GRILLED LAMB WITH PEPPER RELISH AND COUSCOUS

In this relish, the heat of the chillies is balanced by the sweet flavour of the red peppers. Serve with couscous and a cooling sauce of yoghurt mixed with chopped fresh coriander or mint. The chillies used in this recipe are available by mail order from the Cool Chile Company, telephone (0973) 311714.

1 teaspoon toasted coriander seeds, coarsely ground

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar salt and freshly ground black pepper 12 neck cutlets or 8 loin chops relish:

3 sweet red peppers 25 g (1 oz) dried red Mexican chillies (Ancho or Guajillo)

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin seeds A teaspoon toasted ground cardamom seeds 1 teaspoon toasted coriander seeds, coarsely ground balsamic vinegar, to taste

2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander or mint 150 ml (5 fl oz) plain yoghurt steamed couscous and sprigs of mint or fresh coriander, to serve

Mix together the coriander seeds, the thyme, 3 tablespoons oil and the balsamic vinegar. Add a good grinding of black pepper. Marinate the lamb in the mixture for at least 2 hours.

To make the pepper relish, halve and de-seed the sweet peppers. Grill them, skin-side up, until the skins blacken and blister. Place in a bowl, cover and leave to steam for 10 minutes, then remove the skin and finely dice the flesh. Meanwhile, soak the chillies in enough hot water just to cover them for 15 minutes, then drain, deseed and puree in a small food mill or grinder.

Soften the garlic in the remaining oil in a pan for a couple of minutes. Add 1 teaspoon cumin, the cardamom and coriander to the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes. Add the chilli paste and the red peppers and cook for another few minutes. Season to taste with balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper. Stir the chopped herbs into the yoghurt, and sprinkle with a little of the cumin. When ready to eat, heat the grill or a ridged, cast-iron grill-pan. Cook the chops for around 4 minutes on each side, then serve with the pepper relish, herby yoghurt and couscous. Garnish with sprigs of mint or coriander. Serves 4.

Enjoy the sweet flavour of new season lamb with this menu of Grilled Lamb with Pepper Relish and Couscous.

A few months ago, the French publication Le Monde dared to admit that London was the âœin❠place to be. And in matters relating to food and design, there can be no doubt that the person most responsible for this rare acclaim is Sir Terence Conran, that well-known arbiter of style. âœIt’s all to do with simplicity,❠he says. âœThat’s the key to everything.❠Terence Conran studied textile design at the Central School of Arts and Crafts until 1950, when he became an industrial designer. In 1956 he founded Conran Design Group and eight years later opened the first Habitat store. Since then, he has founded and chaired countless companies and projects.

A passion for food has played a major role throughout his career. âœIn 1953 I worked as a plongeur in a Paris restaurant to gain hands-on experience,❠he recalls. A year later he opened his first restaurant, The Soup Kitchen in London’s Chandos Place, where simple, basic meals became all the rage. Since then a string of enterprises has followed, including Bibendum, Quaglino’s, Blue Print Cafe, Gastrodrome and Mezzo. His latest enterprise, located on the Kings Road, is Bluebird, which opens in May of this year. It will bring together the cream of specialist food suppliers under one roof. Any such gastronomic paradise would be incomplete without an eaterie, and here Conran excels himself. On the first floor will be the spectacular Bluebird Restaurant, while the more intimate Bluebird Club, which is dedicated to the memory of Malcolm Campbell and his record-breaking Bluebird cars, will be a gourmet’s delight. At the helm of this enterprise is talented young executive chef Michael Moore, recendy returned from Australia, where he owned his own restaurant as well as running the kitchens of a five-star Sydney establishment. âœI wholeheartedly share Terence’s philosophy on food,❠he says. âœHis attention to detail is second to none. It’s a pleasure to work with someone so easygoing and charismatic.❠Michael often slips across the river to Butlers Wharf, an area of London Sir Terence has claimed as his own, to cook lunch. Home to The Design Museum, the four-restaurant Gastrodrome, Conran’s offices and countless lovingly restored warehouses, Butlers Wharf is also where Sir Terence resides during the week. On the top two floors of the slate-clad building that houses more showrooms and office space is his own apartment.

Here, Sir Terence has created an impressive open-plan living area dedicated to cooking, dining and entertaining. A pitched skylight allows light to flood into the room, which opens on to a vast terrace along one side and a large enclosed greenhouse on the other. âœI love this neighbourhood,❠he muses. âœI’ve invested a huge amount of time, effort and love – let alone money – developing this project, but it’s been worth it.â

The Conran slogan âœkeep it simple❠instantly springs to mind when you first enter the apartment. The decoration is modem, pared-down and uncomplicated. Upstairs, the kitchen is streamlined into three work zones and merges easily into the dining and living areas, making the transition to and from the table effortless. âœIt’s important to involve the cook when planning the overall scheme, otherwise it all becomes a bit of a chore,❠he says. âœA well-organised open-plan layout like this allows everyone to join in the fun.â

Sir Terence’s partner Victy is more often than not responsible for the cooking, but at the weekends and when they spend time in France, Sir Terence finds cooking very relaxing. The focus is always on the quality of the ingredients. âœI like good, honest food, cooked and handled with respect,❠he says.

Sir Terence almost always uses ingredients that are quick and easy to prepare. Sometimes, rather than plough through course after course, he puts all the dishes on the table at the same time. âœToday, Michael is serving the food on large platters, which we pass round the table so that guests can tuck in, enjoy a good laugh and share the food without interruption.❠Starters are a rarity chez Conran. âœWhen we do have one I prefer something that takes time to enjoy, such as a plateau de fruits de mer or even crab,❠he says. Fresh asparagus, artichokes or a plate of raw vegetables from his garden might also be served. âœMy kitchen garden in the country provides all the vegetables, herbs and most of the fruit we eat during the year, ❠he explains. âœWe even have lemons in the greenhouse.❠Although Sir Terence usually opts for cheese to round off a meal, he is fond of certain puddings. âœI love pears in red wine with vanilla, orange peel, sugar and spices,❠he admits. âœIf you leave them in the Aga for 24 hours they emerge as wonderful, sensuous objects.â

At mealtimes the long refectory table is laid with white china and flowers. âœFood should be well presented and attractive to look at,❠he says. âœA meal is an uplifting experience.â


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