A couple of weekends ago, I experimented with cooking some of the recipes from Sally Grainger’s ‘Cooking Apicius’. I cooked lamb with coriander and peaches in a cumin sauce. Both recipes were pretty easy to prepare and used ingredients that you can buy in most supermarkets. The lamb was particularly nice and would probably make a good barbecue dish (assuming the sun stays out for long enough!). The peaches were also quite nice. The fish sauce was barely discernible and added a nice salty edge to all the sweet syrup, honey and dessert wine. The strangest thing was the cumin as it was odd to taste something we ordinarily associate with savoury food in a dessert. I think if I were to cook the peaches again, I would put in just the tiniest bit of cumin, so that it is not too overwhelming.
For those who would like to try these recipes, here they are in slightly amended form:
Roast lamb with coriander (Apicius 8.6.8)
40 g ground coriander
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt
4 double-loin lamb steaks or lamb chops
Add the black pepper and sea salt to the ground coriander. Brush the lamb with olive oil and press it into the ground coriander mixture. Grill or roast in the oven.
If you want you can grind the coriander yourself from seed for a texture that is more like breadcrumbs.
Peaches in a cumin sauce (Apicius 4.2.34)
500 g firm peaches
300 ml sweet white wine
50 ml dessert wine
2 tbsp grape or date syrup
2 tbsp honey
A pinch of cumin
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp fish sauce
Cut the peaches into quarters. Simmer the wines, grape syrup and honey. Poach the peaches until just cooked. Remove them and put in a bowl. Add the cumin to the pan. Reduce the cooking liquor by one-third. Thicken with the cornflour. Flavour with the fish sauce to taste.
If you can’t find grape or date syrup in the shop, you could try reducing grape juice down to a syrup instead.