Saturday, January 31, 2015

a philadelphia food round-up.

Last week while lying in bed, I turned to Tyler and said "We should go to Philly soon, there are a bunch of restaurants I want to try."  He turned to me and said "How about this weekend?".  

(And with that, I knew I married the right guy.)

So this past weekend, the boy and I high-tailed it to Philadelphia for a 24 trip in the City of Brotherly love. Philadelphia is having a bit of a resurgence (check out #3 on the NYTimes list of places to visit in 2015).  In college, I went to Philly for cheesesteaks and the chance to go to a bar that didn't close at 1AM but now I visit so I can devour really good hummus and fried chicken and visit the science museum (my how priorities change). 

Philadelphia is very well-know for it's regional delicacies (I'm looking at you soft pretzels and the aforementioned cheesesteaks) but in the last year so many new and super exciting places have popped up that you can spend a weekend there and eat everything but what it's know for and leave SO SUPER SATISFIED.  

Below is a list of what we hit and what I am already looking forward to return to.   

1 - Dizenghoff - Hummus and only hummus is what they serve here and it's damm good hummus.  Each day they offer  a couple of varieties (Fave Bean! Chicken Shwarma!) and your hummus order comes with freshly baked pita, a seasonal salad, and some pickles.  Basically my dream meal.    

2 - Federal Doughnuts - I fell hard for Federal Doughnuts years ago and I am still in love with them because WHAT IS BETTER THEN A SHOP THAT SELLS FRIED CHICKEN AND DOUGHNUTS?! Nothing.  So yes - you can get fancy flavored doughnuts (Chocolate Mint! Grapefruit Creme Brule!).  You can hot out of the fryer doughnuts.  And you can get fried chicken in a myriad of flavors.   It's basically a fat kids version of heaven.   I am most partial to the fancy doughnuts mostly because I love anything that is declared fancy.  There is also a shop across the street from Dizengoff so you can have hummus, chicken, and doughnuts (best meal ever?).   

3 - Zahav - I basically went to Philly so I could finally eat at Zahav.  It's been on one too many best of lists and Middle Eastern food is one of my weaknesses so it was a no brainer.  Their price-fix menu is probably one of the best values I've ever encountered and I can't rave enough about the SHREDDED BEETS AND TAHINI salad (it was so good) and Squash Konafi.  The food is fun and exciting and different and perfect for sharing.   

4 - High Street on Market - We were sadly so absurdly stuffed from dinner at Zahav that we didn't get to eat one of their RAVED about breakfast sandwiches but we did manage to try a couple of pastries and some of the best homemade yogurt I have ever had.  This is the kind of place everyone wants in their neighborhood - excellent pastries, awesome salads and sandwiches, and a kick-ass dinner menu that changes regularly.  But the real reason to visit is to pick up one of their stellar loaves of bread.  I sadly missed the window to get one of their sesame tahini loaves (this just means we need to go back soon) but I did score a loaf of their roasted potato bread which is so insanely good and makes for the best toast EVER.   I will be so sad when this loaf is done.   

Philly, I am already planning a return trip...

OH! And if you are looking for a place to stay, I can't recommend the Hotel Monaco enough.  Within walking distance of some really excellent bars, Zahav, and High Street on Market.  It's also next to the Liberty Bell if you are looking to do some sightseeing (which is a good idea since spending 24 hours eating sounds better in theory then in actuality).   

Picture is of the EXCELLENT ginger yogurt at High Street on Market.   

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

vietnamese chicken salad.

One of my personal goals this year has been to figure out a way to take all the odd's and end's leftovers we seem to possess at the end of each week and turn them into AN ACTUAL MEAL.   Not hodge-podge of assorted bites but rather something new and different and special.

Nothing like being forced to think creatively.

This new goal has forced me to Google things like "What to do with leftover INSERT ITEM HERE" because by Friday my head hurts, I am exhausted, and thinking about making dinner involves more work then I am capable of at that moment .  This is why I need the good people at Google to tell me what to do with leftover cabbage, some roasted chicken, and any other pantry items they think I should use.  My faith in them proved to be a good thing as my search led me to Vietnamese Chicken Salad.

