Tag Archives: mint

Recipe: Roast Leg of Lamb with Red Wine and Herbs

17 Apr

On the Thursday before Easter, we always have a leg of lamb as part of our evening meal, a tradition that started before my husband and I were married–when we were young and foolish. We bought our first leg of lamb on impulse at a butcher shop in Greenwich Village, New York, on the Wednesday before Easter (we happened to be visiting NYC). We sprinkled some herbs over it, doused it with a bottle of wine, wrapped it up, refrigerated it overnight, and then drove it to Washington, DC the next day in time to roast it for dinner. It was a slightly boozy, but very delicious lamb we ate that evening; the excess alcohol probably helped preserve it, unrefrigerated, during the 4-hour trip.

Though we have very fond memories of that lamb, I have since refined the recipe, ensuring proper food-safety techniques and (unfortunately) eliminating the need for any road trips.

Lamb6

Roast Leg of Lamb with Red Wine and Herbs
Serves 6-8
Note: This lamb needs to marinate overnight (or for at least 8 hours) prior to roasting.

1 bone-in leg of lamb (6-8 lb.)
salt and pepper
4-5 cloves garlic, cut into slivers
fresh rosemary, separated into small sprigs

Marinade:
1/3 c. olive oil
1/4 c. red wine of your preference
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. each dried basil, oregano, parsley, mint, etc.
1/2 tsp. sugar

Preparation

1. Rinse lamb and pat dry. Then, using a sharp knife, cut off  as much of the top, papery thin layer (the “fell”) as possible; it is not necessary to remove all of it. (Some cooks prefer to leave it on to help keep the lamb moist. Others remove it because they think it has a strong flavor. I remove it for aesthetic reasons; family members don’t like seeing the fell on the lamb.)
2. Trim off  excess fat, but make sure to leave a nice layer to ensure moistness and to help carry the flavor of the rosemary, garlic, and marinade.
3. Using the same sharp knife, make deep slits into the meaty portions of the leg.

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4. Insert one sliver of garlic and a small sprig of rosemary into each slit in the lamb. Sprinkle lamb with salt and freshly ground pepper.

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5. In a bowl, combine marinade ingredients.
6. Place lamb in 2-3 layers of clean, plastic grocery bags (or other large sealable bags) on a rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold the lamb. Holding the bags open, pour the marinade over the lamb, taking care to pour some of the marinade into each of the slits filled with garlic and rosemary.

Lamb
7.  Tie the plastic bags together tightly so that the marinade cannot leak out, then place the lamb (still on the baking sheet) in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least 8 hours). If you are so inclined, feel free to massage the marinade into the lamb every so often.

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8. In the morning (or after about 4 hours), turn the lamb over so that the other side of the lamb can soak up some of the marinade.
9. Preheat oven to 450 °F. Remove the lamb from the bags (reserving the marinade), pat dry, sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper, then place the  lamb on a rack set inside a rimmed baking sheet or pan. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the lamb, but not near the bone. Cook lamb at 450°F for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 325 °F. Roast lamb until meat thermometer reaches between 145 °F (medium rare) and 160 °F (medium), basting periodically with leftover marinade. For a 6 lb. leg of lamb, total cooking time should be about 2 hours, depending on preferred degree of doneness.
10. Remove lamb from oven, then let rest for at least 15 minutes before carving.

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Recipe: Roasted Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar and Mint

9 Dec

This is a free-form sort of recipe because it doesn’t have specific measurements, but that shouldn’t be cause for panic. No matter how much or how little I drizzle or sprinkle or adjust the various ingredients, I’ve never gone wrong with this dish (because short of burning them, how can anyone really go wrong with roasted carrots?).

This dish is a standard part of our Thanksgiving line up, but these carrots are a nice accompaniment to any roast meal. The hot carrots absorb the balsamic vinegar, resulting in a mellow, layered flavor that is heightened by the mint. Another plus: this dish can be served at room temperature, which means you can get it ready ahead of time and move on to more urgent tasks. For Thanksgiving, I use a 5 lb. bag of carrots. If you aren’t cooking for 12+guests, use 6 large carrots and go from there.

Roasted Carrots with Balsamic Vinegar and Mint

carrots
olive oil
salt and pepper
balsamic vinegar
dried mint flakes

Preparation
1. Trim and peel carrots, cut each carrot in half horizontally, and then cut each half in half lengthwise. You should now have four carrot pieces. Cut each of those pieces lengthwise into thirds (or halves or quarters depending on the thickness of the carrot) — you want to end up with carrot sticks.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
3. Put the carrot sticks in a large bowl, drizzle with enough olive oil to coat the carrots well (they should be glistening), sprinkle some salt and pepper on top, toss to mix, then spread the carrots on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 30 minutes or so, turning once, until the carrots are soft and browned around the edges. Remove the baking sheet from the oven.
4. While the carrots are still on the baking sheet and still hot, drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the top, sprinkle with mint flakes, mix together gently, and let rest for a few minutes. Taste a carrot and adjust the seasonings as needed (you may want more salt, pepper, or a dash more vinegar.)
5. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Note: If making the day before, let carrots cool, refrigerate them, and bring to room temperature before serving.)

Adapted from Australian Gourmet magazine.

