A typical wet and windy Sunday, at the tail end of January, before the first post-Christmas pay-day and concluding an exceptionally busy week. It was one of those weeks where the kids end up rummaging miserably in the fridge looking for something vaguely interesting to snack on and claiming that there is NOTHING at all to eat
“What will we eat for dinner”? they moaned. I was beginning to wonder the same.
But this is where the skill of being a thrifty cook, with a well stocked larder pays off. In the freezer I often have a supply of meat, mostly lamb or pork which I occasionally buy as half a pig or half a lamb, and which arrives jointed and all ready to be frozen. So for dinner I pulled out a bag of lamb chops, coated them with a few spices and roasted them. This was then paired with the half bag of couscous I found in the cupboard and various ends and odments of peppers, herbs, cucumber and tomato left over in the fridge. The addition of some good olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, seasoning and a dollop of yogurt with mint and lo and behold something fragrant and wonderful was created.
To finish off I made mini hot chocolate puddings from various other leftovers and you’d never have guessed that we had an empty fridge!
For 8 lamb chops:
2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons cumin, 2 tablespoons coriander, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika, 2 cloves garlic crushed. Grind together in a pestle and mortar and then rub all over the lamb chops. Lay them in a roasting tin and roast in a medium over 180-200 degrees / gas mark 4 to 6 for about three-quarters of an hour…but keep an eye on them, they should be nicely brown and crisp.
For the couscous:
Take 300g couscous and place in a shallow heat proof bowl with about 500ml boiling water or vegetable stock. Cover with cling film and leave to stand for 10 minutes or so until the water has been absorbed. Add some chopped mint, peppers, cucumber, spring onions, toasted pine nuts, or whatever else you have in the cupboard that you think would go nicely with the couscous.
Hot chocolate puddings:
90g self-raising flour, 1 tablespoon cocoa powder plus and extra 3 teaspoons (I ended up using hot chocolate as I discovered the kids had finished the cocoa and put the pot back empty!!…why do they do that?), 125g caster sugar, 1 egg beaten, 60ml milk, 60g butter, melted in a small pan, 60g soft brown sugar, icing sugar to dust
Grease 4 ramekins with butter and preheat the oven to 180 degrees / gas mark 4. Sift the flour and 1 tablespoon cocoa into a small bowl and add the sugar. Stir in the combined the egg, milk and butter and mix well. Combine the brown sugar and the extra cocoa powder .
Divide the mixture between the four dishes and sprinkle with the combined sugar/cocoa mixture. Put the four dishes on a baking tray and carefully pour 60ml boiling water over the back of a metal spoon over each pudding. Bake the puddings for 15 to 20 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted halfway in. Dust with icing sugar then serve with cream or ice cream.