Archive for the ‘Lamb’ Category

Indian Feast!

I had another wonderful experience at the Whole Foods Salud cooking school, this time on Indian food. Originally the class had five students, then two called and cancelled. The other two did not show up. So I got a solo lesson! Even better, we had help! So it was me, Chef, and four helpers! That’s what I call a cooking class. Definately got my $65’s worth.

The menu was: Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce; Vegetable Samosas with Coriander Chutney; Chicken Tikka Masala with Sauteed Onions; Naan; and Pistachio & Cardamom Ice Cream (and rice of course).

My favorite recipe of the night ended up being the meatballs. They are very simple lamb meatballs that offered a lot of flavor and are good for someone on a low-carb diet as there is no breadcrumbs as binder – binding is yogurt only. I was rather amazed. I’m also curious as to how much I am loving the lamb recipes I’ve tasted lately. Can’t wait until I start seeing lamb for sale by my local farmers!

Kofta Meatballs with Spiced Tomato Sauce

1 pound ground lamb

1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

3 tbsp whole milk yogurt

Mix all the ingredients together and shape into about 30 meatballs.

For the sauce: 5 cloves peeled garlic, 1 inch piece peeled and chopped ginger, 1 1/4 c water, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp ground coriander, 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/4 c canola oil (as per the recipe, but I would use coconut oil at home), 1 cinnamon stick, 6 cardamom pods (smash ’em), 6 whole cloves, 1/2 c finely chopped onion, 1/2 c canned crushed tomatoes, 4 tbsp whole milk yogurt, 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt.

Blend garlic, ginger and 4 tbsp of the water in a blender until it forms a paste. Add the cumin, coriander, paprika and cayenne and blend to combine.

Put oil into a frying pan over high heat and stir in cinnamon, cardamom and cloves. Add onions and saute until they are reddish brown. Reduce heat to medium and add paste from blender and the tomatoes. Stir and cook until the mixture browns, then add 1 tbsp of yogurt. Stir to incorporate, then add another tablespoon. Repeat for rest of yogurt. Stir in remaining water and salt and bring to a simmer. Add all meatballs to the pan in a single layer. Lid the pan, slightly ajar, turn heat to low and cook for 25 minutes. Stir gently every 5 minutes. Remove lid, increase heat to medium-low, cook until meatballs are browned. (So…I don’t know how you would exactly “brown” a meatball sitting in liquid…cooked through should suffice!)

Chef Antonio and the KKF

Now, all of the dishes were tasty and I definately enjoyed making the naan (not hard at all!) and the samosas were fun (what part of FRIED is not fun?). But the meatballs were tops in my book. Followed by the ice cream, which I freaking forgot to take a picture of! Argh! Well, I guess I’ll just have to make it and take a pic of my own and share the recipe. It is just different enough to be the perfect end to an Indian dinner.

Also, if you’ve ever gone bonkers over that green sauce they give you with your Indian takeout, it’s pretty much just cilantro, fresh jalapeno, lemon juice, salt, roasted cumin seeds and black pepper. Let ‘er rip in the blender (maybe add some water) and adjust seasonings to your taste. Love that stuff!

Posing with the spread!

Practicing a pose for my new cooking show, "How to Not Screw It Up Too Bad."

IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD ALREADY!! For real, this is what happens when you're the only student and all the assistants had a glass of wine.

Chef Antonio

Close up of chicken curry

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I attended another cooking class today, this time on Braises & Stews at Whole Food’s Salud Cooking School. It was an aggressive menu for a three hour class: Braised Short Ribs, Beef Stew, Pot Roast with Vegetables, Lamb Ragu and Creamy Polenta. There were nine students in class and we were split up into three groups of three.

Now, when I hear “get into groups” I immediately want to run screaming after four years of struggling through mostly useless group projects in business school with a bunch of slackers. Then I reminded myself that everyone is this class because they WANT to be there. This group would not be a headache. It would be like the Capstone dream team (Sasha and Suzanne rock, btw) except we’re all doing something we enjoy. So I relaxed, and rightfully so. My teammates Lori and Cheryl were on it.

This class involved a lot of chopping, which is fine because I got to use my new knife skills (from my knife skills class last Wednesday, blog post is forthcoming). Chef Antonio told us when it comes to tough cuts of meat, “Low and slow is the way to go.” We repeated the same procedure for all our dishes (except the polenta): brown the meat (put it in your hot oiled pan and leave it until it comes off easily – if you move your meat around it won’t brown); remove the meat and deglaze your pan with wine and/or stock; add meat and veggies back to the pan and continue heating over low heat for hours. According to Chef Antonio, you can’t overcook any of this. That statement was cheered by several students.

The Buffeast Line

We used some lovely Le Creuset Dutch Ovens and All-Clad Stockpots for everything. It was nice to see that some of the choices I’ve been making for my own kitchen are being used in quality kitchens like Whole Foods and the Viking Cooking School. Gives a girl some reassurance! I really like the Le Creuset stuff because it can go from stove top to oven and the enamel makes it rather non-stick and easy to clean up. Not that I had to worry about cleaning up today….weeee!

The final dish we made while our braises and stews were bubbling away is polenta. I’d never made polenta before but I knew that it’s a dish that takes a lot of stirring. Turns out I heard correctly. Luckily with three team members we could trade off stirring the polenta. First we brought chicken broth and cream to a boil, then stirred in the polenta. When it was nice and thick, we stirred in grated fontina and parmesan cheeses and a bit of freshly ground nutmeg. I have to say, it was worth the work. The polenta was absolutely delicious.

Clockwise from bottom left: pot roast with veggies, lamb ragout, green salad, braised beef short ribs. Center: cheesy creamy polenta!

All of our dishes turned out nicely. Each team of three made all the dishes, so we had a TON of food. I was wondering what football team we were feeding when all the dishes were pulled out and lined up for the buffeast. While everything was very good, my favorite was the lamb dish, suprisingly. It was tender (even though everything could have easily cooked for another two hours and been even better) and flavorful and different. You don’t see lamb just anywhere. The beef stew was my second favorite although when I make it it won’t be as sweet; this recipe called for sugar and red currant jelly. I might just do the jelly (unique) and skip the white sugar. Or skip them both, who needs more sugar in their diet?

Beef Stew

In summary, it was a wonderful class and well worth the time and money. Now that I’ve been to this one and a few classes at Viking I can make some comparisons and contrasts. At Viking I think it’s a little bit more individual attention and you get a 10% discount on store items the day of your class, which is nice (I picked up this Lemon Squeezer last time, works soooo much better than my other crappy one from Publix). The instruction is very good and they have a wide variety of classes and a lot of classes. I also know they make their own stock because I cut up stuff that went into it 🙂 I have three more classes at Viking coming up in the next several months which I am very excited about!

Even with all of Viking’s perks and the very nice two different venues to work in, I feel like I preferred the Salud environment. The class was a little less expensive, it’s closer to my house (always a bonus), and they are using Whole Foods ingredients which means mostly organic which is important to me and better quality meats. Also we were able to take home leftovers, which is something that I was really disappointed with at the Viking classes. (What are they doing with the leftovers? Hopefully they go to a homeless shelter…) It will be interesting to see how my Le Cordon Bleu classes (coming up in March and April) compare.

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Viking Cooking School

Now that I’m done with school, the first thing I do is…sign up for more classes. Except this time I’m leaving finance far behind and indulging in some cooking classes offered by Whole Foods and Viking Cooking School. This past Sunday I got schooled in Moroccan cuisine!

Here’s the menu we prepared:
Orange Salad with Dates
Couscous with Beef & Vegetables
Layered Phyllo Chicken Pie
Moroccan Lamb Tagine

Presumably since it was Super Bowl Sunday there were only three students in the class. Excellent! We all got to ask as many questions as we wanted and get our hands into everything. Our instructor was Chef Lana, owner of Call Me Your Chef and you can find her blog here. I also met a fellow food blogger, Jacqueline, who was one of the students.

