Cozy stews and Nanna blankets.

If there’s on theme that has kept cropping up in the last week it’s cozy.

I have an appreciation for all the seasons. Sometimes I think that we should have 1 month of each and that would solve all my problems.

The first month of every season is the best. In summer you start to wear pretty floral dresses without tights, and the heat is warm and inviting. By the time February comes round, the 40 degree days seem longer and the nights aren’t balmy they’re just exhaustingly hot.
We’re just beginning winter and so the jackets and hoodies are out of the cupboard. And everything is cozy. In two months time my bones will be cold and no amount of wooly socks, hot casseroles or squishy cowls will warm me up.

Well maybe this casserole might.

I really was impressed with myself.

the ingredients
500gm diced lamb
1/4 cup flour
1 diced onion
400gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
1 cup beer
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 tbl spoon gravy powder
Dash worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

the recipe
Fry the onions and garlic in olive oil. Once cooked put in casserole dish. (note: if your casserole dish doesn’t fit in the oven with other trays in, take them out now)

Brown the lamb in the same pot. Add flour and cook the flour a bit.
Once that’s brown, add the beer and beef stock. Bring to the boil.

Chop the mushrooms and put in the casserole dish.
Add the tin of tomatoes, worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper.
Add the boiling lamb mixture and stir.
Add some herbs if you like (I added dried oregano and fresh rosemary)

Put in a 220 degree oven with the lid on.

Cook for 1 hour 30. While this is cooking make the dumplings.
Put the dumplings in the casserole at 1hr30 and cook for another 30 minutes with the lid off.

the dumplings
1 cup self raising flour
60gms cubed butter
1/2 cup grated cheese (Mmm Colby)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup milk

Rub the butter and flour together to make breadcrumbs. Then add the cheese and oats. Slowly add the milk until the mixture just combines.

Roll into even balls and place on top of casserole.

Wait for casserole to heat up the entire house and make it smell delicious.

Serve with potato bake and fresh green beans.

Await praise from boyfriend who helps himself to seconds.
Try and not lick the plate in front of said boyfriend.

Ahh the beginning of winter when the casseroles are cozy and the Nanna blankets are just warm enough.

(my 10 stitch blanket is coming along nicely btw)

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Once I got the oven going, a lamb was a roasting

I’m on a bit of a health kick at the moment. I’m trying to move more, eat more fruit and vegies, and drink less calories (be it alcohol, cordial, or milk).

So a roast is an easy way to have lots of yummy vegies. And a roast almost always involves cauliflower cheese. I mean while the ovens on why not bake more. Cauliflower cheese is always a comfort food. A white cheese sauce (with nutmeg obviously) over cauliflower and broccoli and then set in the oven.

Add that with some garlic, potato, and pumpkin which was par-boiled then set in the oven with some garlic olive oil for good measure.

Then the lamb, which was close to the best lamb cutlets I’ve ever cooked.

I rubbed rosemary and garlic olive oil over the skin. Browned it in a pan and then set it in the oven. After about 40 minutes I took it out and placed it in alfoil. So really I just did everything tv chefs tell you to do. And guess what! It worked.
So it may not be ‘diet friendly’ but definitely big on vegetables (and taste).

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A soup and a pasta

Mondays can either go one of two ways.
Either I get home from work completely spent, uninspired, and want nothing more to collapse on the couch watching Project Runway.
Or I get home inspired, ready to clean the house, cook dinner, finish knitting projects that I was previously bored of, and take over the world.

Last night was the latter.
After an unenthusiastic day at work, I came home, did the grocery shopping, did a vague meal plan for the rest of the week, paid some bills, started the head of another minion, and cooked a two course meal. I even did the dishes afterwards (a rarity) so there isn’t washing up left over.

I borrowed a recipe from the blog of Food On Paper. It’s a delicious blog with food photography which I aspire to.
She posted this Mint, Pea, and Yoghurt soup a while back and I squirreled it away for a night like last night.

I was planning on trying to recreate the roasted lamb pasta which I had at the Royal not so long ago. So into the oven went a little lamb roast and some diced potatoes, carrots, and parsnip.

As I knew dinner was going to be late (roasting in the oven takes time) I thought I’d make a soup.
I’m always a bit ravenous when I get home and a quick soup seemed just the ticket.

See the recipe here.

The only variation was I didn’t have any mint! It’s a total disaster to not have an ingredient which is in the title, but it still worked. It would have worked better with some mint, but the only mint I had in the house was chocolate mint drinking powder. I decided against putting that in.

I served it up with the prescribed dollop of greek yoghurt which really made it something special. Accompanying it on the plate was some (store bought!) scones which had gone in the sandwich press to melt the parmesan cheese over the top.

To be honest that would have been enough. If I didn’t already have the roast in the oven I would have been quite content with just the soup and scone.

But the lamb was in the oven so once that was cooked it was rested until it was able to be sliced.
Into a hot pan went some garlic olive oil closely followed by some chopped onion. Then went the sliced lamb and the roasted vegetables.
On top of that went a bottle of passata, (I thought it was the closest match for what I had tasted at the royal), and then some water which rinsed out the jar.
That then came to the boil and then simmered until the pasta was cooked.

For the pasta, I used fresh lasagne sheets which I tore into rustic looking sheets.
I know why I don’t always use fresh pasta (it involves going to the shops more often) but oh how I love fresh pasta.
One of my dreams for when I have a bigger kitchen is a pasta maker.

Delicious! Even though he wasn’t hungry, Mr Sparklesness went back for seconds.
It’s a lamb roast, in a bowl, hugged by pasta.
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Lamb shanks

Let it be known that I love lamb.
Lamb cutlets, French trim, Lamb chops, roast lamb, and I am rather partial to a lamb shank.

And this is a very good recipe which I found in a cookbook by West Australian authors, Dujour

It is a glorious book, with beautiful photos of food, and special embossed pages between chapters.

I’ve tried several recipes from it, but one that I keep going back to is their method for cooking lamb shanks.

I wasn’t particularly true to the recipe. So here’s my version.

I smeared two lamb shanks with minced garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and olive oil. That went into a 200 degree oven for about 30 minutes.
While this was cooking I made scones (as you do, but more on that later), and boiled some potatoes.

I mashed the potatoes with some beef stock, milk, butter, grated cheese, and chives, and then spooned onto a baking tray. A smidgen more grated cheese over the top, and some garlic olive oil and then they went in the oven to brown up.

At the same time as the spuds were going in the oven, the lamb shanks came out and were covered in a tomato mixture, covered in alfoil and then back in the oven.
The tomato mixture was 1 tin of tomatoes, some chopped Italian sausage, a grated carrot, some red wine, and more salt and pepper.

At the 40 minutes in the oven mark I put some broccoli and cauliflower on to boil.

After 50 minutes in the oven, the potato was crispy and the lamb cooked.

We tried to rest the lamb but we just ended up eating it.
It was melt-in-your-mouth good.
I had my reservations about adding the Italian sausage but it didn’t make it too meaty.

Definitely make it again, although I wouldn’t mind finding some way to keep my olives.

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