SPRING IS HERE..

SIMPLY GRILLED LAMB - quite often with lamb I season it with sea salt and cracked pepper, cook over a hot grill and squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over it. Simplicity at its best! However I do still have a few special marinades and rubs, which I pull out occasionally. This one is one I remember fondly whilst living in Greece. I will never forget the oregano and lemon fragrance toasting warmly on the lamb whilst dripping juices onto the charcoal grill.
This easy marinade is great with lamb leg steaks, chops, or better still a whole leg which is then slowly cooked, until the meat falls from the bone.

Marinade - 6 lamb leg chops/1 whole leg
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ bunch each of thyme, rosemary and fresh oregano (or 1 ½ tsp dried)
100ml olive oil
100ml lemon juice
200ml red wine

Combine all the ingredients and cover the lamb. If using a whole leg, let sit overnight in the fridge. Chop’s etc only need 1-2 hrs. Remove after the allocated time. Reserving the marinade for basting with.

RUB FOR LAMB
4 cloves garlic
¼ bunch each of thyme, rosemary and oregano

Using a pestle and mortar, crush the ingredients for the dry rub together until they form a paste. Season to taste. Rub generously over the marinated meat and grill the lamb chops or slow roast the lamb leg in the oven and baste often with the marinade..



GREEK LAMB IN TOMATO SAUCE WITH RED BEANS
Serves 6

500g dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight in cold water and drained
½ cup olive oil
1.5kg boneless lamb - shoulder
1 onion, grated
400ml tomato juice
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
½ cup freshly chopped parsley
1 small chilli, chopped
Salt and pepper

Put the beans in a pot, cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil vigorously for 15 minutes, then drain and discard the water, pour in fresh water to cover, bring to a boil and simmer for 15-30 minutes, or until half cooked. Drain and discard water. Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the meat and cook over high heat, turning occasionally, until browned all over. Add the onion, reduce the heat, and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, until softened. Pour in the tomato juice and add the tomato paste, sugar, vinegar, parsley, chilli and beans. Mix well, season with salt and pepper, and pour in 2 cups water. Cover and simmer over low heat, adding a little more water if necessary, for 1-2 hours, until the meat and beans are tender and the liquid has reduced. Serve and enjoy.


Bob from Limousin Beef and Lamb proudly wearing his hat for Spring


CREAMED SPINACH


500g spinach, washed well and stalks removed
1 onion peeled and cut into thick slices
250 ml full fat milk
1-2 bay leaves
50g butter
25g plain flour
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
A few gratings of nutmeg

Heat the milk with the onion, and bay leaves and leave to infuse for about 10 minutes.
Drain as much moisture from the spinach as possible. Heat up a fry pan or pot and add the spinach and cook briefly for a couple of minutes. You won’t need any additional liquid as there should be enough water clinging to the spinach leaves. Remove immediately from pan and drain.
Melt the butter and add the flour. Stir well and cook gently for 2 minutes. Pass the milk through a sieve and discard the onion and bay leaves. Gradually add the milk to the butter mixture and stir continuous until all the milk is incorporated. Cook gently for 5 minutes, add a few gratings of nutmeg, sprinkle of salt and a few extra cracks of pepper. Roughly chop the spinach and add to the milk mixture. Mix to combine, taste it may need more seasoning. Serve on its own as a super nutritious bowl of comfort, or excellent accompaniment to pork.



CRAYFISH
I now have enough crayfish bodies in my freezer to make one of my favourite soups - Bisque! There are so many variations on this fragrant, creamy soup. I like to use leftovers especially from strong flavoured crustaceans such as crayfish, crabs, prawns (shells). Once you have made the broth you can then add shell fish or perhaps add some fresh fennel and poach the sliced bulb in the broth. Serve it with some crunchy homemade croutons, and pungent aioli!

CRAYFISH BISQUE

900g crayfish bodies, crabs etc
50g butter
50g onion, chopped
50g carrot, chopped
50g celery, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 Tablespoon cognac (if you have it)
½ tin tomatoes or 4 fresh
1 teaspoon tomato puree
85 ml dry white wine
1 good size sprig of fresh tarragon
1.75 ml fish stock
50 ml cream
Pinch cayenne pepper
Juice of ¼ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Melt the butter in a heavy-based pot, add the carrots, onion, and celery, cook without colouring. Add the crayfish bodies and crush with a heavy spoon. Put the lid on and continue to cook gently for at least 20 minutes. This stage is vital as you are wanting to extract as much flavour from the crayfish and vegetables as possible. Add the bay leaf and cognac (if using), allow to boil off then add the tomatoes, tomato puree, wine, tarragon and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Keep trying to crush up the crayfish shells through out cooking as the meat left sticking to the shells hold’s all the flavour.
Remove any tough shells from the soup before liquidizing in a food processor in two or three batches.
Process in short bursts until the shell is broken into small pieces about the size of your finger nail. You don’t want to processor the shell to fine as you are not wanting to extract the flavour from the shell rather from the meat.
Pass the soup through a sieve, pushing through as much liquid as possible. Then, pass the soup through a fine strainer before returning to the heat. Bring to the boil, add the cream then season with cayenne, lemon juice, salt and cracked pepper. Reduce the volume by simmering if you think the flavour needs concentrating. Once you have reached the desired flavour (which should be heavily fragrant with crayfish) you can either eat as is or poach some seafood off as I have mentioned before. Either way it is worth the
effort put into preparing this memorable soup.



WILD GARLIC FRITTERS
Serves 6-8

55g spinach, and rocket leaves (beetroot and mustard leaves are also delicious)
10 wild garlic flowers
1 celery stick
½ bunch spring onions
Handful fresh dill or fennel leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Groundnut oil for frying
15g butter

Batter
250g plain flour
375ml sparkling mineral water

Chop the spinach, rocket and dill leaves . Feel free to substitute other seasonal greens or leave out any that are unavailable. Trim and finely dice the celery and spring onions, pick over the garlic flowers and add to the mixture. Sprinkle the mixture with salt and leave for 10 minutes, then wash well, squeezing out as much water as possible. Mix everything together thoroughly.
Make the batter by whisking the flour and water together until smooth: Best to use whilst fresh. Using a spoon, add the greens to the batter at a ratio of two portions of batter to one of greens. You can make the fritters any size you fancy. Season well.
Heat the oil and butter together in a frying pan and drop in spoonfuls of the mixture. Cook on both sides until crisp. Eat hot and especially good with Tzatziki (cucumber, yoghurt and garlic sauce).



ALISON AND THE OTAGO FARMERS MARKET WOULD LIKE TO THANK THE FOLLOWING VENDORS FOR THEIR WONDERFUL PRODUCE!

LIMOUSIN BEEF
JANEFIELD GARDENS