A weekend of much need experimental cookery and kitchen therapy. I was craving an experiment in the kitchen and with the flat to myself, Julie & Julia playing away on repeat and the sun shining, this is what I churned out.When coming up with new recipe ideas and dishes I seem to find myself just thinking of my favourite flavours and seeing how I can wind them selfishly into the final product. This was wonderfully indulgent whilst being relatively healthy and undeniably tasty. The various textures keep it interesting and the strong flavours keep the healthy aspect well hidden.
I recently ventured to the ‘Wild Food Cafe’ (see here) tucked snuggly away in the Bohemian Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden. Located above the renound Neal’s Yard Remedies and around the corner from the infamous Neal’s Yard Diary it was sure to combine many of the local gems of the area that make Borough Market what it is. Oh and not to mention Monmouth Coffee tucked around the bend. As a ‘raw’ food cafe serving raw and healthy dishes the nutritious menu was right up my street. A menu that would have even the most devoted vegan speechless at the lack of opportunity for stereotypical complaining, I tried some interesting new delights (see below). So, I was inspired to do something back home in the raw style. I can see the attraction of having a raw food element in your diet. Gentle or little cooking maintains the important nutrients, but living a life on raw is unrealistic and downright boring if I’m honest. I was surprised not to have seen this ‘of-the-moment’ and stylish cauliflower couscous on the menu but its been on my ‘to cook’ list for long enough and now seemed like an opportune time to add texture to this lovely dish.
- 1 small shoulder lamb
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked
- 1 sprig thyme, leave picked
- 2 garlic gloves, chopped
- 1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
- Olive oil
- 1 small glass white wine
- 1 red onion. quartered
- 400g peas
- Generous knob butter
- Bunch mint, leaves picked
- Vegetable stock
- Salt and pepper
- 300g cauliflower florets
- Large bunch mint, leave picked
- Large bunch coriander,
- 1 lemon/orange zest and juice
- 60g flaked almonds
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place the red onion in the bottom of a roasting tin or a large casserole dish.
- Chop the rosemary, thyme and garlic finely together. Sprinkle the ras el hanout over the lamb with a few glugs of olive oil. Massage the spices into the meat and then add the herbs and garlic and coat the lamb.
- Place the lamb on top of the onion and pour the wine around the bottom. Cover the pan with a lid or cover with foil and roast for 3 hours. Top up with a little water now and again if drying to prevent the bottom catching. After this remove the lid/foil and turn the heat up to 180°C to brown the lamb.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest while you make the side dishes.
- For the ‘couscous’, toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan until lightly brown. Pulse in a food processor until fine and the texture of couscous and place in a large bowl.
- Pulse the cauliflower florets in the processor similarly until you form a couscous like texture. Tip into the bowl with the almonds.
- Chop the herbs finely and add with the citrus zest to the bowl. Add a squeeze of the citrus juice, season and stir to combine and set aside at room temperature.
- Once ready to serve, boil the peas for a few minutes in the stock. Transfer them to the food processor (reserving the stock) with the mint leaves and the butter. Season and add a little of the cooking stock to loosen and puree until smooth.
- Carve or pull the slow cooked lamb into chunks and serve on top of the warm pea puree with the couscous on the side.
Tomorrows leftovers fried until crispy in the warm hands of a soft flatbread topped with some lime yoghurt and salad is nearly as good as the main event!
A brief review…..The Wild Food Cafe, Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden
On entering the Bohemian cafe we were met with long, packed communal tables with happy chatting diners. The odd tyedye t-shirt, flowery head band and a more than average number of dreadlocked men mirrored the my initial expectations. After a helpful and sincere welcome from the team, we sat positioned next to some whirring suspect machines that we soon learned were churning away the homemade chocolate and nut butters of which I am a fan of and have made in the past- a good start. The menu was really interesting and original. We dined on a superfood salad containing a handful of delights. Courgette noodles coated provocatively in a punchy mango dressing and some powerful fresh pesto eagerly wrapped around some grainy quinoa were just a few of the surprises in this supersalad. Their devine sprouted wheat bread, toasted, was hearty, malt-like and dense whilst their pumpkin seed ‘cheese’ was on par with the flavours of my pumpkin seed butter but with a cheesy and characteristic tang. Goodness knows how that was created but their raw cookery courses run in house during the week are a good place to start. But don’t be deterred by salad…the hearty falafel burger or the generously portioned ‘raw’ chocolate torte made with avocado and cocoa will satisfy any sceptic. And folks…if you have a taste card like myself then its 2-4-1! It was a mere steal at £13 for the two of us for lunch.