The beginning….


October morning mists
October morning mists

…. it is the beginning of October, the beginning of this blog and, it seems, the beginning of Autumn. When I got up this morning instead of being able to see for miles from kitchen window, it was cool and misty. When I went out onto the balcony there was a definite chill in the air. The kind of chill that suggests a need for big meaty dishes.

The Bear had set off early to work and crept out trying not to wake me so I thought I would make a decent effort in return and have something  ready for him tonight. I also needed to make sure there was enough for him to eat tomorrow night as I was going back to the north for a couple of days. Not that he couldn’t cook for himself, but  I had plenty of time and he was busy. Might as well make myself useful. What I wanted was something with minimal effort and maximum kudos. I had bought the November issue of “delicious.” at the weekend and one of the recipes in the slow cooking section,  Spiced Shoulder of Lamb,  sounded just the sort of thing for a chilly day – with the added bonus of gorgeously aromatic smells filling the apartment while it cooked. The sheer simplicity of the recipe meant that it had a lot going for it as certain of my friends (yes, you know who you are) prefer not to exert themselves too much…… and they need encouragement.

It did suggest making it in a slow cooker but as the one I have is a very small two person pot and this recipe serves 4-6, then it seemed a good idea to do it on a low heat in the oven all afternoon… and that would also warm the place up a bit.

Spiced Shoulder of Lamb from delicious. November 2009 issue

1.5kg shoulder of lamb,

good pinch of saffron,

1 onion finely sliced,

2.5cm bit of ginger, peeled and cut into matchstick sized pieces,

2 garlic cloves, 

1 tsp chilli flakes, 

1 tsp coriander seeds,

1 tsp. cumin seeds,

 2 tsp garam masala.

I bought a piece of rolled shoulder – not for any other reason than that was what Mick the butcher had.   


Cooking 032   



The lamb was browned all over in a hot frying pan before I put it in my Le Creuset casserole. While that was browning, I soaked the saffron in 2 tbsps of warm water and started on the paste. All of the other ingredients needed to be blitzed to a rough paste and then the saffron and water added. The paste was seasoned well and then rubbed all over the lamb

 Cooking 033

 Cooking 035








That was it. Into a preheated oven (160 degrees/140 degrees, fan assisted/gas mark 3) and leave it to do its stuff for 4 or so hours.

Now I’m just lolling around while the apartment smells gorgeous…… ‘delicious. ‘ suggests serving it with couscous, which I will make later and making a garlic, mint and yoghurt sauce to go with the lamb.

The sauce is made with 150ml Greek yoghurt, 1 crushed garlic clove and a handful for chopped fresh mint, all stirred together .

So, my friends, do you think you can make this? It’s not hard is it? Five minutes work and then leave the oven to deal with it?

The outcome?

Lamb Lamb – the finished dish

Finally… after several hours, the Bear returned home from work and demanded to be fed. I should have taken a photograph of it before I took the string off (carefully with scissors… no running around waving knives, please!) and broke up the meat with two forks.

Oh, and then we took several portions out so there was a lot more than this. It really did fall apart. It really was soft and luscious. I made the couscous – which for coeliac/gluten intolerant amongst us wouldn’t be appropriate, you’d be better off with a jacket potato – anyway, for those that can eat couscous it is a simple matter of pouring boiling water on it and letting it fluff up.

Pastryless pie 007

I made the sauce with Greek yoghurt, some chopped garlic and the last handful of mint growing in the pot on the balcony. I just put it in a jug and whizzed it till everything  was smooth then put it in the fridge to chill. I think if you make the lamb then the yoghurt sauce is a must have – it gives the finished dish a bright sharpness and livens up the couscous.

Pastryless pie 005

I possibly could have presented it more attractively but after a full day of taking photographs whilst cooking (I kept forgetting… I was into “The Zone”) and trying to upload them… well, by the time it got to putting it in a dish, I just dished up.  No doubt the style gurus amongst us will suggest a white dish for better effect but hey ho… I have these. I like them. They’ll do.

Final thoughts? It was easy, it wasn’t expensive (£5 for the lamb and that is from my butcher who doesn’t do cheap) there’s enough there for at least 6 people. The apartment smells nice, the Bear seems happy. You can prepare it and stick it in the oven or the slow cooker and then get on with other stuff. It is very forgiving if you don’t know when you will be serving it up. I say do it. You won’t regret it….