I generally shy away from shredded foods (to this day I refuse to order sandwiches with shredded lettuce) but as I am nearing 30, I feel it's time I branch out a bit more.  What's life without trying something new? And you know what - this was one of the best (and easiest) things I've made all month.

Leftover roast chicken is tossed with shredded cabbage and carrots (and some peanuts for crunch!) and dressed in a funky dressing that is both sweet, spicy, tart, and bright.  It's the perfect dish for January when the winter doldrums have hit and you are craving something bright.

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

Serves 2 Generously

For the Salad
1 1/2 cups roasted chicken, diced (white, dark, or a combination of both works!)
1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced (shredded)
2 carrots, shredded
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/3 cup roasted salted peanuts
2 Thai chiles, minced

For the Dressing
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil

In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and stir to combine.

Toss all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Pour the dressing over the ingredients.  Toss to combine. Eat immediately.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Most of the apartments we come across in our rather lazy search for a future, permanent home of our own, include rather abysmal if not all around pathetic kitchens.  Most of the time, I suggest we blow out all of the walls to make an open floor plan (my dream).  At this point, Tyler reminds me that such a decision isn't an option when dealing with a load bearing wall.  

I hate when my dreams are impossible.  

But today while watching Food Network and browsing Pinterest, I came across this petite-sized kitchen that has me thinking small and enclosed is good and maybe better then large and open .  What is cuter than a kitchen nook?  My own special hiding place where I can whip up feasts and hide among my All-Clad pans and fancy knives.  

And an all white space with open-shelving somehow almost feels large.  

My thinking cap has been put on...

small kitchen

Image via Pinterest

Monday, January 26, 2015

orange chocolate chunk cake.

The one plus side of cooking as much as I do, is that in situations like this (i.e. THE BLIZZARD OF 2015), you aren’t going to find me waiting on a 3 block long line to enter into Whole Food or Trader Joe’s to buy pita chips, hummus, and bananas (this is the kind of food I think people who don’t cook a lot survive on).  Instead I am digging into my (overly stocked) pantry and (stuffed to the brim) freezer to cook, bake, and roast us an epic meal.   We are all set Sir Juno so bring on your 24 inches of snow, I have books and magazines and double chocolate orange cake to survive on.  

Yes!  DOUBLE Chocolate orange cake.  I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to talk about this cake because this cake is one of my most absolute favorites.  I know some people scoff at the combination of chocolate and fruit but to me, there is no better combination.  I like the tartness and the acidity that fruit brings to chocolate.  This is why I always toss dried cherries into my brownies and go absolutely insane for passion fruit truffles (Tyler if you are reading this a box of 12 for Valentine’s Day from Xocolatti would be swell, THANKS).  But this cake, this cake is perfect for blizzards and winter and general hibernation time.  It’s dense and buttery and positively moist from the orange syrup.  But the real kicker is the chocolate ganache which makes the cake the perfect indulgence for a snowy winter day. 

Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
Recipe from Ina Garten

Recipe can EASILY be halved and baked in a loaf pan (or if you don’t have a bundt pan you can bake it in 2 loaf pans).  Oh and Ina loves extra-large eggs, but trust me, large works fine.   

For the Cake
1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup grated orange zest (4 large oranges)
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups good semisweet chocolate chunks

For the Syrup

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

For the Ganache
8 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, then the orange zest.
Sift together 3 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the orange juice, buttermilk, and vanilla. Add the flour and buttermilk mixtures alternately in thirds to the creamed butter, beginning and ending with the flour. Toss the chocolate chunks with 2 tablespoons flour and add to the batter. Pour into the pan, smooth the top, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until a cake tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, cook the sugar with the orange juice until the sugar dissolves. Remove the cake from the pan, set it on a rack over a tray, and spoon the orange syrup over the cake. Allow the cake to cool completely.

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cake.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

review: arcade bakery.

