Friends were coming to stay, I defrosted lamb shanks. Friends did not come to stay, but lamb shanks stayed defrosted, so what now? Raining hard did not want to go to the grocery store.On TV , the programme Master Chef, they have an invention test, which I think is fun, and I often play it with myself, what can I make with what I have in the refrigerator or pantry.
And so it was for the Lamb Shanks. I had onions, red peppers, garlic and carrots, Red wine, oilve oil, soft dried prunes, a jar of unwanted marmalade, a can of chopped tomatoes , a can of chick peas, a can of Harrissa paste and a jar of onion marmalade. So I set to work, I sauteed the lamb shanks, until brown on all sides in the olive oil, put those to one side, added more oil to the pan and added the sliced onions and chopped garlic, when those were soft I added the carrots and chopped red peppers , returned the Lamb to the pan and added a bottle of red wine, put the lid on and left to simmer for about an hour or until the lamb was really tender. I removed the lamb, from the pan and de-boned it ( I find that usually one shank is too much for one person and so it easier to serve off the bone).
Returned the meat to the pan, added the can of tomatoes the chick peas, the onion marmalade the orange marmalade, 2 tablespoons of Harrissa paste and about 12 soft prunes, simmered some more until the sauce was unctuous. I added no salt nor pepper and the result? YUMMY, try it for yourself. Be creative! Try the invention test for yourselves, just remember, in cooking you can be as creative as you like, there are no rules ( well not many, if any) but in baking there are rules, which so need to be followed.
Many years ago, I fell in love with two special cookery books and I made it a rule that every Sunday, I would cook something new from one of them. If your cooking style is in a bit of a rut, then I suggest you browse through a book store and find something that will inspire you to be more creative. One that is very useful, especially when the kids have gone and now you are cooking for just two, is “The Roux brothers cooking for two” by Albert and Michel Roux, and the other one is”Simca’s Cuisine ” by Simone Beck. She co-authored the eponymous ” Mastering the Art of French Cooking” with the doyenne of American cookery, Julia Child.
Although both of these books are probably out of print, it is always possible to buy a secondhand copy via, Amazon, or from a secondhand bookstore. I have indeed bought additional copies, so I can always have a spare one to hand.
Recently Glenda Cooper said in The Daily telegraph that, a recent survey of 2,000 Britons confirmed the fact that on average we own six recipe books, yet make the same nine meals over and over again. Turn on the Telly and there are cooking programmes galore and recently the latest version of The Great British Bake Off, attracted 10 million viewers, and yet, how many go on to cook and exciting dinner? Sadly very few.