Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Persian Slow Cooked Lamb with Pomegranate Glaze

A Sunday night tradition for as long as I can remember is a roast dinner.  Even when I was a little girl, Sunday dinner meant Roast Meat and Potatoes, lots of vegetables and a nice thick gravy (often mopped up with a piece of bread if I was ever in a naughty mood - so nearly every time we had roast LOL)!  Growing up my parents loved to be surrounded by our families - something I also treasure dearly.  I remember the table always being full and lots of chatter and laughter - everyone enjoying themselves and the food......
Now, in my forties, I still look forward to a Sunday roast.  Although during footy season it's a lot harder to organise it with our commitments with the kid's footy.  Mainly due to the time constraints and also the Junior club (where our daughter plays) hold presentations/dinner every Sunday night.
I was really wanting a roast dinner…. I wanted a roast dinner badly as it had been so long. So totally out of character for me I cooked a roast on a Tuesday night… yep midweek! Sadly, it was due to darling daughter being sick but it gave me the opportunity. Not only was I going to seize that opportunity but I was going to be adventurous about it.
I found a recipe in a new Weight Watchers Cook Book which got my attention – it was cooked in a slow cooker, had pomegranate as one of the ingredients and had a totally different twist to any roast lamb I have ever cooked. I have only ever cooked on roast in a slow cooker and it was a leg of lamb and I did not enjoy it. Only to find out that I should have browned it first and done this and done that. I was very disappointed.
When I mention cooking a Roast to my family – they automatically think of the traditional roast we grew up loving. I told them how I was going to serve them up lamb tonight I received some interesting looks…. Needless to say I was very determined cooking this dinner – although I cheated!! Well not really cheated but I cooked it in the oven slowly (as the recipe does say) instead of using the slow cooker. Note to self – stop being a chicken and try roasting in the slow cooker again!!
Anyhow, what can I say the flavours on this dish were magnificent. Persian, I am guessing, is very similar to that of Moroccan and all the other middle Eastern cuisines. I have never cooked a Persian meal before. The use of all the spices made the lamb bursting with a tantalising flavour followed by a taste of sweetness from the pomegranate juice. I also loved the garnish of sweet and sour fresh pomegranate arils, nuttiness of the almonds and the salty feta cheese. Served with couscous and vegetables this actually was a wonderful and easy roast to cook and even more so as it’s achievable to do so midweek.

Persian Slow Cooked Lamb with Pomegranate Glaze
(Recipe sourced from Weight Watchers Real Food Slow Cookbook)
Serves: 8
SmartPoints per serve: 8

3 brown onions, cut into wedges
4 garlic cloves, chopped
400 gram can crushed tomatoes
½ cup chicken stock
½ cup pomegranate juice
2 orange rind strips
4 fresh or dried bay leaves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 kilograms lean leg lamb, fat trimmed
2 teaspoons honey
¼ cup coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh pomegranate arils (seeds)
50 grams reduced fat feta cheese
1 tablespoon toasted almonds

Place onion, garlic, tomatoes, stock, juice, rind and bay leaves in a 4.5 litre (18 cup) slow cooker. Combine cinnamon, cumin, coriander and oregano in a small bowl. Rub lamb with spice mixture. Place lamb in slow cooker.

Cook, covered, on low for 7 hours (or high for 3 ½ hours).

Transfer lamb to a plate and cover to keep warm. Skim excess fat from cooking juices and discard bay leaves. Transfer juices to a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil uncovered for 10 – 12 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Stir honey into sauce and spoon over lamb. Sprinkle with parsley, pomegranate arils, feta and almonds to serve.

Serve with 0sp mixed salad leaves or steamed vegetables. You could serve with couscous allowing 3 points per ½ cup.

To cook in the oven:

Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 140 degrees Celsius fan forced and bake lamb mixture in a covered baking dish for 2 ½ hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes or until very tender.

(Click here for a printable version of this recipe)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Cowboy Lasagne

Well howdy partner.....

Who would have thought that a traditional Italian classic could have such an American twist to it?  I know that there are lots and lots of different lasagne recipes out there which have all different takes on the meal that has comfort food written all over it!!!

Once I had read this recipe I knew that the whole family would LOVE it... and they did. 

So what makes this lasagne dish different to every other one?  Well you have to eat it wearing a 10 gallon hat. No only kidding.  Amongst the rich meat sauce is pepperoni - yes that's right pepperoni!!  And oh my God did it taste good....

The pepperoni surprisingly gave the sauce such a nice flavour and was not as overpowering as I thought - adding an element of spices as that found on a pizza. 

Jam packed with vegetables plus the addition of fresh herbs this lasagne was definitely worth trying... give it a go.

Cowboy Lasagne
(Recipe adapted from Trisha's Southern Kitchen)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
500 grams lean beef mince
500 grams lean pork mince
1/2 cup tomato paste
700 gram jar passata
250 grams sliced pepperoni
800 grams diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary chopped
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 carrots grated
2 zucchini grated
1 red capsicum, diced
1 green capsicum, diced
2 cups water
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons plain flour
4 cups skim milk
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
ground white pepper
500 gram packet fresh lasagne sheets
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup grated Parmesan
In a large frying pan, over medium heat, add the oil and cook onion and garlic until softened. 
Add minced beef and pork, breaking into lumps while cooking. Cook until lightly browned and cooked through. 

Add the tomato paste and cook for a further 5 minutes continuously stirring. 

Add passata, pepperoni, tomatoes, rosemary, tarragon, basil, oregano, carrots, zucchini, capsicums and water. Bring to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile place a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add butter and heat until fully melted.  Add flour.  Using a wooden spoon, mix until a roux is formed.  Add milk and mustard, stir continuously with a whisk until lump free and starting to thicken.  Season with white pepper.  Remove from heat.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

In the bottom of a large rectangle casserole dish (approximately 22 x 33 cm) spread a layer of the meat sauce. Top with a layer of the lasagne sheets.  Add another layer of meat sauce and then spread with half of the white sauce. Top with another layer of lasagne sheets.  Add another layer of meat sauce.  Top with a final layer of lasagne sheets.  Spread remaining white sauce on the lasagne sheets and sprinkle with cheeses.

Bake until lightly browned and bubbling, about 40 minutes. Allow the dish to stand for 15 minutes before serving. Cut the lasagne into 12 portions and serve.
(click here for a printable version of this recipe)