"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." Marthe Troly-Curtin

Friday, April 23, 2010

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Feta and Herbs

By Kate Ramos

Green bell peppers taste great with this stuffing: Their sweetness plays off that of the golden raisins, and the vegetal note is heightened by the herbs. These are an excellent option for a vegetarian meal, yet double as a side dish even carnivores will love.

What to buy: Look for bell peppers that are all about the same size; cooking time and portions will be more consistent that way.

Game plan: If you stuff the peppers ahead of time, take them out of the fridge 30 minutes before grilling to let them come to room temperature.

Total Time: 1 hr 45 mins

Active Time: 30 mins

Makes: 6 servings as a meal (12 servings as a side dish)

1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
1-inch-long piece cinnamon
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
6 medium green bell peppers
3/4 cup cream cheese (about 6 ounces), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (about 7 ounces)
3/4 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1.. Place rice in a colander or a fine mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear. Combine rice, water, cinnamon, and 3/4 teaspoon of the salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover the pan and reduce heat to low; cook until water has been completely absorbed, about 10 minutes (rice will be slightly undercooked). Remove the lid from the pot, discard cinnamon stick, and set the pot aside to let rice cool.
2.. To prepare peppers for stuffing, use a paring knife to cut a wide circle around each stem (like when carving a jack-o'-lantern), so you end up with a cap that can be replaced once you've stuffed the peppers. Be careful not to puncture or rip the peppers. Clean any seeds and membranes from the cap and from the interior of each pepper; set aside.
3.. In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese with a wooden spoon until it's light and fluffy. Stir in feta, raisins, mint, dill, parsley, lemon juice, pepper, and remaining salt. Add reserved cooked rice, and mix gently to combine. Taste mixture and, if necessary, add more salt and freshly ground black pepper. (Note that the filling should be quite salty to compensate for there being no salt on the peppers.)
4.. Divide rice mixture into six equal portions. Stuff each pepper with the filling and replace each cap, pressing caps into the stuffing so the peppers remain closed while on the grill; set aside until ready to cook. (If you're stuffing the peppers more than 30 minutes before grilling, cover and refrigerate them. Let peppers sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before grilling so that they cook faster and more evenly.)
5.. Heat a charcoal or gas grill to medium heat (about 350°F). Once the grill is heated, place stuffed peppers on their sides and close the lid. Roll each pepper a quarter turn every 7 minutes or so to cook all four sides. The peppers are finished once the filling is hot, the skins are well-charred, and the flesh is soft to the touch, about 30 minutes. If serving as a side dish, slice peppers in half lengthwise.

Rustic Mashed Potatoes With Mascarpone And Chives

Yield: 6 servings
1 teaspoon salt
3 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 3-inch pieces
10 cloves garlic, peeled and ends cut off
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1 cup milk
Ground white pepper
3 tablespoons finely
chopped chives, divided

Bring large pot of water to a boil. Add salt, potatoes and garlic. Simmer, covered, until potatoes are fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Drain potatoes and garlic in a colander; return to pot. Dry potatoes over high heat, tossing them until all moisture is evaporated, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer potatoes and garlic to a large bowl. Immediately mash potatoes with a potato masher, potato ricer or an electric mixer. Add mascarpone and milk; beat with a wooden spoon or wire whisk to a smooth but not soupy consistency. When liquid is absorbed, add salt and pepper to taste and 2 tablespoons chives. Transfer to a serving bowl; garnish with remaining 1 tablespoon chives. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 298 calories; 10g fat (30 percent calories from fat); 5g saturated fat; 27mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 44g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 3g fiber; 428mg sodium; 83mg calcium; 83mg potassium.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brie Peach Sandwiches

You can add meat to this sandwich recipe if you wish (fresh shrimp would be a fabulous addition), but the combination of tangy brie and the sweet and spicy peach preserves are perfect all by themselves.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
 1/2 cup peach preserves
1 peach, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. minced green onions
1 tsp. raspberry vinegar
dash white pepper
1/2 cup mayonnaise
6 crusty french rolls
6 leaves butter lettuce
10 slices brie cheese
Combine peach preserves, chopped peach, green onions, vinegar, and red pepper flakes; stir and set aside. Makes enough for 8 sandwiches.
Assemble sandwiches with the peach mixture and remaining ingredients just before serving.

You can also make this a hot and cold sandwich. Cut the rolls in half and spread cut sides with some butter. Divide Brie cheese among the rolls. Place in toaster oven and toast until cheese melts and bread starts to brown. Remove from oven and make sandwiches with lettuce and peach mixture. Makes 6 sandwiches

Orzo Baked with Greek Cheeses

14 1/2 oz Can chicken broth
1 lb Orzo or risi pasta
1/2 c Whipping cream
1/4 c Olive oil
1/2 lb Feta cheese, crumbled
1 tb Chopped fresh dill
1/3 c Grated Kasseri or Romano cheese

Makes 8 servings.

Pour broth into large pot. Add enough water to broth to almost fill pot.

Add salt and bring to boil. Stir in orzo and boil until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain well. Return to pot. Mix in cream, oil, feta and dill. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to 1 1/2 quart baking dish. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle orzo with cheese. Bake until heated through, about 40 minutes.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Creole Leg of Lamb

A roast leg of lamb recipe, Creole style.
1/2 cup chili sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
leg of lamb, 6 to 8 pounds
Mix chili sauce, vinegar, red wine, olive oil, broth, sugar, salt, pepper, bay leaf, onion, and garlic. Place leg of lamb in a large bowl, pour chili sauce mixture over lamb. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight. Turn and baste frequently. Place lamb on a rack in roasting pan. Pour sauce over leg of lamb; roast, uncovered, at 325° for 3 to 4 hours, basting occasionally with sauce. If sauce evaporates, add a little boiling water. If desired use sauce for gravy.
Recipe for roast leg of lamb serves 8.

Thai Grilled Lamb And Asparagus Salad

Yield: 6 servings

For marinade and lamb:

1/2 cup peanut oil
1/4 cup honey
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
1/4 cup red chile sauce
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
1 to 1 1/2 pounds top round lamb or lamb leg center steak
Ground black pepper

For salad dressing:

Grated zest (colored portion of peel) and juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon red chile paste
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup peanut oil

For salad:

1 pound asparagus, ends snapped off
1 (about-8-ounce) package rice noodles
2 to 3 tablespoons peanut oil
6 leaves butter lettuce
1/2 cup finely sliced red
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1/2 cup dry-roasted salted peanuts, chopped
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh mint

Step 1: Marinate the lamb. Whisk together 1/2 cup peanut oil, honey, garlic, red chile sauce and 1 tablespoon ginger. Pour into a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag. Add lamb; turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Step 2: Cook the lamb. Prepare a medium-hot fire in grill. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove lamb from marinade. Season on all sides with salt and pepper. Place lamb on grill to brown on all sides. Transfer lamb to a baking dish and place in hot oven. Roast for 20 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Let lamb rest for 10 minutes. Slice thinly. Set aside.

Step 3: While lamb cooks, prepare dressing. Combine lime zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, rice vinegar, chopped mint, sugar, red chile paste, 1 teaspoon ginger and 1/3 cup peanut oil in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake well to blend.

Step 4: Prepare salad. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus; cook just until crisp-tender. With tongs, transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water. When asparagus is cold, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Step 5: Cook rice noodles according to package directions. Rinse in cold water to chill. Transfer to a bowl; toss with 2 to 3 tablespoons peanut oil.

Step 6: Assemble salad. Place 1 lettuce leaf on each plate. Add a small nest of noodles. Top with cabbage and red bell pepper, dividing evenly. Top each serving with about 6 spears of asparagus. Add reserved lamb, at room temperature. Garnish with chopped peanuts and sliced mint. Drizzle with dressing.

Per serving: 651 calories; 43g fat (59 percent calories from fat); 10g saturated fat; 75mg cholesterol; 29g protein; 37g carbohydrate; 10g sugar; 5g fiber; 566mg sodium; 72mg calcium; 597mg potassium.

Adapted from the California Asparagus Commission,

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Goat Cheese Tarts

Elegant, Yet Easy, Appetizers
May 8, 2007 Stephanie Gallagher

These appetizers offer the perfect combination of sweet and savory. The goat cheese adds creaminess with a hint of tang. And the glazed walnuts, sweetened dried cranberries and strawberry jelly provide just the right amount of sweetness.

Mini fillo tart shells make these goat cheese appetizers a cinch to make. You can find them in the frozen foods section of your local grocery store. If you have a favorite recipe for glazed walnuts, be sure to use it. If not, you can find pre-made glazed walnuts in the produce section of your supermarket. Look for the Emerald brand.

This recipe is ideal for the cook who likes to experiment. Try substituting glazed pecans for the walnuts, raspberry jelly for the strawberry and dried cherries for the sweetened dried cranberries. Feel free to play with the quantities, too. If you prefer a sweeter taste, add more jelly. As my French cooking instructor said, "Good cooks cook by taste, not by quantities." Of course, she has a lot more experience, time and ingredients at her disposal than many of us home cooks.

Serve these goat cheese appetizers at your next dinner party, holiday gathering or family reunion. They're perfect for Mother's Day brunch, pot lucks, Christmas dinner and even a backyard barbecue!

Goat Cheese Appetizer Tarts
2 packages mini fillo tart shells (30 shells total)
1/4 cup glazed walnuts (such as Emerald), plus more for garnish
11 oz. semi-soft goat cheese
1 Tbsp. all-fruit strawberry jelly
1/4 cup cherry-flavored sweetened dried cranberries (such as Craisins)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place glazed walnuts in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times until walnuts are chopped finely. Add goat cheese, strawberry jelly and dried cranberries to food processor and process until mixture is smooth.

Spread mini fillo shells onto two cookie sheets. Spoon goat cheese spread into mini fillo shells, dividing evenly among shells. Or make your own pastry bag by filling a gallon-sized Ziploc bag with the goat cheese mixture and cutting off one of the bottom corners of the bag. Pipe the goat cheese spread into mini fillo shells using the Ziploc bag. Garnish with additional glazed walnuts, if desired. Bake 1-2 minutes, just until warm.

Makes 30 goat cheese tarts.

Per appetizer: 65 calories, 4 g fat (2 g saturated fat), 8 mg cholesterol, 3 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 2 g protein, 3% Vitamin A, 0% Vitamin C, 3% calcium, 1% iron

Read more at Suite101: Goat Cheese Tarts: Elegant, Yet Easy, Appetizers

Chocolate and Goat Cheese Creme Brulee

Chocolate and Goat Cheese Creme Brulee
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Terry Thompson-Anderson

Crème Brulee is one of my favorite desserts. Everybody loves it and it's one of those great desserts that can be done ahead of time. Simply sprinkle on the sugar and caramelize it right before serving. This unusual flavor combination is a winner. The tartness of the goat cheese cuts the richness of the chocolate and that tangy, earthy taste provides an exotic side note of flavor. Use Pure Luck Texas goat cheese for the optimum flavor - over the top delicious!

Makes 6 (6 ounce) ramekins.

1/3 cup light brown sugar
2-1/4 cups whipping cream
4-1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa
4 egg yolks
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
7-1/2 ounces goat cheese, room temperature

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spread the brown sugar in a thin layer on a baking sheet and place in preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Do not allow the sugar to melt. Remove baking sheet to cooling rack while preparing custard. Raise oven temperature to 325 degrees. Lightly butter bottom and sides of six (6-ounce) ramekins; set aside.

Combine the whipping cream sugar, chocolate and cocoa in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over medium heat. Cook until chocolate is melted and sugar has dissolved, whisking often. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Combine the egg yolks, vanilla extract and softened goat cheese in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Process until smooth and well blended. Turn the egg mixture out into a medium-sized bowl and whisk in the chocolate mixture until smooth. Divide the mixture among the prepared ramekins and place the ramekins in a baking dish. Add hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake in preheated oven for one hour. Remove the baking dish from the oven and remove ramekins from the water. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 6 hours.

Put the cooled brown sugar in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade and process until the sugar is very fine. Set aside.

