Life

James Street South Cookery School: Scallops in their shell, lamb with creamed spinach

Niall's scallops in their shell – a classic dish that works best with the freshest of ingredients

IT'S a Bank Holiday weekend and sometimes that extra day feels like a well-deserved break.

Whether from farm shops, your butcher's, farmers markets or honesty boxes at the side of the road, the north's abundance of fresh, seasonal produce is something we should all be making use of.

Once you have your ingredients, create a lovely Sunday lunch for family and friends – spend the morning prepping and laze away the afternoon enjoying good food and company.

Both this week's dishes work best with the freshest of ingredients and are not too complicated. Both classics, you'll always find them on restaurant menus in spring.

SCALLOPS IN THEIR SHELL

(Serves 4 as a starter)

8 small scallops, cleaned

300ml dry white wine

butter

½ onion, finely diced

100g mushrooms, finely sliced

40g plain flour

150ml double cream

2 tblsp bread crumbs

1 tblsp grated Parmesan cheese

salt

black pepper

Start by slicing the white of the scallop in half on the round. Keep the corals to the side for use later.

Poach the white rounds of the scallops in the white wine on a very gentle heat – this will only take a matter of minutes. When they are cooked, strain through a sieve, reserving the liquid.

In a clean saucepan, add the butter, onion and mushroom and cook over a low heat for about 15 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and the scallop liquid, stirring very gradually, as you do not want any lumps. This should become a thick, smooth sauce. Season with salt and pepper and leave on a low heat for five minutes to cook through.

Remove from the heat and stir in the coral and slices of the scallop. Pour the sauce mix into the cleaned scallop shells. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and Parmesan and place under a hot grill until browned and bubbling.

LAMB WITH CREAMED SPINACH

(Serves 4)

2 best ends of lamb, approx. eight ribs with bones scraped clean (you can ask your butcher to do this)

olive oil

salt

fresh ground pepper

For the spinach:

800g spinach, washed

60g butter

2 small shallots, finely diced

1 tblsp Pernod

1 tblsp plain flour

150ml whipping cream

nutmeg, freshly grated

Preheat the oven to 200C. I always cook the spinach off first, so place the spinach in a large pot of boiling water. Once the water boils again remove the spinach and refresh in a colander under cool running water, then squeeze out the water. Coarsely chop and place to one side.

Rub the outside of the lamb with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting tray, fat side down, on the top shelf of the oven. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes. I like to serve my lamb pink – if this is not your preference leave in the oven for another two minutes for medium to well done. Leave to the side to rest, covered with tinfoil.

Now finish off the spinach by firstly placing the butter in a pot, adding the shallots and frying off gently. Add the Pernod and allow to bubble in order to boil off some of the alcohol. Stir in the flour, making sure there are no lumps. Add the cream and a grating of fresh nutmeg and a grind of fresh black pepper. Lastly, add the spinach and coat with the creamy mixture.

When ready to serve, remove the lamb from the rack, keeping the bone on, and serve with the creamed spinach.

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