Roast Lamb with Potato & Broccoli Mash

MIM LAMB ROAST 01

Keep it simple. Roast lamb is not complicated, but it needs to be done right.
This lamb recipe is Mumma MIM’s concoction, developed over her years of experience, proving winter comfort meals can give you a big warm foodie hug. Whenever I make this roast lamb, it makes me all mushy & sentimental & that is how a good dish should make you feel!

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Roast lamb should be soft, juicy & gelatinous. It should not taste boiled or be hard & chewy. Just because you roast something for a long time does not guarantee tenderness. It needs juices & flavour.
Adding red wine & oil will boost the flavour, but by adding some good quality beef stock it will caramelise & become sticky in the bottom of the pot, forming a delicious sauce. But the real secret is placing the carved meat back into the pot to soak up the juices.

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Roast Lamb with Potato & Broccoli Mash (MIM style)

What you need
2.5 kilo organic leg of lamb
1 cup of red wine
1 cup beef stock
good glug of olive oil
8 garlic cloves
sprigs of fresh rosemary & thyme
6 potatoes
1 head of broccoli
100g salted butter
2 cups of full cream milk
sea salt & pepper

Go for it…
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.
Place your lamb in a large, deep casserole dish. Grab a small sharp knife & make 6 small incisions over the lamb. Peel 3 garlic cloves, thinly slice them & push a slice into each incision. Pour in the wine, beef stock and good glug of oil, add in the remaining garlic cloves – unpeeled – season the top of the lamb with sea salt & pepper & throw in some fresh sprigs of rosemary & thyme. Pop into the oven for 2.5 hours, checking each hour that there is still juice in the bottom of the dish.
While the lamb is roasting away in the oven, it’s time to get started on the housework… or the potato & broccoli mash!
Place a large pot, filled with salted water, onto the boil. Place the potatoes into the pot & cook the potatoes until they are cooked through. Drain & peel the skins off the potatoes & set to one side. In the same pot, re-fill with salted water & place onto the boil. Roughly chop up the broccoli & pop into the water, cook until the broccoli is bright green & still firm. Drain & return back to the pot, adding in the potatoes & blitz everything together with a hand mixer, adding in the milk & butter as you go, until smooth & creamy.
Once the lamb is falling off the bone, remove from the oven & place on a chopping board to rest. Carve up the lamb. Once carved, return the lamb pieces to the juices in the pot & place on the stove top to warm through.
Place the mash onto a serving tray & top with the lamb & serve.

Sneaky seconds
Serves 4.

 

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Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Cookies

MIM COOKIE 01

Ok I’m just going to say it… cookies are the bomb! I’m serious, there is nothing like a simple, homemade, delicious cookie that crunches when you bite into it & it melts in your mouth.

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Im definitely not the baker in the family & the first batch of these cookies I made turned out to the same size of the baking tray! But by the sixth batch, I finally got the sizing portions down pat & made 4 beautifully sized cookies. I was quite chuffed with myself.

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Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Cookies (MIM style)

What you need
200g good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
150g unsalted butter, room temperature
60g caster sugar
60g brown sugar
1 free range egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100g ground hazelnut meal
100g hazelnuts, roughly chopped
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Go for it…
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius & line a baking tray with baking paper.
Cream the butter & sugars together until soft & smooth. Then beat in the egg & vanilla essence. Once combined add the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ground hazelnuts, chopped chocolate, crushed hazelnuts & stir until everything is combined.
Pop the the dough onto a long sheet of clingfilm & shape into a log, wrapping as you go & then pop in the freezer for 10 minutes.
When ready to bake, take the log out of the freezer & with a thick, sharp knife, cut 3cm slices & lay on the lined baking sheet – spread out.
Bake for 10 minutes, until golden on the edges, but soft in the middle.
Remove the tray from the oven & leave the cookies on the tray to cool down.

Sneaky seconds
Makes 16 cookies and serves 2 greedy people during the week.

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Greek Beans on Toast

MIM Beans on Toast 01

Being Russian, Italian & Greek, there is a certain expectation to always eat meat. If there is no meat on the menu for lunch or dinner, well then it’s not a proper meal!
For the last couple of months since Easter, meat has not been on the menu. I have been craving nothing but fresh fruit, veggies and legumes.

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Tomatoes have been particularly delicious at the moment. Their aroma is full bodied & I could not go past the gorgeous varieties of Heirloom tomatoes at the markets. There are so many kinds to choose from, the large ones are just plump & juicy & then you have the little cherry ones, which are too cute.
Greek beans on toast is a staple in any Greek household & perfect for any vegetarian & super-duper easy to make.

