Yay! Here they are, the first sunbeams with a promise to stick around for a while – a sign that May truly has arrived~! It’s one of my favorite months of the year since mother nature is doing her best to provide us with the best of two seasons during this month! Spring veggies and herbs, re-opened season on game, veal, lamb and various sea creatures locked in fence months up until now as well as the first bunch of summer berries and fruit!
A perfect setup to celebrate the sun emerging from the grey-in-grey misery that just passed as “April” in our corner of the world~
So, in order to dust off the last month, go through a spring cleaning of sorts, and share the good side of all things May with you guys, I’ve put some extra effort into capturing as many colors, seasonal ingredients and aromas doing the Sun-dance for this month’s recipes as I could. Let’s get the show on the road~ Today’s Special Guest: A spring lamb, accompanied by bright orange carroty wingmen, sitting in a summery, very-berry sauce~
Here’s what you need for 2 servings:
The Carrot Dumplings
300g Carrots, peeled and sliced into 1cm thick disks
Opt: In case you’ve bought them in a bunch, with their greens still attached and fresh, keep them! They make for a really pretty and quite delicious garnish. Carefully rinse them and snip them off about 1cm beneath the point where they spread out into leafy fern-like fans.
225g Floury Potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1cm cubes
80g Potato Flour
40g Plain Wheat Flour
1 Medium sized Egg
1 generous Pinch of Salt
1 generous Pinch of Nutmeg
1) Add the carrots and potatoes to a large pot set on high heat, water merrily bubbling away, and cook them for about 20 mins until they’re soft.
2) Drain off the water and quickly pop the veggie bits back into the pot still sitting on the stove.
3) Turn the heat to medium and swirl the veg around inside the pot for about 3-4 mins in order to have them steam off as much of their moisture as possible. Keep them moving to spare them from sticking to the pot and burning in the aftermath.
4) Tip them out onto a cooling rack and leave them to settle down and steam off some more moisture for 10 mins.
5) Meanwhile, sift the two flours into a large mixing bowl.
6) Press a well into the middle, add the salt and nutmeg and crack in the egg.
7) Add the steamed-off veggies, preferably pressed through a ricer, and knead the lot into a smooth and even dough.
8) Set the bowl aside to rest for 30 mins
9) Lightly dust a large tray with semolina or potato flour
10) Roll the dough into a log of about 3 cm thickness.
11) Slice the log into gnocchi-like bites and, by applying just a bit of pressure, roll them between the palms of your hands to even out the surface.
12) To improve their sauce-gathering properties, you could gently roll them across the backside of a fork to press slight tong-marks into their surface. If you’re going down this path, make sure to be careful with this rather soft dough – they could fall apart on their way down the fork or in the water later, should you thin them out too much in places.
13) Whichever way you decide to shape your dumplings, place them on your prepped tray once you’re done.
14) Once you’re about ready to serve, bring a pot of salted water to a gentle simmer and pop in the dumplings in batches – make sure they have enough space in the pot to float and dance around without bumping into each other – and cook them for 4-6 mins depending on their size. Luckily they will tell you when they’re done: cooked through dumplings will simply float up to the surface of the water, just asking to be taken out of the tub with a slotted spoon. I’d like to advise you to have a test-bite of your first dumpling though, just in case.
15) Shake off as much water as you can – they might turn soggy otherwise – before placing them in a bowl or deep dish you can easily cover with a plate or lid of sorts to keep them warm.
16) If you find yourself in a pinch for time, you can make these a couple of hours in advance, lock them up in an airtight container once they’re cooled off, and give them a quick pan-sear or warm them up in the sauce just before serving. Just keep in mind: the longer they sit, the more flavor they loose. Root vegetables are unforgiving that way…
2x 120-150g Lamb Fillets
1 Clove of Garlic, very finely chopped
2 Sprigs of Rosemary, needles picked and roughly chopped
1 Lemon, Zest
1 Pinch of Hot Chilli flakes
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
A generous pinch of coarse Sea Salt
1) Place the garlic, rosemary, lemon zest, chilli flakes and olive oil in an airtight container.
2) Pick up a whisk and stir through this marinade until all ingredients are evenly distributed throughout the mix.
