Rosemary and Porcini Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

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A rub of crushed dried porcini mushrooms and finely chopped rosemary creates an umami-rich crust for lamb. I use a food processor to blitz the mushrooms before continuing to chop them by hand with the rosemary, resulting in a coarse rub. A spice grinder will create a finer crust.

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Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Serves 4.

8 lamb loin chops, each about 1 inch thick
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup finely ground dried porcini mushrooms
1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

Season the lamb with salt and pepper. Combine 2 tablespoons oil and the garlic in a bowl and smear all over the lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Thirty minutes before roasting, remove the lamb from the refrigerator. Combine the mushrooms and rosemary in a small bowl. Coat both sides of the lamb with the rub and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high heat in a large ovenproof skillet. Add the lamb to the pan without overcrowding. Cook until brown on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skillet to oven. Bake until cooked to your desired doneness, about 10 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Irish Beef Stew and a St. Patrick’s Day Menu

I post this recipe for Irish Beef Stew every March, as a nod to St. Patrick’s day and all things Irish. In the past 2 years, the photo and recipe photo have made the rounds on the web, seemingly acquiring a life of their own, attracting a following, favorited, pinged, tweeted and pinned. They are more popular than me. According to my year-end stats, for the past 2 years Irish Beef Stew was the top ranked TasteFood blog post of 2012 and 2013. Pretty impressive for a no-nonsense beef stew in a cast-iron green pot. Perhaps it’s due to  the bottle of Guinness dumped in the stock – or maybe a touch of luck of the Irish. No matter the case, it’s March once again and St. Paddy’s Day is rapidly approaching. In keeping with tradition, I share this hearty stew, accompanied by a few recipes to create an Irish feast.

Irish Beef Stew

Extra carrots or parsnips may be substituted for the rutabaga. Serves 6.

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 pounds beef chuck, excess fat trimmed, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup tomato paste
2 cups beef stock
1 1/2 cups stout beer
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 large parsnip, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium rutabaga, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 325°F (170 C). Heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in a large oven-proof pot or Dutch oven. Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. Add the beef in batches in one layer without overcrowding. Brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining beef. Add 1 tablespoon oil and the garlic to the pot. Saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook stirring, about 30 seconds. Return the beef and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add the stock, beer, thyme, bay leaves, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. The meat should be covered with liquid. If not, add additional stock or beer to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Transfer the pot to oven. Bake until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
While the meat is cooking heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a deep skillet or large pot over medium heat. Add the carrot, parsnip, onion and rutabaga.  Lightly season with salt. Saute the vegetables until they brighten in color and begin to soften, 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the beef from oven. Skim any fat on the surface of the liquid with a spoon. Add the vegetables to the beef, stirring to combine. Return beef to the oven, uncovered. Bake one hour, stirring once or twice, until the sauce is slightly reduced, the vegetables are tender and the meat is fork-tender. Remove and taste for seasoning. Serve hot with mashed potatoes.

Round out your St. Patrick’s Day menu with these recipes from TasteFood:

avocado bruschetta tastefood

Avocado Bruschetta with Balsamic Syrup

Celery Root potatoes tf

Smashed Potatoes with Celery Root and Horseradish

stout cake tf
Chocolate Stout Pound Cake with Whiskey Cream

A New Year and a New Book: Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture

Almond Front Cvr FNLsm

My new book: Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture
with Barbara Bryant, Betsy Fentress and photographs by Robert Holmes

I am very excited to share with you the upcoming release of a new cookbook, “Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture” for which I created and developed the recipes. And what perfect timing: With the start of a new year bright with possibilities and resolutions for good luck, good health, and prosperity, there is no better symbol than the almond. Ancient and worldly, almonds have appeared throughout civilization from antiquity to modern times, celebrated as a symbol of good luck, fertility and love. Almonds are also a precious ingredient in myriad cuisines, viewed as a staple and a delicacy and touted as a superfood for their nutritional and health benefits.

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This book was a collaboration, born from the inspiration of Barbara Bryant and Betsy Fentress to showcase the timeless almond. My delicious role was the creation of all 60 recipes, taking inspiration from the world’s kitchens including cuisines as far flung as China, India, Lebanon, France, Italy and Mexico and adapting them to the modern kitchen. The book was brought to life under the direction and creative vision of Jennifer Barry and captured by the impeccable photography of Robert Holmes. It takes a village.

06jAlmondMilkGranita_DSC7509modAlmond Granita with Raspberry Syrup

Almonds – Recipes, History, Culture is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, and will be available as of March 1st. Happy reading, happy eating, and happy new year!

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All photos by Robert Holmes

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

During this busy time of year I suggest you make a batch of these chewy and fragrantly spiced cookies to have on hand to keep your energy up. Best served with warm cider or hot spiced wine (gløgg).