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Greek Beans on Toast (MIM style)

What you need
1 loaf of sourdough bread, sliced & toasted
1 garlic clove, grated
1 brown onion, finely diced
glug of extra virgin olive oil
200g Heirloom tomato puree (about 4 large Heirloom tomatoes)
handful Heirloom cherry tomatoes
200g butter beans, soaked, skinned & cooked
handful of finely chopped mint & parsley
handful of greek feta cheese
sea salt & pepper (to taste)

Go for it..
Place the tomatoes in a large bowl & cover with boiling water, leave for 10 minutes. Drain & allow to cool slightly, remove the skins, roughly chop and blitz with a bar mix until smooth.
Heat a pan over a medium heat, add a little glug of oil, add the garlic, onion & fry until soft & fragrant. Season with sea salt & pepper. Stir in the tomato puree & whole cherry tomatoes, then add the beans & bring to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Toast the slices of bread & finely chop some mint & parsley.
Once the beans are cooked, spoon the bean mixture on top of a sliced toasted piece of bread & sprinkle on some herbs, crumbled feta & drizzle with some oil. Serve while warm.

Sneaky seconds
Serves 2 – best eaten fresh.

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Roasted Rhubarb with Yoghurt

MIM RHUBARB 01

I think we all know that no matter what we plan, plot & dream about what we want from our life, it never quite pans out the way we envision it. But is that such a bad thing?
Just because something doesn’t go our way, it is not always negative. Over the last couple of months, things have been crazy, exciting, sad, hard & joyful for MIM – Sweet & Sour.

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And like MIM’s life of late, rhubarb can be both sweet and sour. The first time I tasted rhubarb I didn’t quite understand it. It was stringy & mushy and I didn’t take to it. I then tasted it lightly roasted, still holding its shape, and it was soft & delicious in flavour.
The roasted rhubarb goes so well with the sweetness of the honey and tartness of the yoghurt. This simple dish is a great way to start the day.

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Roasted Rhubarb with Yoghurt (MIM style)

What you need
4 stalks of fresh rhubarb, cut in 5cm lengths
1/2 cup caster sugar
juice and zest of 1 orange
1 heaped tablespoon rosewater
2 cups natural greek yoghurt
1/4 cup crushed hazelnuts
1/4 cup greek halva
drizzle of honey

Go for it…
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Combine your cut rhubarb, sugar, orange juice & rosewater in a mixing bowl, stir to combine everything together & place the marinated rhubarb on the lined baking tray in a single layer. Roast for 15 minutes.
Once the rhubarb is cooked, it should still retain its shape & soft to touch. Allow to cool.
To serve, grab a glass & place a layer of the roasted rhubarb in the bottom, spoon a layer of yoghurt & repeat. Sprinkle with halva, hazelnuts and a drizzle of honey.

Sneaky seconds
Serves 2

 

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Twice Baked Cheesy Sweet Potatoes

MIM TWICE BAKED SWEET POTATO 01

Sweet potatoes are sweet, creamy & full of flavour. What I love most about them is that they provide that winter comfort I crave when the nights begin to become crisp & nothing beats a good home cooked meal.

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Wacking the sweet potatoes in the oven for 40 minutes is easy enough, but before I serve them I add a little sprinkle of grated pecorino cheese, panko breadcrumbs & marjoram and pop them under the grill until they all become delicious & crispy, just to bulk these sweet potatoes up with extra comfort.

MIM TWICE BAKED SWEET POTATO 03

Twice Baked Cheesy Sweet Potatoes (MIM style)

What you need
3 similar sized sweet potatoes (orange & purple variety)
sprigs of fresh marjoram
glug of extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
sea salt & pepper (to taste)
Go for it…
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius, line a baking tray with baking paper. Remove any dirt from the potatoes & place them on the baking tray, drizzle a little oil on top.
Roast in the oven for 40 minutes or until cooked through. In a mixing bowl, combine the grated cheese, breadcrumbs, sea salt, pepper & marjoram, stir to combine.
When ready to serve, sprinkle the tops of the sweet potatoes with the cheese-breadcrumb mixture. Pop under the grill for 5 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm.
Sneaky seconds
Great as a side for dinner & lunch the next day.
Serves 4

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Mini Rabbit Pies

MIM MINI EASTER RABBIT PIES 001

Rabbit is one of those meats that most of us only eat at restaurants. It’s not something we cook at home, but in the spirit of Easter & white fluffy bunnies hip-hopping around in the sun kissed grass, I thought it would be a good idea to cook with rabbit…

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Rabbit is a game meat & to my surprise, not expensive. It’s strong in taste, but when you slow cook it for 2 hours in the oven, the meat is juicy, soft & melts in your mouth.