13 thoughts on “The beginning….”

  1. What a good start and the meal sounds wonderful! As you say – just the thing for the colder weather! Oh and by the way I wouldn’t be one of ‘those’ friends you refer to would I Wendy??

  2. Thanks Caron and Lesley! I am still trying to work out the system…. I can see your comments but they don’t show on the page.
    I shall have to get the Bear to have a look….

  3. ‘you know who you are’….indeed, and guilty as charged!! If it doesnt come out of a packet, or bag, from Farm foods, it rarely gets a chance in my house!

    Anyway….this one just might (the lamb). As I read your blog I could almost smell the delightful smell of lamb slowly cooking. I love lamb, and like it at its most tender, almost melting in the mouth, so easy to chew you could almost eat it without teeth. (At this point I admit I may have ruined the sensory delights you’ve provided)
    Your photos are a godsend to an amateur, and unwilling, cook like me. So many cook books show a picture of lambs bouncing in the fields and then the finished product on a plate. But no, you’ve thought this thru and provided an idiot’s guide. Really, I feel as if it were written for me, but hope I’m not the idiot it’s intended for 😀
    The pic of the ingredients is vitally important as a starting point for me. I can easily see what that mass of words described as an ingredients list actually means in real money. (Maybe I have recipe dyslexia???) Seeing the size of the meat joint required, and the packets of ‘stuff’ (a technical term, you see) helps me work out what to buy before looking round the supermarket feeling like a prize pillock. The pic of the lamb roasted in the frying pan is brill! I can see how long to do it for, how much oil should be in the pan, even the fact that I should leave the string on (I’d not have sussed that bit out, really)
    Then into the orange pot thingy (you have a posh word for it, if I bought one it’d be poundstretcher’s own :D). I can see what size pans and pots I need, and how to blitz the paste, and then what it should look like when pasted on the meat. OK, so it looks like it’s been dropped in a pile of mud….but if that’s how it should look, then I need pictoral proof otherwise I assume I’ve gone wrong!
    It all looks easy, and if you decide to market the finished product, ready sliced in a microwaveable dish, I’d be having it for tea tomorrow night. As it is, I just MAY even attempt it myself:D
    Do you have a pic of the finished, plated meal? It would be nice to see what colour you serve the lamb eventually, and have a look at this stuff you called couscous or sommat!!! 😀 Dont you know farmfoods do prepacked veg??? Only joking 😀
    So then, I need help….tomorrow I may do a gammon piece I ahave. My method would be boil, cool, eat. And it tastes ok if I throw a few onion/bay type bits in the water. But do you have any wise ideas for me?


  4. sounds easy but i don’t eat lamb!!! good blog though!
    p.s, i need recipes that are quick! i don’t get in from work till half six!!

  5. Right, i cannot and will not let this go unnoticed, caron, i’m appalled you haven’t pulled her on it already.

    RUTH!!! it is thought it THROUGH!!! NOT THRU!!!!!! good god woman, what is happening to you????? you’ve become a loose woman!!!!!!

  6. LOL – well done Laura – it proves you read it all! I have to admit to skimming it but after all I have cornflakes to prepare!

  7. Roxy… add some brown sugar to the water as you boil your gammon, and then do the last half hour as a roast with some water left in the pan to keep it moist. Cover the top with more brown sugar for a lovely, bubbly, tasty crust!

    And Els… popadoms go with anything 😉

  8. Laura, thankyou for your kind prompts, I’ll try to keep up the standards in future 😀

    Wendy, brill ta, I’ll do that, sounds easy….altho, when you talk about roasting, I’m assuming that means in the oven, in which case I’ll be putting it in a roasting dish?? Wouldnt my pan get ruined in the oven?? Please remember….idiot proof instructions required. I excel in the idiot department 😀

  9. I cooked this lastnight.. it really is tasty and the smell whilst it’s cooking is devine!! I’m not a great fan of couscous but my other half loves the stuff so I made some Ainsley Harriet spicey couscous which is about the best I’ve tasted. When I do this dish again, I am going to make a jacket spud to go with it.

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