Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Moroccan Lamb with Couscous

"What's for dinner?" A familiar question you say. If only one could wave a magic wand! When you are busy with other things, as we all are these days, you usually need to be superbly organised. I guess there is "the eat out" option which is always nice of course and then there are the many takeaway channels which is easy but hardly the answer to everyday living. We need some easy home cooking options which are both quick, easy and nutritional to fit the slot. A quick search through the Australian Women's Weekly low-fat diet recipe book came up with the basic idea for my Moroccan dish. As suggested earlier, organisation is required to create a balance.

This particular recipe is easy and tasty but needs to be marinated ahead of time if you want that extra Moroccan taste. The night before is an excellent option or even just a couple of hours if not able to.

Lamb fillets, back straps or racks are suitable. The Couscous flavour will be determined by individual taste. I always use some thinly sliced preserved lemon (or grated lemon rind and a couple of teaspoons of juice) and coriander to my couscous when I am serving with a Moroccan flavour.

Lamb fillets (350g) racks or back strap
2 tsp each of ground cumin and coriander
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (140g) low-fat plain yoghurt

1/2 cup couscous
1/2 cup boiling water or stock
2 tblsp dried currants
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind or finely sliced/chopped preserved lemon
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/4 cup roasted almond flaked (optional)

Combine lamb, spices and 1/4 cup yoghurt in a medium bowl, cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight for max flavour.
Cook lamb on grill or barbecue or as desired. I usually brown in a pan both sides and place in a hot oven (180) until cooked to desired taste (pink). Take out and let stand for 10 minutes. Slice fillet/back strap thinly or rack as desired.
Meanwhile combine couscous and water/stock, cover, stand for 5 minutes or until liquid absorbed, fluffing with fork occasionally. Stir in currants, rind, juice, coriander, toasted almond flakes and sliced lamb with fork.
A tray of chopped vegetables which have been par boiled then browned in the oven with a shake of Moroccan seasoning is always welcomed as an additional side or added to the couscous.
Serve lamb and couscous with remaining yoghurt. If desired, chopped cucumber and mint can be added to yoghurt.

Thanks Mum X


Thursday, 3 January 2013

The 5 minute chocolate mug cake

Ever had one of those urges for chocolate? The type of urge where it comes out of no where and you MUST have it and if you don't have the kind of chocolate to fulfill those cravings, the next best thing is the block of cooking chocolate that you have found right at the back of your pantry that could possibly have had a used by date that needed to be used at least a month or so ago? Yes? Me too.

This particular night Betty and my Miss 11 were testing out the messaging between their iPods. Now I am not sure if Betty had the urge but she certainly planted the  "I want chocolate cake" seed with my Miss 11 and her timing couldn't have been worse, thanks B! Miss 11 has come to me with only 10 minutes until all three of my little darlings were to depart for their bedrooms for bed and pipes up with a much enthusiastic voice "Mum, Aunty B said to ask you (this is where the alarm bells started ringing) to let me make a chocolate cake in a mug". Now normally I would say YES as we all know my obsession for chocolate outweighs almost everything but I had already washed all the dinner dishes and had just sat down after a busy day. Miss 11 was not happy and of course the "enthusiastic" voice turned into the "whinging whiney" voice I love so much and things seemed to go down hill very quickly. I put my foot down and the answer was NO we will make it tomorrow. Well of course "little people" never forget and the first thing I hear when I open my eyes is "can we make the chocolate cake in a mug?".
I had not previously heard about this cake in a mug phenomenon (I know, where have I been right?!), so I surfed the net in search of this "chocolate cake in a mug" and found a simply delicious sounding recipe that ticked all my boxes and all of a sudden my "urges" for chocolate were taking over my mind and I now HAD to have it. Of course it was breakfast time and we don't do this all the time of course but I relented and gave in. Yes we had chocolate cake in a mug for breakfast. Yes we also may have had a scoop of ice-cream for breakfast and yes it was DELICIOUS!!!!
This recipe was from the fabulous Not Quite Nigella, whose blog we follow religiously and are in total awe of. We love reading about her food journeys and recipes, so thank you Lorraine for this one!

5-Minute Chocolate Cake in a Mug
Recipe from: Not Quite Nigella

 You will need:

 4 tablespoons plain flour
5 tablespoons caster sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder (You don't need to add this but if you do you will need to cover the mug with glad wrap/cling wrap so it doesn't explode over the edges.)
half a teaspoon coffee powder (this is optional but it makes it taste like a truly gooey mudcake)
pinch of salt
1 egg
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons oil
3 tablespoons of chocolate chips or flakes plus 2 tablespoons extra
A small splash of vanilla extract
2 microwave safe coffee mugs

The above will make 2 mug cakes and I did add the baking powder the first time and like Lorraine from Not Quite Nigella says it will be messy and explode over the edges.....so of course we had to have a go! But you can cover the mug with glad wrap if your adding the baking powder to avoid the mess!

This was the attempt with the baking powder!!!

You can mix up the ingredients in the actual mugs or you can add the ingredients to a bowl and just divide them equally in the two. I added my ingredients to one bowl.

Add dry ingredients to a bowl and mix to combine

Pour the milk, oil, chocolate chips, or flakes and vanilla extract and mix well

Whisk the egg lightly in a bowl and add to the mix

Divide the batter between the two coffee mugs and add the extra chocolate to the top of the batter

At this point cover with glad wrap if using the baking powder.

Do one mug at a time, put your mug in the microwave and microwave for one minute on medium. This is where you need to know if your microwave is pretty powerful or if you are like me I usually do everything on high. I actually did these on high and with my second attempt I experimented with stopping the microwave mid-cooking time as the mix grew higher and higher as it heated up, but stopping it for just a second the mix went down and I was able to continue with the cooking time and stop the mix from coming over the edges of the mug.

If you are doing it on medium after the first minute, microwave for another 30 seconds on medium heat. Check the consistency, it should be cooked but still moist and gooey. If its still not cooked microwave for another 30 seconds on medium but it will continue to cook on standing.
Doing mine on High only took 1 minute and it was cooked and delightfully gooey at the bottom with those extra choc chips.

Allow to cool and for that extra delicious kick add a scoop of ice-cream on top!!!

A truly QUICK fix for my Chocolate URGE! I can feel that urge coming on again......M x