Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops

A little magic mushroom dust does wonders to your meat (not that kind of mushroom, silly):

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Chops Recipe

You want these mushrooms – namely dried porcini mushrooms – in your kitchen. They keep indefinitely in your pantry, and can easily be reconstituted for use with pasta, risotto, soups, and sauces. Or you can simply blitz the heck out of them and turn them into dust.

Porcini mushroom dust is a magical elixir, fragrant with umami-rich aroma and flavor, and a gorgeous ingredient to add to rubs and marinades. Its earthy smoky flavor melds beautifully with garlic and herbs, such as rosemary and thyme, and is an excellent complement to meats, such as beef and lamb, when used as a rub.

While dried porcini mushrooms are pricey by the pound, the good news is that you don’t need a lot to make this rub – all you need is a half-ounce. When the mushrooms are dried, their flavor intensifies, so a little goes a long way. Other dried mushrooms, such as shiitakes, may be substituted, but in terms of flavor, the porcini is best. I use a spice grinder to blitz the mushrooms before mixing them with the rub ingredients, for a pasty consistency. If you don’t have a spice grinder, you can use a mini-food processor, with slightly coarser, results.

Note: If the dried mushrooms are slightly spongy and not entirely crisp before grinding, then cut them into 1/2-inch pieces, spread on a small baking tray, and place in a 300°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Remove and cool to room temperature before grinding.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes, plus 20 minutes drying time if needed
Serves 4

1/2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 lamb loin chops, each about 1-inch thick

1. Finely grind the mushrooms in a spice grinder. Transfer to a small bowl and add 3 tablespoons oil, the rosemary, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper and stir to blend.
2. Coat the lamb on all sides with the rub and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
4. 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 the oven and cook to your desired doneness, about 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven, tent with foil, and let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Legends of Europe: Prosciutto Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

My mission (should I choose to accept it):  To create an original recipe using Prosciutto di San Daniele from Legends from Europe. Legends from Europe is a 3 year campaign funded by the European Union and launched in the U.S. to increase awareness and celebrate “the legendary quality, tradition and taste” of five authentic PDO products (Protected Designation of Origin) from Europe: Prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano Reffiano, Prosciutto di San Daniele, Grana Padano and Montasio.

As luck would have it, these 5 products happen to be some of my favorites. The biggest challenge I faced was not in accepting this mission but deciding which product to feature. Fortunately, the folks at Legends helped me with my choice and assigned me the Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto di San Daniele is named for the region of San Daniele in northeastern Italy where it enjoys a unique micro-climate nestled between the Dolomite Alps and the Adriatic Sea. The ham is left to slow-cure naturally, following a 2,000 year-old tradition introduced by the Celts. Today, Prosciutto di San Daniele is considered a delicacy  with its mild flavor and delicate texture. This week, I will be posting a few recipes I’ve created with Legends’ Prosciutto di San Daniele.

Prosciutto Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

A small rosemary sprig does double duty as a toothpick and aromatic, infusing the figs and goat cheese with its flavor as they bake in the oven. Makes 16 hors-d’oeuvres

8 ripe figs
2 ounces soft fresh goat cheese
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 slices “Legends from Europe” Prosciutto di San Daniele, halved lengthwise
16 3/4-inch rosemary sprigs with stem, plus 1/4 cup fresh rosemary leaves for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Finely grated lemon zest for garnish

Heat oven to 375 F. Halve figs lengthwise. Place figs on a work surface, skin side down. Gently make a small indentation in each center with a teaspoon. Mix goat cheese and pepper together in a small bowl. Fill the indentation with goat cheese, about 1/2 teaspoon. Wrap a prosciutto slice, cross-wise, around fig. Spear a rosemary sprig through the center to hold the prosciutto in place. Repeat with remaining fig halves. Place figs in a baking dish. Lightly brush prosciutto with olive oil. Bake in oven until prosciutto begins to crisp, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer figs to a platter. Remove baked rosemary sprigs and discard (they will be brown). Replace with a few fresh rosemary leaves, without stem. Lightly drizzle figs with honey. Sprinkle with lemon zest. Serve warm.

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Goat Cheese and Rosemary

~ Baked Stuffed Figs with Prosciutto, Goat Cheese, Rosemary and Honey ~

Food is like fashion. There are some trends that flash then fizzle, while there are classics that withstand the passage of time – just like a little black dress. The combination of figs, goat cheese and prosciutto falls in the little black dress category. Each ingredient is a specialty hailing from the cuisines of the Mediterranean, reflecting locally grown and raised food with a history spanning the ages. And they taste great together. No fancy accoutrements are needed – this is the stuff of slow food.  Whether you call it timeless or simply delicious, the common denominator is it strikes a primal chord in all of us, bringing us back for more.

