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Persillade with Pommes Boulangère | Roasted Rack of Lamb

Persillade with Pommes Boulangère | Roasted Rack of Lamb 

Persillade with Pommes Boulangère | Roasted Rack of Lamb 

Pommes boulangère are literally potatoes from the baker. The name comes from a practice centuries ago in rural areas of France when people did not always have an oven in their house. They would wrap up a roast on top of some potatoes with herbs, stock and onions and drop it off at the local baker on their way to work or church. When they returned, the meal would be perfectly done.

In this recipe, the ingredients are started separately on the stove. The potatoes and shallots are lightly caramelized. The lamb is seared and then roasted on top of a layer of potatoes and shallots in the oven, allowing the flavor of the lamb to enhance the potatoes. A persillade or chopped herbs, garlic and olive oil is added to both the lamb chops and the potatoes. The lamb chops in this recipe come from a rack of New Zealand lamb. New Zealand and Australian lamb tend to be entirely grass fed and smaller than an American rack of lamb. The size of a New Zealand rack of lamb is perfect for 2 people. I like to use a New Zealand rack of lamb primarily because of it’s taste. In my view it tastes more like lamb. But it is also substantially cheaper than an American rack of lamb. Costco and Trader Joe’s both have very good quality New Zealand and Australian lamb at equally good prices. 

The potatoes in this recipe are loosely adapted from the concept of potatoes boulangère. If you would like to prepare the actual dish you might try Laura Calder’s recipe for “Pommes De Terre a la Boulangère : Potatoes a la Bakery”. (Link to the video and recipe) The rack of lamb is cut into 4 double- rib lamb chops in this recipe. This allows you to easily cook the lamb to rare or medium rare, while still having a well seared exterior.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes or similar waxy potato, thinly sliced, on a mandolin or with a very sharp knife. You can peel them if you prefer, but do not rinse

(8 rib) trimmed & Frenched rack of lamb, preferably organic, free range and from New Zealand, about 1 to 1 1/4 to pounds, cut into 4 double-rib lamb chops

4 oz diced Pancetta

6 cloves of garlic, or to taste, peeled and thinly sliced

4 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed and finely chopped

2 sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped

8 to 10 sprigs of fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, leaves removed and finely chopped

4 shallots, peeled and sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup of lamb or chicken stock

Extra-virgin olive oil Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Preheat the oven to 400oF.

Add the sliced garlic in a mortar and pestle with a pinch of sea salt. (you can also prepare the herb paste in a mini food processor or mash by hand with a fork) Mash the garlic into a paste, add the thyme, rosemary and parsley and combine with the garlic paste.    Slowly add about 3 or four tablespoons of olive oil and stir to combine with the pestle.

Warm the lamb stock over medium-low heat on the stove.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté or frying pan over medium heat and add the the pancetta. Cook slowly until the fat from the pancetta melts into the olive oil.

Add the sliced potatoes and shallots to the pan and lightly stir to help them absorb the flavor from the pancetta.

Add additional oil if needed. Continue cooking until the potatoes start to soften and the edges start to caramelize, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in about 1/2 of the herb garlic mixture and the warm lamb stock. Stir to coat the potatoes and shallots. Layer them in a baking dish large enough to hold the potatoes and the 4 double-rib lamb chops on top of the potatoes.

Put the potatoes in the preheated oven and let them roast while you prepare the lamb. The potatoes will need about 25 to 30 minutes to finish cooking.

This is about the same time needed for searing and then roasting a small double- rib New Zealand chop to medium rare. But the potatoes can cook a bit longer if you need additional time to finish roasting the lamb chops.

While the potatoes are roasting, heat about a tablespoon of oil in a 12-inch sauté or skillet over medium-high heat. Season the lamb chops with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste. Place the lamb in the pan, fat side down, and sear until the fat has rendered and it is golden brown, about 3 minutes. Continue to sear the lamb, turning to cook evenly on each side, about 2 minutes per side.

Place the lamb chops on a cutting board and brush the remaining herb and garlic mixture on the fat side of the meat.

Remove the potatoes from the oven and arrange the lamb on top.

Return to the oven and roast until the lamb chops reach your desired level of doneness. The lamb should have an internal temperature of 125oF for rare, 130oF for medium rare, 140oF for medium, and 150oF for medium well, using a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat, away from the bone.    You should also remove the lamb a bit before you reach your preferred temperature, because the meat will continue to cook while it rests.

