Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring Gremolata

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring GremolataHoled Up for the Holiday
Easter is going to be different this weekend. To be fair, we’ll still do most of the same things we would normally do. There will be Easter baskets and chocolate bunnies (though they may be a bit smaller). There won’t be any fancy clothes, which frankly, won’t upset too many of us. We’ll just put on our “good” pair of sweats. There will be Easter dinner but there will not be the traditional purple goblets that my grandmother always used. Well, at least not at my house. My sister will probably use them while also wearing her “good” sweats.

But what to cook?

During the first full week of the shelter-in-place order, I was thrilled to know that HoneyBaked Ham was still up and running. So I walked up the street and bought a bigger ham than I needed and a couple of their soup and chili mixes. We ate ham for dinner and had sandwiches for days. I used the bone to make a fantastic soup and put the rest of the ham in the freezer for later use. We happily devoured that ham but it left me with a problem for Easter. We normally do ham on Easter but at this point, my family can’t even look at it. And, I agree which means we’re going with door number two…leg of lamb.

Lamb for Easter is a no-brainer. It’s springtime—and few things are more synonymous with springtime than lamb. There are a number of ways you could choose to prepare your lamb. I’m opting for a butterflied leg, to make it easier to slice. Growing up my grandmother would do a full, on the bone, very traditional leg of lamb that she studded with garlic cloves and then roasted in the oven. (Yes, there was mint jelly.) It was fantastic. But, I’m just not feeling it. Maybe I’m bored, maybe I’m rebellious. But, I want something with brighter bolder flavors so I’m throwing mine on the grill.

This recipe has a decidedly Middle Eastern flavor with Aleppo pepper and lemon. Feel free to substitute what you don’t have. I’ve had to do a lot of that lately. Every meal has been a bit of an adventure. The pepper can be swapped for hot paprika or even straight-up red chili flakes. I would encourage you to use as many of the fresh herbs as possible though I get it. They may be hard to come by. If you can find them rejoice. That bright, happy, fresh flavor is something that everyone could use a little of right now!

Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Spring Gremolata
Yields 12 servings
Adapted from NY Times Cooking Read more…

Mom’s Lamb Chops

Mom's Lamb ChopsMom Knows Best
You’ve stocked your freezer to the best of your ability. So now what? This has actually been one of my biggest challenges because this is totally different than how I normally cook. Generally, I stock up on things like cereal, lunch meat, snacks, etc. on the weekends. And then during the week, I make dinner according to what I feel like bringing home that day. I don’t store a whole lot of stuff in my freezer. Now that people are sheltering in place, food supply is good in some areas but bad in others, and despite the fact that I am still coming in to work, I can’t operate in the same way.

So, dinners have been pretty basic and ingredients have been limited to what I have on hand. I have noticed that I have subconsciously reverted back to my childhood and what my Mom used to make for weeknight dinners. Mom didn’t shop for food every day so what was in the fridge and pantry was what we had for dinner. Cream of mushroom soup was turned into a chicken and rice casserole. (Very old school…but total comfort food.) Pork chops with Shake & Bake on them and applesauce on the side appeared regularly. (I still make this. Though, I admit I have swapped the Shake & Bake for seasoned Panko.) But if there was one recipe that reminds me the most of my Mom, it would be her lamb chops.

I have posted this recipe before and I felt compelled to post it again after I made them for dinner the other night. Making this dish made me feel better. It was the very definition of comfort food. Which was probably why I had lamb chops in the freezer to begin with. These couldn’t be simpler and the recipe calls for three pantry staples: soy sauce, garlic powder, and rosemary (fresh or dried, though fresh is better). For me, they have to be served alongside mashed potatoes and peas or it’s just not right but feel free to do what you want.

They say, food is memories and my suggestion for everyone as we shelter in place to protect our physical selves, don’t forget to protect our mental selves. If that means making grandma’s special cake or Dad’s killer chili, I say go for it…I’ll be over here with my lamb chops and chicken casserole.