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Pies are something we all love & when you’re heading on a picnic or popping over for a family BBQ, you want something that is easy to transport & can be eaten warm or cold. Pies are known for their British heritage, but they are also Russian… probably any freeze-your-ass-off country for that matter. But these Mini Rabbit Pies will give you a little taste of Russia.
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Mini Rabbit Pies (MIM style)

What you need
1 rabbit, jointed
5 sheets frozen shortcrust pastry, thawed
1 white onion, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 fennel blub, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 large potatoes, peeled & diced
½ cup green peas
1 cup organic vegetable stock
1 cup cider
good glug of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup sour cream
handful of fresh thyme & dill
good knob of butter
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 organic, free range egg, lightly beaten
6 dutch carrots
sea salt & pepper (to taste) 

Go for it…
Preheat your oven to 160 degrees celsius & grease a muffin tin with butter. Leave your pastry out on the bench to thaw.
Add a good glug of oil in a deep casserole dish & heat over a high heat. Add the jointed rabbit & sear on all sides until golden brown. Add the butter, onion, celery, fennel, potatoes, thyme, dill, garlic, stock & cider. Cover with a lid & braise in the oven for 2 hours, until the meat is soft & falling off the bone. Check every 40 minutes that there is still liquid in the pot, add a splash of water if running low.
For the pastry, cut six rounds to size (size will vary on the size of your tin) to line six holes of your muffin tin. Prick the pastry & cover each pie base with baking paper, fill with uncooked rice, bake for 10 minutes. Then remove the paper & rice, bake for a further 5-8 minutes or until golden, set aside to cool slightly.
Once the rabbit meat is falling off the bone, remove the rabbit from the liquid, place onto a chopping board & chop/shred the meat, discarding the bones & place the meat into a bowl.
Using a fine strainer, strain the braising stock into a saucepan. Over a low heat, reduce the liquid by half, adding in the flour & whisk to combine. Allow the liquid to cool, pour on top of the rabbit meat, add the sour cream & peas (they will cook in the oven), mix to combine & season with sea salt & pepper.
Distribute your rabbit mixture among the blind baked pastry cases.
Cut another 6 rounds from the pastry (leaving a 1cm boarder) for the lids of your pies. Pop on top of the filling, brush the edges with eggwash & press to seal the edges. Cut a 1cm small hole in the centre of each pastry (for the dutch carrots to sit in), brush with egg wash & bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
While the pies are finishing off in the oven, grab a pan, heat a little knob of butter, add in the dutch carrots & glaze for about 5 minutes, until cooked. Once the pies are done, place a carrot on top of each pie, season with sea salt & pepper.

Sneaky seconds
These pies are great eaten warm or cold.
Serves 6

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Cheese Blintzes

MIM SWEET CHEESE BLINTZ 01

Being half-Russkie, im slowly researching & discovering that not all Russian cuisine involves vodka! But instead, delicious, homely & rather naughty comfort food, perfect for keeping those bellies full while frolicking around in knee-deep snow.
Cheese Blintzes are probably something we have all eaten in some shape or form, almost every European country has their own version. The Russians have a delicate crêpe that encases a jammed packed mouth-watering sweet cheese filling that is then fried in butter…yes, butter! Just go with it… Don’t fight it. Cheese blintzes are all about the cold winter comfort & this is no time for substitutions.

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The typical filling would be quark or local famers cheese, but I like using ricotta with mascarpone. You can use any type of flavouring that you like, but vanilla & lemon zest are always a crowd pleaser. A dollop of sour cream is usually placed on top or a fruit syrup – black cherries is one of my favourite combinations – but I could not go past the glowing persimmons in the markets.

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The combination of persimmons poached in a sugar syrup with peppercorns, black cherries, vanilla bean & star anise is to die for. As you pair a slice of the poached persimmon with the cheese blintz and place it into your mouth, you will shake your head in disgust at how good this is.

