Saturday, 28 February 2009

Starting a Blog!

It has taken me considerable time to gear myself up to actually put this notion into motion. I have toyed around with the idea of a blog for some time now. Life, in relation to food, has taken quite a few twists and turns over recent months and years. I've lived in the city where I could get almost any ingredient I wanted with little effort. I've put lots of effort and enthusiasm into creating exotic and elaborate experimental dishes. But times have changed. I now live in rural Fermanagh where most of the time it would cost me double the price of the ingredient to drive to get it (that's if the assistant behind the desk knows what I'm talking about). I have also come to accept that despite my best attempts at sun-dried tomato stuffed monkish wrapped in prosicutto and chocolate, chilli and lime bread, my husband prefers steak and chips and chocolate fudge cake. To add to these hurdles I now find myself cooking bland mush for a 9 month old baby (granted it is more interesting mush than most babies receive). To add to all these suppresants of my culinary ambition our nation has been hit with the credit crunch and I now find myself trading in those luxury ingredient for cheaper alternatives.

But I have contemplated recently that I can't be alone in my situation. Many people live in rural areas of our 'wee' country. And more often that not we are slow at catching up with the latest food trends so that we struggle getting that now common ingredient in mainland UK. And there are definately thousands of women (or men!) out there who would love to create all sorts of exciting dishes and fancy desserts but who find themselves catering for the fairly reserved tastes of their family. So I considered how wonderful it would be if I could discuss these issues with other likeminded food-a-holics. If someone out there could tell me where to find the ingredient I've searched high and low for and if I could give others suggestions on recipes etc.

Initially I moaned a bit about my situation. But now I see it as a challenge I embrace everyday. Cooking for a husband, a baby, miles from anywhere, with a tight purse and pushing the boundaries just that little bit to allow my creativity to signature the dish.

Fruity Lamb Tagine

I am blessed with a son whose will eat just about anything. Apart from licking the spatula after I've been baking, this seems to be his favourite meal. Now for all conisseurs of Moroccan food this does not adhere to the strict rules of making a tagine (firstly, it has been made in a casserole dish) but it is for a baby whose palate can't quite manage ras-el-hanout or preserved lemons! And it is an extremely tasty alternative if I do say so myself. It may also suit someone who would like to give a tagine a go but has a more reserved palate.

Firstly, I sweated an onion in a casserole dish then added about 500g of diced lean* lamb which I had dusted in a tablespoon of plain flour. Then I added a tin of chopped tomatoes, about 150ml of chicken stock**, 200g of chopped apricots, 50g of sultanas and 1 tsp of mixed dried herbs. For the mixed herbs I used a mixture of basil, thyme and oregano simply because that's what I had in the cupboard. These would not be the herbs of choice for a tagine but I needed something mellow that my sons taste buds could cope with. The apricots can be as big or finely chopped as you like depending on your dinner guests. The whole thing then went in the oven at 180 degrees for a couple of hours (I had it in for 2hrs today). Obviously, the longer you have it in the more tender your lamb will be but do keep checking it to make sure it hasn't dried up. Serve with rice.

*When choosing meat for babies it needs to be lean.

**You may need to add some water when the dish is in the oven if it starts to dry up.