Fun with Food: Moroccan-Style Lamb Chops with Couscous

New Zealand is a country mocked known for its vast number of sheep, so it always surprises me that lamb is so expensive to buy. I tend to buy it only when it is on special, which is a shame as I reeeeally enjoy it.

This recipe is based on one in Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals. He uses lamb racks, but they were a little lot out of my budget, so I used shoulder chops and adjusted the cooking times accordingly.


Moroccan-Style Lamb Chops with Couscous – Serves 4

6-8 shoulder chops
dried thyme
ground cumin
salt and pepper
1c couscous
1/2c fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
olive oil
1 lemon

To serve: flatbreads, hummus and natural yoghurt

Preheat baking tray and oven to 200degC.

Sprinkle both sides of the lamb chops with paprika, thyme and cumin. Press the spices into the meat with your hands.

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a fry pan and brown the chops on both sides. Remove to the heated tray and cook for 7-14 minutes, depending on how you like your lamb cooked.

Drizzle your flatbreads with some olive oil and sprinkle with dried oregano and a dash of salt; wrap in tin foil and place in the oven to warm through.


Place the couscous in a bowl and drizzle over some olive oil; cover with 1c boiling water and stir. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to plump up.

When the lamb is cooked to your liking, remove them and the breads from the oven and leave to rest for five minutes.

Add the parsley and juice of half a lemon to the couscous and fluff up with a fork to separate the grains. Season to taste.

Serve with natural yoghurt and hummus, with the remaining lemon juice squeezed over the chops.


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Quick Banana Bread

With the amount of bananas we get through in a week, you could mistakenly wonder if we were in possession of a few monkeys. Tiny refused to eat bananas until he was about two years old, but now, he has at least one a day.

At this time of year, I tend to buy them as green as possible, as they ripen very quickly in their sun-drenched bowl in the kitchen. And once they’ve gone past that point of pleasant eating, it’s into the freezer with them.

When I last had a good freezer clear out, I found no less than ten bananas lurking in there, so over the weekend (when expecting my parents for a visit around afternoon tea time), I whipped up this super easy, low-fat banana bread.


Quick Banana Bread

1 1/4 c self-raising flour
1t ground cinnamon
1T low-fat margarine (I used a dairy-free olive oil spread)
1/2 c sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c low-fat milk (normal milk is also fine)
1/2 c mashed banana (approximately 1 1/2 medium-sized bananas)

Preheat oven to 220degC. Line the base and sides of an ordinary loaf pan with baking paper.

Mix flour and cinnamon together; rub in margarine with your fingers.

Gently mix in sugar, egg, milk and banana, being careful not to over-mix. Batter should be lumpy, like a muffin mixture.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the top is a lovely golden brown and the bread is cooked all the way through.

Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack before slicing; delicious warm or cold, buttered or bare.

Recipe: Low Fat Meals in Minutes (AWW)

Rustic Bacon and Cheddar Bread

I’m a bit lazy when it comes to baking bread. Sure, there’s nothing nicer than the smell of homemade loaves baking in the oven, and the taste of a fresh-from-the-oven roll, but when it comes to kneading….I’m reluctant to commit.

So when I found this recipe by Rachel Allen, I knew it was just my thing. In her book ‘Bake’, she describes it as “seriously easy and no-nonsense”, and truer words have never been spoken!

The combination of bacon and cheese is always going to be a winner and the addition of mustard is really tasy. I’ve experimented in the past and halved the amount of bacon and added finely diced and cooked onion, which adds another layer of flavour and texture to an already delicious loaf.

Rustic Bacon and Cheddar Bread – makes 1 loaf

320g flour
1 T baking powder (I use slightly less, given that Edmond’s baking powder is a bit more active than most!)
1/2 t salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper (I never measure this, but give our mill 12-15 good grinds)
100g cheddar cheese, grated
100g bacon, diced (if you can find them, lardons are best, but it really doesn’t matter)
200ml milk
2 eggs
1T wholegrain mustard
60ml olive oil

Heat a small fry pan, and fry the bacon until crisp. Remove from the heat and drain on kitchen towel; cool.

Preheat oven to 180degC. Lightly grease and line a 13 x 23cm loaf tin.

Sift all the dry ingredients into a large bowl. Add grated cheese and cooled bacon, and mix well.

Whisk together the milk, eggs, mustard and olive oil.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the liquids, stirring all the time until it is all incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes.

Remove from the tin and bake a further 10 minutes, on the oven rack/shelf, to crisp up the bottom. The bread will be cooked when it sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

Cool* on a wire rack before slicing into chunks and slathering with butter.

* Sometimes, I’ve been impatiently hungry (or running late) and haven’t let the bread cool sufficiently… will crumble quite impressively if you try to slice it while warm!

Recipe: ‘Bake’, by Rachel Allen

Vegetarian Rogan Josh

Last Christmas, my sister asked for a cookbook: Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals. I dutifully ordered a copy from The Book Depository, and waited for it to arrive. In the meantime, I turned on Food TV, and discovered a show of the same name. One episode saw Jamie cooking Peri Peri Chicken and Portuguese Custard Tarts, and I was drooling in front of the telly.

When the book arrived, I flicked through and saw, to my delight, that these recipes were in there, and promptly ordered myself a copy too.

So far, I think we’ve enjoyed 50% of the meals I’ve made from this book, and 50% have been so-so. I like the concept, and the recipes are varied so there’s sure to be something to suit everybody’s cooking style. I generally don’t make the full meal, but pick and choose depending on the season, and who I’m cooking for.

One recipe I saw on his show recently, that looked delicious, was for a vegetarian Rogan Josh curry. I checked my book, and yep, it was in there, so I decided to give it a go. We sat down with Tiny one Sunday evening and demolished virtually the whole curry – it was so good!

Here is my slightly-amended version of Jamie’s recipe. I also made his clove-scented Fluffy Rice, and some paratha breads to have with it, which were the perfect accompaniment.

The aftermath

Vegetarian Rogan Josh

olive oil
2 onions, sliced
3 cups diced pumpkin (roughly 2cm dice)
1 small cauliflower, in bite-sized chunks
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional, depending on your spice preferences)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
handful fresh coriander, stalks and leaves finely chopped (reserve some leaves for garnish)
500g jar Rogan Josh sauce (I used a medium Tandoori Palace sauce)
400g tin chickpeas, drained
130g pre-washed baby spinach
natural yoghurt, to serve

Put a large saucepan on a med-high heat. Add a good lug of olive oil and add the onions and a splash of water. Cook, stirring, until softened.

Add pumpkin, cauliflower, chilli, garlic and coriander to the pan and stir well.

Add Rogan Josh sauce and chickpeas; season and stir well.

Cover and simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, approximately 20 minutes.

Remove lid and check seasonings; add spinach and stir until wilted.

Serve on basmati rice*, garnished with coriander leaves and a dollop of natural yoghurt on the side.

* Jamie’s clove-scented Fluffy Rice: put 1 mug of rice into a medium pot; add a lug of olive oil and a few whole cloves. Cover with 2 mugs of boiled water; add a pinch of salt then cover and boil over a medium heat for 7mins. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for a further 7mins (lid on) before serving.

Original Recipe: Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals