For Those About To Cook, We Salute You

Thursday 11/8/2005

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Diary and Notes


You just know if I start with 'salve' then I've been rifling through the cookbooks of ancient Rome again - I just can't get enough of that Roman grub - it's delicious.

In order to expand my horizons I even invested in a new ancient Roman cookery book called Roman Cookery: Recipes and History (Cooking Through the Ages) by Jane Renfrew. What a jip, the book cost £7.99 and only has 50 recipes in it, every single one of them you can view for free on the Romans in Britain website. In fact, the recipes are copied word for word from the web. Eight quid, eight quid....

Oh well, at least I tried.

So what delights did we have today? Did I stick to the Roman recipes of Apicius or was I deviating due to me thinking I know better?

The latter of course.

Firstly I just had to use some of the pennyroyal I'd bought on the internet. I had a little taste and it was quite good - a bit like a very mild mint with a slight szechuan pepper effect (how pretentious does that sound?). I am surprised nobody uses pennyroyal in cooking any more, it's pretty good. Somebody will no doubt send me an email saying it's poisonous but until that is confirmed I'll carry on eating the stuff.

I also got about half way through making dinner and realised not a single dish I had chosen included honey. "Oh no!" I thought, that can't be right. So I added some to the artichoke hearts (I'm sure the Romans never had canned artichoke hearts anyway so I'd already deviated somewhat from the original).

And I didn't have any passum to cook the lamb in. Passum (so I am informed) is a sweet wine must. Instead I reduced some white wine and a little sweet sauterns wine until it was super concentrated and used this.

So how was today's Roman feast?

I can't understand why nobody cooks this stuff on a daily basis, it was delicious, absolutely delicious. The puree of leaves wasn't great and the peas were fine but you wouldn't rave about them. The artichokes on the other hand were quite superb, the honey really works and the sauce with them would be hard to top. But the real winner were the lamb chops. I can't think of a more tasty way to serve lamb chops than this. They transcended any other chops I've ever had - just amazing.

I reckon if you dished these up at a Michelin starred restaurant and charged 40 quid a plate nobody would bat an eyelid. Perfectly pink inside and the sauce... - you'll just have to have a go yourself.

Lagan Seekh tomorrow, watch this space.

Cake Blog

Summer Fruit Square: From Starbuck's again.


  • Steamed Lamb
  • Artichoke Hearts in Honey and Herbs
  • Puree of Green Leaves
  • Peas Vinaigrette
  • Pitta


    Steamed Lamb
    4 Lamb Chops
    1/2 Onion
    1 Glass White Wine
    1/3 Glass Sweet Sauterns Wine
    1 Tbsp Olive Oil
    1 tsp Thai Fish Sauce
    1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
    1 tsp Ground Coriander
    1/4 tsp White Pepper
    Artichoke Hearts in Honey and Herbs
    3 Artichoke hearts (Canned)
    Tbsp Olive Oil
    1/3 Glass White Wine
    1/4 tsp Fennel Seeds
    1/4 tsp Dried Mint
    1/2 tsp Ground Coriander
    1/4 tsp Pennyroyal
    1/4 tsp White Pepper
    2 tsp Honey
    Puree of Green Leaves
    1/4 Onion
    3 Lettuce Leaves
    3 Chinese Cabbage Leaves
    Handful of Spinach
    Handful of Watercress
    1 tsp Olive Oil
    Squirt Anchovy Paste
    Pinch Pennyroyal
    Pinch Mint
    Pinch Celery Seeds
    Peas Vinaigrette
    50g Peas
    1 Egg
    1/4 Onion
    tsp Olive Oil
    tsp Cider Vinegar


  • Lamb: First reduce the wine - put the wine and sauterns in a pan and simmer gently until only 1/4 the original volume. Finely dice the onion and cook until just turning brown in a little oilive oil. Add the lamb chops and brown just a little on each side then add the reduced wine and all the other ingredients, mix and put the lid on. Simmer for 3 minutes, turn the chops and simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove the chops and cook the sauce for a minute or two longer.
  • Artichokes: Drain the artichokes. Simmer in all the spices/wine/oil. When the sauce has reduced to be quite thick they should be ready.
  • Puree of Leaves: Die the onion and sweat in a little oil. Add the flavourings and mix well. Chop all the leaves and stir in, once wilted serve immediately.
  • Peas: Hard boil the egg. Dice the onion and sweat in a little olive oil. Add the peas and vinegar. Chop up the egg and stir in.


    *All quantities are very approximate and for a single person