Sunday, June 20, 2010

Coffee crusted lamb, and other adventures in cooking

Howdy y'all.
Let me start off this post with a quick apology to the veg-heads out there. This one is not for you. I keep meaning to do more vegetarian cooking, but my knowledge is limited. That said, there's a block of tofu in the fridge waiting for me, so hopefully I'll make some use of that. One other note - due to the distraction of cooking, this is a little less picture-riffic that my previous posts, so I'll try and be nice and verbal about the food.

Good? Good.

Anyways, for this, you will need:
  • 1 tbsp coffee grounds
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 rack of lamb ribs, frenched, crown or not (I prefer not, really)
  • Good salt
  • Canola oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 sprigs thyme, taken off the stems
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
Start by oiling up your lamb, and preheating your oven to 400 degrees. Proceed to salt it, then rub it (really dig the spices in there) with the four spices/ingredients. It helps to just blend these up beforehand so you don't get messy lambey hands all over your spice jars

If you're not made of dolla dolla bill y'alls, you can do this with a beef roast or pork tenderloin, but adjust cooking times appropriately.

Heat a cast-iron pan with canola oil up, and sear the lamb on both sides. Toss it in the oven, and cook on both sides for 10 minutes each.

Give it a ten minute rest, and cut into it. Depending on done-ness (if you like rarer, serve it), carve into lamb lollipops and sear for about 1 minute on either side in the pan again afterwards. Let these rest for a few minutes, and in the meanwhile, stir in the butter, thyme and garlic into the pan and make a sauce. Dose your chops with this, and serve with a giant bottle of beer.

The pictured beer is Mill Race Mild, from Grand River Brewing in Cambridge. Absolutely delicious, especially from a growler. Need to refill it soon.

What's that on the side? Well, it's some veg-friendly food after all.

You'll need:
  • 1 head (not just a clove) of garlic, with a layer of the top sliced off to expose the cloves
  • Olive oil
  • time.
  • 2 russet potatoes, chopped coarsely
Add about a tablespoon of oil to the top of the garlic, and wrap in aluminum foil and roast at 400 for 30-35 minutes (or 375 for 45 minutes, or 350 for 1hr)

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in salted water, and when tender, mash with copious amounts of butter and possibly some milk or heavy cream. Only do this when the garlic is ready, because you're going to add all of the delicious browned roasted garlic in, and you'll have all of the omnoms you'll ever need. Makes a good side dish to roasted lamb, obviously.

See what I mean?


Monday, June 14, 2010

back on topic: mac and cheese!

Hey folks,
So after reviewing some six year old insight below, I decided it was high time for some comfort food.

Also, I had bechamel sauce lying around. Who does that?

I guess for starters in this post I should teach you how to make Bechamel.
As follows:
- Melt two tbsp of butter in a wide saucepan, and when fully down (or even browned slightly, yum), add in an equal amount of flour. Whisk this together to make a roux, which is sort of a looser paste. This can be browned, but for this purpose, leave it till it gets golden.
- Add in 2/3 of a cup of milk (I used 1% like a heretic, but you can use any kind really), a little bit at a time, whisking as you go. Heat this over medium heat until it thickens up. Season with salt and pepper.

That wasn't so hard now, was it? Here's the fun part.

You'll need:
  • some kind of pasta (about a little less than you'd normally eat)
  • the sauce from before
  • bacon, salami, and/or vegetables (wuss)
  • about 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • a crushed up stale bun for breadcrumbs
Really, it's just an excuse to use up fridge stuff. anyways.
Cook the bacon or whatever till nice and crispy (or done) in a cast iron or oven safe pan, and in the meanwhile, cook the pasta till a little before al dente.

When all is said and done, drain your pasta and leave a bit of the water in (very important.) Add the bechamel to the bacon, and stir around. Soon after (like, a minute), add the pasta and water. You'll notice I added a bit much - this will cook down quickly on the higher heat.

Then, you have two options. Both begin with topping the whole mess with breadcrumbs and the cheddar cheese. You can either: broil it to brown the topping, or bake it (around 325 for 20 minutes) to encase it in a shell of brownage (that sounds so gross). I was hungry, so I did the broil.

Voila. Probably best to be prudent and remove this to a bowl or plate, and mix around all the crispy and soft parts to have good textural contrast. Also make sure to have your copy of Romance Bloody Romance standing by for the dance party you'll have shortly after.


PS: welcome additions include hot sauce, chicken, or other goodies for a flavour mixup. This is good, but can be a bit bland on its own.

Friday, June 4, 2010

And now for something completely different.

Hey folks,
if you haven't noticed, I've been in a real bit of a cooking lull lately. Having a tough time coming up with stuff. So if you have any good recipes, send them my way, and I'll be glad to try them.

That said, to cure this lull, I've been trying different cuisines and flavours, and I think I might be getting.. somewhere. That brings us to this week's post: thai (sort of?) noodle bowls!

Now, this can be as complex or easy as you want it to be. I'll make sure to note what can be changed for you slackers out there. Keeners, you guys get gold stars.

As follows:
You can EITHER make a broth for this, or use a canned/dried mix. If so, it changes the flavour immensely, but is much easier and takes much shorter. Kudos to this book for the recipe, with some changes made by me for my tastes (mushrooms? we don't need no stinkin' mushrooms!)
For those of you ambitious types, you'll need:
  • 2 red chilis, chopped
  • 6 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 5 cups of veggie stock
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar (or palm if you have it)
  • 1/2 a lime
  • 2 green onions, chopped
All of this can be easily procured on the cheap at your local Asian market/bulk store. Mix the chilis and vinegar together in a glass or ceramic bowl and let sit for an hour. In the meantime, bring the stock to a boil, add in the lemongrass, soy sauce, sugar, and juice of the lime and simmer for half an hour.

When your chilis and vinegar are done.. doing whatever they're doing, add them in, along with the green onions. Let this simmer for about 10 minutes.

And, while I hate wasting food, strain the mix and throw out/compost the vegetables. The book also adds mushrooms and tofu and makes it a soup, but it was just. not. doing it for me. So I strained it and let it sit in my fridge for a few days for me to figure out what to do with it.

Here's what happened:

I went BACK to the Asian market and got some pho noodles (rice sticks) and cooked them to package directions (basically let them sit in hot water). These were summarily added to the broth on medium heat.

In the meanwhile, I heated the bejeesus out of my wok. Then diced 2 sprigs of asparagus, a quarter onion, a clove of garlic, and a carrot, and cooked on ridiculous heat with canola oil (more neutral, higher heat tolerance than olive) till just coloured, then moved to a bowl.

Then I grabbed a pork chop, sliced thinly, and cooked THAT on the same high heated wok to brown each side. I could very well have used tofu, chicken, or nothing at all.

When all was said and done, I mixed all of the broth, noodles, veg, and meat together, deglazed the wok with some of the broth to get some of the nice brown bits and added that in, and...

Hot damn. This was really, really tasty. Really interesting mix of flavours (the broth is for tom yum, or hot and sour, soup). Different hot and sour than most people are used to though (not the kind with egg and shrimp).

Try your various combination of veg and proteins, and let me know what you think!