Ginger Spiced Molasses Cookies

These cookies are a Christmas favorite.  Makes about 42 (1 1/2-inch) cookies.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
1/3 cup finely chopped candied ginger
Granulated sugar for rolling

Whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, salt, and cloves in a bowl to combine.  Cream the sugar and butter  in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and molasses and mix well.  Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine. Stir in the candied ginger. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.  Pour some granulated sugar into a small bowl. Roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls, then in the sugar. Arrange on baking sheets lined with parchment paper and gently flatten. Bake in oven until set and crinkled on top, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove and cool.

Glogg, Aebleskivers and Christmas in Copenhagen

denmark xmas~ Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen ~

It’s that time of year again, and like all good traditions that bear repeating, I will share my recipes for gløgg and aæbleskivers with you. This year I will experience these Danish Christmas delights first hand – I leave today for Copenhagen and one week of touring, writing and eating my way around this beautiful city and its environs, while I indulge my love for all things Nordic and my desire to share the magic of Christmas in Denmark with all of you.

Julestemning, København

You might think that Denmark is cold and dark at this time of year (it is!) but it’s also the coziest and most festive place to be during the holiday season with Christmas markets, Tivoli Gardens, and gleaming shopping streets lined with flagship stores displaying impeccable Danish design and half-timbered boutiques glowing in the dusky light. Open fires line the pedestrian walkways, warming hands and roasting chestnuts, while street carts and storefronts dole out steaming cups of gløgg and sugared æbleskivers to keep the energy up and spirits warm. You can be sure I’ll be drinking all of this in, and while I do that, I’ll share these recipes with you, so you, too, can  join in the Scandinavian holiday spirit.aebleskivers tf011

Danish Æbleskivers

Referred to as pancakes, dumplings or even doughnut holes in English, Danish æbleskivers are served as a treat throughout the month of December. While you can buy aebleskivers pre-frozen in the shops, nothing beats the vanilla and cardamom scent and tender texture of homemade æbleskivers. To make them you will need a special æbleskivers pan, which is a skillet with 6 to 8 round indentations. Cast iron is best.

Makes about 20.

1  1/2 cups whole milk
1 envelope dry yeast or .6 ounce fresh yeast (1 cake)
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/2 vanilla bean
2 large eggs, separatedUnsalted European-style butter
Strawberry or raspberry preserves
Powdered sugar

Heat milk in a small saucepan until lukewarm.  Remove from heat and pour into a medium bowl.  Add yeast and let it dissolve.

Combine flour, sugar, salt and cardamon in a medium bowl.  Split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into the dry ingredients.  Whisk the egg yolks into the milk.  Add the wet ingredients to the flour and mix well. Beat egg whites in bowl of electric mixer until stiff.  Fold into batter.  Let stand one hour at room temperature.

Melt 1/2 teaspoon butter in each indentation of an aebleskiver pan over medium heat. Pour batter into each indentation, about 2/3 full.  Cook until golden brown underneath, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a wooden skewer, turn æbleskivers over and continue to cook until golden and cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer æbleskivers to a plate lined with a paper towel, and repeat with remaining batter.  Serve æbleskivers with powdered sugar and preserves. Accompany with gløgg.

glogg wine TasteFood

Gløgg
Serves 8 to 10
For the garnish:
1 cup raisins
1/3 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/2 cup whole almonds (optional)
For the gløgg:
1 1/2 cups Port wine
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup Cointreau or Gran Marnier
1/3 cup brown sugar
Zest of 2 untreated or organic oranges, shaved in strips with a vegetable peeler
10 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bottles full-bodied red wineFresh orange slices as garnish
Prepare the garnish:
Combine the raisins and Cointreau in a small bowl. Let sit at room temperature for at least 2 hours. (Raisins may be prepared up to one week in advance.  Cover and refrigerate until use). Toast the almonds in a dry skillet on the stove. Remove from heat and coarsely chop in large pieces.
Prepare the gløgg:
Combine all of the ingredients except the 2 bottles of red wine in a heavy large pot with a lid. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until reduced to 2 cups, 12-15 minutes. Add red wine and warm over low heat with the lid on the pot. Do not let the gløgg come to a boil (lest the spirits will evaporate!)To serve, add a spoonful each of raisins and almonds, if using, to a glass or mug.  Strain gløgg into glass.  Garnish with fresh orange slices. Serve with a spoon for scooping up the raisins and almonds.
*Tivoli and storefront image courtesy of VistiDenmark.

