Spiced Mutton and Lamb Balls

We were really lucky to be given some diced mutton to try by one of our favourite local food suppliers, Mill Farm in Isington, just off the A31 between Farnham and Alton. This got us to thinking about mutton/lamb lamb/mutton and all the associated jokes,.. don’t even go there @hippyjon

None of us had cooked mutton before although some of us had tried Hugh FW‘s mutton burgers at Camp Bestival a couple of years ago which were really tasty, served with a yogurty minty side and chilli salsa. Who bettter to turn to than Hugh for a good mutton recipe? We got this on the go before starting on the mini lamb balls…


750g diced mutton
250g organic dried apricots
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic crushed
2 large onions, sliced
3 large carrots in chunks
1 cinnamon sticks
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp crushed  coriander seeds
6 cardamon pods, lightly crushed
1 tsp ginger
pinch of mace
1 glass white wine
4½oz good fruit chutney (we used our own Potters Pickle)
salt and black pepper

Rinse the apricots well in cold water then place in a bowl. Pour over enough boiling water from the kettle to barely cover them. Leave to soak while you heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic, onion and carrot and sweat for a few minutes until softened. Add all the spices, and fry for a few more minutes. Transfer to a large stockpot. Turn up the heat under the (now empty) frying pan and add the rest of the oil. Brown the meat quickly in small batches and add to the vegetables.

Spiced Mutton Stew

Pour over the juice from the soaked apricots, the glass of wine, the chutney and enough water to just cover the meat. Bring to the boil, then reduce immediately to a very slow simmer. Put on the lid and cook for 1½ hours. Add the apricots. and cook for a further ½ hour at least but longer won’t hurt it. By this time the meat should be extremely tender. Taste a bit and if in doubt cook for a little longer.

While this simmered away we made our dinner.

First the mini meatballs…


Quantities here are variable, depends what you have and what you fancy. We put in about 500g lamb mince (again from Mill Farm), 1 egg, 1 grated onion, 1 grated courgette, 1 grated carrot, a couple of crushed garlic cloves and a good big tablespoon of the Moroccan spice blend Ras-el-Hanout. Ours is from Seasoned Pioneers – it’s a complex mix of spices and herbs and contains REAL rose petals. Nice. Mix it all together in a big bowl and sprinkle some semolina in until the mixture starts to stick together.

Mini Lamb Balls

Then take small spoonfuls and roll into balls the size of walnuts and place on a tray or large plate ready to be cooked. You could use the same mixture for burgers – just shape them accordingly. When the balls are ready, heat some oil in your largest pan and cook the balls in batches – don’t overcrowd the pan. When the balls are brown all over, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and shake onto a large plate covered in kitchen roll. They are equally delicious hot or cold. We had ours with this lovely, herby salad, a yogurt & mint side and La Culinari flatbread…


500g strong white bread flour
7g fast yeast
2 tsps salt
2 tbsp olive oil
400ml warm milk
A bunch of herbs – we used coriander but you could use basil, parsley, thyme…depends what you’ll be eating it with.

Blend yeast with flour then add salt. Make a well in the middle and add oil. Start to mix the flour into the well and slowly pour in the milk. Knead on a floured board for approximately 10 minutes then put in a warm place for an hour. Rip up your herbs and add to the dough. Depending on the size you want your bread to be, divide it up into 8 – 16 balls and roll out until about half a centimetre thick. Cook on a hot griddle pan for 2 minutes either side.

Flatbread Meatballs

This is our favourite Culinari combo so far – just a perfect spring supper, lots of fresh flavours and it all works so well together – the soft bread, the fragrant lamb and the zingyness of the salad and yogurt. All in all deliciousness.

We drank… Cucumber & Mint G&Ts – don’t know if Martha Stewart would approve of our doubling the Gin quantities in her cocktail recipe but there you go. It’s a delicious twist on G&T when it’s too early in the year for a Pimms. Muddle some mint and cucumber in the bottom of tall glasses, fill the glass with ice then add gin and tonic and garnish with a mint sprig and a cucumber wedge.

Cucumber & Mint G&T

We talked about… David Bowie at the V&A, Weydon Student Leaders and school uniform, Thatcher, holidays, GCSEs, Proms, false eyelashes.

Two Soups…

Inspired by our favourite comedy clip, January was all about two soups. Or soup two ways. Two ways to make tasty, healthy, nourishing soup to warm your cockles.

This first soup is so nutritious you might develop a halo whilst you eat it.  A tomato, pepper, onion and garlic combo roasted in a tiny splash of olive oil then blitzed with ginger for zing, this soup is an excellent source of Vitamins A, C and E and great for immune boosting at this cold-ridden time of year. Its so easy to make and these quantities make masses -perfect for freezing what what you don’t eat the first time. Have a go…


6 punnets of tasty tomatoesTomatoes peppers onions garlic
6 red peppers
6 onions
6 garlic cloves
6 thumbs of ginger
soy sauce, Tabasco, black pepper

Halve the tomatoes. Slice the peppers and onions into big chunks. Peel the garlic. Peel and grate the ginger.

Sling the tomatoes, peppers, onion and garlic in a single layer on two or three baking trays and splash with olive oil. Give it a shake and put in oven at 200/Gas Mark 6. Roast for 30 mins til tender then tip into a big saucepan and blitz with a hand blender. Add the ginger, a couple of splashes of soy and Tabasco, black pepper and enough water to make the consistency you prefer. Whizz and taste adding more soy, Tobasco or pepper as it needs. Warm through and enjoy virtuously.

This is a warmingly sweet bowl of redness. If you wanted a bigger chilli hit you could add a couple of red chillis at the roasting stage or just serve with Tobasco on the side to add to taste. We ate ours with some of our Lemony Pepper Bread (recipe here)  but it would also make a great risotto base in place of stock.

