Lamb Topside Stew

Lamb StewA good warming casserole by any other name and my youngest son was a willing helper.  We went into Waitrose hoping to get a posh chunky sausage of some sort to add to the leftover bacon and a little chicken.  There was a really nice piece of lamb reduced in price that I decided would be ideal for a Sunday tea.

  • 500-600g Lamb Top Side (Or stewing lamb would be fine) diced
  • 200g Smoked Streaky
  • 1 Red Chilli Deseeded  (optional…..I was emptying the fridge)
  • 2 Onions diced
  • 2 Sticks Celery chopped thinly (I slice down the middle and chop finely)
  • 2 Carrots diced to your liking
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 2 tins chopped toms
  • 3 tins of pulses (cannelloni, borlotti, chick peas…the choice is yours)
  • 1 glass of wine
  • 500 ml stock
  • 2 garlic cloves…crushed
  • Glug of Olive Oil

Crank the oven up to 150°C, and place the a large oven-proof casserole dish onto the hop and heat the glug of oil.

BrowningBrown the bacon and half the lamb, take out with a slotted spoon.  You want the oils to stay in the pan.

Brown the second batch of diced lamb, again take out with the slotted spoon.

Add the chopped veg to the dish, a little glug of oil if dry and add the crushed garlic


Once they have softened add the spices…….take in that glorious smell and cook in for a minute

Poor in the wine…..again take a good whiff!  Cook in for a minute.

Add the stock and tomatoes into the dish along with the lamb, bacon and any juices.

Add in the pulses.

You want the liquid to just cover the lamb and beans.

Place into the oven for 2 hours or so, checking every now and again that it’s not going too dry.

We served with steamed potatoes and broccoli.


The First Recipe

tattiehash letterWhen I left for university I wasn’t hapless when it came to food.  I could boil an egg just as well as the next guy, and better than my dad who was the only person I’ve known who’s burnt a boiled egg!  I knew how to grill a chop, boil a potato and cook rice.  A sauce was a luxury item that you bought in a jar and as a student you could make last over a couple of meals.  Looking back now….I knew how to survive, I learnt to shop for myself and I remember the long walk back from Tesco with too much to carry back to my digs after the first shop.  I learned to use a basket rather than a trolley after that day!

The first recipe I consciously remember asking for was from my Gran whilst at university in Sheffield.  This was long before e-mail and I wrote to ask her for it!  She must have thought it strange as this was probably something that was second nature to her.

Back in 94 though, I needed a prescriptive guide that would teach me to cook and if I could crack Tattiehash the world would be my oyster on the culinary front.  My Gran did send me the recipe and I had to interpret a couple of things and in a micro movement that gave the game away….for that small moment I became a cook and I created a little bit of alchemy.   It tasted ok, and now armed with a box of OXO cubes I made it a few times.

I wish back then I’d paid more attention to her notes, and whether she had a recipe collection.   I’d be all over it now!

Do you remember your first recipe?

Two Good Eaters


Day 1 on the blogging 101 scene asking a few fundamental questions about why do this……..that probably runs through my head on a weekly basis, see having a blog discipline.

Sometimes I feel like there is very little point to adding another food blog into the world, the world is littered with self publishing foodies.  The defeatist in me…..then I wrestle with this for a while and I come up with the fact that mine is different, not much but it is!  It comes from me.  Sometimes I think my blog name is wrong, nobody wants to listen and then I come up with a new idea…..two good eaters my latest theme.

I’ve gone through a few site names in my time. I think of a new domain name every couple of months out on my bike or my walk into work. I usually forget, however when I do remember and I manage to plug it into a domain checker and find it’s free…..the quandary starts. Do I stay or Do I go? Most the time the price puts me off and I go on my merry way, other times like this one it niggles at me, eats at me and I’m then caught like a rabbit in the head lights. This time I made a run for it and made the switch, it fits me and my wife, it fits the boys. So I went for it.

I do have a running theme through my head around food and places which are aligned to my non working life.   Every now and then there is a social side to me …the optimist that says somebody might be interested in that nugget.

