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Posts Tagged ‘Rick Stein Food Heroes’

Curly parsley, which is often so elusive at the markets, was out in force last week and I picked up an enormous bunch for just $3.   I was inspired to make this parsley soup – a recipe from Rick Stein’s Food Heroes programme.  It helped satisfy my current craving for green, brought on by all the tales of nettle soup I’ve been reading recently!

The recipe is easy – boil leeks, potatoes and a bunch of parsley in chicken stock until tender, then add a large amount of chopped parsley leaves at the end (to keep the colour).  Warm through and puree until smooth.  You can finish this soup with a little cream, although I found it didn’t need it – it’s rich and thick from the potatoes.

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I absolutely adore Brussels sprouts (which I’ve recently learnt are correctly spelt Brussels rather than Brussel).  None of my three men will go near them, although I keep trying.  I love them cut in half and stir-fried in oyster sauce.

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And lastly, these gorgeous garlic chives were at the markets as well – their aroma was so potent that I couldn’t resist them.  They were too strongly flavoured for pesto, but perfect in fried rice.

It’s lovely to have some green in the kitchen during these cold winter months!

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Last Friday night, Pete made this delicious leek and ricotta cannelloni, based on a recipe from Rick Stein’s Food Heroes.  It’s a little fiddly, but definitely worth the effort!

Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 1kg leeks, cleaned and thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 250g fresh ricotta
  • 250g fresh lasagne sheets
  • 750ml homemade or bottled tomato passata
  • salt and pepper to season

Cheese Sauce

  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 3 cloves
  • 450ml full cream milk
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 30g plain flour
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 150g provolone piccante, grated
  • 1 egg yolk

1.  For the cheese sauce, stud the onion with the cloves and add to a pan with the milk, bay leaf and peppercorns.  Bring the milk just to a boil and then set it aside for 20 minutes to infuse.

2. For the filling, melt  the butter in a large pan and add the leeks, garlic, thyme and water and cook gently, uncovered, for 15 minutes or until the leeks are tender and the excess liquid has evaporated.  Transfer to a bowl to cool, then beat in the ricotta and season with salt and pepper.

3. Bring a large pot of water to boil and add the sheets of lasagne, one at a time, then take the pan off the heat and allow to soak for 5 minutes.  Drain well and leave to cool.

4.  Pour the tomato passata into a large ovenproof dish.  Spoon the filling into the lasagne sheets and roll them up snugly.  Place the rolls seamside down on top of the passata.  Preheat the oven to 200C.

5.  Finish the cheese sauce: strain the milk into a bowl.  Melt the butter in a small saucepan, add the flour and cook over a medium heat for one minute.  Gradually beat in the milk, then bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Simmer the pan very gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thick (about 10 minutes), then remove from the heat and stir in the cream, 75g grated provolone, the egg yolk and season to taste.

6.  Pour the sauce over the cannelloni, scatter over the remaining cheese, and bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown.  In the photo below, six of the eight tubes are filled with leek and ricotta, and the remaining two with bolognaise sauce for Small Man.

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Here’s how the conversation started on Friday afternoon…

“MJ, I’m boiling a leg of lamb tonight, would you like to come over? Ummm…I should mention that I have no idea how it’s going to work out, but since you’re family, I’m sure you won’t mind if it’s a disaster and we have to order Thai takeaway…”

Pete’s cousin later recounted that the first thing that came to her mind was..“Boiling lamb? For goodness sake, just don’t!”

This recipe, inspired by an episode of Rick Stein’s Food Heroes of Britain, is an absolute winner and quite different to anything I’ve ever cooked  or eaten before.

In Australia, a leg of lamb is almost always baked or, in recent years, butterflied and barbequed.  But it wasn’t something I grew up eating at all – being Chinese, the only thing my mum ever did with her oven was use it as a cupboard to store plates in.  For years, I never understood why people actually needed to clean their ovens…

Anyway, this recipe is apparently not uncommon in the UK, and it’s a really delicious way to cook lamb.  The meat is tender and moist, and you have the added bonus of some wonderful brown stock to stash in the freezer at the end of the cooking process.  It’s traditionally made with mutton, but that’s hard to source from our local butcher.  The quantities are pretty flexible, as is often the case with this style of cooking.

