So I was determined that, even if I couldn't cook Boofy a super special dinner, he would have something cooked with love by me at least! We had invited over our friends Jackie and Sam for dinner as well to share the celebrations. Enter 'Nigella Express' :)
I decided on Nigella's Lamb cutlets with chilli and black olives. We have had this dish many times in the past, but not for a while since lamb cutlets are pretty expensive these days. We always enjoy it, so I thought this would be a winner. Its great too because you can (and should in fact) marinate in advance - so I put the cutlets in to marinate the night before, then all I had to do was prepare veges and cook. We would normally serve this with sugar snap peas and boiled potatoes - but I couldn't get any sugar snaps at all, and I was making a big batch of mash the night before anyway (for a Shepherd's pie with hidden veges!) so I decided to save myself some trouble!
Anyway, here is Nigella's recipe:
12 lamb rib chops
4 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for frying
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Zest and juice of 1 small lemon
1 teaspoon Maldon salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
15 black olives, pitted and sliced
1 long red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)
Layer the rib chops between clingfilm and flatten gently with a rolling pin or mallet. Unwrap and place the chops in a large dish, so that they all fit in a single layer.
Pour the 4 tablespoons of oil over the chops and add the sliced garlic, chilli flakes, oregano, lemon zest and juice. Sprinkle with the salt and the olives, then turn the rib chops in the marinade so that both sides are coated.
Cover and leave the lamb to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy-based frying pan, and add the chops, scraping off the marinade before you put them in the pan. (Reserve the marinade.) Fry them for a couple of minutes a side on quite a high heat so that they take on some colour.
Turn the heat down to medium and pour the reserved marinade into the pan over the now coloured chops. Add 2 tablespoons or so of water and cook for about 5 minutes for rare cutlets or a little longer if you like your lamb well done (this will also depend on the thickness of the chops).
Transfer the chops to a serving plate, pour over the juices from the pan and sprinkle with the chopped red chilli, should you feel like enhancing the dried chilli with the pep of fresh.
That is exactly how it appears on Nigella's website - but as usual I do things a teensy bit differently... all ingredients are the same, I just cook the cutlets for a bit longer (as I prefer them well cooked and a bit crispy). When I've finished cooking the cutlets I take them all out and then pour in the left over marinade and fry it on high heat... it does mean the cutlets don't have a 'sauce' as such, but the sliced garlic and olives go really crispy and are so yummy. I then put the cutlets back in and toss it all together for a minute before serving.
So there you go - a slight variation - depends on how you prefer things :) As I said, I couldn't get sugar snap peas, so I settled on some steamed Dutch carrots and broccolini. Mine doesn't look as pretty as Nigella's, but I can assure you it was super yum! Here was my finished product:
I know that looks like enough food to feed an army - but I have always been an over-caterer!! :)
Neither Boofy or myself are really big on cakes (although if the right one comes along we can be persuaded!)but as far as Alex is concerned, your birthday is not finished until you've had a cake! So Alex and I whipped up this little number for Boofy - which has the texture of cake but is eaten like a pudding (ie: warm with ice cream). Its actually a Weight Watchers recipe believe it or not, and comes from The Really Contented Tummy Cookbook (which is no longer available on their website - but I notice a few copies floating around on eBay). Anyway, its called a Warm upside-down cinnamon pear cake with maple syrup - here's the recipe:
Cooking oil spray
2 tbs maple syrup
8 (tinned) pear halves in natural juice, drained
3 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup (140g) firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 cup (150g) self raising flour
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbs skim milk
1/3 cup (80ml) maple syrup, extra, to serve
10 small scoops low-fat vanilla ice cream, to serve
Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Spray a 20cm round cake pan with oil. Line base with non stick baking paper.
Spoon maple syrup evenly over base. Arrange the pear halves on top, cut side down.
Use an electric beater with whisk attachment to whisk eggs, brown sugar and vanilla essence until thick and pale. Sift flour and cinnamon over egg mixture. Pour milk down the side of the bowl. Use large metal spoon to fold until just combined.
Carefully spoon mixture over pears. Smooth the surface. Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven. Set aside for 10 mins before turning onto a serving plate. Drizzle with maple syrup. Serve warm with ice cream.
According to WW it serves 10, and is 3 points per serve (on the old scale - not the new ProPoints program) for anyone playing at home!
I followed the recipe meticulously, but here are a couple of things to note from my experience:
- I took my cake out after 50 mins and it ended up a bit dry, so I would check it around 40 mins
- I left my cake sitting for much longer than 10 mins before turning it out (a couple of hours to be exact) and it was soggy on top when I turned it out (tastes the same, doesn't look as pretty!)
- Don't cook this in a spring form cake tin - the maple syrup will leak out (do as I say, not as I do! Lol)
But it was a delicious cake... although we probably added a little more maple syrup at the end than what WW recommend!! Hee hee...
So here was my finished product:
What do you think? Yes I know, not the most attractive cake - but I think that is largely to do with how long I let it sit before I turned it out. And I promise you, it does taste really good, and Boofy enjoyed it, which is the main thing!
Bye for now :)