Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shakshuka (Eggs in Purgatory)

When I come across a dish I've never heard of before of course I have to research it, learn it, and then put my own spin on it when I try it myself. This recipe is a combination of my favorite parts of various recipes. You could add chorizo, or substitute other herbs for a different flavor profile, but I kept this kind of in keeping with a Moroccan recipe I made not too long ago (found here): a vibrant mix of spicy, sweet, and tangy that packs a flavor punch unlike anything I've had before. In the world of food there is nothing that excites me more than finding a completely new, unexpected combination of flavors and textures.


Shakshuka (Eggs in Purgatory)

1 yellow onion, finely chopped
2 red bell peppers, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small bunch kale, stems removed, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cinnamon (lately I'm addicted to putting cinnamon in my tomato sauce, but you can replace it with dried thyme if it sounds weird)
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or Tabasco, to taste
5-6 eggs, depending on size of pan
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped, for serving
2 oz crumbled goat cheese, for serving
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil over medium. Chop the onion and red bell peppers in large pieces and add to a food processor. Pulse for a few seconds until just chopped. Add to the hot pan and sauté until lightly browned.

Mince the garlic and add to the pan for one minute. Chop the kale finely and sauté, deglazing with white wine if the pan is dry. When kale is wilted, add the tomato paste and diced tomatoes and stir to combine. Season with salt, pepper and the spices and allow to simmer, stirring, for ten minutes.

When sauce is cooked, make wells in the sauce for the eggs. Crack an egg into each well and season generously with salt and pepper. Cover the pan, cooking on low heat, until eggs are cooked through but yolks are soft, about five minutes.

Top the finished dish with chopped cilantro and crumble goat cheese. Serve alongside bread if desired.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lamb Stew with Quick Rolls

I've been waiting for St. Pats to make this lamb stew since I've had a gallon of lamb stock hanging out in my freezer for a while now (see my post on Homemade Slow-Cooker Stock here).  We've been on kind of a lamb kick lately and the holiday seemed like the perfect time to try this recipe out!  I've kept the recipe super simple and traditional - no garlic, tomato paste, or sauteing the vegetables beforehand.  Just dump it into the pot and let it cook in the oven all day until you're ready to eat!

These quick rolls are the easiest thing to make on the side of a big pot of soup, chili or anything that just needs a little something to dip with.  The original recipe calls for just three ingredients (self-rising flour, milk and mayonnaise) but since I only have all purpose flour and this time didn't have milk, you can improvise and it still turns out the same.  It is also a great base recipe if you want to add a little something extra to it like fresh herbs, cheese or bacon.

Lamb Stew
2-3 pounds lamb stew meat (my butcher picked out a boneless leg for me and chopped it up)
1/2 cup flour, plus salt and pepper
1 bottle Guinness
4-5 sprigs rosemary
2-3 yellow potatoes, chopped into medium chunks
4 medium carrots, chopped into large chunks
1 yellow onion, chopped into medium chunks 7 cups lamb stock

Quick Rolls
1 cup flour
1/4 cup cream
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt and pepper

Place a cast iron Dutch oven on the stovetop and heat a small amount of olive oil over medium.  Dredge the lamb pieces in the flour seasoned with salt and pepper and brown in the hot pan, a minute or two on each side, and remove to a plate.  Keep browning all the lamb in batches, adding more oil to the pan as needed.

When all the lamb is browned, pour the Guinness into the hot pot and stir to deglaze.  Allow to reduce slightly and remove from heat.  Add the chopped potatoes and carrots to the pot, along with the rosemary.  Add the meat and cover with the onions.  Pour the lamb stock over the top and place in the oven.  Cook at 275 degrees for 3-4 hours.

An hour before serving, remove the pot from the oven and place on the stovetop.  Boil over medium heat without stirring.  Skim off the fat and foam that boils to the top until the stew juices are clear.  Allow to simmer, stirring and scraping the bottom, until the liquid reduces and thickens and potatoes and carrots are cooked through and tender.

While the stew simmers, prepare six muffin tins by greasing generously with butter.  In a mixing bowl combine the flour, baking powder, cream and water and combine with a fork until a shaggy dough forms.  Drop by large spoonfuls into the six muffin tins and bake at 350 for 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

When the stew is cooked to desired thickness, taste for salt and pepper.  Serve the stew with the rolls on the side and a glass of red wine or Guinness.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Spicy Sweet Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

This is one of my favorite easy ways to cook tacos and I found it because someone (Moriah), for reasons I will never know or ask, left two open two-liter bottles of Dr. Pepper at my house post-party.  Since I can't waste it I had to figure out a way to use it up, but me?  Drink soda?  Never.

This is a recipe I got from the Pioneer Woman - just add the cola to some chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, throw it in the slow cooker on top of a hunk of meat and wait.  The smoky, spicy peppers mixed with the caramel-y sweetness is a perfect pairing with pork, but also great with chicken or beef.  Sometimes I throw some onions and garlic in the mix, but you can leave them out and it still turns out wonderful once you shred it or chop it up.

One tip from me regarding the chipotle peppers: I love them, but they are kind of hard to use.  You open a whole can, and can only use a very small portion of it - this stuff is crazy spicy, so don't overdo it or you'll end up with a lot of inedible food.  I like to take the whole can and blitz it in my mini food processor, and then scrape whatever I don't use right away into a small plastic bag and store it in the freezer.  Take it out anytime, defrost for a few seconds in the microwave and add a spoonful to chili, guacamole, enchilada sauce, soup, or anything you want to give a little smoke and a lot of spice!

Spicy Sweet Tacos with Pickled Red Onions

2-3 cups Dr. Pepper, or other cola (not diet)
1 can chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped
1/2 white onion, sliced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, smashed (optional)
2-3 pounds pork, chicken or beef
Salt and pepper
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 cup white balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
Black peppercorns, optional
Tortillas, avocado, cilantro and sour cream for serving

Add the meat and vegetables (if using) to a slow cooker.  Combine the soda and peppers and pour over the meat until mostly covered.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook for up to eight hours on low or 4 hours on high, until the meat is cooked through. 

White meat is cooking, pickle the onions.  Steep sliced onions in very hot water for five minutes, until softened.  Meanwhile, mix the vinegar, sugar, salt and peppercorns in a jar large enough to hold the onions, and shake to combine.  Add the onions to the jar and allow to marinate in the refrigerator a minimum of 30 minutes, but preferably longer.
When meat is cooked, remove to a cutting board and let cool.  Pour the slow cooker juices into a separate container and set aside to cool.

When cool enough to handle, shred or chop the meat.  Add the meat back to the slow cooker and set to warm or low.  Using a slotted spoon, scoop the vegetables from the juices and add to the meat.  Spoon some of the juice over the meat, just enough to keep it from drying out.

Build the tacos with the tortillas, meat and picked onions.  Garnish with avocado, cilantro, and sour cream.  Enjoy!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Lamb Ragu

2 pounds ground lamb
3 carrots
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups red wine
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
6 oz can tomato paste
1 bunch basil or mint leaves, torn or chopped

Brown and crumble the lamb in a pan over medium heat.

Pulse the carrot, onion and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped.

When the lamb is mostly cooked, drain some of the excess fat. Add the vegetables and sauté until soft. Season with salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and cinnamon. Deglaze the pan with the wine.

Add both cans of tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Garnish with basil or mint and Parmesan cheese if desired.