Category Archives: Lamb

Spring Lamb and (tardy) Salmon Burgers {CtBF}

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Lamb is a favorite at my house. Fortuitously, lamb is also this week’s selection to celebrate spring holidays as Cook the Book Fridays cooks through the last spring season from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen. This week’s recipe covers the full menu: Roast Lamb with Braised Vegetables and Salsa Verde.

Sourcing the lamb shoulder was a bit challenging. These days, according to the butcher at several local grocery chains, most lamb comes in pre-packaged. That means instead of a whole shoulder, the store is shipped packages of shoulder chops. Just as I decided we would butterfly and grill a leg of lamb instead and only follow the recipe for the braised vegetables and salsa verde, my ever-resourceful husband located a whole lamb shoulder at a more urban meat market not too far away.

“Before”

Our whole shoulder had some extra bony parts that needed to be separated (we think it was the top part of the ribs). They aren’t very meaty but will add lots of flavor to a lamb stock – coming to my kitchen some time soon.

“After” (trimmed by Howard the in-house butcher)

This dinner was very easy to put together – and impressive enough for company. Slits in the lamb are stuffed with garlic and anchovies before roasting the lamb for a few hours in a pan with white wine to keep things moist. I felt I could have used much less liquid for the same effect. The toughest part was carefully flipping the lamb twice without not having it splash down into its wine bath, making a big mess.

While the lamb roasts, we cut up a variety of vegetables to braise in butter and water (I was out of chicken stock). Baby potatoes, carrot rounds, parsnip batons and turnip wedges cooked with some sautéed shallots and sprigs of thyme. I usually steam or roast my vegetables, so I was happy to learn this easy and delicious technique.

While the lamb roasts, I also put together the salsa verde. You can use any variety of herbs. I used parsley, sage, tarragon and oregano (the last two from my herb garden). Lemon zest, green olives, capers, garlic, more shallot and a large dose of olive oil complement the herbs to create a lovely sauce.

When everything is done, this is served in shallow bowls: vegetables and their flavorful liquid provide the base for chunks of tender lamb. Each guest can spoon salsa verde over the lamb and vegetables to taste.

We enjoyed this one though I’m more likely to repeat the braised vegetables or the salsa verde than the roast lamb shoulder. This time around, I skipped the Panisse Puffs which were a spectacular failure when I made them back in July 2017. With leftovers, I might try to make socca – chickpea pancakes – to sop up the tasty juices.

The lamb meal was much more successful that last week’s Salmon Burgers from Dorie Greenspan’s newest book Everyday Dorie. It’s not that we didn’t like the burgers exactly, but we felt like there are better uses for fresh wild salmon. The flavors and texture were nice enough, but when salmon is $17 a pound, I’d much rather eat that fillet grilled. I think we’d have liked these just as much if I’d used canned wild salmon. I might even try that another time.

I sautéed the first batch of burgers in a non-stick cast-iron grill pan where it stuck in all the grooves. That happens with everything I cook in that pan, not sure why. For the second batch, I switched to my cast-iron skillet with much better results — more surface area to sear plus no sticking.

I forgot to make the pickled onions, but the burgers tasted good on Martin’s potato rolls topped with sliced avocado with the recommended cole slaw on the side.

The salmon burgers were good, just not good enough to repeat with fresh salmon.

The lamb recipe can be found on page 203 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen and the salmon burgers are on page 174 of Everyday Dorie. If you’re curious what the other members of Cook the Book Fridays thought of these recipes, check out their posts following links for lamb here and salmon burgers here.

Spiced Meatballs and Tomato Crostini {CtBF}

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This week’s recipe for Cook the Book Fridays is Spiced Meatballs with Sriracha Sauce.  The meatballs are made from a highly-spiced mixture supposedly similar to merguez sausage.  I don’t think I’ve ever had merguez so can’t compare.  When I described the recipe to my sister Jane, she said “It sounds like it uses everything in the pantry!”

Lots from the pantry, but not everything

Lots from the pantry, but not everything

It didn’t need everything in the pantry, but the ingredient list is long indeed.  Coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cumin seeds, paprika, cinnamon, allspice, and sumac from the pantry plus garlic, cilantro, and Sriracha.  All these seasonings are mixed together with ground meat.  I opted to use ground lamb.  We had a beef-heavy week, and my palette longed for something different.

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This recipe is intended as an appetizer, but I decided to turn it into a meal.  For carefree cooking, I ended up baking the meatballs while I prepared the rest of the menu.  The North African meatballs with the two sauces were delicious with couscous and sautéed greens on the side.  All the different flavors came through.  The meatballs were moist and complex with a bit of a kick, but not too spicy.

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I thought the Sriracha sauce might be too spicy for Howard so I also made the Yogurt-Tahini Sauce.  I don’t know whether this is true at all grocery stores, but when I tried to buy a small (individual) sized tub of plain yogurt, I discovered that the yogurt section at my local store is at least 90% Greek yogurt.  Any available tubs of the thinner “regular” (non-Greek) yogurt I was trying to buy were fruit-flavored.  No worries: Greek yogurt works just fine.  And, much to my surprise, Howard preferred the Sriracha sauce while I was on Team Yogurt-Tahini Sauce.

I was away the week of our last CtBF post.  Howard and I spent a fun-filled week in Québec.  We enjoyed wandering in both Montreal and Quebec City.  The food we ate everywhere, highbrow and low, was amazing.  In Quebec City, we ate at Restauarant Toast! whose tagline is the name of my blog, in French!

A Plateful of Happiness

A Plateful of Happiness

I didn’t get a chance to make the Cherry Tomato Crostini with Herbed Cheese until after our return.  I’m sorry that I procrastinated.  I loved every part of the crostini, separately and together.

For the herbed cheese, I already had Greek yogurt (cow’s milk) so I didn’t bother to seek out goat’s milk yogurt.  And I skipped the straining step since the Greek yogurt has already been strained.  The yogurt is flavored with garlic and assorted fresh herbs which is a delicious spread, not only on the crostinis, but also alone on crackers.

The cherry tomato topping was also fabulous.  My cherry tomato has been slow to ripen, but I found a colorful assortment at a local farm. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes concentrated during roasting and melded with the fragrant herb sprigs for a meltingly wonderful mélange.

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Toasted rustic bread (I used ciabatta) is the base for a layer of herby cheese crowned with roasted cherry tomatoes.  It’s summer on toast.

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I liked the topping so much that I have plans this weekend to make another batch for a savory tart.  Can’t wait.

Click these links, if you’d like to read about others’ experiences with spiced meatballs or tomato crostini.  To make them yourself (which I highly recommend), you can find the meatball recipe on page 74 and the crostini recipe on page 110 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen.