Rack of lamb is a lovely, light, family treat, says Carina Contini of the Scottish Cafe and Restaurant
My family loves a roast all year round. In spring it’s new season leg of hill lamb roasted with onions, oregano and a good splash of white wine. In summer, we like to eat chicken chopped into pieces with Amalfi lemons, fresh rosemary and new season garlic (quick and easy to prepare, leaving lots of time to be outdoors).
In winter, when you want something warming and hearty, you really can’t beat good old roast beef with roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. I love how seasonal cooking reflects the calories we need to cope with the weather.
However, while it’s still warm enough to think of holidays, but starting to be a little cool to be outside, and you’re looking for a dish that’s tasty but light, a marinated rack of lamb is our ultimate treat. The tiny chops, beautifully trimmed French-style by a very capable butcher, with their bones cleaned and scraped, will set a whole new smart theme for a family dinner.
This should be regarded as a special treat as rack of lamb can be expensive, although you can get away with two or three tiny chops each if you bulk out the dish with lots of salad. I love watching my children eat every bit of meat from the bones with their little fingers. I bet every mother in the world has the same emotion – happiness – when their children aren’t talking because they are loving eating!
1 firm celeriac
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 unwaxed limes
handful of freshly chopped coriander
handful of freshly chopped flat leaf parsley
juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 dessert apples, washed, cored with skin on
250g Inverloch goats cheese, cut into cubes
good pinch of sumac
2 racks of 6 ribs of lamb (about 500g each)
300g natural yoghurt
1 tablespoon light honey
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
100g fresh coriander
100g fresh rocket
1 clove fresh garlic
75g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
2 whole red chillies, seeds removed
1 teaspoon of salt
3 large organic free range eggs
150g dark brown sugar
275ml sunflower oil
300g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
seeds from 5 cardamom pods
finely grated zest 1 orange
300g finely grated carrots
100g sultanas soaked in the juice of 1 orange
For the icing:
300g icing sugar
1 tablespoon soured cream
zest of 1 orange and juice of ½ orange
GRATED CELERIAC, APPLE AND GOATS CHEESE SALAD WITH SUMAC
The eastern Mediterranean flavours of my roast lamb recipe work best with equally exotic salads. Sumac is a tangy, lemony spice that’s now widely available. Why not give it a try? Celeriac is a vegetable I’ve started to use relatively recently and I can’t understand why I didn’t discover it years ago, as it is truly delicious. It’s not the prettiest of vegetables, proof that beauty isn’t just skin deep. The apple and celeriac discolour quickly so it’s best to make this salad when you’re ready to eat it. It doesn’t sit well hanging around.
1 Choose a large platter or plate to arrange this dish on.
2 Prepare the dressing by mixing the olive oil, lime and herbs in a jug. Add a pinch of salt and check the flavour.
3 Grate the celeriac using the coarsest grade of grater and arrange on the plate. Squeeze some lemon juice over this to stop it discolouring.
4 Slice the apples and arrange on the celeriac.
5 Scatter the goats cheese on top and then add the dressing.
6 Sprinkle a generous amount of sumac over the salad and enjoy right away.
SPICED RACK OF LAMB
This recipe features a yoghurt marinade to give the lamb a very special taste. If you cook this cut of meat on a barbecue, the flavours only intensify. For anyone who hasn’t had some foreign sunshine over the summer, this is as near as it gets to holiday eating.
1 Blend all of the ingredients, save the lamb, in a blender or food processor. Pour over the lamb and refrigerate for a minimum of four hours.
2 Take the lamb out of the fridge and remove it from the marinade. Allow the lamb to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you start to cook it.
3 Heat a ridged griddle pan and sear the lamb, skin side down, until golden and caramelised. Turn the lamb over and cook on the other side until the meat is coloured all over. This can be smoky but don’t worry, as you need to caramelise the skin to get the flavour.
4 Transfer to a roasting tray and roast at Gas Mark 7 (425F/220c) for 20 minutes. The lamb should be medium rare. Cook for longer if you prefer the meat to be less pink.
CARROT AND CARDAMOM CAKE
This is a light cake. The tiny cardamom seeds leave the most aromatic flavour in your mouth.
1 You need to assemble this recipe quite quickly so be organised and weigh everything before you start.
2 Beat the eggs, sugar and oil until the mixture changes colour.
3 Using a metal spoon fold in the sieved flour and baking powder.
4 Add the cardamom seeds, coconut, orange zest and carrots.
5 Drain the sultanas and add them to the mixture. It seems quite solid but don’t add more liquid as the carrots will soften when heated and this will help moisten the cake.
6 Transfer to a lined 23cm round cake tin and bake at Gas Mark 4 (350F/180c) for 55 minutes to 1 hour.
7 The cake is ready when a knife comes clean from the centre.
8 Transfer to a cooling wire and allow to cool.
9 Beat all of the icing ingredients until creamy and silky. Serve a spoonful on the side as an alternative to covering the whole cake with the icing.