Lucy had a little lamb, Pt 4

After telling the great and the good of the New Zealand Food Bloggers Association that I didn’t like food blogs that focused on pets, a group of cheeky minxes started tweet-bombing me photos of their furry friends. When that joke got tired they turned into the baabaarazzi*, sending me photos of frolicking newborn lambs.

The silence of the lambs Image: Shirleen Oh

Now, I am pleading with them to stop. Those telephoto lenses must be very intrusive and I hate to think of those wee lambs getting stressed. I prefer photographing my little lambchops when they are snuggled into a tray with agria potatoes, garlic and olives (with a little parsley to remind them of grass).

Tray-baked lamb, potatoes and olives
This combines all the things we love in this house – lamb, potatoes, olives, anchovies, garlic and lemons – in one super easy dish. Throw the half the ingredients in the oven, get on with bathtime or having a strong gin, throw the other ingredients into the dish, make a salad, set the table and dinner is ready.

6 good-sized roasting potatoes, scrubbed and cut into chunks
8 lamb leg chops
2 onions, peeled and cut into wedges
4 cloves of garlic
1 cup of kalamata olives, stoned
4 anchovy fillets, finely chopped (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped

Heat the oven to 200C. Splash a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into a large roasting dish – I use the giant ones that double as racks in our oven – and toss in the potatoes, onions and garlic so everything is coated in the oil. Put the tray into the oven for 30 minutes, shaking occasionally.
Put another tablespoon of oil into a bowl and add the anchovies, then the lamb chops. Rub the chops with the oily anchovy mixture and season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.
When the potatoes have cooked for 30 minutes, remove the tray from the oven. Make spaces for the chops and scatter the olives on top. Return to the oven for 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of the chops and your preferred level of done-ness. Squeeze the lemon over the top, then sprinkle with lemon zest and chopped parsley. Serves four.

* Thanks to Shirleen for ‘baabaarazzi’. Isn’t it genius?

Lucy had a little lamb,,,

I got home late last night from a family funeral, emotionally drained and in that strange hungry/not hungry frame of mind that comes with standing around all day drinking cups of tea from an urn and eating club sandwiches.

The Boy Wonder had transformed himself into super housedad in my absence and when we got home from the airport this was bubbling quietly on the stove. It’s enormously comforting – he used to make it a lot about five years ago – and just the thing for a cold autumn night.


Lemony Lamb Stew
This began life as a Ray McVinnie recipe, torn out of the newspaper back in about 2003. It’s now ours by adoption.

500-700g boned lamb shoulder, cut into 2cm chunks
3Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 stick celery, diced
5 floury potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1Tbsp flour (use rice flour or cornflour to make gluten-free)
2 cups beef stock
1 cup water (or 1/2 water, 1/2 white wine)
1 cup frozen peas
zest and juice of a lemon
fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot and saute the garlic, onion, carrot and celery for five minutes over medium heat. Add the lamb and saute again until it colours all over, then stir in the flour. Let cook for a minute or two, then add the potatoes, stock and water. Bring to the boil, then let simmer gently for 45 minutes until the lamb is tender and the sauce has thickened. Stir in the peas and cook for another 3-4 minutes, then squeeze over the lemon juice and stir. Sprinkle with lemon zest and parsley before serving with chunks of baguette. Serves four.