The actual cooking time for your desired level of doneness will vary for a number of reasons, such as the actual temperature of your oven, the size of the lamb chops and whether it was grass or grain fed.

For medium rare, a small New Zealand double-rib lamb chop should take about 5 to 6 minutes to finish in the oven and about 12 to 15 minutes for medium well. A larger rib chop should roast for several additional minutes. But remember that temperature trumps time.    The important thing is to use the time as a guide, but check the actual temperature with an instant read meat thermometer.

Let the lamb rest for 5 to 7 minutes, loosely covered with foil before serving. The potatoes should also rest uncovered for the same amount of time.

A great dish to serve with the lamb chops is Tomatoes a La Provencale or Provencal baked tomatoes. Laura Calder has a simple recipe with a fantastic combination of tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, parsley and bread crumbs. .

Lemon & Ricotta Cake

lemon & ricotta cake

lemon & ricotta cake

There are many variations of ricotta cake and ricotta cheese cake in Italy. This version is a bit between a lemon pound cake and a lemon ricotta cheesecake. It has a dense, but crumbly consistency, with a light,bright lemon flavor. If you prefer a denser cake, more like a cheesecake, you can increase the amount of ricotta and reduce the flour.

The cooking times will also vary depending on your oven and the type of ricotta you use. If you use fresh ricotta, the cake will generally cook faster than with packaged ricotta.

When fresh ricotta is not available, homemade ricotta is easy to make and has, in my opinion, a much better flavor and texture than the packaged variety. Nancy Silverton has an easy to follow recipe that produces great results.

Ingredients

1 cup, preferably fresh or homemade whole milk & cream ricotta, at room temperature

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp unbleached all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 large eggs at room temperature, separated

3/4 cup of soft, room temperature, unsalted butter

1/2 cup sugar, or to taste finely grated zest from 3 organic lemons juice from 1 lemon, about 3 tbsp sea salt 8-inch springform pan

lemon & ricotta cake

lemon & ricotta cake

Method

If you are using fresh ricotta or homemade ricotta, place it in a fine strainer over a bowl and let it drain for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350oF.

Butter the bottom of the springform pan and line it with a parchment paper circle.

Lightly butter the parchment paper and the sides of the pan. Add a little flour and coat the bottom and sides of the pan, shaking until the entire pan is well coated. Tap out any excess flour.

Place the soft butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer, or use a hand mixer. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the ricotta and mix.

Then add the egg yolks, one at a time and 2 tablespoons of flour. Beat well after each addition, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Next add the lemon juice and zest.

Add the baking powder to the rest of the flour and sift into the bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt and beat gently until the batter is just blended and smooth.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and gently fold them into the batter using a large spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan and gently smooth the top with a spatula or back of a spoon.

Bake the cake for approximately 40 minutes. The top should feel slightly springy and a cake tester or knife should out clean.

Allow the cake to cool for about about 15 minutes before removing it from the pan.

You can serve it at room temperature with a sprinkle of powdered sugar and some fresh fruit.

Tarte Normande aux Pommes

Tarte Normande aux Pommes, Apple Tart from Normandy

Tarte Normande aux Pommes, Apple Tart from Normandy

Apple Tart from Normandy

Ingredients:

Pastry

1 1/2 cups all- purpose flour, plus a bit more as needed

7 tbsp. chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup turbinado sugar, or to taste 1 egg a pinch of salt

Filling

2 lbs of granny smith or other firm apples

2 eggs

1/2 cup turbinado sugar, or to taste

1/2 cup ground almonds (pulse sliced almonds in a food processor)

1/2 cup Crème Fraîche 1/2 cup heavy cream

Calvados or Cognac, about 1/4 cup or to taste

Sliced almonds for decoration

Method

For the dough, whisk the egg with a fork and add the sugar and salt. Whisk until it becomes frothy. Add the flour to a food processor and pulse several times. Add the egg mixture and the butter. Pulse until the mixture resembles course crumbs and begins to hold together, about 6 t0 10 times. Do not let it form a ball. If the dough is not coming together at this point, you can add 1 or 2 tablespoons of ice water and pulse several more times.

Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and bring it together into disk with your hands. If it sticks to your hands, add a small amount of flour. Roll the dough out on a clean, lightly floured surface into a 12-inch circle. If the dough tears, it can be fixed in the tart pan. Transfer the dough to a buttered and floured 10 inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Gently press the dough into the pan and up the sides, trying not to stretch it. Trim off the excess dough, leaving about 1 inch beyond the top of the tart pan. Fold this over inside the tart pan, gently pressing it against the side. Dock the bottom of the tart shell with a fork and place it in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Preheat the oven to 425oF.

Beat the eggs and 1/2 cup of sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a hand mixer) until the mixture is pale yellow and thick. Mix in the ground almonds, then the Crème Fraîche with the cream and finally the Calvados.

Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut them into thin, 1/8 inch lengthwise slices. Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator and arrange the apple slices in 2 concentric circles in the shell. Slowly pour the egg and cream mixture over the apples. It should come almost to the top of the tart shell.

Sprinkle some of the sliced almonds on the top of the tart and place in the oven. The tart is done when the top has browned slightly and a tester or knife placed in the custard comes about clean, about 25 minutes.

Allow the tart to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove it from the tart pan and place it on a rack or serving dish until you are ready to serve. The tart can be served warm or room temperature. Serve with some Calvados or Brandy.

Pâte Frolle Mincemeat Tarts

Pâte Frolle Mincemeat Tarts

Pâte Frolle Mincemeat Tarts

Mincemeat tarts are a traditional Christmas desert in England. But they taste great any time of the year and are rather easy to make.  I also like to include them as part of a weekend brunch or serve them with some tea. Mincemeat is a mixture of apples, dried fruits, candied peel and spices. You can make the mincemeat yourself from scratch or just use a jar of good prepared mincemeat. One of the best recipes for making mincemeat yourself is “Homemade Mincemeat” from “frugalfeeding”. The recipe includes fresh and dry fruit, spices, orange zest, lemon juice, brandy and does not include any suet. I also like to enhance a jar of good mincemeat with additional fruit, such as currents or other dried fruit and perhaps some apples, as well as Meyer’s Original Dark Jamaican Rum. You can substitute Cognac, or another good brandy, Grand Marnier, or orange juice

For the dough you can use your favorite recipe for pate brisée or pie dough. One of the best is Ina Garten’s recipe that uses a combination of butter and vegetable shorteningl. In the recipe below I use pâte frolle or French almond pastry. It can be a bit difficult to work with, but I think it has a better taste and texture than a standard shortcrust dough. If you don’t have the time, your favorite pie dough recipe, homemade or purchased and some good mincemeat from a jar will taste just great.

Ingredients:

Enhanced Mincemeat

1 sweet apple, such as Golden Delicious, peeled and diced about same size as a raisin

1 tart apple, such as Grammy Smith, peeled and diced about the same size as a raisin

1 cup of currants, or raisins, a combination of both, or other dried fruit

zest and juice from 1/2 of an orange

juice from 1/2 small lemon

1 tablespoon of brown sugar, optional

Meyer’s dark rum, you can substitute Cognac, a good brandy, Grand Marnier, apple cider or orange juice

1 14.5 oz jar of Robertson’s Classic Mincemeat

Dough

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of ground almonds

1/4 cup of turbinado sugar

3/4 cup of chilled unsalted butter, cubed

1 large free-range egg, beaten

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

cold water or beaten egg to help seal the edges of the tarts

milk, or additional beaten egg to glaze the tarts and some additional turbinado sugar for the top

sea salt

about a 3 inch inch heart or circle-shaped pastry cutter, (you can also cut out circles to fit a mini tart or muffin tin, the size will vary with the size of the tart or muffin tin)

Method

Mincemeat

Place the diced apples and lemon juice in a bowl and stir to coat. Add the currants, orange zest, orange and lemon juice, brown sugar and about 4 or a bit more tablespoons of the Meyer’s dark rum. Stir to combine the ingredients and place them in an airtight container. Let the mixture sit at room temperature (refrigerate if omitting the alcohol) for 4 or 5 days, stirring each day.

Add the Robertson’s Mincemeat and mix well. Let the mincemeat sit at room temperature (refrigerate if you omit the alcohol) for another 3 or 4 days, again stirring each day. At this point you can use the mincemeat or keep it in the refrigerator until you are ready.

The flavor will continue to develop the longer you leave it. I have kept it for several days to several months in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally. You should also taste it after each stirring and you may find the “need” to add additional dark rum. You don’t want the mixture to be too wet when you use it, but the rum will absorb into the mincemeat over several days. If you add only apple cider or orange juice and omit the alcohol, the mincemeat should be refrigerated and used within several days.

