Saturday, June 07, 2008

Asian Style Lamb Shanks with Wasabi Mash

With winter upon us, it's those slow cooked comfort food recipes we all pull out of the back of the cupboard to warm our bellies on those chilly nights. Rather than your standard English style Lamb Shanks, why not try these Asian style Lamb shanks instead. The poaching liquid they are cooked in is more like a quick Chinese Master Stock, than casserole base.
Wasabi Mash is a great accompaniment to the shanks and with this amount, is by no means hot or spicy, but you just get a hint of that Wasabi flavour.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 tbs plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 4 lamb shanks, Frenched
  • 40ml (2 tbs) olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely sliced
  • 1L (4 cups) beef stock
  • 40ml (2 tbs) red wine vinegar
  • 40ml (2 tbs) oyster sauce
  • 20ml (1 tbs) soy sauce
  • 1 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tsp Szechuan pepper, crushed
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 tsp cornflour


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Combine the flour and five-spice, then roll shanks in the seasoned flour. Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole dish over medium heat. Add the shanks and brown on all sides, then transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and chilli to the pan and cook for a few minutes until the onion starts to soften. Add the stock, vinegar, sauces, spices and lamb.
  4. Bring to the boil, then cover and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours. Remove from oven and strain sauce into a saucepan. Transfer shanks to a plate.
  5. Combine cornflour with a little cold water, stir into the sauce and bring to the boil. Cook until thickened, then pour over shanks. Serve lamb shanks with wasabi mash (see related recipe).

Butternut Pumpkin Cupcakes

Butternut Pumpkin cupcakes may sound a little strange, but think of the other vegetables you use in cakes - Beetroot, Carrots, Zucchini, so why not Butternut Pumpkin? In fact, this recipe is very similar to a Carrot Cake recipe.

These cup cakes are so simple to make- basically you just whiz everything up in a food processor and you're ready to bake.

I have to say, these cupcakes are probably the best cakes I have ever made! I really fell in love with the sweet pumpkin cake and the zesty, sour cream icing. Give them a try!


For the muffins

  • 400g butternut pumpkin, skin on, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 350g light soft brown sugar
  • 4 large free-range or organic eggs
  • Sea salt
  • 300g plain flour, unsifted
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of baking powder
  • A handful of walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 175ml of extra virgin olive oil

For the frosted cream topping

  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ a lemon
  • 140ml of soured cream
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 vanilla pod, split lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • Optional: lavender flowers or rose petals


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Line your muffin tins with paper cases.

2. Whiz the Pumpkin in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the sugar, and crack in the eggs. Add a pinch of salt, the flour, baking powder, walnuts, cinnamon and olive oil and whiz together until well beaten. You may need to pause the machine at some point to scrape the mix down the sides with a rubber spatula. Try not to overdo it with the mixing - you want to just combine everything and no more.

3. Fill the paper cases with the cake mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Check to see whether they are cooked properly by sticking a wooden skewer or a knife right into one of the cakes - if it comes out clean, they’re done. If it's a bit sticky, pop them back into the oven for a little longer. Remove from the oven and leave the cakes to cool on a wire rack.

4. As soon as the muffins are in the oven, make your runny frosted topping. Place most of the Orange zest, all the lemon zest and the lemon juice in a bowl. Add the soured cream, icing sugar and vanilla seeds and mix well. Taste and have a think about it - adjust the amount of lemon juice or icing sugar to balance the sweet and sour. Put into the fridge until your cakes have cooled down, then spoon the topping on to the cakes. Serve on a lovely plate, with the rest of the Orange zest sprinkled over. For an interesting flavour and look, a few dried lavender flowers or rose petals are fantastic.