June – Turkish Lamb Chops

June – Turkish Lamb Chops

This is a meal capable of lifting spirits, and right now I think we all need a bit of that. The news keeps getting worse, it makes me very sad and distressed. I am sorry, sorry for the U.S. and sorry for the world. We are all in need of loving arms around us, hard come by in this time of social distancing.

There is some comfort in feeding yourself and your family well. The warming spices in this dish of Turkish lamb chops just might lesson your heartache a little. Cook it on your grill if the evening is warm enough, sit on your deck or patio with a glass of wine or a cocktail or something sparkling with a lime wedge.  Listen to the evening songs of the birds. Be at peace.

Turkish Lamb Chops

Turkish Lamb Chops

The tahini sauce is optional. I almost left it out, but don’t do that. It adds a creamy counterpoint to the spices. And, leftover sauce was delicious the next night drizzled over a simple grilled chicken breast.

Ingredients for the lamb:

  • I tablespoon Marash Turkish pepper, or Aleppo pepper, or a large pinch of red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds bone-in loin lamb chops, thicker the better
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the tahini Sauce:

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, grated or minced
  • 1 3/4 kosher salt
  • 1 cup tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons of ice water

For serving:

  • fresh dill or fennel fronds, thinly sliced mint leaves, chopped cilantro or parsley
  • Ground sumac (optional)

Method for the lamb:

  1. Combine the red pepper, fennel seeds, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small bowl.
  2. Heat a small dry skillet over medium heat and toast the spices until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour onto a small plate to cool and once cool, pour into a mortar or spice grinder. Add the salt and black pepper. Then pound or grind briefly until you have a coarse-textured spice mix. You do not want them to be too finely ground.
  4. Pat the spice mixture all over the lamb chops, let them marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or uncovered in the fridge up to 24 hours.

Method for the tahini sauce:

  1. In a food processor blend the lemon juice, garlic and salt. Let the mixture sit for about 10 minutes then add the tahini and ground cumin, blend until a thick paste forms. With the processor running, add the ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is smooth and thin enough to drizzle.

To finish:

  1. Heat the grill or broiler on high.
  2. Drizzle the chops lightly with olive oil. Grill until they are charred on the outside and cooked to your taste. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops and your desired end. Mine took 3 minutes on each side for medium rare.
Turkish Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

Lamb Chops with Red Pepper, Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Seeds

This recipe comes directly from a wonderful cookbook, Dinner – Changing the Game, by Melissa Clark published in 2017.

To ease kitchen boredom I have been perusing forgotten cookbooks and this one is definitely a winner. I took the recommendation of a friend and have a family member pick a cookbook, then I chose a recipe out of that book to make for dinner. It’s sometimes a stretch to find a recipe that matches ingredients on hand, but it’s a fun challenge and keeps me out of the dinner rut.

I think the mix of spices would also be good on a chicken breast, halved horizontally and pounded to an even thinness. Or grilled tofu, first drained between paper towels, then sliced before coating and baking or grilling.

I am taking this dish to share on Fiesta Friday #331 hosted by the lovely Angie. I am this week’s co-host so come on over to the virtual blogging party to find a new recipe or craft idea right from your arm chair.

Stay well everyone, and safe. Let me know how you are doing. We are all having up days, and down days.

April – Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

April – Gluten Free Italian Meatballs

There must be a thousand recipes out there for meatballs. This recipe is a little different. I was intrigued and inspired by an article in the NY Times for Spicy Meatballs with Chickpeas by David Tanis. I have a couple of his cookbooks and admire his simplicity. There is no bread in his meatball mix, he uses raw (yes, raw) arborio or white rice as a binder, so it’s gluten free.

The original recipe calls for ground lamb, which was not in my freezer, and North African seasonings. This is when you call on kitchen creativity and courage. I did have a pound package of bulk country sausage and one of ground turkey. It was sounding like my meatballs would be more Italian than North African.

This recipe is endlessly adaptable to whatever ground meat and flavorings you have on hand. The meatballs were juicy and delicious, the rice absorbing the flavors of the sauce and the meat.

Meatballs

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE MEATBALLS:

  • 1 ½ pounds ground meat (ground beef, pork, turkey, sausage or a combination)
  • ½ cup raw arborio rice or any white rice, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, grated or minced

FOR THE SAUCE:

  •  Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 quart of jarred Italian pasta sauce, whatever you have in your pantry or freezer
  • A couple of handfuls of chopped kale, chard or baby spinach, chopped (optional)
  • Grated Parmesan for serving
PREPARATION:
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Make the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine ground meat, raw rice, salt, red pepper flakes, cumin, Italian seasoning, onion and garlic. Knead mixture well.
  2. Line with a sheet pan or roasting pan with foil for easier cleanup. Coat it lightly with olive oil. With wet hands, form mixture into 1-ounce meatballs and arrange in one layer on pan. Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove and let cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, reheat your pasta sauce.
  4. Carefully add meatballs and adjust heat to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. Add the kale, chard or spinach and cook until just wilted.
  6. Serve with pasta (gluten free) and sprinkle with parmesan.

Of course you could make your own tomato sauce, that would be even more delicious.

The greens are optional, I was looking for a way to add some vegetables but you could leave them out if it’s the end of the week and your produce drawer is down to the last wilted scallion.

I found an almost empty jar of Kalamata olives and tossed them in, capers would be good, anchovies anyone?

Italian Meatballs

Italian Meatballs

January – Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

January – Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

My family is very fond of what I call soup/stew. It’s not really a stew, more like a very substantial soup. it’s a soup that is a full meal, and it perfectly describes this Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash. You could serve it with a salad or throw in some baby spinach to wilt just before serving. Ta Da greens., nothing more needed.