Dough

Add the flour, ground almonds, sugar, butter and a pinch of sea salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse briefly until a crumbly texture resembling breadcrumbs is achieved. Slowly add the egg and almond extract through the feeder tube and pulse a few times. Remove the dough from the food processor and on a floured surface, bring the mixture together with your hands and knead until smooth. Do not overwork the dough. Wrap the it in plastic wrap and chill for several hours. The dough is quite soft and is easier to handle when it is cold.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll out about 1/8 inch thick. Cut the hearts or circles using about a 3-inch dough cutter.

Place 1/2 them, about 1” apart, on baking sheets lined with a silicone cookie sheet liner, such as Silpat or parchment paper. (If you are using a mini tart pan, cut the circles to fit the pan. Brush the pan with butter and gently place the dough into each circle. You will probably need a smaller circle for the top.) Brush a bit of water or the beaten egg around the edge of the bottom heart, place about a teaspoon of the mincemeat in the center. Spread the mincemeat, leaving about a 1/4” border.

Top the base with a second heart and press the edges of the dough together and then crimp the edges with a fork. Poke the fork prongs into the top of the tart to create a vent for the steam to escape. Repeat with the remaining dough and any re- rolled scraps of dough. If at any time the dough becomes too soft to work, return to the refrigerator until chilled.

Refrigerate the hearts for 30 minutes and preheat the oven to 400oF. Remove the hearts from the refrigerator, brush with egg wash or cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar Bake until the dough is cooked and they are golden brown around the edges, about 12 to 15 minutes, but the time will vary with the actual temperature of the oven. A larger tart might take about 20 minutes.

Rotate the pans after 7 minutes to ensure even baking and keep an eye on the tarts so that they don’t burn.

Let the tarts cool on the baking sheet for 2 or 3 minutes, then remove to a wire wrack to finish cooling, about 10 minutes. Serve them while they are warm or at room temperature, perhaps with some tea and brandy butter.

You can also store them in an airtight container for about 1 week.

Kale & Artichoke Dip with Italian Fontina, Comté, & Parmigiano-Reggiano

Kale & Artichoke Dip with Italian Fontina, Comté, & Parmigiano-Reggiano

Kale & Artichoke Dip with Italian Fontina, Comté, & Parmigiano-Reggiano

Serves about 8 to 10

Ingredients

1/2 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

2 bunches of Lacinato Kale, also sold as Tuscan kale, Dinosaur kale or Cavolo Nero, stems removed, leaves coarsely chopped, washed and drained, you can substitute other varieties of kale

1-12oz. jar of artichoke hearts in water, drained, water squeezed out by hand and coarsely chopped or artichokes hearts in oil

4 to 6 garlic cloves,or to taste, thinly sliced

1 fresh red Fresno chili pepper, seeds and stems removed, minced, substitute 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

1/2 cup of white wine

1 cup organic mayonnaise such as Spectrum Naturals, Organic

1/2 cup crème fraîche or sour cream 

Juice from 1/2 of a small lemon

1 1/2 cups Fontina Val d’Asta, shredded, you can substitute your favorite fontina or similar cheese

1/2 cup Comté, shredded, you can substitute Gruyère, or additional Fontina

1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated, plus additional for topping

Extra-virgin olive oil 

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sriracha or Tobasco, to taste, or your favorite hot sauce

Crostini (recipe here)

Method

Wash and drain the kale, but do not dry. Heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté or fry pan. Add the onion, with a pinch of salt and sauté until the onions are soft, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and fresno pepper. Sauté, and stir, until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Watch the garlic and onions to make sure they don’t burn. Add the kale, with a a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir or toss to coat with the oil, pepper and garlic.

If your pan won’t hold all of the kale, add it one handful at a time. Wait until the previous handful starts to wild before adding the next Once all of the kale starts to wilt, about 2 minutes, add the artichokes and 1/2 cup of white wine. Cover the pan, increase the heat to medium- high and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the wine has evaporated and the kale is barely tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.  Stir in the lemon juice, taste the kale mixture and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.

Let the kale mixture cool for about 30 minutes. Then place in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times to roughly chop the kale and artichokes. You can also do this step by hand with a sharp knife.

