Category Archives: Holidays and Event Recipes

Rack of lamb-delicious and festive!

Rack of lamb is usually an entree reserved only for special occasions.  However, this recipe is so easy that it can be prepared ahead of time and popped in the oven for 40  minutes before you’re ready to eat  (25 minutes of cooking time and 15 minutes  of resting time) ….leaving you time for entertaining.

"Happy Easter" chocolate bar center piece
“Happy Easter” chocolate bar center piece

Easy rack of lamb recipe

Rack of lambFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4 20minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20minutes 15minutes
Servings Prep Time
4 20minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
20minutes 15minutes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Season the racks of lamb with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour. In a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, rosemary, salt and pepper. In a small bowl mix the mustard, egg and garlic. Preheat an oven to 375°F. Brush the meaty side of each lamb rack with 1 Tbs. mustard mixture.
  2. Pack the bread crumb mixture onto the meaty side.
  3. In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until just smoking. Add the lamb racks, bread-crumb side down, and brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. (you can prepare the lamb up to a day ahead of time and stop here, then finish 40 minutes before you're ready to eat.) Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer the lamb to a carving board, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Carve the racks into double chops and serve immediately. Place the racks, bread-crumb side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Transfer to the oven and roast until the crust is nicely browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone, registers 130°F for medium-rare, 20 to 25 minutes, or until done to your liking.
Recipe Notes

When placing the racks in the roasting pan, set them so the bones are crossed at the top.

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Slather on  plenty of dijon  mustard mixture before pressing in  the bread crumbs.
Slather on plenty of dijon mustard mixture before pressing in the bread crumbs.
Sear the  rack of lamb before baking.
Sear the rack of lamb before baking.

Other  ideas:

Color a couple of dozen eggs and load them up in a big bowl to offer your guests  with a cocktail  before dinner.  Deviled eggs are always a welcome treat as well.  Caesar salad is a delicious  and lite accompaniment with this spring-time meal.   Other great  ideas: roasted root vegetables, asparagus, rosemary roasted potatoes or garlic mashed potatoes.

Dessert:

Solid chocolate bunny surrounded by jelly beans and chocolate truffles on antique flow blue china.
Solid chocolate bunny surrounded by jelly beans and chocolate truffles on antique flow blue china.

 

Thanksgiving Dinner with Friends and Family

“For each new morning with its light,                                                                         For rest and shelter of the night,                                                                                   For health and food, for love and friends,                                                              For everything Thy goodness sends.”

~Ralph Waldo Emerson

We have a small family, (4 members to be exact!)  so at Thanksgiving, it fills my heart with joy to invite friends to my table to fill the room with laughter and love.  According to what traditionally is known as “The First Thanksgiving,” the 1621 feast between the  Pilgrims and the Wampanoag indians consisted of  turkey,  waterfowl, venison, fish, lobster, clams, berries, fruit, pumpkin and squash.  Keeping with tradition, my menu this year includes roast turkey and stuffing (not to be confused with dressing),

Turkey stuffed with Italian Sausage Stuffing
Turkey stuffed with Italian Sausage Stuffing

whipped potatoes and gravy (not to be confused with mashed), cranberry sauce

Cranberry Sauce
Cranberry Sauce

(not to be confused with Cranberry jelly), scalloped oysters,

Scalloped Oysters

green bean casserole,

green bean casserole2apple pie with rosemary and thyme

apple pie3and to wash it all down with, an ice-cold Gewürztraminer to go with the turkey, champagne with the apple pie and some roasted chestnutschestnuts sauteed

with sparkling apple cider to nibble on while waiting to sit down.  This may sound like a huge undertaking to some, however, with a few little tricks, this meal can be accomplished stress-free.  I start two days in advance to get the grocery shopping done.  Then I  peel the chestnuts, and make the cranberries.

Chestnuts sauteed in butter with rosemaryFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Chestnuts sauteed in butter are savory, salty caramelized treats. The rosemary makes it a perfect holiday snack.
Servings Prep Time
2cups 3minutes
Cook Time
5minutes
Servings Prep Time
2cups 3minutes
Cook Time
5minutes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Melt butter in a saute pan over medium-low heat. Add chestnuts and toss to coat well. Season with salt and saute until dark golden brown on both sides. Sprinkle in the rosemary, remove from heat, let cool. Chestnuts can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe Notes

See "how to" to peel fresh chestnuts.

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It’s all about organization.  The next day the apple pie is made, the stuffing is made, and the turkey goes into the brine.

Apple Pie with Rosemary and ThymeFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1hour 1hour
Servings Prep Time
8people 30minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1hour 1hour
Ingredients
For the filling
Instructions
For the pie crust
  1. Sift together flour and salt into a food processor. Add the lard and butter and pulse until the size of small peas. Gradually add ice water, until dough comes together in a ball. Shape into 2 balls, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least one hour. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out 1 pastry ball and line the pie pan with it. Pour filling into pie dish and dot with butter. Roll out remaining pastry and fit to top of pie. Pinch the edges closed. Slice three holes down the center to allow steam to escape. .
  2. Fit aluminum foil around the edges to prevent burning. Bake for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 375 and bake for 20 minutes, remove foil and bake another 20 minutes. Remove and let cool.
For the filling
  1. Combine apples, sugar, thyme, rosemary, salt, corn starch, lime juice and lime zest in a large bowl and set aside for 1-2 hours.
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Brine - the best way to impart moisture and flavor From: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Brining is a technique used to tenderize and flavor meats prior to cooking.
Prep Time
10minutes
Prep Time
10minutes
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients into a pot and heat just until boiling to dissolve the salt and sugar. Stir and let cool.
Recipe Notes

After this mixture cools, add flavors to this basic recipe to impart a taste that suits your individual palate.  Anything goes.  Some suggestions are: garlic cloves, peeled and crushed;a small onion, thinly sliced;1 lemon, thinly sliced;1 orange, thinly sliced;cloves

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Thanksgiving morning I prep the turkey and get it in the oven.

Turkey roasted for Thanksgiving dinnerFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
The best turkey I've ever had. The breast meat is so moist, it melts in your mouth.
Servings Prep Time
10people 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4hours 24hours
Servings Prep Time
10people 10minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
4hours 24hours
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. The day before you roast the turkey, make a brine and let the turkey sit in the brine for 12-24 hours. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Take the giblets out of the turkey and wash the turkey inside and out. Remove any excess fat and leftover pinfeathers and pat the outside dry. Stuff the turkey with Italian sausage stuffing. Make a pocket between the skin and the breast and stuff with stuffing. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan. Brush the outside of the turkey with oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and rosemary. Tie the legs together with string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the turkey. Roast the turkey 1 hour then tent it with foil and cook another 3 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between the leg and the thigh. Remove the turkey to a cutting board and cover with aluminum foil; let rest for 30 to 40 minutes. Slice the turkey and serve.
Recipe Notes

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I make the scalloped oysters

Scalloped oysters, the perfect holiday side dish!From: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Scalloped oysters are rich and creamy with a hint of peppery heat.
Servings Prep Time
6people 15minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Servings Prep Time
6people 15minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the oysters into a 2 cup measuring cup reserving the liquid. Set the oysters aside.
  2. Add the cream to the liquid. Add all of the seasoning. Combine the crackers with the melted butter. Butter a 9 inch square pyrex baking dish and set aside. To assemble: Put 1/3 of the crackers into the baking dish. Then add half of the oysters spreading them out evenly over the crackers. Pour 1/3 of the liquid evenly over the oysters. Add another 1/3 of crackers, then remaining oysters, then 1/3 of the liquid and finish with remaining crackers and pouring the last of the liquid over the entire dish. Bake 30 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes

Saltines can be used in place of the Ritz crackers for a lighter, less rich effect.

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and green bean casserole,
Green bean casseroleFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Fresh crunchy green beans in a creamy cheese sauce make this dish perfect for Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any family gathering.
Servings Prep Time
8people 15minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Servings Prep Time
8people 15minutes
Cook Time
30minutes
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Blanch the haricot vert until they are al dente, about 3 minutes. Melt 3 T butter in a dutch oven. Add flour. Stir and cook until the flour is a light brown color. Stir in the salt, onion, sour cream and green beans. Transfer the mixture to a casserole dish.
  2. Spread cheese over top. Add 1 T melted butter to bread crumbs and parmesan cheese, mixing thoroughly. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and bubbly.
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and peel and cut the potatoes.  When the turkey comes out of the oven to rest (about an hour), everything else goes into the oven and I start the mashed potatoes and gravy.  
Mashed Potatoes and GravyFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Servings Prep Time
4people 20minutes
Cook Time
20minutes
Servings Prep Time
4people 20minutes
Cook Time
20minutes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Peel the potatoes and plunge them into the water as you finish peeling them. Fill a large saucepan half way with water. Cut the potatoes into ½ inch pieces. Add them to the saucepan as you cut to keep them from oxidating and turning brown. Bring the potatoes to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes or until they are fork-tender. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Use a Foley Food Mill for a light and silky consistency. Add the butter, cream and salt.
For the Gravy
  1. Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons of flour to the melted butter and cook it for a couple of minutes until it’s a light golden brown. Add 2 cups of chicken or turkey stock to the pan. Continue to cook and stir until the gravy thickens. Salt and pepper to taste. (if you are cooking a turkey or chicken, use the drippings from the bottom of the pan in your gravy.
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That’s it.  No worries.  Be sure to get an extra big turkey so everyone will have left overs to nibble on the following day.  My favorite way to eat left over turkey? A turkey melt, with stuffing, cranberries and mozzarella cheese on rye bread.  So when you do your grocery shopping, be sure to get plenty of rye bread and mozzarella! Cheers!