Cuvée Napa

bruschetta cuvee napaCuvée’s assorted bruschetta served family style

It’s wine picking season, and where better to celebrate than Napa Valley? I recently had the opportunity to celebrate the beginning of the crush season at River Terrace Inn, a boutique hotel in the town of Napa. Nestled along Napa’s riverfront, the center of the resort property features Cuvée, a warm and welcoming restaurant with a distinctive living room ambience. The kitchen, bar and dining room encircle a large patio festively adorned with string lamps and heated by open fire pits – thoroughly conducive to enjoying an al fresco early autumn evening while tasting the extensive wines and craft beers on offer. Inside at the open kitchen, new executive chef Brendan Mica, prepares signature high country cuisine with farm to table ingredients and herbs and vegetables harvested from his on-site garden. Farm Fresh Pasta with Burrata, Fava Beans, Lemon and Arugula vies for attention with the likes of Duck Confit and Roasted Farro or Striped Bass in Tomato Broth with Chick Pea Ragout. We had the Braised Barbeque Pork Shoulder with White Cheddar Polenta and Charred Broccoli Rabe, and with each bite were grateful we were meat eaters. It was so good, I came home with the recipe and plan to make it myself:

Barbeque Pork Shoulder with White Cheddar Polenta and Charred Broccoli Rabe

Courtesy of Chef Brendan Mica – adapted for 4 servings

Pork:
2 pounds boneless pork shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups orange juice
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
3 garlic cloves, smashed
8 sprigs thyme
1 teaspoon black pepper corns
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup favorite barbeque sauce

Polenta:
2 cups whole milk
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup polenta
1/2 cup grated sharp white cheddar cheese
Salt to taste

1 pound broccoli rabe, ends trimmed
Sherry vinegar
Grapeseed oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pork:
Heat the oven to 250°F. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Place in a Dutch oven with the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook until fork tender, about 4 hours, turning once an hour. Remove from liquid and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush with BBQ sauce. Broil until brown and caramelized.

For the polenta:
Bring the milk and stock to a boil in a large saucepan. Add the polenta in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Stir in the cheese and salt to taste.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil Add the broccoli rabe and blanch 45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl of ice water and cool. Remove and pat dry. Drizzle with vinegar and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill over direct high heat until charred. To serve, spoon the polenta over serving plates. Top with a portion of pork and broccoli.

Beer and Sriracha Flank Steak Skewers with Green Chile Sauce

Beer and Sriracha Flank Steak Skewers with Green Chile Sauce

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~ Flank Steak, Spicy Green Chiles, Beer, Sriracha and a Grill ~

I’m packing my bags and on my way to a Cook n Scribble writers’ retreat and Longhouse Food Revival at Tutka Bay Lodge and a short whirlwind trip sponsored by the Alaska Tourism Board. This is so exciting, I’d be pinching myself right now if I weren’t so busy looking for my bear bells. More to follow I promise! For now, keep cool and sated with these fiesty flank steak skewers from the TasteFood archives. They are sure to liven up any summer party.

Grilled Beer and Sriracha Flank Steak Skewers with Green Chile Sauce

When the weather is so hot it feels like it’s shouting at you, then why not shout back with this spicy, peppery recipe for grilled flank steak? There is nothing soft-spoken about steak marinated in a fiery beer bath or its 3-chile dipping sauce. Sharp, fragrant and heady with stout, lime and sriracha, the marinade tenderizes the beef as it soaks overnight and soaks up the flavors and just enough spice without overwhelming. The sauce is inspired by Zhoug, a Yemeni condiment that’s a cross between chimichurri and harissa, which is arguably a match made in heaven. Serve on skewers for fun party food and be sure to pass the beer and tequila for a bold and jazzy meal to beat the heat.

Serves 4 to 6 as a main course

Marinade:
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dark beer or stout
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tablespoons sriracha or hot sauce
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds flank steak, cut against the grain in 1 inch strips

Green Chile Sauce:
1 poblano pepper, stemmed, coarsely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, coarsely chopped
1 green serrano pepper, stemmed, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 cup cilantro sprigs
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Whisk all the marinade ingredients together in a small bowl. Place flank steak strips in a resealable plastic bag or glass container with a lid. Pour marinade over and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Make the sauce: Place the peppers and garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the cilantro, cumin and salt and briefly pulse to combine. Transfer to a glass jar. Pour olive oil over to cover. Store in refrigerator for up to 5 days. The flavors and heat will diminish with time.

(Note: When you make the sauce, be sure to take a tiny taste of your peppers. If a pepper is too fiery for your taste, then carefully remove some or all of its membranes and seeds without coming in contact with your skin).

Remove steak from marinade 30 minutes before grilling. Discard the marinade. Prepare grill for high heat. Thread strips on pre-soaked bamboo skewers. Grill over direct heat, turning once, 5 to 6 minutes each side for medium-rare. Serve with the spicy green chile sauce.