This is a phase 3 dinner, 2 cups equal one serving.

IMG_7107

Lamb, Winter Squash and Chickpea Soup/Stew

Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

4 servings – 8 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin or cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamon, or cardamon seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander or coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper plus more to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt plus more as needed for taste
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 2 teaspoons grape seed oil
  • 1 medium red onion, half diced and half sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely diced
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 large delicata squash, peeled, seeded and diced into 3/4 inch cubes; or other winter squash – about 4 cups
  • 1 can of garbanzo (chickpea) beans drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetable stock, low sodium
  • optional – handful of golden raisins or roughly chopped dried apricots
  • For garnish – chopped cilantro, flat leaf parsley, mint, or chives…or combination of all

Directions:

  1. Combine the cumin, cardamon and coriander in a small heavy skillet and toast until slightly brown. This will happen quickly if using ground spices. Watch carefully. If whole spices, cool and grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. IMG_7099
  2. Heat the grape seed oil in a large skillet or pot on medium heat, add the ground lamb and brown (drain if there is a lot of fat and return to the skillet or pot).
  3. Add the onion, garlic, and spices. Stir until blended and smelling aromatic, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the bell pepper, squash, garbanzo beans and stock.
  5. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and flavors blended. Add the optional dried fruit, taste for salt, and simmer an additional 5 minutes.
  6. If not on the Fast Metabolism Diet, I would recommend the optional dried fruit.

    IMG_7108

    Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

IMG_7104

Lamb Soup/Stew with Garbanzos and Winter Squash

This recipe is adapted and modified from one in the NY Times.

March – Lamb Tagine (Moroccan Lamb with Apricots)

March – Lamb Tagine (Moroccan Lamb with Apricots)

A tagine consists of soft chunks of meat and/or vegetables scented with spices and often sweetened with fruit. It originated in North Africa, but quickly spread to France, maybe because it is similar to a French ragout. The difference is in the seasonings used and the amount of liquid. A ragout almost always requires a significant amount of wine and sometimes broth to braise the meat, a tagine needs very little in the way of additional liquid. That due to the shape of the pot (also called a tagine) used to prepare the dish. The cooking vessel has a domed tight-fitting lid. As the food cooks, aromatic steam rises to the top of the lid and drips back over the contents of the dish. and the food steams as it cooks, rising to the top of the lid and then dropping back over the contents of the dish. The food is bathed in its own juices.

Emile Henry Tagine

Don’t worry if you don’t have a tagine. I have cooked this successfully in a covered casserole dish, first covered tightly with aluminum foil and followed by the lid, It should be tightly sealed so no steam escapes.

Lamb Tagine in Copco Casserole

The classical accompaniment to tagine is couscous, but rice or flat bread works very well. You will want something to soak up the juices.

This recipe came from the New York Times Sunday addition, The New Essentials of French Cooking.

The best lamb to use is bone-in lamb stew meat. At my local butcher I found it for $3.99/pound. That is a very good price here in Northern California, making this a very affordable dish, fancy enough for company.

Lamb Tagine with Apricots (feeds 4 – 6)

  • 3 pounds of bone-in lamb stew meat (lamb neck is delicious) cut into 1 1/2 to 2 inch pieces. If your lamb more bone than meat, you may want a little extra.
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt plus more as needed.
  • 1 3/4 lamb or chicken stock
  • 1 cup of dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks
  • large pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup of packed cilantro, tightly packed, chopped and divided in half

For garnish:

  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley

I found it easiest to measure out the spices into a small bowl before I started cooking.

Method

  1. If you have time, one day before or at least 1 hour before, put the lamb in a large bowl and add 2 teaspoons of the kosher salt. Combine and let sit at room temperature for an hour or overnight in the fridge.
  2. When ready to start cooking, heat the stock to boiling in a small saucepan. Add the apricots and turn off the heat. Let them sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. In a dutch oven, skillet, or bottom of your tagine, warm 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until hot. Add the lamb in batches and brown, leaving space around each piece. Try to brown all sides of the meat. This could take 10 minutes or more. Remove the lamb pieces to a plate as they are browned.
  5. Drain any excess fat in the pan and add the onions and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Cook until they soften, another 8-10 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato paste, fresh ginger, 1 cinnamon stick, and the spices to the onions in the pan. Cook until fragrant (a couple of minutes), then add back the lamb and any juices, plus the apricots, stock, and half the cilantro.
  7. (If you have done this in a skillet, transfer everything to your casserole dish, scraping up any brown bits in the bottom of your skillet.)
  8. Bring it to a simmer and cover the pot tightly.
  9. Transfer to the oven and cook 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the lamb is tender. The original recipe calls for turning the lamb occasionally, but I was busy and left it for the 3 hours without any ill effects.

Garnish

  1. Melt the butter in a small skillet with the cinnamon stick. Add the almonds and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook gently until golden brown. Discard the cinnamon stuck and remove the skillet from the heat.
  2. When serving, garnish the lamb with the almonds, remaining chopped cilantro, scallions, and parsley.

Lamb Tagine with Rice

Opening the tagine dish or casserole dish is an amazing experience. As you lift the lid, aromatic steam is released full of the scent of exotic spices. Quickly garnish the dish just before serving. This can also be made ahead and gently reheated.

This is a perfect dish to dazzle my fellow bloggers at Fiesta Frida #162. Fiesta Friday is a virtual party (unfortunately) but you may be inspired to make some of the dishes yourself this weekend. Please come join the fun, we would also love to see your own post at the party. Fiesta Friday is hosted by Angie and co-hosted this week by Sarah @ Tales From The Kitchen Shed and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas, and Spoons (hey, that’s me!!).

Click on the Fiesta Friday link to read the posts.