I'm suppose to look puzzled, not angry!

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I have a book to publish. Editors love it, marketing departments say 'up the media profile'. So here I am 'upping it' and writing about the book, food, and life in general.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

The call from Masterchef and the resulting cookathon

No, it's not me they're after, it's Zoe.  My  11 yr old daughter, winner of the Schools' Interchef Challenge has caught the eye of the Masterchef production team.  Tonight she's done a down-the-line interview while I've panicked and done a couple of gins.  I aim to teach her all I know within a week.  Should be easy.  This is tonight's effort.

Lebanese Rice
Melt a knob of butter with a little sunflower oil and add a handful of broken up vermicelli.  Stir until just beginning to darken  in colour.  You may smell the toastiness before you see it.  Remove pan from heat.

Add dry basmati rice.  You need about 2/3rds more than the vermicelli.  Add salt and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Stir to coat rice in oil.

Add hot water to same depth as rice.  Cover, bring to boil then simmer for about 7 mins.  Remove lid, check to see if rice needs more water.  If it's almost ready but still has a slight bite then just wet it slightly, bring to boil then put the lid on and turn off the heat to allow it to steam.
Fry up finely sliced onions in sunflower oil until brown. Add garlic if you like but don't let the garlic burn - it takes less time to cook than the onion.
Fluff up the rice, sprinkle with the onion/garlic and a little more cinnamon.
 Aromatic Spice Mix
Toast cumin seeds, fennel seeds, chilli flakes and sesame seeds in a dry pan.  Bash about a bit to release aroma.  This can be scattered over the whole dish when finished.
8 Hour Shoulder of Lamb
Which means do this before the rice! Marinate overnight with a rub of crushed garlic and some of the above spice mix.
 Dribble with olive oil and salt and bang it in a hot oven for about half an hour until it's browning but not so long that the garlic burns.

Add a glass of white wine to the pan, cover loosely with foil and turn the oven down to Gas 1 or140C for 4 hours then flip the lamb over and continue cooking without the foil for another 3 hours or until the lamb is falling off the bone.  Whack the heat back up to cook out all the fat.  Serve when dark and crisped.

I noticed the above picture looked a bit like a freaky animal head, so here's a less offensive one with the meat flipped over.
 Reduce all the lovely juices and serve in a sauce boat.  Not just out of the pan as we did.
Sal's Babaganoush
A gorgeously silky accompaniment (which my husband hates) is a version of babaganoush  with yoghurt replacing the tehina.  It's much lighter and far less fattening and was first brought to my attention by Sal the Policeman.

Smoke your aubergine on a gas flame until collapsed.  If no gas then roast hell out of it in the oven.

When it's cooled a bit, peel off the skin and purée.
Blend in some natural yoghurt and salt to taste.  I usually add a bit of crushed garlic but as there was so much garlic in the lamb I didn't think it was needed tonight.
Sprinkle with shredded mint, parsley or coriander.

Serve the whole shebang - rice, lamb, juices and aubergine and sprinkle with the dry spice mix.

Then thank your lucky stars that you don't have to cook it on TV.

Zoe must be mad.

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