3) Pat your fillets dry with a paper towel and gently turn them over in the marinade to cover them with a shiny yet chunky sheen all around.
4) Tuck them into the container, close the lid and let the marinade work its magic from anything between 30 mins to overnight, depending on how long you’ve planned in advance~ As with most marinades the “The longer the better” rule of thumb applies, but you wouldn’t “waste” this step even if you forgot all about it until you’re getting ready for the dumplings.
5) No matter how long your lamb’s been sitting in the marinade, remember to take the container out about 30 mins til sizzle o’clock in order to get it somewhere near room temperature beforehand.
6) Once your dumplings are rolled up and waiting for their turn in the water, place a heavy-based pan on medium-high heat and pop in the butter.
7) As soon as the butter has melted, sprinkle the surface of the pan with a generous pinch of salt and add the contents of your lamb-container. In case your kitchen isn’t immediately filled with the mouthwatering sound of something delicious sizzling in your pan, remove the fillets again, pop on the lid and give the pan a couple more mins to get up to speed in the temperature department.
8) Once they’re safely tucked into the pan, place the lid on top and leave them to heat through and develop some color on the first side for 1 min.
9) Turn them over to the opposite side, previously facing up, pop the lid back on and give them another min.
10) Set the lid aside and, with a ¼ of a turn every 15-20 secs, fry the fillets until they’re nicely golden-brown all around.
11) This process, depending on the size of the fillets, will take about 4-6 mins.
12) Take them out of the pan, place them on a warm plate and tightly cover them with aluminum foil for about 10 mins of R&R.
13) Time to finish up the sauce~
The Blueberry Sauce
400g fresh Blueberries
2 Tbsp dried Blueberries
100ml Lamb Stock
200ml White or Tawny Port
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tsp dried Rosemary Needles
½ Tbsp Lemon Zest
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 Clove of Garlic, finely chopped
1 Tsp each of Salt and freshly cracked Black Pepper
Opt: 1 Pinch of dried Hot Jalapeno Flakes
10g Butter to help bind the Sauce
1) Melt the butter in a small pot set onto medium-high heat.
2) Add the shallot and garlic cubes and sautée them until they start to soften and turn translucent.
3) Deglaze them with the stock and the port of your choice.
4) Drizzle in the honey and give the lot a good stir.
5) Fold in the blueberries, dried and fresh, and leave the mixture to simmer away for about 5 mins.
6) Turn the heat up to high and bring the sauce to a boil while stirring occasionally to break up the berries. If you want to keep the “bite” in your sauce to a minimum, use a fork at this point to pop the berries.
7) Once the sauce has worked up a merry bubble, turn the heat down to low and give the liquids about 10 mins to reduce down and thicken a bit.
8) As soon as the lamb’s out of it’s pan, it’s time for a change of scenery for the sauce~!
9) Use this proto-sauce to deglaze the pan previously occupied by the fillets and capture all of the delicious lamb’y roasting aromas still trapped inside the pan by whirling them up into the sauce with a wooden spoon.
10) Of course, you could also simply leave the sauce in it’s own pot for another 10-15 mins – 20-25 mins total – until it’s thickened into a silky berry reduction. Moving it to the lamb pan simply picks up more flavors, and, should the very-berry liquids resist your attempts at reducing them, speeds up the process of it simmering down into a sauce.
A Quick Timeline
All right, lots of things kind of happening at the same time, so here’s a rough timeline for you guys.
1) Marinate the meat.
2) Prep the dumplings to the point of them hitting the water.
3) Get the sauce on the way.
4) Once the sauce has reached the point of turning the heat down after a quick bubble-up, get the lamb going.
5) As the lamb is nearing the end of its time in the pan, get the pot of water simmering in preparation for the dumplings.
6) Replace the lamb with the sauce in the pan, and take care of the dumplings while the sauce is reducing and the lamb is resting.
Assembling the Dish
1) Give the fillets a quick turn-over in the sauce to dress them up in a pretty purple coat.
2) Spoon 2-3 Tbsp of the sauce on each plate and pour the rest into a small serving bowl or mug.
3) Nestle the fillets into the sauce and dot the plates with the bright orange dumplings.
4) Garnish the servings with the pretty, vibrant green carrot leaves – if you have some at hand, that is – and serve up immediately~