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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.

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salmon tartare {ffwd}

Salmon Cocktail Anyone?

The calendar says it’s spring. Outside, not quite, but I remain optimistic. Actually, it’s a little better than that. Howard planted peas in the vegetable garden last night, and this morning, I noticed the tarragon and chives have started to emerged from the ground.

Waiting for warmer weather means that I no longer crave the hearty comfort food of winter. There still aren’t any local vegetables available, but lighter meals are what appeal. This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie gets a big check mark on that count. The challenge this week is Salmon Tartare, a savory parfait, where the presentation is almost as satisfying as the taste.

Salmon Mixture

Salmon Mixture

To start, three complementary “salads” are prepared. The first is sliced grape tomatoes tossed with oil and herbs. The second is diced raw salmon tossed with olive oil, more herbs, lime zest, scallion, and Tabasco. Finally, diced avocado is tossed with lime juice and zest, herbs and Tabasco. The final touch is the addition of supremed lime segments to the salmon mixture along with some more lime juice. (And, if you don’t mind supreming that citrus, try my mother’s famous Fruit Salad!)

Naked Lime, ready to be supremed!

Naked Lime, ready to be supremed!

The herbs called for were mint and chives, but because of the tomatoes and avocado, this dish screamed “Cilantro!” to me, so that’s what I used.

Tomato Mixture

Tomato Mixture

To serve, the layers can be formed in a ring that gets removed or a ramekin that gets flipped over. I chose to serve this in extra-large martini glasses. When I bought them, I didn’t realize that these festive glasses are larger than any cocktail that I can drink responsibly, so I was glad to have an opportunity to pull them out of the cabinet.

I served the salmon tartare for dinner. We both really enjoyed it. I made half the recipe, and the portions seemed generous for a meal, at least for us. In smaller glasses, this would make a fun appetizer alongside cocktails also served in smaller glasses than these.

To see what my Dorista friends did this week, check out their links here. To make it yourself, you can find the recipe in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.