Pan Seared Rockfish in Citrus Butter Sauce w/ Herb Couscous & Asparagus

During my father’s recent visit to Dallas, I made him pan seared rockfish in citrus butter caper sauce with whole wheat herb couscous and asparagus.  What made this meal special was the Rockfish was freshly caught off the coast of Alaska just two weeks prior to his visit, during our family vacation.  My husband and I went on a charter, Alaska Northern Outfitters out of Seward, and we caught 14 fish between us both.  Needless to say, we don’t need to go to the Fishmonger any time soon, as our freezer is full of rockfish, halibut, and salmon.

PAN SEARED ROCKFISH IN CITRUS BUTTER SAUCE WITH COUSCOUS AND ASPARAGUS
Serves 6-8

6 fillets Rockfish – cut into thirds
1 cup AP Flour
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/2 teaspoon Onion powder
1/4 teaspoon Garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried Thyme
4 tablespoons organic Butter
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

HERB COUSCOUS

2 tablespoons organic Butter
1 lb Asparagus – blanched
1 large Shallot – finely chopped
1 large Lemon – juiced & zested
1 1/2 cups Whole Wheat Couscous
3 cups Water
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley – finely chopped
1 tablespoon Cilantro – finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon Mint – finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

CITRUS BUTTER SAUCE

6 oz organic Butter
10 – 12 cloves Garlic – finely minced
2 large Lemons juiced
2 tablespoons Capers
Italian Parsley – finely chopped for garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste

Begin by cleaning the asparagus and cutting off the woody part, which is where the stem breaks off from the top part of the asparagus, when you snap it in half.  Or, it is about 1 to 2 inches from the bottom, depending on your asparagus.  Now, cut them into two inch pieces.

Blanch the asparagus is boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, then shock them in ice water to stop the cooking process and retain their beautiful deep green color.  In 5 minutes, remove them from the ice water, and place them on a towel to dry.

To make the seasoned flour, add the salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, and dried thyme to the flour.  Stir to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed into the flour.  Lightly dredge each piece of rockfish in the seasoned flour, and place it on a platter.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a pan on medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil, until the butter is melted and lightly bubbling.  Place a few fish filets in the hot pan.  Do not move or touch the fish for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Also, do not crowd the pan, as the fish will steam instead of sear. Now that the fish is seared on one side, gently turn each filet over to the other side for about 2 minutes.  Place the seared fish on a rack over a large sheet pan and into the oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven, and allow to rest.

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Remove the boiling water from the heat, and add the couscous, salt, pepper, and lemon zest, then cover and set aside for 5 minutes.

In a sauté pan, sweat the shallot in butter, then add the asparagus for 1 minute to slightly reheat it.

Using a fork, transfer the couscous from the saucepan to a large bowl.  Using a fork will keep the couscous from clumping.  Add the sautéed shallots with the butter from the pan, asparagus, parsley, cilantro, mint, and lemon juice.  Stir well with a fork.

In the same sauté pan used for the shallots, melt the butter over medium low heat to make the citrus butter sauce.  Add the finely minced garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Swirl the pan around over the heat for the garlic to get evenly coated with the hot butter.  Cook over the stove for about 1 minute, then add the lemon juice and capers to the pan, and sauté for another minute or two.  DO NOT overcook the garlic, as it will become bitter.  Take the pan off the heat before the garlic changes color, then add the  parsley.

To plate, take a couple of large spoonfuls of the couscous and asparagus, and place them on a serving plate.  Place a couple of pieces of fish on the side, up against the couscous.  Gently, spoon a few spoonfuls of the citrus butter sauce over both the fish and the couscous, if so desired.  Serve and ENJOY!


Spaghetti w/ Olives & Capers

I took a day off of work this week, which was quite exciting for me.  I got to spend some quality time with my daughter, since she was done with school for the summer.  I had been working on a summer schedule for her that included chores, reading, math problems, you know … a schedule she truly loves (said facetiously).  One thing she asked of me was to teach her how to cook.  Of course, as a self proclaimed foodie and a lover of all things cooking and food, I was quite excited.  To celebrate this occasion, I wanted to make her a dish that was not too kid friendly, but one she might like.  I guess I was making a point that if she became proficient in the art of cooking, she could make her future kids eat anything … including a dish with lots of black and green olives and anchovies.  I decided to make Spaghetti alla Puttanesca, my way.  Traditionally, this dish includes tomatoes and does not have the topping that I added; however, part of the lesson for the day was that cooking is art with which one can express oneself.  The recipe did not have to be strictly adhered to, as long as the outcome was delicious.  So, she sat in the kitchen with me as I cooked, and while we chatted about life and food.

SPAGHETTI WITH OLIVES AND CAPERS

1 lb Spaghetti
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Shallots – finely diced
4 large Garlic cloves – finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon Red Chili Flakes
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
6 Anchovy fillets*oil packed
1 Red Bell Pepper – finely diced
1/2 cup White Wine
1 cup pitted & roughly chopped Black and Green Olives
2 tablespoons Capers non pareil
2 large Lemons – juiced & zested (zest is for topping)
1 ladle Salty Pasta Water
2 tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped

PANKO TOPPING
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup Japanese Panko Bread Crumbs
Zest of 2 Lemons
1 tablespoon Italian Parsley – finely chopped
Chives for garnish – OPTIONAL

*You will not taste the anchovies in this dish.  They only serve to add a much needed depth of flavor.  So, even if you do not like anchovies, you most likely will still like this dish.  If you are still hesitant, either use a fewer amount of anchovy fillets or eliminate them all together. 

In a large pan on medium high heat, sauté the shallots in the olive oil.  Add the garlic, anchovies, and red chili flakes, and sauté for another minute, before adding the diced bell pepper.  Add the salt and pepper, and sauté until all the ingredients in the pan are translucent.  Be careful with the salt, as the anchovies, olives, and capers add much salt to the dish.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta.

In a pot of boiling salted water, add your dried spaghetti, and cook for about 8 minutes, before the al dente phase.  Make sure to occasionally stir the pasta to keep it from sticking.  Always reserve a couple of ladles of pasta water, in case you need them for the sauce.

While the pasta is cooking, deglaze the pan with the white wine, until it is reduced by half.  Turn the heat down to medium low, and add the lemon juice, chopped olives, and capers and stir.  Add a ladle of salty pasta water.

When the spaghetti is almost at al dente, remove it from the water, and immediately add it to the sauce.  Stir gently, then remove from the heat.  The pasta will continue to cook from the residual heat.  Add the Italian parsley, and stir gently to incorporate everything together, without breaking the delicate strands.

In a small pan, toast the Panko bread crumbs in olive oil over medium heat.  Add the lemon zest and Italian parsley, and stir to incorporate them together.  When the Panko bread crumbs are golden brown, remove them from the heat, and set them aside.  This process is pretty quick, so keep your eyes on the bread crumbs.  No one likes burnt bread crumbs.

Now, to serve.  Place the spaghetti with the olive and caper sauce gently in a serving dish.  Top the spaghetti with the golden brown bread crumbs and lemon zest topping.  Finally, sprinkle a few finely diced chives on top.  The bread crumbs add another texture to this complex dish, and the lemon zest adds a citrusy finish to enhance the delicious flavors of the Mediterranean embodied in this plate.  I hope you enjoy my take on this Spaghetti classic.  Buon Appetito!

 


Beef Pot Roast w/ Buttery Mashed Potatoes

One of my husband’s favorite meals is pot roast.  He loves all things resembling stews and soups.  I used beef chuck, added some yellow onions, carrots, mushrooms, and fresh herbs, and served it over very buttery Yukon Gold mashed potatoes.  My family loved it!  Though it is very easy to make, it does take around four hours to cook; however, it is well worth the wait.  Please keep in mind that this recipe serves 8 to 10 hungry adults.  Feel free to divide the recipe in half, or whatever number you wish, to achieve the desired serving size.

BEEF POT ROAST WITH BUTTERY MASHED POTATOES

5 lbs Beef Chuck Roast
1/4 cup Avocado Oil
12 sprigs fresh Thyme
4 sprigs fresh Rosemary
10 large Carrots
2 large Yellow Onions
1 1/2 lbs Mushrooms
1 Garlic head
2 cups Red Wine – Bordeaux or Cabernet Sauvignon
4 cups Beef Stock
2 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Italian Parsley

BUTTERY MASHED POTATOES
Measurements not included as this post focuses on the Pot Roast
to be in a future post

Yukon Gold Potatoes
Heavy Cream
Organic Butter
Salt

Begin by rinsing the meat under cold water and drying it very well with paper towels.  You may avoid this step, if your meat is freshly butchered, as no additives are added to it.  Liberally salt and pepper the chuck roast.  Peel, rinse, and chop the onions and carrots.  Peel and smash the garlic.  Brush all the dirt from the mushrooms with a non-silicon pastry brush, and then slice them.

In a large pan or dutch oven, heat the avocado oil on medium high heat.  Sear the chuck roast until a caramelized crust forms on all sides of the meat.  Remove the meat and place on a clean platter.

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

In the same pan, add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, thyme, about 2 teaspoons of salt, and about 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, and sauté while scraping the drippings off the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.

When the ingredients have become translucent and a little caramelized, deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping more of the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the seared roast with all the juices that accumulated at the bottom of the platter to the pan.  Add the beef stock and the beef base, stir one last time, and cover.  Place the covered pot or dutch oven in the oven for 4 hours.

Meanwhile, make some Yukon Gold mashed potatoes to serve the pot roast over.  I usually don’t peel the potatoes, but for this dish, I do.  I peel the potatoes and boil them in salted water, until they are soft.  I mash them, and then add lots of melted butter, some warm heavy cream, and salt.

Remove the pot roast from the oven.  Allow to rest for about 20 minutes.  Since I don’t like any fatty meat or connective tissue in my pot roast, I remove the roast from the sauce and shred with a fork, while removing all fatty bits and other undesirables.  After which I return it to the pot.

In a serving plate, place a large spoonful of mashed potatoes, add a ladleful or two of the pot roast over the potatoes, then sprinkle some finely chopped Italian parsley over the pot roast.  Serve with a freshly baked baguette and ENJOY!


Butter Sautéed Garlic Shrimp w/ Angel Hair Pasta

As I mentioned in my previous post, it was my daughter’s 13th birthday, and she asked me to make her a mussel dish and a shrimp dish for her birthday meal.  I made her a shrimp dish that included her other favorite ingredients, corn, mushrooms, garlic, and pasta.  It was delicious!

BUTTER SAUTÉED GARLIC SHRIMP WITH ANGEL HAIR PASTA

2 lbs Shrimp (16/20) – shelled & deveined w/ tail still on
8 tablespoons organic Butter
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large head Garlic – minced
1 lb Crimini or Button Mushrooms
4 ears Sweet Corn
1 cup Vouvray Wine – or any white wine
1 pint Heavy Cream
2 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1 lb Angel Hair Pasta
Big pot of heavily salted boiling water for the pasta.
2 tablespoons Chives – finely chopped

Begin by cleaning the mushrooms, removing the corn from their husks, and peeling the garlic.  Finely mince the garlic, slice the mushrooms, and slice the kernels off the ears of corn, and place them to the side.

Make sure the shrimp are completely dry.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper on the shrimp.  Mix well.  In a large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium high heat, add the olive oil and 4 tablespoons of butter.  Sauté the shrimp in batches for about a minute or two on each side.  The shrimp is done, when it turns a beautiful orange pink color.  Do not overcrowd the pan, or the shrimp will stew and steam instead.  Remove the seared shrimp, and place them on a plate lined with two paper towels.

