I know that it seems like a lot to say, ” Lamb with Pistachio and Green Olive Tabouli and Creamed Cauliflower “, but believe me, it is surprisingly simple to make. One thing in this life that is not simple however, is locking a tent. Why on earth would this be necessary? Is probably a question you might want to ask.
For several months, a few years back I lived in isolation, in a tent by the seaside in a town called Zadar, on the Croatian Coast. There wasn’t terribly much excitement in these parts unless you consider middle-aged Germans basking on the private beaches of the big hotel next door to the campsite ( where I lived) to be exciting. This is how I believe I became the most exciting entertainment in town.
I had a bus of 55 people to cook for every third day. The trouble is it sometimes took me that long to locate the food I needed to feed them. The uncertain nature of life in these parts often meant shortages of almost anything weekly. There would be no sugar or perhaps milk, cereal or bread or just about anything I might have to buy. The bus arrived for dinner stayed for breakfast and left the next day with a picnic basket full of lunch that sometimes contained the oddest of things. Mine was the stop between Dubrovnik and Trieste on route to Venice. There were a couple of shops for staples but I had to trawl the markets for meat and vegetables. I learned to say yes , no, please and count to ten in the local dialect but, a few other choice words managed to find there way into my vocabulary and I would mutter them to my self as I tried to barter with the old crones at the market. Although I knew them well, each time I went they would pretend not to know me and we would have to go through the whole process of them ignoring me for a while, then they would ask me for ridiculous amounts of money and then they’d nudge each other and call out , laughing toothless grins. I really grew tired of these cruel antics
I also grew tired of late night visitors to my tent. When the coffee shops emptied out for the night, after much drinking and smoking and card playing, the local men would make there way home past the campsite and one would be encouraged to drop by my tent. I would wake up in a fright and scare them off with a big stick. They were always so drunk they were harmless, but it was very scary. And so, it seems I had become the entertainment. After a short while I had a brilliant idea. I asked one of the tour bus drivers to bring me a pad lock from Italy and I zipped the tent down, padlocked it and drove a tent peg into the flap attaching it to the ground for good measure. This was just too difficult for anyone to manage ( at times even me). Entertainment was then confined to daytimes, when they would laugh at me cooking in the big cooks tent as they sat on the fence at the caravan park.
There was never any lamb here to eat, but I did love the local Bourek and the squid ink rice.
- Cauliflower and tabouli with serve 4-6
- 700gm ( just under a lb )( approx 1 small to medium cauli weigh the flowrettes)
- 300gm (10.5oz) raw peeled potato finely chopped
- ½ cup thickened cream ( or heavy cream)
- 1 cup of chicken stock
- ½ lemon juice
- 30gm butter ( 1 tablespoon)
- ¼ cup of couscous soaked and ready to use ( done by adding boiling stock or water x ¼ cup)
- 150gm ( 1¼ cups) deseeded tasty green olives
- 1½ cups or 200gm toasted unsalted pistachios ( no shell)
- 1 clove garlic
- 2 bunches of flat leaf parsley leaves( 2 to 3 cups )
- 1 bunch of mint leaves
- 4 tablespoons olive oil ( 80ml)
- 1 lemon zested and juiced.
- Put the chopped potato and the chopped cauliflower flowretes ( no stem) into a wide saucepan with the cream and stock. Cook slowly with the lid on until they are quite tender.
- Puree this mixture along with the butter in a vitamix or with a stick blender till very smooth. Season with salt and pepper and add up to ½ lemon juice to taste, incorporating well. Keep warm or put into a container for later use.
- Put the nuts , deseeded olives, rough chopped parsley, mint, lemon zest , lemon juice and oil into the food processor and blitz till a nice chunky , mostly evenly chopped tabouli is made. Pour into a bowl and add the couscous. Also add some extra olive oil and lemon juice stir well and add extra seasoning *( salt and pepper only after tasting) if required. It will be a nicely dressed , fine chopped salsa resembling the usual tabouli style salad . ( store for later or set aside till the Lamb is cooked)
- Roll your Lamb in the dry mixed spices.
- Heat a frypan to very hot add some oil and sear the lamb. I use fillet and I like to turn the Lamb once then put the frypan into a 200 deg C (390F) oven for 8 minutes before resting. If this doesn't suit you lower the heat slightly and cook 5 minutes on 1 side before turning. Cook a further 6-8 minutes before resting. Test by using your fingers to feel how firm the lamb feels. The firmer it is the more well done.
- Serve with the creamed cauliflower and tabouli.
** I used Green Cerignola Olives from www.lario.com.au