In my never ending quest to discover the best that New York has to offer, it took me all of 3 days after reading about Arcade Bakery located in the HALLWAY OF AN OFFICE BUILDING IN LOWER MANHATTAN to actually visit it.   The fact that it was located in one of the most inconspicuous and unlikely bakery locations in the city is what initially sold me on it (I love places that feel secret and known only to me). But then I read about the bread (dreamy baguettes and fresh pizza) and despite my best intentions to avoid carbs the week before my wedding, I may have visited 4 days before I walked down the aisle to stuff my face with bread and carmel apple brioche (will power isn't my think nor is sacrificing for the sake of my vanity, if there is anything that will help you survive your wedding, it's not depriving yourself of fluffy, warm bread).   

I have since been back twice and intend to visit again tomorrow and if that isn't any indication that it's some of the best bread in the city, then maybe the below descriptions of (some of) their offerings will sell you on it. 

Stollen - I stuffed this in my face as I walked to meet one of my girlfriends for lunch at Locanda Verde.  My intention was to only have a small bite (I was about to go to lunch!) but a small bite turned into the whole thing and #sorrynotsorry.   Some people love stollen, others hate it (and prefer panettone) but I fall somewhere in the middle.  Some are good, some are BAD, and others like this one are so ethereal that you will happily spend the rest of the day walking around New York with a trail of powdered sugar down the front of your coat.   Sweet but not absurdly so, chock-full of the best dried fruit, and a decent amount of almond flavoring, it's tender and perfect.  I am wishing I had a piece right now.      

Chocolate Almond Croissant - Tyler and I share a chocolate almond croissant practically every Saturday morning.  It's our weekly ritual and I love it almost as much as I love him.  The croissants from our neighborhood bread shop are good and I love them because of the nostalgia I associate with our ritual but the chocolate almond croissant at Arcade is INSANE. This is no light and dainty croissant.  It's full of almond and chocolate and encased in the flakiest of all croissant shells.  I am smitten, obsessed, and waking up early to get one before work tomorrow.  

Chocolate Bread - I don't know if dessert toast is a thing, but if it was I would only want it served on this bread. A cocoa based bread is filled with chunks of dried cherries and oranges and more chocolate.  It's decadent but not so heavy that you feel as if you are going to die.  I like it served with nutella and cherry jam (yes I am a glutton) but a swipe of salted butter would be epic.  And if you have any left MAKE BREAD PUDDING.  You can thank me later (recipe coming soon!).  

Caramel Apple Brioche - I think the picture says just about everything, don't you?  (If not - caramel apples are nestled in homemade puff pastry - sweet, tart, flaky, deliciousness.)  

So yeah.  It's that good and I suggest going as soon as you can.  

(If you are lucky (due to it's proximity to City Hall), you may catch a couple celebrating their marriage.  And while I loved our wedding, I would have been pretty happy to have it be the 2 of us at City Hall and a couple of chocolate almond croissants and a coffee to celebrate.   Especially one of THOSE croissants.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


I've had an obsession with marble as of late.  There is something about about it's design - a little rough, a little organic, and impossibly chic.  I realize marble is pretty impractical (this is probably why I love it) but a marble backsplash would make for one killer kitchen (especially when paired with navy and natural wood).  

[CasaGiardino] ♡ 11 Beautifully Edited Interiors to Inspire You via @domainehome

Image via Pinterest

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

butternut soup with brown butter and nutmeg crème fraîche

Before you make a Thomas Keller recipe, you will read through the recipe and think to yourself this is insane. Thomas Keller recipes are absurdly particular, some may even say anal in their instructions.   Your immediate reaction will be to think you can cut corners - that it doesn't really matter how thick you cut your leeks and onions.  Roasting and cooking my squash isn't actually necessary. But, resist the urge to cut corners.  While the recipe may seem absolutely mad, you will be rewarded for your ability to follow instructions to a T.   

I was apprehensive of this particular squash soup recipe.  It seemed too finicky and particular for my tastes.   But the commentators raved and I remembered that Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc chocolate chip cookie recipe is my absolute favorite so I decided to give it a go.   

In short, this soup is kind of amazing.  