Turn the heat down to medium, and add the mushrooms and the corn to the pan.  Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms have softened through.  Add the minced garlic, and allow the mixture to sauté for another few minutes.  Add the wine.  Allow the wine to reduce by three quarters.  Make sure to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, add the pasta to a large pot full of boiling salted water.  Stir the pasta immediately to prevent it from sticking together.  Slightly undercook the pasta, since it will finish cooking in the sauce.  For best results, follow the package instructions minus two minutes.

Once the wine has reduced, add the heavy cream, the remainder of the salt, and pepper to taste.  Turn the heat to medium low, and allow the creamy mushroom and corn mixture to cook for another few minutes to get the flavors to meld together.  Turn the heat off, then add the remainder of the butter to the sauce, and allow it to melt completely.

Once the pasta is slightly undercooked, drain it, while reserving a little pasta water, and place it into the sauce.  Stir gently.  If the sauce is too thick, add a little pasta water to get the desired consistency.  Top the pasta with the cooked, and now cooled, shrimp.  Stir gently.

You may serve your pasta and shrimp dish in a large serving bowl, on a serving plate as an individual portion, or leave it in the pan.  Whichever method you choose, make sure to garnish the beautifully cooked dish with some fresh chives.  I hope you love it, as my Amanda loved it.  Bon appétit!

 


Mussels in White Wine Sauce

My daughter Amanda loves all kinds of seafood, cooked in every which way.  For her 13th birthday, I made her two seafood dishes she requested of me, one with mussels and another with shrimp.  Let’s just say that she was in heaven!  I had never seen her eat so much!  Everyone else was finished, yet she continued to indulge.  It was a good thing I made a lot of food.

MUSSELS IN WHITE WINE SAUCE

2 lbs Mussels – cleaned & debearded
3 large Shallots
6 large cloves Garlic
4 tablespoons organic Butter
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 cups white Wine – I used Vouvray & Sauvignon Blanc*
3 sprigs fresh Thyme
Pinch Red Chili Flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 tablespoons Chives and/or Italian Parsley – garnish – finely chopped

 

*You may use any wine you like; however, I like to use about a cup of Vouvray and a cup of Sauvignon Blanc for the balance they lend to the dish.  Vouvray has a little fruity sweetness, while Sauvignon Blanc is dryer and very crisp.  

Begin by cleaning and debearding the mussels under cold water.  If you find any open mussels that do not close after you squeeze them gently, toss them, as they are already dead.

Finely chop the shallots, and finely mince the garlic.  In a large pot, heat the butter and the olive oil, and add the garlic, shallots, thyme sprigs, red chili flakes, salt, and pepper.  Sauté them until they are translucent.  Add the white wine, and bring to a boil.  Add the cleaned mussels, and stir well.  Now cover them and cook them over medium heat for about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the mussels from the heat, and discard all the unopened shells.  Serve them immediately in a large serving bowl.  Top the plated mussels with the finely chopped chives and Italian parsley.  Serve with some delicious homemade garlic bread to soak up all that delicious sauce at the bottom of the bowl.  Enjoy!


Ricotta & Pecorino Romano Stuffed Pasta Shells

Pasta dishes can be very easy and simple to make, yet cooking the pasta to al dente is not such an easy task for most.  Al dente, which means ‘to the tooth’ in Italian, is where the pasta is cooked through, but still retains some resistance or chewiness in the center.  Make sure to have enough boiling salted water, in which the pasta can cook and swim freely.  If the water is not salted enough (like sea water), the pasta will be bland and flavorless.  Also, wet or fresh pasta cooks at a much faster rate than dried pasta.  And certain sauces go with different pastas, depending on their shapes and sizes … but that is for another post.

