Saturday, August 20, 2005

It's Mummy's Birthday!

Every year, during our family birthdays, I would be the one to cook or take them out to dinner. (My brother, unlike me, isn't too keen on slaving away in the kitchen to prepare a meal!)

Mum's birthday happened to be on a weekday this year (as I am working full-time), I had to decide on a menu that is manageable and rather effortless. I visited The Butcher at Holland Village, Singapore the night before and decided on cooking Lamb Shanks. To go with the lamb, i made a salad with a sweet balsamic dressing.

Lamb Shanks with Red Wine served with Parsnip Puree


3 medium sized Lamb Shanks, score shanks to allow marinade to soak through
1/2 to 3/4 Bottle of Red Wine
Spring Onions, roughly chopped
Carrots, roughly chopped
Celery, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed
1 sprig Rosemary, chopped
1 sprig Thyme, chopped
1 Bay leaf
2 star anise
2 cloves chopped garlic
750ml Vegetable stock
Olive oil

1 medium sized parsnip, peeled and chopped
Salt & Pepper

Marinate lamb shanks in salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, bay leaf, spring onions, garlic, celery, carrots and red wine overnight. The next day, remove shanks and vegetables from marinade.
Heat saucepan add olive oil and brown shanks to enhance flavour of the meat. Put aside.
In the same pan, add in chopped garlic, star anise, and the vegetables from the marinade and stir fry for about 2 minutes. Add lamb shanks in and add in marinade and vegetable stock and allow it to come to a boil.
Simmer and cover under low flame for about 2-3 hours till the meat is soft and absolutely falling off the bone.
Honestly, the carrots and celery are to give it more flavour. The vegetables are too soft to be eaten by the time the shanks are cooked.
Remore shanks from pan and keep warm.
Strain remaining sauce from pan and continue simmering on low heat till it reduces to a thicker consistency.
The shanks were full of flavour, tender and moist! On another occasion, I shall try making these shanks in a pressure cooker, I think it could make quite a difference to the texture of the meat!

For Parsnip puree:
(adapted from Gordan Ramsay's Kitchen Heaven.)
Truthfully, I am not sure if pan-frying parsnips is the best idea (unless you have perfect heat control with your stove) as what happened to mine was the parsnips started browning before they were cooked through, thus, forming a thick brown skin on both sides that made it hard to mash into a smooth consistency. I have to admit here that i was so frustrated with the parsnips that i almost threw it out the window!! (being the chronic perfectionist i am) I am not gonna give up, I will try making it again till i get it right!

Anyhows, the method as follows:
Melt butter in frying pan over low heat and cook parsnips until completely soft and falling apart (about 25min). Add the cream and bring to the boil. Season then liquidize to a smooth puree.

Mixed Salad with Sweet Balsamic Vinegar

There is a story to my facination and determination to making a Sweet Balsamic. GL and I were in Adelaide and he being the beer loving man he is, we had to visit Harndoff, a little German town in Adelaide that not only boasts of its beers & sausages, it had several shops selling beautiful produce such as salami, cheeses, honey, and of course, some unusual sauces or jellies. GL bought a bottle of Sweet Balsamic in a bottle from this tiny gourmet shop there and I regretted not buying a bottle to bring it back with me. He made dinner for me one night and I tried the sweet balsamic he bought and fell in love with it but failed in convincing him to let me have the bottle! So here it is, my own version of the sweet balsamic that tastes almost close to the one that was bought in Harndoff.

Mixed salad
I selected rocket, baby spinach(remove stems from bigger leaves), red & yellow capsicums, honey cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese for the salad.

Sweet Balsamic dressing
Pour about 1/2 cup of balsamic and bring to boil in a small saucepan.
Boil till it reduces to about half.
Make sure you do not overboil as it will become a thick paste and it cant be used when it gets to that stage.
Pour vinegar in a bowl, whisk in 3tbsp of honey, 2tbsp olive oil, 1tsp chopped marjoram, salt & pepper.
Allow it to soak in for a while before serving.


Blogger Ruth said...

Everything looks fabulous. I'm sure everyone had a great feast.

9:44 PM  
Blogger Skrat said...

Hey ruth,
thank you for stopping by too. Well, the parsnips were a little disappointing....but i hope to try again and make them work! Let's keep cooking and feasting!

10:29 PM  

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