I've made a lot of squash soups in my day but this one is killer.  Impossibly flavorful, absurdly beautiful, and incredibly comforting.  It works for both an up-scale dinner party and a lazy Sunday evening dinner at home in your PJ's.   Despite all of the steps (and particulars of the recipe) it's kind of easy.  I don't know how such flavor is coaxed out of the simplest of ingredients, but somehow, someway it happens and it's a beautiful thing.     

Butternut Soup with Brown Butter and Nutmeg Crème Fraîche
Recipe adapted from Food 52 and Thomas Keller

Serves 6 

My inability to read a recipe properly left me roasting the entire squash and not just the bulb.  The soup was still killer so I don't think I harmed it any way but I imagine it is better to cook it as written.  Oh! A sprinkle of smoked spanish paprika at the very end is a very killer addition.   

One 3 to 3 1/2-pound butternut squash
2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 sage sprigs
1 cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) leeks, white and light green parts only
½ cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) carrots
½ cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) shallots
½ cup thinly sliced (1/8-inch thick) onions
6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons honey
6 cups vegetable stock, plus extra if necessary
Bouquet Garni made of 8 sprigs thyme, 2 sprigs Italian parsley, 2 bay leaves, and 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns, all wrapped in a packet made of 2 green leek leaves
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
¼ cup crème fraîche or sour cream
Freshly grated nutmeg
Canola oil (if using sage leaves)
12 sage leaves or 1 tablespoon minced chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

For the soup: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line a small baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.
Cut the neck off the squash and set it aside. Cut the bulb in half and scoop out and discard the seeds. Brush each half inside and out with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of the canola oil. Sprinkle the cavities with salt and pepper and tuck a sprig of sage into each. Place cut side down on the baking sheet and roast for about 1 hour, or until completely tender.

Remove the squash from the oven and let cool, then scoop out and reserve the flesh (discard sage).
Meanwhile, using a paring knife or a peeler, carefully peel away the skin from the neck of the squash until you reach the bright orange flesh. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch pieces (you should have about 4 cups).

Put the remaining canola oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat, add the leeks, carrots, shallots, and onions and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes. Add the diced squash, garlic, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and cook gently for 3 minutes, reducing the heat as necessary to keep the garlic and squash from coloring. Stir in the honey and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the stock and bouquet garni, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the squash is tender.

Add the roasted squash and simmer gently for about 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Remove from the heat and discard the bouquet garni. Transfer the soup to a blender, in batches, and puree. Strain the soup through a fine sieve into a bowl (optional). Taste the soup and adjust the seasoning. Let the soup cool, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

To complete: Place the crème fraiche or sour cream  in a chilled small metal bowl and stir in nutmeg to taste. Whisk with a small whisk until the crème fraiche/sour cream holds a shape. Cover and refrigerate.

Reheat the soup. If it is too thick, add a little more vegetable stock. Heat a medium skillet over high heat. When it is very hot, add the butter and rotate the skillet over the heat as necessary to brown the butter evenly, scraping up any bits that settle in the bottom. As soon as the foaming has subsided and the butter is a hazelnut brown, pour it into the pot of soup. Be careful not to leave the butter over the heat too long, as it can change from rich brown to black in seconds.

Meanwhile, if using sage leaves (optional), heat 1/8 inch of canola oil in a small skillet. When the oil is very hot, add the sage and cook for 30 to 45 seconds, turning the leaves to crisp them on both sides. When the bubbling stops, the moisture in the leaves will have evaporated and the leaves will be crisp. Drain the sage on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.

Ladle the soup into six serving bowls. Top each with a dollop of crème fraîche. Grind some black pepper over the top and garnish each with 2 sage leaves or some minced chives. Drizzle a little olive oil over the top.

Monday, January 19, 2015

black on black.

All black everything.

(Black subway tile may be better then white.)

Image via Pinterest.  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

pork and chive potstickers.

If there is a way to enclose something in some kind of little bun, wrapper, bread filled pocket, you can pretty much guarantee I am going to be obsessed with it.

I'm looking at you calazones, empanadas, bao, and (now) gyoza aka potstickers.

Gyoza are pockets of porky goodness.  Or in this case pork and chive which is one of those quintessential Asian pairings that I can't seem to get enough of.

But of course we couldn't leave this to just include pork and chives!  We need a little flavor boost and that means lots of minced garlic and ginger and a generous pour of soy sauce, rice vinegar, and (hot) sesame oil.  And then that filling gets stuffed into gyoza wrappers to be boiled and pan fried where they come out hot. crispy, impossibly juicy, and rather addicting.

Pork and Chive Potstickers

1 cup minced chives
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon ginger minced
1/2 pound ground pork
1 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
1 1/12 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon hot pepper sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
10 turns of black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons water
24 gyoza wrappers
Additional oil for frying

In a large bowl, combine all filling ingredients.

Place a couple of teaspoons of filling in the center of a gyoza wrapper.  Wet the edges of the wrapper with water and then fold over the wrapper to seal the edges.  Set aside on a baking sheet covered with a dish towel.  Repeat with the remaining wrappers.   

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium high heat. Next to it, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Boil dumplings for 4 minutes, remove with a slotted spoon (allowing excess water to drip off), and then transfer them to the frying pan (step back because this process could get spitty). Once the bottoms of the potstickers are browned, pat off any excess oil with a paper towel and then enjoy with soy sauce/sriracha.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

beef and ricotta meatballs.

Last week when I discussed banana bread I mentioned that this blog already had 2 banana bread recipes and that by discussing a 3rd I may over-saturating this blog's banana bread market.  Well today I am back with a meatball recipe and if you are a somewhat regular reader of this blog you will know that I already have 2 meatball recipes on this blog (here and here), and much like the banana bread, I'm not sure I need a third.   

(But! This recipe is really good so I've decided it warrants inclusion.)

Everyone and their mother has a default meatball recipe.  Probably the same one their mother made. Most people don't seek out new recipes for the classic comfort food of their youth (myself included) but this recipe with the inclusion of ricotta instead of milk really caught my eye.  Since I've never shied away from a recipe that allows me to incorporate more cheese then should be allowed, it was only a matter of time before I made these.  

You would think replacing milk with ricotta would make these meat balls absurdly heavy but rather the opposite happens.  They are light.  Incredibly light and flavorful despite the fact that they require only a handful on ingredients.   They also come together in 10 minutes (especially if you can convince your significant other to help you in the kitchen) making these absolutely superb for week night dinners.  And, if you are really smart (and I hope you are), stuffing these into a roll with a shmear of ricotta (more cheese is never a bad thing), some oven-dried tomatoes, a handful of arugula, and a sprinkle of cracked black pepper and Parmesan will result in you consuming the best sandwich ever (seriously the best sandwich ever).  

Beef and Ricotta Meatballs
Recipe adapted from Tasting Table

Yield: 25ish meatballs

This is the time to get the good ricotta.  The ricotta from the Italian market or your neighborhood Whole Food's.  We are looking for minimal ingredients and no additives.  Oh and yes - splurge on the grass-fed beef.  

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley or basil
2 eggs
1½ cups fresh whole milk ricotta
2½ pounds of ground beef, preferably grass-fed
1 cup finely ground fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch (or two if you are like me) of crushed red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and add the garlic.  Cook for 30 seconds or until the garlic just begins to brown. Add the thyme, oregano and parsley and cook for 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, then fold the ricotta cheese into them. Using your hands, mix the cheese-egg mixture with the beef, the reserved onion mixture, breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese until just combined. Season with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.

Using a 1½-inch scoop, scoop the meatballs into rounds; roll each scoop into a 1½-inch ball. In a medium skillet set over medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the meatballs and cook, turning, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes.  Place the meatballs on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature of each meatball is 140°. Serve warm. (Alternately you can just bake them.  Increase the cooking time to 20-25 minutes.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

slow roasted lamb shoulder.

My mom and I share many things, most notably our love of corny jokes best suited for a 5 year old. 