Tomato Ginger Zinger Soup

The second soup is made the traditional way by simmering veg and spices gently on the hob til soft then blitzing with milk to make a creamy, satiny soup. We’d never used almonds in a soup so were interested to try this…


50g butter
3 cauliflowers, cut into smallish florets and stalks chopped
3 onions
9 crushed garlic cloves
3 tsps turmeric
2 tsps fenugreek
2 tsps ground ginger
300g ground almonds
1.5l milk
2 lemons
bunch of coriander

Melt the butter in your biggest pan (or split between two pans to start with like we did). Add the onion, garlic, turmeric, fenugreek, ginger and soften. Add the cauli, put the lid on and cook for 5 mins on low til everything softens. Stir in the almonds then add boiling water til the cauliflower is almost covered, replace lid and simmer for about twenty mins til the cauliflower is tender. Stir in a litre of milk and then blitz until smooth and satiny. Add more milk if you want it thinner.  Now taste and add lemon juice to freshen it up and black pepper to taste. Warm through then serve with lemon wedges and some chopped coriander on the top.

Our taste buds were zapped after the tomato soup so we really need to try this again without a tomato starter but the overall effect is quite nicely korma-ry. The lemon added at the end definitely spritzes the taste up a notch and some toasted flaked almonds on the top would have been good too. Again, this ingredients list makes a large quantity but it’s easy to scale it down or freeze batches of extra soup.

Cauliflower and Almond Soup

We drank… Moscow Mules – continuing our gingery theme – a mix of vodka and freshly squeezed lime in a tall glass topped up with ginger beer.

We talked about… school dinners, graphene, second hand furniture at the Phyllis Tuckwell Furniture Showroom, the 5-2 diet and fasting, Brian Cox, Les Mis, Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty at Sadlers Wells, science GCSEs.


Where’s the time gone? Our last get-together was July and now KABOOM it’s October. Lovely autumny October and our thoughts turn to pickle…

We were very lucky to be offered some local apple and beetroot gluts and snapped them up immediately to pickle and chutnify. La Culinari and pickle go together like beans and toast or fish and chips. When our children were little and at Potters Gate Primary School in Farnham there was an old apple tree that every year shed apples onto the school field which got used as mouldy footballs (when the lunch time supervisors weren’t looking). We thought it was such a shame to waste the apples so began an epic, annual, hysterical apple collection at the beginning of every Autumn term involving ladders and many a Chuckle Brothers moment. We turned the apples into Potters Pickle and sold it at the Xmas Fair to raise money for the school. Sadly, the tree is being lost to the school’s new building project but Potters Pickle lives on!

Potters Pickle

2-3kg apples, any sort – we used a mixture of eaters and cookers for a good “mushy but with chunks” texturechopping apples
4 onions
2 chillies
500g demerara sugar
5 tsp allspice
5 tsp ground cloves
5 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt
black pepper
a big thumb of ginger, grated
500 ml cider vinegar

Just peel and chop the apples, onion and chillies and bung in a big pan with everything else and cook for about an hour til the fruit is soft. Taste and see if it needs more spices or chillies when it’s about half way through cooking. Spoon into clean, warm jars and according to Hugh F-W via Mandy you should invert the jars and leave to cool upside down which seals them. I’ve never heard this before and have just spent tooooo long googling this and cannot find out the definitive answer, any ideas anyone?

We had been given loads of home grown beetroot so the second chutney we made was a vivid pink and spicy beetroot and ginger one, christened Brooty Toot. Here’s the recipe:

Brooty Toot Chutney

3kg beetrootchutney pans
1 kg apples
4 onions
2 chillies
a big thumb of ginger, grated
half a jar of stem ginger in syrup
500g demerara sugar
5 tsp allspice
2 tsp salt
black pepper
500 ml red wine vinegar

As before, just chop peel and chop the onions, beetroot, chillies and apples. Chop the stem ginger. Put everything in a big pan and simmer away til the beetroot is soft and tender. Spoon into warm jars and seal. The best thing about this chutney (apart from the earthy, sweet and sour taste) is the zingy bright pink colour.

Both chutneys had a fair chilli kick which we liked. The chillies we used were hot ones from a mixed box from the South Devon Chilli Farm – an ace birthday present from my brother @hippyjon We also got to christen another present from my other sibling @fabiapol – my jam funnel, sounds rude but it’s NOT. Very practical and much less messy jar filling guarenteed.

All in all the above made about 12 jars of Potters Pickle and 15 of Brooty Toot, plenty enough to share between the four of us and to give some to Helen and Sue who generously provided us with the apples and beetroot. THANK YOU, YOU TWO.

We were starving after a good couple of hours of chop n chat so we ate some still-hot chutney with home made smoked mackerel pate (the easiest thing in the world to make – smoked mackerel, cream cheese, lemon juice, pepper) and some shop bought pate with prunes in (very nice) and some boring cheese, baguette and oat cakes. DELICIOUS SUPPER and a massive sense of achievement looking at our stack of chutney filled jars. Not bad for a Monday!

chutney jars

We drank… well it was almost Mandy’s birthday so we had to have a fizzy and Gilly treated us to a bottle from a local vineyard, Greyfriars on the Hogs Back. The vineyard changed hands in 2010 and our bottle was from the previous owners time, very good, but the new owners are promising improvements so we’ll keep an eye out. Always nice to support local producers.

We talked about… Christmas (sorry), Nigel Slater, Mandy’s upcoming party, apple shortages, English sparkling wines, gardening woe, Milton Jones, kitchen refurbs.