Easter Lamb

At Easter DonQui Oaty really likes to cook a leg of fresh spring lamb. He has been doing this for years following a recipe he has adapted from Gourmet Magazine (April 1990). As usual DonQui’s measurements are rather imprecise as he rarely measures anything precisely.

1 whole leg of lamb
2 carrots roughly chopped
2 onions quartered
1 celery stalk roughly chopped
olive oil

For the Marinade:
2 crushed garlic cloves
a good amount of chopped fresh rosemary
a good amount of chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce
a good glug of olive oil
a good glug of dry white wine
lemon zest
pepper to taste


Whisk together all the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Rub into the lamb all over, reserving a bit for cooking later. Place the lamb in the roasting tray and loosely cover with foil. Leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours — even better if you can leave it overnight.

lamb start.jpg

On the feast day take the lamb out of the fridge at least an hour before cooking so it comes up to room temperature.

Pre-heat oven to 240ºC

Place the chopped vegetables on the bottom of the roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil. Place the lamb on a rack above them.

Put it in the oven and roast in the middle of the oven fat side up for 10 minutes at the high heat.

Turn down to 180º and roast for another 1 hr 10 mins (1hr 20 mins in total for a full leg)
At about the half-way point brush the lamb with the reserved marinade.

Take the lamb out of the oven and let stand for 20 minutes on the carving board while you prepare the gravy and finish off the vegetables.

lamb done.jpg

For the gravy DonQui uses his Rich Meat Sauce recipe (including the recurrent jelly) as the base. This he prepares well in advance. When the lamb is resting he deglazes the roasting pan with red wine and strains it into the gravy base. He also pours in the juices which collect in the channels on the carving board as the lamb rests.


He serves with roast potatoes which he puts in the top of the oven at the half way point after the lamb has been cooking for 40 minutes. This gives them 60 minutes to get really nice and brown (the remaining 40 minutes cooking time plus the 20 minutes resting). DonQui is now quite proud of his roasties but it has taken him quite some time to master them. At some point he will write about his method.

For vegetables DonQui goes for a medley of baby carrots, fine green beans and baby corn. He parboils each for 4-5 minutes in advance. Then when the lamb is resting he swishes them around in a large pan with melted butter, salt pepper and thyme for a couple of minutes until they are well combined and nicely heated through.



Around the World in Chelsea

If you were to ask DonQui, he would tell you that one of the (many) great things about London is how cosmopolitan it is. People from every corner of the globe live and work here, and that means you can get just about every type of food imaginable.



It is a Saturday late morning/early afternoon and DonQui finds himself in one of his favourite places to be at that time, especially on a nice sunny day – the fine food market at the Duke of York Square in Chelsea.


Helping himself to various free samples DonQui wanders around the stalls salivating.


From fine French cheeses and proper baguette (made with French flour)…


To chicken, rice, beans and quinoa  from Peru.


Japanese sushi…


to Mexican burritos…


With so much delicious food on offer DonQui finds it very hard to settle on what to eat for lunch, let along what to take back home with him.


There are even fresh oysters and prosecco on offer.


In the end DonQui decides to keep it simple. He goes for a Jamaican patty and a couple of Indian samosas for a small lunchtime snack.


… oh yes and a jam doughnut too. He cannot resist!


He also packs his bag with all sorts of goodies for later on when he gets home.



Soft on Cabbage

Oh dear!

It looks like DonQui Oaty – the great carnivore and scourge of  vegetarians everywhere –  is going a bit soft on cabbage.

Well not soft really.

If DonQui has a problem with vegetables it stems from 1960s English cooking and school dinners. Back then an alarming degree of softness was always obtained by boiling everything for a good 20 minutes or more. If DonQui is going to enjoy something that has sprung out of the ground rather than having run around on it, then it needs to still retain a good deal of crunch.

So soft vegetables will not do… mashed are even worse… but something keeping its crisp freshness… then DonQui can begin to consider it as fine food rather than compost.


So first it was sauerkraut and now this – a rather perky looking small pointy-headed cabbage which DonQui found in his local farm shop. The helpful lady said it was a Hispi Cabbage and told him that it was utterly delicious.

“How do you cook it?” DonQui enquires.

Helpful lady replies, rather unhelpfully, that she steams it.

DonQui cannot help but think that there must be more interesting ways to deal with the pretty little cabbage, so he takes it home with him and scours the internet.

A recipe from Chef Adam Gray seems more like it. A quick 3 minute parboil followed by a stir-fry in butter and shallots seems much more interesting than a simple steaming. DonQui tries it out as an accompaniment to roast chicken and it works wonderfully. Duchess loves it but DonQui thinks it is still a bit too soft for his liking so he vows to try it again without the parboiling.

This is what he does:


He finely slices a shallot, chops up some smoked speck (you can substitute lardons or dry smoked streaky bacon) and crushes a few juniper berries with the blade of his knife.


Then, after removing the outer leaves, he cuts the cabbage into fine strips by slicing across with a knife. The leaves of the Hispi cabbage are tightly packed, making it ideal for this sort of treatment.


He stir-fries the speck and shallots in butter until they begin to colour.


Then he adds the cabbage and juniper berries along with a few twists of black pepper from his pepper grinder. There is no need to add salt thanks to the saltiness of the speck.IMG_6569.jpg

He cooks it all together until it starts to glisten and begin to go soft. DonQui tastes to check doneness. When it looses its raw taste but still retains a good bit of crunch it is ready. This probably takes about 4-5 minutes.

IMG_6570.jpg He serves it with a couple of bratwürst, mustard for those who like it (DonQui does not) and fresh sourdough bread.

Quick and dead simple to make – and rather yummy too, DonQui thinks.