Transfer the kale mixture to a medium bowl and add the mayonnaise, crème fraîche, 1 cup of the Fontina, the Comté and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix all of the ingredients together, taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

You can also stir in the Sriracha or Tabasco sauce at this point, according to your own taste. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until flavors have a chance to develop, about 2 to 8 hours, depending on your schedule or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350o. Butter a baking dish and transfer the kale mixture to that dish. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of Fontina and some freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano to the top and bake until the top is golden and bubbly, about 30 minutes in a convection oven, about 40 to 45 in a regular oven. You can also place the dish briefly under the broiler to add some additional color to the cheese. But watch it carefully to avoid burning.

Let the dip rest for about 5 minutes and serve while still warm with crostini, good bread, crackers or perhaps with a poached egg for brunch.

Chocolate , Espresso Pots de Crème

Chocolate, Espresso Pots de Crème

Chocolate, Espresso Pots de Crème

Serves 6 in a 5 oz. ramekin or cup

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup whole milk

6 oz. fine-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

6 large egg yolks

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons brewed espresso or 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, or to taste

1 tablespoon Turbinado sugar, or to taste Sea salt

Whipped cream, shaved chocolate, or coco powder and fresh fruit for serving

METHOD

Preheat oven to 300oF.

Add the cream, milk, espresso, vanilla and a pinch of salt to a heavy bottom saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk the mixture until just before it comes to a boil. You will see a few small bubbles around the edge of the pan. Add the chocolate to a heatproof bowl and pour the cream mixture over the chocolate, whisking until all of the chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

If the chocolate mixture is to hot when you incorporate it into the egg mixture, the eggs may cook and the pot de crème will have a granular texture.

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, egg yolks, and a pinch of salt, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is a light yellow color, about 3 minutes. Then gradually add the some of the chocolate mixture, whisking until it is incorporated and smooth. Continue to slowly add the chocolate mixture, whisking until it is all fully incorporated and smooth. Strain into a large bowl and allow to cool completely, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Carefully fill 6 5oz ramekins, or 8 smaller pot de creme cups and place them in a shallow baking pan on top of a folded kitchen towel. Poke several holes in a piece of aluminum foil that is large enough to cover the baking pan.

Add enough hot water to the baking pan to come halfway up the side of the ramekins. Cover the pan tightly with the aluminum foil and bake the custards until they are set around the edges, but slightly wobbly in the centers, about 30 to 35 minutes. (The custard will continue to set as it cools.) The actual cooking time can vary for a number of reasons, so it is a good idea to check after

20 to 25 minutes. In some ovens it may even take 45 to 50 minutes. An oven thermometer will help you achieve the proper result.

Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let the custards cool, uncovered, on a wire rack for about 1 hour.

Then cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3 or 4 hours hours or up 2 days.

Remove the custards from the refrigerator at least 10 minutes before serving for the best texture. Top with some whipped cream, shaved chocolate or cocoa powder on top, and perhaps some fresh fruit.

This recipe is adapted from Gourmet, February 2004

Crostini di Fegatini Toscano, Tuscan Liver Crostini

Crostini di Fegatini Toscano, Tuscan Liver Crostini

Crostini di Fegatini Toscano, Tuscan Liver Crostini

Serves 4 to 6

 

Ingredients

1 pound of chicken livers, cleaned, deveined and trimmed, you can substitute duck livers

1 medium red or yellow onion, finely chopped 

3 or 4 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

4 anchovy filets, rinsed and patted dry

2 garlic cloves, minced

a pinch of Piment D’Esplette or red pepper flakes, to taste

2 cups of chicken stock, homemade or low sodium, you may not need the entire amount

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage ! sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 crostini, prepared according to master recipe.

Method

Heat several tablespoons of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are soft, but not brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the anchovies, stir and sauté until they start to melt into the oil, about 2 minutes. Add the chicken livers, garlic, capers, sage and Piment D’Espillette, stir, continue to sauté and stir occasionally until the livers start to brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add about 1 1/2 cups of the chicken stock and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock is reduced to about 3 or 4 tablespoons.

If the mixture becomes too dry, add some additional stock.

You can either break up the chicken livers with a spoon as you are cooking them, my preference, chop the mixture by hand with a knife when it is cool, or add add the entire mixture to a food processor and pulse. The final texture should be course and rustic, not smooth like a puree.

Taste and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Spread about 1 tablespoon of the chicken liver mixture on each crostini.

Top with slices of cornichons and tipsy onions.

The chicken-liver mixture can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before serving. You can also place the toasts with the chicken liver mixture under a preheated broiler for about a minute or a bit less to serve them warm. But watch the toasts closely to avoid burning. Then add the cornichons and tipsy onions.