I found these very pretty imported and bronze cut pasta shells at a specialty store a few weekends ago.  I decided to use them for a stuffed shell dish.  Since I had some Ricotta cheese and many tomatoes to use, I made a stuffing out of the Ricotta cheese and a few other ingredients, and a very fast and simple sauce out of the tomatoes.  I then put the sauce on top of the shells, and topped them with a generous amount of one of my favorite cheeses, Pecorino Romano.  Into the oven, and then on the table.  My family loved this dish!  I hope you enjoy it as well.

RICOTTA AND PECORINO ROMANO STUFFED PASTA SHELLS

17.6 oz (1 bag) bronze cut Pasta Shells or any kind you prefer
2 tablespoons organic Butter
2 large Shallots
2 large Garlic cloves
30 oz whole milk Ricotta Cheese
2 cups grated Pecorino Romano** – filling
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
2 cups grated Percorino Romano** – topping
Basil to garnish

**When using Pecorino Romano, please be careful not to over salt your food, as this cheese is very salty on its own.**

THE SAUCE

2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 small yellow Onion
2 large Garlic cloves
8 ripe Tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh Basil – chopped
1 tablespoon fresh Oregano – chopped
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1 tablespoon Sugar

Begin by finely chopping the shallots and garlic.  In a sauté pan on medium low heat, sauté the shallots and garlic in butter.  Once they are caramelized, take them off the heat, and allow them to cool.

In a large bowl, add the ricotta cheese, 2 cups of the grated Pecorino Romano, the cooled shallots and garlic, salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Stir to combine, then taste to make sure the seasoning is right.  Leave the stuffing to the side, while you cook the pasta and make the sauce.

In a very large pot of boiling salted water, add the pasta, and immediately stir to keep the shells from sticking together.  Closely monitor the pasta, as the cooking time depends on its dryness and thickness.  Do not cook the pasta to al dente.  The shells need to be undercooked by a few minutes,  as they will finish cooking in the oven.  You do not want mushy pasta.  When the shells are a bit undercooked, drain them from the pasta liquid, and set them to the side.  Make sure to reserve some pasta water, in case the sauce is too thick.

Roughly chop the onion, garlic, tomatoes, basil, and oregano.  In a pot on medium heat, begin sautéing the onions and garlic in olive oil.  After about 5 minutes, add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, salt, and freshly ground pepper.  Allow the tomatoes to cook down for about 10 to 15 minutes.  Add the sugar, stir, and then cook for another few minutes.  Taste the sauce, to make sure the seasoning is right.  Place the sauce in a blender, and purée it until it is very smooth.

ASSEMBLING THE PASTA SHELLS

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Ladle a couple of scoops of the puréed sauce into an oven safe casserole dish.  This will keep the pasta from sticking to the dish.  You can use a small spoon, a small plastic bag, or a pastry bag to stuff the shells with the Ricotta filling.  Place each stuffed shell in the casserole dish, until it is full.  Ladle the rest of the sauce over the shells, and place them in the oven for 30 minutes.  Take the shells out of the oven, and top them with the last 2 cups of the Pecorino Romano.  Grind some black pepper on top of the cheese, and place the shells back in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the cheese has melted and is golden brown.  Remove from the oven and serve with some fresh basil leaves.  Enjoy!


Olive Oil Roasted Vegetables w/ Barley & Feta Cheese

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  I wish all of you a very healthy and happy year to come.

Lately, I have been using many kinds of whole grains as the base for my vegetarian dishes.  I love using Farro and Barley.  Both are anciently cultivated grains that have made a comeback.  They are full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and dietary fiber; so, they are very good for you.  They are also quite budget friendly.   For this recipe, I used hulled barley, as opposed to the pearl variety, since it is more nutritional.  Because it retains its bran and endosperm layers, hulled barley takes longer to cook than the more polished pearl kind.

