Friday, April 24, 2009

Pasta night

I'm not cooking tonite..the boss is. Though we seldom eat beef, I just had a hankering for grilled delmonico's tonite. I made macaroni salad early this morning before I headed off to the fields and had picked up some early spinach that will saute up in a jiff. Warm temps have finally moved in for the weekend and after all the rain we had earlier this week, it's more than welcomed.

I've been working in the new gardens all week, scrambling to get the rest of my early seed in..clearing the twelve large raised beds has been quite an undertaking. And I've been cooking little or else just light meals before I drop off to sleep each night. But when it comes time to harvest all that I have planted, I will have forgotten how backbreaking inheriting someones old garden uncared for in years.

Last night was pasta night, nothing special, just spaghetti with an assortment of veggies..shallots, asparagus, plenty of mushrooms, a small onion, a bit of chicken stock, white wine, sweet peppers, a couple of bags of my roasted plum tomatoes and lots of grated cheese. I'm getting pretty low on the tomatoes :( but freeing up space in the freezer. Boy! Did it ever hit the spot.

Next weekend is May Day and I can't wait! Fiddleheads will arrive! Hooray! I hope everyone enjoys this beautiful weekend.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Roast Leg of Lamb

In years gone by we often celebrated Easter with my sister's family. She always served the best leg of lamb I've ever had, so this year I wanted to try it myself and was very pleased with the results. The lamb was very flavorful, extremely tender and by removing the gland in the leg, not a bit gamey. I'm attributing this to a nice cut of lamb as well as a long marinade and slow cooking times. Sis never used a tried and true recipe,just a little bit of this and a bit of that, much like we all seem to cook in our family, so this recipe is from what I could gather from a phone conversation. She did suggest a 6-8 hour marinade, but I ended up preparing it the night before I was to roast it. As a side, I served roasted rosemary new potatoes, parsleyed carrots and an Armenian fresh bean, tomato and garlic dish.

The ingredients are for approximately a 5 pound roast, which gave me plenty for dinner and a good amount of leftovers. I had my butcher bone it in for me and the balance and bone went into the freezer for another meal I like to prepare. Ask your butcher to remove the gland out of the leg to take out the gamey quality that can oftentimes overwhelm a leg of lamb roast.

Preparing the roast

1 - 5 pound leg of lamb, boned

Make a half dozen slices in the meat and place 6 garlic cloves in each slice. Sprinkle 3 TBL rosemary, sea salt and ground pepper over lamb.

The Marinade

Marinate 6-8 hours or overnight with this mixture:

1/4 cup Dijon
juice of two lemons
3 TBLS olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup light soy sauce
1/2 cup red wine

Place the lamb in a bowl and cover with marinade. Stir to blend so that the entire roast is covered in sauce. Cover and place it in the refrigerator to marinate, turning every few hours.

An hour before cooking, remove from the refrigerator and allow the lamb to reach room temperature before roasting. Be sure to save the leftover marinade as you will be using this to baste the roast throughout cooking.

Cook the lamb in a rack lined roasting pan covered in foil in a 425 degree oven for 30 minutes. Then insert a meat thermometer,and lower oven temps to 325 degrees, and continue cooking. For a medium rare roast, I like the internal temperature to be around 130-135 degrees. Overall, my cooking time was 3 hours. If you prefer it more well done.. allow more roasting time. I basted my roast every 20 minutes to half hour.

When the lamb is golden and crispy, mix a 1/2 cup of red wine with 1/3 cup light soy and two thirds drippings in your roasting pan and pour over meat. Remove it from the oven and transfer to carving plate, covered in foil and allow to rest 20 minutes before carving.* Note: Save the pan drippings. While the roast is standing, add one cup of chicken stock or water to the drippings in the baking tray. Whisk together well and strain. Pour sauce over the tip of the sliced lamb before serving and garnish with rosemary. Enjoy!

For dessert I made a Lemon Curd & Mint Cake adapted from fellow blogger Chuck of Chef Chuck's Cucina recipe that I had tried a few weeks back.. thanks Chuck it was just yummy! Light and after a big meal like this, very refreshing. I hope everyone had a pleasant holiday.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Honey Curried Chicken Salad

I just love curry! Don’t you? It’s been another hectic week here for me so meal preparation had to be quick and made on the run! Here’s a really light and very tasty chicken salad with honey and curry. After you make this original salad, you can then add it to cold cooked macaroni’s or served more simply on a bed of arugula and spring greens salad, or a simply great sandwich. You may add or omit whatever you prefer to this dish such as raisins, grapes, apples, or jicama. I like to also add slivered almonds whenever I make it, which is pretty often around here.
This recipe is not set in stone, but really more of a mix and taste test. The two ingredients I always play around with are the honey and curry. So I find myself mixing the dressing and letting it sit for a while and then going back and testing to see if it needs a little more. It usually doesn’t amount to a lot, but just a little, and I do like to make this salad up a day ahead of when I am planning to serve it.
You can use any cooked chicken you have on hand, but I prefer to poach fresh pieces the day I am making this salad and use both chicken breasts and boneless thighs.

2 – 3 lbs chicken pieces
½ fresh lemon
½ bunch of cilantro, chopped
sea salt & ground pepper

Preparing the chicken:

Half fill a medium saucepan with water and place the chicken pieces, cilantro and a good amount of pepper and salt along with the juice of half a lemon. Cover and bring to a gentle boil— then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chicken is tender cooked through..about 35-40 minutes. Remove the chicken once cooked and set aside on a plate to cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred it or cut the meat into bite size pieces. As the chicken is simmering and then cooling, prepare the dressing.

Honey Curry Dressing

1 cup mayonaise
2 ½ tsp dried curry ** to start
2 TBLS wildflower honey
a pinch of sea salt & ground pepper
approx 2 TBL chopped cilantro & 2 TBLS chopped parsley
Mix up all and set it aside to meld. This is the part I always end up playing with, so once it’s set a bit, feel free to add more curry or honey to suit your individual taste. We love the flavor of curry, so if anything, I usually add more bringing the curry up to just about 3 tsps.

The rest of the ingredients are:

1 small stalk celery, diced very fine
2 - 3 carrots, peeled, julienned or sliced thin
a handful of golden raisins
a small bunch of seedless red grapes, sliced
slivered almonds

Take the shredded chicken, sliced carrots, diced celery, seedless grapes and raisins, place in a bowl and add dressing to it. Blend together well and top with slivered almonds. You may make it as dry or as moist as you like. Cover and refrigerate a couple of hours before serving. As it is, this is a yummy salad served on breads or over some greens..but oftentimes I like to add assorted macaroni’s too! Enjoy!

I'm hoping things will slow down soon, trade show behind me now, I was so surprised to receive a Sisterhood Award from fellow blogger Linda of Ciao Ciao Linda whose blog I visit daily.

Thanks so much Linda, I feel so honored to receive this! And it couldn't have arrived at a nicer time ;). It's meant to be shared with other female bloggers, so I'll be passing this on soon to some of my favorite spots I routinely visit.