Every meeting should involve food

Tonight’s cooking challenge was less about secret ingredients, and more about cooking something to please 3 friends who came over for a working dinner meeting with Joe. They requested lamb.  They got lamb… and a salad, my special mashed potatoes, and a white chocolate covered strawberry cheesecake.

First, I made the cheesecake so that it would have time to set and chill. And I have to be honest, I cheated a little. It isn’t from scratch. I just added my own personal touches to a box mix for cheesecake. To make it my own, I first dipped strawberries into white chocolate. I then mixed the cheesecake crust and filling as indicated on the box. To the filling, I added the leftover white chocolate and mashed strawberries.

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I sliced the strawberries and arranged them on the cheesecake. The finished product was refrigerated for a few hours and I was happy with how it turned out. In the future I will add more strawberries to the mix and I will try a cheesecake from scratch.

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A few hours later, I started the actual dinner. I started boiling skin on red potatoes. I always quarter these to make them cook faster.

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I put the lamb sirloins out for about 30 minutes so that they weren’t as cold when I started to sear them. I lightly salted and peppered them before searing.

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For the sirloins, I made a parsley, mint, and rosemary chimichurri sauce. I had made traditional chimichurri sauce in past meals, but had never tried it with parsley and mint which were selected specifically for the lamb. I used about a half cup of olive oil, 1.5 cups of parsley, a teaspoon of fresh rosemary, a tablespoon of fresh mint, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, one minced clove of garlic, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. I thought it was a little too oily, so I had to spoon some of the olive oil out. The mint was harder to taste than I had hoped. Overall, it was an ok topping. I just need to work on perfecting it.

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After the lamb sirloins had seared on both sides, I put them in the oven at a low temperature to finish cooking. I made a salad of mixed greens, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, and goat cheese crumbles. I made a homemade dressing (not pictured) of olive oil and black cherry balsamic vinegar. This is the same balsamic vinegar I used to make a sweet potato caprese in a previous post.

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After the potatoes had boiled for about 15 minutes, I added them to a bowl with fresh chopped chives, onion and chive cream cheese, 3 tablespoons of butter, about 1/2 cup of milk, and a pinch of salt. I mixed it by hand so that they potatoes would be a little chunky. I love these potatoes and unlike other mashed potatoes I’ve had, they reheat really well. Luckily, there are some leftover for lunch tomorrow! Or I could use them in a meal makeover.

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Finally, I pulled the lamb out of the oven and served it with the chimichurri. The lamb was cooked perfectly and it was so good! We don’t buy lamb often, but when we do I love it. In past blogs I’ve tried sriracha roasted lamb shank with blackberry pear compote and lamb sliders.

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Now, here is the part where I fail as a food blogger. I forgot to take a picture of a plate meal! It was so yummy that we just starting shoving the food into our faces. I plan to make all three components again sometime, maybe I’ll catch a picture then.

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Cooking with Beer…Cooking with Beer Log…B Log…Blog

According to a recent article in the Herald-Leader, “Two years ago, Lexington had one brewery and two or three nice places to get a craft beer. Today, there are three    breweries, a fourth about to open — Blue Stallion Brewing Co. at 610 West Third Street — several others in the planning stages, and more than a dozen places to enjoy a craft beer.”
To celebrate this growth, Lexington is hosting it’s first ever Craft Beer Week. As part of Craft Beer Week, Joe and I decided to take a class on cooking with beer hosted by the chef of one of our favorite food trucks: Fork in the Road. Read about some of the other food trucks in Lexington in the post I wrote about the Athenian Grill food truck.

The class was hosted by Country Boy Brewing and used beers from their menu.

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Our class was set up in the back of the brewery and surrounded by fermenter tanks. There were only about 30 of us which made it seem personal and allowed us to see everything and ask questions. We sat on kegs and enjoyed the show (and the food!)

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Our first course was a pan-Asian inspired marinated and braised pork belly slider with slaw, marinated veggies, pickles, and cilantro.

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Next, we had buffalo sauce infused hollandaise sauce on beer brined wings with chopped celery and blue cheese. To top it off they used a torch to create a smoky flavor for the wings.

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Third, we were served a beer and lamb stew that was reduced and mixed with beer hops. This lamb and beer mixture was encased in pasta and served with tomato sauce and mint chimichurri.

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Our final dish was a hops and citrus jello. While it was very creative, I liked the other dishes much better.

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If you are interested in other craft beer events this week, you can find the schedule here. Or, if you are interested in other cooking ideas that involve beer, check out this page on the Food Network.

This was a wonderful and fun event that I hope they’ll repeat in the future (and not just during Craft Beer Week!). I’m inspired. I’ll have to try my own hand at making some culinary creations with beer.

Paleo Pepper and Sausage “Pasta”

You know you are eating good spices when it makes your nose run. What? You don’t want to talk about runny noses and dinner in the same blog? But, that is how I felt about this recipe. It was just good spices thanks to a red pepper sausage and jalapeno.

A few months ago I had a cooking challenge that included two specialty sausages: andouille and red pepper sausage. In that post, I made sausage cabbage wraps and spicy sausage and sweet potato mash. I didn’t use all of the sausage and decided to save some for another challenge. Today was the lucky day.

First, I halved and baked a spaghetti squash with the rind up on 375 degrees for about 45 minutes.

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While the spaghetti squash baked, I crumbled the sausage and added one green pepper, one fourth of a white onion, one jalapeno, and three large mushrooms into olive oil and cooked it on medium for about a half hour.

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I warmed my homemade sauce (I had some leftover from making pizzas over the weekend). In a nutshell, it was just slowly simmered onion, garlic, and tomatoes blended until smooth.

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I had never tried spaghetti squash until a little over a year ago. I am still amazed at how easily it comes out of the rind and how much it actually looks like pasta.

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Meat, veggies, homemade sauce, and a little shredded parmesan to finish off this tasty and perfectly spicy dish!

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Sriracha Roasted Lamb Shank and Zucchini with Blackberry Pear Compote

I am so excited that I had a food challenge for the first time in a few weeks! My mystery ingredients this week included lamb shanks, bosc pears, sriracha, and zucchini.

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First, I coated the lamb in sriracha. I seared it in the grill pan for about 3 minutes on each side. The entire house smelled like smoky sriracha! Our eyes were actually burning! Did you know Sriracha sauce is named after a town called Si Racha?

 

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I added the lamb and sliced zucchini to a pan and covered it with foil. I baked it at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes.

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While the lamb baked, I boiled the pears. Joe was careful to point out that they were Bosc pears which are slightly different and less sweet than other pears. I put a pear into the food processor with about 8 blackberries and blended them into a compote. A traditional compote includes either sugar or syrup, but I didn’t want the sweetness to be overpowering. I just wanted a little sweetness to contrast with the sriracha.

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The final dish was pretty good. The shanks were not as lean as I would have liked, and the sriracha flavor didn’t come through as spicy as I would have liked. Also, the seeds in the blackberries were a little annoying. This dish has potential, but was not my favorite compared to other dishes I’ve created. My favorite part was the zucchini which had cooked in the lamb juices and sriracha. They had a nice kick to them and the addition of a little grated parmesan was tasty. If I were to do it over, I would get a leaner cut of lamb. I would marinate it in sriracha overnight, and I would blend the pears with a different fruit. Maybe pears and apricots?

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