Sunday, January 29, 2012

Turkish Style Lamb Stew with Tomatoes and Spinach

This is pretty quick and easy to assemble using ground lamb, but stew lamb would also be lovely if you have more time to let it simmer. Serve over rice with a generous drizzle of the yogurt sauce on top.

Yogurt sauce
2/3 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp finely minced garlic
Pinch of salt

Olive oil
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, minced (or small onion)
1 lb ground lamb
2 tsp ground cumin
2 cups chopped tomatoes and their liquid (canned, or thawed if frozen)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 lb spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup chopped parsley

Make the yogurt sauce first to let the flavors blend: combine the yogurt, garlic and salt in a small bowl and stir well. Set aside until ready to serve.

Heat some olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the garlic and shallot and saute over medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the lamb and brown well. Stir in the cumin and tomatoes and add some salt and pepper, then simmer for a few minutes. Just before ready to serve, add the spinach and parsley and cook until wilted.

Serve the stew over rice. At the table, add a generous drizzle of the yogurt sauce to each serving.

Serves about 4.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pureed Red Lentil and Potato Soup

A little bit Spanish style, with paprika and a bay leaf, and some good quality olive oil on top.

This is suitable for making in the slow cooker as well; just skip the sauteing step and toss everything into the pot.

olive oil
2 medium onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped tomatoes plus their liquid (canned, or thawed if frozen)
1 1/2 cups red lentils
2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 12 oz. total)
4 cups chicken stock and/or water
1 tsp paprika
1 large bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste
Good quality extra virgin olive oil for topping

Heat a little olive oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients except for the extra virgin olive oil. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the potatoes and lentils are tender, about 25-30 minutes.

When the potatoes and lentils are tender, puree the soup with an immersion blender, or do it in batches in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve hot, adding a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to each bowl at the table.

Serves 4-5.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Asian Style Pot Roast

This recipe is definitely a keeper. The Asian flavors of ginger, garlic, and soy sauce come through nicely without being overwhelming, making for a great variation on an old standard. Serve this over rice or noodles (lo mein or regular egg noodles).

2-3 lb brisket, chuck roast, or similar
Salt and pepper
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 small onions, peeled and quartered
1-inch chunk ginger root, peeled and halved or quartered
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp hoisin sauce (optional)
Beef stock

Remove the roast from the refrigerator about an hour before cooking. Generously season it all over with salt and pepper and let it warm up a bit on the counter.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place the roast in an oven proof pan. Brown in the oven, about 10 minutes on each side.

When the roast is browned, place it in a Dutch oven or similar sized pan. Pour off excess fat if there is much. Add the garlic, onion, and ginger and cook briefly on the stovetop, then add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and enough beef stock to cover the meat about three quarters of the way. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer over very low heat for 3-4 hours, until the meat is very tender. Turn it over once or twice during the cooking time.

When the meat is tender, remove it from the pot to a platter and cut it into slice or chunks. Pour the braising liquid through a sieve to remove the solids, then return it to the pot along with the meat.

Serve the meat over rice or noodles with a generous spoonful of braising liquid.

Serves 4-6.

Note: You can save the leftover braising liquid for another use. It will keep a long time in the freezer and can be added to a slow cooker meal or another stovetop braise for quick preparation.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Root Vegetables

Pick one or use a medley: sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, turnips, rutabaga.

3-4 lbs root vegetables
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
3/4 tsp salt or to taste
Black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Get a large baking sheet (or two) ready, lined with parchment paper if you like for easier cleanup.

Peel the vegetables and slice into spears. Toss in a large bowl with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cayenne, salt and pepper.

Spread them out in a single layer (or close to it) on the baking sheet(s).

Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once abouth halfway through, until they are soft and browned around the edges. Serve hot.

Serves about 6.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Rosemary Roasted Root Vegetables

Rosemary potatoes are pretty well known, and delicious. But the same treatment works well with all sorts of other root veggies as well. Pick a single one or a medley: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, parsnips. Potatoes can have the skin left on if you like; peel the others. I keep a potted rosemary plant in the house so I can have fresh rosemary on hand year round.

6-8 cups cubed root vegetables
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 large shallot (or 3-4 cloves garlic, or 1 small onion), minced
2-3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place all ingredients in a 9x13-inch baking dish and toss to coat thoroughly. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once or twice, until vegetables are tender.

Serves 4-6.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Broiled Polenta with Caramelized Onions and Sweet Peppers

An easy January meal from the pantry and freezer. Sometimes even I get tired of root vegetables in the winter.

4 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt, plus more to taste
2/3 cup polenta cornmeal
2/3 cup quinoa
Olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 medium sweet red peppers, chopped (frozen ok)
1/2 tsp dried basil
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4-1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan (optional)
4-6 oz shredded mozzarella

In a large saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt, and whisk in the polenta meal and quinoa. Lower the heat to a simmer and continue to stir with a spoon. Be careful, as the cooking polenta is viscous and can bubble up and burn you. Cooking time will vary with the type of polenta you are using. The kind I get at Green Fields Market, in the bulk section, thickens up very quickly, but the addition of quinoa slows it down. You want it to be pretty stiff for this application. When the polenta is cooked, remove from heat, cover, and set aside for now.

Heat a little olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and saute, stirring occasionally, over medium heat until until they begin to caramelize, about 15 minutes. (If you have the time and inclination, feel free to cook them longer for a deeper, richer caramelization.) Add the peppers, basil, and salt and pepper to taste and saute another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and preheat the broiler.

Oil a 9x13-inch inch baking dish. Spread the cooked polenta in the bottom. Top with the sauce, then the vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with Parmesan, if using, then top with mozzarella.

Broil the polenta for 2-3 minutes, until the cheese begins to brown. Serve hot.

Serves 5-6.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Carrot-Celeriac-Potato Pancakes

There's pretty much nothing in my fridge but root vegetables right now, and I'll be slowly working through them now that we're back from the holidays. This medley of carrots, celeriac, and potato with shallots and parsley made for a lovely and satisfying combination of flavors.

1 small-medium celeriac, peeled and cut into chunks
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 medium carrots, peeled
2 tsp salt
2 large shallots, minced
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped parsley (frozen is fine; use a bit less)
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 eggs, beaten
Plain yogurt for topping

Shred the celeriac, potatoes, and carrots (easiest with the grating attachment of a food processor). Place in a colander in the sink. Sprinkle with salt, mix, and let sit for about 15 minutes. Press out excess moisture and transfer to a large bowl.

Stir the shallots, parsley, flour, and pepper into the shredded vegetables until well combined. Add the eggs and stir to coat.

Heat a large skillet (or two) and add a little canola oil. Scoop the vegetable mix into the pans with a large spoon and form pancakes. Press them together so they will hold. Pancakes should be about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Fry until crispy on one side, about 3-4 minutes, then flip and fry until crispy on the other side and cooked through in the middle.

Serve hot, topped at the table with plain yogurt.

Serves about 4.