Monday 1 December 2008

Cook's Alphabet 'L'

Cook's Alphabet 'L'

This is the twelfth in my series of 28 postings going through the entire alphabet, as it relates to cooks and cooking. As you can see, today I'm dealing with the letter 'L'.

The letter 'L' is, of course the twelfth letter in the English alphabet, and today's recipe is for a classic Englisd dish containing (and named after) that classic 'L' meat, Lamb:

Lamb Cobbler


For the topping:
375g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp finely-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
60g butter
200g milk
black pepper, to taste

For the stew:
60g butter
1 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp curry powder (optional)
1 green chilli, finely shredded (optional)
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
900g lean leg of lamb, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp brandy
2 tbsp Port
300g frozen garden peas
240ml water
30g plain flour
2 tbsp milk
75g freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
salt and black pepper, to taste

Melt the butter for the stew in a large pan, add the garam masala and curry powder (if using) and fry until aromatic (about 2 minutes) then add the onions and fry until soft and translucent (about 2 minutes). Add the garlic and chilli and fry for another 4 minutes then add the lamb and fry until browned all over before adding the brandy, port and Worcestershire sauce. Season with salt and pepper then turn off the heat an set aside.

Make the scone topping by sifting the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Stir-in the Parmesan cheese and a few generous twists of black pepper then add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingers. Add the milk a little at a time, until the dough just comes together as a ball. Tip onto a floured surface ,and knead until smooth. Roll out to about 3cm thick and use a 10cm pastry cutter to make 12 dough circles. Set aside until needed.

Skim any fat from the surface of the lamb mixture then return to a simmer. Whisk together the water and flour and stir into the lamb mix. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the gravy thickens then add the peas and stir to combine. Cook for 2 minutes more then transfer the lamb mix to a casserole dish. Cover the top with the dough, spacing the dough mix so that the circles just touch one another.

Brush the tops of the dough with the milk, sprinkle the parmesan cheese over everything then place the dish in an oven pre-heated to 200°C and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the scones are golden brown and piping hot.

Serve hot with buttered carrots and swedes or turnips.

(This recipe reproduced, with permission, from the Celtnet Lamb Cobbler Recipe page, part of the site's classic English recipes page. )

Today's cooking term is Lyonnaise (à la): Lyonnaise (à la) is a French term literally meaning 'to cook something in the style of Lyon'. Dishes cooked in this style are usually sautéed and are characterized by the use of chopped onions cooked in butter until golden and often finished off with vinegar and sprinkled with chopped parsley (which is used as a garnish). The term also describes the classic French Lyonnaise sauce which is made with onions, white wine and a brown stock, then strained and served with meat or poultry.

Today's spice is the Long Peper: Long Pepper is the fruit of the flowering vine Piper longum, a member of the same family as black pepper. The plant is commercially cultivated for its fruit which is dried and used as both a spice and a seasoning. In fact, long pepper is a rather close relative of black pepper and has a similar flavour (though it is generally hotter). Though black pepper is the most familiar member of ths family the word 'pepper' is actually dervied from the Sanskrit pippali which is the word for long pepper. Dried long pepper (the commonest form of the spice) onsists of many minuscule fruits, each one about the size of a poppy seed, embedded in the surface of the flower spike. Today, long pepper is seldom used (which is a shame) though it can still be found in Indian vegetable pickles, some North African spice mixtures, and in Indonesian and Malaysian cooking.

For more information on cookery-associated terms and information beginning with the letter 'L' here are various links that may well be of interest:

Recipes beginning with 'L'
Spices beginning with 'L'
Herbs beginning with 'L'
Wild foods beginning with 'L'
Cook's glossary 'L'

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