I also just want to make something great that I own, something that I can reflect on.  This could be a personal journal, instead I’d like to write to be read and to be absorbed.   This might be a little too deep for a Monday night.  In the bottom right hand corner of the photo above there is a lady doing tai chi in the park (I felt a little intrusive taking this)….absorbing the energy of the morning sun.  In some way I’m trying to grab a little of that energy in the social space.

I intend to write about food and the odd recipe.  How I’ve managed to bring up two good eaters.  How I’ve fed them on good food with a few treats on the way and how I’ve fed them on the rich tapestry of the open doors.  I’ll write about those moments where I prepare a decent meal for the two adults of the house and a few rambles in between.

If I make a success of this I’d like to write a recipe book of my own, something that will get passed on with phrases like Dad used to make this and this was my favourite.  Remember the time I wore my swimming goggles so the onions didn’t make me cry!

If you’ve got this far, thanks for reading.

Tomato & Lentil with Tarragon Soup

Nice relaxing morning today as the early birds went out to the local public tennis courts and I was left with the eldest.  His job this weekend was to make Sunday tea and he’d chosen Meatballs from Jamie’s Ministry of Food: Anyone Can Learn to Cook in 24 Hours.   Whilst he was busy doing his rolling and dividing I had a rummage around for lunch time ingredients.   A tired carrot, an onion and left over tarragon from Friday nights tea for my inspiration.   First time I used Tarragon was in a tomato soup recipe so my first thought is always to jump for soup when presented with left overs.

So armed with a couple of store cupboard items (red lentils and tinned tomatoes) this is a stress free soup in the making.

  • Onion diced
  • Carrot (doesn’t need to be tired!) diced
  • Slug Olive/Rapeseed Oil
  • 1 tsp Paprika (Optional)
  • 1 tblsp Bouillon 
  • 2 Tins of Tomato Soup
  • 2 tblsp Tomato Puree (Optional)
  • Tarragon Stalks removed and finely chopped (Optional)
  • 200g Red Lentils
  • 1.5l of boiling water from the kettle

After trying a spiced lentil recipe in Ottolenghi’s Plenty, if I have time I now pre soak red lentils for 30 mins before.  I find they don’t stick to the bottom of the pan when cooking and they are already full and plump so to my mind need less cooking!

  1. So if you have time….soak your lentils in 300ml of cold water before hand….otherwise you might need to add a little extra water to the soup.
  2. In a large stock pot soften the onion and carrot in the oil by gently frying
  3. Add the Bouillon and Paprika to coat
  4. Pour in the hot water
  5. Add the lentils and water, tinned tomatoes, Puree
  6. Stir and then cover
  7. Simmer for 20 mins and stir occasionally
  8. At the end add the chopped tarragon
  9. Depending on how you like your soup……blitz with a hand blender

Serve with a nice crusty loaf and I can thoroughly recommend Nigel’s soda bread (lazy loaf)

Whisky Fringe 2014

Whisky Fringe

Gathering of several ages

My 2nd year at the Whisky Fringe and this time I was prepared, rather than approach the event like a rabbit stuck between headlights I’d marked the program with the whiskies that appeared in 101 Whiskies to try before your die. A great little book that combines a little history, a little wit and some great tasting notes covering a great selection of what should be available whisky to the joe public.

My top recommendations:

The Balvenie Double Wood 17 (Which I’ve purchased for a Christmas treat with the help of the event voucher) – and having just finished the Double Wood  12 year old it must have suited my pallet. This takes everything that made the 12 year old Doublewood so iconic and giving it a bit more age and maturity Balvenie have chosen an excellent whisky to complete their new core range.

Balbair 99 – The second release of the 1999 vintage has been matured in both 2nd fill bourbon and 1st fill oloroso casks. These have imparted a complex mix spice and sweetness which work together perfectly

The Old Pulteney 17, which I thought had the edge over the Old Pulteney that was the event (spirit of the fringe) favourite.  I’ve only just found out it was  a past winner of The Spirit of Whisky Fringe Award (2011) an unchillfiltered 17 year old bottling of the top selling malt at Royal Mile Whiskies. Lots of pineapple and coconut, with a robust spine. A firm favourite.