Monday, May 30, 2011

Boned leg of lamb

If the leg of lamb is boned, you can keep it from getting all dried out by simply rolling and tying it.  Cut off most of the external fat.  Slice it open the rest of the way so the meat will lie (sort of) flat, and rub it with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and rosemary inside and out.

Roll and tie the meat, attempting to keep the roll as even as possible.  Don't worry about it too much if it isn't completely even; this will just help you to obtain slices in a range of doneness.  Slice up some cloves of garlic and make cuts into the roll to insert them. 

What I like to do is to start with a high temperature like 450.  Put some water into the bottom of a roasting pan with a rack and place the lamb into the oven on the lowest position.  Roast for about 10 minutes and then flip the rolled roast.  Roast for another 10 minutes, and then lower the temperature to 325 to complete the roasting time.

If you roast your boned leg of lamb at 325, it usually takes around 25 to 30 minutes per pound to reach an internal temperature of 145.  Lamb is medium rare when the internal temperature reaches 145; this also happens to be the safe temperature for killing bacteria in whole muscle cuts of lamb.  An internal temperature of 160 gives you medium doneness, and is the safe temperature for ground lamb as well.

You can usually take the lamb out of the oven when the temperature reaches 140 and it will climb the rest of the way as the meat rests.  Definitely do let it rest, as this results in the juices being redistributed.  Cover it with foil to keep the outside from cooling off too much.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Antique cooking gadgets: Angel food cake cutter

A classic Bakelite handle and the thin sharp tines that keep the light-as-air cake from being compressed as you cut it.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spicy noodles

So easy, so tasty, not particularly healthy though ;-)  For a once in awhile treat, these noodles are great.  It's also really easy to make a much larger batch and serve them as a side dish for a crowd.

Spicy Noodles

8 oz spaghetti, angel hair, or linguine

1/2 c natural peanut butter, chunky or smooth
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c apple cider vinegar
2 T sesame oil
1/4 c brown sugar
2 t crushed red pepper
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 c dry roasted peanuts, chopped coarsely
5-6 scallions, chopped

Start the pasta water and break the pasta in half before boiling.  Drain and rinse.  For the sauce, whisk the peanut butter through the garlic together in a small bowl and add to the pasta.  Add a handful of the chopped peanuts to the mixture and combine.  Garnish the top with the rest of the peanuts and the scallions.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shoo fly pie

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, I was treated to lots of fabulous desserts courtesy of the Amish and Mennonite communities that lived around us.  One of my favorites was Shoo Fly Pie, and my mother, God bless her, was able to obtain an authentic recipe for this amazing treat.  Don't even think about messing with this ingredient list other than whether you choose shortening or butter ;-)

Shoo Fly Pie
via RuthAnn Lavin, her notes included below

This recipe makes the ingredients for two pies, so you need to make two bottom crusts and bake them.

Mix together the following 3 ingredients until it is a crumb mixture:
2 C Flour
1 3/4 C Brown Sugar
1/2 C Shortening (I use Butter)

In a second bowl mix together the following 3 ingredients:
1 C Boiling Water
3/4 C Baking Syrup  (I use 1/2 C Molasses and 1/4 C Karo Dark Corn Syrup)
1 tsp Baking Soda

Pour some of the Molasses mixture into baked pie shell and then add some of the crumb mixture.  Repeat until both mixtures are used, ending with crumb mixture.  Bake 350 degrees for 1/2 hour.    Happy baking!!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Vegetable stock

 Vegetable stock can be used for all different types of soups and stews

The simplest way to always have fresh delicious and inexpensive vegetable stock on hand is to keep all your peelings when you prepare vegetables for each meal.  I keep zip-loc bags in the freezer and fill them with the trimmings almost every day.  Before too many weeks go by, there's usually enough to boil up a batch of stock, which can either be used right away or can be stored back in the freezer for later.

If my bag of peelings doesn't have any carrots or onions, I will add a couple to the mix, plus some cloves of garlic, a couple of bay leaves, plus a couple of teaspoons of peppercorns.  Cover with water in a large stock pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for at least half an hour, adding more water as needed.  Strain the liquid into a large bowl and compost the solids!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Antique cooking gadgets: wooden rolling pin

This is the first rolling pin that I ever bought, and of course it had to be an antique.  I guess I can probably kiss goodbye the idea of ever getting those rings that help you roll out a specific thickness of dough...this thing is really big!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Potato and feta frittata

Here is a slight variation on our usual frittata.  Instead of using ricotta cheese along with the eggs, I used half-&-half to give it a lighter texture since the potatoes are going to beef it up a bit.  The stars of the show are thinly sliced potatoes and feta cheese.

Potato and Feta Frittata

Olive oil
2 - 3 extra small Yukon Gold potatoes
8 - 10 eggs
1/2 c half-&-half
8 scallions, 6 chopped, plus 2 more set aside for garnish
2 t fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper
1/2 c (4 oz) crumbled feta cheese

Set the oven to 375. Heat a large cast iron skillet and saute the potato slices in olive oil. Mix the eggs and the rest of the ingredients except for the cheese in a mixing bowl. When the potatoes are browned, spread them out well in the bottom of the skillet.  Pour the egg mix in to cook for about a minute. Place it in the over for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the center is set.  Sprinkle of the feta and and melt under the broiler.  Top with reserved scallions.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chick pea curry with tofu

Since Mike isn't a huge fan of tofu, we don't have it all that often.  However, as long as it's soaked up some good flavor first, like in this curry dish, he doesn't complain at all!  Serve it over nutty good Basmati rice.