When I went to prepare the dish, I found that the lamb didn’t fit into the pot, so I drove back to the butcher to ask him to cut the shank off for me.  He laughed and showed me a joint half-way up the leg, then cut through it with his large knife and bent the shank over.  If you’re buying a leg of lamb or mutton for this purpose, you might want to ask your butcher to nick that joint for you – it’ll make it much easier to manoeuvre the big bone into the pot.

  • 1 large leg of lamb (or leg of mutton) – mine was about 2.7kg
  • lots of carrots and onions, peeled and chopped
  • peppercorns
  • sprig of fresh or good pinch of dried rosemary
  • generous amount of salt to season
  • butter and/or olive oil
  • ¼ cup plain flour
  • 2 heaped teaspoons capers

1. Sit the lamb in a large cast iron cooking pot (I used a 30cm Le Creuset dutch oven) and cover it with the carrots, onions, and peppercorns.  Place the sprig of rosemary on top, or scatter with the dried rosemary.  Scatter over the salt, then add enough water to just barely cover the meat.

2. Cover with the lid and cook on the hob over a medium heat until just boiling, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently for 2 – 3 hours, depending on the size of your lamb and how you prefer your meat  to be cooked.  Carefully turn the joint over about half way through the cooking time, and top up with a little extra water if needed.  Taste the stock for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

I used a probe thermometer to check the meat – 65C for medium or 80C for well done – and removed it from the pot once the internal temperature exceeded 70C.  It continued to cook further as it rested.

3. With a ladle, scoop out some of the stock and pass it through a sieve into a separate bowl. Melt some butter and olive oil in a small saucepan, then add the plain flour and cook it through, but don’t allow the roux to brown.  Add the strained stock and heat gently until thickened, then stir in the capers.  Plate up the sliced meat with some of the cooking vegetables and the caper sauce.  We served the dish with King Edward potato wedges (just to keep it all very British!).

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Hold tight lad, and think of Lancashire hotpot!

Wallace & Gromit, A Grand Day Out

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Chef Rick Stein showcased this dish on his Food Heroes programme, and it was so appealing in its simplicity and “Wallace-&-Gromitness” that I raced out to the butchers the same day to buy ingredients.  Pete normally has an aversion to hotpots, particularly ones with boney pieces of meat – a consequence of growing up on what he and his siblings refer to as “mystery meat stews”.  Nevertheless, he loved this dish, as did the boys, both of whom had second helpings.

Rick Stein didn’t provide quantities on his show,  so I had to make them up on the fly.  Having said that, I think the essence of this style of cooking is to make use of the ingredients you have on hand. I’m sure all sorts of cheaper cuts and offal would traditionally have been used, and allowed to tenderise during the long cooking time. This recipe makes a very big batch, so count on feeding the neighbours, like we did!

  • 1kg lamb shanks, cut into pieces (ask the butcher to do this for you)
  • 1kg lamb loin chops
  • lots of onions
  • lots of potatoes
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • salt, pepper
  • oregano
  • melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 180C with fan.  Trim and discard the surplus fat from the loin chops.

2. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes and onions.  The onions give the dish sweetness, so don’t skimp on them.

3. Brush melted butter over the base of a large casserole dish (I used a Le Creuset dutch oven) and arrange a layer of sliced potatoes.  Top with a layer of lamb (both shank pieces and loin chops), then a layer of onions.  Season well between layers with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of oregano (original recipe used thyme, but I didn’t have any).

4. Layer more potato slices, then more lamb and onions, season again and repeat until all the ingredients have been added, finishing with a layer of potatoes.  Pour over the chicken stock, then brush the top of the potatoes with melted butter.  Cover and bake for 2 – 2¼ hours, removing the lid for the last 20 minutes to allow the potatoes to brown.

We served our hotpot with steamed rice, but Rick Stein served it with braised red cabbage, which has apparently become its traditional accompaniment in recent years.  Perfect comfort food!

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