Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Playing for a Sheep Station & Matt Preston's delicious Lamb dish

Today, while playing tennis, there was some confusion over who was serving during our long doubles match in the hot February sun. Our opponents said, 'does it really matter who is serving? It's not like we are playing for a sheep station or anything!'

After living in Australia for 3+ years of, one of the biggest differences that I constantly encounter is language. While both the US and Australia speak English, there are different spellings, sayings and lots of slang words and expressions used. I am still adjusting to spelling differently. I am learning to add 'u' to some words (colour, honour, favour, etc.) and change the 'z' (called 'zed' here,) to 's' - realise, visualise, materialise, etc. I don't know if people are lazy or it's just easier (does that still mean lazy?) to shorten every word possible. Arvo is afternoon; sunnies are sunglasses, Chrissy is Christmas, avos are avocados, rellies are relatives, pressies are presents, chokkie is chocolate, mozzie is mosquito, etc. The list is endless and I seem to learn a new abbreviation each week. There is even a nice way to swear, instead of using 'f*#k' someone people say, 'far out' while s#*t is sometimes expressed as 'shivers' which only makes me think of pirates but nicer family language for sure. I could write many pages about slang words but there is a good website if you are interested - http://www.koalanet.com.au/australian-slang.html

I did want to share some of the my favorite slang words that paint interesting imagery when you hear them:
Yes, he lives in Sydney but grew up in Woop Woop.
I feel dusty this morning from all that wine last night and will be shattered if I don't get a nap later.
 I am not trying to piss in your pocket but that is the best cake I've ever tasted.
He was spitting chips when he lost all his money betting on a footy game.
You are mad as a cut snake if you think you'll get away with that.
Did you see that man in his budgie smugglers on the beach?
I was gobsmacked when she won that prize.

This week's recipe is a lamb recipe. Australia is one of the largest exporters of sheep in the world. I have eaten more lamb in the past 3 years than I have eaten in my whole life. I didn't like lamb as a child and I remember my Mom cooking it and hated the house smelling so gamey. She would then serve it with green mint jelly, another yuck. I often wondered who thought of jelly on lamb? Shouldn't jelly only be a nice colour and served with toast?!

Since moving down under, I have tried all sorts and cuts of lamb. I still don't like the smell when it's cooking but I do love the taste, especially with a glass of Australian Shiraz (sha-razzzz) wine. My recipe today is from Matt Preston's 100 Best Recipes: Simple and Delicious Recipes Everyone Should Know. I recently went to buy a Michelle Bridges diet and exercise book but instead came home with his cookbook instead, which is pretty funny. Bye bye Michelle, hellooo Matt! Matt is a chef and judge on the very popular MasterChef TV show. He is larger than life, both in size and personality, and has an interesting style of dress. I like to think of it as British banker gone wrong! He mixes stripes and polka dots and bright colours, all the while usually wearing a signature cravat around his neck. 'Cravat' was another new word for me until Matt Preston and MasterChef came along. From seeing him on TV and hearing him on radio interviews, he seems like a top bloke, one you'd like to share a meal (hopefully he'd cook) or a schooner with. I am enjoying his new cookbook immensely, although he is dressed quite tame and cravat-less on the cover. With some cookbooks, I only end up liking a recipe or two. With his book, I have been cooking the book, so to speak, and I've liked most of the recipes so far. This lamb dish is my favourite, hands down. The ingredients look a bit suspicious but cooked all together, there is a great synergy of flavours and the lamb is very tender. It takes about 20-30 minutes to prepare and then cooks in the oven for 2 hours - very easy.

courtesy of  www.news.com.au

Matt Preston's Lamb Braise
adapted from Lamb, Walnut and Pineapple Braise recipe

1 kg or 2lbs lamb stew meat

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, quartered and sliced thin

4 cloves garlic

1 small eggplant, cubed

500 ml or 2 cups pineapple juice

2 teaspoons of curry powder

140g or 5oz can of tomato paste

80 ml or 1/3 cup of soy sauce

2 tablespoons of vinegar

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 chubby, pinkie finger of fresh ginger grated (the ginger is a must; powder wouldn't do!)

75g  or 3/4 cup of walnuts (optional)

couscous or brown rice or mashed potatoes

1) Preheat the oven to 180 C or 350 F.

2) Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the lamb and just brown it. Remove lamb from pan and transfer to a casserole dish.

3) In the same saucepan, cook onion. Once onion is transluscent, add garlic and eggplant. Stir for a minute. Then add pineapple juice, curry powder, tomato paste, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and ginger. Bring to a boil.

4) Pour mixture over lamb, cover and cook in oven for 2 hours.

5) Serve over cous cous, brown rice or mashed potatoes with walnuts (optional) on top.

- I think serving it with couscous tastes best.
- I tried to cook this once in the crockpot and the lamb did not come out as tender.
- Use fresh grated ginger really affects the flavour. It's easy - just grate it with a chesse grater.
- I have never tried it with the walnuts as the recipes suggests. It tastes great without them although I'm sure they add some extra texture.
- This is a kid friendly dish. My girls who aren't big fans of lamb love the tangy flavour.


  1. Yummy, looks so good! Great post, Susan :)

  2. I don't usually cook lamb, but I will "give this one a go", just because it has fresh ginger. Thanks susan. :)

  3. Love the slang lesson, girl. Funny stuff down under!!! Lamb- Todd's fav. Ill think about it! ;)

  4. Just caught this post :). I've been here 7 1/2 yrs. Sometimes it seems a week and other times it seems like forever. A word of warning though. Matt Preston is NOT a cook and he is definitely NOT a chef. He is a food critic. Period.

    He once stated, at the beginning of the MasterChef series that he can barely cook toast. I'd say he had someone else write that cookbook for him. He once (last year, I think?) made "Tuscan Bean Soup". It was a can of Heinz Pork and Beans, blended with some cream, a drizzle of olive oil and served in a fancy white bowl. That is more his style lol!

  5. Hi Kitten! Thanks for reading my blog! I am new to blogging and appreciate readers.
    Your comment made me do some research on Matt Preston. You are correct, he is not a properly trained chef but a writer and food critic. I think with all that food around, he has experimented a lot at home and is now a great home chef. Take a look at his book, that I hope he wrote most of:). I have tried many recipes and they are winners.
    Cheers! SuzyQ


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