It was really a great time and I feel like I learned a lot. One thing we learned about was supreming oranges. I found a good YouTube video on this here. The guy in that video sounds similar to the guy from the Engineer’s Guide to Cats. Anyway, I digress…

Moroccan Orange Salad with Dates

The aromas from all the spices were UHmazing. I had to smell everything repeatedly. And despite all the great meat dishes we made, I have to say…my favorite thing we made was the salad with oranges and dates. The orange was quite dark and it reminded me of a valencia orange I recently had but Chef Lana said it was just a navel orange. Wonder where it came from…anyway,  I think it’s ok for me to post the recipe here. If not, I guess they can sue me:

Orange Salad with Dates

2 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 cup dates, chopped
2 T frehly squeezed lemon juice
2 T freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup honey
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
fresh mint sprigs

Stir everything together and enjoy! I would actually cut back on the honey a bit. I ate this as dessert, it was awesome.

Chicken phyllo pie (left) and Lamb Tagine (right)

I was really looking forward to cooking in the tagine. We used the Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 2-Quart Moroccan Tagine, Cherry
that I dreamed about all night one night last week that I’ve happened to see online from time to time and it might happen to be on my wish list. In a tagine you cook…well…a tagine which is just a really thick stew-like dish. We made ours with lamb and it was delicious.

We used a number of ingredients a lot, such as saffron (which I adore) but we also used a lot of smen which is similar to clarified butter. I learned that saffron should be crushed before using. I’m kind of ashamed that I didn’t know this sooner. Anyway, now I have another use for my mortar and pestle.

Phyllo pie, side view

So…we cooked with phyllo/fillo dough. As you will recall from my tissue paper burritos, my last attempt was a failure. The good news about the chicken phyllo pie we made is that it was great. First, you should use phyllo in a recipe that actually calls for phyllo. Second, we smeared the smen in between each layer which kept it from caking together and becoming concrete. The pie was a lot of work even split between all of us, of course we did learn that it’s generally a special occasion dish. I can see why.

At the end of the evening, I’d tried four great new dishes, learned some new skills and made three new friends. What more can you ask for from a simple cooking class?

Beef stew and couscous

The Feast!

The best part: we don't have to clean up!

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When I was home in Iowa for Christmas, a very sleepy baby took a long nap in my lap. A few months later, her mom supplied me with a couple of recipes that will become staples in the KKF household. Little Hannah will eat well as she grows up, this I am sure!

I’m not sure how we got on the subject, but Sara gave me a recipe for Mahkloubeh and Baba Ghanouj/Baba Ghanoush. Maybe it was all the eggplant I was getting from my CSA. Anyway, the recipe sat in my “Recipes” folder for a long time until I was looking for something to do with the one pound of ground lamb in my freezer.

I had never had lamb before. I ordered it from my CSA on a whim, then let it sit there for a number of months (a KKF habit). It turned out for the best, because this recipe made great use of the lamb and I ate the whole thing (not all at once).

Mahkloubeh (Upside Down Meat Dish)

1 lbs, cubed or ground meat (beef, lamb, chicken, turkey)(I’ve made it with beef and venison, the lamb is good too, but I have never personally cooked it with lamb)

2 Medium onions chopped

1 Eggplant or small head of cauliflower

2 Cups rice (long grain or basmati)

4 cups boiling water

½ cup pine nuts

salt and pepper to taste

Slice eggplant I ½” slices and peel (break cauliflower into flowerets. With a little oil brown the eggplant slices or the cauliflower and set aside. Cook onion in oil until soft but not brown, Put meat into pan with onions and brown meat. Place meat/onion mixture in Dutch oven or other heavy pan with straight sides. Arrange eggplant slices or cauliflower on top0 of meat mixture and cover with rice. Add salt and pepper then the water and bring to boil then simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. DO NOT LIFT THE LID. Let stand for about 15 minutes and while it is standing sauté pine nuts in a little butter or oil stirring constantly so as not to burn the nuts.

Turn the pot with the Mahkloubeh upside down on a platter, so the meat is on top and sprinkle pine nuts over the food.

It can be served to eat with plain unflavored yogurt or ketchup on it. (I’ve never had it with ketchup)

Lamby Ricey Eggplanty goodness

I (obviously) used my lamb, I had only one small onion so I used that, several Asian eggplants from the CSA box and 1 ½ cups of rice (adjusted the water to 3 cups due to the rice reduction). This smelled great as it boiled away. It didn’t flip over very pretty but once I started digging in it didn’t matter. Also, I forgot about the pine nuts but I guess it was not a deal breaker since I plowed through it without a second pignoli thought. This was absolutely delicious and so simple. I had a little lamb…and it was tasty.

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