandy mix spooned over.

There can be fewer tastier simpler desserts.

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OK, I forgot to take all the pics….

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OK, I forgot to take all the pics....

….so you will have to take it from me that tonight’s supper was a 3 course delight. Late, mind…leaves on the line, hurricanes, fences down, hair lightly ruffled etc all of which caused us to not begin supper until 8.30pm… but all worth it – and if Annie’s other half is tuning in, it was all healthy too, James!

Starter…as in the pic above…slices of fennel doused in lemon juice and olive oil wrapped in prosciutto crudo with cherry toms and fennel salami – finocchiona – with a drizzle of fig balsamic. Main course – and this was very good – really very good – tagliatelle with a creamy basil sauce. Into a blender – pop a big handful or two of basil, a clove of garlic peeled and sliced, two tablespoons of white wine vinegar, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a teaspoon of capers and enough olive oil to give it a thick, just about runny, consistency. Blitz! Add to a bowl and add 2 or 3 dessert spoons of single cream. Cook your tagliatelle, drain it, stir in the sauce and serve – scattering over some toasted pine nuts if you will – they only take a minute or two in a dry frying pan. And of course we all grated over some parmesan.

I actually prefer this to my normal straight pesto sauce. It was simply unctuous.

OK – to finish off, I sliced a fabulous crisp Italian pear and placed a large piece on a small saucer to which I added a thin slice of creamy gorgonzola. This was all washed down with an amazing Malbec from Argentina called Alamos – purchased from those lovely people in Majestic in Winchester. Possibly a contributory factor as to why I forgot to photo the main course and the dessert! Hey – but it was all fab and each of the 3 dishes complimented each other marvellously.

Oh…and in the photo I was not just the only one drinking- the others just hadn’t arrived at the table yet!

Right – nearly 10.15 pm. Time to laze by the woodburner and dream about tomorrow’s supper….

Tikka Lamb Leg for a Lazy Sunday afternoon…

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Tikka Lamb Leg for a Lazy Sunday afternoon...

Well…this was one of those days when..despite me thinking it was all going pear shaped..it all turned out absolutely tickety boo! Mid morning shenanigans centring around trying to ferry my 17 year old daughter to a bus stop to go to London for a concert were time-chewingly annoying as she then realised that she had misread the timetable…no bus on a Sunday.and this all occupied steak-like chunks of my time knowing I had folk round for a late late lunch that I had to get into the oven as soon as…anyway, I ended up driving her and her friends to the station..it’s what Dad’s do…but it also put me slightly…understatement being used here big time – behind time…anyway…all I do here is set the scene…I got back in time to throw the tikka marinade together, slam in the lamb, then grab an hour in the sun, shades on, cricket on the radio…and I almost caught up with myself.

The leg of lamb was from those lovely people at Parsonage Farm..tis lamb like no other, Real lamb. Lamb that fights back.

The recipe is based on an old one of Mr Oliver’s, though I think he uses a shoulder. But I had this monster of a leg..and it was crying out for a summer spice mix. So..here we go.

You need :
2kg leg of lamb
Tikka paste – recipe in a mo..be patient
Red chiili, deseeded and sliced finely
2 garlic cloves finely sliced
I red onion finely sliced

Ok- for the tikka paste – you could use a shop bought jar – but why bother? This is funkier and sexier and far far tastier.

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 garlic cloves peeled
Thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp salt
3 tsp veg oil or ground nut oil
2 tbsp of tomato sauce
2 red chillies
Small bunch of coriander
2 tsp ground almonds

For the paste – fry cumin and coriander seeds on a medium heat until toasted and smelling good. Add to a food processor with all the other ingredients and whizz until smooth.

Score lightly the fat side of the lamb. Smear it all over with the tikka paste – you will not use it all. Then stab a few holes in the skin and slot in the red chilli slices and garlic slices. It should look like this…

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In an ideal world..I do not live in one but you might….marinate over night…pre heat oven when you are ready to cook it…170c. Lay the red onion slices on the bottom of a roasting tin. Drizzle with oil. Place lamb on top. Pop in the oven , covered with a wet sheet of grease proof paper for 3 and a half hours. Baste every half an hour. The coating will be beautifully wizened as in photo at top of page. Slice chunks off , or pull off with two forks.

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Serve it with this brilliant crunchy Indian Chopped Salad.

Ingredients –

1 tsp fenugreek seeds / 1 tsp mustard seeds / small handful of dry curry leaves, crumbled / 1 tsp of chutney – I use Mrs Balls, but  mango chutney would be okey dokey / 4 poppadoms / 2 carrots peeled and grated / 1/2 cucumber / 1 bunch radishes / 3 spring onions / 2 little gem lettuces / a big handful of cherry tomatoes / 1 red chill deseeded / bunch coriander / bunch of mint / lemon

On a large board add the grated carrot, then chop up finely the cucumber, radishes, lettuce, tomatoes, chilli and the herbs. Add to the board and mix well. In a frying pan, gently fry the fenugreek, mustard seeds and the curry leaves in a glug of oil – I used garlic infused rapeseed oil. When the mustard seeds start to pop and jump – take off heat and add the chutney. Let it cool, then add to the board and mix in with all the other ingredients, plus a little grind of rock salt, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Crumble in the poppadom and stir again.

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This was a corker of a meal – we ate with friends about 5pm, washed down with this……. well lots of this actually……….

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….and then, for a dessert, which we ate at about 7pm on the garden in the late afternoon sun, I pan fried pears, halved in butter and brown sugar. I added sloe gin to each pears centre. Popped a lid on and left for about 25 minutes. I marinated some strawberries in strawberry liqueur for same length of time. I served them together with all the juices and a blob or so of crème fraîche.

IMG_3237IMG_3240Lazy Sunday afternoon luxury..and we ate our dessert in the sun, listening to the dulcet tones of Frank Sinatra himself, crooning his heart out. Perfect…..