Recipe: Pakistani Chicken Patties

3 Dec

These patties are from an old New York Times recipe for Pakistani Seekh Kebabs. I first tasted them cold, at a picnic on the edge of a river after a hike with our friends. Our friends brought the patties as their picnic contribution, and they (the patties) were heavenly (though our friends are quite nice, too).

You could grill these, but you would miss out on the main reason to pan fry them in olive oil: the onions. As the patties cook, some of the onions fall out and turn golden brown in the olive oil. There is a battle at our house for those onion bits; their appeal cannot be underestimated.

So, hot or cold–all parts of these patties are delectable. We eat them with curried couscous (a bit of cross-cultural fusion) and the accompanying Cilantro Mint Chutney.

Pakistani Chicken Patties
Serves 8

Patties
2 lb.  ground chicken (or turkey, or combination)
1 egg yolk
1 large onion, minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric
¼ c. cilantro, leaves and stems–finely chopped  (Note: if you are buying the cilantro in a bunch, you can use 1/3 for the patties 2/3 for the chutney)
2 teaspoons salt

olive oil

Cilantro Mint Chutney
1 c. plain yogurt
1/4 c. mint leaves
1/2 c. cilantro, leaves and stems
1 tbsp. lemon juice (I’ve used 1/2 tbsp. vinegar in a pinch)
1/2 tsp. sugar

Preparation
1. For patties, combine all ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet, shape meat mixture into patties with a spoon, and cook the patties in batches until golden. Serve with couscous and Cilantro Mint Chutney.

2. For chutney, combine ingredients in a blender or a small food processor and process until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl once or twice. Refrigerate up to 2 days.

Recipe: Thai-Style Quinoa Salad

26 Aug

Quinoa is an Andean super food–one that has been cultivated for thousands of years. A source of complete protein, it is used and cooked like a grain, though it is technically a seed.  Because of its “exceptional nutritional qualities, its agro-ecological adaptability, and its potential contribution in the fight against hunger and malnutrition,” quinoa has been honored by the United Nations: 2013 will be the International Year of  Quinoa.

But quinoa deserves praise for its gastronomic adaptability, too. In this case, it makes a successful appearance in a salad with flavor origins a world away from the Andes. This salad, with its strong Thai accents, is a deliciously light and crisp summer dish.

Thai-Style Quinoa Salad
Serves 8-10
1 c. quinoa, rinsed and drained
1/2 tsp. salt
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 carrot, shredded
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and sliced (if using English cucumber, no need to peel)
1/3 c. chopped fresh mint
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Dressing
6 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. fish sauce (can substitute tamari or soy sauce)
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Add quinoa, salt, and 1 1/2 c. water to a sauce pan. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 12-15 minutes, until water is absorbed. Turn off heat and let quinoa sit for 5 minutes. Place in a large serving bowl and let cool completely.

When quinoa is cool, add red bell pepper, carrot, and cucumber and mix well.

To make the dressing, whisk together the lime juice and sugar in a small bowl until sugar is dissolved. Stir in the fish sauce/tamari/soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Add the dressing to the salad and toss. Gently mix in the mint and cilantro.

Source: Raising the Salad Bar, by Catherine Walthers

Link

2011: Herb Garden

21 Jun

On Mother’s Day, 2011, my children and husband gave me a gift that will always keep on giving: an Herb Garden, which they dug out in front of Garden 1 (G1) . It was a wonderful present and with their combined muscle, it was created in one day. Here it is about a month afterward; the Yarrow in G1 is in full bloom behind the Herb Garden.

I planted rosemary in the center of the Herb garden with basil behind and tarragon in the front, oregano at the far left and thyme at the far right, Italian parsley to one side, and cilantro to the other, with some mint thrown in for good measure. I didn’t plant a lot of mint knowing it would take over the garden soon enough. But, I admire the tenacity of mint, and whenever it gets out of hand and I have to yank it out of the places it does not belong,  I console myself with the fact that it makes a nice iced tea.

The basil in the photo soon exploded, giving us a bumper crop. And so our four children decided they would make pesto one day. They weighed the pros and cons of several recipes and finally chose one, adjusting as they went. They blanched the basil to a perfect green, then added garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and tangy Pecorino Romano (non-traditional, we know, but it is our go-to cheese because of its tang). By the time they had  parceled out the resulting sauce into freezer bags for future meals, the kitchen was in need of some attention. But I would make that trade any day. Their efforts yielded a lot of pesto, the last of which made an appearance (and then a disappearance) last week, almost a year later. Pasta with Pesto and Pan-Grilled Chicken (with some cherry tomatoes for color) is a family favorite, though the last batch was used for Salmon with Pesto in Puff Pastry. Luckily, this year’s basil is growing nicely, so I will remind the children of what a wonderful job they did last year….

The one herb I have not mentioned yet actually deserves a special mention. In each corner of the herb garden, I planted Hidcote Lavender, in honor of Hidcote Manor Garden in England, an absolutely lovely National Trust property near Stratford-upon-Avon.  If you ever find yourself in that part of the world, do stop there; it will be well worth the visit. In the meantime, take a look at this blog.

Hidcote Lavender is a smaller variety, with a wonderful fragrance. And it is gorgeous. Here is a close up of the lavender this year: