Tag Archives: lamb

Harissa Lamb Meatballs with Roasted Vegetable Couscous

Recipe for the Daring Kitchen
Our April 2012 Daring Cooks hosts were David & Karen from Twenty-Fingered Cooking. They presented us with a very daring and unique challenge of forming our own recipes by using a set list of ingredients!

Great Balls of Goodness

I know the name “Daring Kitchen” pretty much sets the stage for a challenge, but this month was an out-and-out “what the holy hell” bit of business. And this all coming from a girl who thinks she could make the basket on the show Chopped cry uncle under the swift work of her knife. My basket ingredients are black chicken, absinthe and air? Bring it, bitches. This challenge, however, was deceptively sneaky in its seemingly simple ingredients that dared at me to be combined. They sneered at me like the cool kids smoking behind the high school, waiting to see if I was indeed as badass as I claimed to be. I had to find a way to marry one ingredient from each of the three categories into an original, cohesive recipe. Continue reading Harissa Lamb Meatballs with Roasted Vegetable Couscous

Kefta Kebabs

Grind It Out

I’ve long been in love with kefta kebabs – the addictive combination of ground lamb or beef seasoned with aromatics such as onion, garlic, parsley and mint. I first truly fell in love with them at one of my most beloved spots in NYC, The Olive Tree Cafe. Aside from being the place where I went on my very first date with my now husband, it was a haunt that my friends and I would hit up back in college. The food was cheap and plentiful, the drinks strong, and if you couldn’t score a reservation to the Comedy Cellar below the restaurant for one of the stand-up shows, you could sit at a table right next to the same comedians working that night. The place has been in my life for years and years, and crazily enough, their charcoal-grilled kefta kebabs are a huge part of my love of the place. Continue reading Kefta Kebabs

Meatballs with Coconut Curry

Recipe for The Daring Kitchen
Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.
When tasked with creating a curry from Southern India or Sri Lanka, I decided to take cues from our host, Mary Mary Culinary, and do a little research to put a happy spin on my recipe for The Daring Kitchen. Her Sri Lankan coconut curry was divine – a blend of chilies, tamarind, fresh curry leaves and coconut milk simmered with cubes of tender lamb. I found that because of the Dutch settlers in Sri Lanka, there were several dishes that formed from the hybrid of cultures. One was the use of meatballs in various curries and baked dishes. Given that I am a lover of the meatball in all forms and ethnic spins, I decided to take Mary’s curry and marry (ha!) it with a meatball. Continue reading Meatballs with Coconut Curry

Swiss Chard Dolmades

Recently, my good friend Joey (owner of Maple Ave Restaurant in Virginia – if you haven’t eaten there yet and are near by, shut down your computer and go right now.  Or at least bring this with you on a laptop and get someone to drive you there) posed the question on her Facebook page “What’s your favorite Fall vegetable?”  I was completely in line with people’s responses of pumpkin and squash.  I even gave a silent nod, though no one mentioned it, to artichokes (oft thought of as a Spring veggie, artichokes actually love the cold).  But my answer, which came with not a moment’s hesitation, was swiss chard.

These noble leaves are the kings of greenery in my book – tender yet hearty, and full of earthy flavor that so much more refined than spinach.  Members of the beet family, the stalks vary in shade from paperwhite to golden and garnet (just as you’d see of beets in the market).  While I typically love my chard sautéed simply with olive oil and garlic, or luxuriously bathed in locatelli, cream and melted shallots, the leaves are so versatile, you can work them into pretty unique formats.  This recipe not only showcases the greens, but also leverages their quick cooking time.  Typical dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves, involve a lot of soaking and braising of the leaves to coax them into tenderness.  Swiss chard needs no such thing – just a quick dip in some boiling hot water to make them pliant, and a short cooking time of a mere half an hour.  Something to think about during the week when extra time is at a premium (“What? The Office is about to start?  Let me hurry up and finish cooking already…”)

These dolmades are made with ground lamb and rice, but feel free to replace the lamb with beef for simplicity, or leave the meat out entirely and make a batch with just rice and herbs.    I top the leaves with an Avoglomeno sauce that’s adapted from Greek queen of chefs, Cat Cora.  It’s a luscious blend of eggs, lemon and dill and is equally devourable hot or cold, and just elevated the dolmades to a whole ‘nother level.

UPDATE: For a kickass vegetarian filling, check out this recipe over at My Darling Lemon Thyme.  It’ll have you praising Spring for being one of the sexiest seasons around.

Let’s get crackin…

Recipe for

Swiss Chard Dolmades

1 bunch of swiss chard leaves (about 12-15 individual stalks)
1 lb. of ground lamb
1 c. of instant rice
1 tbs. of dried mint (can use fresh)
1 c. of onion, finely minced
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1/8 tsp. of black pepper
1/2 tsp. of salt
1 tsp of olive oil
1 can of chicken broth

4 large eggs
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 tsp. of pepper
1 tsp of dill
scant pinch of salt

Set a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.  While that is coming up to temperature, make your filling.

In a large bowl with your hands (or gently with a stand mixer) mix the beef, onion, mint, rice, pepper, salt and olive oil.  Make sure to combine all ingredients but not overmix.  Set aside.

Prepare your swiss chard leaves by cutting out the fibrous middle stem while keeping the rest of the leaf intact.  Set aside.  Once your water is boiling, take the leaves, one at a time, and plunk them into the boiling water for 1-2 seconds and then remove them to a plate.  Since we are not shocking them with a cold water bath after removing them from the hot water, the leaves will continue to cook a bit as they cool.  This is perfect for getting them pliant.  After you’ve cooked all of the leaves, set up a station where you can roll the dolmades.  On a clean cutting board, place a leaf flatly on the surface and add a heaping tablespoon of meat filling.  Fold the two sides of the leaf in over the filling and roll the whole thing up like the world’s smallest burrito.  Place the stuffed chard in a 13x9x2 pan, seam side down.  Repeat with remaining leaves until you run out of filling.

Pour a can of chicken broth over the leaves and cover with foil.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the leaves are tender and half of the stock has been absorbed.  Remove from the oven and let sit.

In a mixing bowl with egg beaters or a stand mixer, beat the eggs, lemon juice, salt, pepper and dill until frothy and pale golden.  Continuing to beat the mixture the whole time, carefully pour in the remaining chicken broth from the pan of dolmades.  Make sure to do this slowly, or you’ll have lemon flavored scrambled eggs instead of a smooth sauce.  Once it is all incorporated, pour the mixture into a sauce pan and turn the heat to medium.  Continue to whisk the sauce until it thickens enough to  coat the back of the spoon.  Pour sauce over your dolmades.

Serve them immediately as a hot dish, or let rest to room temperature or even cool as a variation.  These little guys are good every which way.

Pastitsio

Pastitsio is often referred to as the Greek answer to lasagna, but I think that it’s selling it quite short.  The rich lamb sauce is more than a simple bolognese, and gains character from cinnamon and cloves.  Mozzarella and ricotta aren’t to be found here, as the entire mixture is cradled by a luxe bechamel enriched with egg yolks and feta cheese.  I think that the lasagna reference must have come from folks who didn’t have a culinary context for the dish, but I say why categorize?  Can’t pastitsio just be pastitsio?

Back when I was little, summertime meant a trip to the Greek festivals held by the Orthodox churches in the DC Metro area.  I believe that our favorite was in Maryland, where a church hall was taken over by dozens of old ladies doling out massive portions of what must have been secret family recipes.  I can be sure that there must have been arguments over who had the best recipes and which versions would be made for the festivals.  No matter – I never had a bad meal.  The rundown was that you hopped in line and pointed to whatever you wanted to eat copious amounts of – moussaka, tender roasted lamb, lemony potatoes and oven braised green beans.  I’m sure there was salad.  I’m sure there were even other cooked treats.  I barely made it past the pastitsio – a heaping of blubbery noodles in a delicately spiced sauce, almost too heavy to carry.  We would tote the styrofoam containers outside to the picnic tables and attempt to conquer the Joey Chestnut-sized portions.  You almost wanted to scream “Release the kraken!”  (Haha, Mom, that was for you…) Continue reading Pastitsio

Irish Lamb Stew with Rosemary and Sage

Non-Stop Comfort with No Regrets

My good friend Adella, a fellow foodie and recipe crafter, is exacting with her perfection of a dish.  She believes in absolute measurements in the kitchen (“What’s a dash? What’s a pinch”) and as such, she turns out flawless dishes time in and time out.  How could I not love her to pieces?  When I first started Adesina’s Cook-a-long, I immediately knew that I had to hit her up for a recipe.  Adella and I worked next to each other for 2 years, and in those fleeting moments of free time amidst our crazy schedules, she and I would hash about our successes (and occasional flops) in the kitchen.  She, like I, had a collection of “tried and true” go-to recipes that we kept for friends and family – we don’t have cookbook aspirations so much as a need to document the goodness found behind a particular set of ingredients and methods.  When the stars align in the kitchen, the recipe becomes a mini celebration of the success.  Needless to say, Adella has had her fair share of successes, and her collection continues to grow and grow.  Maybe it is time for her to launch a cookbook :) Continue reading Irish Lamb Stew with Rosemary and Sage