This recipe showcases the ancient fig, one of the first plants cultivated by humans.  Figs are high in calcium, fiber, potassium and contain many antioxidants.  Luscious and honeyed, they are delicate in flavor.  Their subtle sweetness is an elegant addition to savory dishes such as pizzas and salads, while their mildness adds refinement to desserts, never tipping the sugar point.  Classic, understated and refined – all of the makings of timeless food and good fashion.

Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Fresh rosemary sprigs serve as toothpicks in assembling the figs while infusing flavor during the baking. Makes 12 hors-d’ouevres, or serves 6 as a salad course.

12 figs, ripe but not too soft
6 ounces soft goat cheese, room temperature
6 slices prosciutto, sliced in half length-wise
4 large rosemary sprigs, cut in thirds, plus extra for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)

Cut the figs crosswise from the top, halfway down the fruit.  Gently separate the quarters to create an opening.  Scoop 1-2 teaspoons goat cheese into the opening, without overstuffing.  Wrap each fig with prosciutto slice.  Pierce the prosciutto and fig with a rosemary skewer to hold in place. Arrange figs in a baking pan. Gently brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper (the prosciutto will also add salt). Bake in oven until prosciutto begins to crispen and cheese is tinged brown, about 25 minutes.  Remove from the oven. Carefully remove and discard baked rosemary sprigs. Arrange figs on serving platter or individual plates with fresh arugula (optional).  Drizzle each fig with honey.  Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves. Serve immediately.

Rhubarb and Rosemary Crème Brûlée

Rhubarb and Rosemary Crème Brûlée

Rhubarb and rosemary are surprising bed fellows in this not-so-classic crème brûlée. Upright, brilliantly hued rhubarb is always the first to arrive to the spring party. Its astringency may be overwhelming, but with some sugar coating and frequent pairing with the indefatigable strawberry, rhubarb’s tartness is successfully tamed. For this dessert, however, I did not want to rely on the dependable strawberry, which would add further sweetness and more liquid to the rhubarb compote. I wanted a subtle background flavor that would tickle the tongue and ground the ethereal creaminess of the custard without approaching the sugar tipping point. I happened to have fresh rosemary sprigs lying on the kitchen counter as the rhubarb simmered on the stove. Their woody aroma mingled with the wafts of steam rising from the compote. It smelled magnificent. I tossed a sprig into the pot of rhubarb and another sprig into the cream to infuse the custard. The results were subtle but notable, producing a crème brûlée that is at once rich and creamy, sweet and tart, earthy and heavenly.

Rhubarb and Rosemary Crème Brûlée
Makes 6

2 cups diced rhubarb, 1/2″ square
2 large rosemary sprigs
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 cups heavy cream
6 egg yolks

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar

Combine rhubarb, 1 rosemary sprig,  1/2 cup sugar and lemon zest in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the rhubarb is soft but still retains its shape, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Remove and discard rosemary sprig.
Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.) Heat cream in another saucepan over medium heat just until it begins to boil. Remove from heat and add 1 rosemary sprig. Let stand 15 minutes to infuse. Strain cream through a fine meshed sieve into a bowl. Discard solids and rosemary sprig.
Arrange 6 shallow (1/2 cup) ramekins in a baking dish. Divide rhubarb among ramekins.
Whisk egg yolks and 1/2 cup sugar together in a bowl until light. Add cream in a steady stream, whisking gently to avoid making air bubbles. Ladle the cream mixture over the rhubarb into the ramekins.
Pour boiling water into the baking pan half way up the ramekins. Bake in oven until custard is just set but still wobbly, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven. Cool in bain maire for 15 minutes. Transfer ramekins to a rack and cool completely. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
Before serving, mix the granulated and brown sugar together in a small bowl. Sprinkle each ramekin with 1 tablespoon  sugar, or enough to cover. Light a blowtorch and hold the flame 2-3 inches above the custard, slowly moving it back and forth until the sugar melts and turns deep golden brown. (Or place under an oven broiler. Carefully watch to prevent burning.)
Serve garnished with a sprig of rosemary.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

Crushed dried porcini mushrooms tossed together with finely chopped rosemary create an umami-rich crust for meat. This is a method I often use with beef. Then a good friend told me about a similar recipe she loves with lamb. So I had to try – especially since spring is the season for lamb.