Mom’s Lamb Chops
Yields 4 servings

The amount of marinade Mom made depended on how many chops she had. You can use whatever lamb chops you can find: sirloin chops, loin chops—whatever works.

Mom always used loin chops and we always got exactly two on our plate. And, always with mashed potatoes and peas. Read more…

Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler

Raspberry Rhubarb CobblerDitchin’ The Cheese
I had planned on talking about cheese this week. You can never go wrong with cheese. But then, sometimes life throws you a curveball. Since it’s now March, everywhere you look things have gone green in anticipation of St. Patrick’s Day. And, of course, I immediately think “Cheese!” (I know. My friends and family have long since stopped trying to understand my thought processes.)

However, over the weekend, I made something that was just so good I couldn’t stop myself from writing about it. The cheese will have to wait…

My in-laws were in town so I had everyone over for a lovely salmon dinner with roasted asparagus. It was while picking out the asparagus that I was enticed by the gorgeous rhubarb in all of its deep red glory that was calling my name from the shelf above. To me, rhubarb is a sign of hope that we are in fact leaving winter, and its cabbages and root vegetables, behind to usher in the new and more interesting produce that arrives with spring. My entire family loves rhubarb so there was no question. I was not leaving the store without it. But what to make?

When it comes to rhubarb recipes, I like to keep it simple. I love a good crisp—or even just roasting it by itself to put in yogurt. Strawberry Rhubarb Pie is always a hit. But, the strawberries aren’t that great yet so I will leave that to when it weather is warmer. I chose this recipe for Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler because it was fairly quick, and something about the twist of the raspberries just appealed to me.

I have never seen a dessert disappear so fast. It might be because the flavors were so bright and different from what we’ve been eating in the last few months. But, this one, my friends, is a definite keeper. The color was stunning and I think the biscuits on top will be how I do all my cobblers going forward.

I did make some changes to the original recipe. For one, I added more cornstarch. The filling was a little too loose for my tastes. I also bumped up the sugar just a bit. Although, you could add some honey if you prefer.

Raspberry Rhubarb Cobbler Recipe  Read more…

News From the Fancy Food Show & Tahini Noodles Recipe

Tahini Noodles with Green Beans and CarrotsPlant Food
In what has become an annual tradition, I spent my Martin Luther King holiday walking the aisles at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco looking for and tasting the latest and greatest that the culinary world has to offer. As per usual there was plenty of gorgeous chocolate and cheese from around the world—including a guacamole cheese that was divine despite being a dark green not usually associated with cheese in a positive way.

There were teas, there were coffees and there was an extraordinary number of waffles, both of the regular and of the Stroop variety. I like waffles as much as the next gal. But, do we really need that many? And there was bottled pickle juice…because, of course, there would be bottled pickle juice. (I brought one home for my kids to try. My pickle loving son tried it and said it was too intense yet he keeps going back for another sip. Kind of like a bad accident. You can’t help but look.)

There was no missing the one big take away from this show: The future of food is plant-based.

From beverages to snacks, to frozen foods, each and every grocery category had multiple vendors showing their plant-based products. There were plant-based frozen desserts being offered down every aisle either by the pint or as bars. Plant-based meat alternatives have grown way beyond the Impossible Burger. The snack category was huge including puffs made out of avocado that were a big hit at my home, as were the butternut squash pretzels. While I expected to see more plant-based noodles than I did, they were still well represented as were the Asian cuisines they support.

Staunch carnivores should not fret too much, though, as there were still plenty of offerings for them. Duck Sausage anyone? Small family-owned ranches held their own amongst the plant-based surge by offering natural, humanely-raised alternatives to beef like venison, bison, elk, and even wild boar. And while the jerky revolution has died down some, there were still plenty of meat and salami sticks to be sampled.

While plant-based foods comprised a large percentage of the products being shown this year, it was very obvious that we’re just scratching the surface when it comes to plant-based innovation. This is not a food trend that will just fizzle out. The possibilities are endless and the masterminds are just getting started…

Tahini Noodles with Green Beans and Carrots 
Adapted from Food 52
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…