Saturday, August 15, 2009

Calabrian Lamb Chops

I saw this on Nigella Express today. It sounds fantastic, and I'm going to try it soon. Of course, I'll have to substitute something for the black olives, perhaps capers, since Jim won't eat them.

I think that this would be nice served with orzo or roasted potatoes and a salad.

Ingredients

* 12 lamb rib chops
* 4 tablespoons/1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons, for frying
* 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
* 1 teaspoon chili flakes
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano
* 1 small lemon, zested and juiced
* 1 teaspoon Maldon salt/kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon table salt
* 15 black olives, pitted and sliced
* 1 long red chile, deseeded and finely chopped, optional

Directions

Layer the rib chops between clingfilm/cling-wrap (plastic wrap) and flatten them gently with a rolling pin or mallet. Place the chops in a large dish so that they all fit in a single layer.

Pour over the 4 tablespoons/1/4 cup of oil and add the garlic, chili, oregano, lemon zest and juice. Sprinkle over the salt and the olives and then turn the rib chops in the marinade so that both sides are coated.

Cover and leave the lamb to marinate for 20 minutes at room temperature before cooking.

Heat a large frying pan with the 2 tablespoons of oil, and add the chops scraping off the marinade before you put them in the pan. Fry them for a couple of minutes a side on quite a high heat so that they take on some color.

Turn the heat back down to medium and pour the marinade into the pan over the colored chops. Add 2 tablespoons or so of water so that they cook in a little liquid.

Cook for about 5 minutes for rare cutlets or a little longer if you like your lamb well cooked, (this will also depend on the thickness of the chops).

Transfer the lamb to a serving plate, pour over the juices from the pan and sprinkle with the chopped red chile should you feel like enhancing the dried chili with the pep of fresh.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Orrechiette with Caramelized Onions, Sugar Snap Peas, and Ricotta Cheese

This is from epicurious.com. We made it last night for supper. It was fine, but I think that it would be a lot better with the addition of pancetta and parmesean cheese. I'm cutting the olive oil by half and adding pancetta. If you don't have pancetta, use 2 tbl olive oil and some good flavored ham. I think that you could certainly substitute frozen peas for the fresh (cook them less) and skim milk ricotta for the whole-milk.


4 servings

1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-1/2 inch thick slices of pancetta, cubed
2 cups (packed) chopped onions
1 8-ounce package trimmed sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 8-ounce package orecchiette (little ear-shaped pasta) or pasta shells
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel
1/2 cup parmesean cheese, grated

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pancetta and cook until fat is rendered and pancetta is browned. Remove pancetta and reserve. Add onions. Sauté until onions are pale golden, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; sauté onions until tender and deep golden, about 15 minutes longer. Return pancetta to pan. Add peas to onions in skillet. Sauté until peas are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain pasta, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid.

Add pasta and 1/2 cup cooking liquid to onion mixture; stir over medium-high heat 30 seconds. Mix in ricotta, basil,parmesean, and lemon peel, adding more cooking liquid to moisten as needed. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Marcella Hazan's Blender Pesto

I love, love, love pesto. It is absolutely delicious on almost anything. It makes a super,quick supper with a tossed salad. Make extra and freeze for the winter. If you make this ahead, place plastic wrap right down on the surface. The basil will darken when exposed to air, although it doesn't effect the flavor. Also, if you don't have pecorino, you can make this with just parmesean. Be sure to store your extra pine nuts (as well as any other nuts) in the freezer, they will go rancid otherwise.

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbls pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano
2 tbl grated pecorino
3 tbl butter, at room temp

Place basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, and salt in blender and mix at high speed, stopping to scrape down the bowl.

Pour into a bowl and mix in the cheeses and butter.

Before using the pasta, thin it with a tbl or more of the pasta cooking liquid.

Pesto Stuffed Chicken Wrapped in Prosciutto

This is a foodtv.com recipe that I have not tried. The recipe sounds easy, but good. I have changed the pesto recipe because they did not include amounts for the olive oil. We make pesto in the fall before the basil is killed by frost and freeze it. So, I always have pesto on hand. I haven't tried any of the prepared pestos from the store, but they might be good. Look for extra virgin olive oil and real parmesean in the ingredients.