I used a food processor to blitz the mushrooms before continuing to chop them by hand with the rosemary, resulting in a coarser rub. A spice grinder will create a finer crust.

Porcini and Rosemary Crusted Lamb Loin Chops

This recipe is also delicious prepared on the grill. Makes 8.

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

 

Potato, Rosemary and Garlic Pizza

Potato Rosemary Pizza

I still have not located my pizza stone, but that’s not deterring me from making more pizza. Unlike my last pizza which I made in a skillet, this pizza was baked in a hot oven. It features potatoes, rosemary and garlic, a flavor triumvarate held in high esteem in our home.  Since there is no tomato sauce it is classified as a white pizza. I prefer to call it heaven.

Potato Rosemary Garlic Pizza

makes 2 (10-inch) pizzas

2 uncooked pizza crusts (recipe below)
1 large Yukon Gold potato, very thinly sliced
Salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, slightly smashed but still intact
8 ounces mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Rosemary sprigs for garnish

Preheat oven to 375 F. Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Arrange potatoes in one layer on a baking tray. Bake in oven until edges begin to turn golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Increase oven temperature to 475 F.

Assemble pizzas: Lightly brush pizza crusts with olive oil. Rub all over with smashed garlic cloves. Lightly sprinkle with salt. Arrange one layer mozzarella cheese over crusts. Top with one layer of potatoes. Sprinkle with one tablespoon rosemary leaves over each crust. Top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Bake on pizza stone or on a tray on lowest rack in oven until crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly, about 15 minutes. Before serving, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper. Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves and drizzle with more olive oil.

For the Pizza Dough:

2 teaspoons dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups cold water
1/4 cup olive oil

Stir yeast and lukewarm water together in a bowl. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and semolina. Mix well. Let sit until bubbly, about 30 minutes.
Combine remaining flour and salt in another bowl. Add to yeast with cold water and olive oil. Mix well to form a dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead with hands until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Or use a mixer with a dough hook, and knead about 5 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
Punch dough down, and let rise another 45 minutes. Divide dough into 2 equal disks (or 4 if you would like small pizzas.) Let rest 30 minutes before shaping. Lightly flour a work surface. Using your fingers or heels of your hands, stretch the disks into 10-inch shapes.

Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

~
Food is like fashion: It comes and goes with time.  There are trends that flash then fizzle, and then there are the little black dresses that withstand the passage of time and are considered classic.  Figs with goat cheese and prosciutto are in the little black dress category.

The key to timeless food combinations lies in the origin of the ingredients.  Figs, goat cheese and prosciutto (or dried, salted meat) are locally grown and produced products hailing from the hills of the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Middle East where the cuisines naturally reflect locally grown and raised food. No fancy accoutrements needed; this is the stuff of slow food.  Whether you call it timeless, more-ish, umami, or simply satisfying, the common denominator is it strikes a primal chord in all of us, bringing us back for more.

This recipe showcases the ancient fig, one of the first plants cultivated by humans.  Figs are high in calcium, fiber, potassium and contain many antioxidants.  Luscious and honeyed, they are delicate in flavor.  Their subtle sweetness is an elegant addition to savory dishes such as pizzas and salads, while their mildness adds refinement to desserts, never tipping the sugar point.  Classic, understated and refined – all of the makings of timeless food (and good fashion.)

FIgs Chevre

Stuffed Figs with Goat Cheese and Prosciutto
Makes 12 hors-d’ouevres, or serves 6 as a salad course

12 figs, ripe but not too soft
8 oz./240 g. soft goat cheese, room temperature
6 slices prosciutto, sliced in half length-wise
4 large rosemary sprigs, cut in thirds
Extra-virgin olive oil
Runny honey
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Rosemary leaves for garnish
Arugula or arugula sprouts

Preheat oven to 350 F. (180 C.)

Cut the figs crosswise from the top, halfway down the fruit.  Gently separate the quarters to create an opening.  Scoop 2-3 teaspoons goat cheese into the opening, without overstuffing.  Wrap each fig with prosciutto slice.  Arrange figs on baking tray.  Lightly drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top each fig with rosemary sprig.  Bake in oven 25 minutes.  Remove and discard baked rosemary sprigs.
Arrange figs on serving platter or individual plates.  Drizzle each fig with 1 teaspoon honey.  Garnish with fresh rosemary leaves.  Serve immediately accompanied with fresh baguette slices.
Optional:  Arrange figs on bed of arugula, or garnish platter/plates with arugula sprouts.