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Archive for October, 2011

Did I mention I like cooking for people…oh I did? Well last Thursday I cooked for the alpha course at my church, so I happily pootled around in the kitchen the day before preparing 20 portions of tagine. For your convenience, I’ve shrunk the numbers (you are welcome), though if you did want to make this for 20 it’s a pretty simple “chuck it all in the pot” endeavour. Also I’d like to take this opportunity to sing the praises of butternut squash, which is definitely in my top ten vegetables. One of the best things about it is the smell when you cut it open, all sweet and autumnal; I actually find it quite a wrench to have to cook it. Just as well it tastes good too, eh?

Oh and sorry for the lack of photos, I just didn’t get round to snapping the food what with all the talking and that…

lamb or lentil tagine with butternut squash

serves 4

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or a whole cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp Moroccan spice mix (ras el hanout)
  • just under 1/2 tsp of harissa
  • 200g diced stewing lamb or 1/3 cup of red lentils
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 tin tomatoes
  • 1/2 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp/a squirt of tomato purée
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled and diced into 3cm cubes
  • 300ml lamb or vegetable stock
  • 70g dried apricots, diced finely
  • 1tsp honey
  • ground pepper and salt

Preheat your oven to 170C and then find a heavy based oven proof dish with a lid. Heat the oil in it on the hob and fry the onions and garlic until softened. Add the powdered spices (NOT the harissa!) and fry for another two minutes. Then add everything else and stir until well mixed. Plonk on the lid and pop it in the oven for 1.5 hours, then check seasoning, and how watery it is and the tenderness of lamb (unless its the veggie version of course). Put back for another 30mins for the veggie version and 1hr for the meat. If it looked a bit watery to you when you pulled it out take the lid off for the last 30 mins. Another easy peasy crowd pleaser done.

Serve with couscous. Follow the instructions on the packet to work out quantities but before I pour on the hot water, I like to add a pinch of salt and about 1/2 tbsp of olive oils and 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice stirred into the dry couscous to coat it and give it a bit of extra flavour.

I would also say that any root vegetable like sweet potato, carrot or swede would work well here. I was going to put other veggies in when I made this but the butternut squash I had was so mammoth nothing else would fit in the pots!

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