OLIVE OIL ROASTED VEGETABLES WITH BARLEY AND FETA CHEESE

BARLEY
2 cups Hulled Barley – uncooked
6 cups Water or Stock
1 teaspoon Salt

ROASTED VEGETABLES
1/2 red Bell Pepper
2 Shallots
2 Celery stalks
4 Garlic cloves
2 large green Zucchini
10 large Brussels Sprouts
4 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3/4 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1/4 cup White Bordeaux – Optional – or any white wine you like

HERBS & CHEESE
1 tablespoon Dill – finely chopped
2 tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped
1 Lemon – zested
8 oz Greek Feta
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil – per plate

Rinse the barley under cold water.  In a large enough sauce pan, bring the barley, water (or stock), and salt to a boil, then lower the heat to a slow simmer, and cover for 45 – 60 minutes.  If the barley is not cooked through and looks dry toward the end of the cooking time, add more water, and cook it for a longer time.  After the barley is cooked through, turn the heat off, and allow it to sit (covered) for 10 minutes.  However, while the barley is simmering away, get the sautéed and roasted vegetables ready.

Mince the garlic, finely chop the shallots, and dice both the celery and the red bell pepper.  In a sauté pan, sauté the garlic, shallots, celery, and red pepper in 3 tablespoons of olive oil with  1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of freshly grated black pepper, until they are translucent.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, and allow it to reduce, as most of the alcohol will cook out.  Remove from the heat.

Clean, wash, and slice the Brussels sprouts and the zucchini.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place the vegetables on a baking sheet.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add 1/4 tablespoon of both salt and freshly ground pepper, and mix the vegetables well.  Place the baking sheet in the oven for 35 – 40 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked through and slightly golden.

Now that the barley is cooked and is done resting for 10 minutes, rinse it under warm or hot water to remove the excess starch.  Drain the barley well, then place it in a large bowl.  Add the sautéed garlic, shallot, celery, red pepper, and the roasted Brussels sprouts and zucchini to the bowl.     Gently combine the vegetables with the barley.

Add the dill, Italian parsley, Greek feta, lemon zest, and the salt and pepper to taste.  Stir, serve, and top each portion with a final drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  You may garnish the plate with a few celery leaves for some added freshness.  ENJOY!

 


Seared Rack of Lamb w/ Salsa Verde

I LOVE LAMB!  Fortunately for me, so does my husband.  So, when I presented him with three different menus I conjured up for him to choose from for his birthday, he picked the lamb.  Since lamb is generally not lean, it needs a little bit of freshness and citrus to cut through the richness of the fatty meat.  Salsa verde would be the perfect condiment for the lamb.  It is the bit of citrusy freshness that is needed to balance the dish.  This version of salsa verde has anchovies in it.  Trust me, you will not taste anything fishy.  My husband does not like the assertive flavor of anchovies, yet he loved the salsa, as he could not taste it.  The anchovies lend a depth to this condiment, that would otherwise be absent.

SEARED RACK OF LAMB WITH SALSA VERDE

2 racks of Lamb – Frenched
4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
4 Shallots
4 sprigs fresh Rosemary
3 tablespoons organic Butter
1/2 cup Sherry wine (optional)

You may choose to trim the fat off the racks of lamb, but I highly advise against it.  Seared and caramelized lamb fat, to a Lebanese like me, is the most delicious seared animal fat!  Plus, it keeps your meat moist, as you cook it in the oven.  That being said, take the lamb out of the refrigerator, and allowed it to sit on a clean counter, until it is close to room temperature.  Lather each rack of lamb with 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, liberally sprinkle the salt and pepper on both the racks, and let them sit to the side for a couple of minutes, while you get the sauté pan ready.

In a large sauté pan on medium high heat, pour in 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and add 2 tablespoons of butter.  When the pan is very hot, place one or both racks of lamb in the pan fat side down.  Do not over crowd the pan, and do not mess with the lamb for at least 5 minutes.  You want to get a very nice sear and brown color on the that lamb.  Add the peeled shallots and rosemary sprigs.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Turn the lamb over to sear the other side for another 5 minutes.  Turn the lamb back over to fat side up, and place it in the oven for about 15 – 20 minutes, until you get a thermometer reading of 125 degrees Fahrenheit.  (While the lamb is in the oven, make the salsa verde – recipe below.)  Take the lamb out of the oven, remove it from the pan, cover both racks with foil, and allow the lamb to rest for at least 5 minutes, and until an internal temperature of about 135 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit is reached.  This will give you a perfect medium rare lamb.  If you like your lamb cooked longer, leave the racks in the oven longer.  Just make sure to allow the lamb to rest, when taken out of the oven.  

Return the sauté pan back to the stove over medium high heat, after removing most or all the fat, then add the sherry to all the delicious brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Allow the sherry to reduce to a syrupy consistency, while scraping everything off the bottom with a wooden spoon. Turn the heat off, and strain the sauce you just made, if you want a silky smooth sauce.  If you want a rustic sauce, skip this step.  Add it back to the pan, and finish it off with a tablespoon of butter, gently stirring it into the sauce.

SALSA VERDE

2 cloves Garlic
4 Anchovy fillets – packed in oil
1 tablespoon Capers – packed in vinegar
3 tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped
3 tablespoon Sweet Basil – finely chopped
2 tablespoon Mint – finely chopped
1 Lemon – zested & juiced
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

Using a mortar and pestle, mash or grind the garlic with the salt into a very fine paste.  Add the anchovies, and grind to fine paste as well.  Finally, add the drained capers to the mortar and pestle, and mash the entire mixture together.  Place the paste in a bowl.  Zest and juice a lemon, and place both in the bowl.  Finely chop all the herbs, and place them in the bowl as well.  Add the extra virgin olive oil and black pepper to the salsa.  Stir it very well, and allow it to sit for 20 to 30 minutes.  You can also make this salsa a day before, and leave it in the refrigerator until the next day.  If you choose to do so, cover the salsa with a little more olive oil to keep the greens from wilting and losing their vibrant green color.

Now that the lamb has rested, with a very sharp knife, cut the lamb into one chop or double chops.  In a serving  plate, place the lamb chops, either alone or with a side or sides.  You may use the sherry sauce made earlier for a more deep and rich flavor, or use the salsa verde for a more vibrant and refreshing flavor.  You can always use both!  My daughter preferred the sherry sauce, while my husband preferred the salsa verde.  I used both.  So, plate however you would like, and ENJOY this most delicious of meats!


Char Grilled Garlic & Rosemary Encrusted Pork Loin

Pork Loin, when done correctly, is very delicious, moist, and flavorful.  When done poorly, it is dry, flavorless, and completely inedible.  The key is to brine your loin for a couple of days.  The brine helps keep the moisture in the lean meat, when it is grilled.  It also adds a good subtle flavor to it, depending on what you put in the brine.  For my brine recipe, refer to THE BRINE part of the recipe and instructions in the Char Grilled Chicken w/ Olde Tymers Savory Herb Dry Rub & Chimichurri post.

CHAR GRILLED GARLIC AND ROSEMARY ENCRUSTED PORK LOIN

6 – 8 cups Brine – cooled – recipe in previous post as stated above
2 lb Pork Loin
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 large head Garlic – minced
2 tablespoon finely chopped Rosemary
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper

After making and cooling the brine, place the pork loin in a large container, add the cooled brine, cover with a tight lid, and place in the refrigerator for 48 hours.  Remove the loin from the brine, dry thoroughly, and place it on a large enough platter or in a large dry container.

Finely mince the garlic, and finely chop the rosemary.  Place them in a small bowl with the extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Combine the rosemary and garlic mixture, then lather it all over the pork loin.  Cover the pork loin with plastic wrap or a cover, and place in the refrigerator for 18 to 24 hours.

