Spiced Lamb with Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Spiced Lamb with Cauliflower tabbouleh

If you have been following my blog at all, you know by now that I love lamb in almost any form, but particularly in Mediterranean and South Asian recipes. You also know that one of my favorite food blogs is Food52, so when I saw this recipe, I immediately sent it to Frances and printed it out for myself. She and I both made it this past weekend and it was a big hit in New York and Chicago. The cauliflower tabbouleh is wonderful on its own and would make a terrific side instead of a starch for any grilled or roasted meat or fish. This recipe will definitely enter my regular food rotation. I would encourage you to make your own baharat or hawaij spice, especially if you have a spice or coffee grinder, but if you don’t feel so inclined, these spice mixes are available at Middle Eastern grocery stores and online. And if you don’t eat lamb (why, why don’t you eat lamb!?) I’m confident that this would be equally delicious with ground turkey or beef. 

Spiced Lamb with Cauliflower Tabbouleh by Posie Harwood of Food 52, inspired by a Sunbasket recipe and tweaked by me.

Yield:   3-4 servings

Ingredients

3.5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided

cloves garlic, minced1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped finely (it should resemble couscous)1.5 pounds ground lamb

2-3 tablespoons baharat or hawaij spice blend (see a recipe for hawaij in my Yemenite Soup recipe) If you make your own spice mixture, it likely will be stronger so I would suggest using the smaller amount. Commercial mixes tend to be milder.

small Persian cucumbers, diced

1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered

Zest and juice of 1 large lemon

1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, optional for garnishing

 

For the sauce
1/2 cup warm water (plus more if needed)

1/2 
cup tahini1/2 teaspoon garlic powderJuice of one lemon 

Salt, to taste

Directions

  1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. (Note: If you want to make your prep easier, chop the cauliflower by tossing it in the food processor and pulsing a few times.)
  3. Season with salt and pepper (I used Aleppo pepper, but you could use fresh-cracked black pepper) and add a drizzle of olive oil to the cooked cauliflower.IMG_3355
  4. Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a large bowl. Don’t wipe out the pan.
  5. To the bowl of cauliflower, add the cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper (Aleppo pepper, if you have it) and toss to combine. Set aside.
  6. In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1.5 Tablespoons of olive oil. Add the ground lamb and spices. Season with salt and pepper (Aleppo), and cook over medium-high heat until the lamb browns, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks. Don’t worry if there is any fat in the pan at the end. The dish can use it and if you allow the lamb to sit for a minute after cooking, most of the juices/fat will be re-absorbed.
  7. To make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until smooth. It should be pourable; if it’s too thick, add more warm water. It should be easy to drizzle but not super thin.
  8. When ready to serve, place a good helping of the cauliflower mixture into a large bowl, and divide the lamb on top. Top with a liberal drizzle of the tahini dressing. Garnish with a handful of fresh cilantro. I served some whole wheat pita and spiced yogurt on the side. You could also serve with hummus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce

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It doesn’t take much for my thoughts to turn to salad for a summer dinner. Since it has been in the 90’s all week with no true respite in sight, I not only want a salad but I want some spice as well. It’s well known in Asian and South Asian cultures that you want to eat “Heat” when it is hot outside. The theory being that the spice makes you sweat, thereby cooling down your body.

I used to make a salad with cold glass noodles from the Frugal Gourmet, but I decided to change it up a bit. For starters, I’m not wild about glass noodles and I also wanted a bit more complexity to the chicken. I did make this dish with Banh Pho, a large Thai rice noodle, but I think that next time I might even use an Udon noodle instead. All of the prep can – and should – be done ahead, so you can make the individual elements the night before or in the morning and then do your assemblage when you are ready to eat. If you are really pressed for time (or lazy) you can use prepared roasted chicken from your grocery. It won’t have the same depth of flavor, but will still be good. A slightly fruity Rosé would be lovely with this or a Pale Ale.

Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Sauce

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Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

For the chicken

3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)

3-4 star anise

2 Tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry

Water to cover

1/4 teaspoon 5 spice powder

2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce

2-3 small jalapeno peppers, thinly sliced, with the seeds (optional)

For the noodles

8 ounces wide Banh Pho rice noodles

Water to cover

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons “Better than Bouillon”

Sesame oil for drizzling

For the cucumbers

2 Persian cucumbers, sliced and cut into matchsticks

2 Tablespoons of low sodium soy sauce

1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon sugar (I used raw sugar but granulated will do)

2 teaspoons sesame oil

For the peanut sauce

2 Tablespoons unsweetened peanut butter (smooth or chunky)

4-5 Tablespoons hot water

3 Tablespoons low sodium soy sauce

1 very generous teaspoon Red Chili Paste with Garlic or Sriracha to taste

Garnishes

Roughly chopped cilantro

Roasted and lightly salted peanuts

Directions

For the chicken

  1. Place the chicken breasts in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the other chicken ingredients and enough water to cover the chicken.
  2. Cover the pan tightly and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes. While still warm, remove the chicken breasts and shred them using 2 forks. Place in a bowl or container large enough to hold all of the shreds. Using a fine-mesh strainer, pour the liquid over the chicken. Pick out the jalapeno slices if used and the star anise and add them to the chicken. Cover and allow to cool. This can then be refrigerated.

For the noodles

  1. If using the rice noodles, place in a pot large enough to hold them. Cover with tap water, place the lid on the pot and allow to soak for 1 hour. After 1 hour, add the bouillon and bring to a boil with the lid on. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the noodles for 10 minutes. (If using another kind of noodle, follow the package instructions.) Drain the noodles and drizzle with sesame oil to prevent them becoming too sticky. Allow them to cool, uncovered. They can be refrigerated.

For the cucumbers

  1. Place the cut cucumbers in a glass bowl or dish. Marinate them in the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and sesame oil.

For the peanut sauce

  1. Mix the peanut sauce ingredients together until they are the consistency of heavy cream. Start with 4 Tablespoons of water and add more if necessary.

Assemblage

  1. Pour the well-mixed peanut sauce over the noodles and using tongs, toss it through. The noodles may have stuck together some, but you can carefully separate them as you mix.
  2. Place some 1/4 of the noodles in each bowl or plate and cover with 1/4 of the chicken shreds that you have drained from the liquid.
  3. Top with 1/4 of the cucumbers. Garnish with cilantro and some peanuts. IMG_3288

 

 

Steak with Corn Salsa

It’s always exciting to find yet another steak recipe when it seems that we’ve been cooking steak for years. This one was yet another gem from our favorite Wine Lover’s Cookbook that we feel vindicated in having picked up while in Healdsburg in Sonoma, California wine country.

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After all, we are truly wine lovers and food lovers, so who could turn down an entire book of pairings?! Food-wise, the recipe calls for a pairing with a radish daikon slaw, but easily would have been fine with just the salsa. In terms of wine, the recipe recommends a Zinfandel, and that a Sangiovese could work just as nicely. (We used the Zin and it was fantastic.)

Ingredients

Flank steak (1/2 lb/person)

Marinade

  • 1/3 cup dry sherry
  • 3 tbsp reduced salt soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup of sliced yellow onions
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle chiles in adobo

Salsa

  • 1 can corn
  • 1/2 cup roasted bell pepper (chopped, I buy the jar of roasted pepper which makes this a cinch)
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp of white wine Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp of minced jalapeños
  • 2 tsp sherry wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil

Directions

  1. Mix the marinade ingredients in a plastic bag or bowl and add the steak. Turn the steak a few times to make sure it is all covered in the marinade, and then let it sit in the fridge, in the marinade for 4-5 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. When oven comes to temperature, cut off the top of the head of garlic. Place it on foil and pour olive oil over the top. Stick in the oven for 45 minutes to make roasted garlic.
  3. Once roasted and soft, scoop the garlic cloves out of the head and place in a medium sized bowl and mash them lightly.
  4. Add the corn, chopped bell pepper, Worcestershire sauce, jalapeños, sherry vinegar and basil. Mix thoroughly and then cover and refrigerate to let the flavors meld.
  5. Once the steak is finished marinating, bring a cast iron skillet or grill pan to high heat.
  6. Scrape the marinade off the steak, and add to the skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. Turn off the heat, cover in foil and let rest for about 5 minutes.
  7. Serve the steak over the the corn salsa.

Adapted from the Wine Lover’s Cookbook.

Soft Shell Crabs in Lemon and Butter

About a year ago, a new fishmonger opened up in our neighborhood. Curious, and great seafood lovers, Matt and I decided to walk in.

IMG_20170603_194948.jpgMuch to our pleasant surprise, it turned out that not only was our new fishmonger a great source of cooking information, but also a purveyor of the rarer fishy creatures of the sea.

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While we haven’t quite made the plunge to try sea urchins, we did jump on the opportunity to cook soft shell crabs which we happened upon this weekend.

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As it turns out, they’re very easy to make, as in basically you dredge them in milk, and then flour, and then you sear them for 4 minutes total.

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Following Lisa’s advice, we went the simple route of lemon and butter and it was a perfect light summer dinner.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole milk (we used skim milk and turned out fine)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 small (4-inch-wide) live or already dressed soft-shelled crabs, cleaned (I didn’t want to deal with live crabs and our trusty fishmonger had them fresh)
  • 1 cup Wondra or all-purpose flour (I used all-purpose and it was fine)
  • 4 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee (we used ghee)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Directions

  1. Combine milk, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish and soak crabs 5 minutes. Lift 1 crab out of milk, letting excess drip off, and dredge in flour.
  2. Knock off excess flour and transfer to a tray.
  3. Repeat with remaining crabs, arranging them in 1 layer as coated.
  4. Heat clarified butter in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté crabs, upside down, 2 minutes.
  5. Turn over and sauté until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  6. Transfer crabs to a serving dish. Add butter pieces to skillet and cook until golden brown with a nutty aroma. Add lemon juice and parsley (mixture will bubble up) and remove from heat.
  7. Season sauce with salt and pepper and drizzle over crabs. Serve with fingerling potatoes or a light green salad.

Adapted from Bon Appetit Soft-Shelled Crabs Meunière.

Bene Israel Fish Curry with Fresh Ginger, Tamarind and Cilantro

I mentioned in an earlier post that I made this dish for the Shabbat meal during Passover. Unfortunately, we did not take any photos. However, this is so delicious, I want to share it with you anyway. And to be perfectly honest, it does not make the most spectacular visual presentation, but the taste is amazing and even picky eaters enjoyed it. I saw the recipe  in the Washington Post just before the holiday and because Frances and her sister were also observing Lent, I knew that I needed to make fish as my main course. Since we also wanted to observe the laws of Kashrut where we didn’t mix milk with meat, this opened the door for me to make my Parsley Soup as a starter and to allow dairy in some of my appetizers.

The story of the Bene Israel is an interesting one and I encourage you to read about them. The community, mostly residing in Mumbai, is small, but their food traditions are definitely worth exploring. Some people believe that they are one of the Lost Tribes of Israel.

The only ingredients that you might have to spend a bit of time searching out are tamarind paste and fresh curry leaves. They are both available online and at any good Indian grocery store. Curry leaves have no good substitute and are not the same as curry powder. I bought mine through Amazon and froze what I didn’t use. Since this dish was so popular, I feel confident that I will make use of them in the future. All this dish needed was Basmati rice and some chutneys to accompany it.

Bene Israel Fish Curry with Fresh Ginger, Tamarind and Cilantro from Joan Nathan

Yield: 6 servings (I made enough for 12 people, using 4.5 pounds net of fish – after skinning and boning)

Ingredients

2 pounds whiting, black sea bass or other firm, light-fleshed skinned fillets, cut into 4 ounce chunks (I used halibut)

1/2 teaspoon salt, or more as needed

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I like the one I get from Rancho Gordo)

Juice of 1 lime

3 large cloves garlic

1-inch piece peeled ginger root, coarsely chopped (I would use about 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped or pureed fresh ginger)

1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems

2 or 3 small green chiles, such as serrano, stemmed and seeded if you want less heat (I used jalapeno. Here is where you can control the heat to your personal tastes)

3 fresh/frozen curry leaves

1 Tablespoon tamarind paste

1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used Grapeseed oil)

1 medium onion, chopped (1 cup)

2 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into small dice (I used grape tomatoes cut in half – for this amount of fish, I would probably use 1/2 pint, but being exact isn’t that important)

1/2 cup water

Directions

 

  1. Place the fish in a nonreactive bowl or container. Sprinkle with the 1/2 teaspoon salt, turmeric, chili powder and lime juice. Gently toss to coat, then cover and refrigerate for no more than a few hours, but at least 2 hours.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the garlic, ginger, cilantro, green chilies (to taste), curry leaves, and tamarind paste in a food processor or blender. Puree to form a paste; transfer to a bowl. It is not the prettiest color but don’t be put off by that!
  3. Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the fish (working in batches, as needed). Cook for about 2 minutes per side until golden. Use a slotted spatula to transfer the fish to the lined plate. Be gentle with the fish so you don’t break up the pieces.
  4. Wipe out the skillet, then add the remaining tablespoon of oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onion and tomatoes; cook for 5 to 8 minutes until the onion has softened, then stir in the garlic-tamarind paste. Add the water and stir through. Reduce the heat to medium-low; return the fish to the skillet and gently stir to incorporate, trying not to break up the fish pieces.
  5. Once the mixture has warmed through, the fish curry is ready to serve.

Passover 2017

Table setting

Today is the final day of Passover and Matthew and Frances have returned to New York. We had a wonderful week of family and good food and already the house seems way too quiet. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we hosted the first Seder and Shabbat. We were also blessed to have Frances’ sister and her boyfriend joining us for Shabbat along with my niece, nephew, their two children, my cousin and sister. Unfortunately, we were so busy preparing and eating that we neglected to take photos for our Shabbat meal. However, I will be including a recipe for our soup and main course anyway since they were such a hit with everyone. Hopefully I can add photos once I make the dishes again.

Passover Shabbat Menu

Beet Caviar

Minty Sweet Pea Spread

Parsley Soup (recipe to follow)

Bene Israel Fish Curry with Fresh Ginger, Tamarind and Cilantro (recipe to follow)

Basmati Rice

Kohlrabi Salad

Viennese Chocolate Hazelnut Torte (recipe to follow)

A Tower of Vegan Desserts

Tower of desserts

The morning after Matza Brei with almond butter and melted chocolate

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Lamb Shank Tagine

My father and I share similar tastes when it comes to food, and I’m pretty sure I’ve inherited a cooking gene from his side of the family, as well.  Given this, I enjoy cooking for him whenever I get the opportunity, so this was the elegant “presentation” dish that I made for his most recent birthday.

Thankfully the cooking went well (it’s always hard to tell how something will turn out to begin with, let alone in a different kitchen one is not used to), and it was a hit! lamb shank 1

I highly recommend serving this, as David Lebovitz does in My Paris Kitchen, with this lemon Israeli couscous salad.

Ingredients

3 tbsp EVOO
kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp sweet or smoked paprika (I prefer sweet)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
4 lamb shanks
2 onions, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
Generous pinch saffron threads
1 (14 oz) can or box of chopped or crushed tomatoeS
2 cups chicken stock (or water, but chicken stock adds nice flavor)
1 tsp honey
3/4 cup halved dried apricots
1/2 cup golden raisins
chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or cilantro for garnish

Directions

1. Mix 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 2 tsp of salt, the cumin, coriander, paprika, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne in a large bowl.  Add the lamb shanks and use your hands to massage the seasonings into the shanks.  Put the shanks in a large, sturdy resealable bag and close it, pressing out most of the air.  Marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for 8-24 hours.

2. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Sear the lamb shanks in a single layer (if they don’t all fit, cook them in batches, adding additional oil, if necessary) so they are well browned on all sides, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 325º F.

4. Remove the shanks from the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and add the onions, garlic, and bay leaf; season with salt.  Cook, stirring up any darkened bits (adding a bit of water if they really don’t pick up) until the onions are soft and transluscent.  Stir in the saffron and let cook for another minute to release the fragrance of the saffron.  Add the tomatoes and their liquid, the stock, honey, and lamb shanks and bring to a boil.

5. Cover the pot and place it in the oven to cook for 2 hours, turning the shanks and adding half of the dried apricots and raisins midway through.  After 2 hours, remove the lid and add the remaining apricots and raisins.  Continue to cook, turning the shanks midway through this final cooking, until the sauce is thickened or about 30 minutes.

6. Remove from the oven and skim any fat off the surface.  Serve each shank in a bowl over the couscous.  Sprinkle with parsley.

From My Paris Kitchen, by David Lebovitz.