 

Colorado Grass Fed Leg of Lamb, Potatoes Dauphinoise, Asparagus, Puree of Carrots and Strawberry Tart

 

 

“Dining with one’s friends and beloved family is certainly one of life’s primal and most innocent delights, one that is both soul-satisfying and eternal.”   Julia Childs

The convergence of Spring, Easter, family and friends resulted in one really spectacular meal. This past weekend we celebrated Easter with tender grass-fed Colorado leg of lamb, cheesy potatoes dauphinoise, asparagus with lemony butter, puree of carrot – light as a feather and spiked with cream, and that quintessential dessert, strawberry tart, with sweet pastry cream that melts on the tongue , and heavenly strawberries spiked with orange liquor adding a surprisingly peppy note that balanced the richness of the cream.

Easter dinner guests 2014
Easter dinner guests 2014

It  was finally time to taste that leg of lamb which had been roasting in rosemary and garlic  with its heady aromas for over an hour.  At the table we relished the sight of all the colorful dishes.  I had been looking forward to this meal and the company of friends and family all week.  Both elegant and colorful with flavors that pop ….. this meal is  a memory maker!

Carrots Pureed with butter and creamFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place 3 carrots in a pot. Cover with water and add 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and simmer for 20 minutes. Carrots should be tender to the point of a knife.
  2. Drain.
  3. Line a bowl with cheese cloth.Place carrots in a food mill and strain on top of the cheesecloth.
  4. Tie the corners of the cheesecloth. Push a stick through it and let it hang in a deep vessel to drain the pulp of excess moisture for 2 hours.Lift and press to extrude more liquid. Use the liquid for vegetable stock in soup. Place the pulp in a saucepan. Add heavy cream, butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Heat slowly on low heat and serve hot.
Recipe Notes

Prepare a day in advance.

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I tried to find a local butcher that had grass-fed lamb but that was like trying to whip cream with a toothpick.  I ended up ordering the lamb on-line from an organic Colorado farmer.   For the best looking presentation, I trimmed about an inch of flesh from the shank bone.  The fell is a thin outer layer of fat that you find if you buy an untrimmed leg from a butcher.  It’s very  tough so it’s important to remove all of it.  Trim the excess  fat that lies beneath the fell as well, leaving enough to enrich the meat and gravy.

Leg of lamb stuffed with feta cheese, pine nuts, apricots and mintFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
The rich umami flavor of roasted lamb and mint with creamy, tangy feta cheese and the crunch of pine nuts. Delicious!
Servings Prep Time
6 25minutes
Servings Prep Time
6 25minutes
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut six 2-foot lengths of butcher's twine. In a small skillet sauté apricots and shallots in butter 1 minute or until lightly browned. Transfer to a small bowl and mix well with feta cheese, pine nuts and mint; season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. To butterfly the lamb. Arrange the lamb on work surface, inside facing up. Cut through to the bone. Then around the bone on each side to open it up.
  3. Place a sheet of plastic wrap over lamb and pound with a meat mallet to flatten meat slightly, if needed, until leg is a fairly even thickness. Remove plastic wrap and generously season inside and outside of lamb with salt and pepper.
  4. Mound stuffing mixture lengthwise along one side of lamb; roll up lamb over stuffing, tucking in ends.
  5. Space 5 pieces of twine under lamb roll and tie them firmly, starting at outside and working in. Tie roll lengthwise with remaining piece of twine. In a roasting pan set over 2 burners, heat oil over high heat. Add lamb roll and sear all over, about 6 minutes in all. Transfer lamb to a rack and set down in the roasting pan. Roast until brown and tender and an instant read thermometer reads 140 degrees F for medium rare, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting occasionally. Remove from oven and let sit, covered loosely with foil, 10 minutes. To serve, discard strings, slice in 12 pieces and serve
© Galley Chef All Rights Reserved

I  purchased two legs so, with any luck, I would have leftovers to make shepherds pie.

