Monday, 25 June 2012


Lamb is my favourite meat, as you may well have gathered. I always choose shoulder over leg because, frankly, I love fatty lamb and if it is cooked slowly a lots of the fat renders away anyway, leaving succulent flavourful tender meat. Mr Redding and I aren't blessed with a garden but we have a small balcony and, courtesy of Poundland, a rather clever space saving herb garden. We grow all the basics - rosemary, sage, thyme, parsley, chives, chervil and mint.  I don't grow coriander because I find it bolts so easily, and (whispers) I'm not a huge basil fan.

So what better way to cook a lovely young shoulder of lamb than with a selection of young herbs, giving a green lightness to the rich meat. I also added lemon zest for added zing. I bought a whole shoulder and boned it (because I quite enjoy boning out meat and I understand the lump of meat I am left with) but a pre-boned joint will do fine. This is very strauightforward but very tasty - I served it with boiled new potatoes and runner beans and petits pois.  Spinach would also go well.

Shoulder of Lamb with Spring Herbs

1 shoulder of lamb, around 1.6kg - boned
75g butter
2 handfuls of herbs, from chives, sage, thyme, rosemary and mint, chopped finely
Finely grated zest of a lemon
Salt and black pepper

Open out the boned shoulder and season with black pepper. Combine the herbs, lemon rind and butter in a bowl, season with a little salt, the spread over the inside of the joint. Roll up, tucking in where necessary, and tie up nice and securely.

Line a baking tray with tin foil, lay on the joint and wrap loosely. Cook at 180 for 2 hours, increase heat to 200,  uncover and cook for a further 45 minutes.

Allow to stand for 20 minutes, remove strings and carve into thick chunks - no need to worry about delicate uniform slices here.  Make a gravy from the roasting juices (skimmed) and beef stock (or even an Oxo cube, but I didn't say that!). The golden rule with all lamb dishes is that everything -  plates, vegetables, serving dishes and gravy have to be HOT!  Serve with plain vegetables so as not to distract from the flavour of the lamb and herbs.

Sunday, 10 June 2012


I really enjoy cooking lunch on a Sunday. We usually eat around 2.00 so I have plenty of time to take things slowly and to try out different things. But we are quite traditional about our Sunday lunch so it usually involves something light and fishy for a starter, a roast or other lump of meat based main course, then something fruity and refreshing for pudding (and yes, I say pudding, I hate the term dessert - just one of my quirks).  Last night I had returned from three glorious days in and around Bournemouth with Mr Redding, so today was keeping everything very simple - smoked salmon to start, roast chicken and roast potatoes, runner beans and savoy cabbage and strawberries and cream to finish. But that pudding started worrying me - too simple. Strawberry mousse? Very nice but I didn't have any almond thins to go with and didn't feel up to making them. Then I thought - what about making a bit of sponge - relatively easy and very effective.  So I made a fatless sponge, layered it up with kirsch, strawberries and cream and it all turned out rather well......

Serves 4


75g plain flour
Pinch of salt
3 eggs
75g caster sugar
Tblsp. warm water
Tsp. vanilla essence


Tblsp. Kirsch
400g  strawberries
200ml  double cream

Icing sugar and a skewer to serve
4 3" serving rings

Line a swiss roll tin with baking parchment.  Preheat the oven to 150.

To make the sponge whisk the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk/mixer until pale, thick and frothy. Fold in the flour and salt and then add the water and vanilla essence.  Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and firm to the touch.

Use a 3 inch serving ring to cut out 8 discs of sponge. Put a disc of sponge into each of 4 rings and place on a flat plate. Scatter a few drops of kirsch on the sponge.

Selecting smaller strawberries, cut the tops off, slice in half and arrange around the edge of the sponge, with the cut side facing the serving ring. Make sure they fit tightly.

With the rest of the strawberries, hull them, add a teaspoon of caster sugar, and mash gently in a bowl. Spoon the mashed strawberry and some of the juice into each of the serving rings until they are almost filled. Whip the cream until fairly stiff and spoon on top of the strawberry mixture - don't skimp.

Finally, place the other disc of sponge in the serving ring and sprinkle more kirsch on top. Leave in the fridge for a couple of hours.

To serve, upend the ring onto a plate and ease out. Heat the skewer until very hot, sprinkle the top of the sponge with icing sugar, then use the skewer to create a gird pattern on top. Serve with a little additional cream.