Yield: 4

The Pesto

1 large bunch fresh basil
2 tbls pine nuts
1 clove garlic
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 cup Olive oil

The Chicken

* 4 x boneless, skinless chicken breasts
* 8 slices prosciutto


Directions:
The Pesto

1. Puree all ingredients in a food processor.
2. Season to taste with salt.

The Chicken

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Lay 2 slices of the prosciutto flat onto a work surface, overlapping them slightly along their long edge, to form a large rectangle.
3. Place a chicken breast lengthwise at the short end and slit it open along one side to create a wide pocket. Spoon in some of the pesto and then wrap the prosciutto neatly around it. Repeat for the other 3 breasts.
4. Place on a baking sheet, seam side down and bake until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Quick and Easy Category

Last night we had dinner with our friends Joe and Mary Beth. Their daughter Jacqueline is a newlywed and a busy attorney. Mary Beth mentioned that Jacqueline reads the blog regularly, but doesn't have time to make many of the recipes. Soooo-I have created a new category for Jacqueline (although I suspect that it will also come in handy for Katie)--Quick/Easy. Now, there are some recipes in this category which take a while to cook in the oven, but are a snap to prepare; however, most are quick sautes and grills.

Here are a few ideas for making your hectic life easier, while still feeding your family wholesome, home-cooked meals--

First of all, make easy substitutions. If a recipe calls for you to cut up a chicken, buy one already cut up or buy a package of chicken parts. If you are supposed to cook a chicken and take it off the bone, use a rotisserie chicken from the market. If it calls for corn cut off the cob, use frozen corn. In fact, I think that frozen vegetables are great. I always have them on hand and use them almost everyday.

Secondly, prepare ahead. When I worked full time, I would chop enough onion and garlic for the entire week, bag it, and store it in the fridge. If you don't have a food processor, go now and buy one. My father-in-law gave me a Cuisinart 30 years ago, and it's still going strong. I love it for chopping large amounts of vegetables. Also, on the weekend make a double recipe of things like spaghetti sauce and freeze half for another time. Another great trick is to throw your flank steak into it's marinade before freezing it. That way,when you know that you're going to have a crazy day, you can put it in the fridge to defrost before you leave for work and grill it when you come home.

Finally, stock your pantry with the things that allow you to always make a quick dinner. I always have pancetta in the freezer, onions, canned tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and olive oil. With these items I can make my favorite pasta sauce and have a quick dinner in about 15 minutes.

Greek Salad

This is a take off on tabbouleh salad with mint and parsley. This was very easy and you can make it ahead of time since it doesn't have any lettuce. I didn't add salt until I was ready to serve because I didn't want the salad to get watery. I chose these vegetables because I like the color combination, but feel free to substitute what you have--Vidalia onion or green onions for the purple onion, red or orange pepper for the yellow one. If you don't have fresh mint, use all parsley.

To turn this into a quick main course, buy a lemon, garlic rotisserie chicken, slice the breast, and place on top.


For 4

1/2 basket grape tomatoes, cut in half (or 1 large tomato, chopped)
2 small cucumber, peeled and diced
1/2 yellow pepper, in large dice
1/2 medium purple onion, in large dice
Big handful of Italian parsley, chopped
Small handful of fresh mint, chopped
Dress with white wine vinegar and/or lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Mix all together. Serve on a platter lined with Romaine.

Greek (style) menu

This is probably Jim's favorite menu. We had this last night with our friends Joe, Marybeth, and Hank (Debbie was out of town). We didn't have baklava. I made a peach cheesecake instead because peaches are so delicious right now. Mary Beth brought an incredible Kentucky Derby pie filled with chocolate and pecans. She also brought a delicious insalata caprese for an appetizer. I know that it's not Greek, but tomatoes and basil are so wonderful right now that this was a perfect starter. For a more Greek appetizer, buy or make some hummus and tzadziki sauce and serve with pita chips. You can also do a nice platter of olives, roasted peppers, and pickles. If you can buy good baklava, I would definitely buy that as well. In Knoxville I can't get decent baklava, so I have to make it.

Appetizers-hummus, tzadziki, or eggplant dip with pita chips

Lemon and garlic grilled pork

Greek salad

Orzo with spicy tomato sauce (the link for this is with the grilled pork recipe)

Green Beans with dill

Baklava