Potatoes Dauphinoise, a French TraditionFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
A creamy, nutty potato side dish elegant enough to impress the most discerning individual, yet rustic enough to serve any time.
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
1hour 12hours
Servings
8
Cook Time Passive Time
1hour 12hours
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Finely slice the potatoes using a mandoline and set aside in water until ready to use. Combine the cream, milk, nutmeg, garlic and a pinch of salt and pepper in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and set aside. Strain the water off the potatoes and layer inside a small oven dish lined with parchment paper, sprinkling gruyere cheese between each layer and being sure to overlap each layer as you go. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour enough of the cream mixture over the potatoes to cover and bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until slightly golden on top and tender through the middle. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Weigh down with butter, cheese or any other heavy square object and set aside in the fridge to press for up to 12 hours. Reheat the potato dauphinoise in the oven set to 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Divide into portions and serve immediately as a side dish.
Recipe Notes

* Make this a day in advance and reheat for your party. For a variation, layer with cooked mushrooms and truffle cheese.

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The potatoes dauphinoise are classic.  They need to “rest” for 12 hours while under a press, so they make a great “do ahead” party dish.  In the unlikely event that there are leftover potatoes,  heat up a stack for breakfast with a poached egg on top.

Asparagus with lemon butter
Asparagus with lemon butter

Check out the beautiful spring-like feel to this dish of asparagus.  Line up cooked asparagus spears and drizzle with lemony butter (lemon zest and butter) for an unforgettable presentation.  Serve warm or at room temperature. 

Strawberry Tart with Pastry CreamFrom: GalleyChef.org
Print Recipe
Scrumptious fresh strawberries make this a spring-time favorite.
Servings Prep Time
8 35minutes
Cook Time
25minutes
Servings Prep Time
8 35minutes
Cook Time
25minutes
Ingredients
For the Tart
For the pastry cream
Instructions
For the tart
  1. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and place in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour mixture in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse about 10 times, or until the butter is in the size of peas. Add the ice water and process until the dough comes together. Dump on a well-floured board and form into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Roll out the dough and fit into 4 (4 1/2-inch) tart pans with removable sides. Don't stretch the dough when placing it in the pans or it will shrink during baking. Cut off the excess by rolling the pin across the top of each pan. Line the tart shells with a piece of buttered aluminum foil, butter side down, and fill them with dried beans or rice. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the beans and foil, prick the bottom of the shells all over with a fork, and bake for another 15 to 20 minutes until lightly browned. Set aside to cool.
  2. Before serving, fill the tart shells with the pastry cream. Arrange the berries decoratively on top of the cream. Melt the apricot jelly with 1 teaspoon of water and brush the top of the tarts. Sprinkle with pistachios, if using, and serve.
For the pastry cream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks and sugar on medium-high speed for 4 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce to low speed, and add the cornstarch. With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, 5 to 7 minutes. Don't be alarmed when the custard comes to a boil and appears to curdle; switch to a whisk and beat vigorously. Cook, whisking constantly, for another 2 minutes; the custard will come together and become very thick, like pudding. Stir in the vanilla, orange liquor, butter, and heavy cream. Pour the custard through a sieve into a bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the custard and refrigerate until cold. Yield: 2 cups
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I didn’t think I would have room for the Strawberry Tart, but I managed to squeeze it in!

Happy Spring! Happy Easter!

 


 

 

Celebrating Christmas with family and friends

Twas the day before Christmas and all through the house, was the smell of food baking with the exception of grouse.  The cookies were placed by the chimney with care, for all Christmas guests who soon would be there.  OK so I’m not a poet!  What I am, though, is a person who loves to cook.     The anticipation of Christmas coming has always been a source of inspiration.  This year was no different.   In planning the menu, I wanted the food to be festive, interesting, luscious and a little over the top, yet traditional.  For traditional, I decided to go with eggs Benedict, Quiche, gravlax, bloody marys and roasted chestnuts.

 chestnut shelling

For festive, there were ginger bread eggnog martinis. I thought miniature cheddar grit soufflés in their own little ramekins and prosciutto wrapped figs with balsamic reduction would be interesting and what could be more “over the top” then Blueberry – goat cheese – basil pie.

Blueberry Goat Cheese Pie

I needed a vegetable to round off the nutritional aspects of the meal so cauliflower gratin was thrown in for good measure. Oh, and one more thing, something special for my husband……….a raspberry crumb cake. He always has had a sweet tooth.

Gravlax with capers and mustard-dill sauce

Gravlax with capers and mustard-dill sauce

With all the food on the table (except the eggsBenedict, which were made to order), family and friends gathered enthusiastically to celebrate.  My daughter made a scalloped oyster dish that has been in our family since I was a small child.  A neighbor friend of ours shared the recipe with my Mom and Dad that had been in her family for generations.  We loved it so much, it has become a tradition.  My daughter’s boyfriend contributed a scalloped potato dish with a beautiful golden-brown crusty cheese top.

What a wonderful Christmas day it was. There is always an undeniable heartfelt connection when sharing food and conversation with friends and family.

As everyone left I heard them exclaim “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good bite !”