4.27.2010

Zucchini with Brown Butter, Shallots, and Dill

zucchini

Well that is slightly embarrassing. I completely forgot to post the recipe I use for the zucchini and shallots that I included with the breast of lamb recipe. Oops. I thought I would make good and post it now. It is a really simple dish that could easily stand alone as well.

Normally when I cook, I reduce the amount of butter by at least half at any given time. However, this is one of those dishes where a nice large knob of butter really is a good idea. You could use olive oil if you want, and that would be good. But if you want great: there really is no substitute for butter.


4 zucchini, cut into short wedges
3 shallots, sliced into rings
3 tbsp fresh dill
4 tbsp butter
juice of one lemon
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 400F. In a large oven proof skillet, heat butter over medium heat until it starts to smell a little nutty and has gone a shade or two darker. When the butter is ready, add the shallots and a light sprinkle of salt. Cook for about a minute until the shallots are translucent. Add the zucchini and toss to coat in the butter. Cook for a few minutes until the zucchini are just starting to show some color. Squeeze the lemon juice over the entire dish and place the skillet in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes until the zucchini are pleasantly soft and have a little golden color. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with some fresh dill. Serve hot.

butter

zucchini and shallots
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4.22.2010

Cider Braised Breast of Lamb

lamb breast

Lamb is one of my favorite animal proteins. It is incredibly delicious, tender, and unfortunately: expensive. So I was excited to learn more about lamb breast. Similar to spare ribs, lamb breast is a cut that may not offer very much meat but does offer a great flavor for very little money. Why? Because if you want that melting tenderness you have to cook the sucker for two and a half hours! Good thing I am patient.



1 2lbs lamb breast
1 pint cider
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 small onion, thinly sliced
2 tbsp fresh marjoram
salt and pepper to taste


Preheat oven to 325F. Remove excess fat from lamb breast and discard. Liberally rub both sides of the lamb breast with salt, pepper, and marjoram. In a large pan or griddle, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Brown the lamb in the oil and move to an oven safe casserole. Pour the cider (preferably homemade) over the lamb and add some thinly sliced onion. Cover and tightly seal with aluminum foil and move to oven. Braise the lamb for two and a half hours of until the rib bones easily slide out of the meat. Serve with zucchini and shallots.
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4.19.2010

Lunchtime Blues

I may have mentioned this here before, but I tend to largely ignore lunch foods. Not that I don't eat lunch; I do everyday. Its just that I never really consider it a meal that is really worth worrying about. I am much more interested in cooking for dinner (surprised?) and even brunch than I am for my midday meal. I'd rather just grab some left overs and maybe a yogurt and call it over. But recently I have been trying to get back to being more satisfied with my lunches. The yogurt remains, but I've decided to start from scratch on everything else. Ideally a great lunch is compromised of any combination of soup, salad, or sandwich. Today I'm focusing on the sandwich part. In fact I've got two sandwiches to offer.

And as I am trying to learn more about bread baking, I've gone to great lengths to research what bread would suit me the best. I think I might actually have found it. It takes about three days to make, although it is not really that complicated. Normally I'd share this find, but right now I'm going to be a little selfish and keep it all for myself. I'm still tweaking it a bit and want it to be perfect before I toss it up on here.

Anyway, the two sandwiches really don't require recipes. It is just rather important to use ingredients that will hold up to the quality of the bread. For one sandwich I've gone with some excellent tuna which I lightly dressed in homemade tarragon garlic aioli. And the other sandwich cradles some roasted red peppers and horseradish cheddar. Both are topped with sweet pea vines before being devoured.

poolish proof

two sandwiches

two sandwiches2
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4.04.2010

Leek Risotto with Mustard Parsley Coulis

very local leeks

I love dirty vegetables. While many people would think that a dirty vegetable simply has not been washed thoroughly, I tend to see the dirt as a certain degree of pedigree: a symbol that that vegetable has just been removed from the ground and is at it's very freshest. And these particular leeks were at their best. Pulled from a local garden only a matter of hours before I was lucky enough to receive them as a gift, these baby leeks needed only a quick rinse before I put them to work.


leek mustard risotto



1 1/4 cups arborio rice
1 quart chicken or vegetable stock
5 baby leeks, thoroughly cleaned
and finely chopped
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp mustard
1 small bunch parsley, leaves only
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tbsp olive oil
juice from one lemon
salt and pepper to taste



In a large sauce pan, slowly bring the stock to a strong simmer. Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Chop the whites of the leeks, discarding the tough greens. Lightly saute the leeks in the butter until just cooked. Add the arborio rice, gently tossing frequently to coat each grain in a little butter. Cook until translucent. Add a ladleful of simmering stock to the rice, stirring to combine. Keeping adding only one ladleful of stock to the rice only after the rice has absorbed all of the previous ladles worth of stock. Stir each time to add the stock and occasionally as needed.

Between ladlefuls, place parsley, garlic, mustard, olive oil, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup stock in a food processor. Process until very smooth and strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove any left over solids. Season with salt and pepper and reserve.

When the risotto is almost finished, stir in the remaining butter and remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the mustard parsley coulis. Serve warm with a little parsley as a garnish.


leek mustard risotto closeup


leek mustard risotto finis

Thanks again for the leeks, Angie!
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