So, I don’t post for ages and then two come along in quick succession. A bit like buses, I guess.
In March 1984, I was on a school tour to London and wandered into a record shop [the name of which I cannot recall] on Kensington High Street.
Therein, I bought three albums. All three of them debut albums.
They were: ‘Swoon’ by Prefab Sprout; the eponymous ‘The Smiths’ and ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops’ from The Blue Nile. It is from this third album the title to today’s post is drawn. On any list of my top albums or artists, ‘Swoon’ and ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops’ will always feature in the first five [The Smiths, on the other hand, I never 'got' and this was the first and last of their albums I listened to]. Best heard on good headphones, at night, alone and with a glass of good wine [or whiskey], this is a hauntingly beautiful track from a band who released only four albums between their inception in 1984 and split in 2006. Vocalist Paul Buchanan will release a solo album in May but it looks less likely that the original three members will perform or record again any time soon.
It’s not that I’ve run out of food photographs to show you, but I really think this song is a stunner, which is why I include Easter Parade here.
And so, to the Tajine, one of the dishes from my last post.
If the recipe is of any interest to you, please read on. If not, skip the next few paragraphs, gaze longingly at the photo of the finished article and move on to my parting words.
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground green cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon garlic salt
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1kg lamb [I used cubed shoulder]
2 medium onions, cut into 2cm cubes
5 carrots, peeled, quartered, then sliced into thin strips
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 pinch saffron [needs to be infused in liquid, so use the stock below]
1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
600ml lamb or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons olive oil
100ml passata de pomodoro (or 100ml water and a tablespoon of tomato purée]
1 tablespoon harissa
125g dried apricots
100g toasted almonds [optional]
1 tablespoon honey
Mix all of the ingredients for the dry marinade together in a mortar, or if feeling lazy, blitz them in a blender until you get an evenly textured powder. Place this in a sealable freezer bag [I use the IKEA ones, which double seal]. In a bowl mix two tablespoons of olive oil with the lamb. Then add the lamb to the freezer bag and give it a good mix before sealing it. Pop it into the fridge and leave it for at least eight hours, preferably longer and ideally for twenty four hours.
To cook the dish, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and add the onions, carrots and garlic. You really just want to sweat them off as opposed to browning them too much. Next, add the lamb, the grated fresh ginger, saffron infused stock and preserved lemon. Stir it well to mix the ingredients together and cook on a medium heat for forty five minutes before adding the passata and harissa paste. Reduce the heat to barely simmering and add the apricots and honey. Cover the pot and cook for up to two/two and a quarter hours, stirring occasionally – until the meat is so tender, it breaks up using the back of a spoon. If the consistency is too thick, add some water for the last ten minutes, if too thin, use some cornflour and water to thicken it up. Just before serving, stir the toasted almonds into the pot.
I steamed some couscous and served the Tajine with this and a minty cucumber dressing, but you could also use any flatbread or rice as accompaniments. If you have any of the toasted almonds left over, sprinkle them over the top of the dish just before you serve it.
Whilst it may seem tempting to buy a jar of Ras-al-Hanout spice mix and throw it into the pot with everything else, there’s a great sense of satisfaction to be got from making this meal from scratch. It may seem like there are a lot of ingredients, but the dish comes together in a few very simple steps and will be well worth the effort.
Anyway, I’m down to the last half-kilo of Lindt chocolate bunny, so time for me to go and ‘take care’ of it…
Enjoy the rest of the Easter break.