Home Made – Lamb Pilaf

I love cooking in winter. It’s the perfect time of the year for comfort food, spicy curries and one-pot wonders. Everybody knows that curries are better left in the freezer for a bit and it’s a great opportunity to bulk cook and give yourself the odd night off. Being as I’ve just started a Masters in Gastronomic Tourism, those nights could become rather more frequent, so you’ll see a few more one-pot wonders and quick easies over what could well be the next 5 years.

130714 Lamb Pilaf

First up is my favourite Middle-Eastern dish. The aromatic spices are gorgeous with the tart sweetness of the cranberries, and the harissa gives it the heat you want on a cold night. Mind you don’t overdo it though – start with a little less until you’re familiar with the heat level.

SPICED LAMB PILAF

Serves 2

1 tablespoon olive oil

250 grams lamb fillet, chopped

½ red onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

½ teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cinnamon quill

1 teaspoon harissa paste or other chilli paste

1/2 cup medium grain rice

1 ½ cups unsalted chicken stock

1 tomato, seeds removed, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped coriander, plus sprigs to serve

1 tablespoon craisins or cranberries

1 tablespoon roasted pine nuts

Thick greek yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, to serve.

Heat half of the olive oil in a frying pan over high heat and cook the lamb in batches until browned. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add remaining oil to frypan and cook the onion, stirring for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic, cumin, allspice, cinnamon and harissa and stir to combine. Stir in the rice, stock and tomato. Return the meat to the pan and season. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes or until the meat is cooked through.

Stir in coriander, craisins or cranberries and pine nuts. Serve topped with yoghurt, coriander sprigs and pomegranate seeds.

Gerard’s Bistro – Fortitude Valley, Brisbane

130928 Gerard's Bistro CharcuterieRecently rated one of Brisbane’s best restaurants by Gourmet Traveller, Gerard’s has been on my bucket list for a while. The attraction? Modern middle-eastern cuisine served share-style, intriguing décor and an impressive wine list. It’s also conveniently located if you’re heading towards the Valley for a show – walking distance from The Tivoli and the Judith Wright theatre and close enough to the Powerhouse for a quick pre-show dinner if you’re driving.

The menu is diverse and thoroughly contemporary – house-made smallgoods and pickled accompaniments abound and its clear smoking is a technique favoured by chef Ben Williamson.130928 Gerard's Bistro charcuterie 3

The charcuterie board with Lebanese pickles goes so much further than the usual well-sourced and assembled offering. The house-made chorizo paste has a fabulous kick and works really well with the pickles. The liver pate packs remarkable flavour for its feather-light smoothness and finishes beautifully atop the seeded crispbread. The prosciutto is delicately smoked but watch those pickled chillies.

130928 Gerard's Bistro Suckling Pig PSSuckling pig with pear, walnuts and Jerusalem artichokes is the signature dish and it doesn’t disappoint.

The Pategonian toothfish with mussels and jamon is perfectly complemented by lentils shot through with a hint of lemon.130928 Gerard's Bistro Pategonian Toothfish 1 Both dishes work beautifully with sides of smoked potatoes with tahini, sumac and nigella; and roasted beetroot with shankleish, barberries, hazelnuts and lemon balm. Also on the menu and fantastic with our selection is the Stoneleigh Pinot Gris.

With all this we left no space for sweets, but will happily return to finish the experience.

A side note – if you’re a real foodie with a penchant for collecting recipe books, pop into Scrumptious Reads, just diagonally across from the entrance to Gerard’s. It’s open late and is the perfect appetising distraction on the way in if you’re a little early for your booking.