Before you cook the pork loin, take it out of the refrigerator, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.  You may sear the pork loin, then finish it in the oven; you may grill it on a grill pan; you may put it in a rotisserie; the ways of cooking this pork loin are endless.  I love eating food grilled with charcoal.  So, that is how the pork loin was cooked … on a charcoal grill.

After the loin has reached an internal temperature of about 160 degrees Fahrenheit, remove it from the grill.  It must be left to rest, covered with a piece of foil, for about 10 minutes.  This allows all the juices to redistribute, so the meat will stay moist.  On a clean cutting surface, slice the pork loin into 1 inch thick pieces, then plate.  I served my pork loin with butter sautéed mushrooms, olive oil sautéed shallots and French green beans, and parboiled Dutch potatoes that I finished in brown butter.  The pork was incredibly moist and flavorful! I cannot tell you how good it was!  I know this method is lengthy, but it is well worth it.  Bon Appétit!


Seared Flank Steak w/ Black Gold Coffee Dry Rub

A few days ago, I decided to use the Black Gold Coffee Dry Rub that I generously received from Dead Rooster Co.   When I first smelled this rub, I thought of chili with a gentle hint of coffee, as the cumin and cinnamon were a little assertive.  Even though my family loves chili, it is summer in Dallas after all, and chili would have been great on a cold day.  So, I thought I would use it on a steak instead.  I also wanted to use my cast iron skillet.  So, I bought a flank steak, lathered it with extra virgin olive oil, then massaged it with the coffee rub.  I let the steak sit in the refrigerator for a few hours.  I seared it, and then finished it in the oven.

When I served the steak to my family and friends, who were visiting from out of town, they really loved it.  The rub tasted nothing like chili.  It was very bold and deep in flavor, yet it was very smooth.  The coffee, cumin, cinnamon, and rest of the spices worked very well together to yield a completely unexpected flavor.  It actually tasted like chocolate!  I have never had steak and chocolate together, but if this is what that combination would taste like, then I am all in!  It was very delicious!  The spice level of the rub was just right for the depth of its flavor and the heartiness of the meat.  I also made a very simple butter sauce and a light citrusy arugula salad to go with the steak.  That was the perfect combination!  The salad added a bit of freshness, and served to lighten the dish a little.  One of my friends actually asked me for some of that amazing Black Gold rub to take home to Montreal.

SEARED FLANK STEAK WITH BLACK GOLD COFFEE DRY RUB

2 lbs Flank Steak
3 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 tablespoons Black Gold Coffee dry rub
4 tablespoons organic Butter

Begin by rinsing and thoroughly drying the flank steak.  Drizzle only 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil on the steak, and lather it well on both sides.  Sprinkle the coffee rub all over the steak, making sure to massage it well into the flesh.  Cover the steak with plastic wrap, and leave it in the refrigerator for as little as 1 hour.

Remove the steak form the refrigerator, and allow it to sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat, pour in the rest of the olive oil.  When the oil is hot enough, gently place the steak in the skillet, searing it until the bottom forms a caramelized crust all over the meat.  That process should take about 2 to 4 minutes.  Flip the steak over, and allow it sear just like before, until the meat forms a beautiful brown crust.  Remove the skillet from the stove, and place it in the oven for about 5 – 7 minutes, depending on the oven and the size of the steak.  Meanwhile, make the arugula salad.

ARUGULA SALAD RECIPE

Take the beautifully cooked steak out of the oven, and place it on a clean surface covered with aluminum foil, so it can rest for about 10 minutes.  Remove most of the olive oil used in the cooking process.  Place the skillet back on the stove, and melt the butter over medium heat, while stirring with a wooden spoon.  As the butter melts, the stirring will help pick up all the little bits of flavor stuck to the bottom of the skillet.

On a clean cutting board, slice the steak into strips, against the grain, which will give you a more tender piece of meat.  Plate the slices of steak as you wish, and top them with the melted “butter and brown bit sauce”.  Place a little arugula salad on the side.  Serve and ENJOY!  You will love this rub!