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Middle Eastern Lamb & Apricot Meatballs with Tzatziki

22 Jun

While the British Isles are saturated with an unseasonal amount of rain, I ring out my jumper and look East towards the lands of eternal sun, sand and spices…..Here’s one I invented for low fuss suppers. The meatballs can be made earlier in the day or the night before as can the tzatziki, meaning prep time is kept to about 20mins.

Serves 4-5


500g minced lamb
1 tsp mixed herbs
Seasoned flour, for coating
1 large onion, sliced
2 leeks
75g dried apricots, small chunks
50g almonds, finely chopped
1 aubergine, diced
425g can tomatoes
3 tsp mixed spice
cumin seeds
4tbsp water
200ml white wine
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp chopped corriander
Thick noodles to serve

Mix the lamb with the seasoning and mixed herbs in a bowl. Add the chopped apricots and almonds. Form into balls and coat with seasoned flour.
 Saute the onion, garlic and leek very gently over a low heat in a knob of butter. Then move to a saucepan and pour in the canned tomatoes. Mix together with the aubergine, cumin, coriander, chilli and a splash of Worcestershire sauce. Leave to cook for 20 minutes on a low heat.

While the sauce is cooking fry the meatballs until browned and cooked through.

For the Tzatziki

250ml plain Greek yoghurt
3/4 whole cucumber
3 cloves of garlice, crushed
handful of fresh mint, chopped

Grate the cucumber and then squeeze out the water. Mix this with the youghurt, chopped mint and crushed garlic. Add some all purpose seasoning such as Aromat and a small splash of Worcestershire sauce.

To Serve:
Cook the noodles and mix them into the sauce to give them colour. Then place the meatballs on top and chop some chives over.

Enjoy. x


Rabbit with Mustard and Tarragon

23 Apr

Now I’m not trying to kill off the Easter Bunny, but what happened to the rabbit? Instead of searching for Easter eggs under your hedges I vote going native, you won’t regret it…this recipe is my edited version of the Sunday Times Recipe.



4 tbsp plain flour
Salt and Pepper
2 x large rabbit cut into 6. (or 12 rabbit thighs)
6 tbsp olive oil
3 medium leeks (finely chopped)
2 medium carrots (finely chopped)
6 cloves of garlic crushed
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs of rosemary
4 bushy sprigs of thyme
400ml of dry white wine
600ml chicken stock
150ml double cream
4tbsp dijon mustard
2 large handfuls of tarragon leaves
secret ingredient: lots of dry sherry and nutmeg

1. Heat the over to 180C

2. Put the flour in a large bow, season well and toss the rabbit pieces in it. Heat 2tbsp of the olive oil in a casserole or large, deep frying pan. Add half the rabbit pieces and brown for about 2 minutes on each side. Move to a plate, then add another 2 tbsp oil and repeat with the remaining batch. Add them to the other pieces.

3. Pour the remaining 2tbsp of oil into the pan, throw in the leek, carrot, garlic, bay, thyme and rosemary. Cook over a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes until the leek is soft. Tip in the wine and sherry, turn up the heat. Let things bubble away for 5-6 mins and the liquid is syrupy.

4. Put the rabbit pieces back in the pan, add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cover the pot with a sheet of foil, then with a lid, and place in the oven. Cook for 1hr 15mins to 2 hrs, or until the rabbit is tender to the bone.

5. Remove the rabbit, then place the pot on the hob and bubble the juices to thicken them a little if necessary I added double cream and creme fraiche to make it creamy. Taste and season. I also added some nutmeg at this stage for some warmth. Once seasoned add the cream and mustard, splash of Worcestershire sauce and bubble again until thick. Stir in 2/3 of the tarragon, then the rabbit and bubble for a minute more.

I served it last night with Rosmary Potatoes Boulangeres. Yummy.

Spiced Pork Belly Stuffed with Prunes

2 Apr

This cheap cut always goes down well, but make sure you get the crackling crispy….I add golden syrup and lots of salt to make it extra crunchy. It is the perfect Sunday roast and can be mixed up with different potato options and vegetable sides.

Serves 6

Takes 30 minutes to make, 1 hour 10 minutes in the oven, plus resting

(potatoes have not been included in the method so you can select your own preference.)


  • 150g dried, ready-to-eat prunes
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1.5kg piece boneless pork belly, skin removed, scored and reserved
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil

For the roasted vegetables

  • 3 red onions, cut into thin wedges
  • 12 medium carrots, cut into chunks
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Few fresh bay leaves
  • 4 garlic segments
  • 1 red cabbage
  • 40g butter


1. Put the prunes, orange juice and cinnamon in a pan over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated. Discard the cinnamon and set aside to cool. Whizz in a food processor until roughly chopped.

2. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan200°C/gas 7. Lay out the pork with the long side facing you. Using a long knife and working from right to left, split the pork from the short side almost in 2 lengthways, then open it up like a book. Rub the spices and lots of salt into the opened pork (Its the salt which makes the crackling crispy). Turn it over to the under side and put your spiced prune mix in the center.

3. Roll the meat up from the short, open side, as you would a Swiss roll. Wrap this in the reserved, scored skin, then tie neatly several times with butcher’s string.

4. Put the vegetable oil in a large, roasting tin and put in the oven for 10 minutes. Add the vegetables and herbs, season and toss in the oil. Push them towards the side of the tin and put the pork in the centre, rolling it to coat in the oil. Season and cook skin-side up for 1 hour, or until the pork is golden and the vegetables tender. Turn off the oven and transfer the pork to a plate. Cover loosely with foil and rest for 15 minutes. Pop the vegetables back in the oven to keep hot.

5. Meanwhile, thinly slice the cabbage. Blanch in boiling, salted water for 2 minutes, drain and return to the pan. Add the butter, season and toss together.

6. Carve the pork into generous slices, discarding the string as you go. Divide between warm plates. Spoon the vegetables alongside, drizzling over any pan juices. Serve with the red cabbage, potatoes and roasted vegetables.

(apple, mustard and parsnip mash complements the meal well, alternatively I have also used dauphinoise or roast potatoes.)

Here’s one I made earlier….