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Cheese Blintzes

What you need
crêpe batter
4 tablespoons softened salted butter, room temperature
1 cup full-fat milk
1 cup ‘00’ plain white flour
4 free-range organic eggs

cheese filling
300g full fat fresh ricotta
150g of mascarpone
1 free-range egg
1/3 cup caster sugar
seeds of 1 vanilla bean
zest of half a lemon

persimmon syrup
2 persimmons, sliced
2 cups water
1 cup caster sugar
8 black peppercorns
6 black cherries, halved & de-seeded
zest of half an orange
1 vanilla pod, seeds removed
2 star anise

Go for it…
Place all the crêpe ingredients into a blender & whiz until you have a smooth, thick consistency. Cover with plastic wrap & place in the fridge for 1 hour.
Grab a small saucepan & place on medium heat, add the sugar, water & bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down, add the peppercorns, black cherries, orange zest, vanilla bean pod (with the seeds removed & set to one side) & star anise, add sliced persimmons, pop on the lid & simmer for 25 minutes. Turn off the heat, leave the lid on & allow the syrup to cool.
Take the batter from the fridge, if it looks too thick, add a splash more milk & stir to loosen the batter. Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat, melt a knob of butter & spread until the base of the pan is covered.  Pour 4 tablespoons (about 1/3 cup batter per crêpe ) of the batter into the frying pan, enough to coat the bottom of the pan, with an even layer when you swirl it around. Leave it until the crêpe becomes crisp around the edges & golden brown. Then flip & cook for 30 seconds on the reverse side. Slide onto a plate to cool & repeat with the reaming batter – you can stack the cooked crêpes on top of each other.
To make the filling, combine all the ingredients into a mixing bowl & mix with a spatula until smooth.
To assemble, lay a crêpe flat on your bench top, place 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture in the centre of the crêpe. Fold the top down over the filling, then the two sides, followed by the bottom. Repeat.
Heat a frying pan over medium heat with a good knob of butter & fry each side of the blintzes until golden brown. Pop on a plate, place a few slices of the poached persimmons on top with a little of the syrup, a light dusting of icing sugar & enjoy.

Sneaky Seconds
Fill your blintzes with the cheese filling & pop them in the fridge up to 2 days, ready for frying when ready to eat.
Serves 4

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Fattoush Salad with Za’atar

MIM FATTOUSH SALAD 05

Freshness, crunch & vibrancy are all one wants in a salad & that is exactly what a Fattoush salad delivers.
I believe without doubt that it is the No 1 salad. It’s basically a big bowl of pure goodness, showcasing each seasonal ingredient to its full potential & when you add a little sprinkling of magical Middle Eastern Za’atar, it takes the salad to a whole new level of flavour!

MIM FATTOUSH SALAD 01

The first time I tasted this Lebanese salad, I was living at home & Mumma MIM had no idea what to cook for dinner. She was flicking through one of her ten thousand cook books (I’m not kidding, which is why I’m always surprised she knows when I nick one of them!) & there it was, a recipe that fell open on her lap. A page filled with vibrant colours & a salad that we had to have. In my opinion, any salad that has pieces of crispy flat bread tossed through it is a stroke of genius.

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It’s basically a better version of a Greek Salad… (I’m going to be in trouble for that sentence…), but it’s true. Fattoush is a salad that combines fresh, crisp summer veggies with a bucket load of fresh herbs, a good whack of lemon, crispy pita bread & Za’atar – a spice blend of sesame seeds, sumac, dried thyme & oregano.

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Fattoush Salad with Za’atar (MIM style)

What you need
2 Lebanese cucumbers, halved & sliced
6 ripe truss tomatoes, quartered
1 red Spanish onion, diced
4 radishes, washed & sliced
handful of fresh parsley & mint, roughly chopped
crispy fried flat bread, broken into small pieces
1 heaped tablespoon of Za’atar
juice & zest of 1 lemon
good glug of extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
sea salt & pepper (to taste) 

Go for it…
Pop the juice & zest of the lemon into a glass jar, along with a good glug of oil, sea salt, pepper, grated garlic. Secure the jar with a fitted lid, shake & set to one side.
Wash, slice & dice your vegetables & place into a large salad bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad & toss to combine everything together. Sprinkle the top with Za’atar & small broken pieces of the pita bread & serve straight away.

Sneaky Seconds
To be eaten straight away.
Serves 4.

Za’atar (MIM style)

What you need
½ cup sesame seeds (toasted)
1/3 cup sumac
2 tablespoons of dried thyme
2 tablespoons of dried oregano

Go for it…
Combine all the ingredients into a mixing bowl & stir well to combine.
Pour into a glass jar & store in the pantry.

Sneaky seconds
Lasts for 6 months in a sterilized glass jar.

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