Chick pea Curry with Tofu

Canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 t cumin seed
1 t coriander
1/2 t turmeric
Pinch of black pepper and cayenne pepper
1 cake of firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 c cooked chick peas
1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
Chopped fresh spinach

Basmati rice

Start the rice.  In a large skillet, saute the onion and garlic till soft.  Stir in the spices and tofu and cook for a few minutes.  Add the chick peas and tomatoes and heat through.  Wilt some spinach into the dish and serve over rice.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Trout with greens and chickpeas

Trout or salmon both work well in this simple dish.  When the packet is cooked and ready, all you need to add is some good bread and a glass of white wine!

Trout with Greens and Chick Peas

Spinach or beet greens
1 clove of garlic
1 T olive oil
Trout fillets
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes
1 can (15 oz) chick peas
Other vegetables of choice, like green beans

In a food processor, chop together some greens with a clove of garlic.  With the blades running, add the oil to make a paste.  On pieces of foil, arrange more greens, the vegetables, and the chick peas.  Place a trout fillet on top and season it with the salt and peppers.  Rub the fish with the herb paste.  Wrap up the foil packages and bake on a baking sheet for 15 to 20 minutes at 400.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Antique cooking gadgets: struvor iron

I don't do a lot of cooking in hot oil, but my lust for cast iron got the better of me.  This is an iron used to make Swedish cookies called struvor, or rosettes.  Hot oil, here I come!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Chicken and potato soup

Don't let the simple ingredient list fool you...this soup is tasty, comforting, and deep-down warming!

Chicken and Potato Soup

1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
2 c chicken breast, chopped
2 c potatoes, chopped
1 c carrots, chopped
Water or stock
White flour
2 -3 c milk
Sharp cheddar or Gruyere cheese for topping

Saute the garlic, onion, and peppers in butter till barely soft.  Add the chicken and cook until done.  Add the potatoes and carrots and a bit of water to deglaze the pan.  In a smaller saucepan, heat some butter and flour and add milk to make a white sauce.  Add the white sauce along with additional milk, water, or stock to the chicken mixture and simmer until the vegetables are tender.  Serve topped with grated cheese.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Southwest chicken and bean stew

The addition of so many beans to this stew make it really hearty.  You can substitute ground chicken or turkey if you'd like, but definitely do serve the steaming bowl with tortilla chips on the side!

Southwest Bean and Chicken Stew

Canola oil
1 onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can (28 oz) crushed tomatoes
1-1/2 c picante sauce
3 cans (15 oz) beans: kidney, pinto, and black, drained
1 can hominey
1-1/2 c water or more if needed
2 lb pre-cooked chicken breast
Chili powder to taste
Salt and pepper
Ranch dressing for topping, optional
Tortilla chips

Saute the onion and both types of peppers in oil.  Add all the remaining ingredients through the chicken and simmer.  Add spices before serving, and serve with a dollop of ranch dressing and tortilla chips.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cranberry sorbet...and Jägermeister!

I found a bottle of Jägermeister in our freezer after our daughter left to return home after Christmas.  She couldn't take it on the airplane since she was doing only carry-on.  Too bad.  Especially too bad if she thinks it's still going to here when she next visits!

I made a wonderful cranberry sorbet, and instead of actually "sorbetting" all of it, I froze some solid and cut it into cubes to serve with the Jägermeister.  We liked it this way, but now I'm looking forward to making the sorbet and trying it as a slush!

Anyway, here's the sorbet recipe.  You can either freeze it and cut it up or you can run it through an ice cream machine.

Cranberry Sorbet

3/4 c water
1-1/2 c fresh cranberries
1-1/2 c sugar
1-1/2 c orange juice

In a large saucepan, simmer the cranberries until the skins all pop.  Remove from the heat and puree the cranberries with an immersion blender.  Add the sugar and return to the heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Let the mixture cool and add the orange juice.  Chill thoroughly before processing.  Makes about a quart of sorbet.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Antique cooking gadgets: melon baller or grapefruit corer?

We still haven't completely figured this one out, but I thought that for $3 I could take a chance ;-)  It was creatively labeled as a "gadget".  We have found it listed as both a melon baller and as a grapefruit corer.  I doubt it is particularly good at either task, but I still think it's cool.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Salad with pomegranate seeds

This salad is a wonderful mixture of spinach and radicchio, which provides a strong background for the pomegranate seeds!

Salad with Pomegranate Seeds

Baby spinach
1/2 a pomegranate
Blue cheese, crumbled
Walnuts, chopped
Lemon vinaigrette

Cut the pomegranate in half and hold half of it upside down inside a large bowl.  Squeeze gently to loosen the seeds and then whack the back of it with a wooden spoon until they all let go.  Pick out the bits of membrane.  Mix with the other ingredients and dress before serving.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Poached chicken

Poaching a a great way to keep meat really moist.  The trick is to keep the temperature very low and put a barrier above the meat to keep the liquid from evaporating.

Poached Chicken

Canola oil
4 - 5 cloves of garlic
2 - 3 leeks, cut into 5 inch pieces
3 carrots, cut into 3 inch pieces
8 whole peppercorns
5 - 6 sprigs of fresh thyme
4 boneless half-breasts of chicken
Enough stock to just cover chicken

In your stockpot or dutch oven, gook the vegetables for a few minutes to soften.  Add the spices, chicken, and enough stock to just cover.  Bring the broth to a simmer and immediately reduce the heat to the lowest setting (avoid simmering again).  Cover the chicken with a circle of parchment paper and cover with the lid.  After about 10 minutes, turn the chicken over.  Poach for about 5 to 10 more minutes until chicken is done.