Archive for October, 2013

Elderberry Balsamic Lamb Chops

It is so nice to have had the opportunity to enjoy lamb two weeks in a row. What a rare treat! In this recipe, my husband cooked up the last of the lamb that I lucky to get on the cheap at the San Francisco Basque Club‘s annual picnic this year. I am so glad that our tastes are diverse; he picked out a more European-centric recipe. It was rather gourmet in my mind and very tasty.

Elderberry Balsamic Lamb Chops

Elderberry Balsamic Lamb Chops
Adapted from the recipe, Fresh Herb Balsamic Lamb Chops, found at Cooking in Sens
Yields: 6 Servings

Ingredients
2 Racks of 8 lamb chops
2 1/2 T Fresh Rosemary, chopped
2 1/2 T Fresh Thyme, chopped
2 1/2 T Fresh Basil, chopped
Sea Salt, to taste
Peppercorns, fresh ground, to taste
3 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
5 – 6 Scallions, trimmed, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, peeled, trimmed, chopped
3/4 C Elderberry White Balsamic Vinegar*
1 3/4 C Chicken Broth or Stock
2 1/2 T Earth Balance Spread or Extra Virgin Olive Oil, room temperature

Directions
Rub the lamb chops with herbs, salt and pepper. Let the meat rest 30 minutes.

With the olive oil in a medium pan, sear the meat for 2 minutes per side over medium heat in order to add color and release flavor. It is alright if the meat blackens a little. Set aside.

Add the scallions and/or garlic to the pan to saute until softened. Add the vinegar and broth, boiling and stirring until the liquid is reduced by half. Remove from the heat, and stir in the spread or oil. Return the lamb to the pan. Coat the lamb chops in the reduction. Serve and enjoy.

*You can use aged balsamic or another gourmet balsamic vinegar of your choosing, keeping the flavors in mind.

Note: If possible, try to get local lamb to ensure freshness. Although these were a steal and rather tasty, I wish they were not flown in all the way from New Zealand to become our dinner in California. The money did, however, go towards a good cause and local organization.

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Curried Lamb Chops with Persian-Inspired Quinoa

Curred Lamb & Persian QuinoaOne of the wonderful events at the San Francisco Basque Club’s Annual Picnic is the txorizo (or chorizo) auction; this year there was so much uncooked txorizo and lamb (left over from the barbeque lunch), the club held a big sale. I scored four racks for half price! Huzzah! I was eager to try the lamb but froze them for later; I still had to figure out how I wanted to cook them for two different dinners. Ultimately, I found a handful of recipes and let my husband pick one, leaving me to choose the other.

Below is an adaption of the recipe I chose, not all surprising with my tendency for well-spiced foods. I chose quinoa in lieu of rice, since it has more vitamins, mineral, fiber and protein. According to my copy of Quinoa 365, one cup of cooked quinoa contains 5 grams of fiber and 8 grams of protein, whereas 1 cup of raw quinoa has 12 grams of fiber and 24 grams of protein (the seeds triple in size as they cook and absorb water). The nutritional value also depends on which variety you eat. The folks over at Living Strong said one cup of raw red quinoa has 5 grams of fiber and 10 percent of your daily value (DV) iron, and the same amount of the white variety contains 3 grams of fiber and 20 percent DV iron. To balance it out, I use a 50-50 mixture.

Since the original recipe required the meat to marinate for at least eight hours, I went ahead and marinated mine in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Milli’s recipe also recommended that I make lots (enough for 12 people, depending on serving size) to use as an accompaniment to other entrees later, since it was so yummy. I decided to make the quinoa the night before to allow more time for the flavors to meld together.

Curried Lamb Chops with Persian-Inspired Quinoa
Adapted from “Spiced rack of Lamb with Persian Rice” at Milli’s Kitchen.
I served the lamb with the quinoa (see the recipe below) and steamed broccoli, pouring more of the sauce over the top.

Yields: 4 – 6 Servings

Curried Lamp Chops
Curred LambIngredients
1 Lime, juice of
2 Limes, zest of OR 2 Big Pinches Dried Lime Zest
4 Cloves Garlic, peeled, trimmed, minced
1 Inch Thumb Fresh Ginger, peeled, minced
1/2 tsp Dried Ground Sumac Berries
1/2 tsp Ground Cayenne Chili Peppers
1 Heaping tsp Garam Masala Spice Mix
1 tsp Cumin Seeds, fresh ground
1 tsp Coriander Seeds, fresh ground
3 Green Coriander Pods, fresh ground, shells removed
2 Pinches Sea Salt of Choice
Peppercorns, fresh ground, to taste
1 tsp Unprocessed Sugar (optional)
OR 2 tsp Raw Blue Agave Nectar (optional)
2 – 3 T Filtered Water
2 Racks of 8 Lamb Chops
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Lime, juice of
1/4 – 1/2 C Filtered Water, as needed

Directions
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Mix the marinade ingredients in a small bowl, adjusting the amount of water as needed to make a marinade sauce instead of a paste.

Score the lamb fat with a sharp knife. Place the lamb in a baking dish. Pour the marinade over the ribs, rubbing it into the fat. Coat both sides. Cover the dish to prevent cross-contamination. Chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Coat the lamb with oil, and bring it to room temperature. Sear the racks one at a time, turning with a pair of tongs, in a medium-sized pan to add color and flavor. It is alright to blacken the meat a bit.

Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the remaining lime juice, water and the rest of the marinade. Scrape up the burned-on bits and heat the sauce through. Place the lamb in a baking dish and pour on the sauce.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F. Let the meat rest covered in the baking dish for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve.

Persian-Inspired Quinoa
Adapted from “Persian Rice” at Milli’s Kitchen.
I found the quinoa rather bland, so I increased the nut, fruit and seasoning amounts.

Yields: 12 Servings

Ingredients
4 C Filtered Water
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Persian Quinoa 0011/4 tsp Sea Salt of Choice
1 C Red Quinoa Seeds
1 C White Quinoa Seeds
1/4 C Pinches Mexican Safflower
1 C Dried Apricots, chopped
2 C Filtered Water
1/4 C Food Grade Rose Petals, chopped
1/2 C Prepared or Toasted Almonds, chopped
1/2 C Prepared or Toasted Pistachios, chopped
OR 1/2 C Pumpkin Seeds, chopped
2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
1 T Coriander Seeds, fresh ground
1 tsp Unprocessed Sugar
1 Large Sweet Yellow Onion, peeled, minced
2 Lemons, zest of
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Earth Balance Spread

Directions
In a small to medium bowl, soak the dried fruit and safflower in water, adding more if necessary.

In a large pot, bring the water, oil and salt to boil. Pour in the quinoa. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer 10 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in the petals, fruit, soaking water, nuts, seasonings, onion, zest and remaining oil. Recover and cook another 4 to 7 minutes. If there is too much water at this point, keep the lid on for another 5 minutes. If there is still too much water, drain off the excess.

Note: The original recipe called fresh chopped cilantro leaves, which I didn’t have, so I added dried fenugreek leaves after the quinoa finished cooking, but you can mix in the leaves within the last five minutes of cooking. You can also use fresh or dried cilantro or parsley instead.

Red Lentil Curry

Red lentils

Red lentils (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So as you may be able to tell from my blog posts, I haven’t made lentils in quite a while and had actually never worked with red lentils before, just brown, yellow and green. Whenever I opened my cabinet, the red lentils stared at me, looking rather forlorn in their jar. I did however make a post a long while back about lentils, including preparation and recipes, and within it I had included a link to Ashley Adams’ Spicy Lentil Dahl recipe over in About.com in the “Dairy Free Cooking” section of the classic recipes. Her dahl really looked amazing, and I’ve been craving dahl for a while now. It was about time I made some, especially since I have everything I need to make such a delicious and rather inexpensive dish.

I have made some changes to her recipe, of course, but it all stirred up marvelously with a perfect blend of flavors and textures that left me quite sated. I can’t get over how well it turned out, especially as I thought some of the flavor combinations a bit odd for a curry. Surprise! Curry does just mean mixture after all. Feel free to boost the heat with chile peppers and  if you like; just make sure the spiciness doesn’t detract from the aromatics. Please keep in mind that I doubled the original recipe to make the dish more complex in flavor on purpose; feel free to simplify your own version as you see fit.

Rather than boring tomato paste, I decided to break out the jar of green zebra heirloom tomatoes that I had been saving. Surprisingly enough I bought them on clearance at Sur la Tabl and only found out recently that they were grown at relatively local in the San Francisco Bay Area by Balakian Farms, which is now a fourth generation Armenian family-owned organic business. Balakian Farms also sells their tomatoes online and at local farmers markets in Fairfax, Marin (at the Civic Center), Mill Valley and San Francisco (at the Ferry Plaza); check out their schedule on the website.

Red Lentil Curry
Despite the strong flavors, the dahl can accompany several different sides. I served mine with mixed vegetables, salad and quinoa.
Yields: 12+ Servings

Red Lentil Curry 1Ingredients
1 T Sesame Oil
1 T Garlic-Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Medium Sweet Yellow or White Onion, peeled, diced
2 C Scallions, trimmed, sliced into 1/4″ pieces
6 Cloves Garlic, peeled, minced
3 T fresh ginger, peeled, minced or grated
6 C Salt-Free Vegetable Broth
1 C Dried Red Lentils, sorted, rinsed
1 C Dried Split Pigeon Peas (Arhar or Toor Daal), sorted, rinsed*
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 – 3 tsp Cumin Seeds
2 – 3 tsp Coriander Seeds
4 – 6 Green or Black Cardamon Pods
1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon Bark
2 tsp Ground Turmeric Root**
1/2 – 1 tsp Ground Cayenne Chili Pepper
1 16-oz Jar Balakain Farms Blended Organic Green Zebra Heirloom Tomatoes
Filtered Water, as necessary
3 tsp Sea Salt of Your Choice, to taste

Directions
In a large stock pot, saute the onions, garlic and ginger oil over medium heat until the yellow or white onion is translucent.

Grind the seeds together with a mortar and pestle. Remove the pod shells.

Stir the broth, lentils into the pot. Keeping an eye on the lentils, remove the starch foam as it comes to the broth’s surface. Once no more foam forms, mix in the ground spices except for the salt. Bring the dahl to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Once the lentils are tender, stir in the salt to taste, adding a teaspoon at a time. Stir in tomatoes. Adjust the flavors as needed. If necessary, add more water to achieve the desired consistency. Turn off the heat and let the curry cook on its own for a few minutes with the lid on to let the flavors meld a bit more.

Red Lentil Curry Close-UpServe hot with flat bread, such as naan, whole-wheat roti (chapati), paratha or (naturally gluten-free) pappadum.

*If you cannot find yellow lentils (not yellow split peas), you can double the amount of red ones.
**If you are substituting fresh peeled turmeric root for the dried ground turmeric, make sure to adjust the amounts accordingly.

Notes: For variety, you can also add in your favorite dark greens, such as carrot tops, chard, kale, collards, mustard greens or spinach. As this recipe makes big amount, I store mine in large mason jars in the coldest part of my refrigerator.