What cheese do you use to lure a bear out of its cave?

Camem-bear!  (i.e. Camembert if you are anything like Tyler who doesn't know the name of cheeses.)  

(This makes me laugh every time.)

We also share a love of reporting to each other the best things we've made in the last week which is why most of our phone calls revolve around re-capping our latest cooking adventures.  It is pretty awesome to have someone in my life who is just as excited about cooking as me (I had to get this gene from somewhere!).  

Mama had commented recently that I don't blog very often about meat.  This stems from the fact that I don't eat much meat but also because meat dishes aren't always pretty.  Not in the way a salad or pizza is with it's plethora of colors.   Meat can be monotone and one note and maybe it tastes amazing but we all know people eat with their eyes and no one will think to make something if it looks ugly.   

But!  At the encouragement of the mama and the fact that Tyler declared this the best lamb he's ever eaten, I figured it earned the right to appear on this blog.  Tyler and I celebrate 9 years together this past Sunday.  When we first started dating, I would have never imagined we would end up here.  I think most people who knew us when we first started dating never thought this would last much past the study abroad trip we were on in Switzerland but somehow it did.  And here we are 9 years later which is why we deserved to celebrate with some lamb.   

I naturally gravitate more towards meat in the winter.  With the lack of famer's market produce, it only makes sense to look for nourishment in other ways.  This is why I find myself at Dicksons's far more regularly.  If we are going to have meat it's going to be damm good meat and this lamb shoulder is about as good as it gets. Here it's rubbed in a spice mixture and then slow roasted until it becomes as tender as can be.  Served with yogurt sauce and stuffed in a pita, you have pretty much my ideal meal perfect for celebrating.   

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder
Recipe from Esquire 

Me being me, I upped my spice game (I couldn't help it).  A little bit of sumac (1 teaspoon), some urfa chile (1/4 teaspoon), some aleppo pepper (1/2 teaspoon), a little cumin (1/2 teaspoon), and a little bit of smoked paprika (1/2 teaspoon).  I realize not everyone has these spices and you don't need to go out and buy them, but if you do have them add them!  

I realize this may not look like much, but seriously, it is really good.   

For the Lamb

1 boneless lamb shoulder, butterflied and tied by your butcher (about 3½ lbs)
Spice mix: 2 tbsp whole coriander seeds, 2 tbsp whole fennel seeds, 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns, 3 bay leaves, toasted in small pan over medium heat until aromatic (2 to 4 minutes)
¼ cup harissa paste
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp coarse salt (plus more for preseasoning)
¼ cup water
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Additional spices if desired, see note above

Remove lamb from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature, up to 2 hours, so that it cooks evenly. Place meat on a roasting rack and then a sheet pan. This way, the roast isn't resting directly on the pan (causing its juices to pool there) and air can circulate on all sides. Thirty minutes before cooking, liberally season with coarse salt.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Put dry spice mix in blender (or small food processor) with harissa, garlic, cinnamon, salt, and water (and other spices if using). Blend slowly, add olive oil, and set aside.

Sear: Place lamb in the middle of the oven and roast for 20 minutes.

Slow-roast: Remove lamb from the oven, leave the door ajar for 10 minutes to cool it down, then bring it to 225 degrees.

Rub lamb all over with harissa mixture and place in oven until the internal temperature is 140 degrees. This can take anywhere from 2½ to 3½ hours.

Rest: Remove roast from oven and let rest for 30 minutes. Don't ruin a great piece of meat by slicing it too quickly. The fibers of the meat still need time to relax after cooking, letting the natural juices redistribute so they don't pour out when you carve. So wait a half hour, then remove the butcher's twine from the lamb and cut into quarter-inch slices. Serve with yogurt sauce.

Yogurt sauce

2 cups yogurt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp freshly ground cumin
3 tbsp chopped mint
3 tbsp chopped cilantro
2 tbsp finely diced preserved lemon skin (available at good stores; dice only the skin, discard flesh and white pith) or 1 tablespoon lemon zest
Kosher salt (to taste)

Stir to combine.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

door open.

Nothing like having a kitchen that opens to the great outdoors.  What I wouldn't give for this.   

Image via Pinterest,  

Monday, January 5, 2015

choco-oat-nut roasted banana bread.

I realize that I have already blogged about banana bread twice before (here and here) and perhaps it's redundant to discuss it again because really, how many banana bread recipes does one need?  

But if I can, I would like to make a case for one more because this one really is excellent.  (I may go as far as to declare it my new favorite but shhh, don't tell the others.)  

This banana bread is the definition of banana bread as it is stuffed with 5 (yes FIVE) bananas and those bananas don't need to be well past the peek of ripeness.  They simply need to be yellow as they get roasted in oven where they turn to sweet, jammy, banana mush.  They get blended with brown sugar and maple syrup and a bit of olive oil and then folded with oats, flour, spices, and CHOCOLATE AND NUTS (!!) to produce one hell of a bread.   It's flavorful and hefty and it works at breakfast just as well as it does at snack time.   I have plans to make it again this week and there is no shame in that.    

Choco-Oat-Nut Roasted Banana Bread
Recipe from Seven Spoons 

I loved everything (and I mean everything) about this recipe except for the pan size.  Who owns a 14 x 4.5 inch pan?  When you live in a tiny apartment you don't have the luxury of such things.  But fret not, there are plenty of options.  I baked mine in a traditional 9 x 5 loaf pan and put the excess in one of the mini loaf pans Tyler found me (which is about 4 3/4 x 2 3/4).  I realize not everyone may own a mini loaf pan (so maybe I shouldn't be complainning about her pan size...) so you could also bake it in 2 9 x 5's and have them be flatter loaves OR bake the excess in a muffin tin.  If you use a muffin tin start checking for doneness at the 20 minute mark. Don't you love options?  

Makes 1 (or 2) loaf (loaves).  See note above.

For The Bread

Butter for greasing the pan
4 bananas, ripe but firm
1/2 cup (65 g) walnut pieces
1/2 cup (105 g) dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (125 ml) pure maple syrup
1/3 cup (80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (95 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup (105 g) whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup (50 g) rolled oats
3 to 4 tablespoons mixed seeds (optional but I like pepitas if you choose to add it)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon medium-grained kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup (120 ml) sour cream or thick, plain yogurt (not nonfat)
4 ounces (115 g) bittersweet chocolate, chopped

For the Topping

1 tablespoon rolled oats
2 tablespoons mixed seeds
1 tablespoon flour (all-purpose or whole wheat)
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 banana, ripe but firm

Preheat an oven to 350°/175°C with a rack in the lower third. Grease a 14-by-4.5-inch loaf pan with butter. Line with parchment paper, with long sides overhanging. Butter the parchment. Alternatively, butter and flour a standard tube pan, knocking out excess.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then place the 4 bananas, whole and unpeeled, on top. Bake until the skin is deeply roasted on both sides, but not split, 20 to 30 minutes. Flip once during baking, and add the walnut to the tray for the last 10 minutes of roasting. Remove the bananas to a bowl to collect their juices. Chop the walnuts and set aside.

Once the bananas have cooled a little, remove the peels and leave the fruit in the bowl. Mash to a pulp with the brown sugar. Beat in the maple syrup, olive oil, followed by the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Stir in the vanilla. Sprinkle the flours, oats, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger on top of the wet ingredients. Fold to almost combine, then spoon in the sour cream. Give a few more turns, then gently incorporate the chocolate and walnuts. Scape the batter into the prepared pan. 

In a small bowl, stir together the oats, seeds, flour, cinnamon, and olive oil until it clumps. Honestly, I do this with my fingers, and scrunch it together. Peel and slice the banana into thirds lengthwise. Scatter the streusel over the batter, then arrange the banana on top. Bake in the preheated oven until the bread is golden and puffed, and a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean of batter (chocolate doesn't count), 60 to 70 minutes. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes, then use the parchment to lift the loaf onto the rack to cool completely. 

Makes 1 (or 2) loaf (loaves).