When the crème brulee is well chilled, place the ramekins on a baking sheet and divide the brown sugar among the ramekins, spreading a layer on top of each one. Using a blow torch, caramelize the sugar, taking care not to burn it. If you don't own such a gadget, preheat the broiler and place oven rack 3 inches under heat source. Place the baking sheet under broiler and cook just until sugar has caramelized. Allow the sugar to harden for a few minutes, and then serve.

Xinjiang Lamb and Chile Barbecue

The region located next to Mongolia, called Xinjiang, is noted for its barbecue lamb, or mutton, even though lamb is rarely eaten in other parts of China. In fact, the Mongolian tribes were the ones who introduced lamb to the rest of China. It's easy to visualize this simple barbecue being prepared by the nomads on the steppes of Xinjiang. Note: This recipe requires advance preparation.

1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh preferred
2 tablespoons Asian red chile oil (available in Asian markets)
2 tablespoons rice wine or dry sherry
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons crushed Sichuan peppercorns
½ teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 ½- pounds lamb, cut in 2-inch cubes
8 jalapeños, cut in half lengthwise
4 sesame seed buns
Chopped green onions, including some of the greens
Chopped fresh cilantro

In a non-reactive bowl, combine the lemon juice, chile oil, wine, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, peppercorns, ginger, and salt and blend well. Add the lamb and jalapenos and marinate them in the refrigerator overnight or for 2 hours at room temperature.

Drain the mixture and reserve the marinade. Thread the meat on skewers, alternating with the jalapeño halves. Place the skewers under a broiler or grill over a medium-hot fire until medium-rare, about 15 minutes. Baste occasionally with the marinade.

Serve the lamb and chiles in the buns topped with the chopped onions and cilantro.

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Heat Scale: Medium Hot

Moroccan Meat Loaf

Moroccan Meat Loaf
Posted by Elsie
The good folks at Niman Ranch recently sent me a few lamb recipes to try from their new cookbook, the Niman Ranch Cookbook. Being huge meat loaf fans, we were immediately drawn to the Moroccan Meat Loaf recipe from Chef Monica Pope, of T'Afia in Houston, Texas. If you like lamb, you will love this Moroccan meat loaf. If you don't like lamb, I'm willing to bet this meat loaf will convert you. It is superb - spicy, with hints of cilantro and mint. The recipe calls for a pomegranate barbecue sauce to accompany the meat loaf. We made the sauce, which is excellent, but honestly, the next time we make this we'll skip the sauce. It's just unnecessary. Its own spiciness almost competes with the flavors of the meatloaf. I've included the recipe below, but you really don't need it. Plain ketchup will do, if you have to have ketchup with your meatloaf, but just the drippings themselves are sufficient and delicious.

The original recipe calls for 1/4 teaspoon of saffron threads to go along with the other spices. I don't like saffron (everyone has their preferences when it comes to food, and I have mine), so we kept it out. It is not in the following recipe listed, but feel free to put it back in there if you want to follow the recipe as its author intended.

2 lbs ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large celery stalk, chopped
2 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 6 cloves)
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (3-inch piece)
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups dried bread crumbs
2 small eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Combine the lamb and beef in a large bowl. Set aside.

2 Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and ginger and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent. Add the salt, paprika, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, cinnamon, and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes to release the flavors. Remove from heat and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

3 Stir the vegetables into the ground meat. Mix in the bread crumbs, eggs, cilantro, and mint. Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart loaf pan and set in a baking pan. Pour water into the baking pan to reach halfway up the sides of the loaf pan.

4 Bake the meat loaf for 1 1/2 hours, or until firm and cooked through. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Unmold onto a plate and slice. Serve with optional Pomegranate BBQ sauce, ketchup, or just the drippings from the meatloaf itself. Very good served with rice pilaf.

Serves 6-8.

Pomegranate BBQ Sauce

1 1/2 cups ketchup 1/4 yellow onion, minced 1 Tbsp pomegranate molasses 1/2 chipotle chile in adobo sauce, minced 1 1/2 teaspoons of adobo sauce 1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to simmer on low heat and cook for 5 minutes just to let the flavors blend. Remove from heat and let cool to room temp before serving. Makes 1 1/2 cups.